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Ritual as a Part of Mental Health Self Care

Ritual doesn’t have to be religious, weird, or woo-woo. Think of ritual as a way to give your brain sensory (sight, touch, sound, smell, etc) symbols of a shift you want to make.

Maybe it’s a big ritual like a moonlight burial of the mementos from a relationship it’s time to let go of, or just a sunday-morning, open-window, Lizzo-blasting deep clean.

The more emerging neuroscience research underlines the intricate link between psychology and body- the more I believe it is important to give our body’s sensory experiences to hold as reminders of the changes we want to make.

Image depicting two different types of rituals. The image on the left shows a woman on her knees with her hands clasped in front of her chest with a lit candle and incense burning. Underneath this image is written "ritual." The image on the right shows a woman with her hair pulled up, wearing her underwear, pushing a vacuum and listening to music. Underneath this image is written "also ritual."

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Recommended Related Reading:

Bingham, Cassidy, How Dance and Music Stimulate Therapeutic Change in a Personal Movement Ritual (2020). Expressive Therapies Capstone Theses. 327.

Denham, S. A. (2003). Relationships between Family Rituals, Family Routines, and Health. Journal of Family Nursing, 9(3), 305–330.

Image description for screen readers:
Image depicting two different types of rituals.
The image on the left is on a light blue background. There is a woman on her knees with her eyes closed and hands clasped in front of her chest. She has short brown hair, a light skin tone, and is wearing a yellow patterned shirt with blue jeans. On her right is a grey table with white legs that has a lit candle and incense burning on top of it. On her left is a grey cat who is looking up at her with a questioning expression. On the wall behind her is a half-visible picture of a man and a window that is open, with white curtains pulled to the side, revealing a yellow flower in a white vase on the windowsill and a crescent moon in the sky. Underneath this image is written “Ritual.”
The image on the right is on a yellow background. In the forefront of the image is a light-skinned, brown-haired woman with her hair pulled up by a blue band and pushed back by a blue headband. She is wearing a set of black underwear, pushing a blue and grey vacuum and has a happy expression on her face. On top of a white desk to her right, there is a blue boombox that is playing music, and a grey cat hiding behind it. On the wall behind her is an open window with white curtains pulled to the side, blowing in the breeze. Underneath this image is written “Also Ritual.”

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