These last few years I’ve been defining and redefining comfort. Truth be told I’m a comfort lush. If someone were to count how many times I use the word comfortable in a yoga class they wouldn’t be able to participate in the class, they would be too busy counting. I am all about comfort. When people visit our house or my office the first thing they usually comment on is how welcoming and easy it is to be in the space. I want my visitors to immediately shed their worries and start healing.
Over the years however I’ve learned that comfort is about a lot more than warm blankets and soft clothes. Comfort is also about ease of living. So I thought today I would make a list of some of the ways to change your life to accommodate deeper levels of comfort. Sometimes we forget that our life could be a little bit easier without that much work.
1) Better Sleep: After 12 years of sleeping on the same mattress we both we were waking up sore all over and with intense back pain, last summer we bought a new mattress and it is fabulous. Think about your bedroom—is there a way to make you sleep better. Try to get rid of electronics, put curtains up for darkness, buy nicer sheets, better pillows or a new mattress. Think about little and big ways that you could sleep better like clearing clutter out of the bedroom or moving the bed to a different wall. You won’t regret it even a little bit.
2) Get rid of what you don’t need: We sold our second car this year and it significantly dropped our stress level. I was always worried about the next repair bill and didn’t like how it handled in the rain and snow. So we sold it and we make do with biking and better planning. Sometimes even if you don’t use things the extra stuff cause stress and makes it hard to access what you do want.
3) Improve Travel Health: Travel happens and it is a lot of stress on the body. But it can be easier. We’ve made the switch to closer airports, better flying times and leaving time between connecting flights so we are not stressed. I always do yoga and tai chi in the airport to prepare my body for sitting and we walk the terminals to stretch our legs and improve circulation. We also try to fly with as little as possible and make sure it is manageable to carry.
4) Be Pain Free: Lots of students come up to me before class and inform me of a condition they have and then use the phrase “I’ll just modify. I know how to take care of myself.” While it is great that you know how to adjust you practice and your life to your pain, it doesn’t mean that the pain is gone. We put up with pain for so long without exploring all the options of ways that might improve it or get rid of it.
5) Kitchen Organization: I just helped my sister set up her new kitchen and it was a great review of the ways we have always done things and the ways we wished we did things. By getting a little creative we made it easy for her (and her body) to get to things she uses most often. It is true of our bathrooms and clothing storage as well. Contemplate systems that would work for your life so you don’t end up screaming at a cupboard or drawer for ten or twenty years.
6) Diet of Ease: Meal planning and making deliberate decisions about the foods that go in your body are a big way to manage comfort. I know what foods make my belly ache, what foods give me bad dreams and what foods make me depressed. Shopping and planning with intention make it easier when I am stressed out to grab food off the shelves that is good for me.
7) Contemplating “No”: For years I’ve followed the same sequence: work too hard, get exhausted and depressed, rest a ton, think I’m better, plan too much, work too hard, get exhausted. It was always up and down with lots of guilt around wanting to do more and worrying about how to do less. Now I’m trying to remember how powerful saying “no” can be. At any moment I can back out on a dinner date, an appointment, a trip. It is really not the end of the world. In fact if I show up rested and kind-hearted the next week things will probably go smoother than if I show up angry and exhausted. Sometimes just opening the door for “no” makes it easier to say “yes,” or to say “yes” in a way you hadn’t thought of before.
8) Creativity: Being comfortable takes great creativity. For some reason all these gadgets and gizmos that are supposed to make our lives easier end up making them much harder. Sometimes it takes thinking outside the box to make things really comfortable for you.
9) Smarter shopping: Chain stores and bargain stores are excellent places to find things to make your life more uncomfortable. Think discount shoe stores or the quality of clothing at lower end department stores. Sometimes we don’t save money if we buy something cheap and hate it the entire time we own it. I like to buy things with the understanding that I’ll own it for a minimum of ten years.
10) There Is Only Gain Without Pain: Exercising or living a painful, challenging lifestyle sets you up for future failure. If it doesn’t hurt your body today, it will tomorrow. This is true in every aspect of life. If you are doing something painful or uncomfortable and telling yourself it is just for a short time, ask yourself if you will have more time to deal with the consequences in five or ten years. Pushing through and ignoring signs will be dangerous eventually, even if you are not seeing the signs yet.
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