Happiful June 2021

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THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

10-STEP ANXIETY ACTION PLAN Effective techniques to help you reclaim control

JUNE 2021 £5.99

WE'LL MEET AGAIN The touching reason reunions mean so much

A quest for calmer waters Diving into the mind-body connection & the power of joyful movement

50 stories to make you smile All the feels on p54

ECO-HACKS | BEAT BURNOUT | INNER STRENGTH | SELF-CARE


Empowering reminders that can be worn everywhere.

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S O U L A N A LY S E .C O M Changing the way you speak to yourself.


Time flies, doesn’t it? It’s official: with this June issue we’re already halfway through 2021, and Happiful has hit the big 5-0! I know, we can hardly believe it either. But I guess that’s the funny thing with time – ironically, it doesn’t feel constant. Days of monotony (that many of us have felt through lockdown) blur together like a never-ending story, while the moments where we feel most alive, and our cheeks ache from laughing so much, seem to flash by in an instant. That’s why it seemed important for us to really mark this moment – to have it hold its own special place in our timelines. And so, for our 50th edition, we wanted to create something truly special; an issue that exudes and celebrates everything we stand for. It’s our love letter to you, our readers, for being a part of this Happiful community, trying to make this world a better place for us all. So what do we have lined up for you? As an antidote to the negative news cycle, we share 50 uplifting stories from 2021 so far – to show it’s not all doom and gloom – as well as simple swaps to help save the planet, and expert insight on how to encourage self-kindness in kids.

But more than that, we want to ensure the conversations we put forward are raw and honest, and that’s exactly what we get in Happiful podcast host Lucy’s feature exploring the emotional upheaval of menopause, and the ever-changing relationship we have with our bodies. We also want you to leave each issue with practical tools and techniques for daily life, so we’ve included an essential guide for when anxiety arises, and insight on how to support someone who’s self-harming. Above all, we want to thank you, whether you’ve stuck with us for the past 50 issues, or have joined our journey along the way. Together, we are shattering stigma, creating safe spaces for open conversations, and shining a beacon of supportive light for those in the dark. Thank you for igniting that spark. W | happiful.com F | happifulhq T | @happifulhq REBECCA THAIR | EDITOR

I | @happiful_magazine


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Mindful movement 16 Yoga and you

Why this ancient practice is still relevant today, for every body

29 Wellness on water

A story of the unique joy that came from paddleboarding

49 Poorna Bell

The journalist on the journey to finding her strength

52 Overcome gymtimidation

Do you break out in a sweat at the thought of going to the gym?

76

Family & friends 14 What are retrouvailles?

What is it that makes reunions with loved ones feel so good?

24 Self-kindness for kids 45 When parents burn out 76 Single fatherhood

A portrait photographer on capturing the reality of solo parenting

Positive pointers 20 10-step anxiety plan 26 Stop the spiral

Expert insight on negative thoughts

32 On the doc

Our top 10 must-see documentaries about mental health

54 50 reasons to smile

2021’s happiest news stories, so far

Try this at home 34 Tips for going eco 74 Extinguish anger 80 Soothe agoraphobia 98 You should be proud

41 74


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Wellbeing 28 Work through panic attacks 41 Overcome rejection 60 Dr Alex George

The doctor and Love Island star on fighting stigma and feeling good

82 Social anxiety

Everything you need to know

85 Step in

How to support someone who is self-harming

88 Saving face

Your guide to self-massage

95 Empathy explained

Understanding hyper-empathy and empathy deficit disorder

Culture 8 Good news

This month’s uplifting stories

13 The wellbeing wrap 64 Things to do in June 69 This month’s good reads

True stories 37 Alex: sounds of solace

Anxiety threatened to derail Alex, until she found support in music

71 Liz: pool side

Her journey to closing the disability employment gap

Feel-good food 40 Wellbeing brews 66 Friday night fakeaways Homemade alternatives to your favourite takeaways

91 Sleep tight

How what we eat can affect our quality of sleep

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Expert review

Every issue of Happiful is reviewed by an accredited counsellor, to ensure we deliver the highest quality content while handling topics sensitively. The mind, body, and spirit are all integral to our wellbeing. Often there is a focus on the things we can do internally to maintain our mental health. However, there is also benefit in focusing on our physical health, due to the intricate connection that exists between the mind and body. Head to p16 for an introduction to yoga, to help get you started on your journey. To maintain good health, we must take an approach that connects with all parts of our being. RAV SEKHON BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor and psychotherapist with more than 10 years' experience.


Expert Panel Meet the team of experts providing information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue

ANDY GILL BA NLP E-RYT JSY500 AC BWY

Andy is a therapist who uses coaching, hynotherapy, and yoga.

Our team EDITORIAL Rebecca Thair | Editor Kathryn Wheeler | Head Writer Chelsea Graham | Editorial Assistant

DR LAURA VOWELS

GRAEME ORR

BSc MSc PhD ICEEFT PGCert

MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Laura is a family therapist, researcher, and lecturer.

Graeme is a counsellor working with both individuals and couples.

KAYSHA THOMAS

VICKI CRANE

Dip IoN mBANT CNHC

BA (Hons) D.Hyp Dip.Thyp PNLP MHS (Accred)

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Kat Nicholls | Senior Writers Becky Wright | Content & Marketing Officer Katie Hoare | Digital Marketing & Content Officer Grace Victory | Columnist Lucy Donoughue | Head of Partnerships Ellen Hoggard | Digital Editor Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

Kaysha is a nutritional therapist and pilates instructor.

Vicki is a hypnotherapist and therapy supervisor.

RACHEL COFFEY

JOHN-PAUL DAVIES

BA MA NLP Mstr

PGDip UKCP Accred MBACP

Rachel is a life coach, encouraging confidence.

John-Paul is a psychotherapist, counsellor, and author.

PAUL DODD

MAGDALENA STANEK

BA Hons PGDip PGCert MBACP

MA MBACP

Paul is an integrative psychotherapeutic counsellor.

Magdalena is a counsellor specialising in trauma.

ABBY RAWLINSON

MICHELLE WAKERELL

PGDip MBACP

DipHyp DipCP GHR Reg

Abby is an integrative therapist specialising in anxiety and self-esteem.

Michelle is a counsellor, psychotherapist, and hypnotherapist.

Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor

ART & DESIGN Amy-Jean Burns | Head of Product Charlotte Reynell | Creative Lead Rosan Magar | Illustrator Tamyln Izzett | Graphic Designer

COMMUNICATIONS

Alice Greedus | PR Manager alice.greedus@happiful.com

CONTRIBUTORS

Sarah Frances Young, Anna Mathur, Schnel Hanson, Dr Lisa Gatenby, John-Paul Davies, Becky Goddard-Hill, Jenna Farmer, Alex Cole, Liz Johnson, Sam Swidzinski

SPECIAL THANKS

Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Dr Laura Vowels, Andy Gill, Paul Dodd, Magdalena Stanek, Kaysha Thomas, Abby Rawlinson, Michelle Wakerell, Vicki Crane, Emily Fennell, Lukas Dressler, Beanie Robinson

MANAGEMENT

Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder Emma White | Director & Co-Founder Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

SUBSCRIPTIONS

For new orders and back orders, visit shop.happiful.com, or call Newsstand on +44 (0)1227 277 248 or email subenquiries@newsstand.co.uk

EMILY FENNELL

BEANIE ROBINSON

BA MPhil D.Hyp GQHP

pgDip ANP

Emily is a hypnotherapist specialising in curative hypnotherapy.

Beanie is a nutritional therapist, as well as a yoga teacher and masseuse.

Happiful, c/o Memiah, Building 3, Riverside Way, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL Email us at hello@happiful.com

DR LISA GATENBY

LUKAS DRESSLER

RNutr PhD MMedSci BSc (hons) FHEA

BSc MSc BACP

Helping you find the help you need. Counselling Directory, Life Coach Directory, Hypnotherapy Directory, Nutritionist Resource, Therapy Directory

Lisa is a registered nutritionist (AfN) and trained chef.

Lukas is a psychologist and integrative psychotherapist.

CONTACT

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CRISIS SUPPORT If you are in crisis and are concerned for your own safety, call 999 or go to A&E Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email them at jo@samaritans.org

GENERAL LISTENING LINES

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SANEline SANEline offers support and information from 4.30pm–10.30pm: 0300 304 7000 Mind Mind offers advice Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, except bank holidays: 0300 123 3393. Or email: info@mind.org.uk Switchboard Switchboard is a line for LGBT+ support. Open from 10am–10pm: 0300 330 0630. You can email: chris@switchboard.lgbt

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Connect with a complementary therapist Learn more about yoga and complementary treatments, and connect with a therapist at therapy-directory.org.uk

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Information on anxiety Discover more about what it means to live with anxiety, common causes, and guidance at anxietyuk.org.uk

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Support for self-harm Find support for self-harm, and for families and friends of those who self-harm, at harmless.org.uk

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THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

sources. The FSC® label guarantees that the trees 10-STEP ANXIETY ACTION PLAN Effective techniques to help you reclaim control

WE'LL MEET AGAIN The touching reason reunions mean so much

harvested are replaced, or allowed to regenerate naturally. Secondly, we will ensure an additional tree is planted for each one used, by making a suitable donation to a forestry charity. Happiful is a brand of Memiah Limited. The opinions, views and values expressed in Happiful are

A quest for calmer waters

those of the authors of that content and do not necessarily

Diving into the mind-body connection & the power of joyful movement

represent our opinions, views or values. Nothing in the magazine constitutes advice on which you should rely. It is provided for general information purposes only. We work hard to achieve the highest possible editorial standards,

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ECO-HACKS | BEAT BURNOUT | INNER STRENGTH | SELF-CARE

All the feels on p54

Cover artwork by Rosan Magar

9 772514

50 stories to make you smile

06

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SELF-CARE

Salon gives clients the silent treatment

Photography | Murdo Macleod

The Uplift

Sometimes, a good chat is just the ticket. But at other times, all you want is to take a bit of time to sit with your thoughts. And, as we gradually begin to get out and about more, the idea of being confronted with the world again can come as a bit of a shock to the system. It’s something that Rosie Glow, a beauty boutique in Edinburgh, had in mind when it announced the launch of its ‘Silent Treatment’ – an option for clients to select when booking, which lets stylists know that they would rather not have a chatty appointment. While salons are known for their social environments, when reflecting on the transition from lockdown to normal life, owner Rosie Fraser spotted an opportunity to make it a whole lot easier. “I’m aware of the effect this lockdown has had on people’s mental health, and I felt this was something we needed to address,” Rosie tells us. “After some thinking, we ran a poll on our social media to ask whether the idea of offering the option of a ‘Silent Treatment’ would appeal,” she explains. “The response has been overwhelming! We had comments from people who have social anxiety, are autistic, have deafness, autoimmune disease, ME, and people who need quiet after a busy day.” The ‘Silent Treatment’ has been a great success, with people taking to social media to celebrate how this option will open doors to those who might find salons overstimulating, and it’s a testament to the good that can be done when we lead with compassion. Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


KIDS

Primary school swaps Covid catch-ups for a week in wellies We can’t deny that an academic education is absolutely necessary for children. But we’d also have to agree with Nether Kellet Primary School when it made it clear that making memories, and focusing on children’s emotional wellbeing, is also a key learning experience. Aptly named by the Lancashire primary school, their initiative, the Wellbeing Welly Week, saw year 5 and 6 pupils enjoy a week in non-uniform and wellies, embracing the joy of the outdoors. We’re talking gardening and treasure hunts, building campfires and toasting marshmallows.

With a summer term set to be packed with extra lessons to fill the academic gap left by Covid-19, headteacher Nicki Brough was keen to place the subject of emotional wellbeing at the top of the curriculum. “I think all teachers are very aware that, unless children are in the right place to learn mentally, things just don’t go in, so they need a different approach,” she said, speaking to the Guardian. With so many defining moments missed at primary schools around the country – such as school discos, plays, and field trips – a wellbeing week is an opportunity for teachers to reconnect with

their pupils and get back to basics while experiencing the joy of discovery. And if that wasn’t enough, the school made a final point in favour of the week: “Because we’ve gone too long without marshmallows!” Writing | Katie Hoare

HEALTH

Stretch the stress away “Sorry to hear you’re stressed. Have you tried yoga?” How many times have you heard this phrase? Yoga is one of those activities people often recommend and, while it’s certainly not a cure-all, there is a good reason why it crops up on self-care schedules. The physical movements, combined with meditative elements, make it a great allrounder when it comes to reducing stress, but a recent

study has revealed yoga’s secret weapon in the battle for calm and relaxation is something called ‘interoceptive awareness’. Interoceptive awareness means being aware of the internal states and sensations in our bodies. Aiding in increasing this, yoga can help us recognise when we’re stressed – giving us the opportunity to nip it in the bud. Published in the journal Stress & Health, the study monitored 42 participants as they took

Kripalu yoga classes for 12 weeks. As well as noting a decrease in stress, researchers found their ‘psychosocial resources’ (skills such as mindfulness, self-control, and interoceptive awareness) increased – with interoceptive awareness getting the biggest boost overall. Interested in giving yoga a go? Head to p16 where we explore why this ancient practice is still relevant today. Writing | Kat Nicholls

happiful.com | June 2021 | 9



ENVIRONMENT

Farmers in India fight drought with lavender In the Doda district of Jammu, India, row upon row of vibrant purple lavender plants line the hills. The area had been devastated by the climate crisis, until farmer Bharat Bhushan – recently given the prestigious award for innovative farming from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute – began growing the drought-resistant crop. Now, with the project fully rooted, an entire community is blossoming. What began as a bit of an experiment by Bharat, proved itself to be a solution to the threat to their livelihood that farmers were facing when trying to grow traditional maize crops, and today more than 500 farmers in the area are involved in growing lavender. The move has been financially bountiful and, in addition, the floral farming has also empowered the women of the villages – who were previously not allowed to work away from home, but who have now been encouraged to cultivate lavender plants around their houses, making many self-reliant. While the climate crisis is a threat we have to face, the work being done by Bharat and other farmers shows what can be achieved when we come together to harvest innovation and creativity. Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

happiful.com | June 2021 | 11


Take 5

Put those thinking caps on, carve out some quiet time, and tackle this month’s puzzling fun!

Word pyramid

Complete the pyramid by solving the clues below, filling each row with one letter per box. The trick is that each row uses all the letters from the one above it, plus one new letter – but the order can change. Time to test your vocabulary! Clues: 1. Me, myself, and… 2. Pennywise 3. It happened to the candle 4. A material lining walls or roofs 5. A sleeveless jacket 6. Classic cocktail made from gin and lime

1 How did you do? Search 'freebies' at shop.happiful.com to find the answers, and more!

1 2 9

9 3

Sudoku

Fill the grid so that each column, row, and 3x3 subgrid, contains the digits from 1 to 9.

4

5

2 3

6

6

4

8

6 7

9 5

8 4

5

6 4

5

3 7

3 8 2

7

9 6

5

1 4 9

8


The

wellbeing wrap Great news for gender equality, as female police officers outnumber males for the first time in the UK

You can now rent Tony Stark’s cabin from Endgame on Airbnb. Sounds like a ‘marvel’-lous holiday

New Zealand is considering phasing out the legal sale of tobacco

Cheese and ready salted has been voted the UK’s favourite crisp sandwich

This year’s British Town Crier Championship to be held in silence due to Covid restrictions

Hang in there

While it may not feel like it, a new study suggests that hangovers actually get easier the older you get. The research claims younger people are more likely to drink larger quantities in a shorter space of time, whereas as we get older we may drink more in total, but ‘little and often’.

A landmark case in China has seen a man ordered to pay his wife for housework during their marriage. In the Beijing divorce court, the man was instructed to compensate his exwife for ‘five years of unpaid labour’ during their marriage.

Life finds a way

In what may sound like the plot for the next Jurassic World movie, it’s been revealed that 2.5 billion T rex roamed the Earth, but not all at the same time! A team at the University of California used various calculations to determine this number, and as these dinosaurs existed for 1.2 to 3.6 million years, its population density was actually quite low.

The great escape Forget escape rooms, a former prison is taking things to the next level – and if you want to live out fantasies of being the next Michael Scofield, you’re going to love it. The Shrewsbury Prison in Shropshire, which was decomissioned in 2013, is now hosting the world’s largest escape game. After a year of being locked up in our homes, deciphering clues and solving puzzles could free your mind. It’s been scientifically proven that redheads feel less pain! Research from Massachusetts General Hospital found that a genetic mutation in redheads which means their skin cells can’t produce the pigment to tan, has a knock-on effect on our hormones – essentially having an opioid effect and increasing the pain threshold.

Ask for Sandy

Period poverty is a serious issue, and to help offer discreet support, some Morrisons stores have a new initiative. Those in need can get free sanitary products simply by going to the customer service desk and asking for a package Sandy has left for them.

Old dog, new tricks

Peggy, a 10-year-old sheepdog from Norfolk, was given to the RSPCA in 2018 after she lost her hearing and could no longer work on a farm. A staff member for the charity ended up adopting Peggy, and has since gone through the long process of teaching her to understand sign language – and enabling her to get back to ‘the job she loves’ at her new owners’ farm.

In a viral friendly competition, hundreds of people named Josh met up in Nebraska, USA, to battle it out with pool noodles to decide who has the ultimate right to the name ‘Josh’. In the end, fouryear-old Josh Vinson Jr was crowned winner!

Recipe for success During the first lockdown in 2020, COOK encouraged random acts of kindness in its stores by setting aside free meals for customers looking after vulnerable neighbours. This initial idea grew into the COOK Kindness Fund, with the aim of donating 100,000 meals to communities in need. But by March 2021, it doubled this, and has now made the fund a permanent part of its mission.


What are

retrouvailles? Reunions are on the horizon, but what is it about social bonds that makes them run so deep? Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

F

amily means something different to all of us. For some, it’s nuclear, for others it’s blended, adopted, or chosen. Our friends also join us in our inner circles, standing with us through the good and bad – celebrating our successes, and filling our worlds with laughter, love, and happiness. It goes without saying that the past year has been a difficult one for connections, and it’s hit our mental health hard. Between October 2020 and February 2021, results from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey (OPN) found that 7.2% of adults (about 3.7 million people) reported that they felt lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’. But now, finally, get-togethers are on the horizon as lockdown restrictions begin to lift, and we can tentatively start to piece our old lives back together again. And there’s a particular French concept that springs to mind: ‘retrouvailles’ loosely translates to ‘reunion’ – coming from the verb ‘retrouver’, which means ‘to find’, or ‘to rediscover’. But beyond the

14 | June 2021 | happiful.com

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

literal, retrouvailles is a notion that captures the emotions we feel when reuniting with someone after a long separation, rediscovering the pleasure of their company, and the way that they enhance your life. And that’s something a lot of us will tap into over the coming months. “Humans are naturally pack animals, we like being with other people, and most people need others to feel well mentally,” Dr Laura Vowels, a family therapist, says when reflecting on how the past year’s separation may have touched us. “Humans, in general, also have a need to belong – a

natural motivation to feel accepted by other people. ” And it’s not just about being in good company. Dr Vowels also highlights how important touch is – something that the need for social distancing has taken away from us. “Touch has a calming effect because it decreases the stress hormone cortisol in the body, and therefore slows down the heart rate and decreases blood pressure,” she explains. “Touch also increases the production of oxytocin, which makes us feel safe, trusting, and connected. So being around people does not just feel good, it actually makes us better.”


