We have a confession to make: We wanted to write this in time for the beginning of December 2017 but all the usual preparations got in the way and before we knew it, it was 2018 and Christmas had blown by in a haze of guests, food, a wedding, more guests, more food and guess, what, now it’s time to do it all over again!

So in a post-reflective style, here is our cheat sheet for a Happy Christmas and a blissful New Year. A little late, but with the hindsight of actually having got through all the guests and food, probably a bit more useful!

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Secret Santa!
Last year with a list of recipients that was starting to resemble all twelve verses plus the partridge in a pear tree, we decided as a family that the grown-ups would all do a Secret Santa. The budget was set and the only rule was “no vouchers”.
This meant using our imagination, taking / dropping hints and a bit of planning but it did mean there was only one gift to wrap and that certainly took a lot of stress out of the usual pre-Christmas rush and finances. Importantly, each gift was more personal as a result and it was actually nice to really think about the person receiving the present and what we each thought they might like or need.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Shared responsibility for the meals with a well thought out plan in advance!
Admittedly, not quite as romantic sounding as “Two Turtle Doves”, but still useful!
With a large family wedding among the celebrations and numerous guests from abroad staying with the local relatives, it was imperative to plan what everyone would be eating and where. A plan meant less stress, little to no food wastage, a big supermarket home delivery before-hand (no one likes wrestling over the last mince pie in Sainsbury’s, Jo!) and plenty of home-cooked meals pre-frozen in the weeks before. Smug… us?!

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Some fresh air, exercise and an appreciation of the local countryside.
There’s nothing quite like cold cheeks, slightly soggy feet and numb fingers to make you appreciate the countryside around you and the inevitable hot bath afterwards. On the 27th we all went for a lovely walk through the nearby fields and mud — Exercise is a great stress buster and that morning it blew away the cobwebs and perhaps helped get rid of a smidge of the port and stilton calorie intake, too!

On the fourth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Peace and quiet and some reflective alone time!
Incidentally, we’re not sure how many years we have been singing “Four Calling Birds” for, but we recently discovered it’s actually Four Colly Birds.
You learn something new every day!

Anyway, back to the 28th December and some well-earnt peace and quiet. By day four that was what we were craving. With the guests packed off for a touristy day trip around the Lake District, we were left to just chill out and take stock. It’s important to rest and recover during the holidays otherwise how can you go back to work fresh with new ideas and enthusiasm? It was a relaxing and yet weirdly productive day. Soup was made, cups of tea were drunk, books were read and Christmas tv was watched. Oh, and the dogs were walked too. Win-win.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Fiiiiiiive Goooooold Riiiiings! Only joking. Just two.
We had a family wedding on the 29th and it was lovely. Weddings are great in themselves of course, but being able to catch up with relatives and friends we’d not seen in months and in some cases years, was such a treat. We took loads of photos as a memento of the day and left with promises of all meeting up more often. Work, and just life really, can get in the way of seeing those we love more regularly and that’s kind of silly when you think about it. There’s nothing like love and raucous laughter with friends to really make you appreciate the important stuff.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
A teeny-tiny hangover.
All things in moderation at EqUa Coaching. We were kind to ourselves and drank plenty of water on the 30th and although there were no “ Six Geese a-Laying”, the chickens at home were extremely productive and kindly added to the obligatory full English breakfast these situations usually demand!

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
New Year’s Eve!
The 31st. More entertaining, more food, more raucous laughter and more conversation with loved ones.
We said goodbye to the old and welcomed in the new with hope, with friends, with family, with ideas, with love, and with style.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
New Year’s Day!
Have we done the song right? Perhaps not as we are only on day 8 and it’s back to work tomorrow and that can’t still be Christmas can it? We have lost track of all time!
Anyway, no more cheese, mince pies (still looking at you, Jo!), or leftover turkey thank goodness… Instead, a more balanced approach to our new year’s eating habits, and perhaps a reminder to listen to our own Take 5: Weight Management technique coming to our new and fabulously updated website, soon!
No regrets and definitely no New Year’s Resolutions! (Actually, we might do a separate blog in a few days’ time on why we don’t do resolutions!).

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
One new client and a new book coming soon!
Back to work today and it was a pleasure to meet with a new client, an actor, via Skype in the morning and while doing some work on Twitter in the afternoon we saw a post from Lendwithcare some of you might remember we wrote a two-part blog about their incredible work a while back— and so we funded two new entrepreneurs while we were at it.
Without wanting to sound too sanctimonious, giving is scientifically proved to increase happiness and as it’s such a worthwhile charity who take time to enrich the lives of each of the entrepreneurs they support by helping them to realise their goals, we really do enjoy being a part of their community.

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Seriously, how many more of these are there?!
Is it still Christmas? Can I have a snooze and some more cheese? What time is the Queen’s speech on? Why ARE Quality Street so much smaller now? Who ate the last mince pie? Jo?!!!!

Right. That’s your lot until next year. Be productive. Be kind and remember:

“Some days you eat salads and go to the gym. Some days, you eat cupcakes and refuse to put on pants. It’s called balance.”
Unknown but always quoted by Liz Bell

PS we have a new book out. It’s very exciting and beautifully illustrated. You will be able to read more about it soon on our Facebook page!

Over on our Facebook and Twitter pages we love showcasing the very best the internet has to offer in the form of curated articles and videos from all these sites and more, covering well thought out opinions on stress, anxiety and depression, forwarding inspiring quotes, videos on the human psyche, news in art, culture, therapy and music. If we find it useful, interesting or inspirational we will share it. We also write articles on our blog (new and updated website coming soon) and if you’d like to be notified when we write a new one, or of forthcoming workshops then please sign up for our next newsletter.

If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, addiction, panic attacks, feeling overwhelmed or just simply want to talk, please get in touch to book a one-to-one session with either Jo or Liz. Sessions are either in person or via Skype and are completely confidential.

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