Rituals: Not just for the occult anymore!

Routines can be incorporated seamlessly into your daily life in different levels or aspects: on a personal level, a relationship level, and/or a professional level.

Mariana Plata, Psychology Today

Forming everyday rituals is important for mental health.

In the plethora of mental health advice available free of charge on the internet, routine based self-care appears frequently. Among these sources, a few research based articles caught my attention. Coupled with my personal experience in therapy, I thought this was an important topic to address.

People my age (read, people in their late teens and 20s) tend to see routine as something to avoid. Usually due to fear of falling into a rut in relationships or some serious FOMO on spontaneous hollywood-esque adventures, we’ve got an aversion to planning too far ahead. This may be to our detriment, however. With mental health disorders on the rise in young adults and adolescents, particularly LGBTQIA+ individuals (source), studies abound attempting to mitigate the effects of common afflictions like anxiety and depression.

Many studies concentrate on the effects of sleep on mental health. One project in particular from the University of Oregon caught my attention; its research correlated depression symptoms and lack of sleep. The study had college students use a sleep hygiene app for 5 weeks and significantly improved their sleep quality and habits (source). I found it particularly useful in my research since it indicated routine is helpful despite focusing on a tangentially related issue.

“Daily fluctuations in both sleep duration and quality were significantly linked to corresponding daily fluctuations in anxiety and depressive symptoms”

” Adolescent sleep quality mediates family chaos and adolescent mental health: A daily diary-based study.”
APA PSYCNET Abstract

Returning to Ms. Plata’s point that there are three major areas to implement routine in one’s life, this study and others reinforce the idea that personal life habits can help alleviate symptoms for those suffering from depression and other mood disorders. But what can we do to make routine more appealing to the teens and 20-somethings?

Establishing a routine may be easier for those of us that fear monotony if we re-brand it as mindfulness. Sometimes words become loaded with meaning in a culture; routine often weighs in confining and restrictive in gen-zennial mentality. So, re-framed as mindfulness, routine can take root as a positive piece of mental health culture. If we are mindful of what we do, when we do it and why we do it, it may have a positive outcome on our collective and individual mental health.

I have found bedtime mindfulness helpful in my sleep quality, physical and mental health. Currently, I’m working to establish a morning ritual that gets me in a positive mindset for the day. More on this story as it develops…

Have a gay day! 
~Rachel