Happiful August 2019







Tired of not

being able

to sleep?

Rest assured, we've

got the solution p24

Packed with

AUGUST 2019 £4.00




Taboo-smashing &

filter-free: this is

Grace Victory


Aldo Kane



& living for








Go with the flow. Period.

The secret to making your menstrual cycle an easier ride

9 772514 373000





Put wellbeing on your holiday packing list



Tune in to you

We all do it: push ourselves to breaking point, trying

to spin all the plates, hold all the hands, juggle all the


We plough on, feeling the strain, trying to stay strong

and measure up against some indeterminate bar the

world will hold us to. We see our value measured by

how many boxes we’ve ticked off on the ‘life goals’

list, rather than by what the intricate calibrations

our personalities add to the world, and connections,

around us.

But, the question remains, who are we working

ourselves into the ground for?

As we approach summer, we want you to soak up

some of that vitamin D – and feel the self-acceptance

in the air. It’s time for a breather – from the pressures

we put ourselves under, the dreams that have to

be achieved today, and the feelings of guilt and

inadequacy that weigh heavy on our shoulders.

Feel empowered this August, as you hear from our

incredible cover star Grace Victory, who broke the

wheel of her life in order to start a new cycle of

healing. Discover the concept of ‘sisu’; you’ve almost

certainly displayed it before, but is it healthy going

forwards? And put things into perspective with

insight from professional adventurer and ex-Royal

Marine Aldo Kane.

A quote from Albert Einstein really captures the spirit

of this issue: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to

be of value.”

When we tune in to just how

valuable we truly are, the

external milestones, accolades,

and applause can wait. It’s just

white noise in the symphony of

our multi-tonal glory.

Listen. Your true self is calling,

We love hearing from you, get in touch:


happiful.com happifulhq @happifulhq @happiful_magazine


The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

14 What is 'sisu'?

Is this Finnish tradition the key to getting

through hard times?

83 Hospice Biographers

The incredible charity ensuring life stories

of people with terminal illnesses live on


16 Grace Victory

The 'internet’s big sister' opens up about

healing from abuse, breaking taboos, and

empowering others to live their best lives

26 Put it in writing

The story of how poetry became an outlet

for one woman living with BPD

44 Go with the flow

Get to know your menstrual cycle and

stop periods from cramping your style

73 Anna Williamson

Love, life lessons, and 'Loose Lips' with

the 'Celebs Go Dating' mind coach


Life Stories

36 Jenny: the long run

Following the breakdown of her

relationship, Jenny was fearful of what

the future held until she found solace

in reconnecting her body and mind

52 Vikki: discovering who I am

Every day was a struggle for Vikki

after she developed chronic fatigue

syndrome following a viral infection. But

things started to look up when she took

time to reassess what mattered to her


49 What's on in August

57 Editor's picks

From self-care to sliders, discover what our

Editor's is loving this month

66 Your summer reading list

Nine page-turners to enjoy in the sunshine

90 Quickfire: MH matters

78 Suz: breaking free of guilt

Intrusive thoughts plagued Suz's

life for years, as her mental health

spiralled out of control. It was when

her self-esteem was at an all-time low

that she finally found the strength to

78 58

reach out



Lifestyle and


31 Summer lovin'

Five ways to make the most of this summer

32 Aldo Kane

The explorer and broadcaster reflects on

how he manages to find calm moments in

an adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle

70 Life after divorce

With 42% of UK marriages ending in

divorce, what is the emotional impact?

86 One step at a time

How walking saved the life of

psychotherapist Jonathan Hoban








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Food & Drink

58 Up in your grill

Refresh your BBQ with these delectable

vegan recipes, perfect for summer

60 Endometriosis explained

It's the second most common

gynaecological condition in the UK, but

how does it relate to what we eat?

Happiful Hacks

24 Stop counting sheep

40 Sew good for you

50 Archive inbox anxiety

76 Thrive through illness


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Meet the team of experts who

have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight

throughout this issue


BSc (Hons)

Sonal is a nutritional

therapist, health tutor, and

director of Synergy Nutrition.



Zeenat is a life coach

specialising in building

resilience with clients.



Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.



Beverley is a psychotherapist,

columnist, and lead partner

at The Practice, London.


MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.



Ros is a solutionfocused




MA Dip RGN MBACP (Accred)

Lindsay is a counsellor,

psychotherapist, and

registered nurse.



Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Staff Writer

Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant

Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

Beverley Hills | Expert Advisor

Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director

Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer

Rosan Magar | Illustrator


Lucy Donoughue, Kat Nicholls,

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Becky Wright,

Ros Knowles, Maxine Ali, Lydia Smith,

Fiona Thomas, Ellen Hoggard, Sonal Shah,

Lindsay George, Anna Gaunt, Gemma Calvert,

Jenny Richardson, Vikki Cook,

Suz Yasemin Selçuk


Paul Buller, James Gardiner, Krishan Parmar,

Lo Dias, Susan Hart, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey,

Georgina Batt, Zeenat Noorani, Libby Palmer,

Sophie Lee, Simone Ayers, Lyzi Unwin,

Claire Baker


Lucy Donoughue

Head of Content and Communications




Libby is a remedial and

sports massage therapist

based in London.



Susan is a nutrition

coach, food writer,

and vegan chef.

Amie Sparrow

PR Manager



Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Steve White | Finance Director


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opinions, views and values expressed in Happiful

are those of the authors of that content and do

not necessarily represent our opinions, views or

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Contact Us


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email us at feedback@happiful.com



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 on jo@samaritans.org

Head to


for more services

and support



SANEline offers support and information from 4.30pm–10.30pm:

0300 304 7000


Mind offers advice Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, except bank

holidays: 0300 123 3393. Or email: info@mind.org.uk


The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a line

for men, and is open from 5pm–midnight: 0800 58 58 58


Switchboard is a line for LGBT+ support. Open from 10am–10pm:

0300 330 0630. You can email: chris@switchboard.lgbt




Help is out there. Search your postcode and browse counsellors

in your area at counselling-directory.org.uk



For those living with BPD, as well as their family and friends,

bpdworld.org offers information, advice, and an active and

supportive community forum.



A charity that's run for and by people with OCD, OCD UK offers

a huge library of information on their website ocduk.org, and

a support line you can call on 03332 127 890



Offering support and advice, you can call Cruse Bereavement Care's

helpline on 0808 808 1677 if you're in England, Wales, and Northern

Ireland, or for Scotland call 0845 600 2227



Get advice on how to find free walking paths, uncover routes

near you, and join walking groups at ramblers.org.uk

The Uplift


Photo series

explores mental

health, makeup,

and masculinity

In an empowering look at the topic

of masculinity and mental health,

model and activist Hélène Selam

Kleih has collaborated with makeup

artist Athena Paginton to create the

anthology HIM + HIS.

Designed with the aim of sparking

conversation about men’s mental

health, the book shares stunning

imagery of male contributors

decorated with makeup and

face paint. A vital component

of the series, each contributor

collaborated with Athena on a look

that reflected their personality and

the mantras they live by.

Considering the power of the

portraits, Hélène explains that

she wanted to create a project

that showcased men being

unapologetically themselves, which

in turn she hopes will help erode

the mental health stigma that can

hold them back.

“I want readers to hold HIM + HIS

as a journal of hope,” she explains.

“A platform to speak honestly,

however dark – a means to continue

a discussion in a meaningful, albeit

light-hearted, way. HIM + HIS is not

about taste, but about expression.”

Find out more, and order copies of

HIM + HIS, from himandhis.net

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Makeup | Athena Pagington, Photography | Piczo

8 • happiful.com • August 2019


New research reveals creativity

helps with three key areas

Even a little creative indulgence can significantly improve

our sense of wellbeing

Great news for budding creatives,

recent research commissioned by

BBC Arts has revealed that even

a short length of time spent on

creative activities – like singing,

crafting, or sketching – can

have a significant impact on our


The online survey of nearly

50,000 people across the UK

revealed that creative activities

can help us manage our stress

levels, face new challenges, and

explore new solutions to everyday


Produced in partnership with

University College London, the

Great British Creativity Test

asked participants which creative

activities they enjoy taking part

in regularly. Researchers then

identified three key ways that

we use creativity: first as a way

to distract ourselves from stress;

second to help us contemplate as

we reassess problems and make

plans; and third as a tool for selfdevelopment.

No matter what your level of

skill, trying new creative activities

can positively impact how you’re

feeling. So if you’ve been thinking

about going along to an evening

class, or giving a new hobby a try,

this is your sign to go for it!

Take the creativity test yourself

by heading to nquire.org.uk and

searching for ‘The Feel Good Test’.

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford



no longer

classed as a

mental health


In one giant step forward for

equality, the World Health

Organisation (WHO) will no longer

class transgender health issues as

a mental health disorder. In their

global manual of diagnoses, issues

related to gender will now be placed

within a chapter on sexual health.

Considered an outdated diagnosis

by many, reproductive health expert

at WHO, Dr Lale Say, explains: “It

was taken out from mental health

disorders because we had a better

understanding that this was not

actually a mental health condition,

and leaving it there was causing


Graeme Reid, LBGT+ rights

director at campaign group Human

Rights Watch, has spoken out about

the changes, saying they will have

a “liberating effect on transgender

people worldwide”.

In a joint statement, nine

organisations working on gender

identity declared that while the

move to the sexual health chapter

was by no means perfect, they

remained optimistic for the future.

“Today, we know that full

depathologisation can be achieved,

and will be achieved in our


Here’s hoping future strides are

quick and plentiful for the LGBT+


Writing | Kat Nicholls

August 2019 • happiful.com • 9

Reading gives us someplace

to go when we have to

stay where we are



Library lends

‘bags of wellness’

to support


mental health

Recognising the unique power that

libraries have in their communities,

North Yorkshire County Council has

begun offering ‘bags of wellness’ to

locals in a bid to boost mental health

across the district.

The bags – which service users can

borrow using their library cards –

include self-help and colouring books,

recipes, puzzles, and a relaxation CD,

along with information and advice.

The scheme came about following a

Dragon’s Den-inspired exercise where

staff had the chance to pitch ideas to

improve the service, the hope being

that the bags will make simple wellness

activities accessible for everyone.

“Libraries play an important part in

wellbeing, and form the hub of many

communities in North Yorkshire,” county

councillor Greg White tells Happiful.

“There are very few places that can offer

people of all ages a place to explore an

interest in books, take up a new hobby,

discover new information, and meet

like-minded people. Regardless of age,

background or income, libraries have

something to offer everyone.”

With studies showing that mindfulness

exercises increase activity in the area

of the brain associated with positive

emotion, this fantastic initiative puts

North Yorkshire County Council straight

in our good books!

Find out more at northyorks.gov.uk

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

August 2019 • happiful.com • 11

Take 5

Is there anything quite as satisfying as cracking a puzzle? We don’t think so. This month,

experience the mood-boost for yourself with these two confounding challenges

Diagonal suduko

Like a normal suduko, but with a

transversal twist. Fill the empty boxes so

that the numbers one to nine appear once

in each row, column, diagonal, and box.


9 1 6

5 4

2 9 1

How did you do?

Search 'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!

3 9 6 7

9 4

2 1 8 7

3 6

6 5 8 7 1

Movie emoji-nary

Use the emoji clues to work out the title of these famous films.


️️ ️ ️

Going up


& chips

apparently it's the

perfect pairing

T'ai Chi

is helping anxious

kids find calm

around exams



great for gigs, or a

glaring mistake?




An 'ace' campaign

Amateur tennis player

Robyn Moore spent June

hitting 200,000 tennis balls

to raise awareness of

the mental health

benefits of sport.

The Breakpoint 2019

challenge was lauched

with former British #1

Tim Henman. That's one

love to mental health.

Force Blue is an

organisation recruiting

veterans in Florida

for diving missions to

help local coral reefs.

Scuba diving can

be therapeutic for

those with PTSD and

depression, so one

thing springs to mind:

just keep swimming!


Itchy eyes, runny nose – the dreaded hay fever

season may be in full swing, but soothing those

sore eyes could come in the form of tickling

those tastebuds. Asthma UK have noted that

while drinking alcohol such as wines and beer

can make symptoms worse, gin has a relatively

low histamine content, so could be your perfect

alternative to unwind! G&Ts all round.

100% my type on paper

New research has found that we do indeed have 'types'

when it comes to relationships. This isn't about looks

though, it's the personalities that have similar traits, and

while we might look for something different in a partner

post-breakup, our understanding of how to work with

that type of personality could be a reason we keep going

back – we've already developed strategies for connecting.


In an innovative move to

protect our planet, Ocean

Mimic have created swimsuits

from recycled plastic, and for

every $10 spent on a product,

they collect 1kg of trash

from oceans and


A test of


In a study


40 countries,

researchers put the

public's honesty to the

test by dropping 17,000 wallets with

varying amounts of money in, and

seeing how many were reported. In a

surprising turn, the more money there

was inside the wallet, the more likely

people were to return it!


Roll up, roll up! The circus has

come to town, but it's like nothing

you've seen before. To make a stand

against the mistreatment of animals

in the industry, Circus Roncalli

in Germany has started using

holograms instead of live creatures,

which fill the entire arena. The

special effects spectactular set the

founder back more than £400,000,

but has lit up social media, and is

going down a storm with audiences.

The futuristic development is a win

in the fight against animal cruelty –

something to definitely cheer for.

Emojis | emojipedia.org

Plastic bags

Boots are ditching

them in favour of

paper ones

Vape break

San Francisco has

banned them until

FDA approval

Going down















Delivery service Just Eat have launched a 'BBQ Rescue Service',

in the build-up to a summer where Brits are predicted to ruin 58

million BBQs. Their research discovered that 66% of us have had

either over or undercooked food at a BBQ, and 75% admitted to

eating before going to a BBQ for fear of the food on offer!

66% of us have had overcooked BBQ food

It seems part of the problem is hosts struggling to meet the dietary

needs of friends and family, with 16% of vegetarians noting

they only have one option (a bun and a salad), while 10% of

vegans get nothing at all. If you don't want to rely on a backup

takeaway this summer, check out our vegan recipes to

make your BBQ a success on p58 – now we're cooking!

‘Sisu isn’t about climbing the whole

mountain, it’s just about finding the

strength to take the first step’



Never give up, keep fighting, always do the best

you can. If you’ve ever had to dig deep and find a

strength you never knew you had, you’re already

embracing sisu

Writing | Becky Wright

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

It’s a term that dates back hundreds of years in Finnish

culture. But, like many Scandinavian words, sisu

doesn’t have a direct translation in English – which

means it’s quite problematic for me to try to explain.

But it’s a trait you’ve undoubtedly experienced before at

some point in your life...

14 • happiful.com • June 2019

To help, we can look to

the origins of the word

for a little more clarity.

‘Sisus’ literally means

‘internal’, which is why it is

sometimes translated to ‘guts’

or ‘inner strength’, and is often

used synonymously with grit,

determination, and resilience.

But, perhaps better than these

clumsy attempts at translation,

there’s a popular song lyric that

I think sums up sisu perfectly:

‘When the going gets tough, the

tough get going’ – thank you,

Billy Ocean. Basically, when life

becomes difficult, your inner

strength comes out to meet the



The Finns believe that everyone

has a certain amount of sisu within

them; it just may sometimes lie

dormant or be blocked by fears or

uncertainty. Of course, we all face

times or situations that are more

difficult than others. But sisu is

about facing a challenge head-on,

despite any doubt or insecurity you

may be feeling.

In Scandinavian culture, sisu

is viewed positively as the art of

courage – in fact, for many, it’s

a part of being Finnish. And it’s

not only Finland that embraces

a gritty element to their national

character; the Japanese have their

own version, ganbaru, which

means to slog on tenaciously

through rough times. And, if we

look a little closer to home, there’s

the concept of the British stiff

upper lip.

But, is it just me, or do these

concepts feel a little reminiscent of

wartime resilience? Should we still

strive for this level of resilience in

the world we live in today?

In search of an answer, I spoke

to Zeenat Noorani, a resilience

and wellbeing coach.

“I believe that having balanced

elements of perseverance, grit,

and resilience allows us to

achieve desired outcomes when

facing adversity, without costing

our mental health. The key to

resilience, in order to achieve

success, is having a positive and

healthy balance in mindset,

empathy, and compassion.”

Perhaps, then, it’s the element

of compassion where modernday

resilience comes into its own.



Finnish mountaineer Veikka

Gustafsson once said: “The

biggest obstacles are between

our ears; what we tell ourselves.”

It’s often true that the biggest

challenges we face are the ones

in our own minds, which is why

combining compassion alongside

sisu is incredibly important.

Sisu isn’t about ignoring or

suppressing emotional pain,

and it’s certainly not about

continually pushing yourself to

the ends of your capabilities,

day in, day out. It’s about

acknowledging difficulties

(whether they are coming from

within your own mind or are

imposed from the world around

you) and doing what is needed to

rise above them.

“It is our own thoughts, feelings,

and behaviours which will,

or will not, enable us to reach

desired goals. We each need to

consider our own limitations

and capabilities, and reflect

on whether these bring us the

results we truly want,” says




The tricky part about mental

strength, grit, resilience, sisu

– or whatever you want to call

it – is that we know little about

how to build it. Although we can

all recognise what these traits

represent, the meanings and

behaviours that accompany them

can be personal to each of us.

Zeenat explains: “I assist my

clients to foster their skills in

resilience and grit through

evaluating their own behavioural

patterns, and exploring their

strengths and weakness. By

acknowledging their strengths and

weakness, clients can implement

resilience by breaking negative

patterns, and replacing these with

positive thought patterns.”

So, whenever you’re going

through a tough time, take a

moment to show yourself some

kindness. Recall moments in

your life when you embraced

your inner strength. Overcome

that critical inner voice by

remembering past times when you

exceeded your own expectations

in order to get through.

