Happiful November 2019

online.magazines

THE MAGAZINE DEVOTED TO MENTAL HEALTH

NOV 2019 £4.00

CHRIS

HUGHES

on anxiety, panic attacks and love...

'Many men feel that speaking

about their feelings is a vulnerability,

a weakness, but I’ve always seen

the benefits in it'

Insider advice:

Essential insight from

the therapy room

REST

& DIGEST

Tips to recover your

self-confidence

17

steps to

address

anxiety

From climate change

concerns, to fear

of small talk

FREE

POSITIVE

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CARDS

9 772514 373000

11

HAPPIFUL.COM


Photography | IG: @Karthik.dng


We can save the world if we

save ourselves first

– LIZZO


The ripple effect

Fate, destiny, what will be will be... Sometimes it

can feel like we have no control over the things that

happen in our lives. That we’re simply pieces on a

board game, and someone else is rolling the dice.

For some people, this can be a relief – going with the

flow and seeing where life takes us. For others, it can

breed anxiety because we just can’t predict what is

around the corner.

While there are many things in life we have no say

over, what we hope you’ll find in this issue is a wealth

of insight and information on positive things you

can do. The ways you can help yourself, nurture your

confidence, and create a healthier environment for

yourself to thrive – and when we do that, the effect

might just spread.

From the incredible Chris Hughes opening up about

his panic attacks, and the techniques he uses to

manage them, to campaigner Luke Ambler sharing

his story about starting a safe space for men to come

together and find support with their mental health,

this issue is about helping yourself – but also about

the ripple effect that this can have on the world

around us.

With a special feature where seven counsellors

reveal their best advice, and an article on the

practical things you can do to address eco-anxiety,

we implore you to start really devoting time and

energy to taking care of yourself. Because when we

do that, we’re in a better position to spread that

love and support to everyone our life touches.

Ballet dancer Sylvie

Guillem once said: “No

one person can change

the world, but one and

one and one add up.”

Let’s all be that change

we want to see – which

starts with ourselves.

We love hearing from you, get in touch:

REBECCA THAIR | EDITOR

happiful.com happifulhq @happifulhq @happiful_magazine


14

The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

14 What is eco-anxiety?

How can we ease the anxiety that comes with

fears about the future of our planet?

83 Get drastic on plastic

It's time we reassessed our attitude towards

plastic, and the ecobricks scheme will help

us do just that

Features

16 Chris Hughes

The Love Island star opens up about

low-mood, panic attacks, and the

power he finds in being vulnerable

30 In the therapist's chair

Seven counsellors share their best advice

for dealing with everything from stress to

body image

46 Georgina Horne

The plus-size model speaks about

creating an online community, and how

she coped with the death of her mother

55 Life with CPTSD

How does this diagnosis differ from PTSD?

80

46

Life Stories

38 Calli: getting out the hole

Anxiety, panic attacks, and OCD ruled

Calli's life for years, until things took a

turn when she began CBT and started

her blog. Today she reaches out to

others so no one has to feel alone

67Jack: the healthy me

A traumatic experience led Jack to

receive a diagnosis of PTSD and anxiety.

But after a change to his mindset, little

by little, Jack uncovered the healthiest

version of himself

87 Anne: finding happiness

Sickle cell disease has been a constant

in Anne's life since the age of six

months. Through huge challenges,

Anne has come out on top, and now

sees her illness as a key part of the

woman she is today

Food & Drink

60 Eat the rainbow

Glow from the inside with this delicious

winter salad

62 Gut instinct

Discover the power of eating intuitively

Lifestyle and

Relationships

35 Put off procrastination

Use these tips to smash your to-do list

51 Dear society...

It's time we spoke about male suicide

74 Before the crisis hits

Here's how you can take action with your

mental health, long before breaking-point

80 Luke Ambler

The Andy's Man Club founder on the

importance of moving forward with intent


Culture

28 Being socially anxious

Explore what it means to live with social

anxiety with our columnist, Grace Victory

READER OFFER

Print

78

16

41 Things to do in November

70 Tai chi teachings

Could this martial art be the key

to mindfulness?

72 Stick your nose in

From baths to burners, discover how to use

aromatherapy to enhance your wellbeing

90 Quickfire: MH matters

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Happiful Hacks

26 Breaking up with friends

44 Support someone with BPD

58 Create a safety plan

78 Build confidence after anxiety

OUR PLEDGE

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ensure two are planted

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Prices and benefits are correct at the

time of printing. Offer expires 19 December

2019. For full terms and conditions, please

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EXPERT PANEL

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue

NATHALIE KEALY

BSc CFT

Nathalie is a mental health

nurse and life coach focused

on self-confidence.

WILL AYLWARD

HPD IICT

Will is a life coach and

rapid transformational

therapy practitioner.

RACHEL COFFEY

BA MA NLP Mstr

Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.

JOSEPHINE ROBINSON

DipCNM ANP

Josephine (Beanie) Robinson is

a nutritional therapist, and yoga

and meditation teacher.

LOUISA PINI

BA MCHP MCHNC

Louisa is an

aromatherapist and

massage therapist.

RAV SEKHON

BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor and

psychotherapist with more

than 10 years' experience.

GRAEME ORR

MBACP (Accred) BACP Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.

NIKKI EMERTON

NLP Clin Hyp Dip DCBT

Nikki is a life coach

helping people build

resilience.

OUR TEAM

EDITORIAL

Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Staff Writer

Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant

Kit Spring | Sub-Editor

Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor

Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director

Charlotte Reynell | Graphic Designer

Rosan Magar | Illustrator

CONTRIBUTORS

Gemma Calvert, Kat Nicholls,

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Becky Wright, Grace Victory,

Harriet Williamson, Suzanne Baum,

Richard Taylor, Hattie Gladwell, Nathalie Kealy,

Ellen Hoggard, Laura Thomas, Lucy Donoughue,

Will Aylward, Calli Kitson, Jack Walton, Anne

Welsh, Becky Johnston, Karthik Nooli

SPECIAL THANKS

Joseph Sinclair, Krishan Parmar, Joy Goodman,

Amanda Clarke, Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey,

Louisa Pini, Josephine Robinson, Nikki Emerton,

Andrea Szentgyorgyi, Lindsay George, Keith Howitt

COMMUNICATIONS

Lucy Donoughue

Head of Content and Communications

lucy.donoughue@happiful.com

Alice Greedus

PR Officer

alice.greedus@happiful.com

FURTHER INFO

LINDSAY GEORGE

MA Dip RGN MBACP (Accred)

Libby is a remedial and

sports massage therapist

based in London.

Our two-for-one tree commitment is made of two

parts. Firstly, we source all our paper from FSC®

certified sources. The FSC® label guarantees that

the trees harvested are replaced, or allowed to

regenerate naturally. Secondly, we will ensure an

additional tree is planted for each one used, by

making a suitable donation to a forestry charity.

Happiful is a brand of Memiah Limited. The

opinions, views and values expressed in Happiful

are those of the authors of that content and do

not necessarily represent our opinions, views or

values. Nothing in the magazine constitutes advice

ANDREA SZENTGYORGYI

CNHC NSHPM

Andrea is a registered

hypnotherapist

specialising in in anxiety.

on which you should rely. It is provided for general

information purposes only. We work hard to achieve

the highest possible editorial standards, however

if you would like to pass on your feedback or have

a complaint about Happiful, please email us at

feedback@happiful.com. We do not accept liability

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MANAGEMENT

Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

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FIND HELP

CRISIS SUPPORT

If you are in crisis and are concerned for your

own safety, call 999, or go to A&E

Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email

them on jo@samaritans.org

Head to

happiful.com

for more services

and support

GENERAL LISTENING LINES

SANEline

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

0300 304 7000

Mind

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

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

Switchboard

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

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

IN THIS ISSUE

p16

p30

p44

ADVICE FOR LIVING WITH ANXIETY AND PANIC DISORDERS

Break free from anxiety. Call the No Panic helpline on 0844 967 4848

(call charges apply, check with your provider) or find information

online at nopanic.org.uk

FIND A COUNSELLOR NEAR YOU

Search for professionals in your area, and browse hundreds of

articles written by experts, by visiting counselling-directory.org.uk

INFORMATION ON BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER

Founded to offer specific support for those with BPD,

bpdworld.org offers information, and a community forum

with more than 50,000 members.

p51

p55

p87

MALE SUICIDE PREVENTION

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a charity supporting

men with their mental health. Call their free, confidential helpline

on 0800 58 58 58, or use their webchat at thecalmzone.net

SUPPORT AND INFORMATION ON PTSD AND CPTSD

Find out more about life with PTSD, read other's stories, and

discover advice for friends and family at ptsduk.org

DISCOVER MORE ABOUT SICKLE CELL DISEASE

As it celebrates 40 years of supporting those with sickle cell disease,

the Sickle Cell Society offers information at sicklecellsociety.org,

and on its helpline: 020 8963 7794


WELLNESS

New study

poses yoga

benefits

for over-60s

The Uplift

Whether you’re a fully-fledged yogi,

or a namaste newbie, it’s no stretch

to say that regular yoga can be

life-enhancing. From quiet mindful

moments to gentle, invigorating

exercise, there are countless

reasons why this ancient practice

has stood the test of time.

But now, new research from

the University of Edinburgh has

revealed that yoga can have a

particularly prosperous effect on

the lives of those aged 60 and over.

In a review of 22 studies,

researchers looked at how regular

yoga sessions stood up against

other activities, such as chair

aerobics and walking, as well as

those who were inactive.

When compared with those

who did no activity, the findings

showed that yoga supported

everything from balance and

flexibility, to sleep quality and

perceived mental and physical

health. And, interestingly,

compared with other activities,

yoga significantly boosted lower

body strength, and helped those

with depression.

Yoga is a gentle form of exercise

that can be easily adapted to suit

anyone’s needs and requirements,

and this study is more proof

that yoga can open the door to

everyone who wants to enhance

their wellbeing.

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


HOBBIES

Veterans dig for vitality with new

archaeology scheme

Welsh archaelogical site proves to have wellbeing benefits

for those with mental ill-health

Exciting things are being uncovered

in Pontrhydfendigaid, Wales, where

evidence of a large Cistercian abbey

has been found – known locally

as Ystrad Fflur, or Strata Florida

Abbey. But due to the size of the

site, and a limited number of field

archaeologists, the Strata Florida

Trust was forced to get creative.

That’s when they invited veterans and

people with mental health problems

to help with the digging, in order to

reap the holistic value of getting stuck

in the mud.

Former Royal Navy sailor, Julian

Pitt, lives with trauma after his

experience in the Falklands and

Gulf wars. Talking about the work

on-site, he told the Guardian: “When

you’re out there working, you don’t

think of anything else. You can’t be

ruminating, you can’t be thinking

ahead. You’re concentrating on the

present moment. For me that is

brilliant, just what I need.”

Alongside veterans, others who

struggle with their mental health

have signed up to help, including

Brian White. “It’s wonderful to

spend time with people who have

the same interests,” he says. “You’re

not judged, you just work together

with all sorts of people.”

It appears that on this particular

dig, volunteers are unearthing

confidence, self-worth, and a sense

of purpose, alongside historical

artefacts. Writing | Kat Nicholls

COMMUNITY

Free ‘swop shop’

helps families

access school

uniforms

For families across the country,

the cost of school uniforms can be

another stress on top of the usual

hustle and bustle of a new term.

Deciding to do something about

it, Kristina Murphy opened a free

‘swop shop’ to help families access

second-hand school uniforms in

Birmingham.

Kristina’s home in Rubery is

now filled with uniforms sourced

from lost-property boxes, which

she gives away for free. She tells

Happiful that she’s worked in

education for more than four years,

primarily at an academy for autistic

children and those with mental

health conditions.

Kristina highlights that when

parents struggle financially, and

possibly with their own mental

health needs, it’s easy for them to

feel like they’re failing.

“By making uniforms freely

available, parents can have a more

positive week, and the child can

go to school feeling stable, without

racking up behavioural points,”

Kristina says.

So far, the Rubery Swop Shop

has been a resounding success.

But Kristina has set her sights

on reaching the rest of the West

Midlands – proving the power

that kindness, and a little bit of

community spirit, can have.

Visit ruberyswopshop.co.uk for

more.

Writing | Kat Nicholls

November 2019 • happiful.com • 9


Until one has loved an

animal, a part of one’s

soul remains unawakened

– ANATOLE FRANCE


KIDS

Video game

teaches children

to be kind

to animals

Video games can get a pretty

bad reputation, but thanks to a

collaboration between the Scottish

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty

to Animals (Scottish SPCA) and the

University of Edinburgh, one new

game could be pushing all the right

buttons for kids and parents alike.

Designed to promote positive

interactions, and prevent kids from

being cruel to animals, the pilot of

the new PC game, ‘Pet Welfare’, was

created for children aged seven to 12.

Following testing with 184 children,

developers revealed that the game had

effectively conveyed the importance of

animal welfare, helping participants

to better understand that animals have

feelings, and how vital it is to behave

towards them in a safe way.

In the game, players can experience

three interactive levels based around

the pets who, according to statistics,

are most likely to be victims of cruelty:

dogs, cats and rabbits. Children then

learn key information about the

welfare needs for each pet.

If your child is one of the 70% across

the UK who has a pet, it’s worth noting

that accidental animal cruelty is

common. Ensuring kids know more

about their pets, and how they can

avoid accidentally harming them,

could be the best way to help avoid

any ruff patches.

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

November 2019 • happiful.com • 11



Take 5

Put your thinking caps on and tackle this month’s puzzling fun

Diagonal sudoku

Similar to a normal sudoku grid, but with

an added challenge – fill in the empty

boxes so that the numbers one to nine

appear once in each column, row, box,

and the shaded diagonals.

How did you do?

Search 'freebies' at

shop.happiful.com

to find the answers,

and more!

1 9 3 4 5

2 1 6

6 4

6 3 4 7 2

1 3 4 9 7

2 4 6 3

1 2 9

4 2

9 1 5 3 4

Emoji-nary

Use the emoji clues to decipher the titles of the following books, films and TV shows.

FILMS: BOOKS TV SHOWS:

️️️

️️️

️️️

️️️


Emojis | emojipedia.org

Going up

138 seal pups

were born on the

shores of the River

Thames in 2018

Downton Abbey

is being listed on

Airbnb for one

night only!

Lego has

released a book

on the wellbeing

power of play

Bromances

1 in 5 men have no

close friends – it's

time to reach out

Distractions!

New 'focus mode'

on Android is

coming

Going down

The

wellbeing

wrap

Puppy love

They're called man's best

friend, and it could be for a

good reason, as 69% of people

say their dog is the favourite

member of their household.

The 2019 US study also found

that 40% of owners admitted

to spending more on

their canine

friend than

themselves.

#EveryTreeCounts

On 30 November, the Woodland Trust is leading the Big

Climate Fightback, where it's urging one million people to

take part in local tree-planting events, plant a tree in their own

garden, or donate so it can plant one on their behalf.

Supporting wildlife, absorbing carbon, helping to

prevent flooding, and reducing pollution, trees really

can lead the charge in the fight against climate

change. Get involved at woodlandtrust.org.uk

YOUTUBE HAVE

INTRODUCED

ABBREVIATED

SUBSCRIBER COUNTS

IN A BID TO PROTECT

USERS' MENTAL

HEALTH. IT HOPES

THIS CHANGE WILL

ALLOW CREATORS

TO FOCUS ON THEIR

CONTENT, RATHER

THAN STRESS ABOUT

REAL-TIME NUMBERS.

In September, cancer

survivor and US

marathon swimmer,

Sarah Thomas, became

the first person ever to

swim the Channel four

times non-stop! She

achieved this incredible

feat in 54 hours 13

minutes, and dedicated

her swim "to all the

survivors out there".

PART OF YOUR WORLD

The mysterious beauty of mermaids has been expertly

captured, and no we're not talking about the new

Little Mermaid film. Since 2017, the Newfoundland and

Labrador Beard and Moustache Club has released an

annual MerB'ys calendar for charity, starring their own

members rocking fishtails, and embracing their 'just

washed up on shore like this' looks.

#Inflatable

Amnesty

Having a clear-out? Donate your

old pool inflatables and beach toys

to Wyatt and Jack®! This company

creates unique, sustainable bags

from these materials in a bid to

Spidey

senses

tingling?

It's that time of

year when those

pesky eight-legged

critters become our

unwelcome house-guests, but do you

know how to put them off? Conkers

in the corners of rooms are an old

favourite, and peppermint oil around

your home. Plus a new study has

found spiders are drawn to the colour

green, so avoid that at all costs!

keep as many as possible

from landfill.

DISCO FEVER

Putting a wellbeing twist on the

life of the party, silent discos are

taking place across Glasgow in care

homes and for dementia patients

in hospitals. Organiser Gillian

Machaffie says the idea is to spark

memories, and give people back a

much needed sense of 'normality'

by listening to their favourite tunes.

Music is a powerful thing, and

alongside the wellbeing benefits

of dancing, Gillian's seen how the

music is a welcome distraction from

the anxious thoughts and confusion

many people with dementia face.

LOVE IS ALL YOU NEED

We all know the difference it makes to have someone there for us, but

did you know the effect is scientifically proven? A 2018 study revealed

that people can actually become more resilient to pain just by holding

hands with their other half! It's believed that when we're in physical

contact with someone we love, our brainwaves become in sync, and

the pain doesn't seem as bad.


People can become more resilient to pain

by holding hands with their other half!

But it doesn't stop at hand-holding. New research published in the

Scandinavian Journal of Pain found that being in the same room as

our partner can have a similar effect. We don't need to touch, or

even have verbal support. Just the presence of someone we

love can improve our tolerance for pain.


Exploring

eco-anxiety

Pollution, wildfires, rising sea levels, thinning ice sheets. We often hear how

humans are damaging the planet, but for some people climate change is

an overwhelming worry that has a big impact on their mental health

Writing | Becky Wright

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

When you think of the

effects of climate

change, your first

thought might be

the melting polar ice caps, or the

increase of plastic waste in the

ocean. But, it’s not necessarily the

global disasters that are causing

a deepening sense of dread

among Brits. We’ve got our own

environmental problems right on

our doorstep.

The UK is known for its varied

climate, but gone are the days when

we’d witness weather extremes

once in a blue moon. We’re now

regularly seeing warm winters,

beastly cold springs, and scorching

hot summers.

A report by the Met Office confirms

that the UK’s 10 hottest years on

record have occurred since 2002. But

it’s not just heatwaves – floods are

becoming frequent, too. It’s these

extreme weather events that create

a sense of trauma, leaving a lasting

impact on people’s wellbeing. In

fact, for many, climate change is an

overwhelming subject.

WHAT TOLL DOES IT TAKE ON

OUR MENTAL HEALTH?

The toll of climate change on our

wellbeing is far-reaching, and

includes stress, depression, and

anxiety. In a recent survey for the

Recycling Partnership, 96% of

respondents were worried about

climate change to some degree, with

one in four people stating that it was

their biggest fear.

Hypnotherapist Andrea

Szentgyorgyi says: “The concern

can escalate as you experience

climate change in your daily life. You

worry about record temperatures.

You feel anxious when you buy

anything packed in plastic. You

might lose sleep because of your

concerns about the future of our

planet. Your feelings of it being out

of your control can cause panic.

Some people are deeply affected

by feelings of grief, helplessness,

frustration, stress, and even violence

and aggression, due to their inability

to make a difference.”

With the growing awareness of

our environment, and the impact

we are having on the world around

us, more and more people are

becoming concerned with our

future on Earth.

IS IT NECESSARY TO PANIC?

