We all have those mornings: Waking to your alarm, groggily squinting at the time, wishing you could stay nestled in bed. Your grumpiness mounts as you rush to get ready for the day. Tripping over your shoes and floundering for your purse, every mishap aggravates you more.
Even morning people struggle to stay positive at daybreak. Tempting as it is to give in to the grumps, it’s important to start your day with an optimistic outlook. A University of Warwick study found that happy people are more productive. And we all know from experience that life is better when you feel good. Before you head out the door in a huff, try one or more of these tactics to turn the tide.
Exercise induces cheerfulness by releasing endorphins—brain chemicals associated with mood improvement. Tied for time? There’s no need for a hefty morning workout. Psychology professor Michael Otto reports, “Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect.” Committing to a reasonable exercise routine, whether it’s a few crunches or a light run, will trigger the production of endorphins for a positive mentality.
02. Take a moment to meditate.
Meditation is linked to emotional health and stress relief. Pause to meditate in the midst of your morning chaos. A University of California, Davis study discovered that mindfulness resulting from meditation helps reduce stress hormone cortisol. Pray, read, or simply sit in silence. When you’re caught up in a rush, collecting your thoughts will have a calming effect which will help you reframe your bad-day thoughts.
03. Break (or fake!) a smile.
The act of smiling, even if it’s forced, positively influences your emotions and lowers your levels of perceived stress. According to the facial feedback hypothesis, your brain interprets the flexing of facial muscles required for smiling as a positive expression of emotion. Similarly, researchers uncovered that study subjects reported happier mindsets when actively smiling. So throw on a smile to blast away those morning blues.
04. Sniff something vanilla-scented.
Several studies testing the emotional properties of scent revealed that vanilla is calm-inducing and restores relaxation. So that vanilla candle you just had to have from Anthro may actually do your body good!
05. Flip through photos.
A University of Southampton study uncovered a connection between nostalgia and positive feelings about the present and future. The researchers found that reminiscing on a fond memory causes your brain to replicate the original emotions you experienced in that moment.
To recall happy times, flip through photos that capture your carefree childhood or giggly movie nights. You might even crack a smile.
06. Eat carbohydrates.
This isn’t an excuse to carbo-load your breakfast, but eating good carbohydrates increases the levels of serotonin in your brain, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. Carbohydrates are high in tryptophan, an amino acid critical to the production of serotonin. Foods high in tryptophan include bananas, milk, yogurt, oats, wheat, eggs, turkey, and nuts–all healthy breakfast ingredients.
07. Belt out a song.
Now you have a scientific reason to sing in the shower. Research shows that singing increases the levels of the antibody IgA to improve your emotional state as well as your immunity. Can’t carry a tune? No problem. Your singing expertise (or lack thereof) has no relevance to its emotional benefits. Whether it’s an operatic ballad or a Top 40 jam, break into song for a happy disposition.
The morning grumps can launch your day into a downward spiral of negativity. Don’t let the wrong side of your bed have the upper hand. Knowing the science behind your temperament can help you hack your way to a good mood. You’ll be more productive and pleasant if you head out the door happy.
Do you have any mood-boosting tricks? Share your own tips to spread the morning cheer!