THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH
JAN 2020 £4.00
#REAL Chessie King is shattering the social media 'sheen', and living her best, authentic life
Monday lovin’ Defeat that Sunday night anxiety, once and for all
Feel the heat and make it mindful
Embrace imperfection 5 mindful moments to make your day BOSH! Plant-based & delicious PLUS+
Reignite your ﬂame
Escape from the pressure cooker & listen to your body
Photography | Azamat Zhanisov
Real generosity towards the future lies in giving all to the present – ALBERT CAMUS
Back to basics “All you need is less.” No, it’s not a misquote of the Beatles, but a Pinterest board favourite, set to inspire us to be less focused on material things. Yet maybe it can apply to more in our lives than clutter and physical objects... Maybe 2020 can be the year of less – less stress, less hassle, less time wasted, less stretching yourself to breaking point, and less worrying about other people’s opinions of you. At the start of a new year, we often feel pressured to say ‘yes’ to new opportunities, shake up our lives and pursue something out of the box. But what if we stopped for a moment and said ‘no’, rather than piling new responsibilities and resolutions on our already full plates?
The wonderful Chessie King embraced this attitude herself recently. After modelling and bodybuilding put her under a microscope, she said no more. To coincide with our makeup-free shoot, Chessie bares all in her interview, and lets her authentic self shine – which is helping others in the process, too. We also share advice for recognising, and recovering from, burnout. Plus unconventional ways to address anxiety, and how yoga has the power to reconnect you with your body. Focusing on your own needs might feel selfish, yet remember another classic, but accurate, saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
What if we stripped things back and spent all that time and energy rediscovering ourselves, what we need, what inspires and motivates us, and who we truly are?
Cheers to that!
We love hearing from you, get in touch:
REBECCA THAIR | EDITOR
The Uplift 8 In the news 05 : 07
13 The wellbeing wrap 14 What is 'rust-out'?
Sundays full of dread? Watching the clock at work? You could be experiencing 'rust-out'
50 Vets on the street
Features 16 Chessie King
The body-confidence guru opens up about the lasting effect of pushing her body to its limits, and how she found equilibrium
Discover the heart-warming charity ensuring that no homeless animal is forgotten and changing lives while they're at it
26 Extinguish burnout
Tips for tackling burnout, from someone who has been there themselves
39 Go global
How does mental health care and stigma vary around the world? We speak to six people about their experiences
81 Bust anxiety, your way
Food & Drink
Discover unconventional routes to treating anxiety and see where your journey takes you
Life Stories 45 David: Finding my place
David was caught in a 10-year cycle of breakdowns and recovery, until he discovered volunteering and the power it had to transform his wellbeing
55 Lyn: Remembering my son When Lyn's son took his own life, her grief was all-consuming. But through her pain, Lyn has been a voice for change, and she's challenging the stigma that stops people reaching out
85 Claire: Getting up again
Redundancy flipped Claire's world upside down and left her filled with self-doubt. Things took a turn for the better when she discovered CBT, and realised the power of change
66 Sauté the day
Start your morning right with these deliciously simple, feel-good breakfast recipes
68 The BOSH! revolution
Uncover the secrets of a perfect vegan feast
Lifestyle and Relationships 58 Finding therapy
Columnist Grace Victory on her journey to finding the right therapist
72 Bridge the gap
With advice from a counsellor, learn how to talk to loved ones about binge drinking
75 Five mindfulness methods 76 Gemma Ogston The plant-based chef shares how she harnesses the power of self-care
READER OFFER Print
36 Things to do in January 48 Ask the experts
Can hypnotherapy boost our confidence?
62 Jessamyn Stanley
The body-positive yoga teacher gets real about the power of accepting yourself ENTER CODE:
64 Turn up the heat
AT THE CHECKOUT
We explore the benefits of hot yoga
88 Goodbye perfection
Candi Williams' latest book explores the problem with perfection
90 Quickfire: MH matters
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60 Maintain fitness motivation
Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue
EDITORIAL Rebecca Thair | Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Staff Writer
BA MEd (Psych) PGCE, BACP Reg
Chloe is a hypnotherapist, coach, and the host of the 'Calmer You' podcast.
Paula is a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor with 25 years' experience.
Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor Grace Victory | Columnist Ellen Hoggard | Web Editor Bonnie Evie Gifford | Contributing Writer
CHYP DHYP CIH
MA BACP UKCP
Jessica is an empowerment coach and hypnotherapist who helps to inspire personal growth.
Elaine is a counsellor offering clinical supervision and personal therapy.
Kat Nicholls | Contributing Writer Becky Wright | Contributing Writer
ART & DESIGN Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer Rosan Magar | Illustrator
Fiona Thomas, Katie Conibear, Lydia Smith, Gemma Calvert, David Bromley, Penelope Ling, Lyn Walton-McPhee, Claire Haye
BA MA NLP Mstr
MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind
Rachel is a life coach encouraging confidence and motivation.
Graeme is a counsellor working with both individuals and couples.
BA MA MBACP (Accred)
Rav is a counsellor and psychotherapist with more than 10 years' experience.
Josephine is a nutritional therapist, and yoga and meditation teacher.
BA DHP SFBT CBT SFBTSUP
BA MA PG Dip Reg MBACP
Alice Greedus PR Officer email@example.com
Penelope is a hypnotherapist and supervisor, specialising in anxiety-related problems.
Katerina is a counsellor who uses creative techniques to support clients.
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IN THIS ISSUE
JOIN THE BE REAL CAMPAIGN A campaign determined to change attitudes about body image, Be Real offers resources on tackling body confidence topics, as well as bringing together a community. Head to berealcampaign.co.uk
FIND A LIFE COACH IN YOUR AREA Search for professional life coaches near you, and find out more about how life coaching can support you, by visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk
SEARCH FOR VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES NEAR YOU Get involved with community projects and boost your wellbeing by discovering volunteering opportunities in your area. Simply search for your postcode at do-it.org
SUPPORT AFTER SUICIDE A network offering support to those who have been bereaved by suicide. Discover stories, practical help, and local organisations at supportaftersuicide.org.uk
INFORMATION ON ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ADDICTION Speak with online advisors and learn more about tackling alcohol addiction at drinkaware.co.uk
ADVICE FOR LIVING WITH ANXIETY Call the No Panic helpline on 0844 967 4848 (charges apply) or find information online at nopanic.org.uk
Bristol dance project supports women living with cancer
Photography | Camilla Greenwell
With one in three people experiencing mental ill-health before, during, or after treatment for cancer, charity Penny Brohn UK has teamed up with creative dance project Move Dance Feel to offer dance courses in Bristol for those affected. Designed for women with any type or stage of cancer, the course provides supportive group activity to create an uplifting and gently invigorating escape. Founder Emily Jenkins explains that she set up Move Dance Feel to help women living with cancer reconnect with their bodies. “The project is centred around artistic practice, where women come together to dance instead of talk about their cancer experience,” Emily says. As Penny Brohn UK see it, people with cancer need more than medicine, and holistic programmes like this have the power to transform wellness. One previous participant said: “When you have cancer, you lose touch with your body. It becomes unfamiliar – even worse, it starts to feel as if it is an enemy. “For me, dancing started to bring me back to my own body and its energy, strength, and basic joyfulness.” Find out more at pennybrohn.org.uk Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
‘Happy to chat’ bench tackles loneliness
Connection between learning a new skill and reduced stress is revealed What could rats driving tiny cars teach us about alternative mental illness treatments? It may seem like a far-out link, but US researchers at the University of Richmond have had promising results from a recent study that put rats behind the wheel. Dr Kelly Lambert revealed that a group of 17 rats were taught how to drive tiny plastic cars, in exchange for pieces of cereal, with the results going on to indicate that the rats felt more relaxed while completing the task. The study looked at a mixture of labraised rats and those that lived in a more natural habitat, or an ‘enriched environment’. Rats raised in these more natural environments proved to be significantly better drivers. Following the trials, researchers examined the rat’s faeces to test
stress hormone levels, as well as to check for the anti-stress hormone, dehydroepiandrosterone. All test subjects were shown to have higher levels of the anti-stress hormone, which researchers believe may be linked to the satisfaction of learning a new skill, leading them to suggest that this could be a step towards helping develop nonpharmaceutical treatments for mental illness. While Dr Lambert points out that more research needs to be done to explore the effect in different animals, this discovery could make waves in mental health treatment, and we’re along for the ride! Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
A simple ‘happy to chat’ sign on benches is helping communities tackle loneliness. The idea is the brainchild of Allison Owen-Jones, from Cardiff, who spotted an elderly man sitting alone on a bench, wanted to say hello, but realised he might not want to be disturbed. “I came up with the idea of tying a sign that would open the avenues for people,” Allison told the BBC. The idea quickly snowballed, leading the Bristol-based Senior Citizen Liaison Team to set up partnerships with local police to create permanent ‘chat benches’. It’s estimated that there are more than a million chronically lonely older people in the UK, with half a million going at least five days a week without speaking to anyone. Talking to Happiful about the success of the chat bench initiative, co-founder Detective Sergeant Ash Jones said: “The initiative has had a fantastic response from the community, with hundreds – if not thousands – of chat benches now around the world. This is beyond my wildest aspirations, and I hope that awareness of the impact of chronic loneliness on the elder community will be its lasting legacy.” A simple way to get involved, Ash explains, is to download the sign from their website, sclt.us/chatbench, and adopt a local bench. “It’s successful because it’s that simple!” Writing | Kat Nicholls
January 2020 • happiful.com • 9
I like the crackling logs, the shaded lights, the scent of buttered toast, the general atmosphere of leisured cosiness ― PG WODEHOUSE
Getting cosy could boost your wellbeing Lighting some candles, curling up under a blanket, sipping on a hot chocolate – for many, these are the ingredients for a perfect evening. And if that sounds like you, we’ve got some good news, as new research has revealed that getting snug could have real benefits for our mental health. In a study commissioned by Contura, 2,000 adults were surveyed about their lifestyles. The results showed that six in 10 believed that they ‘need’ a certain level of cosiness in their lives in order to feel good, with a further two-thirds noting the positive effect a relaxed evening has on their overall wellbeing. Considering the study, psychologist Dr Becky Spelman was unsurprised by the results. “As a species, we are fundamentally territorial, which means for most people home is very important on an emotional as well as a practical level,” Dr Spelman explains. “During the winter months, with the long hours of darkness, it makes sense for us to want to hunker down in our ‘den’, taking care of ourselves, and the people, and things, we hold dear.” So, draw the curtains, dim the lights, and pull on your fluffiest socks, because getting snug could be the perfect way to boost your wellbeing this winter. Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
January 2020 • happiful.com • 11
How did you d o? Search'freebie s' at shop.happiful. com to find the answ ers, and more!
Embrace Mother Nature and get those keen eyes at the ready for our natural world themed puzzle picks this month
Spot the difference
Keep an eye out for 9 changes between the images
Attenborough Fresh air Forest bathing Birding Trees Exploring Adventure Rambling
The Going up
Humpback whales are back from near extinction – from 450 to around 25,000
wellbeing wrap Nature’s heroes
Listening to 78 minutes of music each day can benefit your wellbeing – according to the British Academy of Sound Therapy, and the streaming platform Deezer. The study found that 90% of people used music to relax, and therapeutic benefits began after just 11 minutes of listening.
Experts have revealed that thanks to forgetful grey squirrels, who bury their nuts and acorns and don’t return for them, hundreds of trees have become seedlings each year! Squirrelling things away has never been so helpful!
HANKERING FOR A HOLIDAY? Brush up! Good oral hygiene is linked to better heart health
Icons | shutterstock.com, Font Awesome: fontawesome.com
Formula 1 has announced plans to go carbon neutral by 2030
Instagram has banned plastic surgery filters to improve MH
75% of teachers describe themselves as ‘stressed’
A chance to relax and refresh, we all love an adventure abroad, or a little staycation. But it turns out that 51% of Brits have booked a vacation to benefit their wellbeing, and it seems stress is a primary reason why. The study by DFDS revealed that 37% of Brits have felt forced to take a holiday due to everyday work and life stresses.
‘THE PILLOW BANDIT’
With two thirds of cat and dog owners letting their furry pals snuggle in with them at bedtime, research from itchpet.com has revealed the 10 most common sleeping positions for pets – and I’m sure some are all too familiar! From ‘the sneak’, where your friend gradually snuggles further up your bed, to ‘the donut divider’ who curls up in a ball between your legs, to ‘the pillow bandit’ where your cheeky pet decides sharing is caring and steals your whole pillow – I certainly know a culprit who does latter.
WITH ONE IN EIGHT MEN AFRAID TO SEEK SUPPORT FOR THEIR MENTAL HEALTH, 12 BRILLIANT MEN FROM ESSEX ARE PUTTING THEMSELVES OUT THERE FOR A CHARITY ‘DAD BOD CALENDAR’, WITH PROFITS GOING TO THE MENTAL HEALTH FOUNDATION.
WORKING 9 TO 5...
Could be a thing of the past – at least for five days a week, that is. In August 2019, a Microsoft subsidiary in Japan closed its office every Friday, and saw a 40% boost in productivity. It noted printing decreased by 58%, and electricity use was down 23%, making it a win for the environment too!
World of Wonder
Nature photography is believed to help with mental illness by developing a skill, encouraging focus, and with wildlife, requires a lot of patience! Time to pick up a camera and start exploring...
Find a pebble, pick it up! An initiative backed by occupational therapists in West Sussex sees patients engaging in art classes to help spread a smile to others. They paint uplifting messages on pebbles, and hide them around Sussex Partnership hospitals and the local community, for people to find and brighten their day. The hope is people will re-hide the pebbles to continue spreading the positivity to someone else in need.
Time to train
We all know the mind–body connection is strong, and now a new facility in Manchester has become the first mental health gym in the UK to really emphasise that relationship. The Hero Training Club features all the traditional gym essentials, with equipment and weights, but also offers psychiatrist appointments, has trained staff to spot mental illnesses, encourages members to track their mental health in an app, and to attend mental resilience sessions. For those who like to tailor their workout, wellbeing care has lots of choice too, as it also offers mindfulness sessions, hypnotherapy, and sleep workshops – a holistic health hub, meaning your membership pass won’t lie in a draw gathering dust.
Do you find yourself watching the clock at work, counting down the hours until you can go home? Or maybe you fantasise about the day you can hand in your notice? ‘Rust-out’ happens when we’re understimulated at work, and it can be detrimental to our mental health… Writing | Fiona Thomas Illustrating | Rosan Magar
ome say that our addiction to being busy is a 21stcentury epidemic. We feel smug as we announce to friends that we’re slammed at work, taking on extra projects and barely finding time to sleep or even have a lunch break. I hold my hands up. I’m guilty of ‘busy bragging’, and shoving my work-life in people’s faces like an Olympic medal. I’m unashamedly proud of my jam-packed schedule, and yet painfully aware of the mental health implications that can arise from burnout. So much so, that it’s hard for me to imagine that having absolutely nothing to do, day after day, could have the same negative impact on my wellbeing. Surely an empty inbox and zero responsibilities create the path to nirvana? Believe it or not, a lack of mental stimulation at work can be just as harmful as too much. Whatever you do, boredom will get under your skin. Workplace boredom
14 • happiful.com • January 2020
even has its own name. It’s known as ‘rust-out’ — a term defined by psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member Paula Coles as: “Work which is uninspiring and fails to stretch the person, so that they become disinterested, apathetic, and alienated.”
MORE THAN JUST BOREDOM
Most people experience boredom at work from time to time, but rust-out relates to chronic boredom that is so serious it can be detrimental to both your mental and physical health – it can even take years off your lifespan. It’s particularly common in young graduates, who often end up working in jobs for which they are overqualified. It can strike again for middle managers who have reached a glass ceiling in their career trajectory, stuck in endless meetings, unchallenged by the role, yet unable to progress. Left to fester, rust-out can lead to depression, sleepiness, cravings for sugary or fatty foods, and an
increase in risk-taking behaviours. According to Paula, this proclivity for thrill-seeking can show up on our phones. “In modern-day workplace boredom, it might be fair to assume that individuals would seek stimulation and connection through social media,” says Paula, “especially Tinder and online gambling apps, which can potentially lead to a person getting into circumstances which might become out of control.” The symptoms of rust-out are felt by the individual first and foremost, but the ramifications can have a ripple effect on companies, too. Employers may observe increased sickness, absenteeism, work errors, and even work-related accidents. One in four employees claim to be unhappy in their current role, and with our sense of fulfilment so closely linked to what we do for a living, it’s no wonder that rust-out can lead to feelings of worthlessness and self-deprecation.
05 : 07
Left to fester, rust-out can lead to depression, sleepiness, cravings for sugary or fatty foods, and an increase in risk-taking behaviours OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH
But like every human emotion, boredom does have a function. It might be the catalyst that forces you to make a change – whether that’s applying for a promotion, taking on extra responsibility, or rethinking your career entirely. It could even be the red flag that highlights a deeper reason for rust-out. Thankfully, professional help can resolve any underlying issues. “Are you a people pleaser? Do you find it hard to be assertive, and to ask for what you want? Do you have imposter syndrome, and feel you don’t really deserve career success?” asks Paula. “A good therapist can help you look at where these beliefs come from, and work with you to
develop a more robust internal locus of control.” This dimension of core selfevaluation can help you find meaning — and ultimately happiness — internally, instead of relying on external sources, such as your employer.
