Comfort-Easy Ways to Soothe the Soul

What does comfort mean?

To comfort: to soothe, reassure, console; to offer physical ease and relief; to strengthen and give hope. All of these words define aspects of comfort. Yes, it is often an emotional balm, but, equally, it can be a spiritual one. And, undoubtedly, when we are wet, hungry, cold or in pain our physical comfort is what we long for in that moment.

Say the word ‘comfort’ and collectively, we may agree to its definition; but, individually, it will bring to mind various images and memories. Ideas of comfort vary based on childhood experience, cultural norms, and gender.

Comfort as food

Research shows that, as a whole, people will most often turn to what they are familiar with when they seek comfort. Whether that brings them to their mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup, or a big plate of macaroni and cheese, childhood experiences play a big factor in repeated patterns. It can also reflect ways in which you have learned to relieve emotional stress as an adult.

Not surprisingly, studies indicate that men and women seek food comfort differently. Men process more positive experiences with foods that give strength, and will reach for warm, filling, staples type food such as meatloaf or steak and potato. Women, on the other hand, seek comfort in negative experiences in which they attempt to ease troubling emotions such as sadness, or grief, and will go for the desserts.

While food choices for men usually are healthier choices, college aged women who were studied, went for ice cream, chocolate or a combination of sweet and salty snacks for an emotional pick-me-up. This is a form of self medication-attempting to fill the emotional wound with food, and contributes to the obesity problem in the United States.

Homemade chicken noodle soup like your mom used to make.
Homemade chicken noodle soup like your mom used to make. | Source

Spirtual Comfort

Other ways one can ease emotional pain is through prayer and meditation. Attending church, a synagogue, a mosque, or a temple on a regular basis is done so for the quality of relief one feels in following ones faith. When the going gets tough, and we experience our smallness, it is an emotional uplift to put into perspective the greater purpose in life.

Just 10 minutes a day spent in prayer or meditation has positive results for the participant. Less stress, improved peace of mind and better focus are three comfort qualities found to benefit the receiver.

Physical Comfort

For me, there is nothing I want more, when getting off of a 12 hour shift, than to soak in a hot shower or bath, change into my pajamas and kick back for the evening. I don’t want to have to run last minute errands; I don’t want to have to attend any meetings, and I don’t want to debate or argue with my nephew. I just want to be comfortable.

Relaxation is one of the levels of physical comfort. How relaxed will depend on how stressed we are or how much physical pain we are experiencing. What helps us to get de-stressed will be an individual choice, and it won’t be the same each day. Sometimes we may want to be alone, while other times we seek company. Sometimes all we crave is vegging out in front of the television, while other times we want to engage in intellectual pursuits. But, when we are in pain, there is no relaxing, and that becomes a priority.

Physical touch is a medicinal treatment of love, affection and comfort. Many geriatric citizens have no family members and crave the touch of another human being. Infants who are not held or touched for certain amounts of time each day often acquire failure to thrive syndrome. Even as adults our need to be held, hugged and validated in the gentle ways of human touch, do not end at a certain age.

Awareness is the key to meeting your needs

Raising my nephew is a challenge due to his emotional impairment. He is often disrespectful and argumentative. Frequently, he blows up at what I perceive is nothing at all. I realize, however, that he does not have the maturity or the capability at this time, to discharge his emotions appropriately. This is often the case with children who are diagnosed with ADHD.

Part of my responsibility, as his guardian, is to guide him in learning to regulate himself before the big blow up. The acronym H.A.L.T., which stands for hungry-angry-lonely-tired, was first introduced to me in a 12 step support group. I try to teach him to follow this quick check list and ask himself if he is experiencing any of these key factors. More than likely he is.

This is a simple check in for any of us to follow. Quite often, when we begin to experience an irritable mood requiring us to seek comfort, the affliction will fall into one of the previous categories. Narrowing it down helps us to minimize the anguish and direct our attention in taking care of ourselves responsibly, before we go on a journey that is maladaptive.

When the rain falls hard, and the sky is gray my comfort is a book, a warm blanket and a nice cup of tea. What’s yours?

Additional ways to soothe the soul

Watch an inspiring movie, alone or with loved ones

Get a massage. No cash for this pleasure? Exchange services with a friend or partner. If that is not possible, do what I teach my patients to do: give a self massage. Buy a wonderful lotion or body oil and indulge.

