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  • Writer's pictureTiffany Harris

Maintaining Ritual

Updated: Apr 10, 2020

Claiming consistency and connection in a world so changed

Since COVID-19 became a buzzword in human homes, it has left many feeling detached from the peace of homeostasis. The daily reminder of impermanence frequently results in emotions like fear, loneliness, depression and anxiety. Additionally, social distancing alters nearly every aspect of our daily lives. In a world which feels so different from the one we knew just months ago, how do we access a sense of tranquility, kinship and hope?

Community fuels joy because humans are programmed for connection. Ritual is at the heart of our interactions and is therefore an essential component of emotional well-being. Nick Hobson, PhD, argues that “we are an intensely social and ritualistic species . . . take this piece out of our modern human narrative and you lose a piece of our history and our humanity.” Not only does it add to our feeling of wholeness, research suggests that engaging in ritual sharpens focus, concentration and attention.

Maintain hope by maintaining the art of tradition. The fact that we cannot currently take part in many beloved norms does not rob us of the opportunity to create new ones. Instead of sitting at your favorite pizza spot each Friday evening, begin making homemade pizza with your partner for date night. Organize regular online yoga classes with your studio friends. Continue to enjoy things like family dinners, morning meditations or Sunday crosswords. Try something new with someone you love, whether you share the experience at close proximity or on FaceTime.

It is not imperative that customs remain precisely the same, but rather that we continue to engage in the act of planned, repeated behaviors. Hobson, reporting on his study of rituals among elite athletes, reminds us that “we all perform on some level every single day—as employees, managers, teammates, and parents. Whatever your performance role, having a ritual can be a highly effective tool to ensure your brain responds to failure in an adaptive way. If you’re looking to drive peak performance, then consider creating your own personal ritual.”

During this unprecedented time in our lives we are asked to perform as elite citizens, working together, to be solution-oriented. Surely there will be moments of discouragement but the feeling of disappointment can move through us as we call upon (and nurture) our innate resiliency. The day will come when we will mingle as we once did; but until that day comes, intentionally claim consistency and connection through small and simple reiterations.

See Hobson’s article at psychology today here.

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