10 morning habits to help you be happier and more productive at work, according to psychologists

We all know that how we start our morning can set the tone for the whole day.

But did you know that certain habits can kick-start your happiness and productivity at work as well?

Psychologists have long studied the impact of morning routines on our mental wellbeing and work performance. And they’ve discovered certain practices that can give us a real boost.

Let me share with you these 10 morning habits that could help you become happier and more productive.

These aren’t just generic tips, but science-backed practices to transform your work life.

Let’s get started. 

1) Set your intentions

Starting your day with a clear goal or objective can do wonders for both your happiness and productivity.

Psychologists have found that intentionality can frame our mindset, guiding us towards success. When we know what we want to achieve, we’re more focused and effective.

Renowned psychologist Carl Rogers once said, “The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”

This applies to our mornings as well. By setting our intentions, we learn to adapt and strive for what truly matters to us.

Hence, make it a habit to spend a few quiet moments each morning outlining what you hope to accomplish. It not only gives your day direction but also fosters a sense of purpose, which is key to feeling satisfied and happy.

This isn’t about putting pressure on yourself or creating a lengthy to-do list. It’s about establishing a meaningful path for the day ahead. 

2) Practice mindfulness

Ever since I started practicing mindfulness in the morning, my days have been calmer, more focused, and ultimately, more productive.

Mindfulness is about being present, paying attention to the here and now without judgement. It helps us become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so we can manage them instead of being overwhelmed by them.

Believe me when I say it wasn’t easy at first. Sitting quietly for even a few minutes felt like a struggle. But with time, it became a habit that I looked forward to each morning.

The beauty of mindfulness is that it doesn’t require any special equipment or a lot of time. Just focusing on your breath, the sounds around you, or the sensation of your feet on the floor can bring you into the present moment.

As legendary psychologist Jon Kabat-Zinn said, “Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”

Tomorrow morning, before you dive into your emails or start worrying about your day, take a few moments to just be. You might be surprised at how much of a difference it can make.

3) Embrace vulnerability

This one might sound a bit unconventional, but trust me, it has made a huge difference in my life – and that’s embracing vulnerability.

In our society, vulnerability is often seen as a weakness. We’re taught to hide our flaws and put on a brave face. But let me tell you, this can be emotionally exhausting and detrimental to our happiness.

I’ve found that allowing myself to be vulnerable, to express my fears, doubts, and insecurities, has been liberating. It’s like peeling off a weighty armor I didn’t even know I was wearing.

Vulnerability also allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, fostering more meaningful relationships. It’s about authenticity and showing up as our true selves.

Brené Brown, a renowned psychologist and research professor, has said: “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome.”

In the morning, give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling – whether it’s excitement, anxiety, joy or fear. Acknowledge these emotions without judgement. This acceptance of your own vulnerability can set the stage for a more authentic and happier day.

4) Get moving

We all know that exercise is good for us, but do we really understand just how beneficial it can be for our happiness and productivity?

I wasn’t always a morning exercise person. In fact, I used to think that those who woke up at dawn for a run or yoga session were slightly mad. But after giving it a go, I became hooked.

Starting the day with some form of physical activity has been a game changer. Not only does it wake me up and get my blood pumping, but it also leaves me feeling energized and ready to tackle the day. Plus, the endorphin rush is a real mood booster.

Famous psychologist William James once said: “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.” Exercise, in my experience, helps to declutter the mind and promotes more positive thinking.

Whether it’s a brisk walk, a quick workout or even some morning stretching, try to incorporate some movement into your morning routine. It might just be the key to a happier and more productive day.

5) Allow for some ‘me’ time

This might sound counterintuitive in a society that prizes busyness and productivity, but hear me out. Taking some ‘me’ time in the morning can actually make you happier and more effective at work.

It’s tempting to hit the ground running the moment we wake up, especially with a packed schedule. But I’ve found that carving out a little time for myself before the day’s demands kick in makes a world of difference.

This isn’t about being selfish. It’s about self-care. This quiet time can be spent reading, meditating, or simply savoring a cup of coffee. The goal is to do something that brings you joy and calm.

