Watch any tv channel or surf the Web right now you'll be bombarded with picture photos of happy families around a sumptuous table.
Christmas is a time of celebration, getting together but for many it's not as easy as that. You might be alone, suffering from an illness, going through a break up and so these idealistic images are the equivalent of a slap in the face.
Every year expectations also get higher, putting pressure on everyone to spend and impress. I remember getting a few chocolate coins and an orange in my stocking. And one or two main presents. Now it's giant Lego sets or Star Wars figurines. The pile of presents under Xmas trees is often excessive, enough for an African village. Christmas Dinner is now four or even five courses with all sorts of fancy drinks to go with them.
And all of it is broadcast on social media. Latest research shows that 'lurking' online, ogling others lifestyles can make you feel depressed. Because all we see is the glossier side of their lives. Funnily enough no one publishes the screaming rows, snotty elfies or tears of loneliness.
Psychologists recommend it's healthy to have webtox days - when you avoid others walls for a day. Also to engage on Facebook with others, rather than just voyeuring them. You'll soon find out it's not as perfect seems. People usually open up that actually they missed their departed Grannie or that the turkey was actually too dry.
If that's not bad enough New Year's around the corner and for many a daunting, uncertain time. Will life be better, will your job be secure, will your family be ok, will you meet the love of your life? All too many resolutions are based on what we don't have, and so we set ourselves up for a fall.
Joining a gym that you'll never go to or committing to lose ten kilos and failing. These broken vows can be confidence crushing.
New Year should first be about celebrating all the great moments of 2016. You can even do this on new years eve. What three things made you happy this year?
As for resolutions I think affirmations are more relevant, helpful. Things that are achievable, that'll fulfill your true desires. Learn to play an instrument. Visit a country you've never been to. Contact a friend you've not seen for years. Try a new cuisine. Take a risk.
But if you do feel stuck, want real change, then anything IS possible. I changed my life 5 years ago - moved country, found a new partner and began writing. I never thought I'd be blogging now, or that my first book is going to be made into a film. Dreams do come true, if you work at them with persistence and determination.
The best route is to see a therapist or counsellor. It's easy to know what you want to do, or be and harder to know where you want your life to go. If you feel really down it is better to externalise it - get it out of your system so you can start the new year unburdened by sorrow.
Some cultures also like to make physical gestures on the 31st. Light a lantern of hope and let it go into the night sky. Burn sage to cleanse old vibes. Some even write the things they want to stop and then tear the paper into pieces to shed the habit.
I prefer to start the new year I way to continue, enjoying what I have and sharing love with those around me. And most of all at the stroke of midnight, celebrate YOU. The way we talk to ourselves can be so critical, way more negative than when we speak to others. So be kind to yourself, nurture your spirit and give thanks to the wonderful being you are.
A very happy 2017 to you all!