Leaving The Comfort Zone Will Change Your Life
13 September 2021•
You know those people, the “outdoor type”. The hikers, the climbers, the lake swimmers, the adventurers - basically all things I was afraid of doing.
I’ve always suffered from social anxiety, it’s prevented me enjoying many aspects of my life. Even simple things, such as taking a walk.
A comfort zone is a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress.
Anxiety is often paired with depression. I was diagnosed last year with depression, but it’s something I knew I definitely had past experiences with.
I was never really motivated to meet new people and try new things, I was far too stressed and living in my bubble. You’d never catch me doing something out of the ordinary.
But when the world went into lockdown, I had a life-changing revelation - I was forced out my comfort zone and I never looked back.
I’d been swimming for a few months, and started to see the physical and mental health benefits that consistent exercise was having on me. It felt like I was recreating who I was. Defining who I wanted to be. Leaving the past behind me.
Then the world just shut down overnight. “No! Not at this moment” I was in disbelief. Nothing else mattered for me but to swim. For my sanity.
Swimming gave me the time out. The silence. The peace. I was truly in the moment. The body pain and anxiety was subsiding. The depression was being managed. I could focus on personal relationships and life once more, giving it proper attention and focus.
During lockdown, on the return from the supermarket, I would drive up to the gates of the swimming pool and stare at it for a few minutes - just thinking what it would be like to swim once more - not knowing when I’d be back. But I had to remain strong. I couldn’t let myself go backwards, I’d worked so hard already and the journey had only just begun.
I frantically searched for ways to swim. There was no option, but to jump into a lake. What was I thinking? I enjoyed my comfort, the warm clothes, never being cold, always being clean and tidy and for some reason my brain was screaming to go swimming so badly I was prepared to give it all up for my fix.
So I did it. I bought a wetsuit and jumped in a huge lake. My family didn’t get it, nobody did really. I’m not even sure I got it, but I know one thing’s for sure - it changed my life, my outlook, my attitude, my respect for nature and it made me realise how truly being uncomfortable makes you feel.
The answer was that being uncomfortable makes you feel fucking incredible once you’ve done something you were forever scared of. Instead of living in fear, we should be attacking challenges every day to keep building who we are.
It was one of my proudest moments to swim around that lake. It was truly my place of recreation, and for that I will forever be thankful for it. From May until July I was swimming 3 to 4 days a week in the lake, it became the place I had to go and clear my head before I got started with my day. It wasn’t a choice, it was essential.
Swimming in the lake gives you the most incredible feeling, one that can only be described after you get out. I guess the fear, the adrenaline, the fresh perspective, the learning curve, the unknown, the bond with nature, beautiful scenery and everything else that goes with it slowly changes you swim-by-swim.
Getting outside of your comfort zone is the only way to explore, to overcome what is holding you back. What’s holding you back? Why don’t you do the things you want to? You can’t be bothered? Why? Is it fear?
By taking a step into the unknown you can reach heights you never knew existed. I encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, write a list of things you think you’d never do and strongly consider one of them. Just do it, and don’t overthink it. You might surprise yourself and find out what you’re really capable of.