Human beings are creatures of habit. Every day, we wake up, brush our teeth, drink coffee. However, applying mindfulness and add intention to a habit makes it a ritual.  Rituals can help us feel more energetic and manage unwanted feelings.

Part of the challenge of fast-paced lifestyles is managing the weight of endless lists and overbooked schedules. Completing each assignment becomes obsessive, and turns into a quest for unattainable perfection. This goal-oriented behavior can create a lot of tension and uneasiness. There’s an added pressure to succeed in every area of life: career, relationships, finances and academics. For many of us, COVID-19 and global uncertainties have added even more stress to this equation.

The consequences can be costly. Anxiety and stress can weaken the immune system, making us susceptible to diseases. It’s much easier to catch a flu or cold when the body is vulnerable. The same goes for high blood pressure, back aches, and stomach pains.

The list of activities below can help you navigate both the turmoil and uncertainty created by the pandemic. These may be performed as frequently as you wish. They are designed to provide a greater sense of wellbeing, even for limited periods of time. It can be as simple as taking a bubble bath for 15 minutes or rehearsing controlled breathing for 5.

You can start by turning off your phone and disconnecting from all social media. Enlist supporters in your household by telling them you don’t want to be interrupted during this time. It’s always a good idea to start small so you can get used to this new routine and then build from there. If you miss a day or two because of work or travel, don’t feel discouraged and get right back at it.  Remember, it takes persistence to build a new habit, but it is possible. Consider it an investment of your time as a few, well-spent moments can produce tangible results. You will feel grounded, centered, and the stress will melt away!

1.     Gratitude Journal: Writing down what you’re thankful for has many benefits. It starts by slowing down your daily rhythm as you pause to think and write. It is empowering to acknowledge what you already have. Remember to include basic things such as the cozy pair of socks you can’t live without, or your favorite bottle of shampoo next to more important items and people. Aim to account for 10-20 points. Take a deep breath, and with shut eyes, ask yourself what you’re thankful for. Afterward, take a moment to reflect on it and write it down. You may also try the subtraction exercise by asking yourself “What if I didn’t have…” Then fill in the blanks with loved ones, your own health, or the roof over your head. For better results, work on the gratitude journal for 30 days straight, preferably first thing in the morning or before you go to bed. As they say, where your mind goes, energy flows.

2.     Bubble Bath:  Taking a bubble bath to increase inner peace is an effective form of self-care. To begin, add Epsom Salt and bathing oils to warm water.  Make sure the water temperature is comfortable enough for you to bathe for about 15-20 minutes. Essential oils with lavender or chamomile have calming effects. You may set candles around the tub and play soft music to take this experience to the next level! Drink at least eight ounces of water afterwards to make sure you stay hydrated.

3.      Burning sage: This ritual can help cleanse your home and body. Smudging is excellent to help rid of lingering bad aura left behind by people. The healing properties of sage include calmness, and an instant mood boost. To start, open the windows and then light up the sage bundle. Set your intentions as you wave the burning sage around your body. Visualizing what you want, walk around the house, making sure to trail the smoke in all directions and in every room. Remember to include the areas behind the furniture as stagnant negative energies can remain in spaces and objects.  You can find sage for sale at some yoga studios, bookstores, and healing centers.

4.     Breathing: The involuntary process of moving air in and out the lungs can be used to evoke relaxation. Breathing is an effective tool, especially when fight-or-flight responses are triggered. To get the ball rolling, focus on creating a daily routine to help you manage unwanted emotions. Find a calm and quiet area where you can sit or lie down to relax. Take a long breath through the nose, hold for 3 seconds, and exhale through the mouth. Repeat it for 10 rounds.

5.     Meditating: Ten minutes of daily meditation can work wonders.  You’ll unwind, and yet, feel more present and aware of the moment. Begin by sitting upright in a comfortable position and focusing on your breath. Scan the body, silently gauging how you feel, as you travel from head to toes. You may also utilize the Let Go meditation to actively release negativism. Inhale in one count and think Let, as you exhale in one count think Go. Repeat for 10 rounds.  Another option is to use a downloadable guided meditation app. The most popular currently in the market are headspace (monthly or yearly subscription), Calm (yearly subscription), Smiling Mind (free), and Insight Timer (free).