Humans, in general, have a need to belong – a natural motivation to feel accepted and valued by other people Of course, all this may prompt us to reflect on what we’ve missed out on over the past year, and any feelings of loss and mourning are valid and understandable. But, on the other hand, it’s also an opportunity for us to celebrate the power of connection, and harness that closeness as we rediscover the ways that our relationships shape and support our lives. That said, you may find that there’s a sliver of anxiety running alongside your excitement – after a year of relative isolation, mingling again may not feel immediately natural. Dr Vowels’s tip is to accept those feelings and to take things at your own pace. “You could try to do some mindfulness or meditation before you see your loved ones,” she suggests. “If you feel comfortable, talk to them

about feeling nervous ahead of time. They can then understand if you’re a bit more quiet or reserved than you usually would be. They may also be feeling the same thing, but be too scared to mention anything.” Dr Vowels also suggests reflecting on whether you might find it easier to be one-on-one, or in a group where there will be less attention on you – whichever it is, see if you can make arrangements that suit you. “You may also want to consider where to meet people and what to do,” she adds. “If you’re worried about having to stay for too long, it may be better not to invite people over to your place. You may instead want to go for a walk or a coffee in the park so that you can go home earlier if you’re feeling uncomfortable.”

However you chose to do it, the philosophy of retrouvailles encourages us to be curious about the happiness that we find in our relationships, to tune-in to the comfort of connecting with those who we love and cherish, and to unearth a, perhaps dormant, sense of wellbeing from spending time in good company.

Dr Laura Vowels is a couple and family therapist, principal researcher and expert advisor at Blueheart and a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Find out more at counselling-directory.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 15


Wellness within reach Stretching across both physical and mental benefits, yoga has a lot to offer us – so it’s time to break down barriers and invite everyone on to the mat Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

G

enerally speaking, if something has been around for a long time without losing its spark, it’s safe to say there’s something special about it – and there’s something really special about yoga. Humans have been practising yoga for thousands of years, and, yet, every day, people are discovering its uplifting power for the first time, or in new and invigorating ways. It’s hard to enter into a conversation on wellness without the topic of yoga coming up, and for good reason – studies consistently find that yoga can support depression, anxiety, stress, mobility, and our relationship with ourselves. But, running alongside its popularity, a poll by the Yoga

16 | June 2021 | happiful.com


mindful movement

Karen James portrait | Ellie Jade

Alliance and Yoga Journal found that, while the number of people practising yoga continues to rise, there were several points that participants highlighted when considering the reasons why they didn’t try yoga. Those reasons were that yoga can feel exclusive, and there is a perception that it’s ‘designed for young women’, and those who are flexible, athletic, or spiritual. Social media and a sense of competition may enforce those judgments, but we’re here to break down misconceptions and barriers – holding open the door to anyone who is interested in stepping on to the mat and giving it a go – and to explore why this ancient practice is so relevant to our wellbeing today. Forget about the ʼgram On Instagram there are more than 95.9 million posts under the tag #yoga, with many of the snapshots showing people in complicated, athletic poses, against stunning backdrops. While these feats are no doubt impressive, yoga practice is a personal thing, and the reality for the vast majority of people who enjoy it looks very different. So, first things first, let go of any sense of competition, or expectations about how you should look. This is a point that

Ask a yoga teacher Expert Karen James answers your questions about the practice: I’m not very flexible, can I still do yoga? Absolutely. It’s easy to get put off by social media when it comes to physical practice – most people are not inherently flexible, and have a normal anatomical range of motion. But yoga is not only physical, it’s a wonderful way to reconnect with yourself. What equipment do I need to get started? A mat, chair, or your bed – it depends on what type of yoga suits your body. There are days I practise without a mat and simply use household items to support my body – for example, a wall, chair, or stool.

resonates with life coach Andy Gill, who is also a qualified yoga teacher, and highlights how a large part of the practice is about how you feel on the inside. “Yoga is about more than stretching or becoming flexible, it is a way to connect with, and be in your body – to become embodied,” he explains. “Many of us are profoundly disconnected from our bodies,

Is it possible to adapt yoga for disabilities? Yes, and be sure to look for teachers who advocate for accessibility in all forms – especially now we can go online, as classes don’t necessarily have to be in person. There’s a lot of free yoga content available online. How can I make sure I follow safe advice? Information provided through social media is universal, but one size doesn’t fit all. Take it slow. The person running a class is there to facilitate, not dictate, movement of the body. Yoga practice shouldn’t be forced, and my best advice is, if in doubt, log off.

cut off from a resource that can keep us grounded, centred, and connected. Developing a deeper connection and trust to the resource of the body is a foundation for good mental health. Through yoga, we can develop this body connection, learning to have a better relationship with our bodies and thereby with ourselves, others, and the world.” >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 17


This sense of connection is precisely what Jasraj Singh Hothi found when he began practising yoga after leaving his corporate job in 2015. “For me, it’s a more active, embodied form of meditation,” he explains. “I was a member of a yoga studio here in south-west London, and I made some likeminded friends there, too; other folks with an interest in holistic health, many of whom had their own mental health journeys.” That yoga seems to be mostly practised by young women, as the poll from the Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal found many believed, is something that Jasraj has noted, but that doesn’t stop him. “As a man, I have no issue owning my love of yoga,” he says. “I’ve experienced how much it helps me, and I’m increasingly owning my sensitive nature, and the value of looking after my holistic health.” Mindful moments “Yoga is a mindfulness practice that promotes relaxation by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system – calming things down and moving your body into ‘rest and restore’,” says Andy. In this state of mind, feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression are soothed as we slow down and take back control. “Yoga can also reduce anger and reactivity, 18 | June 2021 | happiful.com

improve sleep, positively impact mood, and has been shown to be an effective tool as part of the treatment PTSD,” he adds. It’s often said that our most important relationship is the one that we have with ourselves, but yoga can also support our relationship with others. Many studies have highlighted the link between synchronised movement and a sense of connectivity – exploring the evolutionary advantage of moving together as one, and the bonding that follows this. With this in mind, activities

Yoga is about more than stretching or becoming flexible, it is a way to connect with, and be in your body – to become embodied such as dancing, walking, and – of course – yoga, can give our relationships a boost, something that we can all stand to benefit from after a year of isolation. Uncapped potential Ultimately, it’s up to you what you want to take from yoga, and how you want to practise it. You are the world-leading expert in what

works for you, and your intuition should be a guide for how you want to approach any activity. This self-knowledge is a wellknown confidence booster, and the philosophy at the heart of the approach of Karen James – a yoga teacher with Mind Walk Yoga, where all classes are currently being taught by Black women. “I came to yoga later in life, more out of curiosity than anything else,” she explains. “In 2014, I started my practice, and in March 2019 completed yoga teacher training. For me, yoga is about self-belief, peace, and empowerment. It’s about coming to the mat exactly as I am in the moment, taking the time to pay back into my health bank account – with no pressure to perform.” Karen notes that, while she initially was drawn to yoga for the physical perks, she quickly began to notice subtle differences in herself, off the mat – she was no longer afraid to say ‘no’, and started to set boundaries. “It has given me a confidence I never knew existed, which has served me well considering most of the time, especially in the earlier days, I would be the only Black person in the class. “Fundamentally, the yoga I love reconnects people with their bodies. I truly believe in the ethos that yoga is for everyone.


mindful movement

“I’ve learnt to allow the pose to suit my body, not the other way around. It’s important to be as inclusive as possible, allowing agency, and the space to be true and kind to yourself.” Find your flow Did you know that, if you wanted to, you could just curl up into child’s pose for a few minutes? Or catch a couple of breaths in lotus? You can do a sun salutation morning, noon, or night. You can do it in your 20s, 40s, 60s, or 80s, and you can invite the whole family to join in. You can keep it traditional or you can mix it up. Go solo, or join a class. You can discover your spiritual side, or tune-in to your body. And, best of all, you can do all these things, and more. Yoga is for everyone, and everybody, and the wellness benefits are within reach, for us all.

Andy Gill is a multi-modal therapist who uses coaching, hynotherapy, and yoga to meet his clients’ needs. Find out more by visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 19


10 effective tips for

managing anxiety

The pandemic has added extra stress to all our lives, and for those with anxiety disorders the last year has been particularly gruelling. Here, we suggest some effective measures to help you navigate these difficult days Writing | Sarah Frances Young

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rain fog, restlessness, feeling constantly on edge, and that pit of dread in your stomach – with one in four of us in the UK experiencing a mental health problem of some kind each year, you may be familiar with these symptoms of anxiety. In fact, one in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem, like anxiety and depression, in any given week. Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, and eating disorders, are other anxiety or related disorders that many people live with on a daily basis. These are difficult enough to manage normally, but the pandemic has added another layer of stress, which has exacerbated the anxiety disorders

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that some are struggling with, and triggered a relapse in others. Therapy is often the long-term solution to manage and overcome anxiety, but what about day-today? Here are 10 tips for managing anxiety in the moment.

1. Distraction Putting your mind to something that will require your concentration can distract your brain from blaring out such loud warning signals. The more focus that goes into doing something else, the less brain power goes towards making you feel anxious. It won’t be easy, as your brain will want to bring your attention back to the threat it thinks is at hand, but keep trying to bring your focus back to your chosen activity.

I find that activities that require your body to be engaged as well as your mind – such as puzzles, a walk with a friend, gardening, painting, or playing an interactive game on a games console or phone – are the most effective. Hands-on examples can work especially well, because moving can help with anxious energy, and having your hands busy, as well as your mind, can work as further distraction.


positive pointers

3. Change your environment Shaking up what’s around you, can bring you out of the environment that you associate with anxiety, and help change the way you feel. You could try going to an imaginary safe place in your head (with or without the aid of a meditative app or video), going to a place in your house where you feel most safe (e.g. under the blanket on the sofa), taking yourself for a brief calm walk, going to a friend’s house (restrictions permitting), or inviting a friend to yours to keep you company.

4. Relax your body

2. Changing the emotion Doing things that evoke different emotions to the ones we are experiencing can help change negative feelings. We often listen to angry music when we feel that emotion, but this can sometimes reinforce the anger rather than release it. So, instead of spending time reinforcing anxiety – for example, someone with health anxiety may spend time researching symptoms of illness – spend time doing

things that evoke positive emotions in you, such as watching a comedy show, chatting to a friend about something good that happened to you recently, or reading a book that gets you entirely lost in that world.

Tensing up is a natural reaction to anxiety and stress, which signals to your body that you are in danger. The more we tense up, the more the anxiety is reinforced. It might be easier said than done, but try to relax. Let your shoulders drop. Lean back into a sofa, or lie down on the bed. Unclench your muscles one at a time, starting with your jaw and tongue, to your shoulders, and then moving down the rest of your body. This signals to your brain that you are not in danger, and therefore can decrease anxiety. >>>

happiful.com | June 2021 | 21


Sarah Frances Young talks about body image, body positivity, and eating disorder recovery, as well as chronic illnesses, on her Instagram @bodypositivepear

5. Eat regular meals During a particularly bad period of anxiety, I often forgot to eat because the feeling was so overwhelming that it was repressing my hunger cues. What I did notice was that when I would eventually eat, my anxiety lessened somewhat. Being hungry is just another red flag for your body that something bad is happening, and heightens discomfort and anxiety. You may feel like you’re not hungry, but you need to ensure you are eating enough, and regularly. A nourished body is a more comfortable one. It’s also advisable to avoid caffeine and alcohol as these can aggravate anxiety.

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Exercise can help us burn off the negative energy that in our more primitive days would have been used either fleeing, or fighting, a threat 6. Exercise When we feel anxious, our body is primed for fight or flight, and releases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. This can cause elevated blood pressure, a racing heart, and sweating. Exercise can help us burn off the negative energy that, in

our more primitive days, would have been used either fleeing, or fighting, a threat. You could take a brisk walk, put on your running shoes and hit the tarmac, or jump around to an aerobics video or your favourite music in your living room.


positive pointers

7. Buy a CBT workbook “Cognitive behavioural therapy is recognised for its structured and practical approach when dealing with issues that might be overwhelming,” says therapist and trauma specialist Magdalena Stanek. “This type of counselling model breaks the problem into five main areas: situations, physical sensations, emotions, thoughts, and actions, which all connect to each other. For example, with anxiety you can focus on talking about situations that cause you to feel anxious, how that affects the way you think about yourself and the world, then also linking it to the way you behave. This type

10. Look at the evidence of analysis can help people to realise the root cause of the current issue, as it targets the ‘here and now’ and sets specific goals to eventually overcome difficulties.” The pandemic has meant that face-to-face therapy has been disrupted, but a lot of counsellors offer phone or virtual sessions as an alternative. If you’re waiting for an in-person appointment – or if you aren’t ready to try therapy right now – you could buy a CBT workbook and go through it yourself. You can then refer back to what you’ve learned when anxiety is threatening to overcome you.

8. Feel the fear and do it anyway Having recovered from an eating disorder, and managing other anxiety disorders, I know that to stop the brain perceiving things as a threat, you have to show it that they aren’t by exposing yourself to those things, over and over, until it gets less scary every time.

Avoiding situations that make us anxious only reinforces that feeling, often leading to everincreasing anxiety. We can’t overcome our fears without facing them. Just ensure you know the difference between discomfort and distress: push yourself, but not too much.

One day, when I was alone in my flat and feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, I called my mum. She asked if I had felt this way before, to which I replied that I had. She asked me what happened. The answer was: nothing. I didn’t die, and the anxiety did end. This conversation is something that I always think about if my anxiety ever gets to a point where it feels overpowering. Use the evidence. If you’re worried about dying in a plane crash, think about how many people actually die this way (spoiler: not a lot). If you have a headache, and worry that it might be cancer, think about how likely that is. If you are convinced you are about to die, ask yourself if you’ve felt this way before and if you survived. Anxiety is hard to beat, but we must try to understand that we cannot control everything, or plan for every eventuality. Remember that you don’t have to suffer alone, and it’s important to reach out when you need help.

9. Ice diving Simply fill a bowl with ice, and put your face in it. This lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature – which helps with distressing emotions, and reduces anxiety. “When you are in freezing water, your body needs to save energy to survive,” says

Magdalena. “So it will slow down or shut functions that aren’t crucial. Emotions are not essential, so they will gently dissipate.” If you have a heart or other medical condition, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider before trying this technique.

Magdalena Stanek is a personcentred counsellor specialising in trauma. Find out more by visiting counselling-directory.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 23


How to teach kids self-kindness

Start them young, and stand by as their self-love and confidence blossoms Writing | Becky Goddard-Hill

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arents almost always teach their kids to be kind. They encourage them to say please and thank you, share their toys, and be a good friend. But self-kindness is often left unsaid, and in my role as a children’s therapist I’ve heard many children express dislike for themselves, speaking about themselves in negative ways. That said, every child I have met who is unkind to themselves declares they would never treat a friend this way – instead they would cheer them on and support them, which is of course what they need to do for themselves.

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So, how can we encourage our kids to show themselves the same kindness they would show their BFF? Here are five simple, but powerful, ways:

1. Teach them to think kindly about their bodies Bombarded by social media images of ‘perfect bodies’, it’s no wonder kids can feel a lot of pressure and self-doubt about whether they measure up. Encourage your child to think about what their body can do, rather than just what it looks like. Being able to see, hear, walk, run, hug, kiss, sing – these are all huge privileges that not everyone has.

Help them see that their body deserves their kindness, their attention, their appreciation, and their care, by role modelling the positive ways you take care of and appreciate your own body. For older kids, it’s important to make sure they are media literate and understand photoshopping, and the practice of taking 1,000 photos until satisfied. Encourage them to follow a diverse range of accounts showing people of all shapes and sizes.

2. Teach them to self-nurture Children love to take care of pets and grow things in the garden and, through these activities,


family & friends

Help them see that their body deserves their kindness, their attention, their appreciation, and their care they learn the importance of providing what other living things need to thrive. Help them to see that they need nurturing too, in order to be their best selves. Discuss what this looks like, and include fresh air, rest, relaxation, healthy food, and exercise. Encourage your child to plant some seeds and each time they tend to them, also do something lovely for themselves. They will soon see the value of selfnurturing, and how it helps them (and their seeds) bloom.

3. Encourage them to talk kindly to themselves Brené Brown says: “Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” This is a wonderful thing to teach a child. Kids know that words are powerful, that if they say something mean to someone it hurts them, and if they say something encouraging it can make someone feel good. They need to see how this also applies to themselves. Psychologists at Michigan University performed a series of experiments to see how self-talk affects behaviour, and

discovered that if we use our name when talking to ourselves instead of ‘I’, we tend to speak to ourselves more kindly. So, prompt your child to say: “C’mon Katie, you can do this!” Rather than, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard.”

4. Show them how to feel good about who they are Positive affirmations have been proven to work – reducing both stress and worry, and reshaping our minds to be more positive. Encourage your child to give these a go as they look at themselves in the mirror each day to strengthen their self-belief: • I feel full of energy and my body is strong • I am kind and a good friend • I am loved

Show them how, by modelling self-care in action – have a long bath to unwind, talk over your worries, and watch a funny movie if you need to de-stress. Be overt about these self-kindness activities, and your child will soon see that meeting your own needs is not selfish, but essential. Have them make a list of all the ways they could be kind to themselves – younger kids might want to make a collage of ideas. Encourage them to pick something off their list whenever they need a pick-me-up, and let acts of self-kindness become their default reaction to tough times.

5. Guide them in developing self-kindness habits Kids (just like adults) need to take care of themselves first, as being full up with self-love makes it easier to handle life’s challenges.

Becky Goddard-Hill is a child therapist and author of ‘Create your own kindness: Activities to encourage children to be caring and kind’ (Collins Kids, £9.99). happiful.com | June 2021 | 25


Ask the experts: Negative thoughts causing you trouble? Our Happiful family experts from Hypnotherapy Directory answer your questions on negative thoughts, to help you put your mind at ease

Q

My mind seems to fall into obsessing over negative thoughts, particularly at night. Do you have any advice on how to stop this spiralling?

