The seasons are changing and it’s time for creating a morning routine for your seasonal life! Let’s take time to explore what makes a good morning routine and how the practice cans shape the entire day.
There’s a Spring Goal and Habit Tracker to keep you motivated for the next 12 weeks! You can download it for FREE at this link. Use it and enjoy your new-found productivity!
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Creating a morning routine. What is it exactly?
A morning routine is an intensely personal collection of habits that occur upon waking.
The routine can be conscious or unconscious. Science and perennial wisdom suggest that the more conscious and well-crafted the morning routine, the more likely we are to experience a sense of wellness and accomplishment throughout the day.
As with all things, the pattern we set at the beginning tends to carry through to the end of the event. This is true, in my experience whether it be a day, a project, a vacation, and even chapters of one’s life.
I love my morning routine and intend to inspire the same affection for mornings in you!
What is seasonal living?
Seasonal living is an approach to life that claims seasonal time as it’s framework. This means immersing yourself in the flavors, textures, and rhythms of the moment. Embracing the seasonal life begins in the garden, extends to the kitchen, and is grounded in radical self-care.
This lifestyle turns away from the dominant consumer culture toward an experience of time and place that is soulful. It is an awareness practice that is sensual, experiencing the moment as it ignites each of the senses.
Finally, seasonal living is a lifestyle infused with love. It is both an expression and cultivation of love for nature, people, and the places where and as the three come together. Co-creating spaces, meals, and gatherings that honor the great green beauty of nature are how the seasonal life unfolds.
Get the Seasonal Living Workbook!
Learn more by downloading the Seasonal Living Framework workbook and taking the mini-course. It’s a simple collection of daily emails that help you in the garden, in the kitchen, with your personal care practices, and even in the ways you choose to participate in community.
Creating a morning routine for your seasonal life. How do the two go together?
Seasonal living honors the four seasons of the year: winter, spring, summer, and autumn. But, it also honors the many seasons of life as they arise throughout the days and months. Seasons that have a particular energy and potential bound in a moment of time.
As days unfold, the morning season is potent. It is both a time of new beginnings and a time to cultivate a lifetime of practice. By creating a morning routine within the seasonal living framework, we set ourselves up for an active and engaged awareness practice that is forever inspired by nature, and her unfolding in each precious moment.
What are the benefits of creating a morning routine?
I just read a piece by James Clear that emphasizes the fact that most of us get 25,000 mornings in our adult life. That’s a lot of potential to create a routine reflecting your unique approach to a life well-lived.
Since you are here, reading this post on creating a healthy and lasting morning routine, I’m guessing you aspire to a lifestyle that is awake and aware. You live a heartfelt and intelligent life. One that is infused with loving-kindness, and intensely engaged with what is unfolding moment by moment.
Harness the power of a regular morning routine…
The power of creating a morning routine that is appropriate to seasonal time is yours to harness. The daily practice of your morning routine can be the one thing that helps you become the person you were born to be. The person the world needs you to be. The one that calls to you from that still small voice.
The compounded effort of the morning routine both reveals character and builds character. The morning routine is definitive of you and predictive of where your efforts are heading.
That’s a pretty strong statement! Let’s look at why it’s true. What makes the morning routine such a powerful force in the quality of our lives?
The habit Loop and Morning Routines
The habit loop was first described by journalist Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit. Written in 2014, the book and its description of habit have informed much of the work in the field of productivity in the past 5 years.
While seasonal living is, in essence, an awareness practice and an ecological lifestyle, I find the habit loop a helpful concept when creating my daily routines. The habit loops I cultivate help me have a lighter footprint on the planet. They also allow me to have a more conscious orientation to the choices I make when relating to people, places, and meaningful objects in my life.
In short, the habit loop is a psychological pattern that begins with a cue that stimulates a routine response which results in a reward.
The cue is something in the environment that stimulates an automatic response. The routine is the unconscious response to the cue. That response generates a reward, often at the biochemical level in the brain. Many of our automatic responses in the habit loop are related to the dopamine levels they create in the brain.
Examples of the habit loop from everyday life include:
- Hunger -> Eating -> Satisfaction
- Boredom -> Smartphone -> Distraction
- Pressure and Overwhelm -> Step Outside for Fresh Air -> Calm Clarity
- Fatigue -> Coffee -> Alertness
- Loneliness -> Eating -> Distraction
Such habit loops are ever-present, guiding us through our day one conscious or unconscious response at a time. The morning routine is the perfect time of day to direct the flow of our unconscious responses in the direction of our aspirations and interests.
