Christmas is supposed to be a time of great joy, happiness and celebration. Let’s face it, in reality, many of us are running around like headless chickens, spending far more than we should on gifts that people probably don’t need or want. People place such high expectations on this time of year and many feel under pressure to provide a sumptuous meal for that one day, and then it’s leftover turkey and bubble and squeak for the following week - and thereafter. For some, this time of year compounds deep grief and sadness, it’s not all shiny baubles and glistening tinsel.
Some people might feel an added pressure this year due to the fact Christmas will look slightly different. Maybe they want to pull out the stops to make it extra special to make up for the strange year we’ve had; maybe many would like to, but the rollercoaster of the past 12 months means finances don’t permit extravagance.
For me personally, I am making a conscious effort this year to reflect and take what I have learned from the past 10 months and what has been important for my mental health and for those around me.
And so, my gift to you is my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas – a slightly different take but do sing it as it makes a difference…! It may not be as melodic or the words as poetic, but the intent is there and I hope you will take it on board and think about ways you can help your wellbeing now, and for the new year ahead.
On the 1st Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
A journal to write my thoughts down
Journaling can be such a cathartic process. Putting pen to paper and transferring your thoughts is like telling a trusted friend. You know it’s going no further and there’s no judgement or comeback. Sometimes when we can’t see the wood for the trees, the simple act of putting your thoughts on to paper is almost like a physical act of removing them from sitting in your head, or being able to see them with a fresh perspective. You can write them down and return to them later which will give you time to reframe. Looking back, it’s interesting to see the journey you have been on – to look at how far you have come over the past 6, 12, 18 months. It can be quite a healing process for some.
On the 2nd Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
A phone call to my best friend
We rush through life and know that we’re thinking about the special people in our lives but how often do we make the time to drop them a text telling them that, or calling them for a chat? The power of conversation to lift your mood – and theirs too - cannot be underestimated. Downloading to talk through a challenge, maybe purely to have a laugh. Whatever the purpose, it’s good for the soul to connect, especially during times when we perhaps feel there’s been so much disconnection during these times.
On the 3rd Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
A good deed for my neighbour
A chat on the doorstep, taking the bin back, some homemade baked goods – each small act of kindness can help to lift the spirits of someone who might be in need of some good cheer. Sometimes, we’ve no idea the impact it can have on another, to make time for them, to hold space for them in your day. And the effect on you is warm and fuzzy, that you could have made the difference to someone who otherwise might have gone to bed feeling weary and sad after a fraught and maybe lonely day. Thinking of others rather than just ourselves has healing properties for us too. It helps to give us perspective on what other people go through. It’s food for thought when we might be lamenting about the problems we face. It doesn’t negate our challenges but helps to give us a view on what other people live through.
On the 4th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
An entry in my Gratitude Journal
Which brings me neatly to the Gratitude Journal. Do you have one which you make entries in every day? Adding three, whether it’s when you wake up and reflect on the previous 24 hours, or perhaps you write in it before you go to sleep, helps you to notice the good things in life. Whether it be a gorgeous sunrise or sunset, the cashier’s friendly smile and conversation at the end of a hectic week’s shop, the bus you just managed to catch that got you to your destination on time, or the cup of tea made by a loved one when they recognised it was much needed; all these things help when you’re feeling the world is against you, that you feel you’re having a run of bad days. A Gratitude Journal means you start looking for the chinks of light and can alter your view of life. If you’re not having such a great day, read back through your entries and it will help to give you a boost.
On the 5th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
The. Gift. Of. Time. (Think Five Golden Rings when you sing this one!)
Ever say yes to something and then think ‘Oh sh*t! Wish I’d not agreed to do that!’ It’s that knee jerk response to a request or favour being asked. Whether it’s to bake a cake for the Cake Stall, or be the voice of the group during some training, or covering a colleague’s workload because they’re absent, sometimes we agree too readily and then afterwards, perhaps feel we’ve bit off more than we can chew. The key, when possible, is to give yourself the gift of time by doing what we call on The Winning Edge - MUMMSing it – to Make Up My Mind Slowly. Granted, in some situations, it is required that a quick decision is made but much of the time, you can slow things down and say that you will take some time to think about that one. It’s often appreciated when a well-informed and thought-out decision is made. If it helps you to feel more comfortable saying no, you could frame it like this: ‘It’s not against you, it’s for me.’
On the 6th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
Affirmations to help me feel good.
Affirmations are like a mantra – something we repeat to ourselves daily and that can turn the negative we might feel about ourselves, into the positive. It’s about rewiring those neural pathways to boost your self-belief. Assumptive affirmations enable the brain to have something to work towards. Ensure the affirmations are in the now, rather than saying ‘I will…’ If we make them in the now i.e. ‘I am…’, the brain gets to work making it so. It feels incongruent if that isn't the status quo and the brain doesn’t like that, so ensure you say what it is you want to be, do and have in the now, and then your brain can get to work making it happen!
On the 7th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
Awareness of my self-talk
This ties in with affirmations because self-talk is an informal affirmation, if you will. Through our self-talk, we are reinforcing what we believe about ourselves to both ourselves and to others. How often do you say things such as: ‘I’m such a control freak! I need to keep on top of everything or else I feel anxious.’ Or: ‘I’m so disorganised. I’m always losing my keys, misplace my wallet/purse, lose lists.’ Maybe you say you’re hopeless with money and just can’t save for anything, that you’re always in debt. Or that you wish you could be more focused and achieve more. Where do these beliefs come from? And why do we perpetuate them, reinforcing them every day by saying them to ourselves either in our head, or by describing ourselves to others? It’s about intercepting the self-talk cycle – cutting the negative off at the pass and creating a positive self-fulfilling prophecy which means we will feel differently about ourselves and accordingly, behave differently to build habits which serve us well, finding ourselves with a brand new set of circumstances. All because we changed the way we thought about ourselves and the way we spoke about ourselves. Mindset Magic.