LOOKING OUTSIDE THE BOX
Finding fulfilment outside of work is important, and this can begin with a hobby that challenges you. Studies show that people who have feelings of continued development and personal growth tend to have an increased sense of life satisfaction and self-esteem. Participating in an activity you are passionate about (anything from running, to painting, to motorcycle maintenance) could be your key to personal fulfilment, and fighting off rust-out for good. If you’re staring down the barrel of a long, boring January at work, then don’t be afraid to raise your concerns with employers. Ask to be
Common symptoms • Irritability • Depression • No sense of purpose • Lack of motivation • Anxiety Common causes • Not enough work to go around • Previously complex tasks have been automated or outsourced • Repetitive tasks • Over-skilled for current role • Too much paperwork • Lack of ownership or creativity • Excessive control from supervisors involved in tasks that make the most of your skills and push you to learn new ones. Ask to go on a training course or, if you’re in a senior role, develop an in-house training project to assist others. You could even set the ball rolling on a wellbeing project to tackle the very issue of rust-out in your organisation. This ‘creative tension’ is vital in the search for true job satisfaction.
January 2020 • happiful.com • 15
Rising to fame for her body confidence Instagram posts, influencer, presenter, and feel-good guru Chessie King is here to tell you: it’s about time you loved yourself. But the journey to the brighter place she is now hasn’t been without its twists and turns. Scouted by a modelling agency at just 17, and then going on to enter a bikini competition and pushing her body to its limits, it has taken Chessie some time to find a sense of equilibrium with her body. But through the challenges, Chessie has learned many lessons. From building up empathy and discovering the things that bond us, to channelling her voice into causes that support others, Chessie is leading the way to a kinder, more bubbly future. Here we talk about her biggest lesson to date: unearthing unconditional self-love Interview | Kathryn Wheeler
t began when she was 16. Before that – Chessie King tells me, as we settle down on a sofa in the corner of the photography studio – she saw her body as a vessel that carried her head around. But then something changed. It started with anxiety about her height – at 6ft she was much taller than her friends – which moved on to other areas, and then her clothing size.
Photography | Paul Buller
“Then, when I was 17 years old, I really started focusing on my body,” Chessie explains. “I became wildly addicted to what I looked like. “I focused on every single part of me that I hated. I became fixated on other people and trying to look like them instead of becoming myself, which is really weird because, at that point in your life, you’re going through so much change.” >>>
Blazer | Shein
But things were about to get a lot weirder... When she was 17, Chessie was scouted by a modelling agency. This was 2010, the year that French Elle released a special edition featuring plus-sized women on the cover, leading The Guardian to declare that fashion’s last taboo had been broken. In hindsight, it may have been a premature assertion – but as Chessie recalls, even at the time, the reality for those on the other side of the camera was far from a revolutionary celebration of diverse bodies.
I became fixated on other people and trying to look like them instead of becoming myself “They said they would only take me on if I lost weight,” she explains. “And then at every casting, they would hand me a size zero skirt. All of them would watch me try to get into it, but I wouldn’t be able to.” During this time, the features of Chessie’s body that couldn’t be changed by diet and exercise were quickly altered in post-production while still on set. She recalls a time when she was in Ibiza shooting for a swimwear company, and she watched her body being edited and distorted in front of her eyes. “They shrunk me to half the size,” she explains. “They smoothed all of the back of my legs out, which is
something that I felt self-conscious about anyway. I was watching this happen and thought: ‘Are they doing this to test out a few things?’ But when the photos went out, that’s how they looked. I was like, that’s not me... That is definitely not me.” As Chessie explains how these days we all have the ability to airbrush our photos beyond recognition with just our phones, she cuts off to sing along to the song playing over the studio speakers. It’s Lizzo’s self-love anthem ‘Good As Hell’, and despite fighting through the jet-lag after her flight home from Bali the day before, today Chessie is “feeling good as hell”. Sitting crossed-legged on the sofa, after kicking off her boots as soon as we began our interview, Chessie radiates the confidence of someone who appears to be completely at ease with themselves. But, as she explains, she didn’t get to where she is today without a fair few bumps in the road. In 2015, Chessie embarked on what she refers to as a “science experiment”. Having spent some time immersing herself in the fitness community after interviewing individuals as part of her work as a presenter, Chessie found herself drawn to bikini competitions. A highly competitive community, where women train intensely to showcase their physiques to a panel of judges, bikini competitions expect participants to dedicate themselves entirely to the demands of their physical categories, and they are judged on muscularity, condition, symmetry, and presentation.
“I was going to all the fitness classes and working out, and then people were like, ‘You should do a bikini competition, you’re a performer!’ I said, ‘I would never do that, it’s too extreme,’” Chessie recalls. “But then I thought it would be a good science experiment – it would be interesting to see how my body would change from eating well and working out strictly.” With just 18 weeks to transform her body, things got very intense very quickly. “I was taken places I never thought I’d go,” Chessie reflects. “Sometimes I would be training at five in the morning, crying on a treadmill. People at the gym got to know me because I was there so much, and they would be like, ‘Oh God, she’s on her low-carb day.’” What began as a light-hearted inquiry into the limits of the human body, quickly became a lifeconsuming obsession. And despite drastically transforming herself, when the day of the show arrived, Chessie didn’t meet the standards of the judges. “My feedback afterwards was: ‘Chessie is too big, she’s carrying too much weight.’” Coincidently, the day of our shoot was exactly four years since that bikini competition. It’s a huge milestone, particularly considering how Chessie says it took her two years after that to return to normality. “People talk about the 18 weeks leading up to it, which is obviously so physically and mentally exhausting, but then you’ve just restricted yourself every single day. And I rebelled against everything – I literally went into rebellion Chessie mode. >>> January 2020 • happiful.com • 19
“I couldn’t understand why everyone had willpower and I didn’t, even though I had such strong willpower before. If there was a tub of chocolate, I would eat until I was sick. And then I would be like, how is everyone just eating one? “Bigger support is needed after competitions,” she continues. “It’s masking disordered eating, it’s masking problems that you have covered up in the past – for me that’s what it was.” For three years following the competition, Chessie didn’t want to speak about it. She was hurt by the feedback, but also didn’t want people to think that it reflected who she was. Turning the tables on that mindset wasn’t easy, but it began with addressing negative self-talk, calling herself on it, and taking steps to be kinder to herself. “I catch myself on days when I am feeling negative and putting myself down and I think, would I ever let anyone else say that about me? Would I let them say, ‘Your thighs are huge and they look really bumpy?’ Would I ever let anyone say that to me – a stranger or a friend? No. And would I ever say that to someone else? No. “When you truly are your own best friend, you speak to yourself calmly, and kindly, and you speak to yourself with love and respect.” For Chessie, thinking about her body in very literal ways helps her to break away from external pressures. Thanking her lungs for breathing, her heart for beating, and her legs for carrying her where she wants to go, grounds her in the reality that her body is so much more than a prop.
20 • happiful.com • January 2020
“You don’t need a PhD to know your body. I know the functions of all of my organs – and once you strip it back to that, it’s so amazing,” says Chessie. “Sometimes I literally just put my hand on my heart, and I think, ‘Thank you so much for keeping me alive.’”
When you truly are your own best friend, you speak to yourself calmly, and kindly, and you speak to yourself with love and respect And the capability of our bodies to create new life is something Chessie is in awe of. Motherhood is a challenge that she’s desperately excited about embarking on, eventually. For now, she’s gone back to school to train as a doula – a non-medical person who offers emotional support to women through childbirth. “Female bodies are phenomenal,” Chessie declares. “Womanhood, for me, is connecting with women all over the world and having that understanding that we’re all similar. We’re deficient in community and friendship, we all crave that sense of belonging, but if you open your eyes to being connected with women worldwide, it’s so powerful. “When we were younger, if you saw someone on the road with the same car you beeped at them! Womanhood is like that. It’s a sisterhood; if you use your voice on your own you can be heard by
10 people, but if you use your voice with other women around you, you can be heard by millions of people. I think that is so empowering.” When women raise each other up, the sky’s the limit. But on the flip side, it’s all the more painful when we tear each other down. Online trolling is something that Chessie is, sadly, all too familiar with. But, deciding to take a stand against it, in April 2018 Chessie worked with a group of digital experts to create a version of herself that had been altered to reflect the comments she received. Criticisms on everything from her face to the size and shape of her body were collected, and a photo of her was edited to match each comment. The result, shared on her Instagram, was an unsettling, uncanny version of Chessie. With huge, bug-like eyes, swollen lips, cinched waist, and impossibly thin arms, she looks barely human. “I shared my first body confidence post three years ago, and that wasn’t from a place of ‘I’m going to start a massive trend’ or whatever, it was just that I felt it needed to be heard,” Chessie explains, as she reflects on why she decided to use her platform to promote a body confident message. “At the time, I was sucked into a sea of perfection, because that was all I knew and all that I saw: filters and editing. “And then I was like, actually hold on. I can’t see anyone on Instagram that I can relate to, there was no one being ridiculous and silly, it just wasn’t a thing. Then I posted back in 2016, at the start of the year, that this was the year of body confidence – this is the year we embrace our bodies.” >>>
Dress | Banana Republic
Jumper | Sézane, Hair & Skincare | Rosalique and Paul Mitchell
It was a New Year’s resolution of sorts; something that Chessie threw herself into, and she hasn’t looked back since – regularly posting ‘Instagram vs reality’ images, as well as candid, unposed moments that show her body in its natural state. Though as natural as they may be, the decision to push past the pressure to be perfect was not easy. “The more I opened myself up, the scarier it was,” Chessie says. “Back then, it was being quite vulnerable. But now I don’t care, I will share anything as long as it’s helping someone – and I’m trying to do that offline as much as I am online.” In June 2019, Chessie launched Dedicate to Educate – a campaign that calls for an additional hour of lessons on mental health, body image, and sex education topics, to be included in the school curriculum each week. “When I want to do something, I will do it straight away. One thing I pride myself on is being brave and fearless, and taking risks,” Chessie says, when asked why she embarked on this project. “But I’m not taking this risk for me, I’m using my voice and my platform for the people who need it, and the future generation. I put out a post saying I was going to do this, and got 6,000 messages in one night saying this needs to happen. So that was when I realised people are on board!” Of course, changes to the national curriculum don’t happen overnight, and so in the meantime, Chessie regularly visits schools to speak to young people about mental health and body image. So often she sees herself in the people she speaks to, picking up on the same anxieties and concerns that plagued her adolescence.
“I didn’t have a role model to look up to,” Chessie continues. “I want to be that role model that I didn’t have, and to speak out for those who don’t have a voice. “When I’m at schools speaking and telling my story, girls say they don’t want it to take five years. I’m like, it’s a process and it’s not going to happen overnight. And when you have to go through that and then come out the other side, you do appreciate your body even more.”
I try to take what I lost, like my hearing, and I look at what I gained, like an awareness of what other people are going through This idea of building empathy through adversity is something that Chessie has experienced in other parts of her life. When she was just 23, Chessie partially lost her hearing following a heart episode, which doctors suspect may have been a mini-stroke. Today, Chessie wears a hearing aid. “That’s amazing to me because it opened me up to the deaf community, and I was connecting to people online who I wouldn’t have in real life,” Chessie explains. “I’m more aware of invisible illnesses – I’m more empathetic. I think it made me a kinder person. I try to take what I lost, like my hearing, and I look at what I gained, like an awareness of what other people
are going through. Of course, when it first happened I was like, oh my God I’m 23 and I’ve just lost my hearing. But it taught me something. “Now I’m so liberated and alive, though I do feel like I lost five years of my life,” Chessie says, before checking herself. “Well, not lost it, because it made me who I am – but now I believe in myself and I support myself as much as I support everyone else. I’ve always been everyone else’s cheerleader and struggled to be proud of myself.” It’s a common yet true concept: everything we go through stays with us, and comes together to make us the people that we are – experiences are the puzzle pieces that create an ever-evolving portrait of you. Sometimes those experiences are painful, as Chessie recognises, but through them we learn about our limits and strengths, as well as the things that connect us to others. “I think I’ve come back round in a circle,” Chessie says as we reach the end of our chat. “When I was younger, I was so free and my priority in life was to make everyone smile and be happy. And then I went through a stage when I was 18 to 23 of just hating myself. And now I’ve come full circle and I’m back to being free.” So, if 18-year-old Chessie could see herself today, what would she say? Chessie doesn’t pause for a second: “Go on, girl!” For more from Chessie, follow her on Instagram @chessiekingg Styling | Krishan Parmar Hair & Skincare | Amanda Clarke at Joy Goodman January 2020 • happiful.com • 23
assertive How to be more
It’s not about confrontations and arguments, it’s about being open and honest – plus being more emphatic and assured can help to lower our stress levels, and raise our self-esteem Writing | Katie Conibear Illustrating | Rosan Magar
ssertiveness is something that makes many people uncomfortable. We often mistake it for confrontation, and worry that we’ll be seen as argumentative or awkward. But in our current world, the constant news cycle often creates situations where we want to disagree with someone, yet can be afraid of a simple point turning into a big argument. At work, we fear if we say ‘no’ to something, we’ll be treated less favourably. With friends and relationships, we want to please everyone, and keep the peace. In the end, no one likes to be disliked. Real assertiveness isn’t any of this. It’s about being open and honest, and expressing our feelings and opinions calmly and sensitively. In fact, being assertive is good for you. It lowers your stress levels, and it helps you gain self-confidence and self-esteem. Instead of shying away from a comment that’s bugging you, assertiveness can help you to understand and recognise your feelings. Being assertive can also help us express our feelings on issues we’re passionate about. It helps us create honest relationships – and an honest relationship is a healthy one. Ultimately, it allows us to become better communicators with everyone in our lives. With all that in mind, there’s no doubt assertiveness is beneficial to our overall wellbeing. Here are five top tips that can put you on track to expressing yourself assertively.
PRACTISE SAYING ‘NO’
This isn’t about just saying the word ‘no’. Often it’s about phrasing
a ‘no’ answer sensitively. It’s always good to start with a positive, such as: ‘Thanks for inviting me’ or, ‘Thank you for considering me.’ This shows you appreciate, or have understood, the request. What can be offered to that person instead? Maybe you’ve been asked to help someone out, but that day doesn’t work for you? Suggest another time, or offer something that you can do. Saying ‘no’ is being true to ourselves, and to our own feelings.
If we really hear what a person is telling us, then we’re able to formulate a more articulate and informed answer. When someone makes a statement we disagree with, it can be easy to jump to conclusions, stop listening, or just barge in with our opinion. When we allow the person to explain their stance, they feel they have been listened to, and are more likely to be receptive when we question them. Begin a response by stating what they’ve said, or how they’re feeling, and then we can talk about our own opinion.
CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE
Confrontation is often something we find difficult. If we challenge the way we look at a situation, it can help us shift our perspective. If we look at it as a debate, or a difference in opinion, then we’re less likely to see it as escalating. We also know that expressing ourselves will relieve stress, and will often resolve a problem – so we should tell ourselves this. Catastrophising – where we always think the worst outcome will happen – can hinder us, however. It’s helpful at this point to ask ourselves a few questions:
Are our thoughts about what could happen realistic? How likely is it to happen, or actually be true? Is there a similar situation we can think of where everything was OK?
LEARN TO COMPROMISE
Sometimes it helps to reserve a ‘no’ answer for something that isn’t possible for us, or we’re not comfortable with. Coming to a compromise, especially in relationships, often keeps both parties happy. Of course, it’s possible to express our feelings and to come to a compromise. It’s important to be able to state our opinion and move on, by suggesting something both sides are comfortable with. Being assertive is sometimes knowing when to pick our battles, and when to compromise.
This might sound strange on a list about assertiveness, but staying quiet in some situations is the best option. We’ve all been in conversations at a party, or in a meeting, when a subject comes up that we deeply disagree with. We often feel the compulsion to agree or stay neutral when the majority of a group are agreeing. Saying nothing might not feel assertive, but it’s a way of demonstrating to ourselves that we don’t have to agree with everything being said, just to keep the peace. Assertiveness can build our confidence and the more we assert ourselves, the easier it becomes! Katie Conibear is a freelance writer, focusing on mental health. She blogs at stumblingmind.com and has a podcast, ‘A Life Lived Vividly’, with a focus on hearing voices.
Five lessons I learned from experiencing burnout Overwhelmed by your workload? Stressed by the smallest tasks? Pushing yourself too hard to reach the top? Maybe it’s time to put your health and happiness above simple success at the office Writing | Fiona Thomas
lay in bed, struggling to wake. I was tired from the evening before. Had I eaten dinner? No. I’d had a bottle of wine instead, to relax. A few days earlier during a driving lesson, I had driven on the wrong side of the road. I didn’t know why. On that same day, I had screamed at a work colleague over something insignificant – something about tomatoes – and had to apologise later. I thought about the busy morning ahead. I wanted to recoil from all my work responsibilities, but I couldn’t see a way out. I fantasised about falling down the stairs or being hit by a car. Anything that would incapacitate me and give me some time off work. Two hours later I sat at my desk to work through my list of tasks, but I couldn’t get started. I couldn’t attend the meeting. I couldn’t pick up the phone. I couldn’t face my team. I hid in the toilets and cried for what seemed like hours, then I phoned my GP and made an appointment. It turned out that I been unknowingly living with burnout for more than six months. My symptoms included (but were not
26 • happiful.com • January 2020
limited to) agitation, tearfulness, physical and mental exhaustion, frustration, and a sense of hopelessness. But through this difficult time, I can now take some positives in what I’ve learned from living with burnout… 1 Being off sick doesn’t mean you are bad at your job I first started feeling the symptoms long before I asked for help, and the main reason I avoided reaching out was that I didn’t realise it was a health issue – I thought it was a competency issue. I thought that I was overwhelmed and stressed because I was under-qualified. But after taking three months of sick leave, I attempted to return to work and I couldn’t carry out even the simplest of tasks. That was proof that there was something medically wrong with me. I then knew for sure that my brain wasn’t functioning normally, and I found that strangely comforting. 2 You’ve got to vocalise your issues in the workplace During the six months that I was quietly crumbling away, I thought
it was obvious to everyone around me. After an extended period of sick leave, I was asked to meet my employers to discuss what had been going on. It was only then that I realised they had no idea how much I had on my plate. I couldn’t really complain about the lack of support, because I hadn’t given the slightest hint that I needed any. You’ve got to be explicit when you need support, and chase down your employers to help manage your workload. Otherwise, you’re doing yourself a disservice. 3 Work achievements aren’t everything Burnout hit me hardest after I took on a lot of extra responsibility at work. No one forced me to step into the role; I wanted to prove to my employers that I was capable. I pushed myself because I wanted to be a high achiever. When burnout took over, depression and anxiety quickly followed, and I quit my job to focus on recovery. It was only then I figured out that work achievements are no substitute for health and happiness.
