A blog post to help you find your slow living flow when it comes to mornings.
You can’t swing a cat on a internet without running into a guru telling you that you need to get up at 5am to get stuff done, or someone demanding that the only way to get things done is make sure you get up before your children, which for most people means really getting up at some ungodly hour.
Listen, if that feels natural for you please, get on with your good self, but for most people 4am/5am isn’t a natural time to be getting up, especially 365 days of the year, and let me tell you why. Whether we want to face it or not, as humans we are hardwired to live with the seasons. Our ancestors will have lived sun rise to sun set, and while modern society has worked hard to stamp out these natural rhythms our bodies remember. Remember that scientific notion that our body keeps the score and that it can remember things that happened to our ancestors generations ago? It’s the same. The body knows and is hardwired still, to live with the seasons. It’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about living seasonally, because I know that regardless of the lives we lead, everyone can benefit from reconnecting with our roots and employing some of the aspects of seasonally living.
Listen, I’m not saying that things were better in the past, there are so many aspects of modern living that I am so incredibly grateful for. I am grateful for the internet and the medium of this blog and Instagram to share the things I love, and ultimately to connect with other likeminded people too. I am grateful for my dishwasher and washing machine for taking the load so I don’t have to. I might even be an outlier and say I am really grateful for AI, allowing me to run my business as a solopreneur with more ease than before. I am grateful for modern society but at the same time there are so many aspects which I think are detrimental; Hustle culture, always being switched on, and the disconnection with who we really are.
So how to we merge the natural, hardwired, ancestral parts of ourselves with the modern world and all it’s expectations? Let’s start with our mornings and how they shouldn’t look the same all year round. That’s normal, and really important for our health and wellbeing that they aren’t.
For many of us, mornings can be a hectic rush of alarm clocks, hurried breakfasts, and last-minute scrambles out the door. But what if we approached mornings differently? What if, instead of launching ourselves into the day full-throttle, we took a page from the book of slow living and embraced a calmer, more mindful start? What if we honoured our bodies and the season and approached things a little bit differently?
Why Mornings Matter
Mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. How we start our day can impact our mood, productivity, and overall wellbeing. The way we wake up, the first things we see, the sounds we hear, the foods we eat – all these elements can either set us up for success or leave us feeling drained before the day has even truly begun.
By establishing a slow, mindful morning routine, regardless of what our day to day lives are like, we give ourselves the chance to start the day with intention, grounding, and clarity. We create a buffer between the peacefulness of sleep and the demands of the day, preparing ourselves to face whatever comes with a sense of calm and readiness. Remember, when we embrace that changes in seasonality we are better setting ourselves up to win. It’s normal to be more tired and sleepy in the winter, it’s what our bodies crave to be able to get ourselves through the long winter season. Rather than fight against it, we should be embracing it. Instead of chastising ourselves for not being as productive through winter we should instead be celebrating the season and our ability to embrace each one with individuality. When you let your body and your routines/rhythms ebb and flow with the seasons you will not only reduce the pressure on yourself to perform, but you will also feel better for it too. It’s not just a fad, it is literally the way your body is hardwired and by embracing that, instead of pushing through and forcing what isn’t natural, you are doing your health and wellbeing a disservice.
Creating Your Morning Ritual
Crafting a slow morning ritual is a highly personal endeavour. We all live very different lives, with different jobs, homes, families and demands. What brings one person peace and grounding may not work for another.
Here are a few ideas to help you form a routine that aligns with your lifestyle and values:
1. Wake Up Naturally
I know, I know – the working world doesn’t always allow for that. Between needing to work, getting to an office, getting your and/or your children ready for the day and/school is not alway conducive to waking up naturally in the mornings. But maybe this is something you can prioritise where you are able. I am lucky that our current lifestyle does allow for waking up naturally but I am also aware that this isn’t the case for everyone.
Waking up to the jarring beep of an alarm clock is far from a serene start for any of us. If possible, try to wake up naturally with the sun. This may mean adjusting your bedtime to ensure you’re getting enough sleep, but the gentler awakening is worth the effort. For us it is definitely season dependent. Through the summer months I will naturally wake around 7.30am and that is perfect for me. I feel well rested and the sun brings me out of my slumber. However through the winter months, when the sunrises later I will naturally wake between 8.30 – 9am (and even the latter might feel hard). Our lifestyle does allow for this and for that I am grateful, but give it a test for yourself, see what time you naturally wake and notice how much better you feel when you are able to awake naturally.