With evidence of weather extremes,

as well as the influence of people

such as Greta Thunberg and the

rise of Extinction Rebellion, there’s

been a dramatic change in the level

of public interest in environmental

issues. People are demanding

action, and politicians have started

to take notice.

The UK government has

committed to reaching net-zero

carbon emissions by 2050 – but

is this soon enough? There’s a

growing consensus that the next 18

months will be critical in dealing

with the global crisis. A recent poll

by Greener UK and the Climate

Coalition found that almost 70% of

the British public would like to see

urgent political action to address

climate change.

But, some feel that this method

of reporting, and talking, about

14 • happiful.com • November 2019


climate change is unhelpful and

unnecessary. Yes, we need to take

action, but it’s the ‘scaremongering’

that leads to (or worsens) ecoanxiety.

Instead of empowering

people to take action and positively

make changes, the majority of

people feel scared, insignificant,

or as if their efforts won’t have any

impact.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO

REDUCE ANXIETY?

When we’re worried, or feeling

overwhelmed, it can seem natural

to avoid the source of our anxiety.

So, in the case of eco-anxiety, it can

be tempting to switch off. However,

experts say it’s important to

confront the issue of climate change

directly, and stay informed about

environmental issues.

There’s currently no specific

treatment for climate anxiety,

but that doesn’t mean that it’s not

worth seeking professional help.

Successful treatments for anxiety

include cognitive behavioural

therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy.

Each can teach you coping

mechanisms to manage your

anxiety.

“A therapist can help you to

manage your anxiety, learn to relax,

and boost your self-confidence,”

Andrea says. “Feeling strong and

empowered makes you confident,

and will encourage others to listen to

what you have to say. And so you can

feel more in control and influential

about your role in saving our planet.”

Perhaps the most important thing

to remember is that, while we can’t

fight nature, we can work with it.

There’s a huge amount we can still

do, and it’s very much in our power

to protect what’s left, and to make a

meaningful difference.

WHAT CAN

I DO?

• Calculate your

carbon footprint at

footprint.wwf.org.uk for ideas on

how to improve your daily habits.

• Change your diet. It’s

well-documented

that reducing meat

consumption can make

a tangible difference to the

environment.

• Stay informed – especially if

you live in an area where there’s

a high possibility of flooding,

wildfires, or extreme weather.

• Connect with others who have an

interest in the environment. Visit

rebellion.earth to join Extinction

Rebellion and find out more

about events in your local area.

• Share your knowledge. Educating

others to encourage change is

an important part of being a

responsible citizen of the world.

• Above all, remain positive.

Positive change requires a

positive mindset.

WE CARE ABOUT OUR PLANET

For every tree used to make our

magazine, we ensure two are planted in

its place. We source all our paper from

FSC® certified sources, which guarantees

that the trees harvested are replaced, or

are allowed to regenerate naturally. Then,

we ensure an additional tree is planted

for each one used, by making a suitable

donation to a forestry charity.

November 2019 • happiful.com • 15


Speak your mind

Whether you know Chris Hughes from Love Island 2017, his TV shows with Kem

Cetinay, or his presenting for ITV Racing, chances are you already know what an

endearingly open guy Chris is.

Since entering the spotlight, he’s used his platform to reveal the power in being

vulnerable, and is encouraging all men to feel no shame in showing their true emotions.

As an ambassador for charities CALM and Movember, Chris is striving to help change

the narrative around men’s mental health, and make a real difference.

This Movember, Chris candidly shares his anxiety, catastrophising, and panic attacks,

the techniques he uses to ground himself, and feeling ‘low’ for the first time in his life...

Interview | Gemma Calvert

Photography | Joseph Sinclair


18 • happiful.com • June 2019


Chris Hughes

saunters

out of the

elevator at

Happiful’s

east London

studio, puts

down his backpack, and within

five minutes is unloading his

innermost feelings, even before

the dictaphone is running. Some

celebrities require a few questions

– others an entire interview – to

build an emotional connection

with a journalist, but Chris is the

polar opposite. In person he’s

exactly who he seemed on Love

Island in 2017 – tender-hearted,

empathetic and sentimental – an

open book who was commended

by fans and health professionals

alike for laying bare his deepest

state of mind again and again.

Chris, 26, was often filmed in tears

interacting with other contestants,

and particularly when navigating

the choppy seas of romance with

then-girlfriend Olivia Attwood,

who he split from in February 2018.

He has since used his place in the

public eye to raise mental health

awareness, in particular talking

about a difficult three years from

the age of 19 where he was racked

with anxiety. Panic attacks were a

frequent reality.

Eventually Chris turned to a

professional hypnotherapist, and

the treatment worked. He was

anxiety-free before, during, and

after Love Island, but today admits

he’s noticed a decline in his mental

health. In August, during a holiday

to Bali with girlfriend, Little Mix

star Jesy Nelson, Chris endured a

severe episode of anxiety, and has

since, for the first time in his life,

been struggling with low moods.

“It’s really strange that we’re

doing this interview now, because

it’s come at such a poignant time,”

sighs Chris, taking a seat on a sofa

in the studio lounge, and breathing

in the views of the River Thames.

“Three days before we were

coming back, I decided to get really

drunk. I had a good blow out,

then I felt awful the next day and

started thinking: ‘Maybe there was

something in my alcohol, maybe

this isn’t the same kind of alcohol.’ I

was panicking and worrying myself

over it. For the last three or four

days of my holiday, I couldn’t shake

the anxiety, and now I’ve started

feeling really low and down.

“It is confusing because I can’t put

my finger on why,” continues Chris,

scrunching up his brow.

“Anxiety is feeling

compelled to keep

looking ahead to

the future. With

depression and

feeling down, it’s

the other way, about

looking back”

Perhaps being propelled into

stardom on Love Island was a

contributing factor? Within three

days of finishing third, Chris and

winner Kem Cetinay landed an

ITV2 spin-off show, You vs Chris

and Kem, and went on to launch

a fitness DVD, release a music

single, and co-present from the

National Television Awards red

carpet. Chris has also published an

autobiography, and worked with

blue-chip brands galore including

Topman, First Choice Holidays

and McDonald’s, as well as landing

a dream presenting job with ITV

Racing in June this year. Most

recently, Chris and Kem developed

a new TV show idea, which they’re

pitching to a production company.

“I’ve enjoyed all the work I’ve

done since Love Island, and I really

like life,” he says. “I’ve got the best

family, the best girlfriend, the

best social life, the best friends,

I love where I live. I don’t dislike

anything. This is why it’s so weird.

I shouldn’t be [feeling] like this. I

learned the other day that anxiety

is feeling compelled to keep

looking ahead to the future. With

depression and feeling down, it’s

the other way, about looking back,

but there’s nothing I reflect on and

regret, or think, ‘I should have

done that.’ I just can’t work out why

I’m feeling this way.”

Last year, on World Mental

Health Day, Chris was unveiled

as an ambassador of CALM –

the Campaign Against Living

Miserably charity, which receives

thousands of calls a month from

people experiencing anxiety

and depression. He’s also an

ambassador for Movember, a

charity dedicated to investing

in prostate cancer, testicular

cancer, mental health, and suicide

prevention.

Shockingly, 12 men in Britain

take their own lives every day,

making suicide the biggest killer

of men under 45 in the UK. In

March this year, former Love Island

star Mike Thalassitis, 26, ended

his life. Sophie Gradon, who was a

contestant in 2016, died by suicide

in June 2018. >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 19


“My hands clenched

together and I

couldn’t move. I

seized up and at

that point, my mind

was gone. I couldn’t

breathe. I was

hyperventilating”

Mike’s death heightened calls for

improved aftercare for those who

take part in reality TV shows.

Chris, who describes the

psychological support provided

by ITV as “brilliant” and says it’s

“completely” unfair to blame the

channel for the contestants’ deaths,

never felt suicidal, but admits that

lately he has been better able to

understand the plight of those who

feel there is no other way out.

“Since I’ve been feeling down,

I’ve thought of people that have

done it, and that’s a scary thought,”

he says. “I think, ‘Does that mean,

this is how they felt?’ I tell myself

that how I am feeling now is how

those people, who completed

suicide, felt and that makes me

feel worse inside. What I’m doing

is convincing myself that I’ve got

a greater issue or greater level of

lowness than I actually have, and

that’s what’s making me worse.”

In an attempt to get to the

bottom of his feelings and better

understand himself, Chris turned

to a London-based clinical

hypnotherapist called Pippa, who

advised practising excellent selfcare

to feel his best possible self on

the inside.

“She explained that getting out for

a one-hour walk in the sunshine,

even on a cloudy day, increases

your levels of serotonin – that

happy hormone – and that it can

also be increased by eating foods

high in omega oils. This morning I

made sure I had salmon and eggs

for breakfast, because I wanted to

get those fish oils in me,” explains

Chris, who is also trying to reduce

the time he spends on his phone.

“My average is seven hours and

54 minutes. It’s a joke. I need to

relearn how to be bored, but the

main thing is to eliminate negative

thoughts. I’ve got to stop saying

to myself, ‘You’re feeling alright

now, but you’re going to feel sad in

a minute.’ Pippa tells me to think,

‘I’m OK, I’m happy, I will do this, I

am this,’ instead of, ‘Will I be OK?’

You’ve got to be positive.”

Chris has been sports-obsessed

since the age of four, and over the

years has played cricket, tennis,

and semi-professional football. He’s

ridden race horses, and is a huge

fan of golf. It’s hard to match the

go-get-’em mentality of sportsman

Chris with the frequently negatively

thinking version, and it’s puzzling

for him, too.

“I never walk into anything in

sport and think, ‘I’m not going to

play it well today.’ I walk in overly

confident; it’s like I know I’m going

to be better than everyone else. In

my day-to-day life, it’s the complete

opposite,” he says.

20 • happiful.com • November 2019


Suit | Remus Uomo, shirt | H&M, Shoes | Mochee Kent

Naturally, Chris is aware of the

wellbeing-enhancing benefits of

exercise. Before Love Island he

worked out daily to get himself in

tip-top shape, so it’s surprising to

learn he’s steered clear of the gym

for the past six months, following a

terrifying panic attack 45 minutes

into an early morning PT session.

“I started getting pins and needles

in my hands,” recalls Chris. “These

pins and needles took over my

whole body. They started at my feet

and it was like a wave, going up my

body and to my face. It even felt

like they were in my cheekbones.

In that moment, my hands

clenched together and I couldn’t

move. I seized up and couldn’t

open my fingers, then at that point,

my mind was gone. I couldn’t

breathe. I was hyperventilating. I

thought I was having a stroke.”

It took “eight or nine minutes”

before Chris was in a position to

implement the calming techniques

he’d learned in therapy when he

first went through anxiety – a

combination of deep breathing to

“get rid of adrenaline by feeding

it with oxygen”, visualisation and

imagery, where you place negative

thoughts inside different shapes to

contain them.

Again, he has struggled to

pinpoint the cause, and although

he’s not had a repeat episode,

Chris’s life has been affected by

the incident because he no longer

feels able to enter a gym. When

he first experienced anxiety, Chris

would leave his family home near

Cheltenham late at night and drive

around aimlessly to avoid being in

the place where his first episode

of anxiety happened. Avoiding the

gym is also about avoiding painful

memories. >>>

October 2019 • happiful.com • 21


Outfit | Mochee Kent


“I don’t like going back to

environments where I’ve been

mentally scarred,” says Chris,

picking at an invisible mark on the

leg of his heavily ripped combat

trousers. They’re noticeably baggy.

“I’m a little skinnier now,” he

explains later. “I’ve lost muscle

because I haven’t been training.”

Chris’ propensity for imagining

“the worst” – wanting a blood test

“for peace of mind” during his

first anxiety attack, believing his

hangover in Bali was the result

of his drink being spiked, and

fearing his pins and needles in the

gym were caused by a stroke – is

classic catastrophising behaviour,

which psychologists describe as

a cognitive disorder. Sufferers

frequently imagine unpleasant and

undesirable situations to be worse

than they actually are.

“That sounds about right,” agrees

Chris. “Everything’s escalated and

becomes 20-times worse.”

Jesy, Chris’ girlfriend of nine

months, who he moved in with

four months ago, is one of his most

treasured confidants – perhaps

because she understands on a level

that few ever could.

In September this year, the

28-year-old singer spoke out in her

moving BBC3 documentary, Odd

One Out, about being the victim

of years of online bullying after

she and her Little Mix bandmates,

Perrie Edwards, Jade Thirlwall

and Leigh-Anne Pinnock, won The

X Factor in 2011. In the film, Jesy

revealed that in November 2013,

after being relentlessly trolled over

her body shape and size, she was

driven to attempt suicide.

“It was really difficult to watch,”

admits Chris. “Some stages,” he

breathes in then exhales sharply,

“I’ve got a respect for Jesy that I’ve never

had for another girlfriend. Just seeing all the

things she has been through and overcome,

she deserves every bit of happiness now”

“it broke my heart. It was proper “The amount of abuse I’ve

difficult to watch. I’ve got a respect received on Twitter since has been

for Jesy that I’ve never had for

crazy. People think I’ve got that job

another girlfriend. Just seeing all because I’ve come off Love Island

the things she has been through and I’m ITV talent, but people are

and overcome, she deserves every quick to judge,” says Chris, who was

bit of happiness now.”

raised on a farm in the Cotswolds

He can count himself largely

with brothers Will, James, Tom

responsible for that. At the end of and Ben, and began horse racing

the documentary, Chris and Jesy at the age of 11, encouraged by his

are seen strolling side-by-side along dad Paul, who still owns and trains

a pier, cuddling as though their racehorses.

lives depend on it. The pair appear As Jesy’s plight has proved, there

incredibly well-matched, and their can be very real consequences

future is mapped out. During an from digital attacks. Like Ed

appearance on MTV’s Geordie OGs Sheeran who quit Twitter two

in September, Chris told pal Gaz years ago after after a stream of

Beadle he wants to marry and have abuse, she has since deleted the

babies with Jesy within 18 months. social site from her phone, and

“I might have been getting carried former TOWIE star Gemma Collins

away there!” he laughs. “I wouldn’t recently urged her followers

mind it, and we do speak about that to boycott all social media to

kind of thing, but her career’s still encourage the companies behind

flying. I don’t think you should rush them to better protect users from

into having children, but enjoy the online attacks.

time together, and do the things “It’s a catch-22, because the

that you can’t necessarily do when more we talk about trolling, the

you’ve got kids together first.”

more trolls see the effect they’re

What’s indisputable is the couple’s having, which is their aim, but you

solidarity, which Chris argues is all need to make people aware of the

the more robust because of their circumstances, and Jesy has proved

shared understanding of each

that her life is better for coming

other’s struggles over the years. off [Twitter],” says Chris. “Twitter’s

“It’s just about having someone evil. More needs to be done by the

to speak to who understands you,” social media providers.”

he explains, adding that he too

In his capacity as a reality TV star,

faced a barrage of “brutal” Twitter and with more than 2.5 million

comments after being announced followers across his Instagram and

as a presenter on ITV Racing. Twitter profiles, Chris is proud to >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 23


e in a position where he can not

only inspire change, but actually

save lives.

A year ago, as part of his role as

a Movember ambassador, Chris

had a testicular cancer check live

on ITV’s This Morning in a bid to

show men that they shouldn’t be

embarrassed about getting their

testicles examined. Testicular

cancer is the most common

cancer among men, and although

there’s a 95% chance of survival,

one in 20 don’t make it.

Chris, who had three operations

on his left testicle as a teenager,

could never have anticipated the

outcome of his appearance on

the daytime show. The following

night, his older brother Ben,

27, found a lump in his testicle,

which turned out to be cancerous.

In January, he underwent an

operation to have it removed, and

in May Chris shared the happy

news on Instagram that Ben is

cancer-free. The brothers are now

filming a BBC documentary about

male infertility.

“One hundred percent, it feels

good knowing that by talking

out loud about my feelings and

experiences I’m encouraging

other guys to be open about

their emotions too, but with the

testicular examination, if it helps

just one person stay healthy, that’s

a really good thing,” says Chris.

“That’s the beauty of having a

platform; it allows you to help

others.”

But what about his own journey?

Chris is evidently doing his best

to get his mental health back on

track, and counts the listening

ears of friends, family, and, of

course, Jesy as “crucial” in his

recovery.

“Many men feel that speaking

about their feelings is a

vulnerability, a weakness, but I’ve

always seen the benefits in it. It’s

little obstacles,” he says.

“You’re not going to be happy

every day of your life; it’s normal

to have low points. Now I just want

to shake it, and I’m trying to do

everything right in my lifestyle to

make myself feel better.”

This Movember, whatever you grow

will save a bro. Sign up now at

Movember.com, and change the face

of men’s health.


Outfit | Marks & Spencers

Styling | Krishan Parmar

Grooming | Amanda Clarke at Joy

Goodman, using Kiehl’s


How to survive a

friendship

break-up

Letting go of a friendship can be just as painful as saying goodbye to a partner.

We share five tips to help you move onwards and upwards

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

There’s nothing more

heartbreaking than a

bad break-up. When

we think of the b-word,

ex-lovers are often the

first thing to come to mind. Yet, if

we’re honest, moving on from a

close friendship can hurt just as

much – if not more.

When a romantic relationship

comes to an end, we have loved

ones on hand to offer comfort. But

when a friendship is on the rocks,

who do we turn to? Breaking up

with your bestie can leave you

feeling hollow and isolated. Our

friendships can feel bigger, more

dramatic, more... permanent,

than romance. There may be

plenty more fish in the sea, but

finding a true BFF? That’s a lot

trickier.

Whether your friendship is

drawing to a slow close after

drifting apart, an epic argument

has left everyone with hurt

feelings, or you’ve entered

different phases in your personal

lives or careers, recognising and

acknowledging that rift can be

tough. Keep these five things in

mind to help you approach the

end of a friendship with an open,

more positive mindset.

1 TAKE THE HIGH ROAD

When emotions are running high,

it can be easy to say something

you may regret – or to say

nothing at all. Ghosting can be

upsetting for both sides. Taking

away the opportunity for closure,

by disappearing rather than

responding when a friendship

begins to break down, can leave

you with unspoken regrets.

If possible, try to exhibit the

changes you would have liked to

have seen in your friendship. Keep

the lines of communication open,

honest, and kind. If the other

person isn’t able to meet you in the

middle, at least you’ll have a clear

conscience, with fewer ‘what-ifs’.

2 ACCEPT THAT CLOSURE ISN’T

ALWAYS POSSIBLE

Closure may be the more healthy,

emotionally mature way to go –

however, it’s important to allow

this to happen naturally, when

you both feel calm and ready.

When a friendship starts to break

down, it can be tough to express

how you are feeling without

things escalating.

Accepting that your friendship

has come to a natural end can be

tricky, yet try to remind yourself:

you may not be able to achieve

closure right now, but you never

know what the future might hold.

3 ACKNOWLEDGE THE

OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH

Letting go of old friendships can

open up time and emotional

bandwidth for new, exciting

possibilities. For those working

the typical nine to five, we only

get 52 precious weekends a year.

When you take out bank holidays,


family obligations, birthdays,

holidays, overtime, needing

some space for self-care… you

may be left with fewer free days

than you’d expect. Having fewer

friendships doesn’t have to mean

your social life is more limited – it

can mean that you are choosing

quality time with those who

matter to you the most.

Challenge yourself to use this

extra time to try something

new. Sign up for a new

class, try your hand at a

different hobby, or get

more active. You’ll be

amazed at how many

opportunities this

can open up to

potentially toxic behaviours you

may not have noticed previously.

No matter what you discover,

remind yourself: there isn’t always

something we can do to fix our

relationships – and that’s OK.

5 GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK

Before you rush off searching to

fill that BFF-sized hole in your life,

try to give yourself some space.

