Happiful August 2020



AUG 2020




Refresh your senses

& explore the gifts

of nature

i l d

a t h e a r t

Joe Wicks

Fatherhood & life

lessons with the

nation's favourite

PE teacher





play on









Why it's time to

invest in yourself

How to nurture a healthy sense of identity



Convey the reality of living

with anxiety by painting

a metaphorical picture

Call of

the wild

In the midst of chaos and change,

nature offers a welcome retreat into

peace and tranquility. And yet, it’s also

teeming with life, and opportunities to

re-energise your mind and body.

The natural world can be a mirror for

the soul, reflecting back what you

need most at that very moment.

In this issue, we implore you to

embrace the wealth of wellbeing

opportunities right outside your door.

While we may have been limited

on how much time we could spend

outside for a while, as restrictions

ease it’s a chance to indulge in the

landscape around us.

Albert Einstein once said: “Look

deep into nature, and then you will

understand everything better.”

With that in mind, we share the Nordic

tradition of friluftsliv which explains

this notion, along with features

on numerous outdoor activities to

revitalise your senses and get in

tune with your inner self – from wild

swimming to earthing.

We also explore the power of a strong

sense of identity, and how it can unlock

a life of purpose, gratitude, and joy. Plus

take a look at an illustrative form of selfexpression

as we ask whether tattoos can

be therapeutic, and share four metaphors

to help you articulate anxiety.

Take time for you this month. Answer

nature’s call and fill your lungs with fresh

air – and, perhaps, a fresh perspective.

When the world around us might seem

scary and unpredictable, be inspired

by the pace of nature, and embrace

patience. Better days are coming.

Happy reading.


W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine


17 Care for a metaphor?

Four images that perfectly capture what

anxiety feels like, and how metaphors can

help us say what we really mean

42 The green scene

Discover how ecotherapy can be the first

step to a healthy mindset

67 Think ink

Could going under the needle and getting

a tattoo help us build mental resilience?

73 Joe Wicks

We speak to the man who got the nation

exercising about the power of role models

79 Job done

84% of people aren't in their dream job –

get your foot on the ladder with these tips

The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

14 What is friluftsliv?

What can the Nordic value of

spending time outdoors teach

us about our wellbeing?

90 Quickfire: MH matters

Lifestyle and


20 Dear diary...

Columnist Grace Victory explores journaling

24 Lessons from the Dalai Lama

What can we learn about happiness

and compassion?

30 Ask the experts: work worries

47 Craft a memory box

64 Robert Douglas

The blogger on fatherhood and BLM

84 Who am I?

What makes us who we are, and how can

we develop a strong sense of identity?


36 Book smart

Discover the new releases out this month

51 The new normal

Follow these practical tips for managing

anxiety about returning to normal

54 Things to do in August

Life Stories

37 Katie: tearing up taboos

When Katie first began perimenopause,

she felt ashamed, upset, and confused.

But after learning about the condition,

she felt empowered to take back control

57 Tamara: there for myself

More than a decade ago, a road

accident shattered Tamara's life. With

time, she finally discovered a path that

help her heal from the inside out

87 Gian: building happiness

Gian's life was turned upside down

when his father was murdered. By

reaching out to others, over the years,

he found the strength to face the future

Our team


Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Head Writer

Tia Sinden | Editorial Assistant

Bonnie Evie Gifford, Kat Nicholls | Senior Writers

Becky Wright | Content & Marketing Officer

Katie Hoare | Digital Marketing & Content Officer

Grace Victory | Columnist

Lucy Donoughue | Head of Partnerships

Ellen Hoggard | Digital Editor

Keith Howitt | Sub-Editor

Rav Sekhon | Expert Advisor


Amy-Jean Burns | Art Director

Charlotte Reynell | Creative Lead

Rosan Magar | Illustrator

Emma Boast | Designer


Alice Greedus

PR Officer



26 Tune out

In a world that's full of distractions, how

can we benefit from sensory deprivation?

33 Understand vaginismus

Understand the psychological condition

that can cause painful sex

60 Beat the bloat

70 Self-hypnosis

Learn how to unlock the power

of solo hypnosis

Food & Drink

48 Deliciously Ella

The food writer on pregnancy and the

power of slowing down

76 Quick picnic

Easy recipes for taking things al fresco

Happiful Hacks

22 Build digital connections

28 Discover forest bathing

40 Unlock mindful house moves

82 Avoid the comparison trap


Fiona Thomas, Sam Wright, Claire Munnings

Jenna Farmer, Vicky Reynal, Natasha Crowe,

Ruqsana Begum, Katie Phillips, Tamara Selaman,

Gian Power


Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Beth Collier,

Lee Chambers, Paula Coles, Kirsty Hulse, Mark Bailey,

Ruth Cooper-Dickson, Rebekah Esdale, Felicity Dwyer,

Beverley Hills, Sam Wright, Les Roberts, Belinda Raitt,

Penelope Bould, Anne-Marie Alger


Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder


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Helping you find the help you need.

Counselling Directory, Life Coach Directory,

Hypnotherapy Directory, Nutritionist Resource,

Therapy Directory

Expert Panel

One undeniable truth is that

finding the right help for each

individual is a journey – what

works for one of us will be

different for someone else. But

don't feel disheartened if you

haven't found your path yet.

Our Happiful family can help

you on your way. Bringing

together various arms of

support, each of our sister

sites focuses on a different

method of nourishing your

wellbeing – from counselling,

to hypnotherapy, nutrition,

coaching, and holistic therapy.

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue



Beth is a nature-allied


supervisor, and tutor.



Paula is a psychotherapist

and clinical supervisor with

25 years' experience.





Les is a clinical hypnotherapist,

reiki practitioner, and children

and adolescent counsellor.



Mark is a psychotherapist,

specialising in CBT, DBT,

and EMDR.



Rav's review

As human beings, the

environment that we

place ourselves in is very

influential when it comes to

sculpting the self, and also

our wellbeing. If we extend

this to natural environments,

we become aware of

the remarkable impact

that being outdoors and

connecting with nature can

have on our mental health.

Head over to page 14 to

check this out in more detail,

and gain insight into how you

can integrate nature into your

life. The incredible power of

nature: harness it, enjoy it – it

has great potential to bring

positive change into your life.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

Rebekah is an integrative

health practitioner and

nutritional therapist.



Felicity is a career change

and transitional coach at

The Heart of Work.



Sam is a life coach and

forest therapy guide

creating positive change.



Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.


Ad Dip CP Dip Hyp CS MNCS

Natasha is a

hypnotherapist and




Anne-Marie is an integrative

psychotherapist based in

Heaton, Bolton.

Ruth is an accredited

positive psychology

practitioner and coach.



Beverley is a relationship

counsellor and




Lee is an environmental

psychologist and wellbeing



MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.


Reg. MBACP Dip

Penelope is a sexologist,

addictions and general




Belinda is a career and

business coach, and runs a

nature therapy retreat.

AUG 2020

9 772514 373000


Find help


If you are in crisis and are concerned for your

own safety, call 999 or go to A&E

Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email

them at jo@samaritans.org

Head to


for more services

and support

Reader offer




SANEline offers support and information from

4.30pm–10.30pm: 0300 304 7000


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

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


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

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



Learn more about what it means to live with anxiety, common causes,

and guidance at anxietyuk.org.uk, or call their infoline on 03444 775 774.




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Competitions and prize draws!

Visit happiful.com








Refresh your senses

& explore the gifts

of nature




play on



Why it's time to

invest in yourself

i l d

How to nurture a healthy sense of identity


Discover free resources, a supportive community, and campaigns

to put menopause in the spotlight at menopausesupport.co.uk


Access free fact sheets and connect with nutritionists near you,

and those offering remote sessions, at nutritionist-resource.org.uk


If you have been bereaved and need support, head to cruse.org.uk or

call their free helpline on 0808 808 1677.

a t h e a r t


Joe Wicks

Fatherhood & life

lessons with the

nation's favourite

PE teacher



Convey the reality of living

with anxiety by painting

a metaphorical picture

Cover artwork

by Charlotte Reynell









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

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number GB 920805837. Our registered office address is Building 3, Riverside

Way, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YL.

In light of the Covid-19

social-distancing guidelines,

our August issue has been

brought together from the

Happiful team’s home-office

set-ups. Overcoming the

distraction of cute Happiful

pets, the temptation of WFS

(work from sofa), and the

unique challenges of video

conference calls, we’re proud

to bring you our fourth issue

created entirely remotely. For

as long as we can, we will

work tirelessly to continue

to offer you the print edition

of Happiful, but if anything

changes, we will be in touch.

For now, take care, stay safe,

and enjoy the read.

Prices and benefits are correct at the

time of printing. Offer expires 17 September

2020. For full terms and conditions,

please visit happiful.com

The Uplift


Museum reimagines

portraits – with a

lockdown twist

They say a picture’s worth a thousand

words, and with its new series of

postcards, the Fitzwilliam Museum,

at the University of Cambridge, has

perfectly captured the spirit and humour

of lockdown, as it reimagines well-loved

portraits with a 2020 slant.

Like many other establishments, the

Fitzwilliam Museum was forced to close

its doors to the public in March. In a

creative effort to continue to raise funds,

artists were brought in to rework some of

the collection’s fine art portraits, giving

the subjects the masks that many of us are

now donning ourselves – each of them

personalised to suit the wearer’s outfit.

But for Luke Syson, director at the

Fitzwilliam Museum, the portraits are

more than just a fundraiser, they’re a

reminder of the power of humour in hard

times, something that we may have set

aside throughout the challenges of the

Covid-19 pandemic.

“These doctored versions of some

of the Fitz’s great masterpieces wittily

reimagine their protagonists as living at

this moment,” Luke explains. “What a

difference to our understanding of their

actions and interactions the addition of a

face-cover makes!

“But perhaps they make a serious point

too, of how we expect to greet one another

with hugs and kisses, and how much

changes when that’s not possible,” he adds.

“At least we can still laugh together – that’s

not changed. And I hope these might help!’’

