Athletes are renowned for pre-game rituals. It gets them in the zone to perform.
Starting your own ritual is a great way to boost your overall well being.
What makes a ritual different from a routine is that it’s more intentional and mindful. Mindfulness is a term that has been used so much in recent years that it feels as though it’s losing its impact but essentially mindfulness is the practice of focusing on what you are doing in the moment and not allowing your mind to wander.
While mindfulness is known to improve your mood, mind wandering has actually been linked unhappiness and dissatisfaction. One of my favourite podcast episodes ever is the Happiness episode of TED Radio Hour where they delve into this subject. Actually, that episode is what sparked my interest in learning more about happiness and how to find it. 5 years later, I started this blog 🤣.
Another way to look at a ritual is just taking some time to slow down and enjoy your day to day activities. Instead of hastily chugging down your coffee as you race around the house take an extra five mins so just sit down and savour it. Maybe while also reading your favourite blog…
We tend to focus more on the big stuff to bring us joy and kind of skip past all the “mundane” but we’re missing out on countless moments of magic we could be enjoying!
We all have those little things we love like getting into a bed with fresh sheets, the cold side of the pillow, the smell of coffee brewing. Incorporate some of these things, that your senses enjoy, into a daily ritual.
Getting up early and having a routine makes a massive difference to my overall wellbeing.
I am incredibly lucky and don’t start work till 10 am so I get up at (mostly) 6 and really make the most of that time. I often wake up stressed and with 1,000 thoughts in my head about all the things I have to do in the day so I really need to take some time to get some balance before looking at my phone.
Waking Up: I use an alarm app so I am woken up by my music. I used to really struggle in winter when the sun comes up much later so I also have a Lumi light which gradually brightens the room from 30 minutes before my alarm goes off.
Bathroom: I like to brush my teeth before I do anything and wash my face just with water. (See my blog on skincare for the rest of that ritual).
Hydrate: I always drink a pint of water right after I brush my teeth. You get dehydrated during the night so it’s good to get some H2O in first thing
Journal: I take my glass of water and get back in bed and write in my journal. Sometimes, this just stream of conscious writing and sometimes it turns into a list! It helps me organise my thoughts and feel calmer.
Make the bed: I feel so disorganised unless my bed is made! I very rarely skip this and only if I’m in a massive rush to get out the door.
Exercise: sometimes all I manage is a couple of sun salutations but on a good day, I do 15-20 mins. If it’s sunny, I set my mat up facing the window. If not, I set up beside my favourite Monstera plant. Put yours anywhere you like!
Meditate: 5 – 10 mins on my yoga mat after a stretch. I don’t use an app or anything, I just set a timer in my phone and just focus on breathing either in a cross-legged seated position lying down. It took me years and years to even get to 10 mins. I hated meditation when I first tried it and I’m still not very “good” at it but I do enjoy being still and trying to quiet my very noisy mind
Get dressed and do my hair and makeup: No need for any more detail here is there….
Breakfast: This is typically the same every day to keep things simple. I sit down and either listen to music or a podcast and try to enjoy my food slowly before heading out for the commute.
Throughout most of my life, I have had various problems sleeping. Insomnia, nightmares, sleep paralysis, you name it, I have had it. Sleep deprivation causes my memory to just die completely so I have spent years working on my ‘sleep hygiene’ to make sure I am getting enough sleep to be able to function like a normal person!
The Space: Creating a relaxing space is one of the best things you can do to help you get to sleep. Every night, I spend a couple of mins just tidying up so that it’s a clear, relaxing space.
Before Winding Down: Before going up to bed, I check my calendar for the next day and pack anything I might need like yoga gear, laptop, mentoring material etc. I usually lay out my outfit for the next day so I have less to think about in the morning. Once I am organised, then it’s time to relax and get ready to sleep.
Lighting: I dim my bedroom lights or use warm, soft lights like a salt crystal lamp or candles at least an hour before bed so that my body knows it’s night time
Bathroom: I have a fairly elaborate skin regime at night but it’s so relaxing and really helps me relax.
Bed: Once my skin has been looked after, I get into bed. Instead of scrolling Instagram or watching Netflix, I try to read in bed for at least 30 mins before I sleep (I regularly fail at this but really do try to make an effort as it seems to make the biggest difference). I really try to avoid the blue lights for at least an hour before I sleep.
If I am having trouble switching off my devices or my brain, I use the 4-7-8 breathing technique to slow down my heart rate and relax.
Disclaimer – In a regular week, I probably manage the entire thing once! But, I try.
Instead of trying to squeeze everything in for the sake of ticking that box, I only do what I need to work on that day. If I’ve gone to a yoga class that night then I’ve already meditated.
Your rituals can be as simple or as complicated as you like. If you prefer to just sip your tea alone by the window in the morning that’s perfect. Or, you could establish a ritual as elaborate as an Egyptian queen complete with essential oils, candles, crystals and pillows. It’s your ritual. fucking go all out!
So long as you are taking a little time for yourself every day and just enjoying the moment for whatever it is, you’ll start to notice a positive difference.