Instead of going straight to the office, I veer off to a little coffee shop, where I spend an hour partaking in a cappuccino (in a “for here” cup!) and reading a good book. I got the idea for this ritual a few months ago while vacationing in Amsterdam, where sitting in a café and enjoying a quiet moment is the norm for locals. My “me” time leaves me feeling ready to tackle the day.
The key to quashing morning grogginess: a 10-minute dance party with my dogs, Oliver (a Pomeranian) and Coco (a Chihuahua mix). I put on country and pop music, then pick up my pups one by one and shimmy around the room. Sometimes they even jump on their hind legs and boogie on their own.
Vernon Township, New Jersey
Every day before 10 a.m., I try to do something nice for someone else. A few of my favorite deeds: buying a sweet treat for a coworker, bestowing a compliment on a stranger, and giving another driver the right of way in early rush-hour traffic. These small acts lift my mood no matter how tired I am.
I drink a 17-ounce bottle of water before I do anything else; the hydration energizes me. What’s more, the ritual kicks off my day in a healthy way, and I find that one healthy choice leads to another.
Because I work too late to put my 10- and 13-year-old kids to bed at night, I make time for a special chat with them every morning before school. We discuss what they’re doing in class and how they’re feeling. It gives me a good reason to drag myself out of bed.
Saint Clair Shores, Michigan
Before I leave my bedroom, I always make the bed. By the time I waltz into the kitchen, I already feel productive.
Instead of watching the morning news while I get ready for work, I view old episodes of I Love Lucy, which air on the Hallmark channel. The show puts me in a much better mood than subjecting myself to reports about recent national tragedies would. I can catch up on current events later. In the morning, it’s important to feel lighthearted about life.
I bought a new alarm clock that plays any song I choose. (The loud buzz of my old clock always used to put me in a foul mood.) Just keep in mind: If you want to wake up to music, select tunes that don’t begin with an intense drumbeat or a jarringly high falsetto note. I like Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.”
Falls Church, Virginia
Take a hot shower using an aromatic body scrub. Mine has lemongrass and lavender in it, and the strong fragrance wakes up all my senses. When I rush through my shower and skip the scrub, I never feel as refreshed.
Cedar City, Utah
Rather than saying a simple “good morning,” I greet my husband and our three kids (ages five, six, and seven) with a silly made-up song about one of their favorite things, like robots or pancakes. I follow up the ditty with a big hug or a spontaneous tickle attack. Afterward, everyone goes out the door with a skip in their step.
Manasquan, New Jersey
While visiting my two-year-old grandson last year, I taught him a five-minute stretching routine that I learned from the old TV show Romper Room, which I loved as a kid. It was so energizing that I kept doing it by myself when I was back home.
Mary Ann Revell
Mount Dora, Florida
For the past eight years, I’ve woken up in pain every morning due to severe arthritis in my spine. To keep my focus off my discomfort, before I get up, I spend time contemplating a few of my blessings (like my home’s beautiful views). I would love to count all my blessings, but if I did, I would be stuck in bed for hours!
Nevada City, California
I love to learn a new fact every morning. Lately I’ve found fascinating tidbits in the book Love, Sex, Death & Words, a compilation of literary anecdotes by John Sutherland and Stephen Fender. How else would I have discovered that a volcano eruption led Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein?
Jenijoy La Belle
I announce a silly theme for my family’s breakfast conversation, then challenge everyone at the table to stick to it. For example, on Musical Mondays, we have to sing every word we say, and on Soap Fridays, we talk like characters on All My Children. This little tradition never fails to start the day with laughter.
Amsterdam, New York
Last year, I realized that fielding work and personal e-mails caused me to become preoccupied and disconnected from my family in the morning. Nowadays I resist logging on to my computer before 9 A.M. That allows me to arrive at work with a much happier mind-set.