Comforting Yourself Without Creating a Net Negative Effect

The last few weeks have been tough.

I’ve had some stressful and heartbreaking things happen.

First, my sweet dog died. He was my first baby. My husband & I got him right after we got married 11 years ago.

Since I work from home he was my companion. I didn’t realize how comforting it was just to have him in the house with me until he wasn’t. My brain still hasn’t quite caught up. I keep looking for him & then I remember.

He was also my walking buddy. Walking is one of my favorite things to do. I do it a lot. It’s how I think and process what’s happening in my life. It’s when I listen to my podcasts and get refreshed. It’s my therapy.

He’s been on every single walk with me for the past 11 years. He was part of the therapy.

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On top of all this we had this crazy hurricane scare. Thankfully we were spared Florence’s fury here in Charleston (& if you are in NC my thoughts and prayers are with you!!) but there were a few scary days when weren’t sure what was going to happen. We left our house and evacuated not sure what to expect.

And through all that craziness I was trying to launch my new group (hi new members!) and do consults with new clients (hi new clients!) while completely out of my usual environment & routine.

Not surprisingly, I found myself feeling out of sorts. I wanted relief. My first instinct was to turn to chocolate (peanut M&M’s, to be specific) and wine (any kind, to be specific). Can anyone relate? Anyone?  

So, why do we do this?

The truth is, these things (sugar & alcohol) DO make us feel better. They really do. Temporarily.

They release all sorts of feel-good chemicals in the brain. It numbs it away for a bit. We feel in control. We feel comforted. Temporarily.

Let me say, this is not about M&M’s or wine being “bad”. Let’s not even go there. Let’s go deeper.

The problem isn’t the thing (sometimes it’s chocolate & wine, sometimes it’s online shopping, sometimes it’s scrolling through social media, sometimes it’s binging on Netflix), the problem is that when we rely on these things to deal with negative emotions we get a net negative effect.

What I mean by this is that we become reliant on them to deal with negative emotions (this can be stress, sadness, boredom, feeling of rejection, fear, etc.) and over time we start to experience consequences.

The consequence might be weight gain or health issues or lack of energy or just a sense of disempowerment. The worst is that gut feeling that we aren’t showing up for ourselves in the way we truly want.

So, I recognized this. I put down the M&M’s and Cabernet and asked myself “What do you really need right now?”.

The answer that came: “I need comfort.”

Fair enough.

So, I decided to show up for myself in the most loving way possible.

How could I comfort myself through this without creating a net negative effect?

Of course, this is personal & different for everyone but here are some things that I do for myself when I need to be comforted that don’t have a net negative effect:

-        Allow myself more sleep (go to bed earlier)

-        Drink more water (with lemon as a bonus!)

-        Drink hot tea. (I love Stress Less from Lipton & Ginger Turmeric Herbal tea from Trader Joe’s)

-        Eat really nutritious meals. (I had the most amazing Salmon salad from Publix the other day & I could feel my cells thanking me.)

-        Eat slowly and try to put down my phone.

-        Meditate. I’m new to this but even just 5 minutes is huge.

-        Journal. It’s a beautiful way to start the day.

-        Workout with weights. It makes me feel strong

-        Go to a Yoga class. It makes me feel calm.

-        Stop and listen to my kids when they are telling me a story…try to look them in the eyes and pay attention….even when it goes on and on and on….because they are amazing & that makes me happy & it reminds me to slow down and not let life pass me by

-        Hug my husband more

-        Take a hot bath

-        Read a book (I’m reading the Handmaid’s Tale right now and it’s really good! Anyone else read it?)

- Listen to Podcasts

-        Finally, say really kind and loving things to myself.

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 Here’s the thing, we aren’t going to feel happy all the time. We aren’t meant to. Part of being human is that we will feel a range of emotions, probably every day. We never get to “happy all the time” and that’s totally okay.

I WANT to feel sad about my dog. I want to cry. I loved him. But I know I can handle hard emotions without heaping more abuse onto myself.

And yes, I’ll still have M&M’s and wine sometimes but because I WANT to, not because I NEED them to deal with my life or push away the hard stuff.

I’m stronger than that and so are you.

We are amazing and we can handle hard things.

Take a moment & ask yourself “What do I really need right now?” & then find the most loving way to provide that FOR YOU. You are so worth it.  

Melissa Adrian