3 practical rituals that will make you feel better during a time of uncertainty
Feeling a little anxious about the recent changes in your life revolving Covid-19? Uncertainty about finances and job stability? A lack-luster enthusiasm for starting the day because of the heaviness of unknowns? Just when things felt like 2020 was going to kick off as the year with potential to be the best yet, we are humbled by the universe. At least I know I've been. Prior to losing my job (due to restrictions of "essential work") I felt like I was finally balancing being a Mom of two little boys, working, being a present wife, keeping my body physically fit, and taking the time to nourish my soul by fueling my curiosities (typically in the form of books or podcasts). When I got the call that my work wasn't going to survive the pandemic, my instinct was to retreat. I wanted to curl up in a ball and hide away from the day until life could go back to "normal." The voice in my head kept saying, "it's going to be ok. Everything works out in the end." But, my gut just couldn't shake the shitty feeling. So, I took a day to cry and sleep; to feel sorry for myself and sulk. The following day, I did a few things with mindful intention. Sometimes I like to think of my life as a science experiment. It helps me detach from the outcome and focus on testing theories. I don't have to commit to something if it doesn't serve me but I have to be willing to try different formulas. This is how I came up with the 3 practical rituals that will increase your sense of control during a time of chaos.
1. Make your bed
If you have already had the solid habit of making your bed every day, good for you, continue that good habit. But, if you're like me and it just wasn't ever a priority before, I'm here to tell you that making your bed every day will absolutely make you feel better about yourself. Making your bed before you leave your bedroom in the morning is about setting the tone for your day. For me, it's a small victory, a tally on the scoreboard of control over my life. As I organize my pillows and pull the blankets tight, I remind myself how grateful I am to have my bed. My bed making skills are shit, but, it's not about perfection, it's about the small mindful act of putting an effort into something first thing in the day. What makes it even more wonderful is after a long day of stressing over the economy and global health, you can come to your bed ready to slide into something put together for you like a present. It's been waiting for you.
2. Personal Hygeine
If you're new to working from home or have now lost your job and can't go anywhere, it can be easy to feel a sense of "I'll do it later" when it comes to personal hygiene. No one is going to see you, so you can hang out in your pjs with unbrushed teeth all day. Even if you do stay consistent with the time you bathe, you may half ass the routine of: shave, soap, exfoliate, face wash, deep condition, moisturize, skin care. When feeling low, it's hard to find the energy to care about hygiene routines. I call them "rituals" or you can call them "habits." Creating a ritual, a practice, you do in the same order every time you do the activity will help you feel a sense of control. For me, on a dark day, I found some bath salts lying around my house, put on a face mask, and soaked in the bath while reading a book I haven't found/made time to read. That 10 minute self care was so necessary for my mental wellness. Taking the time to truly care for the vessel we call our body is essential to feeling a sense of well being. When we have some place to be, we rarely focus on the mindful act of scrubbing dead skin off our body or moisturizing as soon as we step out of the shower. Now, without anywhere to go, it's hard to feel motivated to care as much. Put on a face mask, exfoliate your skin, wash all your crevaces, deep condition your hair, and moisturize. At the very least, it's a few minutes spent worrying less about things out of your control.
You know sleep is important. You also know how impossible it feels to sleep when the chemicals and hormones of fear are coursing through your body. Fear of the unknown. It doesn't help that now your normal schedule and routine is fucked, so what's another Netflix episode going to hurt? Maintaining a consistent effort in getting quality and quantity of sleep is so important when you're feeling low. Not only does your body repair and recharge during sleep, but on a spiritual level, your subconscious can work things out during sleep. Throughout history there have been countless people who experienced visions in their sleep that inspired their waking life. Recently, my sleep has been all over the place. Some days I can barely keep my eyes open by 9pm and other nights I feel like I'm stuck in an in-between state of sleep and waking where my mind runs wild with unnecessary thinking. To combat this I practice meditation. As soon as I am aware that I'm feeling uneasy and I'm trying to sleep, I will bring my awareness to my present state in bed. I focus on my breathing. I acknowledge my body trying to warn me of potential threats, and I allow myself to rest. It helps me some times to ask for my soul to speak to me in visions in my dreams. Sounds silly but it helps me focus on looking forward to my dreams. If there's some possibility of a vision that could inspire my life then I want to see it. With sleep, there are several other important things to note if you want to improve the quality of your sleep in hopes of improving your mood during this time. Focus on creating and maintaining a healthy sleep routine. For me, this includes "sleepy time tea" which has Valerian root and I swear it just eases me into sleepiness. Washing my face, brushing my teeth for the full 2 minutes (no cheating), using my waterpik or flossing, mouthwashing, going pee, keeping lights low and sounds low. In the beginning, I'm not sure that the ritual made me go to sleep, but now I've done it so many times that when I don't do one of the acts in my routine, I'll feel anxious in bed knowing I didn't do it. I never want to leave the end of my day feeling like I half assed my way to the end.
They're simple and anyone can implement them. Making an effort to restore order and familiarity to your daily life is the goal.