Not long after you open your eyes in the morning, your mind starts churning: What will traffic be like today? Did my boss get the report I left on his desk?
These kinds of questions can spike your cortisol—the hormone behind stress. And if you start the morning feeling frazzled, you could stay that way for hours afterward.
So put the first couple of minutes of your morning to good use. Follow these simple strategies when you wake up, and you’ll be a happier guy all day long.
1. Make Your Damn Bed!
One in three guys regularly leaves his bed sheets disheveled, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Don’t be one of them: Minor as it seems, reconstructing that rumpled bedding represents the first small task of your morning.
Completing it makes you feel more accomplished, which can set you up for a day of getting stuff done and kicking ass, says Lewis Howes, author of The School of Greatness.
2. Sniff Your Way Awake
A morning shower wakes you up. But what scent you wash with can have a big effect on your mood for the rest of the day, says Art Markman, Ph.D., the author of Smart Change.
Research suggests lavender can help you relax, mint can stimulate your brain, and citrus can reduce stress. Scrub and sniff away.
3. Take 2 Minutes to Thank Someone
Show gratitude before you jump out of bed, suggests Michelle Gielan, founder of the Institute for Applied Positive Research.
Give a buddy props on Facebook for his good advice, or simply lean over and thank your wife for pulling dinner duty last night while you unexpectedly worked late.
Recent research in Motivation and Emotion found that these simple acts of kindness can make you feel happier and less likely to avoid things you don’t really want to do—like drive to work and spend all day in a cubicle.
“This reminds your brain how many people play a meaningful role in your life,” Gielan says.
4. Crank Pop-Punk in the Morning
You can boost your mood just by listening to upbeat music, say researchers from the University of Missouri.
But not all fast tracks work: Angry songs—like speed metal, for instance—are connected with higher levels of anxiety and neuroticism, according to research in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
Quick, upbeat music, on the other hand, may be more effective than that first cup of coffee. Your brain has to keep up with the pace so you begin to think fast, which actually improves your mood and gives you energy, says Markman.
Make a pop-punk playlist on Spotify or Apple Music and fire it up in the background as you get ready in the morning. We’re suckers for slick, sugary stuff from the early 2000s, like Blink-182, New Found Glory, and the Starting Line.
5. Lighten Up Your News
In a study earlier this year, Gielan’s team partnered with Arianna Huffington and found that watching just 3 minutes of negative news in the morning makes you 27 percent more likely to be unhappy 6 to 8 hours later.
On the flipside, “starting your day with a solution-focused, inspiring story tells your brain your behavior matters in the face of a challenge,” says Gielan. “This sets you up for success.”