That could mean logging off social

media for a couple of weeks,

letting joint friends know you’d

rather hang out in smaller

groups, or one-to-one, until

things settle down, or

even muting that shared

WhatsApp chat.

Having fewer

friendships can

mean that you are

choosing quality

time with those

who matter to

you the most

Things may feel awkward

for a bit, but good friends will

understand that you need to put

yourself first for a while. Your

wellbeing should never take

second place.

get to know new people. Chances

are you may have more things in

common than your old friends,

thanks to your new shared activity.

HOW TO SPOT THE SIGNS OF A

FRIENDSHIP BREAK-UP

4 TAKE TIME FOR REFLECTION

Did your friendship break up

for a reason? Were there things

you could have done differently?

We aren’t saying you should

obsess over the whys and hows,

but allowing yourself the time

and space for reflection can give

you the chance to identify any

The signs may be clearer than

you might think…

• Do you dread seeing them?

• Do you feel more undermined

than supported?

• Does it feel like you’ve grown

apart, or have nothing in

common?

• Do you find yourself slow or

reluctant to respond to their

messages?

• Do you find yourself

cancelling (or being

cancelled-on) last minute?

• Does it feel like all of the

effort is one-sided?

November 2019 • happiful.com • 27


How to manage

social anxiety

with Grace

Candid and charismatic, author, vlogger, and all about empowerment,

Grace Victory shares her experience and insight each month

That time of year is

almost here – delicious

mince pies, sparkly

dresses, and Terry’s

Chocolate Oranges.

The time of too much prosecco,

Mariah Carey on repeat, and

social anxiety. Yup, I said it: social

anxiety. The dreaded: ‘I have to

leave my house and talk to people.’

The sweaty palms, days of worry,

and last-minute cancellations of

plans because everything feels a

bit too much.

I’ve been there (we’ve probably

all been there) and it’s horrible.

It can often feel that with every

breath you take, the anxiety

monster is going to consume you,

spit you back out, and leave you

in a tearful mess on the floor.

Fight or flight mode is activated,

and you’re about to either lose

your sh*t and scream, or fly out

the door – with a high possibility

of falling over and flashing your

knickers.

Social anxiety is hard at the

best of times. Whether your

anxiety comes from unprocessed

trauma or introvertedness, the

physical and emotional toll can be

completely taxing.

Back in 2012 and 2013, when I

first started going to PR events

and social gatherings for work

purposes, I would succumb to

worry. The journey into central

London would be Googled 30

times so I was 100% sure I knew

where I was going, and yet I still

had an overwhelming fear that I

would get lost, my phone would

die, and I would end up in a gutter

somewhere.

I’d panic most about what to wear

and who would be there. There was

practically nobody else within the

YouTube scene who was plus-size

back then, and I’d be lying if I said

flying the flag for fatness was easy.

It wasn’t, and at times it’s still not

easy now. I’d be in a room full of

thin, glamorous bloggers and I felt

like the odd one out.

During those years, I desperately

wanted to fit in because I was so

hyper-aware of all the things that

made me different. I would ask for

a list of other people attending just

so I could see if I’d know anyone,

and then I would spend hours

trying to put together an outfit –

one that was appropriate for the

event, to travel in, and to also feel

comfortable and stylish in.

Attending these events alone was

also not possible – even with the

list of attendees. It just wasn’t even

an option. If I couldn’t find anyone

to go with, then I wasn’t going.

Walking into a room full of people

I didn’t know or feel comfortable

around was something I absolutely

I think my event

anxiety stemmed from

low self-esteem, and

not knowing how to

protect and preserve

my energy

dreaded, so before any event

I made sure I had a plus one.

Having someone close by made the

anxiety more manageable.

Looking back, I think my event

anxiety stemmed from low selfesteem,

and not knowing how to

protect and preserve my energy.

I’m an introvert, which means

I struggle with small talk and

socialising because it depletes


HAPPIFUL’S NEW COLUMNIST!

@GRACEFVICTORY

I am an absolute advocate for

having boundaries in place, and

only doing things that you really

want to do. But unfortunately, that

advice isn’t always feasible. We

can’t always get out of festivities, so

here is a little list of things you can

do to help you during this time –

and remember, you aren’t alone in

feeling anxious. This too shall pass.

1

Have an escape plan. Know

where the back door is, the

toilets, a quiet room. If you feel

uncomfortable or as if you can’t

breathe, remove yourself from the

situation. You can excuse yourself

to go to the loo, or say you need

some fresh air.

Photography | Paul Buller

my energy, and can make me feel

drained. I didn’t know how to

recharge and put boundaries in

place so that I felt safe and secure.

Social anxiety, for me, was all

about a fear of being seen, being

judged, and being laughed at –

which is funny because these are

all topics I am speaking about in

therapy at the moment.

As we approach the festive

season, social anxiety can be

heightened for those who already

suffer with it, or it can be new and

confusing feelings for those who

haven’t really experienced anxiety

before. Social engagements seem

to happen every week, alcohol is

nearly always involved, and you

may have to attend events with

people that you don’t particularly

like or know.

Towards the end of the year is

also the time you may be around

family more, and for some people

this can be a real trigger due to

childhood trauma. It can often feel

like you’re forcing happiness and

socialising, when all you want to

do is hide under the covers with a

box of Maltesers, while watching

The Grinch.

2

Keep your routine. There is

nothing worse than having

a mental health down day (or

week/month) on top of your usual

routine going out the window.

With all the events towards the

end of the year, you might find

you’re not eating enough veggies,

not having enough sleep, and not

finding enough time for you. Try

to keep parts of your life ‘normal’

so you remain with some of your

familiarity and routine.

3

Organise a support group.

This can be as simple as a

WhatsApp group chat with a few

of your mates; a place where you

can all hold space for each other

during this difficult period.

Love

Grace x


Words of wisdom from

the therapy room

We all have different experiences when it comes to our mental health, but often

we can be comforted by the same words. If you’re experiencing mental ill-health,

seven counsellors offer their words of encouragement

Writing | Becky Wright

From stress to anxiety,

bereavement to body

image problems,

we all face different

challenges in our lives. And,

although it can be difficult,

talking about what you’re

dealing with is one of the

best ways to open yourself up

to a wealth of support. The

proverbial saying, ‘a problem

shared is a problem halved’

might not be strictly true, but it

can certainly help to lighten the

load for you.

Remember, no matter how

you’re feeling, you are worthy of

help. Here, we offer some words

of wisdom about seven common

mental health issues.

IF ANXIETY IS GETTING IN THE WAY OF YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE

Feeling

anxious from

time to time

is normal.

It’s a sign

that you’re

human, and

are pushing yourself out of your

comfort zone. There is a difference

though, between the feeling of

butterflies and something more

sinister.

Person-centred counsellor, Andy

Kidd, explains how to work out

what is causing you to feel this way.

“It’s important to break down what

you’re anxious about. Be specific.

Defining problems helps to find

solutions. When you are feeling

anxious, what are you paying

attention to? What scares you most

about it? Why?”

Once you’ve determined the cause

of your anxiety, the next step is to

tackle it head-on. “Anxiety screams

‘Avoid!’, often leading us to assume

the worst. But one useful tip is to

voluntarily face challenges, rather

than bracing for disaster,” says

Andy. “The trick is to hear what

your anxiety is telling you, then

tell it something back. Therapy,

particularly assertiveness training,

can teach your anxiety that you’re

more capable and braver than you

thought.”

IF STRESS IS OVERWHELMING YOU

Although

stress isn’t

an illness

in itself, it

can affect

us in many

ways. From

sleeping problems to loss of

appetite, or sweating, many

physical symptoms can occur

when we’re feeling overwhelmed.

“Stress is the body’s natural

defence mechanism against

perceived dangers,” says

counsellor Carole Brooks. “But,

unlike our stone-age ancestors

who could fight in the face

of danger (reducing harmful

hormones), we can’t do this with

today’s stressors.”

For this reason, Carole explains

learning to control our response

to stress is imperative. For some,

this can mean making some ‘metime’,

exercising, or mindfulness.

For others, it’s not as simple. If

you’ve been feeling stressed for a

prolonged period, consider what

changes you could make to your

life. If your stress is work-related,

it might be beneficial to speak

to your manager, or even seek a

new job if you’re able to.

30 • happiful.com • November 2019


IF YOU’VE EXPERIENCED

LOSS RECENTLY

The trick is to hear what your anxiety is

telling you, then tell it something back

IF FOOD AND BODY IMAGE ISSUES ARE TAKING OVER

Dieting can

keep us

locked in

a cycle of

deprivation,

bingeing,

and feeling

guilty, but finding a way to break

free and stop dieting isn’t always

straight-forward. It can feel scary

at first but, in the long-term, it will

help to improve your relationship

with food, putting you back in

control.

Counsellor Kerry Trevethick,

whose passion is helping people

overcome food and body image

issues, says food itself is rarely the

root of the problem. “Working

on what you are feeling

and thinking can help your

relationship with food and your

body,” she says. “If your body

image is stopping you from

doing things, ask yourself: ‘Is

it my body that’s the problem

here, or is it how I’m thinking

about my body that is holding

me back?’”

If you’re struggling with body

image issues, body confidence

might feel like an unrealistic

goal. Perhaps a better aim is

body neutrality – not thinking

about your looks as an important

part of who you are.

Losing

people

we

love is

part

of life,

but

that doesn’t make it any

easier to process. Leah

O’Shaughnessy, who

specialises in bereavement

counselling, offers some

comforting words. “Feeling

your emotions rather than

suppressing them will help it

to pass. Grief isn’t something

that goes away, but the raw

pain does lessen. In time,

we learn to live our lives

around it. Accepting this is

an important part of dealing

with a bereavement.”

Someone once said to me:

“Don’t cry because it’s over,

smile because it happened.”

It’s something that’s helped

me through moments of

sadness in my life, but it’s

not always easy to smile.

This is where extra support,

particularly bereavement

counselling, can be helpful.

“Coping with a bereavement

can be very distressing.

Sometimes the support of a

counsellor is needed to help

you through it. They will

help you recognise that each

stage of grief (shock, anger,

bargaining, sadness and

acceptance) is completely

normal, as is moving in and

out of grief stages, rather

than following a linear

pattern,” says Leah. >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 31


IF YOU’RE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH A NARCISSIST

Often,

narcissism

is mistaken

as an

obsession

with a

person’s

appearance. However, there is

more to it, as psychotherapist

Anne Glynn explains.

“Narcissism is usually the

result of an upbringing where

the person was loved only if

they conformed to certain

expectations. So, while they

may appear confident and even

conceited, this veneer covers a

flimsy, depleted inner self.”

As a result, narcissistic partners

can be very challenging. Anne

says there are several behaviours

you can look for if you think

your partner may be a narcissist.

“They may use various defences

to protect against the shame of

exposure: contempt for others,

entitlement, grandiosity, blaming,

boasting, idealisation of you and

others, followed by denigration.

“It’s a sad, anxious existence

for the narcissist,” says

Anne. “Narcissists deserve

understanding, but they can be

draining and destructive.” For

this reason, advice for partners of

narcissists is usually to leave the

relationship. However, this is often

easier said than done – the love you

once felt for this person can be a

pull to keep you together.

If this is the case, seeking

professional support may be a good

option. “A narcissist doesn’t change

easily, and although they seldom

engage in therapy, this could

provide a lifeline for you.”

‘Listen to your body when it says you need

more rest. This will help you practise selfcare

better, and live a more fulfilling life’

IF YOU’RE WORRIED ABOUT A LOVED ONE’S DRINKING

If a loved

one’s

drinking

is

affecting

you, it

can be a

difficult and challenging time.

Bear in mind, for them to

make the necessary changes,

the choice to do so ultimately

remains with them – but there

are things you can do to help.

Humanistic counsellor, Mark

Thresh, says a good place to

start is to find out how they

feel about their drinking. “If

they’ve been thinking about

making changes, they may

feel relieved to talk about

how they are feeling, and

might welcome your support.

Prepare before you talk, as this

will help you to avoid getting

emotional, angry or saying

something you might later

regret.

“Talking with them when they

are in a good mood and haven’t

been drinking is always a good

approach, and never when they

may be hungover. It’s always

wise to try to avoid accusations

and blame. Your loved one may

already be feeling low, upset or

anxious about their drinking,

and may become defensive if

they feel under attack.”

32 • happiful.com • November 2019


IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING TO

MAKE TIME FOR SELF-CARE

“Selfcare

is an

important

aspect of

our lives,

yet we

tend to

leave it until last on our to-do

list,” counsellor and self-care

specialist, Karin Brauner,

explains. Making time to look

after ourselves is very important

in managing our overall health

– mentally and physically.

So, how can we make time?

According to Karin, one of the

most powerful techniques she

uses with her clients is helping

them set boundaries. Here, she

provides some tips to help set

clear boundaries for self-care.

“Stick to what works for you.

Boundaries are there to keep

you safe; you set a certain

boundary for a reason, so keep

it in place no matter what,”

Karin says. “Listen to your body

when it says you need more

rest, or your thoughts saying,

‘This is an uncomfortable

situation, you need to leave

now.’ This will help you practise

self-care better, and live a more

fulfilling life.”

If an aspect of your life is affecting

your wellbeing, help is at hand. Visit

counselling-directory.org.uk for a

wealth of free resources, or to find a

counsellor in your local area.

November 2019 • happiful.com • 33


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Join more than 80,000 digital

subscribers by accessing the

full free version of Happiful

Magazine, before it hits the

supermarket shelves.

FIND HELP & SUPPORT

Browse professionals in

your area for counselling,

life coaching, hypnotherapy,

nutrition and alternative,

complementary therapies.

Search for ‘Happiful’ in your app store

DAILY NEWS & SELF-CARE

Self-care, work-life balance,

personal stories – you name it,

we publish it. Always sensitively

and responsibly written to uplift

and inspire.

Happiful App is a product from the Happiful family, which includes Counselling Directory, Life Coach Directory, Hypnotherapy Directory, Nutritionist Resource and Therapy Directory.

Helping you find the help you need.


Does your to-do list bring you out in a cold sweat? Well, fret no more – we’ve got

an arsenal of tools to help you tackle your list, save time, and stress less

Writing | Kat Nicholls

TOOLS FOR GOOD

Be your most productive self

Images | Forest app: Google Play, gtd: podcasts.apple.com

1 Download the Forest app

If scrolling on your phone gets

in the way of work, try the

Forest app. The idea is to plant a

virtual tree, and set a timer for

however long you want to be off

your phone. As you work, your

tree grows, but if you give in to

technological temptation before

the time is up… your tree dies.

Keep working and planting to

create a forest full of trees.

Bonus: Forest partners with a

real tree-planting organisation

called Trees for the

1

Future, so you

can contribute

to building

a real forest

when you’re

creating

your virtual

one, too.

2 Listen to the

‘Getting Things Done’

podcast

Hosted by David Allen, 2

author of international

bestseller Getting Things

Done, this podcast is a mustlisten

for anyone in need of

productivity guidance. With

episodes such as ‘Overcoming

procrastination’ and ‘Wrangling

your priorities’, expect plenty

of practical advice. Podcasts, in

general, are a great way

to harness your time

as you can listen

hands-free while

cleaning, on

your commute,

or while

exercising.

3

3 Try the Pomodoro

Technique

This time management

method was developed

by Francesco Cirillo, and

is named after the tomatoshaped

kitchen timer he

used as a student. The

Pomodoro (Italian for

‘tomato’) Technique involves

breaking work down

into chunks of

time, usually 25

minutes. After

25 minutes (one

pomodoro),

you take a fiveminute

break,

and after four

pomodoros, you take a

longer break of 15–20 minutes.

Setting a timer instills a sense

of urgency, while splitting up

pomodoros with breaks helps

to transform big tasks into

manageable chunks. Want to try

it? Head to tomato-timer.com

4

4 Listen to music

A study by Dr Teresa

Lesiuk from the

University of Miami,

discovered that those

who listen to music

while working were

faster, had better

ideas, and

experienced

positive

mood

change.

Try a range

of music

and see what

works well

for you. We love

soothing lyric-less music like

Balmorhea, and Bill Laurance.

5 Pause your inbox

Emails can be productivity killers,

and while limiting the number of

times you check your inbox can

help, some of us need a little extra

support. Boomerang for Gmail

has a number of features, but

our favourite is the Inbox Pause.

This stops new emails from

coming in until you’re

ready. You set what

hours you’re happy

to receive emails,

giving you the quiet

time you need to get

your head down.

5


Ask the experts

Counsellor and psychotherapist

Lindsay George answers

your questions on SAD

Read more about Lindsay on

counselling-directory.org.uk

WHAT IS SAD?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

is a type of depression that comes

and goes in a seasonal pattern.

SAD is also known as ‘winter

depression’, because the symptoms

are usually more apparent, and

more severe, during the winter.

UNDERSTANDING

Q

I find the winter

months really

difficult, but

nobody seems to

understand how bad it

can be. How can I help

other people realise

I don’t just have the

‘winter blues’?

It’s frustrating when people

A around you don’t seem to

understand how you are feeling.

Knowing you have a support

network, in which you feel

comfortable talking to them, or

they at least try to understand

what you are feeling, is very

important in ensuring you get

the help you need.

While winter blues often

involves lack of sleep, SAD will

likely leave you feeling fatigued

and lethargic, and even getting

out of bed can be extremely

difficult. All of these symptoms

can vary in severity, and if

untreated, can have a significant

impact on your overall health

and ability to carry out day-today

activities.

The first step you need to make

is speaking to someone. It

might be a good idea to make

an appointment with your GP,

and explain how you are feeling.

They will want to know how

long you have felt like this, and

whether there is a correlation to

the weather, your lifestyle and

personal circumstances, in order

to identify whether you have

SAD or depression, or if there is

something else going on.


Seasonal Affective Disorder

SYMPTOMS

Q

I’m dreading

the darker days.

How do I manage

symptoms of SAD when

the UK has such a long

winter?

AMany people dread the

darker, winter months,

however, there are a number

of things you can do to help

yourself get through them, and

manage symptoms of SAD.

CBT

Q

Is it true that

counselling,

CBT, and

light therapy can be

beneficial in managing

SAD? How does this

work? What should I

expect from counselling

for SAD?

A combination of

A counselling, CBT and light

therapy can really help manage

the symptoms of SAD. The idea

behind light therapy is to create a

simulation of sunlight, so that the

melanopsin receptors in the eyes

can trigger the required serotonin

release within the brain for

natural sleep cycles, and general

feelings of wellbeing.

Counselling can help you

in a number of ways. A good

counsellor will help you to feel

supported at all times, and more

in control of your problems.

They will help you to develop a

better sense of self-awareness,

and discuss and encourage how

to develop better coping skills.

If you’re one of the many

people who recognise that

your mood and wellbeing falter

during the winter months,

please do take comfort in

knowing you are not alone. Help

is available.

• Lifestyle measures: Aim to

get as much natural sunlight as

possible, exercise regularly, and

manage stress as best you can.

• Light therapy: Invest in a light

box to simulate exposure to

sunlight.

• Talking therapies: Cognitive

behavioural therapy (CBT) and/

or counselling to talk about

how you’re feeling with a

professional.

• Speak to your GP: Your

doctor may refer you for further

treatment such as counselling,

and/or medication.

• Diet and nutrition: Consider

speaking with a nutritionist

to ensure you are getting the

nutrients known to benefit

mood and general wellness,

such as omega-3 and 6.

• Supplements: Public Health

England (PHE) recommends

that people in the UK take a

daily vitamin D supplement

between October and March.

