I’m a nightmare in the mornings. Seriously. Usually, I either begrudgingly shoot out of bed or crawl out — negative thoughts already swirling in my brain. Before I’ve even started my day, I’m already tense and irritated.

Maybe you can relate to being stressed or negative before you even leave the house (or in my case, walk a few steps into the home office). Not surprisingly, this doesn’t set the best tone for your day. Here’s a list of easy-peasy tips to perk up your mood and relieve any tension every morning.

1. Take a hot shower.

Water is known for having calming effects. A shower can soothe any aches and pains and help you feel refreshed and ready for the day. It does a great job of washing away your grogginess, too. (And you smell better! It’s a win-win for everyone.)

2. Eat an energy-boosting and fulfilling breakfast.

Many of us sprint out the door with a strong cup of coffee and maybe a boring bagel, if we remember to eat. Instead, take a few minutes to sit down and savor your breakfast. Pay attention to the tastes, textures and scents. If you don’t have time, still take foods on the go that you genuinely enjoy eating. Eating something nutritious and tasty nourishes both your body and your mind.

3. Notice the beauty of Mother Nature.

On your way to work, pay attention to the changing leaves and fragrant flowers, the sunshine or rainfall and the shapes the clouds have made. As Jeffrey Brantley, MD, and Wendy Millstine write in their book Five Good Minutes: 100 Morning Practices to Help You Stay Calm & Focused All Day Long: “Nature is bountiful and plentiful, and yet we often forget to take notice of nature’s simple gifts of joy and serenity…When you take this time to open your senses to the pleasures of what is just outside your door, you open your mind and body to nature’s restorative power to soothe and heal you.”

4. Take five minutes to tune into your breathing.

This can really help release any tension. Brantley and Millstine write:

Sitting or lying down, place your hand on your abdomen and inhale and exhale, deeply and slowly. Visualize a meadow with a small creek running through it. You are wading in a babbling brook, and you can hear the wind and the birds overhead. The current tugs gently at your ankles. Recognize the rhythm of your breathing. As you inhale, say the word “warm” aloud. Imagine the warmth of the sun and water around your body. As you exhale, say the word “heavy” to yourself. Allow yourself to reach a comfortable and soothing place from within.

(I guess the key is to do this without falling back asleep!)

5. Take a morning walk.

Sunlight is a mood booster. So is physical activity. Put them together, and you have a great way to start your day. Of course, if walking isn’t your thing, you can stretch first thing in the a.m. or participate in any other physical activities you enjoy.

6. Hug and kiss your loved ones.

This tip comes from Jennifer E. Jones, Beliefnet’s Inspiration Editor. She writes on Beliefnet:

Be liberal with your affection. Don’t let anyone in your household walk out the door without knowing they are special.

This doesn’t just apply to those of you with immediate family members in your homes. If you live alone, take a moment to send a quick “thinking of you” email. Call a friend on their work phone, so he or she arrives to the office with a pleasant voicemail.

Do something every day that shows someone else that you care. You will be a part of their good morning and brighten the rest of their day.

7. Observe the “extraordinary in the ordinary.”

Brantley and Millstine suggest taking five minutes to “observe the less noticeable things in the morning” such as “the sound of baby birds chirping just outside your window” or “the smile on a baby’s face.” This is all about opening your eyes and appreciating the world around you. And it’s really seeing your surroundings like a child. Everything is new and interesting. It also helps to cultivate a sense of gratitude, which contributes to a positive mood.

8. Do one thing that makes you happy.

Yes, this is obvious, but think of activities that tend to boost your mood, regardless of how small they seem. And try to incorporate them into your morning routine. Maybe that’s playing with your kids for a few minutes, stopping by Starbucks for coffee, reading a passage from the Bible or an excerpt from your favorite book. Maybe it’s drawing, listening to classical music, singing in your car, writing in your journal, having breakfast on your porch or dancing as you get ready.

What helps to boost your mood in the morning? What helps you to release tension?