DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH
LOVE ON THE LINE Expert insight to build lasting connections
HAPPIFUL.COM | FEB 2020 £4.00
Meghan TraInor Her mind. Her soul. Her voice.
Break-up with bad habits Slay your smoking addiction – you've got this!
Fight the fear Overcome first day anxiety
Like a boss!
IGNITE YOUR It's time to rekindle your creative spark
PLUS Tess Daly Tom Kerridge Dr Rangan Chatterjee 02
Photography | Jennifer Bedoya
Loving ourselves works miracles in our lives – LOUISE L HAY
Heart to heart As the incredible RuPaul often says: “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?” This issue really captures the spirit of that sentiment. So often we can look outwards at all the things we want in life, and worry about how we’re going to get there – whether that’s with our relationships, careers, personal lives, or goals. But so often, by nurturing your truest self, all the rest will fall into place. Our February cover star Meghan Trainor knows this all too well. After fearing she'd never sing again following two operations on her vocal cords, and living with panic attacks and anxiety, she's learnt how vital it is to work on loving herself every day – and seen that positivity then spread throughout her life. We also hear from the brilliant Dr Rangan Chatterjee on how just five minutes can make a world of difference to our wellbeing, and Tess Daly, the beauty blogger whose passion is now helping
her to redefine the industry, and represent disabilities in mainstream society. We never know what that focus on ourselves can achieve. You may find the things that once seemed so important, actually fall by the wayside, and new dreams take root. It’s about allowing yourself the time and space to understand yourself, your needs, and values – and to cherish that person. It’s not always a linear journey, and there’ll be days when your confidence feels rattled, but day by day, that inner love can and will build. Let’s vow to start sowing the seeds today.
| @happifulhq REBECCA THAIR | EDITOR
The Uplift 8 In the news 13 The wellbeing wrap 14 What's 'white coat syndrome'? Sweaty palms and raised blood pressure? These could be signs of a fear of the doc
82 Engineering dreams
Features 16 Meghan Trainor
The singer-songwriter opens up about her severe anxiety and panic attacks, and how she discovered self-love
Meet the volunteer engineers creating custom-built items to transform disabled people's lives
31 Dr Chatterjee
The UK's favourite GP shares the secrets to feeling better in just five minutes
34 Financial fears
Cash in on these tips for taking back control of your money
Food & Drink
51 Head to toe
Our mental health can easily be affected by physical health, but how can what's going on our mind affect our bodies?
64 Smoothies for days
Life Stories 39 Kerry: Starting over again
Years of set-backs and pretending that everything was 'fine' left Kerry in the pits of depression. But just when she thought everything was lost, she found the strength to take back control
57 Dan: A blessing in disguise
A breakdown while he was in Italy took Dan down paths he could never have predicted. Eventually, after recovery, he found a new purpose and now spreads his message as a mental health activist
87 Nicola: From the other side Nicola was living her life to its fullest until she experienced her first panic attack, and everything changed. In hard times, she found solace in therapy, and today gives back as a qualified counsellor herself
Kick off your mornings with these vitamin-boosting smoothies
66 Tom Kerridge
The Michelin-starred chef on cooking up a storm and finding balance
Lifestyle and Relationships 27 Self-dating ideas 28 Treating trauma
Grace Victory pens a personal piece on living with PTSD
47 Stub out smoking
Follow these tips from a hynotherapist on kicking the habit for good
70 Tess Daly
The beauty blogger on using her platform to be a role model for disabled people
READER OFFER Print
42 Things to do in February 54 Getting real with Reiki
What really happens in the therapy room?
63 Embrace mindfulness
A quick and easy guide to welcoming mindfulness into your day ENTER CODE:
74 Ask the experts: counselling
AT THE CHECKOUT
Thinking about counselling? Here's what you can expect from a session
80 Creative minds
In her latest book, Sheila Chandra turns creative chaos into a thriving career
90 Quickfire: MH matters
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Happiful Hacks 24 Build a healthy relationship 44 Carve out time for creativity
60 Shelve shopping addiction 76 Overcome first day anxiety
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Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue
EDITORIAL Rebecca Thair | Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Staff Writer
Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant
Dip Couns Reg BACP
Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor
Annabel is a humanisticintegrative counsellor and TV presenter.
John is a transformational relationship coach helping couples and individuals.
Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor Grace Victory | Columnist Ellen Hoggard | Web Editor Bonnie Evie Gifford | Contributing Writer
MA Dip RGN MBACP (Accred)
BA MEd (Psych) PGCE BACP Reg
Lindsay is an integrative counsellor and psychotherapist, as well as a trained nurse.
Paula is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor with 25 years' experience.
Kat Nicholls | Contributing Writer Becky Wright | Contributing Writer
ART & DESIGN Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer Rosan Magar | Illustrator
BA MA NLP Mstr
MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind
Rachel is a life coach encouraging confidence and motivation.
Graeme is a counsellor working with both individuals and couples.
BA MA MBACP (Accred)
MSc BSc (hons)
Rav is a counsellor and psychotherapist with more than 10 years' experience.
Wendy is a counselling psychologist helping people live fulfilled lives.
Andrew is a solutionfocused clinical hypnotherapist.
Josephine is a nutritional therapist, and yoga and meditiation teacher.
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IN THIS ISSUE
INFORMATION AND ADVICE FOR PANIC DISORDERS Discover a range of services for those with panic disorders – including one-to-one and group sessions, a befriending service, and free information – at nopanic.org.uk
LEARN ABOUT PTSD Read others' stories about their experiences with PTSD, and find advice for friends and family members, at ptsduk.org
SUPPORT GROUPS FOR DEPRESSION Find online groups, pen friend schemes, and tools to connect with others living with depression by visiting depressionuk.org
FIND A COMPLEMENTARY THERAPIST NEAR YOU Learn more about complementary therapy and search for therapists in your area by visiting therapy-directory.org.uk
SUPPORT FOR ALCOHOL ADDICTION Connect with online advisors, commit to drink-free days, and learn about tackling alcohol abuse at drinkaware.co.uk
ADVICE ON LIVING WITH ANXIETY Find information on a range of anxiety disorders, tips and information on living with symptoms, and advice on accessing support at anxietyuk.org.uk or call their infoline on 03444 775 774
Hampshire firefighters’ wellbeing blooms
In a bid to improve the mental health of its firefighters, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) has created two, on-site, holistic garden spaces to support staff dealing with traumatic incidents. And this innovative plan is desperately needed. In England last year, 837 firefighters took time off work due to mental health problems. But being in tranquil outdoor spaces can have an incredibly positive effect on our mental health, and so – with the support of local company Apollo Fire Detectors Ltd– the HFRS created the outdoor spaces, which feature natural landscaping and garden furniture, for staff to use to take quiet moments for themselves. The gardens, at stations in Redbridge and Havant, the latest in several moves by HFRS to support the mental health of staff, including the Trauma Risk Management scheme, which aims to support firefighters following harrowing events, and training in mental health first aid. “I am hugely proud of the strides our organisation has made in terms of raising awareness of mental health issues and supporting our colleagues,” Deputy Chief Fire Officer Steve Apter said. “These tranquil spaces show the wellbeing of our staff really is at the heart of everything we do.” Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
Liverpool FC supports Rainbow Laces campaign
New pill could spice up your sex life Fenugreek is a herb used to flavour curries, but research suggests it could add zest in the bedroom, too A libido-boosting pill containing fenugreek has been tested on 29 post-menopausal women, with results showing an increased blood flow to the genitals, and raised testosterone levels. Researchers from the Palacios’ Institute of Women’s Health, in Spain, revealed that when one aspect of the participant’s sex lives improved, others followed in a ‘domino effect’. The findings could be a gamechanger for sexual wellbeing. Using a questionnaire-based Female Sexual Function Index
(FSFI), which is a scale from 0 to 36, anyone scoring below 26 is considered to be at risk of sexual dysfunction. Before the trial, the participants had an average score of 20 and after the trial, their score increased to 25. Dr Santiago Palacios, who led the research, said: “The administration of this product is associated with a significant increase not only in desire and arousal, but also in vaginal lubrication and orgasm.” Sounds like a great way to heat things up in the bedroom! Writing | Kat Nicholls
In a widely welcomed move, Liverpool FC recently joined the campaign asking sports players to wear rainbow laces to support LGBTQ+ players, and the wider community. Players in two games – one with the men’s team and another with the women’s – got involved. In addition to players wearing the laces, both team captains wore rainbow armbands to lead the show of support. But the work didn’t stop there. Laces were available for fans to buy, and the LFC Foundation – the club’s official charity – also held workshops with pupils from 16 local schools, which looked at breaking down misconceptions surrounding equality and inclusion, as well as LGBTQ+ history. The diversity and inclusion senior manager at LFC, Simon Thornton, sees this move as a positive sign of things to come. “The promotion of diversity and inclusion is something we are committed to and passionate about. From being the first Premier League club to march at a Pride parade eight years ago, to the first club to achieve the Premier League’s Advanced Equality Standard, we are continually striving to do more, work with leaders in the field to improve, and be the best we can be.” Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
February 2020 • happiful.com • 9
However rare true love may be, it is less so than true friendship - FRANCOIS DE LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
IRL connections with friends are key to happiness So many of us rely on texting, WhatsApp, and social media to stay in touch with friends – and while this is great, it doesn’t beat meeting up in real life. Speaking to Well+Good website, social-personality psychologist Dr William Chopik explained how spending time with friends in person is one of the best ways to boost overall happiness. “Friendships are really important for people’s happiness. In general, [they offer] improvements on metrics like depression and anxiety,” he said. The benefits of meeting in real life, rather than digitally, include being able to see facial expressions and picking up on their emotions. “You don’t always get that through a phone call,” Dr Chopik explains. A study from Harvard University looked into the benefits of strong relationships and agreed that time with friends can improve happiness – and even longevity. Results from the study found that meeting with friends is as beneficial to long-term health as not smoking, eating well, and getting adequate sleep. So next time you reach for your phone to message a friend, use it to set a date for an IRL catch-up instead. Writing | Kat Nicholls
February 2020 • happiful.com • 11
Take a mindful moment to yourself with our challenging Sudoku this month. Then try a classic riddle with your friends and family – a perfect after-dinner conundrum. Get your thinking caps on!
Fill the grid with digits so that each column, each row, and each of the nine 3×3 subgrids that compose the grid contain all of the digits from 1 to 9.
5 5 1
What eight-letter word can you remove a letter from, and it still makes a word? And then as you continue to remove one letter at a time, it can still form a full word, even when you have one letter left. What is that word? Hint: When you begin, you’ve got it
How did you do? Searc h ‘freebies' at shop.happifu l.com to find the an swers, and more!
The Going up
Dance fever According to a Japanese study, chimps have it!
Flying high World’s first commericial electric plane has a successful flight
wellbeing wrap Make ‘em laugh
Climate change activism is boosting the wellbeing of youngsters, according to psychologists. While ecoanxiety may have become rife in recent years, taking a stand is helping overcome a sense of powerlessness, and in doing so, benefits people’s mental health!
A study from Arizona State University found 99% of science students appreciate a teacher with humour. Students reported that jokes reduce stress, and help improve their memory of lessons. Sounds like the formula for success.
The University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust have become the first to introduce disposable headscarfs. Created by junior doctor Farah Roslan, the disposable hijabs allow Muslim staff to respect their faith, while avoiding passing on germs to patients. A brilliant idea, that’s just what the doctor ordered.
LOVE IS IN THE AIR
Write on time! Handwriting thank you notes can boost your MH
Seven hours a year – the time men apparently spend hiding from chores in bathrooms
Research shows sleeping next to a snorer impacts your health
Raising a dog together could be a great boost to couples, according to research from rover.com, where 60% of survey respondents said their romantic relationships grew ‘stronger and happier’ after getting their furry friend. The survey also revealed that 88% of people agreed that teamwork was a key factor in taking care of their new pet, and almost 50% said their pooch gave them a great excuse to spend more time together. So it seems raising a pet together could be the best way to say “I ruff you”... DID YOU KNOW SEAWEED COULD SAVE THE PLANET? BY FEEDING A SPECIFIC STRAIN – ASPARAGOPSIS TAXIFORMIS – TO COWS, WE CAN DRAMATICALLY REDUCE THE METHANE PRODUCED BY THEIR FARTS AND BURPS!
A six-year-old from Georgia, USA, might just have won the most heartwarming moment of the year already. Blake’s mum shared a snap of him wearing a homemade shirt saying ‘I’ll be your friend’, and revealed he requested the top to show all the kids who need friends that they’re not alone.
#Give a Ruck
A new campaign, by Tessa Beecroft from Holt Rugby Club, is tackling mental health stigma in rugby. Signposting support, and looking to secure a mental health first aider for every club, it’s a campaign well worth a try!
Love don’t cost a thing
It turns out JLo might have got that wrong, as a study reveals relationships cost people an average of £3,600 a year. New research from Lloyds Bank suggests singletons (though not single households) typically spend £300 less a month on living costs. But single or coupled up, being happy is priceless.
Hot to trot
You may be familiar with therapy dogs, but another four-legged friend has been supporting people’s wellbeing in Scotland. Elaine and John Sangster are the couple travelling around the country, taking their eight miniature Shetland ponies to care homes, hospitals, and hospices, to help people with dementia, brain injuries, disabilities, or special needs. And the reactions they’ve seen are truly moving, as people who’ve not spoken a word in years interact with the ponies. Animal therapy has been found to reduce anxiety and stress in people, so the guests are supporting the mental health needs of some of the most vulnerable people. What a heartwarming tail...
white coat syndrome
For many of us, going to the doctor can feel daunting and fill us with anxiety – but it doesn't have to be so overwhelming. Here are some tips to help overcome your fears, make you calmer, and lower your blood pressure Writing | Lindsay George
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
oes the mere thought of visiting your doctor fill you with dread? Despite telling yourself that you’ll be in safe hands and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about, you just can’t help feeling anxious? Well the good news is, you’re not alone! A recent study revealed that between 15% and 30% of people in the UK experience this. This phenomenon, known as white coat syndrome, white coat hypertension, or the white coat effect, occurs when an individual experiences higher than normal blood pressure when they are in a clinical setting.
14 • happiful.com • February 2020
It’s believed to be a symptom of the fear of the unknown, and/or a negative association with hospitals and clinics. The problem here is that, for many people, taking that first step towards seeking help for their health is hard enough emotionally already, so addressing white coat syndrome is essential to make sure people aren’t deterred. Despite white coat syndrome causing a spike in the blood pressure of individuals who are normally deemed within the healthy range group, some doctors believe it might reveal people who may develop actual hypertension, therefore a thorough assessment is essential.
Diagnosing someone with white coat syndrome can be challenging, as it’s often difficult to gain a precise reading. In real terms, this may mean your doctor comparing readings taken in the clinic with those at home. Talk to your doctor about this if you have any concerns. Meanwhile, there are several things you can do to help yourself overcome your fears. TRY RELAXATION TECHNIQUES Relaxation techniques, such as breath exercises and meditation, can be incredibly useful in teaching you how to calm down. They’re popular, easy to do, and the medical benefits are well-proven.
DISTRACTION THERAPY Try focusing on something other than the blood pressure test itself. For example, try counting things in the room (three things you can see, two you can hear, one you can touch), or even wiggling your toes – the important thing is to take your mind off the task in hand.
DRINK A GLASS OF WATER Another simple tip is to drink a glass of water. Water has a calming effect on the nervous system, and it flushes out sodium, too (a risk factor in hypertension).
REDUCE THE CHAT Talking while getting your blood pressure taken can actually raise it a little, so maybe hold the chat until after the reading is done. TRY SOME DEEP BREATHING EXERCISES Simply breathe in through your nose for three seconds, hold your breath for five seconds, exhale through your mouth for seven seconds, and repeat that cycle four times. Not only will your mind be focused on something else, but you are also actively suppressing your body’s fight-or-flight response to stress. Try to complete this cycle before your blood pressure is taken, not during. TAKE A BRISK 15–20 MINUTE WALK A short walk is enough to help you start rhythmic breathing, which actually decreases blood pressure by calming the body’s stress response. REQUEST A QUIET ROOM When you make an appointment, ask for a quieter examination room that’s out of the way of all of the hustle-and-bustle of the main area.
two days before your appointment. If you’re a smoker, try to refrain from smoking for at least one hour prior to your appointment. EAT A BANANA Did you know that potassium-rich foods could help control blood flow and heartbeat? You can take potassium supplements, but those can take weeks to have any significant effect, whereas eating a banana, a sweet potato, or some cooked spinach or broccoli, can show a positive effect in just one or two hours. MAKE YOUR APPOINTMENT FOR LATER IN THE DAY Blood pressure is likely to be higher in the morning. By scheduling an appointment in the afternoon, you may experience lower blood pressure without having to do anything else.
