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9 Things to Add to a Ritual to Reduce Anxiety

October 18, 2018 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Rituals to reduce anxiety are effective. Read this to learn why they work so powerfully, and discover 9 things to add to a ritual to reduce anxiety.

Developing a personal ritual to reduce anxiety is a pleasant, meaningful way to reclaim yourself and your life from anxiety's grasp. Ritual is often associated with religion, rites, ceremonies, and formal procedures, which isn't incorrect but is incomplete. An anxiety-reducing ritual is different. Think of it as a routine with punch: special time that you give yourself for a positive purpose. Let's explore the amazing things rituals can do for your life as well as nine things to add to a ritual to reduce anxiety. 

The What and Why of Rituals to Reduce Anxiety

The purpose of a ritual to reduce anxiety is actually not to reduce anxiety. Lessened anxiety is the result. The purpose is to quiet the chaos in your mind, to quell the racing, anxious thoughts. In engaging in a practice that provides space and silence, you're giving yourself a chance to find yourself. 

Some refer to a ritual like this as mindfulness meditation. While it does have elements of mindfulness meditation, it can whatever you want it to be. What is important for your own, personal ritual to reduce your anxiety is to establish a regular time, set up a special space, and practice changing your relationship with anxiety and with yourself. Certain elements make rituals useful. Consider these nine things to add to an anxiety-reducing ritual. 

9 Things to Add to a Ritual to Reduce Anxiety

Rituals simultaneously stimulate and calm and they pull you out of anxiety by bringing you in touch with the tangible world around you. Each of these elements can be an important component of your dedicated time. 

  1. An open mind: Allow yourself to let go of expectations. A ritual has no "shoulds" or "should nots." Simply grow comfortable with yourself so you can settle in and discover who you are when anxiety is gone. 
  2. Stillness: Create a pleasant, safe space to let the mind and body stop moving, stop being tense, and just exist. When you learn to be still through inner discomfort, anxiety weakens. 
  3. Movement: Have a mat for yoga or tai chi, or room to stretch, dance, or otherwise move your body. You can release tension and enhance the mind-body connection through movement.
  4. Scents: Stimulating your senses helps bring your thoughts to the moment. You might add an oil diffuser, candle, lotions, or other sources of pleasant scents. Choose scents to encourage the mood you want at the moment: lavender or chamomile for calm, or citrus for zest, for example. 
  5. Background sounds: Nature sounds, binaural beats, smooth jazz, or other soothing sounds can make your time in your ritual more pleasant. 
  6. Focus object: Having something to gaze at in order to hone your attention helps you learn to pull your thoughts away from worries and out into the world around you right now. 
  7. Container of raw rice or sand: Much like a focus object, this shifts your thoughts away from anxieties by stimulating your sense of touch. Manipulate the rice or sand and notice the sensation ("Play with Sand to Reduce Anxiety in Adults and Kids"). 
  8. Tea: Sipping a warm, non-caffeinated beverage as part of your ritual is a pleasant way to let go. Don't try to force your thoughts in any direction. Simply sip your tea. 
  9.  Lovingkindness: A crucial part of a ritual to reduce anxiety is to replace self-criticism with self-compassion and acceptance. Come to this practice with an open heart, which involves a willingness to acknowledge and own your positive qualities and inherent worth. 

The more time you spend allowing yourself to be, the more you improve your relationship with yourself. Use these nine elements in the way that is most meaningful for you, and your ritual can reduce anxiety. 

APA Reference
NCC, T. (2018, October 18). 9 Things to Add to a Ritual to Reduce Anxiety , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 18 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2018/10/9-things-to-add-to-a-ritual-to-reduce-anxiety



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She speaks nationally about mental health, and she has a curriculum for middle and high schools. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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