As Soon as the Alarm Rings...
Spend your first 15 seconds awake planning something nice to do for yourself today. "This can really set you up in a good mood—even if it's just going by the farmers' market and getting fresh strawberries," says Alice Domar, PhD, author of Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Break Free from the Perfection Deception
The longer you lie there, the more you ruminate, the darker your outlook is likely to become, says Christine Padesky, PhD, co-author of Mind Over Mood
. So get vertical and make a cup of coffee, take a shower, feed the cat...
...make that two glasses of water upon awakening, the time when our bodies are dehydrated, says Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, author of The Good Mood Diet
. Dehydration causes fatigue, which affects your mood.
You already know the number one way of chasing away a bad mood: exercise. A workout at the gym sure helps. But even just a few minutes of movement—a fast walk, for example—raises energy and reduces tension, says mood expert Robert Thayer, PhD, professor of psychology at California State University, Long Beach, and author of Calm Energy
When you're dogged by anxiety or the dread you woke up with, try to pinpoint what's causing it. Did someone say anything the day before? Do you have a meeting today you wish you didn't? Was it the dream you were having when the alarm went off? "If you can figure out why you're upset, that's halfway to feeling better," says Domar.
Be Kind and Thankful
This isn't exactly news, but generosity and gratitude are both big contributors to happiness, according to Todd B. Kashdan, PhD, who directs the Laboratory for the Study of Social Anxiety, Character Strengths, and Related Phenomena at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Do something nice for a stranger or friend and see if you don't feel better about yourself. Also, jot down three things that you're grateful for. It seems so simple, but counting your blessings just has a way of making you remember the sun is shining.
Laugh at Yourself
The best comedians point out the mundane aspects of life—relationship strife, a boring job, a closet full of too-tight clothes; they exaggerate those circumstances, and give us a perspective we can laugh about, says Mark Ridley, owner of the Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, Michigan. Look at your own life and try to appreciate the absurdity of what doesn't go exactly according to plan (the diets, the men, the buzz cut). Acknowledging how little control we actually have over what happens is sometimes a most freeing gift to yourself.
Your Happiness Plan