The Benefits of Routines and Rituals

Here at Arner Adventures, mental wellness plays an important role, in not only this space, but in our daily lives. It is something we work on every moment, and as we move into 2021, we would like to provide a platform to discuss methods that have helped us and are continuing to provide guidance towards positive wellness overall. We welcome your discussion and contribution as we maneuver through this together.

I (Shannon) have found, throughout my life, that rituals have been comforting for me. One can blame that on the fact that I have a sense of control over the repeating of a practice, routine, or the predictability of a timeframe. I feel that a routine, the mindlessness of a task is quite different than that of a ritual. A ritual, though not necessarily religious in nature, is spiritual, and can be very nurturing for our health. You may be asking yourself, what the difference is, and how they can be beneficial for your health. Let me explain how they foster my personal wellness journey.

Routines– while I love spontaneity, and adventure, I also thrive on routine. I can be in a different city every day, but I still have a routine of how I prefer to start my day: taking a walk, meditation, practicing gratitude, etc. That morning routine, while consisting of rituals, is still a routine, and one that provides comfort for me to begin my day. Can I survive without following that routine? Sure! I just like things to be in a certain order and go a certain way. Similarly, I enjoy the routine of working in time blocks, and then breaking for lunch, taking a midday walk, working another block, etc. Routines allow us to structure our day, and this provides positive health. If you notice, the intentional time blocking allows me to get physical exercise. If I did not have the routine of creating those time blocks, I would not prioritize my health. This is where routine benefits my mental and physical wellness.

Another routine that benefits our health is the time that we take on Sunday evenings to plan our weekly meals and to order our groceries. Each Sunday, Gerry and I plan our week ahead. We use an online platform, which has been especially beneficial during Covid, (there are tons of options such as Instacart or Walmart Pick-up) to order our groceries. This saves us time, but also prevents us from making poor decisions of last-minute grab and go/fast food options, or poor food choices… again, this routine helps us to make better decisions for our health.

Rituals– Rituals are all about mindfulness. You can have a routine, and it can be about the task at hand, and do it mindlessly, such as sweeping, because the act of sweeping helps your health by eliminating dirt from an area, but you don’t necessarily have to think about it, though I find sweeping to be very meditative. 😉

Thich Nhat Hanh says, “If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.’ What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus, we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.”

We both find that washing dishes can be meditative and calming.

A ritual is the practice of doing something that stimulates mindfulness and intention. For example, and what most people think of often is meditation. We have talked about this often, but you don’t have to meditate for hours, or be intimidated by meditation. I was fearful and intimidated by meditation, for years! Now, I have a small ritual I practice daily, sometimes I resort back to the practice multiple times a day. You can find that here. I have also talked about the ritual of tea in the past. Now, my mornings are very ritualistic with my time of Zen, meditations, my mantra, but moreover, everything I do before I start my workday is about intention. I feel as though, if I do not set those intentions right, even enjoying my coffee or my tea, it can throw everything off. When there is a rainy morning, and I have to improvise my start-of-the-day routine and rituals, I do adapt, but my day does have a certain imbalance to it.

Research shows that rituals dispel anxiety. Not only that, but rituals also create mindfulness, and the benefits of mindfulness are improved mood, memory, and immunity, and sleeping more soundly. Here are some examples of some positive rituals you can bring into your life:

  • Taking an hour to wind down before bed to read poetry, prayer, or journal.
  • Take a bath a certain night of the week by candlelight and reflect on three things you are grateful for.
  • Meditate, if even just for 5 minutes.
  • Toasting the sunset, and practicing gratitude for being able to do so.
  • Have afternoon teatime. Turn everything off, and spend that time reflecting on a topic that brings you joy. Set a timer if you need to.  

Cultivating a healthy mindset, is creating an investment in your overall wellbeing. When you craft your day to include routines and rituals that lead to positive wellness for yourself, you will generate a life that is beneficial for yourself, and one that is most enjoyable. Please share your rituals and routines with us, and your progress along the way!

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