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The Magazine Devoted to Mental Health
Jan 2019 / £4
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A CLOSER LOOK AT
We've got you covered for the new year
Tips for travelling solo Overcome anxiety & embrace the adventure
TO JOMO The wellbeing phenomenon you need
Bloomin' brilliant Nip stress in the bud
Ones to watch
Discover self-acceptance & your inner strength (You've got this on p74)
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You are enough.
Photography | Andressa Voltolini
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT TO MAKE A CHANGE “The beginning is always today.” – Mary Shelley
Just as you are As January rolls around, it can feel like the perfect time for a fresh start. And while that inspiration to make some positive changes is no bad thing, so often those resolutions can fall flat, leaving us feeling deflated before the month is even over. So how about seeing it as a time for a fresh perspective instead? A time to realise and appreciate how incredible you are, to celebrate your achievements – big or small – and to relish all the wonderful uniqueness that is you. And if you are looking to not change, but grow and embrace some positive habits this year, know that breaking them once in a while, or taking a day off to relax, is OK.
From our phenomenal cover star Dame Kelly Holmes, opening up about about self-harming and the impossible pressure she felt as an athlete, to our feature on the secret behind the science of kindness, and our insight into how cultivating community spirit could make your home and heart feel greater than ever, we want to share the power of you this month. If you want to try something new, you’ve got this. But always remember, you are enough. Like Darcy said to our eternal hero Bridget: “I like you, very much. Just as you are.” Happy reading,
We like to think of it as embracing “youcanuary”; a time to believe in yourself, and who you truly are.
Rebecca Thair Editor
Get in touch with us on social media, we love hearing from you! happiful.com
This Month in Happiful
16 Dame Kelly Holmes
8 In the news
Breaking the taboo of talking about self-harm, and understanding the pressures on athletes for the Olympic, and now mental health, champion
30 Tracy Beaker returns
Jacqueline Wilson on the return of her beloved character, and tackling the tough topics of family life in children's fiction
42 Community spirit
With loneliness fast becoming a national epidemic, could a refreshed sense of community be the cure?
70 Too much of a good thing
Taking an interest in nutrition and fitness is a great thing. But what happens when "healthy" goes too far?
Life Stories 37 Rebuilding my life
Stephanie sank into the depths of depression after splitting from her husband, but two years later she's using her experience to help others
47 The confidence in me
Alongside underlying anxiety and unprocessed grief, workplace bullying left Soma's confidence in tatters – until she found the help she truly needed
66 The first step
Following a traumatic incident, Steve struggled with homelessness and drugs until he took the first step in admitting he had a problem
80 Accepting my emotions
Anne-Marie's world was turned upside down when her mother died. It wasn't until she learnt to process her grief that she was able to take back control
Happiful Hacks 24 Adventuring alone 34 Making friends in your 30s 54 Flower power mindfulness 74 Build emotional resilience
12 The wellbeing wrap 14 What is JOMO?
Finding the joy of missing out; is JOMO the answer to our FOMO woes?
87 Heroes for the homeless
A look at the charity, St Mungo's, giving a helping hand and hope to those living on the streets
Lifestyle & Relationships 27 Kindness is key
The science of kindness and how it affects our physical and mental health
51 The truth behind SAD As the days get shorter, how does the weather affect our mood?
77 Miss Macaroon
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These colourful creations are lifting unemployed young people in the Midlands out of poverty
83 Time for the mind
Author, Dr David Hamilton, explores how we can strengthen the mind-body connection
Culture 41 People to watch
Five people making waves in 2019
63 Things to do this January 64 Happiful reads
Can minimalism enhance our lives?
90 Quickfire Qs: MH matters
Food & Drink 56 Winter smoothies 58 Jack Monroe
The food writer and activist on cooking as therapy, and what good MH looks like
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EXPERT PANEL Introducing the professionals behind Happiful Magazine helping to ensure we deliver the highest quality advice
OUR TEAM EDITORIAL Rebecca Thair | Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Editorial Assistant Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor Fe Robinson | Expert Advisor Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director
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RAV SEKHON Rav is a counsellor with more than 10 years' experience.
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SPECIAL THANKS Joseph Sinclair, Krishan Parmar, Alice Theobald, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Rav Sekhon, Susan Hart, Danielle Mills, Katie Hoare, Jacob Beecham COMMUNICATIONS Lucy Donoughue Head of Content and Communications email@example.com Amie Sparrow PR Manager firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photography | Annie Spratt
TAKE A QUIET MOMENT “To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June.” – Jean Paul
Cumbrian knitters band together to make ‘Bobby Buddies’ In an effort to help some of the 631,000 children who are affected by crimes every year, knitters in Cumbria have begun making ‘Bobby Buddies’ to offer young people support in times of great distress
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Kelly and her son, Theo
Buddies More than 300 Bobby t so far sen n bee have
According to the Office for National Statistics, 631,000 crimes were estimated to have been experienced by children in 2018 alone. For these young people, a small toy to hold on to can make all the difference. “I would like to add my own thanks to those who have responded to this appeal, it is truly heart-warming,” said Cumbria’s police and crime commissioner, Peter McCall. “All those who have knitted the Bobby Buddies should be proud that their act of kindness will undoubtedly provide some comfort to a child in time of need, and I would encourage others to take part if they can.” If you would like to create your own Bobby Buddy, you can find knitting patterns on cumbria.police.uk and drop off or send bears to any police station in Cumbria. Kathryn Wheeler
Mum hosts craft club for isolated people After the birth of her son Theo, Kelly Jordan, from Rustington, West Sussex, struggled with anxiety and feelings of isolation. But Kelly always found crafting – card making in particular – helped with her mental health. And so, in an effort to reach others, Kelly set up a social, nonjudgemental crafting group aimed at people experiencing loneliness. In her incredible work for the community, Kelly is able to reach people who may not have the opportunity to be social very often. For inspiration and to find out more, visit craftykelly.co.uk
Bobby Buddies | Cumbria Police
n an effort to provide children affected by crime with some comfort, the Cumbria police put out an appeal at the start of 2018 calling on the county’s knitters to come together to make “Bobby Buddies” – teddy bears that can be kept in police vehicles and given to children involved in distressing incidents. In an incredible display of kindness since the call, police have received more than 300 Bobby Buddies – with the knitted toys arriving at stations from day one. Speaking of the appeal, Sergeant Rebecca Morgan said: “On behalf of everyone at the constabulary, I’d like to thank all the people who responded so positively to our appeal – not just those who knitted, but those who shared the appeal on social media to help it reach the right people.”
Sergeant Rebecca Morgan
Wellbeing awards for comic book creatives
Patrick Goodison, public mental health and inequalities lead officer for Knowsley Borough Council; Rhiannon Griffiths, managing directo r, and Steven Matthews, arts director, Comics Youth
Comics Youth has helped hundreds of marginalised young people become content creators
ounded in 2015 by Rhiannon Mair Griffiths as a way to help young people through drawing, reading and creating comics, the Comics Youth has won three Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Health & Wellbeing Awards in recognition of its Building Stories project. Comics Youth’s Building Stories project give voice to marginalised young people – including those leaving care, children with special educational needs, LGBT+ people, young carers, and looked-after children. Judges praised the project as “truly one of a kind”, citing their “excellent and innovative approach” to addressing the needs of marginalised young people. Having raised more than £400,000 to help at least 800 young people since its foundation, the charity plans to continue delivering guided reading and comic book creation sessions where young people get the chance to write, illustrate and publish their own work.
Supporting children and young people aged eight to 25, the Liverpool-based charity not only helps improve literacy, but provides young people with the tools to express themselves, while giving them an outlet for their voices to be heard through the publication of their comics and zines. Inspired by Rhiannon’s own experiences with mental ill-health, Comics Youth celebrated winning both the Arts and Health, and Public Health Minister’s Award categories. The community interest company also received a Public Health England Commendation for their work in reducing inequalities at a community level. The awards aim to honour initiatives that help empower communities and individuals, improving the health of the population. To find out more about Comics Youth, visit comicsyouth.co.uk Bonnie Evie Gifford
Hero teen recognised for sea rescue Joe Rowlands, aged 13, has been recognised for his heroism after saving his father, Paul, when their kayak capsized a mile off the coast of Anglesey, North Wales. Suffering from hypothermia and exhaustion, Paul was falling in and out of consciousness. Joe, who had made it to safety, jumped back into the freezing water to drag his dad to the rocks so he could begin resuscitation. Together, they made their way to a remote island to find shelter, where RNLI rescue came two hours later. As he picks up Teenager of Courage at the Pride of Britain awards for his actions, Joe’s story is a reminder of the everyday acts of heroism that often go unnoticed.
January 2019 • happiful • 9
Hotel launches pop-up wellbeing spa for local companies
Two-thirds of workers have poor or below average mental health A study has found that, as a stress epidemic sweeps the nation, 64% of workers reported having poor or below average mental health
nationwide survey, by Peldon Rose and The Stress Management Society, has found that the majority of employees are struggling with their mental health in the workplace. A worrying 64% scored “poor” or “below average” according to the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale – a scale that uses seven questions to evaluate an individual’s emotions, relationships, and psychological functioning. Researchers point to a “stress epidemic” in the country’s workplaces as the reason behind the results, with a further 36% of respondents reporting that their workplace stress has been on-going for the past five years. Behind the stress, the survey found that “increasing or heavy workloads” (56%) and “limited time to focus on wellbeing” (46%), were two of the main causes.
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To address these dire statistics, the Stress Management Society is calling for a “radical new approach” to helping employees tackle stress, with the survey also revealing that 49% of employees would like a yoga and meditation room in their workplace, followed by 50% calling for exercise facilities, and 42% for quiet, private working areas. Commenting on the findings, Neil Shah, chief de-stressing officer of The Stress Management Society said: “I am a massive believer that going to work should make you healthy. Most organisations want to reduce or mitigate the amount of stress or poor wellbeing they cause their employees – how about turning that on its head, so going to work boosts your wellbeing and is good for your mental, physical and emotional state?” To find out more about the results, take stress tests, and find tips for managing pressure, visit stress.org.uk Kathryn Wheeler
In an effort to tackle workplace stress, therapists from Bedford Lodge Hotel, in Suffolk, have launched a pop-up wellbeing spa for local businesses. The therapists have been visiting companies to talk about the importance of taking breaks, and offer a range of mini spa treatments – including Indian head massage to relieve tension, a hand and arm massage to alleviate pain from using computers, and foot treatments for those who work on their feet. The initiative is based on research that suggests that taking breaks boosts creativity and wellbeing. It’s time to get hands-on with our MH.
Young people turn to the internet for support Those aged 16 to 24 would rather get mental health support online than speak to family, friends or professionals
nti-bullying platform tootoot says that if the government wants to reach young people, they need to go digital. Results from a survey they conducted found that 65% of those aged 16 to 24 would look online for mental health support instead of confiding in a friend, family member or medical professional. Interestingly, while social media, apps and forums are popular, this age group are most likely to turn to Google. It’s not just young people utilising the internet in this way either: 40% of British adults say they would use online forums, apps and social media to find help with their mental health. Founder and chief executive of tootoot, Michael Brennan, said the government should focus on providing online guidance. “The clear message here is that traditional community-based
channels for accessing mental health support are not the places that young people are most likely to turn. “While we welcome the government’s commitment to increasing funding for young people’s mental health support – for example, the new crisis centres in A&E departments, and schools-based teams announced in the autumn budget – we need to make sure that our efforts to encourage face-to-face conversations are supplemented by appropriate online support. “Young people are going online for mental health support – they are using apps, websites and social media. “Schools and government-funded community-based programmes must also consider how to access these young people online.” With the internet forming such an integral part of our lives, now is the time for us to tune in to its power, and connect more people to the help they need. Kat Nicholls
Alexa, can you help with my breast exam? Breast cancer charity, Breast Cancer Care, is using Alexa – Amazon’s cloud-based voice service – to help women monitor breast health. Alexa will talk users through a breast examination, and ask questions created by Breast Cancer Care. Alexa will then be able to analyse answers and, if necessary, recommend you see your GP. The Breast Cancer Care App (known as BECCA) is another piece of technology joining the frontline. Alongside flashcards with traditional cancer care information, BECCA also offers mindfulness meditations to help with anxiety. Alexa, play ‘I Will Survive’.
January 2019 • happiful • 11
wellbeing wrap Brilliant breakthrough
From the aficionado on a mission to find the perfect musical pairing for his cheese, to the groundbreaking research into new ways to prevent Parkinson’s disease, here’s a quick round-up of this month’s weird and wonderful news
You gouda brie kidding
Groundbreaking research from the Van Andel Research Institute, in Michigan, has found that removing the appendix plays a big role in preventing Parkinson’s disease. The study, which looked at data from 1.7 million people, found that the appendix contains toxic proteins that are also found in the brains of people with Parkinson’s, and people who have their appendix removed are 20% less likely to develop the disease.
Cheese aficionado Beat Wampfler, from the Swiss Emmental region, is experimenting with different genres of music to see how they affect how much people enjoy eating cheese. While the study is ongoing, Beat told firstpost.com: “I hope that the hip-hop cheese will be the best.” We think, much like a good dancefloor playlist, the cheesier the better.
What Kim-Joy did next Since competing in the final of the 2018 Great British Bake Off, KimJoy Hewlett has revealed plans to combine her passion for baking with her career as a mental health specialist. As the nation fell in love with Kim-Joy on the show this year, this news is truly the cherry on the cake. Keep up to date with Kim-Joy’s antics by following her on Twitter: @kimjoyskitchen
Come to the dark side The darker the coffee, the better it is for your cognitive health. That’s what researchers from the Krembil Brain Institute, in Toronto, believe, after a study revealed that dark roast coffee yields the highest quantities of two protein fragments that supposedly prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. A black Americano to go, please!
Science of seasons The month you were born in could have a significant effect on your prospects, as a study from the London School of Economics and Political Science has found that children born earlier in the school year are much more likely to be elected to parliament. Though the effect wasn’t as clear in women, 44% of current male ministers were born between September and November.
Get a move on Not all fun and games Good news for those who find classical music a bit of a drag: a study from the Universal Music Group labels Deutsche Grammophon and Decca has found that the movements are speeding up. The oldest recording of Bach’s famous ‘Concerto for Two Violins’, from 1961, lasts 17 minutes, whereas the most recent recording, in 2016, lasts around 12 minutes. According to music scholar Sir Nicholas Kenyon, this change has come about as modern listeners prefer a “transparent, light, bright sound”. Allegro!
Fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate and mark occasions. But for our furry friends, fireworks on nights like New Year’s Eve can be incredibly distressing. A study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that 49% of dog owners reported that their pets were afraid of fireworks. So if a special pup in your life is finding fireworks distressing, stay near them and make them a cosy, enclosed place to sit out the displays.
Harry Potter and the barristers’ chambers India’s top law institution, The West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, is offering students a course based on the fictional world of Harry Potter. It is hoped that the course, titled “An interface between Fantasy Fiction, Literature and Law: Special focus on Rowling's Potterverse”, will encourage students to think creatively as they are challenged to apply pre-existing laws to situations they have never come up against before.
Here for you Do you really feel the emotions of others? If so, you could be an empath. New research from Goldsmiths university has found that 1–2% of the population report experiencing other people’s emotions as intensely as their own. The researchers measured people’s “empath levels” by monitoring their response while they watched someone get their cheek tapped, while they had the opposite-side cheek tapped at the same time. It’s hoped that this research will be used to train others, such as those in caring sectors, to be more empathetic.
It’s not me, it’s you A study has found that a common reason why people stay in bad relationships is that they are concerned about how their partners would cope without them. Despite the selflessness in these findings, Samantha Joel, lead author of the study, urges people not to stay with others because they are worried about them. Tough love.
In a move to open up to everyone the wellbeing benefits of spending time with horses, the DM Thomas Foundation for Young People has pledged £9,910 to provide accessible stables and carriages for disabled young people in the Peak District. The initiative is just on time – neigh, it’s long overdue.
If 2018 was the year that FOMO had you glued to your phone – burning out as you struggled to make an appearance at every event and gathering that came your way – then 2019 is the year of taking time for yourself and indulging in a little JOMO Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Illustrating | Rosan Magar
very now and then, we need to stop. Stop making ourselves available 24/7, stop saying yes to every invitation, stop running ourselves into the ground for fear of missing out. JOMO is the “joy of missing out”, and it’s the wellbeing phenomenon that’s telling our 21st century sense of obligation to take a seat. But, if we want to understand the necessity of JOMO, we’ve got to understand its energy-zapping cousin that got us in this burnt-out-mess in the first place: FOMO. FOMO is the “fear of missing out”. It’s that unsettling feeling that you’re being left out of something that your peers are doing, or know about, or own. It’s about never wanting to turn your phone off in case you miss an important notification, or refusing to turn down an event or a party in case you lose your social standing. But more than just an unpleasant feeling, FOMO can come with a
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myriad of anxieties and feelings of guilt, that lead us to wear ourselves thin as we try to do everything at once to feel included. Of course, FOMO isn’t a black and white issue. It can be a tool for motivation to keep in touch with friends, as Rav Sekhon, an integrative counsellor with more than 10 years of experience, points out. “However, there is undoubtedly also a negative aspect of FOMO that could cause the individual to become anxious, and project their thinking towards whatever it may be that they’re missing,” says Rav. “This is when it becomes a problem, driven by a fear of a lack of belonging. Maybe part of your identity exists within this group, and by missing out, you are missing a part of yourself. This uneasiness can trigger a host of difficult emotions for you to contend with.” And it’s a common experience, with a study published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour
finding that three in four adults have experienced the phenomenon. In fact, FOMO is becoming such a concern that in September, after conducting a study into the pressure people feel from their phones to be ever-present, Google announced in a blog post entitled ‘The search for JOMO’, that it was looking into ways that it could help “facilitate disconnection”, with app timers and reduced notifications.