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


Overcome

with anxiety

Anxiety and panic attacks blighted Calli’s life for

years, but after therapy, and starting a blog, she’s

on the road to recovery, and is helping to end

the stigma around mental illness

Writing | Calli Kitson

My first

memory

of anxiety

was when

I fainted in my local

hairdresser’s. I had no

idea why, other than I got

too hot and flustered. It

happened again during a

violin lesson, after I got

stressed when I couldn’t

read the music notes.

I didn’t identify this as

anxiety at the time, as I

didn’t really know what

anxiety was.

It was about six years

ago that things started to

make more sense. It was

the summer before I was

due to start high school,

and I’d been experiencing

symptoms of anxiety

before every long car

journey.

At the time, I didn’t know

what it meant or why it

was happening – I just

wondered what the odd

feeling in my stomach

was. It became more clear

on a trip to the zoo with

my sisters, my niece, and

my sister’s friend, when

the car broke down.

We pulled over at the

side of the road and the

feeling in my stomach

began. I started to feel

very hot and flustered. I

asked my sister if I could

step out of the car for

some air, but she wouldn’t

let me. We were on the

side of a very busy road,

and it would’ve been really

dangerous for me to go

out, but at that moment I

didn’t care, I just had to get

out of the car.

Later that same summer

I had my first panic attack

when my mum suggested

we go to a theme park. I

got that horrible feeling

in my stomach, clammy

hands, became hot and

flustered, and I began

hyperventilating, which

eventually led to a panic

attack.

My mum, who had

experienced her own

mental health problems,

told me that I probably

had anxiety. To be sure,

we went to the doctor, who

confirmed it.

For the past two years,

I’ve been on a very long

road to recovery after

being mentally ill for five

months. I’ll be honest, I’m

still not fully happy with

my mental health.

In those five months, I

fell down a hole so deep

that I wasn’t sure how I

was going to get out. Every

time I’d have a moment

where I felt sad and low,

I’d think: ‘It’s just a phase,

this won’t last forever.’

These months of torture

began after I started a new

job as a chef. Sadly, I only

managed three days and

had five panic attacks. It

was unbearable, so I left.

It was around this time

when I was out of work

and my brain had nothing

to focus on, that I became

aware of my OCD. Every

night I’d go downstairs and

begin a series of rituals

– and I was aware this

wasn’t a normal thing to

do. After a bit of research,

I soon realised I had OCD.

38 • happiful.com • November 2019


TRUE LIFE

It’s extremely difficult to do

something that makes you

anxious. It’s like being stuck

in a vicious circle

You can’t predict when a

bad mental health day will

happen, and you certainly

can’t predict a long period

in your life when you

become mentally ill, but

I felt as though the five

panic attacks I had during

that short period of time

affected my mental health

massively.

In September 2016

I began cognitive

behavioural therapy (CBT),

which really helped me to

feel better about myself.

CBT teaches you about

why you get anxious, and

ways to calm yourself.

Something that also

helped me was setting

up my blog – ‘Looking

Through Rose Tinted

Glasses’. It was originally

created to be a place

where I could write and

share my baking recipes,

but now it’s also a place to

write about mental health.

Allowing other people to

share their mental health

stories on my blog is a

great way of getting people

to read and understand

how everybody’s mental

health is so different. It’s a

good place for me to write

about my experiences and

offer advice.

I called my blog

‘Looking Through Rose

Tinted Glasses’ because,

ironically, that’s what I

do every day. I have a

processing disorder called

Meares-Irlen Syndrome,

which means I find it

difficult to process visual

information, and the

glasses I wear to help this

are rose-tinted!

Now? I’m a lot better

than I was a couple of

years ago, but I recently

fell down that same

mental health hole once

more. It was as if the

ladder that was supposed

to help me had broken,

and had dropped me

halfway down again.

I’ve had various jobs but

hadn’t worked regularly

since December 2017.

Last year I started a new

job, working two days a

week in a clothes store.

Of course, I was anxious

about starting, but not as

anxious as I expected. I

managed to do my first

day, but at the end of my

shift, instead of feeling

pleased with myself, I felt

fed up.

The next day, I drove to

work, and that’s all I could

manage. I was feeling so

anxious and sad that I

couldn’t physically get out

of the car. Returning to

work was a lot harder than

I thought.

I spent most of the day

before my next shift

feeling incredibly anxious

and crying a lot. The next

day, the crying started >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 39


It was as if the ladder that was

supposed to help me had broken and

had dropped me halfway down again

again. I started walking

to work, got to my local

park, and that’s all I could

manage. I sat on a bench

and, oh boy, did I cry.

When you have anxiety,

it’s extremely difficult to

do something that makes

you anxious. It’s like being

stuck in a vicious circle.

In my case, I need to have

a job, and I need to make

money, but because going

to work makes me feel so

low and so sad, it’s easier

not to go. But if I don’t do

this thing that makes me

feel anxious, I can’t get

better mentally and make

progress in my life.

I’ve learnt a lot of

ways to help my anxiety

over the past six years.

I have different coping

mechanisms, including

writing, using what I’ve

learnt in therapy, or using

herbal remedies to help

me feel less anxious.

Looking back at my life

these last few years, I can

say that I wasn’t like your

typical teenager. Maybe,

in 10 years’ time, I’ll look

back on my teenage years

and realise that I didn’t

achieve as much as I’d

have liked. But that’s OK.

People go through stages

in their lives where things

don’t quite go to plan, and

it just so happens that

mine was as a teenager.

As we reach the final

few months of 2019,

it’s amazing to see how

different my life is now. In

2018, depression took over

my life, and the anxiety

that came with it just

made everything so much

harder.

Now, I’ve helped with

the shortlisting for the

Mind Media Awards. A

year ago, I would never

have imagined I would

be asked to do this. Also,

now I write about soaps,

continuing dramas, and

mental health portrayals

in the media. I’ve used

my experiences to my

advantage, and get to write

about mental health to get

more people talking.

Don’t let anyone tell

you that depression

won’t change you as a

person, because it will – it

will make you a better,

stronger individual.

Calli Kitson is a mental

health writer for metro.co.uk

and Digital Spy. Follow her

on Twitter and Instagram

@callikitson

OUR EXPERT SAYS

Calli’s inspirational story

highlights the debilitating

affect that living with

anxiety and depression

can have on our wellbeing.

Her bravery and strength

are admirable. With

counselling support, she is

facing her difficulties head

on, and this has led to her

being more able to manage

them on a daily basis.

Experiencing depression

and anxiety doesn’t

have to have a negative

connotation – it has the

potential to

empower

you, and lead

to positive

change.

Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

40 • happiful.com • November 2019


HAPPIFUL TOP 10

November

Welcome in winter with a new way to shop sustainably, get up close

and personal with the nation’s favourite pets, and discover the secret

to a good night’s sleep

Images | Little earthlings: @littlearthlings

1

PAGE-TURNERS

The Art of Sleeping

by Rob Hobson

If you lie awake wondering how

to get a good night’s sleep, this

could be the answer to all your

problems. Written by nutritionist

Rob Hobson, The Art of Sleeping

explores the three pillars of a

good night’s sleep: behaviour,

environment, and diet (BED).

3

PUT ON A SHOW

4

The National Pet Show

Meet the world’s best

pets, watch spectacular animal

action displays, and enjoy

fascinating talks from animal

experts at Birmingham NEC. From

visiting the animal rescue barn, to

meeting the dogs with

jobs, it’s the purrrfect

place to enjoy some

animal company.

(2–3 November. For more

info and tickets visit

thenationalpetshow.com)

(Out 14 November, HarperCollins,

£9.99)

2

OUT AND ABOUT

Ally Pally’s Fireworks Festival

Enjoy foot-stomping live music, a

taste of Bavaria at the German beer

festival, and classic cult films in a

stunning Victorian theatre, at London’s biggest fireworks festival. Wrap up

warm and bring your earmuffs for the incredible firework display!

(1–2 November. For more information on the festival, head to fireworks.london)

PLUGGED-IN

Littlearthlings

Enjoy positive affirmations

and words of encouragement from

Littlearthlings. These cheerful

illustrations are gentle reminders

to be kind to yourself, and believe

you can do it. You can even share

them with a friend

who might be feeling

down, to let them

know they are not

alone.

5

(Follow

@littlearthlings on

Instagram)

TECH TIP-OFFS

AllTrails: Hike, Run

& Cycle

Whether you prefer

walking, cycling or

running, spending time

in the great outdoors

can do wonders for

your wellbeing. Explore

more than 75,000

hiking, running and

biking trails around the

world, track your own

routes, and save your

favourites. Adventure is

out there!

(Download from the App Store and

Google Play, find out more

at alltrails.com)

Continues >>>



Even the smallest person can

change the course of the future

– THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Photography | Ian Stauffer


HAPPIFUL TOP 10

November

Images | Forzen 2: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Night of Neon: timeoutdoors.com

6 8

LEND US YOUR EARS

‘Feel Better, Live More’

with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

GP, presenter and author,

Rangan Chaterjee is on a mission to

make health simpler. Each week he

is joined by guests such as Matt Haig,

Natasha Devon, and Emma Willis, who

share their own health journeys to

help you become the healthiest

version of yourself.

(Visit drchatterjee.com for more,

and listen to the podcast on

iTunes and Spotify)

7

SQUARE EYES

The Disney musical

that melted our hearts is back

for a second instalment! Anna,

Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven

set out on a quest to find the

origin of Elsa’s powers, in an

effort to save their kingdom.

Frozen 2 is the perfect family

favourite to get you in the

mood for winter.

Frozen 2

(In cinemas 22 November)

THE CONVERSATION

Movember

10

TREAT YOURSELF

Sustainable shopping

Trying to be more eco-conscious can be hard,

especially with the amount of waste packaging

can bring when shopping. Wearth is a website that stocks ecofriendly

and ethical products, making it easier for you to shop and

live more consciously. Search products by values such as plasticfree,

vegan-friendly, and sustainable materials.

(Visit wearthlondon.com to find out more)

With more pressure on men than ever before, take time

this month to highlight men’s mental health. Throughout

November, Movember is the charity that’s challenging men to grow

moustaches and raise funds for life-changing men’s health projects.

But it’s not just for those with furry faces. From fun runs to local events,

anyone can get involved to help end the stigma.

(November 2019, visit uk.movember.com to find events near you)

Win a £25 voucher to spend on Wearth London!

What percentage of plastic packaging is the UK’s target to recycle by 2020? a) 27%, b) 55%, c) 75%

To enter, email your answer to competitions@happiful.com

UK mainland only, entries close 21 November 2019.

9

GET GOING

Night of Neon

Manchester

Wear your brightest outfit and

light up the night. Choose from

the 5K and 10K routes, and

raise money for the Christie

Charity while you dance, walk

or run your way around Salford

Quays. Time to get glowing!

(9 November, find out more at

christie.nhs.uk)

WIN!


How to support a friend with

borderline

personality disorder

BPD can be a tricky illness for friends and loved ones to understand, but there

are lots of ways that you can be supportive without becoming

overwhelmed by the condition’s symptoms

Writing | Harriet Williamson

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Borderline personality

disorder (BPD), also

known as emotionally

unstable personality

disorder, is a broad

diagnosis characterised by

difficulties with mood and

interaction with others. It means

that sufferers often think – and

perceive the world – differently

from the average person, and

they may form very intense

relationships that end up being

short-lived.

Unfortunately, personality

disorders like BPD still carry a

great deal of stigma, due in part to

outdated ideas about the condition,

and labels such as ‘toxic’ that still

get unfairly attached to people

with BPD. Despite their

difficulties forming

and maintaining

stable relationships, BPD sufferers

can be the warmest, most

empathetic and loving people, and

offer truly rewarding connections.

Although the condition can be

hard to manage – not just for the

sufferer, but for those around them

– there are practical things that

you can do to make sure that your

relationship with someone who

has this mental health condition is

positive and solid.

1 DO YOUR RESEARCH

Ensuring that you know what BPD

entails will make life easier for

both yourself and your friend. A

quick read of the NHS or Mind

websites will offer plenty of insight

into the illness, and will mean

that you can approach difficult

situations with more awareness

and compassion.

2 BE SENSITIVE WITHOUT

‘WALKING ON EGGSHELLS’

The hypersensitivity that

comes with BPD means that

those close to sufferers

may feel as

though they are

‘walking on

eggshells’ at times. But, this doesn’t

have to be the case. Open and clear

communication is key, as is a basic

sensitivity towards things going on

in the other person’s life.

For example, if someone with

BPD feels unhappy or unsupported

at work, dismissing these concerns

with words such as ‘You won’t find

a better job elsewhere’ is definitely

not the right approach. For a BPD

sufferer, this sounds like ‘I don’t

care about you’ and ‘You don’t

deserve to work in an environment

where you feel comfortable’. Being

sensitive doesn’t mean treating the

other person like they’re made of

glass, but it does mean having an

awareness of the impact of your

words and actions.

3 OFFER CONSISTENCY

BPD is often accompanied by

intense fears of abandonment,

heightened by the transient

nature of many relationships in

the sufferer’s life. If you’ve had

a string of broken or incredibly

short friendships, you might be

very wary of others, and

terrified of being left

or let down.


As the friend of someone with

BPD, it’s helpful to be as consistent

as possible with what you say and

do. If you make plans, try to keep

them, or offer a clear reason why

you can’t. Make sure you’re not

blowing hot and cold.

BPD sufferers can

be the warmest,

most empathetic

and loving

people, and offer

truly rewarding

connections

4 ENCOURAGE SELF-CARE

People with BPD often have a

hard time caring for themselves.

They might believe that they don’t

deserve to be cared for or loved,

and may engage in self-destructive

behaviours such as self-harm,

compulsive spending, bingeeating

or starving themselves, and

abuse of drugs and alcohol. As a

friend, it’s incredibly important to

promote caring behaviours without

shaming the sufferer if they do slip

into destructive patterns. Baths

or showers, distracting books and

films, scented candles, and time

spent with pets, are positive ways

to deal with emotional instability

that you could suggest. Sometimes,

just the offer of a coffee and

a listening ear can be a game

changer for someone struggling

with the daily realities of BPD.

5 OFFER POSITIVE

AFFIRMATIONS

Having BPD can be like living with

an evil gremlin inside your head,

constantly putting you down and

telling you that you’re unlovable,

or not good enough. Try to counter

this perspective by telling your

friend what you like about them.

They may be an excellent listener,

really good at baking, or amazing

when they make you laugh. Let

them know this.

6 BE THERE DURING THE

HARD TIMES

As much as possible, try not to

be a ‘fair-weather friend’, who’s

around when things are going well,

but absent when times are tough.

Of course, it’s important to make

sure that you care for yourself,

too. It’s entirely possible to be

supportive without putting your

own wellbeing at risk. Just offering

to be there at the end of the phone

or making positive plans for the

next week can be so meaningful

for someone with BPD when they

are struggling with self-destructive

impulses or overwhelming

emotions.

September 2019 • happiful.com • 45


The Full

De-Brief

A bundle of energy, positivity and

fun, Georgina Horne has gone

from working in a restaurant,

to travelling the world as a

plus-size model. Through her

fullerfigurefullerbust social media

platform, the 31-year-old has

created an online community for

the larger lady in a bid to promote

body positivity.

Having faced fat-shamers

throughout much of her life, she

channelled her experiences into a

support group helping women to

embrace their curves, boost their

confidence, and feel empowered.

However, it’s not always been a

smooth catwalk for Georgina.

Here, she tells Happiful about

coping with trolls, her mental

health, and why now – 27 years

after her mother’s death – she has

turned to therapy >>>

Interview | Suzanne Baum

Photography | Alison Webster


It’s rather fitting to interview

Georgina in a room full

of half-dressed women.

For, without her support, it seems

possible that many of the 100 or

so ladies here would have never

dreamed of flashing their flesh in

public. And by this I mean happily

agreeing to be photographed at a

lingerie shoot for Curvy Kate – a

brand which uses its diverse range

of customers as models, for which

Georgina is fronting a campaign.

As we sit together in a corner of

the studio, I feel instantly at ease

with Georgina; so it seems does

everyone else as they grab her for

a hug and look on fondly as we

chat. In fact, although I am the

only woman in the room wearing

a top and skirt, I feel somewhat

underdressed beside Georgina,

who is modelling a gorgeous limegreen,

off-the-shoulder, tropical

print set that features in a new

collection she’s designed.

“Feeling comfortable in your own

skin is so important,” Georgina tells

me, and it’s clear she embraces

this herself. The outfit hugs

Georgina’s body in all the right

places, and with her flawless skin

and good looks she seems every

inch the vintage pin-up. Glamour

aside, Georgina has such a bubbly

personality and warmth, which

undoubtedly adds to her charm

online, where she has amassed

a huge following of more than

250,000 on Instagram.

A former waitress, Georgina’s

world changed overnight seven

years ago, when she started an

online blog for plus-size ladies. It

was a time before blogging had

taken off, and Georgina believes

the success she enjoyed was partly

down to the fact that she was filling

a niche before anyone else. >>>


“I had entered a competition for

Curvy Kate and came third, and

although I didn’t win, the amount

of support I got for putting myself

out there in the first place was

immense. For years I had put

up with fat-shamers – including

shopkeepers, neighbours and even

former friends – who seemed

disgusted by my size. From the

support I received following the

competition, I realised that largersized

women needed a platform

where they could come together.”

Growing up, Georgina developed

what she described as “large

breasts” and “a fat bottom” at

secondary school, and found going

through puberty a challenging

time. “I used to get a lot of nasty

remarks about my size, and

bullying became the norm.”

But she refused to let the bullies

get her down.

“I was always quite a cheeky and

cocky child, which kind of gave me

some inner confidence to cope,”

she says. And alongside these

traits, Georgina had a passion for

writing, so it was no surprise that

she took to blogging so easily.

“Blogging proved so therapeutic

for me,” Georgina recalls. “I could

write about things that bothered

me, and realised that so many

people could understand and relate

to my situation. Being large is not

easy; everything from finding the

right bra shape, facing rude shop

assistants, and even intimacy as

a bigger woman, were things that

only people like myself could

understand.”

What started as “diary entries”

soon became something much

bigger, with brands reaching out to

Georgina for lingerie and clothes


collaborations, leading to jobs with

international designers that soon

saw Georgina flying to places such

as Milan for modelling work.

“Being appreciated for my size,

rather than revolted by it, gave me

the belief that people were finally

able to see past models of one size.

“I felt empowered to help

women look and feel their best,

whatever their size or shape. I

think that through my blog I was

able to spread a message of body

positivity, being able to love oneself

at any size.”

“I always thought the

deep sadness I felt at

losing my mother would

fade, but on the contrary,

the grief got deeper”

Having always been a fan of

exercise, Georgina often posts

pictures of herself at the gym or

doing burpees, dismissing the myth

that ‘fat girls can’t lead a healthy

lifestyle’. She also hosts – alongside

another popular plus-size blogger,

Hayley Stewart – a very successful

yoga retreat abroad, where women

of all sizes come to switch off.

“Yes, of course I sweat buckets

when I exercise; at times I am

exhausted and gasping for a drink,

but I’m normal. I’d much rather

be large and happy, than thin and

miserable, and I’m brilliant at

yoga by the way – that’ll have the

body-shaming trolls bending over

backwards!”

With her huge grin and sparkly

eyes, Georgina tells me that she

always tries to smile at everyone

to put them at ease. Her desire

to embrace life is infectious –

especially for someone who

had such a difficult childhood.

Georgina’s mother died from breast

cancer when Georgina was just four

years old – a tragedy she believes

she never properly dealt with.

“Over the years, I always thought

the deep sadness I felt at losing

my mother would fade, but on

the contrary, the grief got deeper.

