In the comfort zone: 10 things that help you feel happier
We spend a lot of our time being told that the best things happen outside of our comfort zone. And for many of us, we find a great number of new experiences, friends, joy and adventure in the ‘un-comfort zone’. But with all the noise of productivity, bucket lists and one-upmanship of social media, sometimes it’s hard to even know where our own comfort zone is.
While the out-of-your-comfort-zone is important to find and expand, it’s vital to balance it with your sense of peace and presence in the sweet and simple comforts of every day. Knowing what safely comforts you means you have a reliable safety net that can offer you sanctuary from low moods or darker feelings.
Here are my 10 comforts that I rely on to lift my mood:
1. Taking a hot shower
There’s a simple cleansing feeling about showering and self-care. Washing my hair always feels like I’m washing out my day, feeling the hot water and breathing in the steam is soothing. I take as long as I need.
2. Yoga or stretching
It’s well documented that exercise is a key element to fighting depression and boosting happiness. A stretch routine can be helpful to release the tension and calm negative thoughts. Yoga is a wonderful tool for building both a strong and healthy mind and body. You can find my favourite instructor, Lesley Fightmaster’s videos on YouTube for free.
3. Going outside
Staying indoors for too long can make anyone feel cranky. Often a quick walk outside, reading on a bench or walking to the supermarket can feel like a big effort when you’re feeling down, but if you can make it outside, it can be the action that tips the balance in a positive direction. And don’t mind the weather – walking in the sunshine can be just as relaxing as walking in the rain.
4. Listening to beautiful jazz music
I love the jazz playlists on Spotify. Finding beautiful music you enjoy can create a focused, creative or energetic mood. Make playlists of your favourite songs or browse the options on Spotify to find something that suits you.
5. My favourite podcasts
I subscribe to six podcasts that I’ve found help me in different situations – from brain teasing and interesting ideas; to comedy; to stories that remind me of home and light entertainment. There are so many to choose from.
6. Brainstorming or writing a stream of consciousness
I have a scrappy ‘idea book’ that I take everywhere with me and write all my thoughts or worries in. It’s great for brainstorming when I’m feeling confused and need to map everything out, and ideal if I just need to spew a meaningless stream of consciousness. Everything and anything goes.
7. Skyping or meeting up with a friend
Sometimes you just feel like you want to be alone – and it’s great to spend time alone – but sometimes you need your friends. If you feel social anxiety, arranging a date a few days or a week in the future can help to give you more time to prepare yourself and find courage. Almost every time, you’ll find that your best friends will leave you with more energy and happiness than you started with.
8. Reading in my favourite pyjamas in bed with a candle on
I have a very favourite ritual with showering (step 1!), then putting on my favourite freshly-laundered PJs and reading in bed, with a candle on and preferably my favourite cup of tea. Find a relaxing evening ritual and set an alarm at the end of the day that gives you enough time to do it.
I love to cook and bake, especially vegan cakes and cookies – they have simple ingredients but produce wonderful results. My favourites Vegan Richa’s Cinnamon Buns or Chloe Coscarelli’s Chocolate Orange Scones. Baking with some music on is just enough focus so I can take my mind off whatever might be bothering me outside the kitchen.
10. Cleaning and tidying
Untidiness or mess in my apartment can make me unhappy, or be a stressful background that distracts me from my work. Whizzing around with the hoover or 20 minutes of tidying up can be all I need to transform my home into a peaceful space and make me feel more relaxed and focused.
What are your comforts..?