Rituals and Routines

How to Improve Your Self-Care Practice by Turning Routines into Rituals

How often do you sit down and think about all the different routines you have? Similarly, how often do you consider the rituals you have? Do you know what the difference is? In this post, I will share with you what each of these mean by definition and how they also have unique meaning in our lives. Let’s consider a new way of thinking about self-care through the process of changing a routine into a ritual. 

 Recently I was working on some continuing education credits for my WellcoachesⓇ Well-being Coach Certification, and the session I attended was a discussion around the difference between rituals and routines. According to the dictionary used by the leader of this discussion, 

a ritual is a way of doing something in which the same actions are done In the same way, every time. A routine is a usual or fixed way of doing things.

Essentially, they are the same thing.  


While the dictionary defines them similarly, the virtual room full of well-being coaches had an hour long discussion about the similarities and differences between the two. (Sounds exciting, right?)

One point that everyone seemed to be in agreement about was that rituals involve more intention and mindfulness and often feel more sacred and enjoyable. Rituals are like a subcategory of routines. Routines, in general, feel more like something done on auto-pilot without giving much thought. They are not un-enjoyable, but at the same time, don’t really evoke much emotion or thrill.

 After listening to this discussion, my mind was spinning. There is something to this that I think can be helpful to my tribe of fit moms. If you’ve read anything I’ve posted or watched any of my videos, you know that the message I will take to my grave is that daily self-care is not a luxury, it is a necessity. If we want to be and feel our best and enjoy life to the fullest, we must take care of ourselves consistently. Self-care is a ritual in some cases and a routine in some cases. 

 One great example of this is walking the dog.

It may be a ritual for you to get up in the morning, to enjoy the process of talking to your dog in that excited dog owner voice about how it’s time to go out for a walk. Your pup’s ears perk up, and they jump up from their spot and head straight to the door. After mindfully getting dressed, putting your shoes on, petting your excited dog, and getting the leash, you head out the door into the open air. 

You probably have a route that is followed or a choice of routes. You feel and smell the crisp morning air, the birds chirping, and love seeing your dog so happy and eager to move and sniff everything they come across. You enjoy the ritual of getting some fresh air and exercise and feel good about being a pet owner who gives your pet what they need and love.

On the other hand, it might feel more like a routine for some people to walk their dog. After a long day at work, you get home and realize that your dog has been in the house all day and has a ton of energy that needs to get released. You have ten other things that you would rather do, but your dog will not behave very well if they don’t get their routine walk in. So you do a quick walk around the block with the dog while thinking about the ten other things you have to get to before it’s time for supper. 

Both of these scenarios have the same physical act which is to take the dog on a walk. However, one presents itself as intentional enjoyment that is beneficial in mind, body and spirit to both the person and the dog. The other presents itself as a routine item on the mental to-do list that just needs to get done. 


Think about just a few of the common components of your morning routine:

Making your bed
Getting a cup of coffee
Doing a morning workout
Taking a shower
Getting yourself ready
Getting your kids ready
Cleaning up around the house
Commuting to work/school 

How do you currently view each of the components of your morning? I would venture a guess that many of them feel like routines that you do on autopilot. Maybe one or two feel like rituals that do you with mindfulness and intention in order to enjoy the experience. 

 How do you currently view the components of your mid-day? Which feel like routine? Which feel like rituals? 

 How do you feel about the components of the end of your day? Which feel like routine? Which feel like rituals? 

 If you are someone who journals, let this be your journal prompt for today.  If you are not someone who journals, grab a pen and piece of paper, and let this be a journal prompt for today:)  

 After you take some time to consider what makes up your typical day’s schedule of routines and rituals, I encourage you to take some thoughtful time to consider where you might make a couple small changes in order to make something that feels like a routine become something that feels like a ritual.  

If you need help coming up with an idea, consider making your bed as a ritual.

This may be something that never gets done at your house, or perhaps it just feels like a routine you do on autopilot while half asleep. What if you turn it into a ritual by playing one of your favorite songs to get you pumped up for the day and do your best to make the bed look really tidy, fresh, and beautiful. Savor the feeling of starting your day with simple accomplishment knowing that it will feel so good to get into a nicely made bed later. 

Self-care can be something as simple as turning a routine into a ritual. 

 How cool is that? Take something that you know you already will be doing in a day and just make it more intentional, more enjoyable, and something that in some way, benefits your mind, body and spirit. 

 As long as you have your journal out here, the final thing I would like for you to write is one, two or three things that are currently part of your routine that you would like to commit to turning into a ritual. Do not click out of this page until you do this. You will be thanking me later if you can just take some time now to think about this and then do it!  You deserve it! Let’s go!

Can I share with you one of mine? I do this inconsistently at the moment, but would like to make it into an evening ritual. While hanging out with my family in the evening in the hour before we go to bed, I will take five to ten minutes to do my muscle relief exercises with either the massage gun, a tennis ball or foam roller. 

Join me in this week’s featured Fit Mom Moment where I demonstrate four of my favorite exercises for relieving muscles in the torso that get stiff from sitting at a desk and from breastfeeding/pumping. You can be assured that these will become a more consistent part of my nighttime ritual moving forward, and I encourage you to give them a try, and see how they make you feel. 

Fit Mom Connection Resources to Help Support Your Self-Care Practice:

Virtual Exercise Class Membership.   Hang out with me and other mothers live or onDemand  to benefit from some fun exercise routines that are functional for the body of mothers. The first month is free so really there is no reason not to do it. There is something in it for all abilities, ages, stages, and interests. 

30 Day Self-Care Challenge–  Want some support in making daily self-care a habit? This program will give you the daily motivation and tools to help you discover how life with self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity. 

Work with me 1:1– You are a beautiful, unique individual, and I would be honored to help you tap into your strengths so that you can use exercise as a vehicle, along with a S.M.A.R.T. plan for turning your intentions into actions with the results you want.