Mental Health

Discovering the World Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Finding Comfort Outside of the Comfort Zone | Libero Magazine 2

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A key component of successful recovery is to remain fluid. Fluidity allows you to keep progressing and moving one step closer to the finish line.

Without fluidity, you become static, complacent, and forever defined by the narrow walls and tightly sealed windows of your comfort zone. That is why it is essential to challenge yourself and continue to expand and extend your comfort zone in moderate and healthy ways.

However, broadening your comfort zone is difficult process, and requires a great deal of mindfulness, planning, and self-kindness to be successful. Much like recovery is about balance and moderation, your comfort zone should be as well.

When you begin to try to push your limits and challenge your normal tendencies and thoughts, it can be a very triggering and nerve-wracking experience.

For instance, when I first began to incorporate foods beyond those “ED” was comfortable with, I was overridden with fear. After confining myself to my comfort zone for so long I literally became afraid to step one toe out of it.

Years of following the same patterns, behaviors and choices left me weak and out of practice in spontaneity and creativity. In other words, I did not even know where to begin, or what was even beyond the lifeless, pale walls of my zone of so-called comfort.


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Therefore, in order to move outside my inner circle, I had to learn more about what the world had to offer.

As I took the time to discover my options, I became surprised and saddened by how much my stubbornness and fear had ultimately limited me.

I was overwhelmed by how endless my choices could be and was baffled about where to begin. Regardless, I took a leap of faith and started to create weekly challenges for myself. For me, this was making dinner plans with a friend rather than cooking at home, or planning a trip to visit the cider mill, something I had avoided for years out of fear of being forced to indulge in the festive fall foods that terrified me.

These challenges kept me on my toes, helped move my recovery forward psychologically and physically, and allowed me to be comfortable with a little bit more each and every day.

Regardless of the challenge or step you choose to make, it does not matter how big or small it seems. If it is an emotional, physical, or behavioral push forward and beyond your normal pattern and routine, it is a step in the right direction.

If you are having trouble figuring how you can extend your comfort zone, reflect on your past or maybe even where you want to go in the future. What were some of your favorite things you did or tried as a child, but don’t allow yourself to indulge in anymore? More importantly, where do you want to go, and what can you try and experiment with now in order to get there?

I’ts important to remember challenging your comfort zone is an important part of the recovery process, but it should not impede recovery.

Too much of anything can quickly become detrimental, including pushing yourself too much to try and conquer new things.

Moving out of your comfort zone should be a gradual and progressive process. It should be practiced in moderation. If taking on a challenge means you are going harm yourself more by compensating for it later, becoming overly anxious or depressed, or simply regressing in your path towards physical and mental health, then it is not the appropriate time for it.

When I first began my recovery journey, my main priority was physical health and weight restoration. Since this process was already enough of a physical and mental challenge, I knew I could not overwhelm myself with too much too soon.

Be mindful of your core needs, and make sure to not let challenges disrupt your progression forward. Expanding my comfort zone is something I battle with every day, and I know when to push a little bit more, and when to back off. For me, I try to space my challenges throughout the week so as not to become fatigued or overly anxious.

Learning to be kind to yourself while you approach this intimidating feat is of utmost importance.

As you contemplate and consider extending your own comfort zone, I encourage you to remember every ounce of distress you feel will be worth it in the end. This topic is very close to my heart currently, as I have been stuck in an unfortunate impasse for quite some time.

Ultimately, I know in order to move forward in my recovery journey and eventually cross the finish line, I am going to have to keep pushing against my small and confined safety zone.

Although I know it is not going to be easy, I am hopeful along the way I will learn and try new things, overcome more challenges, meet and connect with new people, and add a bit more flavor and color to my life. After all, isn’t life supposed to begin at the end of your comfort zone?

Join me this month and we will all work together to expand our horizons. Let’s set ourselves free to enjoy and partake in all the beauties the world has to offer.

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Shelby is currently working on completing a double major in Psychology and English from Central Michigan University, and will graduate this spring. She recently applied to graduate school for doctoral programs in Clinical Psychology, and hopes to pursue a career in eating disorder treatment and yoga therapy. She is incredibly passionate about increasing advocacy and awareness for eating disorders, and has devoted her life towards providing support, guidance, and love for those inflicted by “ED.” She hopes she can use her experiences and writing to encourage victims towards recovery. In her spare time, Shelby enjoys running, yoga, and spending time in the great outdoors. She someday hopes to travel to Africa and help provide mental health services and yoga treatment to the African population as a part of the Africa Yoga project.

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