A busy schedule can sometimes get in the way of our best-laid plans.
Routines and rituals can help optimize our lives and get us into a good mindset to meet the day on point.
So what are daily routines and rituals?
Why are they beneficial?
What practices can we put in place for implementing routines and rituals into daily life?
The Difference Between Routines and Rituals
They are similar but different. Though subtle, the difference is key to how they each work to optimize daily life:
• Routines are a series of habits you carry out on a regular basis, such as a daily routine, a workout routine, or a laundry routine. Having a daily routine can streamline our days by decreasing the number of decisions we need to make.
• Rituals are routines BUT with a particular meaning attached. For example, an evening cup of tea could prepare you for sleep; a spiritual practice that you do in the same place and the same time each day. Personal rituals can draw us quickly into sacred space. They invite us to use clear intention and focus to create meaning and purpose. As humans, we are meaning makers. Therefore, that which has more meaning has more of our attention and energy. If we just make a commitment, without much hoopla, it can be hard to sustain. Ritual creates a sacred space for our commitments to more strongly take hold in our minds and hearts. They fill us with robustness and courage to keep moving toward our stated goal. Rituals make us stronger. Witnesses help us sustain our beliefs and action steps.
The Benefits of Routines
Using routines and rituals is a great way to help us make smooth transitions from task to another and ensure we don’t get off course and distracted. For example, having a routine of going to the gym right after work, can keep you on track with your goal for better health. With that routine in place, you less likely to go home, get in auto-pilot on the sofa with a bag of chips.
No matter what’s going on in our day, knowing we will have our evening meal around 6 pm, and going to bed around 10 pm, can be a real comfort. The certainty of routine can help us to manage the uncertainty that is our life. Coping with uncertainty or unpredictability can feel more doable when we have a little structure in place.
Trying to remember things can be really stressful and can fill our brains with confusion contributing to a felt sense of
Having a routine can help us to cultivate positive daily habits and prioritize self-care. This can allow us to build in daily habits that help with our mental health, like time for what’s important to us. Like time to relax, a regular bedtime, or to prepare a week of healthful snacks.
Sleep is really important for our mental health. Going to bed and waking up at a similar time most days allows our body to get used to a regular cycle and sets our inner clock accordingly. So, by having a regular sleep routine, with built-in wind-down time, we should begin to find it easier to get to sleep and sleep better.
When we’re struggling to shift into new and healthier lifestyle choices, creating a menu of a few core meal plans for can be really helpful. As a result of reducing your options and eating the same foods every day, unhealthy foods become less tempting. Make a routine of grocery shopping on the same day every week, for example. Plus, meal prepping at the same time every day can also help ensure you always have healthy meals ready to go.
Not all of us are a fan of exercising, but exercise does boost our mood and give us that can-do sense of being. Having a daily routine, even if exercise only features in it a couple of times a week, we can create time to take part in our exercise of choice.
My go-to Routines
Creating routines and rituals are highly personal, so it’s important you invest a lot of your own preferences and personality into yours. Here are my go-to daily routine/rituals that you can personalize to your own preferences.
1. Morning routine prevents decision fatigue
When trying to balance a busy work schedule with the demands of personal & family life, it’s easy to forget to practice self-care. Working it into the daily routine helps make sure it doesn’t slip through the cracks.
In my home, I’m up at least 2 hours before anyone else. During those two hours, I do NOT look at my phone.
First, I drink several large glasses of lemon water. Then I have a ritual of hand grinding my coffee beans and making
After finishing my cup and my reading, I do 5-10 minutes of gentle yoga, tuning into my body and its overall state of being. This is not my in place of an exercise routine. Rather, its just a few minutes to tune into my physical state.
Finally, I sit down for some quiet non-doing. Some people call it meditating, but I just call it coming home. In those few minutes of sitting quietly, I breath full and long and tune in to the ease of just being. This is a very healing practice and the effects are more far-reaching than I can describe in this article. If you’d like to talk more about the potential, leave a comment and we can chat 🙂 This particular practice might fall into the category of ritual.
• A deep sense of connection with myself
• Calm clarity
• Clear priorities for the day
Being clear about what I want to accomplish and where each task falls in the list alleviates the energy drain of trying to figure this all out later when the day is already on top of me.
With this practice, I take ownership of my day, and the pieces fall into place much more effortlessly.
From this point, I can head over to my desktop, prioritize my list, and start ticking them off. Such a great feeling!
2. The Cold Shower
This is amazing. Seriously. The most incredible kind of hydrotherapy. Just a few of the benefits:
• improves the integrity & condition of the skin
• detoxes the inner organs
• increases immunity
• fends off depression – just try to be depressed in a freezing cold shower LOL
• heals the circulatory system
• erases wrinkles
• activates cellular renewal
• improves energy
• strengthens the nerves
• glandular reset
• emotional resilience
AND YOU WILL FEEL PHENOMENAL
So, try it out, and make your own list after 3 months – and then let me know your experience in the comments.
This is one of the best things I have ever done to support my personal well-being and mental health.
3. Evening routine and ritual
Being self-employed can lend itself to working all the time. There are always a zillion things to get done and just because the clock says 5 or 6 o’clock is hardly enough to motivate me to call it quits. But family time is a clear daily priority.
Around that time each day, I make myself a special treat. Padding back to my office, my treat sends a clear message to my body and brain that my day is winding down. By 5:30p, my brain is on board with quitting time. Now, I can head up to the kitchen, start visiting with my family, helping with homework, sharing daily stories and really letting go of the day.
The TV is rarely a part of the evening routine as we have found the content to be generally over-stimulating and distracting.
By bedtime, I’m ready to sleep and greet the next morning with my ritual and routine to begin again.
Ritual and routine can be helpful when it comes to managing our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It can help us to fit all of the important things into our day, including self-care. The predictability of routine can offer some comfort in an otherwise unpredictable world.
We do, however, have to be a little bit careful not to get stuck. We don’t want our routines to cause us stress, nor stop us from being able to do things we want to do. As long as we’re finding our routines helpful and not harmful, and that we also feel flexible and able to change them as our life changes, they can provide inner comfort and stability.
Whatever your goals are, daily routines and rituals help keep us on track and moving toward them. By decreasing stress and fatigue, we can direct our energy to the task at hand.
In this article, we’ve discussed the differences between routines and rituals and why they’re both beneficial for optimizing our lives and I’ve shared with you the routines and rituals that bookend my days.
In my next article, I’ll talk about how to create meaningful rituals and routines that keep you inspired.
I’d love to have you share some of your routines and rituals that have been beneficial to you in the comments section below!