It’s not all about what you can do

yourself, or training your internal

thoughts, though. One important

factor in embracing sisu is that

it requires an action-oriented

mindset. Particularly when you’re

struggling, one of the best ways to

access support is to reach out to

others. Having the courage to ask

for help is perhaps one of the best

indicators of strength.

Whatever struggle you’re facing,

in whatever aspect of your life, you

can embrace sisu. It isn’t about

climbing the whole mountain, it’s

just about finding the strength to

take the first step.



A refreshing burst of energy, enthusiasm

and authenticity, Grace Victory has

gone from ‘the internet’s big sister’, to

a woman who is not only stepping into

her own power, but is emphatically

encouraging everyone to do the same.

Her honest and genuine nature has

helped start many crucial conversations,

and empowered others to open up, seek

help, and know that they’re not alone.

Now, after starting a new chapter in

her own life, Grace tells Happiful about

changing course, the role therapy plays

in her life, and finding ‘the one’

Interview | Lucy Donoughue

Photography | Paul Buller

“ Unexpected” is Grace Victory’s

response when I ask her to describe

2019 to date. She’s cradling a cup

of tea in her hands, as we’re both

cosied up on the sofa in the corner

of the photography studio, while the unseasonal

summer rain pounds down outside.

This scenario immediately feels like a chat

with a friend rather than a formal interview –

and that’s a very good thing.

Grace’s ability to be instantly at ease

with other people, and to talk openly and

authentically about her life experiences, is a

talent that has contributed to her incredible

success and popularity. >>>

18 • happiful.com • June 2019

Top | ASOS, Jacket | Pretty Little Thing

Blazer and Jumpsuit | Monsoon, Shoes | Aldo, Earrings | Freedom @ Topshop

She’s been an online presence

since 2011, gaining the title of ‘the

internet’s big sister’ due to her

honest, relatable, and authentic


Over the past eight years,

Grace has amassed a loyal and

global following for her work.

She’s a TedX speaker, the author

of No Filter, presenter of the

highly acclaimed BBC Three

programme Clean Eating’s

Dirty Secrets, and she’s created

a plethora of content across all

her channels; covering topics

from plus-size fashion and

beauty, to sex, trauma, therapy,

relationships, periods, and

spirituality. She is a woman of

great style, and great substance.

“I knew that things

had to change, but I

don’t think anything

prepares you for the

change that therapy,


and self-awareness is

going to bring you”

This year, however, and its

“unexpected” nature, came after

2018 saw Grace questioning her

life direction and choices.

“Last year was the beginning

of my world literally turning

upside down,” Grace explains. “I

describe my life like a map – there

are roads, train journeys... it has

all kinds of stuff. And I took a

hammer to the whole map.”

Grace left the relationship she was

in, stopped producing some of her

content – specifically on YouTube –

and began working with a therapist


“I knew that I needed to heal

deeply. I knew that things had to

change, but I don’t think anything

prepares you for the change that

therapy, self-development, and selfawareness

is going to bring you.”

Working through traumatic

experiences Grace had as a child was

part of that self-development, and

she’s candid about the impact the

therapeutic work had on her, as well

as its importance in her healing.

“It was f**king hard! I think if

you’ve experienced trauma of any

kind, but specifically continuous

childhood trauma, you develop

really false perceptions of what the

world is like. As a kid, I had to learn

how to manipulate situations so

that I could keep myself safe. If you

haven’t gone to therapy before, you

don’t know how to unlearn that.”

Grace worked with a male

therapist because, she says, “how

can I learn to trust men if I’ve never

had a male therapist?”, and as well

as addressing the past, Grace had

the realisation that she needed to

explore her adult relationships

too, acknowledging her challenges

around vulnerability and intimacy.

“I remember having this light bulb

moment,” she shares. “I realised

that with sex, I used to always

perform. It was never really like

true, like authentic. And I pride

myself on being authentic.”

After a month of therapy, the first

unexpected life-shift happened.

Grace met Lee, the man she now

describes as being her “soulmate” –

although the first time they spoke,

she was left in tears… >>>

August 2019 • happiful.com • 19


We’re delighted to announce that

Grace Victory is Happiful’s new –

and first ever – columnist. Be sure

to check out our September issue

for Grace’s first column with us –

available from 15 August.

“I think more

women should

believe that they

deserve to be

happy and ascend

in their power”

“I met this guy on Bumble,” she

smiles broadly. “I literally knew

within a second that he was ‘the


Lee and Grace took the

conversation from online, to

phoneline and: “After we had our

first conversation, I panicked. I

cried. I actually cried! I was like:

‘I’ve just met my soulmate, the

other half of me. And now I’m

sh*tting it!’

“I’d made all these plans to

work on myself, and be single to

work on myself, which I’m still

doing, but the universe works

in wonderful ways and it was

obviously time that we met.”

Earlier this year, Grace left south

London and moved in with Lee,

in north-west London, where, she

says, the energy feels positively

different, and there is a massive

sense of community – something

that pleases her, as a self-professed


Moving in with Lee has also

signalled a different type of

‘homecoming’, and Grace is

reflective about their new

beginning together. “I feel like I’ve

worked so hard to have this life,

and it’s slowly forming in front of

me. This is what I always wanted as

a kid.”

In true Grace style, she’s keen

to point out that there have been

learnings along the way. “I believe

in astrology and I’m a Virgo, so I’m

very organised and a clean freak

– I like things in their places,” she

laughs. “Whereas Lee is a Pisces

– the complete opposite – just

spread out and doesn’t realise how

much work it takes to have a nice,

clean, tidy home. So it’s been a

journey and we’re learning how to

compromise, and to show up for

each other, but also for ourselves.”

Despite their differences around

domestic issues, Grace is clearly

deeply in love, and watching the

two of them chat on her recent

YouTube post, it’s obvious that the

feeling is mutual.

The fact that Lee had started

therapy prior to their meeting

is an important factor in their

relationship, according to Grace. “I

think it’s really weird that Lee had

just had his first session of therapy

before meeting me! I always said

I couldn’t date a man who’s not in

therapy. I think it’s because I’m so

self-aware and healing, and I need

a man who’s doing the same.”

She’s deeply respectful of Lee and

his experiences of counselling.

“I’m really proud of him for going

to therapy; I think mental health

for men is such a minefield –

it’s even more taboo than it is

for women, especially being a

black man. In the Jamaican and

Caribbean culture, it’s so taboo

and under the radar.”

Lee’s transparency around

mental health support has had

a ripple effect, too, opening up

the possibility of counselling to

members of his family, friends,

and colleagues within the music

profession. “Talking about mental

health, especially for black men in

that industry, it’s just incredible,”

Grace enthuses. “I’m so proud of

him. I just love him – he’s the most

incredible man I have ever met.

He’s just like this beam of light.”

Grace has an amazingly positive

energy. She says what she feels –

and she says it with gusto. She’s

passionate about mental health

and wellness, and is committed

20 • happiful.com • August 2019

Playsuit | New Look, Shoes | Kurt Geiger

to spreading the word about the

power of therapy, and promoting

the type of self-belief she

demonstrated when she changed

her own life-direction last year.

And for cynics who might feel that

self-belief is easier for someone

who has the success Grace has

now? They would do well to look

at her journey to the place she is in

today. “It’s a privilege for some not

to have self-belief,” Grace asserts.

“I think that if you go around

life and you get things handed to

you, you’re obviously not going to

believe anything bigger than that,

because it’s just normal to you.

“Whereas me, I had to believe

that I was going to get out of my

family situation, the home town I

grew up in, I had to believe that,

otherwise life would have been

really f**king sh*t. So, I have great

self-belief because I think it can get

you places nothing else can.

“I haven’t gone to university,”

Grace continues. “I wasn’t

particularly academic. I just lead

a really incredible life because I

believe that I deserve it. I think

more women should believe that

they deserve to be happy and

ascend in their power.”

Embracing her own power, and

championing others, is important

to Grace. She has started a new

must-listen podcast, ‘The Sister

Space’, with good friend Simone

Powderly, to address everything

from surving childhood sexual

abuse and learning to be without

trauma, to changing careers,

sex positivity, spirituality, and

body love. It’s full of honest talk,

emotional vulnerability, and

women supporting, and proudly

celebrating, other women. >>>

Dress | ASOS

In addition to her podcast, Grace

is now training to become a trauma

therapist. She is constantly curious

about the world around her, both

the physical and spiritual, and talks

enthusiastically about discovering

astrology, crystal healing, and

using the gift of intuition. Power,

for her, is knowledge of her own

mind, body and soul, as well as the

greater universe. “I’m a sponge,”

she says, explaining her love and

need to continually learn.

Grace lists the books and theories

that have helped her, alongside

therapy, crediting The Secret by

Rhonda Byrne, for focusing her

thoughts on the spiritual laws

of life, manifestations, and the

vibrations within the universe –

love being the highest, and shame

being the lowest. The way we

speak to ourselves, she says, has

the power to raise our own loving

vibrations and generally improve

our health.

However, A Return to Love by

Marianne Williamson, was the

book that changed her life and

relationship with her inner self.

“It sparked everything, and I

started learning more and more.

I recognised the internal change

that was happening for me, which

lead to thinking about what we

put in our bodies – not necessarily

food, but what we read, what we

say about ourselves, the products

that we use – and the big one for

me was contraception.

“So, I came off the pill and my

womb went into meltdown. I

bled every day for about a year,

and was getting thrush every

month. I was in therapy and

talking about sexual trauma,

and I wondered whether there

was a link between women,

wombs, and pain? I started to do

some research and came across

information about manifesting,

and how your womb is your

second heart; it has its own beat

and it’s silenced by false periods

and contraception.

“The GP had no idea what

was happening, so I just kept

on researching, used essential

oils, massage, meditation and

breathwork. I was Googling

‘womb meditation’ and ‘how to

heal your womb naturally’, and

from the outside I must have

looked crazy – but it worked.”

“You don’t have

to be unhappy,

you don’t have to

live an ‘alright’

life, you can lead

a wonderful life if

you believe that

you are worthy

of it”

Grace was relieved to find that her

periods returned to normal, the

thrush disappeared, and she felt

more grounded. “It was all because I

was looking inside of myself. It was

about being curious and knowing

that we are powerful beings. That’s

why I think I’ve healed so much; I

wasn’t just thinking about my mind

or my body, I was thinking about

my soul.”

Grace wants to share all that

she has witnessed and learned

about being well and working on

ourselves, with her audiences. “I

know that people who follow me,

in terms of maybe class or race,

don’t always have access to this

language, this mental health and

wellness education.

“The wellness industry can be

quite privileged and whitewashed –

and its really sacred. The wellness

industry, their beliefs are coming

from African and Greek mythology,

so I want to talk to my people

in the language that I, and they


“It seems to be what I’m meant to

do, to make healing accessible, and

to let people know that you don’t

have to be unhappy, you don’t have

to live an ‘alright’ life, you can lead

a wonderful life if you believe that

you are worthy of it.”

“I want to tell them that

everything you need to do that

is inside of you,” Grace smiles.

“It’s just about remembering how

powerful you are without anything

else – just you.”

Follow Grace on Instagram

@gracefvictory, and read more from

her at graciefrancesca.com. The

‘Sister Space’ podcast is available

now, and you can listen to Grace

on Happiful’s podcast ‘I am. I have’

from 22 July.

Styling | Krishan Parmar

Hair and Makeup | Lo Dias using

Morphe, NARS, and YSL

August 2019 • happiful.com • 23

How to get a

good night’s sleep

Anxiety, stress, noise, or even your phone or computer, could be coming

between you and eight hours of delightful rest. So here are some simple

steps that will get you blissfully back to the land of dreams

Writing | Ros Knowles Illustrating | Rosan Magar

We all know we

feel great after

a good night’s

sleep – we wake

feeling refreshed

and ready for the day! However,

it is not always easy to achieve,

and many people suffer from


There can be various reasons for

this, such as noise, disturbance,

or pain. But the usual cause

is often anxiety or stress. As a

hypnotherapist, I regularly work

with people to reduce their anxiety,

in order for them to feel calm, and

to sleep well again.

If we are suffering from anxiety,

this will typically make us wake

in the night feeling miserable,

and leave us unable to get back to

sleep, often with negative thoughts

constantly going around our head

in a loop.

While we’re asleep, our brain has

periods of rapid eye movement

(REM) sleep, when our brain

processes thoughts, emotions, and

experiences, moving them from

the subconscious to the conscious

part of our mind, so we can come

up with solutions to problems. So,

‘sleep on it’ is great advice!

The brain and the body are

very busy while we rest – they

restore and rebuild cells,

and fight off infections. The

brain cleans itself, removing

the debris of the day. Sleep

also provides the brain with

time to embed memories,

so reinforcing what we are


REM sleep is also a time when

we can replay and process

stressful events in a peaceful

environment, and these can

appear to us as dreams.

So it comes as no surprise

that a good night’s sleep can do

wonders. Here are five top tips

to help you get that essential

peaceful night:



Have breaks away from

your desk to help you

reduce anxiety. It is

tempting to keep going,

but you need to ease off

the pressure, relax, think

about something else, and

let your brain process your

thoughts – frequent breaks

are good for you, and help

you to find solutions and ideas.

Decide to forget about work in

the evening. Choose a cut-off

time when you stop looking

at emails and messages, and

focus on relaxing instead. You

deserve time to rest!


Allow time for enough sleep.

It’s easy to be tempted to stay

up late, but give yourself a

reasonable chance to get eight

hours of rest.

Since the advent of electricity,

we no longer set our daily

routines to our natural

circadian rhythm, where we

would sleep when the sun went

down, and rise when it came

back up again.

In the past, people would have

had segmented sleep, a pattern

of four hours sleep, two hours

awake, and then another four

hours sleep before morning.




The blue light from devices

can suppress the production of

the sleep-inducing hormone

melatonin. This hormone

makes us feel naturally

drowsy, so we need it to work

for us, and take us into sleep.

If you have a bedside clock

with an LED display, it might

be a good idea to change it to a

more conventional one, as the

light could interfere with your

sleep. Remove devices with

screens from the bedroom to

avoid temptation! If you read

before you go to sleep, choose

a ‘real’ book where you can.



The bedroom should be

designed for relaxation and

rest, so remove anything that is

not necessary, such as laundry

or anything work-related.

Keep the lighting soft, choose

curtains or blinds that keep the

light out, and make sure the

room is dark when you go to

sleep. Decorate it with restful

colours, with beautiful artwork,

objects, and accessories, to

make it a room you enjoy, that

feels like a sanctuary.

Many people find the smell of

lavender helps them relax; try a

few drops of lavender essential

oil on your pillow.



If you suffer from anxiety,

remember to focus on

what has been good during

the day, rather than any

problems. It is too easy to

dwell on what went wrong.

Remember the things that

were good, that made you

happy, however small or

big. This is a good habit to

acquire, as we often don’t

notice the nice things. Get

used to enjoying the happy


Just before you go to sleep,

think of at least three good

things that happened that day

– you may think of more.

Sleep well!

Ros Knowles is a clinical

hypnotherapist practising

solution-focused hypnotherapy,

helping people to make positive

changes in their lives. Visit


Writing for


Diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in her early 20s, Rosie felt ashamed, isolated

and confused. The stigma of BPD has silenced people for years – but she’s had enough.

Through her poetry, Rosie is leading the way for change, and showing that everyone

deserves love, support, and most importantly, a voice

Writing | Maxine Ali

Mental illness can

often feel like a

silent struggle.

Finding and

sharing the right

words to capture

the confusion and emotion of life

with a mental health condition

is no mean feat. It is especially

challenging because these feelings

are not always visible to the

outside world.

Even with various efforts being

made to end the stigma, silence

remains an experience for many

when it comes to discussing our

own mental health.

For Rosie, silence was a defining

part of her early experiences as

she navigated life with a mental

illness. “In the beginning, I felt like

I had no one to talk to,” she says. “I

felt extremely ashamed, isolated

and confused.”

Rosie was diagnosed with

borderline personality disorder

(BPD) when she was 23. “For years,

I carried my BPD around like a

dirty little secret,” she recalls. “Any

attempt I made to say the words

‘borderline personality disorder’

made me want to vomit.”

BPD, sometimes called

emotionally unstable personality

disorder, is characterised by

affective dysregulation, disturbed

patterns of thinking or perception,

and impulsive behaviour.

These characteristics are believed

to emerge as adaptive, defensive

strategies from the chronic

trauma, interpersonal violence,

or emotionally-unprotective

environments often experienced by

people with BPD.

Chartered psychologist Kimberley

Wilson says: “People with a

diagnosis of BPD can often feel

under siege by their own thoughts

and emotions, and become

sensitive towards any hint of

rejection from those around them.”

Rosie adds: “I would describe

a BPD episode as a moment

of emotional agony. In those

moments, I am deafened by

my thoughts and drowning in


Unfortunately, BPD is a condition

layered with myths, stereotypes

and misrepresentations. Many

people with BPD recall being

dismissed as ‘over-dramatic’ and

‘attention-seekers’, feeling coerced

into silence and secrecy for their

own self-preservation.

The sanctions of silence

surrounding BPD were

immediately apparent to Rosie.

“The psychiatrist who diagnosed

me told me it would be better if

she didn’t record my diagnosis

in my medical notes,” she says.

“Essentially, she was telling me to

hide my BPD.”

Individuals with BPD tend to be

treated with less compassion than

those with other mental health

26 • happiful.com • August 2019

concerns. Misunderstandings

about the term ‘personality

disorder’ drive a lot of aggression

toward someone living with BPD,

due to the belief that it is the

person’s own identity that is to

blame for their condition.

People with BPD are sometimes

cast as ‘difficult patients’, and

become the target of frustration

from under-resourced and

overstretched clinical teams. This

rejection and hostility can intensify

the punishing effects of BPD by

confirming the worst fears of the

person living with the condition.

