Throughout my thirty years of helping individuals and families recover from traumatic and toxic stress, I have observed the power of rituals to successfully manage stress at home, in school and in the workplace experienced in daily living. Rituals provide predictability in our caregiving relationships and in the environment and places of our daily lives. Predictable routines and rituals offer consistent grounding and scaffolding during transitions and while coping with the challenges we encounter. When a family is mindful of regulation needs for all members of the family and they bring more flow in their routines, they quickly experience greater health outcomes in terms of; navigating anxiety and depression, age appropriate developmental goals, and collateral therapies.
Rituals are a sequence of activities, (systematically) used by a person to neutralize stress. They are acts of regulation bringing one’s attention toward preferred sensory and movement activity while dealing with demands.
Rituals invite using our sensory and movement preferences as part of their sequence
When considering rituals that infuse wellness in our daily routine, respect your unique preferred sensory and movement actions.. Consider this template of just one ritual.. I like one good cup of coffee in the morning. I’m picky about quality and brewing and I make the time to create a cup that is perfectly pleasing to me. I wake up early before the rest of the household and savor the time as I sip the perfect brew. I have learned through experience that I’m not really available for much else, until I’ve had about half of the cup. If the demands of family life intrude before I have time to quietly move into my day and reap the benefits of increased heart rate and a drop of serotonin from my java, I lean towards having more edge with short, curt sentences, low tone and volume, and little movement or engagement. Noticing my physical and mental response to the demands of the morning, tells me about my sensory and movement needs and is the first part of planning a sequence of what feels good and is helpful in meeting the remaining needs of the day.
What makes up your palette?
The NYT article, The Little Rituals that Keep Us Going reveals a palette of accessible options to attend to our regulation of emotions and stress hormones through creative, accessible, and equitable health practices. I appreciate the playful descriptions of rituals that have been cultivated out of necessity by of any of us seeking wellness practices that help everyday, throughout the day. The creative spirit which different stories reflect, like most creative experiences that involve sensory and movement activities, deepen health outcomes physically and mentally. We can plan and adjust as needed.We can rely upon materials and mediums from the season and even abandon rituals for a time due to life circumstances. Once established however, as the patterns through the senses, there is an imprint we can return to and rely upon again, perhaps in a new and more meaningful way towards our physical and mental health throughout our lifespan.
Need help resetting and establishing new rituals at home?
When families feel trapped, resentful in their routine and disconnected from rituals, brief family intervention from Room to Move helps reset patterns towards a sustainable healthy plan for everyone’s functioning separately and together.