Tolerating Discomfort

When you’re tired of tolerating discomfort, you may have to learn to tolerate discomfort. Why does paradox always feel as though life is laughing at you?


For years, my tummy hurt. My joints ached. My muscles were weak. I broke out. I itched. My eyes were dry. I couldn’t sleep because I was so uncomfortable. Getting better meant I had to tolerate a different kind of discomfort. That’s often how healing goes.

It would be nice if things were always upward and onward, but they just don’t work that way. While the general trajectory may be up, there will be times that feel like dips. During those times, we have to endure and increase our window of tolerance so that we have more resilience when the next hurdle comes along.

You can think of this as emotional weightlifting. The resolve to continue on a healthier path is often affected by emotions. And sometimes, the body has trapped a traumatic response in its muscle memory. Releasing that requires a special kind of tolerance for discomfort.

When it comes to tummy troubles, most of us want to get rid of pain. That’s why we seek medical attention. Getting better begins with refusing to tolerate discomfort. But when we hit a dip in improvement or a treatment plan increases pain, refusing to tolerate momentary discomfort can derail healing. We need to be able to stick with the plan in spite of how we feel.

When it comes to emotional pain left from trauma, it’s possible to experience more discomfort from attempting to let it go from remaining caught in familiar pain. That doesn’t mean you like how you feel. It just means letting go may feel scary to the point of terrifying.

Either way, increasing tolerance for discomfort can be the key to staying on track. So how can you increase tolerance?

Patience. We all think our minds can stay ahead of our bodies. But the lower brain is wired to protect us from perceived danger. If it gets triggered, our behavior can sometimes surprise us. This is a normal part of the process. It’s messy but it doesn’t mean you’ll forever be out of control.

Stillness. You can’t learn to sit with discomfort unless you allow yourself to feel it. That won’t happen if you’re constantly moving, medicating, working, or otherwise distracting yourself.

Practice. Like any sort of desensitization, tolerance is built one step at a time. At first, a minute or two may be all you can handle but each moment will build on the next.

Balance. Regularly including an equal balance of something fun, joyous, pleasurable, or exciting will give you a space to move into that feels good once you’ve reached your current tolerance for discomfort.

Structure. When you feel messy inside, it’s beneficial to have routines, deadlines, accountability partners, and community to provide an environment that feels solid and stable.

Like everything, learning to tolerate discomfort is a process. The experience will be slightly different for each of us. The only thing we all have in common is that to build tolerance, we must start the process. Otherwise, it will not happen.

Talking about it won’t make it happen. Making promises won’t make it happen. Continuing to numb or distract will prevent it from happening.

We are all capable of more than we believe. We can tolerate more discomfort than we think we can. Don’t overthink. Just begin. Slowly, but surely, good things will happen.

You Better Shop Around

With the price of groceries these days, you better shop around! I can’t type that without hearing backup singers bahdododoing in my head. But I digress. Food prices are erratic right now. Gone are the days you can count on any specific store having the lowest price. A combination of supply chain issues, product shortages, and inflation have led to unpredictable shopping in 2023.


I recently ran out of Pickapeppa Sauce. When I pulled it up on the Walmart site, it was $10 (marked down from $13.95) for a 5 oz bottle. A search on Amazon found the same item for $7.89. Both of those seemed high so I looked at Kroger through Instacart. Kroger was the cheapest by far at $4.99.

Today, I need cranberry juice. I want the kind that’s nothing but 100% cranberry without any added grape or apple juice. A 32 oz bottle is $7.18 at Walmart, $6.39 at Kroger, and $9.99 at The Fresh Market and Natural Grocers. The choice between $7.18 and $6.39 is less than a dollar. That difference may not change my mind about where to purchase it. On the other hand, $2.81 seems like a pretty big difference.

But the math isn’t that simple. I often have 30 items to purchase at one time. If the price of each one is as erratic as these two examples, I can end up spending $30 – $60 more per shopping trip than if I shop at 3 or 4 different stores.

To comparison shop, I also have to factor in the amount of time I spend reviewing prices. Admittedly, online shopping reduces the amount of time this takes, but I can easily eat a dollar in time trying to save a dollar in cash.

For years, I had the luxury of ignoring grocery prices for the most part. And I got used to the fact that gluten-free items would be expensive in comparison to their gluten-containing counterparts. Now, I find myself questioning every purchase. Do I REALLY need those crackers? Do I NEED French bread from the store or do I have time to bake this week?

Last weekend, I hosted a birthday party. After searching four stores for two slabs of ribs, I checked a local barbecue restaurant. It was cheaper to buy the ribs there already smoked than to buy them uncooked from Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, or Kroger. I could save cash and cooking time by purchasing from the restaurant. That made my decision easy.

If you have a limited amount of time to research prices online, you may want to consider a price comparison app. I haven’t used any of these so I can’t recommend one, but online reviews and a look at their description can help you determine which app may fit your shopping style.

The other thing I do is limit shopping. I do this by:

  • growing vegetables and herbs
  • using as much of a food as possible (leaves, stems, trimmings)
  • eating and repurposing leftovers
  • minimizing spoilage
  • eating what I have instead of what I want
  • trading food from the garden with neighbors
  • keeping basics on hand
  • doing pantry challenges

While I can limit shopping, I am not fully self-sufficient so I will continue to purchase from grocery stores, Amazon, discount, and big box stores.

