5 steps to introducing a self-care ritual shared by Teacher, Wellbeing Coach & MoreMind leader Liz Joy Oakley
London life is busy, I think we can all agree on that. Life in the city can sometimes feel like it’s a non-stop race with very little respite, it’s exciting & full of endless opportunity but sometimes it’s too much and cultivating calm in the capital can be challenging, to say the least! We’ve witnessed the wellbeing industry boom and this has gone hand in hand with technology taking on a much more centralised role in our lives. We’re more connected than ever before but more than ever the importance of creating more time to connect back to ourselves and what’s important to us, is becoming more vital.
As a Yoga & Meditation teacher specialising in Yoga for Anxiety, running our MoreMind campaign alongside Steph Minchin, the Yoga Psychologist & working as a Wellbeing Coach – I’ve seen the steep incline in people desperately needing to make more space for self-care first hand. The question I am being asked more and more by clients and students of all ages and walks of life is this; how can we carve out more time for self-care and essentially leading a happier, more fulfilling life, in a world that doesn’t switch off?
I recently came across a TedTalk by Tiu De Haan, a Ritual Designer and Creative Facilitator entitled ‘Why we still need ritual’, and even though it dates back to 2016 it struck me as being even more relevant today, as we far too swiftly approach 2020. Tui’s words resonated with me on a very deep level; I often consider how to make the everyday more meaningful, how to create a space where time is given more value and can help in achieving a life we don’t need to constantly take vacations from. Achieving a state of ‘bliss’ is often perceived as a finite state we are all striving for; ‘once I have that dream job I’ll be happy, ‘once I reach my goal weight I’ll be content’, ‘once I meet the love of my life I’ll live in a constant state of euphoria’…but these limiting beliefs can rob us of the opportunity we all have to celebrate our lives and live more meaningfully, day to day.
So how can we make each day more special and more blissful? How can we hit pause more regularly to help support our mental wellbeing and celebrate the precious time we have on this earth and how can the role of Ritual help with this?
“A ritual is a container around a moment. If you take a frame in an art gallery the frame tells you to give it your consideration and that the contents are art. The frame tells you that, now imagine that you are putting a frame around your imagination instead and you make it fit around a particular moment, a time or a place and then fill it with light, with sounds, with taste, with words, with thoughts, with intentions and close it. Give it a beginning and an end. You’ve created a ritual, you’ve made an artwork out of a moment.” Tiu De Haan.
Through introducing more Personal Rituals (and don’t panic they do not require an alter or any sacrifices!) we can begin to invite more bliss into the everyday moments by framing them to become more meaningful.
5 steps to introducing a Self-Care Ritual
- Find some time to sit quietly and write down as many words as you can that you associate with Bliss. What would you like to bring more of into your life? More Gratitude, more peace, more meditation…These ingredients are going to become the elements that we place inside the frames of our Rituals. The beautiful thing about creating a personal ritual is that it’s unique – let this time be whatever you need it to be, consider which elements would make you feel more blissful. Whether it is in the morning when you open your eyes, or before you go to sleep, decide how you can take back control of this small but sacred personal time and how you can frame it to be more meaningful.
- Start by carving 20 minutes of non-negotiable time out of your day, every morning or every evening, for self-care and to introduce your own Personal Ritual. If you need to set your alarm 20 minutes early then start to get yourself into that routine or if this is unrealistic make it a longer ritual you commit to every weekend but try to make it consistent, give this time the importance it deserves.
- Frame this sacred time by firstly, give it a beginning: I recently introduced a new Morning Self-care Ritual because I noticed that every morning the first thing I did was look at my phone and instead of starting my day in a positive, clear mindset, I was starting my day with a To Do list I wasn’t even in control of! Start with a new rule such as; I will invest in an alarm clock and leave my phone outside of the room or I will keep my phone on aeroplane mode until I have completed my morning ritual.
Your beginning could be to make a cup of herbal tea and to find a comfortable seat and take a few deep breaths. I like to begin by setting an Intention for the day ahead and then turning that intention into a Mantra to take with me into the day. ‘I will be Present’ or ‘I will be Strong’ – whatever resonates for you.
- Decide what you would like to honour within your self-care ritual. This is your time to nourish your soul in whatever way you need to. This may include meditating or following a guided meditation, practicing gratitude or doing a few yoga poses (childs pose, cat & cow, happy baby for example) still in the comfort of your bed. Perhaps you enjoy journaling and that could be part of your ritual. Mindfully drinking a cup of herbal tea or lemon water. Dancing with total freedom to your favourite song or simply enjoying some silence and listening internally for a few moments. Chanting, singing, moving, finding stillness, whatever you decide to fill your frame with, try to make it something that helps you to switch off from the noise of the world around you and lights you up.
- Close the frame of your ritual by giving it an end; I like to close my morning ritual by visualising my mantra for the day in my heartspace, repeating the words 3 times out loud and then taking 3 deep cleansing breaths.
As Tiu says so beautifully “Ritual is to the soul what food and water is to the body – it nourishes us deeply.”
You can listen to Tiu’s Tedtalk here
About Liz Joy Oakley
Liz Joy Oakley is Head of Vibes at MoreYoga and teaches Yoga & Meditation specializing in Yoga for Anxiety. Liz came to Yoga after being diagnosed with Malignant Hypertension and Generalized Anxiety and left the Fashion Industry to work in Wellness and help others to lead healthier lives holistically.
Liz is passionate about helping people achieve a healthier, happier lifestyle and aims to cultivate joy through her work. She now works in London facilitating workshops and events based around yoga, meditation, improving mental health, happiness, nutrition and wellbeing.