Crowded and jostled while shopping and travelling? Surrounded by people at parties? Expecting a house full for Christmas? Wondering how to cope? Alone and feeling lonely?

At this time of year there is often a sense of pressure from being with other people much more than usual. People we have not chosen to spend time with; people who have different ideas of how to live; people who make us feel uncomfortable or who are critical. Or we can imagine that the media images of happy family gatherings are all true, and we’re the only ones by ourselves.

Simple ways of restoring your own sense of calm and peace can be to spend a few minutes in natural surroundings – gaze out of the window at the passing clouds; look at a tree, find a bud; announce to all those slumped in front of your TV that you are going out for a walk in 10 minutes, and anyone is welcome to join you. Then leave in 10 minutes, with or without others, and walk to your nearest open space. Count the trees to help you/children with you to focus on those things.

Food for thought: Trees, blades of grass, birds are simply themselves – each unique, each making a difference by being what they are.

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