We are all busy–struggling to divvy up the 24 hours in our day for our demands at work, life responsibilities, sleeping, eating, and exercising…not to mention trying to spend time on ourselves and with others. Then along comes holiday season (which, each year, I swear arrives faster and faster) and it becomes even more hectic. With events, gift-buying, and year ends added in, levels of stress can increase, and we can feel so overwhelmed that we don’t even know where to begin. In fact, a survey from Healthline showed that 62% of respondents experienced elevated stress during the festive season. Extra stressors include family dynamics and relationships, financial demands, and maintaining other responsibilities–basically, fitting it all in.

With this in mind, to keep you feeling merry and bright this holiday season, here are some morning routine hacks that take just a couple of minutes!

1: Take a moment for silence.

Having a moment for silence can have several benefits, including reducing levels of stress, clearing your mind to make way for creative thoughts, and grounding you for the day ahead. Whether it is a few extra minutes in the shower or a coffee before everyone wakes up, spending a little peaceful time alone will mentally prepare you for what your day may bring. Mindful practice was one of the 12 factors we found to being positively energized and productive.  In an environment filled with external stressors, moments of ‘nothingness’ allows your mind to refresh, renew, and recoup. After all, we all know what happens when things like computers and cars overheat!

2: Spend a few minutes being grateful.

Spending just a few minutes thinking about what you are thankful for can help put you in a positive mental state. Practicing gratitude has been proven to have many benefits including improving wellbeing, self-esteem, and happiness. For maximum impact, you should be specific by naming who or what you feel grateful for and why. People that practice gratitude also find it easier to overcome challenges and stick to goals–seeing things that others perceive as a burden, as something that they are thankfully afforded to do.

3: Think about one thing you are looking forward to later in the day.

Looking forward to a moment you savor, or a moment of joy, can make you feel more positively throughout the day. It could be your drive home with your music playing, a certain meeting, a walk, coffee with a friend, or time with family. The anticipation of the moment can help put you in a good mood and help you get through challenging or stressful moments that may occur before it.

4: Reframe negatives.

There are always things you may not be looking forward to or get anxious about. The meeting with ‘that person’ or the awkward exchange of pleasantries with an annoying family member. Rather than festering in the worry, anxiety, or other negative emotions, reframe it. This not only helps you, but also those around you, as the more we focus on negativity the more negativity we attract and emanate. If you are feeling a negative emotion about something coming up that day, take a moment to acknowledge your feelings (sweeping it away rarely works), why you feel that way, and move into a more positive state by thinking about something that is good about it.  This could be a new learning, a moment of growth, a moment to connect, or even the fact that you will get through it.  You can also take a moment to plan something around it, that you can look forward to afterwards, or plan for the moment. For example, thinking ahead of time what you will say in the situation.

5:  Prioritize your tasks.

To-do lists can be never-ending and seem overwhelming every day, let alone in the holiday season when we have a million other things to fit in. When we do not achieve our task list, we can be left feeling demotivated, so time management is critical! Spending a few minutes in the morning to determine the critical 1-3 goals for the day–across personal and professional tasks–will keep you more productive. Once set, you can prioritize how you spend your time and energy based on these tasks. It can help to think, what is critical today, what would be nice if you could fit it in, and what is not really that important or can be dealt with later. As you do this, keep in mind the realistic time and effort the task will take you and the genuine impact (to you and others) if it is not completed. As the inevitable meeting invites and requests come up throughout the day, you can determine if they are critical or not and then shift your list to schedule them accordingly.

Shocker…you can also use these techniques to help you outside of the holiday season! If you do nothing else–just pick one action to take each day. If you are seriously saying that you do not have 5 minutes in 24 hours, then you may need to really take a serious look at your priorities and life.  Here’s to a merry holiday season!


  • Sarah Deane

    Founder of JoinTheMEvolution.com

    Sarah Deane is the creator and founder of MEvolution (www.JoinTheMEvolution.com).  As an innovator working at the intersection of behavioral and cognitive science and A.I, Sarah is focused on helping people and organizations relinquish their blockers, restore their energy, reclaim their mental capacity, and redefine their potential.   Her company, MEvolution, makes living life at full capacity a reality, for everybody.  Her breakthrough assessment reveals what is draining a person and creates a personalized roadmap to train the brain to unlock and better manage capacity. Sarah holds a Master of Engineering in Computer Science and A.I., and she has been recognized across the industry, winning the Human Resources Today MVP Awards in the Leadership Development, Analytics, and “What’s Next in HR” categories, featured in IDC's Peerscape, and has been featured at conferences and events such as SXSW, Gartner, HRWest, America’s Women Leadership Conference and Executive Presence for Women at Stanford, as well as platforms such as the Huffington Post, CIO Magazine, Next Concept HR Magazine, Training Industry, Thrive Global, Business2Community and more.