9 quick science-approved things you can do to make your mornings better.

Mornings are tough...

Whether you're one of those mythical "morning people" who actually set their alarm as early as possible just to, I don't know, listen to birds or whatever, or if you're one of my fellow not-morning people whose a.m. routines involve marathon-smashing the snooze button before finally dragging yourself out of bed to sloppily make a pot of coffee and stare at the mirror, wondering if today is the day you finally give up on being an adult and run off for life as a house cat—


—well, they're tough.

Did you know there are a few science-approved things you can do to make your mornings less of a drag?

These nine simple tips only take a few minutes to complete and could mean never spending another morning falling asleep in the shower:

1. Take a few minutes to actually make your bed.

If you're not already a bed-maker, it probably seems like a huge waste of time. Why straighten sheets and fluff pillows that you're just going to mess up again anyway?

Honestly, the pattern on that pillow is stressing me out more than anything. Photo via iStock.

It turns out, making your bed correlates with being happier and even more successful. According to a survey of 68,000 people, 71% of bed-makers consider themselves happy, while 62% of non-bed-makers said they were unhappy.

Now, it's impossible to know if bed-making really makes people happy or if happy people just tend to make their beds more. However, we do know that clutter tends to beget stress. If your bed looks less cluttered, it's possible that it could lower your stress levels.

Not to mention, making your bed probably only takes about three minutes and gives you an easy morning win to check off your to-do list. Which means you're starting your day more relaxed, you've already done something productive, and you're ready to go out into the world and continue being productive.

2. Tidy up. Even a little bit.

Along the same lines as bed-making, if there are a million dishes in your sink from the day(s) before, that clutter is probably creating subtle stressors in your brain.

Also, unclog your sink. Seriously. Photo via iStock.

If you can find a minute in the morning, do some of the dishes. Or clean up some living room clutter. Maybe sweep out a single room or take out the trash. Reducing clutter and completing a task (no matter how small) will give you a nice sense of satisfaction to kick-start your day.

3. Drink a glass of lemon water.

Don't worry, you don't need to replace your vanilla soy latte or go on a questionably effective cleanse to make this work for you in the morning. Before you leave the house in a beeline for the closest Starbucks, drink a 16-ounce glass of water with a little bit of lemon juice in it.

Plus you'll get SO MANY Instagram likes. Photo via iStock.

I know it sounds kind of hokey, but lemon water is pretty amazing and a perfectly simple way to brighten your morning routine. According to The Huffington Post, the benefits of lemon water include but are not limited to: hydration, a nice dose of vitamin C, freshening your breath (by killing bacteria), clearing your skin, and helping with aches and pains by reducing uric acid in the joints.

Lemon water won't compliment your shirt or walk the dog for you, though, so while it can be a nice addition to your morning, it's not going to solve all your problems.

4. Raise the blinds and let the sunlight in.

Yes, I know. Its early in the morning and the world probably isn't ready to see you yet. But raising the blinds lets in some natural light, and there are a lot of benefits to that.

"There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day — particularly in the morning — is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism," Dr. Phyllis Zee, a neurology professor at Northwestern University, told WebMD.

Not recommended: sleeping with lipstick on. Photo via iStock.

Natural light also helps your brain sync up to the Earth's natural rotation, which can have major health benefits. According to one study, people with more exposure to natural light slept longer and better at night. They also got more exercise and reported a better quality of life.

So at the risk of shrieking in horror at the sunlight and your neighbors shrieking in horror at your bedhead, open up the blinds and let the light in. The benefits outweigh the risks.

Even if you don't have any windows to open, you can get an alarm clock that lights up with the sunrise.

5. Eat something high in fiber and grains.

While it can be tempting to start every day with a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, starting your day with a heavy, greasy breakfast can slow you down a lot.

Just try not to spill your berries all over the F***ING DECK, DAVID.

Having a lighter breakfast instead can have a ripple effect that boosts your entire day. Try a bowl of berries or something else high in fiber and grains. If you give your body some heavy-duty nutrients in the morning, you'll feel more awake and your body will totally thank you later.

6. Meditate.

Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, increase creativity, and even reduce blood pressure. Also like a million other things.

Meditate and have a ball! (I know. I'm sorry.) Photo via iStock.

Meditation is easy: Just breathe, focus on the sound of your breath, and sit still quietly. You don't have to do it all day, either. Meditating for three to five minutes in the morning is a perfect way to start your day with a stress-free, take-on-the-world attitude. There are even great apps you can use that help you meditate quickly on the go — what better way to spend a long commute than with a little mental R&R? Just don't do it if you're driving, obviously.

7. Text something nice to someone.

I know, it sounds silly, but seriously. Try it.

Sending someone positive thoughts or words of encouragement is a quick and easy way to make yourself feel happy. Being kind is a great way to live a happier life, and mornings are when we could all use a little pick-me-up.

"Hey Brian! Hope you're doing well. Thanks for buying me this giant sweater." Photo via iStock.

It's mutually beneficial. Not only will it make your morning brighter and make you happier, but you'll probably be helping someone else get their morning off to a great start too.

(Also this is way better than drunk texting. Much less regret and significantly fewer awkward connections with your ex).

8. Set aside a few minutes to read.

The benefits of reading are innumerable and well-known, ranging from improving your vocabulary to promoting creativity and memory. Starting your day with a little bit of reading gets you those benefits first thing in the morning.

