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  1. Watch Your Diet (And It's Nothing To Do With Food!)

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    One of the most important factors in building - and keeping - a positive mindset is the influences that help mould it. To make sure we keep a healthy mind we need to make sure it is fed on a carefully controlled diet. In fact, a huge part of the entire journey towards becoming a happier and more confident person is keeping a very close eye on what we 'feed' ourselves every single day.

    And I am not talking about food.

    Every person we spend time with, the things we browse on social media, the things we read and the programmes we watch all form a continuous stream of nutrition for our mental appetite which, whether we are aware of it or not, helps form our opinions and beliefs about ourselves and the world around us.

    The voice in our head is the product of all our influences, often moulded more by the negative things we have seen and heard and often quick to remind us of our limitations and fill us with self-doubt. Our beliefs about our own abilities and strengths are often formed by things we have heard from others, rather than the absolute proof of what we see we can achieve and our version of the world is shaped by news bulletins, Facebook posts and newspaper headlines.

    The more we become aware of how our influences feed our mental map of everything, the more we can adjust the balance of it. The more positive the flow, the more positive the product. What we think, we become – so if we are fed with a constant stream of messages about what we can't do and how we are failing at life, we will continue on a downward path as this belief becomes truth. If we are surrounded by people who build us up, celebrate our victories (however tiny) and remind us that we can do great things, well, we really can do great things.

    So, from this moment, watch your diet. Feed yourself with things that build you up, grow your confidence and remind you of all the things to be grateful for and limit your access to negative influences as much as you can. And here are 5 ways you can start doing it right now:

    1) Pick your friends wisely!
    Just because we grow up, doesn't mean we suddenly have lots of confidence in who we are and what we do – in fact, the opposite is often true! And just as children often need reassurance, thrive with praise and sometimes need a little encouragement to take a big leap into something new – so do we! We need to be surrounded by people who are on our side, who can support us when we need it and remind us of all the wonderful things we can do when we lose faith in ourselves.


    Life is far too short to spend time with people who want to belittle us or bring us down. 'Friends' like this, who compete and behave with jealousy, can be really damaging to our own happiness. So, walk away from them and invest your energy in friends who are loyal, honest and on your side.

    The people we spend most of our time with have a huge impact on our own inner voice and our own opinion of ourselves, possibly more than anything else, so make sure it's a positive one!

    2) Remind yourself that social media isn't real life!
    A quick look through your many social media feeds will no doubt fill you with glamourous pictures of friends (and famous people and people you vaguely know!) working out at the gym, enjoying an exotic holiday, demonstrating some impressive parenting feat or polishing their new car in the drive of their new house. It can become a barage of things you haven't got or haven't done.

    I believe that we all spend far too much time on social media for our own good, and although I think there are a lot of positive things about it, I do think limiting our time on it in favour of more 'real life' influences is a massive step towards more positive mental health. We miss so many moments of 'ordinary joy' because we are looking at the world as presented on a phone screen – and it is these small moments that we keep missing that can remind us that the life we are in, at this very moment, has so much to be grateful for and shows us so many things we should be proud of. Yeah, we might want a bigger house, a nicer car, an exotic holiday somewhere – but rather than reminding ourselves constantly what we haven't got, let's spend a bit of time appreciating what we have got.

    So, enjoy social media and all the good stuff it brings whilst always reminding yourself that real life happens right in front of us, not on a timeline, or in an app, and that if we stop competing and comparing we often become instantly more happy and satisfied with our lot.


    3) Skip, block or turn off!
    Now this step is an important one – especially for my fellow overthinkers! Overthinkers are often very empathetic and can often tie themselves in knots working through how a given scenerio is going to make everyone else feel and then exhausting themselves trying to make it better for everyone! Empathy is wonderful gift to have, but it can be overwhelming when faced with a seemingly never-ending stream of sad, worrying or tragic stories and events.

    The amount of information we are bombarded with on a daily basis, an hourly basis even, is just huge – too huge. Between news reports, front page headlines and posts popping up on every form of social media we see war, abuse, child cruelty, animal cruelty, illness, trauma, homelessness, suicide, missing people and countless other negative stories every hour of every day. And each time we see one, we will feel the pain, feel the guilt or feel the responsibility to solve it.

    We really can end up with the weight of the world on our shoulders.

    So edit that stream. I hate seeing nasty pictures on Facebook, especially if they involve animals or children, so I scroll on by. I don't look, I don't read. I haven't read a newspaper for a very long time and I rarely watch the news. I stick to lists on Twitter that focus on friends and people I am particularly interested in rather than being swamped by the full feed.

    And does this mean that I don't care? No, maybe the opposite. Sometimes I care too much and it is too much to cope with. When I see these stories, I feel the panic a mum might feel, I feel the loss that a wife might feel and I feel an almighty sadness when I think what some people are going through. To live like that every hour of every day would be suffocating, and I fear for some, is suffocating.

    So we need to stop carrying the world around with us. We need to care, be kind and do what we can within our own world, our own life and within our own limits. That is where our responsibility lies and where we can have the biggest impact.


    4) Read some good stuff!
    One of the great things about the internet is that we now have at our fingertips an abundance of helpful and inspiring stuff to read. In between the funny cat pictures, amusing memes and the google answer for everything there is a huge resource of inspiring blogs, informative articles and downloadable books – many of them free. You can find new skills, learn about starting a small business or be motivated to feel more confident.

    Use a bit of your social media time to browse some of this more inspiring content instead. Even if it is just for a few minutes a day it can have a massive impact on the positive diet we are trying to create – especially if that blog post replaces ten minutes you would have spent feeling inadequate browsing mansions over on pinterest!

    Building and retaining this positive diet is about finding a stream of influences which all carry a positive message, and introducing a small amount of reading (of the right stuff!) into your daily feed is an incredibly effective way of doing it.

    5) Tell yourself that you're doing ok!
    We are often experts at telling ourselves we have done something wrong, or beating ourselves up for saying something daft or talking ourselves out of doing something because we're not good enough. Well, we need to build up the habit of reminding ourselves that we're doing ok. Every day.

    You got through the day at work without punching anyone – you're doing ok! You fed the kids today – you're doing ok! You got out of bed today – you're doing ok!

    Sometimes, just getting through the day is a massive achievement. Other days we can take on the world. But every day, you must remind yourself – you really are doing ok.


    During June 2019, I am challenging you to 'change your diet' - to take control of every influence which feeds into your mental appetite and to take steps to make it as positive and fulfilling as you can. Join us over in the Beyond The Crumpled Paper Facebook group where, during the month, I will be sharing more exercises, prompts and tips to help you do this...

  2. #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...