Our October theme on Wit & Delight is about getting to the truth of the matter. A part of why I wanted to highlight this theme is because I have a tendency to overcomplicate things. I enjoy the process of experimenting with new habits and daily rituals, but sometimes this practice can lead to a routine that’s too overwhelming amid the busyness of an average day.
I’ve been working lately on removing any unnecessary habits that overcomplicate my life from my daily schedule. While there is certainly a time and place for these kinds of additional practices, right now I find myself overwhelmed by lengthy daily routines. I’m focusing instead on simplifying my rituals down to the true essentials that keep me moving forward, no matter how wild any given day may become. I think that the simple act of writing out these rituals has helped me recognize exactly why I need to prioritize them throughout each day.
These are the most important daily rituals I have in my routine right now.
1. Moving regularly
Regular movement is key for me to feel like the best version of myself. At this particular moment, my main goal is about getting steps in each day rather than committing to any intense sort of movement (my goal is at least 8,000 steps and ideally more than 10,000). I’ve found walking the dogs and gardening make up most of this low-intensity movement.
2. Taking cold showers
This is a new-to-me ritual that has immediate mental and physical payoffs. After moving my body (or before bed if I’m really stressed out) I will take a cold shower. I set the temperature to the lowest setting and let the shower run really cold before getting in. (This doesn’t mean you too need to start a shower at the coldest water temperature! You can read more about safety and how to find the right temperature for you in this article.) You are supposed to get the benefits of cold exposure after a few minutes, and while you could stand still and focus on your breath, I’ve used that time to wash my hair. Then I’ll bring the temperature back up for a few minutes before turning it back down again. It has given me more energy and has helped with both brain fog and low-level anxiety about everyday tasks.
3. Bringing myself back to the task at hand
Often, when I’m in the middle of a workday or doing tasks around the house, I get distracted by something else I want to do. Where I used to give in to the urge right away, I now have a different way of combating this sense of distraction. I tell myself I have to finish one thing on my to-do list before I get to do the thing I really want to do. I try to view this simple habit as a way of being kind to my future self.
4. Focusing on my physical state
Physical practices like doing a five-minute body scan or meditation are really important for me to do as needed throughout the day. These rituals help me check in with myself and how I’m feeling physically. They gently nudge me toward a more balanced way of being. And because they only require a couple of minutes, I’m generally able to fit them in, even on really busy days.
5. Evening tidying
Before I go to bed each night, I take a few minutes and tidy the kitchen and our bedroom. This simple act of putting things away helps me go to sleep with a clearer mind and start the next day on a better note.
6. A calming bedtime practice
Maintaining my bedtime is #1 right now to ensure I feel good even when life is hectic. Doing The New York Times Spelling Bee is the thing that helps me turn off before I fall asleep at the moment (I do wear my glasses with blue light protection when on my phone in bed). I try to be in bed by 9:00 to read and do the Spelling Bee, then fall asleep by 10:30 at the latest so I can get enough rest each night.
What are your core daily rituals?