We all have daily rituals that influence our mood, our mind, and our productivity. Rituals are a part of being human and found across all cultures and documented throughout time. They celebrate achievements, alleviate our grief, mark transitions, break old habits, and build new relationships. Rituals are vehicles that allow us to process our emotions, move through what cannot be expressed with words, spark change and growth, and improve our confidence.
We know many of the big rituals in society: weddings, funerals, graduations, twelve-step programs, and earning our driver’s license.
But what about the rituals we implement each day? What do you do first thing in the morning to set yourself up for a successful day? What about to destress? Or to prepare for sleep?
Rituals are designed to shift our mind, mood, and body to a place of preparedness for what comes next. Whether it’s in the morning to take on the day with energy and inspiration or to unwind at the end of the day and let go of stress and prepare for sleep.
The amazing thing is our neurochemistry supports these goals, and we can harness our natural states with our rituals.
For example, each morning we have a rush of epinephrine, or adrenaline in our brains. This is what wakes us up and gets us out of bed! We naturally wake up motivated to move, and you can use this to your advantage by purposefully directing your energy. Our morning brain also receives a rush of dopamine, one of our “happy” chemicals that produces excitement. Coupled together, we are naturally inspired to go accomplish something. So, the question is: What do you do with your morning dose of motivation?
Most of us get our dopamine hit by reflexively reaching for our phones to check our notifications, social media, and email. Whether we realize it our not, our brain is looking for a way to use its epinephrine and dopamine, and our phones are the easiest way. But now that you know what your brain is doing, you are in the driver’s seat! Choose what you want to accomplish to get your morning dose of happy.
Creating a purposeful morning ritual - and accomplishing it - primes our dopamine system. Accomplishing your goal releases more dopamine, creating momentum to continue focusing on targeted goals. Let’s say your morning ritual is to make coffee, water the plants, and take your vitamins. When you do this, celebrate your win! Your brain gets to do another happy dance that you did what you set out to do, regardless of how small or easy. Before you know it, you’ll wake up wanting to complete your morning ritual even more than the day before. This is much better than spending your morning flipping between responding to email, checking Facebook, and answering your phone, leaving you feeling overworked without having accomplished much by 11 am.
Tiffany, a passionate mama and military spouse from the AMMA team starts her morning by stretching and meditating in the sun. She’s noticed since implementing her morning practice that she sticks to her goals and finds more clarity and focus throughout her day.
Our neurochemistry aids our evening wind-down too. Into the late afternoon and evening, our brains produce more of a different happy chemical called serotonin. This neurochemical allows us to feel good, calm, and at peace with ourselves. Whereas dopamine inspires us to do, serotonin inspires us to be. When you get a massage or finish a good meal and you just feel lovely — that’s serotonin! It’s perfect at night when our bodies are winding down and preparing for sleep.
Creating an end of day ritual that supports your higher serotonin level is a perfect way to honor your mind and body and prepare for rest. Making some tea and reading a book before bed is a great way to give ourselves a boost of serotonin. Another great end of day ritual is planning for the next day. Get the list of “to-dos” rattling around in your head down on paper for tomorrow. With your evening serotonin production, you aren’t going to do anything else today, so don’t fight your serotonin production with a “to-do” list swimming around in your head. Instead, prepare for your morning dose of dopamine with an already prepared list of things you can accomplish.
Ted, AMMA’s fearless co-founder and hustler in chief, takes advantage of a midday workout to boost his dopamine production and his motivation to accomplish a few more things before the day is done. As the evening rolls in, he cues his body that it’s time to wind down by taking an epsom salt bath to relax his exercised muscles and turning a red-light filter on all his screens/devices to eliminate the blue lights that cue the brain to wake up.
AMMA’s co-founder Matt relies on his yoga nidra practice to mark the transition from day to night. As an outgoing nightowl, this meditative practice supports Matt’s goal to get to sleep earlier and wake up rested in the morning.
Now that you know your neurochemistry is primed to support your daily rituals, it’s your job to implement rituals that work for you. Now is the perfect time to ask yourself what parts of your day and night could be enhanced with purposeful rituals that support your natural states.
Part of our mission at AMMA is to provide education about the latest scientific research and discoveries in health and wellness. The content provided is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. You should consult with your healthcare provider before taking our products, especially if you take other medications, have certain medical conditions, or are pregnant or nursing.