The spectrum of comfort zones is illimitable because “comfort” is as subjective a word as they come. Think skydiving is uncomfortable? Ask an adrenaline junkie. Think parties are fun and relaxed? Ask a person with social anxiety. The truth is that one person’s comfort is another person’s…well…discomfort.
It turns out that discomfort may not be all bad. In fact, studies have shown that leaving one’s comfort zone can actually increase innovation. The monotony of one’s comfortable routine seems to be creatively stagnating, and pushing yourself to enter unchartered territories requires an active and inquiring mind which increases productivity. In fact, the stress of leaving that comfort zone is one way to advance your career. “In “anxiety-driven growth,” you take on a challenge that requires a skill set beyond what you already possess. These unknowns create anxiety, which in turn compels you to develop the skills necessary to complete the task.” Anxiety and stress can act as the impetus for higher and more efficient brain functioning.
While these studies sound almost too good to be true there is, as there always is, a flip side. In this case, sometimes anxiety and stress simply act as anxiety and stress. Perhaps, there is something to be said for actually staying in your comfort zone. If you can identify where you are comfortable, you can probably also identify what you’re good at and what you’re not, where you excel and where you diminish. In other words, knowing and embracing your comfort zone can actually mean knowing and embracing yourself. So go ahead, be comfortable. We dare you.