Every milestone in my life I wish

my mum was here to see it. I am

very conscious that in a few years

I will be 34 – the same age she was

when she died. I feel like I’ve kind

of hit a brick wall.”

It was finally admitting that

she needs professional help that

encouraged Georgina to go into

therapy.

“I’d had the worst childhood

trauma, which often left me feeling

anxious, tight-chested and, at

times, deeply sad. I knew I had to

address the issue, and although it

has taken me decades to admit it,

seeking therapy was exactly what I

needed to do.”

Having started counselling,

Georgina is adamant that it is the

best way forward. “Getting things

off my chest, as it were, may sound

tongue-in-cheek, but talking

through problems really does help.

“I get so many women messaging

me about how grateful they are for

my honest account of what it is like

being plus-sized – it feels good that

I’ve built a community where we

encourage conversations, to ensure

everyone has each other’s back.”

When it comes to mental health,

Georgina knows only too well how

soul-destroying it can be for people

with weight issues to strive to be

skinny. “It’s no surprise that some

of the younger generation who

have grown up with social media

develop issues because they want

to lead the ‘perfect Instagram life’.

“It makes me even more

passionate about spreading the

word about the importance of

talking. Whether that means to a

community like ours, your friends,

or a therapist.

“With my own grief counselling,

I have learnt coping mechanisms

on how to start healing myself.

Although I am proud of what I have

achieved, I am constantly aware of

just how fragile life can be.”

It goes without saying that if you

are in the public eye there will

always be trolls, and Georgina has

had her fair share of them. From

vulgar comments on her Instagram

posts, to an outcry of “disgust”

when she chose to lose some

weight for her wedding, Georgina

has learnt to turn a blind eye.

“Empowering women is my goal.

Although brands are starting to

look at making bigger-sized clothes

for larger ladies, fatism is still as

bad as it always was.

“Nobody likes to be the elephant

in the room,” she adds, “whatever

size or shape you are. I mean look

at all these wonderful women in

this studio not giving a toss – they

are happy, healthy and embracing

life. They may be friends I have

made through my social channels,

but they are the real deal – the best

bosom buddies a girl can have.”

Follow Georgina on Instagram

@fullerfigurefullerbust, and

read more from her at

fullerfigurefullerbust.com

November 2019 • happiful.com • 49


Take our word for it

Back yourself with these uplifting affirmation cards

Some days we feel like we’re on top

of the world, and other days we need

to have a word with ourselves. But

it makes all the difference if those

words are kind.

Gone are the days when we would

frustratedly hiss at ourselves in the

mirror to ‘get a grip’ – negative selftalk

is so last season.

Pepping yourself up with positive

affirmations has the power to

transform your psychology. And

we’ve got the science to back it up.

After looking at the way that our

brains respond to affirmations, a 2015

study published in Social Cognitive

and Affective Neuroscience found that

self-affirmations activate the brain

systems associated with rewards and

self-image. In other words, they’re

good for us on a neurobiological

level.

This month, we’re bringing you a set of

positive affirmation cards. Cut them out

and display them on your dressing table,

your desk at work, or anywhere you feel

like you need a boost.

As the darker days begin to draw in, it

can be easy to lose the positive spark

that flourished throughout the summer

months. If you feel like you need to pick

up your energy this autumn, we hope that

these affirmation cards will do the trick.

We all need to learn to back ourselves.

It doesn’t happen overnight, and it can

take us a lifetime to unlearn bad self-talk

habits. But take the first step to a kinder,

more uplifted you. Chose to believe in

yourself. You’ve got this, we know it.


Every two hours

in the UK, a

man takes

his own life…

The stats are shocking, but behind the numbers are real

men, with real, individual experiences, struggling and

urgently needing our help. Here, writer and mental health

advocate, Richard Taylor, pens a moving open letter,

putting out the call for us all to think about how we can

make a difference to the lives of others

>>>


Dear Society,

I’ve been trying to write to you for a

long time, but I’ve never been quite

sure who I’m speaking to. Maybe

I’ll have figured it out by the end of

this letter, but while I’ve got your

attention, I’d like to talk about the

fragile and complex conversation

regarding male suicide and men’s

mental health (and yes, it’s still

taboo, and it is still necessary to

keep talking about it).

There have been gargantuan

strides made with regards to

addressing mental health in

society. Every other office has

a mental health first aider (OK,

slight exaggeration, but run with

me please), it’s brought up in

conversation in pubs and on the

telly, radio programmes talk about

it, and celebrities have helped to

bring the topic to a wider audience,

and acted as role models to show

us how important it is to talk about

mental health, and be open and

honest with each other.

Yet, in spite of this, 84 men die

by suicide every week. Every two

hours in the UK, a man takes

his own life, affecting families,

friends, and creating a ripple

that will go on to devastate those

who are left behind, leaving them

weighed down with questions and

heartache.

When my dad broke down in

front of me in tears, racked with

fear, what he said next would go on

to shape the rest of my life and our

relationship together.

“I can’t do this any more, Richard.

I’m watching my son die in front

of me and there’s nothing I can

do to stop it, and I just can’t take it

anymore. So if you’re gonna go, let’s

go together. Because my life isn’t

worth living without you.”

Richard is a writer, mental health

advocate, and campaigner. He works for

GoodGym, and when he’s not working

or writing can be found with his head

in a book or playing Playstation. He

is incredibly open about his own

experiences with mental health on

Instagram and Twitter, and you

can follow him over

@RichBiscuit21

For context, at this point in my

life I had effectively been bedbound

for nine months at the

cruel, invisible hands of obsessive

compulsive disorder (OCD). I was

dangerously underweight, my

mental compulsions and rituals

were omnipresent and oppressive,

controlling every aspect of my

behaviour and thoughts.

I had to be bathed with the help

of my dad as I stood naked, bereft

of any dignity, and I could only go

to the toilet once a day – again with

my dad’s help. If you’re reading this

and wondering what form that help

took, he held a carrier bag under

me so I could go to the toilet, and

then disposed of it for me. It made

me feel feral and it stripped me of

my humanity every day, but that is

the nature of OCD – it cares not for

how it makes you feel, or what it

compels you to do. My life revolved

around a 24-hour cycle of waiting

to feel clean enough for all of the

intrusive thoughts and compulsive

behaviours to stop.

I was between the ages of 18 and

20 when all of this occurred, so

from a male perspective, having

to rely on someone to pretty

much care for you in all aspects

of your life felt overwhelming –

especially when that person was

so closely related. I had regressed

to childhood, incapable of keeping

myself alive and functioning.

Previously, OCD had prevented

me from living an ordinary life

and, at this time, I’d already

52 • happiful.com • November 2019


Society is those

willing to bare their

pain, grief and

sorrow to the world,

and invite others

into those emotions

been learning to alter my days

according to the new set of rules

that OCD forced me to live by.

I was living a secret double-life

behind closed doors that I tried

desperately to keep hidden from

everyone around me.

For my dad, I can only imagine

what he must have been

experiencing; as a father watching

his son fade away in front of his

eyes, to speak those words, let

alone think them. The desperation

and hopelessness had to be

excruciating. I’ve since spoken to

him about what he was feeling, and

he said that his only thought was

not wanting me to die alone. He

explained that afterwards, he felt

guilty that he never thought about

his mum, my mum or my future

life, only that he did not want to see

me suffering.

So what am I asking you to do,

as a member of society, to help

men like myself and many others?

Listen to us. Hear us when we say

we’re struggling, and don’t assume

that we’ve got a load of mates who

we can turn to. WhatsApp group

chats aren’t the kind of places

where mates discuss depression,

suicide and other complex mental

health topics, but why not? These

spaces should be fertile ground for

Richard, his partner, Megan (middle), and their close friend, Laura (right),

exploring the wintry sights of Vilnius, Lithuania, in November 2018

open, healthy and compassionate

conversations for blokes to look out

for each other.

Invariably, when you ask a guy

how he’s feeling, he’ll fob you off

with a casual: “I’m fine.” But don’t

let him get away with it! Press

him on it if you’re concerned,

because nothing bad can come out

of directly asking someone how

they’re feeling.

If you’re in a group setting and

notice someone acting differently,

give them a nudge later on when

there’s a bit of privacy. We hear

and see all too often the gutwrenching

posts on Facebook and

Instagram from guys who have

lost a friend to suicide who regret

not asking sooner.

Opportunities to have these

kinds of conversations are on

the rise as a direct result of

campaigns from mental health

charities and organisations

targeting men specifically. A

simple reminder that poor mental

health isn’t a sign of weakness,

and to admit that you’re not

coping well is all it takes. From

experience, I know most men

are crying out for someone to

talk to, but they feel like reaching

out will make them a burden to

friends and family.

So I go back to my original

question; who is society?

Society is you, reading this right

now. It’s me, writing about my

personal experiences. Society

is built on the conversations

between us and the courage we

have to challenge the norms that

have been built on beliefs that no

longer reflect the majority.

Society is those willing to bare

their pain, grief and sorrow to

the world, and invite others into

those emotions. It is the people

of all different cultures, creeds,

races and religions, gender or age,

sexual orientation or financial

status. We all have the power as

individuals to help shape what

society looks like, and how it cares

for us. I think that when it comes

to the men in our lives, we need to

hold on to the hope that we’ve not

missed the boat, and tell them that

we’re listening.


Photography | Jeryd Gillum


It matters not what someone is

born, but what they grow to be

– JK ROWLING, HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE


Living

with complex

post-traumatic

stress disorder

They are two similar conditions, but triggered

in different ways – and each comes with its own

range of symptoms. Here’s what you need to

know about CPTSD vs PTSD

Writing | Hattie Gladwell

Anxiety, racing

heart, nightmares,

and flashbacks

making you

relive the worst

moments of your life, over

and over again. Many of us are

familiar with the concept of posttraumatic

stress disorder (PTSD);

an anxiety condition which may

develop after being involved in,

or witnessing, traumatic events.

First identified in war veterans,

it can also be triggered by a wide

range of traumatic experiences.

But just knowing what PTSD is,

doesn’t convey the true, debilitating

reality for those experiencing it.

It’s trying to live your daily life,

not knowing when or what might

trigger those flashbacks. It’s feeling

on high alert, constantly on guard,

all the time. It’s the world moving

on around you, and trying to move

with it, only to be snapped back

and trapped reliving your darkest

moments.

Sometimes these symptoms

are a sign of PTSD, but what you

may not have heard of is another

similar condition that has some

key differences: complex posttraumatic

stress disorder (CPTSD).

WHAT IS CPTSD?

CPTSD is a form of PTSD that

is vastly different from the

traditional diagnosis. Unlike

PTSD, which can develop at any

age, CPTSD generally arises after

someone experiences longlasting,

on-going trauma from

an early age. It is also common

in people who have experienced

multiple traumas, or were

harmed by someone close.

Alongside traditional PTSD

symptoms, which can include

nightmares, anxiety, feeling

unsafe, and a lack of trust in

people, CPTSD has additional

symptoms that can often be

confused with borderline

personality disorder (BPD). >>>


These symptoms include

difficulty in controlling emotions,

feeling hostile or distrustful

towards the world, feelings of

emptiness, worthlessness, or

being damaged, feeling that

nobody understands, and having

regular suicidal thoughts. People

with CPTSD may also experience

dissociative symptoms, such

as depersonalisation or

derealisation.

WHAT ARE THE KEY

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN

CPTSD AND PTSD?

One of the main differences

between the conditions is in the

form of flashbacks. For PTSD,

these are usually quite visual,

but most people who experience

CPTSD have emotional flashbacks

instead. This is where you have

the intense feelings you originally

felt during the trauma, such as

fear, shame, sadness, or despair.

Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant

psychologist and co-founder of

the Chelsea Psychology Clinic, in

London, says the main difference

is that PTSD tends to happen as a

result of one very traumatic event,

whereas CPTSD occurs when that

trauma has been prolonged, and

typically stretched over a very

long period of time.

“CPTSD shares the same

symptoms as PTSD but typically

presents alongside additional

symptoms, too,” says Dr Touroni.

“Those affected will likely suffer

from flashbacks and distressing

images, and/or nightmares of the

trauma itself, sleeping difficulties,

problems concentrating, and

a racing heart – all common

symptoms in PTSD.

“They’ll experience difficulties

regulating their emotions,

disassociation, an unstable sense

of identity, and problems with

relationships, too.

“Because the trauma was so

prolonged, people experiencing

CPTSD will usually carry very

heavy feelings of hopelessness.

They might even believe they are

responsible for what happened to

them.”

Dr Touroni explains that because

having difficulties with regulating

emotions is a common feature

of CPTSD, people experiencing

it might find it hard to identify

or control their emotions, which

can cause problems in their

relationships – exemplified also

by feelings of mistrust.

Because the

trauma was so

prolonged, people

experiencing

CPTSD will

usually carry very

heavy feelings of

hopelessness

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO

EXPERIENCE CPTSD?

We spoke with Elena, 28, was

diagnosed with CPTSD in 2017. She

struggled with her mental health

from a young age, but her diagnosis

only came after an inpatient stay.

She was initially wrongly

diagnosed with borderline

personality disorder by a

psychiatrist, which Elena says she

knew wasn’t right. After several

months of working with her

psychotherapist, her diagnosis was

eventually corrected.

For Elena, CPTSD mainly

presents as anxiety and

depression. “It affects my life

so much,” she explains. “I have

flashbacks, my dreams and sleep

are really affected, I have no

confidence in anything I do, and

constantly seek reassurance.

“I attempted to end my life

when I was 17. I’ve been on and

off medication since I was 15.

Only after I had my complete

breakdown in 2017 has it started

to get better, and now I can live a

pretty much normal life, although

I still have flare ups. All of my

flashbacks are emotional, the only

visuals I’ll have are in my dreams.”

Elena says she feels her CPTSD

differs from PTSD, because it

wasn’t just one event that caused it.

“I have so many traumatic

memories, and flashbacks are so

common for me from so many

things,” she says. “Only now that

I have been having therapy for

years, and have been reading so

much about the science of trauma,

am I finally realising how each of

these little traumas has built up

and affected me over time. I lost

my relationship, job and home

because of it.”

Chloe, 24, also has CPTSD, which

is the result of a number of medical

traumas from the age of 16. She

says: “I was surprised when I was

diagnosed with CPTSD, because I

didn’t realise you could get it from

medical trauma. I’ve always been

quite unlucky with my health, but

56 • happiful.com • November 2019


two near-death experiences have

really affected me.

“In 2011 I fell ill, and was

misdiagnosed at the hospital. I had

pneumonia, but because it wasn’t

caught early enough it collapsed

my lung. I ended up in an intensive

care unit, and had two litres of

fluid drained from my lung.”

In 2015, Chloe fell ill again, after

experiencing symptoms such as

severe weight loss and stomach

cramps for two years, but doctors

told her it was ‘women’s troubles’.

“I ended up in hospital with

suspected appendicitis,” she says.

“I had my appendix removed, but I

continued to get worse. I was lying

in a hospital bed in horrendous

pain when I started hearing

popping sounds from my stomach.

“My large bowel had actually

started to perforate. I was rushed

to theatre, had a three-hour

operation to remove my large

intestine, and woke up with a

stoma bag. I was traumatised.”

Chloe says that now her anxiety

about her health and misdiagnosis

has increased – if she starts to

feel remotely ill she will panic

and have an emotional flashback,

giving her the same feelings she

had both times in hospital.

These experiences have changed

her personality and dependency

on people, making her more of

an emotional person, who has

difficulty controlling her moods.

“I struggle with suicidal feelings,

and feelings of hopelessness,” she

says. “I’m in therapy and working

on it, but I know I’ve got a long

road ahead of me. I’m thankful to

have a correct diagnosis so I know

what I’m working with, and so I can

understand my symptoms better.”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU

HAVE CPTSD

For anyone concerned about their

mental health, the first thing you

should do is speak to your GP, and

get in touch with a mental health

professional.

Specifically with CPTSD, Dr

Touroni says: “Trauma that has

happened over a long period of

time can sometimes take time to

unravel, so I’d encourage people to

be patient with themselves.

“Healing is very much possible,

but it can take time. When

someone has felt very powerless,

it is about building up that sense of

self and empowerment gradually.

Practise self-care as much as

possible, and do the things that

nourish you. Getting outdoors,

plenty of fresh air, grounding

techniques, and practising

mindfulness breathing exercises,

can all be really beneficial.”

For more information on CPTSD

and PTSD, and to find a

professional to support you,

visit counselling-directory.org.uk

For more from Hattie, follow

her on Twitter and Instagram

@hattiegladwell

November 2019 • happiful.com • 57


Create a plan to address stress

When did you last feel stressed? For most of us, it will have been

incredibly recent – in the past 48 hours. But the good news is you

don’t have to keep feeling this way...

Writing | Nathalie Kealy

You might be all too familiar

with symptoms of stress,

such as feeling foggy in

your mind, tense muscles,

difficulty going to sleep, waking up

feeling tired, being preoccupied

with worries about the future,

nausea, digestion issues – the list

goes on.

Stress can feel like a tricky cycle

to break free from, as often the

symptoms then add to our stress,

and we feel worse. But the good

news is there’s a simple way we can

manage the impact of stress, and

it’s all about planning.

A study by American psychologist

Robert Epstein found that above

all other techniques, planning is

the most effective tool in living

a happier and stress-free life

– it helps us gain perspective,

prioritise, and turn a daunting todo

list into manageable chunks.

As a calm and confidence coach,

completing this simple planning

tool or ‘safety plan’ is one of

the first stages I take my clients

through. It’s one of the most

practical tools you can use, helping

you to feel more in control of your

life, motivating you to achieve your

goals, and helping to maintain

balance and calm.

Encouraging people to write

down their goals, and considering

potential barriers that could come

up, offers a sense of security and

confidence that when stressful

things happen, you will be

prepared for it, using this plan as

an anchor back to a place of calm

and stability. Here’s what to do:

1 WHAT WILL HELP?

Ask yourself this question, and

write down what might help you

stick to this goal. For example:

reading, taking a bath, yoga,

talking to a friend.

When we are feeling stuck or

overwhelmed, our brain isn’t as

resourceful as usual. This can

mean we struggle to find a way

to get back on track, and can

quickly lose sight of our goal. The

simple way to get around this? Be

prepared. Think in advance about

what will help to motivate you.

2 IDENTIFY YOUR GOAL

Think about what you want to work

on, then flip it on its head and

think about the positive behaviour

you want to achieve. For example:

I want to feel less stressed.

Therefore my goal is to feel calm

and relaxed.

Spending a few minutes

physically writing down your goal

forces you to clarify exactly what

it is, and encourages it to become

a reality, meaning you will take it

more seriously. In most areas of

our lives we have goals – physical

health goals, career goals, life

goals – which can help to anchor

and motivate us. So applying that

same simple

technique to our

mental wellbeing

can have a similar effect.

You’ll need a

pen, a piece of

A4 paper and a

quiet space

3 IF AND THEN PLAN

Systematically work through those

vulnerable times in your day, or

potential barriers that might come

up, and identify what positive

behaviour you can use to ensure

these situations don’t throw you

off track. For example: if an

argument happens at work, then

I will go to my desk and listen to

music for five minutes. If I start to

overthink a situation, then I will

distract myself by going for a walk.

Note: if you’re prone to

catastrophising, this might not be

the best method for you, unless

you can really focus on the ‘then’

part. We’re all unique, and the

most effective techniques might

vary for individuals.

The course of life never did

run smooth, but remember the

more we prepare ourselves, the

less impact these situations will

have on our mood. Having all this

written down can take the pressure

off you having to think of coping

strategies in the moment when

your mind is most vulnerable.

If you’re interested in exploring this

further, Nathalie offers a free ‘find your

inner calm’ coaching consultation call.

