I'm an American expat, writer,Youtuber, photographer. and old-fashioned romantic in love with celebrating the simple joys of daily life. I appreciate timelessness, the natural world, and a slow life lived with simplicity and intention. When I'm not photographing families or  slowly traveling the world and writing about it in a little notebook, I'm happily grounding myself in nature and cozying up with my sweet husband.

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For me, a morning routine is essential to a productive, aligning and peaceful workday. All too often in the past, I would lazily bumble out of bed, say hello to Alex, prop out my laptop and begin photo-editing. Because I work from home, it’s also extremely easy to get distracted. For me, I can easily lose track of time watching Youtube and reading blogs.

This spring I had a great awakening. Not only did I find myself spending more time scrolling on social media, but I put some firm boundaries in place. In my early twenties, I had a difficult time comparing my life to others on the good ol’ gram, but in the last few years, I’ve created and maintained a very healthy relationship with my social media usage – and lots of new like-minded friends on top of that!

But being a very open and honest person on the internet – I love to share! – I began feeling extremely raw and vulnerable online, causing me to take a step back, bring back my awareness and go back to the old morning routine that I abandoned this winter. 

It was when I started up my consistent morning routine again that I found myself having more peace in my daily life, more confidence and assuredness in my artistic work and less in need to check social media.

These days I spend a maximum of 30 minutes of social media. 

Right? I quickly write, post a photo from my Favorites album saved in my iPhone, comment on friends/artists posts, and then I’m off for the day.

And it’s all in part because of how I start my day. I hope this post inspires you to start your own peaceful morning routine if you don’t have one already.

Here is my daily peaceful and productive morning routine…

Wake Up 

I’m a night owl, often creating my best words and ideas late in the night. I typically get into bed with Alex around 12, and we usually end up gabbing for an hour before we fall asleep (we are big talkers!) So I tend to wake up naturally at 9:30 every day.

I always set my phone on airplane mode before going to sleep. Although, I suppose I don’t need to put it on Airplane Mode considering I’ve set my settings so that I can’t receive any notifications on my phone except for missed phone calls or text messages – which tends to be why my FB and IG messages sometimes go days without being seen. 

insight timer meditation app morning routine for peace

Drink a Full Glass of Water

It takes me a solid 15 minutes to wake up, but I help that groggy deep-sleeper process but automatically drinking a full glass of water that I placed on my nightstand the night before.

Meditate using Insight Timer app

I then get up and walk across the room to pick up my phone – intentional placement choice – to turn on the free Insight Timer meditation app. I have a meditation template I’ve created: 15 minutes of meditation, with 3 bells chiming during the 5-minute mark, 10-minute mark, and 14-minute mark. 

peaceful morning routine using insight timer meditation app

I just cross my arms over my chest and lay there, focusing on my breath, my body, the sounds around me, the silence until my mind graciously allows that delicious emptiness to soak in. 

15 minutes of Yoga Stretches

I then get out of bed, pick up my yoga mat and carry it out to my balcony where I do 15 minutes of basic yoga stretches and poses. After those stretches, I lay down on my mat, closing my eyes, and I typically listen to the wind for 3 minutes before lazily looking up at the sunlit clouds. On a lucky day, I watch the white, cotton candy puff clouds roll by.

In the winter months, I do yoga in the living room, which isn’t as pleasant but still okay!

gratitude journaling on a yoga mat with a peaceful morning routine Helena Woods

Make Some Cocoa 

I then go back into the kitchen and make some hot cocoa. I always like to use my fancy china on the daily, so I pour my hot chocolate into my pretty teacup and saucer and drink it on my yoga mat on the balcony. 

hot cocoa and gratitude journaling on a yoga mat peaceful

Journal Jot 

With my hot cocoa in hand, sipping up that dark chocolatey goodness, I write my present thoughts in my journal. I often write about….

the vivid dreams I had the night before

what I want to accomplish that day

how I feel

my present appreciations.

I almost always write about the simple, small things in my present life that I’m appreciative of (it tends to bring good energy for my day) and I also almost always have a conversation with the Universe in my journal. Elizabeth Gilbert writes about this process in Eat, Pray, Love and I also love Jess Lively’s blog post about writing to your intuition here.

