It is important to wake up with a positive outlook as this can set the tone for the rest of the day. But doing so is difficult: Too many factors add stress to the start of the day, from deadlines to improper sleep. But a few simple practices and interventions can help one develop a positive outlook, with lasting effects.
“Positivity cannot be just confined to mornings,” says Dr Kamlesh Singh, a professor of psychology at IIT-Delhi’s humanities and social sciences department at IIT-Delhi. A co-founder of the National Positive Psychology Association, she says positivity is something that carries over from the previous night and lasts throughout the day. Achieving this requires a change of mindset and thought process. Here is how one can develop these.
Negative thoughts trigger negative emotions
It is important to avoid prolonging negative thoughts. One way to control them is to practice mindfulness meditation, which Dr Singh says can teach one to observe and not indulge with such thoughts. In the absence of a meditation teacher, one could take the help of meditation guidance mobile apps.
“It also helps when you have well-defined objectives of life and well-defined work for the day to focus on, first thing in the morning. Otherwise, the mind wanders,” adds Dr Singh.
She recommends the following simple habits to build a positive attitude in the morning:
- Performing yoga
- Taking a morning walk
- Connecting with nature
- Practicing self-compassion
- Helping others
Positivity works: Banani Das Dhar, a 33-year-old entrepreneur, saw the power of positivity through self-awareness and mindful living practices in her life, so much so that she trained to be a psychotherapist, lifestyle coach and certified healer to help others too.
“Being an entrepreneur since 2014, I have been through challenging times – understanding people, finances, and balancing my personal and professional life. We always need more, and I am no different. But the problem is we forget to appreciate what we already have and crib about what we don’t,” says Banani of the beginning of her self-awareness journey.
To start her day with a positive mindset, she identifies three practices that she follows and advises alike:
- Starting and ending the day with gratitude.
- Believing, accepting, and focusing on the ‘self’
- Practicing forgiveness
“But this habit needs to be maintained consistently to see their benefits. People who want to heal and create a beautiful life for themselves, follow these practices,” she adds.
Respect emotions, whether positive or negative
Dhar also reiterates that we must accept that we cannot always wake up happy. “When there is a challenge, I accept it and act accordingly to make my day and life better.” Becoming aware of her “self” through meditation and self-healing techniques has helped her.
Good sleep is key to waking up happy
“Don’t ignore your circadian rhythm. Having to wake up early when you are a ‘night owl’ can worsen your mood, cognition and cause severe sleep deprivation. Some people are naturally tuned to sleep late and wake up late. Going against one’s natural clock due to social commitments is known to cause depression and anxiety,” says Dr Nileena M.K.N., Psychiatrist and Sleep Medicine Consultant at Chennai-based Nithra, a centre for diagnosis and management of sleep-related problems. She suggests the following tips to sleep and wake up better:
- Tidy the house or at least the bedroom: This way you wake up to minimal clutter and sensory stimulation
- Plan your next day before going to sleep – avoid doing this while in bed as this tends to “negate the relaxation vibes of the bed and makes it another place to worry. Instead, finish the planning before you go to bed.”
Professor Paulomi M. Sudhir, Consultant at the Department of Clinical Psychology at NIMHANS in Bengaluru, stresses that in addition to proper sleep, having an overall positive outlook towards themselves and the world, in general, are equally important.
This includes appreciating positive experiences through gratitude and staying away from having a negative outlook. Some things to avoid include:
- Being excessively self-critical
- Setting unrealistic standards for yourself or the world
- Being inflexible
Practical tips to rise and shine
Dr Nileena shares the following actionable tips to own the day:
- Give yourself ample time to get ready. Hurrying in the morning can drain too much of energy – both physically and emotionally.
- Practice some “me” time – even in the morning. Be it some breathing exercise, enjoying your morning coffee, or sitting on the balcony.
- Do not engage in unhappy or negative content first thing in the morning – be it through media (negative news), conversations (gossiping), or bad-mouthing others.
- Get some sunlight – it has been proven to increase alertness, and wakefulness, and hence improve mood and cognition.
- Even a 5-minute exercise routine can lift up your energy levels and mood for the whole day
- Be mindful of your thoughts duing morning chores. Being aware of your own thought patterns is important. We need to make efforts to replace negative thoughts with something more positive. If you find it difficult to replace your thoughts, use distractions like music, podcasts or prayers.
- Increasing positivity just before going to sleep and just after you wake up can improve your whole day.