Let’s face it: this winter has brought an extraordinary amount of rainy days, gloomy skies, and sub-zero temps. While it’s left ample space to enjoy life’s coziest moments, it’s also made the winter feel rather lengthy. To help combat the winter blues, it’s time to settle deeper into supportive routines. More specifically, holistic rituals that bring more joy (more sunshine!) to blustery days. Rather than advocate for an intricate, hour-long routine, I’m sharing a handful of time-efficient, grounding activities that set me up for a happy and healthy day—no matter the season.
Feature image by Teal Thomsen.
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What is a morning routine?
A morning routine is anything that helps you set the tone for the day. It’s meant to empower you to take charge of your life—to run the show. And here’s the thing: no one can tell you what this looks like or how long it takes. Only you can do that. Ultimately, a morning routine is about flow and fluidity. It’s about experimentation. It’s about figuring out what rituals work for you. This will change depending on many circumstances. For example, how you slept the night before, where you’re at in your menstrual cycle, how much time you have before your kids wake up, the weather, etc.
Is there a morning routine that works for everyone?
Nope! At the root of it, we’re bio-individuals. Just as we all have unique nutritional needs, there is no one, universal morning routine that works for everyone. A supportive morning rhythm is extremely subjective. Unfortunately, so many of us run (full speed) in the direction of a morning routine we see on social media, only to be left wondering why we still feel exhausted or anxious. Inevitably, what we do in the morning should be subject to our individual needs. Welcome this.
Embrace An Imperfect Morning Routine
Thanks to today’s social media landscape, we see perfectly curated morning routines—a tall glass of lemon water, followed by a meditation, morning walk, and avocado toast. But behind the screen is a pile of laundry, an overflowing inbox, screaming children, and a long to-do list. While there’s inspiration to be found on social media, it’s also worth a reality check. Embrace a realistic morning routine. Furthermore, get to the root of what you want to get out of your you-time. Do you need stillness? Energy? Creativity? To find out, tap inward.
What is a morning rhythm?
Like the seasons, our morning routines should change. Keep the steady things that bring you joy, but as the calendar turns over, let things deviate. For example, maybe you find yourself drawn to a gentle morning routine, filled with with a candle-lit journaling session and classical music in the winter. Wonderful! Cozy up. Ultimately, this is why a morning rhythm is actually more beneficial than a strict routine. Rather than a series of events that must happen in a specific order, consider building a morning rhythm around habits and rituals that make you feel nourished—mentally, physically, and spiritually. Most importantly, make it fun.
6 Holistic Rituals I Honor Every Day
By every day, I mean most days. Because let’s be real: some mornings go completely haywire. Be it the alarm that doesn’t go off, the toddler who needs extra attention, or an unprecedented work notification, life is unpredictable. If your holistic rituals don’t go to plan, you haven’t failed. Instead, you’re being nudged to change course.
Furthermore, recognize that from the moment we wake up, there is something—or someone—buying for our attention. When possible, start your day by minimizing these attention-seekers (yes, that includes social media!). Remember, you’re in charge. Without further ado, below are my simple holistic rituals: winter edition.
1. Begin With A Daily Check-In
Duration: 1-3 minutes
This is the most foundational piece of the puzzle. As I roll out of bed—anywhere from 5:30-6:30 a.m.—I ask myself how I’m feeling. Is my mind at ease? Did I sleep well? How does my body feel, physically?Unfortunately, we are so disconnected from our bodies that we forget to check in. As an act of self-kindness, a check-in is vital. Once I get a pulse on how I’m actually doing, I can make choices that truly serve me. Because of this practice, I rarely wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But when it does happen, I’m quick to tap into my toolbox. I can do simple things to change the trajectory of my emotions (like, at-home boxing class).
P.S. I don’t use my iPhone alarm! Now that my toddler has a relatively predictable wake-up time, I use the Sleep Cycle app, which wakes me up during my lightest REM cycle. It’s also a calming, gentle sound—much better for cortisol! If my husband is still asleep, I’ll give him a hug and a kiss for oxytocin release.
Duration: 2-3 minutes
No surprise here. Since dehydration naturally occurs when you sleep, it’s important to start your day by restoring fluid and electrolyte balances. To support hydration and healthy digestion, I’m either adding a scoop of Ultima to 12 ounces of room temp water, or a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Simply my preference! Ultimately, I aim to add some form of citrus and salt to my water—for a boost of vitamin C and trace minerals to help with water absorption. You can make a lemon ginger tea, or even a chia seed elixir: 12 ounces of water mixed with lemon juice (1/2-1/3 lemon), a dash of high-quality sea salt, and 1/2 tablespoon chia seeds. This provides quality hydration, and the fiber aids in supporting digestion.
3. Tongue Scrape And Brush My Teeth
When you drink water in the morning before brushing, it will clean out your mouth and make tooth-brushing more effective.
Duration 2-3 minutes
Although it has Ayurvedic roots, tongue scraping became a chic practice in 19th century Europe. In recent years, it’s gained popularity. I hopped aboard and haven’t looked back. What is tongue scraping? In essence, you use this tool to gently graze the tongue. It helps remove debris and bad bacteria, and clear out the surface of the tongue. Overall, it encourages better oral health. I take about a minute to tongue scrape, along with my morning tooth-brushing routine.
4. Refresh My Skin
Duration: 2-3 minutes
As part of my early morning rhythm, I either work out or sit down to freewrite. Therefore, my skincare routine is minimal. I splash my face with water, spritz with this Everything Spray, then use Naturium’s peptide moisturizer. That’s it. This is also when I habit stack. Multitasking with purpose, I tack on a gratitude ritual while I rehydrate my skin. I take a moment of gratitude for my life, my health, and my family. I also think about how I can spread kindness and welcome positivity throughout the day. Abundance mindset, baby.
5. Change Clothes And Breathe Cold Air
Duration: 4-5 minutes
Whether I feel creative juices approaching, or I’m craving an endorphin rush on my yoga mat, I change out of my jammies. Although staying in my cozies is very tempting, I make it a point to throw on exercise clothes. This tells my mind it’s time to wake up and get going. To minimize friction during this step, I pull out my clothes the night before and bring them upstairs. The fewer the obstacles, the better.
Next, I open the blinds (even if it’s dark out) and step outside. For a minute or two, I follow the Wim Hof Method to breathe. This has been a game changer for my energy levels, connection to the natural world, and my inner peace. In the summer, I stay outside much longer, including walking around barefoot on our grass.
6. Make Coffee
Duration: 5-6 minutes
I really look forward to my morning coffee (as in, the night before). But for the sake of hormone balance and a better relationship with caffeine, I use my morning coffee less as a dependency and more as an intentional ritual. Drinking multiple cups of low-quality coffee beans, on autopilot, is not the goal. It pays to invest in quality, organic beans—not just for taste, but for health. After all, coffee beans are one of the most pesticide-covered crops in the world. Once you picture those chemicals floating around in your mug, you’ll feel that much more inclined to upgrade your java.
I either opt for Enerhealth or Purity Coffee. I brew my coffee in a French press because I love the art of this process. To support my blood sugar, I drink my coffee with (or after) breakfast.
From here, I let my energy, mood, and to-do list take the reins. I’ll either do a strength workout class in our guest bedroom, incorporate stream-of-consciousness writing, meal prep, or eat breakfast. This part of my morning rhythm is quite variable—as it should be! Ultimately, I encourage you to weave more awareness into your morning. Your routine doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should be intentional.