Let’s say you resolve to be fully hydrated in the year ahead. Let awaking be your cue and drinking a glass of water be the response. A combined sense of feeling hydrated and gratification for keeping to your commitments is the reward.
A personal example…
Over the years, I have linked drinking coffee to checking into my heart space. I love coffee, strong and creamy! My day begins with drinking water, then making a pot of coffee from freshly ground dark roast beans in my French press. I then sit in the semi-darkness of the pre-dawn morning sipping, breathing, and feeling. As I awaken, I practice the 3-fold forgiveness meditation followed by a simple loving-kindness meditation. At the end of a half-hour, I feel awake, gentle in myself, and ready for the day.
This habit, cultivated for years, links coffee with an emotional checking for me. I’ll often have a second cup of coffee in the afternoon and find myself stepping away from my workstation to a calm and quiet place. I’m scanning my heart and mind for moods, emotions, and repetitive thoughts, making sure I am right and good in myself.
Crafting a morning routine that connect cues to responses aligned with your intentions and aspirations is a powerful way to create a lifestyle reflective of your uniqueness.
When using the habit loop to create a morning routine, I recommend studying what others do, but more importantly, creating habit loops that reflect your most authentic self.
The Power of Preparing the Night Before
Nothing sets the stage for success like prepation!
When Bob and I are in the full swing of growing for market, we often make a late dinner in exhaustion and head for bed leaving a messy kitchen for the next morning. This bad habit sets up the next day already behind before we’ve begun.
I just hate it.
So, this year, I’ve been paying much more attention to my evening routine. Consciously ending the day with meaningful habits sets us up for our best day the next morning.
My evening routine includes tending to the kitchen, the center of my home and life. I then take care of my body with basic hygiene, taking supplements, hydrating before bed.
Don’t forget to journal!
Finally, I sit with my journal and review the preceding day. I ask myself what worked, didn’t work, and what would I do differently. If it’s been a hard or particularly emotional day, I explore my thoughts and feelings.
During this time, I review my schedule for the next day. I make my money with a collection of side gigs, so my days are hardly routine. It’s helpful if I remind myself of my commitment so for the next day before heading off to bed.
Sleep is probably the single most important gift you can give your whole self when reaching for your best lived life. I love to sleep and am usually tucked in by 9 pm. Most days, I’m up between 4 and 5 am. Morning is my time, and I’m a proud member of the 5:30 club!
Elements of a Successful Morning Routine
Through the years, I’ve come to cultivate a morning routine that is regimented and intentional. These are the elements I define as creating a successful morning routine.
Wake Up Times
As mentioned above, I’m an early riser. I tend to rise somewhere between 4 and 5 am.
My best hours are before 2 pm. After my morning meditation and self-care regimen, I’m at the laptop typing away for at least 4 hours.
My favorite time of year is when this work happens at my outdoor office, facing the east and surrounded by the birdsong that makes the sunrise.
Sleep schedules are deeply personal and highly individualized. What time you wake each day isn’t as important as keeping to a regular schedule. The amount of sleep you need is mostly related to your genetics, and most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function optimally the next day.
Before that blessed cup of morning coffee comes a glass of filtered, room temperature water.
After the coffee, I make a half gallon of flavored water to help me stay hydrated throughout the day. When I’m working in the garden, I make a gallon of flavored water.
Staying hydrated helps you stay alert during the day and sleep better at night. Skin healthy, efficient digestion and sharp cognition are all enhanced by keeping hydrated throughout the day.
It all begins with a glass of clean, fresh water upon waking up.
Moving in the morning is linked to success in several scientific studies.
Don’t stress! This doesn’t mean scheduling 90 minutes at the gym on top of your busy morning obligations. It simply means be sure to move for 20-30 minutes as a part of your morning routine.
In the warmer and brighter months, this means a 3-mile walk for me. Honestly, I have trouble keeping this commitment in the winter months. I have a rowing machine, but tend to use it mid-day. It’s a problem, my lack of movement on winter mornings, but I’m working on it!
In my experience, I think scheduling a 20-30 minute morning meditation is the best thing you can do for your loved ones and the world as a whole. Finding a meaningful way to know your heart and mind before you start acting is a way to bring calm, intelligent, and thoughtful energy to a chaotic world.