Facebook | @valueyourmind

Instagram | @value_your_mind


Nathalie is offering 20% off

her coaching packs this month

for Happiful readers. Visit

valueyourmind.com, and use the code

HAPPIFULREADER by 17 November.


Seasonal

salad

It’s sticky, sweet, and the

perfect recipe for all occasions

Writing | Ellen Hoggard

As the days get darker, the

harder I find it becomes

to choose fresh, colourful

foods for mealtimes.

When there’s a chill in the air,

I tend to lean towards one-pot,

warming meals such as stews and

soups. But this year I’m wanting

something different. While

summer seems a distant memory,

I want to cling on to the fruits and

vegetables, eating the rainbow in

abundance.

That said, the change in season

brings with it a whole host of

in-season and local produce.

Shopping seasonally and

experimenting with new recipes

can be incredibly enjoyable, as well

as beneficial for the environment.

So as we say goodbye to the sweet

strawberries and beautifully ripe

citrus fruits, we can turn to the

equally as delicious, autumn

vegetables: butternut squash and

parsnips.

This month, you'll find a recipe

for a sticky and sweet winter salad,

featuring two of my favourite root

vegetables, with a special summer

twist. Put away the gravy – this

recipe is light, but filling. It’s sweet,

yet savoury, and is perfect for

lunch or dinner.

STICKY WINTER SALAD

Serves 4

• 1 butternut squash

• 2 red onions

• 4 parsnips

• 3 tbsp olive oil

• 1–2 tbsp honey or agave syrup

• 1 small ciabatta

• 225g spinach

• 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

• 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Optional: crumble feta cheese over

the top to serve. If you want to

make the salad more substantial,

add chicken or tofu.

Method

• Preheat the oven to 220 degrees,

gas mark 7.

• Slice the butternut squash into

thin wedges, and add to a large

roasting tin. Slice the onions

and parsnips, and add to the tin.

Drizzle with half the olive oil, and

season.

• Roast for 25 minutes. Remove

from the oven, and drizzle with

honey. Tear the ciabatta and add

to the tin. Roast for a further 5–10

minutes until toasted.

• In a large bowl prepare the

spinach. Remove the vegetables

and add to the bowl. In a small

jug, whisk the vinegar, mustard

and remaining oil. Season to

taste. Add to the salad and toss.

Serve warm with a crumbling of

feta cheese.


Find a

nutritionist

near you at

nutritionistresource.org.uk

OUR EXPERT SAYS…

This wonderful seasonal

salad will offer you many

vitamins and minerals,

alongside a number of antiinflammatory

properties.

Due to the variety of vegetables,

this salad is high in fibre and has

a rich nutritional profile. The

combination of fibrous vegetables

with olive oil promotes gut

motility, and aids digestion, thus

improving bowel movements,

while also supporting the growth

of healthy bacteria in the gut.

The butternut squash, parsnips

and spinach are all rich in

potassium, which helps to lower

blood pressure. Plus, the high

vitamin C content in both squash

and parsnips will not only help

your skin glow, but will also boost

your immune system.

The salad boasts a number of

superb anti-inflammatory foods,

such as red onions – which contain

twice as many antioxidants as any

other onion. They help the body

produce cysteine, which can aid

detoxification and improve fat

metabolism.

The spinach, which contains an

abundance of vitamin K, helps to

protect our nerves, and contributes

to proper brain function.

A staple of the Mediterranean

diet, olive oil has a high polyphenol

content, making it another

significant anti-inflammatory

ingredient.

Josephine (Beanie) Robinson is a nutritional

therapist, yoga and meditation

teacher and co-founder of

The Health Space, helping

individuals find the time

to take their health and

wellbeing seriously. Find out

more at thehealth-space.com


Going with your gut

What’s your first thought when you hear ‘menu planning’? For many, it might spark

reminders of meal prep, and a rigorous, repeated cycle of food. But the truth is you

can bring the magic back to mealtimes, and make life a little easier for yourself, by

combining intuitive eating and menu planning

Writing | Laura Thomas


For many of us who’ve

been caught up in the

diet cycle for most

of our lives, menu

planning summons imagery of

sad Tupperware boxes, filled with

insipid-looking chicken, oversteamed

broccoli, and cauliflower

that has the audacity to call itself

‘rice’. It can feel regimented and

restrictive, and the thought of it

might bum you out a bit.

But on the flip side, intuitive

eating, can feel like freedom from

the rules. After all, the whole

point of it is to reject dogmatic diet

rules, reconnect with the signals

your body is sending you, and

find pleasure and satisfaction in

what you’re eating. That’s the short

version anyway!

The longer version is that

intuitive eating is a framework of

10 guiding principles that help you

develop a healthier relationship

with food and your body. It’s a

process of moving away from,

and completely deconstructing,

food rules. It’s getting away from

external influences on what

you should or shouldn’t eat, and

instead making food choices based

on internal cues – hunger and

fullness, satiety, but also pleasure,

and how food makes you feel.

Above all, it’s a connection

between your brain and body. It

helps you to understand emotional

eating, and develop new skills for

looking after yourself. It brings all

these things together with intuitive

movement and gentle nutrition –

instead of punitive exercise just for

burning calories.

So, what if you’re working

through the principles of intuitive

eating and finding you’re craving

The Food Foundation’s Broken Plate report estimates that the poorest

10% of UK households would need to spend 74% of their disposable

income on food to meet the Eatwell Guide costs. This compares to only

6% in the richest 10%. Food security is not available to everyone in this

country. If you are able to, please consider donating to, or volunteering

with your local food bank.

a little bit of structure? Or you

can’t afford to buy whatever you

fancy for lunch? Is menu planning

antithetical to the flexibility

and adaptability baked into the

principles of intuitive eating?

The short answer is no. But it is

important to check in with your

motivations for doing this – to take

care of yourself, or out of fear?

This is something that comes

up regularly with our clients at

the London Centre for Intuitive

Eating, so we’ve put together some

ideas on how you can approach

menu planning without triggering

diet mentality.

Of course, if menu planning does

feel too similar to ‘meal prep’,

or you just don’t want to, then

you don’t have to; it’s your call.

Intuitive eating is about finding

what works best for you and

there is no single ‘correct’ way of

approaching it. Stay curious, and

if things don’t go to plan, offer

yourself some compassion; we’re

all human. What would it be like if

we were kind to ourselves, instead

of beating ourselves up?

Menu planning can be a useful

tool if you’re on a budget. However,

I appreciate that not everyone has

the economic security to to get

exactly what they want, or enough

to eat. If you’re in this position,

the Trussell Trust is a nationwide

network of food banks that can

provide emergency food parcels,

and connect you with support

services.

For those looking for a little

gentle, supportive structure

around menu planning, read on...

Step 1

Before you get started, here are

some things to consider. Take what

works for you, leave the rest.

• Check in with your intentions

behind menu planning – is it

coming from a place of self-care,

or self-control and fear?

• It can be helpful to reframe this

as your menu for the week – not

a ‘plan’ that you have to stick to.

Remember to consider which

days or meals you may be eating

out, or have to pick something up.

• Think about balancing your meals

– this isn’t a hard and fast rule, but

a little gentle nutritional guidance

to help cover your bases: grain,

protein, fibre, fat, and calcium.

Don’t worry if you don’t check all

boxes at each meal, just notice

how it feels. How are your mood

and energy levels when you skip a

grain (bread, pasta etc.) at lunch?

Is the afternoon a slog?

• Don’t forget a fun food – meals are

something to look forward to and

enjoy.

• Think about playing with flavours,

textures, temperatures, and get

plenty of variety. Think about >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 63


which type of cuisine you might

want to experiment with, and

consider adding a new recipe to

your repertoire.

• Look for inspiration from your

favourite chefs, home cooks,

and recipe books rather than

‘clean eaters’, which might leave

you feeling unsatisfied. It can be

worth bookmarking some of your

favourite recipes.

• Include quick and easy options

for days when you don’t have

the time or energy to cook from

scratch – ready meals in the

freezer, or a cook-at-home pizza

with a salad. And don’t forget

the humble beans on toast with

cheese on top – economical,

quick, balanced, and satisfying.

• Give yourself permission to be

flexible – if your friend asks

for a last-minute dinner date

(assuming you want to go),

you can shuffle things about.

Ultimately, intuitive eating is

about being flexible so you don’t

miss out on other important

aspects of your life that dieting

and obsessing about weight can

often steal from you.

• Your menu is about being kind to

yourself, not something to beat

yourself up about if things don’t

go to plan. That curry you batchcooked

can be thrown in the

freezer for another day.

• Don’t forget to schedule in some

self-care each day – it can be

low-key, such as going for a walk

or listening to a podcast, or less

exciting but important stuff, such

as doing laundry, going to the

doctor, or simply resting.

Step 2

Here are some questions that might be helpful for you when planning

your menu for the week. These help you focus on aspects of the meal

other than worrying about the minutiae of macros, calories, or other diet-y

distractions.

Menu for the week of

– How’s the weather looking this week? Do I want something warming or cooling,

or a mixture of options?

– Which flavours and textures am I craving? Salty, spicy, sweet, umami, creamy,

crunchy, gooey, flaky, wholesome, comforting, refreshing?

– How’s my energy level and time availability? Do I want to cook from scratch, or

do I need some more convenient options?

– Which days am I busy and need to pick something up on the go, or have plans to

go out to eat? When might I want to pack a lunch?

– Is there a specific food I’ve been craving I could add into my rotation this week?

– Can I double up any of my recipes to stash in the freezer, or have as leftovers?

– Breakfast ideas for this week:

– Snack ideas for this week:

– Main meal ideas for this week:

– Fun food and dessert ideas for this week:

– A new meal, dish, or snack I want to try:

64 • happiful.com • November 2019


Remember that

your menu is

about being kind

to yourself, not

something to beat

yourself up about

if things don’t go

to plan

Step 3

Fill out as much or as little of the table as feels good to you:

Mon Tues Weds Thurs Fri Sat Sun

Breakfast

Snack

Lunch

Snack

Dinner

Snack/

dessert

Self-care

activity for

today

You can follow Laura on Instagram @laurathomasphd, or download her podcast, ‘Don’t

Salt My Game’, on laurathomasphd.co.uk. Laura’s book, ‘Just Eat It’, is available now.

November 2019 • happiful.com • 65


£57

£40

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AT THE CHECKOUT

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using code NOVHAPPI at shop.happiful.com

Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing, using code NOVHAPPI, which expires on 19 Dec 2019. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com


TRUE LIFE

Trauma and

anxiety kept me

constantly on edge

After getting support for his PTSD and anxiety,

Jack’s mental health was improving, but

something was still off. It was in transforming his

mindset that his life really changed...

Writing | Jack Walton

Sitting on the

edge of my bed

one night in

2013, it felt like

a particularly

dark one. It wasn’t the

first time, and it definitely

wouldn’t be the last, where

I said both physically to

myself, and mentally, that

I didn’t want to wake up

the next morning. If life

was to continue like this

for me, I didn’t want to be

a part of it.

Fast forward six years

and things couldn’t be

more different. I’m beyond

grateful that I finally

reached the light at the

end of a very dark, and

sometimes lonely, tunnel.

Growing up with a single

parent wasn’t always easy;

my dad left when I was just

six years old. I couldn’t

totally comprehend the

enormity of the situation,

and although I never had

a happy relationship with

him, I never expected

this. This experience and

situation had a lasting

effect on me for a long

time to come.

Overall, primary school

and my childhood was a

happy time – I never really

wanted for anything,

and had a nice circle of

friends. But everything

came crashing down to

earth when I started high

school in 2009.

It was apparent from the

off-set that I was different

in some way – I wasn’t

openly gay then, and

certainly hadn’t found

myself. Realising I was

different and not like the

other boys was a pretty

damaging experience. I

wasn’t close to accepting

anything – at the time, I

just wanted to fit in, to be

like all the others.

The bullying wasn’t

instant, but as the years

progressed it got worse

and worse, to the point

where I’d dread going

in each day, as it never

seemed to stop. I felt

powerless and wanted

to be somewhere where

I was accepted, where

I wasn’t tormented for

something I couldn’t

control.

Although the bullying

was never physical, I

think verbal can be worse

sometimes. When you

go somewhere every day

that doesn’t make you feel

good, where you feel you

can’t express your true

self, it’s not long before

it has a knock-on effect

on your mental health,

and sadly, that’s what

happened for me.

Between 2009 and 2010,

when I was around 13, it

started with anxiety. I’d

be constantly on edge,

and scared of the smallest

things. Because of this,

most days I’d feel so tired,

exhausted even, I made

no real effort with my

schoolwork because I had

zero motivation. I didn’t

have any real friends

either. Upon reflection,

I can see now that the

reason for this was down

to the wall I built up; I

didn’t speak to people >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 67


I’m beyond grateful

I was accepted for

the person I am

about my mental health

or the way I was feeling,

which resulted in me

being isolated a lot. I

would spend lunchtimes

with my sister; she was

my best friend in school,

and a comfort.

My mental health got to

its worst place in 2010. In

the summer of that year,

my house got broken into.

It was very traumatic, and

although initially I felt OK,

the feelings were delayed,

and didn’t surface until a

few months later. Then

just before Christmas, my

nan passed away, which

nobody in the family saw

coming. It honestly felt

like the world had ended.

I can’t even put into words

the emotions I felt.

As 2011 progressed, it

was clear I wasn’t OK.

I developed obsessive

Jack with his friend Vic

behaviours where I’d

constantly check locks,

look outside my house to

make sure nobody who I

considered a threat was

there, along with being

unable to leave the house

to even go to the shops – it

all happened so fast and

felt so extreme. I would

cry pretty much daily,

and was convinced I had

OCD. But after a doctor’s

appointment it turns out it

wasn’t that, but something

else...

I was officially diagnosed

with post-traumatic stress

disorder (PTSD), along

with anxiety. I never

relaxed, I felt constantly

on edge, I developed a

neck twitch and honestly,

things weren’t good at all.

I didn’t recognise the Jack

I saw before me.

I received counselling

around this time from

the NHS’s Child and

Adolescent Mental Health

Services (CAMHS),

which helped a lot, and I

slowly started to develop

strategies to improve.

My mind was in such a

destructive place that I

had to take baby steps.

With time I began to

recover, which I realised

when I finally stopped

doing the obsessive

rituals, and took it as a

sign I was improving.

Things progressed well

in the coming years. I

started college, and away

from the previous years of

bullying, I started being

myself. It was such a

strange yet freeing feeling

at first. I came out to my

mum in 2014, which felt

like the biggest weight off

my shoulders. I’m beyond

grateful I was accepted for

the person I am.

Although I was doing

fairly well, my mindset

hadn’t improved. I was

always a negative person,

68 • happiful.com • November 2019


and would be instantly

sceptical when anything

good did happen. It was

self-sabotage at its finest,

but you don’t realise that

in the moment, do you?

I was always chasing

the external, obsessed

with spending money on

clothes and material items

to fill the empty void. But I

was fighting a losing battle

– if only I could have seen

that then.

Fast forward to 2016 and

my life changed forever.

In June of that year I was

in bed with a bad cold and

temperature. Something

strange happened; it

was like an out-of-body

experience where I heard

what sounded like me

speaking. It was a healthier

and happier version of me,

who said that I needed to

change. I can only describe

it like something clicking

within me, for the first

time in forever, I stepped

back and reflected. I

could see how damaging

my thoughts were, how

unhealthy my mindset was,

and I knew that something

had to give.

Did anything change

overnight? Of course not,

but little by little, my life

began to change for the

better. At that point, I

couldn’t even look in the

mirror without hating

what I saw, so I started

researching self-love. I

knew I needed to love,

accept and embrace

the person I am,

which gradually began

happening.

My mental illness

had been affecting me

physically, and I’d been

experiencing IBS, but

as my mental health

improved the IBS became

more manageable. Now,

three years later in 2019,

I can happily say that it

hardly affects me at all –

changing my mindset and

working on becoming my

best self has made such a

difference.

There aren’t any fasttrack

passes to recovery

– it’s been daily work and

those negative thoughts

still pop up, but now I

don’t believe them like I

used to. It’s finding what

works for you – I meditate

daily, visualise what I want

to achieve, write monthly

goals and eat healthily. Of

course, this way of life isn’t

for everyone, but for me,

it both saved and changed

my life in every possible

way. I’m now a mental

health advocate, and my

biggest achievement so far

is that I now have my own

self-published book, Being

the Best You, which details

my experiences.

If there’s just one

takeaway I can give

anyone reading this, know

that no matter how dark

times get, how it can feel

impossible, I used to think

that I’d never find the light

at the end of the tunnel

either, but I did, and you

can too. I now see I have

a purpose; I have to turn

all of this into a positive,

as a tool to help others,

because when it comes

down to the very core

of it all, we all deserve

happiness.

Jack’s book, ‘Being the

Best You’, is available

on Amazon now.

OUR EXPERT SAYS

Jack’s inspirational story is

one of growth, realisation,

and change. He had to deal

with many challenges in

his young life, and so often

when that happens we just

try to get through the day.

But this doesn’t give us the

chance to process what is

really going on. For Jack

this surfaced in his PTSD.

Importantly though, Jack

sought help. He began to

grow stronger, realising

he was in charge of his

own mind. Changing our

mindset and the way we

think really can – and

does – transform lives.

Jack is now on a positive

path, sharing

his story

and helping

others in the

process.

Rachel Coffey |BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

November 2019 • happiful.com • 69


Mindfulness

in motion

It’s been practised by people around the world since it was first developed in

13th-century China – but when you consider the wellbeing benefits that tai chi

boosts, there’s no surprise it’s stood the test of time. Here, Kathryn Wheeler

tries a tai chi class for the first time, and learns more about the unique way that

coming together to take part in activities can boost our mental health

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

After just a short drive

from the Happiful office,

I’m the first one to arrive

at a small community

centre in Crowthorne, Berkshire.

I’m here to take part in a tai chi

session hosted by Sport in Mind

– an independent mental health

charity that harnesses the power

of sport to support our mental

health.

I’m a total tai chi newbie, and

the first thing that comes to mind

when I think of the martial art

is the opening scene of the 2003

film Calender Girls. Today, Dame

Helen Mirren is nowhere to

be seen, and the community

hall has a different vibe from

the dramatic hills of North

Yorkshire where the classic

feel-good film

was shot – but, as I soon found out,

the experience was about to be no

less invigorating.

A gentle martial art that flows

slowly through a series of poses

and movements, tai chi has been

practised since the 13th century.

Though studies are still in their

infancy, research published in

Frontiers in Psychiatry found that

tai chi can effectively be used to

regulate our moods, relieve the

effects of anxiety and depression,

and it is often recommended as a

low-impact exercise.

Before the class begins, I catch

up with Calum Pettitt, volunteer

coordinator at Sport in Mind.

He tells me that their sessions

– that run across the south east

– are about having a safe place

to express yourself and enjoy

taking part in sport. The charity

was first established when its

founder, Neil Harris, created a

sports programme to support a

friend who was going through

a difficult period with his

mental health. For Neil, it was

all about supporting one another,

and having fun while doing it.

As people begin to arrive for the

class, I already get a sense that

we’re in this together.

The class begins with a series

of very gentle warm-ups,

while serene music plays

in the background. Once

stretched, we begin with a standing

pose. With our legs hip-width

apart, and our hands held

loosely in front of us, we close

our eyes and hold this position

for five minutes, breathing gently.

70 • happiful.com • November 2019


TRY THIS

AT HOME

Coming into the class, I

thought I was pretty relaxed. It

wasn’t until the instructor gently

prompted us to let go of the tension

in our bodies that I realised how

intensely I was clenching my jaw

and shoulders.

