Happiful May 2021

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THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

Getting back to basics

MAY 2021

Hope is on the horizon Inspiring words to show you're not alone

The self-sufficiency revolution is here – let's dig in!

Burnout beware: 12 surprising symptoms Dive in to cold water swimming

Let's get critical – now you're talkin'! Question everything you know about conversations

10

of the best kept secrets...

from the world's happiest countries


Empowering reminders that can be worn everywhere.

15% OFF with code: HAPPIFUL15

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


One step at a time

“Leave the road. Take the trails.” So said Pythagoras. Both physically, and metaphorically, these words couldn’t ring more true right now. We’re in uncharted territory, in terrain we’ve never faced before, and so, if you’re daunted by this immeasurable task of returning to a so-called ‘normal’, just know that you aren’t walking this path alone. With that in mind, we’ve gathered together some key resources for your back pocket as you prepare to face the world once again. From advice for those experiencing illness anxiety in a post-lockdown world on p74, to reflecting on the signs of burnout on p32, and wholesome games to unwind with on p30, we know it’s time to tread carefully, and to go easy on yourself during this journey. But with each new step forward, keep your mind and eyes open to the possibilities around you. We don’t have to return to well-trodden roads laid out before. We have the opportunity to determine what we want our future to look like. For some, this could be physically exploring new trails as we appreciate the freedom of nature on our doorsteps. We might want to embrace the benefits of cold open-

water swimming, delve into the influence of the moon on our daily lives, or seek out local culture. Others may want to sow the seeds of a better tomorrow. Return to your roots and get your hands dirty (literally) by joining the self-sufficiency revolution on p16, or surprise yourself with some simple eco-hacks that could transform your home on p76, and discover the plants that nourish your mental health as you tend to them on p82. The path before us may be less trodden, but forging ahead with the trail can open up our world to excitement and opportunities. Remember though, you can go at your own pace. One step at a time. We’re right here beside you. W | happiful.com F | happifulhq T | @happifulhq REBECCA THAIR | EDITOR

I | @happiful_magazine


Stay grounded 16 Back to your roots

Discover the wellness power of a self-sufficient lifestyle

20 Rays for days

16

Can sunlight boost our wellbeing?

25 Lunar living

How tuning-in to the moon helped one woman connect with herself

60 On your doorstep Learn to love local life

82 Grow your own

Plants to boost your mental health

Open your mind 14 What is job crafting? 79 How to know everything Start asking the right questions

87 Tactile hallucinations?

Understand and overcome them

91 Best kept secrets

What can we learn from the happiest countries around the globe?

Wellbeing 24 Sadness or depression?

Try this at home 62 Did you know? 70 Sleep easy 76 Tips to go green at home 98 Activities for kids

Culture

42

Spot the symptoms before fatigue turns into burnout

8 Good news

Relationships

42 Chilled out

13 The wellbeing wrap

How to approach the topic with care

How cold water swimming is helping people with their wellbeing

52 Things to do in May

54 Signs of abuse

74 Manage illness anxiety

59 Discover new good reads

32 12 signs of burnout

This month’s uplifting stories

40 Men’s mental health

Abuse can come in many forms, learn how to identify it


87

True stories 37 Johnathan: finding joy

A change of career helped him overcome 15 years of anxiety

67 Kimberley: in it together

Friends and family were invaluable as Kimberley navigated a diagnosis

95 Marianne: facing up

Following the death of Sarah Everard, Marianne shares her own story

*

Expert review

84

Positive pointers 22 Track your mood 28 Creative freedom

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Overcome self-doubt and start to embrace your creative side

30 Game on

Wholesome games to relax with

47 Reasons to be hopeful 50 Crystal clear

A beginner’s guide to crystals

Feel-good food 63 Coeliac disease debunked 72 Pack it in

Delicious picnic recipes

84 Period pick-me-ups

Every issue of Happiful is reviewed by an accredited counsellor, to ensure we deliver the highest quality content while handling topics sensitively. The ability to be selfsufficient in this world can be very fulfilling. This can be experienced internally and externally – contributing to positive wellbeing. Head over to p16 to explore ways in which you can work towards this goal. This empowering process takes time, as does all psychological change, but it is something that has great potential to cultivate happiness in your life. You, as a human being, can make that happen. RAV SEKHON BA MA MBACP (Accred)

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


Expert Panel

Our team

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue

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

KIRSTY TAYLOR

BEANIE ROBINSON

BA MSc PGDip MBACP

pgDip ANP

Becky Wright | Content & Marketing Officer

Kirsty is a counsellor with an interest in anxiety, grief, and trauma.

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

Katie Hoare | Digital Marketing & Content Officer

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Kat Nicholls | Senior Writers

Grace Victory | Columnist Lucy Donoughue | Head of Partnerships Ellen Hoggard | Digital Editor Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

MICHAELLA MAZZONI

GRAEME ORR

DipCNM mBANT CNHC

MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Michaella is a nutritional therapist, supporting gut health.

Graeme is a counsellor working with both individuals and couples.

Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor

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

COMMUNICATIONS

RACHEL COFFEY

MAGDALENA STANEK

BA MA NLP Mstr

MA MBACP

Rachel is a life coach, encouraging confidence.

Magdalena is a counsellor specialising in trauma.

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

CONTRIBUTORS

Michaella Mazzoni, Jo Ferguson, Alex Holmes, Sarah Young, Caroline Butterwick, Jenna Farmer, Maxine Ali, Katie Conibear, Rosalind Ryan, Johnathan Lane, Lorna Rhodes, Kimberley Kotadia, Marianne Trent

SPECIAL THANKS

DUNCAN ALLDRIDGE

LORNA RHODES

MA ACC (ICF) SISC

Dip ION mBANT CNHC

Duncan is a somatic coach and creative practitioner.

Lorna is a nutritional therapist, cookbook author, and recipe writer.

Magdalena Stanek, Duncan Alldridge, Greg Savva, Naomi Wright, Julia Young, Natalie Trice, Kirsty Taylor, Becky Johnston

MANAGEMENT

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

SUBSCRIPTIONS

NAOMI WRIGHT

GREG SAVVA

PgDip MBACP

BSc MA MSc PGDip UKCP

Naomi is a counsellor interested in how nature supports mental health.

Greg is a counsellor and psychotherapist specialising in anxiety.

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

CONTACT

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

HAPPIFUL FAMILY

JULIA YOUNG

NATALIE TRICE

BA (Hons) DipION mBANT mCNHC

BA (Hons) ACC

Julia is a nutritional therapist, with an interest in fertility issues.

Natalie is a life coach working with women to make changes.

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


Find help

Reader offer

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

Head to happiful. for more com se and supprvices ort

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

p14

Connect with a career coach Learn more about coaching and connect with a professional by heading to lifecoach-directory.org.uk

p24

Learn more about depression Discover more information on depression and the support available by visiting depressionuk.org

p67

Support for diabetes Find information as well as links to where to get support for diabetes at diabetes.org.uk

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MAY 2021 £5.99

THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

Firstly, we source all our paper from FSC® certified sources. The FSC® label guarantees that the trees

Hope is on the horizon

Getting back to basics

Inspiring words to show you're not alone

The self-sufficiency revolution is here – let's dig in!

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Burnout beware: 12 surprising symptoms

magazine constitutes advice on which you should rely. It is

10

Dive in to cold water swimming

of the best kept secrets...

from the world's happiest countries

Let's get critical – now you're talkin'! Question everything you know about conversations

Cover artwork by Charlotte Reynell

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The Uplift

FAMILY

Musical households boost babies’ brains Passing down a love of music is a joy that many parents revel in, and now a new study has found that raising children in musical households could have real benefits for their development. Using a questionnaire developed by Middlesex University’s Music and Cognition Communication Lab, researchers from the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, spoke to more than 600 parents, delving into ‘informal music interactions’, which included singing to babies and playing music around the home. The researchers found a link between musical households and better language skills in two-year-olds. Speaking on these findings, co-author Fabia Franco was not surprised. “If you give babies a choice between listening to someone speaking or singing, they will pay more attention to the song. Suggesting more attention given in musical context,” she explains. “If you pay more attention to something, then you are more likely to process the content. Thus it is possible that music has some facilitating aspect, because it has a regular beat, which allows you to build a predicting structure, so you know where it is going.” From nursery rhymes to golden oldies on the radio, inquisitive little minds are constantly on the lookout for new experiences. And for parents excited to share their top tracks with the next generation, these findings will be music to their ears. Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


COMMUNITY

UK’s first LGBTQ+ retirement community When you hear ‘retirement community’ you might not expect apartments overlooking the Thames, a floating garden, and a roof terrace – but the stunning sights aren’t the only thing setting Tonic Housing apart. Looking to address the issues of loneliness and isolation in older LGBTQ+ people, Tonic is a community-led not-forprofit organisation offering a truly inclusive retirement community. “The idea came from a sense of reflecting on our own lives, and what would happen when the time comes when we might need to think about that kind of support,” says James Greenshields,

founding board member at Tonic. “This prompted some research that uncovered really worrying statistics in terms of the number of older LGBTQ+ people who went into mainstream retirement schemes choosing to go back into the closet, because they felt that was the safer option for them.” The one and two-bedroom apartments sit within Bankhouse, an existing retirement community that boasts an on-site restaurant and bar, a spa room, and an overnight guest suite so visitors can spend time with loved ones. Reflecting on why Tonic is so needed, James says: “Think of that

generation, who undertook so much on behalf of the rest of the community so we can live the lives we live today, at the most vulnerable point in their lives, deciding that they needed to hide again. By creating affirming retirement communities, we can ensure that older people can live their lives out freely and safely.” Writing | Kat Nicholls

CHARITY

Stamping out stammering stigma You’ve probably heard of Ed Sheeran, Elvis Presley, and Julia Roberts, but did you know they all overcame speech impediments? Activist William Laven did, and he’s channelling these icons in his movement to raise awareness around stammers, and inspire the thousands of children affected. By launching a new podcast series – ‘Stammer Stories’ – and taking up a new role as a ‘stambassador’ for Action for Stammering Children (ASC),

William is determined to stamp out stammering stigma for good. The pandemic has halted progress for many overcoming a stammer, with the ASC helpline receiving 57% more calls since it started, but that’s only fuelled William’s mission. Born with a stammer, he says: “Stammering is very close to my heart, as I’ve had one my whole life. One of the things I’m trying to do is to change people’s perspective, and turn it from a negative to a positive.”

Now working with young people who stammer, William supports others as they transition from the classroom to the workplace. “One of the key messages I want to put to people who stammer is: never let it hold you back! I want it to be spoken about on an open plain, so people don’t feel afraid.” Find support and information at actionforstammeringchildren.org, and follow William on social media @will.laven Writing | Katie Hoare

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ART

Artists reimagine vintage ads in the age of inclusivity Recently, huge strides forward have been made in terms of diversity and inclusivity, but that doesn’t mean we’re all the way there. Cosmetic advertisements that feature one type of model are part of the problem, and so when photographer Julia Comita and makeup artist Brenna Drury realised the lack of diversity in the global beauty industry, they decided to create a project that celebrates nostalgia and inclusivity, while highlighting the need for change. In a series of images, the duo reimagined classic beauty advertisements with fictional products and diverse models, in what they have called a “portal into a diverse and non-binary makeup world where the ritual of beauty is all about the magic you put into it”. The images ooze the playful sense of self-expression and exploration that comes with makeup, the kind of energy that should – and can – be open to anyone and everyone. Beyond the photos, Julia and Brenna sat down with the models

to chat about how beauty adverts made them feel as young people, and the changes that they want to see in the industry as we look forward. For many, the cosmetic adverts of the past had made them feel excluded, and marginalised – but we have the power to change that for future generations.

“We are asking big brands to step up and take responsibility for their casting choices, advertising, and marketing – and encourage our fellow creatives to generate conscious content,” the artists say. Now, that’s something to get made up about. Discover the full series at prim-poppin.com Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

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Take 5

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

Test your puzzling prowess with this month’s brain-teasing challenges

Wordsearch

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Eagle eyes at the ready – can you spot the following 10 words in the grid below? Bonus points if you can identify the three extra words not on the list!

PLANET REPAIR

NURTURE ROOTS

Word wheel

Using the letters in the wheel no more than once, make as many words of three or more letters as possible, always including the letter in the centre of the wheel. For an extra challenge, set yourself a time limit. Three minutes – go!

5 = puzzle pro 10 = wordsmith wizard 15+ = Shakespearean superstar

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The

wellbeing wrap NASA is to fly a helicopter on Mars as the first test of powered flight on another planet

Jaguars return to Argentina’s wetlands after 70 years of local extinction

Trees for Tom

To honour Captain Sir Tom Moore, his family came up with the idea to nurture a brighter future. A collaboration between The Woodland Trust and TreeSisters, the Trees for Tom initiative asks people around the world to plant trees, so future forests can stand as a testament to his legacy.

In a heartwarming tale, Triumph, a fouryear-old rescue koala, from New South Wales, Australia, who was born without a foot, recently received a prosthetic. This completely changed his outlook – suddenly climbing and jumping around!

Sniffing out the truth

Great news for art lovers! The Louvre has put its entire collection online

Dogs are well-known for their noses, but according to scientists from Kyoto University, in Japan, they can actually sniff out liars, too. Researchers found that dogs use their past experience to judge whether someone can be trusted, so consistency in your interactions is key to keep tails wagging!

An in-tents charity challenge

A tech firm in Leeds is giving all staff the day off for pay day – every month! What a bonus

Ribena to cut 41 million plastic straws and replace them with cardboard ones in eco drive

An 11-year-old schoolboy from Braunton, Devon, has raised more than £520,000 for charity by camping out in his garden for a whole year! Max Woosey began his charitable adventure in March last year, as a way to raise money for the North Devon Hospice, which took care of his family friend Rick Abbott. On the one-year anniversary (28 March), Max encouraged kids around the globe to camp out too, to raise awareness and funds for children’s mental health. Waitrose plans to ban magazines that include single-use plastic toys, and is urging publishers to stop using “pointless plastic” following a petition by 10-year-old Skye Neville from Gwynedd, Wales, that even made it to the House of Commons.

A kind gesture

New research by thortful.com has revealed that we’re in a pretty generous spirit – potentially thanks to the pandemic. Since the first lockdown, searches for ‘care packages for friends’ increased by 3,350%! It seems like we all want to be there for each other in our time of need.

Monkey business

Proving what a huge difference we can make when we come together as a team, Reddit’s WallStreetBets community has adopted 3,500 gorillas in just six days. The same group boosted the share price of retailer GameStop earlier this year, and now has put its people power behind helping to save these animals, which in turn helps our planet. Ape-solutely wonderful!

Plans are underway to transform a disused railway in Camden into a tree-lined walkway, similar to New York’s High Line – and will be designed by the same architects. This eco-friendly initiative looks to create a ‘park in the sky’ above London streets.

Tackling homophobia The world’s first gay rugby club is the focus of a new film! Twenty-five years after Tory peer Lord Robert Hayward founded the King’s Cross Steelers, a documentary premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in February. From dealing with discrimination, to tackling misinformed stereotypes, Steelers is a story of being true to you.


Making work more meaningful From changing tasks to adjusting our mindset, job crafting encourages us to take the reins in our career Writing | Kat Nicholls

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t a time where job security is scarce, those of us in employment may be feeling grateful, and hesitant to rock the boat. Yes, the pandemic has seen some people make big shifts in their careers, but others are hunkering down, staying in positions that perhaps don’t fit quite right. Like ill-fitting shoes, they pinch with every step – but they keep our feet protected. But what if there was another way? What if we could take those ill-fitting shoes, gather some tools, and shape them to fit us better? This is where job crafting comes in.

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Illustrating | Rosan Magar

WHAT IS JOB CRAFTING? The concept was introduced by Professor Amy Wrzesniewski and Jane Dutton in 2001, who say there are three key areas – task crafting, relationship crafting, and cognitive crafting – which can help us take proactive steps in our career in order to get more fulfilment from our work. Of course, certain industries and roles have more wiggle-room than others, but we can all refresh our perspective, and discover meaning in places we’d overlooked before. TASK CRAFTING This process encourages you to look at the elements of your role you really enjoy, to see how you can home-in on them to add meaning to your work. This can broaden your skillset as you actively seek new opportunities.

When we’re able to change our perspective, we can find meaning in our work, seeing it in ways we had never considered before How to do it Career and confidence coach Natalie Trice suggests looking at your role, what you enjoy, and what you could add to bring a new dimension to your work. “If you’re a teacher, it could be that you’d love to get more creative in the classroom, and run some multimedia sessions. Speak to your manager, talk over the progress you’ve made to date, and where you would like to further your career, as well as bringing more meaning to your role, and the organisation.” Natalie notes that as well as giving you space to progress, the act of reflecting on how far you’ve come can positively impact your confidence.


open your mind

RELATIONSHIP CRAFTING The interactions we have at work can make a big difference to how engaged and happy we feel. The idea is to rethink how and even who we interact with. This could mean shaking up the usual forms of communication you use, or seeking new opinions and voices. How to do it Many of us have had to get to grips with virtual meetings in the past year, but even when you’re working remotely there’s scope for change. Why not try a walk and talk, calling a colleague while out in the fresh air? Being in a different environment can spark creativity. Getting to know others outside your usual circle can open you up to fresh perspectives, too. Consider starting a lunch-time club where you can get together and chat about a subject you all care about, or start a skill swap initiative to learn something new! COGNITIVE CRAFTING When we’re able to change our perspective, we can find and create meaning in our work, seeing it in ways we had never considered before. There are lots of factors that play into job satisfaction, including your work environment and fair pay, but for many of us, having a sense that what we do has a real impact on others is key to feeling fulfilled. Appreciating the value your work has, and actively seeking this value out, is the aim of the game when it comes to cognitive crafting.

How to do it “Changing your mindset is possible, but it takes work and dedication,” says Natalie. “It is worth it, as it can help you to see problems in a new light, and to approach dilemmas in a more positive, productive way. “Finding three good things at the end of each day can really help. Over time, your brain will start to look for those things during the day, and you will be surprised at just how many goods things are actually happening.” You could also try journaling on the following questions to tap into the value you’re adding: • What positive impact is the company you work for having? • How are you contributing to this? • How does your work impact others – colleagues or customers? • How can you remind yourself of the value your role offers? GETTING SUPPORT Navigating our careers can feel tough, which is why some choose to work with a career coach, who can support you in an unbiased and non-judgmental way. “My role isn’t to tell someone what to do, but to partner with them and ask powerful questions that

can help them connect the dots and move ahead in a way that is positive and meaningful for them,” Natalie explains. However you choose to get support, dedicating time to job crafting can go a long way in helping you feel happier day-today. We spend on average 3,507 days at work during our lifetimes, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t intend to spend that time in shoes that pinch.