4 Stress means something different to everyone The things that weighed heavily on me during my period of burnout are things that some people take in their stride. Moving house. Managing a team. Dealing with customer complaints. This concoction of stressors, combined with my inability to take care of myself, was a breeding ground for physical symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, and fatigue. In turn, these made me less able to carry out my work, which made me more stressed. I’m now more aware of my triggers, and schedule in rest days to compensate. 5 Work shouldn’t define you Although leaving my job was essential to my recovery from burnout, being unemployed came with its own set of problems. Without my career, I felt like I had no purpose, and no identity. I feared making small talk with anyone, as I thought I had nothing of value to add to the conversation. I had put all my eggs in one basket, and when that was taken away, I was left with nothing. >>> January 2020 • happiful.com • 27
WHAT IS BURNOUT? The World Health Organisation refers to burnout as a “syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”, and is defined by three symptoms: • Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion • Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feeling negative towards one’s career • Reduced professional productivity This classification was documented in 2019, so specific statistics are hard to find. However, in 2018 it was reported that 595,000 Britons suffered from work-related stress.
28 • happiful.com • January 2020
It took a lot of soul-searching to figure out who I wanted to be outside of work, but it means that now I have a string of hobbies and interests unrelated to my job, so I’ll always have something to talk about! How to recover from burnout If you recognise or can relate to my five lessons, then it could be a sign that you’re in need of some support, too. Talk to your doctor Burnout is now an official medical diagnosis, so don’t be scared to bring it up with your GP. They will be able to offer you advice on medication, treatment, or lifestyle changes that could improve your symptoms. Set clear boundaries Think about where your working day needs to start and finish for you to truly relax. What measures can you put in place to make sure this happens? Try not going to work early, avoiding emails after 5pm, practising mindfulness on the bus home to switch off, or making yoga a non-negotiable event on your schedule.
Take back control of your time with our self-care calendar. Head to p15 in our January supplement to schedule some you-time
Delegate If you’re overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work, then pass it on to someone you trust. Accept that letting go of this control might result in some errors, but assuming that this doesn’t put anyone at risk, then it’s all part of the process. If you have no
The main reason I avoided reaching out was that I didn’t realise it was a health issue – I thought it was a competency issue one to delegate to, then raise the issue with your employers. If you’re self-employed, consider outsourcing basic admin tasks to a virtual assistant. Take time off It really is that simple. Rest is important to help you physically recover from burnout, but it also gives you a chance to gather your thoughts, and get a sense of perspective. You may like to think that your workplace will fall apart without you, but once you realise that the world continues to turn, it can be an important lesson in learning to prioritise your health over your job. Reconnect with hobbies Nurturing your creative side is so helpful when it comes to expressing physical and emotional turmoil. Painting, dancing, knitting, and gardening are all simple ways to dial into your deeper self, and work through negative feelings. Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer and author, whose book, ‘Depression in a Digital Age’, is out now. Visit fionalikestoblog.com for more.
January 2020 • happiful.com • 29
Mondays How to love
The start of a new week can feel overwhelming – but it doesn’t have to be. Here we look at how you can embrace Mondays, and take back control of the days ahead Writing | Kat Nicholls
e’ve all been there, right? You’ve enjoyed a relaxing weekend and are cosying up in bed, ready for sleep... then it hits you. It’s Monday tomorrow. Your to-do list for the week pops into your head, and you start to feel stressed about everything that needs to get done.
Illustrating | Rosan Magar
Cue a sleepless night, and you feeling exhausted when your alarm rings. Even if you love your job, Mondays can feel hard. In fact, a study carried out by consultancy Mercer, found that workers are more likely to take time off or be ill at the start of the week, with 35% of all sick days falling on a Monday.
So, how can we reframe our thinking around Mondays and break the cycle? Life coach Jessica Goodchild says it’s time for us to recognise what our ‘story’ about Mondays is, and change it. “Being aware of how you’re thinking can highlight the issue, and help you to put a plan into
Changing the story can empower you to take control and, most of all, take action. What new story do you need to tell yourself to make Monday’s meaning more comfortable? place to help solve it,” says Jessica. “Ask yourself: who can help? What do you need in order to tackle it? How can you prepare? If you don’t enjoy your work, what can you do to change that? “Changing the story can empower you to take control and, most of all, take action. What new story do you need to tell yourself to make Monday’s meaning more comfortable?” Try journaling with these questions, and when you’re ready, add in the following actions to help reinforce your new, positive story about Mondays.
Planning your week may sound simple, but it can have a powerful effect in reducing stress. If you work Monday to Friday, try writing your to-do list for the following week on Friday, before you finish. This can help you to set boundaries and leave work at work. Jessica says planning ahead can help you to be more proactive when Monday comes around. “If Sunday evenings give you anxiety, get yourself ready for Monday morning by planning your clothes, lunch, bag etc. before you go to sleep. Go to bed at a
reasonable time – feeling fresh and prepared will make Mondays more manageable.” Jessica also recommends journaling about something you’re grateful for, to help the brain focus on the positives. “Doing this on a Sunday evening before bed will help get your mindset focused in a positive way, before Monday has even arrived.”
ENJOY MOMENTS OF PAUSE
If your Mondays feel like a whirlwind, they are bound to make you feel anxious. Try to plan in pockets of calm. This could be enjoying a slower morning than usual, having a mindful cup of tea before diving into your inbox, or even doing some meditation during your lunch break. Give your body a chance to decompress throughout the day, too. Head out for a walk or a gym class in the evening, to help release any built-up tension.
SCHEDULE SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Make Mondays a day you truly look forward to by scheduling in something fun. “The brain loves a reward, and will happily move towards it,” says Jessica. “Plan
something that will make you feel good, a call with a friend, a date, a yoga class – something that is nourishing or nurturing, to reward you for making it through the day in once piece.”
DO SOMETHING KIND FOR SOMEONE ELSE
A sure-fire way to stop us becoming overwhelmed is to put the focus firmly on someone else. Try to make Monday a day for showing kindness towards others. Why not bring in cakes for your colleagues, or start your day by telling someone how much they mean to you? Small acts of kindness like these have a ripple effect, and can make Mondays more enjoyable for everyone.
AND IF YOU’RE STILL DREADING MONDAYS?
If you’re struggling to change your mindset, or if you think a bigger change may be needed, you may find it helpful to reach out for support. Coaches, like Jessica, can help you to navigate change, whether it’s in your life or your career. To learn more, and to find a coach who resonates with you, visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk
Photography | Conner Ching
Adventure is not outside man; it is within – GEORGE ELIOT
r e s t Award-winning BBC broadcaster and writer Claudia Hammond investigates our complex relationship with rest and relaxation, and shares the top 10 activities the world turns to when winding down. Here’s a spoiler, you’re doing number one right now…
Portrait/book cover | Courtesy of Cannon Gate
Writing | Lucy Donoughue
ow are you feeling as you read this? Are you reclining in a hot bath, taking in all the magazine has to offer? If you are, you’re ticking off two of the top 10 restful activities according Claudia Hammond’s latest book, The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age. An astonishing 18,000 people from across 135 countries took part in The Rest Test survey, explored in her book, and in their collective opinion bathing and reading rank right up there for restfulness – in addition to spending time in nature, being alone, and doing nothing in particular. Rest was the sole subject of exploration, during a two-year residency at the Wellcome Trust in London. The 45-people strong team behind The Rest Test and further research, included psychologists from Durham
University, neurologists, artists, and Claudia Hammond, writer and long-standing presenter of Radio 4’s All in the Mind, and the World Service show Healthcheck. Claudia’s new book explores the findings from this, and delves deeper into why each of the activities in the list helps us to relax, as well as the necessity of prioritising rest for good health. It’s an important topic, as Claudia explains. “There’s a lot of research now on how sleep is really important for your health. If you don’t get a lot of sleep, it increases your risk of lots of different diseases. Now I think we need to start taking rest seriously as well – waking rest rather than sleep itself. Both are important.” It seems that many people agree. Two thirds of people who responded to The Rest Test said that they needed more rest, and those who didn’t had significantly higher wellbeing scores.
January 2020 • happiful.com • 33
Image: Anatomy of Rest: The Rest Test results, Camilla Greenwell. Source: Wellcome Collection
restful activities • Reading • Spending time in nature • Being alone • Listening to music • Doing nothing in particular • A good walk • A nice hot bath • Daydreaming • Watching TV • Mindfulness Interestingly, ‘spending time in nature’ and ‘going for a good walk’ also made the list, proving that rest doesn’t have to be a sedentary activity to be deemed relaxing – something Claudia is keen to
34 • happiful.com • January 2020
impress upon readers. “Rest doesn’t have to be passive and doing nothing. We found that 38% of people who responded thought walking is restful, and 8% said that running was. “I find running restful,” she continues. “I hate it for the first few minutes, but then something kicks in that stops me worrying for a while, and thinking about all the work I have to do.” The way Claudia sees it, that forward momentum in any shape or form – whether it’s walking, running, being on a train, or generally travelling somewhere – gives you that permission to pause and rest.
“People feel so guilty about resting, and sort of need permission to be able to do it. Resting while you’re moving is easier in some ways because you’re getting somewhere, so you don’t feel so guilty about it! I think choosing activities that give you permission to rest is quite powerful.” That guilt can seep into other parts of our lives, and we feel hesitant to take time out for ourselves. The contemporary issue of ‘busyness as a badge of honour’ is a good example of this, and something that can feed those feelings of guilt if we don’t constantly have a jam-packed
‘The Art of Rest: How to Find Respite in the Modern Age’, by Claudia Hammond (Canongate, £16.99) is out now
schedule. Restrictive perceptions around the state of personal ‘busyness’ is a common problem, and one that even Claudia occasionally falls foul of. “When people ask me how I am, I tend to say: ‘I’m busy’ or ‘A bit too busy really,’” she shares. “In one way that’s true – it feels true – but on the other hand, it is also a way of saying: ‘I’m busy and therefore in demand.’ How much is that a claim to status, and how much of that is because we feel we need to be busy to be ‘valuable’?” It’s a relatable feeling, and one that emphasises our need to reassess our relationship with rest – and our resistance to it. Rather than being viewed as a negative trait or selfish, rest is the self-care act everyone needs to consider and, as the list from the Rest Test survey suggests, it can be free, available to all of us and, most of the time, we can do it alone. Yet, with the huge volume of information so easily accessible online and in the media nowadays, it’s easy to feel confused, with so many conflicting recommendations with regards to your wellbeing. This is one reason why Claudia is such a champion for analytical and evidence-based thinking – and fortunately she has a great talent for making scientific and neurological studies easily accessible to the widest possible audience.
“One of the main things I want to do is communicate the wealth of research that’s out there, because I think it would be great if more of us were able to put it into practice in our lives. “There’s an enormous amount of nonsense online, but it’s not based on any evidence, it’s not based on anything,” she says, passionately. “And we hear in the media ‘you should do this, you should do that’, and I think it’s really important, as consumers and audiences, to constantly think: ‘Why are people saying we should do that, and is that really the case?’” Claudia’s insights on the information we consume really are thought-provoking, and she’s keen to share them with as big an audience as possible, through the written and spoken word, and in person at events, including the inaugural Life Lessons Festival in February 2020. However, Claudia is happy to give us a sneak peek, and share a few
life lessons of her own. “Firstly, I’d suggest one of the things I’ve been doing myself – prescribe yourself 15 minutes of your favourite resting activity. “For me that is gardening. While I’m working at home, sometimes even when I’ve got loads to do, I leave my desk and just go in the garden for a short amount of time, and the calm that comes over me is just amazing. “It won’t be gardening for everybody – I know some people hate it, but I can forget everything else and just be taken out of myself for 15 minutes, and that’s really powerful. So choose and prescribe something that works for you. “Also, follow the evidence when thinking about whether something is good or not, and finally, try really hard not to worry so much about what other people expect of you and want you to be. Try to work out how you will be happy for yourself.”
Hear more from Claudia at the first-ever Sunday Times Life Lessons Festival from 15–16 February 2020 at The Barbican, London. Dr Rangan Chatarjee, Megan Jayne Crabbe, Ruby Wax, Kimberley Wilson and many others will also be speaking at this thought-led festival with a focus on wellbeing – and Happiful will be there too! Find out more at lifelessonsfestival.com
January 2020 • happiful.com • 35
HAPPIFUL TOP 10
Feel inspired as we enter the new year, with a spectacular parade to welcome in 2020, the podcast helping you achieve your goals in just one hour, and the group making exercise accessible
PUT ON A SHOW
Canary Wharf Winter Lights Festival Light up the dark January evenings with the award-winning Winter Lights at Canary Wharf. The festival will showcase light art by artists across the globe, including pieces which can be admired from afar, and ones you can get involved and interact with. (Thursday 16 to Saturday 25 January 2020. To find out more, head to canarywharf.com)
PAGE-TURNERS How to Be a Mindful Drinker Whether you want to cut down on drinking, take a break, or quit altogether, How to Be a Mindful Drinker will help you become more aware of how your body and mind are affected by alcohol. With tools to help you track your progress, this book will help you live the life you want and put alcohol in its place. Cheers to that! (Out 26 December, DK, £8.99)
OUT AND ABOUT
Caroline Kelso Zook Caroline is an artist and business coach, brightening up the internet with her colourful illustrations and uplifting quotes. Follow her for regular reminders to celebrate your achievements and believe in yourself. (Follow @ckelso on Instagram)
London’s New Year’s Day Parade Cheer in the new year with this spectacular parade along the streets of London’s West End! Enjoy the celebrations with dancers, acrobats, and marching bands, while huge balloons and confetti fill the sky. If you can’t be there in person, you can watch on TV so you don’t miss out on the fun. (Wednesday 1 January 2020, for more information visit lnydp.com)
Todoist Free up your mental space by getting tasks out of your head and on to your to-do list. You can sync Todoist with your calendar to remember important dates, prioritise tasks, and track your progress. You can even keep track of your New Year’s resolutions! (Download from the App Store and Google Play, find out more at todoist.com)
Images | London Parade: lnydp.com, Doctor Who: radiotimes.com, Happiness Planner: thehappinessplanner.co.uk
LEND US YOUR EARS
‘Power Hour’ Hosted by international speaker Adrienne Herbert, ‘Power Hour’ is a weekly podcast that will motivate you to pursue your passions. Each week, Adrienne talks to guests such as Callie Thorpe and Lauren Mahon about their rules to live by. It’s all about taking just one hour every day to help you improve your life.
Dry January Going alcohol-free for just one month can have great benefits for both your physical and mental health. Brought to you by Alcohol Change, the charity raising awareness of the harm alcohol can cause, Dry January isn’t about giving up drinking altogether, but simply resetting your relationship with alcohol to make healthier habits.
(Visit adriennelondon.com for more. Listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify)
(January 2020, find out more at alcoholchange.org.uk)
Doctor Who Our favourite time traveller is returning for series 12! With Jodie Whittaker returning as the Doctor, the new series is bound to be packed full of adventures across space and time. Filled with laughs, it’s one for the whole family to enjoy. (Coming to BBC One 1 January 2020)
The Happiness Planner If there’s one goal we should all have for the new year, it’s to make our mental health a priority. Self-care can often fall by the wayside, and a journal can be a great way to keep you on track. The 52-Week Happiness Planner is full of uplifting quotes, mindfulness activities, and organisational extras, to help you start the new year on a high. (£36, visit thehappinessplanner.co.uk for more) WIN a Happiness Planner! Which of these was not a famous diarist? A) Anne Frank B) Samuel Pepys C) Robert Scott D) Bertrand Russell To enter, email your answer to email@example.com UK mainland only, entries close 23 January 2020
Run Talk Run Do you want to be more active in 2020? Making space in your weekly routine for exercise can be a great way to help you stick to this goal. Run Talk Run is a global running community, with weekly groups who meet for a 5k jog and chat, making mental health support and exercise more accessible and less intimidating. (Find out more at runtalkrun.com)
BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER
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Mental health around the world We speak to six people from across the globe about their personal experiences with mental health, the options that are available to them, and the goals they are still working towards in their communities Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Illustrating | Rosan Magar Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
o matter where we’re from or what we do, mental illness has the potential to touch us and our loved ones throughout our lives. According to the Global Burden of Disease, 13% of the global population lives with a mental disorder – that’s approximately 971 million people. It’s something that unites us across borders, but no one person’s experience with mental health will be the same as
another’s – and that’s especially true when we consider how the levels of support and stigma varies so drastically around the world. It’s time to escape our respective bubbles and get a fresh perspective on the state of mental health care across the continents. Here, we speak to six people from around the world to find out about their personal experiences, and to learn more about what it really means to live with mental illness in 2020. >>>
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“My experience with mental health issues has been tough and sad – having family and friends not accept me for who I am during crisis, and an identity where I am seen as a ‘mad’ and ‘possessed’ human being,” Anita Ikwue explains. For Anita, being open about her mental health came with challenges from those in her family and her wider community. “Most of them are hearing something like this for the first time, and usually have a
Sweden David Brudö has experienced bouts of depression since his teens, but it wasn’t until later in life – when things became unbearable – that he decided to reach out for help. David notes how, in recent years, more people in Sweden have been willing to talk about mental health openly – yet he still feared colleagues and family would view him as “weak”. “While people are more willing to speak about, for example, stress, anxiety, depression, and loneliness, mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are still not spoken about as openly,” David explains. “But
negative impression of mental health problems,” she says. “Some would be interested to know more about mental health. Others would say terrible things like ‘mad people’. For me, this means people are speaking from an ignorant angle, and they just need to be more educated.” Luckily, Anita was able to find support with local organisations, including the Gede Foundation, Global Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS, and Time to Change Global, where she is now a ‘champion’ – helping to reach out to others. “The positive thing in my community is that some people are interested in learning more
it’s not unusual to see Nordic countries topping the World Happiness Report. And while Sweden has historically been concerned with one of the highest suicide rates since the 1960s, it now has one of the lowest suicide rates in the world.” As way of explaining these stats, David points to the introduction of the Psychiatric Emergency Response Team – a dedicated mental health care ambulance that is being piloted in Stockholm – as well as Swedish values such as ‘fika’ which is a midday pause to socialise with friends and colleagues, and ‘friluftsliv’, the value of spending time outdoors. Today, David is the CEO and cofounder of mental health and selfdevelopment app Remente, and he sees prevention rather than
from people with lived experience of mental health problems,” Anita explains. “Most people have little or no knowledge about mental health and its related challenges. But myths and misconceptions are being addressed, and sharing life stories is helping a lot, and will go a long way.”
treatment as the key to better overall health. “We will not be able to solve all mental health issues overnight, but it is important to make sure that all walks of life are provided with the right attention and support, to ensure that we continue to see the numbers of suicides decrease, and happiness rates increase.”
