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Personal Rituals & Quarantine

During this time of quarantine and social distancing there is a slow and steady devolving that can happen in our lives. At 2 weeks of quarantine we might decide to occasionally skip a shower, and just wear Crocs all day. I watched a Catholic priest perform a mass in a Buckeye sweatshirt. What happens at week 3 or 4? Unless we are cognizant of the move, it can catch us by surprise. Our discipline slowly loosens up, possibly allowing more important things to slip by, that would have never in the past. While there is nothing inherently wrong with a more relaxed state, too much of this can begin to impact our lives in unhealthy ways. This slide downward can be pushed back some when we make sure to keep our rituals.

When I say ritual you probably go directly to your religious experience, but this is not what I am referring to. I am talking about the things that you do, or don’t do daily. Rituals are a part of all known cultures,[1] and there is something satisfying and healing about performing them. What are your personal rituals?

Our world is very chaotic and unpredictable right now and developing personal rituals can help us feel in control over our own lives. The rituals I am referring to are the things we do that have special, personal meaning and that become a regular part of our day. These rituals benefit our mental health by allowing us to have complete control over something.

The rituals with the most positive impact are the simplest of rituals because they reduce, rather than contribute to, stress and exhaustion. I would encourage you to find something and then decide to do it deliberately and in an unhurried manner.

  • Brewing your morning coffee

  • Each morning I step out onto my front porch and just breath for a few minutes. This is empowering.

  • Make a daily "gratitude list" in order to build psychological resiliency.[2]

  • Sitting in the quiet listening to God.

  • Going for a long walk or bike ride through town, with social distancing.

  • I have even ritualized the making of my bed each morning.

Coming up with these personalized rituals is empowering and can allow you to feel in control in these hectic and seemingly wild days. Developing and performing these rituals can:

  • Reduce stress and, by default, blood pressure and heart rate

  • Improve sleep

  • Calm the mind

  • Increase a sense of peace and contentment

  • Decrease the often-debilitating effects of poor mental health

Take care of yourself and your mental health. What enjoyable thing do you already do? Consider intentionally doing more of it. Create a ritual that can impact your mental health.

[1] Brown, Donald (1991). Human Universals. United States: McGraw Hill. p. 139.

[2] Miller, Anna, (2020), 10 ways to Cope with Coronavirus Anxiety United States, Business Insider

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