As we grow older, it is no surprise that our lives become more chaotic and unorganized. There is more work to do, kids to take care of, and hobbies that we want to keep so we won’t go insane. Our energy level may be down to 20% by the end of the week while our annoyance level is peaking at 80%. However, by mentally and physically setting up a series of daily rituals to follow, it can keep us healthy, grounded, and balanced throughout our everyday life.
“THE SECRET OF YOUR FUTURE IS HIDDEN IN YOUR DAILY ROUTINE.”
— Mike Murdock
If you are just starting to explore personal development, setting a daily routine is definitely a great way to start. The difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. A routine is a series of actions that we do everyday and focuses on the completion of a task, whereas a ritual is more meaningful and focuses on the performance of a task. Daily rituals aren’t necessary extravagant or overly-complicated. Aside from monitoring our healthy eating habits, drinking eight glasses of water per day, and following a beauty regimen, it also comprised of a series of small habits that allow us to become the best version of ourselves. By creating a daily ritual that works for us, it will…
- Instill a sense of structure, familiarity, and direction
- Increase efficiency, thus producing the same effect to our productivity levels
- Negate the need to regularly schedule our days or tasks ahead of time
- Motivate, empower, and help us strive progress towards our goals and dreams
In order to have a more productive and fulfilled day, we have to start from the very beginning, which in all our cases mean from the second we wake up. Science says that our willpower is highest in the morning, so start strong, and follow through. Teach ourselves to wake up early so that we can set aside time to invest in our own top-priority activities before engaging in others.
Here’s my sample of my weekday ritual.
- Practice Your Breathing [Meditate]: I wouldn’t say I am a morning person, and there are still days that it takes a herd of elephants to charge towards me before I would drag myself out of bed. However, I have discovered a neat trick that get me out from under my sheets without having to move too much. From the moment I wake up, I would head towards my yoga mat and sit cross-legged. This allows me to still keep my eyes closed for a few seconds longer as I slowly ascend from my groggy state. By all means, I am not a yogi nor do I fully understand the practice of meditation, but I do enjoy the tranquility and the few minutes I have to gather my thoughts before diving into my day. When you are concentrated on your breathing, you are teaching your mind to have a stronger focus, which can then be applied to your everyday activities. In addition, you are reducing stress, relaxing the nervous system, and lowering your high blood pressure… and all that from just monitoring your breathing!
- Eat Breakfast: After that quick 10-minute exercise, I like to start with the morning essentials: Brushing your teeth, showering, and breakfast. Breakfast can boost up your metabolism and jump start your morning to keep you energized throughout the day. By understanding these benefits, you are being mindful of your own health and immune system. If that’s not an enough reason to incorporate that into your ritual, then take a look at these healthy 2-minute recipes to get your hungry and excited.
- Set Your Goals for the Day: As you are enjoying your breakfast, pull out your notebook, tablet, or mobile device and start going over what you want to accomplish. This is the time where I flip off my “DND” switch from my work email and evaluate how busy my day will be. Write down 3 things you are looking to accomplish today, check your to-do list, and then usher yourself out the door.
- Give Back: We don’t have to be rich to be a philanthropist. I live central downtown and like walk to work along with hundreds of other people. Flash someone walking towards you a warm smile or bid them a hello to start off their day! If you are feeling extra generous, buy someone in line a coffee, or give your change to the less fortunate. As humans,giving is proven to increase health benefits and transpire positivity, so why not give back and start your day grateful before setting your foot into your office.
- Take a Walk & Refocus: Similar to a majority of employees, I have a 9-5 office job which insists on me to sit on my butt 90% of the time. Unfortunately, I do have a short lunch so I try to maximize the best that I can. With the arrival of Spring, I have been taking advantage of the nice weather by taking a refreshing walk outside to regain focus. Research shows that by taking a 20-30 minute walk daily, you are slowing down the aging process and even repairing old DNA. If you dislike going to the gym, walking is a fantastic way for you to get some exercise in your day and reap the benefits. As a bonus, it’s also a great way to soak in some Vitamin D and get some sun exposure. If you are walking home from work like I do, take the long way around and enjoy the fresh air! Or better yet, buy a Fitbit or download a pace tracker to monitor your steps. Set a goal each day on how many steps you want to take.
- Update Your To-do list: Throughout the day, one of the most satisfying feelings is checking off my to-do list item by item. This is gratifying as it shows me that I am making progress on my tasks and render a sense of accomplishment. Before I leave work, I like to create my to-do list for tomorrow so that I have a clear vision of what needs to be done by the time I am at my office tomorrow. Not only are you saving time, you are thinking ahead and starting tomorrow with a purpose.
- Spend time on your Passion Project: To me, happiness is a metric of success. When I am passionate about something, I am usually motivated and joyous. Spending time on a hobby or passion project can be a great way to balance your life and relieve stress. When I get home from work, I love diving into a project that I am currently working on to take my mind off any negativity. It also allows you to indulge in your creativity at your own pace and freedom, as well as can help you build on talents. Often, people ask how I am juggling with so many jobs and still finding time for side projects, and my response? Not only am I doing it on my own free will but it also energizes and motivates me. It’s similar to spending time with people you like! You make time for them, and you enjoy their company.
- Educate by Reading: When I was in my teenage years, reading was something that brought me a lot of joy. Over the years, I started losing more and more of that. From moving across the country to my crazy-packed social calendar, I slowly stopped making time to read (shame on me right?!). It wasn’t until a couple years ago I started bringing literature back into my life, and it has been enlightening. Whether it be fiction or non-fiction, reading is a great way to escape from reality and educate yourself on any topic that you desire. Oscar Wilde once said, “It’s what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” By reading a few pages a night, you are training yourself to be a better thinker, innovator, and writer.
- Unplug: This is something I’m still trying to improve every night. According to recent studies, checking your mobile devices before bed is harmful to your health and are almost perfectly designed to disrupt sleep! Put your phone on “DND” mode and set it aside far enough so that it isn’t right at arm’s length. This can prevent you from grabbing it once you are settled comfortably in your bed. In this millennial age, we already spend so much time with technology in every aspect of our lives, so don’t let it steal our sleep too.
- Reflect: After I stow away my phone, it’s the perfect time to reflect before turning off the lights. I personally don’t have a journal but I do take a few minutes to reflect what I did today and how I felt. By understanding how you feel and what your body is trying to tell you, you are piecing together a puzzle that defines YOU. If I have a bad day, I write down all my frustration out on a piece of paper… then I throw it away. It’s a fantastic way to relieve stress, believe it or not! However, if it’s one thing that I’ve learned, it is that there is always somebody out there with a worse day than yours… so there is no point in dwelling on it and ending your day on a bad note!