How routine, repetition and daily practice can help the mind and body during times of chaos, change and constant environmental shifts.
Over the past year, there has been very little stability within my external environment with constant shifts and changes to what i call daily life. Most of the uprooting was by choice (some not) - however, it awakened an awareness in me that a form of daily pattern is essential to wellness.
Predictability is important because the body strives for homeostasis. When there are environmental changes or stressors we are using energy to try to problem solve and work through the obstacles that are presented with the change. Resources that are exhausted on stress and being tense could be used for creativity and ingenuity. When you are not exhausting all your resources on survival, so much more can be accomplished.
There is a benefit to routine and practice, because through the routine our body begins to adapt, and find comfort. Not only do we get better at the routines, our bodies find solace and are able to relax into the familiar practices.
With the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic, each and every day presents us with new mandates and new obstacles. Many people have lost their daily routines, their jobs, their livelihood, and their next meal. Children are no longer in school, people have seen shifts in their health, with losses of family members and loved ones. When the environment is in constant flux, it becomes even more essential for our health to create routine and ritual in daily life despite the fact that chaotic environments make it difficult to sustain daily routine in life.
"Chaotic environments make it very
difficult to sustain a daily routine of life."
Research coming from the University of California Los Angeles strongly suggests that chaotic settings do not provide much opportunity for the experience of well-being, which researchers say is engaged participation in the daily activities of a cultural community that that community [and self] deems desirable. Therefore, chaos matters because it can so often make well-being and meaningful cultural engagement very difficult. Ongoing environmental change disrupts the ability to participate in cultural communities that give meaning to life through the experience of well-being, in addition to the other deleterious effects it has.
As Part of the UCLA research, Dr Thomas Weisner of Cornell University points out that reducing chaos and finding predictability in daily life can help:
meet values and goals - which in turn, give meaning to life
gives an understanding and access to resources not otherwise available
keeps conflicts and disagreement relatively low
When we are not constantly consumed by stress, and we turn inward for stability and grounding it helps the body to regulate both physically and mentally. It seems obvious: if our mind is not preoccupied with worrying about what will or will not come it allows us to mentally focus, giving brain space for goals, problem solving and emotional regulation.
Finding Routine and Grounding - Create a Daily Ritual or Practice
Given that so much is shifting and uncertain in my external environment, it is time to focus inward to find the soft comfort of stability. See if there are ways that you can find a mindful ritual in daily activities - or create a daily activity. When doing this daily practice, try to do it with a strong awareness grounded in curiosity.
Daily routines or rituals could include:
making tea/coffee - sitting and drinking
walking the dog
wake up routine - bathroom/hygiene routines
See if you can stick with this daily routine for 4 weeks, one month. It's ok if you accidentally miss a day, just start back up the next day. The more you practice, the more it becomes a habit and familiar. These rituals can be a grounding experience, particularly in times of change and stress.
Let me know if you try it out... as always be well...