Erica’s top tips for surviving and thriving this Christmas season ️🎄

A healthy Christmas is not just about brussel sprouts and broccoli!

Find out how to feel amazing this Christmas with a little help from hormone Oxytocin to give you that warm fuzzy feeling and how creating a dream factory can be part of your gratitude rituals - it isn't just for kids!

Here’s how you can help spread good cheer and feel amazing yourself too!….

1. Be nice or Santa won’t bring you gifts! Nurturing bonds with the people you love (or complete strangers - but obviously not in a weird way!) is a great way to both support your immune system and to grow your own happiness. Human connection and sociability (even just recognising faces) prompts us to release the hormone oxytocin, a well-known anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune-modulator. It has been proposed that low levels of oxytocin may lead to the multi-system, remitting and relapsing nature of long-COVID symptoms and oxytocin therapy is being investigated as an adjunct therapy for people who suffer with that. It is thought it may even have a place as a direct antiviral in the fight against covid. So we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by taking measures to boost our own natural oxytocin levels: yoga, music, massage, cuddling and meditating have all been shown to increase oxytocin, as well as social activities such as spending time with friends, telling people how much we care, cooking and eating with people we care about, making love, doing something nice for people, stroking our pets and – get this - listening intently during our conversations – perhaps something that is needed now more than at any other time in our human history.

2. Plan like the Elves. Have you seen the film ‘A Boy Called Christmas’? (If you haven’t, then you really should.) If you have, you’ll know that breaking a positive thought can have absolutely disastrous consequences for a flying reindeer - I knew it! After all my research on the mind-body connection, finally, last night whilst cuddling my young nephew (refer to point 1 above), I landed on real evidence that our thoughts actually change our reality. Just knowing this, however, is still a little bit like a magic pixie potion – nice to know but not very practical. So why not learn from the Elves and set up a proper, state-of-the-art, tangible dream-making factory in your own house. My prototype’s in the bedroom and still in development but I’m more than happy to share my blueprint. Take it, run with it and tell me what colour the explosion bombs are (refer to A Boy Called Christmas)

Dream Factory Blueprint

· Raw materials: a bed, a morning, a duvet, some curiosity

· Step 1: wake up, open your eyes, close your eyes again quickly

· Step 2: screw up your eyes and nose and feel a smile creep onto your face

· Step 3: look at the back of your eyelids (eyes still closed – impossible otherwise) and notice colours

· Step 4: name everything you see as the colours become things you are grateful for: a warm house maybe, a soft bed, a new day, sunlight, 8 billion playmates in the world to choose from, morning breath – (OMG, my sense of smell is back, hooray!)

· Step 5: Ask – ‘just how did the Elves create all these magical things?’ Feel awe and notice where the awe tickles you

· Step 6: Imagine what you can create. Feel excitement. Notice where the excitement tickles you.

· Giggle – and if you need to, fake it to make it – it’s all part of the production process

· Step 7: See the colours change into sparkles that lead you to many different pictures and people – watch a smile creep across their face the person of everyone you'll meet today

· Step 8: Slowly start to move your fingers and toes (eyes still shut). Take 2 minutes to do this (more will be fine but less makes the day’s concoction a little insipid). Feel the electricity start to flow around your body (I know… it’s weird - you didn’t plug yourself in - but remember this is a magic factory – it happens all the time just like it’s something normal. And it is perfectly harmless)

· Step 9: Act natural. Don’t tell anyone you set a spell – you’ll scare them. Look back at all the people you meet throughout the day and see whether they notice something like magic is happening. But surely it can’t be…? No, this is just another ordinary, extraordinary day. But a good one.

3. Share a meal Rudolph. It’s easy to get carried away with all the food on offer at Christmas. But despite the richness of choice, don’t you always put a carrot out for Rudolph? (You do, don’t you?! Please say you do! If you don’t then please refer back to point 1 above immediately). Imagine what Rudolph might say if I left him out a mega-super-stash of mince pies, a dinner big enough to see him into the next century or a weird concoction of liquid chemicals that made him believe he could fly in July? (preposterous idea, right – I know, but just imagine if I left those out for him …) Of course, he’d probably suggest I was bonkers and unfit to take care of the animals, planet or body I have been given responsibility for. So whilst it’s great to have treats, rules are meant to be broken and the other 8 billion or so people in the world definitely don’t want to play with a grouch, the best way to keep your Christmas cheer is to eat – at least 80% of the time - the fuel that humans thrive on best. It definitely contains vitamin-C-type-vegetable-thingies, some protein, plenty of plants and a steady stream of water. You’ll intuitively know what else, and what to avoid, if you stay mindful and eat consciously at each meal (and hopefully stay conscious all evening too!)

Enjoy the feast of Christmas and drop us a message or comment below to let us know whether you felt the oxytocin or created some magic in your dream-like state! Happy Festive Frolicks everyone! xxx

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