Reading stimulates your brain, which wakes you up. Not to mention it also helps take your mind off of the stressors of the upcoming day so you can go into it feeling relaxed and prepared.

This guy looks all business. But he's actually reading Garfield. Photo via iStock.

Whether you're reading a chapter of your favorite book, the newspaper, or even an entry from your favorite blog, reading in the morning is good for you. Reading at any time is good. Reading is good. End of statement.

9. Stretch it out.

Don't stretch out your morning, you'll be late to work — but stretching your body before you head to the office is a great, easy way to get ready to face the day.

Stretching promotes flexibility, blood flow, and posture, and it can help you recover from injuries. It also has many mental benefits, including stress reduction and calming the mind.

This can be a few quick stretches before running out the door or a full-on yoga session with Becky.

She's probably a Becky, right? Photo via iStock.

Either way, stretching in the morning is a great way to be physically and mentally prepared for the uphill battle that is the rest of your day.

A better morning is completely up to you.

Some of you may choose to keep rolling out of bed with 10 minutes to spare before you run out the door, but taking even a few moments to try some of the things on this list can have a huge impact on the rest of your day.

Mornings set the precedent for the entire day, and (as time is linear) entire days are what make up your entire life. So even if you can only fit one of these good habits into your morning routine, I encourage you to try it out. It could make your whole day, and maybe even your whole world, just a little bit brighter.

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Shopping sustainably is increasingly important given the severity of the climate crisis, but sometimes it's hard to know where to turn. Thankfully, Amazon is making it a little easier to browse thousands of products that have one or more of 19 sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world.

The online retailer recently announced Climate Pledge Friendly, a program to make it easier for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products. To determine the sustainability of a product, the program partnered with third-party certifications, including governmental agencies, nonprofits, and independent labs.

With a selection of items spanning grocery, household, fashion, beauty, and personal electronics, you'll be able to shop more sustainably not just for the holiday season, but throughout the year for your essentials, as well.

You can browse all of the Climate Pledge Friendly products here, labeled with an icon and which certification(s) they meet. To get you on your way to shopping more sustainably, we've rounded up eight of our favorite Climate Pledge Friendly-products that will make great gifts all year long.

Amazon

Jack Wolfskin Women's North York Coat

Give the gift of warmth and style with this coat, available in a variety of colors. Sustainability is built into all Jack Wolfskin products and each item comes with a code that lets you trace back to its origins and understand how it was made.

Bluesign: Bluesign products are responsibly manufactured by using safer chemicals and fewer resources, including less energy, in production.


Amazon

Amazon All-new Echo Dot (4th Gen)

For the tech-obsessed. This Alexa smart speaker, which comes in a sleek, compact design, lets you voice control your entertainment and your smart home as well as connect with others.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.


Amazon

Burt's Bees Family Jammies Matching Holiday Organic Cotton Pajamas

Get into the holiday spirit with these fun matching PJs for the whole family. Perfect for pictures that even Fido can get in on.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

Naturistick 5-Pack Lip Balm Gift Set

With 100% natural ingredients that are gentle on ultra-sensitive lips, this gift is a great gift for the whole family.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.


Amazon

Arus Women's GOTS Certified Organic Cotton Hooded Full Length Turkish Bathrobe

For those who love to lounge around, this full-length organic cotton bathrobe is the way to go. Available in five different colors, it has comfortable cuffed sleeves, a hood, pockets, and adjustable belt.

Global Organic Textile Standard: This certifies each step of the organic textile supply chain against strict ecological and social standards. Each product with this certification contains 95%-100% organic content.

Amazon

L'Occitane Extra-Gentle Vegetable Based Soap

This luxe soap, made with moisturizing shea butter and scented with verbena, is perfect for the self-care obsessed.

Compact by Design (Certified by Amazon): Products with this certification are packaged without excess air and water, which reduces the carbon footprint of shipping and packaging.

Amazon

Goodthreads Men's Sweater-Knit Fleece Long-Sleeve Bomber

For the fashionable men in your life, this fashion-forward knit bomber is an excellent choice. The sweater material keeps it cozy and warm, while the bomber jacket-cut, zip front, and rib-trim neck make it look elevated.

Recycled Claim Standard 100: Products with this certification use materials made from at least 95% recycled content.

Amazon

All-new Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote

Make it even easier to access your favorite movies and shows this holiday season. The new Fire TV Stick lets you use your voice to search across apps. Plus it controls the power and volume on your TV, so you'll never need to leave the couch! Except for snacks.

Reducing CO2: Products with this certification reduce their carbon footprint year after year. Certified by the Carbon Trust.

Of the millions of Americans breathing a sigh of relief with the ushering in of a new president, one man has a particularly personal and professional reason to exhale.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has spent a good portion of his long, respected career preparing for a pandemic, and unfortunately, the worst one in 100 years hit under the worst possible administration. As part of Trump's Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Fauci did what he could to advise the president and share information with the public, but it's been clear for months that the job was made infinitely more difficult than it should have been by anti-science forces within the administration.

To his credit, Dr. Fauci remained politically neutral through it all this past year, totally in keeping with his consistently non-partisan, apolitical approach to his job. Even when the president badmouthed him, blocked him from testifying before the House, and kept him away from press briefings, Fauci took the high road, always keeping his commentary focused on the virus and refusing to step into the political fray.

But that doesn't mean working under those conditions wasn't occasionally insulting, frequently embarrassing, and endlessly frustrating.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.