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Winter Routine

Winter Routine

In this post you will learn 6 steps to transform your winter morning routine from stressful to sensational.

Welcome back Loves to a blog post that’s all about you and making your winter morning routine a lot less stressful. Morning routines are more than just a trending hashtag—they’re a cornerstone for mental well-being. How you kickstart your day often sets the tone for the following hours. In essence, your mornings can either be a springboard for a positive, productive day or a stumbling block that you’re mentally tripping over until bedtime.

Now, let’s talk winter. While winter brings its cozy moments (hello, hot chocolate!), it can also usher in a unique set of stressors. The days are shorter, the sunlight is scarce, and let’s not even get started on the holiday chaos. This season can really test our emotional resilience and amp up our stress levels.

So, what’s a girl to do? That’s where today’s post comes in. We’ll be diving deep into an optimized morning routine specifically designed for the winter months. We’ll talk about hydration with a twist, how to move your body even when it’s too cold to think, grounding techniques to center your mind, and even what to munch on to fuel your day the right way. Stick around, because by the end of this read, you’ll be looking forward to each winter morning as a new opportunity to nourish your soul.


Why Winter is Different

Winter is a season that stands out for various reasons, and it’s not just about the snowflakes and holiday cheer. As magical as it can be, winter introduces challenges that impact our mental health differently compared to the rest of the year. First up, let’s talk about those shorter days. When daylight bids adieu by 5 PM, it can really mess with our internal body clocks. Less sunlight means less vitamin D, often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin,” which is crucial for maintaining a balanced mood.

And let’s not overlook Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a form of depression that typically hits when the leaves start to fall and stays until the bloom of spring. Lack of sunlight is a major player here, affecting serotonin levels, the hormone that helps regulate mood. Plus, the colder temperatures often mean we’re less inclined to go outdoors and engage in physical activity, which is a natural stress reliever. Then there’s the holiday stress—gift shopping, family gatherings, and the pressure to be “jolly” can escalate feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.

Because winter comes with its own brand of challenges, your usual morning routine might not cut it. That’s why a tailored winter morning routine is not just a luxury—it’s a necessity. The idea is to proactively address these seasonal stressors head-on, so you’re not just surviving winter, you’re thriving through it.


The Night Before: Setting the Stage

While this post is all about your winter morning routine, the truth is that a stress-free morning often starts the night before. Yep, the power of prepping can’t be underestimated. By giving a little attention to a few night-before rituals, you set the stage for a morning that feels less like a frantic rush and more like a serene start to your day.

To begin with, let’s talk about sleep hygiene. In winter, when it gets dark earlier and the cold makes your bed feel like a haven, it’s tempting to hibernate. But quality trumps quantity here. Make your sleeping space a sanctuary—think cozy but not cluttered. Consider using lavender essential oils in a diffuser, or opt for breathable, comfortable bedding. Aim for a consistent sleep schedule, even on weekends, to regulate your body clock.

Affirmations can also be a game-changer. Take a couple of minutes before you hit the sack to recite some positive affirmations. This mental exercise can be as simple as saying, “I am grateful for this day, and I welcome tomorrow’s opportunities,” or something more specific to what you’re navigating at the moment. Affirmations serve as a mental ‘reset button,’ helping you lay down any emotional baggage before you lay down your head.

So, why is all this planning crucial? When you have things sorted the night before—from your sleep environment to your mental state—it reduces the number of decisions and stressors you’ll face in the morning. Think of it as giving your future self a gift. By planning ahead, you free up mental space to focus on nourishing your soul the next morning, which is what winter self-care is all about.


Step 1: Early Rise and Shine

Starting your day with an early rise might sound like a drag, especially when it’s cold outside and your bed feels like a snug cocoon. However, being an early bird has its perks, which can be super beneficial in combating winter blues. Waking up early gives you a head start on your day, offering a block of uninterrupted time just for you. This ‘me-time’ is crucial for self-reflection, personal growth, and mental preparedness, essentially laying down the tracks for a more mindful and stress-free day.

But let’s keep it real: dragging yourself out of bed while it’s still dark out is no easy feat. The trick is to make the process less jarring and more inviting. One way to do that is by using a sunrise alarm clock. These clever devices mimic the natural progression of a sunrise, gradually filling your room with light before your set wake-up time. The light subtly signals your body to stop producing melatonin, the sleep hormone, and to kickstart your internal day-mode settings. The result? You wake up feeling more refreshed and less like you’ve been jolted out of a deep sleep.

Another tip for you night owls struggling to flip the script is to have something to look forward to in the morning. Whether it’s a delicious breakfast, a new journaling prompt, or even an episode of your favorite podcast, a morning treat can serve as an effective ‘carrot’ that lures you out of bed.

So, even though it’s winter and your instinct might be to hit snooze, challenge yourself to rise early and shine brighter than the scarce winter sun. Trust me, your mind and soul will thank you for it.

Step 2: Hydration Station

winter routineThe next game-changing step is hydration. When it comes to mental health and overall well-being, staying hydrated is often an underrated hero. Dehydration can make you feel sluggish, affect your cognitive functions, and even spike your stress levels. Morning is when your body is most dehydrated since you’ve just spent several hours asleep, not taking in any fluids.

