Morning Routine Ideas That Put You in a Great Mood

Person holding coffee cup and flipping through magazine

Mornings can be difficult. 

There isn’t a right or wrong way to start your day, but creating a morning routine that puts you in a great mood can be just the right amount of self-care, especially if you’re busy.

To get the most out of your mornings, you don’t have to make drastic changes. In fact, it’s often the little things you can add to your routine that will make sure you’re off to a great start.

The truth is, most of us don’t have a lot of time in the mornings for some extravagant ritual. Eating breakfast can be a challenge some days. 

Luckily, the ideas below will help boost your mood and don’t require a lot of additional work, so if you’re not a morning person, don’t worry.

Of course, habits and routines take time to develop, so the more focus you put on your morning, the easier it will be. Whether you make a list or set an alarm, a reminder to take care of yourself before you take care of anything else can encourage you to keep it up.

Drink a glass of water

Especially on busy days, it’s tempting to start the day off with a cup (or, let’s be real, two) of coffee. That little kick of caffeine can do wonders. Trading that habit in for a glass of water may end up helping you have a better day, though. 

Angela Lemond, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells USA TODAY that water is "the gold standard fluid for the body” and because you wake up dehydrated, it is even more important that you start the day with it. 

This small habit can help ensure you get enough water throughout the day, aids in important bodily functions such as digestion. It also helps increase mobility and can put you in a better emotional state, according to one study that focused specifically on how water intake correlates with moods.

Make your bed

It might not seem like much, but making your bed can be one of the best things you can add to your morning routine, and not just because it makes you a little tidier. 

One study found that 74% of people who make their bed in the morning feel accomplished at the end of the day, compared to only about 50% of people who don’t make their bed. 

If you think about it, it really makes sense: it can set the tone for your day.

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day,″ retired U.S. Navy Admiral SEAL William H. McCraven said in a commencement speech in 2014. “It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.” 

Write down your top three

Even a good morning can be overrun by the overwhelm of a day’s tasks. Whether it’s a day of meetings, running errands, or big deadlines, it’s easy to immediately get swept up in the stress of everything you need to get done. 

Instead of poring over your calendar and to-do lists first thing in the morning, take a moment to choose, intentionally, your top three priorities. Some days they will be specific (like completing a performance review or submitting a paper) and some days they might not, but you’ll be able to create a blueprint for your day. 

This morning routine item will help you all day long, too. You’ll be able to more effectively prioritize tasks by keeping a focus on those most important responsibilities, and when the day comes to an end it’ll be easy to review your progress and think about the next day.

Set an intention

When you wake up in the morning, start by asking yourself what you want the day’s theme to be. Sometimes that’s as simple as saying that you want to focus on being open-minded or you want to seek out new opportunities. On harder days, it’s taking time to process and think through decisions. Those little reminders are something you can revisit all day long to help guide you.

Setting an intention is like making a little deal with yourself. It doesn’t have to be much, but that little push you give yourself can help nudge you in positive directions and encourage you to make healthy decisions. The best part about morning intentions is that each day they are tailored to you and how you’re feeling. It gives you a chance to check-in with yourself and listen — perhaps one of the healthiest routines you could add to your morning.

Find some movement

Whether it’s a few moments of stretching or a walk around the neighborhood, incorporating even just some light exercise into your morning routine can be beneficial. Because exercise boosts feel-good chemicals in the brain, starting the day with movement is a great way to ensure a good mood. 

Research has found that a morning walk is linked to better mental and physical health, and it can even help you sleep deeper. By investing in your morning routine you’re also getting a head start on your bedtime routine. 

For stretching, you don’t even have to get out of bed to make a difference in your day, according to Harvard health professionals. 

"Stretching before getting out of bed can help wake up the body and improve the circulation. It can also turn on the parasympathetic system — the ‘rest and digest’ system — which puts us in a more relaxed state right when we get out of bed, helping set the tone for a calm morning and day," says Dr. Beth Frates, programming director for the Stroke Research and Recovery Institute at Harvard’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

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