JOMO reconnects us with the self. We’re all guilty of not doing this enough JOMO is about setting those boundaries, and identifying when you really do need to say no. But, also, it’s more than just accepting that you will not be able to make every event,
J read every email, and keep up-to-date with every news story that breaks in a day; it’s about actively celebrating and savouring the moments where things are still. It’s reconnecting to, and syncing up with, our needs, and developing a deeper understanding of what works for us. And it’s something we all need to work on. “JOMO reconnects us with ourselves. We’re all guilty of not doing this enough,” says Rav. “We can get caught up in life, and it takes its toll on our
wellbeing. The concept of JOMO counteracts all of that, it puts you back in control. It could be anything that you enjoy, but it must be for you, and nobody else. “Accept that you can’t always attend every event, and that’s OK. It’s unrealistic to put this expectation on yourself to always be present when such things occur.” The guilt and anxiety that comes with FOMO is real, and it’s naive to think that it will disappear just because we know it’s illogical; of all the
things that anxiety is, it’s rarely logical. So start slow. Write-off an hour a week to spend on you, and go from there. You don’t need to go full-hermit, it’s about identifying when you need a break to stay in, switch off, and enjoy some quality you-time. For Rav, JOMO is intrinsically tied up with our self-worth: “You are important and your wellbeing is important; by making the time for yourself, you are affirming this: ‘I am important and so too is my wellbeing. This time is for me and I deserve it.’”
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Dame Kelly Holmes has inspired millions to reach for the stars, but behind closed doors she spent years in the grip of anxiety, depression and self-harm. Now, sheâ€™s using her experience to reach others, with a series of celebrity interviews for her podcast, What Do I Do? Here, the double Olympic athletics champion opens up to Happiful and explains how since the devastating loss of her mum, she is learning to more effectively manage her mental health Interview | Gemma Calvert Photography | Joseph Sinclair
Dame Kelly Holmes
Content Warning: This story contains the topic of self-harm that some readers may find distressing
n a sun-drenched July afternoon in a leafy suburb of north London, Dame Kelly Holmes found herself in Alastair Campbell’s bathroom, perched on the toilet seat as the former political aide and author belted out a tune on his bagpipes. “I thought: ‘I have done many things in my life, but I have never done this!’” chuckles Kelly, 48. Her expression changes to one of reflection. “I laugh about it being in a bathroom, just because it was a surreal environment, but to be there, in the place that makes him feel good, that was absolutely a privilege,” she explains. “He was telling me how bad he was that day, how he didn’t want to get out of bed, and the fact that I was coming to his home gave him energy to get up. It was a really heartfelt interview. I was surprised how much he opened up.” Famed for being the first British woman to become double Olympic champion after winning gold in the 800m and 1,500m in Athens in 2004, Kelly became an overnight national treasure and sporting icon, as recognised for her unrivalled on-track success as her subsequent charitable endeavours. Back then, she spoke with heart about her passion for athletics, and her joy of realising her childhood Olympic dream at the age of 34, despite an injury-prone past. Yet part of her story was missing, until her
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2008 autobiography, Black, White and Gold, laid bare a secret struggle with anxiety and depression, which sparked repeated, agonising episodes of selfharm. Since then, Kelly has spoken publicly about this episode of her life, in a bid to normalise the conversation about mental health.
I’d go for a massage to work on the muscles in my legs, but there was nobody there to help me work on my mind
Kelly’s new podcast What Do I Do?, which launches at the end of January, goes a step further and sees her talking to 10 high-profile people about their experiences of mental health, detailing the place or activity that enables them to find calm. For Alastair Campbell, who had a nervous breakdown in the mid-80s and experiences ongoing periods of depression and psychosis, playing the bagpipes in his bathroom is a physical and emotional escape. “He does it to feel like he’s breathing and having a distraction from his thoughts,” says Kelly, who has also spoken to Eddie Izzard, Rory Bremner, and Davina McCall, among others.
That Davina uses exercise to achieve balance should come as no surprise to those who understand her journey from drink and drug addict to TV presenter and, now, qualified personal trainer, so it made sense for the Long Lost Family presenter to challenge Kelly to a spin class when they recorded her podcast interview last month. “She is so on it when she does her exercise, she’s like ‘woo hoo!’” laughs Kelly. “She had an addiction. She’s not addicted to training, but training makes her feel good so she continues. If you’ve been strong enough to come out of something like that, you’re probably strong enough to do anything.” The same can be said for Kelly. When we meet, she is in London ahead of a speech at the Mental Health First Aid Conference that evening. Vocally confident and remarkably self-exposing, when the former army physical training instructor describes her mental health “journey” it seems a world away from the isolated and vulnerable place she was in three weeks before the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris when, locked in a bathroom at a training camp in the Pyrenees, Kelly self-harmed for the first time. “The moment I looked in that mirror, I didn’t see myself. It came like a bolt,” she recalls. “I didn’t suddenly think: ‘I’m feeling sad.’ It wasn’t a Continues >>> gradual process.
Dress | Reiss
Driven by DREAMS
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Dame Kelly Holmes
My dream wasn’t to be a medallist or to be in a British team, it was to be Olympic champion, so unless that was going to happen, nothing was good enough, so I was always fighting to be better
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Driven by DREAMS
Suit | Mango, top | Emilia Wicksteed
It hit me like a ton of bricks. No one talked about mental health then. I’d go for a massage to work on the muscles in my legs, but there was nobody there to help me work on my mind.” The self-harm was, Kelly realises now, a physical reaction to anxiety after being blighted by injury for seven of the 12 years she had raced professionally. “Being one of the best athletes in the world and getting injured at the worst time, a big impact hits your brain. You have to deal with that while remaining focused. It was so hard,” she says. Since the age of 14 and watching Sebastian Coe win gold in the 1,500m at the Los Angeles Olympics, Kelly was determined to become Olympic champion. Ten years in the army steeled her with the necessary fitness, ambition, drive, determination and resilience, but her obsession with only being the best was, she believes now, “unhealthy”. “People say to me: ‘If staying active helps mental health, how did you get to that point?’ Staying fit and active and keeping the brain healthy is different to pushing yourself to such an extreme,” she says. “My dream wasn’t to be a medallist or to be in a British team, it was to be an Olympic champion, so unless that was going to happen, nothing was good enough, so I was always fighting to be better.” After the initial elation of winning bronze at the World Championships, despite running on an injured calf, Kelly felt dissatisfied. “If you’ve wanted to be number one in the world, getting a bronze or silver could class as failure. In sport it’s very black and white,” she says. At the peak of her troubles, Kelly was self-harming daily, but told nobody, partly because of the isolation she felt as a middle distance runner – “You’re just in your own shell. You don’t talk to anyone. You deal with that moment
on your own every day” – but also to protect her professional reputation. “The weakness was thinking: ‘I don’t want my opposition to think I’m vulnerable, or I’m not focused and tough.’ You don’t want the opposition to know you’re injured, let alone that you’re crying all the time. Standing on a podium with a medal around your neck, knowing what you’re going through and no one else does, that was a bit of a mind f**k,” says Kelly, adding that no one ever spotted her scars.
That dream of becoming Olympic champion was almost my saving grace “I wore sports shorts and crop tops, so there are not that many places you can hide visible scars, but sometimes I’d just cover them with make up or I’d lie,” she says. “When you’re a runner, you’re going in brambles and getting scratched all the time.” Despite a period of suicidal thoughts when she wanted “the floor to open up, to jump in it, for it to close up and to not be there”, Kelly didn’t quit. “That dream of becoming Olympic champion was almost my saving grace,” she explains. “I could have given up sport and not had that emotional rollercoaster, but if I had I would have regretted it for the rest of my life, and I can’t live with regret.” There have, she insists, been some deliriously “great highs”, including winning Sports Personality of the Year, being honoured with a damehood, rubbing shoulders with everyone from royalty to Robbie Williams, and the hugely impressive end to 2018 becoming the firstever honorary colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment. Continues >>> January 2019 • happiful • 21
Dame Kelly Holmes
Kelly has also written children’s books, project managed a cafe build in her home town, which she is now turning into an events space, and remained passionate about charity work. Although she has “never been maternal” or dreamed of having children of her own, she thrives around her eight nieces and nephews, and at Christmas, instead of given presents, encourages them to write letters, send photos and design games to send to the eight children she sponsors in Malawi, East Africa. On British soil, more than a decade from its January 2004 launch, her On Camp With Kelly programme has helped 65 promising young athletes reach international success, while the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, launched in 2008, continues to pair disadvantaged youngsters with retired athletes to get them back into education, training or employment. The latter, Kelly says, gave her a much-needed “focus” when she lost direction and purpose after retiring at the age of 35. “I became depressed and was self-harming a bit, and didn’t know who I was,” she recalls. “I was busy – opening this [and] that, celebrating, doing events, doing business things, I was national school sport champion and inspiring everybody, but I didn’t know what I was striving for.” Kelly sought medical help and was prescribed anti-depressants, but hasn’t taken medication for three years. While we all respond differently to support, Kelly believes her mental health is best managed by talking, though for her it’s not with a psychologist (“I didn’t want to open up to them”) but with her friends – something that was never possible before discussing her mental health in her autobiography.
22 • happiful • January 2019
People have got stronger minds than they believe There has been plenty to process. Kelly’s childhood was turbulent: frequent stints in a children’s home whenever her single mum Pam couldn’t cope, an absent father and, being the only black girl in her family and growing up in predominately white area in Kent, a confused sense of identity. Kelly credits her mum for showing her strength and being instrumental to the success of her career, but the pair had “their ups and downs” and didn’t speak for many months after falling out when Pam left her husband, Mick – the man Kelly calls “dad” – the year before Kelly joined the army at 17. Thankfully, mum and daughter resolved their issues before it was too late. Last August, nursing assistant Pam passed away after a two-year battle with multiple myeloma, an incurable type of blood cancer. She was 64. “As we got over all those bits that happened, the last two years or so, I used to speak to her every single day, send her photos of everything. If we hadn’t got back talking, Jesus Christ…” Kelly’s voice fades, her chin drops to her chest and she twists her left thumb with her fingers. On the back seat of the taxi where we’re chatting en route to Happiful’s east London studio, her already tiny frame suddenly looks smaller. Kelly’s devastation, one year on, is palpable, but she says the loss that led to her most recent episode of self-harm has since inspired her to turn a corner.
“I can’t answer that,” she replies to the question of whether she has recovered from self-harming. “All I know is I want to be positive and hope to manage my mental health effectively. “Now I’m thinking about myself. For years and years – and it’s been great – I’ve always wanted to help others and I’ve done so much charity work, but in this last year, I’ve started to say ‘no’ to things. Now I’m focusing on me, enjoying my life more, and doing what I want to do. Life is too short.” During her international track career, Kelly trained twice a day, six days a week, but now ticks over with a scaled down weekly regime of five workouts: a mixture of gym classes, cycling, spinning, weights and running, which rewards her with mental balance – “a little bit of me time”. One week before the anniversary of Pam’s death last August, Kelly joined in a park run and “ran hell for leather” to combat overwhelming feelings of grief. She finished third out of 600 runners – the first woman, the first in her age group, and just behind two guys 20 years her junior. When reminded of the fact that she’s still got it, Kelly smiles. It’s one of satisfaction, pride and relief. “People have got stronger minds than they believe,” she says. “Everybody.” ‘What Do I Do?’, the new audio show by Dame Kelly Holmes, begins at the end of January, available on Audible. If you are in crisis, or are concerned for your own safety, call Samaritans’ crisis line on 116 123 (UK) or 116 123 (ROI), call 999 or go to A&E
Jumpsuit | Miss Selfridge
Hair and make-up | Alice Theobald at Joy Goodman using Cosmetics Ă La Carte and Barry M, Eylure lashes, and skincare by Sukin Styling | Krishan Parmar
Who hasn’t heard incredible stories of friends’ explorations around the globe, or followed an Instagram feed that fills you with wanderlust, and felt inspired to dust off that passport and see the sights for yourself? The problem for many would-be travellers is the thought of going it alone and discovering the big wide world without someone by your side, particularly for those with anxiety. But remember, adventure is out there, and it’s for everyone Writing | Chris Park Illustrating | Rosan Magar
ave you ever looked at the social media accounts of confident solo travellers, perhaps hanging out with the Masai in Kenya, and thought: “That will never happen to me”?
24 • happiful • January 2019
For those who live with the spectre of anxiety, just dealing with the high street can be a challenge, so surely the wonder of independent travel is a pipedream? This isn’t strictly true. What may be true is that we should approach things differently, but that’s the way for most things.
According to an ABTA holiday habits survey, solo travel has doubled in the last six years, so why should we miss out on this phenomenon? Here are four stages for you to consider on your quest for independent travel:
3 You’ve arrived
1 Start small
An organised tour is a great first step. There are plenty of travel agencies that specialise in solo travel, so you don’t have to worry about being the only single person. I went to China with one of these, and it was wonderful. I was travelling alone, but I had support. Once your confidence starts to grow, a staycation is a good option. There is something reassuring in knowing that you can get on a train and be back in familiarity in no time. Edinburgh, Manchester, and Dublin all have small city centres, and are just waiting for an explorer with their stabilisers still on.
2 Prepare for success
For those with anxiety, we feel happier with a degree of control. I’m not suggesting you have a timed itinerary; you need to allow for some reaction to your surroundings. But reading up on your destination can take a lot of the indecision away. The position of your base is important. When I went on my first solo holiday to Valencia, I made the mistake of staying in a very residential district. There was a lot of exploring to be done, and I should have picked a more vibrant area. A hotel with plenty of facilities is also a wise move. Some days you might not want to do battle with the tourist crowds – this is a holiday after all. If the weather is hot, a pool is an essential.
If you arrive and feel overwhelmed, don’t worry, this is perfectly normal. Even those confident people smiling back at you on social media have had their moments of terror. One tourist failsafe, which works for me, is the “hop-on, hop-off ” bus. This will be your chariot to calm. You get your bearings pretty much instantly, and will have noted down at least 10 places you want to go back to. It is also the perfect chance to sit on the top deck, let the breeze blow on your face, and just take stock. One surprising tip is visiting the local supermarket. An hour looking around a supermarket can centre you. We live in a global marketplace, and the familiarity of a Laughing Cow cheese is strangely powerful.
4 Feeling inadequate
Evil self-doubt can creep in. Stop it in its tracks. Find a coffee shop, and reflect on everything you have achieved. Think back to when your anxiety has been at its worst. Now think how impressed that person would be by the person you are today, sitting enjoying a coffee in the sunshine. You’ve come a long way. Break problems down. Never mind where you’re eating tonight. Just deal with this moment. Is there a shop you can browse in, or a church where you can have some quiet time? Do this until the knotty stomach starts to give up. Having a good book with me is my ejector seat. I’ll find a lovely spot, and give myself half-an-hour reading time. Once I come back up for air, I’m refreshed to go back into the fray.
SEARCHING FOR THAT VAYCAY INSPIRATION? There are lots of solo explorers you can follow online: • Charli Moore ditched the nine-to-five to indulge her adventurous spirit in 2010, and she hasn’t looked back since. Instagram @wanderlustcharli • Matt Kepnes has been uncovering the world since 2004, and recording it on his blog. Now he’s a best-selling author helping others to understand how to travel solo – and afford it. Instagram @nomadicmatt • Where’s Mollie Global Travellers (WMGT) is a group bringing together those with a passion for discovering the world, meaning that while there’ll be new places and faces, you’ll also make new friends. Instagram @wmglobaltravellers
January 2019 • happiful • 25
Want to make a change? Wanting to make a change in your life doesn’t mean you believe that you’re not enough. It means you recognise you have the potential to live the life you truly desire – there are just certain things getting in your way. It might be a lack of conﬁdence, or long working hours, that prevents you from pursuing the things that make you happy. You could be stuck in a creative rut or feel that a relationship with a loved one has become strained.
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for mental health
Kindness has a profound effect on both our physical and mental wellbeing. Here we delve into the science of kindness, and discover ways you can enjoy a kinder 2019 Writing | Kat Nicholls
umans are hard-wired for kindness. After we’re born, we rely entirely on the support of our caregivers. This is actually pretty unique, as other mammals rely on their parents for only a brief period before becoming self-reliant. Us humans, well, we need a little more time. With caregiving nestled into our DNA, it should come as no surprise that being kind benefits us physically and mentally. It’s nature’s way of congratulating us for doing what we need to do to survive.
Physically, kindness is excellent for us. When we practise kindness and compassion, our brain releases oxytocin (also known as the “love hormone”). This causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide, which lowers our blood pressure and improves heart health. Kindness also affects the vagus nerve, which has the important role of running communication between our brain and organs. When this nerve is responsive, it reduces inflammation and heart diseases. Being kind makes this nerve more
responsive, and even boosts our immune system. Already sold on why being kind is good for you? Well, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Kindness has an incredible effect on our mental health, too. KINDNESS FOR MENTAL HEALTH One of the simplest and yet most powerful effects of kindness is that it makes us happier. A study by Harvard Business School, involving 136 countries, revealed that those Continues >>>
The Year of Kind
BEING KIND TO YOURSELF Being kind can feel like it’s all about other people, but it’s important to show yourself kindness, too. This may mean saying no to social invitations, so you can relax and recharge (see JOMO p14). It may mean asking for help when you need it, or ensuring you have enough time for self-care in your schedule. If self-compassion and kindness are areas you struggle with, meditation may be the answer. Neuroscience research suggests that focused meditation is one of the best ways to strengthen and increase empathy. Meditations that centre around self-compassion can also be incredibly powerful in helping you tap into your sense of self-worth. who were more altruistic and charitable were happiest overall. In another study, involving Japanese undergraduates, researchers found that counting the number of acts of kindness performed led to increased happiness. A big reason kindness and happiness are so interlinked is the element of gratitude. Being kind to others promotes a feeling of gratitude, making us more aware of our own good fortune. This cultivation of gratitude and positivity can be incredibly helpful for those with depression. Kindness makes us feel more connected and more loved, thanks to the release of oxytocin. It leads to conversations and positive interactions, all of which can help ease the sense of isolation many people with mental illness experience. Stimulating the release of serotonin, the “happy hormone”, kindness works in the same way as antidepressants and, while it should never replace your doctor’s recommendations, it’s a helpful tool to help improve mood. Those with anxiety can also benefit from being kinder. A study by the University of British Columbia asked a group of people
28 • happiful • January 2019
Being kind to others promotes a feeling of gratitude, making us more aware of our own good fortune
with anxiety to perform at least six acts of kindness a week. After a month, they found a significant improvement in mood, relationship satisfaction, and a reduction in social avoidance in those with social anxiety. EASY STEPS TO KINDNESS Being kinder can sound like a lot of work at first, especially if the acts of kindness that come to mind are volunteering and doing things for others. While, of course, these are great ways to be kinder, they aren’t the only ways. To get started, it’s worth familiarising yourself with two key elements of kindness: doing no harm, and honesty. To do no harm means simply to think before you act, and try to make other people’s lives easier. In some cases, this means not calling out a work colleague for being abrupt when you know they’re struggling with something at home. In other cases, it’s more active – such as standing up for the rights of those being marginalised. Doing no harm doesn’t mean becoming a doormat, it means respecting other people’s journeys, and remembering that we’re all learning, while maintaining your values and integrity. Honesty is another small step we can take. Being true to ourselves, and not hiding our emotions, is an act of kindness, both to ourselves and others. Lying induces stress (this is what lie detector tests are based on, our body’s stress reaction to hiding the truth) so being honest is good for your health. You also show those around you that it’s OK for them to tell their truths. This is a beautiful act of kindness, that connects and humanises us all.
