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Checking email as soon as you wake up could be ruining your day

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If you're like most people, you wake up to an alarm ringing on your smartphone. Then you probably roll over and check your work email.

That's a dangerous way to start the day, according to a woman who studies happiness for a living.

Reading just one negative email could lead you to report having a bad day hours later, says Michelle Gielan, former national CBS News anchor turned psychology researcher and best-selling author.

"Even if you have one good and one bad [email], the bad always seem more powerful," Gielan says in a recent episode of "The Productivityist Podcast."

The same goes with reading stressful or negative news, according to a study Gielan conducted with Arianna Huffington and her husband, happiness researcher and author Shawn Achor.

So what should you do if you need to check your email or the news in the morning?

Gielan has a research-backed solution that takes just two minutes.

Before you check your email or the news, put yourself in the right frame of mind by taking two minutes to draft a positive email to someone in your social support network.

Thank a friend or family member for their support, or praise a colleague on their recent work, she suggests.

Michelle Gielan has discussed this strategy with employees at many companies.
Duane Prokop/Getty Images for Life Reimagined
Michelle Gielan has discussed this strategy with employees at many companies.

After you send your upbeat email, move on to your regular routine of checking your work email or the news.

That two-minute message primes your brain to see everything in a more positive light.

"It will change how you process your day and how you process your email at 2 o'clock in the afternoon," she says.