A

If you find yourself lying in bed obsessing at night (or day), start by focusing on taking slow, deep breaths. As

a distraction technique, this will take your mind away from your immediate thoughts. When we are anxious, we tend to take quick and shallow breaths from the chest. Instead, place your hands on your stomach and when you breathe in, breathe from your diaphragm (your diaphragm moves down and pushes your stomach out) as though you are inflating a balloon. Make your ‘out’ breath longer than your ‘in’ breath (ideally

working towards breathing in through your nose for seven and out through your mouth for 11). Try not to fight the way you feel when you’re anxious, as this in itself can cause further anxiety. Know this feeling will pass and is only temporary – remember all the times you’ve felt anxious before and survived! You are not your thoughts. Be non-judgemental and compassionate. Be kind to you! Michelle Wakerell

Q

I feel like my inner voice always goes straight for the negative – I seem to focus on all the things I can’t do, or think I’m going to fail. How can I improve my self-talk?

A

If your self-talk goes straight for the negative,

try framing those thoughts as if they were directed at yourself in the third person. So when you think “I’m rubbish at this” or “I always fail,” instead switch the target of your thoughts to your own name. For example, if your name was Bob, you would instead be voicing the thought that “Bob is rubbish at this,” or “Bob always fails.” How does that sound? Is it right or fair? Or are you being overly

critical of Bob? Would you talk about a friend in this way? Could you treat Bob with the same compassion that you do others? Sometimes, shifting perspective in this way is enough to gently highlight how unfair this negative self-talk is. Try instead to be open to the idea that “Bob is doing his best,” or “Bob needs a bit more support on this occasion.” Emily Fennell

Hypnotherapy Directory is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need


positive pointers

Got a question for one of our experts?

Q

I consider myself to be quite a rational thinker – a realist. But is there a way to identify when you’re straying into pessimism, and falling into a trap of automatic negative thinking?

A

The key to identifying automatic negative thoughts, is to notice the thoughts that come to mind when a negative emotion or feeling arises. Negative

Join in with one of our Q&As on Instagram, or drop us an email at asktheexperts@happiful.com thoughts are usually directed at ourselves, or our present or future, for example: “Nobody likes me” or “I’ll never be able to do this”. These thoughts are often a form of ‘mind reading’ or ‘fortune telling’, where we make negative assumptions about ourselves, other people, or situations, without having any real evidence to support them. Once you can identify these thoughts, you can use a technique such as thought-stopping, where

you mentally interrupt the thought, ask yourself “Is there any evidence to support this?” and then replace the thought with a more balanced and helpful one. It can take a bit of practise, but by writing these thoughts down, you can begin to identify any patterns in your thinking, and learn to spot the unhelpful thoughts, so that you can challenge them and break the cycle of negativity. Vicki Crane

For more advice and to find professional support, visit hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk


Things you can say to someone having a panic attack

We all want to be there for our loved ones in their toughest times, but knowing what to say in the moment can be daunting. Here are a few suggestions on how to show up in their time of need Helpful things you can do:

Your fear is completely understandable.

You’re safe, I’m here with you.

I do to help you?

You will get through this.

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Keep as calm as you can. Give them time, and be patient. Help them with coping strategies. Try to distract them – this can help to regulate their breathing. • You can also breathe with them, or count to 10 as they breathe. • Engage their physical senses – get them to stamp their feet.

Tell me what you need. What can

Do you want us to move somewhere else?

These symptoms will pass.

• • • •

Focus on your breathing for now.

Is there a coping strategy that works for you we can try?

This feeling is scary, but it can’t physically hurt you.

This is horrible, but it’s also temporary – hold on.


mindful movement

Falling isn’t failing Experiencing early menopause was unexpected and difficult for Happiful’s Lucy Donoughue, but getting out on the water and embracing joyful movement helped her to address a challenging relationship with her body Writing | Lucy Donoughue

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can distinctly remember the first time I experienced the wonder of water. I was eight years old, sitting on the beach at Treyarnon Bay in Cornwall, totally mesmerised by the sea. I watched the waves and how the reflection of the sun caused the water to sparkle, for hours on end. Rivers, lakes, and open stretches of water had the same joyinducing and restorative effect on me, and I wanted to be near, on, or in the water as much as possible. Sadly, as I hit puberty and became more conscious of my body and what I thought I needed to look like to wear a

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

swimsuit, I stopped wanting to immerse myself and stayed firmly on dry land. Just as becoming a selfconscious teenager forced me to retreat from the water, entering early menopause emboldened me to embrace the waterways once again. Not because I love how I look now – far from it. Over the past three years my body has changed significantly; I experience joint ache on a regular basis, my limbs aren’t as flexible as they once were, and body acceptance eludes me every time I look in the mirror, although I work on it daily.

I’ve spent so many summers over the years telling myself that when I’m finally happy with how I look and feel, I’ll sign up for paddleboarding, wild swimming, or another activity that will get me out on the water again. However, when my menopause arrived earlier than anticipated, it felt like a definite and unexpected change of course in my life, and I decided that if I kept waiting until I felt completely comfortable in my own skin, I’d miss out on a million things that I know will bring me deep joy right now. >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 29


I eventually took the plunge, and signed up to learn to paddle board earlier this year. The thought of starting a new activity brought back a feeling of excitement I remember experiencing as a child, before self-doubt and poor body image crept in. I’d love to share that I took to stand up paddleboarding (SUP) like a duck to water. The truth is that in my first lesson I collided with a tree overhanging the riverbank, and went home with twigs in my hair. In the second lesson I fell in the Thames while simply getting on my board, and in the third I face-planted while trying to stand. In the fourth, I almost stood up, but thanks to hip and back pain and a current lack of flexibility, I didn’t quite make it.

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That’s not the whole picture though. I also witnessed geese flying overhead in a magnificent formation as I paddled (albeit on my knees) down the river with the sun on my face. I learned that it feels good to stretch and treat my body with kindness instead of berating myself when I can’t move in the way I used to, and I’ve laughed loudly and often during lessons, and felt exhilarated when they’ve come to an end, knowing that I’ve progressed just that little bit since my last session on the water. Rachel Bambrough, founder of SUP4, has quite literally been by my side throughout. She’s witnessed many people’s journey on the water, and believes that it’s the experience, joy of movement,

and personal growth, that’s important. It’s not our collective learned behaviour of reaching an end goal or ‘succeeding’, that so many of us might have in mind when we first start a new activity or form of exercise, just to validate the time we spend doing it. “Too many people focus on ability and being able to ‘get it right’, but there’s no one way to be or learn,” Rachel explains as we paddle. “It’s about your personal experience, and it's OK if you take your time. Most importantly, it’s OK to fall in! Falling isn’t failing, you learn from it.” Being on and in the water, Rachel says, truly allows you to be present. “The focus on balance, buoyancy, being completely surrounded by nature, and away from screens and technology, ensures you’re living 100% in the moment, which is a beautiful and often rare experience in our noisy, busy world.” The other benefit, we both agree, is a more respectful and


mindful movement

If I keep waiting until I feel completely comfortable in my own skin, I’d miss out on a million things that I know will bring me deep joy right now self-compassionate relationship with our bodies. Since getting out on the water again, I’m more aware of what my body feels like from day to day, what it can and can’t do, and how I’m getting stronger and more flexible with every session. I’m now interested in how certain stretches can help my mobility, rather than how they might tone my stomach, thighs, and bum. Starting SUP has been the catalyst for spending even more time in the water, and in swimsuits, wet suits, and deeply unappealing swimming caps. I’ve started wild water swimming (cold water has the effect of drastically reducing joint pain for some hours after), and I’ve attempted SUP yoga, which was a beautiful, if not wobbly, Find out more about SUP at sup4.co.uk or follow @sup4coach on Instagram.

experience. I also continue to paddleboard regularly with Rachel, and it’s the absolute highlight of my week. Getting back out in the water has been pretty pivotal in challenging the way I feel about myself at this unexpected, and sometimes difficult, stage in my life. I’ve amazed myself by posting pictures of SUP fails on social media – because they make me smile each time I see them, and remind me of a wonderful experience full of joy – when in the past I would have deleted them because of the way I think I look, and the fear of the judgement others might make. And that in itself is a huge step forward, and a very welcome change. I’ve finally found my flow.

Fancy embracing your inner water baby? Take a swim on the wild side Wild swimming can be a wonderful way to embrace nature, move, and meet new people. Be sure to look for local clubs, understand how to be safe in water, and manage cold temperatures – find out more at outdoorswimmingsociety.com Surf’s up! Want to learn to surf, but not ready for unpredictable conditions quite yet? The Wave is an inland surf destination near Bristol, where everyone can learn on consistent waves, all year around. They produce waves to suit all levels, from beginners to experts – head to thewave.com SUP & Stretch – yoga and pilates A beautiful way to stretch and practise on the waterways, many organisations across the UK offer classes, including active360.co.uk and thenewforestpaddle sportcompany.co.uk

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Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency

Expand your mind with these touching, striking, and fascinating watches Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

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he mental health conversation has uncovered many vital topics over the past few years, with more and more voices sharing their personal experiences and diving into the way that it touches their own, and others’, lives.

Professor Green: Suicide and Me

Join rapper Stephen Manderson, AKA Professor Green, as he explores a topic that’s close to his heart. Examining the events that led to his father’s suicide, and delving into why suicide has become the biggest killer of men under the age of 45, this honest documentary asks some of the most important questions of today. Available to watch on the Real Stories YouTube channel 32 | June 2021 | happiful.com

We fight stigma when we develop a better understanding of what each of us is going through, and approach the unknown with compassion and curiosity. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 10 documentaries that shine a light on some of today’s most important mental health topics.

The Mum Who Got Tourette’s

It’s a mental health condition that comes with a host of misconceptions, and The Mum Who Got Tourette’s seeks to open up the conversation. Following Elizabeth, who developed Tourette’s when she was 40, and her family as they navigate day-to-day life, this documentary explores a sensitive topic with humour, and compassion. Available on channel4.com

Opening up about how the suicide of his close friend, Joe Lyons, touched his life, radio presenter Roman Kemp looks into the mental health crisis among young men, and searches for answers on how we can bring down the barriers preventing people from getting help, and to support those who are struggling. Available on BBC iPlayer

Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia

In this deeply personal documentary, TV presenter and former cricketer Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff opens up about the eating disorder he lived with, in secret, for more than 20 years. Meeting with specialists and other men, together they explore the illness and the ‘double stigma’ that can often stop men and boys from opening up. Available on BBC iPlayer

Images | Roman Kemp: Our Silent Emergency: TwoFour – Photographer: Grab, Professor Green: Suicide and Me: Real Stories YouTube, The Mum Who Got Tourette’s: Channel4, Freddie Flintoff: Living with Bulimia: South Shore – Photographer: Lorian Reed-Drake

10 must-see mental health documentaries


Images | Stacey Dooley: Back on the Psych Ward: BBC True Vision Productions Ltd/Carla Grande, Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out: October Films – Photographer: Rahul Bhatt, The Student Mental Health Crisis: bbc.co.uk, The Mind Explained: Vox Media/netflix.com, Gaming and Me: Connections, Identity, and Support: bbc.co.uk

positive pointers

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum

Join actor and presenter Sheridan Smith as she invites viewers to join her on her journey to motherhood. Exploring her mental health and pregnancy struggles, and exposing the reality of these challenges, Becoming Mum will strike a chord with many. Available on ITV Hub

Jesy Nelson: Odd One Out

Stacey Dooley: Back on the Psych Ward

In a bid to shed light on stigmatised mental illnesses, Stacey Dooley visits Springfield Hospital to meet staff and patients as they struggle with the fallout of the pandemic. Speaking to those with pre-existing conditions, and others who are experiencing mental health problems for the first time, this is a close look at the way the pandemic has touched lives. Available on BBC iPlayer

The Mind Explained

Ever wondered what’s really going on inside? This documentary series features leading experts, and delves into the human mind, to examine everything from anxiety to addiction, dreams, and sleep. Available on Netflix

Gaming and Me: Connections, Identity, and Support

The Student Mental Health Crisis

Exploring the heartbreaking impact that online trolling and bullying had on her mental health, in this stark documentary Little Mix star Jesy Nelson invites viewers into her life, as she draws back the curtain to reveal the dark reality of cyberbullying. Joined by those close to her, who attest to the danger of social media trolling, Odd One Out puts these important topics in the spotlight. Available on BBC iPlayer

Prompted by an increase in the number of student suicides in the past year, join BBC journalist Hannah Price as she travels across the UK to speak to families and friends of students who have taken their lives during the pandemic, and explores steps that could be taken to ensure that students are better supported. Available on BBC iPlayer

Around the world, there are a massive 2.5 billion active gamers, and during the pandemic, many people have retreated into virtual worlds for comfort, connection, and fun. That said, the long-term effects of gaming on our mental health, our relationships, and even our personalities, are hotly debated. This documentary seeks to answer some common questions, and weighs up the positives and negatives around this cultural phenomenon. Available on BBC iPlayer happiful.com | June 2021 | 33


The future is green Put our planet first with these innovative adjustments at home, and simple solutions to save waste

DID YOU KNOW? Shoemaker Converse’s City Forests campaign worked with 21 cities around the world – including Warsaw, Sydney, and Jakarta – to create murals made from an innovative paint that removes pollutants from the air! So far these creations have the same air-cleaning power as 8,033 trees, in places where trees can’t grow.

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS… F THE TIP O TH MO N

Do you often find yourself frustrated at opening a new punnet of fruit, like strawberries, only to see numerous bruises or ‘mushy’ bits that you end up cutting off? A simple trick to reduce waste is to pop these damaged berries in ice water for 20 minutes. They’ll come out nice and firm!

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Three unexpected and eco-friendly things you can do with leftover lemons • Eliminate odours. Soak a sponge in lemon juice, then leave in your fridge for a few hours to absorb any lingering smells. • Self-care scrub. Mix together lemon zest, soft brown sugar, and add some coconut oil until it has a consistency that feels like wet sand. Smooth on your skin for a pamper sesh. • Grow your own tree! Plant some seeds in a terracotta pot, and leave in a sheltered but sunny spot. Then bring your lemon tree indoors over winter to save it from frost. For a bonus tip, scatter citrus rinds around your plants to act as a natural pesticide (without all those chemicals).


try this at home

FOUR SIMPLE STEPS TO HELP THE PLANET • Figure out your plastic footprint. There are numerous online calculators to help with this, but we particularly like the one on earthday.org, which not only clearly shows your plastic usage, but also allows you to add reduction targets.

• Use your voice. Spread the word with friends and family about small sustainable changes they can make to protect our planet. Talk to your MP, and open up discussions at your workplace to see what positive changes and initiatives could begin.

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THINGS YOU CAN ADD TO THE COMPOST PILE: ns to

• Embrace a mend it mentality. It’s time to put throwaway culture straight in the bin – there are a whole host of online tutorials to help you fix your favourite clothes, and upcycle anything looking a little tired. There’s also the ‘Right to Repair’ law coming into effect in the UK this summer, making it far easier for household appliances to get repaired rather than replaced.

WASTE NOT, WANT NOT To save surplus food from going stale, there are a wealth of apps you can utilise. Olio allows you to connect with your community to share excess foods for free with your neighbours – particularly helpful if you’re cutting it close with sell-by dates, or have unused food when you’re about to go on holiday. There’s also No Waste, which helps you get a better handle on what’s in your own fridge, tracking sell-by dates, and offering meal plans to ensure you make the most of your weekly shop.

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Somewhere inside all of us is the power to change the world

ROALD DAHL, MATILDA Photography | Quokka Bottles

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true story

Millennials, mental health, and music Anxiety, panic attacks, and depression left Alex feeling isolated and out of step at university… until the powerful songs from her favourite band brought back a sense of hope and calm

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Writing | Alex Cole

t was during my time at university in 2014 that my mental health began to decline. Whether that was from social pressures, or struggling with the work, I found it a challenge to feel completely comfortable. These weren’t new experiences, however. Throughout school, I had no feeling of belonging. But I had art and music to keep me company, and that seemed like enough. The topic of mental health was always the subject of uncertainty. Growing up in the early 2000s, there weren’t many representations of it, or education about its vast spectrum. It seemed that the only mental health was poor health. As a result of the misunderstanding of the topic, I suffered with untreated anxiety and depression. How could a child experience this? Surely these problems only occurred alongside ‘real’ life-changing events? If a medical problem wasn’t severe, or physically compromising, it didn’t seem to exist. So, on the occasion when I experienced a panic attack, it was dismissed as just me over-dramatising. Today, it seems that others from the millennial generation also had to deal with the results of these assumptions. As there was little information regarding symptoms and treatments for mental health problems, people found comfort in other solutions. One of these was music. The more people I meet who suffer with mental ill-health,

the more I recognise how music can unite and spark acceptance. From disco to grunge, for many it can be an escape. For me, one of the most important bands from the noughties was My Chemical Romance. They challenged stereotypes, and offered hope to those who couldn’t understand their place in the world. Their powerful lyrics communicated a relatable sense of understanding, and had a huge effect on their audience. More than a decade later, when I listen to their songs, I’m reminded of the profound impact they had on society and the discussion of mental health. MCR changed the way we tackled emotions and cultural perspectives. The band was relatable. They were reflective. But above all, they were unique. They appealed to people because they represented something that mainstream music didn’t: strength in difference. Simply put, they created a space for people to belong. Their music became even more important during my time at university in Leeds. Throughout my first year in 2014, panic attacks and cycles of depression became more frequent. Due to the limited information provided about mental health, and previous unsuccessful attempts to seek advice, I didn’t receive professional help until 2015. >>>

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Alex struggled to embrace the student lifestyle

When you suffer with anxiety, and can even have a panic attack in a supermarket, the possibility that change will cause problems is obvious. The sudden yet simple alterations that university offered, such as meeting new people and moving to a new location, were terrifying. Unfortunately, I struggled with the student lifestyle. While I looked around and witnessed students enjoying endless nights of partying, I struggled to feel comfortable with that. Regardless of the negative effect my mental health caused, I still went to all my classes. Although there were endless episodes when I felt drained, I didn’t think taking days off from uni was acceptable. Even though it’s completely rational to take time off for a physical illness, when a break for our mental wellbeing is required, you can start to feel ridiculous. What everyone needs to realise is that poor health, both physical and mental, needs attention. It’s absolutely fine to rest and recharge, even if it requires absence from school or work. In 2015, when I finally realised medical help was available, university life started to improve. I realised there was more than just the stereotype. I was fortunate to have lived with some of the best housemates, and studied alongside some of the nicest and most creative people I had ever met. Although this had a huge positive impact, I still needed days to focus on my mental health. Some were harder than others.

