If there was ever a time in most of our lives when we craved comfort, this is probably it. The combination of the upcoming holiday season + a worldwide pandemic is bound to be stressful. For many of us, the shorter, darker days of winter add to our feelings of disquiet. It’s a universal human trait to seek comfort when life becomes difficult, but where do we find that comfort? What do we turn to?
You’ve probably heard people refer to their “Quarantine 15”. In a poll of more than 1,000 WebMD readers, nearly half of the women and almost one-quarter of the men said that they had gained weight since March. This trend is no surprise. Food is one of the most common sources of comfort that people turn to in times of stress. There’s even a physiological reason for this. Chronic or ongoing stress causes the body to produce higher levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which in turn triggers cravings for salty, sweet, or fried foods; foods that produce a burst of energy and pleasure.
Thankfully, this hasn’t been an issue for me. In fact, in times of distress I tend to lose my appetite. One of my main go tos for comfort is a cup of hot tea which is known to lower stress hormones. Since I drink my tea black, it has the added benefit of being calorie free.
Soaking in a hot bath is another favourite source of comfort for me. There’s something about being surrounded by liquid warmth that soothes away anxiety and restores a sense of peace. Perhaps it’s reminiscent of returning to the womb!
What are some other ways that you can comfort yourself, especially if you’re trying to avoid stress eating? Here are a few suggestions, but I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment section.
- Exercise. This one might be challenging if gyms and recreational facilities are closed in your area, but it goes hand in hand with the next suggestion.
- Spend time outdoors.
- Listen to music.
- Do something creative… paint, sketch, knit, crochet, sew, embroider… the options are almost endless.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Practice mindfulness. Focus on whatever you’re doing at the moment. Notice the sights, sounds, and scents that surround you.
- Escape into fiction. Watch a movie or read a book.
- Work on a jigsaw, crossword, or sudoku puzzle.
- Savour the routines in your life. If life seems chaotic, work on establishing some routines and focus on the comfort that you receive from that first cup of coffee in the morning, a regular devotional or prayer time, a few minutes of quiet reading or contemplation after work.
We are living in tumultuous times and there seems to be no end in sight. We can’t see the big picture and have no idea how all this is going to work out for us individually or globally, but there is One who does know. Ultimately, true comfort is to be found in faith in God. Scripture is full of words of comfort.