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You probably already have some rituals in place within your household – even if you haven’t thought about them before.
Rituals don’t have to be huge events. They’re usually the little things in your day or week that are simply part of your routine, but which quietly add lots of meaning into your family life.
First responders can experience or witness traumatic events during the course of their work. In fact, more than half of all first responders have experienced trauma at work that deeply affects them.
If you or someone in your family has been through a traumatic event, the whole household can band together to continue or create rituals to help them get back to normal life.
Please note: rituals are one way in which first responders and families can be supported after a trauma, however you should also seek professional help for a full treatment plan.
Rituals are traditions, habits or behaviours that you regularly do. Maybe you do some of these rituals by yourself (reading the morning news, for example), some with your family (like eating dinner together), and some with a work or community group (such as a morning tea when it’s a colleague’s birthday).
Rituals can be formal or informal, and they can be things you do each day, each week, or on special occasions.
Family rituals help you become closer as a family unit, because they show each person that you value spending time together.
Rituals add some predictability into our lives. And our brains feel happy and safe when there’s some predictability around us.
They give us a sense of stability, belonging, identity and safety, as well as reinforcing our values. The more we undertake a ritual, the more meaningful it becomes.
Research tells us that rituals can help protect and improve our mental health and wellbeing. They can reduce anxiety. They can also be powerful in supporting children to develop and thrive, and rituals can help maintain unity within families, households and other groups.
When things feel uncomfortable, uncertain or unsafe, as they often do when something traumatic happens, it can be soothing to find some certainty in your life.
That’s where rituals come in. The predictability, safety and structure of a ritual can help to settle anxious feelings that can come from trauma or stress.
Getting back to your usual routines and rituals can be very helpful in recovery from trauma. After experiencing a traumatic event, those who return to a routine as soon as possible tend to have improved outcomes
Rituals are known to help trauma recovery in both adults and children, and communities who together experience hardships (such as natural disasters) also tend to recover best when they collaborate and collectively restore or create community rituals.
Have a chat to your family to decide which rituals
are important to you, and whether you want to
create a few more.