The Positive Impacts Rituals Have On Your Mental Health

Throughout the COVID 19 journey, you may have found yourself developing new or different rituals with your family, co-workers, neighbors and community organizations. What you may not have realized is that there is scientific evidence that rituals positively impact your Mental Health & Wellbeing.

Rituals are healthy tools that help us gain a sense of control or agency. They are typically done in the same order, at the same time of the day and can be perceived as wrong if not done the way you like to do it.

Over the last few months, you may have a ritual that is no longer part of your day, maybe the commute to your office, listening to your favorite music, podcast or complete silence.  Did you replace that ritual with a new one…going for a walk to listen to your favorite music, podcast or complete silence?  It certainly took me a few weeks to realize how much I missed this time of the day, however, once I realize it-I could do something about it.  I replaced my commute with 30 minutes of reading & journaling in the morning.  I certainly miss my favorite podcasts, but for now this new ritual truly helps set the tone for my mental health each day.

Since the beginning of time, rituals have been a significant part of religious, spiritual and cultural practices.  Now, with scientific evidence, we have a better understanding of WHY rituals are important and HOW they positively impact our mental health, for our everyday lives.

A few of the WHYs from researchers:

  • Greater sense of control
  • Improves attention
  • Increases emotional stability
  • Builds confidence
  • Mitigates grief caused by life-changing losses (such as the death of a loved one)
  • Decrease disappointment or frustration with an experience (losing a game)
  • Enhances consumption experiences (“No wrong way to eat a Reese’s”)

How about creating a totally new ritual for you, your family or community?  Take some time to realize what rituals you have throughout your day and the impact they are having on your Mental Health & Wellbeing.  And what rituals are you missing that you can bring back into your days, maybe with a new location (your home) or look (with a facemask).

Here are a couple tips on how to create rituals that have been found to have a positive impact on our wellbeing:

  • Determine time of day, undesired or mundane activity that you want to change
    • Laundry: sort by person or type, watch favorite show
  • Intentionally create a ritual
    • Transition between home activities & work time: fresh glass of water, favorite pens set out, 3 deep breathes…GO
  • Establish a consistent path for your ritual
    • Starting the day: moment of gratitude, stretching, shower & such, daily reading & reflection
  • Implement the ritual
    • Share your ritual with others: encouragement, support, accountability

The incredibly powerful ritual for our First Responders in NYC each night at 7pm has certainly had a positive impact on our communities.

Wouldn’t it be great if that ritual continued long after this chapter of our journey is over? What rituals will you continue?


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