10 WAYS TO MAKE 2019 YOUR KINDEST YEAR YET 1. Make a connection calendar, and include reminders to stay in touch with friends and family throughout the year. 2. Get yourself some beautiful stationery and get into the habit of writing “thank you” notes. 3. Make a pledge to get to know any new staff members who join your workplace. 4. Set a reminder on your phone to smile at a stranger every day. 5. Find a cause you’re passionate about and get involved, whether that’s sharing their information on social media, or volunteering. 6. Offer your expertise and become a mentor. 7. Set up some “check-in” dates with a friend who’s going through a tough time. 8. Learn more about the art of active listening – this is a simple way we can show others kindness.
9. When you enjoy something (an article, podcast, book etc.) let the creator know! 10. Thank at least one person a week for something (no matter how small). Bonus tip: Keep track of your acts of kindness so you can reflect on them throughout the year. Practising kindness is like building a muscle – the more you do it, the easier it gets. Start with small steps and consider this: if everyone added “be kinder” to their list of New Year’s resolutions, what would our world look like? KINDNESS RESOURCES Organisations and charities with kindness at their heart: Kindness UK – an independent, not-for-profit organisation aiming to make kindness a greater part of all of our everyday lives. kindnessuk.com Action for Happiness – helping people take action to increase wellbeing and happiness. Here you’ll find practical resources and learning opportunities. actionforhappiness.org Random Acts of Kindness Foundation – full of tips to be kinder all round, we love the annual Random Acts of Kindness Week (18–22 February) which encourages us to join together in the name of kindness. randomactsofkindness.org Do-it Trust – a UK-based volunteering database helping you connect your skills with volunteering opportunities. doittrust.org
January 2019 • happiful • 29
W R I T E
As the legendary children’s author (and her most wellloved character) make a literary return, Happiful chats exclusively to Dame Jacqueline Wilson about Tracy Beaker, tackling tough topics, and how her stories never shy away from the difficult aspects of family life Writing | Jake Taylor
Photography | Barry Marsden / Mirror Books
ver the course of her literary career, which has seen her pen more than 100 books, Dame Jacqueline Wilson has been a part of countless children’s lives. Whether through a reading programme at school, a night-time story with parents, or via TV adaptations, entire generations have enjoyed her work, as befits the woman who would go on to become the fourth Children’s Laureate. The turning point in Jacqueline’s career came in 1991, when The Story of Tracy Beaker was published; a tale of a fiery child causing mischief and mayhem at her foster home (lessthan-affectionately known as “The Dumping Ground”). Although it’s been nearly three decades since then, and more than 10 years since the hit
CBBC series starring Dani Harmer came to an end, Tracy Beaker remains an integral figure to parents and children around the UK, and beyond. The intervening years have seen a decline in reading because of the rise of computers, smart phones, and gaming. Jacqueline’s return this year with My Mum Tracy Beaker – a story that sees the eponymous character all grown up and with a daughter of her own – is a welcome throwback to simpler times, for bookworms and the author alike. “Certainly, at the moment, absolutely truthfully, My Mum Tracy Beaker is my favourite book,” the author beams. “Tracy was my lucky character; she was my breakthrough book, and I feel almost as if I am her foster mum! I loved writing about her, loved writing about her daughter, and it was such a joy to revisit those childhood characters and have them acting, hopefully, exactly the way – or maybe not the way – that children would expect.” Though her eponymous character may have matured somewhat, Jacqueline’s newest offering bears all the hallmarks of what has earned the Somerset-born writer such an esteemed place in children’s literature, encapsulating the joy and the struggles of everyday life. “There was one book I wrote about a teenager who wasn’t anorexic, but certainly she started to diet severely,” she nods. “It was written in the first person, so I wanted her to feel, ‘Oh my God, I’m getting fat. I need to stop eating so much.’ And yet I was terrified that some nice, normal girl might start being encouraged to feel the same way, so you have to do it very carefully. “I think that when you write for children and young people, you do have a responsibility to try very hard not to write anything that may make them follow suit. It’s a bit of a tightrope because some children are
Tracy was my lucky character; she was my breakthrough book, and I feel almost as if I am her foster mum!
much more sensitive than others, and I just have to hope for the best.” When browsing through Jacqueline’s uniquely colloquial style, accompanied by long-time co-collaborator Nick Sharratt’s wonderful illustrations, it’s easy to forget the deep thought that goes into the storylines and characters. In My Mum Tracy Beaker, Jacqueline touches on “that rather nasty teasing that happens at school”. With the modern-day social media pressures and online “trolling”, Jacqueline is concerned about the subsequent effect on children’s mental health. “It is a very big and quite new concept,” she says of the upsurge in children experiencing adverse mental health. “It feels so difficult. I don’t know – I think if I felt worried about my child and what was going on in their life, I would try not to have a direct confrontation. “But if we were both doing something together, like driving in a car or going around the supermarket even, then I would try ever so casually to say: ‘I’m feeling a bit fed up at the moment, you seem a bit down too? What’s up with you?’ and see if you can edge into it.” Continues >>>
Dame Jacqueline Wilson
I still think you have to have a lot of grit and determination to get yourself into university and stay the course, because you don’t have the help and support of parents to egg you along 32 • happiful • January 2019
There are, of course, even greater issues that some parents face. And as befits her “responsibility” as an author with young fans, Jacqueline is conscious that there are some problems that she could potentially end up exacerbating, regardless of her penmanship. “I wouldn’t ever write anything about children doing something that was truly dangerous,” she explains. “There’s an awful lot of worry at the moment about young people selfharming, and that is a subject that I wouldn’t tackle. Because I don’t want even one child to think: ‘Oh what does it feel like?’ That would be a dreadful thing. But on the other hand, you have to face up to the facts that lots of children are troubled, and go through difficult times. I think if I thought about it too much, it would stop me writing all together!” Of course, Jacqueline’s choice of characters – from foster children to single mothers, and even Victorian foundlings – invites a certain degree of sadness in their interpretation. There is, however, a welcome other side to that same coin. The success of The Story of Tracy Beaker, for example, put paid to the problems Jacqueline encountered on the story’s release. Where once there had been publishers unwilling to support the story of a troubled foster child because of the social stigma, there now stands only a figure of representation for such children – an aspect of Jacqueline’s writing that continues to this very day. “A wonderful thing I’ve had, is lots of feedback from children who were in care who say that it has raised their status – though they haven’t exactly used those words,” she says. “In terms of making children aware that, just because you happen to be in care doesn’t mean that you’ve been bad or there’s something wrong with you, it’s just very sad circumstances. “I also do think that authorities now are becoming more sensitive to
the needs of looked-after children, and I’m particularly pleased that universities are trying much harder to make life easier for care-leavers. It’s still only a small amount of care-leavers who go on to further education, but there are actual projects that can help give extra tuition, extra help, and more scholarships. University accommodation is often for 365 days a year, because sometimes a care-leaver will have left their foster home or children’s home, but have nowhere to go during the long vacation, so I think that’s quite sensitive. But I still think you have to have a lot of grit and determination to get yourself into university and stay the course, because you don’t have the help and support of parents to egg you along.” Jacqueline herself married young – “not something I would particularly recommend,” she laughs – and despite her leaving for Dundee and a job with publishers DC Thomson aged just 19, she has fond memories of her childhood. Interestingly, she believes her particular talents for penning children’s literature comes down to an innate ability to vividly recall aspects and events from her youth, including the literary works that set her on the path to become the one-time most borrowed author from the nation’s libraries. “A book I particularly enjoyed was Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, because the girls seemed so real,” she reminisces. “I like it that one of the girls, when she got a brilliant part in the play, it seemed so right that it would go to her head and she would become a bit of a show-off until she learned her lesson. And the tom-boy middle sister absolutely hates the idea of acting or ballet, and wants to be an engineer. These girls seemed as real to me as if they were my sisters, and I thought I would just love to write something where the characters feel so real.”
My Mum Tracy Beaker marks the first time the world will have seen the titular tearaway in 12 years, and a brand-new generation of kids could come to know Tracy Beaker as a single mother first, and foster home habitant second. With a huge bibliography already behind her, it seems that there’s no shortage of material for Jacqueline to work with, even if her latest book does concern a familiar face. “I don’t want people to think: ‘Oh, she’s running out of ideas for original characters so she’s just reworking old ones!’ So I’m considering doing a sequel to Jess and Tracy, to see what happens next, but I think on the whole I’ll be doing more original characters.”
And Jacqueline reveals how she can still be eternally affable, even when admitting to her life-long avoidance of the concept that plagues many authors: writer’s block. “I am crossing my fingers here, but I don’t often get stuck at all!” she laughs. “Having said that, I do feel that having a good long walk – I have a dog who is very appreciative if this happens – and just not thinking about it, somehow or other things just sort themselves out in my head. Maybe when I get home and I’ve had a cup of tea I know what to do. I don’t sit at my desk wondering or worrying about it! I’ll just get out and forget about it for a time, and generally that works very well.”
‘My Mum Tracy Beaker’ is out now (Doubleday, RRP £12.99). Visit jacquelinewilson.co.uk to find out more, and discover more of her fantastic characters and stories.
January 2019 • happiful • 33
How to make friends as an adult Are all friendships set in stone by the time we hit 30, or is there room to expand our social circle as adults? Writing | Kat Nicholls Illustrating | Rosan Magar
hen we’re young, making friends is often as simple as being in the same class together, or sharing a love of horses. As we grow older, things get a touch more complicated. Different universities and jobs can push some of these earlier friendships apart. When we begin settling down with partners, start families, pursue career opportunities in far-flung corners of the globe, our network can feel like it’s shrinking. But... it doesn’t have to be this way. We can make new friends. As an adult, the prospect of making new friends sounds a little scary, I know. It feels very much like dating, and I think we can all agree that’s pretty stressful, right? My small-but-perfectly-formed pockets of friends are now scattered, with some an hour’s drive away, and others a seven-hour flight. We talk online, and I have my partner to keep me company, but I won’t lie and say things don’t get lonely – they do. A couple of years ago I started a new blog, and decided to put my all into my Instagram account to support this. I was astounded at how quickly I formed online friendships. Eventually I started attending events and meet-ups, I even set up some friend dates. Today, my network is that little bit bigger as a result. And – bonus – I have people who really “get it” when I ramble on about Instagram and blogging. The Action For Happiness movement cites human connection as one of the “10 keys to happiness”, saying: “People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support, and increase our feelings of self-worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging.” So, it’s time to take a deep breath, and broaden those networks. Here are some tips to get you started:
1 Cultivate online friendships This is often one of the easiest ways to start reaching out. You can do this on any social networking site; try to find groups about subjects you’re passionate about on Facebook, or search for these subjects using hashtags on Instagram. Start conversations, interact with people, and see what happens. If reallife social interaction drains you, this is a great way to ease yourself into it from the comfort of your own home.
People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier, and live longer 2 Initiate a group meet-up
If you’re in a group online, or have found a few friends through Instagram, why not initiate a reallife meet-up? This also works well if you’ve just moved to a new area. If you feel comfortable, get really honest and share that you’re on the lookout for some new connections. Arrange a time and place for people to meet, maybe a local cafe so you can all grab coffee and have a chat.
3 Scout out events/classes near you
If you’re not a fan of social media, or simply prefer to start connections in person, have a hunt for any local events or classes you could go to. Maybe a cooking class, or even a wellbeing retreat? In these environments, people are often much more open to chatting. If you notice someone else who’s arrived alone, strike up a conversation with them. You’ll all be there because you have an interest in the topic, so you already have something in common!
4 Set up a one-to-one friend date
Maybe you’ve exchanged messages online, or chatted a few times at yoga class. Perhaps you’ve already met at a group event. Reach out to them and see if they fancy a coffee, going for a walk together, or even attending an event. If you live far apart, consider a Skype/FaceTime date instead. When I went to my first “friend date”, I worried we would have nothing to talk about, which now seems silly as we chatted a lot online. And of course, my worries were unfounded – we talked for hours. If the date goes well, follow up! Find out when you’re both free and get something in the diary. New friendships often need that little bit of extra time and attention to help them thrive. There we have it, a few simple ways to get started in the world of adult friendships. And if these ideas don’t appeal, there are always apps! Bumble BFF, Huggle (on friendship mode), and Hey! VINA, are all excellent options. As an introvert and serial shy gal in real life, I can honestly say it isn’t as scary as it seems. Now, go forth and make friends.
Get really honest and share that you’re on the lookout for some new connections
Photography | Roksolana Zasiadko
BE SOMEBODY “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realised I was somebody.” – Lily Tomlin
The architect of my own life When her husband left, Stephanie Peltier quickly fell into the depths of depression. But just two years on, her Happiness Society is coaching and counselling individuals and companies. So how did she turn things around so dramatically?
Writing | Stephanie Peltier
t first I was fine, I had no obvious choice but to stick to the image of myself that I had carefully crafted over the years: that warrior business girl, now full-time mother, always smiling and keeping herself busy, 100% dedicated to her children, charity work, friends, healthy lifestyle… the perfect west London “desperate housewife”. Taking things from a totally rational point of view, I was 41, I was a warrior, my kids were healthy, I had a roof over my head, I didn’t really need him, I’d make things work out. No need to say that I was in total denial about my husband leaving. The anger and lack of sleep started kicking in pretty quickly though, still in denial but seeming fine. And then the unexpected happened. I collapsed, and found myself in full depression mode – very dark thoughts in my head. I was petrified about the future, and completely paralysed by fear, especially financial insecurities and somehow having to go back to work
after a nine-year break – and with no will, nor ability, to get out of it. I was spending most of my days in bed, only getting up to take my kids to and from school, putting on that fake smile of mine, pretending to everyone crossing my path: “Yeah! It sucks! But that’s fine, all will be fine!” Not believing a word of what I was saying, and at the same time resenting everyone for believing my blatant lies. And I hated myself for that. I hated the person I had become, it wasn’t me, and the more I hated her, the more I found myself stuck in this horrible pattern. I started medication, and tried all the forms of counselling I could find, to help me get out of this depression. Thankfully, these work for a lot of people; but unfortunately they didn’t work for me. It was like I was hanging on to this depression because it was now the only thing that was defining me as a person, the victim. It kind of defined my identity and allowed me to exist. Continues >>>
The Architect of My Own Life
Stephanie and her two teenage daughters Manon (12) and Juliette (14)
Then one day, I dragged myself out of bed and attended a talk that changed my life. It was about the science of happiness, by Soho House private members’ club. It was so amazing to hear someone talk about happiness, while the only word ruling my life was depression. So I decided to flip the coin and change my perspective, by not trying to cure myself from depression, but by looking into how to find happiness. It was a totally different approach, but I needed something pretty drastic to happen! 38 • happiful • January 2019
I am a no-BS sort of girl, extremely rational, so I started by reading lots of science-based books about happiness (from a neuroscience or molecular biology point of view). OK, the general consensus is that happiness is an inside job, it is something you find inside yourself, and it really seemed that there was a way to train our brain to become happier. So I took it further, and joined the Science of Happiness course at Berkeley, University of California. Within weeks of studying, and starting to apply what
I was learning into my daily life, trying the simple, science-backed exercises they were showcasing, I started experiencing some amazing benefits. My capacity to identify and enjoy simple, beautiful things in life started growing a little bit more each day. I learnt to embrace my emotions rather than fight against them, I learnt to love myself again – and in the process found out that I was someone very different from both the warrior business girl or the depressed wreck. I was someone else, in the middle – kind, compassionate, full of hope, who deserved to create a happy life for herself.
As much as exercising is critical for our health and wellbeing, so is your brain’s fitness
Within weeks, my entire mindset and take on life shifted. I managed to reconnect with my lost enthusiasm for life, and even better, every day I was finding more and more opportunities to smile, connect, share, and be happy. Fear was soon replaced with hope, and life became a vast field of possibilities. I found a new sense of peace, being able to accept the things I had no power over, and at the same time being courageous enough to change what could be changed. I became the dreamer of my dreams, the architect of my own life. I learnt that happiness has nothing to do with the external circumstances of our life – the positive events and emotions that life offers, the material comfort, or other people’s behaviours towards oneself. Happiness is a frame of mind, it is about the lens through which we see our life unfold. It is about our interpretation of what is happening to and around us, our ability to enjoy the ride on the rollercoaster of
To find out more about Stephanie’s journey and her insight into positive psychology, visit thehappinesssociety.com
Stephanie founded the Happiness Society in September 2017
life, our ability to enjoy all the positive experiences and emotions that life throws on the journey, the beauty that surrounds us, and most importantly, the ability to bounce back from setbacks. Because there are always setbacks in life. Things hardly ever go according to plan, and sometimes there is nothing we can do about it. It is about accepting what we have no control over, it is about living in the present moment, it is about being kind to oneself, learning to accept and love yourself – flaws and all. I learnt a lot about the unconscious functions and patterns of our brain, which are not adapted anymore to the challenges of our times, and that with a bit of brain
fitness, we can rewire our brain for happiness. And as much as exercising is critical for our health and wellbeing, so is your brain’s fitness. I’ve constructed a new life balance around my dream-team – my two beautiful daughters and myself – and there may even be space there for someone else to enter, who knows? Life is full of possibilities. After studying the topics of happiness and mindfulness, wellbeing at work, employee performance and engagement through happiness, here I am now, running the Happiness Society, sharing tools with individuals – helping them reconnect with their enthusiasm for life, hard-wiring their brain
for happiness, and helping companies unlock the potential of their staff by creating a fun, creative, badass work environment. Looking back on this incredible two years of my life, I can confidently say that, while I was ashamed of myself during the depression period, I am now considering
it as a real blessing. I learnt how to rewire my brain for happiness. All of you out there, whether you are crossing a dark phase in your life, or whether you are “fine” but feel something is missing, that there is more to life, never forget you have the power to embark on a happiness journey.