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India Venkatesh N. was living with his wife and three children in Doddaballapura when depression gradually began taking over his life. After his brother died, things took a turn for the worse and Venkatesh started to isolate himself, and eventually stopped going to work. “I was getting older and losing strength, which added to my worries,” says Venkatesh. “Owing to my mental illness, I was struggling to find work. Finally,
when I got in touch with medical assistance, my life improved.” Venkatesh reached out to a local organisation called GASS (Grameena Abyudaya Seva Samsthe), a communitybased rehabilitation service. “They helped me in raising my confidence, finding work, and leading a good life. I opened a shop and managed to educate my children well.” While Venkatesh notes that reactions to his experience have ranged from pity to apathy, today he writes poems to express the things that he has been through, and to engage his community in the mental health conversation.
Time to Change Global A global anti-stigma campaign that works in low and middleincome countries, Time to Change Global is working with Christian Blind Mission UK, local partners, and people with experience of mental health problems to challenge damaging stereotypes and discrimination. Inspired by the power of personal stories, ‘Champions’ are people who are speaking up about their experiences in the hope they will inspire, and bring comfort to, others in their communities. Find out more at time-to-change. org.uk/global
Mexico In January 2019, Raquel Contreras Soberanis was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. But her journey to find support wasn’t an easy one. “In my country, it is very normal to feel discriminated against,” Raquel explains. “People with mental health problems, instead of seeking medical attention, try all sorts of things – such as trying harder, going out, even turning to witchcraft – anything but going to a psychiatrist.
“In my country, we don’t have access to free mental health treatment or support,” Raquel continues. “You need to pay for your own psychologist. Although there are a lot of good doctors available here, the average person on a normal salary, unfortunately, can’t afford it.” As Raquel sees it, stoicism when it comes to mental health is something that is ingrained in her culture. “We have a saying here that’s the definition of the way that Mexican people battle problems: ‘Los Mexicanos lloramos riendo’ – the Mexican people cry laughing.”
Canada The first time that Sany Guest experienced a major depressive episode was when she was travelling abroad in early adulthood – though reflecting on her childhood, she now realises that the things she was going through were directly linked to undiagnosed attention deficit disorder (ADD). Sany sought professional help at a walk-in clinic in 2018. After speaking about what she had been going through, Sany was prescribed antidepressants and referred to a free therapist, though at the time of writing she still hasn't had an appointment. “I may be a typical Canadian because I can’t afford
anything but a free therapist without coverage, but I am also different because at least I can afford the wait,” Sany comments. “Positive movements and groups reducing stigma and promoting community support, inclusivity, and tolerance have been emerging – from Kids Help Phone, Bell Let’s Talk, and Get Real, to #MeToo. To me, this is proof of a society sobering to the fact that mental health is largely responsible for overall health, and must be treated with seriousness. “But none of these points of hope would be possible without free speech and democracy,” Sany notes. “Canadians are privileged to freely debate and vote on how society must improve without fear of serious negative legal and social repercussions.”
It makes me realise the power of sharing experiences, and gives me hope that the stigma attached to mental health issues is being broken, brick by brick
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“I took my first drink in 2003 – there were these cheap sachets of alcohol that were available back then,” Edwin Mburu explains. “My first drink turned into an addiction for 12 years, yet I was oblivious to the fact I was self-medicating two mental illnesses.” In 2011, Edwin attempted suicide. Four years later he was admitted to rehab where he was eventually diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and depression. Since then, Edwin has been on the road to recovery, driven by his personal support system as well as local support groups. He also notes a supportive employer where he works as an accountant, and points to a blossoming art community in
Kenya, who are speaking up about their mental health, as well as positive amendments to the mental health bill. Overall, Edwin says, the reaction to his mental health problems has been a “mixed bag”. “People listen and ask questions, and some even share their own experiences with mental health issues,” he explains. “This is usually very motivating – it makes me realise the power of sharing experiences, and gives me hope that the stigma attached to mental health issues is being broken, brick by brick. “However, at times the engagements are stigmatising and very negative. I have realised that mostly this happens because of ignorance with regards to mental health issues. It can be demoralising, but it reminds me of the bigger picture, and gives me the courage to continue talking about mental health.” From small, localised movements empowering people to reach out to others, to national initiatives that put policy in place to support those who are struggling, there’s a lot we can learn from taking a step back and considering a different way of doing things. But there’s still a long way to go, and it won’t always be an easy journey. But we all benefit when everyone in our community is supported, and so often compassion ripples out further than we anticipated. We’re in this together, and united we can make a change. Read more personal stories from around the world on happiful.com
Photography | David Hurley
Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change
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– WAYNE W DYER
How finding my community spirit changed my life
Depression crept up on David Bromley, and a 10-year cycle of breakdowns and recovery soon took its toll. But discovering the impact that volunteering could have on his mental health transformed his outlook Writing | David Bromley
think I had been depressed for well over a year before I had any idea what was really happening. It was 2004, and I was still at art school in Blackpool, the seaside town where I grew up. There was no triggering event as such, it just crept up on me, slowly building up in the background before it eventually completely took over. By early 2005, when I was half way through the third year of my degree, things had become so bad that I decided to see my doctor about it. He prescribed me some antidepressants and sent me on my way. I eventually scraped through college and got a summer job as a conductor on Blackpool’s
famous trams. That was when I had my first major breakdown. I had to leave my job and rely on family handouts, as for some reason I wasn’t eligible to claim any benefits. I was left alone in my flat with no job, no money, and no hope of recovery. A year later, I moved in with my sister and her family in Essex. It was hard going at first, but I eventually got a part-time bar job, and even made some new friends. Things seemed to be getting better for a while, but another year down the line I had a breakdown. I was making cocktails in Sheffield at the time, and again had to give up everything and return to my sister’s house to recover.
This two-year cycle of breakdowns and recovery continued for almost 10 years of my life, with the breakdowns getting more severe and the recovery taking longer and longer each time. Living with my parents, with a job in a local pub I liked, and enjoying photography again, in 2014 things seemed to be going my way finally – I even had a girlfriend. The depression was still there, but I learned what my limits were, and gave my condition the attention it needed. But again, things didn’t stay this way and, unfortunately, towards the end of the year, I was spending more time off sick than at work. One day I had a breakdown so severe that my parents had
to take me to the hospital. After waiting in A&E for three hours, I was given a handful of diazepam and sent home. By the end of the year I had to leave my job, and sell all my photography gear and my record collection for some income. I spent the first half of 2015 recovering, and just as I was starting to feel better, I was sent for a ‘Fit For Work Assessment’. Shortly after, my benefits were stopped, and I was forced into a job I couldn’t do at a nearby supermarket, which really saw my mental health plummet as I had suicidal thoughts. By 2016 I was back to square one and had to begin my recovery again. This time though, I had some help. >>> January 2020 • happiful.com • 45
I contacted the excellent Therapy For You service – a free NHS counselling and talking therapies service for people in south Essex – and began to attend some of their seminars. I also enrolled on their first ever Wellbeing Workshop, which was a weekly group therapy session where we would discuss our individual situations and set ourselves personal goals. Hearing the
David began volunteering in 2016
David on holiday in 2005
This two-year cycle of breakdowns and recovery continued for almost 10 years of my life individual stories in the workshop was very inspiring, and I set myself the goal of finding some voluntary work in my local community. My first role was at my local library, providing
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one-to-one computer skills tuition. For a lot of people, the internet is a scary place, so I found the role very rewarding and enjoyed watching the students’ confidence grow each week.
After a short while the library was starting a weekly children’s chess club and were looking for volunteers to help. Every Saturday, a dozen or so local kids would come in – it was amazing to see how quickly they took to it. I would walk around and answer any questions they had, or offered advice of moves they could make. If an odd number of kids showed up, I would sit in and have a game – it’s quite embarrassing to be beaten at chess by an 11-year-old! In October of 2016, I also began volunteering for a local disability website called Dancing Giraffe. It’s a news and local resource site for
disabled people in Essex, and is run completely by volunteers. At first my role was to write up news stories each week – anything from uplifting charity fundraising stories to mental health issues, or advancements in technology. After a few months I became their content editor, which involved proofreading and uploading articles to the website. By the spring of 2017, my voluntary work had already made a vast improvement to my mental health and wellbeing. I felt better than I had in years, but I thought some fresh air and exercise would make me feel even better.
Since my early 20s I had enjoyed going for long walks in the countryside, so I saved up what little money I had and bought myself some walking boots and a pair of binoculars, and visited some of the local bridleways and nature reserves. It felt great to be out among the birds and the trees. The nearest nature reserve to where I live is a patch of woodland on the edge of Hanningfield Reservoir, near Chelmsford in Essex. It’s run by the Essex Wildlife Trust, and has a lovely visitor’s centre with a nice view over the water. The centre is run by volunteers, so I soon offered my services, and by the start of the summer I was working there two afternoons a week. My dad bought me a second-hand bicycle, so I could cycle the three miles from town down the country lanes which, along with my new role with the Wildlife Trust, had huge benefits to my fitness and mental health. The voluntary work was great, I would greet the visitors, sell ice creams to families, and chat to people about birds. By January 2018, things really started
going well for me. In January I was offered a job with the Wildlife Trust. The part-time hours suited me well, as my depression robs me of a lot of energy. I was living the dream – I got to hang out with my new friends in a beautiful place and got paid for it. Having accomplished the goal I set myself back at the Wellbeing Workshop, I set myself another; to publish my book. I had started writing about my mental health in 2013 as a creative and rewarding way to try to understand my condition. After a while, I started to really enjoy the process and was getting some good feedback, so I started to work on a memoir of my time at art school, when my depression first appeared. It took a long time and there were long periods where I didn’t feel up to it, but by November I had a finished book called How Depression Ruined My Life, and published it with Amazon. I have lived with depression for nearly 15 years now and I have to say that volunteering in my local community, and setting myself productive and achievable goals, really has changed my life.
By the spring of 2017, my voluntary work had already made a vast improvement to my mental health and wellbeing
‘I started writing about my mental health in 2013’
OUR EXPERT SAYS David’s true story really highlights the struggle of suffering with depression, and the debilitating impact that it can have on our lives. Thankfully, David was able to break the cycle when he received effective support from NHS services. This opened the door to various volunteer opportunities that have really helped him on his journey to recovery. David tried new things, connected with people, and enjoyed the natural
environment around him. David managed to find purpose through his experience of depression and it’s evident that this has continued to drive forwards his happiness and wellbeing. Having purpose in our lives is essential – it motivates us and gives us that true sense of belonging. Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred) Counsellor and psychotherapist
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Ask the experts Hypnotherapist Penelope Ling answers your questions on hypnotherapy for confidence Read more about Penelope on hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk
I’m so stressed at work. My partner says I should leave, but I haven’t got time to think about what I want to do. Can hypnotherapy give me some headspace to think clearly about my career?
Can hypnotherapy help me become more decisive? I can’t help but think the worst when making decisions, and I want to feel more confident in my choices...
Yes! The reason I’m so sure is that hypnotherapy helped me with that very problem many years ago – long before I thought about training as a therapist. When you feel stressed and anxious, the brain subdues the part that makes rational, calculated decisions. On a subconscious level, you’re trying to escape the stressor. Hypnotherapy helps reduce anxiety, and allows you to think much more about what you want – especially if it’s solution-focused. The right kind of therapist can help you look at your value system too, as different industries have different values, and you might find you’d be better off retraining.
The fight or flight response we experience when we feel stressed is designed to remove us from danger – there is no time for thinking. When you’re calm and thinking positively, you are in a much better place to be decisive. Hypnotherapy can be a marvellous tool to help you consider decisions without getting caught up in any ‘emotional junk’. It can also allow your subconscious to come up with all kinds of creative problem-solving. When you look logically at where decisions can take you, you’ll find yourself making better choices in life.
Hypnotherapy for confidence
Top tips for feeling more confident •P lan and be prepared. •R emember none of us start out as an expert, it takes time. •U se memories of times when you have felt confident to reinforce the present.
I want some help with my confidence, but I’ve never had hypnotherapy before and I don’t want it to turn me into an arrogant person. Can you explain more how this would work for me?
Confidence and arrogance are often mistaken for the same thing. On the surface, they appear very similar, but they’re not. A confident person feels competent. They will walk into the room and be outwardly aware of other people, and be able to see from another person’s perspective. An arrogant person will have their agenda, not caring what other people think about them or what they do. They typically will be more confrontational, and aren’t able to see the other side of an argument. Often, fear is at the centre of their arrogance. Hypnotherapy for confidence allows you to be able to hold your own space, but be open to different people’s perspectives. Hypnotherapy Directory is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need
Vets in a time of need Through tough times, animals can become our sanctuary. But what happens when we can’t offer them the same back? StreetVet is a charity providing free vet services to homeless people across the UK. From microchips to major surgery, we found out more about the work that this life-changing organisation does Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
t’s a cold Sunday afternoon, and London's Oxford Street is heaving. I follow volunteer vet Holly-Anne Hills and senior volunteer vet Gabriel Galea as they briskly navigate their way through the crowds of shoppers. A man is sitting against a building, a ball of blankets on his lap. As Gabriel approaches, the man spots him and silently pulls the blankets aside, revealing the head of a sleepy black and white cat. This is Valentine, the first of nine StreetVet clients we will meet today. Coming together Founded in 2017 by two vets, Jade Statt and Sam Joseph, every week volunteer vets head out across 15 different towns and cities to treat and care for street dogs, the occasional cat, and one rabbit. In London alone, StreetVet has 50 vet and nurse volunteers working with more than 200 registered
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patients. Offering weekly dropin clinics, as well as outreach programmes like the one I was with, they vaccinate, microchip, and treat minor and major illnesses alike, as well as handing out necessities like food, dogjackets, blankets, and medication. Later in the week, I catch up with Jade, who tells me that she was inspired to start volunteering on the streets after a night out in 2016. “I met a gentleman and his dog,” Jade explains. “The dog didn’t have anything dramatically wrong, just bad skin, but you could see how helpless he felt. I thought, I could fix this so easily if I had my stuff with me.” So Jade took to the streets to offer her veterinary skills – calling herself ‘Street Vet’. Later that year, she found Sam on Facebook, doing the same thing and using the same name. The pair met up, and decided to join forces. They registered StreetVet as a not-for-
profit organisation in 2017, before going on to be given charity status in early 2019. The human touch Back out in London, Gabriel carries a backpack and a huge suitcase, stuffed with necessities. On the corner of a street, opposite one of the most affluent shopping parades in the city, we find Brian and his two Jack Russells, Rain and Mist. Gabriel hands Brian a ‘human bag’ (fresh fruit and a drink), and then opens his suitcase to top him up with dog food, poo bags, and a new toy each for Rain and Mist. After Gabriel and Holly-Anne have finished checking the two dogs over, Brian tells me how StreetVet was there for him through Rain’s cancer scare. “They’re a godsend for us,” Brian says. “I think they’re kind people – a proper charity. I do anything that I can to help them.”
