Comfort Yourself: It Might Look Different Than You Think!
How are you feeling? If you're in need of some comfort, nurturing, and uplifting, you're not alone! I've been hearing this a lot lately. Maybe the winter has you down; perhaps you're grieving the loss of any number of people and circumstances; and maybe you're still processing “the lost years”, or still feel stuck in them due to worries about catching Covid.
If you nodded your head to one or more of the above, I'm sending you a virtual hug. And I want to encourage you to comfort yourself. By this I mean to care for yourself in all the ways you need attention in body, mind, and soul. Good nutrition, exercise, prayer or meditation, enough sleep and rest, play/creativity, water, supplements, a bunch of flowers, a walk in the woods or around the block, connecting with your friends and loved ones, therapy, etc., are all ways to comfort yourself.
It's easy, when we're feeling down, to let all that go and just wallow, eat junk, drink too much, isolate, binge watch or obsessively scroll. We think we are comforting ourselves when we check out and self-medicate in some way.
Did you know that's actually not comfort? Comfort means “to strengthen greatly”. And no strengthening is happening when we treat ourselves poorly--we're weakening and abusing ourselves greatly instead. This actually makes us more fragile and less able to handle what is difficult in our lives.
We need to do what is life-giving for us. To love ourselves enough to prioritize our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health. I have to bring up the golden rule because sometimes people get tetchy about loving themselves, especially those with Christian roots or identities. Loving and serving others they can handle, but when they're encouraged to love themselves it sounds self-centered. Um, it's in the Bible, ya'll. The second of the Ten Commandments. "Love your neighbor as...yourself!" There's an assumption in that commandment that you love yourself before you go love your neighbor.
So back to comfort. Ask yourself: In what ways am I in need of comfort (aka to be strengthened greatly)? How could I bring comfort into my life today in practical ways? What tools do I already have to strengthen myself? Where might I need help or accountability in order to care for/comfort myself?
Personal story: I am still dealing with the effects of Covid from six months ago. My brain is foggy sometimes, I tire out easily and get this trembly weakness in my legs and have to sit down. Sometimes I have to rest for a couple days in a row. Because of this, I hadn't worked out as hard or as often as I'm used to. I'd work out one day and take three off--this was unheard of for me! I've been working out every day since I was twelve. I felt so bummed about how out of shape I had become, how weak I felt, how I'd lost stability in my core and mobility particularly in my hips. I kept waiting for things to get better. But they weren't.
Then I listened to motivational speaker Brendon Burchard talk about making a Don't Wait list and beginning to do the things I truly desired to do. And one of these things for me was getting in shape and feeling good in my body again. So I signed up for a challenging 4-week exercise program.
The first week was really difficult and I felt a bit discouraged because it was harder than I thought it would be. My brain tried to tell me it's too hard, maybe I should quit, etc., but I stuck with it ( and kept listening to Brendon Burchard's Motivation podcast for encouragement).
I'm nearing Week 4 and can feel my body getting stronger and firmer, my mobility range is growing, and I'm setting my sights on a 100 Day Program that I didn't think I'd ever do again. And my confidence is higher because I'm keeping my word to myself and doing what I know I is good for me to do.
This is an example of me comforting myself! It's the opposite of what we might think of as comfort, right? Oh, and by the way, I didn't overdo it, injure myself, or punish myself with exercise. This is a balanced program and includes rest days. I'm feeling better, so this is the right thing for me.
I'm not suggesting you sign up for a challenging exercise program. Comfort could look like many different things, depending on what you need. Sometimes a cup of tea, a nap, a book or Netflix, and a blanket is the comfort we need. My point is, if you're feeling down, or are in a difficult season, take a look at your daily routines/habits and see how you might care for yourself. Being good to yourself will help you feel as good as you possibly can during whatever you're going through.