Rosie set out to show that people

with BPD are caring, kind and

loving. She wanted to demonstrate

I would describe

a BPD episode

as a moment of

emotional agony.

In those moments,

I am deafened by

my thoughts and

drowning in emotions

that a diagnosis doesn’t have to lead

to a life of shame, guilt and silence.

Rosie began to chronicle her

experience through poetry, and

started her now award-winning

blog, ‘Talking About BPD’. These

outlets were a way for her to talk

about her life when she felt there

was no other way to communicate


“Writing is a tool which helps me

bear these strong emotions,” she

says. “It creates a space between

myself and my thoughts. In these

spaces, I can choose how to act,

rather than reacting on impulse

out of fear and anxiety.”

Commanding the language of

one’s own mental health can help

create a sense of autonomy and

personhood, a potent tonic for

any experience that leaves you

feeling invalidated and out of

control. >>>

August 2019 • happiful.com • 27

As Kimberley Wilson says: “I think

it’s always helpful for patients to

have some agency over how they

and their condition are described.

Receiving any health diagnosis can

be a dehumanising experience;

your personality and personhood

can disappear under the weight

of the label, and this can be felt

even more acutely when your

personality is diagnosed as ‘the


Poetry provided a channel for

Rosie to write about the things that

hurt the most, and turn them into

an ‘object’.

“It’s hard to convey the intensity

of the highs and lows I feel,” she

says. “But poetry gives me a way of

communicating these extremes.

“Describing myself as an electric

eel, and accelerating the rhythms

and frequency of the rhymes, can

portray a rush of hypomania. I can

capture my loneliness by likening

myself to a prawn crawling around

on the seabed, or convey the terror

of an episode by repeating ‘help

me’ seven or eight times.”

Rosie’s voice became one of

representation and solidarity,

letting others know that even in

their most difficult moments, they

aren’t alone.

“The first time I read my poem

‘Bear’, which is about an eating

disorder, a woman said to me that

my poem had said the things she

wanted to say but didn’t know how,”

says Rosie.

Though a powerful tool to help

translate the reality of living with

a BPD diagnosis, self-exploration

isn’t all that the spoken word can

achieve. Poetry can function as

a platform for promoting social

justice, an opportunity to act

against the unfair treatment that

emerges from misunderstandings

and misrepresentations of mental


It enables people to leave behind

the spectator role that separates

us from the perspective of others,

and gain insight into mental health

as a personal experience, felt by

someone with a past and a future

worth caring about.

Rosie says: “Self-expression can

be a form of activism. After all,

the personal experiences we have

are shaped by the world we live

in. Mental health doesn’t exist in

a vacuum. There is a clear link

between social exclusion and

marginalisation, and mental health


“More than anything, I want

people going through emotional

distress to be seen, heard, and

cared for, with respect and

compassion,” Rosie says. “Lots

of people experience BPD as a

diagnosis of exclusion from mental

health services, and it’s never OK

for someone to be left without

access to support.”

Rosie’s words aren’t a call to action

to talk, as she acknowledges that

not everyone wants to, or feels safe

doing so. It is an effort to mitigate

the guilt and shame so often

enveloped in a diagnosis of BPD.

Rosie says: “When reading my

writing, I feel compassion towards

myself. My writing bears witness

to moments of pain, and as a result

becomes proof of my survival too.”

28 • happiful.com • August 2019

More than

anything, I want

people going

through emotional

distress to be seen,

heard, and cared

for, with respect

and compassion

For Rosie, poetry is empowering

her to reclaim her BPD


She should not apologise

for the trauma

that formed her.

Or for the fire that warmed her,

burned her, turned her to ashes

and reignited her in the same breath.

Follow Rosie on @talkingaboutbpd or

visit her blog talkingaboutbpd.co.uk

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

Kimberley Wilson is a dialectical

behaviour therapy-trained chartered

psychologist. Find out more at


Or for the million lives

and billion deaths

she fledged and shed like feathers.

Or to the divers whose

knees bled on stones.

It’s not her loss to console.

Maybe she is not one woman

but many women.

Maybe the way to understand her

is through her anger.

Her shipwrecked depths

don’t require your anchor.

By Rosie Cappuccino

August 2019 • happiful.com • 29

Happiful Hero

Photography | JoelValve

The future belongs to

those who believe in the

beauty of their dreams

30 • happiful • December 2018 – ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

Squeeze the most out of summer

When it comes to British summertime, we need to take advantage of every

sunny day we get. Here are some ideas to help you do just that

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Kew Gardens | kew.org

1 Head out for a picnic

One of the easiest and most

wholesome summer activities,

who doesn’t love a picnic? Grab

yourself a blanket, some snacks

and sun cream, and get yourself

to your nearest green area (yes,

that includes your garden!).

Celebrate with some peace and

quiet solo, or rally up some

friends, kick back, and enjoy.

Looking to step up your picnic

game? We love the Beachcrest Home

4 Person Wicker

Picnic Basket,



available at



2 Go


Summer nights

usually mean clearer

nights, making it

ideal for a spot of

stargazing. Find your 2

nearest ‘dark sky site’ and

take in the vast expanse of a

starry night sky. If you want to

learn more about what you’re

seeing, download the SkyView

Lite app, and point it towards

the sky to identify stars,

constellations, satellites and

more. To find a dark sky

site near you, or to attend a

stargazing event, take a look

at gostargazing.co.uk

3 Explore some Great British


If there’s one thing the

UK is good at, it’s

gardening. While

away a summer

afternoon with

a trip to one,

and take in

the beautiful


views. We love

Kew Gardens in

London, which houses

rare plants, wildflower

meadows, and tropical

glasshouses. Alongside

standard guided tours,

Kew Gardens provide

monthly British Sign

Language (BSL) tours, and

bimonthly sensory

tours that allow

visitors the

chance to

explore smells

and textures.

If Kew Gardens

sounds up

your street, find

out more and plan

your visit at kew.org. To

explore other gardens, check out


4 Take your mindfulness

practice outdoors

Whether you love meditation,

yoga, or a mindful walk, if you

have a mindfulness practice,


taking it outside can add a

new dimension. Listen to the

birdsong, notice the warmth

of the sun on your skin,

and take in the glorious

scent of cut grass and

BBQs on a warm

summer breeze.

For inspiration, we

love mindful.org

who share new


to try.

5 Enjoy


movie magic

Cosying up on a

blanket and watching a film

under the stars is a perfect

way to enjoy a balmy summer

evening. There are plenty of

companies that run outdoor

screenings, so have a Google

to see where your nearest one

is, and get ready for some

serious summer vibes. Oh, and

remember to pack an umbrella...

just in case (this is British

summertime we’re talking about

after all). The Luna Cinema

have outdoor showings

across various

locations in the UK,

and offer accessible

facilities. Find out

what’s showing

at thelunacinema.



Right here

and now

Continuously embarking on dangerous expeditions for his work, Aldo Kane leads an

adrenaline-fuelled lifestyle. However, as he tells Happiful, a sense of calm and

appreciation is always available to you when you learn to live in the moment

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

I’ve caught Aldo Kane in a

rare moment of quiet. He’s

back home, in London, in

the middle of a round of

interviews and photoshoots,

before preparing for his next

exciting expedition to Thailand,

Laos, and Vietnam.

As a former Royal Marine sniper

and current-day TV adventurer,

explorer and presenter, Aldo is

used to spending long periods

away from the UK, exploring the

world. In the past two years alone,

he completed a world recordbreaking

row from Portugal to

Venezuela with Team Essence and

long-time pal Jason Fox, spent

three months in South America

filming Meet The Drug Lords:

Inside The Real Narcos for Channel

4, worked with Steve Backshall

on Undiscovered Worlds, had two

stints in active volcanoes for

Expedition Volcano, and worked on

National Geographic’s One Strange

Rock with Will Smith – and the list

of adventures goes on.

To say that Aldo has experience

of negotiating extreme and

hostile situations, both on and off

camera, is an understatement.

“I’ve been living like this since I

was 16,” he says, referring to when

he went into the armed forces.

“Although I’ve probably been in

more hardcore and high octane

situations since I left the Marines.”

I can only imagine...

With physical strength and a high

state of awareness being so hugely

important for Aldo’s work, it’s

hard to picture what he does in his

downtime, away from the cameras

and pulse-racing activities.

“I always need to be mentally

and physically fit for the next stint,

whatever that might be, so when

I’ve got two weeks off between

jobs I’m not sitting around eating

donuts!” Aldo laughs.

“I’m in the gym, doing crossfit

training, because my body needs

to be prepared to run away from

danger, to escape, fight, whatever

is needed in the moment, and

my brain needs to be ready and

working together with my body to

help me achieve that.”

This marriage of mental and

physical is a recurring theme

as we chat, along with Aldo’s

love of the outdoors. “The

most important thing for me,

My body needs to

be prepared to run

away from danger,

to escape, fight,

whatever is needed

in the moment, and

my brain needs to be

ready and working

together with my

body to help me

achieve that

mentally,” he adds, “is being

outside and being active. It’s so

crucial to get out in nature at least

once a day. It’s there for everyone,

and it’s free.”

Despite the breathtaking, farflung

locations Aldo has filmed

in, he still finds that it’s the UK’s

capital where he regularly gets

the most benefit from open air

exercise – as it’s the place where

he doesn’t have to be “hard-wired

into the environment”, as he does

on location.

32 • happiful.com • August 2019

Whether it’s living in solitary

confinement, without access to

sunlight or other people, or facing

life-changing situations with

dangerous criminals, I imagine

this mental aspect of Aldo’s work

could take more of a toll on him

than the physical demands. How

does he deal with the permanent

extreme focus required to ensure

the safety of himself, and others,

when working?

“When I go into a new situation,

I am initially hypervigilant. I

am aware of everything, the

surroundings, people, potential

issues – all of the things that I

need to be thinking about,” Aldo

says simply. “You need to be aware

of all elements of risk – but then

It’s so crucial to

get outside and

in nature at least

once a day. It’s

there for everyone,

and it’s free

you have to put that to the back of

your head. But when something

does happen, you’ve done all that

thinking and planning in advance,

so you’re not in a panic mode.”

It’s hard to reconcile Aldo’s

lightness of approach, and his

calm nature, with the projects he

undertakes. However, it’s clear that

working on his mental strength as

much as his physical state is vital

to him. Practising mindfulness

plays a major role in this, although

it’s not a term that Aldo was aware

of until a couple of years ago, even

though it was a presence in his

everyday life. >>>

August 2019 • happiful.com • 33

Living in the UK, you

have more opportunity

than probably 95% of

the rest of the world

“Looking back, mindfulness is

something I’ve practised for a

long time. When I was still young

and in the Marines, I used to

lead expeditions and take groups

of students across the world. I

remember sitting on top of a

waterfall in Guyana with about 15

kids who just weren’t interested in

being there.

“I asked them to sit with their

legs dangling over the edge of the

waterfall, close their eyes and

imagine they were back at school,

worrying about exams. Then, that

they hadn’t received the grades

they wanted, or were finding it

hard to get work. I asked their

future selves to think back to this

beautiful, wonderful moment and

wish they were here again. Then

I told them to open their eyes,

look out and really appreciate the


“That to me is mindfulness.

Being in the moment, soaking it

up and learning from it.”

Cherishing the moment is

equally important when it comes

to his romantic relationship. “I

appreciate my fiancée Anna,” he

smiles. “We spend a lot of time

apart. She’s a producer, and we’ve

had times where I’ve been away

for months and have two days at

home, and then she’ll be away for

three weeks, but those two days we

have together are so special, and

so full of everything you would

want to have.”

The pair won’t have long to

wait until another very special

day, with their wedding planned

for September this year. Yet

while they’re in the middle

of organising their nuptials,

they still have no less than five

working trips between them in

the months before their wedding.

Aldo doesn’t seem at all fazed by

this, but then wedding planning

must be an enjoyable exercise

for someone who has been

used to negotiating the extreme

challenges he has.

When it comes to these

challenges, Aldo is aware of the

importance of monitoring his own

mental health and resilience. After

leaving the Marines, he proactively

sought counselling to ensure that

his experiences in the Services

didn’t come back to impact him

negatively later on in life.

And now? “I make sure I

exercise, I keep my brain busy, I

talk to people who understand

my situation.”

Aldo is consistently quick to

point out the positives in his life,

after speaking about some of the

more testing times he’s endured,

including his time in West Africa

in the middle of the Ebola crisis.

“With the travelling I do, I come

back and it can be wonderful to

just see green grass, or walk into

a shop and just be able to buy


“My perspective is that,

generally, living in the UK,

and in particular London, you

have more opportunity than

probably 95% of the rest of the

world. Anna and I are good

at not complaining, because

we’ve seen those other life


As our conversation ends, I am

left with the sense that Aldo is

someone who has seen the very

worst that human and mother

nature can offer, but he’s also a

person who remains dedicated

to seeing the beauty in life,

who embraces movement and

strength, and celebrates his

connection to other people.

Aldo truly knows what it means

to appreciate each moment,

and live for the here and now –

something we can all do, in our

own way, every day.

34 • happiful.com • August 2019

Photography | Joseph Sinclair

This July, Aldo will front the BBC2

Horizon documentary ‘Britain’s

Next Air Disaster? Drones’, and will

appear alongside Steve Backshall in

‘Expedition’ on Dave.

Follow Aldo on Instagram

at @aldokane

I will certainly keep on

running, pacing forward,

finding my rhythm

The healing

power of a


Heartbreak sent Jenny

spiralling into negative

thoughts and doubts, but

the mindfulness of putting

one foot in front of the other

helped her to rediscover

her rhythm

Writing | Jenny Richardson

Tick tock. The clock counts up

the seconds as I count down

the miles. It’s September 2018,

I am 58, and I’m running the

Loch Ness Marathon.

Sweat runs into my eyes. I blink away

the tears, the fears, the years. Today, this

is what I am: sinews, muscles, a furnace

burning fuel. My breath and feet keep

rhythm with my pumping heart. This

heart that was breaking.

Running is my way into mindfulness.

I need an extended stretch of steady

pacing to find a rhythm, to let my

thoughts ebb and flow, while feeling a

part of my surroundings.

Five years ago I progressed from being

an occasional jogger to a regular runner,

and I was finally able to come off the >>>

‘I am grateful for all I have – my wonderful sons,

family, friends, and freedom’

The beautiful Highland setting was the perfect location for Jenny

to reconnect with herself

antidepressants that

had helped to keep my

equilibrium for 13 years.

The recent downturn

came about after I ended

a year-long relationship.

My mind told me this was

the correct decision, but

I was unprepared for my

gut response. I felt lonely,

hollowed out, and full of

doubt about the future.

After several painful

months, the only solution

I could come up with

was to train for and run

a marathon – my third

– which would, out of

necessity, put me fully in

the moment, and thereby

halt the obsessive spiral of


The race starts on high,

exposed moorland, and

heads largely down for

the first six miles to reach

the lochside. At once, I

feel the childlike thrill of

running downhill, and

have to hold myself back

from taking off too fast. I

look at my fellow runners,

intent and focused. There

is a quiet solidarity in our

pounding feet.

At this point, Douglas

firs tower to the left, and

scrub and heather to the

right, allowing views

over the moors and the


At the village of Foyers

we get some welcome

encouragement from

spectators, and then are

out on the open road

again. Loch Ness comes

into glorious view ahead.

The tagline for this

marathon only slightly

exaggerates: “If you’re

going to put yourself

through hell, you might

as well do it in heaven.” It

really is heavenly. It is also

of this earth, bringing us

into intimate contact with

one beautiful part of this

planet and, for me, helping

to put life into a more

balanced perspective.

My break-up had thrown

me off kilter. But this was

a short-term reaction and

could not be compared to

my situation in 2000, when

I found myself bringing

up my two boys alone in

England, while their dad

lived in America.

An acrimonious divorce,

constant anxiety about

money and work, and my

fear of failing my children

sent me into a downward

spiral of depression,

sleepless nights, and

panic attacks. I tried

counselling, but talking

didn’t change the facts,

and the passive listening

I felt hollowed

out, and full of

doubt about

the future

made me angry rather

than relieved.

My kindly GP, who had

tried to avoid putting

me on pills, eventually

prescribed SSRI

antidepressants when he

realised how bad things

had become. These saved

me. They quelled the

despair and the overthinking,

enabling me to

get on with life, and my

most important job: being

a parent.

In true Scottish form,

the weather turns in an

38 • happiful.com • August 2019

instant, and sunshine

gives way to icy rain.

Every inch of my body

is awake, feeling pain it

is true, but my physical

senses are alive. The clock

is ticking on, and so am I.

But now I ground myself,

literally. I think down

to the soles of my feet,

burning on the tarmac,

pacing onwards, one foot

then the other. These legs,

mighty with their bones,

pulleys, veins and strings,

pushing me on.

I look at the runners

around me. They are

amazing. We are amazing.

Ordinary mortals pushing

ourselves to do more than

we need to, much more

than is comfortable and

easy. We are not heroes;

we are devourers of life,

using the talents given to

us by nature, the universe,

God, however you see it.

This world is so complex

and unpredictable, illness

so random that, while

I can, I must live fully

with my whole intact

heart. I am grateful for

all I have – my wonderful

sons, family, friends, and


Somewhere between

miles 23 and 24, in another

freezing downpour, my

joints are seizing up, and

setting at acute angles like

a wooden puppet. I pull

over to unlock myself. I

stretch my arms and they

click. I bend painfully

forward and cannot touch

my toes. My knees crack.

“I feel your pain,” says a

passing runner.

That is comfort. We

do all share a common

understanding. But I am

sure we all have our own

particular pain.

In spite of the effort,

the overall effect of

running is to make me

feel wonderfully well. It is

as though by getting my

heart pumping, the blood

surging round my cells,

my whole body is being

cleansed and replenished,

my mind made clear and

my emotions balanced.

Add to that the

camaraderie of running,

I see why this is a

prescription that works.