Try counting things in the room, or even wiggling your toes – the important thing is to take your mind off the task in hand WATCH WHAT YOU EAT BEFORE YOUR DOCTOR’S VISIT You can’t undo a lifetime of diet choices in one afternoon, but you can try avoiding meals that are high in fat and sodium, ideally at least
COUNSELLING AND STRESS MANAGEMENT Stress and anxiety play a significant role in raising blood pressure. Therefore, it is essential to try to find better coping skills. Counselling provides a safe space for you to talk about issues that may be creating additional stress in your life. In addition, being able to offload bottled up emotions not only allows you to feel more relaxed, it promotes a healthier approach to dealing with life. Lindsay George is an integrative counsellor and trained nurse. She specialises in areas including depression, eating disorders, and relationships. Visit lindsaygeorge.co.uk February 2020 • happiful.com • 15
Voice of a generation Rising to fame in 2014 as a global sensation empowering people to love their bodies, Meghan Trainor isn’t just a new judge on The Voice UK, but has a strong voice of her own, and she isn’t afraid to use it.
Speaking out now about the crippling panic attacks and anxiety that overwhelmed her following two operations on her vocal cords, Meghan is shining an authentic and endearing light on how mental illness can affect anyone, no matter their situation... Interview | Gemma Calvert
Photography | Paul Buller
t’s a weekday afternoon in December, in the corner of a lowlit bar at London’s Langham Hotel, and against a background hubbub of festive celebrations, Meghan Trainor is pouring hot water on to a bag of herbal tea, while revealing that her new husband might just be the world’s most perfect man. “I am way too lucky. I got the best guy in the world and more,” she says, an ear-to-ear grin spreading across her face. >>>
“I didn’t know men could be so emotionally intelligent, and know how you’re feeling at all times.” Today, actor Daryl Sabara, known best for his role in the Spy Kids film series, has come up trumps. He’s accompanied Massachusetts-born singer Meghan on a three-day trip to London from Los Angeles to promote her new album, Treat Myself, and The Voice UK, her new TV gig alongside fellow mentors Olly Murs, will.i.am, and Sir Tom Jones. While he’s not here during our chat, he’s arranged for Throat Coat tea bags to be delivered to our table. It’s sweet, thoughtful and, from the look of Meghan, who is huddled up in an oversized coat, exactly what she needs. “I’m so tired, my body’s kind of crashing because of jet lag and exhaustion,” she confirms, leaning forward to inhale the fragrant steam from the tea, a blend favoured by singers for vocal TLC. “He knows I need to drink this.” I offer that being so cared for, especially in the midst of a relentless work schedule – today Meghan’s completed a photoshoot, another interview, is dashing to Radio 1 after we wrap before finishing the day in the Happiful studio – must make her feel safe. “I feel safe, protected, and loved super hard,” says Meghan of the man she wed in December 2018, on her 25th birthday, one year after he proposed. The couple met in July 2016 on a blind date set up by their mutual friend, actress Chloë Grace Moretz, and are, Meghan insists, “soulmates”. Is there a secret to the strength of their bond? “There is something that Daryl and I do that I’ve never done with other people, and that’s complete 100% honesty – talking to each 18 • happiful.com • February 2020
other, communication – and that transparency is everything. We really care about each other as humans,” says Meghan, who has previously revealed she “never really felt sexy with guys before” meeting Daryl, who is “obsessed” with “every inch” of her body. And every day her new husband persuades her to feel her best. “He makes me go to the mirror and say, ‘My name’s Meghan Trainor and I’m beautiful, and I deserve to be loved’,” says Meghan, stifling a giggle. “He’ll catch me when I’m running out the door and be like ‘Hey! Look in the mirror!’ But it helps because I’m like: ‘That’s right, I’m awesome! Let’s go!’” From the moment Meghan burst into public consciousness five years ago with ‘All About That Bass’, encouraging women to shake their butts and feel good while doing it, she became a global poster girl for body confidence and acceptance. The track shot to number one in 58 countries, and challenged stereotypes by celebrating men and women with fuller figures. Since then, she has left nothing of herself in the wings with her soulbaring lyrics, which commonly promote healthy self-confidence in her fans. So it’s intriguing to discover, from this mirror mantra story, that her self-esteem is still a work in progress. “That’s who I want to be,” she says. “I write my songs very much to myself. I hope I’m helping strangers too, but they’re to remind myself to take care of myself, to love myself, and to be kind to myself. Sometimes I’m feeling really hot, sometimes – once a month – I’m not. When I play those songs, I’m like ‘For these three minutes, I am a queen’, and I’m loving myself and it’s awesome.”
I thought, ‘It’s over, I’m not going to sing ever again.’ I went full dive into the dark zone of deep thoughts The songs she references are from Treat Myself, which dropped in January 2020, almost four years after the release of her last album, and it’s some of her best work – raw and honest, yet still trademark Trainor fun. During the three-year writing process she “adopted two dogs, got married [and] had time for myself”, the latter being shorthand for a deeply personal journey of recovery after a second emergency vocal cord operation in December 2016, 10 months after she won a Grammy for Best New Artist, left her so anxious about the future of her music career she sought therapy. “I thought, ‘It’s over, I’m not going to sing ever again,’” explains Meghan. “I went full dive into the dark zone of deep thoughts.” Shortly before the second procedure – 17 months after the first – she endured her first anxiety attack, backstage at America’s CBS This Morning show before appearing live to announce the 2017 Grammy nominations. “I was so tired and had vocal issues. I looked at my schedule and thought, ‘I’m not going to make it, I’m going to lose my voice.’ I started hyperventilating, crying hard, and shaking. I kept saying: ‘What’s happening?’ It rocked me,” she recalls.
Red Blazer Dress | House of CB, Ring | Thomas Sabo, Earrings | Sif Jakobs
A friend in Meghan’s dressing room, familiar with panic attacks, encouraged her to focus on surrounding objects and name them one-by-one. “It calmed me down,” she recalls. “When it finally settled after 20 minutes, I was like ‘So that’s what it is?’” Initially, Meghan struggled to deal with her reality. Even researching “anxiety attack” on the internet had the power to trigger an episode. “One night I looked up ‘explain what an anxiety attack is’ on TED Talks, and within four seconds I fell over and was like, ‘Oh God, shut it off!’ I couldn’t hear about it for a long time.” Meghan became a prisoner of her own thoughts, a problem worsened by weeks of enforced silence – firstly to heal her haemorrhaging vocal cords to avoid permanent damage and proceed with surgery, then for weeks during recovery. The isolation was crippling. “Imagine not being able to speak, or hum, or cough, or laugh – it numbs you,” explains Meghan. “You can’t get excited, you can’t get mad, and you can’t tell your favourite person in the world that you love them. [During] arguments or if I was frustrated, I’d just shake. A lot of time spent in your own head is such a terrible place to be.” Between operations one and two Meghan employed a therapist to help calm her “stress”. She also sought the help of a hypnotherapist to cure her of repeatedly picking the skin on her fingers. “I’ll pick them, then get really insecure if I have to do red carpet and have a bloody finger. It’s still an issue I’m working on,” she explains. It wasn’t until Carson Daly, host of America’s The Voice, spoke publicly >>> February 2020 • happiful.com • 19
about his lifelong battle with generalised anxiety disorder that Meghan was able to articulate her own mental health experience. “He explained physically what [anxiety] does to you, and I was like ‘That’s exactly it.’ I’ve never heard anyone explain it so well.” After finally opening up to Daryl and her family, Meghan retreated from the spotlight and overhauled her lifestyle. She began transcendental meditation, which Daryl does every day “religiously”, and noticed a “huge difference” by eating more healthily and upping her weekly quota of exercise.
I’m starting to believe it. I’ve found beauty in my body “My brain is happier,” she smiles, adding that less frequent use of Instagram, which she says triggered problems when she compared herself to others, is helping too. She satisfies her phone “addiction” by watching YouTube videos, and using new video sharing app TikTok – her “saviour”. “Rather than only show how awesome your life is, TikTok is [about] ‘look how goofy I am’. I don’t have to have the perfect pose and the best makeup, this is how I am.” Choosing not to speak to herself negatively is another feel-good trick up Meghan’s sleeve. “I got this from my mother; she says all the time: ‘I look horrible and I’m so frumpy today’ and I’m like, ‘Ma! Shh! You’re training your brain to hate yourself.’ That’s what I grew up listening to, so I did that too. The more you say [negative 20 • happiful.com • February 2020
comments] the more your brain believes it. Your brain is a sponge.” And so what’s her inner dialogue like now? “I look at pictures of myself and think ‘Isn’t she cute?’ Or I’ll give myself compliments out loud and it totally works, I’m starting to believe it. I’ve found beauty in my body.” Prescription medication, she admits, is also helping. Meghan, who initially tried beta blockers to calm pre-performance palpitations, now takes citalopram – a type of antidepressant sometimes used to treat panic attacks. “I need it. It saved my life in so many ways,” she says, though she does plan to come off it eventually. “It’s the lowest milligrammes. It’s probably placebo at this point, but [my doctor] says ‘if you’re happy, I wouldn’t mess with it, especially if you’re about to go into a lot of work.’” Right now Meghan’s schedule is hectic, but there are no complaints. Hard work is ingrained in Meghan, who started out as a songwriter signed to a country music label, not believing she had the ‘pop star look’ to make it as an artist. She resigned herself to writing music for others, but within two years penned ‘All About That Bass’ and laid down her vocals, which caught the attention of producer LA Reid, who instructed his team to “just sign her”. She’s evidently still grateful for that break. There’s also a renewed appreciation for her career since surgery threatened to derail it. “I show up to things and I’m like ‘Thank you for letting me be here,’” says Meghan, who boasts 10.5 million followers on Instagram alone, yet endearingly, struggles to comprehend the magnitude of her stardom. >>>
Top | Topshop, Earrings | Sif Jakobs
Styling | Krishan Parmar Hair | Charley McEwen Makeup | Karin Darnell
Jumper | Sézane, Hair & Skincare | Rosalique and Paul Mitchell
I feel accepted for who I am. That’s why I love doing TV because I don’t have to go up there and pretend I’m someone else
“Doing The Voice, I was like, ‘What if they don’t know me and my music?’ I told Olly Murs and he said ‘I know exactly how you feel. I felt the same way, but you’ll be surprised, everyone will know who you are.’ He was so good to me.” Becoming a mentor on ITV’s music talent show was a “bucketlist moment” for Meghan, who says the format – not being about “what you look like, what you’ve been through and who you are” but “the pure talent” – attracted her. She instantly felt part of the “family” and describes Olly as her “new best friend”, presenter Emma Willis like someone she has “known my whole life”, and will.i.am as childlike as she is. “He’ll be tapping a beat on his table and I’ll start writing a song with it, then we’ll be like ‘That’s a smash!’” says Meghan. “It’s fun moments like that where you don’t feel like you’re at work.” Meghan hasn’t had a panic attack for “probably more than a year”. Does she feel more resilient since finding light after darkness? “I feel like I conquered it,” she says. “It sucks in the moment when it’s happening, you think ‘this will never end and I’ll live with this for the rest of my life’, but you don’t have to. You ask for help, and I can say I’m so much better. I know what triggers me now. If I don’t get sleep, and my body’s exhausted, it confuses my brain with panic. I can listen to my body more now.” Meghan no longer has counselling, but is intent on finding an industry mentor, someone who’s “been through” what she has, to guide and advise. Someone like? “Kelly Clarkson,” replies Meghan. “Every time I see her she’s the
nicest human I’ve ever met. I’m like ‘Ah man, I want to be a Kelly Clarkson!’” As for other plans for the future, motherhood is calling. Loudly. During a recent shopping trip, the elevator doors opened to reveal a floor-to-ceiling display of baby products. It sparked a surge of broodiness in Meghan. “I always say my ovaries are crying because they just want babies. My body is so ready for it. I’m not trying, but I’m learning new tips from my mum every day. I go on YouTube and I’ve been studying like I’m going to school. It’s so weird!” Family means everything to Meghan. Every song on her new album features appearances from the Trainor clan and Daryl, who pulled out all the stops for the couple’s first wedding anniversary before Christmas, a celebration at their home in Los Angeles – Meghan’s “happy place”. As my time with Meghan draws to a close, I question whether she’s finally found love for the person she’s struggled to value most over the years – herself. Meghan smiles. “I’m very proud of myself and, yes, I love myself,” she says. “I feel accepted for who I am. That’s why I love doing TV, because I don’t have to go up there and act, to pretend I’m someone else.” With a speciality in never taking her talent for granted, Meghan Trainor should buckle up. She’s destined for the long-haul.
Meghan’s album ‘Treat Myself’ is out 31 January. Follow her on Instagram @meghan_trainor, and watch her as a judge on ITV’s ‘The Voice’.
February 2020 • happiful.com • 23
How to build a
We all seek friendship, love, and happiness with others, but it’s important to keep nourishing those relationships over time. Here are some expert pointers to help you create strong and lasting personal connections Writing | John Kenny Illustrating | Rosan Magar
very relationship needs a bit of work, no matter how long it’s lasted. One of the most common things that can affect a relationship in a negative way is what we learn to expect. We expect that they should know us, know how we feel, what we are
thinking, and constantly be on our wavelength. We assume that we know them, what makes them tick, what kind of mood they are in, and how to make them feel better. But, the long and short of it is that, well, maybe we don’t. Here are four things that people in healthy relationships do: THEY KNOW THEMSELVES The first and, in my opinion, the most important thing you need
to do is to understand you. The relationship that you have with yourself will reflect all others that you have. Whatever you bring to a relationship will determine how you are in a relationship, and how the other person is towards you. Knowing yourself, and what truly makes you happy, will help you to live in a positive space, and positively affect all of your relationships.
Be self-aware – get to know yourself and how you ‘tick’. By gaining this understanding, and knowing your triggers, means you can try to control them, and address what sets them off in your relationships. Understand your wants and needs – most people will be able to tell you what they don’t want, but hardly ever what they do want. Without this knowledge, or why you have specific needs, then you may struggle to feel fulfilled. Learn what your values and principles are. We have a tendency to live by the values we learn from others, and sometimes life can feel incongruent because of this. Living by your own values will enable you to live authentically, and align with people who live the same way. THEY DO IT BECAUSE THEY WANT TO When I first started working with clients, we spoke a lot about the importance of compromise. How we all need to give something for the relationship to be a success. However, this had a tendency to lead to animosity and a ‘you give, I give’ mentality in some people. Compromise has a negative connotation: ‘I am giving something up!’ Nobody really wants to think they are sacrificing in this way, as what they are giving is not being given freely. So now, nobody compromises.
This will play out differently, depending on the type of relationship, but remind yourself what the best thing for you to do is. An example is when you really care about someone, you do something for them just because you care. Giving something because you want to is a great way to ensure a happy and healthy relationship. It needs to feel authentic to make it a ‘want to’ or a ‘could do’, rather than a ‘should’. In a healthy relationship, this will be reciprocated.
THEY’RE ALWAYS LEARNING ABOUT EACH OTHER When we embark on a relationship, we get to know one another, and then start to assume that we really know each other. What’s common, however, is that we get to know them from our own perspective, from what we need, and what makes us feel good. In his book The 5 Love Languages, author Gary Chapman says that “your emotional love language… may be as different as speaking Chinese and English”. What he means is if you feel loved by someone telling you they love you… and they feel loved by receiving affection, you can tell
them you love them until the end of the earth, and they won’t feel it. And if they constantly cuddle you, then you won’t feel it, either. Take the time to understand what the other person really needs to feel cared for, and don’t forget to tell people what you need, too! THEY TALK ABOUT THE GOOD AND THE BAD How often, and how well, do we actually communicate with others? And how often, and how well, do we think we communicate with others? We have a tendency to communicate something when we ‘need’ to and when we ‘need’ to, it’s generally something negative. Take some time, on a regular basis, to communicate something positive to someone. And when you have something negative to say, remember to set up a time to discuss things when everyone is in the right frame of mind to talk. Relationships can be complicated, as we are all individuals with our own ways of doing and seeing things. For yours to be healthy, you need to take the time to understand yourself, reflect on what other people need, and then live the best relationships possible. John Kenny is the founder of Interpersonal Relationship Coaching (IRC), and author of ‘The P.E.O.P.L.E Programme’. Visit johnkennycoaching.com for more.
