We all want to wake up happy and in a good mood – but doing so isn’t always easy.
We asked a selected group of experts to give their best advice when it comes to improving your mood so that you can wake up happy and get the most out of life.
Here’s what they said.
Take A Close Look At Your Diet
Uma Naidoo MD, Harvard Nutritional Psychiatrist and Author of This is your Brain on Food
Many of us may speak to our doctors about a family history of diabetes or if we’ve gained a few pounds. Yet the most important organ of our body, our brain, is omitted from this conversation.
Our mental well-being, especially now, is more important than ever. Burnout is at an all-time high, and recent CDC statistics are downright scary. Eleven percent of Americans considered suicide during the pandemic, speaking to an underbelly of emotional suffering not always visible to others.
With so much stigma associated with mental health, food becomes a low-hanging fruit that is easy to discuss and implement as a gateway to improving mental health.
While how we eat is always important to our mental health, if someone is actively suicidal, severely depressed, experiencing mania or a loss of touch with reality – emergency care is needed but does not exclude embracing a healthy diet.
One mechanism of the impact of food on our mood is via the gut microbiome, which is unique to each of us – think of it like a gut fingerprint!
There are about 39 trillion microbes (bugs) that live in the microbiome and are there to help us with our mental, physical and immune. How we eat we can nurture the bugs or irritate them.
The standard American diet (often called the SAD diet) full of processed and junk foods and little fiber, will irritate the good bugs and help the bad bugs thrive.
When the bad bugs thrive, conditions such as gut inflammation start to develop. A ‘leaky gut’ is one possible outcome but brain inflammation and worsening of mood symptoms begin too.
You may well ask – how come the food in my gut affects my brain health? Well, technically all foods are brain foods – either in a good or bad way, due to this connection between the gut and the brain.
These two organs form from the very same cells as our baby bodies are developing. Then they are connected by the vagus nerve, the tenth cranial nerve in the brain, which acts as a two-way superhighway channeling chemical messages back and forth 24/7 between the brain and gut and vice versa.
And it’s important for you to know that serotonin, which many know as the ‘happiness hormone’, has more than 90 per cent of its receptors in the gut! This may help you to understand why what we eat impacts how we feel.
Optimize Your Sleep
Alex Tauberg, Primary Spine Practitioner And Certified Sports Chiropractor
The best way to wake up happy and in a good mood is to ensure that you get a good night’s rest. Below are my top tips for doing just that.
1) Ensure that you are getting enough support when you sleep. Mattress quality is important if you want to achieve an optimal night’s sleep. Having a mattress that does not provide the proper support for your body can cause you to toss and turn through the night, leaving you less rested and potentially in more pain when you wake up.
Furthermore, when a mattress does not provide enough support, it doesn’t allow your muscles to completely relax. If your muscles are kept active all night and don’t get the proper rest, this can potentially lead to pain and injury.
2) Set an alarm clock to go to bed as well as to wake up. You want to be going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. Even if you have nothing that requires you to keep those hours.
This helps set your circadian rhythm and will make it easier to stay and fall asleep
3) Watch the screen time. Currently, people are using their computers as much if not more than ever. Screen time close to bedtime can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
If you can’t avoid this, look into getting yourself some blue light blocking glasses.
4) If you can’t sleep, don’t just lay there for hours on end or look at your phone while laying in bed. Get up, go to another room and read a book.
Pass some time then come back and try to fall asleep again.
Wind Your Day Down And Sleep Well
Linda Mueller, Certified Life Coach
It helps to wake up happy and in a good mood if you follow these three steps.
1) Prepare – Before going to bed, look at your agenda for the next day and be prepared for it. Have whatever you need to leave the house with ready to go.
Make a list of any lingering to do items so that they don’t float in your head as you are trying to go to sleep. Set your alarm with a soothing tone, if you need to be up at a certain time.
2) Sleep well – Have a relaxing pre-sleep routine, which doesn’t have to be long or complicated. Figure out how much sleep you need and get it. Create a comfortable sleep environment.
3) Wake slowly – Set your alarm a bit early so that you can slowly wake up. Mediate, journal or stretch, if that works for you. Focus on gratitude.
Wait until you are awake and out of bed before grabbing your phone and getting sucked into the news, emails and the like.
Winding your day down and sleeping well will set you up for a positive start to your day.
Taking a few minutes to focus on yourself upon waking will put a positive spin on whatever the day may bring.
Set Yourself With The Right Intention And Purpose For The Day
Chris Searles, Family Physician and Clinical Professor at the University of California, San Diego
When it comes to happiness habits, I tend to break my suggestions up into daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly habits. Here, I’ve focused on two daily habits.
1) Get lots of sleep. Sleeping is absolutely essential to overall health and how we function both physically and emotionally.
Most adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep and if we don’t get that, we are rarely at our best.
