After a work week where I wasn’t sure who I wanted to kill most – my boss, myself or my co-workers, the ability to shake off that bad ‘ju ju’ is critical to my long term sanity (any my coworkers health).
To stay sane, I do a lot of yoga, walk miles with my dog and the occasional glass of wine or vodka tonic doesn’t go amiss. But the one thing I don’t really ever talk about is my ‘comforting’ routine. (See, even writing that makes my skin pucker and my face contort). Comforting seems such a babyish word, indulgent, soft.. all the things I’m not. And, according to my therapist, everyone does it – whether you’re 4 or 41. However like masturbation, few are sitting around a bar talking about it. Because its weird and uncomfortable. Its an indication of vulnerability – I need – and even if you’re partnered up, everyone still does this for themselves. Its the things you do that you know, always, always, makes you feel better. Everyone self comforts – it just looks different for everyone.
Now I’m not talking about going out and getting wasted, (not really comforting, more obliterating yourself), or making out (seeking comfort through others), but if you’re not sure how you self comfort, the place to start for many is taking off or putting on a specific article of clothing.
Clothes: As babies we were swaddled to be comforted, but over the age of about 4 and under the age of 80, being tightly wrapped in a blanket probably isn’t most people’s idea of ‘comforting’. Instead we tend to take off things or put on things to make ourselves feel more ‘me’. No man will ever understand the joy of removing your bra at the end of the day, ok, maybe guys feel joy, but its a totally different type of joy. Taking off your tights and putting on some big ass Smartwools. Peeling off that thong and going commando for the evening or just taking off pants that fit just a little to snugly.
Dudes don’t seem to constrained by their clothes, so maybe its putting on that old ratty t shirt, those 1980s grey sweatpants or just untucking that shirt. My ex used to walk around the house in his boxers and no socks, even when it was snowing outside. Whatever ever makes you feel more comfortable and signals that now is a time just for you. And if you chose to swaddle yourself, just make sure you can reach the remote.
Food: Like a child, appetite plays a large role in satiation. That slightly empty hole in your chest/ stomach that aches at the end of the day?.. well it needs filling even its is not actual hunger. Now there is a very very limited section of the population sucking on a teet at the end of the day (please don’t email me, I do not need to know), so we tend to turn to food or drink that comforts us. Makes us feel good. Better.
Growing up, my source of comfort was toast slathered in butter (these days its Nutella). One of my friends goes out and buys herself a cream puff, another sips Bourbon out of a mug.. but everyone has a ‘I deserve this’ food or drink that we use to feel comforted when things get too much. Again, its the thing you do that feels like a treat – eating dinner isn’t self comforting.. that’s just nutrition. The food or drink you consume to self comfort isn’t about hunger at all. But like a good meal, it makes you feel relaxed, indulged. After all, no one started a war after eating a cream puff.
Activity: You’re physically comfortable and somewhat sated, and now you need to disengage your brain from whatever horror befell you. Like a kid, the need to comfort usually stems from a ‘something’. Back then a raised voice or pain somewhere needed soothing, today it might be an argument, a tough day at work or even that driver who blocked your exit on the way home. Whatever the source, you’re feeling agitated, maybe anger, definitely ire. And unless you want to spend the evening dwelling, you need to redirect your thoughts. TV is most people’s first call, though the internet is a close second. My dirty secret is The Daily mail online, a trite and laughable British newspaper that focuses on celebrity gossip and high drama stories from the US (‘6 yr boy kept in a George Foreman press for 17 years!’). The writing is terrible, the stories ridiculous but its a beautiful source of comfort. My next port of call is usually an old Doris Day or Cary Grant movie. Its pure indulgence and feels slightly naughty to wasting my time on such sugarcoated fantasy. But wow, is it comforting. The guy always gets the girl, the girls are always spunky and the clothes are beyond fabulous. And for an hour or so, curled up in my PJs, with my dog, my Nutella and my tea, I can forget wanting to put a fork in my eyeball for a few more days.
Whats your self comforting ritual?