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Thursday, 16 October 2014

Youvember - Take The Stress Off This Christmas + Competition

   You may have seen me mention 'Youvember' on Twitter and wondered just what I was on about. Well, I'll tell you. This year I'm hosting an event designed to bring a little bit of calm to your life before the insanity that is December. Youvember takes place in - you guessed it - November, beginning on the very first day of the month and ending on the very last, and its purpose is to encourage you to do something for yourself to take the edge off this Christmas. This can be anything from making a Christmas plan, taking up something for your personal health or wellbeing, or simply doing something you've always wanted to do - what it is doesn't matter, as long as you'll enjoy it and wind down with it.
   There is, of course, a difference between taking time for yourself and being selfish, and when the Christmas stress starts to pile on - which it does - taking some time for yourself can be vital. Perhaps you'd benefit from setting aside a certain amount of time every day to do something like finally start working out (you can do it at home with no equipment but your own body weight - you'd be surprised how far this alone can get you), or it could be setting aside time every week to do something like go to a coffee shop with a friend, or simply having something to look forward to at the end of the month like a weekend's break an hour or so away from home.
   There is no wrong way of participating in Youvember. As long as you're taking time for you in order to de-stress, it counts. You can find lots more information on it on the Youvember page.

http://www.ablackbirdsepiphany.co.uk/p/youvember.html

   But there's an added incentive to make it a little more exciting. A competition, open internationally, with 3 winners.
   I've been in touch with several of my personal favourite companies and put together three prize bundles with their help - a health and fitness bundle, an arts and crafts bundle, and a cheerful bundle - and to win one, all you have to do is participate in Youvember and take time for yourself. There's no downside! It's all for you anyway.
   To enter, during the final week of November, you can either:
   If you're a blogger, email me a link to a blog post you've written concluding your Youvember experience (if you decided to finally workout that month, how do you feel at the end of it? If you decided to work on a crafting project, how did it turn out?)
   If you're not a blogger, email me a picture that concludes it instead (if it's a workout, you could do a before/after picture, or photograph the equipment you used at home/class you attended; if it's a crafting project then, as above, a picture of the finished piece, maybe a few progress shots; if it's going out for coffee dates with friends, a picture or two of you and your buddies with big cheerful faces).
   You don't need to be a blogger to participate at all. Bloggers, however, have the added benefit of spreading the word of Youvember through the event's badges and through their own participational posts about how they've taken time for themselves and whether it's working or not.

Fancy participating? Here are some Youvember ideas which could improve your Christmas:

6-Week Christmas Plan
   Spend the first week of November (1st to 8th) writing down everything that needs to be done before the big day. Christmas gift shopping, food shopping, party planning - food, venue/decorations, entertainment, invitiations - christmas tree shopping, recipe hunting, accommodation for visiting friends or family. Write it all down and organise it into six groups that will make them easy to tackle. For example, if the tree farm is near a hotel or lodge, you might want to group booking accommodation and buying a tree in the same week so you can tackle them at the same time. If buying decorations or having invitiations made requires the same shopping centre or venue as the gift shopping, group those together, too. Then will be the more last-minute stuff like wrapping gifts, baking and collecting things from bakeries/butchers. This will likely take place in the last two weeks out of the 6, so feel free to leave those until last and tackle them with some Christmas music, a mug of hot chocolate and your dog wearing reindeer antlers.
From the second week of November (Nov 10th to Dec 20th), spend the following six weeks tackling your plan. Tick off your checklists and stow away the gifts, doing everything as you've already planned. You'll sleep easier for doing this if you usually have quite hectic Christmasses.

Sweat off the Strain
   You might think that exercise is one of the last things you have time for at Christmas, but that's exactly what Youvember is about: taking that time for you. And exercise is a great option, one which you can do in your own living room without having to face another person at all, too. You can warm yourself up, and if you need a little extra incentive, you can make room for the laziness and pigging out that always comes with Christmas without feeling so guilty after doing so, either. You may also find you quite enjoy it, and if not, well, it's only a month. There's no need to stick to it once November is over unless you want to. Consider it a trial month.
   Pick up a dance workout DVD - Hip Hop Workout, Urban Workout, 10 Minute Solutions' Dance It Off and Tone It Up - these are three DVDs that I promise you will love. I absolutely frigging adore them, and trust me, these are seriously more like fun than work. Or are you looking for something more hardcore that will actually feel like a workout? It's the perfect opportunity to try Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred. Why? Because it's a month long and only 20 minutes a day, but it works. You could also try yoga - buy a DVD or download some moves off of the internet. FitnessMagazine.com is one of my top resources for new workouts that don't require DVDs or very much equipment - a lot of it uses simple dumbbells and resistance bands, or simply your own body weight - and it's not as easy as that might sound. It's a very, very effective way of working out. Yoga is also body weight training.

Try Something New
   I wanted to try out modern calligraphy, but I was always so intimidated. Where do you start? What do you need?
   Well, a paintbrush and some drawing ink like Winsor and Newton isn't a bad place to start, and neither is a starting set of Manuscript nibs. There's a fabulous book called Modern Calligraphy that teaches you how to do all that beautiful scrolling handwriting you see on wedding invites on Pinterest and Etsy, as well as great crafting ideas that incorporate the calligraphy skills themselves. The Youvember logo was quickly thrown together thanks to that very book, in fact! No, it isn't perfect, but like I said: quickly.
   Maybe you fancy taking up a pottery class? Why not? Find the nearest school and get yourself some weekly or bi-weekly lessons for the month. It's far from likely that there will be many bookings, what with everyone else stressing out of their minds about their Christmas shopping.
   Maybe you just fancy starting a blog? Blogger is entirely free - always has been, always will be - and can be customised to your heart's desire without having to pay fees, either, like Wordpress. You're immediately indexed into Google and you'll be easy to find right away. All you need are posts, and your blog is your own. Keep it true to you and you'll have a vibrant following in no time. Never pretend to be someone you're not just to see your followers increase.

If It Makes You Happy...
   Do it. Drawing, painting, singing, dancing, reading - all these things you've been putting off lately because you've not had the time - make the time. This is for you.

   I know what you might be thinking. "Another silly '-vember' event, and it's aimed at me thinking about myself. I don't need you to tell me to chill!" - well, actually, I do. Like I said, November is the time of year people start stressing over Christmas, and when December rolls around that tension only gets worse. Taking some consistently planned time (daily or weekly) to do something for you can really take the edge off and let you breathe, and you might even find that, if it works (and it will), you'll keep doing it into December. But even if you don't keep it up past November 30th, when December comes around your stress levels will be lower than they usually are and you might get to enjoy Christmas a little more because of it.

   There's no set way in which to participate in Youvember, and no requirements either. You can blog about it if you like, as often or as infrequently as you'd like - though I do ask that you display one of the buttons at the bottom of those specific blog posts - or you can handwrite a journal with it instead. Take pictures and generally embrace what you're doing. It's for you, after all!



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