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helicopter flying over Horseshoe Falls

Googling "comfort zone," I came up with the same name referring to a notorious Toronto nightclub. Raided in 2008 after a death of someone who allegedly was poisoned. The charges are still pending. Knowing this makes one feel somewhat dubious about employing the words "comfort zone" to describe feelings of security, self-worth, happiness, synergy, goodwill, benevolence or personal peace.

I can't imagine the actual size of the reservoirs of energy and money our society spends on keeping ourselves comfortable and free from fear. They say that 75% of an average pharmacy's supplies consist of mood-altering medications. More and more people are turning to these products for relief from anxiety. In this country, crime is kept to an absolute minimum at a considerable cost. We have become a complacent bunch assuming the sheer efficiency of our law enforcement agencies at "putting the bad guys away". We trust in this umbrella of safety over our communities while we mind our own business, often shunning strangers and leaving the lights on as part of the security equation around our comfort zones. We can be quite satisfied in our cocoons and may I say as each year passes I become a little less proactive at deciding what I'll do when real peril comes. It is normal to experience some anxiety from inherent risks such as a speeding car out of control or hearing a scream for help. The ability to feel anxiety is important because it triggers us to take action (flight or fight) to keep safe. This same emotion allows us to face a job interview, to make a successful presentation, or to begin a new life. As it is, some individuals feel their anxiety more intensely than others. It may be so intense as to be traumatic, even disrupt the person's ability to function from day to day. These people may need medicine to feel stabilised and comfortable so they may work and have normal routines in their communities. Although much evidence is available, it is still unclear why more people think anxiety these days.

While we all strive to maintain our comfort zones, inevitably stressors appear to disrupt our tranquillity. If we have been conditioned to become anxious in response to these unforeseen interruptions, a sick stomach, headache, pounding heart, and sweaty palms are likely to be the most distinct symptoms. At this point, some of us can take a few deep breaths and feel 90% convinced there would undoubtedly be something good emerging from all this turmoil.

My distraught stepdaughter called me one afternoon and begged me to take her to the veterinarian. I knew something must be going on with one of her pets, and it turned out her rabbit “ Coco ” wasn't responding normally. Carefully manoeuvring herself into the car with the towelled pet snuggled in her arms, the rabbit went into convulsions while on our way to the clinic. The “ bunny vet ” was very sympathetic and quietly communicated while he searched for a heartbeat the sad news about Coco's demise. When we got home, my stepdaughter appeared calmer, and we were even able to divert our conversation from Coco. I soon realised the day wasn't about a loss as much as about relationships - ours to be specific. Genuine grief for the loss of the pet followed her initial display of anxiety over this experience, and honestly, it freed me up as well by feeling her grief. I've always thought it was something to do with society, religion or our culture that shapes the way we perceive death. I remember as a kid I was not allowed to be intimately involved with a dying relative. But Coco's death was a catalyst that allowed my stepdaughter to move out of her comfort zone for a moment. Doing so has left her a more mature person able to take ownership of her fears.©

The Age of Anxiety

Your Comfort Zone


July 15, 2013


James Kershaw


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Jim Kershaw says

January 1, 2017

My own anxiety was based on illusions of the past and future but during all that time I had not discovered the present moment and its stillness.

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