Natalie Trice is a career and life coach who specialises in working with women who want to make powerful changes, and reach their full potential. Learn more about her work, and find a career coach, at lifecoach-directory.org.uk

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Back to our roots

Can a simple, more self-sufficient lifestyle help us to feel grounded? Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

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he afternoon sun is in the sky, through an open window you can hear the sound of chickens gently clucking and cooing and, beyond that, bees buzz hypnotically in and out of a handbuilt hive. On the kitchen counter, clipped sweet peas blossom in a jar of water, and a loaf of freshly baked bread is cooling besides a trug of vegetables – ready to be prepped for tonight’s dinner. If that sounds idyllic to you, you wouldn’t be alone. The British Beekeepers Association has seen its membership soar from about

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8,500 people in 2008 to more than 24,000 in 2017. In the first two weeks of lockdown, one Cornish plant nursery – Rocket Gardens – reported a 600% rise in sales, while Amazon saw a huge 1,237% spike in seed sales in just 24 hours. Flour sales were up 238%, according to ResearchAndMarkets.com, and, more recently, following Oprah Winfrey’s monumental interview with Harry and Megan – where the couple invited viewers to meet their rescue hens – Google searches for “How to make a chicken coop” rose by 700%.

Of course, the idea, and pursuit, of a natural, self-sufficient ‘simple life’ is no new fad. It’s been present in art and culture since before The Good Life in the 70s, before Thomas Hardy spoke of a “private little sun for [the] soul to bask in” in 1891, and even before Shakespeare’s Duke Senior escaped busy court life in 1599’s As You Like It, to return to nature to find “tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything”. But today, in the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us have been reassessing what’s important to us. In uncertain


stay grounded

You’re taking your destiny, literally, into your own hands times, the figures show that many – as if acting on instinct – went back to their roots. But, beyond harvesting nature’s bounty, what can a move towards a selfsufficient lifestyle do for our mental health, and can nurturing this philosophy help our sense of wellbeing to blossom?

Safe and secure

Of course, being completely selfsufficient is out of reach for most people. There are always going to be things we need to rely on others for – that’s what being part of a community (local, national, and global) is all about. But knowing that you are able to, in whatever capacity, take care of your needs yourself, is an empowering thing. “Being self-sufficient can work wonders for your mental health, as it can support you in developing crucial qualities that allow you to thrive,” says counsellor Magdalena Stanek. “Firstly, it builds a sense of security – which is so important, especially recently. >>>

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Allot-ment on your mind? In 1908, the Small Holdings and Allotments Act came into force, which meant that local authorities must provide sufficient allotment space for the public to grow food. These laws are still very much active today, and preserve citizens’ rights to grow their own food – with allotments costing between £25–£125 per year, and holding the door open to anyone who wants to try their hand at growing their own. Find out more and apply by heading to gov.uk/apply-allotment

“During the pandemic, uncertainty has been lurking around almost every corner. “That leads me to another significant trait, which is selfconfidence. Building your own things from scratch creates a sense of empowerment, which then naturally primes you towards better self-image. It gives you a boost of ‘I can do it’ attitude, that makes your confidence flourish and dispels the internal critic – an issue that many people struggle with.”

Full circle

It’s a sentiment that resonates with Lorraine Bridges, who found that tuning-in to this lifestyle has really helped her over the past year. Lorraine makes her own clothes, bread, and oat milk. In her thriving garden, she plants courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, strawberries, blueberries, herbs, and so much more. “I’ve never been that excited by material possessions, and read a lot about self-sufficiency over

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the years,” Lorraine says. “The pandemic acted as a catalyst to go further, because I was stuck at home and struck by the number of vans going up and down my road delivering online orders. I realised that buying more stuff is not what I want, or need.” Reusing anything she can – from coffee sacks to egg boxes, biscuit trays, and tin cans – living a sustainable life in this manner has helped Lorraine assess her consumer habits, but also uncover a sense of wellbeing. “I feel much calmer and more ‘present’. When I’m planting or making bread, I am completely absorbed in the activity, which takes me into a place where I can really switch off,” she explains. “It’s taken me away from screens and rolling news, and into nature – which is something comforting and constant in our lives. “It’s really hit home how important nature is, and also how little I actually need in order to be happy. The important things in

life are genuinely not the things you can buy off the internet, and I have learnt that now, this year more than ever.”

The important things in life are genuinely not the things you can buy off the internet Trust the process

We might call this a ‘simple way of life’, but the reality is far from straightforward. Things like growing your own food, and repairing your belongings, take time and patience – if you’re just starting out, these skills won’t appear overnight. But that process of learning and evolving is part of the joy of it.


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On the mend

Research published in the International Journal of Lifelong Education found that adult learning, and acquiring new skills, can boost self-esteem, increase energy levels, improve relationships, and infuse your life with meaning. “When you are repairing your own clothes, or making your own grocery essentials like bread, you’re taking your destiny, literally, into your own hands, which sends a powerful message of: ‘I am self-reliant and able to survive even under tough conditions,’” Magdalena says. As she sees it, a boost in confidence in one area of life easily trickles out into the rest of it – helping you to develop a sense of assertiveness, and learn about your personal worth and boundaries, skills essential for long-term happiness.

Learning the land

At the heart of the idea of selfsufficiency is a sense of harmony, both with the world around you,

and within yourself – with your needs, skills, and dreams. While modern life, targeted adverts, and non-stop news bulletins may have you hopping from one thing to the next, self-sufficiency is about slowing down, moving with the seasons, holding materials around you in your hands, and learning about the things you can do with what you already have. It doesn’t matter whether it’s growing herbs on a windowsill, sewing a button back on a shirt, or ploughing half your back garden into a vegetable patch, the benefits are there for the picking – all it takes is going back to your roots.

Magdalena Stanek is a personcentred counsellor specialising in trauma. Find out more by visiting counselling-directory.org.uk

The ability to repair your own clothes is a sustainability game-changer, and one that Molly Martin, author of The Art of Repair, is deeply passionate about. From a young age, Molly was raised to be conscious of her footprint on the world around her, and developed a talent for sewing and repairs when she was still in school. In her book, she offers a wealth of tips on tackling tears – but she tells us that repairing has a dimension beyond the practical. “Repairing anything can be a mindful practice, particularly if you’re repairing by hand,” Molly says. “It requires concentration, slowing down, and taking your time – and it’s through this act that we can gain a meditative space. “For me, repairing is about more than mending an item of clothing to give it new life. There is a lesson within the broken fibres we are stitching back together, that we might apply to ourselves.” ‘The Art of Repair – Mindful Meaning: how to stitch old things to new life’ by Molly Martin (Short Books, £14.99).

happiful.com | May 2021 | 19


Let it shine

Sunny days are on the way, and the natural world isn’t the only thing that will start to flourish… Writing | Michaella Mazzoni

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ith what often felt like one of the longest winters in living memory finally behind us, many people are already feeling the mental health benefits of the lighter mornings and longer days. But why is that? Here, we explain why having the sun on your skin can make you feel brighter.

1. Vitamin D

Sometimes referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’, vitamin D is important for bone health, as it helps us absorb calcium. But did you know we also have vitamin D receptors in the brain? This is part of the direct relationship between vitamin D and the creation of serotonin – the happy hormone. If the sun starts to shine and you begin to feel perkier, it’s no coincidence. Vitamin D is key when it comes to our mental health, but many people in the UK have low levels, or even vitamin D deficiencies.

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Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Many studies find lower levels of circulating serotonin in people with depression, and chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and endometriosis. It has also been suggested that vitamin D can help to reduce inflammation in the brain – something which can cause brain fog and grogginess. Even just 30 minutes each day of being out in the sun can go a long way to support your

serotonin production, and you don’t have to be out exercising. You could spend some time sitting and relaxing in your garden, or on a park bench, soaking up the rays.

2. The sleep cycle

When the optic nerve registers sunshine, and helps the body to create serotonin, this ‘happy’ chemical turns into melatonin – the sleep hormone. Disrupted


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Edible sunshine

Get some sun – safely! Before you rush out, it’s important to be safe during your sun exposure. Wear sunscreen, avoid tanning beds, and stay hydrated. If you’re looking for ways to incorporate more sunshine in your life, why not try: • Gardening in your backyard or local allotment • Walking to the next bus stop

• Take a short walk within one hour of waking up • Take your phone calls outside • Drink your mid-morning or afternoon tea outside • Eat your lunch outdoors • Meets friends and family for local walks or picnics • Spend some time reading, writing, or drawing while on a bench or a blanket

Even just 30 minutes each day of being out in the sun can go a long way to support your serotonin production sleep cycles and poor mental health often go hand-in-hand, and who doesn’t feel better after a good night’s rest? Getting out into the natural light within an hour of waking will help to regulate your sleepwake cycle by ‘switching on’ your internal clock, which signals to the body when to create sleeppromoting chemicals. To set this off, try factoring in time to have a 30-minute walk in the mornings, either before or after your breakfast.

– and, interestingly, getting out in the sun can actually help contribute to this. Nitric oxide, a molecule produced in the body, is released when the sunshine hits your skin. This lowers your blood pressure, which in turn helps you to feel more relaxed. That said, you should speak to your GP and follow their guidance if you have any concerns about your blood pressure.

3. Lowering blood pressure

It’s only natural that when the sun is shining you feel more inclined to get outdoors. Studies have linked spending time outside with a wealth of mental health benefits and, in many

High blood pressure is often related to high levels of stress and/or anxiety. Whereas lower blood pressure is associated with feelings of calm or relaxation

Frankly, the UK can’t always guarantee solid sunshine every day, but you can get some of your vitamin D from food. The top vitamin D food sources are: • Eggs • Fortified dairy/nondairy products • Tuna • Salmon • Cheese • Fortified cereals • Organ meats • Fortified fruit juices, particularly orange juice

cases, the activity that we do outside promotes mental health in itself – for example, gardening, going for walks, or practising mindfulness. This can further help us to reduce stress and promote feelings of relaxation. All this together is enough to brighten up any day.

4. The soothing power of nature

Michaella Mazzoni is a nutritional therapist, supporting gut health and offering a practical and realistic approach to nutrition. For more, visit nutritionist-resource.org.uk

happiful.com | May 2021 | 21


Techniques to track your mood

It’s time to get proactive with your health! Reclaim control by becoming more conscious of your emotions, and the daily events impacting them Writing | Rebecca Thair

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ost of us can differentiate between a good and bad day, but let’s get real – the devil’s in the details. It’s not often we really stop to check-in with our emotions, look for patterns, or think about how our mood could be impacting our choices… And, honestly, it’s probably having a bigger effect than you realise. How we feel impacts the way we think, the decisions we make, and how we interact with others. That’s why mood tracking can be such a useful tool. When we take the time to really tunein to our feelings, we can have more of an awareness of what might be triggering certain emotions and reactions. This, in turn, allows us to have more control over our lives. When you’re more conscious of how you’re feeling, you can treat yourself with compassion. On days where you know you’re

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When you’re more conscious of how you’re feeling, you can treat yourself with compassion struggling, you can be more gentle, set firm boundaries, and plan in some self-care. Plus, if you’re intending to speak to a GP or professional about your mental health, having a mood tracker can be a useful point of reference when discussing your needs and support. And once you do start making any lifestyle changes, a tracker can be a useful gauge to see what is working best for you. So, want to get started? Here are three ways to track your mood to kick things off.

1. Try the bullet journal mood tracker Rather than a wealth of writing, this is about concise information in an organised manner. It takes less time and effort than full journal writing, and helps to get a clearer overview of how you’ve been feeling. Simply set up a page in your notebook to look like a table, with the first column saved for the date. Then, choose headings for the rest of the columns that would be most useful to you. This could be anything from the number of hours you’ve slept, to whether you meditated that day, glasses of water consumed, or time spent online. Crucially, ensure you have a column for your emotions – you might want to write these out, draw an expression, or colour code. Also consider having a final column for notes, allowing you to reflect on the events that affected you the most.


positive pointers

Feeling ’appy If you’d prefer to keep things digital, there are many mood tracking apps to try: • Daylio Journal – This is great for people who struggle with putting thoughts and feelings into words. Simply choose a video or image that best reflects how you’re feeling, with stats to reflect back on trends and patterns. • eMoods – Designed to support those with bipolar disorder, this app asks users to rate their mood (highs and lows), irritability, and anxiety, on a four-point scale, along with noting if they’re experiencing any psychotic symptoms. • Thinky: Mindful Journal – A private journal for your phone, this app gives you a chance to write out your feelings about each day, with helpful prompts, and uses a smart mood detection to help give a visual overview of your emotions.

2. Colour code it This is great for visual people, and allows you to get creative. Simply colour code different emotions – for example yellow could be for when you’re feeling inspired, green for energised, red for angry, pink for anxious. Alternatively, keep things really simple and stick to only a few emotions (such as happy, sad, irritated, apathetic).

Then draw out an image with something to represent each day of the month – some great examples we’ve seen include a hot air balloon with a panel for each date, or vines with leaves trailing off. Alternatively, keep things simple and do a ‘year in pixels’, where you have a table with months across the top and dates down the side. Fill in a colour for each day to best reflect how you’re feeling, and at the end of the month (or year) you’ve got a beautiful image representing those emotions. Plus, you could add some notes at the side if you want to remember any key moments associated with the primary emotion for that day.

3. (Don’t) bottle it up One idea for a more physical representation of what you’re feeling is to get a clear container, and pick something with varying colour options to represent emotions – buttons, sand, marbles, or sweets. Each day, consider how you’re feeling, and add an item in the appropriate colour to your jar. At the end of the month, you’ll see when you’ve had a tough time and need to go easy on yourself, or when you’ve had a better month than you realised! Plus, if you struggle to open up to loved ones, this could show them how you’re getting on, so they know when you need a helping hand.

happiful.com | May 2021 | 23


The difference between

sadness and depression While everyone’s experience may vary a little, recognising the key differences between sadness and depression can ensure you receive the right support when it’s needed...

Sadness An emotion

You’re able to go about your normal life

Lasts for a shorter period of time and is temporary

Tends to pass on it’s own

Often the result of one particular incident

The feelings may come and go

May find relief from the feelings in activities to cheer yourself up

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Appetite and sleep patterns are largely unaffected

Feelings are predominantly sorrow or unhappiness

Depression A mental illness

Typically requires professional or medical support to manage symptoms

Cannot be boiled down to one cause

Disruptions to sleeping and eating (either more or less than normal)

You may be more likely to isolate yourself from others

Can affect your work, relationships, and daily routine

Often remains for an extended period of time – weeks, months, or even years Low mood is consistent

Feelings are largely of low self-worth and a deep sense of hopelessness

May experience suicidal thoughts


stay grounded

Tuning-in t o the moon Moon mentor Kirsty Gallagher shares her passion for lunar living, and how setting our sights to the skies could actually reinforce the connection to ourselves Writing | Lucy Donoughue

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ver the past year, have you found yourself tuning-in to nature more than you did before? Have you found yourself really hearing the birds, noticing each morning becoming a bit lighter, and summer energy making its way into your life? Since the beginning of the pandemic, many people have developed an increasingly positive relationship with the natural world. Lockdown restrictions have shown us all how strong the pull to the outdoors can be, especially when there are limits on our time in green – or blue – spaces, and

the amount of people walking, cycling, and wild swimming has increased by epic proportions. Moon mentor and soul alignment coach Kirsty Gallagher says that there’s been an astronomical increase in people interested in learning more about the moon, and living by its natural cycles, too. It’s a practice Kirsty has been passionate about for more than 10 years. “I teach people, predominantly women, how to live in alignment with the cycles of the moon,” she explains. “How we can come back into a natural rhythm with nature, how we can find a more cyclical way of being. I do this

by using the wisdom of the moon – lunar guidance – and through movement of the body, yoga, and meditation.” In April 2020, Kirsty published her first book, Lunar Living: Working With The Magic of Moon Cycles, which became a Sunday Times bestseller. “Honestly,” she beams. “When I think about that, I can’t keep the smile off my face! “People asked me why it was so well-received, and I think that given what we’ve all been through, we’re looking for something to believe in – something bigger than ourselves. Just as our ancestors looked to the skies for answers, we’re doing the same.” >>>

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In astrology, the moon is seen as our soul, as our inner world of our emotions, dreams, and the call of our heart. Who we are when no one else is watching The timing of the book’s release, as the UK moved into the first lockdown, was fortuitous. “Lunar Living came at a moment to really help people tune back in to a cycle, a flow, or a rhythm, and to look up at the sky because we weren’t rushing around so much any more,” she explains. Kirsty has now penned a companion book, The Lunar Living Journal: A Guided Moon Journal to Help you Find Joy, Clarity and Purpose, to help people positively work with the moon cycles by prompting self-reflection on each new and full moon. Kirsty is unwaveringly dedicated to taking others on a journey of lunar discovery, like the one she embarked upon herself more than a decade ago. Here, she shares thoughts on self-reflection, and explains key reasons behind the power of aligning with the moon.

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An opportunity to be accountable

We tend to make resolutions in January. It’s cold, dark and grey, and we often struggle with the motivation to stick to them – by February they’re probably forgotten. It’s easy to see why, when the year draws to a close, we feel like we haven’t made much progress. Twice a month, on the new and full moon, lunar living gives you an opportunity to be accountable

and ask: “Am I following the direction of my dreams? If not, why not?” We get to drill down and become really self-aware. It’s important to get honest with ourselves, and back ourselves – even that in itself can be immensely life-changing.

A fresh approach for all

The idea of aligning with the moon might not be up everyone’s street, but I really love sceptics, because I think they have the


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opportunity to experience lunar living for the first time, and with fresh eyes. If all a sceptic takes from the practice is that twice a month they check-in with themselves, that in itself is hugely powerful!