Our Expert Says Stephanie’s story helps us see past the hype about happiness, and highlights that there is good science showing that some positive psychology interventions have significant effects on wellbeing and mental health. Her decision to try something different was pivotal too. Depression can rob you of energy and motivation, but ultimately it is activity and taking an alternative approach that may unlock your mood. Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) psychotherapist and clinical supervisor
January 2019 • happiful • 39
2019 courses now available
MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID AND AWARENESS TRAINING
As part of our commitment to improving awareness and support for mental health for groups and in the workplace, we are very happy to offer our readers the opportunity to improve your awareness and support for those with mental health challenges. Our training courses are licenced by Mental Health First Aid (England) and our trainers are accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health.
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Our half-day course is an introductory four-hour session to raise awareness of mental health. It is designed to give you: • An understanding of what mental health is and how to challenge stigma • A basic knowledge of some common mental health issues • An introduction to looking after your own mental health and maintaining wellbeing • Conﬁdence to support someone in distress, or who may be experiencing a mental health issue
Our one-day mental health awareness and skills course qualiﬁes you as an MHFA Champion. MHFA Champions have: • An understanding of common mental health issues • Knowledge and conﬁdence to advocate for mental health awareness • Ability to spot signs of mental ill-health • Skills to support positive wellbeing
Our adult MHFA two-day course qualiﬁes you as a Mental Health First Aider. Mental Health First Aiders have: • An in depth understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing • Practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues • Conﬁdence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress • Enhanced interpersonal skills such as non-judgemental listening • Knowledge to help someone recover their health by guiding them to further support
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40 • happiful • May 2018
Ones to watch 5 in 2019 Image | Poorna Bell: Twitter @poornabell
Here are our fabulous five mental health heroes to watch out for in 2019 – people demonstrating courage, making outstanding progress, and doing it on behalf of others Writing | Maurice Richmond
Journalist and mental health advocate Poorna Bell
1. Poorna Bell Possessing a burning ambition to explore society’s endemic issues, journalist Poorna Bell is a mental health advocate in Britain and overseas. She became a widow in 2015, after her husband Rob took his life, having battled depression and addiction. She released her book, Chase The Rainbow, soon after, to critical acclaim. It tells Rob’s story, interspersed with Poorna’s incredible insight and urge to help men struggling with mental ill-health. She continues to campaign for an end to the stigma and silence surrounding our mental health, powerfully using both the spoken and written word. Poorna has put pen to paper again with In Search of Silence, out in May. It is described as a heartfelt, personal journey which asks us all to define what happiness really means. Twitter: @poornabell
2. Jordan Stephens One-half of the hiphop duo Rizzle Kicks, Jordan Stephens has been a MH hero since 2016 when he became a founding ambassador of #IAMWHOLE – an anti-stigma mental health campaign in partnership with the NHS and YMCA. Jordan has gone on to host the fundraising concert Music 4 Mental Health in November 2018, and continues to be open about his own experiences and his visions for solutions. Instagram: @althenative
3. Jake Tyler
4. Natasha Devon
It started out as a simple dog walk, that turned into a nationwide trek. In 2017, Jake racked up 3,000 miles with his mental health advocacy. Jake’s effort on the BBC’s Mind Over Marathon inspired millions. And a podcast, People Are F***ing Awesome, soon followed. There’s no letting up in 2019: Jake is now hosting his Open Up show on BBC Radio Sussex, inviting guests, and indeed you and me, on to talk about our mental health. Instagram: @jaketyler_bdw
Writer, speaker, campaigner. Natasha Devon is a whirlwind of energy, touring schools and colleges throughout the land. She tops that up by championing body image, gender and social equality. Her desire to get to the heart of mental health issues means she’s conducting her own research, leading reform campaigns. Whether this is creating a Mental Health Media Charter, or her Where’s Your Head At? campaign, Natasha’s desire to effect change remains undiminished. She is equally at home addressing parliament, batting on behalf of teenagers and teachers, or penning articles and books. As a patron, member and ambassador for charities across the country, you can be sure to hear Natasha banging the drums for mental health in 2019. Twitter: @_NatashaDevon
5. You Yes, you! Thanks to you and your hard work, we now have a government minister for mental health and suicide prevention, record levels of engagement in awareness days and campaigns, along with schools and employers reforming their approach to mental health.
Each and everyone of you, our trusted readers, is a mental health hero. Without your contribution, progress would undoubtedly be hindered. Don’t underestimate your contribution to mental health in 2019: you can make a difference.
January 2019 • happiful • 41
COULD THE CURE FOR LONELINESS BE CLOSER TO HOME THAN WE THINK? With loneliness in the national consciousness when it comes to older people, a study by the British Red Cross and the Co-Op found that it isnâ€™t a phenomenon reserved for the baby-boomer generation. Up to nine million people in the UK, of all adult ages, report feeling often or always lonely. But could the answer to this epidemic lie in our own communities? Writing | Laura Graham
W H AT C A U S E D T H E LO NELINESS EPID EM IC? “The world is your oyster” is a phrase that we hear often, and one that is truer than ever. We live in a society that encourages travel, and career and social mobility. This has given us a level of freedom never seen before, but it has also resulted in transient and often disconnected communities, filled with lonely and socially isolated people. Work and home life are impermanent, and soaring house prices see more and more of us renting and, by default, moving frequently. The unsettled feeling discourages us from putting down roots, and making the effort to do something as simple as getting to know our neighbours. Gone are the days of living in one place all your life and knowing everyone in your village or town. Now, we make multiple home moves, and we are less likely to have time to see our friends and family, or build relationships in our communities. The Office for National Statistics cites 13 characteristics which were found to have an impact on loneliness: • Age • Sex • Marital status • Gross income • Disability status • General health • The number of adults in the household • Caring responsibilities • Whether people talk to their neighbours (more than to just say hello) • Feeling as though you belong to a neighbourhood • Satisfaction with local area as a place to live • The number of years lived in the local neighbourhood • How often they meet up in person with family members or friends
Research shows that lacking social connections is as damaging to our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
With seven of the 13 factors relating to where we live and how we connect with other people, it’s clear to see where the bulk of the loneliness problem lies – and potentially, where the solution can be found. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE MAKE THE EFFORT TO CONNECT WITH THEIR COMMUNITY? Connected communities are safer, happier, and more resilient. Communities help us feel part of something bigger than us, and build a network of people who can help and support each other. Statistics show that there will be people living close to you right now who feel lonely and isolated. It may be that you don’t feel socially isolated personally, and that’s fantastic, but there might be a time in the future when you do. At that time, you may need someone like you are now, to bring you back into the fold. Connecting with your community shows you that people have the same
frustrations that you do, and fosters an environment that helps you work together to fix community problems. It gives you the chance to meet people who are different to you, and learn new ideas and perspectives. Connections in our community are also good for our career, as it enables us to build up networks that may be useful in helping us develop. W H AT C A N Y O U D O ? Smile Do you remember the last time a stranger smiled at you in the street? No, nor do we. Fear, anxiety, and habit stop us from making the most basic human connections. Smiling has well-documented benefits, including improving your mental and physical health, as well as helping you live longer. Not only is smiling good for you, it’s good for other people too. Why not follow the lead of the Permission to Smile campaign, Continues >>> January 2019 • happiful • 43
The Cure for Loneliness
The neighbourhood around your home can come alive when you have a better understanding of the people who live nearby, and your ability to take time to stop and chat can also make you feel better. And who knows, you may find that you’re able to draw upon the network of relationships you’ve helped establish if you happen to be in need in the future – Caroline Abrahams, charity director, Age UK
launched in Birmingham in May 2018. The campaign hopes that smiling will encourage local people to get together, build connections, and break down social isolation. The campaign’s website, permissiontosmile.org, includes useful resources and downloads on how to take action and connect people in your area. The campaign aims to turn our “keep yourself to yourself ” society into a friendly, positive, and encouraging one – and it all starts with a smile! Disconnect from “social” media Despite its name, social media isn’t always social. With the internet at our fingertips, entertainment can be found at any moment. We have so many options to keep us entertained that we no longer have to seek out face-to-face connections, or experiences with other people. Our digitally connected world can breed unhealthy, unrealistic comparisons, which can isolate people. Not ready to unplug completely from your social media accounts? That’s OK. A complete digital detox isn’t necessary. Why not challenge yourself to use social media as a way to find out what events are happening in your local area, and get out and meet people. The real challenge is that you can only check in, tag 44 • happiful • January 2019
yourself, or post a picture, once you’ve connected with a stranger. Give it a try, and remember to smile! Volunteer Volunteering is a great way to meet people and join in with good causes in your area. Feeling part of something meaningful can help develop a sense of community pride and connectedness. Volunteering really is for everyone! There are hundreds of opportunities, ranging from taking your dog to a hospital as part of the Pets as Therapy movement, through to helping to make meals at your local surplus food cafe. Volunteering can be a great family activity and there are options for all ages and abilities. Don’t worry if you have THE 7 BENEFITS OF SMILING Improved mood Lower blood pressure Stress relief Better relationships Stronger immune function Pain relief Longer life
a busy schedule, you can offer up as little as an hour a month, and many volunteering opportunities can work flexibly around your commitments. To find out what is available in your local area, visit do-it.org. Don’t see anything that interests you? Great, start something yourself! Join a social club Social clubs are all the rage and are springing up everywhere. Finding like-minded people has never been easier. Simply search meetup.com and you’ll see that your unusual hobby or interest isn’t so unusual after all. There are age and gender-specific clubs if that’s your focus, as well as the traditional general interests such as film/book/walking/cycling clubs. There are even lots of quirky and out of the ordinary options such as tarot card reading, or clubs specifically for introverted people.
We can make a difference to the society we live in
Starting your own group is super easy – simply set up an event and see who comes along. Read about other people’s experiences, find out top tips to make your meet-up successful, and learn about staying safe in the blog section of the Meetup website. Throw a street par ty Activities like street parties give you a reason, and permission, to speak to your neighbours. Even if you know the person who lives next door to you, what about the rest of your road? The likelihood is that there will be people who would love to connect; they may just be too shy to make the first move. A hand-written note through your neighbours’ doors asking who wants to be involved in organising a street party will break the ice nicely. If you’re in a block of flats, or if there are other logistical problems preventing you from holding a party on the street, just take the party to a local park or community centre. Invite everyone to bring some food,
decorations, and games. Arranging a party is easy, positive and fun. For information and inspiration, visit edenprojectcommunities.com There is a problem with loneliness and disconnected communities that if left unchecked, could cause long-term damage. The great news is, it’s not too late and the solution doesn’t require lots of time or money. If we each
do something small, we can make a difference to the society we live in. Laura Graham is a contributing writer and founder of the positivity blog, its-character-building.co.uk. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook @itscharacterbuilding, and Twitter @itscharacter January 2019 • happiful • 45
CELEBRATE YOU “Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is youer than you!” – Dr. Seuss
Photography | Pietra Schwarzler
Finding career confidence Being trapped in a toxic work environment can be extremely upsetting. For Soma Ghosh, workplace bullying destroyed her confidence. But finally speaking to her doctor, and starting various forms of support, helped Soma to get back on track Writing | Soma Ghosh
n 2015, I was crying down the phone to my business mentor as I had an anxiety attack. I still don’t remember exactly what I said; all I remember is her saying: “Soma, are you OK?” I was feeling anxious about work, overwhelmed by a new job. This role was meant to be a part-time fixture while I was building my dream business to help career-coach women who were unhappy at work – which was unfortunately ironic. She kept speaking to me calmly, and I recollect saying in a delirious state: “Maybe I deserve everything that happens to me.” It was then that she said: “Can you please go to a doctor Soma – I am really worried about you.” So, I did.
A few hours later, sitting in the doctor’s office at my local walk-in centre, I remember crying as she said: “You are showing signs of anxiety.” The doctor gave me a small dose of diazepam to help, yet to be honest this made me drowsy more than anything. But the most important thing was that this was the first time I realised that maybe she was right, and I really did have anxiety. In 1990, as a six-year-old child, I lost my father. After he died, it was just me, my mum, and my sister. I had been an extroverted child, but when he died I became the opposite. I would sit quietly in the corner and read, feeling like I was the odd one out. Continues >>>
Finding Career Confidence
Soma with her father, who passed away when she was six years old
Growing up, I remember always worrying about being late, or not getting things done in a certain way. Any event I would go to as a teenager, I would always worry about what I should wear, how to get there, or even if I should go at all for fear of people laughing at me – I was always bullied at school for my appearance, so thought the same may happen in my community, too. I thought being a bit anxious was normal, and without realising it, this seeped into my adulthood. When I started working as a careers adviser in schools in 2008, I would worry about events like parents’ evening, as I would have to travel back late from work; would something happen to me on the train? When I look back throughout my life, I always had anxiety about something. I just didn’t realise this until my 30s. 48 • happiful • January 2019
Soma with her late father-in-law on her wedding day
In 2015, while this new job was still as a careers advisor, it had a new level of stress and pressure I’d not felt in previous roles. I felt an overwhelming sense of inadequacy every day, which lead me to depression. I would feel afraid every day when I got up to go to work. At first, I had noticed that a colleague seemed to be quite dismissive of me, but at the time I ignored it. I had dealt with tricky people at work before, and always managed to get on with my job and not let it affect me. But then I noticed a change in this behaviour... It started with criticising emails, then mentioning I had forgotten to print resources, or that more needed to be done. I was accused of being responsible for something that had nothing to do with me. I was shouted at about a misunderstanding, and humiliated in front of another
colleague who had been informed of all the things I had failed to achieve while working there. I was due to give a presentation right after that incident and remember feeling like I wanted to cry, but had to keep at it. I was constantly reminded of things I had failed to do. When I spoke to my husband and friends about what was happening, they told me this kind of behaviour was not acceptable. In fact, they said it sounded like bullying. I didn’t ever want to admit this out loud, because surely you couldn’t be bullied in the workplace so subtly and not realise it’s happening? I remember often crying myself to sleep because I really started to believe that maybe all the things they picked up on were because I wasn’t good at my job. Or perhaps I wasn’t doing enough to be helpful and supportive. When I look back, I know this wasn’t true. Especially because no one else I worked with had a problem with me.
I was also praised by another member of staff for my work, so I knew I had worked hard. In fact, I was always so overwhelmed by work that there were times when I was doing this part-time role on my days off. This is when I knew I was over-delivering, and trying to meet the expectations of someone who would never be pleased with anything I did.
Surely you couldn’t be bullied in the workplace so subtly and not realise it’s happening? During this time, I shut myself off, and felt emotionally and physically burnt out. I would often sit at home after work, or on the weekends,
Find out more about Soma’s mission to help others find the job of their dreams at thecareerhappinessmentor.com, and connect with her on Instagram @careerhappinessmentor and not want to do the things I once enjoyed. I didn’t want my friends to see me for fear of crying about how unhappy I was. I would often make excuses about not going to places. I just wanted to be at home curled up in bed where no one could see me or talk to me. I realised something needed to change. In January 2016, a month before I left the job, I sought the help of a local counsellor, who specialised in the person-centred approach. One of the biggest realisations I had was that I had never dealt with my dad’s death properly. This became apparent when my father-in-law, who was like a second dad to me, passed away the year before. I was carrying around grief from my past as well as my present, but feeling like I was inadequate and deserved everything that was happening to me.
The counsellor helped me not only with my grief, but my depression, and need to please others at the expense of my own mental and physical health. This was a common pattern for me that added to my anxiousness when things didn’t go to plan. That first week where I no longer worked at that job, I remember feeling a sense of freedom, relief and calm. I could now fully concentrate on my own business. Even before my site was live, I had landed my first two clients. Life seemed more hopeful. Having belief in my abilities, that I was good enough, and that I was a good careers adviser, helped me rebuild my confidence. I also became more open and honest about my depression and anxiety with my friends. I told them I was too ashamed to tell them before, because I thought they would see it
as a weakness and not want to be my friend. But, in fact, the opposite happened with most of them. It also showed me who my true friends are, as only a few people didn’t understand. I have been running my business, The Career Happiness Mentor, for more than two years now, since March 2016. I help women who, like me, have lost hope
of finding their dream job, and are feeling overwhelmed by it all. I also help people to rediscover their confidence. Although I have anxiety and depression, I truly believe everything happens for a reason. So, I believe I was meant to go through workplace bullying to help other people, and I will continue to do what I can to support them.
Our Expert Says Soma mentions how she was often unaware of how she felt and blamed herself for other’s negative behaviour. It can be easy to take feeling down for granted, and assume that is just the way things are. In reality though, we all deserve to be happy. Soma made a brave step, spoke to her friends, and sought support. In doing so she gained strength and a realisation that she has a choice in how she wants to feel. It is great that she is now using all of her experience to help other women achieve their career dreams too! Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr Life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation
January 2019 • happiful • 49
W I N T wall E Rart
Click here to download!
place can be transformed by the things we put in it. Whether your space is an explosion of colour, or a cool, serene palace, a home is often a sanctuary from the chaos of the outside world. This month, we’re bringing you this soothing piece of art, created for you by our talented illustrator, Rosan Magar. Embrace all things cosy this winter, but also remember to
take time for yourself. As we head into a busy season of celebration, followed by “new starts” in 2019, be mindful of the things in your life that bring you the most peace and joy. Whether you hang it on your wall or prop it up on your desk, we hope that this print serves as the prompt you need to slow things down, refocus your mind, and embrace the changes that are happening around you as we head into the new year.
