The term ‘ritual’ might draw connotations of sacred ceremonies and spiritualism, but we all have rituals that we perform daily. Just think about it: brushing your teeth, showering or bathing, cooking dinner, cleaning, having a coffee break. These are rituals that we perform without even thinking. They can be mundane and sometimes seem like unwelcome intrusions in our busy lives.
Adding intention and mindfulness to these daily rituals can be very rewarding for your wellbeing and transform the mundane into the sacred. Rituals can help reduce stress, create meaning in our lives; provide a sense of balance, help us appreciate being in the moment, and promote self-love. Here are some ways you can make daily tasks more rewarding:
Cooking can be one of those tasks that you either love or hate. It’s a ritual that most of us perform every day, but one that can often be overlooked and unappreciated. Food is essential to our survival but cooking can often feel like a laborious task. We choose to eat a quick sandwich whilst we sit hunched over our laptops or order a takeaway while we catch up on the latest Netflix offering. But cooking can be another ritual that can benefit your wellbeing and can deepen your appreciation of food. Focusing on your intention and practising mindful cooking and eating will bring your awareness to the present moment. Set the scene before you start preparing your home cooked meal: put some of your favourite music on, set out all the ingredients you’ll need so you don’t find yourself reaching for things in a panic halfway through. Pick a simple, hearty meal, a complex new recipe, or even a sandwich, but set time aside to enjoy the moment. If you have a table to eat at, make sure it’s clear of paperwork, junk mail and any other odds and ends so that you can focus on enjoying your meal. Slow things down and try to enjoy the preparation and consumption of food.
With busy lives it’s tempting to have a quick shower but why not try running a bath instead? Bathing can be a great way of performing a necessary task but making it a more focused and enjoyable experience as well. Make it an occasion: use your favourite bubble bath, salts, or oil, light some candles while the water fills the bathtub, grab a book and a glass of whatever suits your fancy. If you prefer to listen to music in the bath, get a calming playlist on the go or try a relaxing audiobook. Make sure the time you’ve set aside is free from distraction and that you won’t be interrupted.
With the festive season upon us, it can be easy to either overdo the exercise in anticipation of gluttonous merrymaking or forget exercising at all and vow to get on track in the New Year. But exercise doesn’t have to be a slog or performed to a rigorous schedule. Try dancing to your favourite music - just moving your body is better than nothing. Dancing and exercise generally can also help us feel more in tune and more comfortable with our bodies. Pay attention to how you feel when you exercise, especially how you feel when you’ve finished.
4. Coffee breaks
In Sweden, Fika (roughly translated as a coffee and cake break) can be a part of everyday life and all it really entails is having a cup of coffee with friends, though it is much more than this. Like Hygge ('cosy wellness') culture in Denmark, Fika is all about embracing the slow life. Why not add a little mindfulness to your coffee breaks by setting a certain amount of time aside to enjoy a cup with a friend on Zoom or in a socially distanced setting, and really enjoy the moment.