The Healing Power of Routines and Rituals
Last updated: February 2022
I used to thrive on living life with spontaneity. My work schedule was planned, but beyond that, I believed in letting life happen as it happened. A great deal of activity was fit into one day without giving it much thought. Then life became something different. With a severe COPD diagnosis and shortness of breath, my world changed drastically. Carefree days were turned into well-planned days.
Finding comfort in routines
At first, I rebelled against the thought of the humdrum existence of no longer living carefree. Days were now bogged down with medicines and doctor’s appointments. A part of me was too breathless to care, another part of me grieved for a lifestyle that was lost.
One day I was reading through my journal and realized my days were filled with daily routines. I hadn’t really planned them, but there they were in black and white in front of me. It was a moment of revelation. There was actually something calming and reassuring in performing these daily tasks.
Order after chaos
The first couple of years after my respiratory failure and diagnosis were chaotic to me. There were long days of depression, figuring things out, sorrow, and then finally, a glimmer of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.
Daily routines got me to a point of living again. I get up at a certain time, eat breakfast, wash, and dress, take medicines, then exercise. That is my morning, every weekday unless I have a doctor’s appointment. After lunch, I prepare dinner while my energy is higher along with a few household chores. I treat the weekdays like a work schedule.
I need the order of these routines to manage my illness. Keeping a work schedule gives me purpose each day. They have helped my life to heal.
Turning self-care into a ritual
A ritual is defined as a ceremonial act or action. They are different from my daily routines, a special time I create just for me. For me, it is meditation, a time that calms me and quiets my mind.
There is a corner in my den that I set up just for this purpose. I use headphones to block out external noise along with the special music I listen to. Meditation is a very spiritual practice for me and allows me to grow as I learn to navigate life with this disease.
I like to use this quiet corner to write in my journal and reflect upon my week, or simply a place to enjoy reading. It is a place of solace to me, with my favorite lap blanket, a small table for a cup of tea, crystals including other tokens of meaning.
Important part of management
It is my belief that self-care should be an important part of our COPD management, just like the medications we take daily. Self-care should be done with intent, special moments just for us. Small pleasures can turn into big de-stressors and lessen anxiety. They are moments I can just slow my breathing and retreat from the world, if only for a brief time.
What about you? What is your daily routine? Do you have any special moments of self-care or rituals to share?
Editor's Note: We are heartbroken to share that Carol passed away in February of 2022. Carol's storytelling and advocacy will be deeply missed, but her legacy lives on through her articles and in all the people she inspired.
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