Feeling SAD? Blame it on the weather! As the nights draw in and the days get shorter, often we wake in the dark, and see the sun set before we’ve left our desks; many may feel we hardly see any sunlight at all. Along with these changes, some people experience an emotional change, too. Here we uncover the truth behind seasonal affective disorder – the signs and symptoms, along with the ways to combat the condition Writing | Lindsay George
any of you are familiar with those days when you experience feeling generally fed up, and are not quite sure why. You might try to pass it off as being a little “under the weather”, as you reach for those comforting, carbohydrate-rich foods instead of your usual healthier option – after all, how else are you going to support your dwindling energy levels, and find the motivation needed just to get through the day? Of course, it’s normal to experience those occasional “off days”, when our mood suddenly seems to take a nosedive for no apparent reason. However, if those days start increasing in frequency, and those simple daily tasks become too much of a chore, or perhaps fun things like meeting up with friends feel like too much effort, then it may be a good idea to get checked out. The reality is you may be one of the many people experiencing a condition
known as seasonal affective disorder, or its appropriately named acronym, SAD. What is SAD? SAD is a mood disorder subset in which people who have stable mental health most of the time, experience depressive symptoms over the same period each year, most commonly during the autumn and winter months. While we do not fully understand what causes SAD, experts believe that the reduced amount of daylight at this time of year is a major contributing factor. What are the symptoms to look out for? While the symptoms are similar to those associated with the chronic, and at times debilitating, mental health condition known as depression, the warning signs invariably appear as winter approaches, and disappear as springtime emerges. Symptoms are often milder in the autumn months, but worsen as the hours of natural daylight diminish. Continues >>>
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Symptoms include: • Low mood and despair • Anxiety • Feeling stressed • Reduced libido • Indecision • Irritability •A loss of pleasure or interest in everyday activities • Crying • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness •F eeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day • S leeping for longer than normal, or finding it hard to get up in the morning •C raving carbohydrates • Social withdrawal • Difficulty concentrating
Combat the winter blues!
For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their lifestyle and productivity, as well as their relationships. Often individuals experience an acute reduction in their sense of enjoyment in everyday activities that previously felt like simple life pleasures. Who is affected? While depression affects one in four of us in the UK, estimates on how many people are affected by SAD can vary greatly. Some estimates believe it to affect anywhere from one in three to one in 15 people in the UK, while research from the Weather Channel and YouGov suggests it is 29% of adults in the UK who actually experience symptoms of SAD. It’s also believed that approximately one in eight (12.5%) adults have the less severe “winter blues” – a much less well-defined change in mood. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the main risk factors for SAD are age, sex, distance from the equator (regions farther to the north and south tend to have shorter days and less sunlight in 52 • happiful • January 2019
SAD is a mood disorder subset in which people who have stable mental health most of the time, experience depressive symptoms over the same period each year
To help address the symptoms of SAD, technology is giving a helping hand in the form of specially-designed alarm clocks – sometimes known as sunrise or natural alarm clocks. These work as a form of light therapy, gradually increasing in light until your desired wake-up time, allowing for a more peaceful wake from sleep, and have been clinically proven to help treat SAD. There are many options on the market, from brands such as Lumie, Philips and Beurer. winter), and a history of depression or other mood disorders. Studies have also shown that young adults and women are more likely to be affected – the gender difference ranges from 2:1 to 9:1. While it is difficult to diagnose SAD, according to experts, to have genuine SAD a person must have experienced depression-like symptoms for two years running. Winter blues often
Recent research suggests 29% of adults in the UK experience symptoms of SAD involves a lack of sleep, while SAD means people are permanently tired and spend longer in bed. What can we do to help ourselves? Thankfully there are a range of treatments available for SAD. Your GP or counsellor should be able to recommend the most suitable for you. These include: • Lifestyle measures: Getting as much natural sunlight as possible, exercising regularly and managing your stress levels. While you may be tempted to stay inside on those cold, dark days and hide away from the world around you, looking after your mental health is paramount to your sense of wellbeing. Making time to get outdoors in natural daylight and enjoy a brisk 20-minute walk three to five times a week will not only increase the amount of vitamin D you get from natural light, but studies have shown that exercise helps lift your mood and can counteract depression as well. • Light therapy: A special lamp called a light box is used to simulate exposure to sunlight. Just 20–30 minutes each day is often all that is required. Light therapy works quickly and people often notice some improvement in the first week.
• Talking therapies: Cognitive behavioural therapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of this disorder, and a counsellor will be able to help if you find yourself struggling. • Antidepressant medication: Such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can be effective. • St John’s Wort: A natural herbal remedy thought to be effective for depressive symptoms, and SAD. • Diet and nutrition: Increase your omega 3s and vitamin D intake by eating more oily fish, red meat, liver, egg yolk, fortified foods such as most fat spreads, and some breakfast cereals. • Vitamin D supplement: Public Health England (PHE) recommend that we all take a daily supplement containing 10–20mg of vitamin D between the months of October and March, to make up for a less sunlight during this period.
Whatever your choice of treatment, it is important for each of us to be able to differentiate the symptoms of SAD from the more chronic, long-term and debilitating condition – depression. While symptoms may be similar, people experiencing SAD can take some comfort in the knowledge that life will feel much easier to manage by adopting some simple changes, and accessing the variety of therapies available. To learn more about SAD, and find ways to manage it, visit counselling-directory.org.uk Lindsay George is an experienced integrative counsellor and psychotherapist, as well as a trained nurse, who works with young people, adults, couples, and families. She specialises in many areas including, depression, eating disorders, and relationships. Visit lindsaygeorge.co.uk January 2019 • happiful • 53
1 Make a date with yourself
Bloomin’ Marvellous Nothing brightens up a room like a bunch of fresh flowers. But the perks of beautiful blooms can begin before they hit the vase. We asked floral subscription company Posy & Posy to share their tips on how flower arranging can help us find mindfulness, and nip stress in the bud Writing | Lisa Davies and Emily Lewis-Keane Illustrating | Rosan Magar
t has become increasingly clear that when we pause, leave our phones in another room, and just be in the moment, we achieve a sense of calm and feel more relaxed. So, if like us, you find it hard to still your busy mind, why not try getting your creative flow on, be still and make life beautiful with flowers? It’s a perfect way to enhance your focus, concentration and sense of calm, and we believe it will bring so much joy into your day. Here are some tips on how we achieve our version of a mindful state and some of the subsequent benefits we have found when arranging our flowers.
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OK, it may seem obvious, but think about it. So many of us rush through the day switching from task to task, activity to activity, and have the everpresent feeling that we need to achieve loads, but actually we end up achieving little, and are not kind enough to give ourselves some real time. Be purposeful about setting your date time every week. Think about flower arranging as being experiential; go out to source your flowers, stop to talk to the sellers, learn about the varieties you’ve bought and make this all part of your flower arranging date.
2 Set up your space
Before you start, create a quiet space in your home that will be yours alone while you lose yourself in the flower arranging experience. Now, lay out all of the things you will need. Turn on your favourite playlist and consider how you are going to put your collection of blooms together. What flowers should take pride of place in the vase, and where are they going to be displayed? Spend time focusing on the selection of flowers. Notice the different textures, colours, shapes and scents. Lose yourself in the simple joy of arranging flowers beautifully.
3 Scent and colours
Blue hues are calming and peaceful. It’s no accident that floral designs are often brought together with a hint of the colour. Beautiful, natural blues can be achieved with ethereal delphinium, seasonal hyacinths and textual thistles. For scents, we don’t all have access to lovely, scented garden roses all the year round. But the smells of the arrangement are important triggers for inducing relaxation and calm. Try introducing lavender into your arrangement, the soothing scent is known to have relaxing properties and comes in so many pretty shades of blue and purple. Why not cut and keep summer lavender? Once dried you can add it into winter wreaths, and even try making lovely Christmas tree decorations with sprigs of natural lavender tied with velvet ribbon.
4 Invite a friend
Mindful practice is usually something you would think is exclusively alone time. But we have recently used some studio time to get together for meetings. It’s surprising what a session of crafting time together can achieve. The creative flow really resulted in some ideas within our team that I’m not sure would have occurred in the usual office setting. Take our lead and try hosting a strategy meeting as a creative activity, you might be pleasantly surprised with the results. Connect with your equally busy friend group in a mindful way, that is also fun and creative. Why not host a wreath making date, get everyone to bring interesting floral ingredients, beautiful twigs, leaves, berries foraged from nature, and spend time creating together.
Posy & Posy are a unique floral recipe subscription service. Prices start from £28 per box, and are available from posyandposy.com
Whatever you do with flowers, appreciate the joy and beauty of your blooms, take pleasure in your creation, give it pride of place in your home and really take the time to notice it. A study from Harvard University even showed that, if you’re not a morning person, placing fresh flowers in your kitchen or dining room can give you an energy boost to start your day. Arranging flowers is a highly meditative act, a modern and creative pastime that injects a regular dose of “me time” and gives us the time to really observe the beauty of nature. Flower arranging is not simply decorative, it is an engaging and thoughtful practice that, even in our busy lives and city-living, puts us back in touch with the beauty of nature.
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smooth on Energy-boosting recipes to jazz up January Writing | Ellen Hoggard
very time you use the word ‘healthy’, you lose. The key is to make yummy, delicious food that happens to be healthy.” – Marcus Samuelsson. When we’re back to work, with the festive season behind us, what better way to kick-start the new year than with a delicious energy-boosting smoothie? Now, this isn’t another article telling you to do more of this, eat less of that. Oh, no. This is simply a recipe to help you get back into your kick-ass routine, feel great, and sail through January with ease. I want you to jump out of bed each morning excited to start the day with a simple and tasty, but nutritious, breakfast. I’ll be realistic, it may take you a little longer to get out of your cosy, warm bed, especially in these dark, frost-bitten mornings. But with these recipes, I want to inspire you to start your day early, try something new, and get a boost of those well-needed nutrients. Here you’ll find four smoothie recipes, suited to all tastes. Perfect for on-the-go, at work, or even as a mid-morning snack. Heck, these recipes are so yummy, you’ll be thinking of them all day long.
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‘Hot chocolate’ smoothie Serves 1 Ingredients 3 pitted dates 1 tbsp cocoa powder 1 pinch cinnamon 1 pinch ground nutmeg 1/4 tsp vanilla extract 300ml milk of choice Combine all of the ingredients and blend until smooth. For extra thickness, add a handful of ice before blending.
Spiced apple smoothie Serves 1 Ingredients 1/2 apple 1/2 pear 1 tsp maple syrup 1 pinch cinnamon 40g oats 250ml milk of choice Chop the apple and pear. Add the milk, maple syrup, oats and cinnamon. Blend until smooth.
Our expert says… For nutritional support, visit nutritionistresource.org.uk
Try to think of smoothies as a food, rather than a drink, so consume them slowly. Add plenty of ice before blending to thicken, and try eating them with a spoon. Spiced apple smoothie This is a great recipe; the oats provide valuable fibre to help keep blood sugar levels stable, and keep you feeling fuller for longer. The fruit also adds fibre, and the apple, in particular, has high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory levels. All kinds of milk will have good levels of calcium, and an array of vitamins to boost your immune system. ‘Hot chocolate’ smoothie The dates provide good levels of fibre and are considered low GI, meaning they release their energy slowly. To increase the antioxidant levels, you could swap the cocoa powder for cacao powder (available to buy online, or in most health food shops!).
Sweet potato and orange smoothie Fig and banana smoothie
Ingredients 1 orange 1/2 banana, frozen 1/2 cup sweet potato, cooked 1 pinch cinnamon 1 tsp maple syrup 130ml milk of choice
Ingredients 3 figs 1 banana, frozen 1 tsp honey 2 tbsp yoghurt 250ml coconut milk Combine ingredients and blend until smooth.
Peel and slice the orange. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.
Fig and banana smoothie To increase the protein content here, use a “Skyr-type” yoghurt, or a protein enriched plant-based yoghurt. To make it vegan, substitute the honey for agave, or consider missing it out altogether. Sweet potato and orange smoothie Sweet potato is a low GI food, so it will make you feel full and satisfied for longer. To increase the nutrient and fibre content, blend the skin as well as the flesh. Taste before you add the maple syrup, as it might not be needed. Susan Hart is a nutrition coach and speaker. She hosts regular wellbeing workshops at Maggie’s Cancer Support Centre at Nottingham City Hospital, and runs vegan cooking classes. To find out more, visit nutrition-coach.co.uk
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Food & Drink
T A S T E S
L I K E
Known for being cost-savvy, author and activist Jack Monroe is the food writer focused on ensuring we all can eat well, even on a tight budget. She talks to us about cooking as therapy, achieving the perfect day, and what good mental health looks like to her…
ack Monroe’s culinary prowess was borne out of a need to eat well and to eat cheaply when she struggled to make ends meet after having her son. Her first cookbook, A Girl Called Jack, was a
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Writing | Sofia Zagzoule
runaway bestseller in 2014, and now the sequel, Cooking On A Bootstrap, focuses on Jack’s love of cooking as a way to relieve stress and practise self-care – as well as feeding yourself and your family well with delicious, low-budget meals.
Packed with 118 delicious new recipes, such as “fluffy berry pancakes” and “self-love stew”, Jack – an activist and campaigner against hunger and poverty – is on a mission to change the way we eat, cook, and even think about food.
HI JACK! WHAT INSPIRED YOUR SPECIALITY FOR COOKING ON A BUDGET? My work came out of a desperate need to teach people how to cook from food bank boxes – and it’s an issue that’s growing. My website crashed as it passed 35 million viewers. That is huge to me. It’s astonishing that so many people access my work, but also saddening. There was a massive spike in people looking for my work over the summer holidays, with hunger being such a problem during this time. It demonstrates the panic people are in about affordable food. Where do we go from here?
very therapeutic, as it is the act of creating something from nothing. I also use the time to cook as a rest period to collect my thoughts. I often say to friends that the time I least want to get in the kitchen is the time I most have to get up and do it.
WHAT'S YOUR GOAL? Ideally, I’d love to teach as many people as possible to cook well, and to cook cheaply. I’m not just a food writer, I am a campaigner. I’ve never been able to separate the two – against all the advice. My food is political, and my politics are food-related. I have the same cupboard staples in all of my books – tinned tomatoes, frozen veg, kidney beans. They are healthy, cheap and help to reduce food waste as they last a while.
JACK'S TOP TIPS FOR CHEAP, TASTY AND GREAT LOOKING DISHES
Photography | Mike English
WHAT’S YOUR ADVICE FOR ENSURING KIDS EAT WELL? With my son, I have a chart on the wall; he is allowed to list five ingredients he doesn’t want to eat. I promise not to cook with those things. So I am working with a handful of things rather than an endless list. I am not dictating to him, he is deciding what he eats. If it’s not on the chart, he has to eat it. DO YOU FIND COOKING IS A GOOD WAY TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH? Yes, keeping yourself well-fed is one of the biggest things you can do for good mental health. I find cooking
YOU'VE BEEN OPEN ABOUT HAVING THERAPY. HOW DOES THAT HELP TO KEEP YOU WELL? Sometimes I get to the end of the day and think: “I’ve had a really good day today,” so me and my therapist tried to work out what the components of a good day had been.
I’m not just a food writer, I am a campaigner. My food is political, and my politics are food-related
Tinned fish is a great source of protein. You can get a can of sardines for 40p at Tesco. Even basic baked beans are also really good. Salt, pepper and lemon juice are my go to ingredients – if it’s bland and needs sorting out, a shake of salt, a sprinkle of pepper and a dash of lemon is my rescue! For me, it can be really simple stuff such as eating all my fruit and veg, doing my hair properly, or making sure the house is tidy. Once I have the contributing factors of a good day, I use them as a to-do list going forwards. I try to do those things every day, then if something does go wrong, I’m responding Continues >>> January 2019 • happiful • 59
Food & Drink
to it from a place of being well-fed and having a good night’s sleep, and all the other good stuff – rather than running on empty. IN THE PAST, YOU'VE BEEN TARGETED ONLINE BY CRUEL TROLLS FOR BEING DIFFERENT. HOW HAVE YOU DEALT WITH THAT? The biggest thing sending me off kilter is online abuse and harassment, which I get as a woman with opinions. Not just a woman – a single mum, gay – there’s loads of reasons
why people single me out. In the past it’d knock me for six. At the moment, I am in a strong enough place not to allow that to happen. I have mechanisms now in place to deal with it that I never had before. YOU’VE JUST COMPLETED A UK BOOK TOUR, HAVE THREE COOKBOOKS, AND 35 MILLION USERS TRIED TO SEE YOUR WEBSITE RELAUNCH. HOW DO YOU FIT IT ALL IN? There is a lot to juggle. I get up to work before the school run, and then
work again before pick up. I fit it around single motherhood, and work in the evenings. I am working from 7am until 10pm most days. I work weekends. I am lucky I don’t have to answer to anyone, but then again I am my own PA, my own ad mogul, website designer – I’ve got like 17 jobs and it can be exhausting keeping on top of it sometimes. I can work anywhere, but I am doing it with an eight-year-old in tow. This is the true balance. I have to make sure I have adequate time to spend with my son, that he’s well fed and looked after. And sometimes my schedule is quite demanding. You just do it, don’t you? My office is often a tube carriage somewhere, or the back of a cab.
The biggest thing sending me off kilter is online abuse and harassment. In the past it’d knock me for six. At the moment, I am in a strong enough place not to allow that to happen WHAT DOES GOOD MENTAL HEALTH LOOK LIKE TO YOU? I guess good mental health is being comfortable with who you are, and where you are in your day. It’s a lack of self-loathing, self-doubt and tiredness. It’s a calmness. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU DO TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL WELLBEING? I walk everywhere; I probably clock up about 20,000 steps a day. It annoys my entire family, but I like to round everyone up out of the house and say: 60 • happiful • January 2019
“Right, we are going for a walk.” I’m lucky enough to live by the sea, so getting to the coast is brilliant – that is always very therapeutic. I use the Headspace app. I always thought meditation wasn’t for me, because I’ve got such a busy mind, but this app is a really easy way to do it every day. In the evenings I use it to get to sleep. I also spend a lot less time on social media; I find that my mental health correlates with how much time I'm on there. And frankly, I am too busy! 'Cooking On A Bootstrap’ by Jack Monroe is out now (Bluebird, £15.99). Follow Jack on Twitter @BootstrapCook, and visit her website cookingonabootstrap.com
JACK’S FLUFFY BERRY PANCAKES SERVES 2 2 tsp butter 150g plain flour 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda 1 tbsp granulated sugar 80ml milk 2 medium or large eggs 100g frozen berries Oil, for greasing Golden syrup or honey, to serve These are a favourite of my small boy, and something of a lazy Sunday morning tradition. Vegan readers, you can replace eggs with two overripe mashed bananas, and butter with a little oil. This recipe is easily multiplied for larger crowds, in which case pop a couple of baking trays in the oven as it preheats to around 140°C/275°F/ gas 1, and use them to keep the pancakes warm as you cook. It’s no fun being the person with the cold pancakes at the breakfast table.
