While the primary dictionary definition of ritual is "a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed in a prescribed order," ritual actually has a solid place in secular life. Chances are that you perform little rituals throughout your day without even realizing it. Consider the actions you take when getting ready to leave your assisted living apartment or brushing your teeth before bed. Probably, you do certain things in a specific order — perhaps for a reason.
According to Scientific American, rituals aren't just an order of actions we've taken on by habit or because spiritual tradition dictates it. It notes that small rituals can help alleviate anxiety, grief or stress. They can also increase your confidence, which is why many people perform rituals before doing something like speaking in public.
Whether you want to help hone your memory or reduce anxiety and stress during your day, consider adding some rituals to your routine. Here are some ideas that are easy to incorporate into life at the Autumn View Gardens assisted living community.
Coffee is a morning tradition for many people, and if you're one of them, you can go through the process of brewing your own cup or visit the coffee bar for a conversation while you sip. But coffee isn't the only king of the morning routine. Consider your body's nutritional needs and your own preferences when you create a morning fuel routine. Options include:
Brewing a cup of tea, which comes with its own ritual
Enjoying a bowl of cereal and glass of juice while you read the paper
Creating a delicious smoothie you can enjoy as you stroll the grounds
Exercise actually works best when you create a ritual around it. Bodies in motion stay in motion, and bodies at rest stay at rest. Which is to say: It often takes more emotional and mental effort to get yourself geared up for exercise than it does to go ahead and exercise once you're there and ready.
Increase your mobility by making an exercise ritual. Put on comfortable, appropriate clothing. Listen to some music that energizes you. Meet with a group for a walk or enjoy the scheduled exercise programs within the assisted living community.
You can use the same energy-inducing options to increase your confidence for a social outing or even a medical appointment. Choose certain types of music that meet the need. You might listen to an exciting song when you're going out to dinner with friends and a soothing one when you're headed out for a medical checkup. While the music is playing, handle all the rituals involved in getting dressed and ready.
Rituals can be extremely valuable just before bed. The right rituals prepare your mind and body for sleep. Try out different options to find what works for you. You might:
Engage in a time of prayer or meditation before you sleep
Take the time to move through your assisted living apartment, turning off lights and appliances in certain orders to ensure you've handled everything
Spend time reading or studying Scripture
Enjoy a warm soak or wash your face and hands
Put on specific clothing and arrange your bedding as you like
You can work a variety of positive rituals into your daily routine. If you're not sure where to start, consider asking your medical provider what good habits might be healthy for you to start and make those into rituals.
Bethesda Foundaion is not associated with the Bethesda Health Group of St. Louis, MO.