Browse the collection at


Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Initiative answers

the call to diversify



Non-profit helps people turn worries

into wheelies

Couple’s lockdown project reaches those in need

When we are struggling with our

mental health, looking after our

physical health can be tough. With

that in mind, a new non-profit

scheme, created by a couple from

Kettering, Northamptonshire, is

using the power of cycling to get

people back in the saddle.

Worries to Wheelies was created by

Mandi Hales and Elliott Cole during

the Covid-19 crisis. The scheme lends

bikes out in the hope that by getting

active, people will see a reduction in

stress levels, anxiety, and depression.

Raising funds via Crowdfunder

to expand how many people it

can support, the scheme receives

referrals from local mental health

organisations. It aims to never turn

away anyone who approaches them.

“We each have the opportunity

to touch one another’s lives, and

make them better,” Mandi tells

Happiful. “Mental health has

always been a topic close to my

heart, due to my own experiences

and those close to me. I want to

remind people of their self-worth,

through acts of kindness that

encourage fitness and adventure.

“We are blown away with how

much positivity has risen from

Worries to Wheelies,” she adds. “It

has taught us that there is so much

good in this country, and people

really do care about each other.”

What a wheelie great idea! To find

out more and show your support,

visit worriestowheelies.co.uk

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Throughout June, people across

the globe came together to stand

against racism, and ask leaders

to reform unfair systems – with

the Black Lives Matter movement

doing vital work to put important

conversations at the forefront.

So how can we keep up the


So often, education is the first

port of call for making real social

change, and The Black Curriculum

is a social enterprise founded to

address the lack of Black British

history in the UK curriculum.

By diversifying our school’s

curriculums to include a variety of

voices and experiences, all students

will benefit from reflecting on race

relations and some uncomfortable

truths about our collective history,

helping us to move towards a more

open and accepting society.

With a mix of campaigning and

teacher training, the initiative

hopes to facilitate this change. “We

want to help prepare students to

become fully-rounded citizens, and

ready for an increasingly globalised

world,” says its mission statement.

“Through our holistic approach,

we aim to remedy a wider systemic


Through education, in the

classroom and beyond, we all have

the power to make a difference.

To join the campaign, visit


Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

August 2020 • happiful.com • 9



use their green

fingers for good

Getting their hands dirty for charity,

the Peebles Community Action

Network (CAN), in Scotland, are using

their gardening prowess to help feed

those in need. Tending to fruit and

veg patches (and the needs of others),

volunteers are donating freshly grown

produce from their community garden

to a local food charity.

The Food Foundation is using the

generous donations in its mealson-wheels

service and, so far, an

incredible 100 meals have been

delivered to vulnerable members of

the community.

Speaking on behalf of the charity,

operational manager Yvonne Mclaren

said: “We are very lucky to have such

fresh ingredients provided on our

doorstep, and are really grateful to the

people of Peebles CAN for helping us to

feed the community.”

Not only are CAN volunteers helping

their local community, but they are also

helping themselves, too. Research from

King’s Fund has shown that gardening

truly is the gift that keeps on giving, as

it promotes mental wellbeing, reduces

depression and anxiety, and improves

social functioning.

What better excuse to dust off those

trowels and get digging? There has

never been a better time to get back

to your roots, give back, and grow

something new.

Grow your own produce and want to

donate? Check with your local food bank

to see if they can accept it. Find your local

food bank at trusselltrust.org

Writing | Kat Nicholls

August 2020 • happiful.com • 11

Take 5

Get those mental cogs in

motion and challenge

yourself to some puzzling fun

6 9 5 2 7

3 7 6 4

2 8 3 9

4 8 1 3

7 1 5

Diagonal sudoku

Similar to a normal sudoku grid

– but with an added challenge:

fill the empty boxes so that the

numbers one to nine appear

once in each column, row, box,

and the shaded diagonals.

8 1 9 5 3 7

3 6 1

4 1 6 3 2

8 3 6


Unscramble the letters below to reveal the outdoor activities:

1. Razing stag

2. Marbling

3. Drab witching

4. Dimm wilingsw

5. Ingather

How did you

do? Search

'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!

6. Aborts hefting

NASA plans

to land the

first woman

on the moon

by 2024

Plus NASA to

name Washington

DC headquarters

after its first

Black female


Mary W Jackson


is launching a

new range of

plasters with

more inclusive

skin tones


is offering

free one-year

subscriptions to

those furloughed

or unemployed

due to Covid-19

Music fans


Drive-in concerts

are planned

this summer for

safe, sociallydistanced





Hole-ly moley

With some news to put

a sprinkle in your step,

a doughnut company in

the Midlands is searching

for sweet-toothed taste

testers. Project D will send

successful volunteers

16 free doughnuts over

the course of a month, in

exchange for feedback.

Sounds like a dream job,

‘dough-n’t’ you think?















If you’re currently job

hunting, perhaps try

spellcheck again? A study

from Resume.io revealed

the 10 most commonly

misspelt words in CVs

– including ‘initiative’,

‘detail-orientated’ and

‘perfectionist’. As 73%

of managers are put

off by spelling errors, it

could be time for one last



Faith, trust, and pixie dust – well it turns

out it takes a little more to convince

kids these days of what’s real or not. A

study published in PLOS ONE discovered that

children are more likely to believe in Father

Christmas than ghosts, dragons, or aliens. The

study looking into children’s ability to distinguish

between real and fictional characters, suggests

that kids are convinced by cultural traditions –

such as leaving out treats for Santa, or money

being left by the tooth fairy.



Looking for your next datenight

playlist? You might be

interested in research by

Supplement Place, which

reveals the world’s favourite

songs for getting in ‘the

mood’. Anything by The

Weeknd would go down a

treat, with 50% of the top

10 songs by him, including

‘Earned It’ and ‘Often’.

Throw in some Jeremih and

Trey Songz, and you’ll be

hitting all the right notes.


The power of a little kindness

should never be underestimated,

and with that in mind, counsellor

Tanya Wright’s ‘Happinotes’ initiative

is sending positive messages to those

isolated during Covid-19. Though the

project began in 2018, due to an influx

of requests in the past months, it now

has 50 volunteer writers, and has

distributed 4,000 notes to

those in need!


it out

Rajeev Gupta, from Manchester,

found a novel way to lift spirits

during lockdown, by livestreaming

his bhangra classes

across social media. His intention

was simply to support clients

during this difficult time, but

soon, with people tuning in from

around the world, Rajeev had

an overwhelmingly positive

response, as some shared

how the classes had even

helped their mental health.

Daddy cool

While, undoubtedly, the past

few months have been difficult,

there is one positive that’s

been highlighted in a UK-wide

poll by retailer Menkind. It

revealed that the worldwide

pandemic has actually given

60% of fathers a chance to

spend more time with their

kids, and a third of responding

dads felt that isolation has

improved their relationship

with their children. It seems

that despite the added stress

of social restrictions, for many

people the time saved by

not commuting, and more

time with family, has allowed

connections to grow.

What is


What would happen if we made spending time outside a priority? For many

people across the Scandinavian countries, getting in touch with nature is a value

that shapes their lives and their wellbeing. So why does it have such a profound

effect on our mental health, and how can we incorporate it into our everyday lives?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Do you ever walk outside, take

a deep breath, and instantly

feel soothed? There’s a

gentle breeze hitting your

cheeks, the air feels fresh, and you

can hear the sounds of the natural

world meandering slowly around you.

There’s something special about

being outside, and – after months in

lockdown – an appreciation for nature

is something that a lot of us will be

able to relate to at the moment.

You may have taken up a daily

walk, strolling through your home

town, or wandering off-track into

the wilderness. Or perhaps you’ve

been able to spend more time in

the garden, pottering around or

simply sitting back and relaxing.

Whatever it may be, lockdown has

taught many of us about the value

of spending time outdoors, not

just for exercise or for travel, but

as an activity that gets to the core

of our wellbeing, soothing and

invigorating us.

The Norwegians know all about

that sentiment. Loosely translated,

friluftsliv is the Nordic value of

‘open-air living’. First coined in

1859 by writer Henrik Ibsen, when

describing the benefit of spending

time in remote natural places, it’s an

acknowledgment of the fantastical

effect that the outside world can

have on our mental health.

Friluftsliv is all about slipping

seamlessly into outdoor life, and

today in Sweden, Norway, and

Denmark, the values are ingrained

in the culture – with Statistics

Sweden revealing that one-third

of Swedes take part in outdoor

activities at least once a week,

Scandinavian employers offering

incentives for staff to spend time

outdoors, and a 2014 study showing

that eight in 10 Norwegian adults

had been for a hike in the woods

or mountains in the previous 12


“Nature has wonderful healthpromoting

properties: reducing

the stress hormone cortisol, heart

rate, depression, anxiety, and

frustration – while increasing

meditative feelings, love, and

14 • happiful.com • April 2020

Discover the

power of forest


Learn about

the wellbeing

practice that

takes us off the

beaten path,

and inspires us

to look inwards,

on p28.

empathy,” explains Beth Collier,

a nature-allied psychotherapist

and ethnographer, who teaches

woodland living skills and

natural history. “This means that,

without having to do anything

other than be in the space, we

feel calmer, relaxed,

uplifted, energised, and

rejuvenated, which can lead

to a sense of belonging – all

conducive to being reflective,

in the moment, and feeling

emotionally safe.”

This connection with nature is

something that Beth can speak to

personally, having grown up on

a smallholding in Suffolk, where

her childhood was consumed with

roaming the woods, fens, and fields

surrounding her home. For Beth,

spending time outside was secondnature,

and she’s joined by the 62%

of British people who visit nature at

least once a week.

At its core, friluftsliv is about

taking time to be mindful of the

world around us, reflect on the

natural habitat that we’re in, and

soak in the surroundings – and

that’s as much about everyday

connections as it is outdoor

adventures. Along these lines, for

Beth, it was only natural that her

work as a psychotherapist and her

love of the outdoors would lead her

to take her counselling sessions


“Knowing nature’s capacity

to positively impact emotional

health, I’d therefore question

why I’d chosen to be in a room,”

reflects Beth. “We can overlook the

importance of our connection to

the natural world on our current

wellbeing, and within our formative

experiences. The state of our

relationship with nature will affect

our sense of wellbeing, just as the

type of relationship we have with

parents, siblings, and colleagues

will too.

