Introducing the Candlelit Morning Challenge
* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.
As I write this, I’m staring out my office window at a gloomy, dark, rainy sky.
Summer is officially dead and fall is alive and well. In just a few more weeks it will be winter.
As the seasons shift and we head into the darker months of the year, it’s only natural that we should shift too. After all, we’ve adapted to live and work with each season as it comes for all of evolutionary history.
We learned to wake and sleep with the rising and falling of the sun, which meant that in the spring and summer we evolved to wake earlier, stay up later and work and play harder during the long, sunny days. On the flip side, in the fall and winter we naturally evolved to slow down and sleep more.
But nowadays, our modern society praises and prioritizes going hard all of the time. The less you rest and the more you work, the more society rewards you (or so it would seem).
The curse of modernization
So much about the way our modern life and workday is designed dates back to the Industrial Revolution. Prior to this point in history, most people lived agrarian lifestyles (ie. farmers, homesteaders, etc.) But when industrialization took hold and people began moving to the city in droves to work in factories, the push for productivity skyrocketed.
Keep in mind, the lightbulb was also invented during the latter part of industrialization, which allowed people to work longer hours under artificial lighting. Farmers may have still depended on natural light to get their work done, but factory workers could suddenly work through the night if required, and they’d never even know what time it was.
This trend has continued into the present day. Between our lights and TVs and phones and computers, we hardly ever shut off.
According to the CDC, 1 in 3 adult Americans don’t get enough sleep, and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, over 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder. It’s not too hard to connect the dots between each of these issues and our lifestyle of living and working on an unnatural cycle and the confusion we put our bodies through every time we bombard ourselves with artificial lighting (which is pretty much daily).
Of course, in this day and age it’s made even worse by the fact that we’re constantly looking at screens, whether TV, phone or computer. And we’re always connected through email and social media, but we’re more isolated than ever before and our connections to social media and our inbox aren’t always healthy ones. Not to mention the constant (bad) news cycle and “doom scrolling!”
In some cases it even crosses the line into addiction. If you’ve seen the documentary The Social Dilemma, you know that’s no mistake; It’s exactly how these platforms have been designed.
What we consume matters
I talk a lot about the food that we eat and the products that we use and why it’s so important to choose well and be mindful of what we consume, but this doesn’t end at food and cosmetics. We also have to be mindful of what are brains are consuming, including the light we’re letting in and the content we’re consuming through social and traditional media.
Because I, like so many other people on this planet, have succumbed to the bad habit of reaching for my phone first thing in the morning and starting my day off by looking at a bright, artificial blue light screen, checking my email and scrolling my social media feeds. It immediately raises my blood pressure and my anxiety first thing in the morning, but I still feel compelled to do it.
I know I’m not alone. Not even close! And so, last week, I decided to do something about it.
I woke up around 6:00. The house was still dark, and it was the first morning that had really felt like fall. It was earlier than I usually wake up on the weekdays, so I decided I had at least an hour before I “had” to check email and social media. For whatever reason, I decided to light a candle instead as I made my morning coffee and went through the motions of my morning routine.
I immediately felt different than I did most mornings. I felt calmer and more peaceful. I felt happier and more grateful!
It was a small action, but I felt a huge shift. Everything flowed easier. The morning felt less rushed and chaotic. I felt less anxious than I was used to feeling at the start of the day.
I knew right away I had stumbled upon a morning routine I could stick with; One that was so incredibly simple and seemed so obvious in the moment that I wondered why it had taken me so long to figure it out.
I eventually had to blow out my candle and start my day, but the magic didn’t stop there. I noticed that my whole day ran more smoothly after starting the day off in candlelight.
And so, the next morning I decided to start my day off the same way, and again I noticed the same phenomenon.
A small but impactful morning challenge
I posted about my new morning routine over on my Instagram page, and I started getting messages almost immediately from others who were intrigued and who wanted to try starting their day by candlelight too. That’s when I got the idea for the candlelit morning challenge…
I put it out there to my community and encouraged anyone who was interested to commit to starting their day by candlelight too.
I’ve already had messages from people who have taken up the challenge and who’ve expressed what a game-changer this simple act has made in their life. And so today I’m putting the challenge out there to you too!
If you’re reading this at the time of posting, during the month of October, 2021, I’m running an official challenge over on Instagram and asking that when you do decide to pick up your phone, that you take a quick photo of your candlelit morning and post it, either to Instagram stories or to your feed.
Use the hashtag #candlelitmorningchallenge and tag me @thehouseandhomestead and I’ll re-share your post, plus you’ll be entered to win a naturally scented candle from one my favourite essential oils company (and affiliate partner) Plant Therapy.
The challenge officially runs until the end of October. I’ll be drawing a winner on November 1st, 2021. But don’t let that stop you from continuing with this morning routine if you fid that it serves you. Because the greatest reward isn’t winning the giveaway or getting the “social crew” that comes from sharing your photos to Instagram. The greatest reward is the real positive impacts that starting your day off in candlelight can have on your life and your overall well-being.
Wait, I thought this was about avoiding social media in the morning??
It’s not lost on me that I’m asking you to post your candlelit morning photos to Instagram after ranting about the negative impacts of social media, but let’s be honest: You’re probably going to pick up your phone and check social media eventually. Why not do it with intention and spread a positive message to others who might benefit from changing up their own morning routine??
Whether or not you decide to participate in the official Instagram challenge, I do hope you’ll try lighting a candle to start your day instead of reaching for your phone or flipping on your bright overhead lights. Even if all you have is a minute to spare in the morning, make it an intentional minute that allows your mind, body and spirit to wake in a more natural way that supports your health and mental wellbeing.
Our mornings are the foundation that we build our days on, and our days are the foundation we build our lives on. If one small act and one tiny flicker in the darkness has the power to change everything for the better, why not try it for at least one morning?
You have the power to choose your own actions
The world is hurting right now. Our collective anxiety is up and the unnatural way that so many of us are living is only making things worse. But we have the power to change how we operate in the world we live in. Often the biggest impacts come from the smallest changes. For me, this has been one of the most positive impacts I’ve experienced in my own life lately, and if I can share it with others and help even one other person create positive change in their own life, I’m all for it.
After all, that’s why I started this blog to begin with: To share information that can help you live a healthier, happier, more self-sufficient life where YOU are in control and empowered to change how you operate in a world where we are constantly presented with (and even encouraged to make) unhealthy decisions that impact us and the people around us.
Try it. Just for one day. If it makes you feel good, consider trying it again. And if you feel so inclined, let me know how it’s impacted your own life.
If you want to participate in the official challenge, remember to post your photos to Instagram using the hashtag #candlelitmorningchallenge and tag me @thehouseandhomestead so I can re-share your post and enter your name into the giveaway.
Or simply keep it to yourself, but be sure to celebrate the fact that you’ve made an intentional decision to start your day by doing something good for yourself.
There’s a lot of things about this world that we can’t change, but no matter how much seems like it’s out of our control, remember that you always have the power to choose your own actions.
As the Chinese proverb goes, “it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.”
Stay well, friend.
Until next time,
Wishing you homemade, homegrown, homestead happiness 🙂
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