Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is so yesterday. These mood boosters will have you feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before you can even say ‘good morning.’
Now’s the perfect time to get on that smoothie grind. While it may be decades before you reap the physical health rewards (i.e. not developing heart disease) of a plant-powered diet, there may be a more immediate psychological benefit. In an August 2016 study, researchers found that participants who ate more fruit and veggies were more likely to experience increased happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being soon after upping their produce intake. Not a fan of smoothies? Sneak fruit and veggies into other morning must-haves, such as omelets and oatmeal.
Do something nice for someone else.
Whether it’s texting a funny photo to a friend or making a healthy breakfast in bed for your significant other, random acts of kindness aren’t just pleasant for the recipients. In a September 2016 review of 21 studies, researchers found that people who helped others — even in small ways — experienced increased happiness themselves.
SMILE — EVEN IF YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT.
Forcing a smile is still better than no smile at all, according to a July 2012 study. Participants who smiled — either a “fake” smile that only involved the muscles around the mouth or a genuine “Duchenne” smile that involved the muscles surrounding both the mouth and eyes — experienced lower heart rate levels as they recovered from being exposed to something stressful (like putting their hands in ice water) than participants who didn’t smile. So give the good ol’ “grin and bear it” adage a try!
Speaking of notes, if you’re not already playing your favorite songs in the morning, (hip) hop to it! In an August 2015 review of studies, researchers found that music helped reduce pain and anxiety in post-op patients. And time after time (pun intended) similar studies have echoed those results. So crank up the volume and shoot right up to Cloud Nine.
It doesn’t matter if you go for a jog or take a spin class: Getting your heart pumping first thing in the morning not only jumpstarts your day and energy levels, it also means you’ve knocked ‘exercise’ off your to-do list — and it’s not even 9 a.m.! Score!
Even if that someone is named Fido! When it comes to the senses, touch is totally underrated. Something as simple as holding hands or hugging can not only lower your blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol (aka the “stress hormone”) levels, but also increase your oxytocin (aka the “cuddle hormone”) levels, according to Matt Hertenstein, PhD, experimental psychologist at DePauw University. So sneak in a hug before you take off for work and start your day on a better note.
Practicing yoga in the morning doesn’t just wake up your body — it wakes up your mind, too. Adding some simple poses into your morning routine is an effective way to clear your thoughts and reduce stress, according to a March 2012 review of studies.
JUMP ON THE AROMATHERAPY BANDWAGON.
Let your nose in on the morning mood-boosting fun! Take advantage of the aromatherapeutic perks of essential oils by using a diffuser or putting a few drops in a glass that you leave on a table or countertop. Different oils have different benefits: Try jasmine to clear your head, lemon to boost your energy, neroli to settle your nerves, bergamot to banish your grumpiness, and peppermint to ease your tension headache.
Hit two mood boosters with one stone by going for a heart-pumping walk in the park! You don’t need science to tell you that a breath of fresh air makes you feel better, but here’s one study just for funsies: In a small May 2015 study, researchers found that city-dwellers had less blood flow to certain areas of the brain after going for walks along tree-lined paths, which suggests their brains were quieter. The participants also reported that they didn’t dwell on negative thoughts as much as they had before going on the walks.
STEER CLEAR OF TECHNOLOGY.
If your cell phone is the first thing you see when you wake up in the morning, chances are you’re increasing your stress levels before your feet even hit the floor. Give your mind some buffer time to be present rather than immediately getting pulled into the craziness that is your inbox or Twitter feed. Dr. Oz actually has a rule that he waits until he’s in the office to hunker down with any of his devices. All the more reason to make your mornings a screen-free space!