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  1. Why I'm Wishing You a Merry Imperfect Christmas...

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    I do love Christmas. I love spending time with family and friends, I love hearing Christmas songs and seeing all the lights and decorations and I love the magic that is around at this time of year.

    But it can also be a stressful and overwhelming time of year too. Especially if you're a people-pleasing overthinker like me! It is easy to drown in a never-ending to-do list as you strive to deliver the perfect Christmas, as you constantly worry that the kids won't be happy, that people won't enjoy their dinner and that your bank balance will never recover.

    Every year, the 'Christmas Thing' seems to get bigger – and last longer. Increasingly impressive TV adverts paint full-colour images of the perfect Christmas, there seems to be a growing list of things that we feel we should do, like Christmas Eve boxes and Christmas pyjamas and even advent calendars just keep getting bigger and more impressive (and expensive!). It is so easy to get swept up with the idea that it is all these things that are vital for a successful Christmas – that Christmas is about a flawless dinner, giving a mountain of gifts you can't really afford to buy and skipping your way through the festive season with a smile on your face whilst belting out your best Mariah Carey impression.

     But when we stop, step off the commercial Christmas machine and remind ourselves what Christmas should mean for us then we realise that all these things are lovely – but they're not vital. If we allow ourselves to have the Christmas that we want, that is about the things that are really important to us, then it really doesn't matter if the gravy is lumpy, if the star falls off the Christmas Tree or indeed, if there are days when you want to punch Noddy Holder in the face because you're really not in the mood for Christmas cheer.

     dr seuss xmas quote

    And this is why I am wishing you a very Merry Imperfect Christmas this year.

    I want you to really think about what Christmas is about for you this year. Is it about having the best Christmas Tree in the village or is it about spending quality time with your family? Is it about hosting a perfect event or making precious memories? As soon as you pause and reflect on why you get swept up in all this madness, you will also hopefully realise that we can put so much pressure on ourselves to make the unimportant stuff perfect, that we miss out on the really valuable stuff.

    So to help keep us all focussed on what is important this year, and help stop us getting swept up in the craziness, I am running the Happy Mind Army Imperfect Christmas – and I want you to join me, and spread the word so that more people can join us and lift some of the stress and anxiety out of the holiday season. And there will be 3 main ways you can join in:


    1) The Happy Mind Army Advent Calendar

    Every day from 1st December through to Christmas Day, I will be doing a post in the HMA Facebook Group to help keep you focussed on YOUR Christmas, not the Christmas you think you should be having! These posts will be a mix of stuff including inspiring quotes, ideas for homemade gifts, time-saving tips and plenty of reassurance that you don't have to fit in to anyone else's version of Christmas.

    Life also still has the same challenges at this time of year – you could be grieving, having financial difficulties or struggling with illness – so feeling that you still have to live up to this idea of a perfect Christmas can be too much to bear. So HMA is here to remind you that you don't.

    Steering your way through the festive season with clear focus on your goal, YOUR Christmas, can really help take some of the anxiety away from trying to be everything to everyone. You might love all the lights, tinsel and trimmings and have a Christmas jumper for every day of the week, or you might find it all a bit too much and want a quiet understated Christmas – either way, you can make sure you enjoy and find joy in your festivities, not feel you have to survive them! There is no such thing as a 'perfect Christmas' so you shouldn't put pressure on yourself to deliver one!

    Rules for a Happy Christmas


    2) The Happy Mind Army Imperfect Christmas Photo-A-Day Challenge

    Hosted mainly on Instagram, but running across Facebook and Twitter, there will also be a photo challenge running during this advent period. Life gets pretty hectic at this time of year, so the idea of this challenge is to get to you be more mindful, to stop every now and then and be in the moment, and enjoy some of the things that are easy to miss when you're hurtling around at a million miles an hour.

     It's about slowing down the pace, having a moment and giving yourself the opportunity to be present and enjoy the festive season – not miss it all with your head buried in a to-do list!

    Each day will have a prompt word which you can use as a springboard for ideas for an image that you post on social media that day. A list of all the words, and more details about what it involves, will be posted on instagram and in the HMA Facebook Group very soon.


    3) My weekly Monday Mindset Manouvres Email

    If you haven't already signed up for my weekly Monday email you can do so here. These emails take just a few minutes to read, but help set you up in the right frame of mind for the week ahead. During the festive season my emails will also tie-in to the #HMAImperfectChristmas to help make sure you remain calm and in control throughout the pre-Christmas madness.

     imperfect christmas intro pic

    So, make sure you sign-up for the emails, follow me on Instagram and join the HMA Facebook Group so you too can embrace an imperfect Christmas and paradoxically discover just how perfect it can be!




