Rituals Play a Positive Role in Mental Health, So Here Are the Ones I’m Following in Lockdown
If the past 18 months have proven anything, it’s that rituals are extremely important. Not only do these small practices ground us in routine, often they are things you enjoy doing and can help set the tone for your day.
These rituals are particularly positive for your mental health. In fact, research has found rituals and routines can help alleviate certain conditions like bipolar disorder, ADHD and insomnia. Given how uncertain life can be (especially in COVID times), these practices allow you to rely on something that is predictable and safe.
Even the most creative people thrive on ritual. According to headspace, internationally renowned author Haruki Murakami is a fan of the daily routine, telling The Paris Review of the rituals he followed whilst writing.
“When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10 kilometres or swim for 1,500 metres (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation.”
Granted, this is an extreme example of routine, but you get the idea. While lockdown measures are necessary at the moment, it does create the feeling that every day is Groundhog Day. Instead of focusing on the repetitive nature of each day, try to lean into those practices that make you feel good.
According to headspace, a ritual like meditation is a great example of this as it can actively boost your creativity and productivity while alleviating stress.
So, while I can’t go out to see friends, head to the movies or go to a bar, there are certain rituals I’m doing to keep my own morale up. These are personal routines I stick to as they work for me, so it’s all about finding what works for you and the rituals you want to create to carve out your own me-time.
While it’s most definitely not required right now, I’ve still been putting effort into my beauty routines. Given my profession, I’m pretty beauty-obsessed and I literally feel better when my hair is styled and my nails are painted. While these are arguably vain practices, washing and styling my hair (once a week, granted, not every day) makes me feel more like me.
As does painting my nails, which I find super meditative, so I’ve kept these rituals up during lockdown. One of my lockdown purchases has been some super cute and uber nostalgic nail stickers from Flowerbed Nails ($15). I can’t wait to decorate my nails with fun and whimsical patterns.
Another ritual I recently participated in was tinting my eyebrows and washing my makeup brushes. These small acts of (for lack of a better word) self-care help the way I feel about myself and allow me to exert a small amount of control in a time when a lot of things feel out of control.
To show my brows some love, I used the Nair Soft Natural Mini Wax Strips ($9.95) to clean up some of the rogue hairs around my brows. While I don’t trust myself to shape my eyebrows alone, these little strips are great for getting rid of the stray hairs between and underneath my eyebrows.
I also always have a packet of the 1000 Hour Lash & Brow Dye ($19.99) in my cupboard if I want to tidy my eyebrows in a few minutes without having to wait for an appointment at the beautician. And with salons closed, I DIY’d my tint. I instantly felt refreshed with darker brows.
Cooking is the highlight of my day, most days. So, my main focus in lockdown is what I’m going to eat for lunch and dinner. This, coupled with the daily practice of making coffee, is one of the most important rituals in my life and one I don’t stray away from given it brings me so much joy. Looking at recipes and talking through meal ideas with my sister are the routines that impact my mental health the most positively.
A true highlight of this ritual in lockdown has been doing cook-alongs with friends via FaceTime where we all make the same meal together, at the same time, while chatting and enjoying a drink.
In the first Sydney lockdown in March 2020, I did the whole wearing-pyjamas-during-the-day thing and I didn’t love it. Spending most of last year working from home taught me the importance of changing into something other than your pyjamas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting dressed into office-appropriate attire while at home, but every morning I do get up and put on loungewear or activewear that is comfortable but still makes me feel productive.
The other ritual I’m maintaining this lockdown is the use of a handbag. Towards the end of 2020, I hadn’t touched a handbag for the better part of a year, but this time, I’m keeping this ritual going. Every Saturday and Sunday morning, I walk down to my local cafe and I take the Cee Clear Clear Purse ($40) with me. I got this chic bag at the beginning of lockdown and it’s accompanied me on many walks and coffee runs.
The strap attached to the purse means I can sling it over my wrist if my hands are full with groceries, so it’s practical too — just another small thing that is making me feel like myself at the moment. I also pair the purse with my Friends With Frank The Thomas Coat ($649), which I invested in at the beginning of winter and haven’t been able to get a lot of wear out of just yet.
Even just thrown over leggings and trainers, I feel much more put together for my essential trips out of the house for coffee or groceries. Whatever your rituals are, find them and engage with them as much as you can — it’s all we have right now.