Since social distancing measures came into effect, many of us have undergone sizeable shifts in our daily routines. The need to wake up early and commute to the office or rush to a meeting, class or conference has, for millions, stopped. Afternoons are no longer divided into lunch breaks, school finishing and rush hour.
For some, this will be a welcome chance to slow down, savour a leisurely breakfast in the morning and spend more quality time with loved ones throughout the day. But, without structure to your day or changes in scenery, it is all too easy to fall out of usual routines and feel the days blending into one.
The benefits of keeping to an established routine are well-documented. Research has proven that routine has far-reaching psychological benefits, from reducing stress and improving sleep to alleviating anxiety disorders. This is largely because routines both help make tasks habit, preventing the build-up of mountains of paperwork or laundry, and inject a sense of achievement and progress into each day.
So, it’s hardly surprising that many of us are searching the internet for the answers to questions such as “how to create a routine” and “what is the ideal routine”. But creating rituals may, in fact, be even more effective at adding harmony to our lives.
The primary difference between a routine and a ritual is mindfulness. Routines are simply a sequence of actions carried out at set times – often on autopilot in a bid to prevent chaos - whereas rituals have a specific meaning attached and are completed predominantly for spiritual or wellbeing benefits. In order to complete a ritual, you must bring yourself into the present moment. You do not have to be a spiritual or religious person to create a ritual, only to have a sense of purpose.
Some tasks you may wish to use in a morning ritual include:
Meditating for 10 minutes or more – perhaps trying candle-gazing meditation
Adding to a vision board
Completing a gentle yoga practice
Making a cup of tea using loose leaves and savouring it
Making a nutritious breakfast from scratch
Tending to your pets or plants
Practicing gratitude (writing down or speaking aloud the things you are grateful for)
Taking time to complete your usual skincare routine more slowly
And tasks often recommended for a bedtime ritual include:
Switching off electronics to make way for meditation or quality time with a loved one
Taking a hot bath or shower using products with aromatherapy benefits (we recommend this essential oil blend from the Heals collection to aid sleep)
Tidying your bedroom mindfully, to create a calming space
Completing a multi-step night-time skincare routine
Journaling for reflection and intention-setting
Gentle stretching to release tension
Rituals can be as long or as short as you wish; can consist of one or several tasks; and can be carried out with any wellbeing goal in mind – it is simply about finding what works with your schedule and aims. If you are new to rituals or have a busy schedule, you may wish to pick one task to complete mindfully in the morning and one in the evening, for 10-15 minutes each, and build from there. The only thing which should be fixed are the time and location in which you complete your rituals.
Rituals are ultimately meant to help you set a mood, ground yourself or ignite a certain kind of energy – be that relaxation, connection or invigoration. So, experimenting to find an ideal fit should prove peaceful in itself.