The antidepressants got

me through, and allowed

me to feel joy in my

children. As they left the

nest, I braved coming off

the tablets (something I

had tried and failed to do

on previous occasions).

I had already started

running regularly, and

its positive effects meant

a seamless change to my

now being a pill-free zone.

I reach the 25-mile

marker, and suddenly

I start wheezing. I am

gasping, momentarily

struggling to breathe.

I look to the sky, white

clouds racing, to the river

gleaming and patient.

Whatever is going on, I am

not dying. I run on, stiffly.

These last and hardest

minutes become a race

against myself. I am

We are amazing. Ordinary mortals

pushing ourselves to do much

more than is comfortable and easy

Jenny found mindfulness in

running – and set a new PB!

dangerously close to my

previous time. I hear the

the crowds cheer as I push

on, tired and in agony. I

have achieved my aim, to

think of nothing else but

this moment.

And I win, too, in my

private race. I have beaten

my time from three years

ago by four minutes,

finishing in 3 hours 50.


The cheers are for

everyone. The tears are

from me. I stagger and

sob, not from heartbreak,

but from pure exhaustion.

I must look as wrecked as

I feel, because the woman

handing out T-shirts

makes all the other

runners wait while she

gives me a huge hug.

I’m thankful for this

supportive community,

and the good health

that’s enabled this lateblooming


career. I needed this 26.2

therapeutic miles to build

my heart back up, to break

the cycle of obsessive

thoughts, and to embrace

life again. I’m not sure I’ll

do any more marathons,

but I’ll keep on running,

pacing forward, finding

my rhythm.

Life often feels like a marathon, and Jenny saw this

from a whole new perspective. She used that sense of

achievement to heal her life, and realised how being in

the moment could help her through the pain and doubt.

Jenny chose her marathon well! Yes it would be tough

– but beautifully so. While we all have far to go

at times, maybe the secret is in choosing a route

that will allow us space to breathe on the way.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach looking to encourage confidence and motivation

August 2019 • happiful.com • 39


can support your mental health

Unpicking the craft of needlework; how it can help you switch off, improve your

mental health, make new friends – and even save the planet

Writing | Lydia Smith Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Most of us can feel

overwhelmed by the

relentless demands

of the digital world.

Endlessly scrolling

through social media, replying to

emails, and checking apps, can

make it difficult to switch off.

Mindful practices are a popular

antidote to this. And sewing, as

well as knitting, is increasingly

recognised as an effective way to

help with anxiety and depression.

The concentration these demand

not only helps to calm the mind,

but learning to repair clothing

helps tackle the environmental

impact of fast fashion, too. Here’s

a quick look at why you might

want to explore the world

of needlework.


Engaging in a mindful activity like

sewing can help us pay attention to

our thoughts and feelings, which

can improve our mental health.

“Being creative is incredible for

your wellbeing,” says Aliss Oxley,

a sewing lover who set up the

Workshop Sewing Cafe, in Leeds.

“It gives you an outlet to

focus energy, but can also give

you an enormous sense of

accomplishment, which is a great

way to support your mental health.

“People say sewing can be almost

meditative. You concentrate on

what you’re making, and the

process of your construction,” she

says. “It means your focus is solely

on the activity

of stitching.”



When you’re crafting, you’re giving

your mind a break, too. One study,

which introduced knitting to the

lives of patients with anorexia,

found 74% of participants

described feeling distracted or

distanced from negative emotional

states, as well as more relaxed.

James McIntosh began to knit

when he was struggling with

depression. He recently wrote a

book called Knit and Nibble, which

explores knitting, cooking, and


“The fear,

anxiety, panic

Starting to sew

• Search #memadeeveryday or #selfishsewing

on Instagram for ideas.

• Visit thefoldline.com, which offers a database

of patterns, and try YouTube and Pinterest

for tutorials and inspiration.

• Try sewing classes, such as Sew It With

Love, in London, or Ministry of Craft, in

Manchester. There are sewing schools all

over the UK.

and sadness, was too much. One

day I found two chopsticks in my

flat and some string, looked on

YouTube, and started to cast on,”

he says. “Before I knew it, I had

knitted ‘something or other’.

“I noticed that each stitch became

a breath, each breath a feeling, and

the stitch was a tangible sign that

my feelings were worth something,

that I was worth something.”


Loneliness has huge implications

for our health, and social isolation

is growing in the UK, with 2.4

million adults feeling lonely,

according to the Office for National

Statistics. Joining a sewing group

– which you can often find on

Facebook – is a good way to meet


Issy Woolford-Lim is an avid fan

of needlecraft. “I go to a weekly

group, which gives me social

contact and encourages me to get

out of the house, even when I’m

down,” she says. “We’re all very

positive and encouraging with each

other, which I love.”

“Try to find your local

haberdashery or fabric shop,” Aliss

says. “The sewing community is

incredibly friendly,

and they

should have some great advice to

get started – from sewing meetups,

to fabrics and patterns. They’ll

point you in the right direction.”



Creating something with your

own hands provides a sense of

accomplishment that can boost

mental health. In studies of people

with depression and other chronic

illnesses, textile crafts were

found to increase self-esteem and

improve the sense of wellbeing.

James struggled to find

fashionable knitting patterns

for men, so he started creating

his own. “The first time I put

on something I had knitted, I

felt proud of myself again – an

intimate and personal feeling,”

he says. “I was knocked badly

by homophobia in my native

Northern Ireland, which triggered

the depressive episode, and a stitch

at a time helped me to realise that I

was worth something.”



Our clothes are fast, inexpensive,

and mass-produced, which

enforces cheap labour and

generates a huge amount

of pollution. Global textile

production creates 1.2 billion

tonnes of carbon emissions a

year, according to research by

the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

– more than international flights

and shipping. Repairing clothes

instead of throwing them away

can prevent fabric ending up as

landfill, and lets you know you’re

doing something positive to help

our planet.

August 2019 • happiful.com • 41

Ask the experts

There are many benefits to

massage therapy, and the

practice is much more than a

pamper. Here, Libby Palmer,

massage therapist and Therapy

Directory member, answers

your questions


I suffer regularly with headaches. I

have a demanding job and relaxation

is something I struggle with. I know

taking some time to really unwind will help,

but is there a particular type of massage you

would recommend?


Massage has two roles in treating tension headaches:

relaxation, and trigger point therapy.

A regular massage can help the body maintain an

optimal level of relaxation. In order to find the correct

therapist for your needs, you need one who understands

your condition and is adequately qualified to meet your

needs. A clinical massage therapist, with a level five or six

qualification, will have studied anatomy and physiology, as

well as massage techniques.

The second role in treating tension leading to migraines

and headaches is to relieve tension in trigger points

located in the neck and shoulders.

For relaxation and general wellbeing, consider shiatsu,

aromatherapy, or Swedish massage.

In order to get a rounded treatment, offering both

relaxation and trigger point therapy, it’s important to

discuss your condition prior to treatment, so that the

therapist understands the problem fully, and can tailor a

treatment to your needs.


I’ve recently

moved away

from hormonal

contraception, but

after years of taking

the combined pill, I’m

suffering with PMS.

Friends have told me

certain types of massage

can help ease symptoms,

can you tell me more?


Massage is an effective

treatment for PMS as it relaxes

and soothes aching muscles, while

treatment on the abdomen and

lower back can relieve bloating

and tension. Massage is a wellknown

effective treatment for

fluid retention, allowing fluid to be

moved towards the lymph system

and naturally removed by the body.

Massage is also a good way of

lifting your mood, with clients

reporting feeling lighter, less stress,

less bloated, and more energised

after a PMS massage.

Many places may not offer a PMS

massage on their treatment list, but

once you’ve discussed your needs

with the therapist they’ll be able to

tailor a treatment to you.

For optimum results, consider

getting a massage two days

before your period is expected, or

when PMS rears its ugly head, so

approximately every four weeks.

You can find more information about Libby on therapy-directory.org.uk


Brought to you

by Therapy



After watching the

London Marathon

for years, I’ve

decided to finally take

up running. The first few

weeks have been going

well, but the pain in my

shins is taking its toll. I

don’t want to stop, and

have heard that sports

massage can help with this?


I’m sorry to hear you’re

experiencing pain in your

shins – you’re not the only one.

Many people get this problem,

called shin splints, when they begin

to train seriously.

The problem will likely get worse

as you increase your mileage, so

will need managing in order for

you to continue running. Book an

appointment with a clinical sports

and remedial massage therapist.

They will assess your injury, and

your biomechanics, in order to

identify why you are experiencing

this problem. A common cause of

shin splints is over-worn trainers, so

take your shoes with you.

Expect to need at least two or

three appointments to treat and

monitor your injury. Once the

condition is under control, consider

getting a regular sports massage to

keep your muscles in good, flexible

condition, and allow you to train for

your marathon.

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


Go with the flow







When it comes to our periods, most of us know about PMS. But, what

you might not realise is how much our cycle affects us mentally.

Here we take a closer look at the relationship between our

menstrual cycle and our mental health

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Orginal artwork | Charlotte Reynell


notification from my

menstrual cycle tracking

app just popped up to

tell me ‘PMS is coming’.

While this may sound a

little ominous, it’s helpful to know. I’m

on day 26 of my cycle, and this week I’ve

felt my anxiety peak – something that

often happens in the days leading up to

my period.

Armed with this information, I know

I need to take things a little easier

over the next week or so. I can allow

anxiety to make itself known in my

body without judgement or fear, while

ramping up my self-care to manage it.

A couple of years ago, I didn’t know

anything about my cycle, apart from

the fact it brought a lot of pain, tears,

and chocolate cravings. It wasn’t until

I started tracking both my mood, and

my cycle, that I noticed the pattern of

anxiety spiking around the time of my

period. And I’m certainly not alone

with this.

Many of us will notice a change

in mood; we all differ in how

severely we’re affected – some

will barely notice a change, while

others find themselves battling with

premenstrual dysphoric disorder

(PMDD, a condition that causes severe

depression, anxiety, and even suicidal

thoughts, around the time of your


Before we explore the mental

health side of things, it’s important to

understand the different phases of

our cycle:


This is when we get our period. Many

people will notice a change in their

energy levels, feeling more tired than

usual, and withdrawn. The first few

days of your period may involve painful

cramps, and a general desire to hide

under a duvet clutching a hot water

bottle and a family-sized bar of Dairy

Milk – just me?

Around halfway through the period,

oestrogen levels rise and our mood

lifts. We start to feel more ‘us’, and pain

generally eases.

Follicular phase

After menstruation, our oestrogen and

testosterone levels rise, and our mood

stabilises. Generally, at this point, you

should feel calm, and as if all is right

with the world.


When we start to ovulate, our

testosterone levels spike, which gives

us an increased sex drive. As well as

feeling in the mood for love, you should

feel more confident. By the end of the

ovulation phase, your oestrogen and

testosterone levels will drop. This can

make you feel tired and you may notice

PMS-like symptoms.

Luteal phase

If you experience PMS, this will be

the week you’ll feel it. This is down to

low levels of oestrogen. The hormone

changes that take place throughout our

cycles lead to the shifts in our mood. >>>

August 2019 • happiful.com • 45

Many women find that

their mental health

needs more attention

on certain days of

the cycle, and this

awareness itself can

literally save lives

Claire Baker, women’s coach and

menstrual educator, explains: “The

rise and fall of female sex hormones,

oestrogen and progesterone over a

cycle, can affect mood, emotions, and

mental health, because hormones

change the chemistry of the brain.

“This influence is complex and

unique to the individual. It’s natural

to feel a little different, week-to-week,

as hormones shift, but very disruptive

changes in mood and mental health

might point to a hormonal imbalance.”

So why do these hormone changes

affect our mood? Two of the key

hormones that fluctuate are oestrogen

and progesterone, which regulate

neurotransmitters serotonin (dubbed

‘the happy hormone’) and gammaaminobutyric

acid (which relieves


Oestrogen and progesterone levels

rise during ovulation to prepare for

pregnancy. If we don’t conceive,

these levels drop to prepare for

menstruation. This rise and fall

takes a toll on us mentally.



“The impact of menstruation

on mental health is often

greatly underestimated,”

counsellor Simone Ayers tells

us. “Experiences vary on a

spectrum of mood changes

– from increased stress and

anxiety, to suicidal thoughts,

and the use of self-harm to

cope with the intense feelings

that menstruation can cause.”

For those who already struggle with

their mental health, they may notice

a spike in their symptoms, Simone

notes. This is known as premenstrual

exacerbation (PME) and can affect

both mental and physical illnesses,

including anxiety, depression, asthma,

and inflammatory bowel disease.

46 • happiful.com • July 2019

Lyzi | Instagram: @being_little

Using an app to track

my moods, and

remembering that it

will pass, is helpful

Blogger Lyzi Unwin shares

how her menstrual cycle

affects her.

“Even though my cycle is pretty

much like clockwork, I still find

myself frustrated and confused as to

why I feel so down every month.

“A day or two before my period

is due, I suddenly have an

overwhelming, crippling bout of selfdoubt

and anxiety. I am convinced

that I’m awful at everything, the

ugliest creature to have ever walked

the earth, and that everyone hates

me. Even if everything in my life is

running smoothly, the thoughts are

always the same.

“I haven’t yet found anything

to stop the thoughts, but using

an app to track my moods, and

remembering it will pass, is helpful.

Having a quiet day, and an early

night can be really beneficial, as is

talking to friends who understand.”

Lyzi Unwin blogs about mental

health, fashion and lifestyle at


“For those who need extra

support to be able to cope with

their menstrual cycle, it can be

a long journey to find the right

treatment – which may include

any combination of hormonal

treatments, antidepressants,

talking therapy, and lifestyle

changes such as moderated work

schedules and dietary changes,”

Simone says.

OK, so the bad news is that our

menstrual cycle can be linked

to some pretty difficult mental

health challenges. The good news

is, with knowledge comes power.



Cycle tracking may sound a little

scientific, but it’s actually really

simple. There are countless apps

to help (we love Clue, Moody

Month, and Flo), but you could

also make notes in a journal.

The key things to keep track of

are the day of your cycle (the first

day you bleed is day one) and how

you’re feeling. Over time you’ll

have a better understanding of

your cycle, and how it affects you.

“Menstrual cycle awareness

helps people identify where their

strengths and vulnerabilities lie

in the cycle,” says Claire. “Each

phase of the menstrual cycle

may benefit from a different

approach to self-care, work, or

What is PMDD?

relationships. Tracking helps to

reveal how to live more in flow

with this internal rhythm.

“Many women find their mental

health needs more attention on

certain days of the cycle, and this

awareness itself can literally save

lives. I look forward to the day

when our mental health systems

integrate and prioritise menstrual

cycle awareness.”

So, what can we do when we feel

our cycle impacting our mental

health? Claire says it’s all about


“At more vulnerable points in

the cycle, the best kind of selfcare

includes a combination of

getting professional and personal

support, taking some space, and

having personal boundaries,

moving slowly, drinking lots of

water, and sleeping as much as

possible. Knowing where our

sensitivities lie in the cycle, and

being tender with ourselves at

these times, is excellent and

transformative self-care.”

Raising your awareness is your

first step to gaining control, and

if you think you would benefit

from professional mental health

support at any time, don’t be

afraid to reach out.

Learn more about Claire’s coaching

services and menstrual awareness

courses at thisislifeblood.com

“Women living with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) can

experience a huge impact on their quality of life, due to the constant

cycle of deep depression that lasts for extended periods each month.

Relationships and work can also be affected due to social anxiety, and the

debilitating effect of severely painful periods, which can also affect selfesteem

and libido.”

– counsellor Simone Ayers

Simone is based in Hertfordshire, but also offers online counselling sessions and supports

those with PMDD. Learn more and get in touch via simoneayerscounselling.com

August July 2019 • happiful.com • 47

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48 • happiful • December 2018

Images | Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Sony Pictures, Alexandra Elle: @alex_elle





365 Ways to

Be Confident:



Motivation for

Every Day

A welcome

addition to Summerdale’s 365 Ways to

series, this collection of self-care ideas,

practical tips, and motivational activities is

designed to boost your mood and build your


(Out 8 August, Summerdale, £6.99)


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people can take part in challenges without

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on their equipment. Enter solo or with friends

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stage, all three stages, or a mixture of two!

(17 August, visit superheroseries.co.uk for more)


Pillows made from recycled

plastic bottles

With plastic pollution at the front of a lot

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to browse the



Broaden your horizons this August with a confidence-building read,

an app to help you get creative in the kitchen, and the UK’s biggest

celebration of drag culture



Jeff Wayne’s The War of

The Worlds: The Immersive


You’ve read the book and listened to the

score, now it’s time to jump into the cuttingedge

immersive journey through the story of

The War of The Worlds. With a combination of

theatre, virtual reality, and holograms, travel

through Victorian London and survive the

Martian invasion.

(Tickets from £49.50, dates throughout August.

Visit dotdot.london to book your place)


Magic Fridge

5 If you want to cut back on food

waste at home, this handy app will help you

on your way. Simply add the ingredients

you have left over in your fridge, freezer

and cupboards, and the app will suggest

delicious, simple recipes that you can whip

up in 30 minutes or less.

(Free from the Google Play Store & App Store)



Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

In what’s already been called a

‘masterpiece’ from writer and director

Quentin Tarantino, a struggling TV

actor (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his

stunt double (Brad Pitt) set their eyes

on big-screen fame and glory. In this

celebration of unlikely friendships and

the golden age of Hollywood, Once Upon

a Time in Hollywood is right on track to

become a modern classic.

(In cinemas 14 August)



Duvet Days

2 9


Two Silentnight Eco

Comfort pillows

To enter, email competitions@

happiful.com with your answer

to the following question. What

percentage of household

waste is the UK’s target to

recycle by 2020?*






Broadcaster Abby Hollick gets into bed with

musicians and artists, including friends of

Happiful Emeli Sandé and Jordan Stephens,

to have frank chats about everything from

burnout to activism.

