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The Importance of Routines and Rituals

coffee, muffin, and journal sitting on bed in morning - establishing routines

When a person manages their life well, it’s likely that routines and rituals have a large role in their success. Whether you’re trying to live sober, follow healthy methods for handling a mood or behavioral disorder, or recognize that your self-empowerment requires more structure, here are some reasons why establishing routines and rituals might help.

Routines vs. Rituals: What’s the Difference?

Defined as “a sequence of actions regularly followed; a fixed program,” a routine is a habit that’s your usual way of doing things. Perhaps you always set up your coffee maker the night before so it starts at the same time the next morning. Maybe the first walk with your dog wanders along the same path each day. Piedmont Healthcare reports numerous benefits of establishing routines, such as:

  • Adhering to a sleep hygiene schedule—such as shutting down electronic devices one hour before bed, meditating, enjoying light reading, and practicing self-care—helps you stay healthy and makes the next day better
  • Set morning tasks create a pattern that keep you focused so you’ll “waste less physical energy and brain space”
  • More quality time for people you want to be with and activities you’re interested in

The repetition of routine helps “reduce the number of decisions you have to make each day for a deeper sense of peace as well as relaxation of the mind and body.”

While rituals are frequently associated with religious or spiritual rites, another definition is “an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set, precise manner.” Sounds just like a routine, doesn’t it? The difference has to do with purpose: while many routines are practical with a particular goal in mind, a routine can be elevated to become a ritual with defined intent. In an article for The Chalkboard, Deepika Chopra suggests we need rituals for various reasons, including:

  • To remind us “of what we actually care about and keep us in close proximity to our purpose”
  • Help us stay grounded not only in life, but also with what our core values are and why they matter
  • As a form of necessary daily ceremony, whether spiritual or not, to “boost physical and mental wellbeing”

In our fast-moving world, Chopra says, “rituals increase confidence, provide us with a sense of security, alleviate the weight of grief, and help reduce anxiety. And, above all, rituals are a sure-fire way to increase happiness.”

Routines to Help Your Way of Life

At Cottonwood Tucson, we understand the interconnected layers between conditions such as:

  • Substance use disorders
  • Trauma, PTSD, and grief
  • Co-occurring disorders
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance detox
  • Process disorders
  • Mood disorders

Once someone receives essential treatment, their continuum of care plan includes additional health management methods such as a whole foods diet, regular exercise, holistic care, 12-Step program support, and other techniques. The structure of routine creates an effective foundation of success in these and other areas of your life, which provides balance in how you feel and perform each day.

Tips on Establishing Routines

Goalcast offers some tips on establishing  routines involving vital self-care that work for you:

  • Start by making a list of all the things you have to do daily. This might include the smallest task—taking a shower, for example, or brushing your teeth—to larger efforts, such as getting children ready for school, exercising, and planning healthy meals.
  • Next, think about the times of day or night when you have the best energy and focus. This is when to schedule specific routines and tasks.
  • With this information, craft your routines based on what you want to accomplish, what adds to your wellness, and how you can simplify key tasks.
  • Make sure to start the day with what most interests you and taps into your passion or purpose. This action improves your routine accountability and ensures you’ll accomplish what’s most important to your well-being.
  • Take advantage of 30 minutes before your daily downtime to declutter the house, set out work clothes, make lunches for you and the family, and so on. Listen to your favorite music or podcast so you can add even more value to this routine.
  • Build in quiet time before bed to center yourself, meditate, shut off electronic devices and read, or anything else that enables better sleep.

Keep in mind, it can take up to three months to make routines habitual. So keep track of what’s working and what needs to be modified, and be flexible about the process. Recognize that even if everything implodes on one particular day, you can pick up the fragments and start fresh.

Ways to Establish Meaningful Rituals

Not every routine needs to be ritualized, but some habits that you add value to will bring out your best. What matters most to you is what you should elevate to a ritual, but these suggestions from Zen Habits might spark some ideas:

  • Practice gratitude—set aside time each day to recognize what’s working in your life, instead of always focusing on problems. Expressing gratitude might also be in the form of prayer or other contemplative acts.
  • Write down your most important tasks for the day, even if they’re not work-related—this helps to put certain routines, such as attending a support group or exercising, front and center.
  • Wake up before you need to—even 30 minutes ahead of schedule could be exactly the time you need for more essential reflective practices, such as journaling, yoga, gardening, going for a run, and so on.

And for fun, review some of the rituals many artists, CEOs, and even former presidents follow to care for themselves, be more productive, and support progress in their lives.

You’re Invited

We invite you to explore other articles on the Cottonwood Tucson blog that help you continue to make your life better. Please post a comment below if you’d like us to research and share more information about certain topics.

For more information about Cottonwood Tucson, including disordered eating treatment in Arizona, call (800) 877-4520. We are ready to help you or your loved one find lasting recovery.

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