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This is where My Chemical Romance’s music played a huge role in creating a safe space. The hopefulness they had advocated for more than a decade ago became necessary once again. MCR reminded me that there were others that felt the same. Their lyrics emphasised that it’s OK to try to find a place of belonging, and it’s OK to be different. Through their music, I managed to find calm in the midst of the battle with my mental health.

Their lyrics emphasised that it’s OK to try to find a place of belonging, and it’s OK to be different Now at 25, I have decided to join the mental health revolution. Recently, I earned my first aid qualification from Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. I also created the website yourmindormine.org to provide relevant stories and advice around mental health. As someone who deals with issues of anxiety, depression, and knows many others with


true story

Alex is the founder of yourmindormine.org

similar experiences, I hope to offer guidance to those in need. Whether through art, music, or real-life stories, ‘Your mind or mine?’ will provide a place where people can find comfort in recognition, entertainment, and positivity. For others like me who grew up around noughties rock, music will continue to play a powerful role in everyday life. MCR will always be one of my favourite bands because they created art not just for themselves, but also for those who needed support. They wrote about mental health because they too experienced it, in a time when the stigma was at its height. Today, their lyrics still inspire adults who were once the kids who needed them: proving how powerful their music was, and continues to be.

Through music, people can find hope, happiness, and understand that all mental health is real Every time I listen to their songs, I’m reminded of the important and inspirational messages that were entwined. I hope that today, others will find the same comfort in their music that I do. The skinny jeans and heavy eyeliner might have disappeared over time, but the emotion created by musicians such as My Chemical Romance will never fade. Through music, people can find hope. So, whether you’re still an emo kid, or you find yourself listening to the best hip-hop records of all time, remember, music matters. It has the power to change minds and change lives.

OUR EXPERT SAYS Alex’s inspirational story highlights the struggle of living with mental health issues. But the power of music has evidently helped Alex on her journey, providing her with support and a connection with herself that has transcended everything else. By connecting with the support around her, she was able to receive the help she

needed and this had a very positive impact, enabling her to grow. Alex’s struggle is now her source of strength and courage to inspire others. Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred) Counsellor and psychotherapist

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And that’s the tea

Herbal remedies to soothe your stomach, refresh your senses, or relax your mind – here are six drinks that could be your cup of wellbeing tea

Green tea: to relax

Rosemary tea: to focus

Camomile tea: to aid sleep

Naturally containing the amino acid theanine, which is sometimes given as a supplement to help alleviate anxiety, this drink can be great for helping you relax.

Help to clear brain fog by brewing up a cup of rosemary tea. Thanks to certain compounds in rosemary, it’s believed this tea could support long-term memory.

Struggling to doze off? Camomile tea has been used for thousands of years to calm nerves and help settle you down for sleep.

Lemon: to refresh

Turmeric tea: to support arthritis sufferers

Ginger: to settle your stomach A warming beverage, this is a great choice to help if you’re feeling nauseous, or struggling with digestive discomfort.

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Containing a good dose of vitamin C, lemon tea can be energising when you’re feeling tired, and helps support your immune system.

With its anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric tea could be beneficial for those with arthritis, by helping to ease symptoms.


wellbeing

How to

overcome rejection Feeling rejected is never fun, but what if there were ways we could turn the experience from a self-worth saboteur into an opportunity for growth? Writing | Schnel Hanson

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or some of us, it’s accompanied by confusion, for others by sadness or anger, but regardless of which emotion you most relate to, this is a feeling all of us will be familiar with at some point in our lives – the feeling of rejection. Whether it’s a result of family relationships breaking down, or an unsuccessful job interview, rejection can come in so many different forms. The list can feel endless, with some forms of rejection causing immense

emotional pain, while others may simply make you feel lost, and like giving up. Everyone will experience this differently, since no two people will go through the exact same situation and feelings. However, one thing that is universal is that we all do experience rejection, and it’s something we must learn to overcome. It is at that exact moment where we are most feeling the rejection that we need to try to reframe it, and instead see it as

an opportunity for redirection. Naturally, this can be incredibly challenging to do, but this is a time where we can learn so much, and flourish from what our experiences have taught us. As an RTTP therapist, I speak to and work with so many people on a daily basis to help them overcome personal challenges. And what I’ve seen is that the impact of rejection is very similar to fear. While fear is inside our minds, it is incredibly powerful, and when left to grow can take >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 41


over and control an individual’s life – and the same thing happens with rejection. When we don’t deal with those feelings, this past experience can be brought into the present, and an individual may now be so fearful of events repeating themselves that they no longer take risks or chances, or let themselves enjoy their life. In the end, fear and rejection can hold us back. The good news is that there are many different things we can do to help ourselves overcome rejection, and other similar experiences. Here are my top five tips and tricks to try if you are currently facing this challenge.

1. Recognise the rejection, and allow yourself to accept it Rejection is a horrible feeling, and something we all seek to avoid wherever we can. However, if and when this does happen, it’s important not to slip into denial, or try to ignore the situation and your feelings. Instead, you must learn to accept this to help yourself overcome it and move forward.

2. Talk to people about your experiences Seek help if you require it, or simply find someone to listen and be there to support you. The chances are they will understand and, at some point, may have experienced the same feelings you are having right now. That in itself can be incredibly comforting, letting you know you’re not alone and that these feelings will pass. 42 | June 2021 | happiful.com


wellbeing

If you are looking to start this redirection, Schnel Hanson has a free ‘Unleash the Leader in You’ masterclass to help you take the next steps on your journey. Visit access. developingtheinneryou.com

Don’t allow rejection to knock you over, use it to propel you forwards 3. Give yourself time and be gentle When things don’t go to plan, it can be all too easy to become your own biggest critic. But being rejected isn’t a reason to get mad at yourself. Give yourself time to process it – feelings of rejection can last from a few days to a few months, and some people end up stuck with these feelings for much longer. Yet there is no time scale for overcoming these things, so remember to be kind to yourself. Go at your own pace, and treat yourself how you would treat your best friend if it was them experiencing this.

4. Surround yourself with loved ones No matter the form of rejection, often it makes you feel sadness alongside multiple other negative feelings. Make sure that during this time you surround yourself with those you love to feel that warmth and support. Try not to focus on

the rejection, and instead look and appreciate the other amazing things around you. Above all, remember that sometimes we can’t do it alone. Reach out – there is always help and support available if you need it.

5. Learn from your experiences After the pain has reduced, and you have accepted what has happened, use this experience as an opportunity for redirection. Things haven’t worked out as you had necessarily hoped, but you can learn from this and redirect your efforts. Review past situations and experiences, take the positives forward with you, leave the negativity behind you, and remember the lessons. It is so important to remember that nobody gets everything right the first time. The reason you experienced rejection may also be no reflection upon

yourself, simply a reflection of somebody else, or a situation out of your control. However, it may also mean that you weren’t ready for that journey yet. Don’t allow rejection to knock you over, use it to propel you forwards. Reframing an experience of rejection to an opportunity for redirection can allow yourself to move forwards as a better, more experienced person, who has a clearer idea of the path they wish to take. Schnel Hanson is an RTT therapist, equipped with an array of techniques to teach you how to communicate with your subconscious mind, and fix any blockages. Her goal is to remove any sense of shame, insecurity and overwhelm, and replace those feelings with motivation, determination, and encouragement to allow true transformation from the inside out. Visit therapyharleystreet.co.uk for more. happiful.com | June 2021 | 43


RISE UP WITH

SELF LOVE Nearly 1 in 2 people feel more self-doubt than self-love.* We believe that self-love is our superpower and together we can fight for change. Join the self-love uprising at www.thebodyshop.com

*A global report conducted by The Body Shop between November 22 and December 8, 2020 across 21 countries. To find out more go to www.thebodyshop.com All rights reserved Absolutely no reproduction without the permission of the owners

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family & friends

Parental burnout Exhausted, filled with self-doubt, irritable, and unable to think straight – when you’ve been keeping too many plates spinning for too long, and things come crashing down, burnout could be the cause Writing | Anna Mathur

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hile we’ve been facing the challenges brought on by Covid-19 in the past year, there’s been another kind of epidemic going on behind closed doors as well – a hidden one, sending hairline fractures through household dynamics and shaking the foundations of relationships. Parental burnout is real and rife, and we need to talk about it. I’ve slid down the fridge as hot tears fell; I’ve uttered words I rarely use under my breath on a Friday afternoon. I’ve eyed up the door while battling over home learning, fantasising about running out of it. I’ve zoned out for hours on my phone. I’ve harboured rageful resentment for my partner working diligently

upstairs. I’ve felt and thought things that found me questioning both my sanity and my motherhood ability. I have been claustrophobic in a life I love. I am privileged, as a psychotherapist, to have a wealth of knowledge and tools to draw upon, but even then, I have not been immune to parenting burnout this past year. In many ways we have all been a victim to the circumstances surrounding us, but there are things we can do to help ourselves find our breath again, and that’s what I’m here to help you with.

What is parental burnout? Parental burnout is the result of keeping too many balls in the air for too long. It’s finding yourself empty but having to carry on regardless. It’s being unable to

rest, or finding it hard to take the opportunities that do arise. This past year has found parents stepping into roles they’ve never played before, while having to continue plugging away at familiar ones. Support networks, childcare, social lives, family lives have all been warped out of recognition. More has been required of us, while less has been available to us. Less rest, less space, less of the things that make us feel refuelled, refreshed and able to give. Simply put, burnout is the result of us repeatedly having to (or choosing to) push through the limits of our resources, flatten our own boundaries, ignore our own needs, and nudge aside our feelings. It creeps up slowly, little red flags of irritability or feelings of failure go ignored, until we find >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 45


ourselves sliding down the fridge, settling on the cold tiles, and wondering how things got so bad.

What are the symptoms of parental burnout? As parental burnout happens over time, not overnight, it can be helpful to see a list of symptoms to watch out for. These include: • Low self-esteem and feelings of failure or self-doubt • Feeling helpless and trapped • Increased negative and anxious thoughts • Exhaustion and a desire to escape or retreat • Feeling low, depressed, irritable, frustrated, or angry • Struggling to think straight, make decisions, or rationalise thoughts • Loss of motivation to do the things you normally enjoy The problem is that burnout will not go away on its own. As burnout is composed of unmet feelings and needs, to ignore it is to fuel the issue itself. The symptoms of parental burnout are the same as burnout in a work setting. And while both have unique challenges, the complicating factor is that you cannot get signed off parenting for a couple of weeks by your doctor. So, if you are feeling the parenting burnout, while still parenting, here are some things that could help. 46 | June 2021 | happiful.com

What to do about it? Talk to others. It’s easy to invalidate your feelings, but sharing them brings relief and connection. Welcome the ‘little’. Often I’d not bother to do small things for myself, like sit down for five minutes, or workout for only 10, as it just didn’t feel enough! But you should never underestimate the power of the small things. A five-minute sit down might only refuel me a little, but a little is certainly better than nothing! Say no. As opportunities arise for your calendar to refill, pause before you say yes. Say ‘Let me check the diary’ before committing. Take a moment to have a look at the bigger picture of your week, and the demands on your energy.

Find time to be proud of yourself. It’s easy to fixate on the ways we feel we’ve missed the bar, and neglect celebrating what we’ve achieved.

As burnout is composed of unmet feelings and needs, to ignore it is the fuel to the issue itself Cut corners, delegate and lessen perfectionist standards. When you’re feeling burnt out, you need to take your foot off the gas however you can.

The to-do list will never end. Adding rest as a to-do will make you more efficient when you do tackle it!

Welcome gratitude to bring balance to negative feelings. I love replacing ‘I’ve got to’ with ‘I get to’. For example: ‘I’ve got to do the washing’ with ‘I get to do the washing’. It shines a light on some of my privileges of having kids, clothes, and electricity, and can instantly shift my mood.

Your attention may be focused on the needs of others, but yours are equally valid! Ask yourself what you need and find a way to meet that need, even if it’s only in a small way.

Breathe away feelings of stress and tension using a simple exercise such as inhaling to the count of four, and exhaling for 6–8. It calms your nervous system and lessens feelings of anxiety.


family & friends

Parental burnout is the result of keeping too many balls in the air for too long. It’s finding yourself empty but having to carry on regardless

Final thoughts

Close your eyes for 10 minutes a day. It gives you a bit of a reset, and some welcome sensory deprivation. Seek professional support where needed. Where there is help, there is hope, and sometimes we really need the help to feel the hope.

Be kind to yourself as you address your burnout. You need compassion and support instead of lashings of guilt and shame. In a culture that dances to the beat of ‘you are what you do’, that praises efficiency, lauding rest as lazy, resting is a pretty renegade thing to do. But this explains why we are all burnt out and on our knees! This way of living is in no way sustainable, and it has a cost. That cost has been the sparkle in your eye, the ease in your laughter, and your ability to enjoy the good things in your life, which bring balance to, and rationalise, the tough. A life-changing thing for me has been to stop cringing at the

idea of self-care. If this year has taught me anything, it’s that it’s not selfish but an absolute necessity for addressing burnout. So, crank it up! Do more of the things that refill, refuel, and nourish you. Prioritise these things as if your mental health depends on it, and as if your kids depend on your mental health. Because, both are true. And remember, you’re not a failure, you’re exhausted.

Anna Mathur’s book ‘Know Your Worth’ is out now, and dives deeply into how our worth is so often dictated by what we do and how well we do it! You are worthy of rest, having your feelings validated, and your needs met, and Anna’s book will have you daring to believe that is true. happiful.com | June 2021 | 47


Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time RUTH BADER GINSBURG Photography | Sour Moha

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mindful movement

Harness your strength

Journalist, award-winning writer, and competitive amateur powerlifter Poorna Bell shares her own journey to ‘strong’, and why it’s so important to embrace gratitude and abundance when they appear in your life Writing | Lucy Donoughue

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hat does the concept of strong mean to you? Is it being able to easily move furniture, lift weights, run a marathon, stay on course when the world around you seems to be falling apart – or something completely different? Right now, Poorna Bell is challenging us all to think about what strength means to us as individuals, and to tap in to what we love doing and what makes us feel powerful, ready, and safe within the world we

inhabit. Her latest book, Stronger: Changing Everything I Knew About Women’s Strength, described as part-memoir, part-manifesto, covers a multitude of topics around women’s strength and fitness – importantly, with zero focus on weight loss. It homes in on personal circumstances, choice, societal influences, empowerment, as well as finding your own kind of strength. “I imagine the book to be a power cable,” Poorna says, smiling. “It has a plug at the end of it, but it’s not yet attached

to the power source. It’s about taking that plug, attaching it, and flicking the switch on.” The impetus for writing Stronger, she explains, came from taking up powerlifting. Poorna started her new practice at the age of 38, and she’s now a competitive amateur power-lifter, who can lift more than twice her body weight. However, her latest offering is about so much more than gaining physical strength and fitness. “It covers a whole spectrum of experiences, from girlhood >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 49


It isn’t because of a thunderbolt moment, it’s the accumulation of making a decision to be here every single day and being a really small child, through to women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and beyond,” Poorna says. “It explores subjects like periods, menopause, and looks at other intersectionalities within that; parenthood, different races, different abilities – hidden disabilities or visible – mental health, and celebrating every single body size, and what your body is capable of.” And Poorna’s own capabilities are vast. As well as excelling at powerlifting, she’s a journalist, award-winning writer, public speaker, and mental health advocate, who has used her past life experiences, including the death of her husband Rob, to start conversations about suicide, 50 | June 2021 | happiful.com

grief, and recovery. Over the last year, she’s also dealt with the impact of long Covid and, as she happily reveals, she’s embarked on writing a fiction novel, which will be released in 2022. It seems that strength, for Poorna, is about acknowledging life experiences that shake but don’t break us, continually working on ourselves physically and mentally, perseverance, and focusing on our own goals – for our own personal versions of success. Here, she shares some of the lessons she learned along the way to her version of strong, and the importance of acknowledging moments of happiness and accomplishment.

EMBRACE ABUNDANCE AND GRATITUDE WHEN THEY APPEAR IN YOUR LIFE I feel like a sunbeam at the moment! It’s taken a lot of inner work though, to enjoy that feeling of being grateful and noticing an abundance of good, rather than looking to the past or future and thinking: ‘When is this going to change?’ Life is a rollercoaster, as we all know, and things will change, but we don’t have to hasten that. BE ‘IN THE MOMENT’ For the majority of the past year, I had long Covid. I was ill for around 10 months. I started to get better at the end of January, and the gratitude I feel for being able


mindful movement

to do more, sit in the moment, and not over-analyse it, brings me a lot of joy. Now, when I visualise my future, it’s like looking down a long corridor and all the lights are on. That doesn’t mean that unforeseen things won’t happen along the road, but it just feels like this is ‘the moment’ for me.

Photography | Aline Aronsky

MOVEMENT CAN TEACH US VALUABLE LIFE LESSONS I love paddleboarding; it’s such a metaphor for life! Everyone who tries paddleboarding for the first time is so focused on not falling in, that they fall in. They’re not focused on the horizon, which is what they need to be looking to. You have to keep your head straight, you have to keep looking forward. KNOW THAT WORK IS ALWAYS GOING ON ‘BEHIND THE SCENES’ When you work in the mental health space, and you regularly talk about the subject, people assume you have it all together. I don’t think they understand that there’s still a lot of work going on ‘behind the scenes’ with your own mental health, but also that the reason you’re able to talk is because you’ve had to do a lot of that work already. It takes time. FIND THE STRENGTH TO SAY NO Before Covid, I became really unhappy with having my calendar booked out, and not having time for spontaneity. Also, there’s the irritation of social jenga when people cancel on you! On the flip side, I noticed that when people did cancel, I was mostly relieved. It was at that point

Life is a rollercoaster, as we all know, and things will change, but we don’t have to hasten that I realised I needed to check in with myself. It took some time and personal strength to tell people, but I stopped booking events in my diary weeks in advance because I’m not going to know how I’m going to feel, physically or mentally, in four weeks’ time. I don’t have a crystal ball! PURSUE YOUR GOALS, RELENTLESSLY I always wanted to write fiction, I was just really bad at it! In my 20s I started so many books and they were horrendous, I can’t bring myself to read them. The motivation for starting each was to write something that people would think was clever and creative, and that’s a terrible motivation because you’re then writing something completely artificial. When we went into the first lockdown, creative writing became something I’d do at the end of the day as a little treat to myself. And because it wasn’t for anyone or any specific purpose, it became one of my most enjoyable things to do. I was taking it right back to writing for the joy of writing.

