Many of us feel somewhat out of control in today’s busy, fast-paced, hectic world. We constantly rush from one obligatory activity to the next, all the while wondering how in the world we are supposed to get everything done on time. In fact, stress is the most common chronic condition Americans face (and it’s easy to see why). As your trusted online psychologist, I want to remind you that it’s not only okay to slow down and take time for yourself – it’s absolutely essential.
Understanding The Importance Of Rituals
Traditionally, a ritual is a ceremonious act designed to mark a specific time or event. Most ancient rituals stem from religious roots, but you can find modern rituals in every aspect of life. When we hug our friends by way of saying hello, we are performing a greeting ritual. When we gather around the dinner table with our family, we are performing a mealtime ritual. When we shake hands after coming to an agreement, we are performing a business ritual. These rituals may seem simple, but they are crucial elements of our society. Without them, the world as we know it would cease to exist.
There are two primary categories of rituals: social and personal. Social rituals are the ones we observe within our communities, our churches, our schools, our workplaces, our families, etc. Personal rituals are the ones we observe by ourselves. Believe it or not, personal rituals are essential in order to maintain mental wellness and emotional well-being.
Identifying Your Daily Rituals
Even if you don’t realize it, there are probably already several personal rituals you observe on a regular basis. A good way to identify these is to imagine which of your daily activities you would miss the most if you were unable to do them. Is your morning cup of coffee essential? Do you always read a couple of chapters in your book before going to sleep at night? Do you stretch or do yoga every week? These are all common examples of personal rituals, but the list certainly doesn’t stop there.
Ideas For Daily Rituals
In my work as an online mental health therapist, part of my job is to help my clients develop strategies for bettering their emotional and mental wellness. Maintaining daily rituals can be a great way to do this. For those of you that are looking for ways to break out of your current routine or perhaps add to it, here are a few examples of popular daily rituals.
1. Recite Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are incredibly powerful. By reciting positive affirmations, you focus on drawing more positivity to your life. Choose a specific time of day when you aren’t doing anything else, such as your morning commute or observing your child’s gymnastics class. Recite brief, positive messages such as “I am loved,” “I have everything I need,” “I do good in the world,” etc. It may feel awkward at first, but I can guarantee it will make a positive impact in the long run.
2. Go For A Walk Every Morning
Regular exercise is an incredibly beneficial ritual. Exercising releases mood-boosting endorphins and helps you to feel confident and comfortable in your body. If exercise is not currently a part of your daily life, consider getting up just fifteen minutes earlier so you have time for a quick walk before getting ready for your day. Even a small amount of time can make a big difference.
3. Set Aside Five Minutes At Lunch To Focus On Deep Breathing
Deep breathing has several incredibly benefits. It relaxes us, calms our minds, massages our organs, and strengthens the muscles in our diaphragms – just to name a few. Actively focusing on your deep breaths can be especially beneficial. Focusing on your breathing for even five minutes can ground you and give you the strength and clarity to continue going. (Click here to view my blog post about the benefits of deep breathing.)
Observing Daily Rituals Greatly Improves Quality Of Life
It doesn’t matter what your chosen ritual is; performing it regularly can greatly improve your mental state and overall quality of life. By setting aside time for daily rituals even in the midst of our hectic schedules, it gives us a feeling of control and ownership over our realities. Remember that it takes most people at least three months to form a habit, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your forget your ritual one day. The important thing is to keep working towards your goal.