“Nature isn’t just a location but is

a co-counsellor, offering reflections

and mirrors about our emotional

world. Clients often experience

the work becoming deeper sooner,

and feel more supported in

processing uncomfortable feelings.

The therapeutic relationship with

nature lasts beyond the work

finishing with the human therapist.”

But while an experience with

nature can be incredibly profound

and therapeutic, you don’t

necessarily have to live in the

wilderness to harness it. You may

swap your morning commute

for a bike ride, or use an hour in

the evening that you may have

usually spent curled up on the sofa,

popping out for a short walk.

Friluftsliv captures the profound

moments where we feel a strong

connection with the world around

us – when our lungs are burning

from an uphill hike, but also

when we open a window and

let the summer breeze float into

our homes. You may go running,

kayaking, and cycling, or foraging,

camping, and picnicking. However

you do it, in whatever way works for

you, there are lessons to be learned

and comfort to be found in the great


July 2020 • happiful.com • 15

Be a person with

knowledge, not

just opinions



It’s often difficult to communicate how it really feels to experience anxiety, and

tricky for anyone who hasn’t lived it first-hand to grasp the concept. To help bridge

that gap, we share four ways to paint a visual and emotional picture...

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Trying to explain anxiety

to friends and family is

hard. How do you grasp a

whirlwind of emotions and string

them into a sentence? And do

those words really explain the

nuances of how you’re feeling?

They say it’s good to talk, but

opening up is often the first

stumbling block in getting the

support that we need. If you’re

trying to communicate with

someone who has never had

anxiety issues themselves, it can

be even harder. But when used in

the right way, language can help

you paint a vivid picture, and allow

others to get that little bit closer

to understanding your pain. In

particular, many therapists say

that metaphors are a useful tool for

explaining what it feels like to live

with anxiety.


A metaphor is a figure of speech

that aims to describe one thing >>>


evoke visceral




chosen words

and phrases

by using something else as

a point of reference. For

example, you might say ‘she’s a

real party animal’ to describe

your friend who likes to dance

and socialise. A writer might

describe a summer sky as a

‘blue canvas peppered with

marshmallow clouds’. It’s not

literally a coloured canvas with

sugary treats stuck to the surface,

but the metaphor invites you to

conjure up the image instantly in

your head.



Instead of simply

communicating information,

metaphors evoke visceral

feelings through carefully

chosen words and phrases.

One study by the Journal

of Cognitive Neuroscience

found that “conventional

metaphorical expressions are

more emotionally evocative

than literal expressions”.

When observing brain activity,

metaphors relating to taste

were found to be particularly

effective, and led to activation

in areas associated with

emotion and the physical

act of tasting. For example,

describing a person as ‘sweet’

had more impact when

compared to the same sentence

that used the word ‘kind’.




Creating colourful descriptions

might seem like a frivolous

activity, reserved for novelists

and poets. But metaphors are

an integral part of how humans

understand complicated

concepts. For example, we talk

about time in the same way

that we talk about money. We

talk about spending, saving,

stealing, or wasting time, even

though it’s not literally possible.

That’s why metaphors can be

a powerful tool in the context

of mental health. It can be hard

to understand what an anxiety

disorder feels like if you’ve

never experienced it yourself,

so people can sometimes lack

empathy for their loved ones

because they simply don’t

understand the concept.

If you find it difficult to

explain your anxiety symptoms

to those around you, then try

using these metaphors. Not

only will they help you get your

point across more clearly, but

they should give the listener an

example that will allow them

to draw on their own personal

experience to get a sense of

how you’re feeling.




First, let’s talk about

anxiety in general, and

how you can explain

the concept as a whole.

I’ll use the coffee cup

metaphor, which I learned

from environmental

psychologist and

wellbeing consultant Lee

Chambers. Think about

your brain and body like a

mug, and inside the mug

is some coffee, which

symbolises your anxiety.

When there’s just a few

drops of leftover coffee in

the mug, it’s much easier

to handle. If you knock it

over, you can clean up any

mess quickly with a paper

towel. But sometimes, the

coffee is full to the brim

and piping hot. Any minor

bump will cause you to

spill the entire contents,

burn yourself, and create

a big stain on the carpet

that will need to be

professionally cleaned.

This is a good way to

explain that for some of

us, anxiety is a constant

presence and often needs

outside assistance. It also

illustrates the reason why

you react differently one

day to the next, depending

on how much ‘coffee’ is in

your mug, and how much

stress you’re under.

18 • happiful.com • August 2020


Everyone experiences anxiety

in some shape or form. It’s a

natural response to something

scary, like speaking in front of

a crowd or taking an important

test. But because those

feelings are brief, and linked

to a specific cause, sometimes

people can’t understand

how intense it can be to live

in a constant state of fear. Try

explaining this heightened state

of anxiety by reminding people

about how it feels at the highest

point of a rollercoaster. Now ask

them to remember that intense

wave of fear that comes just

before they tip over the edge. It’s a

stomach-churning sensation that

lasts mere seconds, but for people



anxiety, it

can linger

for days, or even weeks. This is

particularly helpful if people

around you say that anxiety is

‘all in your head’, and they aren’t

aware of the various physical





Having an anxiety attack

can make you feel like you’re

trapped, even when you’re

in a wide-open space, or

have the freedom to move

around. Compare this to

being in a broken lift. The

doors are closed, and you’re

stuck in a confined space.

You worry that you might

die there. You know logically

that help is coming, and

that eventually the doors

will open, but until then you

have to wait it out nervously

in a confined space with no

daylight or fresh air. Use this

metaphor, and those close

to you might even feel better

equipped to

comfort you

when you’re

having an

anxiety attack.

Because anxious thoughts can

appear to be very excitable or

use nervous energy, you have

to learn to focus your thoughts,

and to calm the mind down


Positive psychology

practitioner Ruth Cooper-

Dickson says that many of her

clients use a puppy metaphor

to explain how anxiety makes

it difficult to concentrate.

Imagine a puppy bounding

around with endless amounts

of energy. They never do as

they’re told, and they get easily

distracted when something

new catches their attention.

“Because anxious thoughts can

appear to be very excitable

or use nervous energy,” says

Ruth, “you have to learn to

focus your thoughts, and to

calm the mind down using

puppy tricks.” In the

context of anxiety, this

means drawing on tools

like cognitive behaviour

therapy (CBT)

to retrain your



Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer and author. Her new ebook

‘Out of Office’ is out now, with print copies available from

1 October. Visit fionalikestoblog.com for more.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 19

The power of

journaling...with Grace

with Grace

Whether it’s an emotional outlet, a place to confide in, or somewhere to

explore your biggest thoughts, a journal is so much more than just ink and

paper. Here, our columnist Grace Victory shares the impact this mindful

activity has had on her own self-awareness

In 2014, I was in the pursuit

of happiness. I knew I was

unhappy and constantly

stressed, so I began to search

for deeper meaning. I remember

buying new bed sheets, changing

my room around, buying books,

and picking up a few notepads

from a local store. I used to Google

everything – I still do now – and I

remember typing into the search

engine “how to be happier”.

Obviously, thousands of self-help

pages came up, but I clicked on a

page that spoke about mindfulness

and the teachings of Buddhism.

Back then, mindfulness wasn’t

something I was completely ready

to delve into. Meditation? Nah. I’ll

pass on that. Be in nature? Maybe

I’ll try that at a later stage. But then

I stumbled across a thing called

‘journaling’ and I decided that hey,

that could be for me.

As a young child I used to write

poems. Sometimes they would

be funny and rhyme, other times

they’d be dark, and on the surface

wouldn’t make much sense, but

looking back, I have always used

writing to help me process. To help

me feel. To help see things inside

of myself.

So, I’m 24, feeling a lot of feelings,

on the verge of a break-up, and

recognising that I definitely had an

eating disorder – but I didn’t look

thin, so was it really that much of

a problem? Those early-mid 20s

were an incredibly lonely time

for me – which I think so many of

my amazing readers can probably

relate to. I was longing to find who

I was, but also struggling to access

the tools to do so. It was hard, but

writing gave me an outlet.

Most nights I’d pick up my

notebook, put on some music, and

just let the ink flow on the paper.

Songs would sometimes come out

too, but a lot of the sentences were

full of confusion – and yet also

hope. I was a big dreamer, and I

really believed I was supposed to

have a beautiful life, so my writing

often reflected that too. I’d talk

to God, or my future husband,

sometimes I’d even talk to my past

self. At the time, I didn’t know just

how powerful this mindfulness

technique was, all I knew was that

I enjoyed it. My notepads were full

of secrets, dreams, wishes, pain,

and little pieces of me that I hid

from the world, and that I also hid

from myself.


• What are you grateful

for today?

• What is your inner child

asking from you?

• Write 10 non-physical

things you like about


• What would you do if you

knew you couldn’t fail?

• Tell me who you really are.

A few years later I started to use

my journal with more intention. I

was older, wiser and on a journey of

‘self-exploration’, so my priorities,

needs, and wants started to change.

Suddenly I wanted to try every

wellness tool, including meditation,

that I so blatantly shunned a few

years prior. So journaling became

my stream of consciousness, and

often my unconsciousness, too. I

journaled everything, and made a

promise to myself that these pages

would be brutally honest, and I

haven’t looked back since.

I use journaling to reflect on

therapy sessions, arguments with

my boyfriend, and to process daily


Looking back, I

have always used

writing to help me

process. To help

me feel. To help

see things inside

of myself

life. I often journal in the mornings

to get out any anxiety I feel about the

day ahead, or any feelings I am still

holding on to from the previous one.

Journaling is like a best friend, or a

mirror. You tell her something, and

she will often respond back. I write

to no one and everyone, and when

I think I don’t have the answer to

something, it will form, like magic,

on the page in front of me.

Journaling has taught me how

to slow down, and how to take

a deep breath. It allows me to

ponder, scream, cry, and shout.

It allows me to be mean and rude,

without hurting anyone, and it’s

taught me that thoughts are often

fleeting, and we should treat them

as such.