(Available to listen to on BBC Sounds)


DragWorld London 2019

Celebrate the artistry, talent,

and glamour of drag at the

UK’s biggest convention – this year

partnering with mental health charity

Mind. Browse stores, attend Q&As and

tutorials, and witness fierce lip-sync


(17–18 August, tickets start at £35, Olympia

London, visit dragworld.co.uk for more)



Alexandra Elle

Be uplifted by the words

of poet and host of the ‘Hey Girl’ Podcast

Alexandra Elle, as

she shares snippets

of her work and

snaps from her

life, along with

reflective captions

that will inspire you

to celebrate and

prioritise yourself

(Follow Alexandra on



Treat your inner-child, or spend time with the children in your life, as Playday 2019 celebrates

the power of play, and encourages children and their families across the UK to get involved in

community events. This year, the theme ‘Play Builds Children’ encourages us to look at how

integral play is to children’s development. (7 August, find events near you at playday.org.uk)

*UK mainland only, entries close 20 August.


How to deal with

inbox anxiety

Do you feel constantly overwhelmed by the never-ending pile of messages

in your inbox? You’re not the only one! But for every problem there’s a

solution, and we might just have yours here...

Writing | Fiona Thomas

The average office worker

receives more than 120

emails per day – there

are probably unwanted

memos and meeting

requests winging their way to

you right now! You can try to look

away, but it’s just so tempting.

In fact, a YouGov survey found

that 60% of people check their

work inboxes while on holiday —

even though 80% would prefer to

‘completely switch off’ while away.

Research by the University of

British Columbia has shown a break

could be good for us, revealing

people experienced ‘significantly

lower daily stress’ when their email

access was restricted to three times

a day, compared to unlimited use.

But why does email make us so

anxious in the first place?




Do you insist on clearing out

your inbox every single day? The

problem here is that there’s no

finish line, because as soon as

you look away, the messages start

piling up again. The glory of an

empty inbox may be thrilling but,

ultimately, it’s short-lived.

Instead, make a list of the top five

people who deserve your attention,

and commit to responding to

them within 24 hours. Go one

step further by using three folders

labelled ‘Today’, ‘End of Week’ and

‘End of Month’ to help prioritise

which emails need to be dealt with

first. The rest can wait.





In her book, Unsubscribe: How to

Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions

and Get Real Work Done, Jocelyn

K Glei cites a 1930s experiment

(albeit with rats instead of humans)

which shows how addictive the

random rewards system can be.

Similar to rats pressing a lever to

receive food, we hit that refresh

button in the hopes of seeing a new

email. Most of the time it’s boring

junk mail, but every now and again

there’s an exciting job prospect or

event invitation.

According to Glei, it’s these

random rewards that make us

want to “push the lever again and

again and again, even when we

have better things to do”. Replace

this reward-seeking behaviour

with a daily to-do list, or monthly

goal tracker. Keep your goals in

sight (literally on a noticeboard

in front of you) and work towards

a guaranteed reward, such as an

early lunch break, walk in the

park, or beauty treatment. Every

time you find yourself knee-deep

in pointless correspondence, bring

yourself back to those goals.




Without body language or tone of

voice to pick up on, the written

word can often be misconstrued.

I spoke to psychotherapist Annie

Cassidy — who works at private

clinic Esher Groves — who says:

“With email, there’s always this

sense that it’s going to be bad

news, and that can be really

overwhelming for people. They

can become obsessed, and check

emails all the time.”

She suggests allowing a cooling

off period before responding,

taking time and space to reflect on

the context of the email. Instead

of allowing email to control your

mood, don’t visit your inbox until

you’re emotionally ready. When do

you feel most calm? Maybe it’s after

lunch, or once you’ve exercised.

Identify this part of the day and

respond to emails during this time.




If you receive an email outside

of normal office hours, should

you respond right away? Not

necessarily. According to Annie,

you’ve got to be the one to set your

own boundaries so that people

don’t get the wrong idea. “You need

to identify what you can tolerate,

and when those boundaries can

be stretched. The onus is on you to

monitor your own boundaries.”

Make a rule that you won’t

respond to work emails after

hours, and delete the email app

on your phone at the weekend.

Even better, ask for a designated

work phone that you can switch

off after 5pm. Consider adding

your working hours to the footer

of every email to get the message

across. Oh, and those random

emails from someone you’ve

never met asking for a favour? Get

comfortable with ignoring them


60% of people who

use email for work

check their inboxes

while on holiday





Set a timer and work through your

inbox for an hour each day, then

call it quits. Minimise the email

tennis which can go on for weeks

at a time by picking up the phone,

arranging a Skype call, or simply

walking over to your colleague’s

desk to move things forward. You’ll

be surprised at how quickly things

progress when you have a faceto-face

conversation instead of a

lengthy email thread.

I had done what so

many people had said

was impossible

From being


with ME, to

rediscovering me

Chronic fatigue syndrome

shook Vikki’s life to the core, but

it also prompted her to reassess

what really mattered. Now,

she’s determined to never take

a moment for granted

Writing | Vikki Cook

Sitting at my desk, tears

splashing on my keyboard,

I avoided meeting the

impatient sideways glares

from my colleagues, and

tried to pull myself together.

For months I’d been struggling, aware

of the gossip and rumours, and trying

to stay on top of my work, but an

important meeting had just fallen apart

because of me. My brain fog had left

me unprepared. I was humiliated, and

couldn’t even summon the energy to

walk to the toilets to sob in private.

A year earlier, in December 2010, a

vicious strain of flu left me with postviral

fatigue syndrome (PVFS) – a

condition that can leave the sufferer with

a host of symptoms, from muscle aches

to disabling fatigue. >>>

Hear more from Vikki on her blog,

Life’s a Beach, at bit.ly/2Ywlckr

The support from Vikki’s family helped her stay

strong through her experience

Graded exercise therapy was an effective treatment for Vikki

In time my symptoms

faded, but in January 2011

I contracted chicken pox.

The PVFS followed, but

this time, after six months,

I was diagnosed with ME

(also known as chronic

fatigue syndrome) and

was warned I might never


Every day was a fight

with my own body;

tremors, headaches,

painful muscle spasms,

memory loss, noise

sensitivity, and exhaustion

so severe I could barely

walk to and from the

bathroom unaided. Day by

day, the me I had known

for 25 years slipped away.

I spent two months

off work, while my

husband worked full-time

and cared for me, but

eventually I felt pressure

from my employer.

I began a phased return

to work, fighting against

my symptoms, barely

aware of anything beyond

my need to get home, cry,

and fall asleep.

When a supplier

arranged a visit, I was

asked to lead the meeting,

as I had done many times

before. I had tried in vain

to clear my foggy head,

but a misunderstanding

with my manager, made

worse by my confusion,

had led to a meeting with

none of the information

required. After 20 painful

minutes of baffled

flapping on my part, I

returned to my desk,

tearful and ashamed.

I had never felt so


My parents and husband,

Rich, concerned by how

ill I still was and the effect

the stress was having on

my mental health, insisted

I take a six-month break

from work to focus on my

recovery. My request for a

sabbatical was accepted,

and everyone hoped the

long rest would trigger a

recovery. It didn’t.

By November, I was no

better, but I had realised

something: my job and

the environment I was

working in was killing me.

I had heard the rumours:

I was faking the whole

thing; I was using my time

off for other activities; I

was looking for attention.

None of it was true, but

the constant judgement

stung. I handed in my

notice, left the office, and

never looked back.

Relying on our savings,

we searched for answers.

I tried supplements,

Day by day,

the me I had

known for 25

years slipped


Chinese medicine,

acupuncture, and

attended an ME clinic. I

spoke to fellow sufferers

online, who all agreed on

one thing: it was unlikely I

would recover.

In spring 2014, I was

introduced to ‘reverse

therapy’ – an approach

based on the idea that

illnesses like mine were

the result of ignoring your

body’s warning signals for

too long. By reconnecting

my body and mind, I

could start to heal.

54 • happiful.com • August 2019

The therapist asked me

to write a list of things that

made me happy, and do

some of them every day.

I could think of nothing

– and this was my first

breakthrough. I’d been so

overwrought at work for

so long that I didn’t know

what I liked doing. How

had I let that happen? It

sparked something inside.

I didn’t care what anyone

else told me; I would

recover, no matter what.

I read more, and began

daily meditations. To keep

my brain active, I started

working towards a degree

with the Open University.

I cleaned up my diet, and I

got outside more.

I read about something

called ‘graded exercise

therapy’ – an NHSapproved

treatment that

follows a programme of

steadily increased activity.

Confident this could be

the right approach for me,

I began taking short walks

nearly every day.

The first walk, in early

2015, only took me to

the end of our road, and

afterwards I cried with

exhaustion. It felt like

knives were stabbing my

thighs as I walked, and

once home I couldn’t even

get myself a glass of water,

but I did it again two days

later. This time, it wasn’t as

difficult. I quickly learned

to recognise when my

body had had enough, and

within six months, I could

walk well over a mile.

Most of my symptoms

gradually faded, and while

the fatigue was the only

remaining part, I started

playing badminton.

By early 2016, I was

swimming and playing

rounders once a week.

We celebrated my

progress with a holiday. In

August 2016, we went to

Rome, but I was nervous

about how I’d cope. My

husband reassured me

that we didn’t have to do

anything in particular, and

could just relax.

His optimism helped

bolster my own, but I

needn’t have worried. We

threw ourselves into that

holiday, and were amazed

when my fitness tracker

reported I’d walked 14,000

steps one day. I did 11,000

the next. I kept waiting

for the fatigue to knock

me off my feet, but aside

from sore leg muscles, I

felt great.

The day after we

returned home, I applied

for a part-time job at a

pet shop. Standing up all

day was hard, but after

a few weeks my body

adjusted. In time I went

up to working three days

a week, continued my

studies, and maintained

my physical exercise.

While ME will affect

some people for the rest

of their lives, in February

2017, I declared myself

recovered. It had been

six long years of fighting

every single day but, at

At last, I had done what so many

said was impossible, and I was

determined never to take my life

for granted again

Vikki graduated in 2018, with

first-class honours

last, I had done what so

many said was impossible,

and I was determined

never to take my life for

granted again. I would do

everything that made me

happy, and work to spread

that happiness to others.

I now have a blog on this

topic – Life’s a Beach.


Our bodies tell us everything we need to know, but often we

ignore the warning signs that something is wrong. Once Vikki

reconnected with herself physically, the mindful healing began

– what therapists call ‘working phenomenologically’. It’s terribly

hard when you have an illness nobody understands;

it can be a frustrating and lonely experience.

Fortunately, Vikki had a good support structure, but if

you haven’t, remember there is always help out there

in the form of counselling. You don’t have to be alone.

Beverley Hills | MA MBACP


Action for ME estimates

17 million people around

the world suffer from

ME, and are often driven

people who forget selfcare.

It doesn’t surprise

me. In a world that

idolises success, it’s easy

to sacrifice everything to

be the best. I learned the

hard way that success is

nothing without health.

In November 2018, I

stepped on stage to collect

my first-class degree

with honours. As I shook

the Dean’s hand, I was

bursting with pride. I was

surrounded by the love of

family and friends who’d

stuck by me, I’d earned

my degree, and I’d done it

all while battling a vicious

illness that nobody truly


August 2019 • happiful.com • 55

Happiful Hero

Photography | M T Elgassier

If opportunity doesn’t

knock, build a door

56 • happiful • December 2018 – MILTON BERLE

Editor’s picks

Rebecca Thair

I’m the dog-obsessed editor of Happiful – sorry for hounding you with

pictures of pups! Outside of work, I can normally be found in the gym

watching Killing Eve to feel like a badass, bingeing on a good box set, or

getting out for walks around Virginia Water, with a quick pit-stop at a pub

Images | Sliders: ASOS, Twilight Spray: Lush, Emojis: emojipedia.org


Sam Cooke – ‘Bring It on Home to Me’



I deleted our internal messenger

app from my phone – it’s

important to set boundaries

when away from the office!


‘Sleepy’ body lotion from Lush

(£16), or their ‘Twilight’ spray

(£20). When I’m stressed, sleep

is the first thing that goes out of

the window, but these lavenderinfused


smell incredible,

and really work

wonders. Definitely

worth a try when

sleep evades you!



For summer evenings, you can’t

beat a bit of Top Golf. Some fresh

air, fun with friends, and if you’re

feeling frustrated, a great way to

let off some steam.


People using their Facebook

status as a replacement for

Google. This isn’t the place to

request a quote on your new

kitchen, Sharon.


It’s all about The Handmaid’s

Tale right now. No explanation

required. If you’re not watching,

catch up immediately.

So we beat on, boats against the current,

borne back ceaselessly into the past

– F. Scott Fitzgerald

From my favourite book, The Great Gatsby. While the message might be

‘you can’t repeat the past’, and the futility of the American dream, I still

see hope in it. The future can still be full of new possibilities, when we

stop letting the past hold us back.



Yes, I take office

casual too far…

In my defence,

it’s summer.


Office air con

It’s roasting outside,

but like the North

Pole inside – the

clothing dilemma

is real.


Give yourself a break.

Sometimes self-care is

treating yourself well,

pampering, or going to the

gym. But sometimes it’s

letting yourself have a night

off when you need it. To be

lazy, to not do anything on

your to-do list, and relish

some meaningless



Fajitas. All about that

sizzle and spice.



Say goodbye to boring burgers, it’s time for a change

Writing | Ellen Hoggard

The UK may be used to

a not-so-dry summer,

but that doesn’t stop

us from making the

most of the warmer

days and eating al fresco. While a

BBQ typically involves meat, we’re

mixing things up. We’re going

vegan, and the food is so good

that everybody will be asking you

for the recipe.

With Meat Free Monday and

other initiatives in full swing, we

want to inspire you this season

with a delicious collection of

recipes – ready to throw on

your BBQ, rain or shine. There’s

something so special about trying

a new dish and running away

with your imagination when it

comes to cooking, and this is

no exception. As always, our

recipes are totally open to change,

depending on your taste and what

you have in the cupboard.

So fire up the grill, it’s time to

impress your guests.



Makes 12


1 courgette

1 yellow pepper

1 red pepper

2 red onions

180g chestnut mushrooms

200g cherry tomatoes

50g ciabatta

1 lemon, grated

1 red chilli, finely chopped

2 sprigs of rosemary, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


Soak 12 wooden skewers in water

to stop them from burning on

the barbecue. Chop the peppers,

red onions, mushrooms, and

courgette into large chunks, and

place in a mixing bowl. Remove

the crust from the ciabatta and

cut into 2cm chunks. Add to the

bowl, along with the tomatoes. In

a small bowl, combine the chilli,

rosemary and lemon zest. Add

the olive oil, salt and pepper and

mix. Add to the vegetables. Using

your hands, toss everything

together and leave to marinate

for 30 minutes.

Divide and thread the

ingredients between your

skewers. Add to the barbecue,

cooking for 8–10 minutes,

turning occasionally. Serve.

58 • happiful.com • August 2019


Serves 8


1 can kidney beans

1 can chickpeas

1 can black beans

1 cup edamame beans

1 cup green beans, chopped

1/2 red onion, diced

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Juice of half a lemon

2 tbsp agave syrup

4 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper


Drain the beans. In a large bowl,

combine the beans, onions,

and parsley. In a separate bowl,

combine the olive oil, lemon

juice, white wine vinegar and

agave syrup. Whisk. Add to the

bean mixture and season with

salt and pepper. Serve.


Serves 4


1 block tofu, pressed

10 tbsp BBQ sauce

70ml orange juice

70ml water

1 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

Salt and pepper


Prepare your tofu by pressing it

before use. When the moisture is

removed, slice into large chunks.

In a small pan, combine the BBQ

sauce, orange juice, water, and

dry ingredients over a low heat.

Place the mixture in a bowl and

add the tofu, coating both sides.

Leave to marinate for two hours.

Spray the grill with oil so the

tofu doesn’t stick. Grill the pieces

for 4–5 minutes on each side,

brushing with additional sauce.

Season with salt and pepper to

taste. Serve.

Find a


near you at





All the colourful vegetables are

bursting with health-giving fibre,

to keep blood sugar levels stable,

and antioxidants to boost the

immune system. You could

add garlic cloves to

the skewers, giving a

roasted garlic flavour

and additional health



This salad is really rich

in low fat, low cholesterol,

protein, and plenty of gut-friendly

fibre. Fresh mint, coriander,

tarragon, chives and basil could

also be added for extra flavour, and

to help boost the immune system.

You may not need the sweet agave

syrup, so taste the dressing before

adding it, and if you like apple

cider vinegar, consider using that

in place of the white wine vinegar.


Tofu is a great source of vegan

protein, and is low in fat and

cholesterol. It takes on flavour

really well, so any marinade will

work. You could make an Asianinspired

one by using 10 tbsp black

bean sauce, 1 tsp ginger garlic

paste, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, salt and

pepper, and 150ml water. To make

the cooking process easier, thread

the tofu on to skewers before

placing on the grill.

Susan Hart is a nutrition

coach and speaker. As well

as delivering healthy eating

advice to individuals, Susan

hosts regular workshops and

runs vegan cooking classes. Find

out more at nutrition-coach.co.uk

August 2019 • happiful.com • 59

What is endometriosis?

With 176 million women across the world believed to have endometriosis, it’s a condition

affecting a huge number of lives, and yet for many of us it remains a bit of a mystery…

Here, nutritional therapist Sonal Shah, explores the symptoms to be aware of, possible

causes, along with how diet could be key to managing the condition

Writing | Sonal Shah

The second

most common


condition in the UK,

endometriosis is the abnormal

growth of cells that form in the

lining of the uterus. Some of

these cells may, instead of being

expelled from the body during

the menstrual process, actually

end up continuing their cycle

elsewhere. They then have no

way of leaving the body, so the

material builds up and may attach

itself to other organs in the lower

abdomen, such as the ovaries,

fallopian tubes, or bowel.

