I always thought I was a weirdo for having such a strict morning ritual. Get up early, make myself coffee in my favorite mug, (white ceramic with a Starbucks’ logo that I’ve had for 25 years) and read two newspapers before my wife is awake. After that, I’m ready for anything! Been doing that for most of my adult life.
But recently I mentioned this to my yoga friend, Berkey resident Dr. Connie Smith, and found out she does the same thing. Turns out most of us do. A recent New York Times survey revealed that 74 percent of Americans have a favorite coffee mug. And, research says, most of them follow a morning ritual.
For Connie, this extends beyond the coffee and news. She also does a “high five” to convince herself that it’s going to be a great day, and then thinks of five things that she is grateful for.
Dr. Aimee Drescher, a clinical psychologist at Mercy Health-Sylvania Family Medicine, said that this kind of routine is a positive thing. “It gives structure to our day and helps us schedule our time, improve productivity, and be more efficient. It can also help to improve our mood,” she explained.
“Sometimes, even having coffee in a favorite cup can be good motivation. Does it have a funny saying on it? Was it a gift from a special person and provides joy when you think about them? Maybe it just fits into the cup holder when you drive to work,” she said.
Fire Chief Mike Ramm admits his wife calls him a creature of habit for the way he organizes his uniforms and other clothes before he goes to bed in order to have them ready in the morning. “I’ve always done my own laundry, and my practice is to line up the next day’s clothes in a certain way. I even put the badges on my uniform to make sure everything is good to go when I wake up.”
He actually has a job-related reason to help explain this. “If a call comes in overnight, I’m ready to roll; I won’t need time to pull it all together before getting out the door. Also, if we catch a fire during the day and I get dirty, I always have another uniform ready if I need it.”
Newly-elected member of city council, Marcus Hansen, claims a ritual that he said, “May not appeal to many people.” He has a full weight room in his basement and does a morning workout … even keeping a log of his daily performance to try and improve on his reps or weight each day. Then he drinks a protein shake and gets ready for work. “This gives me a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “But more importantly, it allows me time to collect my thoughts and ensure I’m focused and energized for the day ahead.”
Rituals can also be a spark at times other than the start of the day. A number of Lincoln Woods residents use the later parts of each day for a walk—many taking advantage of nearby Olander Park. Elyce Ervin spends about an hour taking the same route daily from her condo on Shenandoah Circle to Country Walk and back.
The University of Toledo professor said she specifically looked for a neighborhood that was convenient for walking when she moved to Sylvania. “I have a very high comfort level walking here,” she said. “I feel safe.” Ervin leaves her smartphone and earbuds at home. “More than the physical part of it, I walk for the mental break. It’s a little piece of every day that I have to myself.”
However, Dr. Drescher, the Mercy psychologist, pointed out that some rituals may not always be totally healthy. “If you can’t leave the house without completing a routine, it may be a problem—like when it makes you late for work or school,” she said. “Some behaviors such as cocktails every night or scrolling on your phone before bed can also become negative.”
She noted that every person has different habits, and the same rituals may not work for everyone. “Some people may be really productive at night, so rituals around how you wake up and start the day may not apply. Habits are really about the individual person. There needs to be some flexibility in every routine.”
That’s why Dr. Connie may be on the right track. “My favorite ritual is one that my husband, son and I do at dinner. We always say a “talking prayer”—not a recited one. We pray for anyone in need and thank God for the positive things that happened that day. The best part is that we clap at the end. It may sound kind of weird, but my son started this when he was two and he’s almost 22 now. We’ve made it a routine over all those years.”