Stress is huge killer in society and we don’t even realise it until our bodies call time out and make us literally ‘sick with worry’. One way to counteract this danger is by ensuring that you are present in your life and not trapped in the past or worrying about the future. By introducing rituals into your life based around your five main senses, you can tap into a daily source of serenity and pleasure which will kick those annoying stresses into touch.
We all have rituals we do every day, although we may not think of them as being so. Often they are daily practices of hygiene or habits of what you eat and drink or usual ways of going about your day. They become unthinking, hardly conscious acts that punctuate your day. That first cup of coffee in the morning. The first news website you log into each day. The splash of perfume or cologne you put on before dashing out the door. But what if these small everyday acts were given your full attention and you really thought about how you want your day to run?
Take three slow breaths in and out through your nose before you do each of these in order to centre yourself and step into ritual. You can find lots more ways to bring ritual into your life in my latest book, Everyday Calming Rituals.
Ritual 1 – Sight
Pick an object in your house. Any object at all, maybe even just something that is currently in your sightline. Hold it in your hand if you are able to and turn it around so you can see it from all angles. Think about why this object is in your home. Was it a gift? Is it something practical like a stapler? Is it beautiful? Who made it? Think about the many, many people it took to get it to you. Unless it is something you made yourself with a naturally occurring material, most objects in our home require processes and packing and transporting and a whole infrastructure to get to us. Mentally express gratitude for the object and the role it plays in your life. As you set it down, make a conscious effort to think a bit more about the things you have around you that maybe you take for granted sometimes.
Ritual 2 – Sound
Take a sound walk around your neighbourhood. This a walk in which you pay attention to the sounds you can hear from traffic to bird song to even the sound of your footsteps as you walk. See if you can identify something you haven’t heard before or something you’ve heard but can’t quite place. Pay close attention to the sounds you really enjoy such as running water or church bells or the wind in the trees. Later the memory of those sounds can bring you a sense of calm as you’re waiting for your tea to brew or a printer to give you your documents.
Ritual 3 – Smell
Have you ever baked bread? The smell of fresh bread baking is one of the most universally admired scents there is. You don’t have to become a baker to enjoy this, however, you can just get a part-baked baguette or warm up your morning croissant in the oven to fill your home with that nourishing scent. This week keep a nose out for the scents that really make you feel happy, the ones that seem like olfactory hugs.