Daily Rituals To Calm Anxiety

Practicing small daily rituals that bring comfort, inspiration, beauty, tranquility, or encouragement into our life anchors us, and can help reduce any feelings of anxiety.

Sitting down to a morning cup of coffee or tea and checking email, an afternoon walk, and doing 15 minutes worth of Tai chi or yoga are examples of rituals that build us up and soothe frayed nerves.

Reading poetry every day, even one poem can be a ritual and an anxiety management tool you might choose to experiment with. Poems entrain our mind, intuition, emotions, feelings, and physiology with the magic of vowels, consonants, rhythm, rhyme, imagery, alliteration, and metaphor.

Sometimes a poem will say something that we have been aching to put into words or remind us of something we did not know we knew. Poems can stir dormant feelings of sadness, love, and courage. They can let us know we are not alone.

A psychotherapist's experience with poetry as a therapy tool:

I’ve used poetry when working with people who have schizophrenia. Many with this disorder have a difficult time expressing themselves clearly since their mind processes information in a confusing way (confusing to those of us who do not think as they do).

An amazing thing happens when they read and discuss poetry. Some share profound insights, feelings, and ideas related to the poems that are so amazing, everyone listening to them sits with their chin on the floor. The poems connect something inside an individual with schizophrenia that is usually disconnected. At least, that’s how it seems to me.

This therapist’s experience illustrates that poetically inspired brain functions differently than when it is processing something logical. Usually, without our awareness, poetry alters the way thoughts and feelings move through and affect our mind and body.

Read the following poem to yourself, and then read it aloud, just as an experiment:

Wild Geese
by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Photo: Pixabay

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