Friday, December 2, 2016

Radical Self Care: Suggestion Number Two

We've taken a look at the importance of hobbies in radical self care. Hobbies tap into our creativity, our need for self-expression, and the satisfaction brought on by process creating a product. They connect us with like-minded people in community where we can share our enthusiasm. And they keep our brains active and learning.

Suggestion number two for radical self care fills a very different need.


What are the rituals of your life? Amidst chaos and busyness, we need some things to be dependable, safe, comfortable, and comforting. Child-development specialists insist that a solid bedtime routine does more than help children transition from wake to sleep. Repetition of bedtime rituals makes children feel safe and secure. Yes, children often balk at bedtime, but sticking with a routine teaches them that they can successfully manage transitions from doing to resting, from fast to slow. Self-regulation begins with a healthy bedtime routine.

Adults need rituals, too, and for much the same reasons. Our rituals can be as simple as brushing teeth after breakfast to start the day quite literally minty fresh, or they might be as elaborate as attending a worship service every week. When I was in college and needed to study for an exam, I found a carrel in the bowels of Perkins Library, read all the graffiti carved into the desk and written on the wall ("Free the Bound Periodicals!"), unpacked my backpack, and hit the books with gusto.

Rituals can, of course, become disabling if they become too rigid or too complicated. But generally, we need them to ease us through our days, our weeks, our seasons of life. Rituals need to be dependable enough to give us the comfort and stability we crave, but flexible enough to accommodate the realities of life. Some rituals that serve a purpose at one time might become a hindrance at another time.

Here are a few rituals I use to take care of myself...some very small and ordinary, and others much more time-consuming and involved.

1. A quick stretch upon getting out of bed. (I learned that from watching my dog.)

2. Morning coffee while reading.

3. Cleaning and organizing my craft supplies when my creativity dries up. (This can sometimes take days and always follows a very predictable pattern. It also always works to jump-start my creativity.)

4. Praying as I fall asleep. (I used to berate myself for falling asleep while praying until I realized that giving God my last waking thoughts was actually quite wonderful.)

5. Weekly worship and weekly Bible study.

6. Getting all supplies together before starting a project.

Radical self care requires intentional actions, and rituals are intentional actions with specific purposes. They are orderly and precise in a life of chaos and ambiguity. What sorts of rituals comfort you and prepare you for dealing with the nonsense of daily life? How might you incorporate new rituals into your days to give you a greater sense of joy, peace, happiness...or maybe just "not craziness"?


  1. I'm trying to get new rituals into my life. As John Maxwell said, "You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret to your success is found in your daily routine." So this year, I've been trying to drink more water (I could drink tea all day!). Although the target is 8 glasses a day, I'm focussing on getting 6 into my routine :
    1 when I wake up, 1 before breakfast, 1 mid-morning - even if I drink tea after that ;) , 1 before lunch, 1 mid-afternoon (and more tea!!) and 1 before dinner.
    Second thing I'm trying to change is to get more sleep ... and to get to bed at a reasonable hour. Not been too successful with that one yet!
    I certainly can't do without my weekly Bible study, but would like to carve out some more consistent quiet time.
    My weekly Sunday evening walk with my friend is a good one too ... exercise and solving world problems all at the same time.


Thanks so much for taking time to comment!