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Daily rituals have been a real game changer for me.

I’m not talking about complicated ceremonies, although if that brings you joy that’s great. I’m talking about having simple rituals that brings you pleasure, that help you to achieve your goals and most importantly that make you happy. 

I have always had a morning routine. At some points in my life it has been as simple as: shower, dressed, empty the dishwasher, make the packed lunches, have breakfast and take the kids to school. But it always happened in the same order and at roughly the same time, that way nothing was forgotten, everyone knew what was happening and we were all on time. 

Routine and ritual is so important to help children feel secure.

Unsurprisingly, routines and rituals also make us feel secure. We know what is supposed to happen and when and that helps us to feel in control and allows us to organise our lives. 

This year my routine changed dramatically. In addition to all the changes due to the pandemic, my youngest started high school. For the first time in over 14 years I don’t have to do a school run in the morning and afternoon every day. As a result I have gained around an hour and a half a day. 

New rituals

I decided immediately that this time was not going to be wasted, but it was time I had truly gained. So I promised myself that I would sit and enjoy breakfast every day instead of rushing to eat something between making packed lunches and dashing out of the door. More significantly though, I made the decision to up my exercise game. 

For years I have been told that my joints were damaged and that combined with asthma and a lot of negative associations going right back to childhood, had resulted in a real dislike and almost fear of exercise. 

Don’t get me wrong, I have always walked a lot and enjoyed dancing and have kept moving, but anything more structured than that was a no no.

So at the start of the year I bought myself a cross trainer/exercise bike and a dumbbell. Since then, five mornings a week, I get up, sort out the children then do at least 15km on the bike and do some weight training.

This probably sounds like a very small insignificant change to some of you reading, but let me tell you, it has transformed my life.I feel stronger, my body is toned, my joints don’t ache as much and I have so much more energy the rest of the day. 

Small changes have a huge impact.

The best part is that I decided this year that I was going to start reading more for pleasure too. I have always read, but for years I have only read non-fiction books that could teach me things that would be helpful either for work or for my life. I have been reading so much more this year and I have totally rekindled that love of stories. Even better, I have discovered that if I do my cross training first in the morning, I can read while I cycle! I can exercise my brain and my body at the same time. What’s more I cycle for longer because I get into the story!

ritual

My daily ritual recommendations

These two small changes have improved my mental and physical health in ways I could never have predicted. These are just the new routines I have created in the last few months. By adding to our rituals slowly over time we can totally transform our lives. I highly recommend making one change, then once that has become embedded in your daily routine, add another, and another.

My top rituals for a happier, healthier day are as follows:-

  • Get moving. Whether it is taking the dog for a walk every morning, a morning yoga routine, going for a run… Whatever you enjoy doing, by getting moving first thing in the morning your whole day is energised. If you can’t manage a morning exercise routine find time later in the day. 
  • Find a morning routine that suits you. This might seem like an obvious one for this article, but everyone has lots of little things that they have to do every morning. It might be putting the washing on, emptying the dishwasher, feeding the pets, packed lunches, walking the dog… Find an order for all these essential tasks and do them in the same order every morning. By creating a ritual around them you won’t forget to do anything and you don’t have to think about as many things when you wake up because it all just happens like clockwork.
  • Don’t hit that snooze button! Set your alarm for a time that works for your morning routine and when your alarm goes off have a good stretch and get moving.
  • Little and often is better than blitz and forget. I used to try to do the housework one day a week. I thought that by getting it all done it would be out of my mind then and I could focus on other things. Things like housework are better tackled in small bite-sized chunks though. That way they don’t feel as daunting and you can keep on top of them rather than blitzing and living in mess, then blitzing again. Now rather than blitzing the whole house, I water the plants on a Monday morning, I keep on top of the kitchen ever evening, I put the vacuum round whenever it looks like it needs doing and I fit the bathrooms in when I have a few minutes… It all gets done but it doesn’t feel like I am tied to it all the time.
Writing
  • Read and write every day. This one is so important for me. I love to write, even if it is just my gratitude journal. I find it incredibly therapeutic writing and getting my thoughts in order. Whether it is writing an article like this, or a plan for what I am going to create over the coming weeks. It is a wonderful way to settle your mind. Reading, is now one of my non-negotiables, along with my exercise, I love escaping into a book, even if it is only for ten or twenty minutes. I always have a book with me in case I arrive early or an appointment is running late. For me reading and writing are input and output and they are as essential as food. If you haven’t tried journalling as a way to improve your wellbeing, I can’t recommend it enough.

My final recommendation is taking time to do something just for you every day. Even if it is a simple as having a cuppa and watching half an hour of your favourite tv programme. Perhaps you love having a bath or you enjoy dancing around your kitchen. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive, but it does have to fill your heart with joy. 

Make sure your new rituals make you happy. If you don’t enjoy exercise, then commit to dancing for 20 minutes every day while you prepare the evening meal or park as far away from the supermarket as you can and walk a little further. Take the stairs instead of the lift. There are so many little changes that you can make that will have an impact on your physical and mental health. 

Let me know what part of your daily routine is your favourite.

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