Psychologist Abraham Maslow said: “What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.”

By dedicating time to ourselves, we’re able to tap into our needs and desires, which can lead to greater self-awareness and overall happiness.

Go ahead, give yourself permission to enjoy some ‘me’ time in the morning. It could be the secret ingredient to a more productive (and happier) day.

6) Fuel your body right

Famous psychologist Sigmund Freud once said: “The mind is like an iceberg, it floats with one-seventh of its bulk above water.”

What we feed our bodies directly affects our brain function and mood, so it makes sense to start the day with a nourishing meal.

We’ve all heard it’s the most important meal, but it’s not just about filling our stomachs. It’s about fueling our bodies and minds with the right nutrients for the day ahead.

Having a balanced breakfast ensures we have enough energy to tackle our tasks and prevents mid-morning energy crashes. It also helps to kick-start our metabolism, aiding in overall health.

Skipping breakfast or opting for a sugar-loaded pastry might seem like a time-saver, but it can lead to a lack of concentration and mood swings.

Don’t underestimate the power of a good breakfast. It could be your secret weapon for happiness and productivity at work.

7) Embrace gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. Since I started practicing gratitude in the mornings, I’ve noticed a significant boost in my overall happiness and perspective on life.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, often referred to as the father of Positive Psychology, once said: “Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

It’s easy to get caught up in what we don’t have or what’s not going right. But taking a moment each morning to acknowledge and appreciate what we do have can shift our mindset for the rest of the day.

It doesn’t have to be big things either. Small things like the smell of coffee brewing, the warmth of the morning sun, or simply waking up to a new day can be reasons to be grateful.

Tomorrow morning, take a moment to express gratitude. It might just be the mood-lifter you need to start the day on a positive note.

8) Limit technology

This one’s a toughie. We live in a world where our phones are the first things we reach for in the morning. Whether it’s checking emails, scrolling through social media, or catching up on news, we’re bombarded with information before we’ve even gotten out of bed.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been guilty of this too. But over time, I realized that starting my day with technology was leaving me feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

So I made a conscious decision to limit my tech use in the mornings. And it has made a significant difference.

Now, instead of reaching for my phone, I spend the first hour of my day tech-free, focusing on my morning routine and setting a positive tone for the day.

Psychologist Albert Bandura once said:

“In order to succeed, people need a sense of self-efficacy, to struggle together with resilience to meet the inevitable obstacles and inequities of life.”

Limiting technology can help us regain control and build resilience against the daily digital onslaught.

Your phone is a tool that should serve you, not control you. So try to resist the urge to check your phone first thing in the morning and see what a difference it makes.

9) Embrace silence

In our noisy, fast-paced world, silence is a commodity we often overlook. But did you know that embracing a few moments of silence each morning can significantly boost your happiness and productivity?

Too often, we’re afraid of silence, filling every moment with noise – be it music, podcasts, or the hum of the TV. But allowing ourselves to sit in silence can be surprisingly powerful.

Carl Jung said: “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside awakes.” Silence provides the perfect backdrop for this introspection.

Silence gives our brains a chance to unwind, to reflect and rejuvenate. It can help us gain clarity, spark creativity, and reduce stress.

So tomorrow morning, instead of reaching for the radio or earbuds, why not try embracing a few minutes of silence? It might feel strange at first, but give it a chance. You might just find it’s the best part of your morning.

10) Prioritize sleep

Here’s something I learned the hard way: burning the midnight oil and sacrificing sleep for work isn’t a badge of honor, it’s a ticket to burnout.

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for our health, mood, and productivity. When we’re well-rested, we’re better able to handle stress, think clearly, and stay positive.

I used to think that staying up late would help me get more done. But all it did was leave me feeling exhausted, irritable, and unproductive the next day. Now, I make sleep a priority, and it has made a world of difference.

Michael Roizen, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic, put it, “Sleep is the most underrated health habit.”

And he’s right. A good night’s sleep can set the stage for a happier, more productive day.

Respect your bedtime, and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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