As a teenager, I used to journal in a similar way…in a sort of stream-of-consciousness manner where I would find answers and understanding deep within myself, but I wasn’t as direct in writing to my intuition until a few years ago. I used to ask the Universe for things I needed or wanted in my life, and I’ve kept a long record of all the things I’ve asked for and that have come true over the many years. It’s such a simple concept but it really does work:

Ask for What You Wish For

peaceful yoga and gratitude journaling morning

Spiritual Read

After writing for about 20 minutes, I’ll pull out a spiritual book and read for 30 minutes. I’m a big bookworm and am usually reading 3 books at once, but my morning is always dedicated to my spiritual practice. Currently, I’m reading The Essential Rumi. but I have a list of my favorite spiritual books here on my Goodreads profile. 

spiritual reading peaceful morning routine

Get into Alignment

After my spiritually aligning morning, I’m usually feeling really positive and good for the day! On the rare off-chance, I’m not, I’ll do more aligning activities that are fun and make me feel good. (Currently, as of Summer 2019: Write a letter to a friend, decorate and wax-seal an envelope, watch study-with-me videos on Youtube)

I don’t work or take action until I am in alignment, as I find the work I produce, the interactions I have, the errands I run become forced, sloppy and not consistent. When I start my workday from a feel-good, grateful place, my work is effortless, easy and remarkable. The work I produce becomes quick and efficient and solid. It just flows!

I write more about this Alignment Before Action concept here. 

Shower and Get Ready for the Work Day!

At this time it’s around 10 or 11, I take a quick shower, dress, eat a pain au chocolate (I’m not a big breakfast person) and head to my desk.

Helena Woods working at home with to-do list productivity

Make a list 

I make a list for the day using Ruby Granger’s Pumpkin Productivity sheets. Before I would just write a timetable clocking each activity to make sure I’m staying on track and productive.  I find I am much more productive when I am writing down my goals and tasks and checking them off one-by-one – it’s such a pleasurable feeling!

I usually have 3 main goals I must accomplish on that day. And depending on my portrait studio’s calendar, I might have 5-10 small tasks. But my focus is always spent on those three big goals that will move my business forward. I always try to remind myself:

Work on your business, not in your business. 

Ruby Granger's productivity planner to-do lists

12pm – 8pm Work 

I then get in the zone. Meaning, once I’m in “work-mode”, it’s very hard to get me out of it. I often have to remind myself to get up, stretch, drink a glass of water, make lunch, etc because once I’m on a track of creating and producing, it’s very difficult to get my attention. Alex can attest.

For me, I work best at night and don’t produce well in the mornings. While some business owners work well 9-5, I find my body and mind works best between noon and…midnight. What can I say….if I didn’t have my husband to keep me balanced, I’d probably work until 12 or 1 in the morning. I’m an all-or-nothing gal, but I’m working on it! I just really enjoy and find pleasure and passion in editing, writing and creating marketing plans for my studio

productive goal-setting with Helena Woods

After Work

After work, I write down any tasks I didn’t accomplish to be finished the following workday on my list, and then I shut down my laptop. Alex usually has dinner ready for us to enjoy on the balcony, and we often either play cards, go out into the city, or watch a Disney vlog with a chocolate treat!

Interested in My Night Routine?

If you enjoyed reading this post on my peaceful morning routine, let me know in the comments below if you’d like me to create my nighttime routine. I have a very peaceful and aligning routine that I do every evening before bed in order to allow my overly active mind to wind down. 

Helena Woods with vintage polaroid camera at desk

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My Peaceful and Productive Morning Routine

August 10, 2019

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I'm Helena! As a creative storyteller, I document magical, emotionally honest family and children's portraiture. A lover of childhood, fairytales and natural light, I photograph families across the world. I'm the ultimate Disney nerd, and I'm obsessed with cats and expressing my love for the simple joys of slow, daily life.

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Helena Woods is a destination newborn and family photographer based in France and New England and travels worldwide. She is known for her natural light, modern classic, and emotive photography style.

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