Apr 17, 2021
Mental Health

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Hayley Sim, RN, MSN, RES-CPT
What You'll Learn
Are you comfortable right now? If you are always choosing comfort now, you are choosing to be uncomfortable later. Courage to Get UncomfortableTake the Leap

When you hear the word “uncomfortable” what comes to mind? Choosing to be comfortable now can lead to discomfort later. Learn how becoming comfortable with body and mind discomfort can become beneficial for healing and wellbeing.

Are you comfortable right now?

As you read this article, chances are you are inside with the temperature regulated to around 70 degrees. I would bet that you are sitting in a comfortable chair or lounging on the couch. You probably have easy access to food and water, indoor plumbing, and a mode of transportation all within less than a few minutes of movement away. What an amazing time to live, right? Absolutely, but we as a society are less comfortable with being uncomfortable than ever before.

So, what is the problem?

If you are always choosing comfort now, you are choosing to be uncomfortable later.

Let me give some examples from my own teaching as a Restorative Exercise Specialist:

  • Wearing shoes all the time can weaken your feet, cause knee, hip, and back pain, and contribute to a host of whole-body problems.
  • Choosing to spend a lot of time in chairs can cause back pain, pelvic floor disorders, and can even shorten your lifespan by changing how your cardiovascular system flows (or doesn’t flow).
  • Being in a consistently comfortable temperature, we can lose or lessen our ability to regulate our own temperature.

Our bodies are very adaptable and smart. If we don’t use something, our body doesn’t put energy into it. If you don’t use a muscle or muscle group, you start to lose it, because your body will use that energy somewhere else.

If you never use the full length of a muscle (like your calf muscle for example) your body will take away sarcomeres, the tissue your muscle is made of, because you are telling your body they aren’t needed. The great news is that when you start using muscles and “ask” your body (in the way you move) for more strength or length in a muscle, it will respond.

Here are some examples of being mentally or socially uncomfortable that result in being uncomfortable down the road:

  • Choosing to procrastinate studying for an exam: We don’t feel the strain of learning and studying something new now, but how are we going to feel when it is time to take the test?
  • Being vulnerable in a relationship can feel very uncomfortable at times, but without it you won’t get real connection.

What about reaching out for help with your mental health? Maybe that sounds pretty uncomfortable.

Courage to Get Uncomfortable

Take a minute to think of something you have wanted to do but haven’t yet. Maybe start a new job, engage in a new relationship, try a new sport or hobby? Why haven’t you done it? What about that new thing would feel so uncomfortable that you aren’t willing to go for it? Jody Moore, one of my favorite Life Coaches, talks about it like this:

"Well, I like to recognize for myself that the solution is that I need to own that I’m either going to choose discomfort now or discomfort later. And knowing that is very powerful, here’s why. The immediate gratification monkey thinks I don’t want to do that thing because it’s hard. And I don’t like doing hard things so I’ll not do it and then I’ll avoid doing hard things. Except that if we don’t do the hard things in the short-term we mostly likely will create hard things for ourselves in the long term. So, we’re not actually avoiding the discomfort, we’re just postponing it” (J. Moore, 2020).

What are you not doing that you’d like to and might require you to get a little uncomfortable? Maybe it is reaching out for help. Starting a treatment program can feel scary. You might think, how can I let someone know I need help? What will everyone think about me? What if I feel uncomfortable talking about my feelings or don’t feel comfortable participating in an online group?

Take the Leap

Your body and your mind need to get out of the comfort zone in order to grow and develop. Any professional athlete will talk about the pain and discomfort of working hard to hit their goals. People who have worked through trauma or difficult conflicts may talk about how uncomfortable it was to face something that had been bothering them for a long time. Everyone can benefit from a little discomfort - not the kind of discomfort like a bad feeling in your gut, but the kind that you know will lead to development. Think about what you could do this week to get a little “uncomfortable” to experience more comfort later.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • You could sit on the floor while you check your emails this week, giving your body and tissues a new way to load and stretch.
  • Try finding a safe place in your yard to take off your shoes and walk barefoot in the grass, reconnecting you to the planet and letting your feet move in a new way.
  • Try doing something you've always wanted to but were afraid of trying.
  • Practice speaking your truth.
  • Reach out to Hope, Recovery and Healing to see how we can help you or a loved one improve mental and physical health.

Want some more ideas or inspiration? Check out this TedTalk by Luvvie Ajayi Jones.


J. Moore. Discomfort now or later. September 25, 2020.

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Hayley Sim

Hayley is a masters level Registered Nurse and a certified Restorative Exercise Specialist. Formerly an assistant professor for Weber State University, she currently teaches online classes for BYU-Idaho in addition to her online Restorative Exercise classes.

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