The Ritualistic Path to Taming Anxiety
by Rick Wallace, Ph.D., Psy.D.
The Ritualistic Path to Taming Anxiety is a powerful tool used to help manage anxiety at multiple levels. Many athletes are superstitious. They wear lucky socks or carry around a special bottle cap to help them win a match.
It may sound silly, but there’s some science to back up their habits. Research shows that rituals can be useful for soothing anxiety. That’s important because stress feels uncomfortable and hampers your performance. Developing a winning routine does not only help as it pertains to sports. Developing a positive routine can help ease stress, fear, and anxiety in any area in life.
At the same time, these repetitive actions can cause new troubles if they become excessive. Learn more about how to create your own safe and effective rituals that empower you.
Using Rituals to Relieve Anxiety
Whistling and flipping coins can help you to feel more in control. However, you may want to choose rituals that carry more meaning and deliver positive side effects.
Try these strategies:
- Clear away clutter. Putting your surroundings in order is doubly beneficial. Moving around will make you feel calmer and your tidy desk and kitchen will help you stay peaceful.
- Do housework. If you have more energy and time, move on to dusting and mopping. Rhythmic activities are especially comforting. You may even save money by doing your own chores instead of hiring a housekeeper.
- Listen to music. Create playlists that work for you. You may prefer piano sonatas or country music. Singing and dancing help too.
- Pet your dog. Studies show that interacting with animals promotes healing and lowers your blood pressure. Walk a neighbor’s dog or hug a stuffed animal if you don’t have any pets.
- Check your posture. Take a deep breath and stand up straight. Your body will relax, and you’ll boost your circulation.
- Dress up. Many rituals involve clothing because your appearance can affect your thinking. You may want to wear suspenders or any clothing that is comfortable and flattering.
Taking Practical Action for Anxiety
Your plaid socks won’t carry you to victory unless you know how to play baseball in the first place. It’s most beneficial to use rituals in moderation and combine them with practical action.
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These activities enable you to take positive actions:
- Accept your feelings. Trying to suppress your emotions can backfire. Allow yourself to feel nervous or confused.
- Reframe your thoughts. You can shift your mindset while you validate your feelings. Imagine that you’re excited rather than anxious. Look for the positive aspects within any challenge.
- Practice self-care. Cultivating your mental and physical health will make you stronger and more resilient. Eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly. Sleep well and manage stress.
- Work out. Physical activity is especially constructive for dealing with anxiety. Visit your local fitness center or set up a gym at home. Schedule a morning run or swim before a busy day. Do a few minutes of pushups or stretches after a difficult phone call.
- Make time for reflection and prayer. Spirituality can help you transform obstacles into steppingstones for personal growth. Read scriptures connected with your religion or find poems and quotations that inspire you.
- Keep a journal. Writing, drawing, and other creative activities help you to handle tension effectively. Use a journal to process your feelings and identify patterns that you want to change. You might want to explore other arts and crafts too.
- Consider counseling. What if your anxiety is severe or you become so dependent on your rituals that they start to interfere with your daily life? Professional help is available. Talk therapy and medication may help you treat your symptoms and enjoy life more.
Put rituals to work for you when you’re dealing with an uncertain or challenging situation. Used wisely, they can restore your peace of mind and help you achieve the results you want.