As long as prices continue to fluctuate drastically, you better shop around.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Start Fresh

A new year is a great time to start fresh! When it comes to food, fresh means more nutrients, fewer chemicals, and less hidden ingredients. All of these make fresh food healthier. But most of us know that. Perhaps all we need to put a plan to eat more healthy foods into action are some simple steps to follow:

Throw out the packaged foods. I am not suggesting you waste anything. Food prices are too high to be cavalier about trashing food. Instead, consider a pantry challenge to empty your cupboard of many of the prepackaged, prepared foods, and canned foods.

If those items are in your pantry because they no longer appeal, you may be able to donate them to a food pantry, foodbank, homeless shelter, or school. As the need for donated food has grown, so have the outlets that accept donations. I typically donate food to a nearby homeless shelter or a van that delivers goods to homeless camps.

Begin with subtle changes. You don’t have to go to extremes when cleaning out the pantry and refrigerator. If your schedule is too tight to make fresh pasta, keep the dried pasta in the cabinet but make your own sauce using fresh veggies, milk, butter, and cheese. Top homemade egg salad with jarred pickles on homemade bread.

Make it a salad. If you don’t bake bread, skip the sandwich and serve egg salad over lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, and green onion. Oven roasted chicken, steak, and baked salmon are other delicious salad toppers.

Shake up some dressing. It only takes a few minutes to create salad dressing or BBQ sauce. Yesterday, I stirred together mayonnaise, spicy brown mustard, honey, and ginger for a creamy salad dressing. I could also have used yogurt or sour cream instead of the mayo.

Customizing small amounts of dressing to fit a specific flavor profile can be less expensive and contain fewer preservatives than stocking up on a variety of bottled dressings.

Switch crunchies. Instead of a bag of chips, grab a red bell pepper, celery, and sugar snap peas to eat with your favorite dip. Sliced cucumber, summer squash, and carrots are also delicious dippers.

Top salads with raw nuts or seeds, toasted coconut, jicama, or apples for crunch instead of packaged croutons.

Cook in groups. Oven roast potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, or cauliflower. While they’re in the oven, prepare and steam broccoli and carrots, and sauté green beans or Brussels sprouts.

Having multiple vegetables available to mix and match will reduce your time in the kitchen later and make it less tempting to reach for something boxed or canned.

Eat fruit. Most fresh fruit can be eaten without any preparation other than washing. Keep fresh fruit handy for those times you may not have vegetables available. Fruit is a great office or car snack.

Make it a habit. Minor changes you can sustain will have more positive long-term effects than drastic changes that only last a week. Start small and expand when you are ready.

The more you eat fresh, the more appealing it becomes. At some point, you may want to consider planting a few fresh items in pots, raised beds, or in the ground. But there’s no need for that in the beginning.

To start fresh for 2023, all you really need is to begin.

Deconstruct It

When you need a meal to cook faster, deconstruct it! And who doesn’t need a meal to cook faster? I set my own schedule and I still always feel behind. Sometimes I just need things to go quicker than they normally go.

That’s when I like to think of my kitchen as a fancy restaurant where they don’t hesitate to deconstruct things and charge me more for them. Don’t have time to worry about keeping heavier ingredients from falling to the bottom of the salad? Don’t toss it. In fact, don’t even stack it. Just put everything side-by-side on a beautiful platter and serve.

I love the presentation possibilities of a deconstructed salad. And things go faster because I can leave the eggs in halves or quarters rather than chopping them smaller. The carrots, squash, and cucumbers can be left in long strips as can chicken or steak. I can throw on some leftover asparagus, whole banana peppers, cherry tomatoes right out of the garden. Such yummy freshness!

Don’t have time to bake meatloaf for an hour+? Deconstruct it. Sauté onion and green bell pepper until onion clears. Move to the edge of pan. Place a long, flat layer of ground beef. Allow to brown for a few minutes on one side of the layer. Sprinkle the uncooked top of the meat with salt, pepper, garlic. Add a tablespoon or two of your favorite meatloaf topping. Crack an egg over it. Cover with a thin layer of gluten free bread or cracker crumbs. Gently fold toppings into meat and mix in onion and pepper. Continue to cook until meat is lightly browned.

Reconstruct it. Spray microwave safe dish with olive oil spray. Press mixture into dish and top with your favorite meatloaf topping. Microwave about 5 minutes. Serve hot. This version may not compete with the best meatloaf you’ve ever made, but it has the same satisfying flavors in less than half the time.

You can also take a deconstructed approach to chicken and rice. Instead of raw chicken in a pot of rice and cooking it, use microwave rice bowls, rotisserie chicken, and boxed chicken broth. Microwave the rice and pull the chicken off the bone. Place in a pot with a little chicken broth and any herbs or spices you desire. If you want to add some veggies, throw in some frozen English peas or a mixture of carrots and peas. Heat until vegetables are cooked and chicken is heated through. Serve.

Even dessert can be deconstructed. Sprinkle crushed vanilla wafers or graham crackers over a jar of lemon curd and top with whipped cream. Or make it fancy and layer lemon curd, vanilla wafter, and whipped cream in individual glasses.

If you’re not fond of lemon, use cherry pie filling and crushed Oreos along with whipped cream. Or mix the whipped cream with cream cheese for a deconstructed cheesecake feel.

Deconstructing allows you to use food in different quantities than you may normally. And when food is deconstructed, everyone’s plate can be different. This can mean a great opportunity to empty the pantry of small items you’ve been saving.

If you’re tired of battling against time every meal, consider doing what I do and deconstruct it!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”