puddle, feet and reflections, Hilton Head, Jan 2016

We don’t need to lose weight to feel comfortable in our own skin. One reason is that weight fluctuates so it’s not a sure thing. Why depend on something that naturally shifts all the time? We also don’t need to wait. Why wait any longer to feel more comfortable and at peace? Because there are many other ways. Recently, we talked about one way: identifying what’s really going on

These other ways are direct routes. They’re faster, more effective and can be done at any time. These are the things I’d tell myself to do during that darker time when I felt desperately disconnected from my body. When it seemed like a foreign entity that I wanted zero part of. When it seemed like weight loss was the only solution. I’d tell her to take care of herself instead. 

Move your body. We might feel uncomfortable because our bodies literally feel discomfort. We might feel stiff or tight. Our bones might feel brittle. Or we might feel the electricity of so many emotions. Moving our bodies helps us shake out or soothe the restlessness. It helps to ease our overwhelm. It boosts our mood. It clears our minds and inspires us. We feel looser and more supple. We feel energized or more relaxed. 

All of us are meant to move. But that doesn’t mean we’re meant to move in the same ways. It doesn’t mean that some ways are “superior” than others. It doesn’t mean that we have to run on the treadmill at the gym, bored and exhausted, or do anything else we really, really don’t like. Movement can be whatever you want it to be—which is the fun part.

What physical activities make you feel alive and joyful? What physical activities soothe you? What feels like play? What empowers you? What helps you to feel strong? If you’re not sure, experiment. Start with activities that sound like they’d be soothing or enjoyable, and then see if they really are for you. Each of us is different. It makes sense that we’d enjoy different things.

Learn to process your feelings. What also contributed to my personal discomfort was the fact that I wasn’t processing my feelings. I wasn’t accepting or acknowledging my anger, anxiety or sadness. I’d avoid it. I’d wish it away. I’d blame myself for feeling inconvenient feelings. I’d do something else. Instead, the key is to sit with our pain, without judging or criticizing it. Journal. Talk to a trusted friend. Channel your pain into a creative project. Work with a therapist. 

Try calming techniques. For instance, try these three techniques to address your physical and mental tension. Here’s one exercise from the book Shortcuts to Inner Peace: 

Stand up, and reach your arms toward the sky. Close your eyes. Imagine you’re a tree.

“Imagine your body as a strong trunk, your arms as branches, and your fingers as leaves. Imagine roots extending through your feet into the earth. Let yourself sway in the wind.” 

Then put your arms down. Pull the energy, as if from your roots, and reach toward the sky, again. Take a deep, slow breath in, and out.

Listen to guided meditations. Listen to these guided meditations to cultivate self-compassion. Or find other meditations that resonate with you. There are so many other free options—like YouTube, apps and university websites. And for the times you don’t have access to guided meditations, you can always take several deep, slow breaths. 

Identify, acknowledge and respond to your needs. This is another way to cultivate inner comfort. Think of your four main needs—mental, emotional, physical and spiritual—and explore how you can meet them. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Rest before you feel burned out. Take walks in natural surroundings. Read spiritual books. 

Figure out if you’re a highly sensitive person. You might be unknowingly walking around this world so easily stimulated—and overwhelmed—that it can feel as if your senses are on fire. That’ll certainly cause some inner discomfort. Highly sensitive people (HSPs) tend to get easily overwhelmed by bright lights, big crowds, busy days, loud noises and strong smells. You get frazzled when there’s a lot happening, and you feel a great deal of empathy.

Basically, you process more information from your environment and from within than others do, as one psychologist told me in this piece. It’s an innate trait, which 15 to 20 percent of population have. 

If you are a highly sensitive person, keep that in mind when you’re navigating your days—and honor that. This piece and this piece offer additional suggestions. And this one offers suggestions if you live in a big city.

Surround yourself with comfort. This suggestion speaks to cultivating comfort in our environments. Sleep on clean, warm sheets. Use a body wash and lotion that you really enjoy. Make your home into a calming, inspiring sanctuary. Basically, think of anything you come into close contact with on a regular basis, and try to make it a pleasant, even luxurious experience.

In short, what helps us to feel more comfortable in our own skin is to take care of it. To honor and care for ourselves, our hearts and our bodies.