Five minutes may seem a long

time to stand in one position, but

the time quickly slipped by, and I

found myself reluctant to open my

eyes again, like I was creeping out

from under a comforting duvet.

Tai chi is not something you can

master in one afternoon. It takes

time, dedication, and patience.

That said, even a beginner’s

attempt at the sequences was

incredibly grounding. As the room

slowly flowed into each position, it

felt like mindfulness in motion.

We move around the room in a

series of soft actions, often starting

from the hands, but extending

through the entire body. The

flow comes more naturally with

every repetition, and it begins to

feel like dancing in slow motion.

Afterwards, we paused as the

group stood in a circle to assess

our progress. The instructor

told us about a tree in his dad’s

garden. When he was young,

he could fit his hands around

the trunk, but without him even

noticing, today he can barely

get his arms around it. The

point being, so often we don’t

notice the progress that we’re

making every day – it’s too

small. It’s only when we look

Stand with your feet

hips’-width apart. Bend at

the knees slightly, but not so much

that you feel strained. Lift your arms

at your elbows and, keeping your

hands flat and turned up, hold them

at waist level. Try setting a timer for

five minutes, or stay here for as long

as is comfortable, allowing your

mind to clear or gently wander as

you reconnect with your body.

back over the years that we can

see how far we’ve come.

For anyone who wants or needs

it, tai chi is a method to align

your body and mind. The gentle

exercise will get your endorphins

flowing, but it’s the controlled

pace and grounding in meditative

techniques that will leave you calm

and revitalised.

Learn more about Sport in Mind

and the services they offer by visiting

sportinmind.org

November 2019 • happiful.com • 71


The healing power of scent

Could aromatherapy be the self-care tool you need?

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Taking care of yourself is

an integral part of your

wellness, and the brilliant

thing about self-care is

there are a hundred different ways

to practise it. Complementary

therapies can be a great way to

up your self-care game – and an

easy one you can try at home is

aromatherapy.

Using essential oils from plants,

flowers and herbs to assist your

body’s natural healing abilities,

aromatherapy can energise

you, or encourage you to relax,

depending on which oils you use.

Aromatherapist Louisa Pini

explains: “Aromatherapy has such

a powerful effect because it taps

into our limbic system. This part

of the brain deals with emotions,

memories and stimulation, and

can even influence hormonal

responses. Aromatherapy oils are

able to bypass the blood-brain

barrier through the olfactory

system. Once inhaled, essential

oils can stimulate memories,

moods, and feelings.”

If you’re looking for support

with a specific concern, you may

want to visit an aromatherapist.

They’ll take your medical history

and create the right blends to

support you, often offering

relaxing aromatherapy massages.

Be sure to tell them about any

medications you’re taking, and

speak to your GP before trying any

new forms of therapy.

HOW TO TRY AROMATHERAPY

AT HOME

A simple way of using essential

oils is through an oil burner

or diffuser. “Add three to five

drops of essential oil to some

water, and enjoy the diffusion

for 30–60 minutes,” Louisa says.

“Remember that essential oils

are powerful, and are directly

absorbed into your body and

those around you – don’t diffuse

them all day long.”

If you don’t have a diffuser or

oil burner handy, Louisa says you

can always put a couple of drops

of oil on a tissue, and simply

inhale as and when you need.

Alternatively, you can

use essential oils as an

aromatherapy bath blend. “Use

up to six drops of essential oil in

10ml of a base carrier oil – like

apricot kernel, sweet almond or

jojoba for example – and then

add it to warm running water.

If you just add essential oils

directly to your bath, they will

sit on top of the water and could

potentially irritate your skin

when they come into contact

with it.”

Louisa explains: “The only two

essential oils that are safe to

apply directly to your skin are

lavender and tea tree, but even

then, be cautious if you have very

sensitive skin.” So it’s best to add

drops to a carrier oil if you want

to use it on the skin.

72 • happiful.com • November 2019


Bath blend to relax and de-stress

Louisa shares an aromatherapy

recipe to help you unwind:

• 10ml of carrier oil like organic

jojoba oil

Ingredients:

• 2 drops of ylang ylang

• 3 drops of lavender

• 3 drops of bergamot

Method:

Mix all of the above together, and

add to a warm bath. Soak and

relax for at least 15 minutes.

Find out more about Louisa Pini at

justbenatural.co.uk, and to learn more about

aromatherapy, visit therapy-directory.org.uk

SCENTS TO LIFT YOUR MOOD

If you’re looking for something

to help you feel uplifted and calm

during the winter months, Louisa

recommends bergamot which has

been shown to reduce anxiety in

studies.

“Another lovely oil that can be

suitably warming with winter on

its way is sweet orange oil,” she

adds. “Its pleasant, sweet scent

is gently uplifting, and combines

well with bergamot for a powerful

mood enhancer.”

If it’s relaxation you’re after,

Louise suggests ylang ylang or

lavender oil.

“Ylang ylang oil acts on the

parasympathetic nervous system,

and slows your heart rate and

breathing, which in turn can help

to lower blood pressure. When

everything is racing and you feel

panicked or anxious, pop a drop

of this in your oil burner or on to

a tissue and take a few deep, slow

breaths.

“Lavender oil has wonderful

sedative properties, and is

recommended to help you sleep.

It has a calming and soothing

scent, and a recent study in Turkey

revealed that lavender essential

oil increased quality of sleep and

reduced anxiety levels in patients.”

Aromatherapy can be a beautiful

way to tune in to your needs. Try

different scents and combinations,

and see what feels good to you.

November 2019 • happiful.com • 73


Crisis

averted

You don’t have to wait until stress and worries reach a crisis point before

seeking help. It’s time to prioritise ongoing nurturing and protection of

our mental health and wellbeing – and here are seven simple steps to

get started...

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Everyone knows the

importance of taking care

of our physical health –

going to the gym, or taking

a walk, and nourishing ourselves

properly. We know we have to look

after our bodies to keep ourselves

feeling healthy. So it’s strange

that for many of us, maintaining

and protecting our mental health

doesn’t always factor into the same

equation.

All too often, we don’t pause to

consider our emotional health

and wellbeing until we are already

starting to see a negative impact

– be it on our stress levels, the

quality of our sleep, or our ability

to maintain a healthy work-life

balance. But, while when we’re

physically unwell our symptoms

may go away within a few days or

weeks, with mental illness,

the symptoms can be harder to

spot – and often won’t go away on

their own.

By continually protecting and

nurturing your mental health and

wellbeing, you can try to address

issues before they escalate. It’s

maintenance, upkeep, care and

attention, so we can hopefully

prevent reaching burnout, or

a crisis. It’s no guarantee, but

looking after yourself to support

your emotional health can only

be a positive thing. And the good

news? You can start right now.

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR MENTAL

HEALTH AND WELLBEING

It’s a situation that happens dayin,

day-out; someone asks: “How

are you doing?” The chances

are, you may have given the

automatic response of: “I’m fine,”

or “Can’t complain.”

It’s easy to dismiss how we’re

really feeling, to assume others

are only asking out of politeness.

But there are people who truly

care, and who would be more

than happy to listen or offer a

helping hand if you’re struggling.

It can be tough, but try taking a

step back and ask yourself: “How

am I really doing?” Evaluating

your overall sense of wellbeing

can help you to pick up on all

7 WAYS TO

PROTECT

YOUR MENTAL

HEALTH

those small

things that

might not

have seemed

like such a big

deal, but may

actually be having a big impact on

your overall stress levels.

IDENTIFY THE WARNING SIGNS

When we’re in the midst of

things, it can be tricky to identify

the signs that something might

be wrong, and some symptoms

of common mental health

concerns, such as anxiety and

stress, are easy to overlook.

Burnout has become a popular

buzzword in the media, yet

many of us don’t know the signs

74 • happiful.com • November 2019


encompass so much more.

A sustainable, everyday

self-care routine may

include making time to be

active, ensuring you get

enough sleep, or spending

time catching up with a

colleague over coffee.

Life coach Nikki Emerton

describes it as “a way of

giving back to ourselves in

the form of doing activities

that fuel us, and that are

just for us”. She explains

that you should take time

to acknowledge what

you’re already doing as

self-care, and recognise

any gaps you might have

(e.g. not getting enough

sleep). You can then make

a plan to improve this.

“Once you’ve set your

plan in motion, the next

step is to hold yourself

accountable by measuring

your success,” Nikki says.

You could do this using

a calendar, diary, or an

app on your phone. By

checking in with yourself

to watch out for. Exhaustion or

insomnia, trouble concentrating,

or increased forgetfulness, as

well as increased levels of anxiety

or anger, can all be indicators

– alongside a host of physical

symptoms.

Keep yourself informed and

aware by reading up on signs of

common mental health issues on

sites such as nhs.uk,

counselling-directory.org.uk,

and mind.org.uk

CREATE A SUSTAINABLE

SELF-CARE ROUTINE

Self-care isn’t selfish, and

certainly not something to feel

guilty about. Making time to look

after ourselves physically and

mentally can help us to feel more

prepared to face life’s challenges,

and be a vital part of caring for

our wellbeing.

Although many of us may think

of candles and long baths when

we hear the term ‘self-care’, it can

“All too often, we don’t

pause to consider our

emotional health and

wellbeing until we are

already starting to see

a negative impact”

at a future date, it’s a chance to

reflect and see if you need to make

adjustments to your plan. >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 75


EXPLORE COMPLEMENTARY

AND ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

How we approach our health and

wellbeing can be just as varied as

the problems we experience. For

some, taking a holistic approach

can benefit them physically

and emotionally, as treatments

often focus on treating the whole

person, rather than specific

symptoms.

Complementary treatments

or alternative therapies such as

acupressure or Bowen therapy can

help with stress. Aromatherapy

may be able to help with anxiety,

insomnia, and even chronic pain

– perhaps have an aromatherapy

massage session, or try one of our

suggested blends back on p70.

Hypnotherapy has also shown

positive results for numerous

mental health and wellbeing

issues, including helping you

become more emotionally and

physically calm, gain a better

night’s sleep, or even recognise

and overcome obsessive thoughts

and compulsive behaviours.

There’s no right or wrong way to

seek help and support, so if one

method doesn’t work for you, don’t

be discouraged. There are many

options out there!

LOOK AFTER YOUR MIND

AND BODY

Being active can help us to feel

good about ourselves and the

world around us. Physical activity

can help protect against anxiety,

combat symptoms of mild

depression, and boost our selfesteem.

Fitting in 150 minutes of

moderate aerobic activity around

a busy schedule can be daunting.

If you struggle with using that gym

membership or making it to your

local park run, it could be worth

considering a class such as Pilates

or yoga. By committing to attend

regularly with a friend, this can

give you an added motivation and

support boost.

Eating a balanced, healthy diet

can have a big impact on our

wellbeing, too. Ensuring that what

we eat is balanced can help us to

feel less tired, manage stress, and

may even help with symptoms of

depression.

“Hypnotherapy can

help you become

more emotionally

and physically

calm, gain a better

night’s sleep, or

even recognise

and overcome

obsessive thoughts

and compulsive

behaviours”

FIND RELAXATION TECHNIQUES

THAT WORK FOR YOU

Relaxation is a very personal

preference. An introvert may

find an evening with a good

book is just what the doctor

ordered, while an extrovert may

feel recharged after a night out

with friends. Exploring different

relaxation techniques can help

you to identify which methods

have the most benefit for you.

Mindfulness techniques can

offer a gentle form of relaxation.

From mindful breathing and

meditation, to mindful colouring,

there are many ways you can


apply mindfulness at work, during

your commute, and even while

planning big life events.

Taking up a hobby can allow

you to add a moment of calm

and another form of relaxation to

your daily routine. Gardening and

birding can have some surprisingly

positive impacts on your mental

health, with an overwhelming 80%

of us reporting feeling happier

after visiting gardens. If you don’t

have a plot of land to call your

own, you can still gain many of

the benefits of gardening through

house and office plants.

CONSIDER TALKING

TO AN EXPERT

Speaking with a qualified

therapist can offer the chance to

open up about what is worrying

you in a safe, judgement-free

environment. This can help

us to recognise not only what

may be causing us distress, but

also enable us to work through

problems, and find solutions

we may not have otherwise

considered.

There are many options with

therapy, so you can find a method

that works best for you – face-toface,

over the phone, online, or

group sessions. A counsellor can

help you identify the key areas

you want to work on, and offer

advice on what type of therapy

will best support you. But if you’d

like to do your own research, you

can read the National Institute

of Health and Care Excellence’s

(NICE) recommendations for

therapies to help with different

mental health concerns.

‘From mindful breathing and meditation, to mindful colouring, there

are many ways you can apply mindfulness at work, during your

commute, and even while planning big life events’

Nikki Emerton is a life coach,

passionate about helping you take

back charge of your life. Find her on

lifecoach-directory.org.uk


How to get your confidence

back after anxiety

Anxiety attacks can often crush your self-confidence – and that can make you

feel like you’re trapped in a vicious circle. But don’t despair, you can break

free from the damaging cycle, and return to your very best

Writing | Will Aylward

Anxiety and selfconfidence:

how are they

related? In my work as a

life coach, many of my

clients tell me that since living

with higher than normal levels

of anxiety, they feel their selfconfidence

has been knocked.

This makes sense, because

living with high levels of anxiety

causes us to feel limited, to doubt

ourselves, and our capabilities.

This feeling of limitation lowers

our self-confidence, which only

adds to feelings of anxiety, as

we feel less sure of our ability to

handle anxious situations.

But there is hope. We needn’t stay

in this cycle. Here are some ways

to get your confidence back after

anxiety.

1 ACCESS WHERE YOU ARE AND

WHERE YOU WANT TO BE

Start by asking yourself, right now,

where would you score your level

of self-confidence out of 10? (With

10 being high, and one being low.)

It’s important to be compassionate,

and not to judge your answers.

Next, imagine what higher levels

of self-confidence look like for

you. What would greater levels of

self-confidence allow you to do?

Write down some examples of

behaviours, habits, and feelings

that your most confident self

would have. Feel excited knowing

more self-confidence is not only

possible, but you deserve it.

2 CHALLENGE YOURSELF

TO TAKE ACTION

Using your self-confidence vision

to inspire you, take action and

lovingly challenge yourself. When

my self-confidence hit rock-bottom

after anxiety, I got fearful about

bumping into people I knew, being

caught off guard, and having to

make small talk.

Aware of this, one day I set myself

a challenge. Every day, for 30

days, I would go to the busy local

supermarket where there was

always a high chance of seeing

someone I knew. If I met someone,

I’d have to say "hey" and make

small talk. Part of me was scared.

Part of me was excited. By day 30,

my self-confidence had grown

tremendously, because I’d moved

towards my fears, instead of away

from them.

Remember to start small, and, as

your confidence grows, so will the

size of the challenges you set for

yourself.

3 BECOME A CHEERLEADER FOR

YOURSELF

Make it a habit to praise yourself.

Every night before bed, stand in

front of a mirror, look yourself in

the eyes, and (silently or out loud)

praise yourself for one thing you

did well that day.

Make self-praise familiar.

Become a cheerleader for yourself.

When you notice feelings of

anxiety, which is only to be

expected as your comfort zone

and confidence grows, reassure

yourself by saying: ‘I can do this.’

You may like to write down a list

of other phrases, affirmations, or

‘power thoughts’ you’d like to say

to yourself throughout the day. You

could even set silent alarms on

your phone, so these empowering

words pop up for you to read.

Living with high levels

of anxiety causes us to

feel limited, to doubt

ourselves, and our

capabilities


4 FOCUS ON TRIGGERING THE

‘REST AND DIGEST’ RESPONSE

During ‘fight or flight’, our

sympathetic nervous system helps

us face the threat by increasing

our heart rate, breathing rate, and

blood pressure.

Once our mind feels the threat

has been eliminated, our blood

pressure, heart, and breathing

rate return to normal, our muscles

relax, and processes such as

digestion – which stop during ‘fight

or flight’ – are resumed. This is

because of the parasympathetic

nervous system, or ‘rest and digest’

response, which works to restore

balance in the body.

Each day, create time for self-care

– which will trigger your ‘rest and

digest’ response. How you do this

is down to you, but could include

meditation, yoga, or breath-work.

5 DON’T BE AFRAID TO

ASK FOR HELP

Remember: you are not alone.

Share your thoughts, feelings,

and challenges, with friends and

family, and ask for their support.

They, too, will want to see you back

feeling more confident again.

There are support groups, online

and offline, for people on the same

journey as you, wishing to rebuild

their confidence after anxiety.

There are also skilled professionals

who can help you understand the

roots of the anxiety, and share

tools to make you feel better

equipped when life gets stressful.

Will Aylward helps people around

the world to get their freedom back,

and works as an online life coach

and rapid transformational therapy

(RTT) practitioner. Learn more at

willaylward.com

November 2019 • happiful.com • 79


D R I V I N G

Luke Ambler is a man on a mission. From

encouraging other men to talk in his role

as founder of suicide prevention charity,

Andy’s Man Club, to motivational speaking

and planning adventures for his family, he’s

always moving forwards – and with intent.

As Luke shares with Happiful, it takes work to

get what you want, and he’s prepared to put

in the hard graft

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

C H A N G E

Recently, in just one week,

660 men walked through

the doors of Andy’s Man

Club meetings, wanting

to talk, listen, and share

their experiences. For many of

these men, the meetings are lifechanging

and, for some,

life-saving.

The club was named after Luke

Ambler’s brother-in-law, Andy,

who died by suicide in 2016.

Witnessing his family’s grief

spurred Luke on to do something

to make a difference, and now the

suicide prevention charity holds

free meetings for men across the

UK every week.

What began as an informal

support network in the North of

England, has now spread across

the country, with meetings all

the way from Devon to Scotland.

The number of attendees only

continues to grow, as do advocates

for the user-led movement.

In early September, club

facilitators took to the streets as

part of a tour across 22 locations,

reaching out to men who may not

have been aware of the charity, or

who might need encouragement to

take their first steps towards help.

It was an epic undertaking –

but for Luke, the most powerful

element of the day was the faceto-face

conversations. “As big as

it [Andy’s Man Club] is now, I’m

still about the grass roots,” Luke

says. “Too many people get bogged

down with the big stuff – I think

the little stuff is the big stuff. The

conversations in the street are what

makes a man want to come to the

club, because he’s seen you and

knows that it’s real.”

The sense of it being ‘real’ is

greatly helped by club attendees

being at the frontline of spreading

the word about Andy’s Man Club

– an achievement that isn’t lost

on Luke. “What’s lovely is that all

the guys who came out on tour,

they’ve all walked through those

meeting doors in need at one time,

and now they are facilitators. It’s

unbelievable.”

Each time I speak with Luke I’m

blown away by his energy, drive and

generosity of spirit – but mostly by

his ability to be completely honest

and unfiltered about his work, and

personal life.


In 2017, Luke had the honour of

sharing his campaign #ItsOkToTalk

with Prince Charles

Luke is passionate about making

positive change, having worked

on himself after a childhood in

which he often felt like he had to

“be fake” to fit in. Later, he had

a career in professional rugby

where he says there was still an

element of pretence in how he

presented himself and interacted

with others.

Change happened for Luke –

before the creation of Andy’s

Man Club, but after some dark

times following the end of his

rugby career, which resulted in

him being arrested after a night

out. But it was the beginning of

a new path for Luke; one which

came with a shift in perspective

and the will to embrace who he

authentically is. It was a process

that took time and effort.

Working at life every day

is something Luke strongly

advocates, stemming from his

I think we all need to put in effort

to be the best version of ourselves,

rather than trying to beat someone

else, then we’d all live better lives

own experiences. And he has

concerns lately, for what he calls,

our “microwave society”.

