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You must have heard someone at least once in your life tell you, “Step out of your comfort zone,” as they try to persuade you to ride a roller coaster, or get a new job. In general, stepping out of your comfort zone is difficult, but I feel that with a mental illness it makes it even more challenging. You know that what is comfortable has been working for you, and going out of that box does have a risk of being a possible threat to your mental health. For example, you might go on the roller coaster and have a panic attack, something you’ve never even experienced before.

There is a risk of stepping out of your comfort zone and it going terribly, but then that would count as a learning experience. I feel it’s so important to make baby steps every once in a while to foster personal growth through new challenges and experiences. What are you really learning if your life is always the same, mundane and routine all the time?

I feel it is important to step out of your comfort zone towards goals and new experiences that you wish to attain, not what someone else wishes for you. For example, a goal I have is to be more of a leader, and for me stepping out of my comfort zone would be to do something like organize a group outing with my friends. To another person, they may do that so regularly that it is not seen as stepping out of their comfort zone.

There’s also a difference between being too nervous to do something out of your comfort zone and not wanting to do it. For example, if someone tells me to get on that roller coaster, that would be going out of my comfort zone, but it is an experience that I’m simply not interested in having.

It’s also great to reflect about what you’ve done that’s out of your comfort zone recently, and congratulate yourself for it. This can just be as simple of mentally acknowledging those moments and feeling proud of your accomplishments. If you can’t recall a recent memory, then challenge yourself to do something new. It can just be something small.

Until my next post I’ll also try to create a new challenge for myself to step out of my comfort zone too. Good luck!

About Elena B.

Elena is a 21 year-old college student, sales associate, and volunteer living with depression and generalized & social anxiety. Formally diagnosed with social anxiety in high school, Elena has struggled with it for the majority of her life. During her first year of university she experienced high levels of anxiety and had her first major depressive episode, which was followed by another the following year. Since then she has been recovered and focuses on her recovery daily. She currently runs a tumblr blog, where she shares inspirational quotes, images, and tips to help others with their recovery. Follow Elena’s story on HMC’s Supportive Minds Blog.

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