If you must eat in an unhealthy way, attempt to limit yourself your indulgence and be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up afterwards is NOT comforting.

Talk with a friend about the ‘good ole days’.

Clear your calendar for some alone time, or undivided family time.

Take a walk in a beautiful garden or park.

Sit by the shore and listen to the waves roll in.

Cook; make yourself some dish you had as a child and enjoy.

Journal your emotional state or what your dreams are for the future.

Listen to soft music that relaxes and soothes.

Light candles and allow your mind to relax and drift.

Garden; or buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.

Write a letter to someone.

Start a gratitude list.

Be good to yourself; be kind and compassionate. When all the rest of the world beats you up out there, you don’t have to join the ranks.

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Comments 30 comments

carrie450 profile image

carrie450 6 years ago from Winnipeg, Canada

Great hub Denise on comfort. The chicken soup looks delicious.

Seafarer Mama profile image

Seafarer Mama 6 years ago from New England

Lovely hub, Denise. Great advice, with lovely pictures that enhance the sense of comfort in the reader.

b. Malin profile image

b. Malin 6 years ago

What a wonder Hub of information to Soothe the Soul...I'm relaxed already. I could relate to so much of what you wrote. Thanks for sharing.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you ladies, for your comments on this 'comfort' hub. After a writing marathon this w/e I was seeking comfort myself, LOL I'm hoping to put into action some more comfort measures, like the soup, this week. It is so cold here now!

Truckstop Sally profile image

Truckstop Sally 6 years ago

Lovely ideas for creating comfort. Kudos and blessings for you to care for your nephew. Taking a bubble bath gives me comfort.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Sally-thanks for your comments. Soaking in the tub with soft music and candlelight-one of my favorite ways to relax. Thanks for the visit.

Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

Good Morning Denise, this is a really great hub, well done and great writing. This is foremost on my mind these days. I am retired and soul comfort I now have time to reflect. I am glad to be out of the crazy rat race and to here the world turn, pray, cook, write and take naps. Rate this up and just think your almost & peace darski

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks Darski...for your support and encouragement. Yes, the finish line is just ahead. I think I see a flag waving in the far distance. I am so envious that you are retired with lots of time on your hands to write (and nap) etc. My dream...that is further than the end of the hubchallenge! But, who knows...maybe I will win the lottery! HA (I don't play). Thanks for your rating.

amybradley77 profile image

amybradley77 6 years ago

This is so true, great words for comfort and advise on it thanks. A.B.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Amy-thanks for leaving your comment. I appreciate it.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 6 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Denise - You surely wrote this fantastic hub for me! :)

The chicken soup is defintely a comfort soup. I will begin making it more often. A massage is heavenly...

Thank you so much for this timely reminder. Very well written - as are all of your stunning hubs. Love and peace.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Audrey-My mother's answer to all of life's woes and illnesses: homemade chicken noodle soup; enjoy and be kind to yourself. Nurture yourself in the days of need. Take care. I will be sending you an private email.

Cloverleaf profile image

Cloverleaf 5 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

Denise, I love chicken noodle soup, it's probably the number 1 comforting food if I have a cold. Taking a bath and lighting candles is my other fave for stress relief.

Good stuff, I'm looking forward to reading some more of your hubs now.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Cloverleaf-nice to meet you. Thanks for the read and your comments. :)

Jason Marovich profile image

Jason Marovich 5 years ago from United States

Very positive ways to feel comfortable without harming one's physical and emotional well-being. For people that battle compulsive instincts, this information is particularly enlightening. Voted up and useful.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Jason-thanks for reading and commenting. I'm glad that you found it useful and appreciate the vote up.

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stessily 5 years ago

Denise, Well presented with practical suggestions for dissipating H.A.L.T. Great acronym and so pertinent for everyone!

Your closing is compassionately wise: "Be good to yourself; be kind and compassionate. When all the rest of the world beats you up out there, you don’t have to join the ranks."

Kind regards, Stessily

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Stessily-you have been on a roll reading my work these past few days and I appreciate that. I don't always answer immediately because of my work schedule, but thank you for putting in time to read these.

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stessily 5 years ago

Denise, I have been wanting to read your writings for quite some time, not just one at a time, but a goodly number in one stretch. A few days ago, I decided to make the time, and it was time well spent, as I knew that it would be. I'll be back to read more again. Your writings are enjoyable, informative, enlightening, sweet, humorous, compassionately wise. It has been every bit the pleasure which I expected, and even more so!

