Ritual vs. Routine: Revitalize Your Mind by Shifting Your Approach to What You're Already Doing

Lifestyle changes don’t always have to be some massive life overhaul. You don’t have to completely change everything all at once- all of a sudden changing everything in your diet, spending two hours a day doing cardio, and cutting everyone out of your life isn’t rewarding or sustainable, so it’s not likely you’ll have incentive to do it for very long. Radical changes all at once can deplete energy and are overall less sustainable than small adjustments to mindset that inspire lasting changes, because of the small rituals and the self-awareness derived from them. This can inspire other small changes, which, over time, can give you a chance to notice the benefits of the small changes and leave your life looking totally different than it used to. 

This next mini-series is meant to help you become aware of your daily routine, how you’re prioritizing and talking to yourself throughout that routine, or how completely checked out from yourself you may actually be while you’re doing all the things you’re supposed to do for your own self-care. For example, you may be spending time working out and prepping/eating healthy food, but you could be doing it out of anger and non-acceptance of your body rather than recognition of the nurturance your body needs to maintain your overall health.

Let’s start with looking at routine. Routine refers to your daily schedule, the things that must be accomplished in order to feel like your day is complete and you were successful. Too often, however, we get bogged down in the stress and to-do list, rushing around. We often lose sight of why we’re actually doing the things that are part of our routines. For instance, we get stuck in rushing the kids to school, activities, doctor appointments, and scouts. But we never ask ourselves why, other than ‘it’s for my kid’ or ‘I committed to it,’ rather than ‘it’s my purpose to give my kid a variety experiences’ or ‘it’s important to me to follow through on my commitments,’ which are more honest statements connecting us to our purposes. The main purpose in the example is fulfilling the purpose in our culture, if the individual is called to do so. 

It’s easy to let our routine run away with us, especially if we feel stuck in a rut because our routine doesn’t deviate much day-to-day. I know I’m someone who thrives from the same routine day-to-day, and it’s easy for me to also check out and get things done. I also know that my body craves routine, as evidenced by my naturally waking up before 6 am every day unless I’m sick. 

I also know how disempowering routine can be. While routine is necessary for me to get things done, stay organized, and be able to focus and stay present in my work and practices, I am also very sensitive to shifts in my routine. I just feel “off” if I wake up late and I feel more pressured to run around and get things done. This throws me way off balance, because I’m left feeling like a victim of time, I’m often angry/frustrated, have a hard time focusing, and I know I’m not doing my best work. I feel like I’m just running around rushing for no clear purpose, and I just mess things up and spend more time doing damage control for everything that gets messed up along the way, which just adds to my frustration. Therefore, it’s vital to me to have rituals and practices to incorporate into and balance out my routine. Often, this simply looks like stopping for a moment, checking in with myself, and asking myself why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I feel like I need mentally, spiritually, and physically, and seeing if I can make a little time to make that happen. Pretty soon, it’s easy to let go of the things that don’t have a clear purpose in my life because I have no true connection to them. 

I’ll get more into rituals and practices next week, but the takeaway message for today is an invitation to look at your daily routine (or, perhaps, lack thereof). When you write out what has to get done each day, or try to block off time for tasks in your calendar, what is your mind doing? What is your body feeling? Where does your energy want to go? Are you making time for yourself? If so, where are you prioritizing yourself?

We’ll build on these in the next blog in this series, but you’d be surprised at the information you may receive and benefits you may notice in just making time to ask yourself these questions.

Rebecca L. Toner, MA, LPC

Freer of Souls. Connector to Purpose. Healer of Lives.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.

Rebecca Toner, MA, LPC is a group private practice owner, EMDR therapist and consultant-in-training, and a life coach operating out of Plainville, CT. She specializes in treating clients with chronic attachment trauma and dissociation, and has passion in working with coaching clients who are learning how to reclaim their power after processing trauma.