In London alone, StreetVet has more than 200 registered patients
At the time we met, Brian, Rain, and Mist were due to make their TV debut on an upcoming series looking at the special relationship we have with dogs – and Brian explains that he’d happily take any opportunity to support StreetVet. That someone who has lost almost everything wants to give back to a charity, speaks volumes to the hard work of volunteers like Gabriel and Holly-Anne. Gabriel later tells me that, while he originally got involved with StreetVet for the animals, he stays for the people – and that he would
miss the Sunday outreach if he didn’t do it once a week – and I can believe it. The sun sets and the temperature drops but, as we continue to work our way through the city, Gabriel’s energy never falters. A friend through hard times A few hours and several streetlevel checkups later, in an underpass in Shoreditch we meet up with Street Kitchen – the local grassroots organisation that supported StreetVet’s first regular station, and offered guidance in
the beginning – where we pick up boxes of hot pasta to hand out as we continue on our route. We’re looking for Mitch and his Staffy, Benson. After a short walk, Gabriel spots them about 15 metres away. He kneels to the ground and Benson comes bounding up the pavement to meet him. For Benson, this is a game, for Gabriel it’s all part of the check-up. Benson has been in Mitch’s life for eight years. “He’s my boy – he’s the only one who puts up with me,” says Mitch. “I have no mental >>> January 2020 • happiful.com • 51
StreetVet can only keep doing the incredible work that they do with your support. To donate to the charity, get information on fundraising, or browse their Amazon wish list, where you can purchase much-needed supplies for the animals StreetVet support, head to streetvet.co.uk/get-involved
Gabriel with Kaiser
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health support, but he keeps my head straight. He’s my reason for everything.” In 2014, a study by Homeless Link found that 80% of homeless people in England reported mental health problems, with 45% having been diagnosed with a condition. Being aware of what this might mean when treating people’s animals, Jade explains how this comes into play when considering the way that StreetVet has evolved to offer its service. “A lot of the people who we’re helping have slipped through the cracks – they don’t trust society,” Jade explains. “So I think that’s what works so well because we’re seeing them in their own environment. Also, it’s a slow burner. We’re in the same place week in week out, they get to know us and trust that we’re working with them, not against them.” “Benson looks forward to seeing them,” says Mitch. “All I have to say is: ‘Doggy doctors!’ And he’s like, ‘Where?!’” A clean bill of health When asked whether there’s a story from the past two years that really stands out in her mind, Jade instantly recalls Sally and her owner Rob. On a night in November, Sally was spooked by some fireworks and ran away from Rob on to a railway line, straight into the path of an oncoming train. Sally’s injuries were life-threatening but, incredibly, she was still alive when the team got to her. “Rob had been one of our clients for a long time and he knew what to do,” Jade explains. “He called
our out-of-hours team, they went down and Sally was recovered from the railway. “She lost an eye and a leg, and she was in the vets for about two weeks. For Rob, it was a massive thing to be apart from his dog for that long. But what was really lovely was that the team all knew him so well already. “It’s those owners who you’ve been through something pretty big with, and then come out the other side – that’s special. That was a time when I realised that this was really needed, and that the system we’ve got in place was working – because if StreetVet didn’t exist, that dog would not be with him anymore.” Unconditional love Our last stop of the night was with Jason and Peppy – another Staffy – who we meet outside London Liverpool Street Station. As Gabriel begins his check-up, we’re moved on by a TFL staff member, a reminder – after a day mostly filled with hope, no doubt prompted by the energy of the animals – of the realities of homelessness. Jason tells me that he has had Peppy since she was a puppy, and that she’s 10 years old now. When I ask him what Peppy means to him, Jason doesn’t know where to start. “She’s like a best friend. It’s the company, they’re always there – it’s very therapeutic,” he says. “You’re never sad too long when you have a dog, they make you happy. “The dog loves you, and it doesn’t matter what you have or what you don’t have, or what you have lost. They just want to be with you – and the more they are with you, the happier you are.”
The dog loves you, and it doesn’t matter what you have or what you don’t have, or what you have lost
Photography (bottom right) | Robin Trow Photography
StreetVet founders Sam Joseph and Jade Statt
Gabriel fills Jason’s bag with supplies, we part ways, and head into the Tube station. That day, I was struck by two things. The first, the incredible dedication of the StreetVet volunteers – their selflessness, personability, and skill. The second was that of the affinity between a person and their animal. Little is comparable to the strength of the bonds that I saw that day. We all crave companionship; it’s what sustains us, no matter what our circumstances. But the companionship that flourishes on the streets is an anchor, and the animals a life force. And if that life force dims, on cruel winter nights, through hostility, vulnerability, and in times of illness, StreetVet are there to patch it up. And so they face another day – a person and their animal, together, against the world. Find out more about StreetVet and their invaluable work at streetvet.co.uk January 2020 • happiful.com • 53
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In memory of my son, Colin...
Losing someone to suicide can be a pain like no other, and for Lyn Walton-McPhee, she was left with so many unanswered questions. But through her grief, and her own mental health struggles, Lyn is striving to be a voice for change Writing | Lyn Walton-McPhee
p until 26 October 2014, my life was going swimmingly. I had three grown up children, and a grandson. I had worked for 20 years in mental health and challenging behaviour as a carer, and then deputy manager. I’d recently gone into a business partnership and became self-employed, opening a new domiciliary care company. My son Colin was proud of what I was doing, and
he regularly told me that. He would visit when he could, as he was married and he worked hard. We’d often chat about this and that going on in both our lives, but nothing came up that I could identify a major concern – yet I did have some concerns as a mother. I felt that he always looked fatigued, and never smiled the way he used to. He put it down to work and tiredness and, I now believe for my benefit, would perk up so that mother wouldn’t ask more questions.
However, something didn’t sit right with me, and I began to worry. He got himself into scrapes he would never have been involved with before and, although encouraged, he refused to talk about what was going on. He admitted his home life wasn’t great, and I told him if he ever wanted to come home to get away from some of his marriage difficulties the door was always open. He loved spending time once a week with his nephew, who has
autism and challenging behaviour. He helped pensioners with their gardens and fencing, which he enjoyed, so nothing alerted me to any specific mental health issues. The police knocked on our door at 4.20am on 26 October 2014. I hadn’t heard the knock, so my husband answered. I heard male voices, so got up, grabbed my dressing gown, and headed out of the bedroom. My husband met me and told me it was the police. >>> January 2020 • happiful.com • 55
Lyn with her son Colin
My grief was all-consuming, as was the guilt I felt at not being able to prevent my son taking his life. The emotional turmoil was tremendous Colin had passed away. He had killed himself. He had just celebrated his 34th birthday. I ran downstairs and begged the police to tell me it was a mistake. After that, everything was a blur, and I’ve had to rely on my family to fill in the missing pieces. I tried to be strong, but I found it impossible. My grief was all-consuming, as was the guilt I felt at not being able to prevent my son taking his life. I told people I was fine when I wasn’t. The emotional turmoil was tremendous. There were so many questions I wanted answers to, but the biggest one was why? And the only person who could answer the question truthfully was now dead. Trying to put on a brave face and be strong for my family took its toll on my own mental health without me realising. I refused to see the GP, assuring those worried
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Colin passed away in 2014
about me that I was fine. Then, two months after my son’s death, a comment triggered a total meltdown. My eldest daughter frog-marched me to see the GP, who diagnosed me with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks, which I managed with medication, and continue to do so. My life, my mental and physical health, were all affected, and I felt like I was drowning in my grief, because I had no closure. I agreed to counselling, but didn’t feel it helped me as it seemed that the counsellor was completely
Colin as a toddler
disassociated throughout the session. Moving forwards, I set up a Facebook page in Colin’s memory, called Greenbows and Butterflies. Greenbows because we wore them at his funeral, as green was his favourite colour, and butterflies because during the service a butterfly emerged from on top of his coffin, flew in front of us, then disappeared down the aisle. After his funeral, we realised we had to do more in his memory, and through the page we organised fundraisers
for the National Autistic Society, because of his close relationship with his nephew. I hope people find supportive posts on Greenbows and Butterflies, get to know my son, and see our journey since he died. To keep the discussion around mental health and suicide prevention going, I also created the Facebook page Colin’s Corner, as a space for people to come together to share their stories. The message throughout is: “You are not alone.” I couldn’t help my son, but that won’t stop my fight to try to help others.
To keep the discussion around mental health going, Lyn created the Facebook Page Colin’s Corner. This is an online space for people to come together to share their stories. Her other Facebook page, Green Bows and Butterflies, is a memorial page where she shares memories from Colin’s life.
I was living a life sentence of heartbreak and failure. I treasured the photos I had of him, each and every one invaluable as they made up the story of his life I clung on to memories, but it wasn’t enough – some were too tender and others too distant. I was living a life sentence of heartbreak and failure. I treasured the photos I had of him, each and every one invaluable as they made up the story of his life. My family found it difficult to understand my pain, as we were all grieving differently, and I found it hard to articulate my thoughts and feelings. I believed I wasn’t stepping up enough as a mother and a wife, and felt guilty that I couldn’t be who they wanted me to be. I was drifting into isolation. My depression was feeding the thoughts that made me feel like a self-proclaimed failure – for not being able to help my son, and the fear of letting my other two children down.
At first it wasn’t easy to gather my thoughts in a logical way, but I knew I needed to keep my mind active. I reverted to a previous passion of writing poetry to express myself and keep communication active. I want to publish my poems in the hope of reaching out to someone before it’s too late. I am passionate about raising awareness of the need for change surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. I hope that sharing my personal experience will help educate people about the stigma and consequences of not talking and, more importantly, not listening when someone is struggling. The stigma about mental health issues and suicide is born out of ignorance and
shame, people with no understanding or empathy bearing judgement, distancing themselves, as if mental health was contagious. I cannot speak for Colin, but I have found that when you mention you’re depressed, often you are spoken to in a condescending manner, or
avoided in the street. Men particularly feel ashamed or embarrassed to discuss their mental health when it’s declining, choosing to suppress their difficulties for fear of being judged as weak by others. In memory of my son Colin, who I miss every second of every day, I promise to be a voice for change.
OUR EXPERT SAYS Lyn was devastated when her son took his own life. She felt she had to be strong for others and push through it, not asking for help. As events overwhelmed her, she found she couldn’t cope. But creating the Facebook pages in Colin’s memory gave her a way back, allowing her to express feelings and connect with others. People experience
grief and pain in different ways, and Lyn found a release through poetry, using her passion to reach out to others and educate them. Often finding ways of expressing our feelings helps us to get through loss and reconnect with the world again. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP Reg Ind counsellor
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How to find the [right] therapist... wit h G race TEDx speaker and author, our columnist Grace Victory draws on personal experience to share her invaluable insight into the issues that matter to you
t’s no secret that I advocate for therapy; it’s essential in my life, and has been for years. Therapy taught me how to communicate what I need, how to practise self-care, how to set boundaries, and how to reparent my inner child. The process has been wild, and I’m still going. I’ve tried cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), talking therapies, holistic healing, and I’m currently having psychodynamic and psychoanalytic trauma therapy. Every treatment has differed – some I’ve loathed, some I’ve loved, and some I go back to. It’s fair to say that therapy has changed my life, but my experiences haven’t all been positive. I was 20 when I first asked for help for depression and body image issues, and through my GP I was offered a one-to-one session with a male psychiatrist to receive a diagnosis, and then six group therapy sessions. Looking back, it’s a shame I wasn’t given a choice about which setting I would’ve preferred. I also wasn’t used to talking so vulnerably with an older man, and from the outset I believed I couldn’t ever trust him, but I also didn’t want to trust him – which is an important factor.
After speaking about my childhood, and how I felt about my body, the psychiatrist said: “It’s clear what’s going on. You have abandonment issues with your father, and that has forced you to use food as a way to cope. I’d like you to come to group therapy and start Weight Watchers, to learn how to eat and lose some weight to help your body image issues.”
(Are you angry? Because 29-yearold Grace just got really f**king angry all over again). The very person who should have helped me start the healing process, instead fed my eating disorder mind, and gave me the go ahead to blame myself and my body for things that were not my fault. I never saw him again. I never attended the group sessions.
@GRACEFVICTORY And of course, I signed up for Weight Watchers the next day. At 25, I was in an incredibly dark place. Shock horror, losing weight didn’t fix my problems. It did, in fact, make them worse, so I began seeing a counsellor via a small NHS centre. I was told I’d be having eight CBT-centred sessions with a woman. I was apprehensive but thrilled. However, after the third session I noticed how horrific I would feel afterwards. It was as if I was being triggered, without a safe way to process and reset. I stopped returning her calls, and she eventually stopped calling. I was back to square one, but I actually felt relieved. Maybe I wasn’t ready to get better? Or maybe I needed something with a more wholesome approach. A year later, like fate, I met Emmy Brunner – the founder and CEO of The Recover Clinic – and upon seeing her I thought: “So this is what a good therapist looks like.”
I felt exactly the same way when I met my current therapist, A (who happens to be male – things have changed!). Both Emmy and A have an aura I was drawn to. My intuition told me to turn up and trust – which is easier said than done, but I tried, which was enough to show me that I was supposed to be there. As well as being a psychotherapist, Emmy also trained as a life coach, knew how to connect with women, and I felt safe in her presence. My current therapist has worked tirelessly with trauma of all kinds, and is able to pick up on my body language and his connection to my subconscious, to bring things into my own awareness, and thus heal them. I guess you could say I have tried and tested many different ways to heal, and the facilitators of these. I’ve also worked with more spiritual aspects too, such as womb healing, inner child meditations, and tarot readings. It’s worth noting that everyone will experience healing differently, and what works for some won’t work for others. But based on my experiences, here are a few things I think you should keep in mind when looking for a therapist. GENDER Think about whether the gender of your therapist might affect your experience, and what relationship you would find most beneficial.
RACE AND CULTURE For many black and Asian people, it can be tiresome to constantly explain their culture, and this could impact their healing. It may be helpful to see someone of the same race and/or culture, because both of these can play a part in childhood, family dynamics, and traumatic experiences. PRICE Think about what you can afford – the NHS can offer free counselling, but you may be on a waiting list, or you can go private for more immediate help, but will pay. MODALITY There are so many forms of healing so research is essential. Do you want something that’s quick just to get you through a certain problem? CBT might be best. Do you and your siblings always argue? Conflict resolution therapy may be for you. GROUP VS ALONE Do you want something less invasive, or more intimate? IRL VS ONLINE Are you able to commit to therapy sessions face-to-face, or is online more suited to your schedule? Of course there are other factors to take into account when your sessions actually begin, but for now, I hope this has helped you on your journey to finding the help you deserve.
How to stay motivated to
exercise when you have anxiety Just because something is good for us, doesn’t make it easy to do – especially when anxiety puts up roadblocks. Here are seven simple steps to help maintain that motivation...
xercise is hugely beneficial to our mental health, but when you struggle with anxiety or depression, finding the motivation to get active can be a challenge. It can leave you zapped of energy and drive, making it feel impossible to get out of bed in the morning – let alone go for a jog.
Writing | Lydia Smith Illustrating | Rosan Magar
Most of us will have skipped the gym to spend time on the sofa at some point. But for those with a mental health problem, low motivation, fatigue, and loss of interest in activities, are prominent symptoms. “I definitely do find it difficult,” says Freddie Cocker, founder and editor-in-chief of the mental health platform Vent. “Normally when I’ve come home from a tough day at work, or it’s in the bleak winter and I have to train on my own.” Given the importance of that mind-connection, here are a few ideas to help maintain motivation, and make exercising a little easier.
EXERCISE WITH SOMEONE ELSE
Getting a friend to join you for a walk, run, or class can really help boost motivation, as it makes exercise seem like less of a chore – and far less overwhelming. “If you have a friend to train with, you can motivate each other to train harder than you would do on your own,” says Freddie. “When you exercise with someone else, you can catch-up, chat about life, hobbies, and interests, with exercise fitted around it.”
GET INTO A ROUTINE
Fitting exercise into your routine, such as after lunch, is a good way to incorporate physical activity into your day without it seeming daunting. “Routine is a really good way of motivating the mind,”
says Dr Christian Buckland, a psychotherapist and spokesperson for the UK Council for Psychotherapy. “If we know when we are getting up in the morning, or when we are having breakfast, lunch, and dinner, we can feel less overwhelmed by other tasks, as the day is broken down into manageable sections.”
START OFF SMALL
“Something as simple as walking to work instead of taking public transport is a really great start,” says Hannah Horlick, personal trainer at Reach Fitness. “On a walk in the morning, you can listen to some music or a podcast, or just take notice of your surroundings.”
TURN IT AROUND
“We often mistakenly do things back to front – our thought process that says, ‘Exercise will make me feel better. Therefore I should exercise,’” says Katerina Georgiou, a counsellor and psychotherapist. “Try turning that thought the other way round: ‘When I feel well, I’m more likely to exercise. Therefore I should do things to feel well.’ “It’s surprising how much more resilience we can have for things like exercise
when we first make space for the things we love,” she adds. “If there’s a song you love listening to, or seeing friends, then do those things first and often! It will put you in a better emotional space to tackle more taxing tasks later.”
FIND THE STUMBLING BLOCK
It can be helpful to work out what is stopping you from exercising to try to overcome this. “If you’re tired after work, do something before work,” says Georgiou. “If it’s the faff of getting changed, try walking around the block.” For Melanie Daffin, music helped reduce her anxiety about the gym. “I was scared of exercising in front of others, and the amount of people also worried me,” she says. “I’ve thankfully managed to overcome that by using my headphones. I end up zoning out into my own world and not caring what people think.”
FIND SOMETHING YOU LOVE
Exercising doesn’t have to mean pounding the pavements – whether it’s gentle yoga or stretching, there’s bound to be an exercise that suits you. “I know classes can be a little daunting, but get in contact with the gym and let them know your situation. In general, they will make you feel very welcome and look out for you,” says personal trainer Hannah.
“I get really anxious going to anything I haven’t been to before on my own, but if you are heading to a fitness class, there will be likeminded people there, going for the same reasons as you. “Personal training sessions aren’t in everyone’s budget, but if your anxiety is severe, that really could be the best way for you to start,” Hannah adds. “A personal trainer can completely tailor a programme to your goals.” Exercising in the comfort of your lounge can also ease the anxiety of going into a busy gym – and there are lots of easy-to-follow YouTube videos, too.
THINK ABOUT THE BENEFITS
Being physically active isn’t the only answer to a mental health problem, but it can help. “Exercise has been massive for my mental health, I really can’t oversell it,” Freddie says. “Being alone with my thoughts for a long period of time is a recipe for trouble in my life, so having another distraction makes a huge difference, and being able to make new friends tin my gym has been a great benefit as well.”
