The difference between rituals and routines and why everyone should have a morning ritual.
Routine Vs. Ritual
Take a moment and reflect on what a typical morning looks like for you. What is the first thing you do when you open your eyes?
Do you scroll through your phone and check your emails, texts, and social media feeds, or do you hop right out of bed and get the day going?
We all have a morning routine, which consists of the fairly automatic tasks we do like clockwork: the alarm goes off at 7:00, we scroll through our phones for a bit, brush our teeth and take a shower, get dressed, brew a quick coffee to go, grab our keys, and head out for the day.
Each of us may do slightly different tasks and perhaps in a slightly different order, but this is the gist of a typical morning routine. Now stop and ask yourself: at any part in this series of events, do you try to slow down and do something enjoyable for yourself? Usually, we are constantly on the go and have such important places to be that the whole morning slips away from us. So, what can we do to make the morning ours and start the day off on the right foot?
The answer may be as simple as a change of words: swap out your routine for a ritual.
The difference between a ritual and a routine is that rituals are deliberate and intentional, whereas routines are something we have to do, and usually on autopilot. Rituals are our way of making a conscious decision to carve out time and take care of ourselves, even if it’s only for five minutes.
The most widely used definition for mindfulness, coined by Jon Kabat Zinn, is: “paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally.” For part of our routine to become a ritual, we must commit to performing it mindfully with intention and purpose–we become fully immersed in the activity as a way of saying to ourselves: “I care enough about myself to do this with patience and attention, rather than it being a means to an end.”
When we start to think this way, morning rituals can be especially beneficial because they can help set the tone for the rest of our day.
Examples Of A Morning Ritual
For example, my morning ritual is to wake up, do my oil pulling and meditation, and enjoy a nice cup of bone broth and then coffee (or matcha latte if I’m feeling fancy). Having this ritual allows me to start the morning with some “me-time” that I look forward to each day.
What transforms each of these activities into a ritual is that I really slow down to enjoy them and focus solely on each task at hand, rather than thinking about what’s up next or what else I have to do later in the day.
Oil pulling, which is an oral health-care practice of swishing Coconut Oil around the mouth to kill bacteria, can be very challenging if you are rushing to just “get it over with.” By bringing a level of presence to this activity and turning it into a form of meditation (i.e. focusing on the breath, feeling the oil move around my mouth, listening to the oceanic sound it creates), I have been able to engage in this practice for up to 20 minutes.
It’s amazing how even the most simple practices or necessary self-care activities (i.e. brushing your teeth) can become enjoyable if we give ourselves permission to engage. If you have to do these activities each and every day, why not actually try to enjoy them? We are so used to doing things habitually and unconsciously, that we forgot this possibility even exists.
Additionally, we are so used to serving others throughout the day (boss, children, significant other, etc.), that we run the risk of forgetting about ourselves and what we need. If we set aside a few minutes in the day (better yet, in the morning) that is reserved solely for ourselves, it allows us to show up better for other people and to be fully present in the day ahead.
Benefits Of A Morning Ritual
Right now you might be thinking: “this all sounds nice, but I don’t have time to slow down and create a morning ritual– I have places to be!!”
Yes, we all have responsibilities, but how can you fully engage and give the best of yourself throughout the day if you’re starting with three-quarters of a tank? Research has found that rituals can actually enhance performance by increasing attention, emotional stability, and confidence.
This is evidenced by many star athletes who have been known for performing the same ritual before each game, as well as many successful entrepreneurs who report having a morning ritual. So, if you don’t believe me on the importance of having a ritual, take it from the great Arianna Huffington, who reportedly meditates every single day.
My adoption of a morning ritual was inspired by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek who interviewed the world’s top successful people and used their habits to create his own morning ritual to “win the day.”
His ritual consists of five steps, and he tries to accomplish them within the first hour to hour-and-a-half of the day. Among his morning ritual is a seemingly simple task: making the bed. While this may appear to be a mundane task, it can actually have a positive impact on the rest of your day, which I have experienced firsthand.
No matter how the rest of your day unfolds, you can at least feel a sense of pride, accomplishment, and control over this small yet important task. Imagine coming home after a stressful day at work, where many negative things may have occurred that were beyond your control, and you see your bed is nicely made.
You can think to yourself: “if nothing else, at least I made my bed today.” This small act can carry a lot of significance, especially if done every day, as it will create a sense of motivation and accomplishment– at least it has for me!
Creating Your Own Morning Ritual
While it may seem super simple and perhaps even silly, the example of making the bed serves to highlight the fact that a morning ritual does not have to be some elaborate, large task that you try to squeeze into your morning.
In fact, it should fit seamlessly into your day so that it is doable, sustainable, and most importantly, enjoyable. Additionally, rituals can make us feel whole and create a sense of connection and order in our lives.
Now, I invite you one more time to think about your normal morning routine. Are there any daily routines you can turn into daily rituals?
Something as simple as enjoying your morning coffee, or washing your face can become a ritual by slowing down and being in the present moment. Or how about your morning shower? It’s easy to use this time to daydream, ruminate, or project into the future, by planning out your day’s activities and imagining different possible scenarios play out in your head. But what if you took those 5-10 minutes and made them all about you, giving yourself the opportunity to practice the utmost self-care and self-love?
Try to really enjoy it, and engage your five senses: feel the shampoo on your skin, smell the fragrance, give yourself a little scalp massage as you lather it into your hair. Feel the water as it hits different parts of your body and think about how appreciative you are for them and what they do for you throughout the day.
Or, maybe your ritual could be something that you have been wanting to get into, but never really allowed yourself the time to do it. Take this opportunity to reflect on what that might be: a morning meditation, workout class, or perhaps cooking yourself a nice breakfast.
Your ritual can be any activity that you wish to do with attention, intention, and care. So today, I challenge you to either create a new ritual for yourself or turn a routine task into a ritual and engage in it every day!
About The Author: Simone Krame
Simone Krame is a lifestyle coach and founder of Conscious Living & Lifestyle, a lifestyle coaching business that helps people achieve their fitness, nutrition, and spiritual/emotional goals by creating a synergistic relationship between mind, body, and soul. Simone graduated Cum Laude from the University of Florida with a Bachelors degree in Finance and concentration in Spirituality and Health. Currently, she is getting her Masters in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on the mind, body, spirit connection. Simone is a Certified Primal Health Coach, Certified Personal Trainer, Balanced Bites Master Class Certified Practitioner, and has participated in a variety of mind, body, spirit courses, workshops, and webinars that, coupled with her life experience, allow her to be confident in her knowledge and approach to coaching clients.