READERS. This post has been in the works for awhile. My lord I have been procrastinating and procrastinating, attempting many times to complete this. The irony of it all? Sitting down to write this article demands that I face myself; that I confront my own crazy and get open about what ritual means in my life. And, ugh, it’s not fun.
Annie and I got on the topic of rituals we practice in our life at the beginning of the year. She shared her go-to self-care ritual in the bath, which focuses on creating space to relax, turn off her mind, and enjoy the blissful quiet in the tub. In preparing for my own post, I was a bit nervous because my rituals definitely don’t seem all that self-caring. They are much more compulsively motivated.
When I am stressed or experiencing anxiety, my mind races and hyper-focuses. What ritual soothes the itch? Cleaning, organizing, and compartmentalizing my environment. The process goes like this: my mind latches onto an image, idea, or narrative, I recognize the anxiety bubbling up, and before I know it the anxiety has manifested in my consciousness. Sometimes I feel like I have two distinct voices in my head—one that recognizes the pressing anxiety and the other that is the anxiety. It’s really difficult for me to disengage the anxiety voice and let go. So, I clean. This ritual is about taking control of my environment so I can calm down, take a much-needed deep breath, and move forward with a game plan.
The past couple of months have been personally tricky in that I have felt very out of control of my environment (i.e. trying to find a place to live). As a result, my anxiety hamster wheel has been really, really intense. It became suffocating dealing with myself after awhile. In part because I can only clean and organize my room so many times a day, but also because I was sick of listening to myself all by myself. The ritual just wasn’t working anymore. So I tried something totally new on a car ride home one day—I talked to myself out loud. I acknowledged my fear, my anxiety, and confronted it outside of my own head. And just like that I found a new way to relate to myself. I finally really heard myself.
Stumbling onto this new coping strategy has seriously shaken up my ritualistic behavior. For whatever reason, vocalizing my internal dialogue helps me separate the anxiety voice from Celene’s voice. Because bottom-line, they are separate narratives with their own motives.
I am by no means an expert nor have I figured out all of the answers to coping with stress. The hamster wheel is definitely still greased and ready for a daily ride. But I am eager to explore this new sort of mantra ritual as a way of getting in touch with what I am experiencing on a deeper level, anxiety voice aside. What about you, readers? What rituals do you practice to cope, to take care of yourself, etc.?