Looking to start off 2022 with some healthier intensions by creating a daily routine?
Most of us know children need a routine to help build healthy habits. As kids, we were often told when to go to bed, when to do our homework, what to eat for dinner, when to shower, and when to wake up. Heck, a lot of us even had scheduled playdates with friends for a set amount of time. But what about as an adult? Have you established any sort of routine or any healthy rituals?
While doing one thing or action may not appear to amount to much, repeated actions—even small ones—grow and accumulate to help you reach a goal. Practicing discipline and committing to daily rituals or healthy habits work by accumulating marginal gains. (16)
Read on to find out exactly why developing a routine is so important and how healthy rituals are the key to your full potential.
What's an easy (and delicious) daily ritual to add to your morning routine? Try enjoying regular iced matcha lattes in the morning for relaxed alertness and focus.
Ten science-backed benefits of developing a daily routine
Humans are truly creatures of habit, and setting routines has undeniable evidence-based health benefits. An intentional routine can supercharge your productivity, deepen your relationships, and set you up for a successful day. According to the latest research, routines may help to: (2)
- Lower stress levels and facilitate relaxation
- Build better physical fitness
- Maximize energy levels
- Lead to more restful, quality sleep
- Optimize time by reducing our need to plan
- Make us more efficient
- Build self-confidence
- Break bad habits
- Reduce procrastination
- Instill discipline
The drawbacks of no routine
When you don't have a set routine, you wake up having no idea what you are going to do since you haven't thought to create a schedule. As a result, many people who don't follow any sort of routine are often (2) (10):
- Sleeping poorly
- Making poor diet choices
- Lacking self-confidence
Want to develop a routine? Make a list.
One of the first helpful things to do when developing a daily or weekly routine is to list your regular activities, when you do them, and for how long. (8)
Try to include everything from brewing coffee, biking to work, meal preparation, walking the dog, to applying body lotion after showering. Once you have this list of everything you do, you have a good sense of the basic tasks you need to get done and the habits—good and bad— you've formed.
Picking an approach to scheduling your routine
When it comes to forming a routine that includes healthy rituals, is it better to have a to-do list every day or a daily schedule with given time blocks?
Studies have shown that some people thrive in highly structured environments, with everything scheduled down to the minute, while others like to have a loose list of things to get done in a day. When considering what approach is right for you, think about what motivates you and what you really need to get done. (2)
In other words, it helps to deliberately schedule a given block of time to take care of your high-priority tasks—especially things you may not be the most excited or motivated to do—as it allows you to focus on using the rest of your day efficiently. (8)
Forming daily rituals you'd like to try
While it's essential to get your basic chores and work projects completed, it's important to also plan things you can look forward to in your day. By choosing to be thoughtful in your actions, you can turn parts of your routine that once seemed mundane into mindful daily rituals. (21)
Approaching daily habits through ritual injects energy into your days. (9)
Examples of healthy rituals you can follow
Here are a few simple healthy rituals with well-studied benefits that you can try to integrate into your daily routine:
- Start your day by making a traditional matcha tea instead of coffee. (11)
- Stay active and schedule daily exercise. (22)
- Stretch for a couple of minutes every day. (1)
- Make time for daily meditation. (4)
- Practice breathwork routines.
- Aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep. (5)
- Drink more water. (3) (17)
- Make time for long walks in nature, and bring your dog or friend! (12) (14)
- Eat meals on a regular schedule. (18) (13)
Just pick one healthy ritual to practice such as cooking more meals at home. The more disciplined you are, the more natural it will become.
The connection between routine tasks and rituals
Most of us have things we do in our daily lives, but they are not rituals. For example, you set your alarm for the same time every morning, shower, make a cup of coffee, and get dressed to go to work. While daily tasks and routines require discipline to accomplish what you need to get done—like showering and leaving early to avoid traffic in getting to the office—a healthy ritual places intent and mindfulness behind an action, sparking fulfillment. (9)
Remember that forming a healthy routine is more than just being disciplined about accomplishing your day-to-day responsibilities. It is important to make time for self-care through your rituals. (19)
Turning routine tasks into rituals
Not every part of your routine needs to become a ritual where you are mindful of your actions, but know that every habit in your routine can become a ritual. The big difference between a routine and a ritual is the intent. There are parts of your routine you can make even healthier if you turn them into rituals. (7)
Different types of rituals
There are rituals that, day-to-day, aren't healthy but are tension relief or rituals of pleasure, for example, unwinding after work with a glass of wine or 'retail therapy.' We tend to think of these things as 'unhealthy,' but the action of enjoying one drink at the same time of day to unwind after work is better defined as a ritual of pleasure—as long as you don't over-indulge. (7)
Making something in your routine into a healthy ritual
Choosing to be more mindful seems simple, though when you are starting to build a more mindful daily action, less really is more. Start by picking just one activity or thing you do every day, such as walking your dog in the mornings.
An example—walking the dog
How do you turn walking your dog in the morning into an activity you enjoy vs. a chore you are stuck with? Make a point of being present. For example, choose to go for a walk without your phone, bring treats to reward your pooch, practice getting your dog to sit or play fetch, and make a point of talking to your furry friend about your plans for the day.
Simple, mindful rituals like thoughtful walks with your dog can lead to better quality sleep, improved relationships, and higher work productivity. (20)(15) (6)
The final word—don't be too hard on yourself
When it comes to developing healthy rituals and sticking to them, remember to set realistic goals. If you try and commit to too many healthy rituals at once, you are setting yourself up to fail and likely disappoint yourself.
Start with just adding one small ritual you can easily fit into your day. Once this becomes a natural part of your routine, you can build and add more healthy rituals to your routine.
Even if you don't typically see yourself as a person who loves having every part of their day scheduled, having a routine can be especially helpful in times of stress, uncertainty, and unpredictability. By implementing a structure to your day, you will have a better sense of control that helps improve your productivity, focus, and organization.
What healthy rituals do you practice to support optimum wellness? Share them with us on social media by tagging us @matchakari.
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