And it doesn’t have to be weird.
Did you cringe when you read that headline? Did you think ‘child sacrifice’? Or maybe you were taken back to Sunday Mass or the Shabbath?
In a way, you would have been right. Those are all examples of rituals. Rituals have always been part of human life: they help us to know what time of the year it is (harvest rituals, Christmas, Easter), they help us mark important events (weddings, funerals), and overall they help us process life.
So what is a ritual?
Rituals do not need to be religious or obsessive, for that matter. Some of you might have thought of rituals like “check your door is locked…6 times before you leave’ or ‘wash your hands 3 times’. That is different and I would not consider those rituals, but as necessary behaviours to survive if you suffer from OCD. No, what I am talking about here is meaningful, intentional rituals that can help us get through times of uncertainty, like now.
Rituals are calls to action and engage us on an emotional level. For example, have you ever looked back on Christmas photos, or wedding photos, or the yearly summer fishing trip photos and felt just as though you were there again? That’s because rituals engage us so deeply at an emotional level, that even just seeing objects related to the ritual taps on our core (i.e. Christmas trees, the smell of some flowers, etc.). Let me know in the comments if you can think of an example!
Rituals are not simply habits, like brushing your teeth. They engage us deeply and emotionally.
Help in uncertain times
We also use rituals in uncertain situations or when something is out of our control. For instance, think back to when you had a very important job interview, or a big football match: you might have done something ‘ritualistic’ in style to ensure that you performed at your best. Maybe you put on your favourite dress or shoes, or maybe you said some positive mantras in the mirror. Some athletes have very complex pre-match rituals, you can check that our on the internet. Rituals make us feel better and more in control.
4 Great benefits of creating a ritual
Now that we have defined what a ritual is, let’s look at four rituals that you try right now. And remember, these are just ideas. You can change them and make them as personalised to you as possible. The more personal they are, the better!
- Increase your gratitude
Some people swear by gratitude rituals, like keeping a gratitude journal or giving thanks in the morning to the god or guardian they believe in. This can hugely improve your mood for the day and increase your positivity and productivity. You can maybe start with writing down 3 things you are grateful for each morning and see if there is a shift in your mood. Let me know!
In our fast and furious society, we often forget to celebrate big and small milestones. Take some time to celebrate (by yourself or with your loved ones and friends) your milestones. ‘It’s a year today since I changed career’ or ‘I got out of my pyjamas today’ are all worthy achievements that deserve to be celebrated. Maybe you want to celebrate seasons (literal seasons or maybe seasons in your life). Try to think of something you feel proud of, or something or someone quite special in your life.
- Create a connection
Is there maybe a part of you that you haven’t felt very connected to? Or maybe a part of your house, or a part of your body? Create a ritual (it can be a special bath, or creating a special corner/altar in your house) that will help you create a connection with what you’re missing. This will help you feel more whole, grounded and connected to your space.
- Jump to action
Maybe you can think of a million rituals that you would like to incorporate in your life. Great! Start with one and see how it feels. Does it give you a different outlook? Does it engage you emotionally? Is it meaningful to you? And does it call you to action? When I say this, I mean: does it make you change the way you perceive things and does it make you change behaviour? Does it help?
Now you have four ritual ideas that can help you feel better, celebrate, connect and act during this lockdown. Which means you have the tools to find your own. Did a particular ritual speak to you? Or did you envision something that might work for you? Let me know in the comments below!