10 Tips To Start Your Day In A Good Mood

A smiling man wearing pajamas looking at his tablet on his bed

Wondering how to wake up in a good mood? It’s easier to rise above the mess than you think…

Have you ever noticed that what happens during the morning hours often sets the tone for the rest of the day? When things go smoothly, you tend to feel more relaxed and ready to face whatever the day may bring. However, when things get bumpy before you’ve even managed to get dressed, you’re more likely to remain grumpy until bedtime.

While some hassles can’t be avoided, you can make mood-enhancing decisions during the a.m. hours that will set the stage for the rest of your day.

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Here are 10 pick-me-ups that will have your mood rising like the morning sun. Try one (or all!) of them for a happier and healthier you.

1. Do something good for yourself, immediately.

When you wake up, give yourself 30 seconds to think of at least one nice thing you can do for yourself that day…and then do it. It could be something as simple as treating yourself to your favorite breakfast treat, or giving yourself time to take a nice, relaxing bath in the morning.

2. Eat a well-balanced meal.

Start your morning with a nutritious mix of complex carbohydrates and proteins that will last you until lunch, such as oatmeal or toast with peanut butter (include a sprinkle of cinnamon, which one study linked to improved mood and alertness, for an extra boost). Other research found that a moderate amount of caffeine (200 mg, or the amount in about two cups of coffee) elevated mood and mental sharpness, so enjoy some joe or black tea with your breakfast.

3. Get some fresh air.

Head out for some “green exercise”—physical activity performed in an outdoor setting—even if you only have a few minutes to spare. Researchers found that people experienced an enhanced mood and higher self-esteem after just five minutes of various types of green exercise, including walking and gardening. The study also found that exercising near water amplified the effects, so if you live near a lake, river or waterfall, even better.

4. Listen to the sounds of nature.

Capture the benefits of the great outdoors, even if you can’t get outside, by listening to recorded nature sounds. In a recent study, participants recovered from a stressful situation more quickly when they listened to a recorded combination of running water and bird sounds. Open your window in the morning so you can hear Mother Nature’s music as you get ready, or invest in an alarm clock that eases you awake with nature sounds.

5. Focus on feeling good.

Right after waking up, take five deep breaths and make the decision to feel good for the day. Imagine that, even when you encounter frustrations and surprises, you will remember to breathe and respond mindfully—rather than react mindlessly—to your circumstances. Throughout the day, “take five deep, intentional breaths and remind yourself of your decision to feel good.”

6. Drink hot chocolate.

A recent study found that sipping a drink containing cocoa flavonols improved participants’ moods and levels of alertness—even as they worked on a series of challenging math problems. So go ahead and savor some hot cocoa made with lowfat or skim milk and dark chocolate. The protein and carbs in the milk will help keep your blood sugar levels stable until lunch, which will help you hold on to your mood momentum.

7. Take a moment to assess yourself.

Don’t jump out of bed right when you open your eyes in the morning. Instead, take five minutes to pay attention to your body and notice if you feel any stiffness, then do some light stretching while breathing deeply. Before racing off to the hundred things on the day’s to-do list, it can be tremendously beneficial to claim these five minutes to tune in to your body and your breath. You’ll find that you are more ‘present’ and better equipped to deal with the busyness of the day ahead.

8. Envision the negative.

You’ve probably heard that gratitude is a mood elevator, but here’s a surprising twist to that tactic: Think about a positive event from your life—how you got your dream job or met your ideal partner, for instance—and then imagine what your life would be like if the event hadn’t happened. Though it seems like this would have the opposite effect, it actually improved the mood of one study’s participants more so than simply thinking of the positive event itself.

9. Breathe in some mint.

Researchers found that sniffing peppermint enhanced mood and attention while also fighting fatigue. Try keeping a bottle of peppermint essential oil or bag of peppermint tea on your nightstand so you can inhale the positive scents right as you wake up. Another happiness helper is chewing gum, which elevated the moods, alertness and attention spans of another study’s participants. Pop a piece of peppermint gum after breakfast for a double-duty perk-up.

10. Smile.

There’s one thing you can do just about anywhere: Smile. Remember, smiling is a simple way to change your mood—and the mood of those around you, too.” So spread your good-mood wealth by baring those pearly whites as often as possible in the morning as well as throughout the day.

Get Married…Or Just Live Together?

A couple holding hands on the streetMany more American women are living with their partners rather than tying the knot, a new government survey finds.

In addition, they live together longer than couples in the recent past, and many more get pregnant before marriage, according to the survey released Thursday by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Nearly half of women aged 15 to 44 years old “cohabited” outside of marriage between 2006 and 2010, compared with 43 percent in 2002 and 34 percent in 1995. The report is based on in-person interviews with more than 12,000 women in that age group.

One reason more people are living together is a well-documented delay in the age at which people are marrying, said study lead author Casey Copen, a demographer with the National Center for Health Statistics.

“Cohabiting couples may be waiting for improved financial stability before they make a decision to marry and, in the process, become pregnant and have a baby,” she said. “As you cohabit longer, there’s more of a chance to become pregnant.”

Many of these arrangements occur at a young age, with one-quarter of women cohabiting by age 20 and three-quarters saying they had lived with a partner by age 30.

During the first year of living together, nearly 20 percent became pregnant and went on to give birth, according to the report.

Along with this trend, fewer women reported getting married in the period from 2006 to 2010 than in either 2002 or 1995 (23 percent, 30 percent and 39 percent, respectively). Of those who became pregnant the first year, 19 percent got married within six months of the pregnancy, versus 32 percent in 1995.

Education and income play a role in how long women cohabit and whether they get pregnant or marry, Copen said.

“Those who have less than a high school degree are cohabiting for longer periods of time,” Copen said. “Women who have a bachelor’s degree or higher are more likely to move into marriage.”

Less educated women were also more likely to become pregnant while they were living with their partner.

The rate of cohabitation increased in all racial and ethnic groups except for Asian women.

Here are some highlights of the report:

  • For the period between 2006 and 2010, 23 percent of recent births happened while the couple was living together, up from 14 percent in 2002.
  • The length of time couples lived together averaged 22 months in 2006 to 2010, compared with 13 months in 1995.
  • About 40 percent of people living together got married within the first three years, while 32 percent continued to live together and 27 percent broke up.
  • More white women (44 percent) and foreign-born Hispanic women (42 percent) married their partners within the first three years of living together compared with only 31 percent each for black women and Hispanic women born in the United States.
  • Women who had not finished high school were more likely to live with someone (70 percent) than women who had finished college or beyond (47 percent).
  • Women with more education were more likely to marry than those with less education, 53 percent within three years versus 30 percent.

It’s not clear what effect these trends may have on the health of families, women and children. Previous research has shown that people who are living together — married or not — tend to be healthier both physically and mentally, Copen said.

Children tend to be happier and healthier the more stable their parents’ union is, regardless of whether the “union” has been formalized or not, she added.

This study did not look at how long couples stayed together beyond three years.