How to grow by using the comfort-stretch-stress technique

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How can you challenge yourself to stepping out of your comfort zone within a healthy environment? In what ways can you grow? The word ‘comfort zone’ most likely sounds familiar to you, but have you ever heard of the ‘stretch zone’and the ‘stress zone’?  

Everything you’ve ever wanted is one step out of your comfort zone

Karl Rohnke developed this ‘comfort-stretch-stress zone’ model, which says that peak performance occurs when people experience a moderate level of pressure.  When there is too much or too little pressure, performance declines.  

If you want to change and grow in any area of your life: health, career, personal development, spiritual growth, … you need to know where exactly your own zones begin and end. It is important to learn how to optimize them.

Comfort zone

You need to spend time in your comfort zone to nourish yourself, restore your nervous system and gather your strength for the next challenge. The comfort zone isn’t bad, it’s just not the place for much learning and growth.

Stretch zone

This zone is also called the challenge zone or learning zone. You need to be in the stretch zone to learn and grow.  But you cannot stay in the stretch zone all the time or you will burn out. Staying in this zone too much fuels “burn outs”.

Stress zone

It’s hard to learn or grow in the panic zone (or stress zone) because most of your energy is used trying to reduce stress and anxiety.  This is why performance declines with too much pressure. Zones vary from person to person and situation to situation.  

If you are a highly sensitive person, your comfort zone will be very different from that of someone who is highly resilient.  The same is true if you have suffered trauma or are chronically ill.  But even among highly sensitive people or highly resilient people, zones will differ from one person to another.

If you are an extremely highly sensitive person, with or without some trauma already dealt with, sometimes it feels like you are stepping out of your comfort zone when you just walk out the front door.  

Know that, no matter what challenge you face, no matter how small or how big it may seem to you, you can learn to embrace those challenges. By accepting your challenge, reaching out to them, your comfort zone will grow. What felt like a challenge last month may feel easy now.  After you’ve recovered yourself, you may feel ready to stretch yourself even further.  But remember, set small goals instead of big, unrealistic ones that can push you into your panic zone.


This and much more are taught during our Time2Reconnect experience weekends. Are you interested in participating? Then book your spot online today.

This article has been written by Ellen Van den branden for Time2Reconnect

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