What is a Ritual?
A ritual is a set of meaningful actions that you perform regularly with mindful awareness and intent. This in itself can lead to powerful health and well-being benefits.
Sometimes when we think of rituals, we think about important life milestones such as birth, marriage and death. It’s true that these occasions have many social rituals associated with them. Daily self-care rituals can also play an important part in enriching our lives too.
Examples of self-care rituals may include:
- Starting the morning with a 5, 10 or 15-minute meditation
- Practising a yoga routine at the same time every day
- Taking a daily walk at lunchtime
- Having a cup of green tea after lunch
- Writing a journal each day (include a gratitude diary, happy moments and daily goals)
- Ensuring you have time to read each day
- Practising mindfulness at different times during the day
- Going for an evening bike-ride
- A weekly or monthly pamper session and/or date with your partner or friends
- A regular nature walk
Try creating a bed-time ritual to signal to your brain that it’s time to unwind and prepare for bedtime. Here, you might include an aromatherapy bath, a cup of chamomile tea, turning devices off an hour before bedtime, applying the Scentered Sleep Well Well-Being Ritual Balm and reading or journaling before lights out.
Why are Daily Rituals Important?
Rituals that form part of our daily routine provide us with structure, especially important in unpredictable and uncertain times. In today’s fast-paced world, performing a ritual also makes us pause, breathe properly and reconnect with ourselves and our core values. They can also help us to meet specific goals, for example to eat and drink more healthily, get fitter, focus more at work, have more ‘me’ time or improve our mental health.
The repetition of rituals creates a mental cue for what’s about to happen. In time, the ritual becomes so ingrained that it becomes automatic behaviour. Many people already do this without realising it. How many of us make a cup of tea before we sit down to work? The act of making the hot drink signals to our brain that it’s time to put everything else aside and focus on the job in hand.
What are Affirmations?
Affirmations work really well in supporting self-care rituals. They’re positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome negative thought processes. These mental repetitions can help to reprogram our unconscious mind for success. Instead of ‘I cant’s’, we reposition them as ‘I cans’. Fear and low self-esteem are replaced with confidence and courage.
There’s powerful evidence on the benefits of affirmations which states they can help us in the following ways:
- Performing better at work
- Mitigating stress
- Increasing confidence and self-esteem
- Sticking to goals
- Completing a project
- Changing a bad habit
- Managing negative emotions like depression, anger and frustration
How to Make Affirmations?
If affirmations are new to you, you might like to start off by incorporating simple ‘I am’ affirmations like ‘I am grateful’. You can substitute grateful for confident, happy, brave, fit, thankful, in a loving relationship and so on. Other examples might include ‘I deserve success’. ‘’I stay in the now’ or ‘I leave all work behind for the day’.
Jack Canfield, the author of ‘The Success Principles’ and co-author of ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ gives this advice for creating really powerful, affirmations that can benefit your wellbeing.
- Start with the words “I am.” These are the two most powerful words in the English language.
- Use the present tense.
- State it in the positive. Affirm what you want, not what you don’t want.
- Keep it brief.
- Make it specific.
- Include an action word ending with –ing.
- Include at least one dynamic emotion or feeling word.
- Make affirmations for yourself, not others.
Ultimately affirmations should be up-lifting, inspiring and empowering. Using Jack’s advice, you could create an affirmation to complement your bed-time ritual. ‘I am confident that my bedtime ritual will promote sleeping deeply and awakening feeling fully rested and revived.’
How to Stick to your Affirmations?
Write your affirmations down and when you’ll be doing them. Times to consider would be morning, midday, lunchtime, afternoon, bedtime or during your daily meditation. There’s scientific evidence that we’re much more likely to commit to something when we write it down.
Say affirmations out loud or internally. Make time and focus on them. There’s no point trying to make them in a rush or whilst you’re distracted.
The real power of affirmations is harnessed through repeating them to yourself regularly. Several times a day, every day. Try using your phone or calendar reminders and post-it notes around the house, car and workstation as a reminder. Also, whenever your mind starts to engage in a negative thought pattern or behaviour, repeat the affirmations immediately.