There’s so much going on these days, and the news cycle comes at us with relentless terror. Consumerism can easily convince us to just buy this one thing to make life all the better.
Create your best life by making self-knowledge and self-awareness a priority. You’ll be a better parent, partner, friend, and employee for this bit of committed self-care.
Choose a routine that fits your style, not someone else’s
I have recommendations, but I think your morning meditation should speak to your soul, your deepest self. If you are energetic, take up a running meditation. If you are sluggish, perhaps a stretching meditation is best for you. Dance, drumming, drawing, writing, contemplative prayer…the options are endless.
Choose one and go deep with it. Bring your peace to bear on a tumultuous world.
Gratitude and Journaling
Oh my goodness, how messy would my days be without my morning journaling practice!?!
My journal time often begins with reflecting on any dreams I recorded the night before. I then review my astrological chart for any personal transits active for the day. Then, I set intentions for my efforts and obligations throughout the day.
My journal times begins with an intense look at my mood and the rising energies in my life. It’s a kind of self-check to make sure I’m in the flow, in alignment with the energies of the day, rather than setting myself up for continuous opposition to life.
Then, I turn to what I call my Best Year Ever Journal. I use 1-2 pages in a spiral notebook to complete the following exercise:
- List 5 detailed things I am grateful for that morning. These are very specific and detailed items that come to me based on my experiences that morning and what I have on the schedule for the remainder of the day.
- Write out one sentence reminders of the 10 goals I have for the next 5 years. I call these my 10 to 60, and they keep me focused when making decisions about time and other resources. These goals statements are written in the past tense as if already achieved.
- Write out my 10 goals for the year ahead. These are also written in the past tense. Throughout the day, I will link my tasks to these goals.
I love this practice and recommend the following books if you are interested in this kind of daily intention setting as a part of your morning routine.
Contrary to popular belief, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. The first meal you have is the most important meal of the day. My breakfast patterns are random and I try to honor my body’s best cravings.
Find a nutritionist whose teachings resonate with your body’s needs and create a meal plan that reflects your optimal health goals. I would beg you to make local and seasonal foods a part of your meal plans, whether eating begins at 8 am or noon for you.
If you are raising young children, planning family time in the morning can be very difficult. There’s so much to be done just getting everyone out the door and off to work and school.
The purpose of a morning routine is to bring consciousness into your day. Don’t let this precious time slip by without meaningful connections to family before everyone heads out for the day.
You can commit to sharing breakfast together, preparing lunches together, sitting on the sofa together snuggling for 15 minutes. Whatever you choose, make it meaningful and do it regularly.
My father and I drank coffee and read the newspaper together every morning of my high school years. This connection really helped when I find myself in the predictable teenage predicaments. Now that he’s gone, I cherish the memories of those mornings. He wasn’t a perfect dad, but that morning routine was as close to perfect as our relationship would get.
When the weather allows, I am out in nature every morning. Connecting to flora and fauna, feeling the sun, and breathing in fresh crisp air connects me to my best self. I’m fortunate to be able to craft an entire life that is grounded in seasonal time with lots and lots of time outdoors.
The nature in your immediate surroundings is big enough to absorb your angst and sorrows. Be sure to ground yourself in that good medicine as a part of your morning routine.
What not to do in the morning?
When creating your seasonal life, there are things you should never do as a part of your morning routine. These things create separation between you and the natural rhythms of your days. Try to put them off until your morning routine is complete and you are ready to begin your workday.
Here’s my list of what not to do in the morning:
- Don’t hit the snooze button. As a matter of fact, if you can train yourself to wake up without an alarm, all the better. Alarms can start the day with a jolt to the system that is disorienting and disturbing. If you need an alarm to awaken, just use it once and get started when you promised yourself you would.
- Leave the TV off in the morning. Commercials and news channels will simply break into your commitment to self-care with fear-based messaging. Don’t start the day that way!
- Don’t check social media. Leave that time suck for much later in the day. I use it as a treat for myself after putting in several hours of writing or garden work.
- Be aware of your emotions. Don’t start the day angry or fearful. Certainly don’t start the day arguing with anyone. No matter what’s coming your way in the day ahead, don’t let negative emotions set the tone for how you will approach life.
- Don’t eat processed foods in the morning (or ever for that matter).