YOU CAN EMERGE STRONGER AFTER GRIEF There are lots of different types of grief. The grief I feel the most is for the part of me that was married to Rob that just wasn’t there anymore after he passed away. I still feel her, I remember her, and I really care for her. I also know that the self that came through that experience is formidable, and can withstand so much. That isn’t because of any thunderbolt moment, it’s the accumulation of making a decision to be here every single day, to be a part of my loved ones’ lives, to go to work and feel the sun on my face.

‘Stronger: Changing Everything I Knew About Women’s Strength’ by Poorna Bell (bluebird books for life, £16.99) is out now. Visit poornabell.com, and follow @seemystrong on Instagram. happiful.com | June 2021 | 51


HOW TO AVOID

GY YM MTTIIM MIID DA ATTIIO ON N G Does the thought of heading back to the gym bring you out in a sweat? We share five tips to exercise your confidence and avoid ‘gymtimidation’

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t the best of times the gym can feel intimidating, let alone hitting the machines after months of living room workouts. But given the positive benefits of exercise – from boosting our mood by releasing endorphins, to helping to reduce stress – everyone should have access to an exercise outlet. So, whether you lack the space and equipment for a proper workout at home, or are just in need of a change of scene, addressing the anxiety about entering a gym could be an essential step. As an intermittent gym goer, I’ve felt the full force of ‘gymtimidation’: the dread in the pit of your stomach at the thought of all eyes on you, worried about people judging your technique, and overwhelmed at the idea of using all those machines. And I’m not alone. Officially described as the fear of exercising at the gym or in front of other people, a 2019 survey conducted by OnePoll 52 | June 2021 | happiful.com

Writing | Katie Hoare

found that 50% of respondents struggled with gymtimidation, in some form. We can often feel vulnerable and self-conscious after a stay away from the gym, so to help you combat gymtimidation, we share five tips backed by experts.

1. BOOK AN INDUCTION Even if you were a regular gymgoer pre-pandemic, an induction can help boost your confidence. Staff can walk you through specific exercises, the gym setup, and help you feel comfortable using the machines again. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, setting up a machine can be nerve-racking, and can even put you off doing the workout you want. You might think others are watching and judging you, but as Kaysha Thomas, sports nutritional therapist, explains, this fear is rarely, if ever, a reality. “Quite often it’s our own judgemental minds that have us believe others are judging us,” Kaysha says. “Most people

at the gym are focusing on themselves. But if you do spot someone staring at you, politely make them aware by making eye contact and giving them a smile.”

2. PREPARE A PUMPING PLAYLIST “A feel-good playlist helps boost your mood and provides a positive distraction,” says Kaysha. So if you have a song that really ‘speaks to you’ and gets you belting out those lyrics Beyoncéstyle, now is the time to channel that, and hit the gym with a playlist dedicated to your feelgood tunes. According to recent research from McGill University, Canada, music can even evoke a sense of reward, as it can prompt the production of dopamine (the feelgood hormone) in our brains, stimulating the same pleasurable feelings you might recognise from taking part in your favourite activities. This can be a great tool for maintaining your motivation when exercising.


mindful movement

for your mental health, lowering your self-esteem, and causing you to set unrealistic expectations for yourself. “Set yourself a target before each workout, and write down your achievements afterwards; it can help to keep up your motivation, and improve your self-esteem.”

5. DON’T RUSH YOUR RETURN

WHILE IT’S HUMAN NATURE TO COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS, IT’S IMPORTANT TO FOCUS ON YOUR OWN FITNESS JOURNEY 3. FIND A WORKOUT BUDDY Walking into a new environment can make us feel exposed, but with a supportive friend by our sides, we instantly feel a little lighter. If you’re feeling selfconscious, try to share this with a confidante – you could team up and be each other’s support (and motivation!) buddies. If you don’t know anyone personally, there are free apps you can use – like Strava, MeetUp, and Bvddy – that connect you with like-minded individuals with similar exercise interests.

4. FOCUS ON YOUR SUCCESSES It can be easy to fall into the comparison trap when you’re at the gym; watching others lift heavier weights, running faster, or appearing more confident in their workout routine. “While it’s human nature to compare yourself to others, it’s important to focus on your own fitness journey,” says Caroline Harper, specialist nurse adviser for mental health at Bupa. “Negatively comparing yourself to others in the gym can be harmful

It’s important not to feel pressured to return to fitness, as this could result in injury and even emotional burnout. Kaysha suggests easing yourself in, and remembering that instant results aren’t helpful to strive for. “Those initial physiological changes occur at a cellular level and may not translate into detectable ‘fitness gains’. Instead, focus on how you feel both during and after your workout. “Your here-and-now body deserves to be looked after and respected. Focusing on the mental and non-aesthetic physical benefits of exercise is much kinder to your mind and body. If you feel less stressed, refreshed, energised, and more focused after a workout, you’re on the right track.”

Kaysha Thomas is a registered nutritional therapist and pilates instructor. Find out more by visiting nutritionist-resource.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 53


50 good news stories from 2021 so far... To celebrate our 50th issue of Happiful, we’ve put together a list of 50 uplifting, amusing, and heartwarming headlines to put a smile on your face Writing | Rebecca Thair

1

Music fans rejoiced as festivals such as Reading & Leeds, Creamfields, and Rewind plan to go ahead this summer.

2

The town of Tankerton, in Kent, came up with a novel way to lift spirits during lockdown. In February it turned the town’s Christmas lights back on to brighten up the dark evenings.

3

Dr Alex George has officially been appointed as Youth Mental Health Ambassador to the government.

4

As part of its efforts to become a carbon neutral company, Swedish furniture store IKEA has bought 11,000 acres of woodland in Georgia, USA, to preserve the forest after it seemed likely to be land used for development.

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positive pointers

5

Sporting legend Michael Jordan donated $10 million to open health clinics in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. His generous contribution means people who are either uninsured or underinsured, can afford essential medical care.

6

French nun Lucile Randon became the oldest person to recover from Covid-19 in February, just in time for her 117th birthday!

7

The Bank of England revealed the new face of £50 notes, which will feature pioneer mathematician and codebreaker Alan Turing. His work to decipher Enigma machine messages during World War II saved countless lives and helped bring the war to an end sooner.

8

Free mental health text service SHOUT (85258) released a report revealing it has had more than 500,000 conversations with those in need. While the fact so many people are in crisis is troubling, having a service be there for people is welcome news.

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In March, Nomadland director Chloé Zhao made history by becoming the first Asian woman to win a Golden Globe for best director. And in April she did it again – becoming the first woman of colour and only the second woman ever to win an Oscar for best director.

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New Zealand has raised the minimum living wage, and increased taxes for the rich, in an effort to support the most vulnerable in society.

The ‘tampon tax’ was officially scrapped in the UK as of 1 January.

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It’s been revealed that not one single rhino was killed by poachers in Kenya in 2020 – something that hasn’t been achieved since 1999.

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Additionally, in what is believed to be a world-first, legislation was unanimously approved in New Zealand to allow pregnant people and their partners paid bereavement leave following a miscarriage at any point during the pregnancy. Currently, most employers only provide paid leave for a stillbirth or miscarriage after 20 weeks, while in the UK it’s actually 24 weeks.

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A student from Leeds created an innovative bin bag dispenser to tackle the trash epidemic as revellers started returning to parks and public spaces. >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 55


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As of April, footballer and activist Marcus Rashford and his fans have officially given out more than 21 million meals since the first UK lockdown. Food redistribution charity, FareShare, who Marcus partnered up with, also revealed that it’s given out 128.5 million meals since 23 March 2020.

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In an effort to reduce carbon emissions, France recently voted to ban short-haul domestic flights where the same journey could be taken by train in less than 2.5 hours.

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Anonymous artist Banksy has raised more than £16 million for an NHS charity through the sale of a painting depicting a little boy playing with a nurse doll wearing a superhero cape.

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Two dolphins were spotted swimming in Venice’s famous Grand Canal – an extremely rare sight, most likely thanks to the calmer waters due to social restrictions because of the pandemic.

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Los Angeles has officially become a ‘no-kill’ city after achieving a pet rescue rate of more than 90%.

56 | June 2021 | happiful.com

A monumental new law passed on 1 March, meaning it is now illegal for anyone to threaten to share intimate images of another person without their permission. After relentless campaigning by the charity Refuge, the existing revenge porn law, which prosecuted those who shared these images, has expanded to protect victims from the threat of releasing images as well.

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Europe officially generated more electricity through renewable sources than fossil fuels for the first time in 2020!

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The public was given free reign to submit names for Scottish snow ploughs in February, with some very punny results. Our favourites include ‘You’re a Blizzard Harry’, ‘Spready Mercury’ and ‘Sleetwood Mac’.

The United Nations officially declared 2021 the ‘Year of International Peace and Trust’.


positive pointers

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An autistic teen from Scotland sent hundreds of cards to NHS Covid staff after becoming overwhelmed by statistics related to the pandemic. Paddy Joyce sent 663 individually-named cards to front-line workers at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary to thank them for all their hard work.

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The first human trial of a vaccine for HIV is looking really promising, with 97% of volunteers seeing an immune response.

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95-year-old Dick Van Dyke was seen handing out wads of cash to struggling job-seekers at a non-profit in Malibu, which looks to find people local jobs.

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England’s largest ocean rewilding scheme began in April, with the aim to plant eight hectares of seagrass meadows – which are incredible habitats for marine creatures, as well as absorbing carbon 35 times faster than a rainforest.

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Research by the Mental Health Foundation revealed that 62% of UK adults found relief from the stresses of the pandemic by taking a walk in nature.

At the virtual climate summit for Earth Day in April, President Joe Biden pledged to cut carbon emissions from the US by 50–52% by 2030.

59-year-old Don Muchow, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the 1970s, ran 2,800 miles from Disneyland in California to Disney World in Florida to raise awareness for diabetes.

Misogyny is now to be considered a hate crime in England and Wales, meaning police will investigate where a victim believes a crime was due to “hostility based on their sex”.

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A coffee shop in Kent is going ‘cup free’, only serving those who bring their own cups to the shop. Otto’s Coffee House and Kitchen, in Sevenoaks, promoted its new move by filling the store with disposable cups to demonstrate the importance of its decision, given nine out of 10 of these don’t get recycled. >>>

Ratatouille: The TikTok Musical raised $1 million for The Actors Fund, to support out-of-work entertainers during the pandemic.

happiful.com | June 2021 | 57


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A mystery knitter has been leaving crafted hearts and flowers around Alcester, Warwickshire, with positive reminders attached to them such as “You are loved” and “You are important”.

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GCSE pupils at Frome College, in Somerset, recreated famous images out of beans and toast in a charitable fundraiser. The winner was Gil Privett with a recreation of Swan Lake, with the school donating the winner’s height in baked beans (15 tins) to a local food bank.

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Kamala Harris became the first female, first Black, and first Asian-American Vice President in US history.

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A colony of dormice, a protected species, that has been living next to the M1 in Buckinghamshire for five years, is to be given its own special street crossing to help the animals thrive.

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After spending nine months living in a caravan on her driveway while isolating to protect her 84-year-old mother, nurse Sarah Link has finally been able to move back home. 58 | June 2021 | happiful.com

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100-year-old Vera Sak, from Grimsby, has revealed her secrets to long life in celebration of her milestone birthday, with her favourite tips being to “keep your brain active and eat lots of toast”.

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Primark owner, Associated British Foods, has pledged to return £121 million in furlough payments it received during the past year.

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With 129 billion single-use face masks used globally each month, Waterhaul (a social enterprise in Cornwall) have a project to take waste plastic and turn it into something good – every 45 face masks make a litter picker!

Kamala Harris | archna nautiyal / Shutterstock.com

New data has revealed that in 2020 Norway became the first country in the world to sell more electric vehicles than petrol or diesel cars.


positive pointers

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Gloucestershirebased Forest Green Rovers football club has become the first sports team in the world to go vegan and carbon neutral!

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Tesco managed to permanently remove one billion bits of plastic from its stores in 2020. This was done by working with suppliers to reduce plastic shrink wrap, removing double lids, and getting rid of plastic bags for loose fruit and veg.

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It’s been reported that US suicide rates had the biggest annual decline in 40 years with a 6% drop, believed to be partly thanks to increased community engagement during the pandemic.

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Riz Ahmed and Steve Yeun have made history in the Best Actor category at this year’s Oscars, with Riz being the first Muslim actor to be nominated, and Steve as the first Asian-American actor.

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A recent study by the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute of Florida Atlantic University has found that a common antibiotic, amoxicillin, has a 95% success rate at healing a coral disease which has spread through Florida’s coral reef since 2014.

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Junior doctor Kishan Bodalia (aka DJ Bodalia) has been hitting the decks to lift spirits throughout lockdown, after testing positive for Covid-19 while working on a respiratory ward. Hosting his #NHSessions on Instagram, Kishan started doing a DJ set in his scrubs after a shift to boost morale.

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Teenager Darius Brown, from New Jersey, hit the headlines for his good deed of making bow ties for rescue dogs to help them get adopted. He’s been making the paw-some attire since 2017, and in March revealed he’s made nearly 1,000 ties for dogs!

50 Children at Sibsey Primary School, in Lincolnshire, surprised staff one morning in January, by putting up a special display of artwork thanking teachers for their help during the pandemic. happiful.com | June 2021 | 59


Self-care, prescribed by Dr Alex George

From a young age, Dr Alex George knew he wanted to work in A&E, but now he’s also championing everyday self-care needs for the nation, and helping to shape the government’s mental health agenda. Oh, and he’s a creator of bath bombs on the side… Writing | Lucy Donoughue

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he day before Dr Alex George and I are due to speak, he announces on social media that he’s going to take some much needed time off work. “I always want to be honest with you guys, and the last thing I want is for my page to be a highlight of good days, hiding the bad,” he wrote on Instagram. “It’s been a long and hard year, which ultimately takes its toll. I have really felt it this week, and I am aware I need a break. I am taking a full week off from Tuesday. Recognising when you are becoming stressed and acting on it, is so important.”

60 | June 2021 | happiful.com

Despite offers to rearrange, Alex arrives on Zoom for his interview, telling me that he’s more than happy to chat as he knows he has downtime in the coming days. He has an immediate kind, self-assuredness that I can only imagine is incredibly important for the many roles he inhabits – a London-based A&E doctor, government Youth Mental Health Ambassador, founder of bath bomb and self-care brand Prescrib’d, as well as an author and influencer with more than 1.9 million followers. Alex’s super busy and high profile life is a far cry from his childhood days. Born in a small town in West Wales, he spent his early years

playing in the local countryside before studying at the Peninsula Medical School where, he says, he regularly enjoyed everything the surrounding Devon and Cornwall coastline offered. Despite being surrounded by rural beauty, however, he was intent on moving to the ‘Big Smoke’ to fulfill his ambitions as soon as he graduated. “I wanted to be a doctor from the age of 13,” Alex explains. “I watched the early days of City Hospital, which was the first example of a programme like 24 Hours in A&E. I loved the idea of combining medicine, people, and the adrenaline. I’m quite a type A personality, and I enjoy the thrill that comes with being in that space.”


wellbeing

Photography | Andrew Burton

I realised that I needed to take care of myself, because I couldn’t expect that I would operate on ‘empty’ without topping up my reserves

Working in A&E, despite the obvious stresses and huge pressure, holds a special place in Alex’s heart. “There’s a team atmosphere, and you really enjoy a sense of working closely with people. Although the past year has been difficult, we’ve all learned a lot, in particular about mental health, wellbeing, and looking after ourselves.” But Alex’s focus on mental health began way before the pandemic. He’s been talking publicly about wellbeing since 2019, when he became an advocate for Samaritans’ Brew Monday campaign, after his stint on ITV’s Love Island. Last year, Alex’s advocacy gained greater momentum, after his brother Llŷr died by suicide. >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 61


The more we can build momentum, the more we’ll bring positive change, destigmatise mental health, and hopefully have some brighter days to come “I really want, in particular since losing my brother, to bring even more of a spotlight on the issues surrounding mental health,” he explains. “There are so many people, experts, charities, and organisations out there already doing such amazing work, so for me, it’s about shining a light on the work they’re doing too, because the more we can build momentum, the more we’ll bring positive change, destigmatise mental health, and hopefully have some brighter days to come. “As I grew up, I felt as if there was very little or no education around wellbeing, self-care, what mental health is, how to manage thoughts, build resilience, and manage life’s troubles,” Alex notes. “In my role as the government’s Youth Mental Health Ambassador, I really want to normalise these conversations and focus on the curriculum.” Outside of his hospital and ambassadorial work, Alex is hoping to reach people with helpful advice, with his new book, Live Well Every day: Your Plan for a Happy Body and Mind. 62 | June 2021 | happiful.com

“It’s not about a blueprint for happiness,” he says emphatically. “It’s not about what perfection in life is, and if you follow this plan you’ll be forever happy. It’s about giving people the tools in different areas of their lives, so they might be able to make small adjustments which could add up to being healthier and happier.” Alex understands how the pressure of life can impact mental wellbeing, and says he is all too aware of when

he personally needs to change something in order to improve his day-to-day mood. Part of knowing what keeps him well, he says, is remembering what happened when he stopped any form of self-care in his late teens. “At one point, when I was at University, I stopped going out walking, I wasn’t exercising, I was eating badly, sleeping badly, not talking to my friends, and I’d lost interest in my studies. Basically I’d stopped doing all of the things that anchored me.


wellbeing

“So I spoke to my family, and we worked out what I needed to bring back into my life again. After a few weeks, I started to feel better, and I realised that I needed to take care of myself, because I couldn’t expect that I would operate on ‘empty’.” This lesson has come back to him of late, hence his post about taking a break on Instagram.

It’s not about a blueprint for happiness. It’s about giving people the tools to make small adjustments which could add up to being healthier and happier “The Catch-22 is that I’m someone who is really driven. I want to make progress and there’s lots of things that I’m passionate about, so I can have a tendency to overwork,” Alex says. “Mental health is a very emotive space, especially with my own personal experience,” Alex continues, referring to the death of Llŷr in July 2020. “And even as passionate as I am, it can become quite taxing and tiring.” There’s a real sense of Alex’s drive and energy, however, when he starts to talk about what “doing more” involves. He

recently launched bath bomb and self-care company Prescrib’d, and is donating a percentage of the profits from a number of products to the youth mental health charity Young Minds. “I love my bath bombs!” He laughs. “It all started because of a friend of mine at Lewisham Hospital. She told me that I was working too hard and needed to chill, and she brought me a bath bomb. I thought it was brilliant, and realised I was genuinely passionate about bath bombs.” Alex beams as he shares that the recent launch of Prescrib’d went down really well, and he’s keen to impart what makes a good, and bad bath, bomb. “Ours are 100% vegan, plastic and cruelty-free. I have a checklist when it comes to what I want in all our products. They can’t be slimy, I don’t like glittery ones, because that stays on your body, and very importantly it cannot stain the bath.”