Photography | Thai An
Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others – CHRISTOPHER GERMER
Spend some quality time… with yourself As Carrie Bradshaw said in Sex and The City, the most significant relationship in our lives is the one we have with ourselves. So why not spend some essential you-time with your truest soulmate? Writing | Kat Nicholls
1 Head to a museum or art gallery Feed your curiosity with a trip to a museum or gallery. Visit somewhere you’ve never been to before, and go all out – use the audio tour, enjoy lunch in the cafe, pop into the gift shop before you leave. Soak up every piece of information, and follow whatever piques your interest. Need some museum inspo? Head to tripadvisor.co.uk. According to reviewers, the top museums in the UK include the National Railway Museum in York, the National Gallery in London, and the Roman Baths in Bath. 2 Go for a coffee and reading date When you’re craving some quiet time, or even a little escapism, grab a book and take yourself off to your favourite cafe. Order a drink and settle into a comfy seat. Enjoy the bustling hum of the cafe in the background, or put your headphones on and listen to some soothing music. Get lost in the pages, and let everything else fall away for an hour or two. 3 See something at the cinema How often have you missed a film you were excited about because no one else wanted to see it? Next time,
We’d love to hear about your solo adventures! Tag @happiful_ magazine on Instagram
head to the cinema solo. You won’t have to worry about sharing your popcorn (or deal with that friend who loves talking through the trailers), and you can go whenever suits you. 4 Learn something new Developing a new skill can be incredibly fulfilling, and helps to keep our brains healthy. According to research, learning a second language can increase your grey matter and slow down brain ageing. Why not try a class in your local area? You could take a pasta-making course (and enjoy the finished
product at home with a glass of wine), an art class, or grow your brain by learning a language. 5 Go street combing A creativity technique devised by Dutch innovation consultant Richard Stomp, street combing involves walking up and down a street and taking pictures of anything and everything that interests you. It sounds simple, but it’s an amazing way to get your creative juices flowing while getting you out in the fresh air – and helping you see familiar streets with fresh eyes.
wit h Grace
here are so many topics I want to confront and discuss concerning wellbeing and trauma – the list is literally endless. I have such a huge passion for dissecting these topics because, in the midst of life, everything always feels a bit better when you realise you’re not alone. I remember the very first time I spoke openly about depression and my eating disorder. It was way back in 2011, in a YouTube video, and it felt revolutionary, like something had been lifted and my eyes had been opened. I remember thinking “Wow... when you talk about your feelings, other people talk about theirs, too.” It was powerful. While talking may not be the only way to heal and recognise the difficult things within us, it really can be a good place to start. As a child, I always knew something was a bit off with me, but I could never pinpoint what it was exactly. I rarely felt angry, I always felt sad, and I never felt safe. Maybe some of you can relate? I felt like the black sheep who was shunned by others, so I isolated myself.
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My basic needs were met, but many other needs were not, which is still something I’m coming to terms with. For a long time, I didn’t realise I hadn’t experienced what other people would call a ‘normal’ childhood, but I guess it was normal for me. I remember the first time I sat down with a therapist and told them what my childhood was like. I reeled off things I’d heard, seen, and had happen to me. I was so used to trauma that I minimised it in my head. If it was small and locked in a cage then I didn’t have to feel or deal with it. I detached so much from myself that telling my story became matter-of-fact, as if it wasn’t my own story that I was telling. It wasn’t until I was 26 that I began to realise the effects that trauma had had on me, and in the summer of 2016 I received a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My initial reaction was “Well WTF is that? It sounds like some sort of weird disease that I definitely do not want.” I was that person. I had (still have) so much shame inside of me about my victimhood that I hated the fact I had ‘something’. For those of you who are unsure what PTSD is exactly, allow me to
I am learning that being a victim doesn’t make me weak, feeling pain doesn’t make me a burden, and that what other people did, has never been my fault
Photography | Paul Buller
As a trainee counsellor, and having experienced trauma first-hand, Grace Victory opens up about what it’s really like to live with PTSD
First steps for support...
If you feel ready to reach out for help, the best thing to do initially is speak to your GP. They can advise you on treatment options, and remember, you don’t have to go alone. A friend or family member can be there beside you.
break it down for you. PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by an event, or a series of events, that the individual experiences as terrifying. This can be something happening to them, or watching it happen. PTSD causes your brain to remain in the danger zone due to increased stress levels. PTSD can then manifest as flashbacks, anxiety, and depression, when triggered by anything from scents to loud noises. Some catalysts for PTSD include war, rape, domestic violence, and severe sickness. My diagnosis meant that I needed to confront my issues head on, and I felt overwhelmed with dread. However, somewhere deep inside of me, I also felt relief. Like my inner child was saying: “Thank God I’m not making all of this up in my head.” It’s been three years since my diagnosis and honestly, most days I am surprised by how much trauma has affected my life. I don’t tend to talk about it much online because everything is pretty painful still. Isn’t it weird how much pain a person can feel, and still smile? I smile every day, but every day I feel confused and lost, and like everything I once knew was a lie. I am learning that
being a victim doesn’t make me weak, feeling pain doesn’t make me a burden, and that what other people did, has never been my fault. PTSD keeps you in an almost constant state of “fight or flight” – like a ticking time bomb that’s about to explode into rage or erupt into tears. And for some people this could be disappearing (physically or emotionally) and not feeling anything at all. Now that I am working on my subconscious programming, and learning how to re-parent myself, I am so aware of my triggers and internal thoughts, so life is so much easier. Now I know why I’m angry, or why I’m sad, and I have the tools to sit with those feelings, or release them safely. Some days are battles that I lose, some days are battles I win, and some days no battles exist, and I am learning to be OK with all three.
Love Gracex February 2020 • happiful.com • 29
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Photography | Susan Bell
The heart of health A regular face on our TV screens, Dr Rangan Chatterjee knows better than most what good health looks like. But in a time when the secrets to wellbeing seem more convoluted than ever, Dr Chatterjee is stripping things back. Here, we talk about the key to keeping up New Year’s resolutions, the importance of making connections, and his revolutionary new book: Feel Better in 5 Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
Hi Rangan! 2020 has just begun – what are your thoughts on New Year’s health trends? Now, here’s a thing that I’ve noticed in my practice: a lot of people are trying to cut back on sugar or alcohol, and for a week or two, they can do it. But then normally, by week two, week three, they’re starting to slip back into their existing behaviours.
The reason why this is happening, in a lot of cases, is because that alcohol and sugar was serving a role. It was helping someone soothe the stress in their life. Maybe their work was too stressful, or they were lonely. Whatever the stressor, they were using sugar and/or alcohol to help them. So, they won’t reduce sugar or alcohol in the long term, unless
you address the root cause of why they were using it in the first place. Does that make sense? It does, and that’s very much the theme of your new book? Absolutely. That’s why I couldn’t write a book just on food. In Feel Better in 5, I’ve made health super simple. Everything in the book takes five minutes, maximum. >>>
February 2020 • happiful.com • 31
If you look at all the behavioural science, you don’t create a new behaviour by making it difficult What do you mean by ‘heart’? When it comes to health, heart is something that doesn’t get spoken enough about – it’s our connection. Our connection with our self, our connection with our friends or our partners. When you miss one of these areas, it’s very hard to make changes stick because they all feed into one another.
It sounds like a gimmick, but it’s really not, because if you look at all the behavioural science, this is the way that you create a new behaviour – you don’t create a new behaviour by making it difficult, you create a new behaviour by making it easy. How does Feel Better in 5 work? You have to choose one fiveminute intervention from mind, one for body, one for heart – and
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do them every day, five days a week. So, literally 15 minutes a day, five days a week, is all you have to do. By doing this, you’re covering the three important areas. You’re working on your mental health, which is the mind piece, body is actually a series of fiveminute workouts, whether it’s strength, HIIT, or yoga – none of it requires any equipment. The third section is heart.
You often speak about loneliness and its effect on our physical health. How are they connected? Research suggests that the feeling of being lonely is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day… Just think about that for a moment. That is a staggering statistic. So, why could that be? Well, our stress response evolved a couple of million years ago. Two million years ago, we would have been in tightly knit, hunter-gatherer tribes that were communities, which kept us safe. If you don’t have your tribe around you, you might be attacked by a lion, by a predator. So, your very clever body prepares you for that. It ramps up your stress response. It ramps up your immune system. It makes your body inflamed. Why? Because that means that if you do get attacked, you will have your best chance of survival. So, if we think about what’s going on, if we’re feeling lonely, if all
we’re having is that electronic communication or interaction with other human beings, we’re missing out on that real human connection. Our body thinks that we’re vulnerable to attack, so it prepares us for our attack; we become inflamed, we become stressed, our immune system goes on high alert. This is what is happening for many of us in 2020. Another study found 2.5 million men have no close friends, or believe they have none. Is that surprising? In a way. I’m very lucky that I’ve got a very tight group of friends. Now, I say I’m lucky, but none of them live near me. I don’t have
It takes the pressure off that I know for the rest of the day, I’ve done something for myself any good friends who live near me. This appears to be a problem that affects men quite a lot. As I’ve got busier with work, marriage, kids, a mortgage, I don’t really find that I have time to make new friends. But maybe it’s not good enough anymore to say you’re too busy, you haven’t got time. There are things that I could do and I’m
going to work on them. But I’m very lucky that I do have a very tight group of mates from university, who I meet up with two or three times a year for a weekend, and literally it nourishes me on a deep level. So, for someone who’s struggling, I’d say, well, what do you like? Do you like going to the gym? Maybe go to a class. Do you like reading? Maybe there’s a local book club. Find something nearby where people share similar interests, and that’s how you’re going to start creating these new friendships. From your perspective, how do you see the increase in mental health awareness playing out in your practice? Things are shifting in a really positive way, but we’re currently not where we need to be. We need to do much more because let’s not forget that actually, the male suicide rate in the age group of 30 to 45 is really shocking, really worrying, and it seems to be climbing. The fact that more and more people are talking about this openly on social media, these things are really helping bring these topics into the public domain. I’m seeing patients coming in now, particularly men, who may not have had the courage to talk about their problems a few years ago, are now openly coming in and saying, “Hey, I heard this podcast,” or, “I saw this thing online and I thought that might be affecting me. I just want to talk to you about
‘Feel Better in 5: Your Daily Plan to Feel Great for Life’ by Dr Rangan Chatterjee (Penguin Life, £16.99) is out now.
it.” So, I think things are changing in a very positive way, because the first thing we have to do is be aware of the problem. What steps do you take to support your own wellbeing? As soon as I get up, before I do anything else, I’ll do five minutes of deep breathing or meditation. Just five minutes. Then, I do five minutes of movement. So, it’ll be one of the workouts in the book. Either a strength workout, or a yoga workout, or some stretches. Then, I do five minutes for my heart. I’ll write down things that I’m grateful for and the positive things in my life. It takes the pressure off that I know for the rest of the day, I’ve done something for myself. I prioritised myself, and I give myself that self-respect every morning, to do something for me.
February 2020 • happiful.com • 33
How to take care of your financial wellbeing The link between money worries and mental health problems is clear, but fortunately there are some simple steps you can follow to keep your cash concerns under control Writing | Fiona Thomas
single bead of sweat drips down my clammy back, even though it’s the middle of winter. My face is flushed, and I feel lightheaded as my thumb rests on the fingerprint button of my phone. I log in and wait an agonising few seconds for the figure to appear on the screen. The 34 • happiful.com • February 2020
number that will dictate the tone of my day, the amount of cash I have to my name. As the figure appears in black and white, I breathe a gentle sigh of relief. Phew. My bank balance isn’t (currently) in the danger zone, so I can afford to get some groceries on the way home this evening. >>>
Social media creates a warped reality that pressures people into spending money on the wrong things This is a process I go through almost every day. Habitually checking and rechecking my bank balance to make sure that I can afford to buy the things I need in life. Food, bills, travel costs, and of course the little extras that privilege provides, like a new lipstick or a fancy bottle of gin. Worrying about cash flow is a horrible, sinking feeling. But it’s one that constantly bubbles away under the surface for many of us. Two-thirds of those aged between 22 and 38 say that money worries keep them up at night, with debt, bills, and mortgage payments ranking highly on the list. Another survey found that one in four Brits admitted they would struggle if faced with a long period of unpaid sick leave, and 23% would not be able to cope with the expense of a broken boiler. The link between money and mental wellbeing is clear, and it’s one that we can work to strengthen in a positive way. Money coach and mentor Emma Maslin says: “At its heart, financial wellbeing is about acknowledging our emotions around money, feeling in control of
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our finances, being able to withstand financial unpredictability and unexpected expenses.” With a quarter of people in the UK believing that poor financial wellbeing is a significant cause of stress within their workplace, it’s clear that many of us need to address our relationship with money. ROOTED IN CHILDHOOD The emotions we feel towards money are closely linked to the beliefs that have been instilled in us from a young age. For example, if you were brought up being repeatedly told you that you shouldn’t talk about money, then you may exhibit avoidance behaviours as an adult. If you were taught to be vigilant with money, then you may find it difficult to spend money as an adult, even if you are financially stable.
To make things worse, social media creates a warped reality that pressures people into spending money on the wrong things. A poll commissioned by BBC Radio 5 recently found that more than a third of 20 to 29-yearolds agreed that social media posts by influencers made them spend money they otherwise would not have wanted to spend. I spoke to psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Paula Coles, who has observed young people distracting themselves with small purchases as a way to self-medicate. “People might compulsively shop, or try to buy ‘the appearance ideal’,” says Paula. “Others may find themselves prioritising things such as escapist holidays over establishing an everyday home life that they enjoy.” This inevitably impacts future wellbeing, with
FINANCIAL WELLBEING IMPROVEMENT CHECKLIST • Every month, record your expenses and income, then reflect on how you can make small changes. • Tackle any high-interest debt by finding lower interest ways to pay. Visit stepchange.org for free debt advice. • Open a savings account, and put a little aside each month – and look to increase this over time. • Set up a direct debit, so that savings come out automatically. • Contribute as much as you can to your workplace pension. • Set short- and long-term financial goals. • To learn the basics on a wide range of topics, including benefits, Brexit, redundancy, and insurance, visit moneyadviceservice.org.uk
16 million people in the UK having less than £100 in savings, according to a Money Advice Service survey. DAZED AND CONFUSED Alongside unnecessary spending, debt worries, and mental blocks, perhaps the most frustrating threat to our financial wellbeing is a lack
Creating a savings pot can help you control your spending by encouraging you to work towards a specific goal of understanding. With terms such as ‘effective annual rate’, ‘loan-tovalue’ and ‘compound interest’ it’s no wonder that 77% of UK adults are confused by financial jargon. Six million Brits have racked up late fees due to misunderstanding language, and others have seen a negative impact on their credit scores. This can lead to further difficulties, and general avoidance behaviour, because people don’t know how to make changes for the better. Paula says that education and awareness around financial matters can be hugely powerful for our wellbeing. “In psychotherapy, we talk about individuals flourishing when they have a positive internal locus of control, meaning that an individual feels they have personal power in their life and therefore they make positive choices,” she says. “By increasing awareness of complicated topics, such as pensions and taxes, a person might develop a stronger internal locus of control, be less avoidant, and more able to make informed choices about how to manage their finances.” So, here are some expert tips on how to improve your financial wellbeing…
GET PRACTICAL “The best way I learned to manage my finances was to write down absolutely everything. I write down every penny I earn and spend. I use Google Docs to make spreadsheets to easily keep track of my income, outgoings, spending, and savings. You can also find plenty of free printable templates online. Writing everything down has made a huge difference to my spending habits and my financial wellbeing. I don’t tend to overspend so much and I have managed to keep my savings goals.” – Claire Roach, money saving blogger at Daily Deals UK. PLAN “Look at the long-term as well as the short-term – try to look ahead with your finances. Where do you want to be in five to 10 years? Are you thinking about your future with a pension, or spending on unnecessary things that are only bringing you temporary joy rather than long-term stability?” – Chloe Rowlands from TIC Finance. SET A GOAL “Creating a savings pot can help you control your spending by encouraging you to work towards a specific goal; this could be anything from a house deposit, to a holiday. By putting away a dedicated amount of money every month, you’ll become more mindful with your purchases, knowing that this self-control will be rewarded.” – John Ellmore from knowyourmoney.co.uk Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer and author, whose book, ‘Depression in a Digital Age’, is out now. Visit fionalikestoblog.com for more.
