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The Benefits of Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone in Retirement

Think back to when you were younger, having big dreams and making plans for what you wanted to do once you retired. Maybe you thought you’d want to start a new hobby, forging a new career path or something else entirely.

Now that you are retired – or are almost retired – are you still excited about those dreams? Or are you feeling a little anxious about breaking out of your routine and comfort zone?

“Humans are creatures of habit, and the idea of breaking out of our regular routine is both exhilarating and stressful,” says Kristine Tilton, Executive Director of Waterstone at Wellesley. “However, studies have shown that a tiny bit of stress or pressure can actually help people be more productive.”

This state of low-level stress is what you feel when you step outside your comfort zone. It’s that blend of uncertainty, excitement and exhilaration at trying something new. That tiny bit of stress is what allows us to be more productive, more alert and more open to new possibilities.

“Your retirement years are the perfect time to break out of your comfort zone because you have the time, opportunity and freedom to explore the things you want to do without worrying about what you have to do,” says Kristine. “Once you’ve said goodbye to your long-term career, have raised your children and have moved to a community like Waterstone at Wellesley, you have everything you need in place to enjoy life. That gives you the chance to explore those dreams you always wanted to try, but never had the chance to before.”


The Benefits of Breaking Out

So what benefits does this low-level stress provide, besides the chance to learn something new? It turns out you actually benefit quite a bit and reap rewards such as:

Being more adaptive to change. As we age, our brains naturally become less adaptable and less tolerant to change. That’s because the part of our brain responsible for accepting new things starts to deteriorate when we reach our senior years. However, people who willingly stretch their limits and take on new challenges regularly can tone the part of their brain that tolerates change. That means they become more flexible and more prepared when unexpected or unwelcome changes occur, helping them be less stressed and more successful in the face of adversity.

Being more willing to take on new things regularly. Practice makes perfect, as the old saying goes. Once you’ve done one new thing, it’s easier to say “yes” to another new thing … and soon you’ll find that you’re breaking out of your comfort zone again and again. The adrenaline you get, and the enjoyment from being successful at new things, will keep you seeking out those opportunities to stretch your mind, body and soul.

Becoming more creative. Think of creativity like a muscle. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to continue using it. As you seek new opportunities and have new experiences, your brain naturally becomes more creative. You’ll find that it’s easier to dream about the future, ponder the past and come up with new ideas regularly. Not only may you find yourself trying artistic endeavors, but you’ll also discover that you're able to come up with different solutions to problems or find new possibilities in regular situations. That’s what creative thinking is all about.

Being healthier in mind, body and soul. Everyone knows someone who appears to be decades younger than their true age (as well as the inverse). We often say these people have a “youthful soul,” which is due in large part to seeing the world as an amazing place and being open to possibilities. By saying “yes” to stepping outside your comfort zone and reaping all the benefits we’ve listed above, you’ll find that you feel and act younger than your physical age. Being open often results in more physical activity, reduced stress, a focus on health and wellness … all of which result in a healthier overall person.


How to Begin Breaking Out

Does the idea of breaking out of your comfort zone feel daunting? Remember, every journey starts with just one step. Every expert had their “first day” when they felt like a complete novice. There’s no one right or wrong way to break out of your comfort zone – it all depends on your own personal preference and level of risk. And there’s no timeline, either. You don’t have to stress yourself going from zero to 60 right away.

The trick is to find your level of risk and find tolerable ways to step outside your comfort zone. Think of it like exercise. You don’t want to burn out by doing too much at once. Instead, find a few simple ways you can stretch yourself each and every day to build up your “muscles,” and soon you’ll find yourself doing things you never thought possible.

  • Do something each day that scares you, or is a little outside your norm. This can be as simple reading a new book, taking a new route during your morning walk or trying a new recipe. Anything you can do to step slightly outside your routine is a great way to begin pushing your comfort zone.
  • Be impulsive. The old phrase “listen to your gut” is great advice. Our intuition is rarely wrong, so instead of thinking a decision to death, make a “gut decision” and stick with it. You may surprise yourself at how successful you are doing things this way, and eventually you’ll learn to trust your instincts more and more.
  • Take it slow. Small changes add up to big shifts overall. Making small changes in your approach or attitude can be all you need to find yourself treading a new path. Remember, slow and steady wins the race … and now that you’re retired, you have all the time in the world to run it.

“At Waterstone at Wellesley, we want to help our residents live their very best possible lives in retirement and step outside their comfort zones to chase their dreams,” says Kristine. “Our maintenance- and worry-free senior living community offers everything seniors need to enjoy their retirement and beyond.”

For more information about our distinctive and worry-free lifestyle, please contact us at 781.591.7113.


Beautiful Riverfront Community

Located on the banks of the Charles River, Waterstone is Wellesley’s only senior living community, offering premier independent and assisted living. But that’s only the first of many differences that sets Waterstone above and beyond other communities.


Celebrating Dynamic Living

Here our residents live independently in their own private, spacious apartments – but without any of the worries or concerns of homeownership or living alone. All meals are expertly prepared. There aren’t any chores to be concerned with. No home maintenance or repairs to worry about. Just opportunities around every corner and time to spend as they choose – in the company of new friends.

 Our vibrant community encourages residents to engage in a variety of recreational, cultural and social programs and activities. Enjoy a fitness class. Swim in the sunny indoor pool. Take a stroll on a walking path. Partake in a favorite hobby or pastime. Discover a new interest. With Waterstone at Wellesley, there’s a world of opportunity waiting right outside our residents’ doors.


Confidence of Care

The hallmark of Waterstone assisted living is the peace of mind we provide both our residents and their families. Knowing that care and support is available right on site instills a sense of confidence and calm one can’t find living alone.

 For prospective residents or their families interested in residing at Waterstone at Wellesley, please contact us at 781.591.7113.