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December 19, 2016

5 ways to turn everyday routines into more meaningful rituals

Do you feel like your life is on autopilot? Do you live your life just trying to “get through the week”? Has your everyday routine become so second nature to you that you have stopped actually thinking about what you are doing?

Be it eating, drinking, sleeping, cleaning, working, we all have certain things that we must do in any given day. We set an alarm and wake up, have a cup of coffee, get ourselves ready and off to wherever we are going. We go to work and come home and care for family and friends. We go to sleep, wake up and do it all over again. We get into routines and we create habits.

Don't look at life as a series of things that need to be done. Instead think how you could make each part of your routine more enjoyable. 

In keeping such busy schedules and being in constant connection via our digital devices, it is easy to get distracted. When we are distracted, we lose sight of ourselves and don’t act in our best interest. That leads to bad habits like mindlessly eating, excessively drinking and other careless behaviors.

Therefore, the exact opposite of being mindful is being on autopilot.

Routines are not all bad, however. In fact, they are essential in maintaining structure and security in everyday life. Routines are just that; routine – a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program. But some of us adopt bad habits to cope with the demands of our busy lives.

What if pausing to be present during your routine could eliminate negativity and trigger joy and appreciation?

Simply changing your perspective could change your entire outlook on life.

I know because I’ve done it.

Instead of looking at life as a series of things that need to be done, think about how you could make each part of your routine more enjoyable for you. Move away from thinking of your schedule as a mundane routine and start thinking about your life as a series of sacred rituals.

The idea of incorporating rituals into everyday life was first proposed to me by my brilliant acupuncturist, Caroline Ashurst.

At the time, I was trying to stop smoking and enlisted her expertise. She suggested that perhaps smoking had become somewhat of a ritual to me. She made me realize that I was using smoking as time to pause, to break from the stress of everyday life, a signal that a task had been completed or was about to start.

Light bulb moment! I needed to find a more positive way to take pause and center myself.

Caroline suggested tea would be a great replacement option for me

(Listen to this great Mindful Tea Meditation, but there are many other positive behaviors that you can introduce into your life that promote positivity and self-care.)

Dr. Frank Lipman, an expert in the fields of wellness and longevity, recently posted, “Rituals help you slow down, to find happiness in the smallest of things…turn everyday routines into more meaningful rituals.”

Below are my top tips for turning your routines into rituals that, in turn, will make your everyday life more enjoyable.

Change your alarm tone. I personally cannot stand to wake up to the sound of a loud, harsh alarm. It starts the day off in such a negative way. When I recently updated my iPhone, it gave me the option to change my alarm tone, which I had never thought to do. GAME CHANGER! I now have my alarm set to “Slow Rise” rather than the default and start my day off in a much more peaceful way. (Here are instructions on how to change your iPhone alarm.)

Create a morning ritual that doesn’t revolve around caffeine. After waking up to the gentle sound of my “Slow Rise” alarm tone, I make my way to the kitchen and start my day with hot lemon water. It is OK if you must have one cup of coffee in the morning, but if you are someone who is ingesting large quantities of caffeine daily, you may want to reduce your intake. (See effects of caffeine here.)

Make exercise a ritual. Many people think of exercise as something to be dreaded. It is absolutely crucial to think of working out as something you do, “because you love your body, not because you hate it.” Good self-care not only promotes overall physical health, but mental health as well. Knowing that you have taken 30-60 minutes each day to take care of your body will be empowering, no matter where you are on your health journey.

Know what you’re going to eat and don’t eat while driving or in front of the TV. Plan what you are going to eat at the beginning of the week and begin to think of food as nourishment/medicine. Take the time to eat without distraction and truly think about what you are putting in your body. Where did this food come from? How did it find it’s way to me? Who may have helped in the process? This may deter you from eating certain foods (like Cheetos that sat in a vending machine for a year) or may encourage you to be grateful for the good nutritious foods you eat, the farmers who grew it, the drivers who delivered it, etc.

Create a bedtime/wind down ritual. Get an electric toothbrush. It doesn’t have to be a really expensive variety (my dentist suggested this one) but it does make brushing my teeth more enjoyable (and they feel so much better). Practice thinking about nothing other than brushing your teeth while you do so. Close your eyes if you need to. Be grateful that you have running water and teeth to brush! Wash your face and apply face cream. Place a few drops of calming lavender oil on your temples and chest before hitting the sheets.

Explore your rituals. Are they positively or negatively affecting your health? How can you make adjustments that allow you to pause and enjoy your everyday life more?

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I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Follow me for updates @christiemandia.

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