Photography | Courtesy of Kirsty Gallagher

The return of a feminine way of being

If we look back at our ancestors, women were gathered together to bleed each month, and to support each other. We’ve moved away from that, and sadly over time society has often prompted us to see other women as competition, more than sisters. I really believe that it’s time to come back to a more feminine way of being – and that applies to whatever your gender is, as we all have a feminine aspect within us. That feminine way of living is cyclical. It’s not expecting us to be the same all day, every day, or imagining that we live life in a linear fashion. It’s not glamourising pushing ourselves to burnout, or going against our intuition.

Reclaiming our power

Last year, I created a group called Aligned, which is all about

Just as our ancestors looked to the skies for answers, we’re doing the same bringing women back home and into alignment with themselves. We work on lack of self-belief, procrastination, people pleasing, saying yes when we mean no, and all those things we’ve historically done as women. It’s time to take our power back in many ways, and I’m so passionate about that. A woman in her power is unapologetic, owning herself, proud of herself, showing up authentically, and being able to speak her truth without fear. That, to me, is just one of the most magical things in the world. Aligned blends beautifully with lunar living, because, in astrology, the moon is seen as our soul, as our inner world of our emotions, dreams, and the call of our heart. Who we are when no one else is watching.

We’re all under the same sky While everything seems to have changed over the past year, our moon remains one of the only constant things in the world. We all see the same moon, in the same sky, in the same phase, at the same time. That’s beautiful.

‘Lunar Living: Working With The Magic of Moon Cycles’ and ‘The Lunar Living Journal: A Guided Moon Journal to Help you Find Joy, Clarity and Purpose’, published by Yellow Kite, are out now. Listen to Kirsty share more about lunar living on Happiful’s podcast ‘I am. I have’ and visit kirstygallagher.com for more.

happiful.com | May 2021 | 27


Ask the experts Somatic coach and creative practitioner Duncan Alldridge answers your questions on creativity Read more about Duncan Alldridge on lifecoach-directory.org.uk

Q

My job requires me to be creative, but I’m struggling with everything that is going on. Do you have any tips to help get the inspiration flowing?

A

Creativity is often about putting one step forward. Too much thinking about having to find the flow doesn’t create

Q

I’m really keen to start a creative hobby like painting, but am worried I won’t be very good. Do you have any advice for beginners?

A

Not being ‘very good’ is your inner critic talking. It’s a belief you’ve learned. Yet it’s

flow – in reality, it happens when you feel your most spacious. Unless you have a deadline, step out of the thinking process. Take a walk, find inspiration away from the workspace, and bring it back. Talk. Share your struggle with a committed listener. Remember, any seemingly insignificant step forward still leads to the next. Many of us get inspired when our bodies are relaxed

and our minds are free. How about adding some plants, poetry, or inspiring photos to your work space? Maybe you could get some more perfunctory tasks out of the way, and free up space, rather than juggle different tasks. Allow yourself a clutter-free space to focus your attention, and go somewhere where you feel inspired. Watch that magical film. Talk to someone who sees your struggle.

not you, and it’s not true. Your essence, your creative spirit, is longing to break through, always. Tune-in to why you want to paint. How will this creative hobby help you expand, grow, and live more fully? Why is painting important for you? Try not to compare yourself, and remember there’s no one to impress. You could collect images that inspire you, or keep

a journal of your thoughts and feelings when you paint. Go out and buy a beautiful sketch pad, or new set of paints, or materials to set things up and create a nurturing space at home where you can display your work. You could enrol in a class or group where people share? Take that first small step. Work your muscle of courage and your confidence will grow.

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


positive pointers

Q

I’m feeling a lot of self-doubt around my creative projects at the moment. Do you have any suggestions to help me believe in myself a bit more?

A

TOP TIPS FOR THOSE IN A CREATIVE FUNK: 1. Leave the piece. Spend time in a completely different environment. Rest, observe, then come back to the project. 2. Give yourself a very small target to achieve each day. Dedicate small and purposeful amounts of time to the work.

3. Allow yourself to have the block, try not to struggle or judge, accept something within you is waiting to shift, and it is this energy-shift that will drive the project forward – perhaps towards fulfilment in a different way. Be patient. Allow the work to evolve.

Start with this: what is important about this project? Why is it important to me? What will it bring me (and others) that I don’t have now? How will life be different when I fulfil this project? If you spend some time really thinking about the ‘why’ behind your endeavours, you’ll see why dreaming something up is really important to you. Without this, many creative projects fail at the first hurdle. It’s natural to doubt stuff. Do some practice, notice what feels good about the work, pay attention to where you feel excitement. Maybe play with the project a little. Is there a way you can make it more fun for yourself and take off some of the pressure? Remember a small step can be a courageous step, so try not to judge yourself for what might seem like slower progress.

happiful.com | May 2021 | 29


Wholesome gaming Five cosy games to chill out with in 2021 Writing | Jo Ferguson

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raditionally rooted in competitive playervs-player or playervs-computer design, video games are broadening their horizons. A rise in relaxing, uncompetitive games is bringing about new ways to enjoy playing, and they’re perfect for people looking for a break from the pressure that gaming (and life!) often demands. Development studios are turning towards more heartfelt games that don’t make you feel like a loser if you, well, lose. Some games might not even have the option to lose. Instead, they offer comfortable, enjoyable experiences that encourage the player to feel something. Enter: ‘cosy’ gaming. If you’re finding yourself a little world-weary right now, why not snuggle up with one of our top cosy game picks, and enjoy a bit of me-time in 2021.

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Animal Crossing: New Horizons Available on: Nintendo Switch Oozing positivity and charm, it’s easy to see why almost 50% of Switch owners have a copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons in their collection. Your goal is to regenerate a deserted island, attracting new residents, and forming your own thriving community. There are no pressing deadlines – instead, you’re free to do whatever you want, from fishing, to landscaping, or hanging out with your neighbours. With the choice for up to four players to share an island using the same Switch, AC:NH is both a great game for the whole family to enjoy, or the perfect solo getaway.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure Available on: Windows PC, Apple iPhone, Apple macOS. Coming soon to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S. Thanks to its Dora the Explorer vibes, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure feels distinctly geared towards kids – but there’s enjoyment to be found here for all ages. Tasked with taking photos of rare wildlife to prevent a hotel being built on the town’s nature reserve, animal lovers will enjoy tracking down every colourful critter on the island of Pinar del Mar. Snaps of rarer creatures garner interest from the local media, propelling the reserve’s fame skywards. Likewise, the conservation theme continues with simple tasks to help clean up the island, and rescue animals needing help. Utterly charming in every way, Alba will whisk you away from reality for a few hours.


positive pointers

Cozy gaming on the go Mobile phones have their fair share of relaxing games. Here are our top picks: To the Moon: A compelling story about making a dying man’s wish come true.

Images | igdb.com

Monument Valley: Guide Ida through colourful mazes by adapting the world. Florence: A beautiful short story of love and finding yourself.

Kind Words (lo-fi chill beats to write to) Available on: Windows PC Kind Words is a truly unique multi-player experience. Instead of competing against other players, your goal is to simply write supportive letters to reallife humans playing the game around the world – and to reach out yourself if you need a bit of an extra boost. The game takes place entirely within your own virtual bedroom, which you can personalise with stickers earned through various activities. Paper aeroplanes drift across the screen, each one a letter from a real human being. You’re free to read as many as you wish, and pen responses if you want to. Opportunities to reach out to others really can’t be underestimated right now, making Kind Words a precious window for compassion and kindness.

Coffee Talk

A Short Hike

Available on: Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 3, Windows PC

Available on: Windows PC, Apple macOS, Nintendo Switch

Coffee Talk veers close to visual novel territory, so those of you who enjoy reading will feel right at home here. As the barista of the titular late-night coffee shop, most of the game is spent either conversing with your clients, or following recipes to create the perfect brew. The game uses its diverse cast to explore various social themes around culture, racism, worklife balance and more, and as you become familiar with your regulars, you can’t help but feel invested in their stories. Set to a soothing, lo-fi soundtrack, Coffee Talk makes for the perfect soloplay for a relaxed, rainy day.

Created almost single-handedly by developer Adam RobinsonYu, A Short Hike is a breath of fresh air. Taking on the role of Claire, an anthropomorphic bird visiting her aunt in Hawk Peak Provincial Park, your only goal is to hike to the top of the mountain. How you go about it is entirely up to you. At its core, this is a gentle game of discovery and exploration. That being said, reaching the peak feels like a real achievement, and is a surprisingly emotional moment, reminding us that everyone is dealing with something – even if they don’t show it on the surface.

happiful.com | May 2021 | 31


12 things you didn’t know could be symptoms of

burnout Spot the signs before fatigue spirals into something more serious Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

B

urnout. It’s a term we’ve started to hear a lot more recently, as we’ve begun to open up the conversation on workplace wellbeing, and the importance of finding balance in our lives. First coined in the 1970s by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger, burnout is a mental health condition that can occur following long-term stress, leading to both physical and mental exhaustion. While the causes of burnout can vary from a wide range of conditions and circumstances, the key thing to know is that it can happen to people in any profession. That said, a 2018 study by consultancy company Gallup analysed 7,500 US workers and found that burnout tends

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to stem from unfair treatment at work, an unmanageable workload, and a lack of clarity about what an individual’s role should involve. Whatever the cause may be, the first step to tackling burnout is spotting the signs that you may be approaching it. Here, we explore 12 things to watch out for to address the overwhelm before you reach burnout...

Research has found that burnout tends to stem from unfair treatment at work, an unmanageable workload, and a lack of clarity about what a person’s role should involve

1. Mornings feel increasingly difficult You may not be the earliest of risers, but you’ve noticed that getting out of bed in the morning is becoming increasingly difficult. Whereas before you might have hopped up at the sound of your alarm, now you’re very familiar with the snooze button. You may spot that rising is particularly difficult at certain times of the week, perhaps even lining up with regular work commitments, such as meetings and presentations, or at the start of the week when your to-do list is looming over your head.


2. You’ve lost your sense of excitement It could be for the work that you do, or for your hobbies, but if you’ve noticed that your excitement and enthusiasm for things has been dulled, this could be a sign of burnout. It might feel like apathy, or you could disengage entirely, but if you >>> find yourself struggling to muster the passion and creativity that you once had, think back and see if you can decipher when this first started being a problem for you. Does it line up with any other periods of stress or heightened workload? >>>


3. Becoming cynical of your, or others’, work

6. Trouble getting started on tasks

7. You’ve begun to procrastinate

Previously, you may have started your day and approached tasks on your to-do list with a positive attitude, but now there is a layer of cynicism covering your mood. Perhaps things that never bothered you before now feel like dealbreakers, or you no longer feel satisfied with the work you’re doing. Rather than taking this as a sign that your role no longer works for you, could this instead be linked to burnout and overworking?

You’ve managed to drag yourself out of bed, and are about to get started with the day’s jobs, when suddenly you realise you don’t know where to begin. Perhaps you’re experiencing something similar to brain fog, and you’re trying hard to ground yourself but, for all your efforts, you can’t see a clear path forward. A to-do list, or a catch-up with your manager to work out priorities, might help you here, but the underlying problem could run deeper.

That task has been sitting on your to-do list for days now, but every time you decide to get stuck in, you instead find yourself picking up your phone, starting up a conversation with someone – or even focusing on a different, less important job altogether. If this sounds familiar, are there any patterns to this behaviour? Do you find you put off certain kinds of tasks more than others?

4. Physical pain From headaches to muscle aches, did you know that mental health problems can sometimes manifest themselves in physical pain? When it comes to burnout, you might experience pain caused by holding a lot of tension in your body. On the other hand, chronic pain can also be another thing added to our mental load, making for a vicious cycle. However, if you have noticed an increase in headaches, or other bodily pain, it’s always worth speaking with your GP.

5. Small decisions feel difficult to make What are you going to have for dinner? What outfit should you put on? What do you want to watch on TV? They’re only small decisions, but you just can’t muster the energy to make your mind up. This could be linked to a sense of apathy that is creeping into the rest of your life, or it could simply be your mind’s way of telling you that it’s overwhelmed, and no longer has the capacity to take on additional decisions that would usually take no effort at all.

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wellbeing

If you think you are experiencing burnout, speak to your GP or connect with a mental health professional. Head to counselling-directory.org.uk for more information and support.

8. You feel prickly and irritable Whatever it may have been, you’ve found the straw that broke the camel’s back, and you can’t keep your irritation in any longer. It might have been something really small, or perhaps a series of things, but you’ve snapped. Take a moment to think, is this something that would have bothered you normally? Was there a just cause to feel frustrated? Or has your reaction been over-the-top, or out of character?

9. You’re experiencing low mood or depression In very basic terms, one of the key differences between stress and burnout is that stress can lead to an increase in anxiety, whereas burnout can lead to depression. Lowmood may show itself in many different ways, but will often touch you in the experiences we’re describing here. It may not be easy, it will probably take some time, and you may have to make some big lifestyle changes, but know that burnout is something that affects many people, and is also something that can be overcome.

According to WHO, burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed 10. Your achievements don’t mean as much to you Over time, we might find ourselves in a more settled place, or at a point where we value certain kinds of achievements over others. But if you notice a sudden change in the way that you react to your workplace achievements, this could be a sign that you’re experiencing burnout, and have lost the sense of value that you once had in your role.

11. You’re carrying a sense of dread Whether it’s Sunday night anxiety, or intrusive anxious thoughts whirling around your head, if you’re experiencing a sense of dread that wasn’t there before, this is something to take seriously and to make a note of. You could try journaling, or using a mood tracking app (see p22 for some suggestions), so that you can build up a bigger picture of what you’re going through. This can then be really helpful if you decide to speak to a professional, and want to help them understand what your experience has been so far.

12. Your relationships with others are becoming strained It may be with friends, family, or colleagues, but something has changed between you. Are you usually a social person who enjoys spending time with others? Are messages now going unanswered and plans cancelled at the last minute? When going through any kind of mental health challenge, the people around us are key to feeling better, and so if you feel as though your relationships are suffering, this is a sure sign that it’s time to reach out for help.

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An understanding of the natural world is a source of not only great curiosity, but great fulfilment DAVID ATTENBOROUGH

Photography | Julian Myles

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true story

Find the joy

Stress, anxiety, and depression threatened to destroy Johnathan’s 15-year teaching career. But a simple change in mindset enabled him to rekindle the love affair with his chosen profession Writing | Johnathan Lane

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he last day of the spring term in school is normally joyous. January and February are tough going, so Easter is a time for everyone to give themselves a pat on the back, and take a well-earned rest before the exam season begins. I had a different perspective. I was crying on the phone to a union rep, desperate to find a way out of teaching. The person I was then seems a million miles away now. That’s my perception, and as I’ve learned, perception can be a powerful thing. I’d always believed stress and depression were things that happened to other people. That changed on 7 November 2018. Prior to that, I’d seen numerous colleagues looking stressed and run down at work. I thought myself mentally tougher. After 14 years of teaching, I’d climbed the ladder and become assistant headteacher and director of sixth form. This was my dream job, so I grabbed the opportunity and worked hard. In addition to my normal duties, I took on additional projects. If there were challenges and time pressures, I’d simply overcome them. However, taking on more and more work was coming at a cost. For months I’d been getting anxious about things I used to find routine and straightforward: meetings with parents, interviews with under-performing students, and speaking in front of people.

I found it increasingly hard to switch off. Problems and negative thoughts buzzed around my head. At home, I was distant, easily agitated, and tetchy with my children. My descent into depression was slow and inconsistent, but the trajectory was downwards. I had no idea it was depression though. I simply put it down to going through a bad patch. That bad patch became a horrible crisis on 7 November 2018. I made a mistake in school. A fairly run of the mill mistake, but my resilience collapsed. I had a panic attack and experienced what could be termed a nervous breakdown. I called my wife in tears (I’d never called her from work before) and I knew things were bad. I’d always resisted going to the doctor, but I went without argument this time. The appointment was terrible. I was so ashamed and emotional that I couldn’t speak and broke down in tears. The diagnosis of depression still shocked me though, and I was reluctant to take medication. I was, however, relieved to be signed off work for two weeks. My attitude to the job had fundamentally changed: I hated it. I hated the hassle, the parents, the students — everything. I told the doctor that I wanted out, and it was genuine. The prospect of liking the job again seemed impossible. >>>

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Johnathan with his family

As the end of my two weeks approached, I was nowhere near ready to go back. The mere thought of it sent me into a panic. Two weeks turned into a month, which in the end became five months. I knew that I’d have to return eventually, but something had snapped. My love affair with teaching had reached a bitter end. Thank goodness that those around me were so supportive. The two deputy heads in particular were amazing. They invited me in for ‘no-pressure chats’, and arranged and paid for counselling. My wife was superb. Always a source of strength, she listened, offered advice, and appeared unshakable. She encouraged me to exercise, get out into the garden, and overhaul my diet. I received support from a Buddhist centre, and learned how to meditate. After five months of recuperation, I found myself back in school. However, the bottom line was that I didn’t want to be there. I was back in work because I didn’t have an alternative. The antidepressants had kept me more stable, and the counselling had helped me to understand the root of the depression; however, nothing had prepared me for the jarring reality of returning to work. I planned my return, deliberately, for three days before the Easter holidays. Three days to get back into the swing of things, two weeks off, and then back in properly. By day three, I wanted out. The only thing I could think of was to phone my union and ask for advice on how to take redundancy. Thankfully, I was so upset and inarticulate that we had to end the conversation.

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Thank goodness the Easter holidays came when they did, because the prospect of a fourth day in work felt impossible.

I knew that I’d have to return eventually, but something had snapped. My love affair with teaching had reached a bitter end After a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I summoned the energy to reflect. How on earth was I going to get back into work, not feel terrified, and maybe, just maybe, enjoy the job again? I couldn’t see a way forward. Ironically, the answer hit me as I was looking for a different job. All the jobs that seemed interesting were the ones that were the most similar to my current occupation. If I’d seen my job advertised online, I would have applied for it. It wasn’t the job that was the problem, it was my perception of it. If I was going to make a successful return, I had to reconnect with my decision of 15 years ago to pursue a career in teaching. Drilling down to the root cause was essential. Why did I choose teaching?


true story

For me, like the vast majority of teachers, it was to help people, to make a difference, and to foster a love for a subject that I enjoyed. Just this simple mental exercise had a positive effect. All I’d done was shifted my perspective by reconnecting with my original desire to teach. I returned after Easter a far more robust person. I felt rooted and more comfortable in my own skin. Things weren’t perfect, but the trajectory was always upwards. I still had to make positive lifestyle choices: eat well, sleep well, exercise, meditate, and be strict about not bringing work home. But more than anything, I’d got better because I’d changed my perception. I’d been told by my doctor to ‘follow the joy’. To think about everything that the job entails, and

A change of perception had, more than anything else, got me out of a black hole, back into work, and made me much, much happier identify what the joyous parts are — think about them, read about them, do work related to them, set goals connected to them. Again, this change of perspective worked wonders. Finding the joy in the here and now, rather than wishing I was somewhere else, made the biggest difference to turning myself around. A change of perception had, more than anything else, got me out of a black hole, back into work, and made me much happier. A different person to the one phoning a union rep only a year ago.

