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Woke Up On the Wrong Side of the Bed? Here's How to Not Let It Ruin Your Day

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Your feet haven't even touched the floor but you're already dreading the day ahead of you, completely sure that everything and everyone will be irritating.

Some might say you woke up on the "wrong side of the bed."

Once you do get out of bed, there's barely any hot water during your shower. All of your good outfits are in the laundry hamper. Your dog takes forever to go to the bathroom. We won't even address the traffic you have to deal with on your commute. And when you do finally get to the office, it's later than you wanted and you have more work to do than you have time.

Just as you expected, today is not your day.

But does it have to be this way?

What does waking up on the wrong side of the bed even mean?
You haven't started your day yet, so what could possibly have you in a bad mood already? Poor sleep? Going to bed upset?

"Your mood tends to mirror the underlying thoughts, feelings, and conflicts you are experiencing, and there's not always an obvious cause of a particular mood," says Dr. J. Christopher Fowler, director of professional wellness at Houston Methodist.

Waking up in a poor mood can be a great example of this. Sure, a night of fitful slumber can affect your morning mood, just as experiencing conflict before bed can negatively affect your sleep, too.

But waking up on the wrong side of the bed might be caused by something that hasn't even happened yet.

"We often think of stress as reactionary — something we feel after a challenging or uncomfortable situation," explains Dr. Fowler. "But stress can manifest in many ways. For instance, anticipation of stress can itself be stressful. This is called anticipatory stress."

If your first thought upon waking up is about how stressful your day is going to be, you're essentially predetermining your reaction to it — regardless of whether or not what you're worried about even ends up happening.

"Forecasting stress can also affect your overall mood, since it takes up mental bandwidth you need to tackle the everyday stressors you are actually sure to face, like traffic or juggling your busy schedule," says Dr. Fowler.

This means that the mood you wake up in can linger all day if you let it, affecting your mindset toward everyone and everything around you.

"Additionally, studies show that waking up feeling stressed about your day can negatively impact your performance, particularly how you learn and retain information," says Dr. Fowler.

Woke up on the wrong side of the bed? Here are five tips to not let it ruin your day
"The good news is that we can disrupt a negative mood and outlook," says Dr. Fowler. "Waking up in a poor mood doesn't mean you're destined to have a bad day."

There are absolutely things you can do to improve your mood. If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, here are five tips for not letting it derail your day:

1. Plan for a good day
Stressful events and situations are a certainty in life, but you don't have to wait for the world to happen to you.

"Thinking critically about how best to approach what's very likely to come your way can help you feel more in control of a challenging situation as it approaches," says Dr. Fowler. "This can help you avoid any last minute panic that can lead to starting your day in a poor mood."

If that anticipatory stress still hits, as it sometimes will, remind yourself that you've got a plan.

2. Know the difference between problem solving and overthinking
There's a difference between preparing yourself to face potential challenges and overthinking to an unproductive extent.

"If you live out the day's stressful possibilities in your head as soon as you wake up — especially if you're doing so without the intention of solving a problem or enacting a solution — the unnecessary stress this causes can affect your overall mood," says Dr. Fowler.

The next time you catch yourself imagining the worst-case scenario, fight back against overthinking.

3. Reframe your negative thoughts
"You can't always control how stressful life gets, but you can focus on the up-side of events," says Dr. Fowler.

Consider how you might be able to reframe something about which you're apprehensive — like a tough meeting — into something more positive or empowering. For example: This meeting could be challenging, but I'm well-prepared and proud of the work I put into this plan.

Another way to ward off intrusive thoughts is to take steps to quiet your mind. Deep breathing exercises or meditation can help you achieve this.

"Gratitude can be an antidote to negative thinking," says Dr. Fowler. "If we identify three things we are grateful for, we can shrink negativity."

4. Pinpoint the source of your dread
Ask yourself what exactly it is you're not looking forward to and whether you can pivot your thoughts toward a fruitful decision or solution.

"If your thought pattern can't be made more constructive, the situation may simply be out of your control — whether that's because it may never happen or just can't be changed," says Dr. Fowler. "Beware of fixating on things you can't control and work towards letting them go."

5. Make time for self care
"One of the best ways to deal with stress, even anticipatory stress, is to slow down and set aside time to recharge," says Dr. Fowler. "This can help you reduce stress and prevent you from repeating the draining experience of focusing on something that hasn't happened yet again in the future."

Here are a few things you can do to help fight stress:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a health diet
  • Connect with others
  • Set aside "me" time
  • Enjoy a hobby

By: Katie McCallum 

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