But let’s face it, the thought of chugging cold water on a frigid winter morning can be less than appealing. That’s why I suggest a warm lemon water concoction as the first thing you consume after waking up. Not only does it hydrate you, but it also offers a gentle wake-up call for your metabolism.

Warm Lemon Water Recipe:

  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup warm water (not boiling)
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • Optional: A pinch of turmeric or a teaspoon of honey for added benefits
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat the water to your desired temperature.
    2. Squeeze in the lemon juice and stir.
    3. Add the optional turmeric or honey, if you’re using them.
    4. Sip it slowly, savoring each moment as you hydrate and nourish your body.

This simple yet effective beverage has a lot to offer—it’s rich in vitamin C, helps in flushing out toxins, and can set a healthy, alkaline tone for your digestive system. All this, while wrapping you in a warm, comforting hug from the inside out.

By making hydration an intentional part of your morning routine, you’re not just quenching your thirst; you’re setting yourself up for a day where you’re mentally sharper, emotionally balanced, and less susceptible to the stresses that winter can bring.

Step 3: Mindful Movement

You’ve risen early and you’re well-hydrated, so what’s the next step for a stress-free winter morning? Get moving, but do it mindfully. Physical activity isn’t just about toning muscles or burning calories; it’s a powerful elixir for your mental health. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, which serve as natural mood lifters. Plus, the focus you put into movement allows you to enter a meditative state, shedding the stress or tension that you might have woken up with.

However, winter brings its own set of barriers to regular exercise. Sometimes it’s too cold to even think about stepping outside for a run, and the shorter days can make it harder to find the time. The good news? You don’t have to venture out into the chilly abyss to get your blood pumping.

Winter Morning Routine Friendly Exercise Options:

  1. Indoor Yoga: Roll out your yoga mat and flow through a series of stretches and poses. Not only does yoga improve your flexibility and strength, but its emphasis on mindful breathing makes it a double win for stress relief.
  2. Light Stretching: If yoga isn’t your thing, simple stretches can also do wonders. Focus on areas that hold tension, like your neck, shoulders, and back. Make each stretch a deliberate act, holding for at least 20-30 seconds, and breathe deeply.
  3. Dance it Out: Got a favorite playlist? Blast it and dance like nobody’s watching. Dancing can be both liberating and invigorating—a perfect way to shake off morning sluggishness.
  4. Mini Circuit: If you want something more structured, create a mini-circuit of bodyweight exercises like squats, lunges, and push-ups. Aim for 3 rounds to get your heart rate up and your body warmed.

Remember, the idea is not to exhaust yourself but to wake up your body and center your mind. Even just 10-15 minutes of mindful movement can set a positive, energetic tone for the rest of the day, making it easier to navigate whatever winter challenges come your way.


Step 4: Centering Yourself

Alright, you’ve woken up, hydrated, and moved a bit. Now, let’s dial it back and center ourselves. We live in a world that’s constantly buzzing, pinging, and demanding our attention, and winter’s added stressors make it even more crucial to find a quiet anchor in the midst of it all. Centering yourself means creating a mental and emotional space where you can breathe, reflect, and strategize for the day ahead. This can involve a blend of mindfulness techniques, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and even some elements of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy).

Quick 5-10 Minute Centering Exercises for an Energized Winter Morning Routine:

  1. Mindful Breathing Meditation:
    • How-to: Find a comfortable seat. Close your eyes, if you’re comfortable, and take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe, focus on each inhalation and exhalation, letting any distracting thoughts pass like clouds.
    • Why it works: This mindfulness practice brings your attention back to the present moment, allowing you to start your day from a place of inner peace.
  2. CBT-Inspired Journaling:
    • How-to: Jot down any negative or anxious thoughts you may be waking up with. Then, challenge these thoughts. Ask yourself, “Is this thought a fact or a feeling?” “Is there evidence to support it?” Write down a more balanced or rational view.
    • Why it works: This CBT technique helps you identify cognitive distortions and reframe them, giving you a more balanced mental starting point for your day.
  3. DBT’s STOP Skill:
    • How-to: If you find yourself overwhelmed, remember the acronym STOP: Stop, Take a step back, Observe your thoughts and feelings, and Proceed with something that will support you in the moment.
    • Why it works: DBT skills like STOP help you become more aware of your emotional state and offer you tools to manage it effectively.

These practices may be brief, but their impact is big. Whether you opt for meditation, journaling, or another form of mental tuning, the key is to make it a regular part of your morning. It’s like a daily mental ‘dust-off’ that helps you enter your day with a clearer, more focused mindset, giving you the resilience you need to tackle winter’s ups and downs.


Step 5: Winter Morning Routine Power Breakfast

You’ve woken up early, hydrated, moved your body, and centered your mind. You’re almost ready to seize the day, but there’s one final, delicious step—fueling your body with a power breakfast. Don’t underestimate the importance of this meal; what you eat can dramatically impact your mood and energy levels. Foods that are rich in nutrients provide the brain and body with the essential ‘building blocks’ they need to function optimally. This is especially vital in winter, when the lack of sunlight and the cold can naturally drag down your mood.