OUR EXPERT SAYS Johnathan’s story is compelling in its honesty and strength. It’s tough when, from the outside, we appear capable and in control – yet internally we’re struggling. This was compounded for Johnathan by the fact he was clearly a respected member of the team. Sometimes, the higher we rise, the further we feel we have to fall.

But Johnathan made a discovery we can all learn from. He realised that perception is key. If you’re anxious or overwhelmed, seeking help and making a shift in perception can make all the difference. Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr | Life coach

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Tips for talking to men about their mental health Discover how to approach conversations with care and compassion Writing | Alex Holmes

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hen I started my podcast Time To Talk with Alex Holmes, I found it hard to speak about my own mental health. There were no resources that I could find to help me and, outside of a conversation with one of my best friends, it was difficult to open up and share what was going on inside. Ultimately, this was an accumulation of fear, shame, and disconnection with myself. I wasn’t in touch with what I was feeling and thinking. I wasn’t living, I was just existing, and it was hurting my ability to see a happy life for myself. Now, as a mental health guide and trainee therapist, I have built up a few tools to support men (and others) with their mental health. When it comes to men, there are particular factors that come into play, so here are a few ways you can open up a conversation to speak to your loved one about their mental health.

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Illustrating | Rosan Magar

1. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them Going into conversations, we have a tendency to position ourselves as the injured or suffering party immediately. While a man with poor mental health may not always make life pleasant for those around them, it’s important to toe the line between issuing blame and guilt, and taking a caring approach. Feelings of inadequacy, rejection, low self-esteem, and possibly self-hate, can emanate strongly in men, so it’s a question of trying to simply go in with: “What’s been going on with you today?”

2. Don’t force them to open up if they’re not ready It’s not fair to force someone to do something they aren’t wholly comfortable with, so trust has to be built first. Some men might not feel as though they can trust people with their feelings, because history has taught them

that they can easily be betrayed, and they need to be stoic. Or, it could be that they don’t want to burden you with the weight of what they’re carrying. They might really want to talk about what’s going on, but they don’t trust the feeling of vulnerability. Give them the space to be open to the conversation, and don’t rush. Go for walks together, do a shared activity, or try something new together – that will help you strengthen bonds, and create a space that is safe and trustworthy.

3. Understand the impact of toxic masculinity ‘Toxic masculinity’ refers to a set of cultural, gendered standards that are detrimental to men’s health and happiness. Social pressures of what it means to be a man can cause men to feel as if they are not advancing in life, not successful enough, or simply not ‘man’ enough. This can present some insecurities,


relationships

Encourage vulnerability as a strength

generate recklessness, and also prompt mood swings. Take some time to look into the idea of ‘toxic masculinity’, and make an effort to show the men in your life that it’s OK not to conform.

4. Encourage him to speak to somebody You may get to the point where you believe he should see someone like myself, a mental health guide, or a counsellor or psychotherapist – and you can offer to help research the options. However, joining men’s groups can also be extremely beneficial. I host a monthly men’s group to get men to check-in with how we’re doing on the first Thursday of every month. Here, we speak

about everything from mental wellbeing to health, work, and relationships. Men’s groups are important communities, as they help men share, and have conversations that might not always be a safe topic to cover in front of those they love. It helps reduce shame, and builds camaraderie. Try searching for some in your area.

Don’t tell him to ‘man up’, or ‘be a real father’ – that will do more harm than good. Encourage vulnerability as a strength, don’t use manipulative techniques to get them to open up, and support them on the path to healing and recovery.

5. Create a safe space to talk Feelings of shame and embarrassment can come from being in the presence of certain people, so whether that’s children, a partner, or parents and in-laws, be mindful of the environment that is being created, and make it neutral.

‘Time To Talk’ by Alex Holmes (Welbeck, £10.99) is out now.

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SOME LIKE IT COLD The thought of cold open-water swimming might be enough to set your goosebumps off, but after a deep dive into the why, the benefits certainly outweigh the initial chill Writing | Katie Hoare

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loating, weightlessness, resilience, and total freedom – that’s what swimming means to me. So imagine those feelings combined with the sun on your back, the scent of grass and earth in the air, and gentle waves carrying you forward. In this case, I’m talking about open-water swimming – in fact, cold open-water swimming. Now this isn’t a new concept – it’s actually been

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around for centuries – but it only seems to be in the past few years, and poignantly during 2020, that the practice of swimming in wild locations is really being acknowledged for its physical and mental health benefits. From seas, to lakes and rivers, perhaps the most notable thing is the colder the water the better! Often hailed as an elixir for good health, cold openwater swimming has been linked to pain relief,


Into the unknown Want to explore cold water therapy yourself? If you’re not quite ready to dive into open water just yet, here are a few other ideas to try: • Take a cold shower or bath. • Next time you’re at the coast, take a quick dip in the sea. • Start small and simply submerge your feet in some wild water.

and a reduction in inflammation, increased concentration and libido, improved circulation, and has significant positive impacts on chronic low-mood and stress, to name just a few benefits. And, science is backing it. A pioneering study published in the British Medical Journal details how a weekly programme of cold open-water swimming prescribed to a 24-year-old woman struggling with depression and anxiety, actually led to an immediate and significant improvement in her conditions, enabling her to live medication-free. But how does it work, you might be asking? Well it’s all to do with training the body to induce the natural cycle of stress to prompt self-regulation and relief, building resilience, and staying grounded. Not to mention the sense of accomplishment, camaraderie with fellow swimmers, a boost of endorphins, and the meditative state nature can induce. So, let’s dive a little deeper... >>>

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RIDING THE WAVE A key power of cold water swimming is its ability to induce the stress response in our bodies, as psychotherapist and counsellor Greg Savva explains. “The human ‘stress response’ is designed to act as the body’s instinctive survival mechanism when you’ve been triggered by stress or environmental threats,” says Greg. “For example, sudden changes in your metabolic rate will trigger a stress response – changes in temperature, blood pressure, breathing rate, extreme thirst or hunger, injury etc. “The brain automatically floods the body with stress hormones, which throw us into a ‘state of shock’, and later stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to regulate our metabolism – bringing physiological sensations and emotions back into equilibrium.” Cold water swimming can induce this biological process, training you to build resilience in the face of adversity, which can be particularly helpful for those with anxiety and panic attacks. What’s been discovered is that immersing your face in cold water is key. This stimulates the vagus nerve – your body’s communication highway and part of the parasympathetic nervous

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Swimming in cold water takes courage and bravery, and every cold swim reminds you of those things within you system – which helps to slow the heart rate, relax the body, and activate metabolism. Greg explains that utilising this practice triggers a ‘mammalian response’, effective in calming anxiety. “The mammalian dive response in humans is located in the somatic nerves of the facial muscles, so when ice cold water is applied to the face it rapidly reduces your heart rate, and stimulates the muscle tissue to store more oxygen.” But it’s not just your mental state that can benefit from this activity. Often, common physical ailments can be linked to chronic low-grade inflammation, with many of us living with constant aches and pains. When cold water is applied to specific areas of the body, the blood vessels constrict, restricting the blood flow to reduce inflammation.

TIDE TO THE MOMENT Beyond the physical sensations, nature can induce mindfulness, as person-centred counsellor and keen outdoor swimmer Naomi Wright explains. In fact, it’s for this very reason she keeps going back to the tarns in the Lake District. “There is a good reason why those of us who continue to seek out the cold water do so,” Naomi says. “When you’re in the water, you have to remain focused on moving and breathing, so for that time you’re free from stress or anxiety. You’re completely present. “Swimming in cold water takes courage and bravery, and every cold swim reminds you of those things within you. From there, you can realise your own power and resilience. It awakens a mindfulness in me. Because I swim in lakes and tarns, the


wellbeing

Don’t go chasing waterfalls If you’re feeling adventurous and want to give cold open-water swimming a try, be sure to stay safe. Here are a few reminders: • Enter the water slowly to allow your body to acclimatise. • Ideally swim with other people who are familiar with the body of water you’re visiting. • Make sure people know where you are and what you’re doing. • Be aware of your surroundings – entry and exit points. • Wear a bright swimming cap or something to ensure you are visible in the water.

connection to nature has a powerful impact – it offers perspective.” TAKE THE PLUNGE If jumping into a cold lake at the get go doesn’t sound all that appealing, we’re with you, and we wouldn’t recommend it for complete beginners either! Psychotherapist and counsellor Greg recommends starting small, and a little closer to home. “You can begin to improve your wellbeing by gradually reducing the temperature of your morning showers. As you stagger your immersion into cold water, try not to tense up the muscles. Breathe in deep and slow, to regulate your thermo-generative ability, and relax. “Very soon, often after just 10 days or so, you should find that the brown adipose tissue (known

as the brown fat) in your neck generates enough body heat to enjoy a deep sense of calm.” Another great option Greg suggests is spending time outside on a frosty morning in just a T-shirt, as this can trigger the same bodily response. But if you are keen to explore wild open waters, a good starting point would be to join others who can show you the ropes. You can find swim groups across the UK at outdoorswimmingsociety.com. While writing this, something struck me. There came a point where I couldn’t put pen to paper until I had moved to a new location – writer’s block was in full force. But this time, the only place that truly stimulated my brain was the garden – being present in nature. I might have felt cold, but my brain was awash with creativity. Go figure.

Greg Savva is an experienced counsellor, psychotherapist, and counselling supervisor specialising in anxiety, trauma, and couples counselling.

Naomi Wright is a person-centred counsellor, with a special interest in mental health in agriculture and the rural community. For more information and to get in touch with Greg or Naomi, visit counselling-directory.org.uk

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

26 20

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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

PR

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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 46 | May 2021 | happiful.com


positive pointers

101 REASONS TO BE HOPEFUL Award-winning mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin MBE, and writer, literary consultant, and editor Britt Pflüger have teamed up once again to produce an inspiring and uplifting book about something we all need right now: hope Writing | Lucy Donoughue

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ow, more than ever, we could all do with a little hope. And to answer that call, the duo behind the book The Stranger on the Bridge – which recounts Jonny Benjamin’s own experience of mental illness, and the moment a stranger saved his life – have brought another offering for our time of need. Jonny and Britt have curated stories from 101 people who share their experiences and reasons to find hope. The idea of The Book of Hope is like a pick and mix. Readers can dip into it to take what they need, and come back for more. There’s a huge variety of stories to choose from, including Jonny’s own list of 101 things that give him hope, life coach and presenter Anna Williamson on living with anxiety, and

athlete Dame Kelly Holmes outlining her hope for mental health discussions in the future. The following extract from The Book of Hope features actor and magician Joe Tracini’s personal letter to future readers... Hello you. I can’t see you, but I know you’re there. I hope you’re OK. So, you’re reading a book about hope. Without knowing who, where or how you are, the fact that you’re reading a book about hope tells me three things about you. Thing I Know about You Because You’re Reading a Book about Hope – Number One: You need some. If you’ve ended up here, wherever you are, reading this, it’s because you need some hope.

I hate talking about me, but if I’m going to talk a bit about you, it’s only fair I tell you a bit more about me. Here are eight things that are true: 1. My name’s Joe. 2. I’m 31 years old. 3. I can talk to somebody for hours and not say a single thing about me without them noticing. 4. I was a drug addict and I’m seven years clean. 5. I was an alcoholic and I’m four years sober. 6. I live with daily suicidal thoughts that are always there. Some days they’re just louder than they were the day before. 7. I’ve done more good things than bad things, but I never remember the good ones because I only feel the bad ones. >>>

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8. I’ve got something called emotionally unstable personality disorder, also known as BPD, which is essentially a Pound Shop bipolar; it does most of the same stuff but some of it’s a bit sh*tter. Ugh. There. Done. Thing I Know about You Because You’re Reading a Book about Hope – Number Two: You are not hopeless. You might feel like you are, because if you’re looking for hope it means you had some at one point but you lost it. You might have less hope now than you’ve had in the past, but you’re not hopeless. You’re only ever hopeless when you’re dead. Which you’re not. Yay. Hi. I should point out that there isn’t a single thing on my list about me that you can see. They are all invisible. Things you can’t see are difficult to explain to somebody who doesn’t have any experience of that kind of thing, and this is made even more difficult if you know the words but don’t know which order to put them in to explain what you’re feeling. And even if you can, you’re probably scared to tell anybody else in case they don’t believe you. Arguments occur more frequently when they’re about something you can’t see, because if somebody can’t see something, it can be denied.

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Unfortunately, mental health problems fall into this category. If something is invisible and you don’t understand it, you have a choice. Accept that it’s definitely there, because other people who know what they’re talking about are telling you it is and talking about it. So trust them, listen to them, and learn from them. Or be a d**k. ‘Nope. Not real. Can’t see it. Prove it.’ I’m not saying I don’t understand that thought process,

because I do. How can you believe in something you can’t see and know nothing about? I get it. Mental illness is invisible, a bit like air, Nobody’s having a row about air, though. I can’t see air. I don’t know anything about air, but I know it’s real. I’m sure people have tried to explain it to me in the past, but I didn’t pay attention because I don’t care about air. If I don’t listen, will it affect my life or the lives of others? No? Great. Carry on then.


Jonny Benjamin | Instagram: @mrjonnybenjamin, Joe Tracini | Jennifer Evans

positive pointers

Britt Pflüger

min Jonny Benja

Joe Tracini

Joe Tracini is an actor who’s best known for things you probably watched hungover. Joe began oversharing the broken bits of his brain in articles and videos in May 2018. He’s also a writer, presenter, and British Champion magician who has a deep-set hatred of writing about himself in the third person.

I know that air’s everywhere without understanding it because my whole life, I’ve heard people talking about it. I accept air is a thing even though I can’t see it, and I’m comfortable trusting these people because they know what they’re on about.

You might have less hope now than you’ve had in the past, but you’re not hopeless But you know what you I’m not doing? Kicking off at Professor Brian Cox on Twitter, telling him that I don’t believe his whiny opinions because I can’t see what he’s talking about so he’s an attention-seeker whose career is essentially a tapestry of desperate and unsubstantiated air lies. Pics or it didn’t happen. That would, obviously, fall into the ‘being a d**k’ category. I can’t see air, but I know it’s there. I can’t see a relationship, but I know they’re a thing. I even have some. I’m a son, a brother, an uncle, a cousin, and a friend. A relationship is something independent, that lives between the two people that made it. Relationships start to corrode and collapse when they stop being cared for by both people. If they are not equal, they won’t work.

Relationships are invisible, but they are still real. Mental illness is real. Nowadays, when I wake up in the morning, the only goal I set myself is to finish that day the same way I started it – in a bed, knowing I’ll see tomorrow. Even if today isn’t what I needed or wanted or expected, if I can just get through today, tonight I’ll have another chance at tomorrow. Thank you for listening to me. I hope one day I get to find out more than three things about you. Oh sh*t, nearly forgot. Thing I Know about You Because You’re Reading a Book about Hope – Number Three: I know you deserve it. Just like the air, I know you can’t see it, but I promise it’s there. Hope.

‘The Book of Hope’ is a collection of 101 stories that illustrate human strength and resilience, compiled by Jonny Benjamin and Britt Pflüger (bluebird books for life, £14.99). Listen to Jonny Benjamin discuss hope on Happiful’s podcast, ‘I am. I have’.

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A beginner’s guide to

crystal healing Find out why crystals are used in healing, and how you can choose, cleanse, and store your own crystals Writing | Kat Nicholls

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hen most people hear about crystal healing, the first thing they ask is: “How does it work?” Many theories seek to answer this, including the colour resonances between crystals and the chakras, and the effect their energy or vibration has on our largely water-filled bodies. The important thing to note is that this is a complementary, holistic approach, to be used alongside professional medical support. It is believed that crystal healing is an energy-based system, meaning crystals may help to unblock, rebalance, and direct our energies to where they are most needed. Even though they look rather calm and unassuming on the outside, crystals are believed to hold a mass of energy on the inside, with many noting how the tiny particles vibrate around an atomic core. If you want to explore this energy yourself, read on for our guide to selecting and cleansing healing crystals.

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positive pointers

Choosing your crystals

There are several different ways you can pick your crystal, but my favourite way is by intuition. Close your eyes and clear your mind. When you open them, see which crystal jumps out at you the most.

Types of crystals

There are a wealth of different crystals available, however, the following are great to start with if you’re new to crystal healing. 1. Amethyst This beautiful purple stone resonates with the third eye chakra, to assist with consciousness and intuition. This can instil feelings of peace, to reduce stress and aid sleep. 2. Rose quartz Pale pink in colour, rose quartz resonates with the heart chakra, symbolising love and opening your heart. Therefore, it is believed to help bring peace and tranquillity. 3. Smokey quartz Smokey quartz is a grounding stone to use at the end of a healing session. It is believed that it absorbs negativity, and may be beneficial for those experiencing anxiety and depression. 4. Clear quartz Known as a master healing stone, clear quartz connects with the higher chakras, and so is often used to improve your clarity, supporting you on a mental, physical, and emotional level.

Cleansing your crystals

The reason crystals are used so often in healing is because of a belief that they can absorb and project energy. So, before you start using your crystals, it’s important to cleanse them of any previous energy. There are several ways you can do this, ranging from simple visualisation, soaking them in a salt bath, or burying them in earth overnight. I like to cleanse my crystals by holding them under running water for a few minutes – visualising the water as pure white light – before leaving them on the windowsill to charge in either sunlight or moonlight.

Setting your intention

This is where you get to harness the powers of your new crystals. To set your intention, hold the crystal in your dominant hand. Clear your mind of any unwanted thoughts. When deciding on an intention, think of the whole journey. For example, instead of setting “I want to be calmer,” set one along the lines of “I wish to let go of stress and welcome more joy into my life.” Empty your mind, and start focusing on the crystal in your hand and the intention you wish to set. Repeat your intention out loud until you feel connected.

