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Are you waking up “on the wrong side of the bed”? Do you find yourself struggling to greet the day? Does morning come at you like a train wreck? Not a “morning person” but wish you could be?

Many of us are carrying our stress into our personal lives and it is impacting our ability to find and keep our joy and happiness. While researching the topic of stress for my book, 7 Simple Skills for Every Woman: Success in Keeping It All Together, I stumbled across a Huffington Post survey which shared that more than 80% of the American workforce described their life as stressful. In a recent Fox News segment, 65% of Americans said they were stressed daily. And in a Time Magazine special edition on The Science of Happiness. a survey revealed that only 55% of those interviewed claimed to be happy (and the percentage of stress SKYROCKETED higher during the pandemic.)

Fortunately, there is a path to joy! In the same Time magazine: The Science of Happiness, researchers are discovering that happiness is made of from 50% DNA, 10% life circumstances but 40% the CHOICES we make! So, what are those healthy choices we can make to wake up with more JOY?  We can smile as the sun rises if we begin with S.W.E.E.T. S.L.E.E.P. This simple acrostic will help you implement the top 10 tips to help your start your day with a smile!

Start the night before: Take time to debrief each evening: Write down your thoughts, prayers, stressors into a journal. I keep a Joy Journal on my bedside table and find it helpful to find promises from the Bible that address my concerns and I hang my heart on those hope-filled scriptures.

Wind down: Make your bedtime more serene with a planned nighttime ritual: Turn off the digital devices and take a bubble bath, do stretching, read a paper printed book, lower the lighting, turn on soothing music or go to sleep with scripture or songs of faith playing.  (Click to listen to the book of Philippians read by Pam)

Extend your hours: Go to bed! One in three Americans are sleep deprived, getting less than the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. Productivity, safety, mood and your long-term health can be negatively impacted with a lack of sleep.  A popular saying is, “’I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ The ironic thing is, not sleeping enough may get you there sooner,” says Daniel Buysse, a professor of sleep medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to sleep, learn about the many types of rest in Dr Saundra Daulton’s book, Sacred Rest.

Express positive “Awaken Affirmations and Actions”: Set the tone for your day with your first thoughts. Each day as I wake, I say, ” This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and rejoice in it.” (Psalm 118:24) then I smile, stretch, and stand up straight and tall and do a “Supergirl pose”. Just taking this stance has been shown to increase your confidence!

Talk to your doctor: When your body is working well, happiness comes more readily. However, if your hormones are off, or you are struggling with many common diseases, depression can be a tag-along symptom.  God made us intricately woven together body, soul, mind, and spirit, so if you are practicing all the JOY producing habits and are still struggling to wake up with a smile, make a doctor appointment to see if something is off.

Sing it out: Some of my first words each morning are, “Alexa, play praise music!”  Find your toe-tapping heart-pumping, endorphin- producing soul sounds and belt them out! (Download a joy-filled playlist) How Stuff Works explains that musical therapists have found “imaging studies have shown that music we’d expect to be happy activates the reward centers of the brain, releasing dopamine, so that music gives us the same hit of happiness that we would get from a piece of chocolate…!”

Lean into your faith: When you pray, it is a reminder that the God who created you also has the ability to create opportunities for you  I recently released my 48th published book: Discovering Joy in Philippians and woven in this unique bible study are interactive exercises, coloring pages and artistic expressions, room for personal thoughts and applications, encouraging quotes, and inspirational devotions to help you “choose joy” and cultivate a positive disposition.  Investing time developing your faith can increase your overall sense of well-being.

Exercise and dance: Working out will  release happy endorphins – and if you exercise, get in those 10,000 steps, and balance your fitness routine with a great stretch, weight workouts, and some cardio, you will also be tired at the end of the day and sleep will come easier. In addition, Psychology Spot cites an Australian study that found that “those who were dancing not only reported feeling happier, but also more satisfied with their lives, especially in relationships, health, and the goals achieved.”

Eat a healthy diet: There are actually foods that can help you sleep ( walnuts, almonds,  or pistachio nuts; fish; oatmeal or whole grain cereal; chamomile or passion fruit tea; turkey or elk meat; fruits like cherry juice, bananas and kiwi; sweet potato or a kale or lettuce salad that includes many of these foods will make you yawn! ) There are also foods to boost your happiness (several fruits: bananas, berries, apples, oranges and other citrus and grapes; turmeric; quinoa; salmon;  green tea; spinach and leafy greens, mushrooms; coffee; beans; beef and poultry; probiotic rich foods like pickles, yogurt and other fermented foods; walnuts, eggs, seeds; avocado and of course—dark chocolate! ) You can learn more about nutrition through First Place 4 Health website or join one of their health and wellness groups. Mostly, if you eat clean, consuming foods as close to the way God made them, avoid processed foods, you will be much more heart healthy, and this will give you the energy to enjoy your life!

Play outside: Nature is good for your well- being!  I have a mug that reads, “Saltwater cures everything”. So that’s

Pam with bicycle in SoCal

Pam biking near her home on a boat in So Cal

why I drink my fruit infused green tea out of as I sit on the deck of my live aboard boat each morning.  Science has discovered that there is a “water-effect” that elevates your mood and bring a sense of calm and peace whenever you are in or near water. In addition, according to Healthline, exposure to sunlight (even as little as 5 – 15 minutes a day) is “thought to increase the brain’s release of a hormone called serotonin. Serotonin is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused.”   And the fresh air will boost your joy too: Rebecca Taylor, a Wellbeing  Advisor explains, “The more fresh air you get, the more oxygen you will breathe which will increase the amount of serotonin (the happy hormone) you inhale, consequently making you happier.”

To wake up with more joy, combine several of these tips to create your own personal rhythm and routine for happiness. Then multiple your joy by sharing it. My morning routine always includes giving a hug to my husband and family members with a cheery “Good Morning!” greeting. Action for Happiness sums up the power of relationship and its connection to maintaining joy: “…relationships help to make us happier, but also happy people tend to have more and better-quality relationships.”

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