There is plenty of literature regarding the weakness of the comfort zone and the virtues of the learning zone. However, I have seen some misunderstandings in my therapy sessions. That is why I want to shed some light on the subject, because this information may help you stop being too self-demanding with yourself.
Self-help literature pushes us to be in the learning zone as much as possible, and that is correct, but I want to take you much deeper.
The learning zone is the only zone where we can develop ourselves and constantly learn, as here we face our fears, jump into challenges and show ourselves that we can achieve anything that we want.
The related feelings in this zone are always moving, such as; happiness, expansion, growth, optimism, braveness and courage.
The feeling can be similar to the satisfying feeling after a workout in the gym, the cheerfulness after a party, or the pride we feel when we pass an important exam. It is called the learning zone because we all learn and grow there.
So please, check your feelings, and if you are not feeling like that, you are not in this zone, but you might be in the unknown and rarely mentioned PANIC ZONE by crossing over a thin line.
There are too many demanding challenges in the panic zone, situations will be out of control, and even the stressful stimulus lasts too long. In other words, the situation is out of your control due to a lack of emotional, intellectual or physical resources, which stops us from learning anything and developing any new skills because we will be blocked.
We may confuse the learning zone because it is so close to panic zone and then we can ignore the feeling of being overwhelmed, despite this stress hurting us.
Here are some examples:
- Working in such a hostile and violent environment
- Running a half marathon without the right training
- Get a promotion without the proper guidance and support
- Overcome a break-up or a meaningful loss
As you can imagine, the feelings here are overwhelming, such as fear, tension, confusion, self-doubt or a high level of stress.
The main symptoms of being in the panic zone for a while are; fatigue, anxiety, low self-esteem, lack of focus, difficulties in making decisions or even depression.
I’d like you to stop to think about where are you in each area of your life (personal, professional, family, well-being, etc.)because spending a long time in the panic zone can be more damaging than in the COMFORT zone.
Why is this? Because the comfort zone keeps you comfortable without facing any challenges within your daily life. Here, you won’t learn anything either because the situations are in control and the stress in your life will not be an issue.
One of the most common mistakes is confusing the comfort zone with the rest zone, but the rest is essential for your wellbeing.
You need to visit the rest zone now and then to re-establish your balance in life. It is the zone where you will find yourself again and relax your mind and body; in other words, you will recuperate yourself from the daily effort and hard work.
The main difference between the comfort and rest zone is that the comfort zone makes you bored and frustrated, and the rest zone will make you happy and satisfied.
Here are a few tips to add clarity to the article:
- You may be in a different zone in each area of your life, for example, working in the same job for ten years (comfort zone in your personal space) and getting a new relationship with someone (learning zone in your personal life). This is good as it keeps you in balance because being in the comfort zone would always be frustrating and tedious, and vice versa, being in the learning zone for a long time would be exhausting and too demanding
- Try balancing the time you spend in each area of your daily life and go to the rest zone as much as possible
- If you’ve been in the panic zone and can’t leave it at this moment, you will need to rest a lot. Otherwise, you will get sick, or your mental health will be in danger due to the traumatic experience
- Think about what you need to work on to pass from the panic zone into the learning zone. Perhaps you need to take a course, hire an expert in any subject, go to therapy, or ask your loved ones for help
- If you are a person who always keeps yourself busy without taking time out, this might be an excuse, and this could stop you enjoying your life. You should be aware that there are people whose panic zone is a case of “stopping to smell the roses”.
- I want you to face your self-demanding patterns and treat yourself with care and love.