It turns out there’s some truth to the idea of “waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” According to research, how you feel at the beginning of the day can have a big impact on how you feel all day long. That’s why we checked with Colette Ellis, stress management coach and founder of InStep Consulting LLC, to find the best way to start your day healthy and happy — even if you aren’t a morning person.
22 Tricks for a Healthy, Happy Morning
1. Think positive. “It’s important to listen to your self-talk,” Ellis says. “We all have that little voice! Listen to what it’s saying about you and your odds of achieving your goals.” When you encounter negative thoughts, reframe them to be positive, and those thoughts will manifest into happiness. Spend some of your morning reminding yourself of all the things you’re grateful in your life to block the negative thoughts that might peep in during your day.
2. Practice affirmations. Once you’re working on turning around your negative self-talk, you can go a step further and add positive affirmations to your morning (Trust us, you’ll want to steal all 17 of these!). Ellis suggests writing down your goals, and then imagining how you’ll feel when you achieve them. For example, if your goal is: “I want to eat a healthier, cleaner diet,” turn this goal into a present-tense statement: “I’m eating a healthier, cleaner diet” (as if you’re already accomplishing it), and start each day by reading your new affirmation. Some people benefit from reciting the positive mantra to further reinforce the message.
3. Get centered. Whether you’re new to meditating or a long-time practitioner, meditating for as little as 10 minutes can decrease stress, anxiety and depression and increase positive emotions, says Psychology Today. Want to try it? Visit Headspace for easy guided meditations.
4. Begin mindfully. Even if you can’t make time to sit and meditate, you can always practice mindfulness throughout your morning —
as you shower, brush your teeth, or make breakfast. Mindfulness brings your attention to the present and all the sensations of the moment, Psychology Today reports. “Being more mindful is a way to remain connected to the present and not worry about the future,” Ellis says. “It’s a very effective stress reduction technique.”
5. Connect with loved ones. Rather than rushing through your morning together(ish), take five to 10 minutes to spend quality time with your kids or partner. For example, you could snuggle for a few minutes when you wake your kids, or sit and have a coffee with your spouse. Ellis even suggests that you and your significant other could craft some daily affirmations together. (Two birds, one stone!)
6. Try a wake-up light. If you’re the type to sleep through your alarm on the reg, a wake-up light — which is designed to wake you gradually, as the sun’s light would — could help. There are those who swear by them, in fact.
7. Ignore your phone. Fielding work emails and scrolling through the chaos on your newsfeed is a sure-fire way to create stress for before you’re even out of bed. Instead, challenge yourself to ignore your phone until you’re out the door for the day.
8. Stop hitting snooze. Snoozing several times in the morning may feel like you’re sneaking in extra sleep, but you’re actually just sapping your energy (and time!), according to Greatist. Instead, check out these ways to start hopping out of bed at the first alarm.
9. Make your morning routine a family affair. “It’s important to communicate to your partner or children about your new habits, and let them know why you’ve decided to do take them on,” Ellis says. “This can help avoid potential disagreements if the habits change or when you first interact in the morning.”
10. Wear something that makes you happy. It’s important to throw on something that makes you smile. You don’t have to pull together a runway-ready ensemble, either. Simply choose a hat or scarf you love — something that will make you smile every time you catch your reflection.
11. Drink a glass of water. After going eight hours or so without a sip to drink, enjoy a glass as soon as you get up. Staying hydrated helps you feel awake and alert to boot, says A Life of Productivity. Check out some flavor-packed fruit-infused water recipes!
12. Have a sit-down breakfast. You probably already know that dashing out the door and gulping down your breakfast isn’t particularly satisfying, but research even shows that sitting down and eating mindfully can help you enjoy your food more and consume fewer calories.
13. Fuel up. You’ve heard it a thousand times, but it bears repeating. Starting your morning with a healthy, satisfying meal will help you gear up for your day. Do some meal prep every Sunday before your week starts and have breakfasts prepared so you can just grab and go. Consider these 16 brilliant new uses for your muffin tin. Don’t have all morning to whip up something gourmet? Try these 15-minute breakfast recipes.
14. Eat a little something sweet. While you may assume a “healthy” breakfast consists of egg whites and veggies, just a little bit of sugar in the morning helps your brain start firing on all cylinders, according to Psychology Today. So, there might be a case for keeping up that sugar-in-your-coffee habit after all — though just a teaspoon will do!
15. Brown bag it. While you’re in the kitchen making that healthy breakfast, take a minute to pack yourself lunch and a few pre-portioned snacks. When hunger strikes, you’ll be prepared!
16. Stretch it out. According to BBC’s Science Focus, that urge to stretch in the a.m. is biological: Stretching helps re-lubricate muscles that have been sitting still all night. Instead of rushing to start the day, give into that urge with these stretches to wake you up.
17. Hit the gym. Want to sleep better at night? Hitting the gym in the morning may do the trick for some, says research. Getting some exercise will also make you feel more energized — and what better way could there be to start your day?
18. Squeeze in a workout. If you can’t make it to the gym, take advantage of the time you spend getting ready to do exercises like calf raises and squats.
19. Identify what’s dragging you down. With some obvious but very worthwhile advice, Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project suggests taking some time to identify what’s routinely hanging you up in the morning (say, missing keys). That way, you can actually fix the root issue (like not having a place to keep your keys).
20. Set your daily tasks. On your way to work or as soon as you sit down at your desk, create a comprehensive to-do list so you can stay on-task all day long. While it will inevitably evolve as the day progresses, having a solid reference point to come back to will be 1000 times more productive than, say, checking Facebook.
21. Listen happy. Got a commute? Great! Take that time to jam to music you love or podcasts that make you smile. If you’re in a playlist rut, check out these awesome playlists to accompany your ride (or you run later on!).
22. Hoof it. Research has shown that taking a walk boosts creativity and mood. If you can, reroute your commute so that you can spend more of it walking in the sunshine. If you can’t walk to work, start the day by taking Fido for an extra-long jaunt.