You could even make your own cards and write the greetings with a calligraphy pen.

Try not to make anyone feel guilty about giving gifts but simply explain why you have chosen to focus your energies on children and on making and writing the cards. If you try to ignore it, your deep subconscious will latch on to the adverts and soak up their seductive emotional messages. Fear or shame might be found in the tightness of your stomach. Do you feel immune to them or a little annoyed that they influence you at such a deep and visceral level?

Paying full mindful attention undermines this and helps you to spot the tricks that are played upon you. If you’re a party animal – don’t go to ANY parties over the coming week.

Breathing then becomes a little faster and shallower. When you are upset, anxious or stressed, or spend too much time sitting in one position, the abdomen tenses and prevents the big primary muscles from working, leaving the secondary muscles to do all the work.

But the secondary muscles are designed to shoulder only 20 per cent of the burden, so they become stressed.

Some even claim these practices lead to spiritual enlightenment. Instead, I use breathing exercises to stay positive, focused and appreciative in a crazy world (and especially when I’m stressed out by a looming deadline).

DON’T BREATHE ‘BADLY’ I first discovered the art of breathing as part of my research into mindfulness meditation, about which I have written three books, including the international bestseller Mindfulness – the modern take on the ancient practice of meditation – has been clinically proven to beat depression and enhance happiness, clarity of thought and even decision-making and creativity. My latest book, , gathers a range of mindful breathing techniques in one little volume that will allow anyone to incorporate some mindfulness into their life.

Breathing is so ordinary that its true significance can easily pass us by.

But many of us have forgotten how to breathe correctly.

It works like this: momentary stress causes the body to tense and you begin to breathe a little more shallowly. Breathing relies on the big, powerful muscles of the diaphragm, the abdomen and the intercostal muscles between the ribs.