How Getting Out Of Your Comfort Zone Benefits Health
It’s a new year, which makes it the perfect, clean slate to do something you’ve always been reluctant to try. Why? Because stepping out of your comfort zone in a safe way can be good for you.
In particular, changing things up is good for your brain. For example, if you challenge yourself by learning a new skill, your brain cells form new connections. The new skill literally changes your brain and helps prevent cognitive decline, according to Harvard Medical School. Learning something new isn’t the only thing that helps the brain, so does social engagement.
If you want to give your brain a healthy challenge, now’s the time to do it. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find ways to get outside your comfort zone and expand your horizons while staying safe. Here are a few ideas to consider:
Set a Lofty Goal
If you set a goal that’s too easy to attain, you’re not capturing your true potential. You’re settling. It’s better to set a hard-to-reach (but still attainable) goal and push yourself further. If you come close to accomplishing it but fall short, you still made progress.
This year, don’t be afraid to set a goal that intimidates you. Imagine how proud you’ll be if/when you succeed? You’ll feel like anything is possible.
Change Up Your Exercise Routine
Ever heard of an exercise plateau? Just as your brain gets complacent with routine, so does your body. If you don’t safely push your body further and harder during workouts, you won’t improve; you’ll grow stagnant. If you do the same workout forever, your body will get bored.
This year, consider adding more challenge to your current workout. Incorporate new moves, change the length of your routine, or try a new type of exercise altogether. For example, if you’re usually a runner, try incorporating high-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) into your runs. Every 5 to 10 minutes, stop running and do body weight exercises like lunges, squats, burpees, or push-ups. You’ll fire up different muscles and work areas of your body that running typically doesn’t.
Try an Adventurous Activity
Despite the social distancing recommended during the pandemic, you can still take advantage of adventurous outdoor activities in a safe way. For example, activities like hiking, skiing, or snowboarding are still doable while maintaining a safe 6-foot distance from others. Other ideas include:
- Stand-up paddleboarding
- Rock climbing
Trying a new, adventurous activity not only takes you out of your comfort zone, it can also help you accomplish a lofty goal. Depending on the activity you choose, it can push your body to a new level physically, too. You’re checking multiple boxes with one activity!
As a nurse, you already give so much of yourself to your patients. But there’s something to be said about volunteering your time, talents, and energy to a needy cause and receiving nothing in return. It’s the most selfless act you can do, and you’re sure to expand your horizons when you try something new. Many volunteer opportunities offer the chance for social and cognitive engagement, which we all need in these times of increased isolation and stress.
Not sure what to try? Consider:
- Donating to a local food bank
- Donating blood
- Becoming a nurse mentor
- Volunteering at a local faith-based or civic organization
Plan Something Phenomenal
When COVID-19 restrictions are finally lifted (and that day will come), you will be able to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. Maybe it’s hosting a large family gathering or going on your dream vacation. Maybe you will finally take the class you’ve always wanted to take. Whatever it is, now is the perfect time to start planning for “someday.” If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that someday is not promised.
Becoming a Better You
You’re already amazing, but your mind and body deserve to continue to improve. And if getting out of your comfort zone benefits your physical, mental, and emotional health, why not give it a try this year? Your well-being is worth it.
Tell us: How do you plan to expand your horizons in 2021? We’d love to hear. Comment below.
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