Written by Dr Neil Drew, 13th May 2022.
Bio: Neil is a Clinical Psychologist that specialises in psychological therapies and assessment. He has a passion for going running, usually fueled by coffee. His love for running has helped him become an Asics Frontrunner in 2022, and driven him to start his own running business, Flying Gazelle Running. Check them out over @flyinggazellerunning or via flyinggazellerunning.co.uk.
What is that? Oh, of course… it’s you again. I heard you yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. Pretty sure you’ll pipe up again tomorrow too. Yet your sound still grinds me down (coffee pun intended). My morning alarm that wakes me up never gets old, well in fact it is really old yet it still bothers me. I used to hit snooze every day about three times. Wake, sleep, wake, sleep. This happened repeatedly until I literally had to get out of bed to avoid being late. Nowadays however, I rarely hit snooze. The reason? That morning coffee. Every single day of my life over the last few years has started with coffee, and that’s now Exhale coffee. Something we all need to remember to do more, exhale.
But why don’t I just hit snooze and have a coffee whenever I manage to get up? Because that coffee will likely be interrupted or consumed in a rush whilst sorting out the child, dog, food, and trying not to trip over myself getting changed for work. I get up early so I can enjoy the coffee and have it as a personal ritual. First thing in the morning is great because everyone else is asleep and the world feels quiet. It gives you that time to acclimatise to the day. Starting it on your terms at your pace.
The phrase, ‘I got up on the wrong side of the bed’ doesn’t make sense logically, yet it’s a thing somehow. We can just wake up with our levels off. We may feel irritable, anxious, flat, or depressed. There may be no obvious trigger, but it just is. Yes there was likely something at some point that has been bubbling away under the surface that finally lead to you waking up in this state, but this isn’t time for a psychological formulation… This is the time to have a preventative measure in place for those wrong side of the bed days… that being your ritual.
In modern times the word ‘ritual’ has got a bad name for itself. Something assigned to a behaviour that a person cannot shift. A behaviour that they’re a slave to. Not all rituals are like this, far from it. In a world that can at times feel ever-changing, chaotic, and damn right relentless, having a ritual in your day can help you gain a sense of control. Rituals have been found to reduce stress and fatigue, improve sleep, and generally alleviate the symptoms of many mental health conditions. You don’t just have to have one either, you can have as many as you like. Some might be daily, others weekly, and some even yearly. What matters is that you value what you do in the ritual and that it elevates you. You do not stress about the ritual. It should be something you look forward to and long for not to end. But it’s ok when it does end, as by its nature it will come again.
What’s your ritual? If caffeine isn’t your thing, you can make your ritual a decaf coffee. Mornings not your thing? You can have a night time decaf ritual too. Coffee not your thing?? (surprised you read this blog until the end)… but you can have a ritual with any drink or anything really. Do something for you and watch your wellbeing and sense of calm increase.
Right, time for a coffee and a run.