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Photography | Anna Baker
Growth begins when we start to accept our own weakness – JEAN VANIER
I tore up the script of my life On the surface Kerry was living the dream, yet underneath she was empty, sad, and desperate. Personal setbacks threatened to be the final straw – but instead they gave her just the jolt she needed to change everything Writing | Kerry Lyons
’m Kerry Lyons. The creator of The Imperfect Life website and planner. And I live with depression, with pride. You see, day-to-day, my time is now filled with coaching women through the adventure of turning their daydreams into their day jobs; helping them create the businesses they were made for, and designing products that support them on their journeys. I can say, handon-heart, that I love what I do. But man, it wasn’t always this way. Let me take you back to 2006. Justin Timberlake was bringing ‘SexyBack’. Gnarls Barkley was ‘Crazy’. And I didn’t have a clue
whose life I was living. I was 25, and ripe for what I’d later learn was a quarter-life crisis. I’d always been a hyper, happy-go-lucky girl, and my life until that point had been filled by an almost manic pursuit to achieve big fat checks through the societal tick-boxes of life. Long-term relationship? Tick. High grade GCSEs, A-levels and degree? Tick. Dream career as a graphic designer straight out of uni? Tick. Owning my dream car three months into my first proper job? Tick. Owning my dream home? Tick. Regular, sunsoaked holidays? Tick. So why did I feel the most empty, the most sad, and the most confused that I’d ever felt?
Well, I’d people-pleased myself into oblivion. On reflection, I can see now that I’d been a sponge; absorbing and responding to outer expectations, and finding myself in a life that society informed me I should have, without stopping for a minute to listen to what I actually wanted. But that wasn’t even the toughest bit. You see, I felt all this. I was aware of all this. But I wasn’t ready to face any of it. The truth hurt. And the idea of changing, outwardly ‘failing’ or disappointing people, was so unbelievably crippling that it kept me exactly where I was. For two whole years. I remember my decisionmaking process at the time
was to just ‘pretend I was fine’. If I just ignored this pull, this sadness, this emptiness, if I just painted on a smile and tried to be like everybody else, it would eventually – poof – go away. But, of course, it didn’t go away. In fact, it got way, way worse. Because, as it turns out, when you overrule and ignore your feelings, intuition, and instincts, your mind, body, and even the universe, will gather forces to find a way to get you to listen up. And boy, did they. Towards the close of 2007, I sank into the darkest depression of my life. I could barely get myself out of bed. Washing and drying my hair physically hurt >>> February 2020 • happiful.com • 39
every single follicle on my head. Getting dressed was a mammoth task. My favourite foods tasted of nothing, and everything I used to love doing just felt hollow. It was like I’d lost the ability to feel anything but pain. And worst of all, I felt like such a burden to those closest to me because I couldn’t explain what I was experiencing. The bleakest moment came when I was attempting to dry my hair
Kerry in her element, coaching daydreamers to be action-takers
Slowly, with each big decision I made, for myself, my life-cloak of solid-black darkness began to get shafts of light punching through one evening. I already felt defeated knowing I had to somehow get myself up and out to work in the morning, with tears streaming down my face as they so regularly did.
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And a voice inside me poked: ‘What are you doing Kerry? This isn’t living. Why are you even here?’ And my response to that was absolute agreement; there wasn’t
any point in living the way I was. Things would be better for everyone if I wasn’t here. The thought of this being ‘the end’ shocked me. And as horrific a headspace as that was to be in, I’m genuinely grateful that things got that dark. Because this is what brought the fighter out in me; my inner coach, who had been there all along, rooting for me. This is what jolted me into fighting for my life. And that’s when things started changing, slowly and painfully, but changing all the same.
I realised that I couldn’t get better by myself anymore, so I finally started working with a psychotherapist who helped me pull out and work through so much ‘life gumpf’ that I’d unknowingly buried. But as helpful and groundbreaking as that was, I was still filled with so much resistance to change. So, as ever, the universe swooped in and got me to pay attention in the most heartbreaking of ways. I lost my pet after 14 gorgeous years together, my dad got unexpectedly
Photography | Amy-Rose Photography
sick and was rushed to hospital, my nan passed away, and I lost one of my closest friends to breast cancer at just 26 – all within the space of a few months. The trauma and acute awareness of my mortality jolted me into action like nothing before. Within weeks, I handed in my notice at my ‘dream’ job. I’d sold my ‘dream’ home. I’d ended my 12-year relationship. And I’d moved into my dad’s spare bedroom shortly before running away to the west coast of America and emigrating to Dublin soon afterwards! It was life-changing action. I tore up the script of my life. And slowly, with each big decision I made, for myself, my life-cloak of solid-black darkness began to get shafts of light punching through. Fast-forward 13-plus years and I’m out the other side, living the most insanely imperfectbut-gorgeous life with my husband David, and our daughter Lola, while building the most fulfilling business I ever could have dreamed of. I’ve spoken at big events, I’ve launched an online training academy, and I’ve single-handedly raised more than £21,000 on Kickstarter to bring the
flagship edition of The Imperfect Life Planner to life. And this is why I live with depression with pride; not only because it was the catalyst that helped me step into the life I now have, but also because it continues to challenge me, help me grow, and help me deeply connect with my clients. I’m by no means ‘fixed’, and life is far from perfect. But I now know I don’t want perfect. I just want a life that’s mine. If you’re reading this, feeling that you can relate and you’re wondering how you can begin to create change, too, please listen to yourself. Learning and seeking what you want and need is not selfish, nor is it self-serving. It’s self-love. And there’s no better gift you can give to those who care about you than a you that loves herself, and the life that she’s in.
Kerry is running another crowdfunding campaign in early 2020 for the third edition of ‘The Imperfect Life Planner’, with some incredible rewards available for her loyal backers. Connect with Kerry on Instagram @kerrylyonsco, and visit theimperfectlife.co
I’m by no means ‘fixed’, and life is far from perfect. But I now know I don’t want perfect. I just want a life that’s mine
Who Kerry does it all for: her husband, David, and daughter, Lola
OUR EXPERT SAYS Kerry’s story shows us that true happiness doesn’t come from the way others perceive us – or even the way we think others perceive us – it’s what is going on inside that really matters. We can have all the things we are ‘supposed’ to have on the ‘checklist of life’, but if there’s that nagging feeling that things aren’t right, we can’t brush those feelings aside and hope they go away – we need to
step up and do something about it. Kerry sought professional help and that began her journey to finding a way out, and discovering who she really was inside. As Kerry says, if this message resonates with you, it could be time to create some positive changes for yourself, too! Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr Life coach
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HAPPIFUL TOP 10
Make the month of romance about loving yourself, every day. Create an outside space you can enjoy, find the courage to open up about mental health by listening to others, and check-in with yourself on the app that helps you to take five
RHS Your Wellbeing Garden: How to Make Your Garden Good for You – Science, Design, Practice Are you curious about how the great outdoors can enhance your wellbeing? RHS Your Wellbeing Garden explores the secrets of design, plants, and gardening itself, to help you get the most out of your green space. (Out 6 February, DK, £16.99)
OUT AND ABOUT
PUT ON A SHOW
The National Wedding Show, London Are you planning the wedding of your dreams? Start your day with a glass of bubbly before you walk around with your wedding party to find everything you need for your special day. The show will also be held in Birmingham and Manchester in March, so don’t worry if you have other engagements. (15–16 February. Visit nationalweddingshow.co.uk to find out more)
Norbert the dog Meet Norbert, the very small therapy dog with a very big heart. A quick glance at Norbert’s Instagram profile is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face, but our furry friend is also a registered therapy dog who volunteers at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. (Follow @norbertthedog on Instagram)
Nottingham Festival of Science and Curiosity A week-long festival that takes science out of the lab and into our everyday lives. This festival is a celebration of knowledge and curiosity, giving visitors a chance to ask questions as well as share what they know. Interactive, fun and free events will take place across Nottingham, with opportunities for people of all ages to get involved. (12–19 February, for more information head to nottsfosac.co.uk)
Stop, Breathe & Think How often do you take the time to check in on yourself? Stop, Breathe & Think helps you to do just that. Pause for 10 seconds of breathing before selecting how you’re feeling, on a scale of great to rough. You can also add in your emotions, and receive recommended breathing and meditation exercises based on how you’re feeling. (Download from the App Store and Google Play, find out more at stopbreathethink.com)
Images | Dolittle: Universal Pictures, Nottingham Festival: nottsfosac.co.uk, Nortbert the dog: Intagram @norbertthedog
LEND US YOUR EARS
‘Open Mind with Frankie Bridge’ In her ‘Open Mind’ podcast, Frankie Bridge talks about the mental health challenges she has faced, and invites guests such as Giovanna Fletcher and Andrea McLean to share their experiences. Frankie’s new book Open is also out in February, where she shares her journey with mental health. (Listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify)
Time to Talk Day We can all help to change the way people think and act about mental health problems. Time to Talk Day encourages everyone to be more open about mental health, and this year it’s using the game ‘Would You Rather?’ to help break the ice and get the conversation flowing. (6 February, get involved at time-tochange.org.uk)
Dolittle A reboot of the family favourite Doctor Dolittle will be coming to our screens in February! Featuring a star-studded cast, including Robert Downey Jr, Tom Holland, and Emma Thompson, the animal antics are set to have you smiling from ear to ear. (In cinemas 7 February)
Doughlicious There’s nothing like a batch of warm home-made cookies… or so we thought! Doughlicious ready-to-bake cookie dough comes in a range of flavours, from classic chocolate chip to tasty peanut butter, along with vegan and gluten-free options. Enjoy the taste of freshly baked cookies without making a mess in the kitchen. (£3.99, visit doughlicious.co.uk for more) For your chance to win a selection of cookie dough from Doughlicious, simply send us a message (email@example.com) with your answer to the following question: What year were chocolate chip cookies invented? a)1938 b)1952 c)1966 UK mainland only. Competition closes on 20 February 2020, good luck!
9 GET GOING
Run Your Paws Off – Love Your Dog Run Your Paws Off are champions of ‘canicross’ – it’s all about being outside and enjoying running with your dog. Their ‘Love Your Dog’ event includes a 5K or 10K off-road course, so whether you’re a keen runner, or looking for a new way for you and your pet to get fit, this is pawfect for you! (16 February, find out more at runyourpawsoff.com)
How to rekindle your creativity and get into creative writing We’ve all heard about the benefits of writing for pleasure, or as a therapeutic practice, yet getting started can feel daunting. We share five ways you can get into creative writing right now Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
t’s an old adage, yet it’s one that many of us secretly harbour: we’ve all got a book inside of us. “If only I had more time.” “Work’s too stressful to think about starting a personal project.” “I’m just waiting for inspiration to strike.” Before you know it, weeks, months, years have passed, all with nothing to show but that untapped feeling of “I could be creating something, if only…” Whether you’re new to creative writing, or have just fallen out of practice, we share five simple tips to help spark your creativity, prioritise your passions, and start writing.
1 EMBRACE COMMUNITY Writing communities are among some of the most welcoming and passionate places – you can make new friends, gain advice and guidance. Local writing groups often offer weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly sessions where you can write together, share your work, gain feedback, and even discover competitions worth entering. Some may even offer writing retreats or regular write-a-thons, where everyone can get together 44 • happiful.com • February 2020
and write with no distractions – just a supportive environment filled with encouragement. If you don’t have a group near you, or your confidence is holding you back, there are plenty of online communities for writers of all genres, styles, and experience levels. Facebook has many writing groups (both private and public), as do sites such as Tumblr and Reddit. Signing up is free and easy. There’s no need to feel pressured to share your work before you’re ready, but you can still pick up great tips from reading others’ creative works-in-progress.
2 TAKE UP A 30-DAY CHALLENGE You may not have heard of it, but each year thousands of writers around the world take on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. Based around the idea of writing 50,000 words in just 30 days, the goal is to focus on getting a first draft done without getting caught up in editing, polishing, and restarting the bits that aren’t quite there yet, or that you’re struggling with. While the official NaNoWriMo takes place every November, many online writing groups and websites
offer 30-day prompts to help get you started. A great way of challenging you to write outside of your comfort zone, a prompt may include writing in a different genre, including a set theme, item, or setting. Books such as The FiveMinute Writer or The Write Stuff are filled with prompts, exercises, and inspirations to get you writing now, rather than waiting for that elusive ‘perfect idea’.
3 REDISCOVER YOUR LOVE OF READING If you’re ever stuck for inspiration, going back and reading your favourite book can help you remember why you love writing. ‘You can’t be a good writer without being a reader’ is something drilled into writing students throughout their time at uni, and it really holds true. How can you know what’s already been overdone within your preferred genre, if you don’t read? How can you keep pushing yourself to do your best, if you don’t have benchmarks to aim for? Reading can be an important part of the process – just make sure you don’t allow it to consume all of your precious time for creativity.
‘If your confidence is holding you back, try online writing communities’
Try online book recommendation sites like GoodReads to find out what’s popular within your genre, or to discover entirely new subgenres of fiction you didn’t know were out there.
4 CREATE A SCHEDULE Neil Gaiman once said: “To be a good writer… read a lot and write every day.” An ethos shared by many successful writers, the idea is that writing every day creates a positive habit that can help avoid common excuses that hold us back. Writer’s block may feel
very real for us, but by creating writing habits that work with your schedule – even if that’s just sitting down for 15 minutes with your morning coffee and a blank notebook – you can train yourself to push through the parts of the creative process that you struggle with. With time and practice, you will start to find it easier to write.
5 LET GO OF PERFECTION We’d all like to think that we could be the next JK Rowling or Stephen King, but the truth is, almost no authors get it right the first
time. A first draft is meant to be just that – a draft. When we get overwhelmed with our need to create something that is perfect, we allow our worries and fears to rule. Soon the creative process can slow or even grind to a halt. Instead of aiming for perfection, challenge yourself to just get something done. It could be a set chapter or number of words, or even just a paragraph. Set yourself a goal, and start writing without re-reading or editing as you go. You may be surprised at just how freeing it can feel. February 2020 • happiful.com • 45
Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes – CARL JUNG
Photography | Gerardo Rojas
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In it to QUIT it A smoking addiction can easily take over your life. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We speak with clinical hypnotherapy expert Andrew Major to get some tips for stubbing out this bad habit, for good Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
ccording to the Office for National Statistics, 58.4% of people who smoke cigarettes say that they want to quit. And yet 7.2 million people in the UK are still smoking. So what’s the hold-up? When it comes to addiction, the answer is never straightforward. A plethora of reasons, from genetics to the environment we live in, can affect the ways that we respond to stimulants, meaning that the journey to giving up the habit can vary hugely from person to person. But, as Andrew Major – a clinical hypnotherapist – points out, making the decision to quit in the first place can be a big challenge in itself. “Many people believe that smoking helps them relax, relieves stress, and gives them time out away from daily work or family
pressures,” Andrew explains. “So, making the decision to stop smoking for good can seem like a daunting task, as it involves letting go of a crutch that smokers may believe helps them cope.” It’s true that smoking, on the surface, can feel like it’s benefiting our mental health – calming anxious minds and relaxing our bodies. Despite this, Andrew points to studies which suggest that smoking can actually lead to poor mental health in the long term, as the cigarettes temporarily increase the feel-good hormone dopamine, encouraging the brain to switch off its own dopamine production. “A lot of my clients say that they smoke to help them deal with stressful situations,” says Andrew. “But in fact, turning to chemical substitutes to relieve stress when you’re having a bad day actually increases the risks of depression and anxiety, because smoking >>>
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CONTROL CRAVINGS According to the NHS, on average cravings last five minutes. If a craving hits, try one of these five-minute activities: • Go for a walk around the block • Play a mobile game • Tidy up your space • Listen to music • Do a quick workout • Make a round of tea or coffee • Suck on a hard sweet • Do a puzzle • Prepare some food • Read a book affects the hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal axis (the system that controls our response to stress). This leads to the production of an overload of hormones like cortisol, which affects the way we regulate reactions to difficult situations and experiences.” Of course, as well as the mental health side-effects, smoking comes with serious physical health risks. According to the NHS, smoking is the cause of 70% of lung cancers, and can also cause cancer in other parts of the body including the mouth, throat, liver, stomach, and bowel. In addition, smoking can lead to heart and lung disease, and reduce fertility in both men and women. So, when you’re ready to stop smoking, what are the options? For some, switching to alternatives,
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It isn’t magic, but it does help you to use your mind in a fundamentally different way such as nicotine patches and gum can be a good way to gently move away from cigarettes. For others, going ‘cold turkey’ and cutting them out immediately, spending more time with non-smokers, or attending support groups, can help. In Andrew’s practice, he uses solution-focused hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques to help his clients fundamentally understand why the addiction has formed, and ultimately kick the habit for good. “In a single two-hour session, we begin by talking to you about why and how you smoke,” Andrew explains. “Critically, we also talk about how the mind works in relation to smoking. This helps you develop a different mindset
in relation to smoking, such as an understanding of how the internal conflict develops in your mind, so you can overcome the fear of stopping.” Another important part of the process, Andrew says, is reflecting on the impact that smoking is having on you. Are you having to keep to a tight budget to pay for cigarettes? Do you suffer from nasty colds in the winter? Are you losing out on time spent with your friends and family? A key ingredient for hypnotherapy is a positive, willing mindset. And so for Andrew, ensuring that clients are committed to the idea of quitting is essential. “We then consolidate the discussion with the use of hypnosis to reprogram your subconscious mind, remove any conflict and fears that have held you back,” Andrew continues. “It isn’t magic, but it does help you to use your mind in a fundamentally different way, taking away your desire to smoke so you will no longer see smoking as something
Making the decision to stop smoking for good can seem like a daunting task, as it involves letting go of a crutch
THREE TIPS TO TRY FROM DAY ONE Andrew says: • Understand how smoking affects your overall health Take the time to research the damage smoking causes, to boost your inner strength and determination. • Visualise the benefits How will your life be better once you have quit? Write down a list. • Practise positivity When we make a conscious effort to recognise the positive things in life, we build new, helpful thought patterns which help us move forward with a more positive mindset.
you like – you will see it for the danger it really is.” Brighter things are on the horizon. Within just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your heart rate and blood pressure drop back to normal. After 12 weeks, circulation and lung function increases. A year in, the risk of coronary heart disease drops by 50%, 15 years down the line and it returns to that of a non-smoker. Breaking any kind of addiction is never an easy feat. And yet, with good support, and with the right goals in mind, you can take back control and kick the habit for good.