While endometriosis can affect

women of any age, it is most often

found in those in their 30s and

40s. While it’s difficult to pinpoint

the exact number of women

who develop endometriosis,

it’s estimated that one in 10

women of reproductive age in

the UK have it, and it costs the

UK economy around £8.2 billion

each year due to treatment, loss of

work, and associated healthcare

costs. So, understanding how to

manage and reduce the impact

of endometriosis on the lives of

sufferers is essential, and the

likelihood is you already know

someone who is all-too-familiar

with the pain and discomfort this

condition can bring...



When it comes to endometriosis,

it really can be quite a unique

experience for people. One thing

to note is that the severity of

endometriosis does not always

correspond to the level of pain

and discomfort experienced.

Additionally, symptoms can vary

from one woman to another, and

some women may not experience

any symptoms at all.

For those who do, the classic

symptoms to be aware of include

pelvic pain, heavy periods,

intermittent pain throughout

the menstrual cycle, painful

intercourse, painful bowel

movements, fatigue, nausea,

vomiting and constipation during

menses, and infertility.

One of the primary concerns

with endometriosis is that it can

cause fertility problems. While

the reasoning for this is not

fully understood, it is thought

to be because of damage

caused to the fallopian tubes or


Other issues which can

arise include some women

developing adhesions – ‘sticky’

areas of endometriosis tissue

that can join organs together.

Ovarian cysts may also develop,

which are fluid-filled cysts in

the ovaries that can sometimes

become very large and painful,

and can be treated with surgery.

For some women, the impact

that endometriosis can have on

their life can lead to depression,

so it’s important to recognise

symptoms, and look for support

with managing the condition as

soon as possible.

If you suspect you may have

endometriosis, it’s important

that you speak with your GP. As

symptoms can vary, it’s a good

idea to keep track of them in a

diary so that you can accurately

describe them during your

appointment with the doctor.

60 • happiful.com • August 2019


Unfortunately, the exact cause

of endometriosis is unknown,

and there is no definite cure.

However, some possible reasons

are outlined here, and the

likelihood is it could be a result of

a combination of factors:

• One theory is that hormonal

imbalances, such as oestrogen

dominance, may play a role.

Interestingly, the symptoms of

oestrogen dominance are similar

to that of endometriosis.

Endometrial tissue produces

an enzyme called aromatase

which, in turn, leads to oestrogen

production. Furthermore,

oestrogen and progesterone both

regulate phases of the menstrual

cycle, and if a woman has gut

and liver imbalances, the old

hormones might not get cleared

out soon enough. This can provide >>>

August 2019 • happiful.com • 61

the opportunity for the unwanted

recycling of oestrogen, and high

levels of oestrogen compared to


• Endometriosis and irritable

bowel syndrome (IBS) seem to

go hand-in-hand, with many

women who have endometriosis

reporting this. A recent study

published in the European Journal

of Obstetrics & Gynecology and

Reproductive Biology found that

IBS is five times higher in women

with endometriosis, compared to

women without endometriosis,

prompting thoughts of a possible


A bacterial imbalance in the gut

can also impact the microbes and

bacteria in the large intestine,

small intestine and pelvic area.

This could potentially cause

inflammation that damages the

cells and activates the immune

cells in the body leading to a

dysfunctional immune system,

which is also a potential trigger.

• In the 1920s, Dr John

Sampson believed ‘retrograde

menstruation’ could be one

explanation behind the condition.

He believed that endometriosis

could be caused by menstrual

tissue flowing in reverse through

the fallopian tubes, and landing

on the pelvic organs where it may

stay and grow.

• Another possible cause could

be simply down to our genetic

disposition – an individual might

find their risk of developing

endometriosis increases if it

runs in the family. Additionally,

hormonal developments like early

puberty might be influenced by



Given the importance of

gut health, including the

detoxification of hormones

through the liver, it makes sense to

investigate how improving our gut

health could help to manage the

symptoms of endometriosis.

Because those with

endometriosis are likely to have

inflammation in the gut and pelvic

area, the emphasis is therefore on

an anti-inflammatory diet to help

with this.

It’s estimated that

one in 10 women

of reproductive

age in the UK have


This would mean eating oily

fish for their omega-3 content,

or seeds, nuts and avocados,

olive oil, colourful foods like

dark berries, carrots, sweet

potatoes, and leafy vegetables,

which provide vitamins and

minerals that help lower

inflammation and strengthen

our immune system.

Green tea, cinnamon, ginger,

and turmeric are also good

at helping the body to fight

inflammation. Cruciferous

vegetables like broccoli, kale, and

Swiss chard contain magnesium,

along with a compound called

indole-3-carbinol that assists

the body in healthy oestrogen

metabolism. Furthermore many

of these foods (also beans and

pulses) are rich in fibre, which

can all help to restore hormonal



An anti-inflammatory green

smoothie could be a wonderful

addition to your diet, and help

those with endometriosis

symptoms. With smoothies, you

can have this daily, and simply

change up some of the fruit and

veg you add for a bit of variety!


• 1 cup of dark green vegetables

(spinach, kale, or watercress)

• 1 cup of fruit (berries, mango)

• 1/2 an avocado or 1 tbsp ground


• 250ml dairy-free milk

• Powdered turmeric (or ginger)


• Choose either spinach, kale, or

watercress, and add to a blender

with the fruit, to sweeten.

• For a boost of fats, add 1/2 an

avocado, or ground flaxseeds,

which provide a hit of omega 3.

• Pour in 250ml dairy-free milk,

or use water if you prefer. The

more liquid you add the runnier

it will be, so experiment with the

consistency you like best.

• Add a pinch of ginger, or

powdered turmeric. Blend it all

together and enjoy!

62 • happiful.com • August 2019


Sources of omega 3 oil,

1 which can reduce levels of an

inflammatory chemical and slow

the growth of endometrial tissue.

If you’re on a plant-based diet, I’d

recommend flaxseed oil daily.

One size does not fit all when it

comes to living with endometriosis.

Consult your GP for support

Try supplementing iron, as

2 low iron is common with

heavy menses. You can get your

blood iron levels tested, and then

supplement accordingly.

Increase your omega 6 intake –

3 Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA).

Starflower oil contains more GLA

than some other options, and

has therapeutic benefits to lower

inflammation, balance hormones,

and reduce pain.

Magnesium capsules can

4 help strengthen bones, relax

muscles, and reduce pelvic pain

and abdominal cramps. Vitamin

D3 should also be supplemented.

A good multivitamin will

5 contain B vitamins, vitamin C,

along with minerals such as zinc

and calcium to keep your body

healthy. My favourite is Cytoplan’s

Wholefood multi.

Portraits | billie.com

There are also things you can

implement in your lifestyle, such

as trying a sitz bath, which is

considered one of the natural

remedies for endometriosis.

A hot bath helps reduce pain

and cramping by relaxing the

muscles in your pelvic area, which

can be aided further by adding

magnesium salts, Epsom salts, or

magnesium oil. You can also add

eight to 10 drops of lavender or

rosemary oil.

Sonal is a nutritional therapist and director of Synergy Nutrition.

She specialises in sports nutrition, hormonal imbalances, and

vegan diets. To find out more, visit synergynutrition.co.uk

August 2019 • happiful.com • 63

Happiful Hero

Photography | Svetlana Pochatun

Photography | Max Andrey

64 • happiful • December 2018

If you are positive,

you’ll see opportunities

instead of obstacles


...and breathe

Discover more

about calming

breathing techniques,

and mindfulness for

anxiety and stress at


Feeling stressed or

anxious? Mindful breathing

could be the answer

We all experience

stress and anxiety

from time to

time, yet for

some, the feelings can seem

overwhelming. If you find

yourself stuck and unable

to escape the cycle of stress

and anxiety, there are simple

tricks you can try to feel more

connected and present in the


Therapy Directory member,

Reiki master and energy healer,

Julia Trickett, shares her advice.

“Your body has its welldocumented

fight or flight

response. So how can you reduce

stress? Pretending to blow up a

balloon is one method. It helps

to empty your lungs as breathing

tends to get shallower when you

are anxious.”


Take a slow, deep breath in

through your nose.

Hold your breath for two or

three seconds.

Exhale slowly through your


Pause for five seconds.


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



Whether you’re jetting off to sunnier shores, or planning a short staycation,

summer is the perfect time for a little reading and relaxation

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

For a bookworm, I

was never a fan of

summer reading

lists. Filled with

dusty old books with

heavy-handed morals, I always

preferred exploring my local

library to see what new hidden

gems I could uncover.

With more and more books,

across a wider range of genres,

being published than ever

before, literally thousands of

new titles are expected to hit the

shelves and digital platforms this

summer. We share nine of our

most-anticipated reads to help

you (and your loved ones) get in

the mood, feel inspired, and to

make this summer your hottest

reading season yet.


You Can Change the World!

By Margaret Rooke (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £12.99)

In a world often caught up with

celebs, shopping, and social

media, best-selling author

Margaret Rooke highlights the

inspiring stories of 50 teens

from around the world. Sharing

their experiences as volunteers,

campaigners, social entrepreneurs,

and more, these teens have helped

change and improve the lives of

others. From upcycling clothes

for the homeless, to founding

football teams for children with

disabilities, help teens discover the

power they hold when they have a

goal worth fighting for.

66 • happiful.com • August 2019


Go Wild: Find Freedom and Adventure in the Great Outdoors

By Chris Naylor (Summersdale, £16.99)

Our modern lives see us shut

away inside, hunched over

screens for hours on end. When

was the last time you got outside

and just spent time enjoying

nature? It’s never too late to

rediscover the joy of the great

outdoors. Check out activities

and ideas for adventures in

forests, woodlands, mountains,

by the seaside, and more. Find

inspiration to help you escape the

everyday pace, find adventure,

and go wild.



By Tom Pollock (Walker Books, £7.99)

Delve into the world of

influencers, social media,

and obsession. How much

of ourselves should we be

sharing online? Amy, an online

influencer, has broadcast every

moment of her mother’s terminal

illness. With the Heartstream

app, her followers are able to

experience every emotion Amy

goes through. But on the day

of her mother’s funeral, Amy

discovers a stranger rigged with

explosives in her kitchen...


Camouflage: The Hidden Lives of Autistic Women

By Dr Sarah Bargiela (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, £12.99)

Camouflage is a graphic novel with

a difference. Autistic women and

girls are often misrepresented or

overlooked. Thanks to Dr Sarah

Bargiela, readers can gain a unique

insight into the lives and different

perspectives of these women.

Using real-life case studies and

charming illustrations, discover

what everyday life can be like

for women on the spectrum.

From understanding metaphors

and masking behaviours, to

communication, social pressures,

and managing relationships. A

fantastic, easy-to-digest book for

anyone hoping to understand

how we can create a safer, more

accommodating environment for

women on the spectrum.

August 2019 • happiful.com • 67


Cookie and the Most Annoying Boy in the World

By Konnie Huq (Piccadilly Press, £10.99) Out 8 August

A quirky, geeky girl from a

Bangladeshi family, Cookie feels

like she never quite fits in. When

her best friend moves away, Cookie

sets her heart on getting a cute

kitten to help fill the void. But the

most annoying boy she’s ever met

buys her dream kitten, and soon

she discovers he’s not only in her

year at school, but is moving in

next door.

Things aren’t all bad – if Cookie

can just keep her cool, she may

stand a chance of getting on her

favourite TV show. All she has to

do first is win her school science


Combining anarchic humour

and a little sneaky STEM learning,

Cookie and the Most Annoying Boy in

the World is the latest must-read for

kids aged eight to 12.

Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! is the perfect

book to tide you through the long summer

holidays while school is out


Why Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****!

By Gill Sims (HarperCollins, £12.99)

From the Sunday Times number

one best-selling author Gill Sims,

comes the latest laugh-out-loud

novel for mums everywhere.

Mummy (Ellen) wonders how

many more ‘phases’ she’s going

to have to deal with before her

children become civilised,

functioning members of society.

Now teens, instead of pestering

her about who would win in a fight

– a dragon badger or a ninja horse

– they spend hours Snapchatting,

communicating in grunts, and

stropping around their tiny cottage

(when not demanding Ellen acts as

their all-hours taxi service).

The country life she’s been

dreaming of isn’t turning out quite

as planned, but at least they can all

agree on one thing: Barry the rescue

Wolfdog may be the ugliest dog in

the world, but he’s also the loveliest.

The third hilarious part in the

parenting blogger, author and

illustrator’s Why Mummy series, Why

Mummy Doesn’t Give A ****! is the

perfect book to tide you through the

long summer holidays while school

is out.


After the End

By Clare Mackintosh (Sphere, £12.99)

A heart-breaking, page-turning

novel from Sunday Times bestselling

author Clare Mackintosh.

Max and Pip are the strongest,

most unshakable couple – until

their son gets sick.

As doctors put the question of his

survival into their hands, for the

first time, they can’t agree. Each

wants a different future for

their son. But what if they could

have both?

Explore love, marriage,

parenthood, and the road not

taken, in this unforgettable and

emotional novel.


The Little Book of Meditations

By Gilly Pickup (Summersdale, £5.99)

Have you ever wanted to try

meditation, but weren’t sure

where to start? Learn about the

different types of meditation,

discover how it can improve

your sense of wellbeing, and get

help to connect with the world

around you. Offering guidance

and practical advice, discover

simple ways you can incorporate

meditation into your daily routine

to help reduce anxiety, increase

positivity, and help you appreciate

each moment.


Pause: 100 moments of calm

By Summersdale (£6.99)

It can be easy to get caught up

in the fast pace and day-to-day

stresses of life. Taking time out

for yourself, and finding ways

to press pause, can be vital in

reintroducing moments of calm

to your routine. Combining

mindfulness techniques, self-care

ideas, with simple ways you can

relax, this pocket-sized guide helps

you to find moments of peace,

calm, and reflection.


We're giving away three book bundles to keep you entertained this summer. For your chance to win, drop

us an email at competitions@happiful.com by 18 August, with your answer to the following question:

What is J.K. Rowling’s full first name? Good luck!

Open to UK residents only.

Getting through

separation and divorce

If your marriage is on the rocks, there’s

plenty of legal and financial advice

out there. But the emotional impact of

a split – the anger, sadness, grief,

confusion, and loneliness – needs to

be tackled, too

Writing | Lindsay George

An estimated 42% of

marriages in the UK

now end in divorce,

with about half of

these expected to

occur in the first 10

years of marriage. Alongside this,

around 62% of women initiate

divorce – it's said that they notice

the problems sooner. Yet men

remarry more quickly, as they are

usually confronted with greater

emotional adjustment issues.

That said, 31% of all second

marriages will also fail.

These are truly sobering

statistics, yet divorce rates are

slowing down, year on year. So

why is this? Divorce is not only a

financial stress but emotionally

damaging, and not a decision

taken lightly.

While the legal and financial

processes associated with

divorce are not necessarily easy

to navigate, thankfully there are

systems in place to help guide you

through each stage.

In contrast, the emotional

journey of separation and divorce

is all too often neglected. The

impact on your mental health and

wellbeing can feel overwhelming,

as you attempt to adjust and adapt

to changes that you may feel you

have little control over.


Once the decision to separate

has been made, often the impact

ripples out further throughout

the lives of those involved. The

stresses and strains can be felt by

family and friends, which may in

turn create additional pressure

on your day-to-day relationships.

It comes as no surprise, then, to

learn that divorce is listed as the

second most stressful life event,

after the death of a loved one.

Much of my work as a

psychotherapist and counsellor

is spent helping clients work

through emotional issues in

their relationships. When a

person finally makes the difficult

decision to separate, or divorce

a partner, I am often asked how

long the actual process will take

for them to recover. Statistics

show that it can take up to two

years to get over a divorce or

separation. However, we are all

different, so for some this can

take considerably longer.

The significant changes that

take place in your life during this

period can often feel chaotic,

traumatic, and filled with


emotions. The

Giving yourself time

and space to

understand what

went wrong is an

important step

towards recovery

process can at

times feel much

harder to adjust

to than initially


Some days

you may feel

hopeful, and

even relieved,

to be out of it,

especially if your marriage or

relationship has been difficult for

a long time. Other days you may

feel angry, sad, lonely, confused

or anxious. These are all normal

emotions and it is especially

important that you take extra care

of yourself during this time.


Prioritising your own needs is

vital, particularly if anyone is

dependent on you. As difficult

as this can be when you

have so many overwhelming

responsibilities, it is important

to remind yourself that it will be

harder to look after your children

or pets, or other family members,

if you don’t look after yourself to

begin with.

An important step towards

recovery, will also be in giving

yourself time and space to

understand what went wrong, as

is focusing on what you need to

do to help you let go of the past.

Looking forward to the future will

help stop you feeling stuck, and

more in control.

That said, with the end of any

relationship, it is natural that your

self-esteem and self-confidence

will feel at an all time low. When

you experience hurt, it is normal

to want to lash out and blame one

another, which will cause more

resentment and upset. It is all

too easy to get

trapped in a cycle

of blame and


However once

you’ve agreed

to separate, it

might be more

helpful to focus

on what the

relationship was

lacking for both

of you. While the answers may be

upsetting, a better understanding

of what these are will allow you

both to move on.

The following tips may help you

to get through this difficult time,

and face the future with more


1 Keep the lines of

communication open

Talking to your friends and

family could help stop you from

feeling isolated; it will also help

to keep things in perspective. It

is natural to feel that you are the

only one with problems and that

you are burdening others with

yours. >>>

Learning to reach out and share

your heartaches and worries

will not only help you feel more

supported, but will allow them to

feel more connected and closer to

you during this difficult time.

