What is the difference between a ritual and a routine?
Creating rituals and routines is a simple way to reduce stress. What is the difference between a ritual and a routine? A routine is a certain order to doing things. Routines are something you do every day, or very often that require intention. It may not have a lot of meaning behind the activity, such as brushing your teeth and then flossing before making your bed in the morning. I mean, obviously those are important, but they don’t necessarily have a spiritual significance in your life.
A ritual is a sequence of events that has meaning and a sense of purpose. With a ritual, you are engaged with the whole experience. Anything can become a ritual if you are mindful about it. Sipping a cup of hot green tea as you read your inspirational book, while sitting in your comfy chair is a good example of a ritual. Reciting affirmations as you look in the mirror and smooth on your facial cream is another beautiful ritual.
Turn habits into routines and then rituals
You can turn your daily habits into routines that will help you remember to fit in all those new habits that you’ve been wanting to put into place. You brush your teeth every morning, and now you are wanting to make sure you exercise every morning, so link that habit to brushing your teeth. Every time you brush your teeth, you will know to get dressed for working out next.
To turn your exercise into a ritual, make it an activity you enjoy, and then immerse yourself fully into the experience. For example, you can go for a walk in your neighborhood or a local park. While you are walking, you take in the birds singing, the green leaves of the trees blowing gently in the breeze, and the sound of your shoes hitting the pavement. You pay attention to your breath as you walk and notice as you start to breathe deeper and faster.
How do routines and rituals reduce stress?
Imagine these two scenarios.
Scenario 1: Your alarm goes off, and you push the snooze button. It goes off again, and you push the snooze button again. Finally, you drag yourself out of bed and rush to brush your teeth, throw on some clothes, and then rush to work. You don’t know how you got to work because you were too busy thinking about the smoothie you left on the counter at home and worrying about how you will make it to lunchtime because you are already starving.
Scenario 2: Your alarm goes off, and you get up right away. It’s hard to get out of bed, but you cherish this part of your day the most. No one is up yet, and you have some quiet time to yourself. You brush your teeth and then put on your yoga clothes. Next, you go to your guest bedroom where you’ve set up a little yoga spot. You put a YouTube video on of your favorite yoga teacher and roll out your mat. During the next 20 minutes, you pay attention to your breathing, and you notice your muscles have increased in flexibility.
When the yoga video is over, you go to the kitchen and brew a cup of tea and then settle into your big, plush sofa for some reading time. You read from some of your favorite spiritual books and a chapter of your favorite personal development book.
Now, it’s time for your morning smoothie that you drink while you are journaling a few pages. You get dressed for work and then make your way to the office, noticing some of the beautiful buildings on your drive in and listening to your favorite podcast about adding joy to your life.
Which of these two scenarios seems the most pleasant? The second one, of course. That’s because the events are all planned out with intention. Each activity, or habit, is enjoyable. You are not feeling rushed, and you are not forgetting everything.
My morning routine
Most of my life was like the first scenario above, until I read the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. In the book, Hal tells how he began his own morning routine and the activities he does each day that have made dramatic changes in his health and success. He gives a list of activities he thinks are important to include in your morning routine.
I was inspired to create my own morning routine, and tried some of the activities for myself. At first, it was very difficult to get up early, but after a few months, I noticed how much less scattered I was and how much more peaceful I was. I wasn’t rushing out the door in the morning, forgetting things. I felt so much calmer. Not only that, but I was fitting in habits that I had always wanted to do, but never took the time for when my kids were younger. I knew exercise was important for my health, but my job as a teacher at the time, and my kids after school activities kept me too busy. I also loved to read and wanted to read more often, but when would that fit in?
I began to look forward to my quiet mornings alone and if I missed a day, I certainly noticed the difference in my stress level.
Routines and rituals can be done any time during the day
Routines and rituals can be done at any time, not just in the morning. I encourage you to find a way to fit them in wherever and whenever you can, at lunch, on your commute, prepping dinner, or even before bed. Set yourself up for success and reduce stress in every part of your life.
If you want to learn more about creating a morning routine, you can check out my mini course, Transformational Morning Routine for Empaths.