How you start your day is going to impact how you feel for the rest of the day. A study done by Nancy Rothbard from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and Steffanie Wilk from the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University found that those who started their morning in a positive mood generally stayed that way throughout the day, and that people who started their day in a terrible mood generally stayed that way as well and may even feel worse by the end of the day.
I learned the importance of how I start my day after I was diagnosed as Bipolar. My treatment plan includes a high need for self-care and stress management. And it’s easy for me (as it is for many) to fall into being upset or angry about situations life has handed me or getting wrapped up in how stressed out/anxious I may be feeling. I have learned that I need to take very deliberate actions in order to manage my moods and I need to start as soon as I wake up.
So these tips are for you if you have a tendency to wake up on the wrong side of the bed, spend your morning running around at a stressed-out warp speed to get to work on time, or just have generally higher levels of anxiety. Making some small changes to your morning routine can help you manage your mood for the rest of the day- I can attest to this.
Here are 5 things to do differently so that you’ll be happier all day long:
The night before: plan out your meals to take to work, your outfit, and anything else you may need. Your parents may have had you do this when you were in grade school, and for good reason! If everything is planned out and put together the night before there is less for you to think about (and stresses about!) in the morning.
DO NOT CHECK YOUR PHONE! And for that matter, don’t check the news either. Don’t let the first thing you look at in the morning be all of your responsibilities for the day ahead. In addition to that a study found that participants who watched the negatively weighted content showed increases in both anxiousness and sad mood. Take control of your mood by controlling what content you digest first thing in the morning. The emails and news will be there waiting for you when you choose to look at them.
Drink a big glass of water, then have a healthy breakfast. When you wake up you are dehydrated and have an empty stomach (due to not eating or drinking for several hours, duh). Let the first thing you put into your body be nourishing. The better you take care of your body, the more your mood and mind is easier to control.
Take 5-10 minutes for self-care: meditate, journal, gentle stretching, or even dance around your home. I get more push back on this recommendation with my clients than any other one because, “I ain’t got time for that!” If you don’t have time for multiple self-care activities start with just 5 minutes of one activity. You are more likely to continue to practice self-care if you can do even one thing for yourself in the morning. And besides, since you planned out your needs the night before you now have at least 5 minutes more to spare.
Map out your top priorities for the day, and begin tomorrow’s to-do list. Before you get going on being a productive member of society for the day, make a list of the day’s top priorities. As new items pop up throughout the day add them to tomorrow’s to-do list (unless it’s extremely urgent then of course you should do that task today). Focus only on what needs your attention today and let tomorrow’s items be done tomorrow. By writing these to-do’s down you no longer have tasks floating around in your head stressing you out all day long.