About the Author: Kate Olson, CPC, CHt, is a Life Coach, Master Hypnotherapist, EFT & NLP Master Practitioner & Trainer and Reiki Master located in Seattle, at Soul Fire Wisdom Life Coaching & Embrace Change Hypnosis & NLP . Kate offers workshops & classes, as well as, individual and group coaching. Her emphasis is on assisting clients in finding Path, Purpose and Peace. Kate focuses on integration of mind, body, spirit wellness. It is her mission to help clients find joy through connection, creative expression and embracing change. She is passionate about creativity, travel, personal growth and enjoying life. She has two other wellness-related businesses, Total Wellness Products, offering healing resources and products and Circle of Love Retreats. All four businesses operate as Dba's under Total Well Resources, LLC. Kate is a speaker, author and radio host. Her new radio show/ podcast starting in Septmber is "Soul Fire Wisdom". Formerly she hosted "Embrace Change with Kate".
It might seem strange for someone who encourages you to “Embrace Change” to be talking about the power and importance of rituals, but there is a place for ritual in our lives and a balance or synergy between ritual and change is actually what is needed!
What is ritual? If you look in the dictionary you will see references to religious ceremony or a prescribed and ceremonious order, that is not what I am talking about. If you look further you will see that ritual can be:
This defines the type of ritual that I am going to talk about. I have a morning ritual that I start my day with and since I have been practicing this “ritual”, I have realized how powerful it is and wondered why this is so. I did some research I’d like to share with you. I think you might want to develop your own rituals after you hear how powerful and important, they can be.
First let me tell you about my morning ritual. Every morning without exception, when I wake up, I do what almost everyone else does and go to the bathroom and then I drink a large glass of water and run a warm washcloth over my face. I then go back to bed for a 10 to 20 minutes and do something similar to mediation that involves intentional positive thought focused on the moment and this day. I note what I am thankful for today, do some deep intentional breathing and I make it a point to smile. I think smiling is really important! During this time, I can feel the aches and pains lightening and leaving my body and then when I get up, I stretch out my muscles and notice how my body is feeling. I make my bed, (that really does make me feel both more organized and more motivated) and I open up the curtains and blinds in my room. My room gets a lot of light and I love looking out at the trees and greenery. I then brush my teeth and go down stairs. I open the blinds downstairs and turn on my music (always). I have to have my morning music. It is an important part of setting my mood. Sometimes, I then go back upstairs and get ready, if I have an appointment. If I don’t have appointments, I’ll make some coffee or tea and relax while I look over my schedule and check my social media and email. This is not complicated or out of the ordinary in any way, but having this simple and positive structure to start my day does some important things that help the rest of day go well. I was happy to find that there are some science-backed reasons why following this morning ritual makes everything go better.
What does this ritual do for me? To start with it gets me moving in a kind, gentle and positive way. Shouldn’t we be treating ourselves with as much kindness as possible? I remember when I use to set the alarm for the last minute possible with a couple of snooze alarms and then push myself to get up with no time to orient or think, and get ready. I was usually running a little late and stressed, rushed out the door wishing I were still in bed asleep and tried to force my day into a positive direction. That never seemed to feel right and the feeling I was starting my day with was generally not positive. Can you guess how my days often went? Second, this intentional order helps me to focus, concentrate and direct my attention.
How do these seemingly simple and meaningless actions I have chosen to take do so much? There is mounting research and evidence that these rituals, though they may seem irrational and arbitrary on the surface, have a strong impact on regulating our behaviors and level of performance, as well as, setting the tone and direction of our mood and mind flow or the sequence of our thoughts. Studies in the sports field have found that simple, seemly meaningless rituals can, in fact, help us to run faster, jump higher or solve problems more quickly. So, let’s say you are a tennis player and you have a ritual that you do before every match. Which many famous tennis stars do! Let’s say, you always drink a sport drink, practice your backhand and recite a certain mantra. The act of performing this ritual in your chosen order will reduce performance anxiety, set your mind flow in a positive direction and create a success mindset, as well as, diminish doubts or thoughts around failure. We know this because there have been studies in neuroscience where control groups practiced rituals and other groups did not practice rituals and were scientifically tested measuring brain activity. They were measured for performance anxiety using brain wave neural signaling. Goal achievement and performance level were also tracked and the groups who practiced rituals performed significantly better in all cases.
Personally, I think that the quality and intention of the ritual would probably have the effect of even greater performance improvement, but so far, the research shows that almost any ritual practiced routinely has the effect of lessening performance anxiety and worry and therefore, improves performance. This is great news, because it means that we can all improve performance in any area of our lives, while reducing stress and its negative health consequences by practicing simple rituals.
Creating rituals is easy and we all probably already have some that we don’t even think about or realize we are doing. Getting enough sleep is one problem area for me. I am going to start there. I plan on creating a bedtime ritual that I am hoping will help me get more and better sleep. It looks like they have already proven this to be true, so I am looking forward to getting better zzzz’s already! Is there an area where a ritual might help you perform better and be more successful?
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