1. F irst pop the butter in a microwave-proof dish and melt for a few seconds. Set to one side, and work quickly. 2. Pour the flour, bicarb and sugar into a bowl, and mix well to combine. Make a well (a big wide dent) in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour in the milk and melted butter. Crack in the eggs and mix it all together. 3. Now let it rest – this helps to create the lightest, fluffiest pancakes. The best place to rest it is in the fridge, as science dictates that cold batter meeting hot oil is the optimum for an airy, perfect reaction. So pop it in the fridge and spend half an hour doing something else entirely.
4. When the batter is rested, remove it from the fridge, tip in the berries, and give it a quick stir. Grab a frying pan – preferably a non-stick one – and brush it with a little oil. Bring it to a high heat for a minute to warm the pan through, but don’t let the oil start smoking. Reduce the heat to medium, and dollop in some pancake mixture. The first one is always the worst – a snack for the hard-working chef is my rule! Cook for 1 minute and then, using a spatula, gently turn it over. Repeat until all of the pancake batter is used up, and serve in a stack, hot, with something runny and sweet. January 2019 • happiful • 61
WHAT DOES LOVE MEAN TO YOU? “Proper love should be utterly supportive and comfortable, and it feels like a raincoat or a jacket potato.” – Olivia Colman
Images | The Art of Life Admin: How to do less, do it better, live more: penguin.co.uk, Mary Queen of Scots: John Mathieson - © 2017 - Focus Features, Laura Medalia: Instagram @codergirl_
J A N U A RY From a brisk winter walk around London, to an app, book and podcast for helping you take back control and live your best life, get the new year off to an invigorating start with our January recommendations
PAGE-TURNERS The Art of Life Admin: How to do less, do it better, and live more by Elizabeth Emens A closer look at the “scourge of modern life”: admin. Its forms, problems, and what we can do to reduce it. Calling on her own personal experience, Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, Elizabeth Emens, offers a new perspective on time management and organisation. (Viking, available from 3 January, RRP £12.99)
track your progress: alcoholconcern.org.uk/dry-january)
Feel Better, Live More Star of the BBC One series Doctor in the House, Dr Rangan Chatterjee offers practical, straightforward advice for taking better care of your mind and body as he speaks to experts in everything from gut health to anxiety.
PLUGGED-IN Laura Medalia Laura’s Instagram combines style and software with posts about her life as a software engineer in New York City. Laura’s goal is to open up the world of computer science, and inspire the next generation of girls. (Follow Laura on
SQUARE EYES Mary Queen of Scots
PUT ON A SHOW Beat the Streets – Nottingham Let your hair down at this all-day music festival that’s raising funds for the growing homelessness crisis in Nottingham. Taking place at locations across the city, Beat The Streets will welcome more than 80 national and local acts, with one ticket allowing access to all venues. All proceeds from tickets, merch, and bar sales go towards Framework – a charity dedicated to helping homeless people.
OUT AND ABOUT Browse stalls and try some tasty treats at the South West Vegan Festival, and feel good while you’re at it as all profits are donated to the Farplace Animal Rescue charity. (Bristol, 19
London Winter Walk Get 2019 off to a brisk start by taking part in the annual Winter Walk. Stroll along the 20km route around the heart of London, and raise money for a host of worthy charities. (Find out more and register online before 10 January: londonwinterwalk.com)
Happiful readers get 15% off of orders from Acala using the code: HAPPIFUL15
January, buy tickets: southwestveganfestival.com)
(27 January, find out more: beatthestreetsuk.com)
The South West Vegan Festival
If you’re a parent, you’ll be all too familiar with the fight for space on the fridge door as your children get crafty. Keepy is the app that allows you to celebrate your child’s creativity without cluttering your home, as you can snap a photo of the art, save, organise and share all in one place. (Download from the App Store and Google Play)
LEND US YOUR EARS
Experience the drama, fury and heartbreak of the Elizabethan court as Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie star in this visually stunning telling of Mary Stuart’s attempt to overthrow her cousin, Elizabeth I, Queen of England. (Out in cinemas 18 January)
Take part in the challenge to go alcohol-free for the month of January to raise awareness of the effects of alcohol. (Download the Dry January app and
(Listen to the latest episode: drchatterjee.com)
THE CONVERSATION Dry January
Acala – zero-waste online store
The online zero-waste supermarket offering everything from cosmetics to cutlery in a bid to make environmentally-friendly shopping as easy as possible. Shop the range and reduce your impact on the planet. (Visit acalaonline.com to shop)
Culture & Lifestyle
The art of living with less Uncovering the positive impact of minimalist living at home, and in our lives Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
inimalism has been in fashion for many years. Whether it’s paring down your wardrobe, hitting back at your hoarding habits, or going for that more sleek, streamlined look throughout your home, the chances are, you’ve encountered the concept somewhere along the way. In his latest book, Joshua Becker sets out to show that creating a minimalist home is so much more than just an aesthetic choice. Minimalist living is a state of mind, and a way of life. THE BECKER METHOD Living a simple, uncomplicated life is, in many ways, one of the hardest things to do. In a society that is widely driven by consumerism and materialism, the Becker Method (which this book
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is based on) asks readers to identify what they hope to achieve through the minimising process. Highlighting that downsizing our possessions can not only lead to freedom from clutter, but to an overall better quality of life that allows us to identify and focus on what matters to us, Joshua’s latest book makes it clear that the move to creating a minimalist home is a continuous one. As our goals and interests change, we acquire new skills and hobbies, the people in our lives change, and so too will the things that are truly important in our homes. FROM A PLACE OF EXPERIENCE A popular minimalist blogger, author, and advocate, Joshua offers practical guidelines for simplifying not only our lifestyle at home, but how we can
address the underlying issues that contribute to our over-accumulation. Inspired by his own family’s journey into living a more minimalist life, Joshua speaks of the positive impact their changes have had not only on their lifestyle and sense of wellbeing, but how their decreasing focus on the material has become a launchpad for more fulfilling, productive and personal endeavors – such as founding the charity The Hope Effect, which supports orphans. Along with his own family’s experiences, The Minimalist Home is interspersed with true stories from others who have started living a more minimalist life. While it can be great to hear how different individuals have applied this new way of thinking, it can grow repetitive in places.
For many readers, picking up the book already shows a willingness to change; being reminded of this at every turn can become distracting.
Do we keep everything we inherit out of obligation, or identify what truly matters to us? A SOLID STARTING POINT Never claiming to be a magic cure-all, if you’ve already had your “ah-hah!” moment – that turning point where you realise possessions aren’t always as important as you first thought – then this book can be an ideal starting point. The Minimalist Home provides good grounding on where to start in your home, gain some momentum, and challenge what you hope to achieve through the decluttering process. With sections dedicated to what to do post-purge, as well as practical advice, this can be a useful book to have on hand if you are struggling Great for… • Parents looking to get the whole family involved in minimalist living. • Individuals who want to prioritise meaning over material possessions. • Would-be hoarders looking to take control of their lives and homes.
to reconnect with your original motivations, or to find the spark to start on the next section of your home. PRACTICAL, ACTIONABLE ADVICE AND GUIDANCE Easy to read and digest, The Minimalist Home acts as a guidebook for decluttering your home and life, one step at a time. Talking readers through the process of how to choose what to keep and what to discard, how to handle sentimental items, and how to stay motivated, many worries that may discourage readers from beginning their journey are handled in a sensitive, yet straightforward, way. Not all items we’re given or inherit have the same sentimental value for us as they did for our loved ones, and that can be a challenging position to find ourselves in. Do we keep everything out of obligation, or identify what truly matters to us? Starting from the easiest rooms (living room and bedroom), through to some of the hardest (garages and offices), Joshua offers simple but sensible advice to keep readers motivated and on-track. Reminding us to complete one room before starting another may seem obvious, but it can be easy to flit around, missing that vital feeling of accomplishment when we can stand back and appreciate our hard work from a single, completed (for now) space. SHOULD I READ IT? If you’re looking for practical ways to streamline your home with the help of a step-by-step plan, reading The Minimalist Home could be a great help. Minimising your home is a process, not an overnight solution. As much about the transition and the emotions surrounding that change as it is about
the act of getting rid of unneeded or unwanted items, it can help free up time, focus, and finances for new endeavors, or old passions that may have fallen along the way. If you are looking to make positive changes in your life, and your possessions or environment may be getting in the way, this can be a great nudge, and steady guiding hand in the right direction. The Minimalist Home By Joshua Becker (WaterBrook Press, RRP £16.99, available from 1 January 2019) IF YOU LIKED THIS, YOU’LL LOVE… The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying By Marie Kondo (Vermillion, 2014) Creator of the KonMari method, one of the main principles focuses on only keeping possessions which “spark joy” in your life. Goodbye, Things By Fumio Sasaki (Penguin, 2017) Explore the philosophy behind minimalism, and try simple, easy to follow rules towards a more fulfilled life. The Joy of Less By Francine Jay (Chronicle Books, 2016) Discover how to streamline everything from drawers to your whole house, and cultivate a minimalist mindset with simple steps to lasting success.
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Losing everything to find myself After a traumatic incident shook the lives of Steve Carr and his family, he realised nothing would be the same again. Steve ended up homeless and addicted to drugs. But admitting he had a problem was the first step, and with that momentum he kept going Writing | Steve Carr
Steve with fellow mental health campaigner – and November 2018 Happiful cover star – Jonny Benjamin
’ve experienced childhood trauma, anxiety, depression, stress, addiction, and borderline post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I didn’t even know it until my mind and body couldn’t take any more. I had a nervous breakdown at work, and then tried to take my own life three times in one month. Now, I’m a 42-year-old entrepreneur, with two successful businesses: Mindcanyon (mental health education specialists), and Steve Carr Mentoring (helping individuals with corporate burnout). But it was a long road to get here. I grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire, with my mother, father, my older brother Paul, and younger sister Claire. Times were tough in my teens; we lived in a three-bed terraced council house in the middle of a very rough street. It wasn’t easy, and I was subjected to many traumatic experiences – from being mugged at 14 years old, to seeing my mother and father beaten up.
I shared a bedroom with my brother, who I always thought was slightly odd as he listened to heavy metal. I, on the other hand, was into rave music, so it’s easy to see why we clashed. On Friday 13 September 1991, when I was just 15 years old, my life changed forever when my brother was tragically killed, along with four other children, by a reckless driver in the Akers Way horror crash in Swindon. My brother Paul, 16, Belinda Brown, 19, Paula Barnes, 15, Sheree Lear, eight, and seven-year-old Ian Lilley were playing on the grassed area off Akers Way, when the driver lost control of his car at high speed, and crashed into the group. The tragedy shook the community and provoked fury among campaigners who had long been calling for a lower speed limit, and other safety measures on the road. My life and my family’s were torn apart. After my brother’s death, I masked the trauma with alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs.
My family life had changed, we were drifting apart, and it felt like we were all walking around in a daze. A year after the event, my family could no longer bear to be in the same house that we grew up in – the memories were too raw, and especially as I shared a bedroom with my brother, knowing I would never see him again was mental torture. We moved to a beautiful village on the outskirts of Swindon, but it didn’t ever feel like home without my brother. We were all fighting with each other because we didn’t know how to deal with the trauma and bereavement. My parents ended up divorcing. At 16 years old, I was losing control of my life, and my father couldn’t deal with my erratic behaviour, so he told me that I had to leave. I was a teenager with no clue about money, finances, or the world, told I had to leave the family home. This hit me like a brick. I lost contact with my family, I couldn’t hold on to any form
To learn more about Steve and his workshops, visit mindcanyon.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter @mindcanyonmh
of relationship for long periods of time due to the fear of loss and rejection, and as fast as I was gaining friends, jobs and relationships, I was quickly losing them. During my early 30s, things started to look up for me. I made contact with my father again, and asked if I could come home to save for a house. I was so pleased when he said yes. I was doing extremely well at this point, working as a business development manager for a large corporate company, and eventually had my own house, car, and was in a happy relationship. With everything going well, I became a bit of a socialite. I was always out Continues >>> January 2019 • happiful • 67
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68 • happiful • January 2019
(You'll love this on p14)
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happiful magazine | December 2018
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with friends partying and drinking at weekends, and on one particular night I was introduced to cocaine. I had one line and that was it, I was hooked. I started taking cocaine every day, and even took £20,000 equity out of my house to feed my habit. I quit my job, lost my partner, pushed my friends away, stopped paying the mortgage, and ended up selling everything in my house to feed the habit. The house was eventually repossessed; I had lost it all. I became homeless and was living on the streets, but luckily it was only for a couple of nights as an old friend found me and helped me out. How did I let my life get this way? I was a homeless drug addict, with nothing more than what I was wearing to my name. My habit continued until I was 39 years old, flitting in and out of jobs, unable to concentrate or forge any lasting relationships. I couldn’t stop what I was doing to myself, until one day I pushed it too far. With a concoction of alcohol and drugs, including cocaine, methadrone, and legal highs, I attempted to take my own life, three times in one month. I now knew I had to get help. I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to end. Going to my GP was the only thing for it. I sat in his office, shaking, barely able to speak, shivering. I mustered up enough courage to say: “Please help me. I can’t go on like this. I don’t want to live like this. I’m a drug addict.” That was it, I had said it out loud. I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from
my shoulders. This would start a process of therapy and clinical help, from counselling, NLP, cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnosis, and personal development. I was diagnosed with high-functioning anxiety, depression, childhood trauma, stress, and borderline PTSD. The catalyst for recovery was remembering all the good times I had as a child, which sparked something in me, and I chose life. I was offered medication, but I didn’t want to mask my mind further with prescription drugs. I chose to go cold turkey and walk the length of Britain to find out what help was available for me, and to meet people like me who were struggling with mental health issues. After 90 days of self-discovery and shaking, living in a tent, and sleeping in weather conditions that would sink below minus four some nights, I had done it. The help, support and assistance I received was staggering; it changed my life. On my return, I knew it was just the beginning of my recovery. In the name of mental health, I went on to do so much, including: cycling 1,500 miles through seven countries in Europe over 11 days, to raise money for charity; cycling 350 miles from Liverpool to Lands End in four days, to raise awareness for PTSD; and running 70 miles from Hungerford to Buckingham Palace for World Mental Health Day 2017. I also went on to create my businesses, Steve Carr Mentoring and Mindcanyon,
In October, Steve went flying with his partner Monike and popped the question... she said YES!
to support people’s mental health. I’ve also qualified as a private pilot, a youth mental health first aider, as well as gaining counselling and coaching skills. I’m now one of the UK’s most physically active mental health campaigners, and an inspirational speaker and mentor. These achievements have all been while in recovery, in just under three years – and are a result of losing everything. Recovery is possible, especially when we are offered hope, support, time and love. I had a chance to start over, and that’s exactly what I did – walking away from things and people that were no longer serving me. I’ve learned that
I am the most important person in my world, I’ve set healthy boundaries, and I have amazing friends and a life I am now proud of. After multiple childhood traumas, and a turbulent adulthood wrecked by addictions and mental health problems leading to multiple suicide attempts, I emerged a man with a mission to change the world of mental health, to make sure no one has to face the adversity I had. I’ve chosen to give meaning to my life through helping others, leading to my current vision to help people around the world build and live lives of meaning and purpose beyond adversity. If you can’t offer anything else, offer hope.
Our Expert Says Traumatic and significant losses in Steve’s early life caused his world to collapse. Help from his father let him recover only to lose everything again to addiction. He starts therapy connecting with the good from his past as well as the bad. As with many people, the recovery process is tough, but he gets through it with help and support. It’s difficult to accept help but, as in Steve’s case, it can make the difference. He feels passionate about the transformation, training to make it possible for others as well. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor
January 2019 • happiful • 69
Taking Control of the Narrative
of a good thing?
Wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle is commendable. It’s great to take an interest in the nutritional quality our food, and to enjoy exercise as a form of self-care. But what happens when being ‘healthy’ goes too far? Rather than just taking an interest, it can become really unhealthy for both body and mind Writing | Becky Wright
WHAT IS ORTHOREXIA?
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM?
In our society, we’re inundated with choices and opportunities to make leading a healthy, active lifestyle as easy as possible: 24hour gyms, smartwatches to track our every step, and apps that can count calories, water intake, and how many hours of sleep we get. It seems that being “healthy” is more important to us than ever before. And, despite counter-narratives encouraging balance, intuitive eating and body confidence, it still feels as though what’s on the outside is still celebrated more than what’s on the inside. We idolise weight loss and strive to always be thinner, lighter or leaner than we were before. From my own experience, I know all too well the lasting impact this narrative can have on a person’s mental wellbeing. It can give way to obsessive, controlling tendencies around our relationship with food and exercise; I’m talking about orthorexia and exercise addiction. Yet, the most concerning and disturbing part about these conditions is that they’re not widely considered to be a problem. In fact, in many people’s eyes, the associated behaviours – eating healthily and exercising religiously – are things to be admired.
Orthorexia refers to an obsession with eating healthily – most often, eating foods that are considered “clean” or “pure”. It frequently occurs alongside a certain amount of exercise and, in certain cases, exercise addiction. Defined in the late 90s by Dr Steven Bratman, it is not currently recognised as an eating disorder. So, someone who visits their doctor with the symptoms would not be officially diagnosed with “orthorexia”, although the term may be brought up when discussing their health. As with other types of disordered eating, the behaviour involved is used to cope with negative thoughts and feelings, or to feel in control. Someone using food in this way might feel extremely anxious or guilty if they eat food they feel is unhealthy. How does orthorexia differ from anorexia? The primary difference is that the aim is not necessarily to be thin but, instead, to be healthy. The focus is on the quality of the food, rather than the quantity.
