Chat with us, powered by LiveChat

Making Morning Sunlight Easy for Busy Moms 

One of my favorite morning practices is getting the benefits of morning sunlight

The best part about this easy habit is that it is absolutely free. 

I started by simply staring out the front door for 60 seconds when I needed a break from work. 

I learned this suggestion from Katie‘s Stress Mastery Challenge a couple of years ago. Instead of beginning my day by looking at my phone, I realized I found it much more soothing to look outside at the early morning sunlight through the window.

Over the course of a year, it morphed into a practice where I sit outside for about 20 minutes every morning, no matter the weather. 

And yes, I live in the Midwest where there is a snowy winter. I’ll share with you my hacks for staying warm and how to make it happen in your busy schedule

You’ll also learn some of my tips for stacking it with other healthy habits, and how to make it not cause more stress.

But first, let’s look at the benefits of morning sunlight

Note: This post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. 

What Is Morning Sunlight? 

Some experts say that you need to get your sunlight exposure within the first 30 minutes of waking up

While this is ideal, I’ve had to shift my expectations to celebrate any time outside any time of day. For now, I still find it beneficial as long as it is sometime within the first two hours of my day

Setting this more reasonable expectation ensures that it isn’t adding unnecessary stress to my busy mornings. 

As a modern, working woman, I prefer a more broad definition of morning sunlight. (And having grace for the days I don’t get out until noon either.) 

I know I’m still getting vitamin D and other benefits of sunlight. And it helps keep my brain out of perfectionistic, all-or-nothing thinking that leads to me saying, “Well if I can’t do this perfectly, then I might as well not do it at all.” Instead, I celebrate any AM sunlight as a win for my health

early morning sunlight

Benefits of Morning Sunlight 

The main health benefit of getting morning sunlight is that it puts us in the place where all humans used to spend their mornings, until the changes that began in the last millennium. 

We are still learning so much about what morning sun exposure does for our hormones and our circadian rhythm. Did you know that vitamin D is more accurately defined as a hormone, than a vitamin or nutrient? 

The most fascinating research I came across is that our neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays an important role in both our gut health and mental health, “captures light.”1 

In other words, one of our best feel-good hormones likes to absorb sunlight for us and put it to good use in our body! 

And on the other hand, melatonin, one of the main sleep neurotransmitters, is also inversely affected by sunlight. It could be helping set our internal clock. Perhaps, more sunlight equals better sleep! 

And studies show that those with low vitamin D have less absorbed calcium and “increased gut permeability”2 aka leaky gut

This may be a big part of why so many who don’t get enough sunlight have issues like Seasonal Affective Disorder and Immune System Dysregulation

Another notable thing is that when scientists exposed hair samples to both artificial ultraviolet (UV) radiation and natural sunlight, both showed reduced cortisol.3 

It’s encouraging that even artificial light can be helpful to our well-being, even for those of us further away from the equator. 

You may know that cortisol is our main stress hormone. So sunlight may help not only lower our stress, but it’s also interesting that vitamin D deficiency is linked to a higher risk of many diseases, like Osteoporosis and Autoimmune Diseases like Psoriasis.4 

In other words, getting healthy sunlight exposure in moderation may lower our risk of autoimmune diseases and increase our sleep quality. It’s an important part of our overall wellness. 

A Note on Sunscreen 

If you are going to be outside for an extended period of time, like for hours, I’d wait 20-30 minutes to put sunscreen on. That way, there’s nothing blocking the sun’s rays and wavelengths. 

In all things, moderation, right? 

You don’t want to get sunburned and increase your risk for skin cancer. But you also don’t want to increase your risk for other conditions, like breast cancer, by using endocrine-disrupting chemicals. 

You can learn more about natural mineral sunscreen in this post

Keeping It Real 

grounding

My favorite health habit to pair morning sunlight with is grounding barefoot.

Another term for this is earthing. Even when I am all bundled up, as long as it’s above about 20°F, I’m able to put my bare feet on some grass or dirt for 20 minutes without it making me too cold.

I want to share with you the other health habits I’ve explored pairing with my morning sunlight.

