In the current climate, you've probably had your schedule thrown at least somewhat out of whack. Perhaps you've turned your home into an office or you're not getting to spend time with close family and friends. All of this change inevitably forces you to create new habits — but that doesn't have to be a bad thing. Experts say that creating a routine might help you feel more stable in an uncertain time (not to mention more productive), and that can include a few daily self-care rituals.
"Rituals can be incredibly powerful and grounding for anxiety at any time in our lives, not to mention during a global pandemic," says Victoria Tarbell, a licensed mental health counselor. "During such challenging times, it can feel as though everything is out of our control. Adding healthy rituals to our lives can create a bit of calm and certainty during an otherwise stressful and uncertain time."
It is important to note that not all habits/rituals are helpful — especially if you're someone with obsessive tendencies. "Where the difference lies tends to come down to control: Are you in control of your ritualized practice (healthy) or is it in control of you (obsessive)?" Tarbell says. "For instance, someone who is in control of their practice is usually engaging in it because they want to, they know it will feel good and grounding, and ultimately, if they miss a day or two, it’s doesn’t have a major impact on their mood or anxiety level. On the other hand, if the practice is in control of you, it may feel like you cannot move on with your day until your ritual is complete, possibly interfering with other areas of life."
Given all that, Tarbell does believe there are a lot of daily rituals you can try that give you a much needed sense of calm, and The Zoe Report editors have been putting a few into practice. Ahead, find some the team's favorites that you can try for yourself.
"When we make it a point to have a daily gratitude practice, we are actively giving our attention and intention to the right stuff," says Tarbell. And this is one ritual in which Senior Fashion Editor Aemilia Madden has found solace. "I've been taking an online course on happiness and one takeaway that has helped me is writing down five things I'm grateful for at the end of every day," she explains. "It's helped me settle into sleep and decreased my stress."
"The thing I miss the most about my pre-quarantine life was my routine, so I'm trying to stay motivated to work out at home first-thing instead of putting it off all day," says Lauren Caruso, Site Director. "I've been streaming one of my favorite workouts, The Class with Taryn Toomey, and I've even encouraged my sister and four-year-old nephew to join in." And not only does working out help give some people a sense of structure and discipline, but the feel-good endorphins are pretty undeniable as well.
Caruso also notes that for her, building in time to be social is imperative. "I'm quarantining away from my boyfriend right now, so we've been having nightly FaceTime dates," she says. "He calls around 9 p.m., we work out together, and then watch a movie or some standup. It's nice to have a little pre-scheduled date night every evening, especially in such a time of uncertainty."
"I have intentionally carved out daily 45-minute to an hour lunchtime walks with my dog," says Angela Melero, Deputy Editor. "Our walks are typically rushed and brief, but I've found these mid-day breaks not only bond me to my furry quarantine buddy, but also allow me to shut my brain off for a second and reset. I get back to work refreshed and reenergized!"
And Editorial Assistant Kelsey Stewart cosigns on the regular dog-walks to maintain a sense of order and calm — but you don't have to have a four-legged friend to reap the benefits. "Even if you don't have a dog, try scheduling in those daily walks or find some type of way to get a little fresh air (fire escapes work, too)," she says.
If you're a spiritual person, prayer or meditation can be a hugely beneficial kind of ritual to practice now. "I recently downloaded a faith-based meditation app Abide, which has made working prayer into my daily life much easier," says Melero. "They offer several guided meditation options that I'm able to fit into even the busiest of days. It's helped keep my mind calm, focused, and peaceful."
Don't underestimate the power of a luxurious bath to wind-down and reset your day, by shutting out distraction and focusing deeply on self-care. "I've been a bath enthusiast since I was little, but in these times I've been making mine especially ritualistic," says Staff Writer Ashley Tibbits. "I light a candle, burn some Palo Santo, add some salts, and bring whatever book I'm reading. And I put away the phone or I'll be on Animal Crossing the whole time!"