  2. Eyes Down For A Game of Mindfulness Bingo!

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    I'm so much better than I used to be at staying in the moment and keeping my overthinking in check, but every now and then something happens that makes me look back and dwell a bit on times gone by. I don't long for the past, I love my present and wouldn't want to change any of it, but it places me in what I can only describe as a melancholy mood.


    Yesterday my eldest daughter left primary school and this has been the trigger for such a melancholy episode. It marks the end of an era and is a clear sign of passing time and I have found myself looking at old photos, remembering times when the girls were tiny and in a way, I felt some grief for the loss of all these moments that are gone, spent, never to be had again.

    It can be easy for a melancholy mood to linger, to turn into sadness tinged with panic at time passing and a sense of overwhelm at so much change happening. So, it is vital to come back 'into the moment' – to return to the present and concentrate on all the great things happening now. Being in the present, being mindful, is the perfect antidote to overthinking. It calls your wandering mind back into line and stops small negative feelings snowballing into large, long-lasting negative feelings.


    So, our challenge for August is to be more mindful, to be more in the moment. And I have a fun and practical way to help you start – I want you to join in a game of Mindfulness Bingo. A lot of mindfulness techniques revolve around what experts call 'grounding' – that is using something you can see, hear, touch, smell or taste to bring your senses back to what is happening in the present. It is a very simple technique which has immediate and effective results.

    So, our game of Mindfulness Bingo gives you a few prompts to help you start to use 'grounding' in your every day life. The first bingo card (which you can find at the end of this post) concentrates on things you can see and hear and gives you prompts for things to look out for during your day. And like a traditional game of bingo the idea is to get a full line crossed off, followed by a full house. During the month, I will also share extra daily prompts and a new bingo card to keep you going over in the Beyond The Crumpled Paper Facebook Group (come and join us here). You can also join us there and post your bingo successes!

    It's time to take charge of our overthinking, so let's play Mindfulness Bingo...


  3. #MayMindsetChallenge

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    MINDSET noun A person's way of thinking and their opinions, An established set of attitudes held by someone

    Our mindset is the compass which guides our every move. What we think, we become. But mindset isn't a concrete thing, it can evolve and change and we can take charge of it.

    All of my work now is geared towards helping and inspiring people to develop a healthier and more positive mindset – and the #MayMindsetChallenge is part of this.

    Often people have had many years (if not decades!) of unhealthy thinking patterns – overthinking, negative self-talk and self criticism – and this is the result of the repetition of certain beliefs and habits which over time ingrain themselves in our every fibre. So, to turn this around will not happen overnight and it won't happen without effort.

    Having a happier, healthier mind takes practice – every, single day. It is about weaving new practices and habits naturally into your daily life – replacing negative thoughts with positive ones, taking time to be in and appreciate the moment, feeling gratitude for the small things and giving yourself permission to feel proud and excited about yourself and what you're capable of. Start small and gradually these good habits grow and start replacing the old, damaging ways of thinking.

    This month long #MayMindsetChallenge 'photo a day' challenge is to help you do this.


    The aim of it is help introduce a trickle of positivity and mindfulness into everyday. It is a prompt and a reminder to practice healthier habits EVERY SINGLE DAY in an easy, fun and creative way. For each day during May, there is a prompt word/statement. Use this starting point every day and create a photo to represent it and then post it on social media using the hashtags #BeyondTheCrumpledPaper and #MayMindsetChallenge – Instagram is the natural place to share your pics but any social media is great and don't forget to come over to the Beyond The Crumpled Paper Facebook group and share them with us there too! (You will also find extra help and inspiration over there too!)


    There are no right or wrong interpretations of the prompts – be inspired by them in any way you choose (I have given a few starting points for each prompt below though in case it would help you to have a more detail) Get your friends involved, follow the hashtags and share ideas and challenge yourself to do it everyday (I will if you will!)

    It is worth reading through all the prompts and planning a few ideas ahead of time (there is a planning sheet you can use for this over in the facebook group) as this will save any last minute snapping panics! And I may just give out a prize or 2 at the end...

    So come on – take on the #MayMindsetChallenge and enjoy some fun and creativity as you build a healthier mindset!

    Helen x


    For those of you that would like a few more ideas to get you going, here are some ideas that sprung to my mind (but like I say, please interpret the prompts in any way you want to...)

    As I write this it is pouring down! But Spring is certainly in the air so today you may be inspired to notice and photograph evidence of all the new life and the new beginnings that are around the place. It might be a blooming flower, a tiny lamb or a basking butterfly. Or it might be something that represents the lighter nights or the (sometimes!) better weather.

    A prompt to help you build your attitude of gratitude and develop a habit of being thankful for the small stuff. What was the highlight of your day? Was it finding a parking spot? Meeting a friend? Your favourite biscuits being buy on get one free? Let us see your highlight!

