Stand on your head, sing Over the Rainbow and click your heels together three times. Do this ritual every day.
Your welcome. I will bill your insurance company accordingly.
You may be thinking, this is absurd, where are the magic pills so I don’t have to do anything. Yes, if you believe this action is absurd and useless it will be. Why do people have rituals that seem extreme, woo-woo or useless to the onlooker and no direct “fix” to their physical world? Because it DOES have a direct effect to your inner world and neurological programming. Your inner world is what shapes your outer physical world and you better believe a ritual will be beneficial for your anxiety. Well, I can’t tell you what to think but if you do believe, continue reading. If not, take your anxious thoughts and see sentence #2 above.
Anxiety is apprehension and worry about the future of unknown.
It is typical for your average control freak to also suffer from anxiety. Always needing to hold on tightly to know exactly what will happen next and have it documented in an excel spreadsheet.
According to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, an isolated system is always moving towards increasing entropy aka disorder.
Even when we create order in one area we are increasing disorder somewhere else. Needless to say, we cannot avoid this disarray. So how do we balance out this chaos? With daily rituals of course.
“Rituals are an evolutionary adaptive response to acute stress, reducing anxious apprehension through culturally conditioned but cognitively demanding per-formances.”(1.)
Rituals have been around for centuries across many different cultures and still show up today. Biologically speaking behaviors and patterns that do not support the species ability to survive are weeded out of the gene pool. Could rituals be an ancient anxiolytic?
When acute stress occurs, we must recover and bring our body back to homeostasis- slow the heart rate, bring blood back to the internal organs, and slow the breathing. Hundreds of years ago, they weren’t popping pharmaceutical SSRI’s like Prozac so they had their own means of restoring order.
“Anthropologists have long noted that the use of rituals for instrumental purposes is linked to conditions of risk and uncertainty (Malinowski, 1954). When Malinowski visited the Trobriand Islands of New Guinea, for example, he noted that at times the Trobrianders would base their behavior on practices with clear causal rationales while at other times they would rely on causally opaque practices such as ritual. The Trobrianders rarely relied on ritual when fishing in a reliable and safe setting such as the lagoon; they described their successes and failures in terms of skill. In contrast, extensive ritual preceded the uncertain and dangerous conditions of deep-sea fishing.” (2)
Rituals may decrease anxiety by having you use your cognitive and physiological focus on the ritual instead of apprehension of the future. There is only so much cognitive load that can occur at once. If you are performing a ritual with high cognitive awareness and physiological movement patterns, you may find your anxiety went from a 10 to a 5. Now your set point for the day is a lot more stable to handle a curveball that would cause you to fly off the radar.
Creating some order and control of our inner state through ritual will increase our self esteem, confidence and optimism and therefore allow us to alleviate our anxiety from the unpredictable daily situations that are out of our control and will continue to occur. When we increase our self esteem, we are more likely to take positive risks and gambles in other areas of our lives to get us to elevate to that next level.
Take that new job, ask that special someone out on a date, do that extra pull up. The ritual stays with you long after the act is complete.
Here are 5 DAILY RITUAL ideas to incorporate into your life:
1. Dance: pick 3 of your favorite songs and get grooving.
2. Making a cup of coffee/tea/ cacao: sitting peacefully and becoming present with the action of making and drinking it.
3. Nighttime: put cell phone away from bedroom at the same time to disconnect or turn off wifi if you use it as your alarm and take a warm shower/bath to wind down.
4. Taking your furbaby on a walk ideally at the same time. Be completely immersed with your pet as if it was your best friend. You wouldn’t talk on your phone or scroll social media while in their company would you?
5. Sweat: our largest organ of the body to release toxins and detoxify the body and mind through those sweat glands. Set an intention of what you want to sweat out and hit the sauna or go for a juicy run.
Want some help to create routines and rituals for your health? Let's work together. Schedule your private session today!
1.(PDF) Rituals, Repetitiveness and Cognitive Load: A Competitive Test of Ritual Benefits for Stress. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328201416_Rituals_Repetitiveness_and_Cognitive_Load_A_Competitive_Test_of_Ritual_Benefits_for_Stress [accessed May 09 2021].