A few easy changes to incorporate in your daily routine to promote better sleep include going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, keeping your room dark and quiet, and making sure that the last hour before bedtime isn’t filled with vigorous activity that is reserved for relaxing activities like taking a bath or reading.
2) When you wake up, check yourself. Every morning you wake up is an opportunity to set yourself with the right intention and purpose for the day.
One exercise that I use myself and recommend for others is what I call the “check yourself” exercise. It’s pretty quick, pretty simple, and pretty powerful.
I spend a couple of minutes each day by asking myself two important questions:
How am I right now?
What do I need to be my best today?
This is an opportunity to really look at myself as I start my day and focus on my thoughts and feelings (both emotional and physical).
Are my thoughts positive or negative? Am I feeling upbeat or overwhelmed? Is my body feeling loose and ready to go or am I feeling achy and stiff? Then, after an honest self-assessment, I ask myself what I’ll need to make my day the best it can be for myself, and others.
The exercise incorporates emotional intelligence and mindfulness to focus on thoughts and feelings at the start of each day, bringing intention and purpose to what I need to be my best.
Avoid Consuming Too Much Added Sugar
Jinan Banna, PhD, Registered Dietitian and Professor of Nutrition at University of Hawaii at Mānoa
To boost your mood, it’s important to have the proper diet.
There is a link between what we eat and mood. One of the things we can do is make sure we are not consuming added sugar in excess.
Added sugar can be found in foods such as cakes, pastries and cookies, but is also hidden in many others such as salad dressing, bread, and cereal.
Intake of refined sugars has been linked to depression and anxiety. Similarly, low intake of omega-3 fat has also been linked to mood disorders.
To get enough omega-3, it’s important to include foods such as salmon, walnuts and chia seeds.
If we emphasize whole foods, it is easier to be sure we are consuming enough of what we need to keep the brain healthy and prevent depression and anxiety.
Breathe Deeply And Start Your Day With A Positive Mantra
Juliet Lundholm, Yoga Teacher and Fitness Wellbeing Coach
1) Breathe deeply. Breathing deeply can have a hugely transformative effect on the body and mind. This is because a deep breath sends more oxygen to the brain which signals the body to relax and raise the feel-good hormones oxytocin and prolactin whilst lowering levels of cortisol.
Start each morning with three minutes of deep focused breathing sending the in breath down to the belly as you lengthen the inhale and lengthen the exhale.
This will quickly move you away from feelings of stress, tension or anxiety and into a state of calm. The more you practice, the more habitual this calming and uplifting breath pattern will become and the more benefits you will receive. And the best bit is – it’s completely free!
2) Start your day with a positive mantra. Using a mantra when you first wake up is an amazing way to infuse your energy with positivity.
It doesn’t have to be complicated; a simple word (love, joy, courage, freedom) repeated in your mind will focus your attention on that feeling and thus manifest it in your body and soul.
During the night our brains have processed and sorted the previous day’s noise and worry so when we wake up new spaces have been created and if we start by filling that space wisely and intentionally with a positive mantra we take control of our emotions and remember that we have the power to choose how to experience our world for the rest fo the day.
3) Jump out of bed and onto your mat. Starting your day with a quick yoga practice can be all you need to boost your mood and keep it that way.
When you are stressed or low, the body moves into the flight or flight response where muscles seize up and the breath becomes short and shallow.
Yoga has the ability to interrupt this natural defence mechanism by using stretching to increase blood flow and circulation to tense muscles and by calming the nervous system with a deeper, slower breathing pattern.
A 10 to 20 minute yoga session could be all you need to move from a state of stress or overwhelm to a more relaxed, rejuvenated leaving you fully refreshed and happier for the day ahead.
Gratitude Helps To Cultivate Happiness
Diane Lang, Positive Psychology Coach and Educator
1) Stay away from the news and social media about 30 minutes before bed. What you think about or digest affects how you sleep, if you sleep and what mood you wake up in.
2) Happiness habits for night. Right before you go to bed, you want to ask yourself the following two questions. These two questions help re-train your brain for positivity.
Write or say two to three things you are grateful for that happened today. Gratitude helps to cultivate happiness but also cultivates mindfulness which helps you sleep. Gratitude is a positive emotion that helps you shift your perspective.
Write or say two to three things you did well today. This question helps you focus on the good in your life. It also brings up positive emotions such as accomplishment and hope
3) Whenever you’re having a bad day and want to switch your mood, visualize. Visualize a happy memory in your life, a party, event, vacation, etc. Visualize just for a few minutes being back at the event. Use every ounce of detail and your senses to really make the visual come alive. Your brain can’t tell if the visualization is really happening or if it’s a memory. You will go back to that place and feel the good vibes.
4) Music can switch your mood instantly. Listen to something that pumps you up and empowers you.
5) Shift your mood by helping others. Perform a random act of kindness. This will give you a boost of happiness and help improve your self esteem. The bonus – the person you help receives the same happiness boost. Kindness is another positive emotion.