When we think of physical self-care, we often think of kale salads and kettlebell classes (I’m willing to bet there is an IG account named kaleandkettlebells… yes, yes…there are a couple of them).
Kale and kettlebells could be your thing and that’s cool. No shame in enjoying that. I enjoy dabbling with these things from time-to-time too.
However, there is a fundamental piece of physical self-care that has a huge impact on our mental well-being and is often overlooked (thanks to diet culture which keeps us hyper focused on exercise and food as the only means to making ourselves feel better) – physical comfort.
Right now, do a quick check-in: How does your body physically feel?
Something I stress to clients all the time is the importance of physical comfort. When we feel physically uncomfortable in our bodies*, it can trigger emotional discomfort.
Have you ever put on pants that were too tight and had a meltdown about your body?
Physical discomfort can easily turn to contempt for your body and spiral into feelings of body shame.
Often I see this when clients are wearing clothes that are too tight (underwear and bras included), itchy or they are constantly fidgeting with them.
We’ve been conditioned to think that thinner equates to more body comfort, but this isn’t always true.
It’s especially not true if we are going hungry, taxing our nervous system with too much exercise and sacrificing our mental health to do it (in case you’re late to the party – if you have to do this to maintain a certain weight, this is not a healthy weight for your body).
In addition to that, thin people get things like knee and back pain. There are many ways to manage these things that do not involve weight loss (which is often more damaging).
To assess your comfort, ask yourself: How is my body feeling right now? What could I do to make my body more comfortable?
We are so disconnected from our body and asking these questions is an easy way to reconnect with its needs.
Since being pregnant, physical comfort is something that is one of my top self-care priorities. One of the first things I did was get maternity clothes because I didn’t want to get to a point where my existing clothes would get uncomfortable.
I spend a lot of time stretching, doing movements to strengthen my posterior chain, rolling out my muscles and taking breaks to put my feet up – I’ll admit, it’s annoying and I wish I didn’t have to do it, but not all self-care is spoiling yourself with flowers and pedicures.
Making our physical bodies more comfortable absolutely involves the clothes that we wear – I cannot stress this enough! However, it also involves other things…
… closing your eyes and doing a quick relaxation check-in to release tension in your body,
… laying down for a 10 minute break to put your feet up,
… having a shower or bath,
… getting a more comfortable chair, pillow or body pillow,
… stretching and self-massage,
…taking breaks from sitting all day to gently move your body,
… trying to adjust the temperature to something that feels best for you,
…if it’s within your means, massage therapy or physiotherapy.
Making ourselves physically more comfortable can go a long way towards helping you feel more at ease in your body. And it goes a long way towards showing yourself that your body matters.
You are worthy of comfort.
You are worthy of clothes that fit and feel good.
Your body is worthy of the care and attention that we would give to another living being.
*I understand that not all physical discomfort can be eliminated – especially if you have chronic pain or a condition that results in symptoms of discomfort or pain. In these circumstances, we have to do our best and have compassion for our situation. Knowing that it’s not our fault and often these things are out of our control.