Storing your crystals

To benefit most from the crystal’s energy, it’s best to keep it near you. This could be in your coat pocket, at work, under your pillow, or on your bedside table. This way it will serve as a constant reminder of your positive intention.

Three crystals to boost your mood 1. Citrine This golden-hued crystal is believed to help with healing, and is beneficial for those looking for more prosperity in their lives. 2. Carnelian This stone is associated with motivation, inspiration, and confidence. With colours varying from light orange to a deep red-brown, carnelian is used to provide perseverance in tough times, as well as being an energy booster. 3. Aventurine Ranging in colour from green and blue, to peach and red, aventurine attracts friendship and forms lasting relationships. The green crystals are believed to be lucky, providing opportunities and good fortune.

If you wish to store them to keep them safe, a soft cloth bag is ideal for storing tumbled stones. But, if you have more delicate crystals, you may want to wrap them individually in cloth, or even put them on a shelf. Remember that crystals on display, and those worn as jewellery, will pick up lots of energies, and should be cleansed often.

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HAPPIFUL TOP 10

May

Reap the rewards of spending time outside this May. Prioritise self-care, and explore new-found joys in nature

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PAGE-TURNERS Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming by Lenka Janiurek Reading about the experiences of others, particularly those that we would not otherwise be exposed to, can help to open our eyes and broaden our perspectives. Lenka’s heartwarming memoir Watermarks explores her childhood through to her adult life, including encounters with death, poverty, and success. Her story emphasises her connection with water, and the freedom swimming gave her in times of despair. (Out now, Allison & Busby, £8.99)

2

PUT ON A SHOW Family Bake Off

If you’ve been inspired by the latest cohort of bakers to enter The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C tent, it’s your turn to compete for star baker. Why not round up some family members, bake along to an episode, and see who would be most likely to achieve a handshake from Paul Hollywood? (Watch ‘The Great Celebrity Bake Off for SU2C’ on All4)

OUT AND ABOUT The National Theatre

From classics like Othello to hidden gems like Antigone, the National Theatre at Home has everything you could need for an evening viewing! Grab some popcorn, some miniature tubs of ice-cream, and enjoy live action performances in your own, very comfy, front row seats. (Visit ntathome.com)

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4

LEND US YOUR EARS ‘The Smart 7’

If you find yourself overwhelmed by the constant flow of news and media, but do want to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the world, ‘The Smart 7’ podcast can help you do just that. Focusing on just seven key things you need to know, every day, in less than seven minutes, the podcast is a great way to be engaged with current affairs on your own terms. (Listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify)

5

PLUGGED-IN Harlow and Sage on Instagram

Pets have helped us in more ways that we could have imagined in the past year, so if, like us, you love seeing them on your feed, we’ve found an Instagram account you’ll adore! Packed full of doggy adventures, and the occasional kitty photobomb, these doggy foster family photos will never fail to make you smile! (Follow @harlowandsage on Instagram)


Book cover | amazon.co.uk, Holy Grail Hibiscus & Pomegranate Detoxifying Kaolin Clay Mask | www.holygrail-beauty.com

6

TECH TIP-OFFS My Footprint

Enjoy a challenge? WWF-UK has created an app that lets you get involved and celebrate successes in reducing your environmental impact on a daily basis! The little things really do make all of the difference, so why not challenge friends and family to reduce their carbon footprint by eating climate-friendly foods, or planting your own herbs? (Download from the App Store and Google Play)

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ME Awareness Week

Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS) is a debilitating disease of the central nervous system that can affect anyone, of any age, and can have severe long-term effects - ranging from extreme fatigue, to flu-like symptoms and generally feeling unwell. This week is about raising awareness of the condition, and what those with ME experience on a daily basis. (11–16 May, get involved at meassociation.org.uk)

SQUARE EYES Firefly Lane

Adapted from the novel of the same name, Firefly Lane is a light drama series that follows the lives and friendship of two teenage girls in the 1970s, all of the way through to their adulthood in the early 2000s. With a dash of humour and loveable female relationships at every turn, binge-watching the series is a fantastic way to switch off for the evening. (Watch on Netflix)

8

THE CONVERSATION

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GET GOING Head outside

Fed up of feeling attached to your desk? Why not take that work call outside? It can often feel difficult to try to squeeze time for exercise into your day, but one simple idea is to actually incorporate it into your work. If you’ve got a meeting where you don’t need to take notes, why not take your headphones and walk along to the sound of productive discussions?

TREAT YOURSELF Holy Grail

When the evening rolls around, it can be really calming to wash off the day with a face mask – your skin will thank you, too! Holy Grail’s Hibiscus & Pomegranate Detoxifying Kaolin Clay Mask is designed to draw out any dirt in the skin, and help you to feel clean and pampered. With products that are paraben-free, you don’t have to choose between effective skincare and natural products. (£16.99, shop online at holygrail-beauty.com)

WIN!

Win a Hibiscus & Pomegranate Detoxifying Kaolin Clay Mask from Holy Grail For your chance to win, simply email your answer to the following question to competitions@happiful.com Which of these is not classified as a citrus fruit? a) Lemon

b) Lime

c) Peach

*Competition closes 20 May. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!

happiful.com | May 2021 | 53


7

subtle signs of an abusive relationship

Our homes are the places we should feel safest, and yet, for so many people, this is where the real danger lies. Here, we explore the less recognised signs of domestic abuse Writing | Sarah Young

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omestic abuse is a crime predominantly happening behind closed doors, with abusers being any age and from all walks of life. They appear to others as just another regular person – a friend, family member, or colleague – which can make them hard to spot. And this is why it’s so important to be aware of the signs, to ensure people get support to safely break free from abusive relationships as soon as possible. According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales data for the year ending March 2018, police received more than 100 calls relating to domestic abuse every hour, and yet only 18% of women

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who had experienced partner abuse in the previous 12 months reported it to the police – highlighting just how big of an issue this truly is. One in four women, and one in six men, will be a victim of domestic abuse in their lifetime, and it’s reported that two women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales alone. Victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse come from all backgrounds, and can be any gender, sexuality, race, or class. However, it’s pertinent to acknowledge that domestic abuse prevalence estimates do not take into account whether acts of violence are repetitive and ongoing, who experienced


relationships

Nearly 2 million people in the UK experience some form of domestic abuse each year.

coercive control, and other important factors. While we should never undermine the experiences of male domestic abuse victims, charities such as Women’s Housing Action Group (WHAG) report that: “The abuse suffered by women is more physically severe, and is more likely to result in injuries and hospitalisation.” While the media typically focuses on physical violence within an abusive relationship, this is just one type of intimate partner abuse. Domestic abuse is a term that covers physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, financial abuse, as well as harassment and stalking. These forms of abuse are less recognised, which means that those experiencing them can sometimes not even realise that they are in an abusive relationship. Often victims – and sometimes even those around them – can feel that the abuse isn’t “that bad” because there is no physical violence, but seven out of 10 psychologically abused women display symptoms of post-tramatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or depression, with psychological abuse being a stronger predictor of PTSD than physical abuse for women. If any of this is ringing alarm bells for you, whether it’s a concern about a relationship you are in personally, or you’re worried a friend or family member, here are some abusive behaviours to look out for that aren’t based on physical violence. >>>

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Moving the relationship quickly

Abusive relationships are often very intense. An abuser will most likely be very loving at the start, and shower their victim with compliments, attention, and affection. This quickly establishes a strong bond, and a sense of ‘you two against the world’. They typically want to spend a lot of time together, and express their love early. They may suggest moving in together quite quickly, or talk about marriage and children, and may even propose. This intensity enables them to begin to control different parts of their victim’s life. An abuser may suddenly ‘flip’ to being aggressive and malicious in certain situations, becoming a totally different person to the one the victim thinks they know, leaving them in disbelief, shock, and confusion. Psychological abuse is often interspersed with kindness to confuse the victim, and they often will – especially at first – apologise and express regret at their own behaviour. This sends the victim into a cycle of false hope that they know they have done wrong, will change, and that these ‘slips’ in behaviour are not the ‘real’ partner that they know and love.

Gaslighting

This is a term to describe when an abuser confuses their victim, making out that they are overly sensitive, or overreacting. They

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might deny your version of events until you start to believe their narrative, or claim an event never even happened. They may present insults as jokes, and make you feel ridiculous for getting upset. Gaslighting can be subtle, and not that noticeable at first, but it steadily erodes the victim’s self-esteem, and leaves you emotionally reliant on the abuser. Abusers will also frequently shift the blame of issues within the relationship and outside of it, to the victim, and refuse to accept responsibility for their own behaviour.

Humiliation

Abusers may humiliate, undermine, or embarrass their victim in public or in private. They may call their partner names such ‘worthless’, ‘fat’, ‘stupid’, or ‘disgusting’, and use the vulnerabilities of their victim against them. This could be anything that the victim feels shame or guilt over – from secrets or private information the victim has shared, to even mental illnesses they may have – and are used to degrade the victim. They focus on breaking down the victim’s self-worth, until the victim feels like no one else could ever love them.

Jealousy and isolation

As the relationship progresses, the abuser may become more jealous and possessive, voicing disapproval over who the victim

Victims are more likely to be from low income groups, disabled, or from black or ethnic minority groups. talks to, or spends time with, discouraging them from seeing friends and family, and accusing the victim of cheating. They will often focus their jealousy on certain people, and may fly into a fit of rage, or frequently accuse their partner of cheating, until the victim believes sustaining their relationships, or interacting with this particular person, is more trouble than it is worth. They may manipulate a breakdown in the victim’s relationships by insulting those close to them, turning the victim against their loved ones, or otherwise causing a rift in their relationships – which can also extend to work colleagues and health services. Isolating their victim means that they are able to gain complete control over them, and ensure that their victim is dependent on them.


relationships

Help is available This is not an exhaustive list of the forms abuse can take, but if any of the above seems familiar, please reach out and talk to someone. You can find professional support options here: Online: •w omensaid.org.uk has a page on finding local support, a chat feature, and an email contact, as well as many other resources.

Control

Beyond your other relationships and interactions, an abusive partner may try to control what you wear, eat, or any other aspect of your life, checking your phone and social media, and may even go as far as to demand your passwords. Private information, sexuality, precarious immigration status, mental illness, and children, can all be used to control the victim, by using threats of revealing their private information, outing a victim, reporting them to authorities, getting them sectioned, or of taking the children away from them. The perpetrator may also use threats of suicide to keep the victim from leaving them, or threats of harm to the victim, the people they love, or even their pets.

Sexual abuse

By phone: • National Domestic Abuse Helpline run by Refuge: 0808 2000 247 (nationaldahelpline.org.uk) • The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors, run by Respect: 0808 801 0327 • The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK: 0808 808 4994 • National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Galop: 0800 999 5428 • Samaritans 24/7 service: 116 123

Sexual abuse can include lots of things, such as, insisting that you act out fantasies or engage in sexual acts that you have not given explicit In an emergency where you are afraid or enthusiastic for your safety, please dial 999. consent to, denial of your sexuality, not aren’t aware of the signs allowing you to use contraceptives, of this. An abuser may put controlling when you get pregnant, physical restrictions on you, or deliberately infecting you with a such as refusing to let you sexually transmitted disease. leave the house, or preventing you from sleeping, eating, Less recognised forms drinking, or washing. of physical abuse When we hear the phrase ‘physical Sarah Young talks about body abuse’, often we interpret that as confidence, and eating disorder physical acts of violence, from recovery, and chronic illnesses, hitting to kicking, or other forms on her Instagram of physical force. But this abuse @bodypositivepear can go further, and a lot of people

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culture

Happiful reads... From tips to improve your confidence to joyful romances, we share four books you won’t be able to put down this month Writing | Chelsea Graham

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hroughout her career as a writer, Luvvie Ajayi Jones is no stranger to imposter syndrome. She understands that to prevent feelings of fear and overwhelm stopping us from living our lives to the fullest, we must first recognise that we are scared – and then go ahead with our plans anyway! As a manual, the book not only teaches confidence and expression, but

details ways to manage emotions in difficult situations, written by someone who has been there and knows exactly how you feel. Exploring tricky scenarios, such as standing up to others in group settings, or challenging someone who has hurt your feelings, Luvvie flips the perspective to reveal that these don’t need to be argumentinducing decisions, but instead important steps to establish your own confidence and security.

Luvvie’s warm and witty voice, paired with her humour, makes this book about facing your fears a lot less scary.

A Walk from the Wild Edge by Jake Tyler Out now Filled with adventure, kindness, and the power of human connection, this book shares the journey of Jake Tyler as he explores the British mainland with only a pair of walking boots and a backpack. After experiencing depression, Jake shares how the physical nature of his journey helped strengthen his confidence.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary Out 29 April Renowned for her heartwarming, romantic stories, and gorgeously crafted characters, Beth O’Leary is back. Follow Addie and her sister as they embark on a road trip to Scotland, which hits a bump in the road when their car collides with another, driven by Addie’s ex-boyfriend. With the long journey ahead, and plenty of secrets to unpack, you’ll definitely want to be along for the ride.

The Fear-fighter Manual by Luvvie Ajayi Jones Out now

Must reads Living and Loving in the Age of Aids by Derek Frost Out now An emotional story of compassion, courage and joy, Derek Frost’s memoir details the lives of men caught in the Aids crisis of the early 1980s. Derek explores his moving transformation from a place of grief and loss, after his partner J lost his six-year battle with HIV, to one of generosity and drive, as he continued to run the charity they founded together.

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Learn to love where you live From sampling the local cuisine to connecting with the community, it’s time to venture out into your local area and unearth some hidden gems Writing | Caroline Butterwick

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or many of us, our sense of connection with our community has grown over the past year, and looking at what we have locally can help us appreciate where we live, boosting our wellbeing, and helping us feel closer to the people and places around us. As restrictions hopefully continue to ease, taking advantage of our hometowns is a great way of getting out into the world again. And even as life gets back to normal, the sense of togetherness that many of us nurtured in lockdown is something we should hold on to. Here, we explore ways you can deepen that connection and carry it forward as we emerge from the other end.

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1. DISCOVER LOCAL HISTORY No matter where you live, there will be interesting history to discover. I love learning about my local history in Stoke-on-Trent. Finding out how the famous ceramics industry has shaped the development of the area made me better appreciate why ‘Stokies’ obsess about pottery (and why The Great Pottery Throw Down is filmed here). Is there an interesting custom in your hometown you’ve always wanted to find out about? Or are you curious about the people who lived here before you? Your local museum is a great starting point. Some have developed fantastic online resources, so even if you can’t visit in person, you can still discover local history.

You can also look for local heritage trails. These are selfguided walks you can do that visit local sites of interest – from unique sculptures to historic buildings. Try Googling the name of your town along with the words “heritage trail” – many councils and tourism boards provide these free to download. Or, search by area on treasuretrails.co.uk, where you can discover and buy local trail guides to get you started. 2. CELEBRATE THE LOCAL CUISINE From Cornish pasties to Cartmel sticky toffee pudding, it’s likely there are foods linked to where you live. Try something new by cooking up a feast that draws on food associated with your region. Is there a market near


stay grounded

No matter where you live, there will be great places on your doorstep to discover you where you can buy locallysourced produce? Restrictions permitting, you could invite friends and family over to enjoy this meal together. I like introducing friends from outside the area to oatcakes, which are a Staffordshire delicacy similar to a pancake, but made with oats. They’re cheap and easy to make, and always well-received!

3. CHECK OUT LOCAL EVENTS Talks, performances, workshops, and other events offer a great chance to learn something new, have fun, or meet others with similar interests. This could be a fascinating public talk run by a university, or a virtual am-dram performance by local actors. Events listing websites like wherecanwego.com are a good for finding what’s on. What about trying something that draws on your local culture? For me, that’s involved signing up to a beginner’s online pottery class with wea.org.uk, which has a variety of courses available across the country. It’s an activity that draws on the area’s ceramics heritage, and is an opportunity to learn a skill.

4. GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, and do-it.org is a useful resource for finding both in-person and remote volunteer opportunities, or if you have a specific place in mind, get in touch with them directly. Another way to get involved in your community is by connecting with others with similar interests. One of my highlights of the past year has been attending regular virtual meetups for local artists. This has helped me make new connections and appreciate the people in my community. Maybe there’s a creative or cultural project you can get involved in as a volunteer or participant? Or if you love the outdoors, is there a community group that looks after a nearby nature reserve or country park and would value your input? 5. BE A TOURIST Take time to explore the local area with the same curiosity you would when a tourist elsewhere. Do that amazing woodland walk you’ve always wanted to try, or plan a visit to that National Trust or English Heritage garden just down the road. No matter where you live, there will be great places on your doorstep to discover.

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Did you know? 10 facts to make you smile

1

Wimbledon tennis balls are all kept at exactly 20oC, because this results in the ultimate bounce for better performance.

5

2 3

When a rabbit starts hopping around excitedly, it’s called a ‘binky’.

Squirrels will adopt other abandoned baby squirrels.

6

Robin Williams would only work on films that agreed to hire a certain number of homeless people.

4

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9

The little front pocket on your jeans was originally made for pocket watches – pretty much redundant now, but designers have kept it for the charm.

Jim Cummings, an American actor who voices Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, has been known to call children’s hospitals to lift spirits by chatting to the kids in character!

In Sweden, blood donors receive a text when their blood is used to let them know it’s helped to save a life.

8

In 2009, astronomers identified the chemicals in the centre of the milky wa y, which revealed that th e heart of our universe appare ntly tastes like raspberries (and smells of rum).

7

The speed of a computer mouse is measured in ‘mickeys’.

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Braille was invented by a 15-year-old. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to make a difference!


feel-good food

10 things you need to know about coeliac disease Given that coeliac disease affects one in 100 people living in the UK, and that it takes, on average, 13 years to be diagnosed, it’s incredibly important to raise awareness of this autoimmune disease to ensure the many people who could be living with the illness without even realising it, can get the help they need... Writing | Jenna Farmer

1. It’s not an allergy

2. It’s a lifelong condition

We often talk about coeliac disease in the context of allergies, but it isn’t actually an allergy; it’s an autoimmune disease. When an individual eats gluten, their immune system attacks the tissues of the small intestines, resulting in symptoms such as pain, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Unlike an intolerance, it’s not just about symptoms: eating gluten can cause the villi lining your small intestines to become physically damaged, which can prevent your body from absorbing vitamins and cause malnutrition.

