31 Days of Mindfulness – an antidote to seasonal stresses

It’s no secret that I am looking forward to Christmas being over. The excitement ramped up a couple of notches over the weekend with decorations being proudly displayed on social media, talk of gift buying, Christmas songs, advent calendar opening, and elves on shelves.

While I do not resent others’ excitement over the festive season, it adds to my sense of loss. I have been reading a grief book based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), and part of that is about training your mind to weed out unhelpful thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are more helpful. It’s not easy, and takes time – both to recognise and replace such thoughts when you are feeling low.

I have also been trying to practice mindfulness – awareness of ourselves and the world around us – well, since Saturday, when I bought a book about it. I have been pushing myself so hard with writing and other things so I do not have spare time to think, or let my mind drift off to those painful places.

The trouble is, I am not being kind to myself. I am also not giving myself time to properly grieve the loss of Hugo.

I love Hugo deeply and fiercely. I shall grieve for him deeply and fiercely.

Last night, I took myself away from social media and spent time looking at my photos of Hugo. Of course, I look at them all the time – I have framed photos displayed at home, Hugo’s photos adorn my lock and home screen on my phone and laptop, and they are all over my blog and social media.

However, it has been a while since I have sat and truly looked at the photos. I went through a phase of not getting absorbed in Hugo’s photos, because it hurt so much.

Looking through the photos last night was difficult, and emotional. I am glad I did it though because I rediscovered this photo.



I love this photo because Hugo is being Hugo – his arms are supposed to be tucked under the yellow cloth (I used to tuck it into my bra to get my smell on it, then put it in the incubator with Hugo to get his smell on it – another way of bonding when you are separated), and his feet are supposed to be in his nest, all snug. Hugo, however, had other ideas: his arms are flailing around, and you can see the fingers of his right hand wiggling around. His feet – I have so few photos of his feet, in so many photos they are obscured by a probe, or wrapped in cotton wool – so precious! He’s flexing his toes. You can also see his handsome face really well, especially that gorgeous well-formed nose.

Studying that photo was bittersweet, yes, but it put a smile on my face. While I am heartbroken that I will never be able to see just how wilful my little boy would grow up to be, so much of Hugo’s personality is summed up in one photo.

Last night I had a brainwave. I am still disengaged from Christmas, but I realised I have a choice: I can spend the next month getting more and more cross and upset at the festive season, or I can do something to try to keep my mind off it.

So, I have invented 31 Days of Mindfulness. During this month, I will post a photo on Instagram of something that has made me smile, or helped me appreciate the joy in the day. There are likely to be days when I do not feel like smiling, or appreciating joy – and that is ok too – I might draw a picture of how I am feeling and take a photo of that. This exercise is a way to help me actively connect with my feelings every day, and record them too.

It is open to anyone, if you would like to join me: you do not need to have suffered a loss, or have a ‘bah humbug’ attitude to Christmas. Everyone can benefit from mindfulness, and this month can be pretty stressful whether or not you are looking forward to the big day.

Mindfulness, to me, is about feeling whatever you feel (it’s supposed to be non-judgemental), so there are no daily prompts. Post a photo of whatever is relevant to you in finding a bit of joy or happiness that day, however fleeting – or that reflects how you are feeling that day. Please do use the hashtag #31daysofmindfulness so we can find each other.


27 thoughts on “31 Days of Mindfulness – an antidote to seasonal stresses

  1. Tara says:

    Reblogged this on After The Rain and commented:
    I’m reblogging a post by Leigh at Headspace Perspective today. She has a lovely idea for anyone who might be struggling with seasonal stress for whatever reason. I will be joining in with her 31 Days of Mindfulness on Instagram (good job I finally signed up).


  2. kykaree says:

    I shall start today!

    I challenge you to find beauty in Christmas. Sometimes embracing what triggers you can nullify it. Find a beautiful lit tree or even find something that embraces another tradition like Hanukah.

    This season is tough on a lot of us for many different reasons. For me Christmas reminds me of summer and feeling vulnerable and frightened.

    Take heart that you are not alone my dearest, you will be held through these 31 days, be mindful of that too xxx


  3. Mummy Writes says:

    Count me in! I want to run away, and keep running… I’ll join you in this.

    And I know what you mean. Writing and sharing is very helpful but that and life does get in the way of focusing on grief and some weeks I don’t want to even look at twitter and see everyone’s happy lives, new buys and winges about stupid things. Then I feel the urge to share again. I’m aware my blogging isn’t as slick as it should be, and is pretty one-sided, but I can’t be any other way at the moment.

    Thank you Leigh sometimes I’m just glad you’ve aired what I’m feeling to save me having to. Much love.


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      You’re so right, as therapeutic as writing can be, it can get in the way of grief. I have days when I just want to delete all social media because people’s happiness can get too much, but I don’t because ultimately, I get so much support from it. Your blogging is amazing, keep doing whatever is right for you lovely lady. I’m looking forward to having you join in. Lots of love to you xxx


  4. Louise says:

    What a wonderful idea Leigh and a great antidote to seasonal stresses. I hope it helps you through the festive season this year. That photo of Hugo is beautiful – as you say, it really does show so much of his personality and those little feet sticking out are adorable. Will be joining you on the mindfulness journey as it will hopefully help me stay in control of the black dog too. Glad to hear you are being kind to yourself xx


    • Leigh Kendall says:

      Aw, I love that photo of Hugo, thank you – and those feet are just the best, aren’t they? So pleased you’re going to join in Louise, and I hope it will help you ward of the black dog too xxx


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