For me, journaling is releasing

pent up emotions, recognising

triggers, enhancing self-awareness,

creating space in one’s mind, and

reducing triggers. It can be done

anywhere by anyone, and that’s

what makes it so powerful.


Grace x

How to

build digital


As more of us than ever are working remotely, it’s natural to miss those

social moments with colleagues by the water cooler, bouncing ideas off

each other, venting after a long day, or catching up on weekend antics.

But technology is here to help...

Writing | Fiona Thomas

The sound of my ringtone

gives me anxiety. Who

dares to call ‘just to talk’?

What’s wrong with a text?

Or a handwritten letter? Anything

– and I mean anything – but a

phone call, I beg you!

I know I’m not the only one

who avoids talking on the phone.

Ofcom revealed that a quarter of

people make less than five mobile

calls a month, with 6% of people

not making any at all. And those

who do pick up the phone? Well,

two-thirds of them hang up in less

than 90 seconds. Those are my

kind of people.

Video calls are less stressful,

but like the rest of the socially

distanced world, I’m a bit

overwhelmed with virtual chats

these days. They eat into my

working day, and feel emotionally

exhausting. I’ve got Zoom fatigue,

and I think it’s getting worse.

Luckily, I’ve found an alternative.

One that keeps me in contact with

the outside world, but doesn’t

drain my time and energy. May I

introduce, the humble voice note.


Voice notes are recorded messages

that can be sent between phone

contacts. Instead of typing out a

text message, you use the phone

microphone to record yourself

talking, and send it to the person

you’re texting. It’s a function

available on most messaging

services such as WhatsApp or

Facebook Messenger. So what are

the benefits?


I got hooked on voice notes when I

started working from home a few

years ago. I was running my own

business for the first time, and I

missed the emotional support of

a traditional work environment.

Being my own boss was great until

I had to make decisions, because

I had no one to bounce ideas

off. Soon, I built up a network of

virtual colleagues who were happy

to receive my vocal rants, milliondollar

ideas, and general chit-chat,

on a daily basis. Most of them

sent me voice notes back, and for

a lonely freelancer like me, the

ongoing digital ping-pong match

has been a lifesaver.


While the convenience factor

of voice notes is debatable –

they’re quicker than texting,

but not always appropriate for

the listener if they’re in public

without headphones – they offer

so much more nuance than a

text message or email. There’s

no need for emojis when you

can vocally express sarcasm,

humour, and empathy. In general,

a conversation is considered much

more effective (when compared to

texting) at conveying genuine love

and gratitude. One study found

that college students who spent a

significant amount of time texting

were less satisfied with their

relationship than other couples.


Voice notes are like conversations

with a cherry on top. There’s a

delay between listening to the

audio and responding — and this

has a powerful effect on your

brain. I spoke to Kirsty Hulse,

founder of Roar! Training, to

learn more about the neurological

benefit of voice notes. She says:

“In conversations, we’re listening

to the other person rather than

generating. Listening to a voice

note reduces our cognitive load,

because we get the experience

of hearing a familiar voice, and

feeling that closeness, but we don’t

need to consider our response in

that moment. That allows us to

actively listen. We can truly hear

what the person is saying, instead

of listening to respond.”

This leads to a deeper

connection, something that home

workers are craving right now. It

makes sense, then, that I feel less

isolated when I’m talking — and

more importantly, listening —

to my mates via voice notes. It

also explains why the time delay

between responses makes it a

much less draining interaction

than those on Zoom or FaceTime.



Some businesses are using voice

notes to communicate orally as

opposed to in writing, and dating

app users are using voice notes to

get to know prospective partners

before they meet in real life. As

well as being good for emotional

connectivity, they are a healthy

replacement for screen time.

“The less time spent looking at

screens the better,” says Kirsty

“because blue light messes with

our melatonin.” Instead of talking

to your friends via text, consider

recording a voice message instead.

It allows you to avert your gaze

from blue light, and take in the

world around you.

Of course, voice notes aren’t for

everyone. It can be worth asking

permission before sending one,

because they can make some

people panic about replying. If

you’ve got social anxiety, or low

self-esteem, hearing the sound

of your own voice might fill you

with dread. Kirsty says: “We’ve

all got our preferred ways of

communicating, and that’s OK!”

The important thing is to find a

way of communicating that works

best for you – part of taking care

of yourself is ensuring you get the

human contact we all need, even

when you can’t hang out in person.

So give technology a try, and voice

your thoughts.

Kirsty Hulse is a keynote speaker, and

founder of Roar! Training. She uses

neuroscience to empower teams and

support businesses.

The ultimate source of

happiness is within us





Seeking inspiration and fulfilment? Look

no further than the Dalai Lama

Despite modestly describing himself as “a

simple Buddist monk”, his holiness the

14th Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader

of Tibet, and a Nobel Peace Prize winner.

He’s a big advocate for freedom and peace,

with one of his core beliefs, and biggest

sentiments, focusing on the importance of

compassion in the world – and the difference it can truly make to

our lives when we embrace it.

Dalai Lama | Instagram @dalailama

Read: The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World

by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu (Hutchinson, £14.99)

To celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday, his friend and

fellow spiritual leader Archbishop Desmon Tutu visited for

a week, as the two debated one of life’s biggest questions:

“How do we find joy in the face of suffering?” Having both

overcome adversity throughout their lives, this book from

the two Nobel Prize winners explores their own individual

stories about joy, along with a look into the science of

happiness, and the daily practices from their own lives. But

the strongest message that we can live by, is that to find joy

ourselves, we need to bring joy to others.

Watch: Compassionate Ethics in Difficult Times, available

on YouTube

Despite this speech being given at a public talk in New

York in 2009, the sentiment and words of wisdom which

the Dalai Lama shares seem to resonate even more so in

today’s climate. In simple, universal terms, he shares the

importance of warm-heartedness in tackling our problems,

and how this approach can spread to the community around

us. As he says: “A compassionate heart is the key factor for a

meaningful life.”

Listen: Inner World by the Dalai Lama

As the Dalai Lama says: “Music has the potential to reach

many more people with the message that the real source of

happiness is warm-heartedness and a concern for others.”

And so in early July, he partnered with Khandro Music

to release his debut album, featuring his mantras and

teachings set to music. Wisdom and serenity sit in harmony

together as you listen to this album, looking to address

emotional stress and spread the teachings of the Dalai Lama

even further.

Follow: Instagram @dalailama




As our hectic lives get ever-more complex, it

becomes harder and harder to fully switch

off and find inner peace. But there is one

sure way to combat overstimulation…

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Let’s just say that finding a

true sense of calm in modern

times can be… challenging.

News headlines refresh

constantly – a barrage of seemingly

urgent information. WhatsApp

notifications ping loudly. Little red

numbers adorn Instagram and

Twitter icons, each one competing

for our attention. Try to ignore

your inbox, and you’ll be pestered

with private messages. To-do lists

feel never-ending, while mental

notes stack up internally with

nowhere to go. Some call it the ‘age

of distraction’, and with so many

worries and responsibilities, our

minds can feel like a noisy pinball


But what if there was a way to

dial down the noise? A way to cut

yourself off from not just screens

and sounds, but from your own

thoughts? There is one solution

to chronic over-stimulation, that

has been growing in popularity

in recent years. It’s called sensory



As the name suggests, it involves

literally depriving your senses

of stimulation. This could be by

wearing a blindfold to block out

light, or earplugs to create silence.

More advanced techniques involve

limiting your senses of smell, taste,

and touch. It was made popular

in the 1950s by neurologist John

C Lilly, who invented a dark,

soundproof tank that allowed

people to float for long periods in

complete sensory isolation.


In this specially designed bath,

you float in less than a foot of

salt water, which is heated to

skin temperature. The feeling

of weightlessness, silence, and

darkness (the tank door is usually

closed) induces a deep sense of

relaxation. Over-stimulation can

lead to heightened feelings of stress

and anxiety, but time in the sensory

deprivation of a flotation tank

can lower your cortisol levels and

Some call it the

‘age of distraction’,

and with so many

worries and


our minds can feel

like a noisy pinball


increase your endorphins, which

boosts your mood.


Because sensory deprivation

gives you time to think without

distraction, it can have a powerful

effect on your mental health. Some

people even use it to enhance

their creativity and improve

problem-solving skills.

Flotation tanks are known to

significantly reduce anxiety

26 • happiful.com • August 2020

Time in a flotation tank can

lower your cortisol levels and

increase your endorphins,

which boosts your mood


Installing a flotation tank at

home is expensive, but you can

book hourly sessions at spas

across the country. However,

most people can manage

minor stress by learning to

manipulate their senses without

the need for a flotation tank.

Here are Paula Coles’s tips

on using elements of sensory

deprivation to manage stress:

symptoms and improve your mood

after just one 60-minute session.

One flotation tank study looked at

people with generalised anxiety

disorder and found that symptoms

such as depression, sleep

difficulties, irritability, and fatigue

were reduced.

My friend Jo Love told me

about her recent visit to The Pod

at Results Body+Mind health

and wellness service, in Bath.

“It’s unlike anything I’ve ever

experienced,” said Jo. “I felt both

physically and emotionally held. I

can’t wait to go back – I’ve booked

my husband in for one as well!”

Understandably, some sceptics are

concerned about feeling trapped,

and safety. The good news is that

the sheer volume of Epsom salt in

the water means that it’s impossible

to do anything other than float.

You can even – and many do – fall

asleep safely in the tank. As for the

closed door, most people get used

to it within a few minutes because

it’s just so relaxing. But open-door

tanks are available in some spas.

One key benefit of sensory

deprivation is that it works in a

similar way to meditation. If you’ve

ever struggled to let your mind go

blank, then employing sensory

deprivation techniques might

help. Some people have reported

a feeling of inner peace, a sense

of euphoria, and in some cases,

spiritual experiences.