Coeliac disease cannot be cured or be grown out of – it is a lifelong condition. Fortunately, the vast majority of people feel well when they follow the treatment, which is to avoid gluten at all costs. Some people who have coeliac disease may find that they don’t have immediate symptoms when eating gluten, but that doesn’t mean they’re no longer a coeliac; the damage to your small intestines will still be occurring in absence of physical symptoms.

3. It doesn’t just affect your digestion Another common misconception is that it only causes digestive issues. Although these are more prevalent, some people may have mild digestive symptoms and instead notice other symptoms more. One of these is dermatitis herpetiformis – a painful, itchy, blister-like skin rash that appears in individuals, some of whom don’t have any digestive symptoms. Other manifestations include fatigue, mouth ulcers, and low iron or B12. >>>

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4. Gluten is in far more foods than bread Whenever we talk about gluten, we usually focus on bread, but going gluten-free is actually much more complicated than that. Gluten is lurking in lots of everyday foods, such as couscous, gravy mixes, soy sauce, and even cooked meats, to name but a few. That’s why checking food labels is so important for those with coeliac disease. By law, food labels should clearly mark the allergens each item contains.

5. You need to keep eating gluten to be tested for it Many people opt to give up gluten if they suspect they have a problem digesting it, but this can cause problems when they try to get a diagnosis. According to Coeliac UK, the first step is a blood test to check for antibodies that the body makes in response to eating gluten. It’s important not to cut out gluten before testing, because otherwise you could receive a false negative. If a blood test is positive, some people with suspected coeliac disease will also be referred for an endoscopy to confirm the diagnosis and, again, it’s really important not to change your diet ahead of this so your doctors can visualise the damage gluten may have caused.

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6. It can run in families Coeliac disease is genetic, which means that if someone in your family has the condition, you have a 10% chance of also developing it. If you are struggling with digestion symptoms, and have someone in your family who has coeliac

disease, it’s really important that you speak to your GP about getting tested as soon as you can. The good news is that just because you have coeliac disease doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pass it on to your child – there’s still a 90% chance they won’t get the condition.


feel-good food

Coeliac disease is genetic, which means that if someone in your family has the condition, you have a 10% chance of also developing it 7. Many people are misdiagnosed with IBS Coeliac UK estimates that around one in four people who have the condition were previously diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If your doctor suspects you have IBS, they should always rule out coeliac disease by doing a blood test (along with testing you for other digestive conditions) before diagnosing you with it. However it is worth noting that coeliac disease and IBS can equally exist alongside each other, too; if you have coeliac disease, you’re up to four times more likely to have IBS.

8. Giving up gluten doesn’t make you instantly better The only treatment for coeliac disease is to follow a glutenfree diet rigidly for the rest of your life, but recovery can take some time. Lots of people notice a huge improvement within weeks, but it can take up to two years for your small intestines to fully recover. Those who struggle with the skin rash,

dermatitis herpetiformis, may find that their gut symptoms improve quicker than their skin condition, so some patients are prescribed treatment to help the rash in the short-term.

9. People with coeliac disease are at more risk of developing another autoimmune disease Like most autoimmune diseases, if you have one, you’re more at risk of developing another further down the line. For example, 4–9% of people with type 1 diabetes also have coeliac disease, and those with psoriasis are thought to be three times as likely to be diagnosed with coeliac disease, according to a study published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology. This is why getting a proper diagnosis is so important to ensure coeliac patients are aware of these other potential health concerns.

10. Coeliac disease can impact your mental health A review of multiple studies, published in the United European

Gastroenterol Journal, found that coeliac disease had a “considerable psychological impact”, and levels of anxiety and depression are higher in those who have coeliac disease. The good news is it’s shown that anxiety does decrease after a diagnosis. If you recognise any of the symptoms we’ve mentioned, it really is important to speak with your GP. Living with coeliac disease is manageable, and it’s certainly possible to lead a full life without gluten in it! Coeliac UK’s awareness week takes place between the 10–16 May. If you suspect you could have coeliac disease or want to learn more, visit coeliac.org.uk

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

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true story

My illness made me stronger A shocking diagnosis of type 1 diabetes brought Kimberley close to breaking point – until she drew inspiration from the love and compassion of her friends and family Writing | Kimberley Kotadia

T

he results from your blood test are back. I’m sorry to tell you over the phone, but you’ve got diabetes, and you need to get yourself to A&E straight away.” When I heard my GP say these words, I thought she must be mistaken. I’d been feeling ill for weeks, and as someone who suffers from health anxiety, and who Googles every little symptom, I knew that what I’d been experiencing was typical of type 1 diabetes. Yet when the GP confirmed it, I couldn’t quite believe it. My diagnosis came during the coronavirus pandemic, at a time when the anxiety I’ve lived with for as long as I can remember was becoming increasingly difficult to manage. When I started losing weight and feeling increasingly tired, I attributed this to my anxiety, as it had caused these symptoms in the past. I told myself that I was just stressed about coronavirus and missing my parents. Luckily, being the hypochondriac that I am, I phoned the GP just to be sure. She referred me for a blood test, but reassured me that as an otherwise healthy 28-year-old, I probably didn’t have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, I was right to worry this time. After the call from my GP, my husband, Amit, drove me to our local hospital where we were told that I would have to go in alone

due to the pandemic. Once inside, I sat in the waiting room and cried my eyes out. I was in total shock, but the worst part was having to go through it on my own. I continued to sob as I changed into a hospital gown and was hooked up to various monitors and drips. I was convinced that I was going to die without any of the people I loved around me. I was kept in the hospital overnight while they tried to bring my blood sugar back under control. My anxiety manifests itself in ‘worst case scenario’ thinking, so I convinced myself that if I fell asleep, I would not wake up again. I was also racked with guilt because I thought I’d caused my diabetes by eating too much sugar. By the next morning, when the diabetes specialist nurse came to see me, I felt absolutely broken. I was exhausted, overwhelmed, and desperate to go home. The nurse told me about type 1 diabetes, and explained that as it’s an autoimmune condition, there was nothing I could’ve done to prevent it. She also told me there was no cure, and that I’d live with it for the rest of my life. I tried to absorb the information, and to pay attention when she showed me how to test my blood sugar and inject insulin. But I couldn’t take any of it in. So, when they discharged me, I didn’t really know what I was doing. >>>

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Kimberley and her husband, Amit

Over the following days, Amit and I struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis, and how to manage it. I was terrified of my blood sugar going too high or too low, and having to inject insulin four times a day felt surreal. I couldn’t believe that I was going to have to do this for the rest of my life, and felt angry that this had happened to me. I felt I was slipping into depression – although looking back, I think I was going through the various stages of grief as I mourned for my health. Every day felt like a battle, as I tried to learn how to keep my blood sugar under control, but after a couple of weeks, I started to feel I was getting the hang of it. That’s when I had my first episode of hypoglycaemia, or a ‘hypo’, where your blood sugar drops too low. For me, the symptoms are similar to an anxiety attack, as I start to shake, my heart beats faster, and I feel confused. I started to become increasingly anxious about this happening, because I had read that low blood sugar can cause you to lose consciousness, so I was terrified that I would end up back in hospital – or worse. Over the next few weeks, I had hypos during a Teams meeting at work, on a walk to the pharmacy, before I went to bed, during the night, when I got up in the morning. With each episode my anxiety grew, until it reached almost unmanageable levels. My family and friends would describe me as a control freak, so not being able to control my blood sugar became a

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I felt I was slipping into depression – although looking back, I think I was going through the various stages of grief as I mourned for my health stick to beat myself with, and I constantly felt guilty for not being a ‘good’ diabetic. At this point, I think I would’ve given up if it hadn’t been for the huge amount of support I received. I’m really close to my parents, but hadn’t seen them for a couple of months due to lockdown. I usually turn to my mum for everything, so not being able to see her, and have her give me a hug and tell me that everything was going to be all right, was really difficult. Despite not being able to see me in person, my parents were still the constant source of strength and support that they always have been. My wider family and friends also made sure I didn’t feel alone by sending me messages, cards, flowers, and gifts. The turning point came when I looked at all the cards I’d received. Up until then, I’d been reflecting on how unlucky I was to have type 1


true story

With the support of her family, Kimberley is ready to take the next steps

diabetes – only 400,000 people in the UK have it – and how unfair it was that I was going to have it forever. But seeing how many people cared made me realise that actually I am incredibly lucky. I walked out of hospital at a time when, sadly, many people didn’t. Shortly after leaving hospital, I read a book called The Power in You, by Henry Fraser. Henry suffered a devastating injury which left him paralysed from the neck down, but has gone on to become a public speaker and artist. His book was filled with so much positivity that it inspired me to refocus my mind, and view my diabetes and my anxiety as things that make me stronger.

Seeing how many people cared made me realise that I am incredibly lucky. I walked out of hospital when, sadly, many people didn’t I know that my anxiety will probably never go away, but without it, maybe I wouldn’t have phoned the doctor and got the treatment I needed? I still worry about the effect that diabetes will have on my future, but I definitely know that with the support of Amit, and my family and friends, I will be able to handle anything that comes my way. I can’t wait to see them all when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted, so I can tell them how much their support has meant to me. More than anything else though, I can’t wait to hug my mum.

OUR EXPERT SAYS Newly diagnosed and alone in hospital, Kimberley received treatment for her diabetes, but struggled to control her anxiety. She mourned for her old life, with her new life feeling like a frightening, unknown place. Covid-19 restrictions may protect our safety, but emotionally made things tougher, as Kimberley felt she was facing these new challenges alone

and was anxious to manage it all perfectly. Fortunately, messages of support from friends and family helped her to cope. Often, as many of us will have found, we can give or receive support in the simplest ways when we need it most. Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) counsellor

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Struggling to sleep? Our Happiful family of experts answer your questions to help you get a restful night

Q

Whenever I try to sleep, I can’t stop worrying about the next day – stressful conversations, mounting to-do lists. What can I do to stop these intrusive thoughts?

A

Often worries that keep us from sleeping are those that we haven’t paid enough

Ask the experts

attention to during our waking hours. Although perhaps counterintuitive, scheduling time to worry can prove really helpful in this instance. Rather than being at the mercy of intrusive thoughts, scheduling time for this allows you to exercise more control over your worries, and to pay them attention at a time that is more convenient for you. Set aside some time each day, not too close to bedtime, to write

down all that is worrying you on scrap paper – 15 minutes is more than sufficient. And, importantly, when the time is up, stop and do something else. You can always revisit the exercise the next day if your worries persist. Writing down your concerns can help you to tease out what actually needs attention from what you can literally and metaphorically throw in the bin.

Read more about Laurele Mitchell on counselling-directory.org.uk

Q

I always get the right (or recommended) amount of sleep, and yet when I wake I still feel tired. What could cause this, and is there anything I can do to feel more refreshed?

A

When it comes to restorative sleep, we want to consider not just the number of hours, but also the quality

of our sleep. Regulating our circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) is essential, so exposing your body to natural light first thing in the morning can be really beneficial. Establish a daily routine that suits your lifestyle, and commit to those timings as much as possible. Routine is key when it comes to sleep, and our bodies respond very well to this, so stick to regular bedtimes, wake times, mealtimes, and exercise times.

To help you feel refreshed when you wake, consider your evening meal. Try to have dinner early (before 7pm), and make it light. Soups, vegetables stews, phos, ramens, and broths are brilliant in the evenings, as they are gentle on the digestive system. We really want to avoid overeating in the evening, when we are about to lie down for eight hours, so reducing portion size, and avoiding alcohol, can promote more restful sleep.

Read more about Beanie Robinson on nutritionist-resource.org.uk

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try this at home

Q

I find I’m struggling to drop off at the moment – it can sometimes take up to 90 minutes. Have you got any tips to help me get to sleep more quickly?

A

My first word of advice is forget about sleep! The more we focus on the problem, the bigger a problem it becomes. Instead, ask yourself: • Are you tired enough when you go to bed?

Got a question for one of our experts?

Join in with one of our Q&As on Instagram, or drop us an email at asktheexperts@happiful.com • What do you do before bed? Watching TV, scrolling on your phone etc. will reduce your production of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Fast-paced dramas can excite your mind and make it hard to drop off. • What is your sleep environment like? Make sure your bedroom is as dark as a cave! • What’s your current bedtime routine? Try to wind your mind

down – you could read a book, listen to a self-hypnosis relaxation track, or try mindfulness. Your mind needs to associate the bedroom as a peaceful place. Try some of these things to see what happens. Everyone is different, so it’s about finding what works for you, and building upon that.

Read more about Elise De Viell on hypnotherapy-directory.org.uk

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Plant-based picnics Want your picnic basket to be bursting with goodness? Here’s our top homemade, plant-based picnic treats to spice up this year’s go-to activity Writing | Lorna Rhodes

W

ith months of warmer weather ahead, we’re all looking forward to getting outside to enjoy the fresh air, and delight in some time spent with our friends and families. So to get you back into the swing of British summers, here are three recipes that will ensure your picnic is the pick of the bunch! To spend more time in the sun, make the carrot and butter bean dip ahead of the day – it keeps for two or three days in the fridge – and take some extra vegetable crudités or seeded crackers to dip. Prep the salad in advance too, just add the dressing at the last minute. Simply add some ready-made accompaniments such as falafels, veggie samosas, and a tub of olives to your cool box to turn these delicious recipes into a feast. Here’s to plenty of picnics in 2021!

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Carrot and butter bean dip

From start to finish: 25 minutes, plus cooling Ingredients • 350g carrots, peeled and thickly sliced • 150ml vegetable stock • 1–2 cloves of garlic, crushed • 2 tsp harissa paste • 400g can butter beans, drained and rinsed • 2 tbsp almond or cashew nut butter • 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped • Salt and freshly ground black pepper Method 1. Cook the carrot with the stock for 10 minutes until just tender. Allow to cool. 2. Transfer to a food processor, add the rest of the ingredients, and blend until pureed. Season, then cover and refrigerate until needed. 3. Serve with some pitta bread, or any other flatbreads or veggie sticks.

Find nutritio a n our Hap ist on piful app


feel-good food

Cauliflower tabbouleh salad

The healthy bit

Serves 6–8 From start to finish: 60 minutes Ingredients • 500g butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-sized chunks • 1 tbsp olive oil • Salt and ground black pepper • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds • 2 tbsp sunflower seeds • 100g quinoa • 75g puy lentils • 1 medium cauliflower • 100g sunblush tomatoes • A handful mint leaves and flat-leaved parsley, chopped For the dressing • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil • 1 tbsp lemon juice • 1 clove garlic, crushed Method 1. Preheat the oven to 190C/170Cfan/gas mark 5. Toss the squash in the oil, season and transfer to a roasting tin, then bake for 30 minutes until tender. On a separate baking tray, roast the seeds in the oven for 10 minutes until golden. 2. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa as directed on the packet, then drain and cool. Boil the lentils for approx 20 minutes until tender. Drain and cool. 3. Boil the cauliflower for 2 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and blitz until it looks like rice. 4. Tip this into a bowl and add all of the ingredients with the sunblush tomatoes and herbs. 5. Mix the dressing ingredients, toss with the salad.

Apple flapjacks Makes 12 From start to finish: 40 minutes Ingredients • 200g porridge oats • 25g sunflower seeds • 15g linseeds • 15g chia seeds • 25g flaked almonds • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • 1 eating apple, grated • 3 tbsp clear honey • 60g coconut oil You can replace the honey with maple syrup if you are vegan. Method 1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160fan/ gas mark 4. Grease the holes of a 12 bun or muffin baking tin. 2. Put the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the grated apple and stir together. 3. Measure the honey into a small bowl, add the coconut oil and microwave for 30 seconds. Pour into the oat mixture. 4. Divide the mixture into the bun tin, pressing it into each hole, then bake for 20–25 minutes. 5. Remove from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Lift the flapjacks on to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Salads are great for summertime, and this cauliflower dish is bursting with goodness. While the butternut is a good source of the antioxidant beta carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium, cauliflower provides vitamin K and C, while also having a high fibre content. We should all be eating a portion of vegetables from the cruciferous family (such as cauliflower) every day, as they contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. Quinoa is a fantastic wheat and gluten-free choice for grains. It’s technically a seed rich in amino acids, so is a good source of protein, and also magnesium and manganese. It has good levels of vitamins B2, vitamin E and fibre. I’m always making alternative dips to hummus, and this one uses the often-forgotten butter bean, giving it a lovely creamy texture. Pulses provide a source of protein, so important if you are vegetarian or vegan, and are high in cholesterol-lowering fibre and complex carbohydrates, while being low in fat. Combined with carrot, another good source of beta carotene, you get a glorious golden mixture, as well as another highly nutritious and delicious dish for your picnic. Lorna Rhodes is a registered nutritional therapist, author, and recipe writer specialising in women’s health, including digestive problems and menopause. She has a special interest in supporting breast cancer patients.

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How to manage illness anxiety in a

post-lockdown world The gradual return to normal life once the pandemic is under control could bring its own set of mental health issues Writing | Maxine Ali

O

ver the coming months, as the government aims to gradually ease lockdown restrictions across the UK, many of us will find our daily lives changing once again. Restaurants and pubs will be able to welcome patrons, hairdressers and beauty salons will correct the after-effects of our lockdown DIY dos and, at last, we might be able to meet and chat to our friends, parents, and grandparents. While some may be eager to get back into the swing of normal life, for others the thought of venturing out into a postlockdown world can bring about feelings of fear and anxiety.

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Illustrating | Rosan Magar

A recent survey by Anxiety UK reported that 67% of respondents experienced an increase in anxiety over the prospect of lifting or easing lockdown restrictions. Contracting the virus, being in public spaces, going to social events, and getting back to pre-restriction routines, were among the biggest concerns for respondents. It’s completely normal to feel more conscious about your health right now. With a threat as uncertain and continuous as the coronavirus pandemic, experiencing illness anxiety makes total sense. However, if this anxiety feels like it’s taking over your life, it can put a significant strain on your mental wellbeing.

While the future effects of lockdown restrictions easing remain uncertain, there are things you can do to help manage illness anxiety and take care of your mental health.