Andrew Major is a solutionfocused clinical hypnotherapist who combines psychotherapy and clinical hypnotherapy techniques, based on the latest research from neuroscience. Find out more at andrewmajorhypnotherapy.co.uk
February 2020 • happiful.com • 49
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L E T ’ S
G E T
P H Y S I C A L We all know that our mental health can be impacted by physical illness, but have you ever thought about how that connection goes both ways? Writing | Katie Conibear
few years ago, I was ill with a bout of depression. I felt incredibly low, was hardly sleeping, and felt a crushing lack of self-worth. I remember being at work when all of a sudden I felt incredibly dizzy and shaky. I was suffering with intense migraines and felt exhausted. My doctor diagnosed me with labyrinthitis, an inner ear infection, and I was signed off sick for three weeks. The only thing that made me feel remotely better was to lie in bed in the dark. I spent days in bed, unable to look at screens, or eat properly. All I could do was sleep. This kept happening to me. Every few months I would develop another ear infection. I live with bipolar disorder and have mania, which fills me with energy. I’m often ‘on the go’ for months on end, then when this feeling goes away, I crash and become depressed. I began to
notice a pattern, and that these inner ear infections were somehow linked to my mental ill-health... HOW DOES MENTAL HEALTH AFFECT US PHYSICALLY? Have you ever really thought about all the various physical symptoms we get with mental illness? Your stomach twisting in knots when anxious, migraines when stressed, insomnia, a racing heart, catching more colds and the flu… The list goes on and on. While the impact of physical illnesses on our mental health is more understood, the way our mental health can impact us physically seems less discussed – and yet research suggests they are intrinsically linked. On a societal scale, understanding this connection is important, as when mental health problems exacerbate physical illness, they can affect outcomes and the cost of treatment. In fact, The King’s Fund and Centre for Mental Health estimates that the effect of
poor mental health on physical illnesses costs the NHS at least £8 billion a year. But the best way to understand the connection is on a personal level. Take Liz, who lives with borderline personality disorder, mixed anxiety and depressive disorder. She believes her mental ill-health led her to develop irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “It plays up when I go into crisis,” Liz says. “When my mental health is suffering, I also tend to get an extreme illness – or at least that’s how it feels. I generally feel aches and pains throughout my body.” Olivia, who has bipolar disorder, noticed an impact of her condition on her physical self as well. “When I experience depression, I feel it in my bones. I feel unstable when walking. My entire body feels cold and detached. When I experience hypomania, my heart races, my head spins. When I experience anxiety, my stomach literally knots, and it triggers IBS episodes. >>>
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to be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease. Hayden, who lives with anxiety and panic attacks, recalls being taken to hospital with chest pains. “It’s happened to me a fair few times. I now suffer with sleep anxiety, where I’m awake for three days straight at times, because I’m terrified to sleep in case something happens.” This lack of rest caused by her anxiety, as you can imagine, is affecting her physical health. “The only way I can explain it is the way some people have fear of food, I have a fear of sleep – which can mess up blood pressure and general health. Now I’m finding my hair is falling out, even walking can be difficult.”
When I experience depression, I feel it in my bones. I feel unstable when walking. My entire body feels cold and detached. When I experience hypomania, my heart races, my head spins “Because of my psychosis, I take anti-psychotics that are known to cause weight gain and heart conditions. I’m constantly tested through ECG, blood tests, scans… It’s a difficult balance to maintain,” Olivia adds. “Mental illness has not just affected me psychologically, but I live with several physical health issues. It’s like your whole body is either completely shutting down or revved up.” WHAT’S THE EVIDENCE? While even short-term anxiety can show physical symptoms, such as 52 • happiful.com • February 2020
headaches, increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing, it’s the long-term mental illnesses and their impact on our overall health that are the greatest concern. A study from the British Medical Journal reports that poor mental health can actually lead to an increased risk of some conditions. In a study examining mortality rates in cancer patients, researchers reported that people with the highest levels of self-rated distress (compared to lowest rates) were 32% more likely to have died. Depression has also been found
Dr Natasha Bijlani, consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital Roehampton, explains that optimal health involves maintaining a reasonable balance of many factors. “Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. When people become mentally unwell, they are also likely to experience various physical symptoms. Those with poor mental health are less likely to receive the physical health care they’re entitled to, partly because they are less likely to seek treatment for these issues,
Top tips to support your mental and physical health: • Consistency is key, so try to develop and stick to routines that support your health, such as a set bedtime, eating healthily, and exercising regularly. • Keep a diary or record of your emotional state, alongside sickness. If you notice a pattern, you can start to think about how to address the issue. • Take time out to recharge when you spot early symptoms – the sooner you address things the better in the long-run. • Ask for help when you need it – whether from friends, family, or your workplace.
but also because professionals tend to focus on alleviating their emotional distress, rather than screening for or treating physical symptoms that might also be present.” SO WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT? Knowing we often feel run down when our mental health is not in a good place, it’s important to look after our overall health. Having a sleep routine, eating healthily, taking regular exercise, and any prescribed medications will benefit general health.
“Lifestyle factors are known to play a strong role in maintaining all-round health,” Dr Bijlani explains. “Those who become mentally unwell can sometimes either neglect such factors, or their symptoms prevent them from maintaining healthy habits. These can include disturbances in sleep and appetite, which can affect their energy levels and performance, as well as nutritional status. Oversleeping, or inability to get enough sleep, affects bodily functions, including blood pressure, risk of stroke, heart
attacks, diabetes, forgetfulness, impaired judgement, and can lead to increased risk of accidents.” With mental illnesses, it’s important to understand why we become unwell in the first place. Looking out for warning signs, the early symptoms and triggers of mental illnesses, help us to seek help and make lifestyle changes. We can ask for support, or confide in friends and family how we’re feeling. The more we educate ourselves about mental health, the more we can look after our health overall. Katie Conibear is a freelance writer, focusing on mental health. She blogs at stumblingmind.com and has a podcast, ‘A Life Lived Vividly’, with a focus on hearing voices. February 2020 • happiful.com • 53
A practice founded on the belief in a ‘life force energy’ that runs through us all, Reiki is a complementary therapy that’s thought to aid ailments from depression to chronic pain. So what can you expect from a session? Happiful’s Kathryn Wheeler finds out what makes this ancient technique relevant in 2020, and what really goes on behind the therapy room doors 54 • happiful.com • February 2020
n a mid-week afternoon, the low winter sun was catching on the leaves of a long, tree-lined avenue leading to the Surrey and Hampshire Wellbeing Clinic, where I had come to try Reiki for the first time. Reiki is a holistic therapeutic practice that is centred on the belief in a ‘life force energy’. This ‘energy’ is thought to flow through all of us, and the world around us, and followers of Reiki believe that the energies can be rebalanced by practitioners – the results being a calm, soothed, body and mind. I arrived at the centre and was led into a low-lit treatment room by Reiki master Jenny Douglas. Sitting on deep, comfortable chairs, each holding a mug of herbal tea, I admitted that I didn’t have a clue what to expect from the session. Although, in part, this was a deliberate choice – I didn’t want to obsess over other people’s experiences to the point where I created a mental checklist for my own. But what I did know before the session was that this was an unintrusive therapy, meaning that you remain fully clothed throughout, with little-to-no physical contact, depending on the therapist. And that over the course of the hour session, the therapist would move their hands over your body to rebalance and manipulate your energies. In the centre of the room was a massage table. I lay down on a soft pillow and was covered with a heavy wool blanket. As I closed my eyes and settled down, low ambient music played in the
background, and I instantly started to feel relaxed. Jenny’s role in the Reiki session is to act as a mirror for my ‘energies’, able to pick up on the areas of my body where the energy is strongest, and where it needs to be rebalanced. Using her hands, she began by lightly touching my head. What happened next was unexpected. I felt as though my head was expanding, or perhaps more accurately, I suddenly couldn’t tell where my head stopped and Jenny’s hands began. It was unlike anything I had experienced before, and yet at no point did it feel alarming or uncomfortable. It was a kind of tingling, mixed with a sensation of heat, but all of it pleasant.
Throughout the session, I was able to tune in to my body in an entirely new way Jenny moved down to my ears and neck, and then my chest, before holding her hands over my legs and feet. At points, the sensations felt more intense than others – especially around my ears, and later my ankles. And throughout the process, I felt as though I had slipped into the state of mind similar to when you are on the edge of falling asleep, where you feel warm, relaxed, and slow. As time went on, I was able to tune in to my body in an entirely new way. Feeling the sensations,
TRY THIS AT HOME At the core of it, Reiki is about tuning in to ourselves and the world around us. Is there a place you’ve visited that feels special to you? Perhaps a historical site, or a natural spot that you feel especially drawn to? Make a solo trip and take a quiet moment to tune in to how that space makes you feel. Let whatever you are feeling wash over you, and allow your mind to be free to explore.
whatever they may have been, moving down my body gave me the opportunity to check in with each part and realise where I was holding on to the most tension. When the session finished, Jenny gently touched me on the shoulder. I opened my eyes, and stood up feeling soothed and slow, as if I had just woken up from a long, nourishing sleep. Leaving the clinic, I went about the rest of my day. But I felt different. I felt lighter, as if my worries had melted away. I was refreshed and rejuvenated. For those already some way into their own spiritual journey, Reiki is said to tune in to everything, from stress and anxiety, through to bodily pain. But for people like me, for whom this is a whole new world, it’s an opportunity to understand how your body holds on to tension. And at the end of the day, however you choose to do it, we all stand to benefit from taking time to slow down, catch a quiet moment, and listen to our bodies.
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Strength lies in diﬀerences, not in similarities – STEPHEN R COVEY
Photography | Joseph Greve
How being bipolar was a blessing for me
After a dramatic breakdown in Italy, Dan stripped his life back to the basics. For six months he may have lost his sense of self, but gradually he found a new purpose – as a motivational speaker and mental health activist Writing | Dan Keeley
even years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now I consider it my blessing. Let’s be 100% clear, bipolar disorder can be a b*tch. On any given day it can wear you down, pump you up, play tricks on you, be all-consuming. It will take you down paths you could never imagine (some good, some bad), and it will make you ask yourself the biggest questions in life. And for that last part, I am truly grateful. Through the first half of 2012, my mind took me on such a journey that I ended up preaching from the middle lane of a major motorway in northern Italy at rush hour – not to be recommended!
After six months of escalating moods, and ignoring all the warning signs – the fast talking, the racing thoughts, the sleepless nights, the poor nutrition, the excessive spending – my mind took me from believing I was the next Steve Jobs, to believing in my core that I was The Chosen One. I was ‘the one’ who was put on this planet to show people how to ‘slow down and follow your heart’, which at the time I believed was the answer to all the world’s suffering. But there were two main issues as I stood on that motorway: firstly, my mind was going at 200mph; and secondly, I wasn’t showing anyone how to slow down and
follow their heart, I was trying to force them to. Combined, this was never going to end well. Soon I was being fasttracked to the closest psychiatric ward and being pumped full of drugs to make me slow down. Soon I was repatriated back to the UK, with two nurses who had to fly out to bring me home. I was in the Maudsley Hospital in south London in a crippling state of confusion, given that five minutes ago I thought we’d be setting up our new world headquarters at the Colosseum in Rome. Soon came the diagnoses. Then, now home, the worst six months of my life kicked in. Six months where, quite simply, I wanted to take my own life.
If we go that high, we’re going to crash down with the biggest bang imaginable, right? This was it. And if I had to choose just two words to sum up this whole chapter, they would be… to endure. My mind had made me believe I was ‘the one’, 100% convinced by my ideas, my thoughts, and every word that was leaving my lips. Now, here I was, completely numb, in limbo, emotionless, barely living, barely breathing, overwhelmed, crippled, debilitated, broken, bed-bound… done. Or was I? Not quite. With an incredible amount of love, patience, kindness, and warmth from those closest to me, plus my professional >>> February 2020 • happiful.com • 57
Dan raised more than £15,000 for CALM with his Rome to Home project
Whatever you may be going through right now, just remember this – that when suffering finds meaning, it ceases to be suffering counsellors who guided me through the rocky waters, I stripped it all back and started again. I mean I really stripped it all back! We’re talking ridding myself of physical possessions and clutter, the apps on my phone, email subscriptions, unimportant responsibilities, negative relationships… anything that was getting in the way of the five things that truly mattered most: my health (both mental and
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physical), relationships, passions, growth, and being in service to other people. See, this is the part where I was forced to ask myself the biggest questions in life, namely what truly matters most. And it really started working. Clearing away life’s excess, so I could concentrate as much of my time, energy, and focus on these five light bulb areas, really started to work for me. So much so that,
by 2013, I was going out in public again, back in employment, socialising, and being open about my experiences to others, and I was being asked to share my story. And three incredible things started to happen. I felt lighter every time I shared my story. I started building an even greater support network around me. And on pretty much every occasion, sharing my story gave permission for others to share theirs. This was truly gamechanging. And I knew I had to do something more with this.
So, what better way to give permission to hundreds of others to speak up about their experiences with their mental health than by creating a huge project and platform to do so? What if – five years on from the motorway incident – I were to take on a big running challenge to share my story on a national scale? What if I returned to Italy, but this time, instead of losing my sh*t, I were to run – solo and self-supported – 1,250 miles from the Colosseum in Rome back to the London Eye? In that
I felt lighter every time I shared my story. And on pretty much every occasion, sharing my story gave permission for others to share theirs
Find out more about Dan at dankeeley.co, and follow him on Twitter @iamdankeeley
moment, my Rome To Home project was born! And we smashed it! ‘We’ as in everyone who supported me on this mental adventure over the years, who were with me in spirit every step of the way – and without whom I could not have done it. This was majestic. This was an oil painting I was lucky enough to live in for 65 days, waking up every day with an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be out there, five years on, having responded to those big questions I asked myself when I was pinned to my bed for six months. Having given myself the time to get my mental health in the best shape to take on this adventure. And this time, without knowing it (until someone whispered this in my ear
when I finally arrived at the London Eye), I was now truly showing the world how we can slow down and follow our hearts, on a massive scale. Each step of the adventure lit up my five light bulbs: my health (I was in the best shape of my life), my relationships (imagine the people I met, and the support online), my passions (obviously), my growth (beyond words), and being in service to other people (I raised more than £15,000 for the Campaign Against Living Miserably, who were absolute rock stars behind the scenes). This was life-affirming. I’ll say it again, bipolar disorder can be a b*tch. But without the experiences of 2012, would I have taken on such an
adventure, one which kick-started my career as a professional speaker and mental health activist, one where I get to wake up every day and empower everyone across the UK to speak up when we’re suffering? No chance. What advice would I give to anyone going through a similar struggle? To hold on, to know that we’re all in this together, to know that every single one of us is suffering with something and that together – by speaking up – we truly can show future generations how it’s done. So, I’m telling you that whatever you may be going through right now, just remember this – that when suffering finds meaning, it ceases to be suffering. We’ve got this.