Follow Alex on Instagram @dralexgeorge, check out his bath bombs @weareprescribd and listen to Alex’s full interview on Happiful’s podcast ‘I am. I have’.

After discussing mental health and the difficulties of the past year, it’s wonderful to see the joy this venture brings Alex. “There’s a point in all this though,” he says seriously after our bath bomb run-down ends. “Life’s a journey and your path might change from when you were 13 to when you’re 30. It’s about following your instincts, and what truly matters to you.”

‘Live Well Every day: Your Plan for a Happy Body and Mind’ by Dr Alex George (Octopus Publishing, £15.99). happiful.com | June 2021 | 63


HAPPIFUL TOP 10

June

Find the joy in learning about yourself and others. From supporting a greener world to treating yourself to some time to practise mindfulness, we share 10 things to do this June

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Pilates is a great way to get everyone involved in some light exercise. Aiming to relax any tense muscles rather than stretch them, pilates is a gentle but rewarding way to get your blood flowing. The movements can be completed on a mat, or on the living room floor, and help to build strength as well as aiding good posture.

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PAGE-TURNERS How to Help Your Child with Worry and Anxiety by Lauren Callaghan Children can become anxious and overwhelmed in the same way that adults can. Clinical psychologist Lauren Callaghan shares an exploration of how anxiety can manifest itself within small children, and how best to help them rationalise it. Including conversation starters and activities, this guide looks to help parents help their children. (Out 10 June, Trigger Publishing, £9.99)

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PUT ON A SHOW Pilates

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LEND US YOUR EARS Listening Books

With more than 9,000 titles, Listening Books is a wonderful way to listen to stories on the go, or to discover new authors. Working also as a charity which provides easy access to books for those with an illness or condition that affects their print reading ability, you can not only enjoy your own audiobook experience, but also help make it possible for others, too! (Visit listening-books.org.uk)

OUT AND ABOUT Pasta Picnic

Why not make the most of the warmer weather and longer days? Cook up some pasta, invite some pals, and you’ve got yourself a picnic. Or even have a proper midday break by taking lunch outside, and spend some time with a few friends. Set a time and day, find a spacious park, and you’ve got yourself a date. (For recipe ideas, head to nutritionist-resource.org.uk) 64 | June 2021 | happiful.com

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PLUGGED-IN Amber Kemp-Gerstel

If you enjoy spending the sunny evenings working on crafting projects, Amber has plenty of inspiration to share. Crafting with her children in mind, Amber has a whole host of highlights on her page to guide you through making everything from edible artwork to tote bags. (Follow @damasklove on Instagram)


culture

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TECH TIP-OFFS Too Good to Go: End Food Waste

Reducing food waste is a great way to positively contribute to a greener planet, but for restaurants and fast food chains this can be difficult. Too Good to Go lets you purchase food from your favourite cafes and fast food restaurants that would otherwise go to waste, from £2 a bag. Simply use the app and pop to the venue to see what surprises you’ve got. (On the App Store and Google Play)

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The Bees Knees Journal | www.thebeesknees.co

Cervical Screening Awareness Week

This year there are additional challenges facing those who are due a cervical cancer screening, but it is as important as ever to attend the appointment. Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, who organise this awareness week each year, want as many people to know that by attending a screening, you are reducing your risk of disease and putting your health and wellbeing first. (14–20 June. Visit jostrust.org.uk for more information)

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SQUARE EYES The Great British Sewing Bee

Whether you’re a sewing machine sensation or a knot needling newbie, have your scissors at the ready for the sixth season of The Great British Sewing Bee – hosted by comedian Joe Lycett. Bound to inspire you to get crafty, follow the amateur sewers as they snip their way through weekly challenges to be crowned GBSB 2021 champion. (Available on BBC iPlayer)

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THE CONVERSATION

GET GOING Home workouts

If you’re looking for a way to keep yourself motivated when it comes to exercise, Kyra Pro may have the video content for you. With home workouts to soundtracks from Mamma Mia to Ariana Grande, there is a dance workout to suit every mood. (Search Kyra Pro on Youtube)

TREAT YOURSELF The Bees Knees Journal

Living in the present can be tough when there is a lot going on around us, but taking time out of the day to think about things you’re grateful for can be a lovely way to appreciate the little moments that bring you happiness. The Bees Knees Journal has 272 pages that encourage you to explore your feelings, and forgive yourself when things don’t go as planned. (£35, shop online at thebeesknees.co)

WIN!

Win The Bees Knees Journal For your chance to win a journal, simply email your answer to the following question to competitions@happiful.com Which of the following do bees produce? a) Marmalade

b) Maple Syrup

c) Honey

*Competition closes 17 June 2021. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!

happiful.com | June 2021 | 65


Fancy a fakeaway?

Two of our favourite fakeaway dishes for healthier and cheaper versions of your Friday night feasts, without compromising on taste Writing | Dr Lisa Gatenby

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ealthier, cheaper, and faster? Check, check, check. Takeaways certainly have an appeal after a long week, but we’ve got something even better to soothe the call of the curry: fakeaways. In other words, whip up your own version of your favourite takeaway from the comfort of your own kitchen. These two dishes are simple to make and bursting with flavour, plus the burgers can be frozen for later – so future you will thank you! Have a go at home and kick back with your favourite takeaway, without busting the bank. Enjoy!

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Chipotle turkey burgers Serves 4 Ingredients For the burgers: • 500g minced turkey • 4 spring onions • 1 tsp frozen chopped garlic • 1 tsp chipotle chilli paste • 1 tsp dried oregano • Rapeseed spray oil • Black pepper To accompany: • 4 seeded wholemeal bread rolls • Mixed side salad • 1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional) • Chilli sauce

Method 1. Place all the burger ingredients in a bowl, season with the black pepper, and mix together until well combined. Divide into four equal portions, and shape into burgers, around 1.5cm thick. 2. Spray a frying pan with rapeseed oil, and when hot add the burgers, cooking for around 5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. 3. Cut the bread rolls in half and lightly toast. 4. Place the burgers in the buns along with mixed leaves and top with sliced chilli, and a teaspoon of chilli sauce. 5. Serve with a large mixed salad.


feel-good food

Find nutritio a n our Hap ist on piful app

Vegetable biryani Serves 4 Ingredients For the biryani: • Rapeseed spray oil • 1 small cauliflower broken into little florets • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed • 1 large onion, sliced • 700ml hot vegetable stock • 2 tbsp hot curry paste (madras is good) • ½ red chilli, seeded and finely chopped • Large pinch of saffron strands • 1 tsp mustard seeds • 350g basmati rice • 125g trimmed green beans, halved • 1 lemon, juice only or 1 tbsp lemon juice • A few handfuls of fresh coriander leaves • 45g roasted and salted cashew nuts • Poppadom and raita to serve For the raita: • 200g Greek natural yoghurt • 1 tsp mint sauce • ½ onion, diced • 1 chilli, diced • ½ cucumber, diced

Method 1. Preheat the oven to 220oC/ gas 7/fan 200oC. Spray a large roasting tin or ovenproof dish with rapeseed oil, and put it in the oven for a couple of minutes to heat through. Add all the vegetables to the dish except the green beans, stirring to mix. Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for 15 minutes until beginning to brown. 2. While the vegetables are roasting, stir together the stock, curry paste, chilli, saffron, and mustard seeds. 3. Mix the rice and green beans with the vegetables in the tin, then pour over the stock mixture. Lower the oven to 190oC/gas 5/fan 190oC. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the lemon juice and check the seasoning, then scatter the coriander and cashew nuts over the top. 4. Mix the ingredients for the raita together. Serve the biryani, topped with a spoonful of raita and a poppadom.

The healthy bit Chipotle turkey burgers A super-healthy option, turkey is an excellent low-fat source of protein. It’s believed to be high in the amino acid tryptophan, which is a building block of serotonin, known for promoting good mood and alertness. Serving in a seeded wholemeal roll provides fibre and slow releasing carbohydrates, helping to keep you full for longer. The salad counts as one of your five-aday, providing essential nutrients and acting as a prebiotic to feed your gut bacteria. Vegetable biryani A low-fat and filling alternative to a traditional takeaway, this vegetable biryani contains two to three of your five-a-day, meaning you can enjoy a tasty meal, with all the health benefits, too. The vegetables are a great source of fibre, and the yoghurt acts as a probiotic to aid healthy gut bacteria. The gut is labelled the second brain, and having a healthy gut microbiota is believed to aid our immune system, as well as our mental health. Basmati rice has a lower glycaemic index than white rice, meaning it has less effect on your blood sugar, making it a healthier alternative as well. Lisa Gatenby is a registered nutritionist specialising in complex medical and brain injury cases, with training in life coaching, public health nutrition, and is a trained chef.

happiful.com | June 2021 | 67


OU OG 06 MA T R A J U Y— NO M N W M E E

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ha E G I S yf TE es R ti v F O a l. R or F R g E

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ISABEL ALLENDE • ANNE APPLEBAUM • SIMON ARMITAGE CALEB AZUMAH NELSON • GUVNA B • LAURA BATES • BRIT BENNETT GORDON BROWN • GILLIAN CLARKE • REVEREND RICHARD COLES CRESSIDA COWELL • RACHEL CUSK • STEPHEN FRY • MEL GIEDROYC JULIA GILLARD • MALCOM GLADWELL • ETHAN HAWKE • NATALIE HAYNES DAVID HOCKNEY • OLIVER JEFFERS • DANIEL KAHNEMAN • MARIAN KEYES RAVEN LEILANI • DEBORAH LEVY • VAL MCDERMID • ED MILIBAND CAITLIN MORAN • MICHAEL MORPURGO • JOJO MOYES • GRAHAM NORTON MICHAEL ROSEN • SATHNAM SANGHERA • ALOK SHARMA • LEMN SISSAY ALI SMITH • SHARON STONE • ANGIE THOMAS • RUSSELL TOVEY MARIO VARGAS LLOSA • ROBERT WEBB • JOE WICKS GARY YOUNGE • HAFSA ZAYYAN • BENJAMIN ZEPHANIAH • AND MORE… Join us in a free digital wonderland of thoughtful conversation, debates, readings, performances and family fun @HAYFESTIVAL #HAYFESTIVAL2021 68 | May 2021 | happiful.com


culture

Happiful reads... From cherishing the small moments, to enjoying new flavours, we share four of this month’s must reads

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he idea of being alone is often branded as being a pitiful experience, but why are we so quick to disregard spending restorative and important time with ourselves? Journalist Francesca Specter’s Alonement highlights that the most important longterm relationship we have is with ourselves. Her book teaches a

Writing | Chelsea Graham

valuable lesson in enjoying the time we spend alone, seeing it not as a sad final resort, but as an opportunity to revel in living on our own terms. Packed full of practical tips from experts and guests on her podcast ‘Alonement’, Francesca’s guide reveals her own story of once being an extreme extrovert who needed to be around people all of

the time, to becoming someone who learned how to be alone, and how to enjoy it!

12 Birds to Save Your Life by Charlie Corbett Out 10 June Nature is all around us, but sometimes we forget to appreciate its amazing ability to ground us when we aren’t feeling our best. Having lived on farms throughout his childhood, and utilised nature during times of anxiety and depression, author Charlie Corbett strives to share his knowledge of birds with readers, to enable them to find joy in the smallest of creatures.

Ice Cream Party by Shikha Kaiwar Out now With more than 3,500 possible combinations, Shikha Kaiwar’s recipe book will have something to please the whole family. Whether you’re craving the familiar taste of hot fudge sauce on your chocolate ice cream, or you’re branching out by pairing pistachio with white sesame seed brittle, Ice Cream Party has a sweet recipe that will tickle your taste buds.

Alonement by Francesca Specter Out now

Must reads Everything’s Perfect by Nicole Kennedy Out 10 June On social media, it’s easy to portray the life you want everyone to think that you’re living, but this can often be more than a stone’s throw from reality. Nicole Kennedy’s light-hearted debut novel delves into this dynamic to explore friendships, romantic relationships, and the modern concept of popularity. The story is warm, captivating, and a great excuse to have a break from your own social media!

happiful.com | June 2021 | 69


The best thing to hold on to in life is each other AUDREY HEPBURN

Photography | Shingi Rice

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true story

Being disabled doesn’t mean I’m unable Paralympic swimming gold medallist Liz Johnson has swapped the pool for the boardroom in a bid to close the disability employment gap for good Writing | Liz Johnson

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y career was re-routed in a single moment in 2017. I was watching a report about the disability employment gap, and heard a statistic that left me shocked and appalled: the gap stood at more than 30%, and had remained that way for a decade. This meant that barely half of the UK’s 13.9 million disabled people were employed, compared to 80% of able-bodied people. Hearing this stopped me in my tracks. It stood in complete contrast to my own experience as a disabled athlete. On a human level, I related so closely to the people I was hearing about. But as a recently retired Paralympian, my own career was largely free from most of the barriers that block the path of many. Winning my medals came with a huge amount of hard work, but growing up – and throughout my swimming career – I never really considered myself to be disabled. I now realise that I was simply naïve about the microaggressions society exhibits to discriminate against disabled people. These impair us more than our disabilities ever could. But at that point in my life, I was doing almost everything my able-bodied friends were doing; I just had to go about it in a different way. This outlook was reaffirmed when I went swimming. My mum first took me to the pool when I was three. I was born with cerebral palsy, so

she enrolled me in swimming classes to strengthen my muscles. I felt free in the pool and powered through my training sessions. I wasn’t inherently gifted, but swimming was a great outlet, and I embraced it with everything I had. It was one of the few places where my disability didn’t seem to matter. Over the course of my career, I won five gold medals across European and World Championships; and although I failed to qualify for the 2000 Paralympics in Sydney, I went on to get bronze, silver and gold in the following three Games. Beijing in 2008 was bitter sweet. My mum – my best friend and my biggest supporter – passed away not long beforehand. I also sustained a shoulder injury which left me without the use of my strongest arm in training. But I still got the gold. My can-do attitude ensured my hard work in the pool was rewarded. I realise now that this is what sets my experience of being disabled at odds with that of so many others. Although my disability determined my race classification, it didn’t determine my chances of success. So many disabled people have this same drive to succeed, but are attempting to work in sectors that don’t champion their difference. Instead, they’re met with closed doors and excuses. >>>

happiful.com | June 2021 | 71


Liz Johnson is a former Paralympic gold medallist and co-founder of disability inclusion consultancy The Ability People (theabilitypeople.com), and founder of jobs platform Podium (appbytap.com).

The thing that eventually slowed me down was completely unrelated to being disabled. I had to have surgery for a hernia in 2015 and fell behind with training. As a result, I didn’t go for the Games in Rio de Janeiro that summer. I called time, retired from the sport, and heard that news report on the employment gap while embarking on new beginnings. Some setbacks are beyond your control – an injured shoulder for example. But on hearing about the employment gap, I refused to see disability as a setback or accept that it should control a person’s opportunities. It was the employers who needed to change. My life experiences taught me that just because you do things differently, doesn’t mean you can’t do them at all. So, I was determined to carve out a place for the disabled community in the world of work I was about to enter into myself. It was around this time that I met Steve Carter, who’d been in recruitment for more than 30 years, and was tired of being presented with the same pool of candidates. We were arriving at the same problem from different angles: diverse talent was being ruled out of the hiring game before it had even started, and we needed to take action. We had our lightbulb moment, and The Ability People (TAP) was born. We created TAP to change the way businesses approach diversity, and naturally, that starts with our own team. Everyone at TAP has some form of disability, and is committed to achieving diversity. We’re a melting pot of different

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ethnicities, ages, and genders, and we meet in the middle to talk honestly and openly to businesses about our experiences, and break down barriers to access.

My life experiences taught me that just because you do things differently, doesn’t mean you can’t do them at all We work alongside businesses, transforming their culture and operations to ensure everything is authentically inclusive. Without laying these foundations, you can’t support truly diverse workforces. It was intimidating moving from the pool to the boardroom, but I knew we had a worthy cause and, evidently, so did the big corporate players.


Street portraits | Amy Mace

true story

Not long after launching, we won contracts with Chelsea FC and HSBC. We’ve since evolved even further to launch Podium – the first jobs platform for disabled freelancers. In the wake of Covid-19, many employers are realising that they need remote workers just as much as disabled people need flexible jobs. So, we’re connecting the two to create meaningful work for disabled freelancers. Over the past two years I’ve grown used to facing a different kind of arena, and a different kind of crowd. I count speaking about disability at the LinkedIn conference in Dallas, and being nominated for the BBC’s prestigious 100 Women list in 2018, among my greatest achievements; and with TAP and Podium we’ve made headway we’re really proud of. But the employment gap still stands at 28% in the UK. Add to this the economic fallout of the health crisis, and it becomes clear why disabled people need our support more than ever. In many ways though, the coronavirus lockdown has brought the experience of the

able-bodied population in line with that of disabled people. The rest of the world is adapting to restrictions, challenges, and health risks as part of everyday life – as well as working from home. Employers are waking up to the fact that flexibility works, meaning the time has never been better to embrace a pool of talent that stands to gain a huge amount. Steve, the TAP and Podium team, and I will continue to work together to bring our ideas to life, to close the disability employment gap for good, and to empower disabled people to find jobs which don’t just meet their needs, but enable them to thrive. I’ve lived my dream as a Paralympian. Now I want other talented, skilled, and passionate disabled people to achieve theirs. Because believe me, they’re more than capable.

OUR EXPERT SAYS Liz highlights something so many of us miss – every one of us is different. It’s in our diversity our unique talents live and thrive, not despite it. It’s so striking to hear how society’s attitudes have been a barrier – but the good thing is that attitudes can shift, and Liz is at the forefront of enabling that to happen.

It’s so inspiring to see how Liz faces obstacles and champions change. We might not all be Olympians, but she reminds us we all have the power to help create that positive change. Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr | Life coach

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4 steps to managing anger

In the heat of the moment, it can be easy to let our emotions get the better of us. But by tuning-in to yourself, you can take back control and channel your anger in productive and healthy ways

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s the emotion often underlying societal issues such as violence, crime, internet trolling, and even terrorism, anger – justifiably – gets plenty of bad press. On a personal level, if you react from it too often, it’s likely to disconnect you from other people and lead to loneliness and isolation. To anger’s hammer, every issue is a nail and – left unchecked – it can make you act at the expense of your happiness and contentment. It’s also worth bearing in mind that internalising it is consistent

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Writing | John-Paul Davies

with ongoing mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and addictions. But, of course, anger is also the driver behind social movements that reshape societies for the better. In terms of relationships, it can signal when your boundaries have been crossed and is therefore key to making sure your needs are met in them. To get the best of it though, you need to make sure your anger is a helpful tool rather than being controlled by it and, for this to happen, you must first get to know it well.

