What is it about ritual that we need so desperately? And I’m not talking about the kind of ritual that you might be thinking: all costumes and secrecy and dancing around fires and whatnot, although they can be fun too.
What I’m talking about is the little seemingly meaningless things we do every day that help us get by.
For example: when we wake up every morning, we each have our own ritual to get started with the day. For some people it’s as simple as rolling out of bed and brushing their teeth.
Other people have all their clothes planned out the night before so all they have to do in the morning is put them on (I wish I was this organised).
Lots of people eat the same thing for breakfast every day (COFFEE), and some people don’t make time to eat anything at all.
All this can greatly affect your mood and productivity.
Like the guy who doesn’t eat breakfast, he’ll probably either go hungry and grumpy or gorge later on at the office then feel bad. BUT the girl who lays out all her clothes the night before might freak out at last minute changes and unforeseen setbacks like a stain or a rip.
I have a Virgo Sun and Mars, so rituals to me are second nature, but sometimes they can veer over the edge into OCD tendencies.
I have to be careful not to assume the world will end when I don’t carry out my usual routine, and I’ve learnt to say ‘fuck it’ if I think the front door’s unlocked (it has been on like two occasions, neither of these occasions were we robbed or murdered).
While I need rituals to get stuff done, I also have to hold back on the unhelpful ones. As with everything, a balance is needed.
So how can we implement this ritualistic balance in our own lives?
Your Virgo pal is here to help you shape your life exactly the way you want it:
1. Start small
Trying to completely redesign the way you do life is going to overwhelm you. So, if you’re the kinda gal who rolls out of bed and throws something on, trying to be the gal who meditates, yogas, eats a healthy balanced breakfast and has checked all her emails before 7am overnight is just going to stress you out and take you back to square one.
Instead, try adding one small thing to your daily schedule that makes you feel good. Then once you’ve nailed that and made it a habit, move onto another thing.
I talk about this in my free course on procrastination – always focus on one thing at a time for results that actually last (you can get the course by signing up below!).
2. Think positive
A ritual should be something that enhances your life, so if you find yourself dreading doing something or doing it makes you tired, unproductive or stressed afterwards, then it’s probably not a good ritual! Not everyone will want to get out of bed earlier and go running. Some people are evening exercisers.
One of my favourite rituals was when I used to work in a corporate office, every lunch time I would go to the local park to have my lunch outside and feed the birds and squirrels. It never failed to make me feel good and I always went back into work feeling refreshed and ready for the afternoon’s schedule.
If your ritual makes you happy, you’ll find it so much easier to implement into a regular thing.
3. Notice what rituals you already have in place
The reason rituals make us feel good is that they connect us to the world around us, helping us to get out of our heads and into the game for a while. They give us structure to what would otherwise be an unstructured existence.
People do this stuff so often that they don’t even realise it is technically a ritual.
If you always drink coffee in the morning then tea in the afternoon, say grace before a meal, listen to a certain song before going out, shower before bed, nod to solo magpies or wear lucky pants – these are all examples of rituals that we do without really noticing what they are.
And as soon as we start to notice them we can create new ones to add some fun to the mix.
4. Get creative
Hemingway used to write standing up, Stravinsky apparently composed music best while standing on his head and Benjamin Franklin liked to spend his mornings naked.
Just because they’re regular doesn’t mean your rituals have to be boring.
If you want to implement a five-minute dance party whenever you get tired or glum (this genuinely works), go for it. Want to cut down on Facebook time? Only scroll when you’re on the loo. Can’t switch on in the morning? Eat an apple when you start.
Just like Pavlov’s Bell, when we add constants to an activity, we condition ourselves to get it done or to only do it in the time we set. We’re basically signaling to our brains that it’s time to behave a certain way. Now, who said creatives aren’t disciplined?
5. Imagine your best you
Think about what kind of person you want to be, then create rituals that fit with that image.
Do you want to be more organised? Then getting up at exactly the same time every day, having a designated time for checking emails and using a timer to structure your workday would be helpful rituals for being that super organised person you dream of being.
Or if you want to be more spiritually minded, meditating for 20 minutes every day, pulling a tarot card in the morning and writing down intentions every New Moon would get you feeling in synch with the powers that be real quick.
Again, don’t try to completely reimagine yourself, you’re lovely as you are, but adding relevant rituals here and there can help you to fake it till you make it into being your “best you”.
6. Think about your needs
What needs are currently being neglected? Enough sleep? Healthy food? Time with family?
Would going to bed an hour earlier, at the same time every night help you feel more refreshed in the mornings? Could you pack a healthy lunch for the next day while you make dinner? Or do you need to implement a set time that you leave the office by and make sure you stick to it every day, so you can get back and spend time with the kids?
Whatever your needs are, a daily ritual could help you to meet them. You’ll be surprised how much these small adjustments can improve your life!
7. Be gentle but persistent
Of course, sticking to your ritual is what makes it a ritual rather than a random thing you did that one time, but, if you encounter a setback or simply forget one day, don’t beat yourself up, just start again the following day.
A lot of the time when people are trying to implement new habits, like a diet, for example, they have an all or nothing mentality.
So, when they mess up and break the habit (perhaps some irresistible cookies were passed around at the office and you couldn’t say no) they assume that the whole endeavor is lost and throw in the towel (meaning they eat one cookie, think “oh fuck it” then eat ten more).
Realise that you’re not perfect, you never will be – and that’s coming from a Virgo. If I can get over my perfectionism. So, can you.
You will have slip-ups. You will make mistakes, forget things and feel like a fraud. BUT the secret of lasting success is to keep going. Even if you did eat 11 triple chocolate chip cookies yesterday. Just try not to do it again today.
So, there we have it my fellow habit-builders. A Virgo’s Guide to Everyday Rituals.
They can help us or hinder us, and once we get them drilled in, they’re hard to break.
I’d love to hear about your own personal rituals – what do your daily habits look like?
Let me know in the comments!
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