10 morning habits of happy people, according to psychology

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Have you ever wondered what happy people do to set themselves up for a good day?

The first thing they do is pay attention to their mood, says Rebekah Tennyson, DClinPsy, a clinical psychologist for the National Health Service in Oxfordshire, England. 

“Paying attention to your mood in the morning can have lasting impacts on the rest of your day,” she says. 

“Giving yourself the time and space to check in with and look after yourself will make sure you’re set up for the day ahead in the best way possible.”

So how to set ourselves up to have an uplifting day?

Here are ten morning habits of happy people, psychologically speaking. 

1) They have a good sleep regimen and they refuse to set an alarm

Arianna Huffington—founder of The Huffington Post—goes to bed early so that she can be sure to get her eight hours in. 

This also allows for Huffington to wake up naturally without having to rely on an alarm clock.

“Just think about the definition of the world alarm,” emphasizes Huffington. “A sudden fear or distressing suspense caused by an awareness of danger.”

Beginning the day in such a startling way automatically starts your day off on a stressful note, adds Caroline Castrillon from Forbes

“[It creates a flood of stress hormones and adrenaline as our body prepares for danger. Not the best way to start the day.”

2) They let the light in 

The moment I get out of bed, I make sure to open the shades in my bedroom. Then I walk around the house opening the rest of the shades or curtains. 

Natural light instantly perks me up for the day. Usually the more the natural light from the sun, the better my mood starts off.  

Scientific evidence published over the last four decades has shown that retinal light exposure influences our physiology, behavior, and emotion, say the authors of a study called “Light exposure behaviors predict mood, memory, and sleep quality” from Scientific Reports

“More specifically, it modulates human sleep, circadian rhythms, alertness, mood, neuroendocrine and neurobehavioral functions.”

3) They make their bed, baby 

A bedroom holds a lot of power in the mental schematics of how our brains work, says Erika Lang

“From the way we arrange our furniture to the level of cleanliness, the way we keep our rooms in order can have a big impact on our mental health,” she says. 

Making your bed each morning has a host of benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

For one thing, it establishes a sense of order and organization in our immediate environment, says Lang. 

“It creates a visually pleasing space, free from the clutter and chaos that an unmade bed can convey. This small act of tidiness can contribute to a feeling of control over your surroundings, instilling a sense of calmness and reducing stress.”

She continues:

“The aesthetics of a neatly arranged bed can also enhance your mood and contribute to a more positive mindset throughout the day. One simple task can set you for success throughout your day…It enhances your emotional state, fostering a positive mindset, and self-care.”

4) They don’t turn to technology 

Picking up our smartphones first thing in the morning can not only put a damper on our moods, but it can distract us from checking in with ourselves, says psychologist Andrea Martin, PhD

“Many of us have developed a habit of checking in with our phones during a moment, where in the past, we would more likely have checked on ourselves; taken some deep breaths and allowed our mind to wander—naturally, as it should!”

Being tethered to our smartphones from the moment we wake up can have a negative impact on our mood, our performance, our health, and our relationships, Martin says. 

“It eats up a lot of precious time we could use more mindfully on an activity we are likely to get more out of…The use of electronic devices might also have an impact on our mood and perceived levels of stress.”

Martin cites a research study that examined the impact of work email in a population of engineers and found that time spent emailing for work can result in feeling overloaded, and induce feelings of stress, regardless of the work created by emails received.”

Not the most serene way to start your day. 

5) They won’t start the day without water 

I tend to be someone who get dehydrated very easily, so jump starting my water intake first thing in the morning automatically makes me feel better and more relaxed. 

Water first thing in the morning will give you a mood boost that will jumpstart your day. 

Your mood improves with more water intake, says Rebecca Joy Stanborough, MFA.

In a 2014 study, researchers explored how increasing or decreasing water intake could affect mood in people with different water-drinking habits. 

They found that people who usually drink lots of water fand or less calm and less content, and more tense when their water intake dropped. 

But when the researchers increased the participants’ water intake, people in the study felt more happiness, no matter how much water they normally drank. 

6) They do a morning “brain dump”

In other words, they journal. 

Journaling—or doing a morning “brain dump” as 

Nir Eyal from Psychology Today calls it—can help you stay focused. 