“The problem is that a lot of

people want everything ‘now’. We

get everything so instantly – fast

food, fast relationships – almost

everything you want at the touch

of an app,” he suggests. “And for

some people, if they have to really

work at getting what they need,

they struggle.

“If you do what is easy though,

life will be hard. If you do what

is hard, life will be easy,” he

continues. “Take parenting.

Sometimes you might have to

sit with your kid when they are

kicking off at the dinner table

to show them how they should

behave. It would be easier to just

give them a tablet to play with, to

keep them quiet and busy, but in

the long-term they won’t learn.

I think that approach of really

having to work at it applies to most

of life’s challenges.”

Parenting and family dynamics

are often woven into Luke’s

insights on self-development, and >>>


Motivational speaking spurs Luke to be more self-aware

it’s clear his family are solidly at

the heart of his life and future

aspirations.

Travel is one of these, and Luke’s

latest project is the overhaul of a

van, turning it into a campervan

so he can explore the world with

his wife, Lisa, and children, Alfie,

Aubrey and Ada.

Spending time together as a

family is important to him, but

the project also serves another

purpose – to support Luke’s own

wellbeing. “With everything I do

– the mental health work, suicide

prevention, mindset development

– as much as it’s all good, I felt like

I needed something for me. After

retiring from rugby, I didn’t have

that outlet anymore.”

This project has been a longterm

dream for Luke, but was

put on hold when his third child,

daughter Ada, came along.

However, while taking part in a

gruelling Ultra Marathon (100

miles in two days) earlier this year,

he travelled and slept in a camper

van, and says the experience “gave

[him] that little itch again”.

“We’re in a world where we’re

constantly bombarded with

information, and I just want to

get away from it all, and back to

basics,” Luke says.

“It’s hard to get this across on

social media, but I constantly flit

between roles in my life – and so

the idea of just being able to stop

and say, ‘I fancy going to the Lake

District tonight,’ and getting in the

van with my wife and kids is really

appealing. Going off grid.”

It’s understandable that Luke

would need to create some

unscheduled time and space for

himself and his family within

their life. With the diverse work he

does, and the array of professional

responsibilities he has, managing

his own mental health needs is

crucial.

“Self-awareness is so important,”

he explains. “I went through

a weird patch recently. As a

motivational speaker, I found

I suddenly didn’t have a lot of

motivation. I felt like I’d spent

my whole life trying to prove

people wrong – and I’d done that.

Everything I said I was going

to do, I did. I was left with the

thought of: ‘Well, what’s next?’

“So I’m now working on balance

– being a good dad, being a good

charity chairman, and everything

else – and I feel like I’ve found it.”

Luke’s certainly not one to

rest on his laurels though. “I’m

constantly testing myself and

challenging myself to be better,”

he adds. “I think we all need to

put in effort to be the best version

of ourselves, rather than trying to

beat someone else, then we’d all

live better lives.”

And he doesn’t believe this starts

with looking inwards – he insists

it’s about working inwards. The

Ultra Marathon earlier this year,

he says, helped him to do this.

“Once you test yourself mentally,

you know what you’re capable of.

So doing that run and knowing

I can come through that, it’s

become an analogy for life for me.

I know I can handle that – and any

other curve ball life sends me.

“It doesn’t mean I’ll find it easy

– I didn’t find the run easy – but

I know that I can get through the

tough stuff.”

To read more and find a club near

you, visit andysmanclub.co.uk

Follow Luke on Twitter

@lukeambleruk and listen to him

chat more on Happiful’s ‘I am. I

have’ podcast.


THE PLASTIC REVOLUTION

STARTS NOW

Life in plastic is not so fantastic, and our ecosystem is paying the price. But you don’t need to

let eco-anxiety weigh you down. Ecobricks is the initiative taking back control of the plastic

we’re consuming by turning it into usable building bricks – and you can get involved...

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

We’re in the midst of

a plastic crisis. It’s

dominated public

conversation in

recent years, and for good reason.

According to the journal PLOS

ONE, more than five trillion pieces

of plastic can be found floating

in our oceans, and by 2050 it’s

predicted that every seabird

species on the planet will be

ingesting plastic.

It’s catastrophic. But we don’t

have to sit back and watch it

happen. Each of us has

the power to make a

change in the world

around us, and

ecobricks is one such

scheme that’s empowering us all

to step up.

WHAT’S AN ECOBRICK?

Ecobricks are made from used

plastic bottles, tightly packed with

unrecyclable plastic. The bottles

are then used in building projects,

with the majority going to small

home, community, and school

creations – from furniture to the

structures themselves.

Both a way to take a hard look

at our personal plastic habits,

and to prevent plastic entering

the ecosystem, this innovative

scheme helps reclaim control of

the plastic in our lives, and lay the

foundations for a greener future.

THE PROBLEM WITH PLASTIC

We’re living in a time where we’re

creating more waste than we

know what to do with. Worldwide,

we only recycle 9% of plastics.

The rest – incinerated, or left in

the sun or sea – break down,

releasing toxins into our

environment, and poisoning

wildlife.

Ultimately, we need to use less

plastic. There are many ways to

do this, and with more reusable

products on the market, it’s

never been easier to cut

back. Unfortunately, that

doesn’t address the

plethora of plastic that

already exists. >>>


Find out more about

ecobricks at ecobricks.org,

and find groups near

you at gobrik.com

Community sculptures using ecobricks

But what if we stopped

thinking about plastic as

something we’re fighting

against, and instead understand

it as a valuable resource when

used effectively?

Rather than seeing plastic

as something expendable,

ecobricks asks us to see the

value that it can bring us, in

the form of a free building

material that can enhance our

communities. The properties of

plastic that make it so difficult to

dispose of properly – durability,

longevity, and water fastness

– make it a fantastic building

material, so it’s about reframing

the way we utilise materials.

What if we

stopped thinking

about plastic as

something we’re

fighting against,

and instead

understood it as a

valuable resource?

EMPOWERING THE INDIVIDUAL

We’re all part of something bigger

than ourselves, but ultimately

change starts with the individual.

This initiative is about finding

an answer to the plastic waste

in your life. It’s about being the

change that you want to see in the

world, and finding a solution that

is powered by the people.

Jack Jones from Chessington,

Surrey, began making ecobricks

after spending most of his adult

life in the construction industry,

where he saw how much

material was going to waste.

“For a long time I wasn’t sure

what I could do on a personal

level,” Jack tells Happiful. “That

was, until my mother showed

me ecobricks. It was then that I

found the sense of direction, and

also relief, that I was looking for.”

It can be easy to forget about the

plastic we pick up throughout the

day. Collecting what we use for

an ecobrick helps us to measure

how much we actually consume,

as well as effectively following the

journey of our waste. For Jack,

this is what prompted him to go

on to incorporate ecobricks into


Drinks companies

alone produce

more than 500

billion plastic

bottles every

year

his business, and he now finds it

to be an effective way that he can

take responsibility for his waste.

GOING GLOBAL

Ecobricks is a worldwide initiative,

meaning that each brick is used

in a way that is most beneficial

to the community it is collected

in. In South Africa, projects

include outdoor classrooms

and community gardens, and in

Guatemala, there are 38 schools

built out of ecobricks. Here in

the UK, ecobricks are used in

playgrounds, and also to create

benches in local communities.

With a little bit of creativity, this

material that is in abundance can

be easily turned into something

that makes a real difference in our

local environments.

BE PART OF SOMETHING

“We’re all creators of our own

individual realities,” says Jack. “If

we don’t like what we are currently

experiencing around the world,

we must take responsibility to

change the reality we live in.”

And we can do it. Whether it’s

by getting involved with local

ecobricks groups, or collecting

the plastics that you come across

in your own life, we each have

the opportunity to make a real

difference in the world around us.

MAKING YOUR ECOBRICK

Ready to start creating your own ecobricks?

Pay close attention to the guidelines, and get

building!

MAKE SURE YOUR PLASTIC IS CLEAN

Begin by cleaning all your plastic so that it’s free of

food, grease, or dirt. Once washed, allow the plastic to

dry completely before moving on. It’s important to be

very thorough during this first step, as any residue left

on the plastic could lead to methane collecting into the

ecobrick, resulting in bloated bottles.

PICK YOUR BOTTLE

It may be a good idea to begin by using smaller bottles

to get you started. However, the most important

thing to consider is what type of bottle is in most

abundance in your local community. For

building projects, the bottles will need to be the

same size. Do you have regular deliveries of a certain

type of bottle at your place of work, or you get through

a lot of the same thing at home? Consistency is key.

FIND YOUR STICK

You’ll need a stick to poke the plastic inside your

bottle, but there are a couple of factors that you

will want to consider when choosing yours. The

stick should be about a third the width of the bottle

opening, and twice the height of the bottle. Ideally, it

should have a rounded tip so that it doesn’t pierce the

bottle as you compress the plastic.

PACK YOUR BOTTLE

Cut your plastic up into small pieces so that you can

pack as much in as possible. Mix together soft and

hard plastic, and then use your stick to push it down

into the bottle, making sure it is compressed as you

go. The minimum weight of the bottle should be

0.33 times the bottle volume (e.g. a 1,500ml bottle

should be 500g, and 600ml should be 200g.)

LOG YOUR ECOBRICK

Register your ecobrick at gobrick.com. You’ll be able to

find a nearby drop-off point for your brick, and will be

given a serial number for your bottle, so you can track

how your community is getting on with their project.

Read the full guidelines at ecobricks.org/start



I’m on a rollercoaster that

only goes up, my friend

86 • happiful.com • November 2019 – JOHN GREEN, THE FAULT IN OUR STARS


TRUE LIFE

Fighting a physical

illness can be a

mental health battle

Anne has lived with sickle cell disease all her

life, but she sees that it was the illness which

helped her become the successful, contented

woman she is today

Writing | Anne Welsh

In the end, it

was my nursery

school’s concern

about me eating

plastic foam that

led to the diagnosis of

incurable, debilitating,

and dangerous sickle cell

disease (SCD).

While the illness, a

constant in my life since

the age of six months, has

sent me to the depths of

despair, I have learnt to

value the lessons it has

taught me, and it has made

me realise that every cloud

has a silver lining.

SCD is when your blood

cells, normally round,

are curved and hard. This

means that they don’t flow

as easily, and can get stuck

in the small blood vessels

in your chest, stomach,

and joints – what’s known

as a sickle cell crisis. The

intense, debilitating pain

this causes can last from a

few hours to a few weeks.

I was born in Nigeria in

1980, and while there were

warning signs in the form

of unexplained swellings

and pains, it was only after

we moved to the UK that I

was diagnosed, when my

nursery school picked up

on my strange craving for

foam – something which

is apparently common in

sufferers of SCD.

SCD wasn’t well known at

that time, and finding the

correct pain management

for a small child was

difficult, leading to me

spending a lot of time in

agony – distressing for me

and my family.

By this time my father

had returned to Nigeria,

so my mother was

studying for her teaching

qualifications, looking

after three children singlehandedly,

and dealing

with an extremely sick

daughter. In addition,

she had been told that

children with SCD had a

reduced life expectancy,

so she was terrified of

losing me.

Starting primary school

was a challenge. My

mother gave teachers

a care plan, and I was

allowed special ‘privileges’,

such as being able to

drink water in class, and

having regular breaks

if I was tired. The other

children didn’t understand

my special treatment,

and I also couldn’t join

in games, so I became

isolated.

At seven, I moved back

to Nigeria with my elder

brother and two younger

sisters, to live with my

father. But it was then

that the family was struck

a devastating blow – the

death of my brother, Eric.

He had fallen ill, and, after

an operation in hospital,

he had caught an infection

that killed him.

I felt overwhelming guilt

when Eric died, asking

myself why he was taken

and I, whose illness

caused my family so much

heartache, was spared?

The loss of my brother

made me determined to

find a direction in life, and

to fulfil a higher purpose. >>>

November 2019 • happiful.com • 87


When, as a teenager, it

was decided that it was

time to move back to the

UK to live with my mother

– now a primary school

teacher – it meant another

massive readjustment. To

make matters worse, I had

failed the GCSEs required

to start college, so I had to

find somewhere to retake

my exams.

Anne in Nigeria, being interviewed for sickle cell awareness

I have learnt to accept that

I cannot be all things to all

people, and must live as best

I can – and only I can do that

This was a very difficult

time for me. I was in a new

place and was struggling

with my identity. Who

was I, apart from the sick

daughter/sister/friend?

This negative mindset

meant that I wasn’t taking

care of myself, so as well

as being mentally low, I

was constantly ill, creating

a damaging downward

spiral. Once again, my

education suffered, but I

achieved enough to get in

to college.

From there, things

started to improve. I got

a grant to buy a car, and

was given a disability

badge, which made life

much easier and college

more accessible. I began

to believe that I did have a

future. When I found I had

been accepted on a degree

course, I was determined

that my illness wouldn’t

hold me back.

University was a real

turning point. I came to

understand that I had to

ask for help. I realised I

had to be kind to myself,

focus on the positives, and

stop comparing myself

with others.

After leaving uni with a

2:1, I had a new sense of

purpose, and undertook

a master’s in investment

management, which I

hoped would give me a

good start for a career.

My approach to life was

slowly improving, and I

had more faith in what

I could achieve. By this

point I’d still not had a

romantic relationship,

partly because my mother

wouldn’t have approved,

but also because I was

nervous of the impact my

illness would have. Who

would want someone

whose condition has such

an impact on their life?

88 • happiful.com • November 2019


The loss of my brother made me

determined to find a direction in life

and to fulfil a higher purpose

A chance meeting in

a record shop changed

all that. I was instantly

attracted to Marvin, and

on our third date told

him about the illness. To

my surprise he wasn’t

disgusted, but interested

and concerned. It was

three months later when

he first saw the real

impact. We were making

dinner when the pain

struck. I asked Marvin to

call an ambulance and

ring my mother.

He hadn’t met my family

yet, so my mother was

surprised to see a stranger

at my hospital bedside!

When he left, I was sure

I’d never see him again.

But when I checked my

phone later, there were a

number of missed calls,

Anne at her graduation from

Cass Business School, London

so I was reassured that he

was here to stay.

We got married after six

years, and although I was

still worried about the

illness getting in the way

of our relationship, he was

always supportive.

I was desperate to have

children, and before

long, despite worrying

about the risks caused

by my disease, I found

myself pregnant. I was

working full-time at

Lehman Brothers, but

after three months had to

face the fact that I couldn’t

physically meet the

demands of the job.

I reluctantly left, but still

needed a challenge, so

decided to volunteer with

the Sickle Cell Society and

joined the board.

A year later I was

appointed chair, and

we lobbied the NHS for

improved screening,

raised awareness and

improved treatment.

I am now happily

married with two beautiful

children (Connor and

Caroline), and despite

everything life has thrown

at me, have achieved

things I never thought

possible.

Living with SCD is

difficult, and there is a

strong link between the

illness and depression.

I never know when I’m

going to be ill, so I live day

to day. I have learned to

accept that I cannot be all

things to all people, and

must live as best I can –

and only I can do that.

I defeat any negative

thoughts by considering

all the positive things I

have in my life. This isn’t

always easy, but I’ve found

it makes a real difference.

After years of struggle,

I can now say that I am

truly happy and blessed.

My illness has led me

to do things and meet

people I would not have

otherwise, so in some

ways it has helped me

achieve more than I ever

thought possible.

Oh, and sometimes I still

have a craving for foam!

OUR EXPERT SAYS

For Anne, living with

a chronic condition

brought many challenges.

Throughout her

experiences, she struggled

with her mental health,

identity, and emotional

state. Starting university

was a real turning point

for her, and the place

where she began to feel

she was improving.

Later, meeting her future

husband, she found

someone who loved and

supported her, and whom

she could trust and rely

on. Anne found that with

self-care and his support,

anything was possible.

Perhaps asking for that

same support

and self-care

could help

us all.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) UKRCP

Reg Ind counsellor

November 2019 • happiful.com • 89


Mental health

matters

From anorexia to

depression, body

dysmorphia, and BPD, artist

Becky Johnston has had

a lot to contend with. But

her mental health journey

also inspired her to use her

creativity and experiences

to support others, so no one

has to feel alone

Mental health matters to me

because… for what feels like a

lifetime, I have suffered at the

hand of crippling anxieties,

depression, and the umbrella

of cascading torment, BPD; the

catalyst for the ‘mental illness

flux’ I find myself in. Anorexia

shrouded my reality, and body

dysmorphia further impaired

my already confusing life. It

prompted my desire to use my

experiences as a platform to

inspire, promote awareness, and

lend a hand to hold. The more

we talk, the easier it will become

for sufferers to open up.

When I need support I… pluck up

the courage to be honest. That

weight needs to be lifted from

your shoulders, particularly when

emotions heighten so abruptly.

To view Becky’s art visit

beckyjohnston.weebly.com

Talking is the first and most

important step. Once you break

through that initial barrier, you

can embrace a level of freedom,

allowing new doors to open.

Take a breath of relief. People

are much more understanding

than you’d expect.

When I need some self-care,

I… have found the use of

a whiteboard and reward

chart profoundly useful,

with guidance from my

mum. Mark down anything

from brushing teeth to filing

nails. Acknowledge it’s an

achievement, and tick it off. My

mum is my carer; there is no

shame in dependence. I may

rely on her immeasurably, but I

wouldn’t be alive if it weren’t for

her. Remember, mental health

is paramount. If you need that

extra support, it is imperative

that you recognise and accept it.

The escapism I have turned to

time and time again is... my

crafts. Though my illnesses

have taken a great deal from

me, it’s for that reason my

heart has held on to art. Not

only is it a form of healing, but

it allows us to express things

we wouldn’t normally find

easy to articulate. I hope to

utilise my creativity to bring

hope, spark conversation,

evoke profound thoughts, or

raise a good old grin. It is OK

to be you, to be imaginative,

dramatic, bonkers and

brilliant. Explore the arts –

allow your mind to expand and

let go.


The best lesson I’ve learned in life

is… you are not alone. The mind

manages to twist things so we feel

deserving of pain and anguish.

But it is simply not true; no being

deserves to be tortured by their

own mind. Personally, I found

my diagnoses to be somewhat of

a relief – at last a reason for why

I am like this. There are others

out there. I am not alone. But you

also need to understand that your

mental health does not define you.

It’s a part of you, but you are still

a unique living being, and that’s

pretty special.

The main thing I want people to know

about mental illness is... it is not a life

sentence. With BPD, the intensity

of emotion can reach an internal

pain difficult to fathom. My reality

becomes distorted, fluctuating

through psychosis, paranoia. Every

aspect of life is a challenge, hard to

differentiate between the imagined,

expected, and even the past and

present. And it can be extremely

isolating. But I have learned that

we can all survive things we never

thought possible, and that we gain

understanding, empathy, passion and

self-awareness.

I have a desire to help others,

because the constant agony I

survive each day terrifies me

that many more suffer the

same. It has taken my mental

and physical health to rockbottom,

and I wish it were better

understood so there could be

more research and less stigma.

In the end, it comes down to us.

We have to raise this awareness,

we have to help one another.

You have more importance on

this planet than

you’ll ever

believe.

Next issue

Watch out for Becky’s

exclusively designed

Christmas cards for

Happiful readers in our

December issue!

As the year draws to a close, send

a message of encouragement

and support to someone you

love with our free, exclusive cards

illustrated by Becky. Representing

togetherness, each card is the

opportunity to connect, and let

someone know you’re there to talk.

Pick up a copy from 21 November.

December 2018 • happiful • 91


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1 Million

people connect with a therapist

using Counselling Directory

You are not alone

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