2 Let yourself grieve

It is normal to feel shock and

disbelief when your relationship

comes to an end. Endings can

evoke a sense of loss in the life

that we once knew, and the life

we hoped for. The process of grief

will play out differently for each

of us and is said to have several

stages. These include denial,

anger, bargaining, depression,

and finally acceptance. While you

may enter each of these stages

at any given time, it is important

to remind yourself that these

are neither neat nor linear. You

may require some help to work

through any one of these stages if

you feel you are getting stuck.

3 Dealing with anger

Anger is often the stage that many

people get stuck at. Holding on

to your anger not only slows

down your ability to move on, but

retains an emotional connection

with your ex. It may be useful

to recognise that anger is an

externalised version of sadness.

Learning to let go and making

time to de-stress will benefit not

only you, but also those around

you. Learning to relax is essential

in helping you maintain your

health and wellbeing.

4 Feeling more in control

You may feel demoralised and

start to lack confidence. Setting

yourself small, achievable goals

will not only boost your selfesteem,

but will help you feel

more in charge and self-reliant.

Completing even minor tasks can

feel like huge wins, which will help

you overcome self-doubt and give

you a sense of moving forward.

5 Healthy body, healthy mind

While it is tempting to reach for

high fat, high sugar, comfort

foods, unfortunately they won’t

provide you with the nourishment

that you need to manage

additional stress.

I bet you didn’t know that 50% of

dopamine and 90% of serotonin

– those neuro-transmitting feel

good chemicals – are actually

produced in your gut! Therefore

eating foods that are high in

omega 3, such as oily fish, nuts

and seeds, adding a variety of

fresh fruit and vegetables to

your diet, alongside a probiotic

drink or yogurt four to five times

per week, will not only promote

better gut health, but will make

you feel better, too.

Setting yourself

small, achievable

goals will not only

boost your selfesteem,

but will

help you feel

more in charge

and self-reliant

Exercise also produces

endorphins that make you feel

good about yourself and will

improve your resilience levels,

which in turn help you to manage


6 Professional help

The process of divorce and

separation can often make you

feel trapped, as daily life may feel

like it’s getting harder. Talking

to a professional counsellor

will help provide you with the

necessary support to work

through and understand your

feelings, so that you will be able

to manage situations with a better

sense of self-awareness and


Whether you’ve chosen, or

perhaps feel forced, to make

this huge change in your life, the

process is never easy. Looking

after yourself and getting the right

support will help you get your life

back together again so that you

can move forward with a clearer

sense of direction and a chance to

find happiness and a fresh start in

the future.

Lindsay George is an integrative

counsellor and trained nurse, who

works with adults, couples, families,

and young people. She specialises in

areas including depression, eating

disorders, and relationships. Visit


72 • happiful.com • August 2019


Life coach and broadcaster Anna Williamson shares the life lessons and perspectives on

love, friendship, and being a bit silly from time to time, that help keep her on track

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Multi-faceted’ ‘

is a

descriptor that

seems to have

been created for

Anna Williamson;

she is a woman

of many talents – and many,

many jobs. She’s a mind coach,

podcaster, TV presenter, radio

show host, author, columnist, and

the list goes on... Alongside this,

she’s an ambassador for Mind, The

Prince’s Trust, and Childline, and

is incredibly devoted to raising

awareness of mental health.

Anna speaks candidly about

the mental illness she has faced

herself, including crippling

anxiety disorder earlier in her

TV career. She’s also shared her

experiences around the arrival of

her son Enzo, explaining how the

trauma of his birth, and the postnatal

depression that followed,

impacted her, and her relationship

with her partner.

Her open book approach to

life’s events and the working

of our minds, without a hint of

airbrushing, is a breath of fresh air

in the entertainment industry.

Right now, Anna is putting this

talent for straight-talking to great

use. She’s in the middle of filming

a new series of E4’s Celebs Go

Dating (her second so far), and

continues to produce the twiceweekly

frank, funny, and very

often naughty, ‘Loose Lips’ podcast

with Luisa Zissman – and she’s

feeling grateful about both projects

for very different reasons.

“Working on Celebs Go Dating

really is my dream job,” she says

enthusiastically. “I’m working

with people who want to make

changes; they aspire to love or

a relationship, and they want

to work on themselves. From a

personal and psychological point

of view, that’s really interesting.”

Working with her colleague, Paul

Brunswick, Anna helps to guide

the celebrities through a new

approach to dating, and she insists

that the process has given her

much to think about too. >>>

August 2019 • happiful.com • 73

people. What we love about the

podcast is that it shows that it’s OK

to disagree; you can stay friends,

you don’t have to segregate

yourself, or shun people because

you don’t both think the same way.

“There’s loads of stuff Luisa

says that I don’t agree with, and

she talks about me ‘banging on

about mental health’ – a subject I

think she struggles to get her head

around. But we respect each other

enough to agree to disagree, and at

the end of it have a good old laugh

– and that’s what its about.”

Embracing this playful side is

important to Anna. “I think in this

day and age we lose sight of the

Photography | Ruth Rose

It’s taught me that

everyone deserves

love. And if people

are willing to be

open and show their

vulnerable side,

they feel better, and

become happier

individuals too

“It’s taught me that everyone

deserves love,” she explains. “And

if people are willing to be open

and show their vulnerable side,

they feel better, and become

happier individuals too. And it’s

going to be another really eventful

series,” she teases.

And as for ‘Loose Lips’, what does

that bring her?

“Recording ‘Loose Lips’ is a huge

release!” she says laughing.

Anna and co-host Luisa Zissman

met when Anna was the ‘psych’

expert on Big Brother’s Bit On The

Side, and have been firm friends

ever since. Their friendship is

one of the factors that makes the

podcast such a huge hit; it comes

through so clearly in their chat.

“We’re just two girls, having

a good natter and a catch up,

taking the mick out of each other,”

Anna explains when asked about

their pod’s appeal. “It’s no-holdsbarred,

and we speak openly and


It’s not always sweetness and

light though – and that’s OK by

Anna too. “We’re very different

benefit of being a bit silly; we’re all

too consumed with trying to look

good on Instagram, and filtering

the cr*p out of ourselves.”

Whatever platform she’s on,

Anna commits to being her

authentic self – and this is what

makes her so successful. She

has a brilliant ability to inject a

large dollop of reality into every

conversation she’s part of, along

with a lot of belly laughs.

Being real is a value that Anna

holds dear, and one acquired from

personal experience. “I’ve been

74 • happiful.com • August 2019

through some hard stuff,’ she says

plainly. “I’ve suffered with really

bad mental health, and life has

thrown some really challenging

times at me – as it has with a lot of


“I’ve learned through these

experiences – in therapy and then

through professional training

– that being authentic and true

to yourself is actually the key to

wellness and happiness.

“So many of us feel we have to

fit into a mould, people-please,

or be something that we’re not

sometimes, and I learned the hard

way that I am who I am, and I

don’t need to pretend I’m anyone

I’m not.”

So, in addition to keeping it real,

how does Anna keep it all going?

From the outside, she seems to be

spinning a lot of plates...

“There is a certain amount of

juggling that goes on – but also,

becoming a parent gives you so

much perspective. You realise that

you’re keeping a little person alive,

and that their needs are more

important than anything else.

“I’ve become really disciplined

since becoming a mum,” she adds.

“Whereas before I could burn the

candle at both ends, say yes to

things that perhaps I shouldn’t, and

I was teetering on people-pleasing.

“All of that has gone, because I

have a little boy who needs to go to

bed at 7pm, or be picked up from

nursery – so it’s really important

for me to have a disciplined

routine day-to-day.”

However, Anna is aware that to

stay well and mentally healthy,

she also needs to make time

for herself. “I plan ‘days of no

obligation’,” she explains. “They

are quite few and far between, but

they are for me to do whatever I

want to; whether that’s watching

a box set, seeing a friend, or

going for a massage. I treat those

days like they are a doctor’s

appointment, because they’re

essential for my health.”

Anna is also emphatic about the

need to keep learning, and she

continues to be deeply interested

in mental health, psychology,

and learning more about human

interactions. She reads widely, and

tunes into other people’s thinking

on these subjects, as part of her

own professional and personal


Anna has therapy, too – in the

form of supervision for her career

and for herself, and she continues

to be an advocate for the positive

impact counselling and coaching

can have.

“I really feel that everyone should

have someone to offload to, and

therapy is such an important

and cathartic thing to do,” she

shares. “I would say to anyone

reading this, please don’t wait until

something is wrong.

“To have someone, a counsellor

or coach, to sit down and talk

to, especially if you’re busy and

you wear a lot of hats – parent

hat, work hat, relationship hat

– having someone that you can

work everything through with,

and prioritise your own happiness

and wellbeing in that time, is

extremely beneficial.”

She pauses. “As well as carving

out that bit of time for yourself

and having a good old gossip

with a girlfriend,” she laughs.

“The power of that should not be


Anna Willamson is a mind coach,

TV presenter, podcast host, author,

and a celebrity dating agent on E4’s

‘Celebs Go Dating’. Follow Anna on

Instagram @annawilliamsonofficial

To find a therapist or life coach near

you, visit counselling-directory.org.uk

or lifecoach-directory.org.uk

August 2019 • happiful.com • 75

6 ways to help

your relationship

thrive through illness

The language of love is never simple, but for those with long-term illnesses there

can be even more aspects to decipher. Love's labour's are not lost, though – with

these tips you'll soon be fluent, and communication can flourish

Writing | Anna Gaunt

All relationships come

with challenges, and

some we can all relate

to – the debate over

who’s cooking dinner,

taking the bins out, and who left

their towel on the bathroom floor.

But illness can bring with it a whole

host of other relationship tests.

With more than 15 million

of us living with a long-term

health condition in the UK, it

can add another element to your

relationship. From mental illnesses

such as depression and anxiety, to

physical illnesses such as arthritis,

for those who are diagnosed, it can

be scary and unsettling.

Some might be afraid of how their

partner will respond, and support

them. It can also be difficult for the

partner, who might not know how

best to help.

But while there may be tricky

things to navigate, like any

relationship, it can still thrive with

a bit of attention and care.

If you are worried about how your

long-term health condition might

affect your relationship, here are

some ideas to help it thrive.



It might sound obvious and key

to all relationships, but honest

communication is vital when you

or your partner are struggling

with an illness. Both physical

and mental illnesses can be

complex for somebody who isn’t

experiencing them to understand.

It can also be easy to make

assumptions about how the other

person is feeling. For instance, if

you’re unable to do your share of

the housework due to illness, you

may assume that your partner is

annoyed about it. If your partner

is not talking to you because they

are busy with the housework,

they may accidentally portray

that they are annoyed. Make time

to honestly communicate how

you are both feeling to help avoid



Receiving a diagnosis of a longterm

health condition can be really

hard. From feeling ill and being

in pain, to feeling overwhelmed

by appointments and treatments,

and guilty for being unable to

do the things that you used to.

It is important that a partner

recognises how difficult it can be

to have an illness. However, it is

also important to acknowledge

how difficult it can be for a partner.

Seeing their loved one suffering

and being unable to help, while

taking on the mammoth load of life

errands for the both of you, can be

hard, too. Trying to see things from

one another’s perspective can help

you to understand and support

each other.



As somebody with a long-term

health condition, it can be difficult

to accept support. You don’t want

to lose your independence or be

seen as weak. You don’t want to

admit defeat. But pushing yourself

beyond your limits, because you’re

too proud to accept help, can be

damaging to your health. Refusing

your partner’s care and support

can also make them feel helpless.

They may not be able to cure you,

but they can cook your dinner!



Spending quality time together

is important, but if illness is

preventing you from going on

dates, don’t fret. Joy can be found

in the little things, like laughing

about that time you fell over in

You will see that

you’re deserving of

love. You’re more

than just a person

with an illness

Tesco, making bubble beards in the

bath, or reading together. Having

someone to do nothing with can be

better than having someone to do

‘something’ with.


A lot of long-term health

conditions fluctuate with periods of

heightened symptoms, followed by

periods of remission. When your

illness is kicking you down, dream

of what you’ll do when you’re

feeling better. It can be

as simple as making

pancakes at the

weekend, or as

wild as

imagining yourselves on a private

jet to the Maldives. Dreaming can

be the escapism you need when

struggling with the daily realities of

an illness.


It’s a cliché that you can’t love

anybody else until you love

yourself, but self-love can help

your relationship to thrive.

Illnesses can contribute to a

lack of confidence for numerous

reasons, including side-effects

of medication. But if you

love yourself, you’ll see

why your partner loves

you, and be less likely

to question why

they would choose

the challenges your

illness can bring.

You will see that

you’re deserving of

love. You’re more than

just a person with an


You deserve support.

You deserve a moment

of peace in your mind

Breaking free

from my obsessive



The reality of living with OCD isn’t

a penchant for tidiness and order,

it’s a debilitating condition where

intrusive thoughts can terrorise

your daily world

Writing | Suz Yasemin Selçuk

If you’ve ever suffered with

obsessive compulsive disorder

(OCD) and intrusive thoughts,

chances are you’ve come across

someone who has falsely

diagnosed themselves with it. Not in a

health anxiety way; someone who is ‘so

OCD’ because they like a clean house, or

are super-organised. But that’s where it

ends. Somebody who’s decided it’s a fun

word to describe someone’s silly, slightly

annoying personality traits.

When you live with OCD (and I say

‘live’ because it never leaves you, like an

uninvited, overpowering housemate,

who doesn’t pay rent), you understand it

isn’t a passing thought, or feeling. It’s a

constant intruder in your mind, affecting

your day from the moment you wake, to

the minute you close your eyes at night. >>>

Suz [right] and her cousin

Serra as children

“My friend Dee helped me out

of a really dark place”

I’ve struggled with OCD

since I was eight, and

launched my blog in late

2017 to raise awareness.

There’s something about

OCD that makes it seem

more taboo than some

other mental illnesses. For

me, it’s because amongst

everything else going on

in my mind, this is the

thing that makes me feel

the most crazy.

With OCD, we

experience intrusive

and mainly irrational

thoughts. A lot of the

time, we know they are

irrational. But they still

terrify us and consume us.

According to studies, it

takes most sufferers 18

years to seek help. This hit

home for me, as from the

age of eight until I was 21,

I stayed silent.

My experience started

in 1998 after a semitraumatic

event at school

– I wasn’t in immediate

danger, but it deeply

affected me and how ‘safe’

I saw the world.

I developed a fear of

breaking things, and was

plagued with thoughts

that I was going to upset

someone I loved. I would

touch a door and panic

that I had scratched it.

I’d build up the worry

inside until I broke

down, distraught and


This first stage of OCD

lasted a couple of months,

and then manifested into

different things over the

next 10 years. OCD has a

way of strengthening its

power the longer you are

silent. Like a monster, it

changes form so that it can

rear its ugly head when

you least expect it.

When I was nine, my

obsessive compulsive

thoughts shifted into

fears that something bad

was going to happen to

someone I loved. The

ironic thing about OCD is

that it brings your worst

fears to the surface, in the

format that you want them

to happen. Many intrusive

thoughts appear as ‘-insert

name- is going to die’.

So, guess what your next

thought is? ‘You thought it,

so now if it does happen,

it’s your fault.’

When I had intrusive

thoughts, I’d have to

perform an ‘action’ to

protect the person. I’d

touch the wall a certain

number of times, or say a

sentence in my head for 10

minutes. Before bed, I had

a ritual – recite the names

of every person I cared

about. If I missed anyone,

I’d have to start again, in

case something horrible

happened to them.

Over the years, obsessive

compulsive thoughts

manifested into phobias

and health anxiety.

When I started college

in 2007, my health anxiety

triggers ranged from using

a new beauty product

and panicking about a

fatal reaction, to having

an undiagnosed (usually

terminal) illness. The

panic attacks took over

my life – the feeling of

my throat closing up and

not being able to breathe

made me too scared to

sleep in case I never woke

up again.

At uni, I even developed

a toilet anxiety where I

couldn’t go anywhere I

hadn’t been before in case

there wasn’t a loo. This

added to the feelings of

shame, making it harder

to ask for help. I just

couldn’t do normal things

people my age were doing.

After I finished university

in 2012, the rituals, and

constant state of panic

had gotten too much to

bear. I isolated myself out

80 • happiful.com • August 2019

For anyone struggling,

remember OCD thrives on your

silence. It forces you to feel guilt,

shame and embarrassment

about what’s going on

Suz blogs to raise awareness of OCD at crazycreativecool.com

of fear that something

bad would happen while

outside. But even at home,

I would panic and end up

hysterical if someone was

late coming home.

I never really talked

to anyone about it, and

my mind desperately

needed an outlet.

In 2014, I developed

dermatillomania – a

form of self-harm which

involves the ritual of

picking at your skin to

generate feelings of relief

from anxiety.

The skin picking gave

me another excuse not to

leave the house, because I

felt so disgusted in myself.

My self-esteem was so low,

I couldn’t find the joy in

anything. I was convinced

this was all my life would

be, and then began to not

feel anything.

After reading an

article on depression,

I understood what the

numbness meant. I’d spent

years feeling trapped by

my mind, but I suddenly

had a stronger thought. I

deserved to get better.

In 2016, I found a

therapist I connected

with, started cognitive

behavioural therapy (CBT)

and began to feel hopeful.

We practised exposure

exercises, and I would be

in tears, convinced there

was no way I could do

it. Each session I came

back with news of my

accomplishments – baby

steps in battling my

intrusive thoughts.

Counselling genuinely

changed my life. It helped

me to be aware of my

thoughts and not let them

define or control me.

For anyone struggling,

remember OCD thrives

on your silence. It forces

you to feel guilt, shame

and embarrassment about

what’s going on. It controls

and isolates you. I was

constantly searching for

someone else who was

going through something

similar. I didn’t find

anyone for years – so

many of us feel isolated


For Suz, her OCD made the world around her feel

unsafe and anxious. Ultimately, anxiety and self-harm

overwhelmed her and she withdrew from life. Like many

people, it took her years to ask for help, but in starting

therapy, taking the difficult road did she began to release

her from the grip of her obsessive compulsive

thoughts. Through therapy, and learning not to

be silenced by her experiences, Suz was able to

reclaim her life.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP

Reg Ind counsellor

with OCD, and the irony is

just that: so many of us.

