Transitions. Change. Ebbs and flows. These are fluctuations we expect throughout our lifetimes and, yet, they still sometimes pose as hiccups in our daily routine. A year’s ending/beginning challenges us as we tie together what was and prep for what will be. A college semester’s end allows us to reflect on triumphs as well as areas in which we may grow. A sport season’s conclusion may leave a space in our schedules that we must now otherwise fill. As mentioned, this is all perfectly natural, but does present the question: why do we have a difficult time embracing change, forced or voluntary, into our lives?
Most humans have what is commonly dubbed a ‘comfort zone.’ This is a safe place, a “behavioral space where your activities and behaviors fit a routine and pattern that minimizes stress and risk…You benefit in obvious ways: regular happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress” (Henry, 2013). This comfort zone can take several different forms: a college semester’s intensity, a season (sport or yearly), or even an identity (mother, athlete, teacher, etc.). No matter the form of a particular comfort zone, when transition or change challenges us, we may also feel a disruption of self-confidence; we are perhaps left a little lost (Henry, 2013).
In the midst of our current 2016 to 2017 transition, we encourage readers to view ‘change’ in a different light. Science has proven that, “to maximize performance…we need a state of relative anxiety;” this level of slight uncertainty is called “optimal anxiety” and can truly bring out our best. It discourages complacency and allows us to push boundaries in the future (Henry, 2013). Every time we disrupt that comfort zone, we actually strengthen our mental fortitude and capacity to handle uncertainty. Just like mindfulness, embracing change/transition (and even actively pursuing it) can restructure and strengthen our brains!
Reframing the way we think, perceive, and experience transition is beneficial! While, we certainly need to return to our comfort zone at times to recharge, we can embrace transitions that are upon us and begin to enjoy them. With that in mind, we know it’s not easy; mistakes may be made. We may not be perfectly comfortable all the time. It takes time to adjust to a ‘new normal.’ Doctor Cheryl A. MacDonald of Health Psychology of San Diego mentions “welcoming change means accepting the blunders that are made along the way”. Allow, learn from, and let go of mistakes. We are all only human!
A very happy holiday season from TOPPS to you! At the end of the month, look for our next blog about goal-setting!
Henry, Alan (3 July, 2013). The Science of Breaking out of Your Comfort Zone (and Why You Should).
Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/the-science-of-breaking-out-of-your-comfort-zone-and-w-656426705.
MacDonald, Cheryl. How to Cope with Transition and Change. Retrieved from http://healthpsychology.org/how-to-cope-with-transition-and-change/.