How to Use Personal Rituals to Improve Your Health

Each one of us has a personal ritual, whether we know it or not, that we do when we're faced with a stressful situation. For many, these rituals are not healthy or conducive to reducing stress. Maybe it's something you do at the end of the day to wind down and de-stress. Knowing what these "self-care" routines are, and taking the time to actually do them, could be one of the best ways you de-stress and shake off the pressure and anxiety of the day.   Take a few minutes to think about your own personal rituals.   Do you exercise?   Do you spend time with family or friends?   Do you do yoga or tai chi?   Do you like to light up some scented candles and have a nightcap?     It's important to recognize what your personal rituals are and how to turn them into healthy habits. Be consciously aware of how they help you manage stress. With the right coping mechanism, you will feel healthier with a more positive outlook.  In addition, you'll have no room in your life to build "unhealthy" habits that tend to sneak into our lives, like drinking and drugs. Taking care of yourself should be your number one priority, even if you're in a relationship, or have kids or pets.   Deliberately considering what your self-care rituals are helps improve your performance at work, your overall mood, and in the long run, your overall physical health.  Focusing on your emotional health can be viewed by some to be a waste of time, but actually, it's a way of emptying your stress "bucket" quickly so it doesn't fill up and overflow, leaving you emotionally drained.
  1. What Stresses You Out?
The first step to successfully find and follow through with a self-care routine should be to know what triggers your stress. This might take you a week or two to make a list of the one-- or many-- things that cause you anguish. To do this, you will need the help of something to keep a note of your emotional state during the week. There are many mood-tracking apps, which should do the job wonderfully. On the other hand, you can go old-school and track your moods in a journal.
  1. Choosing Your De-Stressor
The second step is to pick one de-stressor for each anxiety factor on your list. Now, integrate it into your daily routine. You could do something any time you start to stress out over something, or it could be at a certain time each day - whatever best suits your schedule. One great tension-reliever is meditation. Meditating for a few minutes each day has been proven to lessen stress levels, promote creativity, increase focus, and memory. Breathing exercises is also a form of meditation, and has physical benefits on many levels.  Maybe you love coffee and would enjoy turning your coffee break into a full-blown coffee ritual. Sometimes just going to the bathroom and washing your face with some cold water will do the trick. They key is to set up some "me" time where you do something you enjoy for 5-- 10 minutes without any interruptions of any kind. Every single one of your personal rituals help you restore confidence in yourself and that "in control" feeling which helps reduce feelings of doubt.
  1. Forming Healthy Habits
The final step is to turn these rituals into healthy habits that stay with you your whole life. By following a strategy aptly named "habit stacking," you will be able to automatically do your self-care ritual without having to really think about it. Habit stacking is when you turn several small habits into one, big one that just ties everything together. You simply create a daily routine where you follow through with a number of positive habits that help de-stress and unwind you during your eventful day. Remember, it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed and anxious in stressful situations. However, it's crucial to do something about it before things take a turn for the worse. Yet the good news is that defusing a stressful situation takes a few minutes, and is easily accomplished by something like taking a short walk outside or getting up to get a glass of water. These, and many more, can be easily accomplished without ever disrupting the flow of your day. Their effect enhances confidence, acts as a great motivator, and increases emotional stability.