Life can get more complicated as we age, or possibly we just find change more difficult having got into a routine with work, family etc. However it is important to avoid getting into a rut especially as we enter retirement and much of our routine disappears. It’s a good idea to learn to push your boundaries beyond your comfort zone. Try to seek new horizons and try new things without being afraid – feel the fear and do it anyway!
Our ‘comfort zone’ is that space we find ourselves in with a routine that minimises risk and the associated stress. The comfort zone is surely what we aspired to during our decades of TOIL but now we have the opportunity for TOYL we can’t afford to spend too long there or else we will likely mentally and emotionally wither away. We all respond well to some challenge and the experience of something new so it’s important to leave our comfort zone (knowing full well it’s there anytime we need it!) and do something that’s unfamiliar and mentally challenging. Our comfort zone should be the place we go back to, to relax, reflect and rejuvenate and not a permanent destination where we passively allow time to slip away.
Don’t let your comfort routine keep you prisoner to its ease!
Stepping out of your comfort zone can bring many benefits:
- Personal development
- Increasing self-esteem and self-confidence
- Expand social circles
- Encourages self-knowledge
- Feeling comfortable while facing the unknown
- Developing new skills
The Problem With Not Challenging Yourself
Psychological studies show that learning new skills keeps an aging mind sharp and that we need more than maintenance, we need to push our boundaries beyond repeatedly doing crosswords and Sudoku as these are learned skills that after a while become less and less challenging and don’t help us to improve our cognitive function.
“It seems it is not enough just to get out and do something—it is important to get out and do something that is unfamiliar and mentally challenging, and that provides broad stimulation mentally and socially,”
“When you are inside your comfort zone you may be outside of the enhancement zone.”
Denise Park of the University of Texas at Dallas.
You don’t have to climb the highest mountain or cross the widest sea, although if that’s your thing and it’s on your bucket list – Go for it!
Pushing your boundaries can be as simple as engaging more with neighbours, maybe creating a WhatsApp group to keep everyone abreast of local events or even creating one – A ‘Safari Supper’ or Xmas Carol event.
Never a great dancer? Always wanted to Waltz, Salsa, Tango or Jive? – Believe me there’s a class out there just for the likes of you!
Learning new language has also been shown to have positive cognitive benefits. Hablas español?
Never learned to bake bread or make a cake? Now’s a good time to learn – just do it – you may surprise yourself and if it doesn’t work out, the challenge is to improve on it next time – practice makes perfect cakes! …another benefit is that he proof of the pudding is in the eating!
Join a ‘Men’s Shed’ (Ladies too!!) and making and mending together, making new friends at the same time. … or why not start one at the bottom of the garden?
How about a walking or cycling club, lycra not necessary especially for the ‘slow cycling’ clubs! Not a group locally? Get on yer bike and start one!
Travel broadens the mind they say so why not experience new cultures and get on down with the locals and see how they live their lives, often at a slower pace and with lower stress levels despite having far fewer ‘things’ but much more ‘life’ than many of us in the west! Go East old man!