Earlier this year we were visiting our daughter and her family in North Carolina. As often happens, I didn’t sleep well the first night.  I found myself wide awake at 4 AM.
Lying in bed awake is not something I’m willing to do for more than a few minutes. That amount of time passed and I was still awake, so I decided to get up.

 

Fortunately, there was a nice place for me to sit right outside our bedroom, and I knew I would not disturb anyone if I turned on a light. So, I settled down on the couch with my slippered feet on the coffee table.

When I travel, even for just one or two nights, I usually have with me a bag of “support materials.” Usually those include at least the following:

  • a couple of books I’m reading (almost always nonfiction, often coaching related)
  • a journal or notebook
  • pens and pencils
  • materials related to any program or course I am currently taking
  • something I find inspirational

I don’t remember what I started working with that morning, but I do know that I read some of at least one book, made an entry in my gratitude list, spent some time in thought, completed some questionnaires for a course I was taking, and thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful time alone.

When others began waking up, some of them joined me on the couch for a few moments of quiet connection at the start of the day.As I went through that day, I had occasion to reflect on how that day felt compared to other days. I noticed a sense of calm and centeredness that I enjoyed. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I decided to set my alarm for 4 AM the following day. Again I found that quiet time a very helpful way to start my day, so I decided to make it a regular practice.

So, for the past three months, with only three or four exceptions, I have begun each day at 4 AM to give myself two hours of quiet with no demands other than to engage in practices that get my days off to a more centered start. Many of those practices are similar to the ones I engaged in on that first 4 AM morning, including:

  • reading something uplifting
  • making an entry in my gratitude journal
  • sitting quietly and connecting with my body and the present moment
  • planning my day’s activities and seeing how they align with my values and higher purpose.
One thing I have added that was not a part of that first morning in Raleigh is a cup of Earl Grey tea! I also have had to get to bed earlier to be sure I get enough sleep, since that’s also important to health and good functioning.Does 4 AM seem exceptionally early? It does to me – or at least it used to. Now, I hear my alarm and wake up eager to keep that appointment with myself. It’s like starting each day with a little party, and it’s just for me!

Why am I sharing all this? Because creating rituals that uplift and support us helps give structure and focus to our lives. Your rituals will be unique to you, and it may take some experimenting to find what fits best into your life. The main goal is to find at least one ritual that provides a reliable center around which your day revolves.

Your ritual doesn’t have to be getting up at 4 AM! It doesn’t have to last two hours! It doesn’t have to contain any elements I presently have in my morning ritual! Your ritual may be in the evening and include a conscious wrapping up of your day and preparing for a good night of sleep. It might take place at the start of a meal. It can be any time your schedule regularly permits.

If you are thinking, “My schedule is so crazy, I can’t possibly do that!” you might want to think again. The very act of creating a daily ritual can be the first step in taming your crazy schedule.

Those of us with ADHD (and probably many others as well) need structure but have trouble finding it. Establishing one daily ritual can create a reliable anchor around which you begin to build a structure that allows you to function at your best.

What will your daily ritual look like, or do you already have one?

 

If you don’t have a daily ritual, what small step can you take to carve out a few minutes each day to be more conscious about your intentions for your day, to notice the good things in your life, and to take care of yourself?
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