Rituals as life-hacks from anxiety: familiar rituals can relieve stress and tension

Rituals as life-hacks from anxiety

The researchers from the University of Connecticut believe that rituals well-known to people can be important tools to reduce the effects of stressful situations. They confirmed their assumptions with the results of the study. The pandemic has deprived people of part of the ceremonies and traditions that were held annually and were timed to some dates as weddings, funerals, parades, graduations, school balls - all these events had been either canceled or “shrunken” to the participation of a minimum number of people.

The researchers have studied the effect of rituals on people's psychological health. It turned out that they are able to reduce stress. During the spread of the coronavirus, everyone is worried about their health and the health of the loved ones, and for obvious reasons, people are not up to celebrations and ceremonies.

But in fact, they help to cope with anxiety and function as mechanisms of sustainability. The start of that study was given several years ago. The scientists wanted to come from different angles to gather important evidence of the impact of rituals on the society. Different events were evaluated by psychologists who worked by various methods. Part of the experiment was conducted with the participation of the volunteers.

A share of them created an artificial alarm, proposing to create an evacuation plan in case of natural disaster. The group of participants was divided into two parts. One was taken to a familiar ritual in a local temple, others were sent to rest in a non-religious space. In the end, it turned out that both groups had prepared good plans for the evacuation.

But at the same time, the first group, who was in the temple, was calmer, people did not have the psychological stress that was present in the participants of the second group. It manifested itself in heart failure, high blood pressure, and headaches.

The scientists believe that stress is important. It is motivation, helping to focus on important aspects of the situation in order to solve important tasks. The problem is that there is a certain threshold for the perception of stress, after which it loses its usefulness and begins to cause the body irreparable damage.

The mechanism the scientists intend to develop is that the ritual helps reduce anxiety by providing the brain with a sense of structure, regularity, and predictability. The brain will be filled with missing information precisely against the background of rituals, prompting a person to foresee the future course of events already outside of stressful situations.