Our daily rituals don’t have to be complicated to be powerful. These simple habits which we have either consciously added or passively practiced day after day can enhance our lives or impede us from reaching our goals.
We get so used to our daily habits that we forget that we are choosing these actions. Our rushed mornings happen because we don’t leave enough time for ourselves. Our evenings start to blend together because we have been doing the same unfulfilling things every night without giving them a second thought. If you are unsatisfied with some aspect of morning, afternoon or evening, try adding a simple ritual to that part of your day. Implementing a new habit is bound to give you a fresh outlook on how you spend your time.
You might already have an idea of how you want to change up your routine and if so, go for it! But, if you are feeling stumped, I have compiled a list of ideas to hopefully get your ass in gear.
After reading this list, you might be tempted to take on a handful of these routines. Don’t do it! Changes like this take time and if you try to tackle everything all at once, you will no doubt return to your previous ways. Skim through the list and choose a ritual that jumps out at you. You might be surprised by what a difference a small change like this can make on your attitude and your day.
SCREEN FREE WAKE UP. Don’t look at your phone (or any other screens) for the first thirty minutes of your morning. Keeping your phone next to your bed will be too much of a tease (guilty). Instead, charge your phone in the kitchen or anywhere other than your bedroom.
TEA TIME. It took me a long time to get into tea (how can I make this an alcoholic beverage?), but after persisting long enough, I now fully enjoy my tea time. Sometimes my husband and I enjoy a cup of tea in the evening after the kids go to bed. Sometimes I relax with my tea during quiet time when I am feeling sluggish in the late afternoon. If I want to treat myself (which I always do), I will enjoy a few mini chocolate hazelnut biscotti (from Trader Joes) with my tea.
SHARE YOUR BEST. Right before we turn off the lights and tuck our kids into bed (HA! I wish it was that easy), we take turns sharing the highlights of our day. Ending the night on a positive note is great for kids and adults alike. Either write it down, share it with your family or a friend or just say it to yourself. Even shitty days have good moments that are worth remembering.
LISTEN TO MUSIC. Lately, I have been listening to my favorite local radio station (the Amazon Echo makes this super easy if you don’t mind talking to someone that doesn’t actually exist like an idiot) while I am making breakfast. I find that listening to music helps me be a less bitchy mom and a tad more fun. Also, it helps me feel just a little bit connected to the world without going full blown CNN or gasp, face to face contact.
GO ON A DAILY WALK. This is my ultimate ritual goal that I have yet to master. It is hard to always find the time and energy, but the best part of my day is usually when I have gone on a walk. Nothing reenergizes me like being in the great outdoors. Plus, it helps me beat my husband in our never ending Fitbit competition.
TWENTY MINUTES OF FOCUS. Set the timer for twenty minutes and focus on something you want to do with no interruptions. Make sure you silence your phone and put it in another room. Your focus could be on anything- cleaning, writing, playing with your kids, talking with your spouse, reading a book, researching a place you want to visit, etc. I know this sounds ridiculous, but these days our attention span is pathetic and sometimes we need to be given limits to get anything done (guilty again… shit!).
MAKE YOUR BED. I couldn’t leave out my main mantra! Making your bed each morning is a simple and effective way to start your day on the right foot. Accomplishing this little task first thing will make you feel productive and will motivate you to accomplish more small tasks throughout your day. Plus, it looks damn good!
PLAY A PODCAST. My favorite times to listen to a podcast are when I am driving in my car or when I am on a walk. If you are a parent, this is a great way to feel more like a normal person and less like a walking tissue for your snotty kids (just me?). Podcasts are another great way to be in touch with the world just enough, without having to surround yourself by real humans. Your mind will thank you for the energy boost and you will actually have something interesting to share with your spouse that isn’t kid related (#lifegoals).
DRINK YOUR COFFEE OUTSIDE. Getting fresh air at the beginning of the day can make such a difference. If you have kids, this gets them out the door and often they will entertain themselves so you don’t have to (the ultimate parenting win). If this one sounds insane because you have crazy rushed mornings, wake up twenty minutes earlier (I understand if you hate me for saying these ungodly words… I would slap myself if I were you) so you can enjoy this coffee ritual.
CLEAN COUNTERS. Make it a rule in your home to wipe down your kitchen counters before turning in for the night. This is one of those tidying tricks I learned from my mama that keep me sane and make for happy mornings. While you’re at it, clean up those nasty crumbs in the sink too (top five pet peeves).
READ BEFORE BED. Here is another goal of mine I have yet to implement consistently. Reading before bed just makes sense. Turn off the telly, peel your eyes off of your damn phone, and crack open a book (I mean power on your kindle). Reading before bed will help you relax and prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Reading for even just six minutes can reduce your stress levels by sixty eight percent, says cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis. Lewis sums it up perfectly: “It really doesn’t matter what book you read, by losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author’s imagination”.
FIVE MINUTE STRETCH. If you have the motivation to hit the gym or go on a run in the morning, well done (please tell me your secret). I have yet to embrace this healthy habit so instead, I suggest stretching for five minutes when you first wake up. It will get your blood flowing to your body and your brain, give you a boost of energy, and it can even help relieve back pain. Oh and it feels fucking fantastic!
MEALTIME MOMENTS. Right before my family eats dinner, we hold hands and then throw them in the air and say “a family!” (oh my god, this sounds insane when I write it down). I’m not sure how the tradition started, but it makes us all smile and it’s a great way to acknowledge each other before digging in. Implementing a mealtime pause or reflection is a great way to recenter yourself.
REVIEW TOMORROW. Before you go to bed, think about what you need to get done tomorrow. Write it down so you don’t have to think about it while you are trying to fall asleep. Include the bigger things like appointments and meetings but also include the smaller things like taking the trash out or paying the bills. The satisfaction of checking things off your list will help you get shit done and you will feel accomplished at the end of the day. If you have kids, talk to them about what’s in store for them tomorrow. They will like knowing what to expect and might be better about getting ready the next day (I said MIGHT, don’t hold me to that).