WHEN HEALTHY GOES TOO FAR
In our current culture, cutting out food groups such as sugar, fats, carbohydrates and dairy is often commended. As a result, it is common for people to perceive and categorise food as good and bad, clean or dirty, safe or unsafe. People can use these beliefs to impose rigid, obsessive rules, and there is a compulsion to adhere to them to maintain the perfect diet. The restriction can lead to serious physical problems, as their beliefs
about what is healthy may lead them to cut out essential nutrients, or whole food groups. Ultimately, a person in the grip of orthorexia may be severely malnourished. But, it’s not only physical health that is affected – there is a profound impact on mental wellbeing. People with orthorexia believe they are looking after themselves by eating in the best way possible. However, as with other types of disordered eating, the person often feels that they could always do better and, so, their rules become more and more rigid. The obsessive fixation on healthy eating can start affecting other areas of life, such as withdrawing from family and friends, social isolation, and problems with relationships or at work. The problem is many of those living with orthorexia can easily be identified as “health conscious” to the untrained eye. As counsellor Danielle Mills tells us, this can have serious consequences, and the person believing their behaviour is normal. “Our current obsession with the healthy (thin) body means that the behaviour of someone experiencing orthorexia may be admired and encouraged, with the person achieving a sense of wellbeing from their ‘success’ at looking and acting in ‘healthy’ ways,” says Danielle. Continues >>>
In many people’s eyes, eating healthily and exercising religiously are things to be admired January 2019 • happiful • 71
Taking Control of the Narrative
THE PROBLEM OF DIAGNOSIS
While orthorexia remains unrecognised as a clinical diagnosis, it represents a worrying trend in society. The fixation on diet and healthy eating can sometimes go too far and, when people do this, they are actually putting their health at risk – the very thing they are obsessed with protecting. Danielle provides some insight: “Orthorexia would be classed as OSFED (other specified feeding and eating disorders) for the purposes of diagnosis, so it is very difficult to ascertain how many people are affected by this condition.” And, perhaps more significantly, a lack of diagnosis means that it can often be difficult for people to access the support they need.
What is exercise addiction? Exercise addiction is a compulsive disorder where a person feels the uncontrollable need to exercise. It goes beyond the simple enjoyment of exercise, and can result in injury or illness. It’s difficult to determine how common the condition is, because there is some disagreement about what constitutes addiction to exercise. Some research equates exercise addiction with the commitment demonstrated by marathon runners, while others believe it is only considered an addiction when people report feeling compelled to exercise, despite having suffered serious physical, social, or occupational problems because of it.
72 • happiful • January 2019
Someone with orthorexia might not get the support they need until their condition becomes so serious that it is more entrenched and difficult to treat “We know that early intervention is key when it comes to disordered eating, yet current diagnostic frameworks often mean that support is limited for those whose conditions do not meet very specific criteria,” says Danielle. “Because of this, someone with orthorexia might not get the support they need until their condition becomes so serious that it is more entrenched and difficult to treat.”
HOW TO RECOGNISE WHEN ‘HEALTHY’ IS TOO MUCH
There is a key difference between maintaining a healthy diet, and having a healthy relationship with food. They are most definitely not one and the same thing. A healthy diet involves eating a wide range of foods that provide adequate amounts of calories for your activity level. This means having a balance between the energy you consume in food, and the energy you use up. Eating healthily is commendable, by all means; it improves overall health, aims to safeguard against ill-health, and helps recovery from illness. But, if a person feels that they are making a conscious decision to eat “healthily” by excluding certain foods from their diet, this indicates that food is the one in control. Having a healthy relationship with food is not only about enjoying food, but feeling in control of it, too.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO FEEL OUT OF CONTROL OF FOOD?
In my own experience, I masked my obsession with food and exercise as dedication to the cause of being the healthiest, fittest version of me. But is it actually dedication to prepare every single one of your meals for an entire week, and only eating food if you’ve made it yourself? Is it dedication to avoid social plans involving any kind of food or alcohol for the fear of unplanned calories? Is it dedication to go to the gym every day, even when your muscles are screaming at you to take a break? It feels like dedication, but it’s masking so much more underneath the surface. And, for me, as for many other people that experience obsessive tendencies around food and exercise, a large part of my behaviour stemmed from historic insecurities. Until underlying mental health issues are explored, it’s hard to break free from the cycle of restriction.
feels like to eat food for the joy of it – because you enjoy the flavour and how it makes you feel. Forget about numbers One of the first steps to taking back control is to let go of number-related goals. Try doing a workout and leaving the fitness tracker at home. Try buying food based on its appeal, rather than its nutritional value. Don’t track your calories for a meal, or even a day if you can.
Having a healthy relationship with food is not only about enjoying food, but feeling in control of it, too HOW TO TAKE CONTROL OF FOOD AND EXERCISE
It can feel hard to break free from the cycle of restriction but, in many ways, by becoming more flexible with your eating and exercise habits, your mental health will reap the benefits. Eat (and live) intuitively When we are restricted by social norms, it can be limiting. So, eat when you’re hungry, not when the clock suggests it’s a meal time. Workout for the clarity it brings your mind, not the stress it puts on your body. And remember what it
Beware of social media It’s easy to be misled by nutritional advice, particularly in the age of social media, where it can be tempting to follow guidance from someone based on their number of followers, rather than how qualified they are. But, before you take advice from someone you see online, have a look to see what their background and experience is. If their claims aren’t grounded in professional expertise, you may be better off looking elsewhere. Ask for help Professional support is available to help you find happiness in a healthy, balanced approach to life. Whether through counselling or nutritional support, experts are available to advise you on how to create a balanced approach to food and exercise, and to help you deal with any underlying issues. Remember, living a healthy life is about so much more than eating the perfect diet or being at the peak of physical fitness. For nutrition advice and to speak to a qualified nutrition professional, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk Or, to find a qualified counsellor or therapist in your area, visit counselling-directory.org.uk
Warning signs to look out for in a loved one People with orthorexia may not look "unwell". After all, eating disorders do not belong to just one body type. As such, they may not have a low body weight or BMI. Instead, the warning signs can be in the mental anguish people face when living in a restrictive way. Behavioural changes: • obsessions over food and health • self-diagnosis of having a food intolerance and food allergies • cutting out foods, entire food groups, or eating raw/fresh/ liquid only • increased use of supplements • misuse of laxatives • irrational concern about food preparation, food shopping, and checking of food labels for ingredients • unable to relax restrictive rules Personality changes: • guilt and anxiety at any deviations from restrictive rules • constant thinking of food • regular advanced planning of food and meals • emotional wellbeing is dependent on eating the "right" food • critical thoughts of others who do not eat healthily • fear of eating out, eating food not prepared by them but prepared or bought by others • loneliness • low levels of energy • depression, mood swings, anxiety January 2019 • happiful • 73
Writing | Anji McGrandles Illustrating | Rosan Magar
The key to emotional resilience Writing | Anji McGrandles
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
Every day is full of tough challenges, but itâ€™s how we respond that is important. Learning to roll with the punches can transform your outlook and your life
ou know those days, when from the moment you get up you feel stressed – the kids can’t find their PE kit, the trains are delayed and, to top it off, the minute you walk into the office there’s an email from your boss asking you to prepare a report by 9.30am? We’ve all been there. Some roll with the punches and keep their cool, while others immediately feel stressed, and it spills into the rest of the day. Depending on the challenges we’re facing at home or work, our ability to deal with the pressure will differ. What keeps us healthy is our response. Almost everything in life can create stress, so it is essential we become emotionally resilient, to deal with those challenges. Being emotionally resilient is all about being a great self-manager. It’s about choosing responses that support you in the face of adversity. Quite often in my workshops I hear people say: “I’m just not naturally a resilient person.” The good news is you can cultivate resilience – the brain is just another muscle, and the more you flex it, the stronger it becomes. Here’s a guide to building emotional resilience:
1 Accept yourself
Unconditional self-acceptance, learning how to be “comfortable in your own skin”, is the most important resilience skill of all. In a society driven by likes and clicks, it’s easy to get caught up in a social media bubble
and have unrealistic expectations. Stop comparing yourself to others, and rather than focus on your imperfections, focus on your strengths. I regularly write down affirmations that focus on my qualities. Try writing down three things every day, and pop them somewhere you can see them. Cultivate more of what you want, instead of what you don’t.
2 Where attention goes, energy flows
Our brains are naturally wired to focus on negative thinking, so try practising optimism and positivity. The key to optimism is to make loads of noise around your successes, and not to dwell on your failures. I like to use my mistakes as an opportunity to learn and develop, rather than beat myself up.
3 Learn to let go
Emotionally resilient people know that always being right will not necessarily make them happy. While it’s nice to be right, it’s better to be happy, so picking fights isn’t always worth it. Try letting go of any fixed attitudes that say people should love you, praise you, be grateful to you, or return favours – you will find life becomes a lot more relaxed. Have a think about how you can change your responses to create positive growth in your life. Mindfulness and meditation are great tools to cultivate emotional detachment. There are loads of ways to be mindful – try baking, walking, gardening, or anything that relaxes you and helps you switch off.
Try letting go of any fixed attitudes that say people should love you, praise you, be grateful to you, or return favours – you will find life becomes a lot more relaxed
4 Put you on your to-do list
Self-care is a lifestyle, and if you want to be more emotionally resilient, then self-care needs to become nonnegotiable. Having a commitment to yourself strengthens your emotional wellbeing. Go-to stress busters can range from exercise and meditation, to a cup of tea and a good book. Taking that time out for yourself is essential, so start by putting you on your to-do list.
5 Gratitude is the attitude
I use the practice of gratitude to make sure my day starts off on the right vibe. Before I reach for my first cuppa of the day, I remind myself of three things I’m grateful for. Gratitude puts situations into perspective. When we can see the good as well as the bad, it becomes more difficult to complain and be negative. This resets the brain into thinking positively, focusing on what you do have, rather than what you don’t. Gratitude diaries are great for recording all the things you are grateful for.
6 It’s nice to be nice
My papa always told me it’s nice to be nice, and he was right – it’s good for the soul. When you do something nice for others, you feel good and this releases endorphins. Research by the London School of Economics found those who volunteer are happier. But, you don’t have to do big things – try smiling at a stranger or giving a compliment. When it comes to emotional resilience, consistency is key, so find what works for you, and build it into your daily routine. Anji McGrandles is founder of The Mind Tribe, a wellbeing consultancy working with businesses on their wellbeing strategy and resilience training. For more information visit themindtribe.co.uk January 2019 • happiful • 75
Five crystals to start your collection Looking to begin a crystal collection but have no idea where to start? Crystals take millions of years to form, and some believe this process imbues them with special energies. Crystal healing taps into this power to encourage energetic changes in the body and mind. Different types of crystals will have different effects on your energy. If you’re just starting your collection, take a look at the following must-haves...
CLEAR QUARTZ Considered the master healing crystal, clear quartz strengthens the body’s energy field and promotes harmony
AMETHYST Believed to release tension and aid sleep, amethyst encourages rest, relaxation and creative thinking
CITRINE Helping to aid feelings of self-confidence and zest for life, citrine is said to invite abundance in all areas
ROSE QUARTZ Encouraging love for yourself and others, rose quartz helps us tap into kindness
HEMATITE Full of grounding energy, hematite roots us in the present moment, and protects us from negativity
Keep the crystal you need on your person, or ﬁnd a home for them somewhere in your surrounding area (on your desk or in your bedroom, for example). If you want to learn more about crystals, and book a session with a crystal healer, take a look at therapy-directory.org.uk
Photography | Richard Battye
Macaroons that make a difference
Meet the entrepreneur changing lives through baking
opping up at weddings and in the social media snaps of influencers, macaroons are the sweet treats that have been taking our Instagram feeds by storm in recent years. In the UK, Birmingham millennials have one of the country’s highest
Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
unemployment rates, with 30% of 25 to 34-year-olds out of work. These two things, fancy desserts and unemployment, may seem like worlds apart. But Miss Macaroon is the trailblazing business bringing them together to create a social enterprise with the power to change lives.
The business plan is simple: train small groups of socially disadvantaged individuals, aged 18 to 35, in pastry making, providing them with both work experience and professional skills to better equip them for the future. And it’s a success. Continues >>> January 2019 • happiful • 77
Sugary Social Enterprise
CASE STUDY One participant, asked to be known as R, was 20 years old when he joined the MacsMAD course in 2014. Prior to joining, he'd had some run-ins with the police, had strained relationships with his family and was sofa-surfing to put a roof over his head. On completing the MacsMAD course, R went straight into a six-month fulltime paid contract with Miss Macaroon, before he moved on to work in a restaurant.
My confidence is so high up there now “I had been unemployed for nearly six years,” says R. “Before I came on the course, I wanted to build my confidence up and the course has really helped. My confidence is so high up there now. I feel I can go and get a job and sit in interviews. I’ve got skills I didn’t think I had”. Today, R has been working as a chef for three years, and has his own flat and car.
Our passion for supporting young people makes our business unique 78 • happiful • January 2019
The whole thing is the brain-child of Miss Macaroon’s founder and managing director, Rosie Ginday. This is her story: IN THE BEGINNING Rosie always knew that she wanted to do something with her life that would help others. Since taking her first job as a waitress, she developed a passion for food and the way that it brings people together. For Rosie, the perk of the job was meeting and interacting with the people who came in to eat, but one day she heard a story from a homeless man that turned everything on its head. The young man had become homeless after his mum died, and he lost all his possessions in a house fire. Rosie had to do something about homelessness and unemployment in her city, and she had an idea. She went to the pastry kitchens at University College Birmingham, and trained to be a chef in order to fulfil her mission to create new opportunities for young people in the Midlands. She went on to set up Miss Macaroon in February 2011. PLAN IN ACTION On the surface, Miss Macaroon offers hand-crafted, luxury macaroons. With pioneering Pantone-matching technology, there is not a colour scheme that the team cannot replicate in these sweet treats. And they're in demand. From Virgin to Facebook, Lloyds to Google, Miss Macaroon is the perfect event accessory. But the Instagram-appeal is just one side of the story. “Our passion for supporting young people makes our business unique,” says Rosie. “At Miss Macaroon, indulgence is also a virtue.”
Each and every macaroon sold goes towards supporting a young person to find employment. With their training scheme MacsMAD (Maracroons that Make a Difference), the team offer socially disadvantaged 18 to 35-year-olds a choice of two courses. The first is a catering course, where participants are taken into training kitchens for the first four weeks, where they learn the basics of catering and pastry chef skills.
Rosie, and everything that she has achieved with Miss Macaroon, is evidence of the life-changing effect of kindness They are then moved on to the Miss Macaroon production kitchen for the remaining four weeks. The retail course teaches participants customer service skills. In the same format as the catering course, the first four weeks are spent in training before moving on to work experience for the last half. Once they have completed their course, the young people are offered up to six months of mentoring from the scheme, as well as the opportunity to get their Level Two Food Hygiene qualification. BREAKING THE CYCLE Without the necessary tools to get out, it’s extremely difficult to break the cycle of poverty. For Rosie, this knowledge played into her decision to offer the scheme to those most at risk of homelessness and unemployment. In the past, she has worked with care-leavers, ex-offenders, single-parents, and those who have slipped through the education system. And it’s working. To date, the team have trained 45 long-term unemployed young people. Of those helped, 33% were ex-offenders and 43% were homeless or in supported accommodation. But for Rosie, it’s also important to look critically at the ways that being in a minority group can effect opportunities in life. When
she’s not overseeing the production line, Rosie is a commissioner on the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Leadership Commission – an organisation that examines why leadership in the region is not representative of the people it serves. With this in mind, Rosie looks to work with companies who employ people with disabilities, who are LGBT+, BAME and young white working-class men. Because everyone deserves equal opportunities to succeed. ON THE CARDS Miss Macaroon has already achieved so much, leading Rosie to win the Enterprise Catalyst Social Entrepreneur 2015 Award, the Asian Business Young Entrepreneur Midlands Award, and the Ernst and Young Midlands Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2016. But the work never stops for Rosie. She’s looking to expand the business with other products and social enterprises. In the future, Rosie wants to open more Miss Macaroon stores across the UK. So, the message really is: watch this space. SWEET SOMETHINGS Rosie, and everything that she has achieved with Miss Macaroon, is evidence of the life-changing effect of kindness.
From the compassion needed to plant the idea in her head, to the drive and determination engaged to take Miss Macaroon to new heights as the company seeks to help even more people, social enterprises like these are surely the way forward. Who would have known, macaroons really can make a difference. Find out more about Miss Macaroon and the work that they do at missmacaroon.co.uk
January 2019 • happiful • 79
Letting my emotions flow When her mother died, Anne-Marie Walbyâ€™s world turned upside-down; she was only five years old. Despite family around her, a lifetime of unprocessed grief started to catch up Writing | Anne-Marie Walby
t was a lazy Sunday morning as I awoke. I rolled over in bed to hug mum, and as I snuggled up ready for a smile or a hug, I realised she felt cold. I sat up. She was pale. She wasn’t responding to my tugs for attention. Her face was blue and pale, her lips a blue, almost purple, colour. I went to find my brothers, and uttered the words: “I can’t wake mum; she won’t wake up.” They stopped what they were doing, looked at each other and took charge. I remember being shuffled into my bedroom and told to get dressed. There were people at the house – the doctor, two aunties, my father and brothers – but I felt that no one spoke directly to me for most of the morning. They may have
done of course, because when I think back it’s mostly a blur, like a movie with muffled sound where you can’t really make out the conversation. It felt as if everyone was hushing and shushing, and conversing in whispers. They were very occupied, busy, fussing. I was just there, a part of it all, and yet not. I recall arriving at my grandmother’s house later that morning, and being ushered in by auntie Eleanor, my father’s sister. She found grandma, and urged her to sit down, but before anything could be said, without any warning or advice I announced: “Mummy’s dead, she’s gone to heaven.” My grandmother fell into her seat. I was five years old. That quiet Sunday morning, my life changed. It would never be the same again.
It was 1970, and back then we didn’t really know much about child psychology, helping children grieve, emotional intelligence, or processing pain, and on top of that we were British – so we carried on, put on a brave face, and did the best we could get on with it. Now, as an adult, I can’t imagine what must have gone through the minds and hearts of my relatives; they must have been lost to know what to do. How do you help a five-year-old cope with the loss of her mummy? My childhood was mostly normal, based upon what I remember of it. The upside was I did well academically, was quite good at sport, and I enjoyed drama, music and theatre. The downside was that I was bullied a bit for being an academic, and children often called me a “bastard” because I was missing a parent – they didn’t understand the true meaning of the word.
