- Routines and rituals can have positive impacts in your life
- These could be small habits, like waking up at the same time each day, or taking your medication at breakfast time
- Setting up a routine is different to having rituals because a routine is something you have to do, whereas a ritual is more meaningful
It is easy to lose structure in your daily life after retirement as there is not the same responsibility to complete certain tasks at certain times, in the way that you would need to while working.
But keeping your routines in place can have a powerful effect on your health, wellbeing and independence. Add to that some well-thought-out rituals – which are similar to routines but have more meaning and purpose – and you have a recipe for a better lifestyle.
Routines versus rituals
Although routines and rituals are similar, and some people may use the terms interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two.
A routine is a task, or set of tasks, that you do regularly because you need to do it. For example, brushing your teeth, washing the dishes or taking your medication.
A ritual is also done regularly, but it has more meaning and purpose behind it, or it may bring you enjoyment rather than being a chore. For example, doing the puzzles in the daily newspaper may be your way of exercising your brain, or you may go and sit by the beach each day for half an hour to soak up some sunshine and fresh air.
Having a blend of routines and rituals in your daily life, has benefits for your life in retirement and will help you throughout later life stages.
The benefits of routines and rituals can include:
- Order and predictability
- Feeling in control of your life
- Sense of accomplishment when completing tasks
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Maintaining function and independence
- Improved sleep quality
- Supports people with cognitive decline to feel safe
Routines can still allow for learning or exploring new things or experiences out of your comfort zone, but this will be in a controlled manner, which is said to increase a person’s enjoyment because of the reduced stress.
What to include in your routine
Any daily activities can be included in your daily routine, the important factor is that you do them in a similar order and/or at the same time.
Your daily routine could include when you will:
- Get out of bed
- Do personal hygiene tasks such as showering and brushing your teeth
- Take medication
- Do household tasks like cleaning and laundry
- Have health appointments
- Run errands or do grocery shopping
- Do any other activities to keep your brain healthy, such as a crossword
- Go to sleep
You don’t have to be regimented in exactly what you are doing and when, but having habits that feel natural each day is the key to a good routine.
Make sure you have a plan for when you will fit in social interaction, as this is a major factor in wellbeing.
If you are an introverted person you may not need interaction daily, but perhaps what works for you is going to visit a specific friend for a cuppa at their house once a week.
If you are an extroverted person and enjoy the company of others you could join or form a group that has a social outing anywhere from once a month to daily – or you could join multiple groups.
A whole range of different tasks and activities can become important rituals in your life.
Some rituals you might have to add into your routine to achieve the purpose behind the task. For example, you might include fifteen minutes of yoga or stretching as one of your daily rituals, always watching the sun come up, or eat dinner at the kitchen table each night so that you and your spouse have quality time together to talk over the meal.
But you might also have daily rituals that you did not realise you keep up. You might already make a cup of tea each morning in your favourite mug, for example, which may seem like just a habit, but the fact that it is your favourite mug adds enough meaning for this to be a ritual.
To discover the rituals you already have, think about the things you do each day that bring you enjoyment or have a deeper meaning. Once you know what these are you can think about gaps in your lifestyle where you might like to add a ritual to achieve a different purpose.
Do you want to spend an hour each week on a Thursday weeding your garden – not just because this task has to be done, but because your neighbour weeds the garden at that time and you enjoy a chat over the fence while you work?
Or would you like to read a book for 30 minutes before bed each night to help you sleep?
Factoring rituals such as these into your routine will make sure you put the time and effort into having more meaning and purpose in your regular activities.
There is no right or wrong way to set up your routines and rituals, so find out what works for you and gives you the most benefits.
What routines do you do daily or weekly? Tell us in the comments below.