You may have illness anxiety if you are • Obsessively looking at health information • Frequently checking your body for signs of illness • Avoiding certain objects, such as door handles, in case they are contaminated • Constantly seeking reassurance that you’re not ill • Avoiding normal activities and behaving as if you’re ill


wellbeing

Focus on what you can control Following public health guidelines, and adopting protective behaviours – such as wearing a face mask in shops and on public transport, and washing your hands regularly – are just a few ways to feel more confident and in command of your own, and others’, safety. You may also find it helpful to write a list of your specific concerns, then ask yourself what you need to feel more comfortable in the scenarios you’re afraid of. You can’t control everything, but you can work towards finding practical solutions to your worries, and gradually implementing them within your daily routine.

Try to limit how often you check for symptoms Although it’s still important to be mindful of new symptoms – NHS guidelines continue to advise people with any symptoms of coronavirus to self-isolate and get tested – constantly checking for signs of illness can increase feelings of anxiety. NHS Foundation Trusts recommend making a plan to gradually reduce the number of

checks you allow yourself each day. If you take your temperature often, set yourself a plan to reduce these checks by two each day, until you feel comfortable without this reassurance.

Share your concerns with others Opening up about your concerns can help you establish boundaries as you begin to resume normal activities. When planning to go out, share your needs with the people and places you intend to visit, and request reasonable accommodations in order to make your visit more comfortable and enjoyable. Don’t be afraid to ask about what protective measures are in place, and how busy venues expect to be. It isn’t too demanding. It’s self-care.

Don’t gaslight yourself, or allow others to gaslight you Seeing others return to normal activities may lead you to question the validity of your own fears. But, managing your anxieties does not include dismissing

67% of respondents experienced an increase in anxiety over the prospect of lifting or easing lockdown them. Instead, work through them with understanding and self-compassion, and don’t be too hard on yourself if you feel overwhelmed from time to time.

Take things at your own pace Just because restrictions are easing, it doesn’t mean you have to rush back into your prepandemic routine. Lockdown has given many of us an opportunity to slow down, and so getting back to our once busy lives won’t happen overnight. Take as much time as you need and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You will get there, one day at a time. Maxine Ali is a health and science writer, and linguist specialising in body talk and body image. Follow Maxine @maxineali or visit her website maxineali.com

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The future is green From incredible inventions to easy eco-hacks, we can all take positive steps to save our planet E F TH O TIP NTH MO

We might not be travelling abroad anytime soon, but by switching airplane mode on whenever you’re not actively using your phone, you can save your battery life. This means less energy is required as you won’t need to put your phone on charge as often!

ONE LESS THING TO WORRY ABOUT... AIR-INK is a pretty astounding creation. Founder, Anirudh Sharma, saw potential to turn something dangerous into an asset, and this innovation certainly does that. A cartridge attaches to cars to collect carbon expelled from exhausts. The team at AIR-INK then removes toxins until what remains is raw carbon. This is processed into quality black ink, which is put into a pen-like container and works just like a normal pen! Incredibly, one pen of AIR-INK can hold 40–50 minutes of car pollution.

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! DO IT YOURSELF Quick tips for homemade cleaning products – avoid the chemicals and repurpose things from around the house. All-purpose cleaner: simply mix together, in equal parts, water and white vinegar. The vinegar smell should leave quickly, but you can add lemon rinds for a fresh scent. This cleaning solution should eat through sticky residue, soap scum, and other messy buildups on household surfaces.

Window cleaner: add one quarter of a cup of white vinegar and one tablespoon of cornstarch (or rubbing alcohol if you have it) to 2 cups of warm water. Mix all of this together and spray on glass for a streakfree shine. Loose the limescale: take your trusty white vinegar and boil one cup of this along with one cup of water in the kettle. Leave it to work its magic for 10 minutes and then rinse.


try this at home

THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW COULD BE RECYCLED Batteries: many supermarkets have collection bins for batteries in stores, or head over to recycle-more.co.uk for more info. CDs and DVDs: With the rise in streaming services, many of us find stacks of CDs and DVDs cluttering our cupboards and collecting dust. One option is to give unwanted discs to charity shops. Otherwise these are sometimes accepted at recycling centres – but check in with your local centre to be sure. Toothbrushes: manual toothbrushes need replacing relatively frequently, but these can be recycled in schemes such as one run by TerraCycle. Or considering repurposing it by using it as a cleaning tool! Fluorescent light bulbs: While normal light bulbs have to go in the bin, energy efficient bulbs not only save energy and money while you’re using them, but they can be recycled. Most larger recycling centres will take them, or visit recolight.co.uk Makeup containers: TerraCycle have partnered with Maybelline to create a free makeup recycling programme, for any brand of makeup packaging, with drop-off locations all across the country. Visit terracycle.com/en-GB to find your nearest location. Tennis balls: if you’re having a cleanout, or find your tennis balls have lost their bounce, visit recycaball.blogspot.co.uk. Or perhaps you could leave a box with a sign to ‘please help yourself’ for dogs at a local park?

GO GREEN AT HOME Simple eco-friendly hacks that can make a big difference in the long run – and the good news is you can start today. Here’s a few ideas to kick things off: • Invest in draught excluders. A simple way to preserve heat in your home, and save on both energy and money in the long run. • Want to keep leftovers for longer? When storing cut veg, such as carrots and celery, keep them submerged in water as this makes them last much longer – in fact, this can help preserve carrots for up to a month! • Recycle your clothes. As well as charity shops and clothing bins, the H&M Garment Collecting programme offers people a £5 voucher to use towards their next £25 purchase in store when they recycle clothes – from any brand! • Make the most of the sunnier days to dry your laundry rather than running the tumble dryer, by using a clothing line or airer. • Shorten your showers. The average shower uses between two and five gallons of water per minute, so trying to cut down your time with the water running could really save a lot of water, energy, and money in the long run.

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The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain

HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW

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open your mind

Good chat Could the key to deeper, more meaningful conversations be in the questions we ask each other? Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

T

he idea of doing a Q&A with the woman who, literally, wrote the book on how to ask good questions is slightly intimidating, but that’s precisely what I did when I got together with Elke Wiss, a ‘modern practical philosopher’ and the author of How to Know Everything. “Wow, those three words each carry a meaning within themselves,” Elke ponders, when I ask what being named a ‘modern practical philosopher’ means to her. “To me, it just reflects that I have a focus on what it means to have a true dialogue, what it

means to ask good questions, what it means to practise some critical thinking. I think the word ‘modern’ is actually a nice contribution to the whole thing, because people tend to think that philosophy is a couple of old guys with beards, but in my humble opinion – which is not so humble, I guess – it’s not. “I’m sure that you yourself have asked questions like: ‘Why am I here?’, ‘What do I want to do with my life?’, ‘Am I happy?’ Those are all practical philosophical questions that we cannot Google ourselves out of. The only way to gain some insight is to practise thinking by ourselves, or in

dialogue with others. Does that answer your question?” It certainly does. Elke has been curious since childhood, and reflects on how, early on, she mastered the question: ‘Why?’ It was later in life that she stumbled upon a course in practical philosophy, and discovered Socratic dialogue for the first time. Here, she learnt how to ask more precise questions, the critical thinking skills that helped her unlock a new level of perception, and an ability to explore today’s biggest moral topics in a calm, productive way. >>>

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What is a Socratic dialogue? What if something as simple as a conversation could help us to uncover the answers to life’s biggest questions? That’s the goal of a Socratic dialogue – a form of conversation, based on the philosophy of Socrates, which uses deliberate questioning to shape an exchange between participants.

“I gained a lot of clarity by practising asking really sharp questions, to myself and to others,” she says. “I think we can also gain depth and meaning in our conversations, for example, we have to talk about racism, we have to talk about violence against women, we have to talk about all these topics that tend to heat up or explode in some sort of fight.” These days, it can feel as though conflict is everywhere we turn, with hundreds of opinions crashing down around us, escalating into heated fights, crossed wires, and missed connections. But it doesn’t have to be that way, all it takes is a willingness to listen and learn. Here, Elke takes us through her tips for having a better dialogue with each other...

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How to ask better questions and have deeper conversations Resist the urge to talk about yourself When I started writing my book, I stumbled upon this research that really caught my eye: when we talk about ourselves, our body produces dopamine. I like to use the metaphor of a little dopamine factory inside our bodies – if I do not slow down, then my dopamine factory takes over and I will start blabbing about myself. So, for example, you had a fight

with your husband – maybe he’s spending money without consulting you – and you just want to share your story. But, I try to find some little hooks that I can put your story on, like a coat, and then start talking about what I think. Giving advice is sometimes also a form of speaking about myself, because it’s my advice from my point of view. Recently I did a training session, and when I covered this point, one woman said: “Last week, I just had a chat with a friend and she told me she was a bit stressed. The next


I gained a lot of clarity by practising asking really sharp questions, to myself and to others

Photography | Elke Verbruggen

day, I had bought a yoga mat for her. I gave her the yoga mat and I said: ‘Well, yoga has really helped me, so maybe it will help you. Good luck with your yoga.’” She went into an advising reflex without checking if her friend was interested in yoga. When you do that, depth and connection go out the window – we’re being too egocentric to have good conversations. Listen without the intention of having an opinion The way that Socrates would listen is called ‘critical listening’. He listened to language, he listened to concepts, he was very analytical. He also did not listen with the intention of having an opinion himself, but only to understand better. I think we really have to practise developing an attitude to listening that is all about understanding. If my focus is on: “What do you mean?” then my focus is not on: “What would I do?” Establish boundaries for difficult conversations Have a framework for your conversation – what will this

conversation look like? Will it be a debate? Will it be a discussion? If you want it to be philosophical, then maybe propose it to be philosophical. The moment you hear someone say something you don’t like, the tendency is to throw around arguments. But, usually, the other person gets even more convinced of what they were thinking to begin with. What I would propose is asking: “I just heard you say X. Would it be OK if I asked you some questions about this?” or: “I would like to investigate your argument in a critical thinking way. Would you be OK if we did that?” This implies rules, it implies discipline. Let go of the pressure of being ‘smart’ I was studying with a teacher called Oscar Brenifier. I was in his workshop, and what he does is expose people, as Socrates did. We all want to be smart, we all want to be liked, but because of what we all want to be, we stop thinking and start pretending. He had a dialogue with me in front of a group of 20 people, and he just started asking me questions, such as: “Why are you saying this?” Then, of course, I started getting a red face and sweating, and I was like: “I don’t know.” Within five minutes, he drew me to the conclusion that I was trying to be smart. Then, he looked me in the eye and said: “So, you want to be smart,

right?” and I was like: “Yes, I guess I want to be smart.” “Well, you think you look smart now?” I was like: “No, I don’t think I do.” He concluded with: “So, you’re stupid. Congratulations, you’re human.” It may sound like a big drama, but it was not. It was a big relief, actually, because from that moment on I did not have to pretend I was smart. There was all this thinking freedom that I did not have before, because I was using my hard drive for keeping up appearances. We are stupid at times, we’re arrogant, we’re too quick. But the sooner you reconcile all those little parts of yourself, the more freedom you will have in your mind to start producing interesting things.

‘How To Know Everything’ by Elke Wiss is out now from Arrow Books.

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Grow your own wellness

Plants that offer mental health benefits, and how to nurture them Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

N

Illustrations | Becky Johnston

ature is abundant with wellbeing remedies, and you don’t have to be a master herbalist to benefit from them. The act of caring for plants is, in itself, a supportive, mindful experience – helping us to soothe stress and refocus our minds. But there are also many natural samples out there that come with their own wellness properties. Here, we explore six plants that pack just that.

Lavender

Leafy salad greens

If you struggle with brain fog, or find that you have dips in your energy, tucking into a bowl of fresh greens could give you the boost you need to keep going. That said, if you’ve noticed that you feel more tired than usual, it might be worth speaking to your GP, or connecting with a nutritionist using nutritionist-resource.org.uk

Having a healthy, varied diet is really important for our mental health, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and lettuce are great staples. Packed with B vitamins, vitamin E, vitamin K, folate, and L-tyrosine, these greens have been found to support brain function and even slow cognitive decline.

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Lavender has been used throughout history to aid relaxation and sleep. How exactly does it work? According to a study published in the Natural Medicine Journal, lavender calms anxiety by soothing the limbic system, the part of our brain that controls emotions. Pick a few sprigs, dry them out, and make them into scented bags to leave under your pillow or to take with you to relieve anxiety on-the-go.


stay grounded

Aloe vera

It may be known for its soothing healing properties – commonly used on burns and other skin ailments – but aloe vera can support our mental health, too. Grown inside, this plant is thought to be one of the strongest air purifiers around, making it a handy addition to bedrooms and workspaces, as it’s thought to help tackle stress and headaches. Aloe vera is also resilient and perfect for those who are just starting out with plants, or if you don’t have a lot of time to tend to them.

Peppermint

Another herb that makes a delicious, soothing, tea, peppermint is thought to tackle stress, and helps to clear your mind. It’s also said to aid with digestion and sleep, making it an all-round wonder. But beyond the teapot, drop some fresh leaves into a hot bath for an invigorating, uplifting experience. Be warned, mint plants can be invasive, so it’s worth planting this one in a pot.

There are around 391,000 plant species in the world, and between 14% and 28% of them are used for their medicinal properties

Rosemary

Delicious with roast potatoes, rosemary also has a practical use, with the herb being linked to a boost in memory. In research by Northumbria University, which looked at the effect that rosemary aroma would have on a room full of pupils taking memory tests, results saw them achieving 5% to 7% better when the aroma was present, linking this powerful herb to increased focus and clearer memory. Some rosemary plants also bloom beautifully, making this herb the perfect addition to a sensory garden.

Camomile

You may have tried camomile tea before, which is made using dried camomile flower heads, and celebrated for its relaxation properties. Find a sunny, welldrained spot, and plant camomile outside in May and June for a July and August harvest.

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What to eat on your period

(to feel energised and calm) Whether you’re suffering from PMS and cramps, or just feel like you want to hide under a duvet, being on your period can be difficult. Here, we speak to a nutritionist to find out how a tweak to your diet could help you to feel calmer, less in pain, and more alert Writing | Kat Nicholls

T

here are a couple of weeks every month where I feel like I’m operating at half-speed. I’m lethargic, irritable, and when my period comes, I’m often in a lot of pain. For me, a combination of pain-killers, hot water bottles, and CBD balm helps, but I’m convinced there’s more I could do. Feeling low in energy and agitated for half the month isn’t

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ideal, especially for my partner, who tends to be on the receiving end of my spikey moods. Through menstrual cycle tracking, I’ve gained a lot of awareness of how my moods change and why my anxiety peaks, but I wonder if looking at what I’m eating could be this final piece of the puzzle? We’re starting to understand just how much our diet affects not only mood, but also our mental health.

So when our bodies experience hormonal and mood changes, there must be tweaks we can make to our diet to support that. Thankfully, I spoke to nutritionist Julia Young to discover some expert insight into what we can eat to help us feel more energised and calm during our period. The following foods are her top recommendations to help soothe you during your time of the month.


feel-good food

PROTEIN Ensuring that our blood glucose levels are in balance can help us to feel energised and prevent sugar crashes and cravings. By ensuring we enjoy protein with every meal and snack, we can address this – plus protein helps to keep us satiated. Good sources of protein include poultry, fish, eggs, pulses, nuts, and seeds. WHOLEGRAINS Another useful food source to help balance blood sugar levels is wholegrains, which release energy steadily. They are also a source of fibre, needed to clear out old hormones and toxins, so ensure you include good wholegrain sources such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, or whole wheat pasta in your diet. LEAFY VEGETABLES Leafy veg such as spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower are high in magnesium, which is a nerve and muscle relaxant, and may help to prevent migraines and cramps. They’re also a great source of iron, which may be low, particularly if your flow is heavy. Leafy vegetables also contain compounds called indole-3carbinol, which supports liver function, keeping your hormone levels balanced.

Drinking plenty of water can reduce menstrual headaches, bloating, and water retention HEALTHY FATS Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies, are high in omega 3 fatty acids. These essential fats have an antiinflammatory effect that may help to reduce period pain, and also could prevent mood swings. Other healthy fats sources include nuts, seeds, olive oil, and avocados; in addition, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are particularly good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, which contain phytoestrogens that may help to balance hormones and relieve menstrual symptoms. CALCIUM-RICH FOODS Thought to improve your hormone balance and to ease menstrual symptoms, calcium-rich foods such as kale, broccoli, beans, almonds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and seaweed are also a great addition to your diet when you’re on your period. >>>

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Things to avoid – period. • Caffeine: as tempting as a

coffee pick-me-up can be when you’re feeling sluggish, caffeine can actually increase menstrual pain. It constricts our blood vessels, which could impact our uterus, too!

FOODS RICH IN B VITAMINS Foods such as wholegrains, nuts, sunflower seeds, sweet potato, and poultry are important for energy production. In particular, vitamin B6 is needed for the production of chemical messengers serotonin and dopamine. Low levels of these chemical messengers, or neurotransmitters, are associated with breast pain and water retention, as well as anxiety and irritability, so ensuring you include these in your diet may help to improve mood symptoms. WATER Drinking plenty of water can reduce menstrual headaches, bloating, and water retention. But if you need something with a bit more flavour, herbal teas can be a good option for keeping hydrated. Fennel tea may help to reduce menstrual bloating, and ginger tea has antiinflammatory effects which can help soothe aching muscles. Camomile and lemon teas also have relaxing effects. Nutritionist Julia also pointed out that it’s important for us not to go

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hungry. “This will do nothing for • Sugar: in a similar vein, we your mood – everything seems might crave an energy boost 100 times worse with a grumbling from something sweet, but this tummy. Eat little and often, around can play havoc with our blood every four hours,” she recommends. sugar levels, only making mood “Exercise can enhance blood swings worse, and after the flow to the pelvic area, and lessen initial burst of energy, leaving bloating and cramping,” Julia adds. us feeling even more drained “Being outside will increase your than before. exposure to natural light, and increase your intake of vitamin D, • Alcohol: giving your body some which is important for regulating alcohol-free space means it can sleep and boosting mood. A brisk focus on the work it’s already walk a day is better than nothing, doing for your menstrual cycle. but aim to make it a regular part of Adding another toxin, such as your lifestyle – choose something alcohol, into the mix could leave you enjoy.” you feeling more fatigued, as Armed with all this advice, I’m your body is working harder to almost looking forward to my clear it from your system. next period. However, I do want to end with a reminder that for some, periods bring more than low energy and cramps. Some people may experience extreme changes in mood due to a condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and some experience extreme pain due to conditions like endometriosis. If your period is Julia Young is a registered nutritional impacting you severely, speak therapist, with a particular interest in to your doctor. You don’t need to supporting people with fertility issues. Find more: nutritionist-resource.org.uk suffer in silence.


open your mind

How to cope with tactile hallucinations Have you ever felt like something was on your skin, but looked down to see nothing there? For those with tactile hallucinations, this is a regular, and often disturbing, occurrence, but there are coping strategies to help you through it Writing | Katie Conibear

I

t’s 1am, I’m laying in bed, and I can feel something crawling over my skin. There’s a ticklish feeling over a toe. I slap it with the palm of my hand. A few seconds later I feel something on my leg, my arm, even my face and neck. It goes on and on for hours. My first reaction was to assume there must be a mosquito. Countless times I got out of bed, turned on the light, and scanned the room for it. But there was nothing to find. If this happened once, I would shrug it off, but when it happened every day and night for weeks, it was a clear sign that something wasn’t right. This was my first experience of tactile hallucinations. It was surreal and disturbing to look at my arm and see the skin where it feels there should be some kind of insect. I would keep looking at it and see there was nothing there, but still the sensation would linger on. >>>

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WHAT ARE TACTILE HALLUCINATIONS? “Tactile hallucinations are the false perception of tactile sensory input, creating a sensation of physical contact with something that is imaginary,” explains counsellor and psychotherapist Kirsty Taylor. “Simply put, these types of hallucinations involve the feeling of movement or touch in or on your body, but there is no actual stimulus present. “Some people might feel as if insects are crawling over or underneath their skin, others may feel as if someone is standing next to them, that their organs are shifting inside them, or that something is trying to get out. People can experience

category, such as LSD, as well as alcohol abuse and withdrawal can also cause it. Plus it can be a side-effect of medications used to treat schizophrenia and some neurological disorders, such as epilepsy.

