Today we're talking about daily rituals, things you can add into your everyday routine aimed to calm the senses, lower anxiety, relieve stress, and improve your mood. Routines practiced daily, help to ensure you're integrating the rituals that nurture and support optimal health mind body and soul. You can develop rituals to support changes you want to make in your life. For instance, integrating the Mantra "I love you, I am listening" with deep breathing would be useful in supporting decreased anxiety, and improving self-love, and/or a deeper connection with self. Dancing when something goes wrong can be helpful if you have a hard time letting things go, or moving on with your day after an upset. Below are my favorite daily rituals for calming and nurturing the mind body and spirit:
- Start your day with Gratitude. Seriously, it makes a difference. Wayne Dyer reported he verbally said the words "thank you" repeatedly upon waking every day. I had a morning last week where I lay, listening as Matt ground the coffee in the kitchen and felt pure gratitude for the sounds of our home, for the little rituals that made our home our home. How you start your day matters, and I can think of no better way to start than with gratitude.
- Meditation. There's no way this can't help you. If you think you're not a meditator, that you just can't quiet your mind, or you just can't meditate the "right" way, then you have the most to gain from meditation. There's so much research out there supporting the benefits of meditation on anxiety, focus, and mood. Even just a few minutes every morning will make a difference and there are so many free guided meditations available nowadays.
- Coffee or Tea. I like to have my coffee in the morning and some decaf tea at night. Warm beverages, when drunk mindfully can become a calming ritual. Just make sure you dedicate your attention to the experience of your cup to reap the benefits.
- Write in a Journal. Maybe you love to write poetry, maybe you want to begin a gratitude journal, maybe you just need to write about your experience because it is so intense, you need to get it out of you any way possible. Journaling can be a wonderful daily ritual to cultivate creativity, release emotions, and connect with yourself. Journals don't have to be written. If you prefer art, you could create a daily art journaling practice, where you paint, sketch or doodle for a few minutes every day.
- Set an Intention for the Day. I always close my first group of the day with a short guided meditation in which I direct patients to set an intention for the day. Goals, intentions help to guide our energy. This simple practice can bring us back to focusing on what we want, and what truly matters.
- Mantras. Using mantras, affirmations, inspirational quotes when we are feeling ungrounded, stressed, insecure, overwhelmed, or simply to maintain good vibes, can become even more effective when paired with deep breaths. When using mantras I like to say half of the mantra with the in-breath, and the last half with the out-breath. Some of my favorite mantras include: "I love you, I am listening" (usually said to myself as I place both hands over my heart), "Peace begins with me", and "What would you have me do today" (to represent my acknowledgment I don't have to figure it all out alone, that the universe is guiding me).
- Reflecting on Control. Reminding yourself of what you do and don't have control over can be incredibly helpful. Try, then to let go of all the things you don't have control over, and make a game plan for putting energy into that which you do have control over. So much of this life is out of our control, and when we wonder, worry, lament over the things we can't control, our energy is wasted.
- Essential Oils. I like to rub a small amount of lavender oil on my pulse points at night. I diffuse a different essential oil scent almost daily and I swear it helps to keep me calm and prevent burn-out. Scent connects and calms the part of our brain that does the stressing out, so using it to keep you calm can be a great strategy. Essential oils are so accessible now. You can order them online or pick up a couple at your nearest health food store. If you want to start diffusing essential oils into your home or office, this diffuser is on sale, and this diffuser is portable making it great for travel.
- Deep Breathing. The breath is your best means of calming your nervous system. When you're panicked, overwhelmed, reacting, tune into your breath, to regain control. Simple deep breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth should do the trick, but if you want more info on breathing techniques, check out my post on 4 Breathing Techniques to Lower Anxiety in Under a Minute here.
- Get out for a Sunset or a Sunrise. Okay, so maybe you can't make it down to the beach or top of a mountain for sunset, but even getting out into that lovely dispersed light during magic hour can help calm the senses, and bring you back to a place of grounding. Try to walk outside, even if it's only for a few moments as you take a work break. Taking a few deep breaths while you marvel at magic hour lighting will make it even more magical.
- Move your Body. Nobody else knows this, but sometimes when I get into work, I put on my lab coat, put away my belongings, turn on the music in my office and dance, just a little. Sometimes if I've had an intense interaction, or work drama, I go back into my office and dance it away. I always feel better after yoga, and I've never regretted a walk outdoors. Moving the body, helps to cleanse you of negative energy. Moving your body is the secret sauce because emotions manifest into the physical as cortisol is released, and muscles tense. I don't have time or space to go into the science behind movement but trust me. Movement is important when it comes to calming the nervous system, healing trauma, relieving stress. Find what works for you and do it, it doesn't have to be dancing or yoga. It could be rock climbing, boxing, crossfit, running, or cycling, as long as it involves movement, it's good enough.
- Heating Pad. I have a sock filled with rice that I use as a heating pad (Matt loves to tease me about my hot old sock). There's something about warmth that's comforting. Not only does warmth soothe sore or tight muscles, but it just feels good. Anything that signals the body to relax, also signals the brain to relax so you can use heat at night as you're winding down for bed to promote sleep, or in the mornings to help your body warm up.
That's it guys, these were the best daily rituals I could think of. I definitely practice all of these rituals at least once throughout my week, and some daily. My best piece of advice is to start with developing a morning or nighttime routine and add at least one of these into that routine. The magic comes when you use rituals such as these on an ongoing basis to decrease stress levels overall rather than when you're already in crisis mode. If you want even more tips on lowering anxiety you can check out any of these past posts: 5 Ways to Lower Anxiety in 5 Minutes or Less, 10 Ways to Reset Your Energy, 10 Ways to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less, 4 Breathing Techniques to Lower Anxiety in Under a Minute