What Are Your Rituals?

The importance of consistency in daily life is a topic that has been spoken about tirelessly. Though it may seem like the point has been exhausted and “consistency is key” may have become a bit of a platitude, its importance does not diminish. Though difficult, taking the time to construct consistent routines or behaviours has been proven to improve quality of life, helping with such mental health issues as stress, anxiety and low mood amongst other things. Perhaps one of the most effective ways to build consistent routines is to recontextualise them and see them as “rituals” that are nourishing to your mind, body and spirit.

Psychologically, replacing the word “routine” with “ritual” may help consistent behaviours seem like less of a chore. The connotations of ritual as opposed to routine suggests a process that you curate and choose yourself, something that you enjoy doing. Thinking of routine may conjure up feelings of obligation or a burden, which may make one less inclined to engage in consistent positive behaviours.

Though the word ritual is traditionally associated with religious practices, all it comes down to is “a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order”. Rituals can be anything from making breakfast to a bedtime routine. The smallest things count – making your morning coffee or tea can become a ritual if you’re mindful while doing it. Rituals can also be more elaborate processes. Exercise can become a ritual. Controlled breath-work too. For example, doing some meditation and following it up with yoga or going for a run and nourishing your body afterwards. You can even make the process of cooking into a mindful ritual.

Think about your day to day life and take stock. Try to identify some rituals that you already have. Start with the small things and consider what you might like to add. If you have poor sleep hygiene, create a bedtime ritual that may help you to get a proper night’s rest. Decide on a time to begin getting ready for bed and decide which steps you want to take – perhaps taking a warm shower or bath, caring for your skin, brushing your teeth etc. Once you have an inventory and recognise all of the daily rituals that you already have in place without even realising it it becomes easier to create new ones that you think may benefit you. Even if you struggle with consistency, you’ll be able to acknowledge that everybody has at least a few consistent things that they do on a daily basis.

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