How To Turn Routines into Rituals

At the beginning of each year, after the ball drops, we receive a lot of the “New Year, New You” messaging, encouraging us to wipe our slates clean. But, when we look at creating real healthy habits, it’s necessary to embrace the “past you” and what you’re all about in order to create new baby steps for change. As humans, we love to create micro-habits that help us grow our emotional selves — whether it’s making more time for self-reflection, or exercising self-awareness in action.
Those micro-habits — done in repetition — make up our daily routines. They ground us in our days and give us structure and comfort in the face of uncertainty. They gives us agency, and the ability to step into control, no matter how small that step may be. Going even deeper, in order to be emotionally available to ourselves in these moments, well, that requires two things: intention and resilience. And that my friends, will help you create your most cherished rituals that celebrate you.
Okay maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Why do we even care about rituals as an extension of routines? Well we can’t fully take care of ourselves unless we recognize the intersection of physical, mental, and emotional health elements that makes us 100% human being. And in these micro-moments when we are meeting our own needs, we are empowered. So what happens when we want to turn a routine into a ritual?
First, let’s look at the Habit Loop
This powerful loop-de-loop is where our physical sensations, thought patterns, and overall understanding of what our feelings mean intersect. These habits, aka repeated actions, can become second nature in our daily lives. Whether we like it or not, habits can quickly become thoughtless and hard to change based on muscle memory. But fear not! There are ways to re-vamp habitual actions — even the ones that are deeply ingrained from years of conditioning. Education, thoughtful reflection, radical honesty, and community care are pillars of support to rely on when aiming to break the habit loop.
Let's explore the four parts of the habit loop rollercoaster:
Triggers your brain to initiate behavior and is a little bit of information that helps anticipate rewards.
Example: You feel lonely or bored
You don’t crave the habit itself but you do crave the change in state it produces. Cravings are linked to the desire to change your internal state
Example: You crave connection or at least engagement
It is the actual habit you perform in the form of thoughts or actions. This step mainly depends on your capability of performing it
Example: Scenario 1 - You get on a dating app and swipe
Example: Scenario 2 - You call your friend you haven’t spoken to in two weeks and say you’re feeling lonely
End goal of every habit. We want these rewards because they satisfy us.
Example: Scenario 1 - You get a match! Ding, ding, ding! And feel momentarily happy!
Example: Scenario 2 - They respond with empathy and ask you questions about how they can help. You feel seen.
Next up: Habit Stacking
The easiest way to introduce a new habit is to “stack it” on top of habits that already exist. The key to successful habit stacking has more to do with taking action and less to do with time and place. A favorite example? Imagine your doctor prescribes medicine and instructs you to take it at the same time each day. They say, “don’t forget or something will happen!” So what do you do, you smarty pants? You take the pill each day after you brush your teeth (current habit #1) and before you get into bed (current habit #2). Voila!
Small behavioral modifications can illicit big changes. For example, if you have a goal to exercise more frequently, you might choose to commit to putting on work out clothes as soon as you get home from school. The habit you are building isn’t actually going to the gym or related to working out in general — the habit is putting on your running shoes. Bite size changes in your actions and stacking new habits with the old make it much more likely to avoid feeling overwhelmed by tons of change.
Routines into Rituals
While all habits can be tough to change, habitualized emotional patterns and reactions are some of the toughest to break. Let’s re-intro our friends, resilience and intention, into the picture. Now, not only are you intentionally prepping yourself for a string of actions, but you’re also considering how you want to feel and care for yourself in that moment. And the ritual part is when you explore your relationship to each action, and then each action’s relationship to each other.  At selfmade, our products are built to seamlessly habit stack your emotional wellbeing and moments of awareness into your current routines to create a brand new kind of ritual.
So as you’re picking up your usual Secure Attachment Comfort Serum+, you are stacking on the new habit of asking yourself the question on the bottle, “what does loving myself look like in action?” And right there at your vanity, you’re showing up for yourself morning in and out with self touch and self reflection. Or when you’re in the shower (maybe a less regular habit during the pandemic) with True Grit Resilience Scrub, you’re scrubbing the day off and wondering what you would do if you knew you couldn’t fail. When you step out of your steamy self session you’re rewarded with a renewed sense of confidence. That’s pretty cool.
Lastly, with Self Disclosure Intimacy Serum on your nightstand, you’re sitting in what it feels like when you touch yourself. And some days all of that can feel awesome and fill you up, and other days it can feel challenging when you meet your most honest, tender self.
And that’s okay. It requires resilience and intention to push past the moments of discomfort and vulnerability when you do a ritual for you, and only you.