20th February 2017: Day 32 - On the Other Hand
Today I’m thinking a bit about comfort zones.
This project to do something different each day can be quite challenging some days and some days it really takes me out of my comfort zone.
I had to do an exercise today where I imagined myself stepping out of the zone and how it felt and although it was just my imagination I could feel my heart leaping in my chest and I got slightly breathless.
So, what is a comfort zone?
Well to me it’s where I do something(s) that don’t stretch me physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. So for instance, I can take myself to a foreign country, arrive there, find somewhere to live spend time there, and get to know the locals and that isn’t a stretch for me. But, as you’ve read in some of my posts, I found it a stretch to introduce myself to people at a networking event or ask a stranger to take a selfie with me.
I heard it said that remaining in your comfort zone leads to boredom and I had never thought of it in that way before. But actually, there is something to that. You can be so deep into your comfort zone that you can’t climb out - is that what being in a rut is?
I found a new benefit of coming out of your comfort zone in a different way.
My friend Gemma told me about a study that has shown that brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand can help stave off dementia because it builds new neural pathways in the brain, thereby creating ‘brain plasticity.’
So today I tried brushing my teeth with my non-dominant hand (I’m left handed).
It did feel strange, as though my hand didn’t quite know what to do. I usually start on the bottom left side, move to the front. Then the bottom right and on to the inside of the bottom right along the back of the front teeth then the inside of the bottom left and then I make my way to the top teeth and take a similar path. I didn’t realise that until just now, by the way, it’s not a conscious thing, I had to visualise my teeth brushing habit for a minute.
This morning, though, like I said, my right hand didn’t seem to know what to do. I started at the bottom left side and made my way along the outside, then the inside. Then it was strange, my hand didn’t seem to understand it needed to move upwards and I just continued brushing around my bottom teeth. I then caught myself and had to tell myself to move to the top teeth. I did that and continued on with no particular pattern.
The most important and interesting thing I found was that by brushing with my right hand, I was able to get to the back-left hand corner of my top teeth in a way I have not when I use my left hand.
I don’t know how the non-dominant hand teeth brushing works when looking to create brain plasticity, do we do it every day or a couple of times a week or do we mix it up every once in a while?
I’ll ask Gemma.
What I will take away is the ability to gain a better reach at the back of my teeth when I use my right hand. To me it reinforces the idea that leaving your comfort zone and doing something different can give you surprising insights and help you to reach corners of your life that you’ve never reached before because you didn’t know how to get there.
Why not try it?