OUR EXPERT SAYS Dan’s bipolar hit a crisis with his extreme changing moods, which took him from euphoric to despairing. With the support of professionals and his friends, he started his journey to recovery, slowly finding out what he needed, and focusing on what was core to him as a person. Through setting himself the challenge of running home from Rome, he revisited his recovery in an emotional way, which helped him to have purpose. So often finding meaning in our lives can help us to cope better with suffering. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor
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How to conquer your
£ Compulsive spending can lead to psychological problems, relationship difficulties, and serious debt. If you find it hard to resist temptation, here are some strategies to help control your urge to splurge Writing | Wendy Gregory Illustrating | Rosan Magar
ddiction is defined as a compulsive engagement in rewarding behaviour, despite adverse consequences. A bit of retail therapy might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you hear this, but thanks to apps, instant pay, and targeted advertising, shopping is easier than ever, and most of us occasionally make impulse
buys – especially during the sales. Often, we regret it when we get home, realising we’ve wasted money on something we don’t need. But for an addict, shopping can be used to avoid feelings of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or boredom. The act of buying something, in a shop or online, produces a surge of adrenaline and dopamine, making it feel
exciting and pleasurable. It can also relieve anxiety and stress, but only temporarily. Soon after, the shopping addict is likely to experience guilt and shame, leading to further low mood and anxiety. As with all addictions, it’s usually a secretive activity. There will be a progressive loss of control, and increasing compulsive buying, even though the addict knows it is causing them problems.
The adverse consequences are not limited to psychological and emotional difficulty, but can lead to relationship problems, and serious debt, as the addict continues to buy things that they don’t need, on credit. Because of the instant gratification it brings, making impulse purchases masks the true cause of the anxiety, and may prevent the addict from seeking more long-term solutions or treatment for their anxiety. Because so few people with a compulsive overspending problem report it or seek help, it’s very hard to know exactly how many people experience this. Some studies, however, estimate that between 30% and 50% of Europeans suffer from at least mild to moderate lack of control when spending. Whether you feel you have a serious problem with shopping addiction, or whether you would just like to resist occasional impulse purchases, there are strategies to help you break that pattern.
Just take cash To avoid temptation when you are out shopping, just take the amount of cash you need. Leave cards at home. That way you can’t make an impulse buy.
OUT AND ABOUT
Gradual withdrawal If that’s too difficult, it can be done more gradually. You could limit the time you spend browsing. For example, stick to 30 minutes at a set time every day, then browse every alternate day, gradually reducing it each week. Do something constructive with the
Give yourself time If you’re tempted to make an impulse purchase, tell yourself that you’ll wait a couple of days and if you still really want it and can afford it, then you’ll go back to get it. Make a list Even going to the supermarket for the weekly food shop can lead to overspending, so do the old-fashioned thing and make a shopping list before you go – and stick to it. There is also something quite satisfying about getting to cross things out on your list!
ONLINE SHOPPING It’s so easy to scroll through eBay or ASOS every evening, and many people find it extremely hard to break the pattern, in spite of escalating debts. Online sites exacerbate the problem by constantly coming up with suggestions for items you might also like, and it’s all too easy to click on them. So how can you get out of such addictive routines? Cold turkey The fastest way to treat any addiction is to go cold turkey, which means abruptly stopping completely. To do this you would need to delete those sites from your devices, and seek other ways to control the anxiety.
time you’d normally spend online (exercise, cooking, writing, etc). Distraction If you can’t resist, then before you hit buy, get up and do something that distracts you for 10 minutes. Most cravings subside in that time. Or put it in your basket and resolve not to check out until the next day. You will probably find that your urge to splurge goes. Have a positive plan Add up the amount you’ve spent shopping online over the past month. Work out what this amounts to in a year and make a goal to save the money instead, to put it towards something you really want (a new car, dancing lessons, a deposit for a house, a holiday). Help and support If you’ve tried all of this and still feel you have a problem, contact Citizens Advice for support with debt management. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can really help to find alternative, more positive ways of managing anxiety and low self-esteem as well. Wendy Gregory is a counselling psychologist and writer, as well as a regular guest psychologist on BBC Talk Radio.
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mindful Make it
Embrace the magic of mindfulness with these four easy exercises, utilising daily activities to blend seamlessly into your day EATING Something we do every day, but when was the last time you really savoured the moment while you ate? Drop the multitasking and step away from screens. Focus on the texture of your food – how does it feel in your mouth? What flavours can you dissect in each bite? How do you feel? CREATIVITY Whatever your craft – drawing, painting, writing, crochet – take the time to really be present in the creation, with less focus on the outcome. Listen to your needles brush against each other, or the pencil on paper. What are you feeling? Where do your thoughts go? EXERCISE Whether you’re going for a highintensity sweat-sesh, or a walk around the block, connect with your body and the sensations as you move. Can you feel your pulse quicken, or the breeze on your skin? REST A quiet moment to reconnect with your body. Simply sit, or lie, and focus on your breathing. What can you see, hear, feel, smell? A gentle hum of the heating, birds outside, a tap dripping? Let go of all the distractions and let your senses explore the moment.
TOP TIPS Awareness: focus on the moment, acknowledging all your senses, and taking in the detail in everyday activities.
your attention to what’s happening, either through something you feel, your breathing, a sound…
Free your mind: allow your mind to roam – go with it!
Embrace your emotions: open yourself up to your feelings, and become really aware of them. Allow them to be, with no judgement or expectations.
Return to the moment: bring yourself back by returning
Smooth operator Three vitamin-boosting drinks to help you fight off the February flu Writing | Ellen Hoggard
hile the sight of a bright green smoothie can set your stomach churning, many of them do, in fact, taste very nice. The trick is to find flavours you like. Some people love the fresh taste of celery or cucumber, others may prefer to hide their greens among the overpowering flavours of pineapple or mango. Whatever works for you. Smoothies and juices are a good way to get some additional fruit and veg into your diet, and after trying a few different recipes, you can easily make your own. Experiment with fruits and vegetables, push yourself and test your bravery. Avocado in a smoothie may sound strange, but it’s actually delicious. It’s important to acknowledge that shop-bought smoothies often contain a lot of sugar, and can be quite expensive. Making your own at home can help to reduce sugar intake and are much more cost effective, especially if preparing in bulk. They are refreshing, quick to make and can be just what you need to kick-start your energy levels this February.
Orange & Carrot Smoothie Serves 2
Ingredients • 1 orange • 1 large carrot • 2 small sticks of celery • 50g mango • 200ml water • Handful of ice Method Peel the fruit. Roughly chop the orange, carrot and celery. Slice the mango. In a blender, add the fruit, veg and ice. Top up with water and blend until smooth.
Berry Breakfast Smoothie Serves 2
Ingredients • 225g frozen berries • 225g Greek yoghurt (or dairy-free alternative) • 50ml milk of choice • 2 tbsp porridge oats • 1 tsp honey or agave syrup Method Blend the berries, yoghurt and milk until smooth. Add the oats and pour into glasses. Taste. For extra sweetness, add a drizzle of honey or agave syrup. Enjoy.
OUR EXPERT SAYS… Orange & Carrot Smoothie This smoothie packs a ‘vitamin-C punch’ that will give your immune system a much-needed boost. The stand-out star is the beta-carotene, obtained from the bright orange of the mango, carrot, and orange. Beta-carotene is the precursor to vitamin A production, which is essential for skin, eye, and reproductive health. Adding celery will prevent it being too sweet, while boosting the fibre content. Berry Breakfast Smoothie Berries provide a high dose of numerous antioxidants, oats add a good source of soluble fibre, promoting bowel health and balanced blood sugar levels. Adding honey is a lovely sweetening agent – if possible, treat yourself to a raw and unprocessed brand that will contain both antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
Ingredients • Half an avocado, sliced • Juice of half a lime • Large handful of frozen pineapple • 2 handfuls of kale • Fresh ginger • 1 tbsp cashew nuts Optional: 1 small banana
Zesty Green Smoothie Avocados are not only a great source of healthy fats, but also provide more potassium than bananas. Potassium supports healthy blood sugar levels, while the lime, kale, and pineapple have immune-boosting properties. It also features an enzyme called bromelain, present in pineapple, that improves digestion. There’s a great balance of fruit to veg, while cashew nuts add a protein hit for a very satiating smoothie.
Method Add all the ingredients into a blender. Add a handful of ice and blend. Add a splash of water and blend until smooth. Serve.
Josephine (Beanie) Robinson is a nutritional therapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and co-founder of The Health Space. Find out more at thehealth-space.com
Zesty Green Smoothie Serves 2
Find a nutritionist near you at nutritionist-resource.org.uk
A menu for change Celebrity chef Tom Kerridge was nearing 40 when he noticed his weight had crept up too, and realised he had been using food and alcohol to escape the stresses of running his businesses. Now, six years later and fitter than ever, he has transformed his life, and wants to encourage others to do the same Writing | Gemma Calvert
om Kerridge is full of apologies. He’s running 20 minutes behind schedule after a morning in London marking the first birthday of Kerridge’s Bar and Grill, his Michelin-starred restaurant at the city’s Corinthia Hotel. “I’ve been all over the place,” says the TV chef, his cheerful West Country accent diluting any hint of lateness-fuelled panic. By the time we speak, he’s back in leafy Marlow, Buckinghamshire. Home. It’s also where Tom runs his pub, The Hand and Flowers – the only pub to ever win a pair of Michelin stars, and a place so popular, customers apparently wait up to six months for a table. For Marlow residents too ravenous for patience, there’s fortunately another Tom-owned boozer nearby, The Coach, which also boasts a Michelin star. In this pocket of South-east England, pub grub has never tasted so good. Lately, however, Tom has become better known for making healthy
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food taste extra good. Following his 2010 foray into television on BBC2’s Great British Menu, and landing his own telly series Tom Kerridge’s Proper Pub Food, in 2012, he realised his lifestyle was putting his health at risk. Four months before turning 40, and weighing almost 30 stone, Tom realised he had been eating and drinking too much, to help him cope with the pressure of building the reputation of The Hand and Flowers. Overnight, he made drastic changes. Healthy protein-rich foods replaced high-fat, carb-heavy options, and exercise – swimming and bike riding – became a non-negotiable part of his routine. What’s been the greatest reward since transforming his health? “The ability to move, to feel that I’m quite active, to keep up with a four-year-old!” answers Tom, referring to his son, Acey. “In general life, feeling fitter is wonderful. I can now run a 5K, and as a 46-year-old that feels
nice, because I never used to be able to.” Tom considers himself very lucky for not having experienced selfesteem issues or anxiety. “I’ve always been very comfortable in my own skin [and] communicating and talking to people on a professional basis. Even when I was at my biggest, and drinking and eating, professionally the business was succeeding.” Yet at the helm of a growing, thriving business where he felt huge pressure, Tom began playing as hard as he worked, in a misguided attempt to find balance. After last orders, he’d sink up to eight pints with his staff, before heading home in the wee hours to eat chilli sauce-topped cheese on toast. Just four hours of sleep later, he’d wake up, do a full day’s work and hit repeat. Alcohol, he admits now, was his ‘escape’ button. “I recognise that for some people, when they have low self-esteem, the comforting thing is to eat a packet of biscuits – and that is a
For some people, when they have low self-esteem, the comforting thing is to eat a packet of biscuits – and that is a mental health issue. It’s the same with me and alcohol mental health issue. It’s the same with me and alcohol,” he says. “It was an escape and a release from reality. My escape from the pressure of running multiple businesses.” Tom has now been tee-total for six years. “I have an issue with it, and I wouldn’t be able to have just one, that doesn’t exist,” he says matterof-factly, adding that although he’s ‘100%’ happier since knocking alcohol on the head, he has no regrets about the part drinking played in his life and career. “I wouldn’t go back and do something different, because without being that person, without that drive, I wouldn’t have achieved two Michelin stars,” he says. “You should never regret something that you’ve done. They’re all learning curves. Every negative can be a positive experience.” Did he ever have counselling to help him on his journey? “No, I just did it all on my own. I worked it out for myself,” says
Tom, who wrote his new book, Lose Weight & Get Fit, to encourage others to be more active while eating more healthily. It’s packed with nutritious, home-cooked recipes that are both filling and flavour-packed. “For me, it wasn’t about reaching a target weight, but more about
getting fitter and healthier. Setting fitness goals alongside weight-loss goals is a win-win formula for lasting success,” says Tom, adding that planning healthy meals helps him to feel more emotionally in control, especially when work is so busy and “things aren’t quite balanced enough”. >>> February 2020 • happiful.com • 67
Extract taken from Lose Weight and Get Fit by Tom Kerridge / Photography © Cristian Barnett
TUNA COBB SALAD BOWL This is a good example of the kind of salad that you can throw together using ingredients that might already be in the cupboard and fridge. Feel free to swap things around depending on what you have. The one thing I’d say you need to keep is the baby capers – they may be tiny but they add so much flavour. SERVES 4 • 4 large free-range eggs • 400g tinned tuna in spring water (drained weight) • Juice of ½ lemon, plus an extra squeeze for the avocado • 1 tbsp baby capers, rinsed • 50ml light mayonnaise • 350g Iceberg lettuce, shredded • 150g carrots, grated • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved • ½ cucumber, halved lengthways and thickly sliced • 200g drained tinned sweetcorn • 8 radishes, quartered • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, quartered and stoned • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the dressing • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil • 1½ tbsp red wine vinegar • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
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• Place a small saucepan of water over a high heat and bring to the boil. Carefully add the eggs and cook for 7 minutes. Remove the eggs and immerse them in a bowl of cold water to cool quickly. • Flake the tuna and place in a bowl with the lemon juice, capers and mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix well. • Lay out 4 containers and cover the base of each one with shredded lettuce and grated carrot. Top with the tuna mayo,
cherry tomatoes, cucumber, sweetcorn and radishes. Squeeze some lemon juice over the avocado slices and add these to the containers. • For the dressing, whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over the salads. • Peel the cooled boiled eggs, then halve and season with a little salt and pepper. Add the eggs to your containers. Serve straight away or seal and keep in the fridge. Eat within 2 days.
“My life is like other people’s – I have a young son, I have a job, some evenings I manage to get home on time, but not very many. I know how it feels to get through the door at 7pm. The last thing you want is to then spend three hours cooking dinner. It’s about organised structure, and getting your head in the right space,” he explains. So many parents worry about the quality of their children’s diet and, naturally, Tom is often asked by mums and dads for the secret to getting youngsters to consume more fruit and vegetables. “I’m not overly stressed about it, and I don’t think parents should be either. But parents should be making an effort for themselves to be eating the right stuff so they’re leading by example,” he says, pragmatically. “That’s the right way to do it. If [Acey] wants fish fingers and oven chips one day, that’s fine – but we aren’t going to sit there and eat fish fingers and oven chips with him. We’re going to have a lovely salad so it gets to be in his
consciousness that he’s having something different.” What about making sure we’re always prepared in the kitchen to achieve maximum flavour with our cooking, to avoid getting stuck in a rut and feeling uninspired to eat healthily – is there one ingredient every kitchen should stock? “Honestly, it’s only one – smoked paprika!” laughs Tom. “That goes on everything and makes it taste amazing! Most people have their home repertoire of recipes that they cook for friends and family. You can get into routines. But you should restock your spice cupboard so your cooking repertoire becomes super exciting.” He’s wealthier than most of us dare to dream possible, but Tom’s relatability is rooted in his appeal as an average Joe, and the fact he doesn’t pretend to be perfect. And despite getting healthier in the glare of the public spotlight, Tom denies feeling under pressure from anyone but himself to continue making progress. “I do it for me. I did it for me in the first place,” he says. “I’m not doing it because it’s on television or it’s for commercial gain. I did it because it’s the right thing to be doing as a 46-year-old bloke who wants to try to be a bit fitter.” Before Tom departs, we talk about how he’s welcomed the public into his kitchen, but also his private life, by being so honest about his reasons for transforming his lifestyle and his subsequent journey towards better health. Has he always felt comfortable with that level of exposure? “From the moment I was asked to do TV, I promised myself I wasn’t
going to be a caricature of me. That if I was going to do it, I was going to be honest,” replies Tom. “The biggest reward is helping people. One of the nicest things that happens is when I bump into people on a weekly basis, who I’ve never met in my life, and they say, ‘thank you ever so much’. “It’s hard work putting a book together, but my life is about food so it’s enjoyable, and if it helps someone else out there, then that’s brilliant.”
‘Lose Weight & Get Fit’ by Tom Kerridge (Bloomsbury Absolute, hardback £22)
WIN! For your chance to win one of two signed copies of Tom Kerridge's new book, simply send your answer to the following question to firstname.lastname@example.org: In what year did Tom open his pub, The Hand and Flowers? a) 2000 b) 2005 c) 2009 UK mainland only. Competition closes on 20 February 2020 – good luck!
