It's really easy to get stuck in the same patterns and habits without truly recognizing how we got there. What starts to happen when we repeat these actions is that we develop a series of habits that we understand as routine. How we get ourselves to work every day or reaching for that piece of chocolate after our meal even though we feel satisfied—these are routines—unconscious actions that can ultimately leave us stuck in our ways.
This mindlessness can even cause us to feel stuck in things that are good for us, like working out. We begin to view our fitness routine as just that: a routine. Really, we should be approaching our workouts with far more mindfulness—almost like a ritual. When a routine becomes a ritual, magic happens. The "I have to do this" feeling is gone. Instead, we have a desire and respect to keep showing up.
So if you feel like you've fallen into a workout routine full of mindless action (or want to cultivate a healthier approach to your workout), here's how to shift your perspective and transform your workout routine into a ritual.
1. Find out what you truly enjoy.
First, find out what activity you love doing the most—maybe that’s yoga, running, hiking, kickboxing, or a combination of different things. It doesn't matter what the physical activity is. What matters is that you get a lot of pleasure from doing it because part of the ritual is the workout itself.
If you don't like the activity you're currently doing, that means there's room for adjustment. Try a lot of different things—Pilates, walking, dancing—whatever gets you moving. When you discover the workouts you really love doing, you'll naturally find yourself showing up for them over and over again.
2. Write down your intention and organize the details.
Part of cultivating a workout ritual is approaching it with an intention. Ask yourself why you want to show up for your workout and what you want to achieve. Having this bigger picture in sight helps organize the smaller day-to-day rituals.
If you begin each week with a specific plan of when and where you're going to work out, then the bigger picture is a lot easier to achieve. Writing it down on a calendar or in a notebook holds you more accountable. See where you want to go and map out how you're getting there each week.
3. Pause to reflect.
The way a ritual comes to a close is just as important as how it starts. After your workout, thank yourself for showing up and examine how you feel. Maybe you notice more mental clarity or heightened energy. Maybe you just feel really, really good. Try to pause and notice all of the positive feelings that come right after your workout. Connecting to these feelings will serve as a reminder and help you show up for yourself and your workout over and over again.
It takes time to refine your ritual and discover what works for you—and that's OK. Let it take time. The most important aspect of getting unstuck and out of your own mindless habits is through cultivating self-awareness, acknowledging how you feel, and remembering the sensations. Once all of that starts to happen, you'll begin to notice that you're showing up again and again and again. Then, in that moment, you'll recognize that the ritual's true magic lies within you.