The most important

thing to destroy the power

OCD was holding over me

was talking to someone.

Help and support is out

there, but you have to

believe you are worthy

of reaching out for it.

You deserve support.

You deserve a moment of

peace in your mind.

August 2019 • happiful.com • 81

Is mental health on your company agenda?

We believe mental health first aid training should be given equal importance to physical

first aid training in every workplace. If you would like to become a mental health first aider

at work, Happiful can train you, and we've created this email template to help you explain

the benefits to your boss

Dear ,

I'd like to become a mental health first aider for

and I'm hoping you can help.

Here are some of the reasons why

will benefit from offering Mental Health First Aid training to our


1. Build staff confidence to have open conversations around mental

health and break the stigma in the office and in society.

2. Encourage people to access early support when needed. Early

intervention means faster recovery.

3. Empower people with a long term mental health issue or disability to

thrive in work, and ensure that we are compliant with legislation in

the Equality Act 2010.

4. Promote a mentally healthy environment, and allow people to thrive

and become more productive.

5. Embed a long-term, positive culture across the whole organisation,

where our employees recognise their mental and physical health are

supported as equal parts of the whole person.

6. Proudly share that mental health is on our company agenda and

improve retention as a result of a reduction in staff stress levels.

Happiful offers two-day mental health first aid training courses for

individuals across the country for £235 + VAT per person, and they

can also offer bespoke courses on-site at our workplace if we have a

minimum of eight attendees.

Yours sincerely,

Did you know that stress,

anxiety, and depression

are the biggest causes of

sickness absence in our


Mental ill-health is

currently responsible for

91 million working days

lost each year. The cost

to UK employers is £34.9

billion each year.*

Happiful has partnered

with Simpila Healthy

Solutions to offer

internationally recognised

courses and training

events in the UK.

Each course is delivered

by an accredited Mental

Health First Aid England

instructor and is delivered

in a safe, evidence-based


Proudly working with

*Source: MHFA England


Healthy Solutions

To register your company’s interest or to book an

individual place, visit training.happiful.com or

drop us an email at training@happiful.com

Hospice Biographers:

Keeping the

story alive

In the depths of grief, and in the years that follow the

death of a loved one, a familiar voice can offer the world

of comfort. Hospice Biographers is the charity that

grants terminally ill patients the chance to have their life

stories professionally recorded. But the benefits of their

work expand far and wide...

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

When someone

we love

passes away,

a million

things may

be running through our minds

as we try to come to terms with

the hole they left in our lives.

But what if you could tune in

to hear your loved one’s voice

telling their story in their own

words, and guiding you through

their legacy?

Barbara Altounyan was in her

late 20s, and about to become

a reporter for the BBC, when

her family got the news that her

dad didn’t have long left to live.

Instinctively, Barbara borrowed

a tape recorder, and set about

recording her dad’s life story as

a way to preserve his memory

and celebrate his life.

Sadly, Barbara’s dad passed

away just a few weeks after they

finished, but the experience

inspired her to volunteer as an

audio biographer at a nearby

hospice. From here, she went on

to found Hospice Biographers:

the charity that records people’s

life stories as they enter its final


They want to

feel that, after

they die, they

have something

permanent for those

that they know


Each year, hospices around the

UK support more than 200,000

people with terminal or lifelimiting

illnesses. For those

who approach the Hospice

Biographers, there is comfort

and purpose to be found in the

offer of a recording session.

“They’re looking for a number

of things,” Barbara says. “It may >>>

e catharsis; they’re looking for a

way of expelling their frustrations.

Or they’re looking for a way that

they can put past events straight.

“The most important one,

though, is legacy,” she explains.

“They want to feel that, after

they die, they have something

permanent for those that they


Many of us will be able to relate

to the power of the stories that are

passed down through generations,

from grandparents, parents, and

elders in our communities. Those

stories simultaneously help us

build a portrait of their lives –

something we can celebrate and

honour – and preserve their

memory and spirit through the

lessons they teach us, and the

visions that we may share.

And there’s an important

reason why Hospice Biographers

record audio only, with Barbara

explaining that the format

empowers people to tell their

stories in their own voice, allowing

them to be judged – not by their

appearance or their ability to write

a story – but as a person, and a

human being.


Of course, for the family and

friends of those who have

recorded their stories with

Hospice Biographers, the gift of

those recordings is priceless.

“I’ve been chased down

corridors,” says Barbara. “People

come barging into my little

makeshift audio studio at my

hospice, and give me these huge

bear hugs. They burst into tears.

Oh gosh, they love it.”

When she reflects on the people

she has worked with over the

years, there’s one woman in

particular who stands out in

Barbara’s memory.

Suzanne Wallace was

a superintendent in the

Metropolitan Police before she

was diagnosed with terminal

breast cancer. She turned to

Hospice Biographers to record her

story of a life lived to its fullest.

But Barbara’s role in Suzanne’s

story didn’t end when the audio

stopped recording. Before she

died, Suzanne and her family

asked Barbara to give a eulogy at

her funeral.

In a packed church of more than

300 people, Barbara guided the

congregation through Suzanne’s

incredible life, using clips from

the recordings they had done


“People cried and people laughed

because there was so much of

Suzanne’s character,” Barbara

reflects. “They laughed because it

was so her.”

84 • happiful.com • August 2019

I’ve been a journalist forever, and I’ve seen

all sorts of wars – and God knows what – in

the world, but entering into a hospice, as I

did for the first time, was a hell of a shock

Find out more about Hospice

Biographers by visiting


For Barbara and all those

involved in Hospice Biographers,

these are the moments that they’re

working towards; they’re found in

the quirks of character that can

become buried under the burden

of terminal illness, but that are

brought back to life through the



But moments like this couldn’t

be captured without the skill

and sensitivity of the people

who volunteer for Hospice

Biographers, and it isn’t an easy

thing to do. Volunteers have to

resolve themselves to the gravity

of what they are doing, and – as

Barbara explains – be comfortable

working in a unique environment.

“I’ve been a journalist forever,

and I’ve seen all sorts of wars

– and God knows what – in the

world, but entering into a hospice

for the first time was a hell of

a shock,” says Barbara. “The

sensibilities, rules, and regulations

are just very, very different.”

In anticipation of this, Hospice

Biographers pass on a job

description to hospices, which

is then shared among those

already volunteering there, and

all candidates are required to take

part in a two-day training course

prior to starting the interviews.

“We do things on the art

of listening, chronological

interviewing techniques, use of

audio equipment, downloading

on USB, and safeguarding,”

Barbara explains. “It can be quite

emotionally draining; it’s very


Together, the volunteers and the

people they are working with craft

a recording that will be treasured

for generations to come.

But Barbara doesn’t want to stop

at hospices. Identifying that there

are those on the fringes of society

who miss out on hospice care,

she plans to expand the service to

include people in prisons, those

who are homeless, and people

in the travelling community. The

vision being to offer everyone in

our society the same opportunity

to build a legacy.

Reflecting on this choice,

Barbara’s reasoning is simple: “We

just think it’s the right thing to do.”


In the end, our lives become

a series of stories, broken into

chapters as we grow. From the

school stories that remind us of

our budding hopes and dreams,

through the thrilling highs of

adulthood – and the quiet lulls too

– each experience makes us who

we are, and who we are touches

the people around us in ways that

trickle down the generations.

What Barbara and everyone else

involved in the charity are doing

with Hospice Biographers is giving

us the chance to capture these

stories in a physical way, to hold

on to the voices and the memories

of the people that we love, and to

keep them alive in a way that only

storytelling can do.

August 2019 • happiful.com • 85

Walk on the wild side

After years battling drink and drug addiction, walking saved

Jonathan Hoban’s life. Here the psychotherapist and former

musician explains how nature can help us find answers to our

problems – and true happiness. The great outdoors, indeed…

Writing | Gemma Calvert

‘In nature, we find the silence to hear

our true thoughts and, in doing so,

start to consider ourselves again’

“ Look deep into

nature, and then

you will understand

everything better.”

From Albert Einstein’s

words of wisdom, to Buddha

urging his disciples to meditate in

the jungle to reach a higher state

of consciousness, the restorative

effects of nature have long been


For centuries, millions have

reaped physical and emotional

rewards from being in the great

outdoors – including former

rock musician turned therapist

Jonathan Hoban, who says being

outside “guided and nurtured” him

through recovery from substance

abuse and grief.

Since retraining in

psychotherapy 20 years ago,

Jonathan has devised Walking

Therapy, which merges walking

in nature with counselling. Be

it strolling along a meandering

riverbank, power walking through

a dense pine forest, or sitting

quietly in a postage stamp patch

of parkland, he swears by the

emotional healing power of

outside spaces.

“It’s not only about that low

aerobic exercise, but when we

walk in nature, our brain releases

oxytocin, which is very meditative.

And putting time for a walk in the

diary – making time for yourself –

is important because when we’re

busy, we never make time for

ourselves,” explains Jonathan.

Away from their phones,

computers, and the stresses of

work and daily life, Jonathan’s

clients discover the mental

space to unravel problems that

would otherwise stay buried,

and connect to what he calls

their “instinctive, wilder side”, or

“primal energies”.

“You might not want to do a

job anymore but push down

those feelings, and suppress

that intuition, because you’re

frightened of what you need to

do with your life,” says Jonathan,

adding that we’re in the midst of

an “epidemic of stress, anxiety and


A nation of over-workers,

many of us are awash with stress

hormone cortisol, which peaks

when we’re frazzled. Inevitably,

we lose our sense of personal

boundaries, which is why we work

through our lunch breaks, agree

to overtime, or take work home at

weekends – all of which damage

personal relationships. Walking,

though, has the power to rectify

this imbalance.

“The worst torment in the

world is not being abandoned

by someone else – it’s when you

abandon yourself. But in nature,

we find the silence to hear our true

thoughts and, in doing so, start

to consider ourselves again,” says


In his book, Walk With Your Wolf:

Unlock your intuition, confidence

and power, which he wrote for

people who want to become better

connected to themselves but

can’t afford counselling, Jonathan

recommends keeping a walking

diary. By jotting down one-word

feelings before, during, and after

each walk, we can be inwardly

honest about our feelings, and

discover what we need to lead a

balanced and happy life.

“The first boundary is with

yourself and that commitment of

‘I’m going to do this for me’,” says

Jonathan, adding that technologyfree

walking is another step in the

right direction.

“People want to feel loved

and important, so are always

wondering: ‘Is there another >>>

For that moment

in my life, I had

a purpose. I was

moving forward

and had control

email?’ Our esteem is so based

around what’s happening on our

phones, it keeps our eyes looking

down instead of up. Our eyes need

to be up in order to connect with

something – or someone – else.”

Walking in nature, says Jonathan,

helps us find solutions to problems.

“When you walk, endorphins get

released in the brain and you can

start being more solutions-focused

and strategically-focused,” he says.

“So is it about taking a fourday

week, quitting your job

to do something different, or

committing to take more breaks

during the working day? The

brain can work for 40 minutes

maximum and it then needs a

20-minute break, otherwise it

will not work effectively. I’ve got

more people to take more breaks

throughout their day, and their

efficiency and productivity has

gone up by about 60–70%.”

Jonathan would have done

anything for such insight 23 years

ago when he was in the grip of his

addictions – dependent on cocaine

and alcohol, blotting his pain after

losing his mum to colon cancer

when he was 17.

His problems started earlier, at

13 – “a little bit of gin here and

there” – to cope with being bullied

at school.

“The world didn’t feel safe. I

was bullied from the age of 10,

and when mum died, the loss I

felt was indescribable. I was so

angry because I thought she’d

endure anything. People say ‘talk

about your feelings’ but when the

pain is that deep, you can’t put it

into words. I was drinking, doing

cocaine, and smoking marijuana,

and then, at 22, when I was trying

to get clean, my brother died.”

The trauma of losing his brother

triggered an escalation of drug

use to catastrophic levels until

“a light switched on” inside

Jonathan. Realising he would die

if he did not seek professional

help, he entered rehab, arranged

counselling, and got sober.

Then in the weeks and months

that followed, he began walking

every day on Wimbledon

Common or Richmond Park,


The Lake, Wimbledon Park

This was the first place I started

walking, when I was in the thick

of it. There was something about

watching ducks just being ducks

that made me think: ‘It’s going

to be OK.’ I realised I could make

my journey as complicated as I

wanted, or as simple as a duck

following another duck. The big

message from that moment was

that life is for living.

Wimbledon pond, around

the Common, to the

windmill and back

When you’re in drug addiction,

you’re disconnected with

everything, and it’s the scariest

thing – so one day I began

naming the trees on my walk.

They were like people I passed

each day, so it was a way of

reintroducing relationships,

and widening the scope to

realise there was more to life

than just what was happening

to me right then.

Wimbledon Golf Club

Since my dad died four years

ago, I’ve felt great comfort

returning to the walk I did with

my family as a child. I feel my

mum, brother, and dad are

walking beside me. Sometimes

we need physical space to

tap into our past, and that’s

why walks are so important,

especially if you’ve done them

with someone who’s passed.

It’ll jog your memory about

things you’ve been through,

and conversations you’ve had.

There’s great wisdom, comfort,

and direction there, and it

reminds us who we are.

88 • happiful.com • August 2019

a process that gave him the

“strength to rebuild his life”

and finally helped him conquer

depression and anxiety.

“My addictions gave me a sense

of control, because I could choose

when and where I decided to

smash myself apart. It gave me a

sense of autonomy when I’d lost

my mum and brother, even though

I was completely out of control,

with no autonomy. But when I

took a walk, that too gave me a

sense of autonomy,” he says. “For

that moment in my life, I had a

purpose. I was moving forward

and had control.”

Five years ago, Jonathan moved

from south-west London, where

he developed Walking Therapy, to

the Isle of Wight, where he lives

with his wife and two daughters,

and runs residential retreats for

burned-out city workers. More

often than not, on day three, he

witnesses a flood of emotions as

clients relax and the adrenaline

wears off, exposing their true


“We always look at drugs like

alcohol but never consider the

drugs that we create in ourselves,

in our minds, with adrenaline

being the main one,” says

Jonathan, who believes walking

and finding the mental space to

confront difficult emotions can

treat anxiety and depression long

before they take hold.

“If you think about anger being

an energy, if you push that energy

into a boiler, it will explode or

implode. If it implodes, you

get depression, but before it

explodes, an alarm goes off –

that’s anxiety. You’ve got to deal

with the pressure that’s building

up in the boiler beforehand,” he



Fast: “When you’re depressed,

it’s fine to walk slowly, but I’ve

found that when I’ve really

walked, the blood begins racing

around the body, which gets the

endorphins going. The act of

walking can help us channel out

unwanted or negative feelings.”

Slow: “Get rid of all the anger

you’ve pent up over the day

by ambling during your lunch

break. Ambling is about slowing

it down. Come out of the office

and watch other people run

around while you walk slowly.

This is a great way to manage

your adrenal glands and calm

them down, which guards

against burnout. The more we

amble, the more we’re present

and connected with everything

around us because life isn’t

flying past us.”

My clients inspire me

every single day. The

power of what they’re

able to achieve

fascinates me

As a psychotherapist, Jonathan

feels privileged to be able to help

others, using nature as a healer –

a gift he luckily stumbled across

before it was too late.

“My clients inspire me every

single day,” he smiles. “The power

of what they’re able to achieve

fascinates me, which is why if

someone says, ‘I’m depressed, I’ll

never get over it,’ I never carry that

disbelief. ‘It will work,’ I say. ‘But

you’ve got to put the work in.’”

‘Walk With Your Wolf: Unlock your

intuition, confidence and power’, by

Jonathan Hoban (Yellow Kite, £14.99).

Visit jonathanhoban.com for more.

August 2019 • happiful.com • 89

Mental health


Former fire dancer Sophie Lee has moulded

a movement online, asking people to re-think

what it means to be beautiful, and driving a

call for acceptance. Here, she shares the things

she turns to during hard times, and the people

who inspire her to keep moving forward

Mental health matters to me

because… mental health affects

every aspect of a person’s life.

It’s important to be happy and

confident on the inside, as other

people’s opinions and actions can

have a huge effect on us when we’re

not stable with ourselves.

When I need support I… speak to

my close friends around me, and

try to get a better understanding of

my situation, as sometimes I can

overthink a lot of problems.

When I need some self-care, I…

take time out to be alone. I

sometimes forget that I need this,

but then I recharge and revitalise,

and I’m back to my energised self.

The books I turn to time and again

are… The Secret by Rhonda Byrne is

like my Bible! I read it when I need

advice, or any words of wisdom.

People I find inspiring online are…

Munroe Bergdorf, Katie Piper,

and Steven Bartlett. They’re all

very inspirational, and have a lot

of motivational content that I can

relate to.

Three things I would say to someone

experiencing mental ill-health are…

be patient. Take your time. Life is

not a race, everything is happening

just at the right time.

Trust yourself. We often forget

that we are in control of the way

we feel, we can allow or not

allow situations to control our

emotions. Be strong.

Let it go. When we live with hate

in our hearts, the only person

suffering is ourselves. Release the

anger and you will be much happier

with whatever comes along in life.

Sophie was left with severe burns after

things went drastically wrong during

one of her performances

The moment I felt most proud of

myself is… when I get messages

from people around the world

who have found inspiration in

my story. It took a lot to put my

insecurities aside and share the

good and bad parts of my journey.

But it’s all been worth it, as I’m

proud that I could help to change

people’s lives.

For more from Sophie, follow her on

Instagram: @sophirelee

Photography | Svetlana Pochatun

Photography | Eduardo Dutra

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