Only, it’s hard to look forward to that if you’re constantly waking up in a terrible mood.
Maybe you wake up stressed about all the things you need to get done that day. Maybe you feel anxious about something, but can’t quite put your finger on it. Or maybe you’re just too tired to deal with any of it and wish you could go back to sleep.
It turns out there’s a biological reason for that shitty morning feeling.
You can blame it on your brain, Dr. Amit Sood, professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and author of The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness, tells BuzzFeed Health.
When you first wake up, your mind is wandering. Then, something called negativity bias usually kicks in — it’s a little neurological quirk that predisposes us to remember the bad/anxiety-inducing stuff, explains Sood. So we end up very quickly focusing on all of the undone tasks lurking over our heads, or how crappy your commute might be today, or that vague thing your boss said yesterday.
Add to this the fact that our adrenaline and stress hormone levels rise in the mornings, boosting heart rate and blood pressure (both symptoms of anxiety, too), and mornings become the ~perfect time~ to feel anxious and uneasy, says Sood.
1. First of all, make sure you’re actually getting enough good-quality sleep.
Without a good foundation of sleep (which is seven to nine hours for most adults), you’re just going to be fighting an uphill battle. And no amount of coffee or advice is going to help dig you out of that grogginess. So, before trying the rest of these tips, try adjusting your sleep schedule so that you’re getting enough quality hours of rest.
That might mean limiting caffeine and technology before bed, having a consistent sleep schedule, or even talking to your doctor if you’re really having trouble staying asleep through the night.
2. Open your blinds so you’re waking up with natural light.
Open those curtains — either before you go to bed or as soon as you wake up.
You know how we’re told to avoid the blue light that comes from our phones and screens at night because it keeps us up? Well, the strongest source of that blue light is the sun, sleep expert Michael Breus, PhD, author of The Power of When, tells BuzzFeed Health. So if you let sunlight into your room first thing the morning, it can reduce your level of melatonin, which will make you less sleepy and more energized.
Even better, sunlight also raises levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your body, which has been linked to a better mood and a calm demeanor. “If you get up in a bad mood in the morning, the light really does make a difference,” Dr. Jess Shatkin, professor of child and adolescent psychiatry and pediatrics at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells BuzzFeed Health.
4. Try not to look at news first thing in the morning.
“Most news is negative news, and it’s stressful even if it doesn’t impact us directly. It just gets into our subconscious,” she says. So resist the urge to check your Facebook or Twitter feeds first thing in the morning; they’ll be there for you later on and you’ll have more time to fill your mornings with positivity.
5. Instead, spend that time listening to a podcast, reading a book, or watching a show.
In the mornings, you should be focusing on getting into a positive headspace that will stay with you throughout the day, Sood says. So spend 15 minutes finishing that chapter of the book you fell asleep reading, or watch a show you really enjoy while eating breakfast. Maybe even listen to a podcast while you get ready.
6. If you have time for a quickie, DO IT.
Sex feels good, obviously. It can also trigger the release of a bunch of feel-good chemicals, like dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins. But Breus says it’s the oxytocin (aka the ~love hormone~) that has a particularly calming effect. So, if you’re feeling anxious in the morning and you and your partner are both up for it, get it ON .
Even if you don’t want to have sex, simply having your partner around for a comforting hug can promote more positive feelings, Lombardo says, because this will also promote the release of oxytocin.
7. Keep a positive mantra where you’ll see it every morning.
Don’t let negative thoughts get the best of you. Find a positive mantra (or quote or statement) that reflects the mindset you want to have every morning, and write it down on a Post-it Note so that you can put it on your bathroom mirror or cabinet — somewhere you’re guaranteed to see it.
This will help you change your inner dialogue, Lombardo says, because you’re basically kicking all the negative thoughts out of your head and replacing them with positive ones. And just like that song you’ve heard ~a million times~ (even though you don’t like it) and now know the lyrics to, these thoughts eventually stick, she says.
8. Fill your room with scents that make you feel good.
Smell is the only sense that’s directly connected to the emotional centers of the brain, Lombardo says, “so certain smells can bring about more happiness and joy.”