Know when you’re angry This may sound obvious, but anger most often focuses your attention outwards, towards the wrongdoings of others. You might not therefore even be aware you’re feeling it, and without knowing you’re feeling it you can’t have a relationship with it. Try to notice when you’re feeling anger this week. It’s often a very physical emotion, so check-in with yourself when your anger is rising, and get to know what the physical sensations feel like, mapping them out in your mind as you scan your body.


try this at home

Anger is also the driver behind social movements that reshape societies for the better Know how you express your anger Be aware that anger isn’t only about shouting and lashing out at people. Cynicism, sarcasm, silence, criticism, rehearsing arguments in your head, passive aggression, microaggression, banter, doing the opposite of what you know another person might want, can all be more covert ways of showing it. Irritation, frustration, and annoyance are also all somewhere on the anger scale. So, again this week, try to notice how often you’re experiencing any of these – maybe make a list of them on your phone. You might be surprised at how frequently they’re happening.

Know why you’re angry Anger is a ‘secondary’ feeling that comes in on top of initial feelings of fear, grief, hurt or a sense of injustice. It’s often about defence and protection, and when it pushes forward, anger automatically makes you the victim, and someone else the wrongdoer. Because of this victim/ perpetrator dynamic, whether

it’s your partner or someone on social media, it’ll dehumanise them and prevent you taking any responsibility for your part in what’s happening. If both people are in this place in an angry exchange, it’s easy to see that it will reach a stalemate. When you get angry, think about what your anger’s story is. Try to test it – is what it’s telling you really true, or is your perception being distorted?

Know how to manage it Once you notice you’re angry, this simple six-step ‘SOBER’ mindfulness technique can be the difference between seeing red, losing your composure, and arguing in a way that you’ll regret, or keeping your cool and getting your needs met in the situation: • Stop. Your first reaction will be impulsive and based on the distorted beliefs mentioned above, so resist the urge to indulge it. Even just doing this will make you feel more in control.

Focusing on your breathing is the most effective way to keep calm. Maybe go for a walk and slow your breath for a few minutes; the calming effect can be almost instantaneous. • Expand. Now you feel calmer, you can test whether your anger’s story is actually true. Who knows, you might even be able to empathise with the other person’s perspective. • Respond. If the situation can’t immediately be resolved with a quick apology, or there’s a pattern of behaviour that’s crossing your boundaries, it can be important to address it later to avoid ongoing resentment. If you decide to raise an issue with someone, try to choose your moment, plan what you’ll say, and focus on your secondary feelings when you speak. In this way you can speak ‘for’ your anger rather than ‘from’ it, and are much more likely to get your need met in the situation.

• Observe. Turn your attention inwards, and ask how acting from anger will help resolve the situation (spoiler alert: most often it won’t). • Breathe. You need to know the difference between defending yourself and attacking someone, and can only do this once you’ve calmed down.

John-Paul Davies is a psychotherapist, counsellor, and author of ‘Finding a Balanced Connection’. Find out more by visiting counselling-directory.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 75


Single Dad: A 21st century story Testing, tender, and true – we speak to esteemed portrait photographer Harry Borden about his latest project, which explores the reality of single fatherhood Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

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hen I begin my call with Harry Borden, he tells me he’s just finished playing the piano – something he’s practised for two years, and immediately notes is a good way to stay ‘in the moment’. His mindful hobby slots alongside his work as a photographer, and Single Dad is his latest project – a series of portraits published in a beautifully bound book, each one showcasing a candid shot of a father and his children, accompanied by a quote that captures each man’s experience, ranging from the playful to the stoic, and occasionally the devastating. And it’s a timely collection. According to the Office for National Statistics’ 2019 report, while loneparent mothers remained the most common type of single parents, from 1999 to 2019, the number of single-parent fathers grew by 22%.

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Neil with Kiwa and Ngaire


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Tony with Louise and Emma

Any proposed reasons for this increase are multi-faceted – but so too are the stories behind the numbers. In his introduction to the collection, Harry writes: “In a world where Homer Simpson is an archetypal father, they confound the simplistic notion of fathers as ridiculous.” With 48 men featured, when I first flicked through the book I was tempted to call it a ‘celebration’ of single dads; but on reflection I realise that wasn’t quite right. Yes, there are uplifting stories of men finding joy in parenting, but there is also a lot of pain – stemming from bereavement or a break down of a relationship, and from the unique challenges that dads face when they go it alone. Rather than a ‘celebration’, these portraits, and the snapshots of stories that they tell, are honest –

Jonathan and Xavier

they’re just true. When I float this thought with Harry, he points to one particularly striking example. Neil is photographed with his son and daughter, Kiwa and Ngaire. Neil’s wife, Jeng, died in 2015, and, in his touchingly honest writing, Neil shares how he got through the first two years of single fatherhood on “adrenaline and bloodymindedness”. The candid portrait of the trio is elevated by Neil’s final words: “I dreamt once that Jeng was a bird. I was alone on a ship with the kids, beating through the waves. We’ve had to let her go but she is flying above us.” “It’s quite an unusual situation where the dad is the main carer, and I’d say for probably half of my subjects that happened through losing their partner,” says Harry. “That’s not going to be a celebration. You can’t draw a veil over that, you have to confront it.

“Life is complicated. It’s neither a celebration, nor is it as harrowing and terrible as people portray it. We ebb and flow, don’t we?” We do – and marking that spectrum is another poignant portrait of a man named Jonathan who, with the help of an egg donor and a surrogate, became a single dad by choice. Jonathan’s son, Xavier, was born in Southern California in 2013. There are currently no statistics on the number of men becoming lone parents using surrogacy, with the law allowing single people to become parents via surrogacy only coming into effect in the UK in 2019. But Jonathan isn’t the only father in the collection to go down this route, and these snapshots of a new approach to fatherhood are only just beginning to be explored. But both new and traditional roles come with hurdles. >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 77


David with Isabelle “Being a dad is hard work, with the need to be an expert in many things including ethics, counselling, economics, fashion, and logistics. However, the pleasure that being a dad gives makes up for this a thousand-fold. Whether it’s her uncontrollably laughing about antics at school, baking a cake to share, asking if I’ll watch Doctor Who with her, or us simply riding our bikes into town, or walking together in the local park, I feel so lucky every day.”

It’s difficult to separate any men’s issues from the disproportionate way that mental health can touch their lives – with the devastating statistics that 76% of suicides are male, and suicide being the biggest cause of death for men under 35. Additionally, a Canadian study published in The Lancet Public Health found that single fathers’ mortality risk was more than two times higher than other parents (partnered parents and single mothers) – highlighting lifestyle differences such as diet and alcohol consumption as potential causes. Whether or not this study translates to the UK, it’s true to say that single dads face additional challenges – social misconceptions, cultural and practical barriers (think changing facilities in public toilets), trials in the workplace, and isolation 78 | June 2021 | happiful.com

and loneliness. But, as is so often the case, talking helps. “I’d say 80% of the people who wrote back to me said: ‘This has been really cathartic,’” Harry explains. “Where there had been a relationship breakdown, they’d had a dialogue with the mother, and it had given them an opportunity to reflect on their relationship. It was a really positive process, someone asking them to write about what they love about fatherhood, because we don’t stop to contemplate really.” It’s no reach to say that the more we’re exposed to moments of tenderness and caregiving between fathers and their children, and the more we encourage and notice it in our own lives, the better our relationships will be – and that goes for the ones with ourselves as much as it does with the familial.

Life is complicated. It’s neither a celebration nor as harrowing and terrible as people portray it. We ebb and flow “As men, we’re encouraged not to show any vulnerability – but I don’t think you lose your masculinity when you do,” Harry reflects. “A lot of the issues that men face stem from fear, and then that fear morphs into anger and defensiveness, but, really, if you can just admit that you’re afraid, then there’s a strength in that, and it’s such a relief to be able to just let that go and admit it.” With a look to the future, it appears as though we are at a crossroads with our understanding of the role that gender has to play in our relationships – at the same time breaking barriers of what it means to be a man, while celebrating hyper-masculine characters in films and reality TV. “I think we just need to redefine or reconfigure masculinity,” says Harry. “My philosophy with


family & friends

regards to men and women is that there are positive masculine traits, and there are positive feminine traits – and anyone can have either. We construct a society where we’re just people, and we look for the positives in the masculine and we reward those positives, but not slide into reinforcing that hypertoxic masculinity. It’s important that we reflect on building something that will serve mankind in the future, in a way that is sustainable.” The discussions around gender and masculinity are complex, and not something we’ll be able to crack overnight. And yet, what Harry has captured with Single Dads is something simple: the power of devotion and determination, and the touching way that a tender sense of fatherly duty propels his subjects forward. “The love a father can hold for their child is unexplainable, it runs deep into the very core of who you are,” writes one dad – Tayler, captured with his son Tristen. “It’s not easy being a single father; yet in the same breath, it’s not hard. I just love my son with all my heart.”

‘Single Dad’, photography by Harry Borden, foreword by Sir Bob Geldof (Hoxton Mini Press, £17.95 hardback) is out now. Tayler and Tristen happiful.com | June 2021 | 79


5 ways to soothe agoraphobia

Tackle the anxiety that comes with this fear of open spaces and being trapped in situations that are difficult to escape Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

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t’s a panic disorder that centres on an intense fear about the possibility of experiencing anxiety or panic attacks in a situation where it’s difficult to escape, or of being in open spaces – and as we prepare to re-enter the world after more than a year of lockdown, agoraphobia is something many may be facing. “This anticipatory anxiety is based on assumptions by the sufferer that they may have a panic attack where help is not available, or even humiliate themselves in front of others,” explains Paul Dodd, an integrative psychotherapeutic counsellor. “Fear and anxiety lead them to engage in safety behaviours, choosing to stay away from certain places or situations that they perceive could trigger panic attacks.” Paul notes that the causes of agoraphobia are the subject of debate, but they may be linked to unconscious defence mechanisms that reinforce anxiety based on underlying assumptions about places or activities. If you are experiencing agoraphobia to the point where

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it is disrupting your life, it’s important to speak to a mental health professional or your GP. But here we outline some selfhelp strategies, to softly soothe these fears as we take the next steps back to normality.

1. Take action, now

It can be easy to brush things under the rug, or to avoid reaching out for help for fear of judgement or misunderstanding. But the sooner you address feelings of agoraphobia, the sooner you can start engaging in strategies to take back control. “Don’t hide from your fears or engage in safety behaviours to keep you safe from anxiety, as this only serves as a temporary cure – the avoidance of an anxiety trigger may only prolong the panic disorder,” Paul explains. While these actions may feel soothing in the moment, long-term they could trap you in an unforgiving cycle.

2. Refocus your thoughts

“Move from the ‘what if’, catastrophic, negative scenarios, to something based in fact – rather than making assumptions

or holding automatic negative thoughts about a situation,” suggests Paul. Letting go of those automatic negative thoughts isn’t easy, but if you notice you’re having one, call yourself out. Stop what you’re doing, acknowledge that anxious thought, label it, and try to move on with the rest of your day.

Move from the ‘what if ’, catastrophic, negative scenarios, to something based in facts 3. Actively explore and engage in exposure therapy

Exposure therapy is a technique for treating anxiety and phobias where the individual is exposed to their fear in a safe, controlled way. It may feel daunting, but Paul explains that this method could be useful for dealing with agoraphobia.


try this at home

instead of the here and now,” Paul says. “Concentrate on your surroundings, feel your feet on the floor – what can you hear, see or smell? This helps to reduce symptoms.”

5. Learn and practise breathing exercises

“Find a friend or family member who is reliable and supportive, who can accompany you when engaging with this. Take one small step at a time, and gradually build up your tolerance to each triggering scenario,” he explains. “For example, you may be afraid of taking train journeys. I suggest having a friend accompany you on a train journey lasting just one stop, then revisiting the same journey, but going for two stops with your

friend. Finally, repeating the same route alone, going just one stop, and so on – slowly building your confidence in this way, one step at a time.”

The power of our own breath should never be underestimated, and having a few breathing exercises in the back of your mind, to bring out when you begin to feel panic rising, is an effective way to stay in control. Try the ‘4,7,8’ exercise: inhale through your nose to a count of four, hold your breath for a count of seven, and exhale through your mouth to a count of eight. “Current advice is also to engage in ‘tapping’,” Paul adds. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, teaches you to rhythmically tap specific parts of your body to help deal with stress. “The advantage of EFT is that it can be done alone, it can be very effective, and it can be done anywhere.”

4. Practise mindfulness

“This means being able to be fully present in the moment rather than ‘time travelling’ – thinking of the past or future – for example when engaging in ‘what if’ scenarios which are often based solely on the future,

Paul Dodd is an integrative psychotherapeutic counsellor at Get-a-Head Counselling. Find out more by visiting counselling-directory.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 81


Ask the experts Integrative therapist Abby Rawlinson answers your questions on social anxiety Read more about Abby Rawlinson on counselling-directory.org.uk

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I’ve become really used to not interacting with others during lockdown, and am worried about making small-talk again. Do you have any advice for easing back into it?

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I can already feel my social anxiety peaking, and I’m thinking about every possible outcome of interactions. How can I calm my thinking?

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When we’re anxious about socialising, we tend to hyper-focus on all the things that could go wrong (e.g. “I won’t have

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After a year of socialising digitally, it’s understandable if you feel anxious about inperson interactions. It’s OK to take each day at your own pace and, remember, you’re in control of what you feel comfortable doing. For example, if your office reopens but you’re still allowed to work from home, build up your attendance slowly, and

re-connect at a rate that feels comfortable for you so that you don’t become overwhelmed. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to bounce back to the level of socialising you were at pre-pandemic. You might find in-person interactions very tiring at first, so take care of your wellbeing, and set aside time for activities that can help you relax.

anything interesting to say”). This is a form of ‘anticipatory anxiety’, and actually makes things worse, because it leads to ‘fortune telling’ or ‘catastrophising’ thought patterns. These are common ‘cognitive distortions’, and can lead to fear and panic. Try to become aware of your thoughts and ask yourself: “Do I have any evidence that this thought is true? And is there a more helpful way of looking at this?”

Social anxiety tends to turn our attention inwards, which can make the symptoms of anxiety worse. So, if you’re feeling nervous in a social situation, pay attention to what your conversation partner is saying, rather than thinking about what to say next. And try not to worry too much if there are silences. Everybody has a responsibility to keep the conversation going, not just you.

Counselling Directory is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need


wellbeing

Q

Invitations for social gatherings are starting to come through, but I don’t feel comfortable with this yet. Do you have any tips for saying no?

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TOP TIPS FOR THOSE STRUGGLING WITH SOCIAL ANXIETY 1. Set boundaries. Remember, you’re in control of what you feel comfortable doing, and it’s OK to take the changes at your own pace to build up your tolerance gently. 2. Practise self-compassion. After a year of collective trauma, it’s understandable if you feel anxious. Practise being supportive, gentle, and understanding to yourself. Remind yourself that this is a difficult time for many people.

3. Schedule a time to worry. This can be a useful strategy to manage anxiety. Select a time which you schedule as a ‘worry period’ for 20–30 minutes every day. When worry-related thoughts arise, postpone those to the worry period. Scheduled time to consider these worries helps us become more mindful of the way we think, can help us prioritise our worries, and get clear on what we can and cannot control.

If you’ve been invited to something you don’t feel comfortable doing, it’s important to be honest and clearly let others know where you stand. Saying ‘no’ can sometimes feel difficult, so it can be useful to rehearse what you’ll say so that you communicate clearly and non-defensively. Try to keep it short and focused, and know that saying “I don’t feel comfortable because of the pandemic” is certainly a legitimate reason. Remember, it’s OK to disappoint people. We often have an over-sense of responsibility for other people’s moods and reactions. But remind yourself that you’re only responsible for you and, if someone is disappointed or sad about your decision, that doesn’t mean you need to change your mind.

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My anxiety has been through the roof since the beginning of the pandemic. Calls with my counsellor help me to build confidence and coping mechanisms for going back out into the world again Let’s find the right help for you.


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How to help someone who’s self-harming Whether you suspect a loved one is self-harming or they’ve opened up to you about it, knowing what to do next can feel tricky. Here, we explore some essential ideas on how you can be there for them Writing | Kat Nicholls

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he act of self-harm, when someone intentionally hurts themselves, is often shrouded in shame and stigma. A lack of understanding from others, combined with a deep psychological pain from within, makes it difficult to bring out into the open. It’s often done in secret, with the self-harmer going to great lengths to hide what they’re doing. Lies become second nature for many – I remember blaming everything from a drunken stumble, to my cat for my scars (sorry, Tigger). Like most things steeped in shame, the key to overcoming it is releasing it – telling someone what’s going on and

admitting you need help. This can be difficult though, and the role of loved ones can’t be underestimated. Whether it’s to give the gentle nudge someone needs to reach out for help, or simply to be a listening ear as they navigate recovery, your support could be integral. If you’re keen to be there for someone who’s self-harming, learning about self-harm is your first step.

Understanding self-harm It can be difficult to comprehend why someone would want to cause themselves pain, but being able to support someone in this position requires you to educate yourself on self-harm. Lukas

Dressler is a psychologist and integrative psychotherapist who supports children, adolescents and young people with a range of concerns, including self-harm. Noting the stigma attached to this issue, Lukas encourages us to recognise self-harm for what it truly is. “If you suspect a friend or loved one might be self-harming, and you want to encourage them to talk about it, you must understand that self-harm is usually a coping mechanism,” Lukas says. “Deliberate selfharm is most often carried out in secret, so the stigma of it being ‘attention-seeking’ or that it’s ‘the behaviour of a drama queen’ seldom applies.” >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 85


What can I do if I suspect a loved one is self-harming? When it comes to broaching the subject of self-harm with someone you love, it’s important to do so in a way that will help them open up, rather than retreat. Therefore, Lukas says your attitude towards the conversation is key. “If you hold a non-judgemental, open, and supportive attitude, and genuinely want to support the person who might be selfharming, they will be able to feel this. Your compassionate attitude will put them at ease, and encourage them to open up.” As well as having a supportive approach, Lukas notes you shouldn’t be afraid of addressing the topic head-on, as long as you do so in a calm and compassionate manner. “If you want to do this, try to create a situation where you genuinely believe the other person will feel safe and comfortable to open up,” Lukas says. “You might then say something like: ‘I have been worried about you. Can I ask you if you have been self-harming?’ Self-harm often occurs with feelings of shame and guilt, so they may not open up straight away. Patience, compassion, and kindness are key.” 86 | June 2021 | happiful.com

What can I do if a loved one has opened up to me about their self-harm? Whether you’ve been the one to encourage them to open up, or they’ve come to you on their own, when this happens it’s an incredible step. Lukas suggests acknowledging that opening up is brave, and explaining that you’re there to listen and support. “And this is exactly what you will then do. Provide a safe and nonjudgemental space for the other

person to open up. You can also ask them: ‘Do you know if there is something I can do to help? What do you need from me?’” Because deliberate self-harm is often a sign of underlying mental health difficulties, Lukas highlights the need for professional input.


