Waking up stressed or tired? Starting your day with these simple habits can lift your spirits and boost your energy until bedtime.

Mornings are a struggle for many of us who regularly wake up feeling tired and crabby. I get it – it’s hard to feel cheerful when you’re overtired and stressed, much of which feels out of our control.

But happiness experts say there are simple morning habits we can adopt that have a huge impact on how we feel all day long. They’re easy tweaks that can boost our mental well-being.

Intrigued? Here are five morning strategies I’ve found that lift my spirits and energize me to stay happy until bedtime:

1. Link a wellness habit to your morning ritual.

    This first tip is intentionally broad, because research shows many different practices can boost happiness.

    You could try meditation – simply close your eyes and focus on 10 breaths. Or incorporate exercise, which is proven to lift moods. Another idea is to appreciate nature by looking outside and noticing your yard or the sky.

    Psychiatrist Murray Zucker says the key is picking one wellness habit, then linking it to something you already do each morning. You’re connecting a new habit to an existing ritual.

    For example, maybe you typically get up, use the bathroom, then make the bed. Link your new habit to part of that routine, like reading 10 pages while making the bed. By connecting it to a regular ritual, you’re much more likely to turn it into a consistency habit. And consistency is vital for improving happiness over time, says Zucker.

    Start with just one new habit attached to your morning ritual. Build gradually from there.

    2. Banish your phone from the bedroom.

      “Do not have your screen in your room,” advises career and life coach Allison Task, who insists on this rule with her clients. When you reach for your phone first thing, you allow the outside world to immediately influence your mood.

      Studies show frequent social media and excessive emails decrease happiness over time. Screens also disrupt sleep, which is crucial for well-being.

      “Sleep is a game changer,” says Task. While you can’t always control wake up time, you can try to protect your sleep by keeping screens out of your bedroom.

      3. Talk to yourself…by name.

        Zucker notes that we often spend mornings consumed in negative self-talk about the stresses ahead. He suggests a simple technique – talk to yourself by name.

        “If you use your own name in self-talk, you’re more likely to follow the advice,” Zucker explains.

        For example, say you have a big work presentation and are telling yourself you’ll flop. You can make yourself quite anxious with this internal dialogue.

        But if you say: “Maria, you’ve done this before. You enjoy these presentations,” you take control over your thoughts and set yourself up for a happier day.

        As Zucker says, “Just using your own name can be very helpful.”

        4. Connect with someone meaningful.

          “Make social contact with somebody you have positive regard for,” Zucker recommends. This could be a spouse, child, friend, or family member.

          What that contact looks like depends on your time and personality. For a busy schedule, a quick call or text might work. With more time, meet for coffee.

          But even just thinking appreciation for someone can help. “You can start with a simple appreciation practice,” says Cortland Dahl of the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Healthy Minds. Focus on what you cherish about a loved one.

          Even brief social connection first thing fuels happiness all day. As humans, we thrive on positive bonds.

          5. Start Your Day with Gratitude

          Research shows gratitude is one of the most powerful morning habits for boosting happiness.

          In studies, people who journal about thankful moments score higher in happiness than those writing about irritations. A daily gratitude practice may also improve physical health, which supports overall well-being.

          It’s easy to incorporate gratitude in the morning:

          • Take a pause to appreciate being alive and what your day holds, like playing with your child or walking your dog.
          • Say a morning prayer, if that’s your tradition. Or just reflect on what you’re grateful for.
          • Even appreciating hitting snooze again works!

          Finding a way to express gratitude first thing can set you up for a much happier frame of mind all day. This simple habit goes a long way.

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