I asked psychotherapist Paula

Coles about the negative effects

of sensory deprivation and she

explained: “On one end of the

continuum there may be extreme

relaxation, but on the other, there

is the possibility of an increase in

anxiety, and even disturbance or


She also pointed out that

meditation isn’t necessarily helpful

for individuals who might find

themselves stuck in ‘fight-or-flight’

mode as a result of past traumatic

experiences. For this reason,

she advises (in line with current

National Institute for Health and

Care Excellence guidelines) that

individuals with social anxiety,

post-traumatic stress disorder

(PTSD), or complex trauma, should

only approach sensory work and

meditation with the help of an

accredited professional. But if you

1. Take in a nice view while

wearing noise-cancelling

headphones. This allows you

to really luxuriate in the visual

aspect without distractions.

2. Create a safe space in your

bedroom by removing things

that trigger stress. It could be

the sight of your work clothes,

or the sound of a clock ticking.

Calm your senses as much as


3. Lie down in a dark room and

put on an eye mask to minimise

distractions. Breathe deeply

and notice all the sounds that

you hear.

4. If at any point you feel

uncomfortable, stop.

feel mentally well, then a sensory

deprivation experience could be

just the cure for your overactive


Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer

and author. Her new ebook ‘Out of

Office’ is out now, with print copies

available from 1 October. Visit

fionalikestoblog.com for more.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 27

Five surprising

things you’ll

experience while

forest bathing

Forest bathing is the practice of

immersing yourself in nature,

being quiet and still amongst

trees, or moving without

intention through the foliage.

Done alone or with a guide, it’s

thought to have fruitful mental

health benefits, as well as some

surprising, self-reflective lessons

ripe for the picking

Writing | Sam Wright

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

We instinctively

know that getting

outside can make

us feel better, even

if we only have a few minutes

a day. Forest bathing is a way

of deepening our connection

with nature, it’s shown to have

widespread benefits for health

and wellbeing, and has grown

as an antidote to the stresses of

modern-day living.

It’s essentially the practice of

slowing down and immersing

ourselves in our natural

surroundings – something that we

can all do, no matter whether it’s

in a forest, a park, or even a treelined


In the presence of Covid-19

and beyond, our bond with

nature will continue to play

an important role in healing

and sustaining wellbeing. If

you’re thinking about

developing your

relationship with

nature and joining a

guided forest bathing

experience for the

first time, you may

encounter some

surprising benefits...


One of the first things you’ll

notice is the slow pace of forest

bathing. It’s not a hike, or even a

walk with a destination, it’s about

pausing to fully immerse yourself

in nature. We’re so used to living

life at a frantic pace, it can be

challenging to decelerate. That’s

why a forest guide will spend time

easing participants through that

transition, so you can gradually

adjust to the pace of the natural

environment. When you learn

how to pause, it helps switch your

nervous system from fight-or-flight

to rest-and-digest mode, which

allows for relaxation and healing.


With each invitation from the

guide to take in more of your

surroundings, your senses become

awakened to the sights, sounds,

touches, smells, and even tastes

around you. We’re accustomed

to filtering out our senses, so

many people are surprised by the

intensity they experience once

they’ve allowed themselves to be

fully immersed. For example, you

might begin to notice the faintest

rustle of the trees, an insect

sheltering in the curls of a leaf,

the smoothness of a pebble, or the

earthy flavour of woodland fruit.

Things we normally miss or ignore,

become more visible and potent.


When we become more aware of

our senses and respond to them

immediately, we adjust into a

different state of being that’s alive

to the present moment. It can be

an enlightening experience when

we start to notice new physical

and emotional sensations – an

embodiment of a deeper sense of

awareness where we remember

we’re part of nature, rather than

separate from it. Nature has

an amazing capacity to take us

out of our default settings and

reawaken thoughts, associations

and memories, which is why forest

bathing is a unique and deeply

personal experience for everyone.


Forest bathing encourages us to be

curious, and reconnect with our

ability to freely explore and play in

nature. It depends on the emotion

and energy you experience at the

time, but you might be drawn

to walking barefoot, creating a

pattern with twigs, or simply lying

under a tree to watch it swaying in

the breeze. As adults, seldom do

we have an opportunity to allow

that natural childlike curiosity to

lead us somewhere and express

ourselves. It can be a liberating

feeling that can lighten the burden

of worry, stress, pain, or trauma.


Far from a solitary experience,

forest bathing can spark powerful

connections and relationships with

the guide, others, and the forest

itself. In small group experiences,

people come together to share

reflections if they wish to,

As adults, seldom

do we have an

opportunity to allow that

natural childlike curiosity

to lead us somewhere

and express ourselves

which creates a trusting bond that

encourages bravery and openness.

Even when it’s just an individual

and the forest, people often feel a

sense of reciprocal connection and

communication. Many express a

sense of falling back in love with

nature, deeper gratitude, and a

compulsion to protect the forest

and the wider natural world.

Forest bathing is open to everyone.

You don’t need to have any

particular fitness or knowledge of

nature, and there are even virtual

experiences you can do at home. I

invite you to start building a deeper

connection with your natural

surroundings – you might be

surprised what that brings for you.

Sam Wright is an ACC coach and

certified forest therapy guide. Visit


to learn more about

her work.

Ask the experts

Belinda Raitt answers your

questions on working during the


Read more about Belinda on


QI’ve been made

redundant and

am feeling lost.

What are some next

steps I can take?

Redundancy can feel

A hugely unsettling. Any

change in our lives requires

adjustment, and we tend to

attach a lot of meaning to


I’ve realised

during lockdown

that I’m unhappy

in my job, and want to

launch my own business

– but I’m scared to

make the jump. Do you

have any advice?


Go for it! Life is too short to

be unhappy in your job. The

Japanese have a concept called

our work. We often use it to

define who we are, so when

we no longer have a job, we

can struggle with a sense of

identity, along with worries

about whether we have enough

savings to keep us going.

These concerns often make

us jump into the first job that

comes along, regardless of

whether it’s the right fit. Treat

ikigai, which roughly translates

as your sense of purpose, and

what gets you out of bed in the

morning. For them, it’s a way of

life, and to not feel a sense of

enjoyment and purpose in your

work is unacceptable.

If you have a chance to do

something that gives you

this sense of purpose, do

it! Change is scary – it’s the

fear of the unknown – but

experience shows that our

this pause as an opportunity

to explore what you really

want and need from your

work (and life!). Be kind to

yourself. We make better

decisions when we’re in a

good place, so take time

to relax and focus on your

health (mental and physical)

so that you stay positive and


brains imagine scenarios far

worse than reality. Do your

market research, don’t be

afraid to ask for advice from

friends or others in the industry.

Also, trust your instincts. A

business plan helps to work

out cash flow and where

the money will come from.

A business is more likely to

succeed if you can be flexible

enough to adapt to changing


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

Top tips for those feeling lost

in their career right now:

1. Don’t be afraid of change.

It’s the path to better

times ahead. If it’s feeling

overwhelming, just take it

one small step at a time,

until you are where you

want to be.

2. Spend some time thinking

about what you really

enjoy. Draw up a list of

what you love doing (your

values and motivators),

what you are good at

(your strengths), and what

you can get paid for (your

experience/skill set).

3. Enlist the help of a career

coach who will help

you to work out what’s

important to you, and how

to go about finding work

that gives you a sense of



I’m working

from home and

am struggling

to maintain my

boundaries between

work and life – what

can I do?

AIt’s important to stick to

a routine when you’re

working from home, and to

keep a separation between

your working day and time to

yourself. Treat your working

days as you would normally do.

Get up at the same time, put

work clothes on. Stop for lunch,

and take time to get some fresh

air and clear your head.

If you have the space to set up

your online office in a different

room, this helps to maintain

the boundary, too. At the end

of your day, close the door to

your office space, mentally and

physically. Be clear with others

that you are not available to

answer emails or calls after

hours, and be firm with yourself

about ignoring emails or calls

until the following morning!

A change is brought about

because ordinary people do

extraordinary things


Photography | Kate Mes7

What is


It’s an intimate condition that causes pain,

embarrassment, relationship problems,

can ruin your sex life – and often goes

undiagnosed, too. But do not despair, as

around eight out of 10 of those afflicted can

benefit from therapy and treatment

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Sexual relationships in

the modern world are

complicated. On the

surface, it seems like

we’re hooking up more

than ever. Everyone is swiping

right and captivated by Love Islandesque

romance. But statistics show

that British adults are having less

sex now than in previous years.

As our stress levels rise and

our libidos lower, connecting

physically with your partner can

sometimes feel like an obligation

instead of an act of love. For some

people though, sex is a scary

prospect because it’s a source of

physical discomfort. In fact, one

in 10 women in the UK experience

pain during sex, and many others

are suspected to have a condition

called vaginismus, which regularly

goes undiagnosed.


It occurs when muscles in the

vagina contract in anticipation of

pain. Those affected by vaginismus >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 33

describe it as a burning or stinging

sensation. Some people first

become aware of it when they try

to use a tampon, and say it feels

like ‘hitting a wall’ inside their

vagina. For others, it may be during

penetrative sex, or while having

a pelvic examination. Either way,

it makes entry painful, and often


Living with the condition

can cause embarrassment and

relationship problems, due

to avoidance or lack of sexual

intimacy. Sweeping the problem

under the carpet can have a ripple

effect, and lead to feelings of shame,

isolation, and low self-esteem.


The true number of vaginismus

sufferers is immeasurable because

there is so much stigma around the

condition. Ignoring the problem

can put pressure on your romantic

relationships, and you may avoid

sexual intercourse altogether. Even

for those who choose not to have

penetrative sex, it can be a barrier to

important medical examinations.

Experienced sexologist and

psychotherapist Penelope Bould

says that the condition is an

unconscious reaction and is no

one’s fault. “It involves involuntary

muscular spasm, so your vagina

is a no-entry zone sometimes, or

all the time.”


The cause of vaginismus is often

psychological, and is commonly

linked to trauma, depression,

anxiety, and post-traumatic stress

disorder. According to Penelope:

“Fear is often at the heart of


This could be a result of

childhood abuse, harmful sexual

acts, or a coercive relationship.

Traumatic childbirth or

apprehension around pregnancy

can also be to blame, as can

genital surgery or radiotherapy.

You may be unable to remember

exactly what triggered the fear

itself, yet your body still has a

physical reaction to penetration.

