Medically Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on January 21, 2020

Get Ready for a Great Morning

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The secret to a calmer morning starts with a little prep work the night before. So tackle important to-dos like these: Choose tomorrow’s clothes. Pack up work and school supplies. Make a simple, nutritious lunch. And consider prepping an easy breakfast you can store in the fridge overnight, like steel-cut oatmeal with berries.

Write Reminders

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Are you forgetful first thing in the morning? If so, jot down important morning tasks the night before, and place the list somewhere visible. For instance, you could write reminders on a dry erase board that sticks to your refrigerator. You could also scribble encouraging quotes or mantras on the board to get some positive vibes going.

Wake Up Less Alarmed

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Rise and shine 10 minutes earlier than you do now. That way, you don’t have to rush. The right alarm clock or app can help you do that. Choose one that can gently rouse you if your usual alarm startles or annoys you out of bed. Some clocks even have a display that simulates the sunrise. Once you’re awake, point your toes out and reach your arms above your head for a relaxing full-body stretch in bed.

Eat a Healthy Breakfast

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We all skip it once in a while. But do you really want to risk getting “hangry”? That’s when you get stressed and mad due to an empty stomach. A balanced breakfast can keep that "hanger" away. It gives you energy for the day, and it may boost your focus and mood. So have a healthy morning meal most days. Fill your plate, bowl, or blender with lean protein, fruit or veggies, and whole grains.

Brush Your Teeth … Mindfully

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Everybody frets about their future or past from time to time. But you can start to let go of your worries if you focus on the present -- even while scrubbing your teeth after breakfast. You’ve performed this minty morning ritual countless times. But have you ever paid close attention to each step, from toothpaste squeeze to mouth rinse? It might just help you stay in the moment and relax. 

Try Meditation

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Even a few minutes a day of this peaceful practice may help you zap stress. There are many ways to meditate, but these general tips -- or a mediation app -- can get you started: Find somewhere comfortable to sit. Focus on your breath as it enters and exits your nose or belly. And when your mind wanders, bring it back to your breathing -- it’s normal to have to do that lots of times.

Get Some Exercise

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Your body releases feel-good brain chemicals when you work out. You may feel more creative and productive afterward, too. So go for a brisk walk or hit the gym if you have 20-30 minutes to spare. If you’re crunched for time, even a 7-minute routine that combines gentle yoga poses and body-weight exercises could energize you and lift your mood.

Stretch It Out

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Stretching could limber up your body and your mind. Warm up with a short jog, or walk first. If you don’t have time for that, take a hot shower or bath instead. Then, do a quick mental scan of your body. Are certain parts tight? Gently stretch those areas for about 30 seconds. Take deep breaths while you hold each pose. 

Make a Morning Playlist

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Music can help you melt away stress. So put together a mix of your favorite relaxing or uplifting tracks. You could listen to it during breakfast, while you’re exercising, or on the way to work.

Practice Gratefulness

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Stress gets all of us down at times. But there’s a way to look at things in a more positive light. Take a few moments each morning to think of someone or something you’re grateful for. You could write it down in a journal, or look at photos to remind you. If you think about a friend or loved one who makes your life better, why not also call or text them to say thanks? 

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Nekeshia Hammond, PsyD, psychologist, author, speaker. “Wake up to a good morning with these fool-proof alarms,” “Alarm Clocks That May Help You Rise and Shine.”

American Council on Exercise: “Benefits of Flexibility,” “10 Reasons to Stretch It Out,” “Types of Stretching,” “Benefits of Flexibility.”

American Psychological Association: “Are You Really You When You're Hungry?” “The exercise effect.”

Cleveland Clinic: “The 5 Best Breakfast Foods for You,” “Gratitude Can Boost Your Health: 5 Ways to Develop It.”

Mayo Clinic: “Stress relievers: Tips to tame stress,” “To improve your health, practice gratitude,” “Coping with anxiety: Can diet make a difference?” “Meditation: A simple, fast way to reduce stress.”

Texas Department of State Health Services: “Wake Up to the Benefits of Breakfast,” “Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity.”

CDC: “Childhood Nutrition Facts,” “Participant Guide: Manage Stress.”

Harvard: “Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress.”

National Alliance on Mental Illness: “The Power of a Morning Routine.”

Rush: “5 Tips for a Healthier Morning.”

American Heart Association: “7-minute Workout at Work,” “Thankfulness: How Gratitude Can Help Your Health.”

“Stress Management: Relaxing Your Mind and Body.”