I love Christmas. Yet there have been times, including the year my mother died, after my husband and I separated and when I was ill, when Christmas felt less like ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’ and more like a time to endure. Shops filled with decorations and jolly music left me wondering if I could be bothered to put up a tree let alone join in with the cheer. 

Our greatest need is for connection. We are also hardwired to seek out the familiar and avoid the unfamiliar. So, find yourself alone, bereaved or unwell and memories of connected Christmas’s cut deep. The loss of what was familiar; such as shopping and cooking for loved ones; and the unfamiliarity of a new situation can feel daunting.  

Feelings of separation can create an inner dialogue of: “Is this it now for me”? that is coupled with a nostalgic yearning for what has been ‘lost’. This tiring mind chatter can repress you and suppress your immune system (already depleted at a time of year when we lack sunshine). This is when dis-ease steps in.     

So here are my ‘12 Ways of Christmas’ to help counter it: 

1) Put yourself at the top of your gift list. Give yourself love, care and nurture.  

2) ‘Christmas-proof’ your body from the inside out with supplements including live bacteria probiotics, digestive enzymes and omega 3.

3) Rest and before you go to sleep, remind yourself of all of your positive qualities and little ‘wins’ you had that day.

4) Have fun; whatever works for you. I love to go bowling to just forget about everything else. Dance. Sing. 

5) Start a gratitude journal. On a bad day simply writing: “I’m grateful for seeing a Robin in the garden today” is good enough.

6) Stop depressing yourself by watching repressive things like the news. Be informed by catching up weekly via Have I Got News For You or similar. 

7) Learn to let go. Especially of perfection. 7 out of 10 is good enough. Perfect people in magazines are air brushed. Perfection is unattainable, like a finish ribbon that moves away all the time. As such, it is the lowest quality of all.

8) Be kind to yourself. If you spoke harshly to a friend/lover the way you speak to yourself, would they stay? 

9) Say “I am enough” to yourself every day and remind yourself of my mantra: “All I need is within me”. Write one of these or a phrase that motivates you on your mirrors. Have it as your screensaver. 

10) Everyday, find ways to be a ‘human being’ not a ‘human doing’. Walk in nature. Take 10 uninterrupted minutes to savour your coffee. Soak in a hot bath.  

11) Say ‘no’ to others overburdening you, your time and good nature.   

12) Never say never. Even if you have been hurt in the past you can still find someone who loves and values you for who you are. But first you must do this for yourself.

Take good care of yourself this festive season.