Rituals provide relief in stress
I am reading a book about writing. This is not a gentle how to find the write word type of book. The title sets the tone, “Write is a Verb.” The book is about the action of writing, and one of the tools the author suggests using is rituals. He says writing rituals help a person get in the correct mind, they set the mood, simply put the help the writer start.
My favorite writing ritual is to go for a walk. Nothing stirs my creative juices like a brisk outdoor walk, savoring the sunshine and smelling the plants and the fresh air. Another ritual is to write in my diary first. Somehow describing my mundane day cleanses my mind to be more creative and work focused.
Rituals are a form of relief, relief from stress and perhaps fear. They provide consistency; give us something to look forward to, to hold on to when the world seems out of control. The author of my writing book mentioned a study that showed the value of rituals in a world of chaos. A study was performed on children from homes in which at least one parent was addicted to drugs or alcohol. Most of these children grew up to be troubled adults, but some of them grew up well adjusted and successful. These kids had certain rituals in their lives, some kind of consistency they could count on.
“Grandmother read them a story once a week; they went to the boy’s club every day after school; dinnertime was always the same time and they sat at the same place at the table.” (65 O’Hanlon)
It is surprising how important rituals can be, especially to the vulnerable. Something so simple as a one hour volunteer commitment could be a lifeline to another person, or a major disappointment and roadblock if the commitment isn’t honored.
Rituals and customs in a family build bonds between the family members and help everyone feel like they belong. These rituals are webs of interconnectedness, holding people together. Rituals build foundations and all homes need strong foundations.
My diary writing and long walks bring a real sense of peace, and now I understand why. Our commitments to others, however simple they may seem, truly have value. There is power in simplicity, the simple action of ritual and care.