February 2020 • happiful.com • 69
Blending in Confined to a wheelchair, Tess Daly often felt self-conscious about her disability as she grew up. Now, the 31-year-old is proud to stand out, having made a name for herself as one of the UK’s leading beauty bloggers Writing | Suzanne Baum
pplying makeup takes confidence, patience, and a steady hand – traits Tess Daly is the first to admit she doesn’t have in abundance. In fact, it’s only through using a robotic arm that the disabled beauty blogger has been able to fine-tune her online makeup posts and tutorials that have seen her amass more than 200,000 Instagram followers. Tess was born with spinal muscular atrophy – a neuromuscular disorder that means she has never been able to walk. Despite being in a wheelchair since the age of two, she grew up refusing to let her disability get in the way, having from an early age a determination to one day work in the creative world. “I was always interested in fashion and beauty,” Tess tells me as we chat in her Sheffield home, where she relies upon a team of carers to help her with everyday tasks. “I had my heart set on becoming a fashion
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designer. I studied art in school, and spent every spare minute drawing clothing and shoe designs. “Unfortunately, during my GCSEs, I rather inexplicably lost the use of my right hand, which meant I was unable to do lots of things, including my own makeup.” In a bid to feel as normal as possible, Tess began paying makeup artists to do her face for a night out almost every weekend throughout her early 20s. “It was an expensive affair, trust me! But I always prided myself on looking good on the outside to make myself feel better inwardly.” However, things changed a few years ago when a friend – who also has spinal muscular atrophy – shared a video of her applying eyeliner with the help of a piece of equipment called the ‘neater eater’. It’s attached to the wheelchair and functions as a bionic arm to manipulate the limb; although designed for helping to feed yourself, Tess found it worked just as well when applying makeup – and it changed her life.
With the use of what she nicknamed ‘the bionic arm’, Tess was able to teach herself to do certain things again, including her own makeup. “I found ways to make things work, and I have always preferred to talk about the things I can do, rather than stuff I can’t do, as there’s no point thinking of negatives.” When I suggest that Tess is an ‘influencer’, she’s quick to point out she’s not. “I’d much rather be known as a ‘role-model’ – standing up for people with disabilities, who don’t often see themselves represented in the beauty industry.” Having perfected the use of the bionic arm, Tess – who never used social media much – began posting pictures of her progress on Instagram, tagging the makeup brands she was using. After a few months, she gained more than 10,000 new followers after her work was shared by makeup guru to the stars, Anastasia Beverly Hills. >>>
Reading the comments made me realise how under-represented disabled people are within the beauty industry, and also how eager people were to see that change
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Tess (centre) as part of the Isle of Paradise’s Get Body Posi campaign
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Images | Isle of Paradise
“The response that it got was nothing short of phenomenal,” Tess says. “Reading the comments made me realise how underrepresented disabled people are within the beauty industry, and also how eager people were to see that change. Up until this point, posting pictures of my makeup had just been a hobby. Seeing this reaction, however, really pushed me to try to fill the gap in the industry. Growing up, I had never seen anybody like myself within either the beauty or fashion industry, and I wanted to help change this. “I genuinely had no idea that my platform would escalate into what it is today. I never thought I would have the confidence to post photos, let alone videos. The way I think about myself has changed so drastically from when I first started, it’s strange to me now that I had such negative feelings in the beginning.” Despite her sudden fame on social media – which has led to Tess being the face of numerous skin and makeup campaigns – she remains down to earth. “I’m still blown away every single day by how kind and supportive my followers are. I have a community around me that motivates and encourages me to tackle my insecurities head on. It is down to my followers that I have not only posted videos of me applying my makeup, but I have posted bikini pictures. “Every time I overcome one of these insecurity obstacles, I’m met by such love and kindness from my followers
that any negativity pales into insignificance.” By this, she means the online trolls who regularly post nasty comments about her appearance. “As somebody who has been heavily trolled, my advice would be to completely rise above it. It is easier said than done, but the saying ‘don’t feed the troll’ exists for a reason. Unfortunately, people like this live to get a rise from the people they are attacking. Ignoring them is single-handedly the most annoying thing you could possibly do to them.” When it comes to posting her makeup looks, it’s a long, incredibly tiring process, that can take up to four hours. But Tess says: “The effort is worth it as, to me, makeup is freedom. There isn’t much I can do ‘independently’, but my makeup is something I can call my own and feel proud of.” Unfortunately, Tess feels that there is still some stigma affecting disabled people within the beauty industry. “There are still so many stereotypes that surround us, all of which are simply not true. It is still heavily believed that we don’t take pride in our appearance, therefore why should beauty products be aimed at a disabled audience? “Fortunately, I am seeing a shift in how not only the wider community perceives disabled people but also how brands represent us. I was recently lucky enough to be selected to feature in Isle of Paradise’s selftan campaign, and the response was phenomenal. Having a huge
Tess is currently fronting a body acceptance campaign for the Isle of Paradise’s launch of Get Body Posi – a free download written by Jules Von Hep, which is a global commitment to making body acceptance top of the beauty agenda. The campaign includes all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and abilities, and is the first tanning brand to do so. Follow Tess on Instagram @tess.daly
brand feature me alongside so many other beautifully diverse models helps to normalise disabled people within the industry, which really does have a ripple effect on the rest of the world.” As for future projects, Tess is working with other brand campaigns in a bid to raise awareness of body positivity – something she believes strongly in, now more than ever. “I used to be stared at a lot, and feel so unconfident – but I’m in a wheelchair, that’s nothing new really, is it? And yep, I got comments, I still do, all over good old Instagram! But the difference is, now I don’t care. I’ve got one life and I intend to live it how I want, no matter what anybody else says, or how society thinks I should live it!”
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Ask the experts Counsellor Annabel Giles answers your questions on therapy and what to expert from professional support Read more about Annabel on counselling-directory.org.uk
I’m interested in counselling, but I’m nervous. What can I expect?
When I first see a client, I explain that we’re here to see if we want to work together, and that it’s OK to say no. I take a few details, such as date of birth and an emergency contact, and then we talk about what made them come to
counselling. Most people have something they are very keen to talk about, but not always. At the end of the session (we use the full 50 mins) we know if we’re going to get on, and (usually!) make an appointment for the following week.
My family are struggling. Things have been said, and nobody can talk without arguing or getting upset. Can counselling help us?
Definitely. Often a family has become entrenched in relating to each other in a particular way, and as nothing stays the same for very long, relationships can change very quickly. The more people in the group, the more changeable the dynamic! Everyone has to be
willing to do this, however. If not, sometimes it helps to see key individuals (e.g. sisters) as a couple, to work out what’s going wrong. Sometimes it’s just one person who needs to talk safely and privately. A good therapist will help you find the best approach.
Can anyone benefit from counselling, even if you’re not in crisis?
Yes! And yes again! I believe it should be compulsory for everyone to sit and look at themselves and their behaviour on a weekly basis. This would bring clarity, understanding, and helps so much with decision-making. It makes sense to untangle stuff as you go along, rather than wait for a crisis. Where else can you talk about yourself and your life, in total confidentiality, without worrying about what the other person thinks, or having to listen to them? I’ve been in therapy for the past 32 years, and still find it really useful, even during the good times.
I don’t know who I am anymore. I’ve recently come out of a relationship and I’m unhappy in my job, but have no one to speak to. Will counselling help me?
In many ways, this is exactly what counselling is for. People are so busy these days, it seems we’re just firefighting life as it happens, rather than taking considered decisions. I see many clients who feel they’ve lost their way and need to get back on track, but have no idea which path to choose. Together we look at how they got here, where they’d prefer to be, and the journey in between. I always say we’re walking through the woods together – I’m just holding the torch!
Counselling Directory is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need
How to cope with
first day anxiety BREW
So, you’re feeling apprehensive about a new job? Don’t let nervousness hold you back – here are some ways to help conquer those workplace worries Writing | Caroline Butterwick Illustrating | Rosan Magar
tarting a new job can be exciting. It may be a wonderful chance to do something you enjoy, make new friends, develop your skills, and, at the very least, earn a living. But, for many of us, the build up to our first day can also come with increased anxiety. A new job means learning new routines, new places, new systems, and meeting new people. We may be nervous
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about this big change. But there are things we can do to ease that first day anxiety.
PREPARE Make the first morning of your new job as stress-free as possible by preparing as much as you can in the days before. Little things, like choosing your outfit and deciding what you’ll have for breakfast, means these aren’t decisions you’ll have to worry about on the day.
Most importantly, decide what time you’ll need to leave by planning your journey in advance, giving yourself extra time to suss out the route. As I use public transport to get to work, on my first day in my current job I got a train earlier than I technically needed to, so I wouldn’t be anxious about being late. When I arrived early, I went and got a coffee in a nearby café and read a book for half an hour – a calming start to the day.
READ THE JOB DESCRIPTION One of the main anxieties I have before starting a new job is worrying what the day-to-day routine will be like. Have a read through the job description from when you first applied for the role to jog your memory about the specifics of the job. It can also be worth having a look online, and reading blogs and articles by people who work in similar roles, to get more of an insight, especially if you’re new to this area of work. It’s likely that on your first day you’ll meet your new line manager, so have a think in advance about any questions you might have for them about the role and the workplace.
Make the first morning as stress-free as possible by preparing as much as you can in the days before
REALISE YOUR SKILLS Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are a fraud in your success, and can crop up at times when we’re growing, like taking a step up the career ladder. Remember, though, that you went through a recruitment process to get here. Your new employer will have seen your potential to flourish in this job. Think of evidence that demonstrates to you that you’re capable – like past achievements and positive feedback you’ve received. If this job is stretching your skills, try turning your anxiety into excitement: this is a chance to grow professionally. Accept there will be things you need to learn in your new job, and know that it’s perfectly fine – and expected – that you will need to ask questions as you settle in.
MIXING WITH COLLEAGUES Most of us have been there, being paraded around the office as you’re introduced to a whole host of people while you try, and fail, to remember everyone’s names. Come prepared to be friendly and open, and accept that you will forget your new colleagues’ names and roles – don’t worry about asking for a reminder! It can take time to work out the office culture, so go with the flow a bit on your first day. Get to
know people, asking about the workplace and their role. This will not only help you understand your new surroundings, it’ll help you get conversations started. If the opportunity for a team lunch or after-work drinks comes up, take it – it’ll be a perfect opportunity to get to know everyone better.
DISCLOSING A MENTAL HEALTH CONDITION According to the charity Mind, one in six UK workers experience poor mental health. If you have a diagnosed mental health problem, starting a new job comes with additional worries about whether you should tell your employer. Most people with a longterm mental illness are protected under the Equality Act. This means your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for you, which could include regular breaks, time off for medical appointments, or flexible working. I tend to bring up my mental health condition in an initial meeting with my line manager: “Just to make you aware, I have anxiety and depression.” This almost always prompts them to ask what will help me. In the run up to your first day, think about whether you want to disclose, and what support may help. We’re at work for so much of our time, it’s worth doing whatever we can to make it as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. February 2020 • happiful.com • 77
M e d i a
p a r t n e r
Live Well London In 2020, our resolution at Happiful is to move beyond the pages of our magazine, and connect with our readers IRL. So, to start as we mean to go on, we’re partnering with the wonderful Live Well London Festival to get stuck in to discussions around authenticity in the industry, bust a move during disco yoga, and invest in intimate conversations with the best in wellbeing! Here, we chat to festival founder Sam Willoughby about the wellbeing weekend not to be missed… Hi Sam, what inspired you to start Live Well London? I’d been working in global events and exhibition companies for 19 years, starting my career in marketing and working my way up to event director. But as a mum of two, I was beginning to find the 50-hour weeks at a very corporate, top heavy organisation, a bit much. My motivation and passion for the job was waning, and I was starting to lose confidence in what I was doing. The work-life-balance, didn’t really exist! That sounds like quite a relatable scenario for many people… After seeing a personal coach, I realised that what I really love doing, and what I’m good at, is events, and building something up that culminated in a physical experience. So, I made the leap and left the company I’d worked
at for 13 years to start my own events business – luckily with an investor. Given my own struggle for a work-life balance, combined with knowing how important it is to look after yourself both physically and mentally, Live Well Events was born. What do you love most about your work? Meeting some of the truly inspirational and genuinely lovely people in the wellbeing industry, who are so welcoming, so open with their advice, generous with their time, and genuine in their desire to spread the message of the importance of a balanced approach to wellbeing. What makes this festival so special? Live Well was founded on the ethos that a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body, and focusing on emotional
wellbeing as much as physical wellbeing is key. We believe that wellness is unique to each of us, and that’s why it’s important for people to be able to make their own informed wellbeing choices – based on trying out what works for them, and learning from credited experts and evidence-based brands. What makes the festival really special, is all the people who contribute – we’re passionate about a balanced approach to wellbeing, and have a special interest in creating a happy, welcoming, inclusive environment. ‘Wellness’ can sometimes be seen as a privilege – how does Live Well London address that? We feel that wellbeing should be accessible to all, not a luxury. We’ve priced tickets
Event images | Live Well Events
to be affordable, and there are no hidden costs or extras for booking on to classes. We have more than 130 classes across yoga, meditation, pilates, fitness, mindfulness, and the Boutique studio sessions, plus a packed programme of daily talks and workshops in the Knowledge Hub and Live Kitchen – all included in the ticket price. And you can absolutely come as you are! You don’t need to feel like you have all the latest kit, or be gym-ready and well-practised in the moves, to join us. If you’re not into classes, come along to the talks, have a mindful cocktail, relax and chill out in The Retreat, while trying something new like a Sound Gong Bath. There really is something for everyone. What has working on the festival taught you? Being so entrenched in this industry, you are constantly reading and hearing about new ways to look after yourself, both physically and mentally – but I think if I had to narrow it down to just one thing, it would be the importance of credibility in the wellness industry. There are so many new brands popping up, and new advice coming out, so it’s important to make sure you source your information from credible experts and brands. What principles will you be living well by in 2020? It’s important when looking at starting a new year that any
Founder Sam Willoughby
We’re passionate about a balanced approach to wellbeing, and have a special interest in creating a happy, welcoming, inclusive environment principles or personal pledges must be sustainable, achievable, and something that can be continued across the year. It can be something small, like remembering to step back and take a breath every now and again, or trying to commit to taking a small amount of physical activity every day to support mental health. I’ll also be taking more time to be kind to others, as well as remembering to be kind to myself – especially as we head into the last few busy weeks before the festival!
Live Well London takes place from 28 February to 1 March at Old Billingsgate, London, with speakers including psychologist Kimberley Wilson, sportsperson Jonny Wilkinson CBE, and the unstoppable Dame Kelly Holmes. Visit livewelllondon.com and use the code Happy15 for 15% off tickets (excluding VIP).
Craving a creative career?
From messy workspaces to unique challenges faced by creatives, in her latest book, author Sheila Chandra takes readers by the hand and helps put them on the path to success Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
s a creative person, I’d be the first to admit that I’m not exactly great when it comes to organisation. Planning? Sure, that I can do, no problem. But my haphazard home and office desk spaces alone are enough to hint at just how chaotic things get when I’m in the zone with a writing or research binge. Like many creatives, I want to focus on the thing I’m passionate about – which can leave some of the important details parked in that precarious ‘I’ll get to
it later’ pile that never seems to get done. From the best-selling author of Banish Clutter Forever, Sheila Chandra’s latest book, Organizing Your Creative Career, looks to challenge the idea that creatives need to be messy in order to create. Tackling all of the big challenges around being a creative who is looking to channel their passion into a career – from disorganisation to how to actually monetise what you do, personal branding, creative wellbeing, and support systems – Chandra talks readers through everything they need to
know about launching, maintaining, and elevating their creative career.
OWNING YOUR CREATIVE SPACE Having a home office sounds great in theory, but in practice? Our personal creative spaces can tend to get a little out of hand. While Chandra focuses specifically on artistic creative spaces, her advice is widely applicable for those from any creative field who struggle to tame their administrative tasks and create some form of order.
If you’re looking for a prescriptive how-to, Organizing Your Creative Career offers some solid foundations across the board to help you get started, and elevate your career to the next level. While the advice shared is solid, if you have had an introduction to other organising self-help books or life coaching sessions, it can feel a little basic. Firmly focusing on a particular type of creative (one that often relies on visual reminders), if you don’t fit within this mould, the advice may not feel as relevant.
In many areas, the advice feels more tailored for those with a freelance creative career, rather than those following a creative career path within a business. Blending together work and life advice on managing things like your master to-do list, while this can be helpful for some, it can err on the side of too much detail in some places.