It’s about time we brought down the barriers around yoga, and Jessamyn Stanley is here to lead the way. A yoga teacher and body positivity advocate based in North Carolina, Jessamyn is passionate about shattering the illusion that yoga is for one type of person. Here, she reveals how she discovered yoga during a difficult time, and the lessons she takes off the mat and into the rest of her life Writing | Kathryn Wheeler
Hi Jessamyn! When did you first find yoga? I fell in love with yoga in my early 20s, while managing a wave of depression and looking for balance in my life. Even though the physical practice was extremely challenging, none of the postures felt accessible, and I was often the only fat and black person in my classes – I still found a part of myself in yoga that had been dormant until then. You tell your students to ask, ‘How do I feel?’ rather than, ‘How do I look?’ when practising yoga. How do you feel when you’re doing yoga? During a postural yoga practice, I tend to feel like it’s a rare opportunity to come into full connection with my physical body. My tendency towards body dysmorphia and depression means that I can get out of touch with my body rather quickly, and yoga helps pull me back to
the moment so that I can take ownership of this incredibly powerful machine that I’ve been granted during this lifetime. What does ‘body positivity’ mean to you? Body positivity means: “You are OK, today.” It means that everything about you is, in this moment, exactly as it needs to be. You don’t need to change anything, you don’t need to worry about tomorrow. You are OK, today. Do you have any tips for someone looking to break away from an idea of a ‘right’ way to practise yoga? There is no ‘right’ way to practise yoga because every practise of yoga is perfect, whether it’s on or off the mat. My advice is to stop paying attention to yoga media, companies, and individuals who promote yogic exceptionalism.
In an Insta post, you describe your yoga as: ‘Messy and complicated and NSFW and vulgar as f*ck.’ What do you mean by that? Yoga is not actually about the pretty, traditionally Instagrammable moments. The practice occurs both on and off the yoga mat – legit, practising the postures and breathwork in a class is just preparation for applying the same themes to every other moment of life. And in the same way that I stumble and fall on the yoga mat, I stumble and fall off the mat as well. Often, I do more than stumble, and things can get very messy and complicated and NSFW and vulgar, very quickly. You’ve spoken about ‘stepping into your sexuality’ at the age of 32. Why is now the time? I think I’ve probably become more comfortable in my
Photography | Justin Cook
sexuality because I’m getting older, and it’s much easier to not give a f*ck about what other people think than it’s ever been in the past. I’ve also come to understand that a healthy connection to my sexuality is an imperative part of knowing myself as a fully evolved human being, and not just knowing a paper doll cut-out, onedimensional version of myself. When things get tough, what makes you feel better? On the difficult days, I let myself feel bad and try to resist the urge to guilt myself for feeling depressed – usually, this is the hardest part and takes the longest. If a shitty situation has snuck up on me out of nowhere, I always try to focus on breathing my way through it.
And, as soon as I possibly can, I try to get into a self-love cocoon of tarot cards, essential oils, meditation, bubble baths, and healing crystals.
Jessamyn Stanley is an author, intersectional activist, and founder of ‘The Underbelly Yoga’, a wellness programme app available internationally this winter
Y O G A Some like it hot
These days, there seems to be as many different types of yoga as there are ways to mispronounce ‘namaste’. From classics renewed to – *cough* – yoga in the nude, instructors are working hard to find new and creative ways to engage students in this ancient practice. This month, Happiful’s yogi-newbie Kathryn Wheeler heads to a hot yoga class to see if it lives up to the hype, or whether it’s all just a bit of a stretch
oaded up on liquid? Check. Light lunch two hours earlier? Check. Highly absorbent towel for my soon-to-be very sweaty brow? Check. I’ve arrived at Red Hot Yoga in Guildford for my first ever experience of, you’ve guessed it, hot yoga. The concept is simple – an hour of yoga in a room kept between 38–42°C with a humidity level of 40–50% – but the benefits, so I’ve heard, are ample. Originally created by popular yoga teacher Bikram Choudhury in the 1970s, the practice is sometimes referred to as ‘Bikram yoga’ – although the yoga community has since sought to move away from the association following a stream of sexual assault claims. Today, there are many forms of hot yoga, from the ‘Hot 26’ – which includes a series of 26 repeated postures – to traditional Vinyasa Flow. For me, however, it was straight to the beginners’ class. It was a chilly, winter evening when I arrived at the studio, and
64 • happiful.com • January 2020
the humid heat that washed over me when I first walked into the hot yoga room was very welcome. The room was dark and quiet and, as I weaved my way to a free mat at the back of the room (the classic firsttimer spot), others were taking the 10 or so minutes we had before the class began to lie down and relax on their mats – an activity that I quickly learned was more than enough to build up a sweat. Beginning in a seated position with some gentle stretching to warm up, we then moved into standing poses. The class consisted of mostly static postures with some short flows added in as well, though the motions through the poses are much slower than in standard yoga classes – and, though breathing is so often an important factor in any yoga practice, here it was vital. Having this awareness – and, consequently, control – over your body is one of the unique qualities of hot yoga; it doesn’t encourage you gently to take back control like in other forms, it demands it. Additionally, hot yoga is thought to
give you a better workout due to an increased heart rate, and the heat also improves flexibility, meaning that you can stretch further than you would do normally. The temperature of the room meant that each extension through my arms and legs blended into the space around me, and I felt the limits of my body blurring with the hot air as my heart rate raced in the heat. As I made eye contact with myself in the wall of mirrors in front of me, yes, I did notice the stream of sweat running off my body – in fact, more sweat than I thought it was possible to produce – but I also felt strong, serene, and in tune with myself. The session came to an end and – as I stepped out of the hot yoga room into the cool, essential-oilinfused changing rooms – I felt… quiet. Hot yoga is an invigorating mix of challenging physical exercise, and uplifting mindful moments. From the mind-soothing qualities, to the way that it unlocks new physical limits, it may be time to turn up the heat on your yoga workout – you won’t regret it.
‘Hot yoga doesn’t encourage you gently to take back control, it demands it’
T R Y
H O M E
While it wouldn’t be easy to replicate a hot yoga room at home without racking up a pricey energy bill, follow the flow below to unlock this ancient, mindful practice: Mountain pose Stand on your mat with your hands in prayer positions in front of you. Breathe slowly. Forward bend Raise your hands above your head and then slowly bend at the waist to place your hands on the floor or your shins. Low lunge Raise your head and step one foot in between your arms, resting the other leg on the floor. Plank Step your other foot back to meet the first and tighten your stomach muscles to hold a plank position. Downward facing dog Straighten your arms and, keeping your legs straight if you can, raise your hips to create a triangle. High lunge Step one leg forward, with your back leg straight and off the mat, and raise your head with your arms by your side. Forward bend Come into a forward bend, hanging loosely. Mountain pose Straighten up and bring your hands to meet in prayer position in front of you. Breathe.
January 2020 • happiful.com • 65
breakfast Time for
Put the kettle on and start your morning the right way Writing | Ellen Hoggard
reakfast is one of my favourite meals of the day. While there are so many options available, it’s easy to fall into a dull routine, with a lacklustre, soggy and sugar-filled cereal. Of course, sometimes you really want a piece of toast to complement your morning brew, but when you have a busy day ahead of you – whether at work or the weekend – you need something to sustain you. This month, we’re bringing you three simple, nutritious, yet delicious, recipes to try at home. You can prepare these ahead of time, or indulge in a slower morning. Whatever works for you. Go on, put the kettle on and start your morning the right way. Have a great day!
SMOKY SCRAMBLED EGGS Serves 2 • 1 ½ bell peppers, chopped • 1 small red onion • 50g spinach leaves • 3 medium eggs • 1 tsp paprika • 1 tbsp olive oil • 2 slices of bread • Salt and pepper Optional: Add garlic and freshly chopped chillies for an extra kick! Method • Heat the oil in a medium-sized frying pan and cook the peppers and onion until soft. Add the paprika and any additional seasonings. Stir. Toast the bread • To the pan, add the eggs and stir constantly for 30 seconds, mixing the eggs and vegetables. Continue stirring. When the eggs are fully cooked, spoon on to the toast. Season and serve immediately.
SPICED APPLE OATS Serves 2 • 50g organic rolled oats • 125ml milk of choice • 4 tbsp yoghurt (dairy-free optional) • 2 small red apples, chopped • 2 tsp maple syrup • 3 tsp cinnamon Optional: A dollop of peanut butter. Method • Combine the oats, milk, yoghurt and 3 tsp cinnamon in a bowl. Cover and chill overnight. In a medium-sized pan, add the chopped apples, cinnamon and maple syrup. Sauté until soft. Transfer to a bowl and cover, leave in the fridge overnight. • I n the morning, spoon out the oat mixture into bowls. Add the apple and any additional toppings.
OUR EXPERT SAYS… Smoky Scrambled Eggs This is a well-balanced, nutritious vegetarian breakfast. It includes all three macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Ensure the ingredients are good quality to maximise the nutritional benefits; opt for a high fibre whole grain bread and organic free-range eggs. The spinach, red onion, and bell pepper will ensure a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants to kick off the day. Spiced Apple Oats Organic rolled oats are a fantastic source of soluble fibre that promotes gut health and motility. Apples are high in quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that helps strengthen the immune system. Adding cinnamon not only adds depth of flavour, but also acts as a blood sugar balancer. Swap peanut butter for almond butter, as it offers a higher amount of monounsaturated fats.
VEGAN BANANA MUFFINS Makes 12 • 3 very ripe bananas • 50g coconut oil • 200g granulated sugar • 250g all-purpose flour • 1 tsp salt • 1 tsp baking soda Optional: 100g vegan chocolate chips, walnuts • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole cake
tin with paper cases, set aside. In a bowl, mash the bananas. Add the oil and sugar and combine until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the banana mixture, stirring gently. Once combined, if using, add the walnuts and chocolate chips. • Spoon the mixture into your lined cases, leaving some room for the cakes to rise. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Eat while warm with a cup of tea. Delicious.
Vegan Banana Muffin While delicious, I’d recommend these as a weekend treat, rather than an everyday breakfast. Bananas are rich in fibre, antioxidants, and potassium, which is essential to heart health. Ripe bananas are a healthy carbohydrate that provide a good supply of fruit sugar. By switching a few ingredients you can enhance the nutritional value. Use an organic whole cane sugar, and almond flour, which offers more protein, healthy fats, and vitamin E. Josephine (Beanie) Robinson is a nutritional therapist, yoga and meditation teacher, and co-founder of The Health Space. Find out more at thehealth-space.com
! H S O B The thought of going fully vegan might seem daunting, but thanks to the advice and insight of the brains behind YouTube cooking channel BOSH!, you can ‘flex’ your cuisine skills and explore the middle-ground before taking the plant-based plunge Writing | Gemma Calvert
t’s a Wednesday afternoon and I’m at a bustling cafe on London’s Regent Street meeting Henry Firth and Ian Theasby – the so-called ‘vegan Jamie Olivers’ behind BOSH!, the plant-based YouTube cooking channel revolutionising our eating habits, one legume at a time. It’s been four years since the Sheffield-born friends quit eating meat and dairy, and began ‘veganising’ dinner time favourites. From bolognese to burgers, Ian and Henry have devised thousands of meat, dairy and even honey-free versions, which they demonstrate in quick, no-nonsense videos (hence bish, bash, bosh!) on their website and social channels.
Starting out in June 2016, and now uploading a new recording every day at 3pm, Henry and Ian’s videos reach more than 25 million people each month, with 1.5 billion views since they started. On top of two best-selling vegan cookbooks – the first is the highest-selling of all-time – towards the end of 2019, Henry and Ian released How To Live Vegan – a handbook endorsed by Russell Brand, which will apparently help you “save the planet and feel amazing”. They talk from experience. Ian and Henry went vegan overnight within six weeks of each other after watching the Netflix documentary Cowspiracy, which they say laid bare the
environmental impact of animal agriculture, and inspired a need to take personal responsibility for change. “Animal agriculture is the biggest contributor to planet change, more than cars, trains, and planes combined,” says Henry. “David Attenborough has said we should reduce our meat and dairy intake to help the planet, and it’s known that 25% of our personal carbon footprint is down to the food and drink we consume. The biggest thing we can control individually is changing our diet.” Now here’s the astounding bit – you don’t have to go fully vegan to make a big difference. Flexitarianism – “Eating less meat and consuming more consciously,”
Portraits | Nicky Johnston
Henry (left) and Ian (right) started out in 2016
Ian explains – is a fast growing trend in the UK, aided by initiatives such as ‘Veganuary’. “Eating aware and doing your research into what you’re eating will arm you to be a conscious consumer, or what we call a ‘mindful meatie’,” explains Henry. “A really easy thing to do is meatfree Monday. For breakfast have granola, for lunch have a falafel wrap, then for your evening meal, some tomato pasta or a veggie lasagne. If every single person in the country decided to do meatfree Monday, that would be a very good place to start.” Yet preachers they are not. Instead, Henry and Ian hope that developing appetising, plantbased recipes everyone can enjoy, will persuade even the most diehard carnivores to slash their meat consumption. “BOSH! is about plant-based food for everyone. It’s our mission to make it as accessible as humanly possible, to as many people as possible,” says Ian. “Flexitarians have all the buying power,” adds Henry. “They doing the bulk of the buying, so the more vegan products that meateaters buy, the more that will be available, and the more likely there will be subsidies for plantbased food producers.” Henry and Ian don’t pretend to be doctors, nutritionists, or dietitians, and while studies galore highlight the health advantages of well-planned vegan eating – including reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, plus better gut health and immune system functioning – they talk anecdotally of improved health since adopting a fully plant-based diet. They
WIN! For a chance to win 'BOSH! How to Live Vegan', answer the following: What percentage of our carbon footprint comes from food and drink? Email your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org T&Cs apply. Competition ends 23 January 2020
noticed better sleep and clearer complexions, Henry claims his long-term hay fever ceased after giving up dairy, and he mentions a pal whose “crippling sinusitis” disappeared after he went vegan. Ian’s “never had so much energy”, and there are mental health benefits, too. “Vegan eating is about compassion for yourself and your own health, for animals, for the planet, or for starving people as well as the social justice angles,” says Henry. “When I went vegan, I felt better in myself and in my
choices, I was more congruent with my ethics because I knew I was eating in line with my ideals.” Ian adds: “Every time you cook a vegan meal, you can be safe in the knowledge that you’re doing a good thing, and it will give you more satisfaction and hunger to do it again. Cooking really is good for your mental health.” As I bid BOSH! farewell, they dish out hugs and thrust a bag of homemade chocolate-chip cookies into my hand – vegan, of course. Flexitarianism never tasted so good… >>>
BO S H ! 1) PREP LIKE A VEGAN PRO “Spend time reading books, watching YouTube videos, and get to grips with the theory behind cooking plant-based food because that’s going to be your new norm,” advises Ian. “Then open your cupboards and check every label. If it’s not plant-based, put it to one side, and choose what you want to do with it – we took ours to a food bank. Clear your cupboards of potential pitfalls and trip ups.” 2) ESSENTIAL INGREDIENTS “Nutritional yeast is the must-have ingredient for anyone looking to substitute dairy cheese,” advises Henry. “It gives an instant cheesy flavour – it’s a bit weird raw, but the minute you put it into a cheese sauce it tastes perfectly cheesy!” Tinned tomatoes, white or brown pasta (only egg pasta isn’t vegan) garlic, onions, salt and pepper are kitchen must-haves. Oh, and don’t forget chickpeas. “Not only can you make the vegan staple, hummus, but you can also make aquafaba,” reveals Henry. 3) MOO-VE OVER, COW’S MILK According to research, it takes about 1,000 litres of water to make one litre of dairy milk, compared to 297 litres for the same amount of soy milk. “Swapping dairy milk and cheese is an easy and great step to cut down on your carbon footprint,” says Ian, adding
tips to becoming a mindful-meatie
that shopping for plant-based alternatives has never been easier. “Walk into a supermarket and you’ve got oat milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk – the list goes on and on.” 4) BYE BYE BEEF “Beef is the meat with the highest carbon footprint because of cow’s farting,” explains Henry. Put simply, cows produce a lot of methane so feeding cows grass contributes to the production of greenhouse gases. “If everyone in the UK cut out meat from one meal a week, it would cut the UK’s carbon footprint by 8% per year. That’s the equivalent to taking 16 million cars off the road.” 5) EMBRACE COOKING “You’re going to discover loads of new foods – ingredients such as tempeh (made from soy beans), seitan (made from wheat gluten and high in protein) and jackfruit (a meaty substitute like pulled pork),” explains Henry. “Retrain yourself how to cook and then, once you’ve nailed a few recipes, try veganising your old favourites.” 6) EAT THE RAINBOW “Try to pack your basket full of colourful plant foods to get diversity on to your plate,” says Ian, “and all the fibre, potassium, magnesium, vitamins, antioxidants and protein your body needs – it’s good for your tastebuds as well as your health!”
7) TAKE TIME FOR TEXTURE Ian talks proudly of BOSH! being the first to create the two tofu technique scrambled egg – a mixture of blended and crumbled silken tofu, turmeric, black salt, spring onions, dairy-free butter and garlic. “It has the same mouth-feel, and tastes the same, as scrambled egg, but contains no cholesterol and is packed full of protein,” he says.
8) COPE WITH CRITICISM “We’ve found that an effective way to tackle criticism is to not argue, let people have their different opinions, respect those opinions, and try not to be too judgemental,” says Henry. “By being the best you can, you set an example for others that eating vegan – or more vegan – can be really great.”
Food photography | Lizzie Mayson
S h e ph e r d' s pi e This is a staple family favourite, a British classic. We make this with our mushroom mince, which we fry off first to create a really meaty texture. Super tasty, super hearty, serve this up to your meaty friends and they won’t be able to tell the difference. SERVES 4–6 2 medium red onions 1 celery stick 3 garlic cloves 4 sun-dried tomatoes, plus 2 tbsp oil from the jar 1 sprig fresh rosemary 3 sprigs fresh thyme 1 large carrot 500g mushrooms 2 tbsp tomato purée 1 tbsp yeast extract (eg. Marmite) 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 250ml red wine 100ml vegetable stock 400g pre-cooked puy lentils Salt and black pepper FOR THE POTATO TOPPING 1.2kg Maris Piper or other floury potatoes 40g dairy-free butter 150ml unsweetened plant-based milk 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 180°C First make a start on the potato topping. Peel and chop the potatoes into large chunks. Put in a saucepan, cover with cold water and add a generous pinch of salt. Put over a high heat, bring to the boil and cook for 12–15 minutes. Drain into a colander and leave to dry. Tip back into the pan. Now to the filling. Peel and finely dice the red onions and celery. Peel and grate the garlic. Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes. Remove the leaves from the rosemary and thyme by running your thumb and forefinger from the top to the base of the stems (the leaves should easily come away), then finely chop .Peel and finely chop the carrot. Put the mushrooms in the food processor and blitz to mince. Put a second saucepan over a medium heat. Pour in the sun-dried tomato oil. Add the onion and a small pinch of salt. Fry for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary and thyme and cook for 2 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and stir for 4–5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, turn up the heat slightly and stir for 2–3 minutes, until the mushrooms start to sweat.