How do you help a five-year-old cope with the loss of her mummy? I withdrew further and further into my own imaginary, safe world. I faked sickness so I could be alone in the sick room, I played hooky, and I kept myself to myself. At home, no one really mentioned mum. Occasionally a person would say, “Oh you’re so like your mum, she was
lovely,” but I didn’t know if this was true or not; I had nothing to compare their comments to. I had a few photographs and tiny, early memories here and there. One of the main times I saw and heard her name was when they announced her “anniversary” at church. This sadly was always connected to her death, and not her life. Family life for me initially meant staying with my auntie and grandparents, for practical reasons. Dad was up and out early, and being just five I couldn’t be left for two brothers to get me to school. As time went by, my grandfather died, and quite soon after him, my grandmother. That left my aunt and I, and that’s how it remained. She never married, I became her family, and we lived as a pair. I had a good life. I was well cared for, with a good home, and a very large extended family. I also remember feeling very alone at times, and would get tearful at New Year, or hearing people sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. It was as if the tears just couldn’t stay inside, the flood gates would open, and they wanted to pour out. As I got older, and I began to venture out into the world, my past began to affect my future. I spent a great deal of my 20s being very drunk, very often, which led me to huge crying bouts. I couldn’t cope with rejection from boyfriends, and I couldn’t self-regulate my emotions. I’d get drunk again, and again. I told myself I was a free, independent, modern woman looking for fun; that’s how I justified my casual sex-life, but Continues >>>
January 2019 • happiful • 81
Letting My Emotions Flow
‘These days I am very clear about many things and, in particular, how I want to raise my children.’
really I was a sad, lonely girl who just wanted to feel loved. My 30s were a time of healing, though. I was having a good life, I had achieved a lot in my work, and was living in central Europe doing a dynamic job full of travel and variety. But then I developed a phase of suffering spasms of bursting into tears. Friends would ask me what was wrong, but I didn’t know, I couldn’t explain. I was just really, really sad. When I was 34, I lost a very dear friend very suddenly. He was just a friend, not a lover, and at 38 he was gone – a stroke. The pain I felt at his death was like my chest being ripped open. I hadn’t felt anything like it; I was in so much pain and sadness I didn’t know how I would go on. A few months on, one day I hit the emotional wall. I couldn’t function, I couldn’t face people. I was hiding from the world in my office, I was frozen and couldn’t cope with any of the normal 82 • happiful • January 2019
Today I am happy with my My mum’s passing steered journey. I have learnt to heal me on my journey to healing my wounds, and to be strong myself, which has taken me while also being gentle. I have around the world; from living learned to trust myself and life, and working in Slovenia, routines. I was hiding behind and I have learned to live and to Hawaii for learning and heavy makeup to cover my feel love, not just exist. coaching, California for more tear-stained face, and hiding I have cried rivers and had development, and many other out behind my closed office horrific heartache, but I have places. I have met amazing door. At this point, a dear learned to let the emotions friend introduced me to a way people who have become flow because holding on to mentors, teachers, friends. I forward. them was hurting me and have learnt to love life, people Over the coming years, I holding back my life. learned so much about myself, and adventures. Once I realised I could These days I am very clear how I think, what’s important change, I never stopped. I am about many things and, in to me, and most importantly constantly learning, growing particular, how I want to I began to grieve the loss of and evolving. I love my life, raise my children. They know my mother. I visited psychics, and I love my mother with all about their grandma Mary; spiritual healers, and a variety of my heart. of emotional release therapies. we have photos of her around My wish is that we treasure the home, we discuss her, and I became an avid learner, chat to her photos as we do any everyone, for life is so fleeting training in self-help practices and precious. such as NLP, hypnosis, timeline other member of the family. therapy, and other mindset tools. I also began to journal; Our Expert Says clearing my emotions and neural pathways via writing. Anne-Marie’s story is one of traumatic loss, and delayed I began to design a future grieving. Her five-year-old self was not able to process what for myself, to dream again, was happening, and her unresolved suffering was released only by a later bereavement which brought it to the fore. and I got excited about living Her courageous work to allow the grief to unfold and pass for the first time in a very very through, as she explored and developed herself, is a powerful long time. reminder that we can heal and move past loss, that it is a process that takes time, None of the events in my life and calls us to feel our emotions fully. were meant to cause intentional harm, but they were traumatic, Fe Robinson | MUKCP (reg) MBACP (reg) and that little girl needed to psychotherapist and clinical supervisor grieve – and eventually heal.
If you can see it you can achieve it... Do you believe in fate? Happiful certainly does after speaking to David Hamilton, PhD Writing | Lucy Donoughue
f David Hamilton’s life to date were a film, then the opening sequence, foreshadowing his vast work in the healing power of the brain, would start with him as a child, when the conversation around the mind-body connection fell at his feet, literally...
“My interest in the brain started when I was about 11 years old,” David reveals to me in a soft Scottish burr. “My mum had postnatal depression when my sister was born. I didn’t know it was depression, I just knew that my mum wasn’t very well sometimes.
“I loved my mum and I just wanted to help her. One day, when I started at high school, I was in the library and this book just fell off the shelf. It was called The Magic Power of Your Mind by Walter M Germain, and I had an instinct that this could Continues >>>
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David Hamilton: Mind Over Matter
It’s funny that when you have something you need to do, you find a way through the fear
INCREASE YOUR MINDBODY CONNECTION •B elieve that it works. Keep reading and re-reading information on the mind-body connection. • Try to cultivate a feeling of warmth and connection with others – even through visualisations. •C ut people a bit of slack! Thinking kindly of others generates oxytocin – a feelgood but also cardiovascular hormone that protects the arteries and reduces blood pressure.
help my mum, so I just put it in my bag and took it home. I still have that book today – it’s been a long loan!” David explains that he gave the book to his mum and she found it tremendously helpful, as it taught her coping strategies, relaxation, positive thinking, and affirmations. He recalls hearing his mum talking about the power of the mind, reciting positive phrases like “mind over matter”, and “all in the mind”, and the two of them would often have conversations about thinking yourself better – a subject that has shaped his adult career. Winding the clock forward to his 20s, David finished a PhD in organic chemistry, and found himself working in a scientific field focusing on pharmaceuticals and cancer, with his interest in the power of positivity still piqued. He became fascinated by the first clinical examples he saw that demonstrated the power of the mind, and work around the impact of placebos.
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• If you have minor ailments or niggles coming on, picture your ill-feeling and then your healing process charging in. Visualise this over and over again. David tells me that many of his colleagues dismissed the discussion around placebos and positive thinking, while he continued to delve deeper into the mind-body phenomena. “People so often assume that the placebo effect is about solely thinking you are getting better. However, it’s not just psychosomatic – if you look at neurological effects of a placebo, there is actually activation in the pain sensor region of the brain. The brain produces its own version of morphine; it’s called an endogenous opiate, and it’s produced in proportion to how much you’re expecting a reduction in pain. There is a neurological chemical response to what you believe.
“For me, that’s mind blowing, and it completely turns around the idea of the mind-body connection being psychosomatic.” David became so passionate about the subject that he decided to resign from his job, promising to write a book – like the one that helped his mum many years before. “I’d never written a book in my life. I had no idea how to do it, I was terrified to speak in front of people – but it’s funny that when you have something you need to do, you find a way through the fear.” David has written many books since, including The Contagious Power of Thinking, Why Kindness is Good For You, and Choice Point. Today, we are talking about his best-
seller How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body, the 10th anniversary edition, containing new research and scientific studies. As David notes, the study of the mind-body connection has come a long way in a decade. How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body focuses heavily on the power of visualisation, and how we all have the ability to think ourselves better, in many circumstances. Chapters cover the power of positivity, visualisation to enhance the immune system, and visualisation for rehabilitation. Sitting alongside these chapters, are passages explaining how visualisation works, and how to do it.
Strengthening the mind and body connection through visualisation is something that needs to be repeated and committed to Chatting about this book, it’s clear that David’s passion for educating the widest possible audience about mindbody connection is as strong as ever, and our conversation is peppered with recollections of case studies, scientific research, and his own observations of people he’s encountered through his speaking engagements. While David keenly backs up all his assertions with evidence (he even keeps pictures of brain scans on his mobile should the occasion arise to scrutinise the neurology of positive thinking), I ask him whether he finds it difficult when people are dismissive of the healing possibilities he champions. “There’s such compelling evidence,” he says without missing
a beat. “There’s almost no question about the mind-body connection.” However, there are sceptics. He tells me about a workshop he did a few years ago, when a participant made his doubts well known. David used a very simple example to help him to see that the mind-body connection was, in fact, very real. “I asked him: ‘Have you ever, in your imagination, entertained a sexual fantasy?’ When he sheepishly responded that all men did, I said: ‘Am I right, or am I wrong – was there a physical change to any part of your anatomy during the fantasy?’” David laughs. “That was the end of the conversation. He suddenly appreciated the mind-body connection.” David is clear that his advocacy of this way of thinking is not instead of traditional medicine and working with medical teams, but in addition to them – and is something that is open to everyone of us. So how can we help ourselves to heal, harnessing everything David teaches? “If you want to apply this to injury and disease, you’ve got to imagine a healing process is happening. If your brain can’t distinguish real from imaginary, then you have to imagine the body is repairing and recovering. “Many people visualise the antibiotics as little characters swimming through their systems and destroying bacteria. Some people who are having chemotherapy picture the drugs as piranha fish, destroying the cancer cells, or their tumours melting like ice, getting smaller and smaller. Imagine what you want to happen, as if it is happening now.” And like any practice that could improve our health and wellbeing, strengthening the mind and body connection through visualisation is something that needs to be repeated
and committed to. “If you wanted to reduce your cholesterol, you wouldn’t just eat one piece of lettuce,” he jokes. “You have to put the work in and visualise consistently before you get the results.” David is delighted to have seen a huge increase in people using these practices over the past three to four years in particular, and cites an article on the power of positive thinking in the New Scientist earlier this year. “You wouldn’t have seen that 10 years ago. There’s been a tremendous shift, and it’s really been led by the quality and the volume of scientific research that’s been done. It just reduces all scepticism, really.” After finishing our convincing conversation, I make a promise to myself to start the practice David is so passionate about, and begin to re-read his book. Chapter 1, paragraph 1: The Power of Positive Thinking. “Optimists live longer than pessimists.” I’m sold…
‘How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body’ By David Hamilton PhD (Hay House, £12.99)
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CHALLENGE YOURSELF “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” – Walt Disney
Photography | Roxanne Desgagnes
The helping hand for the homeless Since 2010, rough sleeping has increased by 169%, and last year 4,751 people slept rough on one night in England. But as the numbers continue to shock, St Mungo’s is the homelessness charity calling for the government to take urgent action, and offering those forced on to the streets a second chance at life
omelessness is on the rise. As the number of roughsleepers hits critical levels, St Mungo’s is the charity that provides housing and support to 2,800 people across London and the south. In 1969 a group of volunteers decided to do something to help homeless people. They chose the name of a Christian saint, and went on to secure their first hostel – a former Marmite factory in Vauxhall, south London.
Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
The charity strongly believes that homelessness is not inevitable, and with their government lobbying and life-saving services, they continue to challenge stigma and transform lives. OUTREACH ON THE STREET The life expectancy for men living on the streets is 47, and for women it’s just 43. For that reason, St Mungo’s hands-on approach is vital for the wellbeing of homeless people across the country. Their
outreach programme sees teams go out on to the street every night and in the early hours of the morning looking for people sleeping rough. Sometimes informed of the whereabouts of rough-sleepers by StreetLink, the teams work with other organisations to help people access accommodation, alongside physical and mental health, drug and alcohol support, as well as legal services. Continues >>> January 2019 • happiful • 87
WHAT CAN I DONATE?
You don’t just have to donate money. Here’s a list of the types of things that St Mungo’s accept as donations: Clean clothes Got some jumpers knocking around the back of your wardrobe that you don’t wear? Or perhaps that pair of trousers that you just never got around to wearing? Give your clothes a new life by donating what you don’t wear. Unused toiletries From soap to shampoo, toothpaste and body wash, all unused, unopened toiletries are welcome. Non-perishable food Full, sealed packets of dry, nonperishable food within their sell-by date can be donated. Perhaps you went a bit overboard with the stockpiling and have food to spare? Or maybe when you pick up something for yourself in the supermarket you could pop an extra one in the trolley? New socks and underwear As long as they are new and unused, socks and underwear can be donated in all sizes. New towels and bedding Are you housing some towels and bedding that have never been used? These are great things to donate to someone in need. But be aware that bedding must meet fire safety standards. Find out more at mungos.org/get-involved. If you would like to donate, contact St Mungo’s Support Care team at supportercare@mungos. org or call them on 0208 600 3000 to be put in touch with a suitable donation service.
THE ROAD TO RECOVERY For St Mungo’s, their top priority is to get a roof over heads. It’s what starts the journey to recovery. But in addition to this, they offer a pioneering learning program at Recovery Colleges. In these colleges, St Mungo’s staff and volunteers run wellbeing courses, such as those that look at building self-esteem or rebuilding family relationships, as well as the opportunity to study a wide range of subjects including English, maths, music and IT. The courses are not about chasing qualifications, rather they’re about equipping those taking part with the skills that they need to turn their lives around. Currently, St Mungo’s have hubs in London and Bristol, with plans to expand in the future. WOMEN ON THE STREET Women make up 14% of those who are rough sleeping. In a recent report entitled Women and Rough Sleeping, from the University of York’s Centre for Housing Policy,
academics Joanne Bretherton and Nicholas Pleace found three trends in particular: • Women sleeping rough are more likely to be aged under 25 than men • Women are more likely to sleep rough for shorter periods than men • Women sleeping rough are more likely to need support for mental health problems The report also found that the top reason women are forced into homelessness is domestic abuse. But the abuse doesn’t end once women are on the street, with many living in fear of assault, leading them to take extra precautions to hide and conceal themselves away from town centres. One woman told the researchers: “[I hid in] Wendy houses in back gardens, sheds, empty garages, empty houses that were gonna be demolished… public toilets… wherever. It’s easier to find a shed
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SEE SOMEONE SLEEPING ROUGH?
It’s sometimes hard to know what to do when you see someone sleeping rough. But St Mungo’s offer advice how to help:
in someone’s backyard than it is to sit in a doorway and risk getting a beating. That’s why women tend to hide, they think safety first.” Following this report, St Mungo’s is calling on the government to take urgent action to recognise the specific issues faced by women living on our streets. THE HUMAN TOUCH Often, those who are best placed to offer advice are the ones who have been through the experience themselves. With that in mind, St Mungo’s Peer Advice Link (PAL) pairs volunteers with experience of homelessness with others. Together, they work on a recovery journey. The volunteer can offer practical support on settling into a new home, help with how to pay bills and rent, and advice on where to go to get involved with other support services. With their unique insight into the complexities of rough sleeping, it is St Mungo’s hope that PALs can stop repeat homelessness.
The life expectancy for men living on the streets is 47, and for women it’s just 43 OFF THE STREET At a time when homelessness is increasingly becoming a problem in the UK, St Mungo’s is the charity equipping those fallen on hard times with the tools that they need to get off the street. And they offer us all the opportunity to get involved. From volunteering at Recovery Colleges and in Outreach teams to donating unwanted items and being aware of those on the street, and taking the time to chat where you can, we can all make a difference. To find out more about St Mungo’s and to donate, visit mungos.org
Contact StreetLink StreetLink is a website, mobile app and phone line run in partnership with St Mungo’s and Homeless Link. If you see someone sleeping rough, contact StreetLink with the person’s location. An outreach team will then find the person to offer them support. Medical emergencies If you see someone in need of urgent medical assistance, do call 999 immediately. Listen A way you can really make an impact on a person’s experience is to talk to them and listen. Perhaps ask if they would like anything other than money – a hot drink or help finding support, for example. Giving money St Mungo’s believe that the choice to give money to people on the street is just that, a choice. However, donating money to a homelessness service may have a better effect in the long-run.
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nM E NTA L
H E A LT Hn
Author and blogger Claire Eastham reflects on her experience with mental health, and shares her advice for others herself. Her passion for mental health and inclusion in the workplace is awesome. George David Hodgson (@imgeorgehodgson) who uses his fashion brand Maison de Choup to start conversations about mental health. Ellen Jones (@ellen__jones), a self-proclaimed “crazy, autistic lesbian”. She campaigns endlessly for both LGBT and mental health rights.
Follow Claire on Instagram @allmadhereuk_
Mental health matters to me because… I spent decades taking my brain for granted, feeling ashamed and weak in a way that I never would if I had a stomach bug or a headache. There is no shame in admitting that you feel depressed or anxious, and I’ve made it a mission of mine, via the keynote speeches and talks that I do, to spread that message. When I need support I… ask for it. I explain exactly how my condition is making me feel, and how the people around me can help. If I feel like I’m having a panic attack, I ask that people don’t make a fuss and just assure me that it will end soon. I don’t try to deal with it on my own any more. When I need some self-care, I… “disappear” for a while. As a society we spend so much time “switched on” and being available, whether that be at work, family events, drinks with 90 • happiful • January 2019
My form of self-care is to go off the grid for a while friends, or staying visible on social media. My form of self-care is to go off the grid for a while. I might take my dog for a long walk, or get in the bath with a glass of wine, light some candles and listen to a good historical audiobook – I’m such a history nerd! The books I turn to time and again are… The Panic Attacks Workbook, by Dr David Carbonell, The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge, A Series of Unfortunate Stereotypes, by Lucy Nichol and A Beginner’s Guide to Being Mental by Natasha Devon. People I find inspiring online are… Ruth Cooper-Dickson (@ruthiecoops), an incredible woman who set up a consultancy all by
Three things I would say to someone experiencing mental ill-health are… • You don’t have to live like this. There is so much help available. • You might feel hopeless, but that’s a part of the disorder, think of it as a symptom. • You wouldn’t keep a broken leg a secret, so don’t keep your mental illness a secret. The moment I felt most proud of myself was… when I did my first public speaking appearance at Stylist Live 2017. There was a moment when I thought that I wouldn’t be able to go on stage because my panic attacks were so violent. However, I used the techniques that I’d learned. The thunderous applause and standing ovation at the end of my talk is a memory that I’ll never forget. Read Claire’s blog: allmadhere.co.uk. You can follow her on Twitter @ClaireyLove and Instagram @allmadhereuk_. Her book ‘We’re All Mad Here’ is available to buy online and in bookstores.
IT ALL ADDS UP
Photography | Nathan Dumlao
“Every drop in the ocean counts.” – Yoko Ono
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