That’s because “journaling in the morning is a good way to curtail any external triggers or the cues in your environment that may lead to distraction,” he says. 

Eyal says that when something is weighing on your mind, taking a minute to write it out can help you get the most out of your day.

“When I interviewed author Ryan Holiday, he told me that his most important routine is journaling for 15 minutes every morning. ‘By the time I am finished,’ he said, ‘I am centered, I am calm, and most importantly, I am primed to do the actual thing creative work by which I make my living.’”

Purging whatever is on your mind in the form of journaling first thing in the morning allows you to start the day with a clean slate. 

You’re also teaching your subconscious to look for solutions. 

So don’t mind us while we run out to get our hands on a fresh new journal.

7) They feed their body in a way that also nourishes their emotional well-being 

Did you know that you can stabilize your mood with food?

The right food, that is. 

How do we set ourselves up to be in a good frame of mind first thing in the morning when it comes to food?

“How about starting by simply avoiding refined carbohydrates and sticking to a whole foods diet that minimizes big swings in blood glucose and insulin in the first place?” says Ekua Hagan from Psychology Today

That means no orange juice, bagels, croissants, and the like—especially when it comes to breakfast. 

Our sugar intake can have a lot to do with our irritability, our mood swings, and our low energy, says Hagan.

“Most of us don’t realize how much better we can feel—physically and emotionally—if we eat right. If you’re like most people, you’ve been misled about what a truly healthy diet truly is, so you’ve been consuming high-carbohydrate, fat-free foods like cereal [and] fruit juice everyday that are actually working against your metabolism, your hormones, and your mood.”

Hagan says that you might think of yourself as a depressed or negative person, a high-strung stress ball, or a fragile moody sort who is easily overwhelmed—but maybe you’re actually perfectly fine—or at least a lot better—underneath all that sugar.

8) Self-care helps them feel more serene

American actress and singer-songwriter Lea Michele indulges in a steam shower right after her morning cup of joe. 

Even on her busiest days Michele steams for a long while because it helps her to depuff and sweat out all the toxins from her body.

While she’s in the shower, she exfoliates her body not once, but twice. She starts off by dry brushing and then using a homemade scrub which contains coconut oil, brown sugar or sea salt, as well as olive oil—all of which she stores right in the bathroom. 

Starting your day off with self-care automatically puts you in a happier and peaceful mood, not to mention how it can rejuvenate and invigorate you. 

Self-care is linked to improved mental health, self-esteem, self-worth, and optimism, says Monica Vermani, C. Psych

“Self-care involves valuing ourselves enough to make our health, well-being, and happiness a priority. We often don’t take enough care of ourselves, which can have long-term effects on our well-being.”

9) They “salute the sun”

In other words, they move their bodies by doing something like practicing yoga in the morning (The Sun Salutation is a 12-step yoga sequence, for those unfamiliar with the term). 

Practicing yoga first thing in the morning can boost your mood in the morning because of the many benefits it offers, says Courtney E. Ackerman, MA from Positive Psychology

“Doing yoga first thing boosts your mood for the rest of the day,” she says. “Practicing yoga as soon as you get up can help lower cortisol levels and resist unnecessary stress.”

“In fact, yoga first thing in the morning has the ability to bias your mind towards the positive right from the start of your day. Morning yoga may also bias your mind to continue making healthy choices all day.”

10) They write down their goals for the day 

Writing a to-do list right at the start of your day zeroes in on what you need or want to do that day, and you’re happier for it, says Courtney Telloian from Good Therapy

There’s a sense of pride in effectively organizing and executing the tasks on your list.

“Often, we have so much to do that we can’t hold it in our minds all at once, and the idea of forgetting an obligation can be anxiety-inducing.”

Telloian advises taking a couple of minutes to jot down your goals for the day, so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do anything. 

The beauty about list-writing is that it works by reducing chaos and lends structure to your day, emphasizes Telloian. “[It also] lends support to your memory.”

To write an effective list, start with your most important objectives for the day. 

“Keep it small, realistic, and focused. [Make sure to] monitor self-talk and watch out for tasks that aren’t necessary or contribute to distraction,” Telloian says. 

“Organize yourself around your values and goals and need to channel the best you.”

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