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Finding Comfort

Balms amid the maelstrom

MaxPixels, CC0
Source: MaxPixels, CC0

It’s tax time—atop all of life’s other stresses: work, relationships, money, parenting, physical health, mental health.

So it seems timely to offer a buffet of balms. Lest I add to your stress by requiring you to read the de rigueur introductory paragraphs before getting to the meat . . .

Reread: Reread your favorite book or story, re-watch your favorite movie, re-listen to your favorite song or piece of music. Don’t be embarrassed to repeat it 3, 5, 10, 20 times. Children, unburdened with repetition inhibition, beg to hear the same story again and again and again . . . and again. Repeating the pleasant is comforting—Plus, each repeat usually teaches you something or lifts something old and worthy back into consciousness.

Amble. I walk fast but occasionally make myself amble. That allows me to appreciate, for example, as I did today, the design made by a tree’s bare branches, its interstices painted in sky.

Contact a safe friend. Call, Skype. Facetime, or actually see a friend who will support rather than challenge you and who otherwise brings out the best in you. Or write to the person, maybe hand-write, maybe even using sealing wax. When I write a handwritten letter, I pick out 55 cents worth of vintage 3 to 5-cent stamps whose theme my recipient would appreciate. Such unused stamps are available at near face value on eBay.

Eat a guilt-free yummy. No, I'm not talking about standard comfort foods such as mac & cheese, meatloaf, or biscuits. Unless you're a rail, their comfort is usually vitiated by The Internal Voice: “A moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips.” But is there not something you love to eat that would keep The Voice silent? For example, for me, it's peaches.

Do something easy and meditative. We’re ever exhorted to challenge ourselves. Fine, but here we’re talking about comfort. So how about taking a little time to do something easy? Perhaps for you that’s, sewing, weeding, or housekeeping? For me, it’s, for example, playing the piano or with my doggie Einstein.

Try kind. For one day, want to try to make special effort to be kind? Perhaps be gentler with someone who frustrates you. Or send an unexpected but deserved thank-you note. Those are comforting. It really often does feel better to give than to receive.

Listen to lullabies. Check out the album, A Child's Gift of Lullabyes.

Sleep with a stuffed animal. Especially if you sleep alone, hugging a stuffed animal can be comforting—no matter how old you are.


Adrenaline can be exciting: debating a point or political belief, racing to beat the clock, playing heart-thumping video games, hypercompeting in a sport. Those may have a place in life but not in an article on finding comfort.

The takeaway

Is there a comforter mentioned in this article that you'd like to try? Or better, is there something else you'd like to try or revisit?

I read this on YouTube.