The Power of Ritual and Routine

photo of journal, pink sleep mask, heaphones and tea signifying examples of some daily rituals

By definition, "rituals" involve a series of actions performed in a particular sequence. Traditionally, rituals were associated with religious or other ceremonious events and practices. Looking ahead to the 21st century, we now see them everywhere, but it’s important to understand the difference between a ritual versus a routine.

The difference between a ritual and a routine

What separates a ritual from a routine is the attitude behind the actions. Brushing our teeth, showering, and eating meals are deliberate, routine practices we NEED to do. With rituals, there’s a stronger consciousness as to what you’re doing and why. And while some can indeed be for spiritual or religious reasons, not all rituals require this element. For example:

  • We re-elect a new President every four years because we want the best person leading our country.

  • Organizations and clubs have initiations as a symbol of camaraderie, loyalty, and commitment to service.

  • School graduations celebrate student’s accomplishments and signify a new chapter of their education.

Mindfulness is the key factor that changes the meaning behind a routine. By understanding this idea, we can ritualize the actions we take to bettering our health and wellness.

How to start a routine

It’s intimidating to start something new, even when it’s good for you. Here are some tips on how you can make adopting a new routine easier:


  1. Start small. You don’t need to go at 100% on day one. Studies show it can take at least two months before new behavior becomes a habit. This time frame will always vary from person to person, so don’t beat yourself up if you slip up here and there. Shoot for small daily or weekly goals and remember to track your progress to see how far you’ve come. 

  2. Stack your habits. A useful approach for reinforcing habits is called habit stacking. This involves attaching one habit to another that regularly do already. One example would be, after you’ve had dinner, you meditate for ten minutes. Another could be working on an online course for an hour after watching your favorite TV show. (Just be sure to keep it to one episode!)

  3. Have patience. As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race. You’re more likely to fail if you put too many new expectations on yourself all at once. This will lead you to feeling discouraged and unaccomplished. Take the time to understand why something isn’t working and what it might take to fix it. A healthy lifestyle is a long haul journey, not a 30-day hack. 

Why daily habits matter

There’s scientific evidence proving how vital a routine is to physical and mental health, so why do some people have such a hard time keeping one? The truth is, turning healthy routines into a daily habit isn’t a quick process.

Habits start off as deliberate choices that are triggered by certain cues. For instance, you may turn on a podcast whenever you’re stuck in traffic or eat at the café next to your office because it’s convenient. Eventually, these habits become unconscious actions. 

Routines are about completing certain activities on a regular basis, so they require more effort and intent. Choosing to workout 3-4 times a week or setting time aside to read every night takes discipline, and this is where some people start to falter. If they aren’t able to reinforce a new routine into their regular lifestyle, it’s unlikely they’ll stick with it for long. However, the risks for not having a day-to-day routine creates all sorts of unhealthy habits, including:

  • Irregular sleeping patterns

  • Poor dietary choices 

  • Poor time management 

  • Constant stress

  • Not staying physically active

What are adaptogens and how do they help with stress?

Here’s a quick herbology lesson for those of you who don’t know about adaptogens. Adaptogens are herbs which help us react to and recover from short and long term stress. They also train us to cope better with stress. Some research says adaptogens can even combat fatigue, anxiety, and boost our immunity. This list is compromised of the most popular and regularly used adaptogens; you may even already know some of them!

  • Ginseng

  • Goji berry

  • Holy basil

  • Ashwagandha

  • Cannabis

  • Licorice root

  • Rhodiola rosea

Some mushrooms also fall into this category, including Reishi and Shiitake. So the question now is, how do these adaptogens help with stress?

The body’s response system to stress

When we’re stressed, our bodies enter into general adaption syndrome (GAS), which has three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. The alarm stage is where the “fight-or-flight” response kicks in to protect us from stressful situations.

In the resistance stage, our body begins to recover and our hormones, heart rate, and blood pressure return to normal levels. However, some situations causes stress to last longer, so the body also learns to adapt and live with higher stress levels in this stage. This is where adaptogens come into play.

Adaptogens give us the ability to remain in the resistance stage a little longer and hold off on the exhaustion stage. We’re able to power through the stressful situations easier without immediately crashing. And since stress can affect our health in other ways as well, adaptogens are also good for managing digestive issues, insomnia, pain, and more. These can turn into long-term effects if you take adaptogens regularly, which will benefit your overall health slowly over time. 

Prepare For The New Season With Your Own Unique Ritual or Routine

The return to normal activities have left many feeling unprepared after a worldwide lockdown. One of the best ways of beating it is by establishing new rituals and routines. It gives us back some control over our lives and creates healthier lifestyle choices. It’s okay to slip up or make changes. What matters is that we put our best foot forward going into this new fall season. 

Cartoon man with images of his daily routine in a clock: sleep, coffee, work, exercise, relax