Through these distressing times, while we help our community and family, it is important not to feel overwhelmed and take care of ourselves to manage COVID-related anxieties. Daily rituals and routines have the ability to make us feel more centered and grounded. Everyday habits can become rituals, which can, in turn, help us create normalcy and cope, in some way, with the uncertainty of this time. Here's a set of easy rituals recommended by Sheena from Mindful and Body. The first ritual incidentally begins with coffee.
"For the last year, I have logged on to a quiet Zoom room at least once a day on all weekdays to do an hour of writing. Before this session of deep work, I head to my kitchen and brew in my twenty-year-old Moka Pot and make coffee that I drink with a dash of coconut milk." - Sheena, Mindful and Body.
Ritual 1: Find something to focus on
"As I sit across from a few hundred strangers around the world, and they sit across from me, I set one intention for the hour in the chat - perhaps a three hundred word intro, morning pages, a submitted assignment.
Then we say cheers, and fifty focused, silent minutes of writing begins."
"The past year has not been easy. But for one hour a day, all feels okay. This ritual has carried me through the last thirteen months, earmarking each day with a sense of togetherness, focus, and accomplishment. It has provided grounding and given me purpose, at a time when there is little certainty and even less in my control."
Ritual 2: Tend to your garden
Rituals are not simply routines. They are the intersection of habits with mindful attention. They can offer us a connection with the present moment, with ourselves, with others, or with the universe.
"Whatever your garden may be, tend to your garden — even if it is simply your houseplants or a vase with cuttings. Touch the soil and sense what it needs. Get creative with DIY stakes to offer errant plants and climbers additional support. Water each plant slowly. Remove yellowing or dry leaves so the others can flourish."
"Rest your eyes on the hues of green, giving thanks for the absolute abundance and resilience of nature. Caring for plants can be a regular ritual and a wonderful metaphor for taking care of ourselves."
Ritual 3: Rest
“Rest does not make us lazy, irresponsible, or cruel. Rather, rest is integral to community care, giving us the ability to be engaged long term, without burning out or compassion fatigue settling in.
Rest rituals during the day can look like taking a break from screens, social media, and news or using Do Not Disturb so only the people who need to reach you in an emergency can get through.
If you find yourself picking up your phone on autopilot, deactivate your fingerprint or facial recognition and set a new passcode, so you have to pause to remember and set an intention about your phone usage — how long you will use your device or what you’re going to check.
Rest rituals at night can look like drinking a soothing beverage, using calming essential oils, changing into nightclothes, putting away tech, using low light, reading, or meditating so your body receives cues for winding down.”
Ritual 4: Marry tasks with visualization
“Our daily habits and chores can be elevated into rituals, through the power of visualization. Our minds and bodies are connected — just as simply imagining a lemon being squeezed into our mouths causes us to salivate, we can reduce stress which lowers our immunity by harnessing the powerful placebo of visualization.
Using our imagination gives us a pause from ruminating. Believing in hope and our ability to overcome difficulties gives us resilience.
The sky's the limit when it comes to visualization, so tap into your own needs. As an example, when you shower, envision stress leaving your body, rubbing off each worry with soap suds, and witness them pouring into the drains. As you drink water or take supplements, imagine hydration and nutrients entering your cells, making them stronger and more capable.”
Ritual 5: Write in your journal
Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that makes one feel more at ease by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
“In a time we may be disconnected from many aspects of our regular lives, journaling allows us the chance to check in and connect with ourselves daily. Set aside time in a private and distraction-free space to get your thoughts out on the page through a simple freewriting exercise or brain dump.
Focus on what’s present for you and how you are feeling and coping. Writing things down in this manner helps us create distance from our thoughts, so we can begin to process events or emotions that may feel challenging. Journalling can also help us create fresh space in our minds for more compassion and creativity.
Another ritual that can offer solace at this time is gratitude journaling — noting down what is going okay for us: a kind gesture from a friend, time out to watch a film, a good night’s rest. Gratitude allows us to maintain a nuanced perspective at a time when we easily feel burdened and overwhelmed.”
Ritual 6: A mindful morning beverage
Gaining a sense of calm and control early in the day always helps us set the tone for the rest of the day. This ritual by Sheena is one we’ve sought time and again, and we hope it brings some respite for you too.
“Our daily cuppa can be reassuring. Brew yourself a cup of coffee or tea mindfully. Take a deep whiff of the coffee grounds or tea leaves, feel them between your fingers. Listen to the sound the water makes as it fills the pot, as it heats and bubbles. Feel the steam as you pour it into your mug.
Cup your hands around it and bring them up to your cheeks. Pause with it. Then drink it slowly, engaging in no other tasks. As you sip it, name what you can taste. Savour it. Notice its texture and temperature in your mouth, down your throat, as it warms your belly.
By slowing down, we set the tone for the day. Using our senses, we experience the present moment fully, which helps comfort us, improve our attention, and offer respite from overthinking. Do it again the following day.”
We truly hope this is instrumental in bringing some sense of calm and ease into your everyday through these turbulent times!