Please do not try all of these at once. I never do all of these in one day

I encourage you to pick one or two that appeal to you the most, and pair that with your morning sunlight.

My hope is that you can use this time of morning sunlight as a type of light therapy to help calm your nervous system

But if you add too many expectations on yourself, the stress you potentially cause by trying to jam too much on yourself is going to negate the relaxing part of this practice.

Getting Extra Health Benefits from Morning Sunlight

Some mornings, I just want to sit still and not think about anything while I soak in the sun. And sometimes, I do that for five or the whole 20 minutes.

But most of the time, I take in the sun for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, I will do some health habits that I was already going to do inside. And I simply move it outside.

Floss Your Teeth /Hygiene Tasks 

Like most adults, I struggle to find the time to floss my teeth. So I will bring a floss or outside with me while I sit. You could also trim your nails or any other menial tasks that need to be done like brushing your hair. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

One of my favorite nervous system exercises that I learned in a yoga class is alternate nostril breathing. 

You begin by plugging your right nostril and inhaling through your left nostril. Then plug your left nostril and exhale out your left. Keep your finger in the same spot, then inhale through your right nostril, and then move your finger back to the right side and exhale out your left. 

This is my absolute favorite soothing nervous system practice

Meditate 

Whether you’d like to enjoy the silence or use an app to guide you, sitting outside is a great place to meditate or do a body scan

Katie recommends InnerBalance by HeartMath.

My favorite free meditation is the 5 senses one. I simply count down from 5 to notice these

  • 5 things you see
  • 4 things you hear
  • 3 things you can touch
  • 2 things you smell
  • 1 thing you taste

 This one is easy to involve your family in too. 

You can also use this time to read a sacred scripture or journal as well. Use the time for whatever feeds your soul! 

Read 

Find whatever book would be relaxing for you and read it in the morning. Especially when it’s cold, I prefer to keep my hands tucked inside the blankets. So I like to use Audible to listen to a chapter of an audiobook while I sit outside and soak up the sun.

reading outside

Join Your Kids

If you have kids who are outside at the bus stop, I encourage you to consider joining them outside for some quality time in the morning. I know your middle school age child may or may not be thrilled about you being outside with them, but consider how you can use this time to connect. 

Take A Short Walk 

While I am unable to walk very far right now due to some joint issues, if you are able, a leisurely five-minute walk is a great way to stack your sunlight exposure with another healthy habit

Spend Time Together 

Consider inviting someone from your family to spend this time outside with you. One of my biggest takeaways from Amy McCready‘s Positive Parenting Solutions was to give each of my kids quality time in the morning. 

I regularly will sit outside barefoot and play with my firstborn while he rides his bike or scooter outside. 

Phone A Friend 

If you have any other early-bird friends, schedule a phone date with them during this time and enjoy their company while you’re outside.

Make My Daily To Do List Outside 

At the end of my time outside, I frequently will open my to-do list app and run through what I want to prioritize today. It’s easy to do this while I’m sitting outside, instead of sitting at the kitchen table.

Sometimes, I’ll take a pad of paper outside instead because having my phone with me tempts me to stare at my phone. Which kind of defeats the purpose of being outside. 

Imagine feeling like you’re in charge of your brain…your reactions to your child asking a question for the 17th time…and even to the news delivering yet another “it can’t get any worse” report.

In this mini-course, Mastering Your Stress for Busy Moms, you’ll learn how to transform your stress into FUEL for your beautiful life.

Stress Mastery Course Products

Women have different hormones than men, so we feel stress differently.

And we can react to stress differently too–

Which means women have to recover from and MASTER stress differently.

Certified Stress Mastery Educator Katie Kimball Shares Actionable Ideas And Science Geek Info In This Mini-Course.

How Do I Make Time to Get The Benefit of Morning Sunlight? 

As busy moms, our mornings can feel very hectic.

In order to decrease my stress, one of the kindest things I have ever done for myself is get everything ready the night before for the next day. 