It can also come and go,

meaning that you may only

have a physical reaction in

some situations, or with

particular people. At other times,

penetration is achieved painlessly.


Before vaginismus can be

diagnosed, medical tests and an

examination are recommended

in order to rule out any physical

conditions which could be

responsible for the pain.

Understandably, the mere thought

of this can cause more anxiety

than the condition itself.

Penelope suggests enlisting the

help of a trusted friend or support

worker to have in the room to ease

any emotional distress. You could

also ask to record your visit to

your GP or gynaecologist if you’re

worried that your heightened

anxiety might mean that you

miss important information. That

way, all you have to do is focus on

staying calm, as you can return to

the recording later on.

Once diagnosed, a fully trained

psychotherapist will explore your

history in a constructive and

supportive way, and provide a

range of techniques to suit your

needs. Many of these can be used

at home and may involve physical

Sweeping the

problem under

the carpet can

have a ripple

effect, and

lead to feelings

of shame,

isolation, and

low self-esteem

exercises, medication, positive

statements, mindfulness, and

relaxation techniques.

34 • happiful.com • August 2020

• Primary vaginismus is when

putting anything inside your

vagina has never been possible.

• Secondary vaginismus is when it

occurs at any time later in life.

• Vaginismus can also be

an issue for someone who

was born intersex, or who

has experienced Gender

reassignment surgery. For

people who have had a

vagionplasty, it is very

important to have a physical

maintenance regimen, in

addition to any therapy.

Penelope Bould

If you feel anxious about

intercourse, then the thought of

psychosexual therapy may terrify

you even more, but it’s helpful to

remember that there is nothing

physically intimate about the


“Later in the treatment, clients are

instructed how to gently use some

small devices at home, starting

with a really small one, at your

own pace,” says Penelope, “to

be used in conjunction with the

therapy and special exercises and


Many therapists recommend

couple psychosexual therapy if

you’re in a relationship, as this can

give your partner space to talk.

It may also flag up any abusive

behaviour that may be contributing

to your condition.

The good news is that clinical

trials have found that 80% of people

receiving treatment for vaginismus

see the benefits. Recovery time can

vary, and while some people needed

up to six months of treatment, others

achieved pain-free intercourse in as

little as five weeks.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 35

Happiful reads…

From discovering your power, to learning to love yourself, we

share four of this month’s unmissable new releases

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Depicting the tension

between mothers and

daughters, secondgeneration


and first-generation cultural

expectations, and Black identity

in a predominantly white society,

Zalika Reid-Benta’s debut novel

creates an unforgettable picture

of growing up between worlds.

Told through 12 interconnected

stories, Frying Plantain follows

protagonist Kara from girlhood

to adulthood.

Set in Toronto’s Little Jamaica,

we follow along from elementary

school to high school graduation,

as Kara tries to navigate her

Canadian nationality and her

desire to be a ‘true’ Jamaican.

Showing one girl’s experiences

of feeling caught in the middle,

we see how Kara strives to walk

the tightrope between being

seen as too bold or too soft, too

noisey or too quiet. Highlighting

how a single moment can

change a friendship and love to

enmity and hate, well-meaning

protection into control, and

teasing into something that’s

much darker.

Frying Plantain

by Zalika


Out 13 August

Tackling big issues including

race, class, and identity, these

interlinked stories share

a strong emphasis on the

intergenerational relationships

– and pressures – many can feel.

Zalika’s debut novel really is set

to be a modern classic.

Must reads

A Dutiful Boy

by Mohsin


Out 20 August

An emotional

coming of age

memoir all about growing

up queer in a strict Muslim

household, author Mohsin

shares his journey towards

acceptance. From growing

up poor in east London, to

attending Oxford University,

Mohsin’s inspiring story

highlights how we must break

through life’s barriers.


by Kasia Urbaniak

Out 13 August

Offering lessons

on influence,

persuasion, and

power, to help women become

creators of the world they want,

Unbound is part manual, part

manifesto. With author Kasia’s

own experiences of studying to

become a Taoist nun for 17 years

while working as a dominatrix

in New York, discover how to cut

through self-doubt to begin living

your wildest dreams.

A Table for

Friends by Skye


Out now

A beautiful new

recipe book

celebrating the joys of cooking,

A Table for Friends shares the

simple joy of eating with loved

ones – whether that’s cooking

for two or 20. With more than

100 simple but inviting recipes

for last-minute dinners to large

celebrations, this approachable

cookbook has everything to

inspire you in the kitchen.



the taboo of


When Katie found herself experiencing

perimenopause, it brought up a lot of difficult

feelings and questions – including what even is it?

She realised we are conditioned to feel negativity

around this event, but decided she would take back

control and feel empowered at every stage of life

Writing | Katie Phillips

In 2018, I discovered I

was perimenopausal.

The glitch? I was 43.

At the time, I was

experiencing a myriad

of physical ailments and

discomforts – painful

acne, horrific night sweats,

mood swings, brain fog,

a lack of inspiration,

super heavy and irregular

periods, tiredness, and a

frighteningly low mood,

which was starting to feel

like depression.

This fluctuating and

generally low mood was

the toughest thing to

deal with, and seemed to

come out of nowhere. It

never occurred to me that

perhaps all of my ‘issues’

were linked, until some

friends who said (I initially

thought jokingly): “Perhaps

you’re in perimenopause?”

I felt overwhelmed. How

could this be happening?

Surely menopause was

something that began

after turning 50? It wasn’t

on my radar at all, and I’d

never even heard the term,


For those who are also

unaware, perimenopause

is the time leading up to

menopause, when your

hormone levels start to

shift. That period of time

can be anything from a

few months to several

years. Eventually your

periods will stop, and once

you’ve not menstruated

for a full 12 months, you

have officially reached


My conditioning led

to me believing that

menopause was a horrible

nightmare, and my initial

response was to start

feeling undesirable, old,

and on a downhill slope

– all of which heightened

my symptoms, and I

felt even worse. But as a

transformational self-love

coach, author and speaker,

it occurred to me that I

wasn’t responding in a

conscious, empowered,

or masterful way to a very

natural part of life.

While conversations

around puberty, periods,

and giving birth have

become more socially

acceptable, menopause is

still surrounded in secrecy.

Why did it feel so shameful

and disempowering to

realise I was reaching this

phase of my womanhood?

I decided to make my

experience of menopause

positive and life-affirming.

I wasn’t going to allow my

conditioning to create my

experience. I intended to

get back in the driver’s seat.

I felt a similar

empowerment when I left

my corporate career and

trained in transformational

coaching about 11 years

ago, after a major wake-up

call (AKA a breakdown)

at the age of 35. A lifechanging

healing journey

awakened me to the

realisation that I was

self-sabotaging every

area of my life due to

conditioning that I wasn’t

enough. I learned a new

way of living, where I got

to choose thoughts and

beliefs that supported me

in having the life I desired.

I learned to love myself,

and I now help other

women to do the same. >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 37

It occurred to me that I

wasn’t responding in a

conscious, empowered,

or masterful way to a

very natural part of life

As I contemplated how

I’d approach menopause

more positively, I thought

about my mum. They say

a woman’s experience of

perimenopause can often

be similar to her mum’s,

and as I thought this

through, I was horrified to

realise that when my mum

took her own life she was

49. She would have been in


Mum always had a

propensity towards feeling

sad and withdrawn. I

sensed her low moods

from a very early age, but

I only recently discovered

that she tried to overdose

around 1975. She had

postnatal depression

(PND), although it was

never formally diagnosed,

because in the early 70s

PND wasn’t as understood

as it is today.

Sadly, this seems to be

a theme in mum’s life –

unnecessary suffering

because the mental

health issue she was

dealing with wasn’t yet

understood or properly


During her early 40s,

I remember mum

experiencing hot flashes,

which she laughed

away. Mostly, however,

I remember her moods

being particularly

challenging. She seemed

more withdrawn than

usual, she would anger

easily, and seemed

really sensitive. I felt on

eggshells around her.

I put her low mood

down to the traumatic

divorce she’d recently

gone through with my

dad. Her whole life had

turned on its head, and

it was a terribly difficult

time. Mum was going

through a major life

overhaul at the same time

as her hormones were

clearly fluctuating.

In 1991, at the age of

43, my mum attempted

suicide. It was blamed on

the divorce, and she was

diagnosed as clinically


Mum was prescribed

antidepressants and

therapy, based on her

diagnosis of depression. I

never heard any mention

of perimenopause.

Hormonal shifts were

never discussed.

She began another

relationship shortly after

her suicide attempt, and it

seemed to be an optimistic

new beginning. Sadly, that

relationship ended five

years later.

I remember the day mum

killed herself very clearly.

I was the last person to

speak with her.

It was 1996. I was a

22-year-old advertising

exec, newly in love, with

the world at my feet. I was

about to finish work for

the day, and thought to call

to check-in with her, as she

had been having a rough

time. She still lived in the

same house as her ex,

but in separate bedrooms

while they waited for it

to be sold. She had taken

to locking herself in her

room at about 5pm, to

avoid any interaction with

her ex when he returned

from work.

When we spoke she

was in tears. Life seemed

so hard for her in that

moment, and she was

feeling incredibly

defeated. Her speech

was slurring, and when I

queried why, she assured

me she had just taken her

medication, which made

her drowsy, so she was

going to go to sleep early.

It turned out that she had

overdosed. She died that

night, completely alone,

and was found 24 hours


38 • happiful.com • August 2020

Katie’s ‘My Menopause – An Interview Series’ is a free

resource, intended to empower you with awareness,

practical tips, and alternative ways of thinking about

menopause. Visit theschoolofself.love/my-menopause

I feel very strongly that

her experience could

have been avoided if

menopause was better

understood, and not

seen as something to be

ashamed of.

Depression, anxiety, and

mood swings are common

in perimenopause,

and from my personal

experience it’s a scary and

lonely place to be when

you don’t understand why

you suddenly feel so low.

Information, as they say,

is power, and while I had

no clue what was going on

in my body, I felt worse

every day. I can see now

that this would have been

my mum’s experience – it’s

even been reported that

50–54 is the age group with

the highest suicide rate

for women in the UK. The

average age of menopause

is 51.

