Are you feeling uncomfortable in your body right now? Don’t know what to do and how to feel comfortable? Knowing the reasons for your discomfort may help you solve the problem.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the idea of “feeling uncomfortable” in our bodies.
It comes up with clients all the time, as well as in the real world, where people claim that they want to lose weight or change something about the shape/size of their body in order to “feel more comfortable.”
Lately it’s been a common refrain among my clients as they reckon with the weight gain that happened during quarantine: I just feel uncomfortable in my body right now.
I’m always super curious about this language, and ask my clients to break it down for me. What exactly does “uncomfortable” mean, and what is it really about?
Occasionally I’ll get an answer about weight gain leading to joint pain, sleep apnea, loss of strength, or the feeling of huffing and puffing up a flight of stairs.
While I acknowledge that such physical discomforts are real and valid, I also generally encourage clients to separate the discomfort of being out of shape from the discomfort of gaining weight. Feeling un-fit can happen (and suck) at any weight, and getting fitter can improve a lot of that discomfort even if you don’t lose weight.
Plus, far more often when I ask my clients about what the discomfort is about, I get vague answers like:
“I’m just not comfortable/don’t feel good at this weight.”
“I know my weight doesn’t define me, but I prefer the way I feel when I’m thinner.”
“I don’t like the way my clothes fit.”
“I just want to feel good.”
In such moments, I encourage my clients to stop and acknowledge that feeling good/comfortable isn’t as simple as we want it to be.
After all, humans are extremely complex, and no matter how much we want it to be objective, what feels good or bad to us is based entirely on context. As an example, think about how your partner tickling you in bed might feel delicious, but a stranger on the street tickling you would more likely feel gross and scary.
Context also matters when it comes to feeling good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable, in your body. As an example, being naked at home alone in your bed might feel totally comfortable, but being naked on the subway or at work would be extremely (and catastrophically) uncomfortable.
Can you see how “feeling comfortable in your body” is completely contextual?
Having a big ass might feel sexy when you’re with a partner who you know loves big asses, but it might feel totally embarrassing with a different partner who is historically into skinny, boy-ish bodies. And the new weight you gained might feel comfortable and fine around your partner or friends, but feel extremely bad/uncomfortable around your mother who has a habit of commenting on and criticizing your body/weight.
Context matters when it comes to how you feel in your body, and saying you “just feel uncomfortable at this weight” or “just want to feel better” in your body often speaks to a complete misunderstanding (or oversimplification) of the deeply complex, nuanced experience we have of living inside our bodies.
So what can we do instead?
Most of my clients experiencing this discomfort report it feeling like an overwhelming, non-specific full-body cloud of badness and grossness.
What I help them do is get super specific about what’s going on, get clear on all the various contexts at play, and pull apart the separate threads of discomfort, so that we can deal with them each separately and directly.
While there are limitless possibilities for the contexts and threads at play when you “feel uncomfortable” in your body, I wanted to address the seven most common ones I’ve been seeing come up with clients tackling post-quarantine body changes or weight gain, and how to deal with them.
7 Reasons You Might Be “Feeling Uncomfortable in Your Body” Right Now
1. Physical discomfort due to too-tight clothing.
You feel physically uncomfortable in clothing that no longer fits you. Super-tight clothing restricts movement and breathing, cuts off circulation, and digs into our flesh.
Put the too-tight clothes away out of sight, or get rid of them altogether. Buy and wear clothes that fit comfortably.