9 things happy people do before 8 am, according to psychology

Ever met someone who’s crazy productive in the morning? They just seem to have their lives together and (somewhat annoyingly), they’re ridiculously happy, too!

For sure, some of us are hardwired to feel less depressed and more energetic – especially in the mornings.

But regardless of our wiring, it is a little bit up to us to boost our mood first thing and give ourselves the best start to the day.

How? Science has the answer. Here are 9 things to do before 8am to be happier, backed by psychology.

Up first:

1) Wake up!

I love sleeping in, but it isn’t always good for my mental health. If you’ve ever slept in until 11am on a Sunday, you probably know what I mean. Sometimes, you feel lazy and a little regretful for doing it.

Studies have actually found that people who wake up earlier are less likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. You’re also more likely to feel optimistic, satisfied, and positive about your life.

Why? There are lots of rumors/research – some being that you take in more daylight when you wake up earlier, which naturally boosts your mood.

Others say that waking up with the sun is what we’re “supposed” to do, so we feel more in touch with our nature when we do it. Either way, it makes us feel better!

2) Avoid the snooze

There’s nothing wrong with hitting the snooze button, right? Wrong! I used to intentionally set earlier alarms so I could snooze them at least 2 or 3 times before getting out of bed. But as it turns out, it really wasn’t good for me.

Studies have found that waking up, hitting snooze, falling back asleep, and repeating this several times is extremely bad for your well-being. 

Firstly, it can disrupt your internal body clock and lead to sleep problems in the future (which are closely linked to depression and other mood disorders).

And secondly, it makes you more tired. Jumping straight out of bed after your first alarm is tough, but it’s way better for your energy levels. 

Personally, since I made the switch, I feel like I’ve achieved something by not snoozing and that alone makes me feel better going into the day.

3) Drink some water

A glass of water makes the world go around. Well, it keeps the cogs turning in our bodies! Drinking water shortly after waking up is the pinnacle of good mental and physical health.

Your body naturally uses up its water overnight, leaving you dehydrated in the morning. Dehydration leads to all kinds of problems, research finds. But most importantly, it affects your energy levels in the AM.

It makes you feel tired, sluggish, and kind of down in the dumps. Know this feeling? I do and it definitely doesn’t put me in a good mood first thing (or the rest of the day on a bad week!).

A glass of water avoids all those feelings and can give you a boost in mood and energy – alongside aiding your metabolism, digestion, immune system, and even the health of your hair and skin!

4) Get fresh air

Sleeping with the window cracked or opening it first thing makes you happier – it’s a science!

I started doing this not long ago to beat the slug in the mornings and, honestly, it works. At first, I thought it was the sound of the birds and the breeze rustling through the leaves, but apparently not.

What is it? Serotonin! Also known as the happy hormone. How does it happen? Well, the more oxygen you have in your blood, the more serotonin your body will release, research finds.

So breathing in fresh air in the morning can increase the oxygen in your blood, release serotonin, and (most importantly) boost your overall mood.

5) Soak up the sunlight (if it’s up)

We all know the healing powers of vitamin D, right? Sunlight directly hitting our skin when we’re outdoors creates vitamin D in our bodies. And, as you likely know, vitamin D regulates our mood and decreases the risk of depression, research finds.

But I think it’s safe to say that few of us think about getting sunlight before 8am in the morning. I gave this one a go and slept with my blinds wide open one night (weird, I know). Yet it made a huge difference to my mood in the morning – in a good way!

I felt more awake, alert, and energetic, for sure. But most importantly, opening my eyes and feeling the sun on my skin put me in the best mood ever. And while I won’t do it every night, I’ll definitely be doing it more often when I need a pick-me-up.

6) Move your body (even just a little)

It isn’t just fresh air that releases that happy hormone, exercise does, too! Exercising creates serotonin and dopamine in your body, giving you an instant mood boost.

But that isn’t the only reason why moving your body puts you in a good mood. Working out first thing gives you a sense of accomplishment. If you’re prone to anxiety, it can help you deal with it better when you’ve exercised that day, too.

Some studies have even found that exercise encourages the growth of new neurons in the brain, which can increase your energy levels, cognition, memory, and your lust for learning.

Granted, not everyone is a 5am hit-the-gym kind of person (myself included!). So for me, I find a short walk or a few reps with the kettlebell next to my bed do the trick just fine.

7) Make your bed

If you haven’t read Atomic Habits by James Clear, it’s a great read! One of the most memorable suggestions in the book is for you to make your bed in the morning.

Of course, the whole book is about developing small habits every day that make your life better, with making your bed being just one of them. But why is this one so popular? 

Well, it’s because it’s been backed by science. Experts find that making your bed in the morning gives you an immediate sense of accomplishment first thing. 

The theory is that this small success encourages others throughout the day. The research finds that making your bed helps you sleep better, feel less stressed, and even encourages you to adopt a calmer outlook on the day.

So all in all, it’s well worth it.

8) Have a cold (ish!) shower

The idea of a cold shower doesn’t make me happy at all – regardless of what time of the day it is! But unfortunately, cold showers are hugely beneficial for our overall wellness – especially in the morning.

Research finds that a cold shower in the morning can boost your mood, increase energy levels, improve metabolism, and enhance clarity in the brain.

Begrudgingly, I gave it a go. I didn’t have an entirely cold shower, but I started off cold, went hot, and blasted the cold at the very end again. And, yes, I admit, I did feel a lot better…

9) Think positive thoughts

Haven’t we all had those days where we wake up thinking, “I don’t want to do this today” or “Today isn’t going to be good”. I know I have! I also know that this isn’t a good habit to get into. It makes me feel down about the day before it’s even started.

Thinking positive thoughts isn’t easy. It certainly doesn’t come naturally to most of us. But interrupting negative thoughts and changing the narrative is something all of us can do – and there’s a good reason why we should…

Research finds that being more optimistic helps you manage stress and reduces depressive feelings. It can also increase your lifespan, improve your cardiovascular health, and boost your immune system!

So changing the narrative to “Today WILL be a good day” or “I feel good this morning” is well worth trying.

Final thoughts

Overwhelmed? Remember this: The key to forming good habits is to start small and work your way onwards and upwards.

Choose one thing – just one small thing – and give it a try tomorrow. Do it again the next day and the next. If you like it and it works for you, pick something else to try.

Rinse and repeat with the other habits you like on this list. Make them work for you and your routine.

Eventually, these will be habits that simply come naturally to you – and YOU’LL be one of those people who are super happy and productive in the mornings, too!

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