Stepping out of your comfort zone


Question – “Do you sometimes feel stuck in your routines and set patterns? Do you feel like there is more out there for you? Do you want to be the best version of yourself?”

If the answer to these questions is yes, this article might just be for you.

Breaking out of our comfort zone has many benefits. With a little understanding and a few adjustments, you can break from your routine and do some amazing things.

The science behind your comfort zone is not difficult to understand. We like to be in environments where we experience a low level of anxiety and stress. These levels are, however, not the same for every person and varies from one individual to the next.

Our comfort zone is a behavioural space where activities and behaviour fit a routine and pattern that minimise risk and provide us with mental security. We tend to benefit most from a comfort zone when we experience regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress. It is when we get stuck in this low stress environment that we sometimes become stagnant - stuck in a rut. We become content with that 65% in academics, the relationship where things are just fine, and that sense that we can do better but we cannot yet see the “why change?”

The answer is OPTIMAL ANXIETY. Yes, anxiety can be good for us – sometimes, and in controlled doses. When we reach a state where we are experiencing some anxiety, it gets us moving. That inner drive that says “No, that 65% is no longer what I want, let me push for 70%”.

When we reach optimal anxiety, we start doing things differently, we accept a challenge. It is, however, important not to push too hard though. Optimal anxiety can easily transform into distress, which breaks us down and hinders us from performing at all. Remember that your comfort zone is neither good nor bad; it is a natural, neutral state. Nothing really happens there… We don’t all grow at the same speed or in the same environment.


You might be asking yourself right about now “So why would I want to leave a space where it’s nice and relaxed, that feels safe?”


When we do leave our comfort zone, and step into a less familiar place, we get to experience a lot of new benefits:

  1. Uproot and move.

It’s very easy to get stuck in easy. When we get stuck in our comfort zone, we rarely set any goals for ourselves, or we are so afraid of failing that we don’t even try. So without having the courage to move beyond our comfort zones, we don’t move at all.

If that personal growth is high on your to-do list, it’s time to test those boundaries of your comfort zone!

  1. Mediocrity is not for you.

The moment we decide to move past our comfort zone and into the unknown, we decide to be more, take a risk, and not to settle for anything less than what we deserve. Even with that fear of failing. Telling yourself that you are taking on this whole experience with everything that it may hold in store is super important. You are challenging yourself to grow, learn, make mistakes, and accumulate some new knowledge. So, good for you!

  1. The only constant is change.

Stepping out into the unknown world outside of your comfort zone, you actively learn that the only thing that is constant is change. Becoming more comfortable with change, you know that you will not be left behind in an ever changing world.


OK, so why stay?

Even though the magic happens outside of our comfort zone, it is a safe environment to return to. Appreciate the safe, comfortable space to process some of the experiences of stepping out of your comfort zone. Stepping out of your comfort zone should be a bit challenging, don’t let stepping out become commonplace and boring, continue to challenge different avenues of your life. Challenge yourself to do things differently and to experience new things, but know that your old friend, the comfort zone, is there for you when you need to recharge and reflect. Your comfort zone is like your room: it’s comfy and cosy, but you can’t stay there all day (or at least not all day every day). You need to leave at some point to go out and do things. But you know at the end of the day that cosy, comfy room is still there after a hard day of being an awesome you.


So next time you feel stuck in that rut, ask yourself “What can I do today, right now to challenge my comfort zone?” and try something new. It doesn’t always have to be big or life changing, it can be a different meal, a different book, a different style. As the saying goes:

‘Everything you ever wanted is one step outside your comfort zone’.


So yes, just one step is all it takes. The choice is yours after all. Go forth and grow.


Suggested Reads

  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (creator of Nike)
  • Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • Who moved my cheese by Spencer Johnson
  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  • You are a Badass by Jen Sincero


Ted Talks




Brenner, A. (2020). 5 Benefits of Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone. Retrieved from

Harper, T. (2018). Here Is Everything You Need to Know About Your Comfort Zone. Retrieved from

Written by Bianca Brits (Registered Counsellor at Thuso, Vanderbijlpark Campus)

Updated July 2020