On the 8th Day of Christmas, a gift I gave to me:
Reflection on who I really am
And following neatly on from self-talk is our self-image. We tell ourselves stories about who we are such as: ‘I’m the kind of person who always feels nervous when I meet new people’, or: ‘I’m the kind of person who is terrible with money. I can’t save and am always in debt.” Or: ‘I’m the kind of person who lacks creativity and resourcefulness. I envy people who are both those things, but it just isn’t in me.’ Based on what? What are all those ‘facts’ based on? They are just thoughts and thoughts change like the weather. Four very powerful questions a friend and mentor recently shared with me which Byron Katie teaches as a method of self-inquiry:
When you drill it down to these questions, it’s amazing how you can shed the stories you’ve been telling yourself about yourself for years and years.
I would add at this point that if for example you have been filling your head with the belief that you always forget things, you are able to re-programme your brain if the desire was there - to believe something different about yourself. For example, if you were offered £1m to improve your memory to a certain level by a certain date and the time was reasonable, do you think you just might give it a really good shot?
On the 9th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
A #PEwithJoe workout
OK OK, I know you’re not all into HIIT workouts but the gist of this is that movement and exercise can be transformative for our mindset. Joe Wicks talks about Captain Serotonin and how exercise helps to promote the serotonin in our bodies, helping to lift our mood. After a walk, jog, run, swim, workout, yoga etc, we will feel better. We might start out with a head full of worries, we then start to process them and think them through and by the time we’ve finished our form of exercise, that concern, worry, anxiety seems to have been processed, without us coming to a conscious conclusion. Our mindset has shifted, and our subconscious is now in a state where it can be more solution-orientated. I cannot emphasise enough the power of exercise and the difference it makes to our mindset. I am positively evangelical about it (as many of you know!).
On the 10th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
A mental movie of my goal
Visualisation is a powerful tool in our mindset toolkit. High performing athletes use it. Double Olympic Yngling Gold Medallist Sarah Gosling talks about the power of visualisation and how she used it to not just see the realisation of her Gold Medal dreams coming true, but also visualising the process too. During one qualifying race, the Three Blondes in a Boat came up against an unexpected hurdle, one of them – Pippa Wilson, fell overboard. However, so focused were they on their goal of winning the race, they weren’t phased and didn’t falter. Pippa was hauled back into the boat and they went on to win the race. Gosling puts this down to a focused mindset and using visualisation – they knew what they wanted and how they were going to do it and had visualised it so many times that it became their normal – there was no question of it looking any different. It’s making that mental movie, a vivid visualisation using all five of your senses to imagine the process and achievement of your goal. The subconscious mind does not know the difference between a real and a vividly imagined event so when it happens in real life, it feels completely normal. What is it that you want in life? What do you want to Be, Do, Have? Visualise it.
On the 11th Day of Christmas, a gift I give to me:
Some golden time just to myself
It’s common to feel guilty when we dedicate an hour, morning or a day solely to ourselves. Of course, if you’ve been on the Winning Edge programme, you’ll know that everything we do, we do for ourselves because it sits most emotionally comfortable with our values. That includes staying late after work to help out yet again to get a project finished, ferrying the kids to and from clubs, visiting the in-laws again etc. However, many berate themselves if they take themselves off for a walk, a day’s shopping, hanging out with friends, box-setting their way through their favourite show and so forth. It somehow feels indulgent. And yet it’s times like these that we recharge our batteries and feel emboldened for the next challenge that might present itself. Make some time for you, to clear your head, for some peace and quiet, for some riotous fun. And remember if anyone chooses to feel offended that you decided to do something solely for you, you can tell them: ‘It’s not against you, it’s for me.’.
On the 12th Day of Christmas, the gift I give to me:
A membership to boost my mindset
If you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed which is maybe compounded by events this past year, or maybe you fear failure, procrastinate, or maybe fear what success will bring you, these can all stand between where you are today and where you want to be. That’s where we can help you. In the next couple of weeks, we will be launching the Mindset Coaching Membership and it can be your gift to you, or to a loved one. We will help you to bridge the gap between where you are, to where you want to be with monthly teachings + coaching + accountability, equipping you with what you need to reset and regain control of your thinking. You can become the person you want to be and create the life you want to live - without the stress, anxiety and overwhelm. Let’s face it, 2020 has turned everything on its head and so to ensure you make 2021 your year to gain focus and your sense of purpose, do check out the Membership. We’d love you to join the Mindset Coaching community!
So, there you have it, my suggestions for the 12 gifts you can give yourself over the coming 12 days, nay months. Put your wellbeing front and centre – put your oxygen mask on first, before you prioritise others, for you will be in a much better place to. Trust me. I’m not a Doctor but I do know this stuff…
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” Andy Warhol
Ps a friend recently gifted me a book for the season, it’s entitled Do Nothing Christmas Is Coming and is an advent calendar with a difference. It’s written by Stephen Cottrell who since publishing this book, has become the Archbishop of York but worry ye not, the book is not about religion. It is wonderful in its simplicity and humour and urges us to slow down and take our foot off the gas, to stop and smell the roses, to re-centre and ground ourselves. I read it each morning before I start work and it speaks to the element of me who can allow busyness to be the order of the day. The book prompts sobering thoughts which I think are helpful in this seemingly mad mad world in which we live. Below is the introduction. Food for thought…
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