If you’re wondering how to relieve stress in your life, establishing healthy daily rituals can often make a positive difference. These rituals generally fall into different categories than hobbies, although hobbies can help with stress management. You may consider taking a daily jog or walk a hobby, but these also can be more of a ritual. There can be some overlap at times.
However, daily rituals tend to be more about daily structure and consistency throughout all or most of our days. This could include drinking tea in the morning, socializing at a coffee shop, or meditation. These practices tend not to get much attention since we generally do them out of habit. Still, daily rituals help with greater mental stability, especially during unusually stressful moments.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled Taking Time for Tea: Comforting Rituals in Stressful Times, Jasmin Tahmaseb-McConatha Ph.D. shares the following:
“Rituals help soothe our anxious moments and give us comfort in difficult times. They take many forms, prayer, singing, chanting, telling stories, walking, meditating–anything that is repeated with some regularity and has meaning for the person performing it.”
What follows are some additional thoughts on effectively using daily rituals as part of your stress relief plan.
Re-evaluate Necessary Daily Tasks
Most of us have certain schedule constraints built into our days. It can be easy to see these necessities as something we have to do. While their requirement is a reality, there are ways you can turn them into a meaningful ritual.
For instance, that commute to and from work, although necessary, can be turned into a daily ritual that helps alleviate unhealthy stress symptoms. This could be as simple as drinking a coffee or tea, listening to an audiobook, or meditating while commuting.
With a slight perspective change and altered habits, something that initially felt like drudgery can turn into the opposite. You can use these times to destress, prepare for your day and unwind from it.
Look for New Daily Rituals
Our country is often overly preoccupied with productivity. While getting a lot done is good, we can sometimes forget the value of connecting with ourselves, others, and spirituality. Life can feel like nothing but an ever-growing list of things you must do. But that isn’t a healthy way to consistently view life and can lead to ongoing, acute stress.
It can be tempting to look at things like coffee shop time as a waste of time, for instance. But those rituals likely nourish your mental health more than you realize.
For that reason, it’s wise from a mental health perspective to consider new daily rituals. They are more valuable for managing stress than many realize. The best daily routines needn’t require a lot of time to be effective. In fact, that’s the point. They’re typically something you do as you go about work and everyday living.
These rituals give you something to look forward to and provide a non-threatening and calming experience. They also allow for structure, which we all need to manage symptoms of stress and anxiety better.
Evaluate Whether to Drop Certain Daily Rituals
And now comes a vital word of warning regarding rituals. Not all habits we’d consider rituals are good for us. Yes, that coffee or tea may be, but that second or third donut likely isn’t. And that group you hang out with each day could eventually drain your batteries more than the opposite.
You may also consider reading or watching the news a daily ritual. Still, the barrage of negativity the media provides may do more harm than good to your mental health. Too often, harmful routines can slip in, causing unnecessary stress.
For this reason, it’s wise to periodically evaluate your daily rituals to see if they add value to your life. If the value is no longer there, then they aren’t technically daily rituals but daily distractions ramping up a lot of unneeded stress.
If you find this to be the case, don’t hesitate to eliminate these negative habits. Then, you’ll have extra time to implement a new daily ritual that helps with symptoms of stress in your life rather than making them worse.
Remember that Sometimes Less is More
It’s easy to use daily rituals as a time to get something extra done. That could be marketing for your business on social media or exercising, for instance. Although doing these things are important, challenge yourself to explore rituals that aren’t tied to producing something.
Instead, think of rituals that help you relax and grow calmness in your life. That could involve deep breathing, meditation, listening to music, or any number of routines. Remember that a ritual can still be highly valuable even if it doesn’t directly accomplish something on your to-do list. Rather, healthy rituals often help to get us in the correct state of mind so we can be at our best throughout the day.
Although it’s tempting to assume these calming rituals are unproductive, less is often more. Just like the body operates better with the correct amount of energy derived from food than when it receives too much energy, your productivity is much the same. You only have so much to give on any one day, and trying to do too much is one of the surest ways to accomplish less rather than more.
How to Relieve Stress: Counseling Can Help
Although the right kind of stress is healthy at manageable levels, chronic stress in high doses is a recipe for significant physical and mental challenges. For that reason, finding multiple ways to handle or eliminate unhealthy stress is vital. We all have limits and can only handle so much, after all.
If you’re having a tough time with stress lately, please know that many others feel the same way. And each of us goes through times when we struggle to manage stress effectively.
If you’d like to learn more about how to deal with stress better and get your life back, please get in touch with us. You’re also welcome to schedule an appointment with the OC Relationship Center.