Kind regards, Stessily

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thank you for that feedback, Stessily. I truly appreciate your kind words. Enjoy your weekend. I will be working four in a row and then off to Michigan to visit family for a whole, blissful week!

ConsciousObserver profile image

ConsciousObserver 4 years ago

Great hub and very educational. The most interesting part of stress to me is how our stressfull beliefs can impact or health, and the cells that make us. I think due to little information that is scientifically known, we have a long way to go in understanding the full consequences of stress.

Thank You for the read.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Thanks for visiting and commenting CO. I understand what you are saying. Sometimes in my meditative state I experience my body to the cellular level-it's pretty amazing. Then, when you sense all of the constrictions that stress brings it stops the natural energy and flow of just being. There has been some headway, I can't recall the two authors I know who have worked with this, but if it comes to me I will let you know.

ConsciousObserver profile image

ConsciousObserver 4 years ago

It was my pleasure, thanks to you as well.

I don't have a lot of experience with meditation, at least I don't think. How would you define meditation and it's purpose?

It seems good to me in theory by the promotion of balance and peace, since our world and minds seem to run on a balance. Or I'm I wrong on meditations purpose?

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi CO- another great question. Meditation and it's purpose, hmmm. Some people meditate for prayer, others for relaxation, and still others for enlightenment. What is enlightenment? Notice how one question leads to another?, LOL

I meditate to 'center' myself, reconnect, bring calm and peace, for intimacy with True Self and contact the essential qualities, that are inherent in everyone's soul.

In many spiritual and religious cultures meditation is part of a daily practice that builds the strength of spirit. To know oneself intimately, meditation will help to calm the mind, and the activities or chit chat of the mind, and allow one to be present and open to the Divine Consciousness.

The world will achieve harmony and balance as each individual focuses on his or her own path and Divine spirit. When that occurs, one cannot help but to operate from a place of heart: compassion, love and peace.

Namaste, ConsciousObserver-the light in me recognizes the light in you.

ConsciousObserver profile image

ConsciousObserver 4 years ago

Namaste Denise. I had to look that one up heh.

Thank you for answering, I know it is kinda a personal question to many people.

I often struggle to keep my light from flickering off. I went a long time before finding the bulb.

I dont mean to sound childish, but that was the best way I can explain myself in response.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Sometimes I visualize this light as a flame. In the Catholic religion there is the sacrament of Confirmation and each individual, at a certain age, becomes a 'soldier of Christ' while receiving the Holy Spirit. The HS is symbolized sometimes as a flame.

For a long time I felt that 'flame' had gone down to nothing, but later realized it may have dropped down to a spark, but it was still ignited. I feel that as long as we are still in this body that flame will never be completely extinguished.

Trust the reality of this belief-although you may not feel or visualize this light, it is always there. I'm glad you connected with the bulb :) some people never do in their lifetime.

marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 4 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Today feels like Christmas, Denise. I just came from re-reading "Joy" and I was then led to "Comfort".

Both pieces are holistic, spiritual and, oh so compatable with my practices and beliefs. I only started teaching Holistic Nursing after the incident in 1999. In a way, I believe the principles I teach to my students are my daily reminder to 'practice what I preach'.

Your visit today reminded me of the comfort of your writing style. Thank you. Can you direct me to Part this a 6 -part soul series...?

Voted UP & UABI -- Hugs, Maria

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Maria-thanks for your wonderful comments here. I'm glad you enjoyed the Soul Work: Joy hub. It was written with the intention of being a series, but it never happened...yet. Maybe I will be inspired to finish the series. I actually have been contemplating this prior to your comment, so it is rather synchronistic. It was recently accepted for publishing in a spiritual school newsletter I belong to. It's the first of anything for me published outside of Hubpages, so it is very special and I've considered completing the series.

I'm glad you enjoyed the Comfort hub as well. So good to know you are teaching and I may actually have received this info awhile back. It's been awhile since we've been in touch, hasn't it. I'd like to know more about the Holistic Nursing that you are doing...I'm feeling a bit burned out right now doing what I am doing-especially on these long 12 hour midnight shifts!

Thanks for stopping by.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

I am now ready for comfort through good food, massage, and hot soaking bath. Wonderful ways to feel better and all so good for you.

Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 3 years ago from North Carolina Author

Hi Dianna Thanks for visiting this hub. The best part...those things are available any season; any time of the year. :) Happy Thanksgiving.

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