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One big reason we love Christmas is that we get to step away from everyday life for a while, indulge in our favourite things and spend time with the people who are dearest to us.

Maybe that’s why we also stress out over trying to make things perfect (for everyone else) and run to a Plan (that one we’ve only shared with ourselves). It’s no wonder that by Christmas morning so many of us feel utterly spent.

This December, we’re inviting you to make the festive season extra special by taking care of yourself first and foremost – because only then can you take care of your loved ones. And as we all enjoy games at Christmas (don’t we?!), here are four yuletide challenges to help you focus on what’s important.

The nutrition challenge
The benefits of a healthy gut microbiome are well known, and that means diversity in your diet – aim to sample 30 different plants a week. If that sounds like a lot, remember the total includes fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and herbs. Try to eat the full 30 this week and keep a list so you can track where you’re at.
Experiment with adaptogens. Adaptogens can improve how our bodies deal with stress – just what you need for all that Christmas shopping! Some common adaptogens to try are ashwagandha, liquorice root and turmeric.
Food at Christmas is designed to be indulgent, full of the sugars, starches and fats our forebears needed in midwinter. But we have central heating and telly, so try to balance the seasonal fare with some nutritious and fibre-filled food to keep your digestion ticking over.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the centuries is that it’s dark a lot round Christmas. That can affect our mood, so consider lemon balm, vitamin C, B complex and magnesium supplements to let some sunshine in.

The emotional health challenge
Stay warm and flexible, in body and mind, by carving out some time for a little gentle yoga. Link to yoga pass.
Naturally occurring vitamin D only comes from sunshine, and there can be too little of that in December. So grab any chance you can for a walk under clear blue skies – 10 minutes each day, at the minimum, will allow your skin to absorb a decent amount of vitamin D.
Create an emotional manual. What are your non-negotiable needs? Maybe it’s just half an hour to yourself each day, or promising yourself that it’s okay to assert that a belief you feel strongly about isn’t up for debate (which should add spice to Christmas dinner…).
Do a brain dump. Take a piece of paper and write down anything that makes you feel bad about yourself, or simply makes you feel less-than. Then throw the paper away. You’re amazing just as you are.

The rest and reset challenge
Lounging around daydreaming, doing a jigsaw, watching TV or reading a magazine is productive. You may have forgotten about this thing called ‘rest’ but it’s important to everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be active or self-improving at all times.
Most of us are bound to have more to do in December, with extra shopping for food and presents, decorating the home or getting work finished before we leave the office for the Christmas break. But try for a one-in-one-out policy on chores – if seasonal tasks need prioritising, more mundane jobs will have to wait or you can get friends or family help.
It’s okay to switch off from things that distress you and focus on your own needs. Get some deep rest. Have an official duvet day where you don’t leave your bed (or the sofa). You don’t even have to decide what music to listen to – the duvet day playlist on Spotify is a good place to set the tone for your relaxation time.

The connect with nature challenge
Everyone loves a white Christmas, but they’re actually quite rare in Britain. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing to enjoy outdoors though, because dark early evenings in winter make for great stargazing. Wrap up warm and go out with a friend to lose yourself in the constellations.
Enjoy the local wildlife – make a fat ball bird feeder for our feathered friends, and cosy down to watch them from your window.
At this time of year we bring nature into our domestic space as a reminder of renewal, and that starts at the entrance to our homes. Try making your own door wreath this Christmas or, if that sounds too much like yet another thing to do for Christmas, opt for creating a simple, minimalist bouquet using holly, eucalyptus and fir trees.