Have you ever felt stressed or anxious and been unsure of why? These feelings are a natural response by our nervous system to keep us safe. Our nervous system operates to protect us from harmful situations. Sometimes, it is overly protective, and makes us feel alarmed without cause. When we recognize feeling stressed or anxious we can resource with a reset.

A Reset is designed to help us respond differently to feeling stressed or anxious. And most importantly to get your nervous system working optimally to become more resilient. A reset can help tether us to those moments when we feel our best. When we feel our best, our system is well-regulated, and we’re able to operate from a place of clarity, compassion, and curiosity. A reset can be an exercise, an activity, or even just a reminder of those well-regulated moments. They provide an opportunity to become more aware of how we feel and the factors behind those feelings.

What keeps you feeling grounded? What helps you feel connected? Resets can vary from person to person, and once you’ve identified what resonates with you, you can utilize them to help reduce anxiety, stress, and feelings of fear. With these tools, we can navigate a stressful world in a meaningful way.

How can rituals help regulate your nervous system?

Rituals are activities that can be savored. These activities whether daily or periodically can be as simple as making your coffee, sitting quietly with your pet, reading at night with your child, a walk in nature, and gardening, to name a few. They can touch us spiritually, or can comfort, or feel pleasurable.

The beauty of the pause is its power.  When we pause to notice what feels good then we become aware. Awareness gives us the choice to deepen the experience. When we savor a ritual, it becomes a resource that reassures our nervous system.  Rituals can help us feel nurtured and calm. They can help us to build resilience. They give us an opportunity to be present in the moment.

Below are recordings of individuals sharing their activities that they have decided are rituals to be savored. Take a moment to notice if they are appealing to you. It is important to understand that each nervous system is unique to us. What one person enjoys may not feel enjoyable to another!

If you were going to record an activity that you would like to savor, what might that be? When you think of that activity what senses are ignited, do you feel your body relax or maybe a sense of pleasure? Feel free to create your own list of rituals! 

person holding book near brown wooden table

Let’s play with the dance of your nervous system

Below are examples of real-life rituals. These rituals have been submitted by current and former students of the Bocas Method. Notice how each ritual is laid out, what details are included, and how each ritual takes the otherwise mundane details of a routine to identify a sense of wonder and connection. These rituals allow the individuals sharing them to really pause and notice what moments provide them with a genuine sense of safety.

photo of coffee mug on top of book

Morning Coffee

I have a ritual of coffee making each morning.  By noticing and naming each step of this coffee making ritual I can savor each of those steps.  Notice my sense of calm as I wait for the faucet water to get hot and fill my electric water kettle, heating the cups with the hot water, grinding, and smelling the coffee beans, pouring hot water over the ground coffee in my coffee press, smelling the coffee, heating the cream, setting my alarm for when the coffee is done.

The ritual continues when the alarm goes off and I press the top down in the French Press, pour the coffee. I smell the heated cream (immediately brings me back to happy childhood memories).  I pick up my coffee cup and feel the heat of the cup, smell the coffee and cream as I bring it near my nose and then taste as I feel the warmth go into my body.

By savoring this ritual on a regular basis, I am deepening the experience. I am patterning my nervous system to light up in a way that is creating a story of pleasure and calmness.  As a ritual anchors in solidly as a pleasurable experience, it becomes a resource when life may be more difficult.   

potted green indoor plants

Plant Care

I have a weekly ritual that involves taking care of my plants. Every Tuesday I spend a few hours going through each and every house plant in my home, watering and caring for them. The first thing I do is fill my watering cane with water from my sink. And then I go around my room, my living room, and my dining room. I’m watering each and every plant, and Checking the soil as I go.

Now, as I’m watering the plants, I’m also checking them for their overall health. I’m looking at the leaves. I’m noticing which plants maybe need to be wiped down, and which plants might have some signs of distress.

Once I finish watering everything, I go back through with two damp cloths, and I wipe down the leaves of the plants that were maybe a little bit dusty, and I prune any dead leaves off of them with a special pair of scissors that I keep for that purpose. I dote on each plant. I take time to look at the leaves, and look at the stem, and look at the soil, and see what things I need to change about the plant’s environment. This helps me to be really mindful about what things I may need to change in my own environment.

snow people bed winter

Connecting with my dog

 I have always loved getting up in the morning. Even when I was a kid. I would get up at 5:30 or 6:00. I love to get up this early because there are very few people up, except my dog. My dog is always waiting for me.

As soon as I come out of the bedroom, I grab her and give her belly rubs. She, gets between my legs and I give her a little rub down and, we connect for the morning. And that’s a nice thing. She wags her tail and I think she likes it as much as I do. And then, I take her outside, go for a little walk, which is always nicer in the nice weather.

a downy woodpecker on a bird feeder

Watching Nature

Every morning I fix myself an energy drink. I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I need a bit of caffeine in the morning to wake me up. I sit at my kitchen table and enjoy it while I look out the windows that overlook our back yard. We live in a rural area, and I’ve hung bird feeders up, so I get to enjoy a view of wildlife each morning. I watch the squirrels try to steal the bird food, and the birds swoop down and peck at the seed. I also get to see beautiful woodpeckers working on the trees out back. It’s a pretty idyllic scene, and I savor my morning beverage while I watch. I get to watch the changing of the seasons out this window, and how the sun rises through the woods.