- Finally, don’t wing it in the morning. Give yourself the time to know yourself, your moods, and your intentions for the day ahead. Be in charge of your intentions and actions rather than reactive to events as they come at you from all directions.
These items bring chaos into your body, mind and spirit. Avoid them in the morning and experience a more peaceful and productive day.
What about social media and the morning routine?
These days there’s no greater distraction than our smartphones and social media. The average American is spending an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on social media.
This unproductive time can also fill us with feelings of inadequacy as we compare ourselves to the images coming at us through our favorite platforms.
Take back your days, and up to 15 hours per week by tuning out social media in the morning hours. As mentioned earlier, I use social media check-ins as a reward after a deep focus work session of 2-4 hours.
Seasonal Variations and Creating a Morning Routine
As the number of daylight hours fluctuates throughout the seasons, morning routines will shift and change. The seasons aren’t rigid, and you don’t have to be either.
Keep the basic commitments to yourself in your morning routine, but let the way it unfolds be seasonal.
My morning routines are most affected by the seasons in the following areas:
- the number of hours I sleep. I simply sleep more in the winter months.
- how I move in the morning. I am less active in the morning during the winter months.
- when I enjoy my first meal. I’m more likely to have breakfast in the summer when mornings are longer and more active.
- if the garden is a part of my morning routine. When days are long and hot, I will often put in an hour or two in the garden before sitting down to work on the laptop.
How the seasons affect your morning routine is highly personal and dependent on the climate where you live. The important thing is to connect with nature each day and let that connection shape the way you approach your morning routine.
Springing Forward, Falling Back, and the Morning Routine
I am not a fan of clocks and calendars! This is especially true then they are manipulated and create havoc on the body’s natural cycles.
Living on a farm and being self-employed is a blessing in this regard. I can mediate the change in clock time by my own standards.
But, I remember the utter exhaustion they would bring to life back when my kids were still home. It would take my body weeks to adjust. I often felt like I was just getting into the rhythm of clock time when we would either spring forward or fall back again!
Check out this overview of the health impacts related to time change for more information.
The Power of Tracking | Don’t Miss Twice!
What separates the elite performers from everyone else? Not perfection, but consistency. This is why the most important thing is not to prevent mistakes altogether, but to avoid making a mistake twice in a row. Errors are part of the process, but they shouldn’t become part of the pattern.james clear
Habits are meant to be broken. Morning routines are no exception. As a matter of fact, I generally give myself off every Monday from my morning routine. My weekly schedule is heavy on weekend obligations, but Monday mornings tend to be my own. So, I allow myself a slow start and a routineless morning on Mondays.
The more important approach to the morning routine is not to miss twice. So, go ahead, take the day off! Lay in bed, skip the journaling or the workout, just don’t skip twice, because then you are creating a new habit, a new routine.
My Morning Routine
Well, you’ve been getting snippets of my daily routine throughout this post. Here it is, in a nutshell. I’m actually sharing my perfect day, which I work to recreate every Tuesday through Sunday with varying degrees of success.
My best day schedule…
5 am Hydrate, make coffee, make flavored water for the day
5:15 am Heart-centered time alone in semi-darkness
5:45 am Calendar review
6 am Journal
6:30 am Movement – walking in the warmer months, less consistent December and January
7:30 am Shower and Dress
8:00 am Laptop time September through May. Garden time June-August.
NOON Break, eat, check social media, take care of miscellaneous concerns and obligations.
1 pm Write
4 pm Break with movement of some sort
5 pm Cocktail Hour with Bob. This is our standing date that can begin at 4 pm in the winter months and can happen with or without booze. We always have good music in the background and work very hard not to talk about politics.
6 pm Dinner
7 pm clean kitchen and move into evening routine that often includes a hobby and reading
9 pm Time for bed
The Spring Goal Planner and Tracker
Now that the seasons are shifting toward warmer weather and longer days, it’s the perfect time to create or reinvigorate a morning routine. Use this spring goal setting and tracking planner to create and maintain a daily routine for the next 3 months. You’ll be shocked and delighted by how great your feel and productive you’ve been by the time summer rolls around!
There’s a party happening and we’re waiting for you to arrive!
We also gather over email once a week to focus on one specific garden, kitchen, or wellness topic in-depth, with lots of step-by-step how-to’s. The best way to jump into the email conversation is with the Seasonal Living Workbook, you can download it here and explore the seasonal living framework with an email course!
So much love and free information in one place, but it’s not the same without YOU!
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