Here is my general “night before” checklist: 

  • Top off the water filter
  • Fill the electric kettle for tea the next morning
  • Fill everyone’s water bottles for the next day
  • Put any large cuts of meat into the fridge to defrost for the next day
  • Pack everyone’s lunch bags 
  • Soak beans and/or rice for the next day
  • Pack my laptop, mouse, and other office supplies
  • Set out the cutting board, knives, and any other supplies I’ll need for items that need to be made the next morning 

For example, I’ll set up a pan for eggs, and pull the oil and spatula out onto the counter. 

Doing any of these tasks the night before will make it easier for you to have a calm morning that allows you to get the morning sunlight you want

If there are any habits that I missed that you like to do the night before, please share them in the comments below so others can learn from you

How to Stay Warm While Getting Morning Sunlight in the Winter 

outside in the snow

If you are far from the equator like me in the Midwest, here’s what else you can do (in addition to bundling up) to make getting morning sunlight comfortable for you.

Check The Weather

Early on, I made the mistake of going out too early when it was still cloudy. I find my morning sunlight routine much more enjoyable if I’m able to do most of it in direct sunlight. Sometimes this means I don’t get outside until 9 AM, but being in direct sunlight instead of cloud cover is a lot more doable for me.

Hot Drinks

Whether it’s hot or cold I will drink some type of tea

A few years ago my New Year’s resolution was to drink herbal tea every day and I have continued to do this daily. I will pour it into an open mug, and then I will put the rest into a thermos

I will either hold the mug in my hand or I’ll put it between my thighs to get some extra warmth.

Dark Colors 

As soon as the weather hits below 70°, I usually dress in all black to go outside for morning sunlight. When it is below 55°, I am almost always wrapped up in a dark-colored blanket so that the dark colors help absorb the sun and keep me warm. 

Hot Water Bottle

Usually, when it’s below 60°, I will fill up a natural rubber hot water bottle and put it behind my back while I sit outside. You could also use a heating pad if you don’t have a hot water bottle but you’ll need an extension cord to make it reach.

Red Light Lamp 

If you already own a red light lamp like Joove, I use a Joove Go outside to help me stay warm because it gives off a lot of heat. 

Sauna 

When it’s cold outside, you can pair this with a sauna or even a hot bath. You can get even more health benefits when you go back and forth between hot and cold

Initially, I tried going outside first and then using my sauna blanket. But I have found it more relaxing to use my sauna first for about 20 minutes and then go outside. It’s like the heat almost stays with me when I go outside

I later found out that in places like Finland where saunas may have originated, it is traditional to use the sauna first then go roll in the snow or jump in icy water.

tea outside

Making Morning Sunlight Happen 

I hope that you have found this to be inspiring to find a way to prioritize your health and well-being and get some morning sunlight.

Your health is so important and it’s essential that you don’t take shortcuts on your own health while you’re taking care of your family. As moms, it’s tempting to skimp on our mental health, but you are worth it! 

I hope you’ll consider some of these tips to do this free habit that can boost your health and happiness

What baby step will you try to make morning sunlight happen for you?

Sources

  1. Yabut, J. M., Crane, J. D., Green, A. E., Keating, D. J., Khan, W. I., & Steinberg, G. R. (2019). Emerging Roles for Serotonin in Regulating Metabolism: New Implications for an Ancient Molecule. Endocrine reviews, 40(4), 1092–1107. https://doi.org/10.1210/er.2018-00283
  2. Ghareghani, M., Reiter, R. J., Zibara, K., & Farhadi, N. (2018). Latitude, Vitamin D, Melatonin, and Gut Microbiota Act in Concert to Initiate Multiple Sclerosis: A New Mechanistic Pathway. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2484. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.02484 
  3. Wester, V. L., van der Wulp, N. R., Koper, J. W., de Rijke, Y. B., & van Rossum, E. F. (2016). Hair cortisol and cortisone are decreased by natural sunlight. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 72, 94–96. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.06.016 
  4. Nakano, T., Chiang, K. C., Chen, C. C., Chen, P. J., Lai, C. Y., Hsu, L. W., Ohmori, N., Goto, T., Chen, C. L., & Goto, S. (2021). Sunlight Exposure and Phototherapy: Perspectives for Healthy Aging in an Era of COVID-19. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(20), 10950. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182010950 

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

how and why to get morning sunlight
Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]
[activeKey]