Reduce the heat and cook for 5–7 minutes, stirring occasionally Stir the tomato purée into the pan. Add the yeast extract and balsamic vinegar and stir for 1 minute. Add the red wine, stock and lentils, turn up the heat and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Taste, season and take off the heat. Mash the potatoes. Add the dairyfree butter, milk and mustard to the potatoes and mash until really smooth. Taste and season. Spread the filling over the bottom of the lasagne dish. Spoon the potato into a piping bag, if using, and pipe tightly packed walnut-sized whips of potato all over, otherwise spoon over the potato and spread it out with the back of a spoon, then drag over a fork to make rows that will catch and brown in the oven Put the pie in the oven and bake for 25–30 minutes, until starting to crisp and turn golden brown. Remove and serve. ‘BOSH! How To Live Vegan’ by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby is out now. Recipes from ‘BISH BASH BOSH!’ also out now (HQ, HarperCollins).
One in five people admitted to hospital drink alcohol in a harmful way, with one in 10 officially being alcohol dependent. Could you, or a loved one, be a binge-drinker without realising it? With help from accredited counsellor, Elaine McKenzie, we explore how to recognise the signs, and how to find professional support Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
t’s easy to miss the fact that you have a problem when you don’t ‘look like’ an alcoholic. If you’re not drinking every night, you don’t bulk buy cans of the cheap stuff, or if you’re holding down a steady job, it’s easy to think you don’t have a problem. No matter how open-minded we think we are, many of us assume alcoholism and addiction in general has ‘a look’. If we’re brutally honest, we assume it’s a working class problem: cheap booze and regular binges. But that’s not the only face of addiction in Britain. A dear friend swears she doesn’t have a problem. She doesn’t drink often; three out of four weeks, she doesn’t even have a glass of wine after work. Yet when travelling for work, she can’t recall how many she’s had by the time the night is through. Beers go down like water, cocktails are flowing. It’s an open bar – who wouldn’t get in on the action? Everything’s OK – it’s just part of their team building. Three, four, five nights out of a month. A couple of welcome drinks before the conference starts.
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A few cheeky bottles over dinner to impress the clients. Unlimited cocktails as the team celebrate making last quarter’s numbers. It’s not a problem – honest. EVERYONE’S AT IT She’s not the only one. A 2018 study by the University of Stirling, Scotland, found that an overwhelming 85% of men and women have experienced peer pressure to drink, making it a key influencing factor. In 2019, research from King’s College London revealed that the harmful levels of alcohol use are 10 times higher in hospital inpatients, with 20% of the 1.65 million hospital inpatients using alcohol in a harmful way. WHY DO WE BINGE-DRINK? With so much information, guidelines, and warnings out there, why do many of us still turn to alcohol for comfort or as a way of coping? Experienced therapist, Elaine McKenzie, explains: “Our subjective capacity to navigate the complexities of life on life’s terms, and to relate to others can be challenging, and the
temptation to reach for something to soothe is comforting. Seeking to control uncertainty with food, prescription medication or drugs, and alcohol… In the short-term, the chosen ‘crutch’ can assist, but in the longer term? The consequences to wellbeing are significant to ourselves and those closest to us.” HOW TO SUPPORT A LOVED ONE With so many risks surrounding binge-drinking, what can we do if we’re worried about a loved one? “When behaviours become destructive, those who care can adopt an empathic approach, and ask about what may be worrying them, e.g. health, work, or not being heard within their relationship,” says Elaine. “However, this can be tricky. Intimate partners [can have] the most difficulty in addressing the other’s habitual or binge drinking. It is essential that there is an acceptance of the problem.” When we address the elephant in the room, this can lead to a sense of shame and denial among those with a problematic relationship with alcohol. >>>
WHAT IS BINGE DRINKING? According to the NHS, binge drinking refers to drinking lots of alcohol in a short space of time, or with the intention of getting drunk. For men, eight units (2.5 pints of 5% beer) of alcohol in one session, or for women six units (two large glasses of 12% wine), classifies as binge drinking.
Helping them to recognise alcohol is a crutch they are using to cope with an underlying issue can be tough, Elaine explains, but is an essential part of the recovery process. “Maybe the most helpful suggestion is to access objective, professional support either from one’s GP or a therapist. We all need support from time to time.” DITCHING THE ‘ONE SOLUTION’ MINDSET There’s no such thing as ‘one size fits all’ in life. The same can be said of recovery. Counselling and talking therapies can offer a safe space to explore and uncover issues and deeper problems, but this isn’t always the best way for each individual. If someone you know and love is struggling with their drinking, there are other options available. SUPPORT GROUPS AND GROUP THERAPY While these are distinctly different kinds of groups, each share some characteristics. Bringing together people who are dealing with similar issues or concerns in a safe, open environment, each offers the space to explore sharing in a group setting. These can help individuals increase their sense of selfawareness, make new connections with others, and gain a sense of community. They can be great options for those who don’t feel comfortable opening up in a oneto-one setting, or who would like to connect with others who are experiencing similar issues. Group therapy sessions are typically led by a qualified 74 • happiful.com • January 2020
therapist, counsellor, or psychologist, while support groups may be run by a professional or others who have experienced similar issues themselves. To find out more about counselling and group therapy, visit counselling-directory.org.uk HYPNOTHERAPY Working with a hypnotherapist can help you to better understand your body, identify and reduce the causes of stress and anxiety, as well as help tackle the underlying emotions that may have lead to binge drinking. In a hypnotherapy session, you can enter a focused, deep state of relaxation, where you can become more attuned with your body and how you’re feeling. You can learn to listen to what your body is really feeling, start recognising trigger emotions, and develop new strategies to help deal with underlying emotions. To find out more about hypnotherapy for addiction or stress, visit hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk NUTRITIONAL SUPPORT It may not seem like the obvious answer, but what we eat can have a huge impact on our overall mood and sense of wellbeing. When feeling stressed, many turn to alcohol as a means of dealing with this increased pressure. Although it can have an instant calming effect on the body, in the long-term, this consumption can increase stress in our lives and can even lead to addiction, trouble sleeping, and a lower overall sense of wellbeing. If stress is a significant factor in your (or a loved one’s) binge-
AM I A BINGE-DRINKER? • Do you regularly have more than your week’s recommended units of alcohol? Are these spread through the week, or across fewer than three sessions? • Do you have more than six units of alcohol at a time? • Do you drink to get drunk? These can all be indications of binge drinking. If you are concerned, speak with your GP, or visit drinkaware.co.uk to find out more about the associated risks. drinking, working with a professional nutritionist could be helpful in making longterm, positive changes to your diet. Offering tailored advice and support, a professional should look at your triggers and contributing factors, as well as underlying imbalances as part of your initial assessment. To find out more about how a nutritional therapist could help, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk SEEKING SUPPORT Recognising you have a problem is a huge step. Seeking professional help and support can feel daunting, but is the start of making positive changes for the better. Encountering alcohol as part of our daily lives is pretty inevitable – in many ways it’s an unavoidable part of our culture. Finding ways to address underlying causes of our destructive behaviours can help to turn these stressful situations into more manageable events. With a little extra help and support, we can bring the focus back to what matters: ensuring our health and wellbeing is a priority, not an afterthought.
Bring mindfulness to every day Being present can reduce stress, ease anxiety, and improve self-awareness. Meditation is a common way to practise mindfulness, but it isn’t the only way. Explore these easy options for introducing mindful moments to your daily routine Writing | Kat Nicholls
SET AN INTENTION FOR THE DAY So often we wake up to the sound of our alarm, and jump head-first into our to-do list for the day. Try having a slower and more mindful start to your day by setting an intention when you wake. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, and what you want to make space for. Top tip: keep a journal by your bed to note your intention, and try to do it before picking up your phone and scrolling. MAKE A MINDFUL CUPPA If you already start your day with a cup of tea or coffee, why not give it a mindful twist? Instead of running through your day in your head while making your brew, pause and really pay attention to what you’re doing. Notice how it smells, the swirl when you add your milk, feel the warmth of the mug in your hands, enjoy every delicious sip. Use this as a chance to be in the moment and allow thoughts and worries to pass like clouds in the sky.
TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE When we follow the same route, it’s easy to get stuck on autopilot. Think about the journeys you take every day, such as your commute to work or daily dog walk. How often do you think about where you’re going? Chances are it’s not very often. An easy way to become more present is to change up your routine and take a different route. This will sharpen your senses, as you focus on the novelty, and which direction you need to go. LOOK UP Feeling overwhelmed? Something simple you can do to calm down and anchor yourself in the moment is to head outside and look up. Notice how the sky is looking today – is it cloudy or
clear? Is it warm or cold? Can you see any treetops or birds overhead? This simple act can often give us a healthy dose of perspective, as we’re reminded what an incredible feat it is that earth exists at all. ACTIVELY LISTEN We all do it: a friend or colleague is telling us about their day and we’re either thinking about something else, or keeping one eye on emails or our phone. Next time you have a conversation, try to be more present. Put down any devices, make eye contact, and actively listen to what they’re saying. Giving this kind of attention can help to build more meaningful connections.
Nourish your body and soul with the self-care cookbook Plant-based chef Gemma Ogston reveals how her experience of an eating disorder changed her relationship with food, what self-care means to her, and why we all deserve to eat well and look after ourselves Writing | Kat Nicholls
emma and I have something in common. In our teenage years, we both struggled with anorexia – an eating disorder that typically makes you avoid food at all costs. So, when I heard about her cookbook exploring eating as the ultimate form of self-care, I was instantly intrigued. Reading more about Gemma, I learned that she turned to a plant-based diet after a number of miscarriages. “I had to have all
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sorts of tests. I tried acupuncture, and then I started looking into diet and how food can help,” Gemma says. “I didn't go totally vegan, but I started eating much better – way more plants and whole foods, and now I have my two babies. I was having treatment at the time as well, but it just helped with my mood and made me feel better.” This gut-brain connection is a growing conversation in the wellness industry, and fascinating for anyone, but especially those recovering from
Photography | James Bellorini
It's alright to have a bit of chocolate cake if that’s what you want! It’s about giving yourself permission to do that, rather than getting sad about it, and beating yourself up an eating disorder. For Gemma, she struggled with anorexia between the ages of 12 and 17 in particular, but with time she slowly recovered. However, as we both agree, it can be tough to ever feel fully recovered from an eating disorder. “It’s just, always there isn’t it?” Gemma says. “And I know for me, when I eat rubbish, it just makes me feel bad. It makes my mood low. And then those negative feelings start coming back.” >>>
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This is exactly why she wanted the recipes in her book to be both physically and mentally nourishing. She avoids using phrases like ‘guilt-free’ and tells me it’s more about taking care over the food you’re eating, and making it a pleasurable experience. “All of the recipes in the book look good and are inviting. You’ve taken a bit of care over them – maybe you’ve made it look really bright and colourful, and that in itself is an act of self-care. Choosing foods that are healthy, that make you feel good, they set off your serotonin levels and, rather than making you crash and feel down, they do the opposite.” But the ultimate act of self-care is, of course, listening to your body and what it needs. “It’s alright to have a bit of chocolate cake if that’s what you want!” Gemma notes. “It’s about giving yourself permission to do that, rather than getting sad about it, and beating yourself up.” Having worked as an addiction counsellor in women’s projects for more than a decade, Gemma has an in-depth understanding of treating yourself with compassion, especially while in recovery. “I was in the mental health sector for 15 years, working in the NHS with women with serious drug and alcohol issues,” says Gemma. This is where her passion for mood foods really began, but cooking has always been a big part of Gemma’s life. Growing up in a big family, as the youngest of five, everyone had chores to do around the house, so Gemma’s mum taught her to cook. Things progressed when Gemma’s kids were little though,
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when the family decided to up sticks and start a new adventure living in Barcelona, Spain, for a few years. “I set up a little vegan take-away, and I used to do these bento boxes for well-known DJs who were travelling in and out of Barcelona.” From there, her business only grew. The family moved back to Brighton, UK, and she launched Gem’s Wholesome Kitchen, offering ‘nourish’ packages (plantbased food that gets delivered), cooking workshops, and supper clubs – and works with clients such as Zoe Ball and Poppy Deyes. But with a young family and running a business, unsurprisingly Gemma leads a hectic lifestyle.
Self-care isn’t selfish – it’s essential for life With her focus on nourishing yourself, she knows the importance of practising what she preaches, and utilising her selfcare activities. Aside from food, making time to get to the gym is important to her, along with connecting with other people. However, she is also clear on her boundaries, and explains that saying no to people is also key. “That’s something I’ve been doing the past few years, saying no to things that I don’t really want to
do – or if I do them, then it’s going to mean that I’m tired. It’s about choosing to do things that serve you and your family, rather than doing stuff to please other people.” As many of us know though, as much as we can have good intentions with self-care, so often busy schedules take over and we just seem to not have enough time. Gemma’s response to that? Prioritise it. “I think making it a priority is something everyone can do. It could just be going for a walk at lunchtime – getting out of the office to have a breath of fresh air and sit on your own – or making a conscious effort to do something for you every day, whatever that may be.” And to help with those struggling for time, Gemma has ensured the recipes in her book are quick to make, affordable, and that the ingredients can be found in most supermarkets. Her aim is to take the stress out of cooking, and to make cooking an enjoyable act of self-care for all. “Self-care isn’t selfish – it’s essential for life,” Gemma says. “You’re not selfish by taking some time out on your own. It’s something we should all do every day. But people don’t, and it’s a shame because we all deserve it – we all deserve to have five minutes of peace to ourselves, or whatever that may be. And to eat well, of course.” And with that in mind, you are invited to take some time for yourself to make a batch of brownies from the recipe here, get a cup of tea, sit back and relax. You deserve it.
‘The Self-Care Cookbook’ by Gemma Ogston is published by Vermilion (£14.99)
Optional toppings: Chopped walnuts and slivered almonds Freeze-dried raspberries Edible rose petals
Dreamy brownies MAKES 8 | Prep time: 10 minutes, plus 1 hour to chill When you’re feeling a bit low, something sweet can be a real cure-all. These brownies are so delicious, you won’t believe they are such a healthy snack. They will give you all the TLC you need, as cacao is full of minerals and vitamins to boost your mood and energy levels, dates are a wonderful natural sweetener, and the nuts add protein.
150g pecans or walnuts 150g dates, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes 6 tbsp cacao powder 5 tbsp desiccated coconut 3 tbsp honey or maple syrup A pinch of sea salt For the icing 150g dates, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (save the water after soaking) 4 tbsp raw cacao powder 2 tbsp coconut oil
Method • Blitz the nuts in a food processor until crumbly. Add the dates and blitz again until the mixture sticks together. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until the mixture turns a lovely dark brown. (If you don’t have a food processor, chop the nuts and dates finely and combine with the rest of the ingredients to make a fairly firm brownie mixture.) • Line a 20cm square cake tin with baking paper and spoon the mixture into it, pressing down firmly. • For the icing, put all the ingredients in a food processor or blender with 50ml of the reserved date-soaking liquid, and blitz for a few minutes until smooth. Add a little water if needed. • Using a spatula, spread the icing on top of the brownie mix. Top with any decorations, then chill in the fridge until ready to serve. • I usually slice the brownies before putting in the fridge to chill, as they are easier to cut before they have been chilled.
