We all want to comfort the ones we love, especially our children, when they are upset or stressed but not all parents, or all kids, are comfortable talking about feelings. For that matter, a lot of times kids genuinely don’t understand what is upsetting them. There are times that trying to force a conversation makes things worse, not better.
Happily, there’s another way. Decades of research agree: human beings equate physical warmth with emotional warmth. If you think about it, it makes sense. Babies are physically and emotionally “warm” when they are being held and snuggled. A fire in the hearth is probably the ultimate symbol of being safe and warm at home. The really nice thing is that many of these are things you can do for your wife, your parents, even a friend when they have a rough day. These aren’t just for kids.
1. Food and Drink
Something warm in your tummy always feels good, and liquids seem to do this best of all. If your loved one has a favorite hot drink, you could buy them something to make it a little extra-special. My personal favorite is cherry extract in hot cocoa.
- Hot cocoa
- Mulled/spiced cider
- Chai tea
- Hot tea
- Hot soup
- Fresh cookies, bread, or other baked goods
Since the smells of fresh-baked goodies make most people happy, consider some aromatherapy. I know, it isn’t the strong suit of most guys I know but you can go to Walmart and pick up an aromatherapy unit and an assortment of scented wax quickly, easily, and cheaply. There are also a ton of great aromatherapy diffusers that use essential oils.
2. Wrap Them Up
Who doesn’t love the warmth of something fresh out of the dryer? Everyone in my family does! When the kids were little, calling out that I had “dryer fresh” clothing was the fastest way to get them dressed. They would even stop mid-video-game to run to me and put on dryer warm clothing. Now, we all love heated blankets and throws in the winter. They all seem to have auto-shut-off switches but the ones for throws (for use on sofas while watching TV or reading) are after about three hours and blankets (intended for all-night use on beds) are closer to ten to twelve hours. Be careful and don’t use them with small children since they have electrical cords and can be a fire hazard if not used properly.
- A dryer-warm towel after their bath/shower
- Dryer-warm blankets to wrap up in
- Fluffy, fuzzy, soft blankets to wrap up in
- Flannel sheets
- Electric blankets and throws
- Heated mattress pad
When you take things out of the dryer, you can roll them up to keep them warmer longer. This is especially useful to keep towels warm until the end of the shower.
3. Make them Snuggly
Sometimes having something soft and warm is the best.
- Turn up the thermostat
- Dryer-warm clothing
- An actual Snuggie(TM)
- Snuggly jackets
- Snuggly socks
- Snuggly chairs – yep, fuzzy-lined chairs are a thing
The touch of someone we love and trust has been proven to help us relax by releasing oxytocin, a feel-good chemical (“the love hormone”). The article in that link talks about the elderly but many of the same ideas can work with kids, such as simply giving a hug or holding their hand. Unlike a lot of other things about parenting, this is as easy as it sounds, unless you have a teenager. It’s definitely not always as easy as it sounds with a teenager, but even the surliest teen needs a hug sometimes.
- Cuddle them
- Give them a hug
- Hold their hand
- Give them a shoulder rub
- Sit close enough to touch while watching TV, eating dinner, etc.
We all have long-term issues that get us down at some point. It might be losing a loved one (person or pet) because of divorce, death, or moving. It might be a physical illness. It could even be mental illness. Whatever the cause, sometimes we know our loved one will probably need extra comfort for months or even years. These are things they can use even when you aren’t with them.
- Weighted blanket
- Electric towel-warmer: This free-standing unit can heat robes too.
- Build or buy a firepit for campfires and s’mores
Weighted blankets are typically used for people with autism and some other specific disorders but they can be comforting for more neuro-typical people as well. You know how some winter quilts and bedding feel heavier when they cover you? For some people, this is comforting. For someone who likes heavy covers, a weighted blanket could be a great source of comfort on stressful days. You can even make your own.
I hope these ideas help you when your loved one is having a hard time. I look forward to seeing your ideas in the comments!