The original meme (sans my edit) has been floating around the interwebs for a while now.
And it get it. I really do.
So many of us get stuck in the familiar. The devil you know and all that.
But there’s another kind of magic that nobody’s talking about, and that’s what I want to share with you today.
If you’re like most people, you’ve likely been living outside your comfort zone in unprecedented ways for the better part of a year now. It’s a crash course in realizing how many comforts supported us before the pandemic began. Things we may not have been entirely aware of, or things we may have taken for granted.
Not having to give much thought to leaving the house.
Being able to meet up with friends indoors without a time limit.
Feeling comfortable passing others on the sidewalk.
Working out at the gym instead of at home.
The “water cooler” moments of your day, and how just having a couple of minutes to connect with someone can really boost your productivity.
And the list goes on…
The piece that this clever meme misses is that if you’re chronically living outside your comfort zone for unexciting reasons (hello, chronic stress!), then your most pressing need is actually to get back into your comfort zone for a bit.
There’s a time and a place to consciously choose to step out of your comfort zone in order to grow, and it’s also important to allow yourself the time you need inside your comfort zone so that you’ve got the bandwidth to step outside it when the time comes.
Think of the magic that happens in your comfort zone.
You feel calm.
You feel cool.
You feel collected.
You connect more easily with others.
You can decompress, process your experiences, and recover from the challenges of your day.
Your parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which is essential for digestion and rest.
Your blood pressure comes down.
Your heart rate comes down.
If you lean towards anxiety, depression or addictive behaviours, these are all improved when we’re in our comfort zone….meaning that we’re not feeling stressed.
There is absolutely tons of value in learning to get comfortable with discomfort. Bold steps are transformative and can certainly lead to fulfilling our potential.
But we can’t go there all the time.
We need to learn how to be in our comfort zone too. We need to know what it is, how it feels, and how to find our way back after stressful times – whether that stress is positive (like doing something bold), or negative (like dealing with health challenges, job loss, increased pressure to perform in unreasonable circumstances, etc).
You deserve the magic that comes from stepping outside your comfort zone.
And you deserve the magic that comfort brings too.
Here’s how I’m getting my comfort on this winter.
I started thinking about winter in early October. Truth be told, I was feeling a little intimidated at the prospect of a second wave of the pandemic with the shutdowns it would surely bring during a Canadian winter that can be tough to endure at the best of times. So I knew I needed a plan.
That’s when I remembered the Danish art of hygge.
Hygge is a lifestyle that’s all about coziness.
Comfy clothes, warm blankets, candlelight, a warm drink. Being present with simple pleasures.
It sounds like just what I need this winter.
Here’s how I’m cultivating it…
Using my weighted blanket
I’ve been using this for a couple of years now, and it’s making my sleep SO MUCH BETTER. I even use it before bed when I’m sitting on the couch unwinding, and it makes me feel so chilled out that I’m actually ready for sleep when I go to bed.
Do you have a weighted blanket? How do you like it? Thinking of using one?
Trying a Happy Light
This is a new one for me. I don’t officially have SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but I know I miss sunlight, so I thought I’d try it out. Do you use one? How has it worked out for you?
Incorporating More Gentle Movement
I love a good intense workout, and I’ll surely continue on with those all winter. But I’m also adding more gentle movement into the mix. I’ve recently been adding CARs (Controlled Articular Rotations) to my daily routine, and my joints are quite happy about it.
CARs are all about mindfully exploring the available range of motion in your joints in an active way. They help to lubricate your joints and keep you feeling supple. Petra Fisher has some great examples on her Instagram, like this one.
I’m also loving me some restorative yoga poses. My bolster is going to get a workout this winter, that’s for sure. I love using it in child’s pose, reclined bound angle pose, supported twist, and legs up the wall. Delicious!
Taking Time for Breath Work
Breath Work is such a beautiful self-care practice. I love it because it’s always available. You can make a point of taking a time out to do it, but you can also do it on a Zoom call, riding the elevator, or waiting for an Uber.
These days, my favourite breath practice are Sun Breath.
This one is a little out there, but stay with me here.
I’ve been taking vocal lessons from Fides Krucker, and they have now become a non-negotiable part of my self-care plan. She starts every lesson with about 20 minutes of guided relaxation, and – get this – guided yawning.
We spend about 10 minutes getting super-relaxed, and then she cues us start inducing yawns. And let me tell you, it’s amazing. Yawning is so powerful because it’s our body’s natural way of tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system. Pandiculation is when your body stretches involuntarily during a yawn.
Your shoulders shrug, then release. Your body twists, your limbs reach…essentially, your body is working its stuff out, and it leaves you feeling very chill.
Live Music YouTube Playlists
One of the things I really miss about pre-pandemic life is live music. Are you with me?
In fact, I’ve had many moments of gratitude during this era as I reflected back on the fact that I got to see Emily King live at the Drake Underground just before the first lockdown happened.
In the absence of live concerts, my partner and I have been doing the next best thing. We look up our favourite artists and find their live acts on YouTube.
A couple of great places to start are checking out the Kennedy Center Honours and NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts. We’ve discovered so much live musical goodness through these two platforms.
Is it just me, or is soup one of the most comforting things to eat?
I always look forward to soup season, and this year is no exception.
These days, I’ve got two main soups in the rotation.
Pan’s Labyrinth Soup
This one earned its name when I left the ingredients on the counter and my partner was super freaked out because they looked like the thing that gets left under the bed in Pan’s Labyrinth.
It’s just celery root, ginger, and fennel, but Keegan is weirded out by less common vegetables that look really earthy, so he was certainly curious about what the heck I was making.
Harissa-Spiced Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup
I have a million food sensitivities, so I make my own modified version of harissa spice, but you can keep it super simple by roasting a bunch of carrots, using roasted red peppers from a jar if you don’t feel like making them yourself (sometimes that’s a little too high maintenance).
Buying proper winter clothes
Let’s be real. Time in nature is necessary for our wellbeing. And since we’re limited on how we can gather, this is the year to get comfy with the cold. I don’t want to feel limited when it comes to getting my nature on this winter, so I’m preparing myself by buying base layers, extra warm socks, serious winter gloves, and snow pants.
I’m still in the market for snow pants. Any recommendations?
Friends, I’m not messing around here. I will be going outside this winter, and I will be cozy as I do it. Mark my words.
How about you? How will you create comfort for yourself this winter? Let me know in the comments below.
My name is Brigid Dineen, and I am a Resilience Coach for Women on a Mission. Known for my deep empathy and grounded approach to personal growth, I have been teaching, coaching, and supporting women for over a decade as they learn to put themselves on the priority list. As the creator of Boundary Queen, I provide practical tools and strategies for self-care to help you reclaim your time, energy and peace of mind.
I believe in a world where wellbeing comes first – that includes the wellbeing of marginalized folx. I’m a fierce intersectional feminist, and this work is my feminism in action. Just so we’re clear, here’s where I stand:
Black Lives Matter, Trans Lives Matter, Climate Change is Real, Trump is Terrifying, and the Pandemic is NOT a Hoax.
I share these views here because you deserve to work with someone who shares your values, so I want you to know mine up front.
“It is in the shelter of each other that the people live.” (Irish Proverb) Let’s take care of one another.