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Discomfort is Healthy

Discomfort. Yours may be emotional or physical. It’s natural for your brain to avoid it because it’s trying to protect you from danger. But our modern discomforts aren’t really dangerous anymore. In fact, more often we tip the scale in the opposite direction.

Have you noticed that when you are anxious for the time to pass, it only seems to pass more slowly? Or that when you judge yourself for an emotion, it’s harder to let it go and move on?

Resisting or ignoring your feelings creates anger, depression, and anxiety. It’s no wonder mental health issues are on the rise since the introduction of smartphones. It’s now easier than ever to avoid our feelings and instantly distract ourselves.

Allowing discomfort is actually very healthy. If your normal routine was never interrupted, you might feel comfortable, but you would also start to tune out from your life. You may have noticed yourself do this if you have a daily commute. Soon you don’t even notice or think about the drive at all.

When you experience completely new things however, your body releases dopamine (the feel-good chemical) and your brain creates brand new neural pathways (renewing and rewiring itself, which is good for creativity, memory, and adapting to to change)

You can try to step out of your comfort zone more often. Try to allow even the sensations or emotions that are uncomfortable for you and just observe or describe them to yourself. They’ll pass quicker this way and you won’t be as likely to layer additional negative emotions on top.

I’m practicing patience this week as I wait for my baby to be born (I passed my due date yesterday and it’s almost all I can think about!) I believe an essential component of patience is a willingness to feel discomfort.

In our society of instant gratification, convenience, and comforts, we are losing our patience over very little things. We are losing our ability to feel even slight discomfort and ironically that creates more discomfort and emotional turmoil.

As usual, the path of least resistance in the moment takes you to the destination of least happiness in the end.


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