BALANCING CREATIVITY AND WELLBEING Looking at both personal and career wellbeing, nearly two thirds of the book is dedicated to focusing on your headspace, over your physical creative space. Perfect for those who feel like they have
a handle on the physical side of organisation, Chandra dives into the complexities that can cause confusion, or feel like they are weighing you down. Some generalisations, such as separating what works efficiently for creative people compared to ‘everyone else’, can feel a little frustrating, however if you do fit within this general ‘creative’ mould, the advice is sound. Offering advice on productivity, efficiency, balance, organisation, strategising, and more, sections are broken up neatly and cleanly, making it easy for readers to skim and find the sections that will most likely help them. One particularly useful section focuses on the
importance of saying no. Something many of us struggle with, no matter what our role, the author delves into the personal cost that can come from our inability to put ourselves first, highlight when our skillset may not be the best fit for a task, and the benefits we can reap when we do allow ourselves to better police our time.
SHOULD I BUY IT? If you’re a creative person who struggles to balance your workload outside of the creative process itself, Organizing Your Creative Career offers a great starting point. If you aren’t considering a more freelance form of career progression, or if you’ve already read
If you liked this, you’ll love... I’m the Boss of Me By Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn The must-read guide to owning your career. Sharing career-building lessons, strategies and tactics, with stories of courage, resistance, and persistence.
What Color is Your Parachute? 2020 By Richard N Bolles A practical manual for those looking to make a career change. Filled with support, encouragement, and advice on job-hunting strategies that work.
other career-related organisation books, it may be worth trying something a little more personalised and indepth, such as working with a creative or career coach.
Must Reads So Good They Can’t Ignore You By Cal Newport
Focusing on why skills trump passion in your quest for work you love, Cal helps readers discover how to channel what they naturally excel at into a career.
Organizing Your Creative Career: How to Channel Your Creativity into Career Success By Sheila Chandra (Watkins) Great for… • Disorganised creatives looking for direction • Anyone experiencing a career slump • Those looking to launch their own creative brand or career
lightening the load When you really think about it, after our basic needs are taken care of, it’s the little things in life that make all the difference to our wellbeing. From mobility solutions to quick-fixes, Remap is the charity that pairs volunteer engineers with disabled people, to create solutions to obstacles both big and small, so they can continue to live life to the fullest Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
often think of us more like a dating agency than anything else,” says David Martin, CEO of Remap. But this isn’t a ‘try your luck on a swipe-right’ kind of deal, the matchmaking that David is talking about is between highly-skilled volunteer engineers and the people who need their help. Founded in 1964 by Pat Johnson, an engineer whose first project was an electric hoist to give his sister more independence in her home, Remap (Rehabilitation Engineering Movement Advisory Panel) is about pairing up skilled engineers with people who have needs that cannot be solved by commercially available products. Today, Remap covers the whole of the UK, completing an astonishing 3,500 projects every year with the help of 900 volunteers. Here, David, along with a Remap volunteer and beneficiary, gives us the low-down on the ins and outs of the charity.
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THE BLUEPRINTS In practical terms, the way Remap works is, firstly, people get in touch to explain what their need is. The central office passes the request on to local groups, that assign cases to volunteers whose skills are best suited to the project. “Our only requirement is that you’ve checked to see if this is already out there,” David adds. “Because we’re here to fill the gap where something isn’t commercially available.” Beyond that, the projects Remap takes on vary between mobility solutions and electronics, to the simple things that enhance our wellbeing in immeasurable ways. From wheelchair turntables in tight corridors, to customised stepladders and voice amplifiers, no job is too big, or too small. “What’s so nice about the process is that there are opportunities for different people to use their skills in different ways – because we get asked about so many things,”
David continues. “The volunteer gets the opportunity to meet the person who has this challenge, understand what they want, design something, take them a prototype, make it... They get to see the whole cycle from designing something to seeing it used, and that’s hugely satisfying for people.” As David sees it, the process is a partnership between the volunteers and the beneficiary, often providing a place for collaboration where both can throw out ideas to solve problems in innovative ways. AT YOUR SERVICE In his role as CEO, every week David sees what he describes as endlessly interesting, challenging, and remarkable stories. “As the challenges come in I’m left thinking, ‘I wonder how they’re going to solve that one.’ And then you see the photos or a video and think, ‘Oh, that’s a cracking solution!’” he says. >>>
Linda’s piano Linda is an accomplished singing and piano teacher but, following treatment for breast cancer, she found that she was unable to support her left arm enough to play. With the help of a Remap volunteer, Linda had a rail fitted to the front of her piano to allow a wrist support to slide silently up and down. Immediately, Linda was able to enjoy her hobby and continue teaching.
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‘It in no way interferes in his enjoyment, but it gives them that reassurance’
To m ’s t r i k e “Tom’s a lad who has a three-wheeled trike which he uses for exercise,” says David. “His parents got him this trike so he could burn up all the energy he’s got. But the problem was that he just sped away and they couldn’t keep up with him. What they needed was something that meant they could keep going with him, and also have an emergency brake. “So our volunteer built a kind-of buggy board that goes on the back. Mum or dad rides behind him – he does all the work, but they can help and they have a brake. It in no way interferes with his enjoyment, but it gives them that reassurance.” James’ vocal cord paralysis means he can only speak quietly. With his voice amplifier, he can now be heard loud and clear!
Margaux’s dwarfism comes with challenges. But her custom step gives her the same independence as other children
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Brian is one such beneficiary of the simple fixes Remap creates. Having played bass guitar since 2000, Brian’s deteriorating condition meant that it became increasingly difficult for him to continue enjoying his instrument. In order to keep up his much-loved hobby, Brian needed something that would take the weight of the guitar off of his spine. Brian had heard about the work that Remap do, and so he reached out with his problem. This is where Paul came in. A Remap volunteer for two years, Paul first got involved with the charity to give something back to his community. When Brian’s dilemma was presented to Paul’s Remap group, he knew it was something he could help with. “I went over to Brian, had a look at the problem, took some measurements, and then came up with a design,” Paul explains. Over a fortnight, he crafted a custom-fit guitar stand, that would support Brian’s bass while he played. “I went back, it all fitted perfectly and it worked first time – which doesn’t normally happen!” Paul adds. “Brian takes the armrests off the wheelchair. There’s a socket where the chair arms go in, and the guitar rest has brackets that fix into that slot – it’s all fully adjustable.” Brian was delighted with the bracket, which he says renewed his love for the instrument. “On the feel-good factor, it’s quite an important thing for me to be able to participate in, and play, music,” Brian explains. “This bracket has taken all the weight off my shoulders and I’m playing the guitar again – I’d even say it’s improved my playing.”
Brian can now enjoy his hobby without limits
LAYING FOUNDATIONS Brian knows all too well the impact that being physically limited can have on your mental health. “You have this little zone which you know you can do things in, and if things in that zone become incredibly difficult it’s even worse, because you feel as though you’re becoming more and more restricted,” he explains. For Brian, taking back control of something that brought him so much joy has had a huge impact on his wellbeing, in a way that he believes can often be overlooked. “Clinically, the NHS has supplied me a chair and that’s the big picture. But once you’ve got the big picture solved, to really feel the benefit, it’s the small things that matter.” This is something David sees regularly through Remap’s work. “With the medical professionals, someone will ask: ‘Can you get yourself in and out of bed?’, ‘Can you make a cup of tea?’ It’s a list of things to tick off and then on to the next person,” David explains. “But what gets missed is: ‘What’s your passion in life? What do you love doing? And can you do that?’
“For anybody, to not be able to do the thing that you’re in to is a big downer in your life. But if you already have a big restriction, it becomes even more important that you have some way to express yourself.” JOB DONE We all deserve to live in an accessible world where we can move and our enjoy our hobbies, unrestricted. There is so much joy to be found in the small things in life. From making music, like Brian, to the countless other remarkable fixes that engineers have created over the years – Remap is the charity that picks up on the things that can easily slip down the priority list, and bumps them to the top. Powered by the generosity and aptitude of volunteers, things that begin life as dreams are turned into reality, and so often it’s a life-enhancing process for all involved.
To find out more and to donate, visit remap.org.uk
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Photography | Naitian Tony Wang
When admiring other people's gardens, don't forget to tend to your own f lowers – SANOBER KHAN
From client to counsellor
Creativity had always helped Nicola Vanlint to thrive, until panic attacks ground her world to a halt. But now she’s combining her experiences to live her best life, and support others on their journeys, too Writing | Nicola Vanlint
loved my career as a fashion stylist – being creative, meeting new people, and travelling the world – until one day I experienced the horror of a panic attack, and my whole life changed... Growing up, I enjoyed primary school as I had the freedom to be creative, but when things became more academic in secondary school, that all changed. At the time I was unaware of my dyslexia, and thought that I was just stupid. When I left school in 1990, I came away with no qualifications. I worked in retail and customer services for a few years, until I was made redundant. I didn’t know what to do next, until I
saw a job advertised for a part-time window dresser. Even the interview was fun, as I got to go around the store and gather items for a window display. I was offered a full-time position in their flagship store in Marble Arch and was over the moon – I still look back at that job with fond memories. Through my colleagues in the press office and PR, I first heard about fashion styling. I was excited that you could have a career in dressing people rather than mannequins, so I contacted some fashion stylists and offered to be their assistant on weekends. From collecting and returning clothes to PR companies, I then began assisting on some
photoshoots. On these shoots the photographers always had assistants, like myself, who wanted to build a portfolio of work – in those days a qualification wasn’t required but a portfolio was. I started to do ‘test shoots’ where assistant stylists, make-up artists, photographers and budding models got together to create images for their portfolios. There, in 1998, my career began; I thought I was set up for a dazzling life in fashion for the rest of my career. Until one day that all changed. I was shopping with my fiancé, which resulted in a minor disagreement about what to buy. Not only was my reaction to him totally disproportionate to the
event, but suddenly I felt like I couldn’t breathe, the world was closing in on me, I was dizzy and couldn’t see properly – I was even foaming at the mouth. I managed to get back to the car and collapsed on the floor, completely terrified and confused. I knew I had to make an appointment with my doctor, who advised me to talk to someone at Mindline – a helpline in south east London. Like my initial unawareness of styling, counselling was a complete unknown to me. I didn’t know anyone who’d had counselling, and couldn’t understand how simply talking to someone was going to stop these horrendous attacks. >>> February 2020 • happiful.com • 87
Find out more about Nicola by visiting nicolavanlint.co.uk
I felt like I couldn’t breathe, the world was closing in on me, I was dizzy and couldn’t see properly Unlike now on the NHS, where you might wait months, this was 2002 and I was lucky that I only had to wait a couple of weeks for an appointment – although they were some of the hardest weeks of my life. The panic attacks continued, I became quite depressed, and had to cancel work as I didn’t want to leave the house. I was unable to live my dayto-day life through fear. I attended counselling once a week, which, despite my apprehension, actually started to help. I was able to discuss my fears and thoughts openly,
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without being judged. I started speaking about my childhood and past. How my dad neglected me, my nan, who had been my main carer at the time due to my mum having to work all hours, died suddenly when I was eight years old. My early teenage years involved physical and emotional bullying, and during my late teens I was in a violent relationship. I now know that these experiences are classed in psychological terms as small ‘t’ traumas, and an accumulation of these, especially in childhood, can lead to post traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD), which can manifest in later life through panic attacks. Small ‘t’ traumas are highly distressing events that affect us on a personal level, causing disruption in emotional functioning, which we may not even be aware of until later in life. These distressing events are not inherently life threatening, but can cause an overwhelming amount of stess that exceeds our ability to cope, or integrate the emotions involved with that experience. I started to build my confidence back up through journalling and
therapy, but I was still unable to go on jobs abroad, or be in large crowds. I had to give up my career as a stylist because I couldn’t attend the shoots, and took a local admin job instead. My counsellor suggested I go on a self-awareness counselling course, and that is where my journey to become a counsellor began. I was intrigued as to how my suppressed emotions had manifested and erupted at a time when I felt most settled in my life. I’ve always been interested in how the mind works, but never pursued it due to my struggles at school
I was intrigued as to how my suppressed emotions had manifested and erupted at a time when I felt most settled in my life – it wasn’t until I actually attended college that my dyslexia was diagnosed, with help from a very supportive tutor. During the course I developed severe psoriasis all over my lower body and in my hair. The psoriasis, like the panic attacks, was a symptom of my suppressed emotions. To gain experience as a therapist, I returned to Mind as a volunteer. I went on to become a crisis counsellor with them, and then set up my own private practice in 2010. My personal experience has shaped my way of working as a therapist, and I still like to see my work as being creative – counselling is like fashion and one style of therapy may not suit all. Unknown to me at the time, my performance in my career was affected by the little ‘t’ traumas I experienced in childhood,
and held on to in my body. I learnt that our mental health affects our performance in every aspect of our lives – including our career. In working this way, I came to notice that in addition to a client’s improvement in mental wellbeing, their performance and productivity at work increased. This has led me to offer performance therapy to sports people, and workshops within organisations on how to perform better in all aspects of life. Although counselling is a collaborative and creative process, I realised that when I stopped working as a stylist, that creative part of me had gone stagnant. I started to look at the psychology of the creative process, and how this affects our wellbeing, and found studies showing that artistic
self-expression might contribute to maintenance or reconstruction of a positive identity. I have come to realise that for my own wellbeing I have needed, and still need, to be creative – whether it’s through changing my hair colour, my clothes, making greeting cards, taking photos, gardening or home interior projects. The latter creative activities also help my stress levels, as I am being mindful in the process. It’s been a journey to get to this point, and I will always be aware of how my past, the dyslexia, panic attacks, and counselling have formed my life to be what it is today. No matter what path my life takes in the future, I know that I need to continue to tap into my creativity, and selfexpression, for my mental health and wellbeing.
OUR EXPERT SAYS Nicola’s inspiring journey highlights how our life experience is truly with us forever, and if we do not have opportunity to explore such difficulties that we have experienced, they can impact our lives negatively in the future – and in her case manifest as severe panic attacks. Nicola courageously explored what was happening for her, to understand and also grow, via the process of counselling. Thankfully, Nicola was able to navigate her way through her trauma to a place where she now draws upon her experience as a source of strength, determination and positive energy. Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred) Counsellor and psychotherapist
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Mental health matters Lucy Sheridan, the first and only comparison coach, knows what it’s like to feel to be crippled by self-doubt. Now, it’s her mission to help people all over the world to break free from the comparison trap. Here, she opens up about her own experience, and shares words of advice...
Follow @lucysheridan on Instagram and Twitter
Mental health matters to me because… it colours every part of my life. More and more, people are feeling safe to discuss their experiences, and realising that we don’t have to wait until things feel unbearable before recognising we need support. I’d like to see things progress to the point where we express our mental health as freely as we do with physical health, and are met with the same compassion, understanding, and empathy.
and I ended up leaving within a few months! Although I felt worried and unprepared, it was just the push I needed.
When I need some self-care, I… take myself offline and retreat from the world for a few days.
The moment I felt most proud of myself was… a couple of months ago, when I created a new course – after too much time thinking about it – called The Good Gram, that taught social media confidence and strategy. Seeing it out in the world was a big moment that highlighted to me what I can do when I set my mind to it. It silenced the inner critic that had dominated my thoughts for too long.
The best lesson I’ve learned in life is… the timing will always be perfect. Setting goals is great for our focus, but sometimes, no matter how committed we are, things don’t work out as planned. The tendency is to let self-doubt creep in, and yet often the progress we seek is unfolding as it needs to. Years ago, I was unhappy in my job, but expected that it might be a few years before I could leave. Suddenly big changes came in at the company,
Three things I would say to someone experiencing mental ill-health are… to share how you’re feeling with someone that you trust. It’s OK to seek therapy – we each deserve to heal. Take time out from the internet – the stimulus rarely helps when we are not feeling ourselves.
Being a comparison coach has taught me is... there is always more work to do, and I’ll continue to be a prime case study.
‘The Comparison Cure’ by Lucy Sheridan is out now (Orion Spring, £14.99)
The main thing I want people to know about the comparison trap is… it will take a while to free yourself, but if you stick at it you can and will. There isn’t a switch to flick, rather it’s a process we can tailor to our own needs. It’s so important to have an open mind and set new standards for yourself. I used to feel constantly in comparison, and it was like a dull ache that permeated my life. I still compare myself, but today those episodes are short-lived and spread out, which feels like great progress. When I’m lacking motivation I… check what day of my cycle I’m on... When I have PMT I know I need to listen to my body and rest rather than bully myself into being productive. At other times when I need a boost, I look at my vision board to remind myself what rewards are in store if I stay the course!
Photography | Christian Buehner
By being yourself, you put something wonderful in the world that was not there before
– EDWIN ELLIOT December 2018 • happiful • 91
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