Both sides of your bed may look the same, but you’ve probably heard the old joke about waking up on the wrong side of the bed. Scientists have discovered there’s some truth to the idea.
Researchers at Penn State University asked 240 adults to use their smartphones to fill out stress surveys and complete working memory exercises many times each day. Participants who were the most stressed in the morning, experienced most difficulty in learning and remembering information in the afternoon.
Being stressed in the morning sets you up for a difficult day, even if nothing stressful really happens.
If you want to feel happier and work more productively, start your day with a positive attitude. This is how:
Mornings are invariably busy time. Plan ahead so you can stay calm while you take care of your responsibilities.
Follow these tips for a more enjoyable morning routine:
Wake up earlier. Give yourself more time and some quiet space, so you can avoid rushing. Write in your journal while your children are still in bed, or be the first to arrive at your office.
Prepare the night before. Streamline your mornings by getting a head start the night before. Lay out your clothes, and pack your lunch.
Meditate daily. Regular meditation practice will transform your day. Sit for 5 or 10 minutes to focus on your breath and quiet your thoughts.
Repeat affirmations. Recite a phrase you find energizing or soothing. Make it brief, positive, and action-oriented.
Go offline. The morning news and social media often carry disturbing images. Check the weather and traffic. Save heavier content for later.
Work out. Exercise dissolves tension, and enhances your mood. Go for a run, or do some yoga before the rush of the day begins.
Eat breakfast. Your body needs to refuel in the morning. Eat a hearty breakfast with protein and healthy fats. Caffeine can increase anxiety, so drink water when you get up, and wait an hour or two before pouring your first cup of coffee.
Plan your day. Take control of your schedule by setting priorities and blocking out your time. Focus on the most urgent and important tasks.
How to Deal with Negative Expectations
While morning stress is particularly powerful, anticipating future trouble is equally debilitating.
Use these strategies when you feel anxious about what’s ahead:
Distract yourself. Often the anticipation is worse than the event itself. Spend the night before your root canal watching a funny movie rather than dreading the trip to the dentist’s office.
Plan something fun. If you have to spend your morning being audited, spend
the afternoon visiting your favorite art museum, or baking a fabulous dessert. We tend to remember the things that happened last.
Reframe your thoughts. The way you think about an event affects your experience, so look on the bright side. The dental appointment will make you more comfortable in the long run, the tax audit may present an opportunity to put your finances in order.
Talk it over. Any challenge seems smaller when you reach out for support. Let your family and friends know when you need help.
Looking forward to your day will make you happier and more successful.