    3) SHADOW
    Sometimes being more mindful and 'in the moment' is the perfect antidote to overthinking so this prompt is to help you be in that moment and to just look and be more aware of your surroundings. We can often be so trapped in our own heads that we miss so much beauty and interest that is right in front of us. Find an unusual shadow, a dramatic shadow or maybe even one which looks a bit rude...

    Share your guilty pleasure – is it a weird food combo, a series you binge watch or an embarrassing singer you love?

    5) FAMILY
    Big, small, traditional, complicated, human, furry – share a pic to represent your family or maybe something that shows what family means to you.

    6) SELFIE
    Doesn't really need much explanation this one – but I challenge you to show your face and post it proudly :)

    7) CALM
    Maybe it's a place that feels calm or something you do that can bring some calm to your day – or maybe it's a colour or something more abstract that you think represents a feeliing of calm.

    8) LIGHT
    There are so many positive connotations to 'light' and this one could be used as inspiration in so many ways. Maybe it's capturing dappled light through the trees, a shaft of sunlight lighting up the landscape, the lamp on your desk helping you work late or even something that is light in weight...

    9) LOOK UP
    We spend so long looking down at our feet (or our phones!) that we forget to look up – so do it! Notice interesting buildings, beautiful tree tops, birds flying overhead – or if you're inside maybe there's an interesting cobweb in the corner that you've never noticed before!

    This one could be used in many ways – a pic of something that makes you happy or represents your happiness. Maybe happiness is sometimes elusive for you, or something you strive for. Respond in a way that is true and meaningful for you.

    11) MY VIEW
    It could be good, bad or indifferent – but share your view at some point today!

    12) ON MY MIND
    Maybe it's cake, maybe it's the weight of the World. Try to capture an image that shares what you're thinking about today.

    Look around, and before you take your pic, use this prompt as a reminder to have a good look round and appreciate all the joy and colour that is around us. Be it crazy socks, beautiful flowers, sweet wrappers in the corner shop – colour can really lift your mood if you stop and see it.

    14) PAUSE
    We all need to press the pause button sometimes, so what helps you 'grab a moment' or take a break? Or maybe your image will be of something that you need to pause – something you need a break from.

    15) 2PM
    Yup – take a pic of what 2pm today looks like for you!

    16) LAUGH
    This prompt is all about positivity - show us you laughing, take a pic of what makes you laugh or maybe share something to make others laugh.

    17) AND RELAX
    How do you unwind? Maybe it's a hot bath, candles and meditation. Maybe it's a run in the rain or some kick-boxing. Show us how you shake of the rigours of the day and relax.

    18) SKY
    Again, it is time to look up! Use this prompt as a reminder to enjoy watching the sky for a bit – be in the moment and enjoy it. Is it the clouds that capture you, a beautiful sunset or maybe even a rainbow? (Or maybe it's Sky Sports or Sky Movies – like I said, take it any way you want to!!)

    Embrace and be proud of your dreams and aspirations. Will you have a new job next year, learn to drive, go on holiday or maybe just manage to keep your spider plant alive! Big or small, have a goal and share it with us.

    Simply show us what you can't live without. Again, this could be light-hearted or indeed rather serious – make it meaningful for you.

    21) MOOD
    Good, bad, tired or grumpy – however you're feeling, like us see it!

    Show us something you have triumphed at today – small victories to massive achievements, they all count and need to be celebrated! Maybe you did something amazing at work, perhaps you did that scary thing you've been putting off for ages, maybe you stepped out of the front door. Whatever your triumph was today, share it and be proud of it.

    23) FRESH AIR
    A lunchtime walk, an open window, a momemt on a park bench. Grab yourself a few deep breaths of fresh air and show us how/where you did it.

    24) HEART
    Maybe you will find a heart shape somewhere unusual, maybe you've got a 'heart' to show us hung in your house or emblazened on your t-shirt – or maybe you feel more inspired to show us something you love?

    25) GRATEFUL
    What are you grateful for today?

    What does Sunday morning look like for you?

    27) SMILE
    Show us your smile or what makes you smile, or maybe the smile of someone (or something!) else.

    From the outside or the inside, the whole thing or a tiny detail – show us what makes you think of home.

    29) OOPS
    Mistakes are a vital part of learning and improving so we all need to allow ourselves to make them and accept them as being an important part of success – so today, share a mistake or a mishap with us and share it without hesitation!

    30) PROUD
    What have you got to be proud of? Maybe something today, maybe something you do all the time or have achieved in the past. Be proud, feel proud and show us with pride what it is.

    31) THIS IS ME
    This is perhaps the most important picture of the challenge. A picture that shows us who you really are – make it a picture which tells us a bit about the real you. It could be about looking a certain way, showing your interests or revealing a hidden skill – take away the filters and the edited version of yourself and let a bit of the real you out into the World...