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How Familiar Grooves Help Us Roll Back Stress

By Sandy Schroeder

Most of us create familiar daily rituals or grooves automatically without realizing how much they do to keep us relaxed and content.

When we run into stress at work, at home, or in our neighborhood, we often look for ways to relax and wind down. Familiar routines in the garden, kitchen or garage may be a simple way to offload some of our worries.

I love to cook. I am not a fantastic cook. But I enjoy every minute of the chopping, cooking, stirring and baking. When I am putting together a special dinner or whipping up a batch of cookies, everything seems a little better. Your refuge may be your backyard where you hang out with your kids, or your garden where you can dig to your heart's content.

Researchers have studied this use of rituals to reduce worry. They say the sense of regularity, structure and predictability in our rituals helps to reassure us that everything is OK.

I always know when I talk to a friend of mine whether she is using this technique when she tells me she is adding a bookcase to make room for new acquisitions. My friend loves books and when she retreats to them, I know she is working through an issue or two.

Another friend of mine uses crafts to work out her problems. She keeps a variety of projects going and the number expands when she is worried.

If you think about the process, you may spot it in your family and friends too. Woodworking in the garage, collecting stereo speakers and music finds, or restoring antiques may all turn up as ways to relax.

If you are still looking for ways to ease your stress, you might ask yourself what familiar tasks help you relax. Think about the things that happen at your house as you spend time with your kids, work on projects, or sort through life's daily tasks. Find the familiar grooves that help you wind down. Cooking a special meal, trying a new recipe, or working with pens and pencils, or yarn and fabrics, may supply a reassuring backdrop that helps you maintain your balance in a frantic world.

What Is Happening

Researchers say the familiar activity sends a signal to the brain that everything is OK. This practice could be journaling, yoga, tai chi, or running. Whatever keeps you engaged and moving can work to dial back stress and ease uncertainty.

Researchers have found participants who used familiar grooves when they were stressed could more easily shake off the effects, helping the mind and body let go of stress as it appears.

If you find that you are still looking for ways to let go of stress beyond rituals, you may want to see a therapist to work through your issues.

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in  Dallas, Tex.

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