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“Ask the person if they would like support from you in finding a professional to talk to. Please do not feel that it is your responsibility to help them stop self-harming.” You could offer to accompany them to a GP appointment, or help them find a private therapist online. You could flag resources such as harmless.org.uk (a Community Interest Company supporting those who self-harm and their loved ones), and nshn.co.uk (an online support forum related to self-harm).

How can I be there for them during their recovery? When your loved one is in recovery from the underlying cause of the self-harming behaviour, Lukas says ideally you’ll receive advice from their mental health professional on how to continue supporting them. “Generally speaking, continue to be kind and supportive. If you know of some of their nonharmful coping strategies, try to support them in using those,” Lukas says. “Be patient and allow the person to process what they’re going through at their own pace – with their professional support in place. Provide as much of a safe haven to talk to as you are comfortable with.”

Whether it’s to give the gentle nudge someone needs to reach out for help, or simply to be a listening ear as they navigate recovery, your support could be integral It can be helpful to also bear in mind that recovery is rarely linear. As tempting as it may be to think that once they have professional support in place, everything will be OK, unlearning these coping strategies can be tough. Relapses may happen and this can feel frustrating, but remember your loved one is doing the best they can. As Lukas says, patience is paramount.

Taking care of you Throughout all of this, it’s important to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. It’s admirable to support others going through a difficult time, but you can’t underestimate how the situation affects you. In order to truly be there for them, Lukas reminds us that making sure we’re looking after ourselves is just as important as helping others. Try to check-in with yourself regularly, and ask yourself what you need. Remember, there is support available for friends and

family of those who are selfharming – you may find it helpful to join a support group and chat with others in a similar boat. Carve out space for self-care, and keep in mind that this ultimately helps you be a better support. Being in this position is difficult for everyone involved. Therefore, treating both yourself and your loved one with radical kindness is essential. Having these difficult conversations, releasing the shame, and bringing our dark parts into the light, is how we heal. So keep talking, keep supporting, and keep shining that light.

Lukas Dressler is a psychologist and integrative psychotherapist. Learn more about Lukas, and further information on self-harm at counselling-directory.org.uk happiful.com | June 2021 | 87


A p p l y s o m e p r e s s u r e Our bodies are incredible, often taking the brunt of both our mental stress, as well as the physical. Here, we explore self-massage for whole-body health – especially when it comes to our face Writing | Katie Hoare

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hether it’s sitting at a desk all day, bending over in the garden, or even staring at our smartphones, we put a lot of pressure on our physical selves to support us. But sometimes we don’t repay the favour, and don’t give our bodies the TLC they need – I know all too well how tempting it is to ignore that niggle in my shoulder. But there are some techniques we can embrace at home to ease the strain.

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The body balancing power of massage encourages muscle relaxation, improved circulation, skin nourishment, and waste removal. Self-massage encompasses these wellbeing benefits, which you can enjoy in the comfort of your own home. This simple practice is a handy stress reliever to work into your self-care routine. To help me navigate selfmassage, massage expert Beata Aleksandrowicz guides me through specific techniques for the face, head, and shoulders, that you can try, too...

The benefits of self-massage

Self-massage is essential for whole-body health, but it also gives us the opportunity to slow down, connect with ourselves, and practise being present. “Massage literally works on each system of the body simultaneously, and using these techniques on a regular basis helps prevent tension from accumulating,” Beata says. Don’t be put off by a lack of knowledge in massage either. As Beata notes, the most important thing is to connect each movement with the breath, and pay attention to gentle pressure, especially on the face. “Give yourself time. Do it really slowly and intentionally. Any soothing strokes on the face that use the fingers of both hands in long brushing motions, will bring a sense of calmness, and help to nurture. You will feel the tension release with every movement.”

Self-massage in practice

“The tempo of massage is so important for its effectiveness. Generally, we’re looking for slow and intentional strokes,” Beata says. “To do so, we need to bring ourselves to the present moment. This is the only place from where we can experience the positive effect of massage.”


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It is here that you can combine deep, intentional breathing with meditation, to help you stay in complete awareness.

Any soothing strokes on the face that use the fingers in long brushing motions, will bring a sense of calmness “I like thorough and meaningful massage that acknowledges I am a combination of my mind, body, and spirituality,” says Beata. “This is how I designed all my treatments; at the base of each massage is a deep tissue technique, combined with energy work and lymphatic drainage.”

Stress in the facial muscles

Our faces go through a lot. Being one of the most important nonverbal forms of communication, it consists of 43 muscles and can make more than 10,000 expressions! It’s pretty busy, but extremely delicate. And alongside helping you to truly relax, facial massage increases the supply of nutrients to cells by stimulating blood and lymphatic circulation. “The face doesn’t like too much pressure – less is more,” explains

Beata. “Remember, the skin is thin – there are many pressure points underneath, and a whole web of lymph vessels! Make sure your hands are relaxed at the wrists, as this will help you to control the pressure. “Use a motion working upwards on the face, as this will help with lifting. Include the chest and neck with the stroke to connect all parts of the face together.” A 30-minute facial massage, twice a week is ideal.

Tension headaches

Both stress and anxiety are often associated with tension headaches. Beata suggests that targeting that area with

massage when pain strikes can be beneficial for pain relief and creating calm. “Tension headaches will affect different parts of the body – shoulders, neck, scalp, temples, sometimes even the middle of the back, because of connective tissues. Every muscle and organ is wrapped in connective tissue, so any tension in the upper body will impact the lower body, too. >>>

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Beata’s one-minute face massage Gently press the flat part of the fingers of each hand into your temples, and make slow circles, breathing regularly. Place your middle fingers under each cheekbone, close to the base of the nose. Breathe in, and on the out-breath press gently and hold. Performed regularly, pressure points along the cheekbones will gradually release tension related to stress. Move to the next point along and repeat. Continue until you work under a whole cheekbone. Tap your fingertips five to seven times on the top of the head, or both sides of the collarbone. Focusing on the acceptance of feelings is another way to create calm.

For more information on relaxation and massage, visit therapy-directory.org.uk “Try freshening up your room, maybe light some candles or burn incense,” says Beata. “With tension headaches, you need to address your scalp, forehead, temples, neck, and shoulders and, if you really want to feel a difference, combine massage with breathing and meditation. We are complex creatures – a combination of mind, body, and soul – so each of these aspects needs to be addressed.”

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Stress in the shoulders

For managing tension specifically in your shoulders, it’s key to induce relaxation first, and then address specific knots and tensions spots. “Use the palms of your hands, your thumbs, and even your knuckles – the latter can be used nice and gently,” says Beata. “Again, the body is connected. So it’s important to massage

shoulders if you have issues in your lower back, and vice versa.” Topping up your self-care routine with self-massage creates an intrinsic link between the mind, body, and soul. It seeks to soothe, release, and quieten, and it’s certainly a practice that’s given me clarity and restorative space in an ever-changing world. Beata Aleksandrowicz is an author, wellness speaker, and internationally acclaimed massage expert. Join one of her facial-massage classes online at beata.website


feel-good food

Eat to get a

good night’s sleep Whether it’s tossing and turning through the night, or not being able to drift off in the first place, lots of us struggle to wake up feeling refreshed. We’ve heard of sleep sprays and counting sheep, but could what we eat be just as important? Writing | Jenna Farmer

W

e all know the importance of a great night’s sleep, but for many of us it’s not easily achieved. Sleep problems are currently on the rise, with a study published in the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care showing that around a third of adults struggle with insomnia, and worry-related sleep increased from 15.7% to 24.7% this year. You might read about gadgets that can help us nod off, but what about our diet? Turns

out, this can play a big part in our sleep, too. Research has shown links between what we eat and how we sleep, for example a study in the journal Appetite revealed that those who slept less than seven hours per night tended to eat a less varied diet, while another study found that sleep quality might be linked to our carbohydrate intake. So, if you’re looking for that perfect eight hours, let’s take a look at some simple food swaps that could help.

1. SWAP CAFFEINE FOR HERBAL TEA Obviously most of us know not to down a shot of espresso before turning in, but nutritional therapist Beanie Robinson suggests that your mid-afternoon latte could be an issue. “If you consume 200mg of caffeine at 3pm, you would still have 100mg in your system at around 9pm,” Beanie says. “Caffeine affects the quality of our sleep, so try to think about 2pm being the cut off for caffeine.” >>>

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Magnesium is known as nature’s valium, and is a magic mineral that can help promote sleep quality

There’s quite a few sleep teas on the market, but is there any science behind them? Camomile is a good place to start, as it contains a flavonoid called apigenin which can help to promote sleep and reduce anxiety. “Herbal teas such as valerian and lemon balm can be a nice addition to a bedtime ritual,” Beanie adds. 2. TUCK-IN TO A TRYPTOPHANRICH EVENING MEAL This amino acid is thought to help with the production of serotonin and melatonin, which can influence our sleep and mood. In fact, research published in the journal Age found that when people consumed high tryptophan cereals, it increased the length and effectiveness of sleep, along with helping to counteract anxiety and depression. Tryptophan is found in many protein-rich foods, such as poultry, prawns, and egg, but vegans can find it in foods such as mushrooms and sunflower seeds.

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OUR TOP 3 FOODS TO SUPPORT SLEEP 1. Almonds: Whether you’re tucking into almond butter on toast as an evening snack, or grazing on them while watching the telly, almonds are the perfect bedtime companion. They’re a source of melatonin, rich in magnesium, and a good source of the amino acid tryptophan. 2. Turkey: A tryptophan-rich food, and while we wouldn’t advise tucking into a full roast before bedtime, this protein-rich food makes a great snack. 3. Herbal tea: A herbal tea that contains sleep-supporting herbs such as camomile or valerian root can be a good idea, since these herbs are proven to help you relax and unwind before bed.


feel-good food

3. GO MEDITERRANEAN There’s many benefits to the Mediterranean diet – essentially a diet that centres around eating fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, and sea food – but did you know it could help you sleep, better, too? Studies have shown that sticking to this diet is associated with improved quality of sleep and taking less time to drift off. Those who followed it also reported waking up feeling more rested, and slept more soundly during the night. There could be several reasons for this, for example sea foods can be high in tryptophan, and the diet is also lower in sugar and processed foods, both of which have been linked to poor sleep patterns. It could also be that those on the Mediterranean diet simply lead a healthier lifestyle, which is again reflected in their sleep patterns. 4. MAGNESIUM-RICH FOODS We often talk about the health benefits of calcium, but what about magnesium – the mineral that works closely alongside it? Nutritional therapist Beanie Robinson says: “Magnesium is known as nature’s valium, and is a magic mineral that can help promote sleep quality.” Magnesium is beneficial for relaxing the body, which is why many use it to help soothe restless legs and muscle cramps. But this super-mineral can also help to relax our mind. A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences suggested that magnesium could help with insomnia in older

THINGS TO AVOID BEFORE BED 1. Coffee and tea: Try not to drink these after 2pm to avoid the negative effects caffeine can have on your sleep. 2. Sugary snacks: Save that slice of cake for elevenses rather than supper. Sugary snacks are likely to give you a sudden burst of energy right when you want to unwind. 3. Wine: You might think it would help you relax, but that’s not actually the case. While wine might help you fall asleep quicker, alcohol actually causes you to have more disruptive sleep overall, meaning you’re far less likely to wake up feeling refreshed. adults, although it doesn’t seem to increase the length of your sleep time according to other research in Nutrients. The good news is it’s perfectly possible to get enough magnesium through your diet, without supplementing. “You may like to include magnesium-rich foods, such as black eyed peas, cooked beans, almonds, flaxseeds, and organic tofu,” adds Beanie.

Caffeine affects the quality of our sleep, so try to think about 2pm being the cut off 5. COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES Swapping your carbs could be another way to reach the land of nod quicker. Processed foods contain simple carbohydrates which can cause an energy burst followed by a dip.

Complex carbs, such as brown rice and wholegrains, prevent this energy rollercoaster as they have a low glycemic index. While there’s no diet that guarantees the perfect night’s sleep, if you’re struggling with getting that elusive eight hours, it could be worth trying these simple diet swaps. Not only do they encourage healthy eating, but they may just help you sleep more soundly this evening. Jenna Farmer is a freelance journalist who specialises in writing about gut health. She has Crohn’s disease, and blogs about her journey to improve gut health at abalancedbelly.co.uk

Beanie Robinson is a nutritional therapist, as well as a yoga teacher and masseuse. To find out more and get in touch with her, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk

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wellbeing

What is empathy disorder? Putting ourselves into another’s shoes might seem simple to some, but for others it’s no walk in the park. Here, we explore the two ends of the empathy scale Writing | Katie Hoare

P

ossessing empathy is a significant human capability that allows us to connect with one another, as well as to recognise, understand, and share a range of emotions. But what happens when that empathy reaches extreme levels, or doesn’t exist at all? In daily life, utilising our empathy refers to our ability to imagine a scenario, and react compassionately to what someone else might be going through. This could be when someone experiences a big life upheaval or upsetting event – such as the death of a loved one, divorce, or losing a job – or when a friend or family member shares their mental health struggles with you. But what you may not be aware of, is that some people can experience extreme empathy, known as hyper-empathy, where they are very sensitive and highly

tuned-in to others’ emotions. In contrast, others may experience empathy deficit disorder, which is where you lack the ability to understand what another person is going through, and in turn this can have repercussions on your relationships and connections with others.

Affective empathy Also known as emotional empathy, this applies when you emotionally share the feelings another person is experiencing. You can be affected by another’s emotions and, in doing so, effectively become one with their emotions.

Three types of empathy

Compassionate empathy This incorporates both cognitive and affective empathy by using these two responses to make you want to take action, and so relieve the other person of their suffering.

To better understand the impact of empathy on our lives, it’s helpful to recognise that it can be categorised into three types: Cognitive empathy This refers to the capacity to place yourself in another person’s shoes. You can understand and relate to their emotions, alongside understanding their perspective, and reactions to a certain situation. In possessing this ability, it allows us to respond in an appropriate, considerate way.

What is hyper-empathy syndrome?

Hyper-empathy is the innate ability to be completely connected and intune with another’s emotions and, subsequently, on high alert towards negative feelings. In psychotherapist Imi Lo’s article ‘The gift inside borderline personality disorder (BPD)’ >>> happiful.com | June 2021 | 95


pubished on Counselling Directory, she notes that individuals with borderline personality disorder often associate with high or hyperempathy. “Despite [BPD] being referred to as a ‘personality disorder’, it is not a character flaw, but is best understood as a limitation in a person’s capacity to regulate emotions. This means that the person with BPD often experiences emotions as rapidly changing, or spiralling out of control. These symptoms go alongside impulsive self-soothing behaviours, and a chronic sense of internal hollowness. “Although the link between BPD and empathy remains controversial, many people with BPD identify with the traits of being an ‘empath’ or being hyperempathic,” says Imi. Because individuals with BPD can associate with hyperempathy, they are also likely to experience some form of emotional or empathic distress. A study published in the journal Psychiatry Research in 2015 confirmed this, noting that while there are certainly advantages to empathic abilities, our human bias towards emotional negativity could “carry a risk for empathic distress”. 96 | June 2021 | happiful.com


wellbeing

For more information on EDD and to find a professional to talk to, visit counselling-directory.org.uk

What is empathy deficit disorder?

On the other end of the scale, lacking the ability to feel, understand, and resonate with another’s feelings is categorised by empathy deficit disorder (EDD). This can result in difficulty forming and maintaining relationships, for both the individual who lacks empathy, and potential friends and loved ones. EDD is the term most often used in the UK, yet it’s important to recognise and respect personal preferences around terms individuals may want to use. Those experiencing EDD may find they have more personal conflicts, breakdowns in communications, or sometimes polarising opinions. This can leave a person feeling isolated, as they struggle to connect and have meaningful relationships with others, due to being focused on their own thoughts and feelings, and prioritising them above those around them. Depending on the cause of empathy deficit disorder, the condition may affect a particular one of the three types of empathy, or it may affect all of them. In general, though, affective empathy – the ability to share another’s feelings – is often impacted more.

Finding things you have in common can help to breach that gap in your viewpoints The disorder can be prevalent in people on the autism spectrum, as well as certain types of mental health conditions, such as narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorders.

Symptoms of empathy deficit disorder An individual with EDD may exhibit the following behaviours: • Struggle to make new friends • Difficulty making emotional connections • Quick to criticise or dismiss individuals • Struggle to show appreciation • Has high levels of expectations in matters regarding themselves • Focus on themselves and struggles to listen to others • Lack of understanding that others who feel hurt aren’t the cause of their own pain

How can you manage empathy deficit disorder?

The feelings and behaviours associated with personality disorders can be difficult to live with, and everyone deserves understanding and support. While the solution to managing EDD can depend on the cause behind the condition, for the most part it requires selfreflection. It’s important for an individual to recognise for themselves that they have EDD, and choose if, and when, to try treatment on their own terms. Mind-training exercises and mindfulness practice can be useful tools for that next step. One exercise you could explore is to try to place yourself into the mind of someone you have previously struggled to empathise with. Imagine you are that person, and think about all the things that make them a whole being – hopes and dreams, times of hardship, people who love them. Finding things you have in common can help to breach that gap in your viewpoints, so you can better understand where they are coming from. Another option is counselling, which can be an effective form of support to manage EDD, and any underlying conditions, in a nonjudgemental space. happiful.com | June 2021 | 97


Things to be proud of... We don’t often pause to reflect on all the incredible little victories and achievements we accomplish each and every day, but we should

Every obstacle or challenge you’ve overcome

Every time you felt like you failed, because you got back up Choosing to take care of yourself

Showing those around you love and compassion

Not ignoring your emotions

Asking for support, even when it feels like the scariest thing to do

How far you’ve come – it’s probably further than you think

98 | June 2021 | happiful.com


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