2. Start with Stillness
Before you reach for your phone or start mentally assembling your to-do list, take a few moments just to be. I know it can be difficult and definitely something that is a constant work in progress for me too. Ideally the first light of the day should be natural sunlight, it is essential for your health and wellbeing. Instead, what most of us do is reach for our phones and surrounding ourselves with forced and detrimental blue light.
Take a moment and just be, this could be as simple as lying in bed for a few extra minutes, focusing on your breath, and grounding yourself in the present. I know the urge is to pull out the phone, but what if you didn’t?
3. Move Mindfully
Incorporate some gentle movement into your morning. This could be yoga, stretching, or a leisurely walk. Again, I know we don’t all have oodles of time in the morning – I don’t either, but a bit of light yoga and stretching can take mere minutes. You don’t need to embrace a full on half an hour yoga routine if that’s not possible. Just do something. My hack for this is to do up to 5 minutes of yoga stretches while I am getting ready. No mat, no routine, just squeezing it in where I can. The aim is to awaken the body slowly, align your mind and body, and boost your circulation and energy for the day.
4. Savour Your Sustenance
You’ve heard the quote “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” and while that was actually a marketing slogan to sell breakfast cereals there is something to be said for taking time over this meal, and savouring it. When we feel rushed and out of control in the mornings we can tend to rush through breakfast, but there is another way. Choose nourishing, seasonal, simple foods that make you feel good. Sit down at the table, sit outside if the weather allows, take the time to chew, and truly taste your food. This is called mindful eating and it helps ground and tether you to a moment. When we’re mindful we’re better able to be present (something that isn’t always easy in a busy, modern world) and acknowledge our thoughts. It’s a huge misconception that we’re unable to be mindful, and therefore present, because we have thoughts that interrupt our peace, or our minds wander. I want to reassure you on something: That is the whole point. It’s not possible, at least not at first (and maybe ever for many people) to achieve a completely empty mind. Thoughts will come and go, acknowledge them, embrace them and then bring your mind back to the present. This is mindfulness.
5. Cultivate Gratitude
Starting the day with an attitude of gratitude can have a profound effect on your mood and outlook. No, you don’t have to journal if you can’t/don’t want to, but gratitude is a huge part of starting the day. If you want to journal, by all means do but don’t skip this step because you don’t want to sit down and write or journal. You can absolutely still practice gratitude by taking a few moments to think about what you’re grateful for. Maybe tether it to something, like brushing your teeth, that way every time you brush your teeth in the morning you can run through what you’re grateful for in your mind.
6. Mindful Meditation
I touched on this above but I think it is worth mentioning again. So many people say they can’t meditate or be mindful because their thoughts interrupt it. So they give up, rule it out as something they can’t do and never try again. Thoughts will always cross your mind, this doesn’t mean you are failing at mindfulness or meditation, instead its the whole point of the entire process. When those thoughts cross your mind embrace them, acknowledge them, and then bring your mind back to the present moment.
Even a few minutes of meditation can have a significant impact on your stress levels, focus, and sense of wellbeing. Try to incorporate a short meditation session into your morning routine, focusing on your breath and setting an intention for the day. This might be something you combine with those few moment first thing just to be.
7. Align with Nature
Something that is a non-negotiable for us through Spring, Summer and Early Autumn is getting outside and into the sunlight first thing. It’s not as easy throughout those cold, winter months but something I am going to put more focus into in late autumn and winter. If you are able, spend some time outside first thing. This could be as simple as spending some time in the sunlight, to having your first coffee outside or taking a short walk. Getting sunlight on your face is so important to your health and wellbeing but it also aligns you with the natural world can bring a sense of peace and perspective into your day.
Nothing says modern society with a touch of hustle culture like multitasking. Actually, when you think about it, it’s almost glorified in our society that if you’re able to multitask then you’re winning. But what if the opposite is true? What if the simplicity of focusing on single tasks is better? When you’re dressing, just dress. Fully engage with what you’re doing, and you’ll likely find it becomes a more enjoyable, less stressful experience.
While rituals and rhythms can provide a comforting structure, it’s important to maintain flexibility. Some mornings, your routine might not go as planned, and that’s okay. The goal isn’t perfection but rather intention and mindfulness.
Starting your day with a slow, mindful morning routine won’t just make your mornings more enjoyable; it’ll enhance your whole day. By giving yourself time to wake up gently, to savour, to move, and to align, you set yourself up for a day of calm, intention, and productivity. It’s not about the rush; it’s about the magic of mornings. Embrace the tranquility, and see how it transforms your day.
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