I’ve noticed that when I have a bad morning, it puts me in a bad mood… and tends to equal bad vibes for pretty much the rest of the day. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of starting the day on a happy note and whether there are ways that I can organize my morning to be more calm, unhurried, and set the stage for a more positive day ahead. I’ve noticed that when I get a good night’s sleep, exercise and eat a healthy breakfast, the early hours of the day are when I feel my most productive and inspired. Click through for 10 ways to have a happier morning and set the stage for a great day ahead. A side benefit? You just might discover that your energetic vibes rub off on everyone around you, too!
*image: garance doré
Take a moment to pause.
I used to wake up and dive headfirst into tackling my inbox and checking social media. Sure, it felt productive, but I found that it would cause my mind to race and I’d feel somewhat distracted all morning. Now I try to take a few minutes to pause in the morning before consuming anything digital — whether you use this time to pray, meditate, or breathe deeply, there’s no doubt that you’ll feel more centered for the rest of the day. Prioritizing this time is a choice, no matter how busy I am, and it helps put my activities for the rest of the day in perspective.
Get prepped the night before.
With a 3-year-old, a baby, and two working parents getting ready, the mornings have the potential to be really hectic at our house. I’ve found that I can mitigate the chaos by taking some time the night before to get prepped. I pick out both mine and Phoebe’s outfits to keep morning decision-making to a minimum, pack any lunches or snacks that we’ll need, and (probably most importantly) make my to-do list and check my schedule for the next day so that my mind is organized and knows what needs to be accomplished.
Fake it ’til you make it.
I know, I know — some of you are saying, “But I’m just not a morning person!” I totally get it, but if you want to fully embrace the potential of the morning, you just might benefit from faking it. Set your alarm for earlier than you’d like, make a breakfast you can get excited about, and put on a happy face — because did you know that the act of smiling can actually make you happier?
Drink water, then coffee.
It’s important to rehydrate your system after 7 or 8 hours of sleep, so I’ve been starting the day by forcing myself to drink a big cup of water. (I say “forcing,” because it water doesn’t taste that great to me right when I wake up.) Then I reward myself with a coffee prize which lifts the fog from my sleepy brain. Before any haters jump in, did you know that coffee is packed full of antioxidants and has been proven to have some amazing health benefits? Aside from protecting against diabetes and Alzheimer’s, coffee improves energy levels and helps you perform better on brain functioning tests. Just remember: drinking moderate amounts (1 – 2 cups per day) is best.
I love to exercise in the morning. It can be tough to climb out of bed, but once I’ve started moving, the endorphin release is way more effective than caffeine at getting me excited for the day. For those of you who just want to hit the snooze button, I recently read a study that the simple act of laying out your workout clothes the night before and placing your sneakers next to the bed makes you more likely to actually tackle your morning workout. Not only does it cross a big “to-do” off my list first thing, it gives me the feeling that I can accomplish anything that day.
Pump up the tunes.
Our mornings are 50x more fun when I turn on some good tunes. I sing while I put makeup on, make Phoebe laugh with my toothbrush dance, and enjoy a soundtrack while I make breakfast.
This is definitely the toughest one for someone like me who is always trying to squeeze just one more thing into a given time period. I recently shared that my current mantra is “slow down, stay open,” and this is especially true in the mornings. It might mean getting up earlier, or maybe just trying to do less, but a big goal of mine is to leave some breathing room to actually enjoy the morning.
Wear what feels good.
Even if you work from home, getting dressed in an outfit that makes you feel your best is one of the most effective ways to put an extra spring in your step. It doesn’t have to be buttoned-up workwear — the important thing is to wear something that’s reflective of your mood! Some days I feel like a crisp white shirt and heels, while other days call for trendy leggings and sneakers. But when you put on something that makes you feel confident and radiates how you feel inside, you can look in the mirror and just know it feels right.
Be lavish with affection.
A few months ago, I made a goal to send at least one email or text to a friend or faraway loved one every morning before the workday began. For me, it meant making a choice to prioritize my relationships before a busy to-do list. I’ve also noticed how important it is to take time to connect with Adam, Phoebe, and Henry before we all go our separate ways for the day. I try to remind myself of the saying, “The days are long but the years are short,” and remember that I always have time to stop, look Phoebe in the eye, and give her a long hug goodbye and wish her a great day. Not only does it fill me with feelings of warmth and love first thing; I’ve probably just made someone else’s morning a lot happier in the process.
Make it count.
In the famous commencement address he gave at Stanford in 2005, Steve Jobs shared how he always started the day:
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
The morning is brimming with potential to be the most beautiful part of the day, so let’s not waste one more by going through the motions in a half-asleep state. Go to bed at a decent time tonight and get ready to seize the morning!