Uncertainty. The attached fear and anxiety used to be crippling and I would do everything but face uncertainty. I love routine and the sense of predictability. It is familiar and comfortable. Do you feel me? If so, then you may wonder why change. Or in my case, it took months to convince myself that letting go of stability to travel full time for a year “made sense” and I eventually got comfortable with the idea of adventure and the unknown.
Not only did it take convincing, but I knew I was so risk-adverse (or at least I considered myself to be), that I literally had to practice getting uncomfortable. A regular yoga practice was my best tool, but I realized that my previous ways were super predictable and planned, everything from the exact same time I got up, the same breakfast, the same teaching yoga/work routine and this was essentially hindering my personal and professional growth. It was time to get uncomfortable. Although, not going to lie, it was not easy at first and even once in a while now I get a little panicked as every day is new and has its moments of being uncomfortable. For example, last week we drove through sparse Northern British Columbia without service/WiFi and didn’t know where we were going to stop. Seven hours later, it ended up being one of my favorite overnights. And somehow, the unplanned stops are always the best, whether they provide a hilarious story to look back on or a big beauty bomb you just wanna soak up.
So here’s the deal…I think there’s a stress sweet spot – too much stress or anxiety from work/relationships/life leads to negative body reactions (teeth grinding, emotional outbursts, feeling of scattered/foggy, tension, etc), but if we can properly manage our stress and even expand our previous boundaries into the land of discomfort, as cliché as it sounds, that’s where the real magic happens. When teaching yoga, verbal cues are carefully communicated to help students settle into a place of ease, despite body sensations and distractions aimed to take us out of the present moment. Eventually, we learn to recognize these behaviors and offer our body/mind more pleasurable alternatives. Yoga and meditation provide the perfect opportunity or tools rather to practice getting comfortable with your discomfort zone but if you’re not headed to your mat/meditation cushion, here are 4 VERY practical ways to traverse this sticky terrain. …Cause it ain’t easy 😉
- Choose to acknowledge the benefit. It’s important that your brain is on board. So when you find yourself going to the same workout class because the thought of going somewhere new brings up anxiety, remind yourself that pushing yourself and cross-training is important for overall health too. Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is my main motivator here – who knows what I might miss out on if I didn’t do this or didn’t go there type of thing…
- Take regular baby steps. If you’re risk-adverse, start with small changes like bringing something different to work for lunch or switching up your breakfast. Maybe you go to work 15 minutes early to sneak in a brisk walk before work starts and change your routine. Work your way up to more challenging situations, like a last minute road trip a few hours away if you have a free weekend. Google everything you need on the way there (if you’re not driving obviously) or pop into a local coffee shop once you get there for WiFi and see what you want to do.
- Switch up how you make decisions. If you constantly over think things, experiment with quick decisions (where to eat, what to wear, how to word a text/email). Alternatively, if you are used to flying on a whim, take the time to slow down and really observe. That’s what I love about tough hikes, every step demands direct concentration. This means letting go of life outside of the trail.
- Ultimately, be kind to yourself. It’s all practice – all of it. There will still be times you get worked up, but learn to recognize them, and soften or surrender into them. Tell yourself you’re fine (because you are), and take it as a lesson learned. There will be another opportunity to explore your discomfort zone. Enjoy the sweetness along the way.