Are you trying to improve your mental health but you find that you’re still stuck in the same place? That’s common, and it’s because you’re not stepping out of your comfort zone!
People talk about stepping out of your comfort zone all the time (in literally all areas of life) and your mental health is no exception.
Your mental health journey requires growth and learning, and the only way to do that is to get a little bit uncomfortable and experience new things.
The Common Problem with Mental Health Journeys
Very often, I see people trying to better their mental health but aren’t even pushing themselves or realizing that they have to become a bit of a new person.
Here’s the thing about mental illnesses: they change you. You are not the same person that you were before you had a mental illness, and you won’t be the same person on the other side of it.
How could you expect to be the same person?! Moving on from something (like your mental illnesses) involves growth. It’s like a breakup with an ex. You get your heart broken, you learn how to be you without that ex, and you grow into a new version of you.
You will never be the same person if you go through a mental health journey. It’s incredibly important to realize that!
Your mental health will never improve if you aren’t willing to get out of your own way and better yourself.
Learning New Things for Your Mental Health
Bettering yourself requires learning new things about yourself and getting uncomfortably close with the reality of who you are and how you can make improvements to that.
You’ll never learn something new if you stay in your comfort zone. Your mental health journey is all about learning new ways to manage your illness, so it’s really, really important!
Think about this: when you are in school, how did you learn something?
You had to expand your horizons, expand your brain, and be uncomfortable with not understanding the topic. You were a little bit uncomfortable in learning the steps or facts on the subject, because you were in the phase of unknown.
The unknown is what makes us uncomfortable. But when you jump into that void and step out of your comfort zone, you are forcing yourself to learn and get through that void. You grow through that and are a new version of you on the other side!
I can simply promise you this: if you don’t start stepping out of your comfort zone, your mental health will never improve.
The Reality of Your Mental Health Journey
Personally, when my depression got bad in late 2017, I felt stuck. It was an awful feeling to have! Everything I was doing at that time felt like it was keeping me in the same place.
Related: My Depression Story (+ How You Can Ask for Help!)
I eventually figured out that I had to change and evolve if I wanted to feel better. I realized that I had a lot to learn if I wanted to change the way depression affected me.
There were a ton of new things I had to practice, take in and try out. All of those things were out of my comfort zone at that time.
Once that clicked for me, I was able to really start improving my mental health because I knew what to do. I had to start talking about my emotions and implementing new habits – all things that I wasn’t a fan of doing.
But my mental health was important enough to me to make the jump and start learning. Who was I to simply expect my depression to get better without growth? It wouldn’t!
There’s a quote that says, “You cannot heal in the same environment that made you sick.” It’s one that really strikes me. I think it applies to many different areas of life, and it definitely rings true for mental health. Think of the “environment” in that quote as your thoughts and your mindset.
You could stick to the exact same habits, the same thought processes and the same lifestyle, but you will never get better. #truthbomb
It’s really important to be willing to try new techniques and tools for your mental health. You have to be willing to hear someone out when they’re trying to help and offer advice. You have to be willing to embrace your flaws, mistakes and the illnesses you are struggling with.
Ultimately, you have to be willing to challenge and push yourself.
Mental health journeys are NOT easy ones. They are not for the faint-at-heart or the lazy. They are for the people willing to work hard and fight the battles inside of their head.
When you step out of your place of comfort, you are well on your way to becoming that person.
How to Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone
I know that it’s difficult to actually make this happen. It’s easy to read this and be like, “Okay, Sierra, great. I now know that I need to get out of my comfort zone but I don’t know how.”
But nope! I’m not allowing that today, lol.
I have a simple practice that you can do to get your gears thinking in the right mindset. It’s all about journaling!
I love journaling for so many reasons, man. It is such a wonderful practice and it really, really benefits mental health. If you haven’t already tried it, get on that train ASAP!
Related: How to Use a Journal Effectively
If you don’t have a journal, that is totally fine for this activity. Grab whatever paper you can (or even a Doc on your computer if you prefer typing!) There’s 3 questions I want you to answer that will help you.
Question 1: Why do you want to improve your mental health?
I know – this seems obvious! It kind of is, but it’s still very important to answer.
You could have a million and one answers to this question. Write every single one of them down! Even the little reasons will explain WHY exactly you are starting your mental health journey.
This is really important because, like I said earlier – mental illness is hard to work through. It’s super easy to get caught up in the difficulty of it, get overwhelmed by it, and then give up.
If you have your WHY written down and you have a deep understanding of it, the chance of giving up is lowered substantially. That’s a big deal!
Mental health journeys are not straight uphill battles. They go up and down. Knowing why you are trying to improve your mental health will get you through the downs and back going up.
Question 2: What are you afraid of when it comes to your mental health?
Let’s just be honest here: we all have something we’re afraid of. Even when there is something exciting going on or it’s an amazing, big opportunity, we have a bit of fear.
That’s normal! But the hardest part about fear is that it can really hold you back. It can self-sabotage. The key to not letting that happen is to acknowledge the existence of fear and not let it stay quiet and wreak havoc in the back of your brain.
A personal fear I had when I started to really work on my mental health was that all the work I was putting in wouldn’t really pay off. I was afraid that I would end up back in the same place that I started.
If I hadn’t recognized that fear, it would have eaten me up. It would have caused me to stop trying without even realizing it and then the fear would have come true.
By knowing what my fear was and keeping it at the forefront of my mind, I was able to continuously work against it and it wasn’t sneaking around in the back of my mind.
In order to answer this question, you need to dig deep and be real with yourself.
- What are some things you’re afraid could happen?
- What are some things you’re afraid WON’T happen?
- Are there any emotions that you’re afraid to feel?
- Is there anyone that you’re concerned about in terms of how your mental health affects them?
- What are the worst conclusions that your brain is jumping to?
There are a ton of fears that one can have about their mental health journey. It’s natural! But if you write them down and acknowledge them NOW, you’ll be prepared to fight against them as time goes on!
Question 3: How do my fears hinder what I want out of this journey, and how can I stop those fears from getting in the way now?
This is when you need to brainstorm and think ahead! There are no right or wrong answers. They might not all come to you right away, either, but that’s alright! You just need to get your brain-gears moving.
Think about this: have you ever had a big task that seemed super overwhelming and daunting to you? I know I have! Once you break down the big task into smaller, more manageable chunks, though, it’s not nearly as scary.
The same kind of process applies to the fears you have in regard to your mental health journey. If you are simply thinking about how afraid you are, those thoughts are going to overpower your brain.
Instead, figure out a plan (or plans!) that will help you combat that fear. When you know you are fighting it in a very conscious way, it won’t be nearly as overwhelming to you!
With these 3 questions, you’ll be able to be much less concerned about what could go wrong with your mental health journey. The fears you have won’t hold you back, and you’ll be able to start learning new ways to manage your illness in no time!
Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone for Your Mental Health!
It’s so important that you understand what it means to work on yourself, improve yourself, and make an effort to get out of your own way. That’s the only way that your mental health will ever truly get better!
But now you know exactly how! Get out there, start kicking mental illness’s butt and start stepping out of your comfort zone! You’ll thank yourself later on.