Today, I’m writing about comfort zones and how, sometimes, we need to get out of them.

During the various lockdowns, our priority was to keep ourselves safe. This was particularly true at the beginning of the pandemic – because it occurred to us all, I know, that this was the infection that might kill us.

Indeed, many of us did lose friends or family to Covid – and we are aware therefore that we did the right thing. Our comfort zones were important, even though sometimes they didn’t feel that comfortable because we were all very anxious.

But I’ve noticed that a sizeable number of individuals, without any particular underlying illnesses, are still living cautiously. And I honestly don’t think this is good for us, in terms of mental health.

We need to stop seeking the comfort option and instead do things to feel useful, and get back to participating in all sorts of activities.

We must embrace new experiences and, above all, make plans to see people we love – especially family members who live far away. When we do that, we feel livelier and younger, and more engaged with life.

So, let me tell you about my own efforts to try something different; something which has done me a power of good, but which caused plenty of nervousness prior to doing it.

Living in a rural community as I do, I take more walks than I used to, and this led to me wondering if I could manage a walking holiday. My thoughts were that such a vacation would provide me with a definite schedule, which is important for me these days as a single person. I also felt it would be sociable and increase my fitness levels.

After much deliberation, I chose a Ramblers holiday in Sardinia, and decided to go in October in the hope there would be some sun, but not oppressively hot weather.

As it turned out, I picked well and had exactly the sort of holiday I had dreamt of.

But I confess that the lead up to it was quite a struggle. In fact, I found myself wanting to cancel it at least once a day – and rather more than that, the nearer I got to the departure date.

I worried that I might not be as fit as the other participants.

I worried that there might be more Covid there than here. I worried that everyone else would be a couple and I would feel like a spare part. I worried that I might feel poorly while away.

In fact, I worried about everything. I also seriously considered trying to change the holiday for one in the UK – my reasoning being that if I hated it, it would be easier to duck out, and find my way home.

So, I really was in quite a negative frame of mind. And when friends said to me: "I bet you’re getting excited about your holiday."

I had to force a smile and agree that I was, when in fact I wasn’t sure I wanted to go at all.

In the end though, it was brilliant.

There were 22 of us in the group and 12 of them were travelling alone.

They were all lovely and I’ve made genuine friends with at least five of them. I felt great about being active every day, and quickly realised that though some of the walkers were used to doing longer distances than I was, it was easy to find my own pace and to vary it according to the terrain.

And I found walking in a group invigorating, because often I walk alone at home. To be honest, I had never really appreciated before the holiday how much more you’re prepared to tackle when so many others are doing the same thing. I also discovered that I enjoyed climbing quite challenging ascents – which, let’s face it, you can’t do in East Anglia.

Then there was the scenery, which was gorgeous and dramatic. And I loved how all the walks allowed some time for paddling our tired feet in clear, sparkling water at one of the island’s many beautiful beaches.

Now that I’m back, I feel fit and fizzing with energy and have a real sense of the benefit of having totally altered my life for a week. Most of all, I’m pleased that I escaped from what I now realise was a comfort zone of less energetic exercise than I need. The holiday pushed me to do more, and I’m all the better for it.

Interestingly, when talking to several of the other participants, I learned that many of them had been just as anxious as me before the holiday. And several confided that they had promised themselves they would come home early, somehow, if they weren’t enjoying it. No one did though.

So, for me the holiday was a series of bonuses, and I’m particularly pleased at how toned my thighs look, even though I have no one in my life to show them to!

That’s my story then. Might you decide to do something that would tick the boxes for you and take you out of your comfort zone?

I hope so.