You have probably heard how important it is to have a morning ritual or an evening routine. De-stressing at the start and end of your day can have multiple benefits. It improves your focus and makes your day run more smoothly. It can also give you the tools to handle stressors as they come along so that they don't have as big an impact on you.
To make this work, though, you need to create a personal stress-relief ritual that you enjoy and thus look forward to doing every day. Here are a few tips on how to customize your routines.
Tap Into Your Senses
The best way to help your body wake up or wind down is to use sensory data as clues. Your morning routine should help make your body more alert, while the night-time ritual prepares it for sleep. As you plan, think of your five senses:
- Sight - Pick a spot for your ritual that is visually pleasing. Try to avoid sudden changes in light that may be more jarring than calming.
- Sound - Many people enjoy music as part of their routines, but if your home is typically noisy, silence may be a better signal for your body to relax.
- Smell - Choose a scented candle, body wash, bath bomb or essential oil blend you love to get the benefits of aromatherapy.
- Taste - Your favorite beverage, whether it's coffee or tea in the morning or herbal tea or wine at night, can be an integral part of your relaxation ritual.
- Touch - Temperature plays an important role in signaling your body for its next activity. Use a cool blast in the shower to energize you or a warm bath followed by donning soft, comfortable clothes at night to slow you down.
Customize Your Plan
Many people start morning or evening routines, especially around the first of the year after they've resolved to do so, and they stick to them for a few weeks or maybe even a month or two. Then the new habits fall by the wayside. If this has ever happened to you, it's likely that the reason is simply that it wasn't a plan that fit your needs or personality.
This is not the time to try to force yourself to do things you think should relax you but rather to enjoy what actually does. If you are not used to taking time for yourself or if all your go-to relaxation activities involve doing something your partner or family enjoys, it may take a little time to figure out what really works for you. That's OK. Be patient and gentle with yourself during this discovery.
Keep It Short and Simple
Another reason people run out of steam when it comes to making morning and evening stress relief a habit is that their plans take too much time. Instead of choosing one or two activities for each time of day, they assume that more relaxation is better. All that does is give them another to-do list, though, which can have the opposite of its intended effect.
Your stress-relief routine doesn't need to last a long time to be effective. Drink your coffee while watching a few minutes of the sunrise. Light a candle while you jot down three things you are grateful for in your journal. Make your rituals something you actually look forward to, and you'll be more likely to stick with them.
If you have trouble getting started or winding down, try incorporating relaxing rituals into your routine. Habits that help you start your mornings and end your evenings with ease can lead to pleasant days and peaceful nights.