close up photography of two dogs

Walking the Dogs

I’m not a morning person. I like to sleep in, and take my time in the mornings, but I find that movement is necessary. After I’ve eaten breakfast, had my coffee, and taken my medicine for the day, I get our dogs ready for their morning walk. They are good at reminding me to move. They are little dogs, but high energy, and if I’m running behind on my walk, they will let me know! I get their leashes ready, and they do a little dance as I’m trying to attach them to their collars. Honestly, it’s a bit of a circus, but it’s fun. It makes me laugh. They wag their tales, and circle around. One of them even stands on her hind legs and walks around. The other one stretches out her legs and rubs her belly on the carpet. Once they are leashed, we’re off. It’s a short walk – just a few houses down. We follow the edge of my property line, and then go a little further to a brook that runs through the woods. We stop and watch it (and the dogs focus on their business). Hearing the water is something I try to notice each morning. It helps to ground me. And then, the dogs are done, and we turn back. Sometimes we run into a neighbor, but more often, it’s just us and the sounds of nature in the morning.

mother and daughter reading book with interest in bed

Story Time

Every night I read my kids a chapter of a book. They are 7 and 9, and we decided a couple of years ago that bedtime would be story time with chapter books. It sometimes takes us a month or two to make it through one book, but I get to read things that are enjoyable to both of us, and they ask the most interesting questions. They brush their teeth, and then I tuck them into their bunk beds. I give them each a kiss and a hug, and then I sit in an armchair in the corner of their room and read to them until they fall asleep. Sometimes the book prompts memories from the day – things from school they forgot to tell me. Other times it makes them think of questions to ask. Sometimes, they just listen, quietly. I read until I hear the gentle rhythm of their breathing change into that deep and heavy sort of breathing that comes with sleep. And then I sit and listen to it for a bit. It makes me think of the moments when they were little babies, and I’d sit and listen to their breathing in the middle of the night.

photo of planner and writing materials

Weekly Planning

Monday Mornings are for planning. I’m a very disorganized person. I have ADHD and I tend to lose track of projects, and need to refocus a lot throughout the day. I used to try to use a traditional planner, but I never stuck to it. So now, Monday mornings I pull out a notebook with grid paper in it, and write out my plan for the week. It includes things like goals, and schedules, but also doodles, and decorative tape, and bright highlighted sections with important things to remember. Writing it all down makes it feel more manageable to me, and taking the time to doodle and add bright colors makes it feel less like work. Instead, I’m being creative with it, and for some reason that makes me want to do it more. I’ve purchased special pens and highlighters that I use only for this notebook planner. I pay attention to the way the pens feel as I write on the paper. I carefully select which color highlighter to use for what task or activity. When it comes time to refocus and look at my to-do list, I take pleasure in adding to the colors and the shapes on the page when I cross something off, or highlight something new. When next Monday comes around, I look at the previous week to make note of any tasks that still need to be complete, but I also take time to notice all that I did accomplish. It makes me feel fulfilled.

person pouring salt in bowl

Cooking

I absolutely love cooking. I love food. I love making food. I love eating food. So I generally will cook dinner every night. I really enjoy testing out new recipes – I’m pretty adventurous. But when I cook it’s really a family affair. So I take the lead in the kitchen, but it’s something I heavily involve my kids and my husband in too. Often the whole family will be in the kitchen with me when I cook. My kids will grab ingredients. I’ll delegate some tasks to my husband. And we all just kind of talk and share about our day. It’s great because it’s a really low-stakes way to collaborate and communicate, and model that behavior for our kids. But there’s so many sensory things happening too. The smell of the spices and the cooking ingredients. The sound of a sizzling skillet or a boiling pot. The texture of cutting fresh vegetables, or kneading dough with our hands. Cooking relies so heavily on the senses. It’s not just about following a recipe and watching a timer. You can sort of tell when food is done by the way it smells, or the texture. So we’re constantly using our senses throughout this whole thing. We’re moving our bodies around the kitchen. We’re tasting the food throughout the process. We’re smelling the food as it cooks. We’re feeling the food with our hands (this I my youngest’s favorite part), and then we get to share the meal we all helped create.

person digging on soil using garden shovel

Gardening

Gardening is really a year-long ritual for me. I start in January, looking through the seed catalogues. I spend time planning out my garden. I draw out a planting map. I think about what kind of season we had last summer, what we used, what we didn’t use, what the deer ate, etc. And then I also think about what kind of a year we think we’ll have. I read the Farmer’s Almanac, and look at climate and weather projections. Once the seeds are ordered, I prepare a space in my basement for planting. I start the seeds inside, under grow lights, to get a head start on the season. I keep other seeds that need to be planted directly in the ground for later in the season. The seeds I’ve started need to be hardened off before directly planting outside. As the seasons change, my daily activities surrounding the garden do too. I need to be really mindful of how long or short the days are, what the temperatures are. I’m very mindful of what the weather is, and what time of year it is, because everything needs to be planned out for a garden to be really successful. And then, of course, comes the time to actually plant, and tend, and care for the garden. There’s watering it, paying attention to the humidity and rainfall. There’s weeding, and being mindful of what we plant next to each other. And then later in the season to harvest. What can you get two harvests out of? What needs a mid-season planting? It’s not a routine that is the same from day to do, or even the same from season to season, but it’s a routine of noticing and adapting. I like to think of gardening as a way to connect with my ancestors. This is a routine that takes a whole year to complete, but it’s one that’s been repeated in my family for generations.

white newspaper beside teacup

Morning Paper

I go to the gas station and I get newspaper, three newspapers every morning and, a cup of coffee. And then I usually meet my, call my friend Carl, and sit by the river. And, Carl and I, can talk about anything and everything, news, our lives, anything that crosses our minds.

We can talk. and then I come home and, have breakfast and read the newspapers. And, there’s something about the newspapers that is really comforting, rather than a Kindle or, or a laptop, to, to just have the newspapers, available and to read, certain things, that I like to read every.

What rituals do you find yourself practicing?

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