Happy mornings can signify the start of a brand new day filled with new goals to accomplish, exciting things to do, and yet another opportunity to discover something new about ourselves.
Not all of us, however, are morning people. When the alarm goes off, it’s a groggy mess of dragging yourself out from under those covers and muttering to yourself as the coffee maker does its job. You start dreading all the things you have to do, barely manage to get a good shower, and even skip breakfast.
You’ve probably heard this time and time again; how you choose to start a new day can be your single most effective way to having a good day. However, before you learn to start your mornings on a positive note, it is very important to understand why your thoughts and feelings in those first few moments in bed make such a difference.
The Brain Is Easier To Influence In The Morning
During the first few minutes, right after you open your eyes in the morning, your brain and your mind are so strongly receptive to influence, it can affect your mood for the entire day. Think about it; if you woke up to a sudden explosive noise, you’re bound to feel rattled for hours through the day. On the other hand, if you wake up to a text message or a phone call from someone you love very much, you’re very likely to feel good about it for the rest of your day right to the time you fall asleep again.
When you wake up in the mornings, the serotonin level in your brain is at its natural high. Serotonin makes your brain calmer and less averse to risk, therefore, helps it make better decisions. Later in the day, the serotonin levels begin to decline and we fall into a mood slump where we’re less inclined to feel positive about tackling our responsibilities – this explains why we procrastinate so much in the afternoons. For this reason, research declares that productive and positive people are almost always morning people.1
Once you make a conscious decision to be positive towards your day right after you wake up, you can return to the happy feelings and intentions you established for yourself in the morning as your day unfolds. This way you can make that morning positivity last you through the entire day, thus making yourself happier, more energetic, and definitely more successful.
Tips To Start Your Day On A Positive Note
Now that we’ve established how precious your mornings can be for your mental health, here are a few things you can do to make the best of this delicate, lovely time that you have all to yourself.
1. Start The Night Before
Do you wake up feeling more exhausted than when you got into bed? That’s probably because you’re not getting enough sleep. Instead of spending your time uselessly flicking through TV channels, try to get into bed by 10 O’clock. If you can’t fall asleep immediately, try reading a book instead. You are bound to drift off soon enough, and this way, your body can get the 8 hours of rest that it so desperately needs.
2. Stretch Yourself Out
This is something you can do while you’re still in bed! Stretch your limbs out as much as you can. This triggers the release of dopamine, a hormone that boosts your mood, energy, and self-esteem. Pair this along with a few breathing exercises and you’ll find yourself beating the urge to close your eyes and go back to sleep.
3. Take A Moment Of Personal Praise
Jostling with multiple chores and tasks during the day will make you feel irritated with yourself, for not being competent enough. Finding faults with yourself, especially over situations that you have no control over, will only make your day worse.
To avoid self-sabotaging thoughts from attacking your mood, try this simple exercise. Take a few minutes and think of five qualities about yourself that make you happy to be the person that you are. You could be a kindhearted person, or maybe you can cook really well. Maybe you’re extremely responsible about your work, or you’re the kind who takes great care of the people you love.
This may seem like an odd practice at first since we all tend to give more validation to praise when it comes from other people. However, if you really think about it, you know yourself better than anyone else does, which automatically makes you the best person to judge whether you deserve the praise or not. It’s very simple, really – the more positive you feel about yourself, the more positive your day will be!
4. Stay Connected And Express Gratitude
Just as it’s important to praise yourself, it’s equally important to give thanks to the people who love you for who you are. Studies claim that people who express gratitude about their lives and the people around them are happier and more optimistic about their lives in general. Another fun fact? They also tend to pay fewer visits to their doctor, which further proves that there may indeed be a strong connection between positive attitude and good physical health.2
Pick up the phone and give a quick call to your parents, or call your best friends to tell them how lucky you are to know them. Even if you don’t thank them all the time, just connecting with the people you love at the start of your day can do wonders for your mood.
After all those long hours of rest, your body wakes up feeling dehydrated and needs a wake-up drink. If you’re already reaching out for the coffee, stop. It is true that coffee can make you more alert, but not when you drink it first thing in the morning. Drinking coffee, especially on an empty stomach is just asking for more stress – because caffeine is notorious for releasing cortisol, that infamous hormone that is responsible for making you feel anxious. In addition to this, it triggers acidity and hormonal imbalances.
Instead, head over to the stove to warm yourself some water. Add a quick squeeze or two of lemon juice into this and drink up. This has multiple benefits for your health such as:
- Strengthening your immunity
- Clarifying your skin
- Clearing out your bowels
- Aiding in digestion
- Helping in losing weight
If you absolutely cannot do without your coffee, get yourself a mug while eating breakfast. That way you can alleviate the side effects of caffeine and the release of cortisol will only make you alert, not overtly stressed.
6. Go For A Walk
It is a well-known fact that exercise helps boost endorphin, lovingly nicknamed the ‘Happy Hormone’, and will make you feel more energized in the mornings. However, for those of us who find it difficult to even get out of bed, going for a run might be a little too much to expect.
So forget about marathons and complicated exercises, but do encourage yourself to step out of the house for a relaxed morning walk, either by yourself or with your loved one or your pet. The morning sun is great for your health because it’s an all-natural source of vitamin D, which strengthens your bones and your immunity. Also called the ‘sunshine vitamin’, this helps regulate the serotonin level in your brain, thus calming your nerves and giving your mood a quick positive boost.