Nutrient-Packed Winter Breakfast Recipe: Overnight Oats with Mixed Berries and Nuts

  • Ingredients:
    • 1/2 cup rolled oats
    • 1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk of your choice)
    • 1/2 cup mixed berries (you can use frozen, perfect for winter)
    • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
    • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup for sweetness
    • A handful of mixed nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts)
  • Instructions:
    1. In a jar or bowl, mix the oats, chia seeds, and milk. Make sure the oats are well submerged.
    2. Add in the mixed berries and sweetener of your choice.
    3. Seal or cover the container and place it in the fridge overnight.
    4. In the morning, give it a good stir. Sprinkle the mixed nuts on top for an added crunch and extra nutrients.
  • Why it works: Oats are a great source of long-lasting energy and are known to support brain function. Berries bring in antioxidants, while nuts add healthy fats and protein. Chia seeds are high in fiber, which helps keep you full and satisfied.

This breakfast is not just a treat for your taste buds; it’s a mood-boosting, stress-reducing powerhouse. You can even make it the night before to streamline your morning routine further. It’s the kind of breakfast that makes you feel like you can take on the world—or at least, the winter.

Step 6: Setting Intentions

You’ve done the groundwork, from rising early to nourishing your body and mind. Now, before diving into the day’s hustle, let’s pause for a moment to set clear intentions. This step is crucial; it provides you with a roadmap, a set of markers that guide your actions throughout the day. It’s like taking all the positive energy and focus you’ve cultivated and channeling it into a directed beam of productivity and well-being. And trust me, on a winter day when the blues could easily take over, having this roadmap is a game-changer.

Techniques for Setting Actionable, Achievable Goals:

  1. SMART Goals:
    • How-to: Make your goals Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
    • Why it works: This technique helps you break down abstract desires into actionable tasks. For example, instead of saying, “I want to be more productive today,” you could aim for, “I will complete two sections of my report by 3 PM.”
  2. The Rule of Three:
    • How-to: Limit yourself to three key tasks you want to accomplish that day. These should be tasks that will have the most impact on your day or ongoing projects.
    • Why it works: The constraint makes you prioritize effectively and helps to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
  3. Visual Mapping:
    • How-to: Use a tool like a Kanban board or even simple sticky notes to visualize your tasks, breaking them into categories like ‘To Do,’ ‘Doing,’ and ‘Done.’
    • Why it works: The act of moving tasks through categories gives a sense of progression and achievement, which can be motivating.
  4. Affirmation Statements:
    • How-to: Write down positive affirmations that align with your goals for the day. For instance, if your goal is to tackle a challenging work task, your affirmation could be, “I have the skills and focus to complete this task successfully.”
    • Why it works: Affirmations condition your subconscious mind to overcome challenges and achieve your daily goals.

So, grab your planner, journal, or even a scrap piece of paper, and jot down your intentions for the day. Be realistic but also dare to stretch yourself a bit. By setting your intentions mindfully, you are framing your day in a constructive context, turning winter’s typical anxieties into an arena for growth and accomplishment.

winter routine

And There You Have It—Your Guide to a Winter Morning Routine!

You’ve made it to the end, and you’re now armed with a blueprint for conquering those frosty winter mornings. From waking up early and fueling your body to engaging in mindful movement and setting laser-focused intentions, each step serves a distinct purpose. This isn’t just about going through the motions; it’s about setting yourself up for a successful, stress-minimized day. With winter throwing its own curveballs—like shorter days and colder weather—having a rock-solid morning routine can be your secret weapon to combat seasonal stress.

What’s the payoff? Well, let’s recap:

  • Enhanced Well-Being: Centering exercises and mindful movement prime your mental state, helping you navigate winter’s challenges with grace.
  • Increased Productivity: By waking up early and setting clear intentions, you make the most out of each day, even when the daylight hours are in short supply.
  • Boosted Mood: From hydrating properly to indulging in a power breakfast, the foods and drinks you consume can elevate your mood and energy levels.

Now, here’s my last piece of advice—make it your own! Adapt this routine to better suit your lifestyle, your preferences, and your needs. Don’t like oats? Swap it out for another nutritious breakfast. Not a morning exercise person? Perhaps a brisk afternoon walk is more your style. Remember, the best routine is one that you’ll stick with. So, feel free to mix and match elements until you find a sequence that feels just right for you.

Don’t just survive this winter; thrive through it. With this morning routine as your guide, you’re not only setting the stage for fantastic days but also fostering a healthier, happier you. So why wait? Start tomorrow morning, and let’s make this winter the best one yet!

This post has been all about Your Ultimate Winter Morning Routine to Melt Away Stress.

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Hey! I'm Karina Rice and I am a licensed therapist and founder of The Sun Kissed Soul Collective. I am passionate about all things mental health management, self-care, mindset and personal development. It's so good to have you!

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