Another festive season living with the threat or reality of Covid-19 isn’t on anyone’s wish list but I invite you to focus on whatever you’re grateful for (usually the simple things that are overlooked). Remember you are the story you tell yourself - the narrator, the illustrator and the editor so welcome any opportunity to create your happy hormones.
Self compassion and looking after yourself are a priority. It can be a busy time so it’s important to keep energised by re-fuelling with healthy nutritious meals and generate Endorphins from physical movement and the pleasure of getting outside every day for some fresh air and natural light. Dopamine encourages motivation and reward too, so ensure you preserve pockets of ‘me time’ to press pause. Relax and recharge, preferably with an alternative to screen time (which can have a detrimental effect on your circadian rhythm and impact the quality of your sleep), perhaps by being creative, reading a book or simply switching off and soaking in a bubble bath. Wrap your thoughts around how you can make a positive difference and, in doing so, top up your Serotonin which enhances your sense of wellbeing.
Traditionally Christmas also encourages us to think about others: our families, our friends and those less fortunate. Look for the chance to spread joy through communication and connection. Perhaps by sending a few heartfelt words, choosing or making a token of your appreciation. You could share a playlist of your favourite uplifting tunes – music is a great mood enhancer as is laughter so pass on a joke and help suppress the release of cortisol (the stress hormone). Design vouchers to offer your time and skills, for example, a night’s babysitting, a home cooked meal or even a few hours of chores. Paying a compliment is a simple yet effective way to immediately boost anothers self-esteem and confidence.
And, for those close to you – whether another human being or a pet - don’t underestimate the power of a hug which not only releases Oxytocin and feelings of contentment and self-worth but can also reduce anxiety and sadness and strengthen your immune system. If you’re keeping your distance from others, then simply making eye contact and smiling can have a similar beneficial effect.
True giving and happiness are entwined and it’s not just the recipient who is illuminated by the sparkle generated by little acts of kindness. 25th December might be a special date but actually (to quote Eleanor Roosevelt) “Today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present” - make the most of it.
Wishing you a healthy and joyful December.
BA (Hons), DipSFH. Reg AfSFH, CNHC, NCP