The day I decided I would

own the natural shifts in

This time of life has the potential to be

the most empowering rite of passage.

It’s also an opportunity for a woman to

know and love herself

my body and not give in

to societal conditioning,

I started to reach out to

experts for information.

I lined up 18 experts to

interview, as I wanted the

best advice, and to make

it publicly available to

help others as a way of

honouring my mum.

I’ve come to discover

that this time of life has

the potential to be the

most empowering rite

of passage. It’s also an

opportunity for a woman

to know and love herself,

because her body is literally

asking her to finally put

herself first, in order to

experience her hormonal

shifts with ease.

I’m pleased to report

that my experience of

perimenopause has shifted

dramatically! Awareness,

education, expert support,

some simple dietary and

exercise shifts, plus a new

supplement regime, have

me feeling so much better.

I am finding my own way to

navigate perimenopause,

and I am keen for others to

find their way, too.

Self-love is selfresponsibility,

and I am

passionate about inviting

women to take the time

to get educated about this

very natural stage of life.

I can’t bear the idea of a

woman going through

what my mum did – in this

day and age, that is utterly



Katie’s true story brings

sadness but, even more so,

a strong dose of inspiration.

Katie’s determination

to explore menopause

allowed her to come to

terms with a difficult life

change that affects so

many people, which, in

turn, helped her maintain

her own wellbeing. Katie’s

empowerment throughout

this process is evident,

and it’s not only

making a positive

difference on a

personal level, but

for others too!

Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

August 2020 • happiful.com • 39

How to move house, mindfully

Moving house can be a massive life-change, and may bring up a whole raft of

emotions – not to mention the stress involved. But if you’re facing an upheaval,

and feeling daunted or overwhelmed, know that you don’t have to face it alone.

Here, a psychodynamic psychotherapist shares her advice to help your move

through the physical and emotional changes

Writing | Vicky Reynal

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Anyone who has been

through a house move

knows how stressful

it can be. For the most

part, a move can be an exciting

new beginning, but sometimes

experiences that we haven’t dealt

with can hold us back, and prevent

us from really enjoying it.

Having been through a dozen

moves myself, and working as a

psychotherapist with many expat

clients, I’m curious about what

makes them so difficult?

There are those who had to

cope with a lot of uncertainty

growing up, so the unknowns that

come with moving evoke early

insecurities, and create a sense of

unease. What will my new boss

think of me? Why can’t I get along

with this new co-worker? There can

be insecurities about performance,

belonging, trust… Or others who

felt they never belonged in their

family/school/social groups, and

moving to a new place triggers fears

of not fitting in. And with moves

come goodbyes, which can be

particularly hard to deal with.

Moves can also put a stress on

present relationships. People

have different approaches and

coping strategies when it comes

to dealing with change, and as

these emerge people can find

that they clash.

So how can it be a less stressful

life event, and what should you do

if it’s still hard to manage?


The reality of moving is that there’s

a lot that needs doing, and a bit

of planning can help reassure

you that you’ve set time aside for

everything. Some people find ‘todo’

lists particularly helpful in

keeping them organised, and

feeling that they’re in control.


Don’t demand the impossible

from yourself. Aim for a realistic

amount of tasks to be completed

each day leading up to the move.

Give yourself time to complete the

tasks, and recruit appropriate help

for completing them. If possible,

take a few days off work, as you’ll

find that you never have ‘too much’

free time when a moving date



When you begin to feel

overwhelmed by it all, take time

to remind yourself of what you’re

gaining from this move: is it a

bigger space? A promotion? Are

you moving to a new place you’re

excited about? Basically, remind

yourself that the difficulties of today

will be worth the effort in the end.



If you haven’t had good

experiences with moves in the

past, and it’s hard to stay positive

about the situation, remember that

history need not repeat itself –

part of what happens is in your

hands, so you can decide how

this next phase of your life will

evolve. How can you set things up

to be more successful this time?

How can you learn from your past




If you’re struggling, say so. It’s

common, when family and

friends ask how it’s going, to

be tempted to reply that it’s all

“fine”. Usually people give this

response in an effort not to worry

others, or maybe as a defence

against recognising that it’s harder

than expected. Or maybe on the

surface, the actual move is going

OK, but emotionally you’re feeling

vulnerable (worried, lonely,

overwhelmed), and it’s helpful

to talk about it. With partners

involved in the move, it’s beneficial

to simply speak about the realities

of the situation, and how each of

you are experiencing the change.


I’ve often seen parents focusing

their attention on how the

move is going for their

children, but neglecting their

own feelings, or people who

just ‘power through’ by bottling

up a lot of emotions, until they

become unmanageable. But if the

past is holding you back, or you

just need to speak to someone

detached from the situation,

perhaps consider seeking extra

support in this difficult time of

transition and change.

If we’re not in touch with how we

are experiencing things, if we don’t

reflect on our experiences, then

we aren’t just protecting ourselves

from the pain, we are missing

out on all the excitement. So in a

move too, there will be anxieties

and challenges as well as hopes

and surprises. It is by managing

the former that we get to enjoy the

process and the endgame.

Vicky Reynal works as a

psychodynamic psychotherapist in

her private practice in London. She

has experience with a wide range

of cultures and challenges, having

lived in nine different countries,

and has helped clients struggling

with a variety of issues, including

self-esteem, relationship and sexual

difficulties, depression, trauma, and


August 2020 • happiful.com • 41

Seeing green

Forget hi-tech fitness trackers, jumping on the next inaccessible

wellness trend, or NutriBulleting the contents of your fridge, the

key to ultimate wellbeing could be as simple as stepping outside

Writing | Claire Munnings

Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

Nowadays, self-care is

big business. According

to the Global Wellness

Institute, the wellbeing

industry was worth an estimated

£3.4 trillion in 2018 – and it will

have only grown since then. But

do we really need all the latest

‘must-buys’ in order to feel better

in ourselves? Could, in fact, the

answer to a healthier and happier

life be simply lying outside our

front door?

Experts such as Lee Chambers,

an environmental psychologist

and wellbeing consultant,

certainly think so. For Lee, nature

is an essential part of human

wellbeing, and something that

can support us in numerous

ways. “Staying in-touch with the

great outdoors improves our

wellbeing, both physiologically and

psychologically, and the benefits

are well-researched,” he explains.

This is not necessarily

groundbreaking news – and it’s

something we’re probably all

well aware of – but do we really

appreciate all that nature can do

for us?

“Ecotherapy has shown to

be an effective treatment for

some people living with mild to

moderate depression, and when

surveyed people report higher

mood levels, more motivation and

vigour, after exposure to nature,”

Lee says of its happiness-boosting

effects. “There is evidence to

suggest that walking in nature

promotes higher concentration,

higher performance, and increased

creativity, and the University of

Kansas even found that it can

increase our ability to solve

problems, too.”

And that’s not all. “There is a raft

of other benefits, such as sunlight,

and its effect on our serotonin,

circadian rhythms, and vitamin D

production,” Lee adds. “Outdoor

activity gets our blood flowing,

improves our cardiovascular

system, and helps us benefit from

the neurological processes of

exercising. On another note, it

awakens our senses, and fills us

with the clarity that we need in

the busy modern world. We often

feel more grateful when we are

in the full sensory experience of

nature, and we connect with the

idea of being part of something

much larger when we stand beside

a great oak.”

It certainly seems that recent

events have made a number

of us reassess our relationship

with nature – perhaps thanks

to the sense of gratitude Lee

mentions. When lockdown was

at its strictest and we only had

one opportunity to get outside

to exercise each day, being in

the fresh air felt like a welcome

relief – and not something to take

for granted. Suddenly many of us

were awakened once again to the

wonder of the outdoors, and the

importance of our countryside.

Whether these feelings will last or

not is another question, but either

way this can be seen as a welcome

move away from previous attitudes.

The past few years have seen

stark warnings from experts about

the disastrous impact that nature

deficit disorder (a feeling of being

alienated from the great outdoors)

could be having on our behavior

and overall wellbeing. And, with

data suggesting that the average >>>

us using them through exploiting

our psychological hooks, many

of us are spending more time in

urban and indoor environments

than ever before. We also have

the speed of life, which generally

means many people put getting

outside to the back of their queue

of things to do.”

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be

difficult to enjoy the green

environment around us. Whether

it’s a quick walk through a local

park, stepping on to the grass

barefoot, or even feeling droplets

of rain fall on our face, getting

out in the fresh air can give us

the boost we need. And the best

news? Recent research shows that

we need less than 20 minutes a

day to reap the benefits. Try these

great nature-inspired activities

and breathe in the goodness of the

world around you.

Outdoor activity awakens our senses, and

fills us with the clarity that we need in the busy

modern world

Brit spends up to 90% of their time

indoors, it’s little wonder we can

sometimes feel disconnected from

what’s outside our four walls.

As Lee explains, a lot of us have

been guilty of ignoring the beauty

of the world around us. “It’s a

complex issue that is especially

prevalent for our younger

generation,” he says. “The benefits

of nature are, generally speaking,

not valued in western culture. And

as most of the technology devices

we have today are designed to keep


How often do you look up? Many

of us spend our days walking with

our heads down, or having our

eyes focused on our phones, but

observing the sky – both in the

day or at night – can bring plenty

of enjoyment. A recent study

by Coventry University found

that stargazing helps promote

various aspects of wellbeing

through the idea of fascination,

and other work, conducted by the

University of California, Irvine,

has revealed that a sense of awe –

something often associated with

sky and stargazing – can make us

more selfless and considerate of

others. Have fun cloud watching,

or stand outside on a clear night

and see what constellations you

can spot.

A sense of awe –

often associated with

sky and stargazing

– can make us

more selfless and

considerate of others



The Japanese practice of shinrinyoku

(literally translated as forest

bath) has gained much traction

in recent years. Developed in

the 1980s, it was incorporated

into the Japanese government’s

health programme soon after,

as countless pieces of research

highlighted its benefits. It

involves using all your senses to

connect with the space around

you while walking through a

forest or wood. Supporters of the

practice believe it can help guard

against certain conditions, as

well as reduce anxiety and stress,

and boost the immune system.

