How to Start Each Day Happy
Are you tired of racing from your bed to school in a flurry of anxiety? Here are some easy things you can do in the morning to start each a day happy and relaxed.
When I was in school, my typical morning went something like this: I’d wake up early, go for a quick 5-mile jog to get my blood pumping, spin up an organic smoothie, and take a few minutes to meditate and journal before officially starting my day.
Just kidding! It went more like this: Wake up late (again), let loose a stream of curse words, trip over last night’s Calculus homework my way to the bathroom for a record-breaking 2-minute shower, weave in and out of traffic like I've just robbed a bank, and screech into the parking lot at the first bell only to realize that I forgot my English paper *internal scream*.
Sound familiar? When you’re short on time, mornings can feel especially hectic. But even if you aren’t a morning person by nature, there are some simple things you can do to start your day a little closer to that first scenario. Want to hear how you can start each day happy and relaxed instead of in a panic? Try some of these easy tips.
1. Prep the night before
The first step to starting each day happy is doing a little planning. Before you go to bed, set out your clothes, pack your lunch, prep your breakfast, check your planner, and pack your bag for the next day. It might be hard to do when you’re ready to drop, but future you will be grateful tomorrow!
2. Get enough sleep
This can be really hard when your alarm is set for 5:30am, but getting in a full 8-9 hours of sleep is the difference between stumbling around like a zombie and actually waking up with a smile on your face. Give it try! You might find the early bed time is worth it.
3. Wake up early
Ew. I get it. I am far from a morning person. But giving yourself even an extra 15 minutes can make your morning feel much less hectic. Just like going going to bed early, all I’m gonna say is try it. You might find that starting your day at a slower pace is worth the early wake up.
4. Say no to snooze!
Let’s be real: Those extra 10 minutes of sleep do nothing to improve your day. And more often than not, it just leads to another 10-minute snooze. (And another, and another…) Basically, when you hit the snooze button, you’re handing over the decision of when you’ll wake up to a half-conscious version of yourself. (Maybe not the best decision-maker?)
If you want to start your day happy, you’re much better off deciding when you’ll wake up ahead of time. Either set your alarm for the later time so you can actually benefit from the extra sleep, or make yourself get up the first time your alarm goes off so you have enough time to get ready. As tempting as the snooze button is, it’s actually just the worst of both options.
5. Use light as a cue
Light signals to our brain that it’s time to wake up. (Pretty nifty, eh?) If you have to get up before the sun (a cruelty for sure), you can fake it by turning on plenty of lights first thing so your brain gets the message that it’s go time.
6. Start each day happy with meditation
For all you snooze button enthusiasts, I have a fantastic compromise for you. Instead of hitting the snooze button and falling back asleep for a measly 10 minutes, try a 10-minute meditation instead. It’s the perfect transition so you don’t have to immediately jump out of bed and function. Plus, it does wonders for stress and anxiety. Try a guided meditation app like 10% Happier or Headspace.
Want to feel happier? Check it!
7. put down your phone
Ask anyone in America what they do the minute they wake up and I can guarantee that checking their phone is in the top 3. But here’s why I recommend resisting the urge: Checking your phone will only take time away from getting ready or heighten your anxiety. That is not an ideal way to begin your day. Try to at least make it until breakfast. I promise, you’ll thank yourself.
8. Start each day happy with music
Music has a huge impact on our mood. Feeling anxious? Try some James Bay or Coldplay. Feeling sleepy? Pump some Beyonce. Choose music to create the feeling you want in the morning and watch your brain deliver.
9. Do some journaling
Journaling is a great way to collect your thoughts and set your focus for the day. There are a lot of different ways to journal and it doesn’t have to take much time. Bullet journals (like the one in the photo above) are a Type A girl’s dream and keep you organized. Writing in a prompted journal or gratitude journal can be done in just a few minutes if that’s all you have. My favorite journaling app combines both.
10. Start each day happy with exercise
If waking up and going for a run sounds less than appealing, I’m with you. But even a mini workout in the morning does wonders for your mood and energy level. If you’re feeling lazy, try yoga or (my favorite lazy option) a 1-song workout.
11. Try a cold shower
This is another idea that sounds awful, but delivers great results. Believe or not, cold showers have been shown to improve your mood, increase your energy, and make you more alert. If you’d rather not freeze your buns off for the duration of your shower, you can try a cold shot at the end. I can promise you one thing, you will be awake!
12. Eat breakfast
If you want to start your day happy, you MUST eat breakfast. This one is a non-negotiable. You can try prepping some overnight oats or a smoothie before you go to bed. Or you can just stock up on protein bars to eat in the car on the way to class. But if you expect your brain to function in the morning, you have to feed it!
For some great breakfast ideas (and even more tips from an actual morning person!) check out How to Make Early Mornings Suck Less over at Samanthability.
If you’re not a morning person by nature, waking up is the worst. But even the grumpiest of us can make some changes to our routine to start our days a little happier. Change is hard and not terribly appealing, but including some new steps like these in your morning routine can make a huge difference in your state of mind for the rest of the day.
Earlier this year, I actually started setting my alarm early so I could meditate and work out before getting ready. (You have NO idea how out of character this is for me!)
And you know what? I love it! I actually smile in the morning like one those freaks in the face wash commercials instead of running around the house in a panic like Winona Ryder in any given episode of Stranger Things. Who knows? Maybe there’s a jogging, smoothie-swilling girl inside of you waiting to be unleashed!