A ritual is defined by psychologists as:
"A predefined sequence of symbolic actins often characterized by formality and repetition that lacks direct instrumental purpose".
Studies show that the anxiety-reducing effect of rituals can apply to almost any high-pressure endeavor.
There are also some indications that rituals can help us cope with some of the most challenging periods of our lives too, such as grieving.
End of life rituals can create stronger connections between the dying and their loved ones. In a 2014 study, researchers found that grief was LOWER among participants who performed PERSONAL RITUALS. When we experience loss, we often feel a loss of control, so it's perhaps not surprising that rituals are used to create some semblance of order to REGAIN CONTROL.
But the benefits of rituals also extend beyond the individual – they're evident in groups of people also.
Ritualistic behavior can improve social bonding.
When we practice it collectively. "Having social networks has frequently been linked to wellbeing, and it is thought that rituals – frequent group gatherings – are particularly good at facilitating such networks," says Valerie van Mulukom, a psychologist at Coventry University in the UK and co-author of a study on the effect of secular rituals on social bonding.
Given that rituals have STRESS-BUSTING QUALITIES, It is advised to adapt pre-performance rituals during stressful situations in your own lives.
Overall, research suggests that whether informal, secular, individual or group-based, rituals can have a positive effect on our wellbeing.