So, if you love scented candles and there’s one that you light up every time you take a bath, light it when you get up in the morning, too — it’ll fill the air with smells that make you feel good. “It’s such a quick and easy way to change your mood,” Lombardo says.
9. Listen to music that gets you hyped.
Set up a playlist so that when you wake up, it’s easy to just press play and get ready for the day. Music has been shown to reduce stress, Lombardo says, and it really doesn’t matter what you put on as long as it gets you energized and fills your room with “good, positive energy.”
10. Do a super-quick workout.
Literally like 20 push-ups or 15 jumping jacks. Or maybe you want to jump on your bed a few times. No matter what it is, exercise is great for anxiety and depression in general, Lombardo says. “Even just that little bit will help you change the physiology of your body and help you feel happier,” she says.
Here are a few to get you started.
11. Practice being mindful.
That could mean deep breathing, meditating, doing some yoga, or just reminding yourself of the things you’re grateful for today — like the fact that doughnuts exist. Doing so will externalize your focus so that you’re not retreating into negative thoughts about events that have happened or might happen, Sood says. In other words, you’re living in the present moment.
12. Take a second to think about what you’re giving to society today.
The thought of all those unfinished tasks may drive you up a wall, but if you focus more on the impact that will come from completing them, you might feel better, Lombardo says. So, say that you’re a nurse or a janitor in a hospital, focusing on the good that comes out of these jobs — healthier people and a safer environment — might keep your negative feelings toward them from swirling around in your head.
The same goes for all of your personal goals — just think about how accomplished you’re going to feel once you’ve taken a step toward reaching them.
13. And if you’re currently pissed off at anyone or anything, try to mentally let that go.
While this might not be the easiest thing to do, forgiving someone who’s done you wrong and wishing them well can lift some of the stress off your shoulders, Lombardo says. Studies also show that stress levels — and the higher-than-normal blood pressure and heart rate that follow when they rise — drop when your thoughts are focused on letting your troubled past with someone go.
14. Have a game plan for the day and make sure at least one thing you do is for YOU.
A few hours before sleep, write down three to five tasks that need to be done the next day, Lombardo says. This way, you won’t feel stuck trying to figure out what’s next. Your might also end up having a more productive day, which will also feel great. The list doesn’t have to be so detailed either — think of it like an outline for your day.
That said, one of those tasks should be something that will make you feel good. Treat yo’ self. Make time to go to the park or get a manicure. Hang out with friends or do some yoga. Whatever it is that helps you decompress, having it on your list will give you something positive to look forward to, Lombardo says.
15. Sign up for an email newsletter so there’s something to look forward to in your inbox.
It’s no secret that email is stressing us TF out. But while we might not be able to control everything that drops in there, we can control some of it. So try signing up for a newsletter that provides entertainment or inspiration, and make that the first thing you check in your inbox every morning — that way you’ll be starting your emails off on the right foot, Lombardo says.
16. Move anything that makes you anxious so that it’s not staring you in the face when you wake up.
Your bedroom only be used only for sleep and sex, says Shatkin — anything else related to pending tasks, like your textbooks or even your alarm clock, can lead to unnecessary stress. He says that if you wake up in the middle of the night and see these things, you might get stressed out to the point where your sleep suffers. And that’s that shit we don’t like.
More importantly, these things will definitely be there for you when you wake up, and they’re a surefire way to stress you out when what you really want to be doing is starting your day on a good note.
So banish these objects from your line of sight as much as possible. Keep your phone facedown in “do not disturb” mode, move your clock so you can’t see it from your bed, and keep your books on the floor or in another room, suggests Shatkin.
17. Have breakfast ready to go before you even wake up.
It really sucks when you’re rushing to get ready in the morning and end up passing on breakfast because there’s just no time. Having make-ahead meals ready to go can make your morning routine just a bit simpler and help you avoid being hangry — it’s a win all around.
18. And finally, just smile, because that alone can lower stress.
Think about all the crazy things you do with a friend or look at something funny if you have to, like these GIFs. Laughing will always make you feel better. And hey, even if you find it hard to smile in the mornings, just doing it anyway has been proven to lower stress.
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