7. Get Mentally Organized
Right from the time you open your eyes, you will find your mind at the mercy of a vast deluge of thoughts which makes you all the more tempted to go back to sleep. The first step is to get this jumble of thoughts and tasks out of your head and onto some paper so you can organize them. Grab a notepad and list out what’s in your head, one by one. Now segregate these thoughts and tasks into various categories, depending on priority. Not only will this help clear your head and make you feel more prepared to take on the day, it may even lead to better chances of you finishing all your tasks.
8. Tune Into Something Happy
It always helps to play something in the background as you go about preparing yourself for the day, and with the current media onslaught, you’re definitely spoilt for choice. There are, of course, television and radio news channels, but they may be a little too noisy to help you start your day on a peaceful note. Choose to play some soothing instrumental music instead, or songs that make you happy, or inspire you to take over the day. Not feeling like music? You could even choose to tune out altogether and just enjoy the silence before the chaos sets in.
9. Step Into A Cold Shower
You know you’re going to have a pretty tough day, so why not look your best while you’re tackling your tasks? Don’t skimp on shower-time. Start with lukewarm water to open up the pores of your skin and work your way slowly towards water that’s on the colder side. The idea of a cold shower may not sound very tempting but it comes with a number of benefits.
- Cold water has a great ability to help you snap out of your drowsiness.3
- It has been proven that cold showers can positively boost the mood and trigger creative thinking. 4
- Cold showers aid in vasodilation that helps improve blood circulation. Thus, it’s great for maintaining healthy skin and hair.5
Note: It’s all good to dress well and look presentable, but try not to spend too much time figuring out what to wear and how to do up your hair. Your brain has to make a thousand decisions in a day, out of which some are probably inconsequential. Try not to waste too much brain energy in the little things that don’t matter that much, or you might find yourself suffering from ‘decision fatigue’, resulting in your brain shutting down when you need it the most!
10. Eat A Healthy Breakfast
The most important meal of the day gets its title for a very good reason. Not only does a healthy breakfast give your body the energy it needs to take on the day, it also helps you maintain your weight, boost your mood, and keeps chronic-degenerative diseases at bay. Bear in mind, that by eating healthy, we do not mean helping yourself to boxed cereals, glasses of processed fruit juices, and pancakes or waffles dripping with sugary syrup; these will do you more harm than good. Instead, opt for:
- Oats with blueberries
- Oats with chia seeds
- Wholegrain toast and omelets
- Wholegrain toast with nut butter
- Yogurt with whole fruits
- Fruit smoothies
- Fruit salads with nuts and pumpkin or flax seeds
11. Plan Something Fun For The End Of The Day
Giving yourself something fun to look forward to can give you a great reason for smiling all day. Studies claim that the anticipation of something exciting can give you just as much happiness as the event itself.6
So go right ahead and book those tickets to the latest movie, or make a reservation for yourself and your friends at the new restaurant in town!
12. Execute Random Acts Of Kindness
Often, we get so caught up in all that we have to do in a day, we forget about the fact that there may be others around us who are having as tough a day as we are. Make it a point of doing at least one act of kindness every day. It could be something as simple as holding the door open for an elderly person or offering up your seat to someone on the bus, or maybe even carrying someone’s bags for them. The strange thing about kindness is that it’s highly addictive. Being able to make a difference in someone else’s life, even in the tiniest of ways can bring you immense happiness.7
Kindness also has a funny way of coming back to you in unexpected ways, so go ahead, knock yourself out!
The moment you open your eyes, you can do one of two things – you can either hop out of bed and make the best of your day, or hit the snooze button, pull the covers over your head, and dread the day ahead. This is nobody’s choice to make but yours.
Starting your day on a positive note is not a magic trick that can be learned by listening to a video or by reading a book. It instead, comes from a burning desire to stay happy, in spite of all that is going on around you. Making up your mind about being happy is already half the battle won. The rest is about making a few healthy lifestyle choices that demand consistency and a vigilant eye. Stay the path for a few months and you’ll start seeing the difference for yourself!
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Biss, Renée K., and Lynn Hasher. “Happy as a lark: Morning-type younger and older adults are higher in positive affect.” Emotion 12, no. 3 (2012): 437.|
|2.||↑||Giving thanks can make you happier. Harvard Medical School.|
|3.||↑||Shevchuk, Nikolai A. “Possible use of repeated cold stress for reducing fatigue in chronic fatigue syndrome: a hypothesis.” Behavioral and Brain Functions 3, no. 1 (2007): 55.|
|4.||↑||Shevchuk, Nikolai A. “Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression.” Medical hypotheses 70, no. 5 (2008): 995-1001.|
|5.||↑||Mooventhan, A., and L. Nivethitha. “Scientific evidence-based effects of hydrotherapy on various systems of the body.” North American journal of medical sciences 6, no. 5 (2014): 199.|
|6.||↑||Kumar, Amit, Matthew A. Killingsworth, and Thomas Gilovich. “Waiting for Merlot: Anticipatory consumption of experiential and material purchases.” Psychological science 25, no. 10 (2014): 1924-1931.|
|7.||↑||Buchanan, Kathryn E., and Anat Bardi. “Acts of kindness and acts of novelty affect life satisfaction.” The Journal of social psychology 150, no. 3 (2010): 235-237.|