HOW CAN THESE TYPES OF HALLUCINATIONS BE TREATED? “Given the distress levels that these hallucinations can cause, it is very important to find the root cause and get the correct treatment,” Kirsty says. “The first step is to recognise that the symptoms are real. People might be reluctant to admit they have tactile hallucinations, but a visit to the GP is essential to get to the root cause.”

Tactile hallucinations can be very distressing to the person experiencing them harmless sensations, but the predominant sensation is usually unpleasant and disturbing. Tactile hallucinations can be very distressing to the person experiencing them.” Tactile hallucinations can be a symptom of a number of mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, postpartum psychosis, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. But it’s not just mental illness that causes this type of hallucination – drugs under the hallucinogenic

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Believe me when I say I know how difficult this first step can be – it took me a long time to admit to myself what I was experiencing. Eventually, after months of being deprived of sleep because of the hallucinations, I found the courage to go to see my GP. I’m so glad I did, as I was able to understand the treatment possibilities. For some people with tactile hallucinations, medications that treat neurological conditions and antipsychotics can be really

beneficial. Another option is counselling, which can provide a judgment-free space where you can feel safe to talk. “Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can be particularly effective in helping individuals play an active part in understanding and coping with hallucinations, and their effects on everyday life,” Kirsty explains. “Psychoeducation can help people to understand their symptoms, and it can be useful for friends and family to educate themselves, too.”

SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCE It can be difficult for family and friends to understand what it’s like to experience tactile hallucinations. Even though I’ve lived with bipolar disorder for many years, and I’m open about my experiences, I still found myself nervous when talking to my partner and family about this new symptom. Explaining what it was, how it affected me, and that there were treatments to help me cope, all helped ease their worries though.

HOW TO MANAGE TACTILE HALLUCINATIONS “It is useful to employ coping strategies to reduce both the severity and frequency of some of the symptoms of tactile hallucinations,” Kirsty says. “It is good to be physically active, to increase levels of dopamine in the brain, and to reduce anxiety that may occur due to some of the more distressing symptoms.”


open your mind

Key coping strategies • Keep a journal to reflect on any patterns and potential triggers • Get some exercise to release dopamine • Distract yourself with familiar activities • Try some positive self-talk – you can get through this • Practise yoga or meditation to help relax you

And when it became impossible to ignore, I would distract myself. Taking a hot shower would help, as it felt comforting to have a different sensation on my skin that I related to positive and calming experiences. Talking to my partner made me feel less alone as well. Having a normal conversation with someone you feel safe with can help alleviate the fear that these hallucinations can create. The important thing to know is that there are treatment options, and while the hallucinations may not disappear entirely for some people, seeking out support can make a huge difference. Kirsty also suggests writing down your experience. This can be helpful to watch out for any patterns or triggers, allowing you to avoid certain situations, thoughts, or people in future. She also advises trying some positive self-talk – telling yourself that the hallucinations are not real, that they will pass, and that you are stronger than they are. It might help to say those things out loud to re-enforce them. “Relaxation, meditation, and yoga are all useful ways to quieten your brain; shutting

out the noises of the world helps to calm yourself down,” Kirsty adds. “If the sensations and hallucinations feel overwhelming, you could call a loved one for some support, and to hear a friendly voice.” For me, one of the worst things about tactile hallucinations is that I would worry intensely about going to bed, because I knew I’d be kept awake by these phantom insects. I decided I needed to take back control, so I would tell myself that what I was experiencing wasn’t real.

Katie Conibear is a writer who blogs at stumblingmind.com. Her first book, ‘Living at the Speed of Light’, about bipolar disorder, is out now.

Kirsty Taylor is a counsellor with a particular interest in anxiety, grief, trauma, and eating disorders. To find out more visit counselling-directory.org.uk

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open your mind

The world’s best happiness secrets The latest World Happiness Report has revealed the top 10 happiest countries across the globe. But what makes them so cheerful – and how can you learn from their lifestyle to boost your mood? Writing | Rosalind Ryan

I

t may feel like there’s been little to be happy about in the past year, but the World Happiness Report (WHR) 2021 reveals the ways that people are still finding joy, even in hard times. The annual investigation into the happiest countries around the world put Finland in the top spot – for the fourth year running – while the majority of the top 10 was filled with Scandinavian countries. New Zealand was the only nonEuropean country to make the list, while the UK slid from 13 to 18. Dealing with the pandemic hasn’t been easy, but is there something about these countries that makes them happier?

We take a look at the top 10 to uncover their wellbeing DNA, and help give your happiness levels a lift.

1. Finland Happiness secret: love of learning The Finnish education system is renowned as the best in the world, with a relaxed attitude to lessons and less emphasis on testing. And this joy of learning for learning’s sake is something we can all learn from. “Setting and working towards goals, like studying a new subject, is a key tool for managing our day-to-day mental health,” says Catherine Seymour, head of research at the Mental Health Foundation. “Learning something new can give us pleasure, and a sense of accomplishment.” Feeling inspired? Take a look at the free courses on Futurelearn, Skillshare, or Coursera. >>>

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2. Denmark Happiness secret: cycling Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, is ranked the most bicyclefriendly city in the world, with 49% of work or school commutes taken by bike. But can cycling really improve your happiness? Simon Parker, travel writer and journalist, recently cycled through Scandinavia to film a documentary. He says it’s no surprise that such a happy country also loves cycling. “Cycling impacts much more than your physical wellbeing,” he says. “Time on a bike is brilliant thinking time, a time to reflect. You can compartmentalise the stresses and strains of the day, think about your relationships, and still really engage with your surroundings.” All those Danish pastries must put a smile on their faces, too.

3. Switzerland

4. Iceland

Happiness secret: strong community A key factor for happiness is a well-functioning democracy, and the Swiss vote on almost everything. This ‘direct democracy’ means every citizen helps to decide which policies go ahead, from buying fighter jets to banning cars on Sundays! We don’t have the same system in the UK, but getting involved in your local community has a similar effect. Catherine from MHF says: “Being part of a strong community is good for our mental health because we don’t feel alone. And when we face problems, we know we have the support of others.” If you want to get more involved, start volunteering. Local Facebook groups often have community pages, or head to ncvo.org.uk

Happiness secret: green energy Iceland is the world’s largest green energy producer; 85% of it’s energy comes from renewable sources such as geothermal energy – the heat produced underground. And although it sounds bizarre, burning fossil fuels can actually affect our happiness levels. Researchers from Oxford University recently discovered that sustainability makes people happier, while progress on issues such as climate change is linked to an increase in country-wide wellbeing. This means that using green energy is good for your mental health, and good for the planet!

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5. Netherlands Happiness secret: family-friendly lifestyles “Anywhere that doesn’t have a ‘long-hours’ culture will have high happiness levels,’ says Prof Sir Cary Cooper, professor of Organisational Health at the University of Manchester. In the Netherlands, you’re only allowed to work a maximum of 2,080 hours a year, which works out at seven hours per working day, or a 9–5 shift. Prof Sir Cary Cooper says: “They may enjoy their work, but it’s not their priority in life.” Leaving work at 5pm means parents can spend more time with their children, and that extra family time has a positive result. A 2020 Unicef report found Dutch children are the happiest in the world, so happiness seems to start young in the Netherlands.


open your mind

6. Norway

8. Luxembourg

Happiness secret: friluftsliv If you struggle with the Danish philosophy of hygge – feeling cosy and content – the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv may be more your thing. Roughly translated as ‘open-air living’, it describes the joy you get from being outside in nature. “A getaway to a green wood, a walk by the sea, or a gentle hike up a mountain does more to lift the spirits than any expensive handbag or the latest must-have gadget ever could,” Signe Johansen, author of How to Hygge, writes in her book. Why not pull on your hiking boots to find your friluftsliv?

Happiness secret: five weeks mandatory holiday Luxembourg may be small, but they have a huge holiday allowance: five weeks a year! Prof Sir Cary Cooper believes holidays are essential for good mental health, as “they’re not just a break from the pressures of work, but a chance to spend quality time together as a family or a couple”. Ideally, take a holiday when you need to, not when everyone else is going away. “Holidays in August are expensive and overcrowded, which isn’t much of a break,” says Prof Sir Cary Cooper. If you can’t avoid the school holidays, keep your focus on your family when you’re away; put on your ‘out of office’, and block all email notifications.

7. Sweden Happiness secret: better work-life balance Sweden shares many similarities with its Nordic neighbours, including a good work-life balance. To help rebalance yours, try setting some boundaries. Jo Hooper, founder of the Mad and Sad Club, says boundaries are just behaviours, which makes it easy to change them. “Your behaviours set people’s expectations of you,” she says. “People can’t adhere to your boundaries unless you set them.” Can you change any behaviours to help reset your boundaries?

9. New Zealand

10. Austria

Happiness secret: outdoor activities New Zealand is a great place to go hiking, biking, swimming, climbing, and much more! “I call it ‘organic happiness’ – that mind and body benefit you get from exercise and exposure to nature,” says personal trainer Luke Goulden. Plenty of research shows that exercise in green spaces is linked to wellbeing. Luke says: “This could be a walk through the woods, circuit training in the park, or mountain biking.”

Happiness secret: social connections The WHR also measures social support to rank each country, and Austrians are rich in social connections. A study of nearly 1,000 Austrians found that those with bigger social networks felt less stressed, tired, and worried. Experts say relying on a group of friends, rather than one person, can protect our mental wellbeing when times are tough. So, as restrictions ease, when’s your next get together?

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true story Content warning: contains details of sexual harassment

I can finally face my greatest shame The death of Sarah Everard has thrust the issue of violence against women into the headlines. Here, psychologist Marianne Trent reveals for the first time how her own terrifying experience — and her unexpected reaction to it — has haunted her for years Writing | Marianne Trent

W

hen Helen and I first met, as students in 1999, I had no idea that 10 years later we would be living together again, or that we would one day be bridesmaids at each other’s weddings, or that one October night in 2001 we would run as fast as we could away from a man who had followed us home from the pub. It’s fair to say that I grew on Helen a bit like an infectiously friendly mould. She liked the Manics, and I liked a bit of Westlife. She liked baggy jeans, and I loved sequin boob tubes. She thought Liam Gallagher was hot, whereas I liked Jeff Brazier from Shipwrecked. I was studying psychology, and she was studying English. One thing we had in common, though, was that it would only cost us £2 each at pound-a-pint night to have a really good evening. We quickly became inseparable. It was while we were walking home from the pub, to Tom Jones’s former house where we lived, that we heard a noise. Initially we thought nothing of it, but then it became a pattern. We would hear a strange whistling sound – like a two-tone bird call – but when we turned around, no one was there. We started to feel a bit uneasy and quickened our pace through the lamp-lit streets of the south Wales village we called home.

All seemed to go quiet, and we couldn’t see anybody behind us, so we breathed a silent sigh of relief, and carried on chatting and walking. We got to the turning for our street and started climbing the steep hill. Then, with a terrible feeling in the pit of our stomachs, we heard the two-tone bird call again. We turned, and saw him for the first time. He was a young man, standing at the bottom of our street, with his hand down his trousers, masturbating. He wanted us to see him. He wanted us to know he was there. He wanted to intimidate us while he pleasured himself. Evidently, he wanted us to know that he knew where we lived, too. We lived in a cul-de-sac, and so the only place we could run was to our house. We squealed and legged it. Now, I may have about four inches on Helen – she’s tiny – but she can move! That girl was fast. I was scared, and I’m sure she was, too. I think I remember pushing her up the hill, but at one stage we ended up holding hands – and she was quick. I felt I was falling behind. Then came the moment which still haunts me. I pulled her hand. It seemed I was trying to pull her back so I could get in front of her. Luckily, the guy stayed where he was and didn’t follow us. I will always be thankful for that, and for the fact that she and I were together that night. >>>

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Marianne and Helen have been friends for more than 20 years

What happened that night, and the ruminations, intrusive thoughts, self-criticism, and social threat I’ve experienced since then, are not my fault We got to our house, slammed the door, locked it, and called the police. Then, while waiting for the police, Helen said to me: “Marianne, you pulled me back!” I still feel such shame to recall it. I honestly can’t even begin to remember what I said in reply. Now, 19 years on and I’m a clinical psychologist, working with people who have experienced trauma. So, with my work head on, I know now that it’s likely that the fight-or-flight hormones had probably rendered my brain a bit off-line because of the threat and fear we experienced. That’s why I can’t remember. What I can remember, though, is the guilt and shame I’ve experienced over the years. Discovering compassion focused therapy (CFT), and developing and creating the ‘Our Tricky Brain’ psychoeducation kit, has really helped me

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to process and understand what my brain went through. It has helped me learn and understand that what happened that night, and the ruminations, intrusive thoughts, self-criticism, and social threat I’ve experienced since then, are not my fault. If there’s any guilt, shame, and blame, to throw around, then it firmly belongs at the door of the guy who did this to us. What Helen and I deserved that night, and what everyone deserves, is the right to walk home, safely, without incident, free of fear. Happily, Helen and I are still good friends. These days, in my professional life, I sit with incredibly brave people who tell me about what they consider to be their greatest shames. Yet, until I began writing this, Helen and I had not discussed it in years. I didn’t feel comfortable to discuss my shame with the one person who would have understood it most, help me process it, and reassure me that it didn’t change the way she felt about me as her friend. While I am friendly to the people sitting opposite me in clinic sessions, they are not


true story

Marianne is a clinical psychologist, and developed the ‘Our Tricky Brain’ psychoeducation kit

friends, they know nothing about me. For some clients, the pain and the shame are too great, and they don’t ever feel able to talk about what happened to them. In 2019, I attended a fantastic training course in CFT. The facilitator asked us to vividly imagine telling someone our deepest, darkest secrets, about which we felt great guilt and shame. It’s fair to say that the whole room of 45 or so mental health professionals were incredibly affected by this exercise. We were all cringing and feeling such visceral, bodily reactions. What was clear was that none of us were anywhere close to wanting to share these shameful secrets. This has stayed with me. I have learned more and more about CFT since then. I now know that I didn’t have a choice over my actions that

night. I was scared, and I was running for my life. And in moments like that, the human truth is that we all have the capacity to become ‘reptiles’, and just be out to save our own skins. There it is. In black and white. The thing I’ve been most ashamed of for the last 19 years. You may be wondering why I’m sharing this with you at all? Well, I’m doing it in solidarity with all of my clients, past, present, and future. I’m doing it for all of the people who will read this story and then one day, when faced with their own shame, will be able to recall this psychologist who took a deep breath, and bared her soul and her shame to the world. Of course, Helen would say that my greatest shame still ought to be ever having owned a Westlife album...

OUR EXPERT SAYS Marianne’s strength and authenticity shines through in her story. Her experience was clearly frightening, and connected with a part of herself she didn’t know existed. Although this initially created a feeling of shame, Marianne was

able to work through this. By being honest with herself, she has been able to harness the liberating power that this can bring. Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred) Counsellor and psychotherapist

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Here comes the sun As restrictions begin to ease, and spring is in the air, we’ve put together a fun list of outdoor activities to entertain kids (and give their eyes a break from screens)

Treasure hunt Plant clues around your house or local area in advance, with a special treasure of your choice at the end of the route. Go all out by tea-staining a hand-drawn map, hiding it in a box you could ‘find’ while clearing out an old cupboard, to get fully into the spirit of things!

Fossil hunting

Obstacle course

If you live near the coast, or have a chance to visit on a day-trip, a great beach activity is scouring the sand for fossils. Sea shells can be fossilised in rocks, so watch out for sea urchins, ammonites, corals, and mussels – a perfect activity, even on less sunny days.

A simple and fun way to expend some energy while getting in a little fresh air. Use your own back garden, or head to a local park, laying out objects you can find around your home into a course – a bucket to jump over, chairs to crawl under, and a piece of string to cross the finish line!

Picnic time Gather up a blanket, some tasty treats, maybe some board games, and venture out for some quality time together. Plus we have the perfect recipes for some homemade bites to add to your basket – head over to p72.

Bug bingo Look online for plenty of printable sheets to take with you, or simply set out on a walk with the aim to find and identify 10 insects. You could take pictures of what you spot, and look them up when you get home – ideally in a book, if you want to keep screens out of the equation!

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Bonus ideas! • Go litter picking. Why not make it a challenge – who can collect the most rubbish to help save the planet? • Play balloon volleyball – indoors or outdoors, it’s great fun. • Build a fort. Pillows and blankets at the ready. • Wash the car. Water and bubbles can make even chores fun. • Try stargazing. On a clear night, print off some constellation maps, look up to the sky and see who can spot them.


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