How to Use The Concept of Comfort Zone, Learning Zone and Panic Zone to Your Advantage
Updated: Oct 6, 2019
Comfort zone, as the name suggests is a mental zone where you feel comfortable, at ease, do things that you regularly do, with no or minimal risk and feeling of insecurity.
Rewind back your life a little and think about those times when you feel you have learned the most, at personal as well as professional level i.e. when you stepped out of your comfort zone. Some of the events can be while you were preparing for your exams, your first day at school when you experienced loss of a loved one or your breakup, your first public speaking presentation, first day at your office, the day you quit your job, changed your career path, etc. These can also be adventurous activities, the activities which you don’t usually don’t do and which most people fear such as skydiving, rafting, hiking, etc.
Activities that are part of your daily life such as watching TV, going for a walk (not strenuous exercise), cooking, gardening, cleaning are all a part of your comfort zone. These are the activities that you have been doing since childhood; basically, you know how the activity has to be performed. These activities are familiar, comfortable, and safe.
Relationship between Comfort Zone and Anxiety Levels
Science says that comfort zone is characterized by low anxiety levels. Although anxiety is not something to be happy about but some amount of anxiety is beneficial for us in terms of improving our performance and making us experience the emotions that we are not used to experiencing every day.
The 3 zones where a person finds himself are categorized into the comfort zone, learning zone and panic zone. The comfort zone is the innermost circle followed by the learning zone and the panic zone.
In 1908, a famous research study evidenced that there is a strong connection between anxiety and performance levels. The subjects of the experiment, mice, were initially assigned an easy task. They were performing here staying inside of their comfort zone. In comparison, when the task started becoming harder, the subject’s anxiety levels rose and this helped increase their performance level but after a certain point, the anxiety levels reached the panic zone and that’s when the performance started to drop. After a point, the combined effect of the difficult task and high anxiety level dropped the performance of the mice. This concept is now known as the “Yerkes-Dodson Law”. This law shows how our performance improves with an increase in anxiety levels but starts dropping with too much anxiety. This experiment concluded that there is an optimal anxiety level at which our performance is at the maximum.
One of the main reasons why anxiety levels increase is because of the uncertainty attached to the event. The greater the uncertainty, the father you are going from your comfort zone. Example, if you have never done skydiving, it will greatly make you come out of your comfort zone. However, if a friend shares his own experience or you watch a YouTube video about it, your uncertainty surrounding the event will minimize and hence your comfort level will rise.
As a result, trying something for the first time signifies coming out of the comfort zone the most. Greater the familiarity, lesser is the anxiety level. Even if your life is steady and is flowing smoothly, challenge yourself to do things that get you out of your comfort zone. It’s when you step out of your comfort zone that you learn the most. However, make sure to not stretch too much to avoid experiencing a performance drop and crashing and quitting at the end.
Advantages of coming out of your comfort zone:
Grows you: Coming out of your comfort zones also makes you reach the optimum anxiety levels, grows your self-confidence and expands your perspective towards life. When we do something outside of our comfort zone, it instills inside us a sense of confidence and achievement after the accomplishment of the task. Emotions of anxiety and stress get converted to positive emotions of self-accomplishment.
It expands your comfort zone: When you do an activity once or twice that is outside of your comfort zone, you simple expand your comfort zone. The same activity that was outside your comfort zone is now inside of it which leads to the expansion of the zone. Example, doing sky diving once or twice might make you put this activity inside of your comfort zone.
You set an example for others to follow: When you do something that you usually don’t do, you do unknowingly set an example for others to follow. We all have stories in our lives about inspirations that we took from others to perform something in our lives. Stepping out of your comfort zones makes you become that source of inspiration and motivation for others.