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The distance is nothing, when one has a motive – JANE AUSTEN, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Photography | Alberto Bianchini
Unconventional approaches to anxiety If tried and tested treatments aren’t helping your anxiety, where can you turn? Writing | Kat Nicholls
efore I went to the doctor about my anxiety, I knew what was going to be on offer. Working as a writer within the mental health industry, I was pretty familiar with anxiety treatments, and wasn’t surprised when cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was on the table. CBT is often the first port of call when treating anxiety and, in my case, it was everything I needed. Talking therapies, selfhelp approaches, group support, and medication, can all work brilliantly. For some, however, these either don’t help or aren’t enough. We’re all unique and our experiences of anxiety will differ. Some of us need a different approach. Luckily, there are many options that can help with anxiety. >>>
From ‘tapping’ to adjusting your diet, we look into some alternative approaches you can consider if conventional routes aren’t quite cutting it. Here we’ve highlighted a few approaches you may not have thought of before, but what’s important to know for anyone living with anxiety is that you do have options. If one approach doesn’t help, explore others that resonate with you. Just like finding the right life partner, you may have to kiss a few frogs to find the one – but the right treatment will be worth it. HYPNOTHERAPY Working with our subconscious mind, hypnotherapy is becoming increasingly popular as a treatment. To learn more about the approach, I spoke to hypnotherapist and author Chloe Brotheridge. “Hypnotherapy is about making positive changes at a subconscious level,” says Chloe. “During a session, clients get into a deeply relaxed state, and I use various techniques, such as making positive suggestions and using visualisation, to help the unconscious mind take on new, empowering thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.” She explains that there is no showbiz-style finger clicking involved, no clucking like a chicken – the client remains in control the whole time. “Many people start to notice a positive change right away,” she adds. Like any treatment, of course, hypnotherapy isn’t a magic bullet. The level to which it works will depend on your circumstances, and how ‘open’ to suggestion 82 • happiful.com • January 2020
you are. However, as Chloe says, results can be quick and powerful, especially when used for anxiety disorders. “Anxiety is a very subconscious process; no one chooses to have a racing heart or intrusive thoughts. The physical and automatic aspects of anxiety come from the subconscious mind, and often have their roots in childhood experiences, and things you learned or took on board from parents. Hypnotherapy allows you to reprogramme the subconscious reasons you experience anxiety, so you can be free of it.” Other tools Chloe recommends in her book, The Anxiety Solution, include meditation, journaling, and being mindful of the way you speak to yourself. Showing yourself kindness is vital, she says, if you’re anxiety-prone. You can learn more about Chloe’s work at calmer-you.com. Find a hypnotherapist in your local area using hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk
‘Other techniques may include meditation, journaling, and being mindful of the way you speak to yourself’
Showing yourself kindness is vital if you’re anxiety-prone
EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE (EFT) Can tapping different parts of your body alleviate anxiety? Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioners believe so. I talked to energy healer and EFT practitioner, Louise French, to learn more about this seemingly simple technique. When describing EFT, Louise tells me it’s a form of emotional acupuncture, without the needles. “It’s based on the principle that all negative emotions are the result of a disruption in the body’s energy system, which is caused by a distressing memory. The process is simple, and can be quickly and easily learned.” She explains that the process involves lightly tapping different acupuncture points on the upper body, face, and hands. While you tap, you think about a specific thought, memory, or feeling. “By acknowledging how we feel while tapping on various points, we release blockages in our energetic system.” So how does tapping reduce anxiety, you might be wondering? Louise explains that it’s down to the way our brain works. “There is a primitive part of our brains, called the amygdala, which controls our emotions and the fight or flight response. Tapping on various points of our face and body sends gentle vibrations along these meridian points directly to the amygdala, reducing its fear or anxiety response signals to our body.” Louise says that after individuals use EFT, they often report a feeling of “release, calmness and a sense of peace”.
Part of the appeal of EFT is that it can be practised alone. You can learn the technique and take anxiety management into your own hands. Louise highlights, however, that practitioners are trained to hold space for the individual and offer a new perspective. Learn about Louise’s work at therapiesbylouise.com. To explore EFT and other complementary therapies in more detail, check out therapy-directory.org.uk NUTRITION Most of us know that eating a balanced diet is good for our health, but more and more research is showing a link between gut health and mental health. To get a clearer picture of how what we eat impacts anxiety, I spoke with nutritionist Amanda Allan. “Nutrition can help to ensure we have a healthy digestive tract, so nutrients are absorbed and sufficient ‘feel good’ chemicals can be produced by our beneficial gut bacteria,” Amanda says. “Digestive problems including indigestion, reflux, nausea, and other IBS conditions, can be physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, but also contribute to anxiety.” Keeping blood glucose levels stable is important, as Amanda explains that when we have low glucose levels, we can feel symptoms of anxiety more. “Stimulants like caffeine, nicotine, sugar, artificial sweeteners, too much alcohol, refined foods, and insufficient sleep, can adversely affect our blood glucose levels.” The good news is that there are some simple changes we can make to our diets to improve things. Amanda explains that eating
slowly helps us to digest the food, and absorb beneficial nutrients – so this should be our first tactic. Foods that contain omega 3 oils – like oily fish and seeds – have an anti-inflammatory effect on the brain, and foods that contain magnesium – such as nuts and leafy greens – which encourages relaxation, are also advised. To keep our digestive health happy, Amanda tells me fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut are ideal. Avoiding a sugary, caffeinefuelled breakfast is another recommendation, as this can lead to low glucose levels later in the day, triggering anxiety. “A better alternative is to include foods that have protein, fibre, and antioxidants, such as oats with yoghurt, seeds and fruit, or eggs with wholemeal toast and tomatoes.” Find out more about Amanda at amanda-allan.com, or find a nutritionist in your local area on nutritionist-resource.org.uk January 2020 • happiful.com • 83
Is mental health on your company agenda? We believe mental health ﬁrst aid training should be given equal importance to physical ﬁrst aid training in every workplace. If you would like to become a mental health ﬁrst aider at work, Happiful can train you, and we've created this email template to help you explain the beneﬁts to your boss
Dear <<Boss/HR Manager>>, I'd like to become a mental health first aider for <<your company name>> and I'm hoping you can help. Here are some of the reasons why <<your company name>> will benefit from offering Mental Health First Aid training to our employees: 1. Build staff confidence to have open conversations around mental health, and break the stigma in the office and in society. 2. Encourage people to access early support when needed. Early intervention means faster recovery. 3. Empower people with a long-term mental health issue or disability to thrive in work, and ensure that we are compliant with legislation in the Equality Act 2010. 4. Promote a mentally healthy environment, and allow people to thrive and become more productive. 5. Embed a long-term, positive culture across the whole organisation, where our employees recognise their mental and physical health are supported as equal parts of the whole person. 6. Proudly share that mental health is on our company agenda, and improve retention as a result of a reduction in staff stress levels.
Happiful offers two-day mental health first aid training courses for individuals across the country for £235 + VAT per person, and they can also offer bespoke courses on-site at our workplace if we have a minimum of eight attendees. Yours sincerely, <<a future mental health first aider>>
To register your company’s interest or to book an individual place, visit training.happiful.com or drop us an email at email@example.com 84 • happiful.com • November 2019
Did you know that stress, anxiety, and depression are the biggest causes of sickness absence in our society? Mental ill-health is currently responsible for 91 million working days lost each year. The cost to UK employers is £34.9 billion each year.* Happiful has partnered with Simpila Healthy Solutions to offer internationally recognised courses and training events in the UK. Each course is delivered by an accredited Mental Health First Aid England instructor and is delivered in a safe, evidence-based programme. *Source: MHFA England
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Redundancy forced me to fight back Claire Haye’s life turned upside down with the news of her redundancy, leaving her filled with self-doubt, and unable to picture her future. Through exploring her options, and with the support of CBT, she realised the change could have been the best thing to happen to her Writing | Claire Haye
our role has been deleted, so I’m afraid we will be putting you at risk of redundancy.” This is what my manager said to me one afternoon in October 2018, while in a small office sitting opposite her and a woman from HR. The actual words spoken were not what I heard though. In my head, that sentence said, ‘You are a failure. You are not wanted. You are dispensable!’ My mind raced at 100 miles an hour. How were we going to pay the bills? Would we lose
our home? How would this affect us trying for children? How long did I have? What did I do wrong? A restructure was expected, and I had actually been pushing for some sort of change. My team were feeling overworked and undervalued, but it had been nearly a year since the first discussions had taken place, so most of us had started to doubt anything would ever actually happen. I knew there was a risk, but naively thought the worst case would be a slight drop in salary.
I had worked at the company for six years, after relocating the 240 miles from Weymouth to Loughborough to live with my partner Ritch. The job had a familiarity that you get when you’re settled somewhere – just knowing what I was doing, and the people around me, made it comfortable. That day I left work early, and drove home feeling numb, not sure how to break the news to Ritch. I know it scared him to see me walk into the living room, clutching my lunch bag while uncontrollably sobbing.
He probably thought someone had died. He was patient, let me cry, finally explain, and then just hugged me saying it would all be OK – but I couldn’t see how. Later that day I told my mum, then family, and my close friends. It was hard for me to tell people as I felt a complete failure, plus I had to keep it quiet until the whole company was told in March 2019. Colleagues would be asking me to get involved in projects, but inside I was thinking about the fact that soon I wouldn’t even be there. >>> January 2020 • happiful.com • 85
Those close to Claire were her rocks
The truth is I was broken, and didn’t know how to process it It’s fair to say I was not prepared for the impact it would have on my mental health – I realised my identity had been built around my job. Only a week before, I had written a career plan, personal values, and signed up to take part in coaching sessions. I planned to be a director in seven years, but suddenly that vision was all being taken away, and there was nothing I could do about it. I had some really dark times in the days that followed; I didn’t want to get out of bed, lost my appetite, and cut myself off from the world. The truth is I was broken, and didn’t know how to process it. The pressure made me feel emotional and physically
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unwell with sickness and migraines. The doctor diagnosed a kidney infection, so I hoped some antibiotics would help it all go away, but it was just a symptom of my stress and not the cause. Those closest to me were my rocks, always telling me I was amazing and to kick ass. The hardest thing was when colleagues complained to me about their role, and I just wanted to scream in their face: ‘At least you have a job!’ Looking back, several people were very kind, but I wasn’t in the headspace to appreciate it. I had wobbly days, where dread would overwhelm me, and I’d physically shake. My happy place was curled up on the sofa
with a blanket, curtains drawn and doors locked. If I had to leave the house, even to the take the bins out, then I would count the seconds until I could get back inside. This really scared me, so in November 2018 I decided it was time to see my doctor again. She talked to me about how I was feeling emotionally, mentally, and physically. The doctor prescribed me diazepam, and suggested I self-refer to counselling services. During that time I also read a lot on wellbeing, mindfulness, and human psychology. This helped me to understand that I was mourning the loss of a job I had not planned to leave, so just like grief there would be phases
to recovery. Enough was enough, so I decided to stop feeling like a victim and start taking control – which for me meant making a plan. I spent all of December doing everything I could to improve the chances of me getting a job – from updating my CV to networking on Linkedin, and practising interview skills. Previously I had always been employed when applying for jobs, so there was a safety net, but this time I felt more pressure – securing a new role was vital. I started applying for everything and anything in my pay bracket, and then taking more and more of a pay cut. I had a library of applications; one personal statement for this role and a different for that. I churned out application after application, and there was no response.
Eventually, Claire rediscovered her confidence
The cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) counselling I received in January 2019 started to help; first discussing everything on my mind and then what I wanted to get out of each session. We decided to focus on managing panic, breaking down perfectionism, and improving assertiveness. The main thing was breaking my peoplepleasing tendencies so I was able to say no, and not feel the need to justify my reasons. Strangely, the job at a local university that I thought was my longest shot was where I was invited to interview in March 2019. On the day, I went back and forth about whether to go. Even as I drove to the venue, I was just going to turn around and go back home, but I carried on. I had a few mind blanks, and having prepared
notes really helped me, but I got through it and they offered me the job! Apparently it was a unanimous decision, which makes me smile. One thing I learned is that ‘I’m fine’ is the biggest lie. It’s not a bad phrase, just never a very accurate one. In hindsight, redundancy was one of the best things that happened to me, forcing me to take a jump from a role I was comfortable in, to something completely new. I love my new job, with a brilliant bunch of people, and in a learning environment that is full of energy. I’ve kept in touch with some people I used to work with, and now enjoy having friendships. My confidence has returned, and not only do I have a new career path, but I am now part of a local rock choir – which is amazing considering I can’t sing, but who cares!
One thing I learned is that ‘I’m fine’ is the biggest lie. It’s not a bad phrase, just never a very accurate one OUR EXPERT SAYS Claire’s story will resonate with anyone who has experienced the effects of redundancy. The prospect of it often feels frightening. It affects how we view the future, and can be a big knock to our confidence levels. However, as Claire found, it doesn’t have to be that way. Although it took her time, once she sought professional help and began to take
control of her journey again, opportunities started to appear. Once we understand that we still have choices, value and hope, we can turn something negative into a positive change – and a brighter future than we’d even imagined! Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr Life coach
January 2020 • happiful.com • 87
Living your best life doesn’t have to mean nailing everything first time. Discover how to stop comparing, and start living Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford
ew year, new you, and all that other jazz that – let’s be honest – is normally forgotten before January’s over. We all start off with the best intentions, but how many of us really stick to our resolutions? I can’t even remember what mine was last year – can you? Making positive changes is always a commendable effort. So why do we wait until an arbitrary time of year to get started? Better yet, why do so many of us give up on our new goals after just one little slip-up? Author Candi Williams’ new book, How To Be Perfectly Imperfect,
seeks to address our problem with perfection, overcome feelings that may be holding us back, and start learning how to love ourselves – quirks and all.
The problem with perfection
Every day we’re bombarded with images of perfection. From the moment we wake up to see the perfect smiles of presenters on morning TV, to the adverts on the Tube during our morning commute, right along to hours lost scrolling through Instagram in the evening. We take in so many messages about perfection, it’s no wonder we feel the
pressure. But as author Candi explains, perfect doesn’t equal happy. The best way to be happy is to stop trying to be perfect. Often disguised as ambition, drive, or motivation, while these can be good things, as Candi explores throughout her book, when we set impossibly high standards for ourselves, it can become exhausing. When we start seeing anything less than perfection as failure, we risk ignoring our successes and progress. Instead, our aim should be to be better than we were yesterday. Filled with quotes, thought-provoking definitions, and simple
tasks to help readers break out of their perfectionist mindset and start creating healthier, more sustainable habits, each chapter gets readers to reconsider their need to strive for perfection, and to start living more mindfully.
Overcoming that feeling of not being good enough
Throughout Perfectly Imperfect, the author reminds readers that they are human. We all have our limits, flaws, and needs. These are things to be celebrated and embraced, not overcome or to feel ashamed of. Through simple, easy to try exercises, learn to
recognise your limits and take the time to slow down by questioning: Is this realistic? What are my stress levels? How can I break this down into something more achievable? What’s the actual impact of good, not perfect? In a world where everyone is searching for perfection, it’s important to remember that perfection in an imperfect world isn’t a realistic, achievable goal. Acknowledging this, and learning how to move forward, can greatly boost our overall sense of wellbeing. While there are many interesting activities and exercises you can try scattered throughout the book, in
places it can feel a little ‘style-over-substance’. Although what it has to say is undoubtedly valuable, the ratio of quotes to actionable advice can feel a little off in places.
Goodbye perfection, hello freedom
Should I buy this? If you’ve ever struggled with letting go of control, and accepting that your effort is just as important as the outcome, then yes – this is the book for you. Filled with helpful advice, tips, and words of wisdom, Perfectly Imperfect not only highlights the dangers of striving for the impossible, it fosters a sense of positivity and self-belief. Focusing on the idea that it is always enough to have done
your best, this book can help you learn how striving for perfection can negatively impact your mental health and wellbeing, along with how you can make positive changes to put your wellbeing first. With the advice and guidance woven throughout Perfectly Imperfect, you can discover how to focus on feeling like you are good enough without losing your overarching sense of motivation, positivity, and encouragement. Beautifully put together, and straightforward to read, if you struggle to fit in time for self-improvement and self-care, I highly recommend trying this book. The activities are thought-provoking without being time-
consuming, meaning that you can easily dip in and out rather than needing to sit down and dedicate a large chunk of time to self-improvement. Make 2020 your year of freedom. It’s time to ditch the perfectionist mindset, and start making small, sustainable changes for the better.
How To Be Perfectly Imperfect by Candi Williams
If you liked this, you’ll love... The Gifts Of Imperfection by Brene Brown 365 Ways To Be Confident by Summersdale Filled with self-care ideas, practical tips, motivating activities, and mood-boosting statements, spark your selfconfidence now.
Leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, Brene Brown, PhD, shares her research on engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.
Must Reads Kintsugi by Tomas Navarro
Embrace your imperfections using teachings behind the Japanese practice of Kintsugi – patching broken ceramic with gold – to turn flaws into things of beauty.
(Available from 9 January 2020, Vie, £9.99)
GREAT FOR... • Those who struggle with a need for perfection • Readers who’ve ever felt ‘not good enough’ • Anyone looking to make positive changes in 2020, and beyond
Mental health matters Eco-activist Lizzie Carr is on a mission. First realising our plastic problem when she took up paddle boarding following cancer treatment, Lizzie also found the mental health perks of spending time outside. Here, we learn about what inspires Lizzie to do what she does
When I need to escape I… find water – whether it’s the beach, a river, or my local canal. It instils a sense of calm in me that forces a hard reset, and helps me find perspective when I’m at my most anxious. After spending time in nature I feel… energised and restored. Nature is the antidote to anxiety, for me. When I need support I… draw on the mechanisms I have learned over the years. Anything from adopting simple breathing
techniques and yoga, to drinking green tea, paddle boarding, or calling up someone close to me. There’s no silver bullet approach for me, and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to figure out what works. When I need some self-care, I… pack up my paddle board and head out on an adventure. The books I turn to time and again are… Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet, and I enjoy reading Brene Brown – her perspective is very enlightening. People I find inspiring online are… the ones who are honestly and unapologetically themselves, and are creating a space for other people to do the same thing. @GinaMartin, @FlorenceGiven, @shona_ vertue, and @i_weigh on Instagram, and @brenebrown on Twitter are a breath of fresh air. They’re amplifying voices and raising awareness on important issues, and telling
their truth. They really own their space, that’s inspirational to me. Three things I would say to someone experiencing mental illhealth are… if you’re struggling to find words, remember that silence doesn’t invalidate your feelings or experiences – it doesn’t make you unworthy or inadequate. But finding a trusted space to open up and talk can be incredibly healing. I was stunned by the number of people experiencing a lot of emotions that I had assumed were just mine. The moment I felt most proud of myself was… earlier this year, when I coordinated more than 100 Plastic Patrol cleanups across 18 countries around the world in one day. Volunteers removed and logged more than 50,000 pieces of rubbish in the Plastic Patrol app, all on a single day. To see how the movement has grown, from me on a onewoman crusade just three years ago, makes me feel incredibly proud.
Photography | Andy Hargraves
Mental health matters to me because… I was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 when I was 26 years old and, as a result, my anxiety spiralled. My initial response was to withdraw from friends and family. I developed an unhealthy determination to deal with the aftermath alone, so I wasn’t disrupting anyone else’s happiness. It took me a long time to recover and realise that opening up is an incredibly healing process.
Follow Lizzie on Instagram @lizzie_outside
Photography | Brian
You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will – STEPHEN KING
December 2018 • happiful • 91
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