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Charlotte Reader / Her Campus

Take the Leap: why it’s time to expand your comfort zone

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bristol chapter.

I don’t know about you, but the world seemed smaller after the lockdowns. After being isolated for so long and with great uncertainty about how the world was changing, I found myself returning to post-pandemic life with great anxiety. So at the start of this year I made the decision to actively re-enter the world and expand my comfort zone.

The idea of ‘seeking discomfort’ has become more influential in recent years, with the YouTube channel Yes Theory documenting their adventures with strangers to expand their boundaries or books such as The Flinch by Julien Smith advocating the ‘growth list’ to tick off the experiences that scare us. The key narrative is that we should actively expand our comfort zones because it allows us to live life to its full potential and not be restricted by a fear of the unknown. Whilst it is important to approach this mindset with caution (I wouldn’t recommend seeking out experiences that would be unsafe), implementing this practice into your life can create enriching experiences and increase the scope of possibilities. So if you find yourself needing a fresh start or a shake-up in your life, here is why you should seek discomfort.


One of the main benefits of actively seeking to expand your comfort zone is in how it builds self-confidence. This exercise allows you to actively question what is holding you back and how much power these situations actually have over you. For this I suggest starting small, with something that you may avoiding without even realising it.

So when I say starting small, I really mean it. For example, I had to conquer something that at first I hadn’t even realised that I was avoiding; the weights section at the gym. Now hear me out, as a newbie at the gym, the weights section had always been intimidating because everyone else seemed so confident and experienced with the equipment. I was convinced that everyone would know that I was an imposter and didn’t know what I was doing. Yet when I stepped into that section and it was fine, it felt as though a huge mental barrier had been overcome.

Whilst this example probably seems so small to many, everyone has an often strange thing that makes them irrationally uncomfortable. How often do we walk around on auto-pilot not really questioning why we are avoiding certain things? Expanding our comfort zones is a key way to re-evaluate and shake these boundaries up.

Its important to start small is because practically there has been a reason why these things cause discomfort and why you have been avoiding them. Trying to overcome something too big could lead to triggering the fight/flight/freeze response which can be discouraging. Starting small builds your confidence to take the next steps to expanding your comfort zone.


Spurred on from the gym victory I made a list of what I had wanted to try, but had avoided before. One of them was wild swimming… in February (wasn’t one of my best ideas). As I joined the people jumping in to this river at the coldest time of the year, I found this tightness in my chest and voice convincing me to avoid it. When I jumped in, I won’t lie to you, the freezing water felt like a thousand needles all over my body. I realise that this doesn’t make the quest for discomfort sound particularly appealing. Yet being able to push through that mental barrier and the connections I made with other people through that shared experience made it worth it. You don’t necessarily have to throw yourself into freezing water as well, but enduring something uncomfortable and knowing that you can get through it is incredibly rewarding.

A further benefit is the joy of trying something new. A way to expand your comfort zone is try the hobbies that are completely different to what you would normally do. You might find something new to love or you might hate it but at least now you know. For me this was to start writing articles. I had always loved writing growing up, but always nervous about the pieces being good enough. But ultimately that’s not what matters, but doing something that you enjoy. Its not about doing something well, but its opening the space to get better, possibilities that weren’t there before.


There is a famous quote that states: ‘the comfort zone is a wonderful place, but nothing ever grows there’. I believe this to be false. The comfort zone is needed to take value in what you have done. In times like these where the news only grows more horrifying each day, it is important not to devalue comfort and prioritise its place in our lives. It is a big deal to overcome discomfort and we need space to rest and recuperate from that. However, it is remaining in the comfort zone all of the time that can ultimately lead to more anxiety because avoidance can become restricting.


So my question to you is what have you been avoiding? What is sitting at the edge of your comfort zone because you are worried about the consequences or because that is simply something you do not do? If you were looking for a sign to start, then this article is it. Try something new, ask that person out, climb that mountain. If it goes wrong its a funny story to tell at parties. If it goes right, who knows what it may lead to.

Tori Willmott

Bristol '22

Hi, I'm Tori! I am a postgraduate student studying Policy Research. I love good books and food, and visiting interesting places.