Walk slowly and aimlessly in a

tree-studded area to enjoy the

benefits, and savour the sounds,

smells, and sights around you.


Like to dip your toes in the

water? Wild swimming has been

growing in popularity as people

enjoy the invigorating sense of

freedom it brings. Swimming

is known to be great for your

mental and physical health –

throw in a beautiful setting and

the benefits grow further. There

have been numerous studies

that show immersing yourself in

cold water can boost your happy

hormones, reduce your levels of

stress hormones, and even help

lower inflammation in the body.

Discover a new side to your local

rivers and lakes by donning a

wetsuit and jumping in.


Also known as earthing, this

practice simply involves standing

barefoot or touching the natural

environment around us. Gwyneth

Paltrow, and followers of her

website, ‘goop’, are among the

proponents of it, and although the

idea that it allows you to benefit

from the earth’s electric charge

may sound a little wacky, research

does indicate its benefits. In fact,

a study published in the Journal

of Environmental and Public Health

suggests that earthing can help

reduce stress, aid sleep, lower

inflammation, and more. Step out

on the grass with no shoes on,

sink your hands into the soil, or

run your fingers up and down an

old tree trunk.


Think bird watching is just for the

older generation? Think again.

Identifying birds in your garden,

watching them in flight, or while

building a nest, is calming and

restorative – and certainly not

reserved solely for the retired. In

fact, #birdwatching has a massive

4.7 million posts on Instagram,

and there’s an increasing number

of apps dedicated to helping

twitchers of all ages track

what they see. Research by the

University of Surrey has even

found that listening to birdsong

could be better at relaxing us than

using an app to meditate. Time to

dig out the binoculars?


There are still plenty of ways to

get a hit of nature. Lee Chambers

shares his top tips…

Look up: Even if you’re

surrounded by skyscrapers, the

sky is an inescapable piece of

nature that is ever-moving. Take

off your headphones, put your

phone away, and turn your gaze

up to feel the world around you.

Create a garden sanctuary:

Plants are regenerative to

our wellbeing. If you’re short

on space, creating your own

micro-farm or herb garden on

your windowsill can bring great

satisfaction, as well as exposure

to mycobacterium vaccae, which

stimulates serotonin production

and makes us happier.

Get out and about: Plan trips to

gardens, woodland, and nature

centres when it’s safe to do so. Be

grateful for being able to access

these, and enjoy the benefits of

being close to nature.

Watch nature documentaries:

It might not be quite the same

as seeing animals in their real

habitats, but research by the

University of California, Berkley

and BBC Earth has revealed that

watching nature documentaries

can have a positive effect on our

mental health.

Claire Munnings is a health and

wellbeing journalist. She enjoys writing

about how we can live more mindfully

and introduce joy into our days.

Lee Chambers is an environmental

psychologist, life coach, and wellbeing

consultant, whose work aims to help

people reach their full potential. Find

out more at essentialise.co.uk

How wonderful it is that nobody

need wait a single moment before

starting to improve the world


Photography | Raphael Nast

One to remember

Five tips for creating a truly personal memory box

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler




“Boarding passes from

our Australia trip!”

– Alex

“I have a memory box from

2001, when my daughter had

heart surgery abroad. I still

haven’t dared to open it yet. It

contains a lock of hair, baby ECG

leads, a tiny wristband, cards,

photos, and a daily diary from

one of the most challenging

times of my life. Maybe I’ll be

brave enough to open it one

day. Very bittersweet times,

but lots of kindness too.” – Jen

“Confetti from a Coldplay

concert four years ago.”

– Millie

“My sister sent me a box of my

favourite cakes from Bettys in

York last week. I’m keeping the

box to put in my memory box.”

– Lesley

“A glowstick!”

– Vickie

Time flies and, before you

know it, the moments that

brought us so much joy are

a thing of the past. But we

don’t have to let those feelings slip

away. Keeping a memory box is a

great way to gather together bits

and pieces that have the power to

transport us to another time. Ready

to start your collection? We’ve got

five tips to get you started.


You don’t have to go out and spend a

lot of money on a box. In fact, your

memory box could be something as

simple as a repurposed shoe-box.

But whatever you start with, you

can use this as an opportunity to get

crafty. Cover your box in wrapping

paper, newspaper or magazine

cuttings, or fabric – new, or saved

from old sentimental items. Get

your creative juices flowing, and

make something meaningful to you.


While it can be fun to pull out

surprises, if you’re planning on

saving a lot, you don’t have to cram

it all into the same box. In fact,

categorising things into themes

can help you relive times that you

feel especially nostalgic for. You

might decide to create a box for a

certain period of your life, or for a

relationship or friendship. Or if you

are putting things in together, you

could craft pouches to sort items by

dates or significance.


You will know intuitively what

does and doesn’t hold emotional

value to you. At the same time,

you don’t have to keep everything,

and shouldn’t feel guilty about

letting some things go. Keep

the things that tell a story, and

to which you have the strongest

emotional connection.


A memory box can be a deeply

personal thing, or it can be

something to share with loved

ones. You might start a memory

box for a baby, to give to them

when they turn 18, or you

might make one for a partner to

celebrate a special anniversary or

milestone. Save items from things

that you have done together, or

that remind you of them, and

create something distinctly



With every item that you put into

your box, take a moment to reflect

on why it means something to

you. Through the ups and downs,

it’s important to take time to

acknowledge how our past has

led us to the places where we are

today. Whatever you put in your

memory box, no matter how odd

or insignificant it might seem to

others, reflect on how it touched

your life, and shaped the person

that you are today.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 47



going slow

Ella Mills may be pregnant with her second daughter, bringing out a brand new

cookbook, and considering the changes that could make a big difference to life

after lockdown – but the biggest thing that keeps her up at night? Her sourdough...

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Ella Mills has found a new

hobby – baking bread.

“I’m obsessed with making

sourdough,” she laughs,

explaining that the process

occupies her thoughts so much

that she has, on occasion, been

known to bring her proving

loaves and starter mix into the

bedroom at night for fear that

the kitchen might be too cold –

much to the amusement of her

husband, Matt.

“And, because I’m pregnant

and have to pee all the time,” she

continues, “when I get up at night,

I have to stop myself from putting

on the light to have a look at how

the loaves are doing...”

Ella’s bread-based obsession is

a result of lockdown, and finding

herself with more time – thanks

to the absence of the morning

commute, back-to-back meetings,

and moving between her central

London office and deli as the

founder and creative director of

the hugely successful Deliciously

Ella brand.

But it’s fair to say that Ella still

has quite a full plate on which to

cram her new baking ambitions.

Her latest book, Quick and Easy:

Plant Based Deliciousness will be

published this summer, her role in

the family business she started in

2012 is as wide-ranging as ever, and

she continues to produce a charttopping

podcast alongside her

husband and CEO of Deliciously

Ella, Matt.

The couple are also expecting

their second child this autumn,

their daughter, Skye, is just 10

months old when we speak, and

they all share their home with

furry family member Austin, a

playful Cocker Spaniel who, Ella

notes, is delighted with their

extended time at home together.

While lockdown may have

brought about a pooch-approved

change of pace, Ella is all too

aware of the devastating impact it

has had on others. She describes

her own experiences as ‘mixed’,

thankfully without illness, with

the main challenges centering

around responsibilities as business


“As with everyone, the beginning

of lockdown was tough,” she

explains. “I think partly just from

a Deliciously Ella perspective, we

were trying to sort out a thousand

changes, and that was pretty


“Once we got a better handle on

everything, and settled into a new

rhythm, a new plan for the year,

and a new focus, things kind of

levelled out.”

Despite the rocky start to

quarantine, the expulsion of

the ‘old normal’ has brought

some positives, including Ella’s

experience of pregnancy carrying

her second daughter, which

she describes as “a joy, and a

significantly easier experience”,

adding that: “Motherhood has

been the most unbelievable

transformative period of time in

my life. I’ve learnt so, so much.”

As well as the lessons

motherhood continues to offer,

Ella shares that Skye’s arrival last

year signalled a much-needed shift

in her own attitude to work. “I was

working 14 hours a day, six days a

week, and that was just not going

to be sustainable, having a baby.”

Now, her approach has changed,

and Matt has taken an even greater

role in moving the core business

forward. It’s evident from the way

48 • happiful.com • August 2020

Motherhood has

been the most



period of time

in my life

Photography | Sophia Spring

Ella speaks that they both love

what they do, their teamwork, and

each other, very much.

Ella and Matt’s work ethos,

capacity to learn, and share

their failures, was beautifully

illustrated in Ella’s 2018 title The

Plant-Based Cookbook. Stories of

stock concerns, cash flow issues,

business growth challenges, and

burn-out, were nestled between

mouth-watering recipes, and

each chapter led the reader

through the highs and lows of


In 2020, life looks very different

for Ella and family, and so the

narrative surrounding the plethora

of plant-based recipes in Quick and

Easy is one of wellbeing, evidencebased

health information, and

snippets of advice from the

industry experts interviewed on

their podcast. Most importantly to

many who follow her progress, it

includes her own personal health

and wellness experiences over the

past eight years.

“During that time, I’ve come to

appreciate that although wellbeing

is such a complicated topic in

many ways – and impacts so

many areas of our lives from the

way we work, to our relationship,

and friendships – in other ways

it’s really simple,” she says


“There are small things that have

so much science behind them

that we’re not always brilliant

at doing, and yet they can make

such a fundamental difference to

our health. Trying to sleep well,

making time for a bit of exercise,

preparing that easy nourishing

lunch or dinner – they’re all things

that genuinely have a big impact.”

Ella’s passionate advocacy around

wellbeing extends to sharing her

deep love of yoga – a major pillar

in her own wellness plan. “There’s

no better way for me to connect to

how I feel and think,” she enthuses.

“There’s just a sense of peace and

calm that I get from yoga that I

haven’t found from anything else. >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 49

As human beings we

have an unbelievable

ability to adapt and

put one foot in front

of the other

‘Deliciously Ella Quick & Easy:

Plant-Based Deliciousness’ by

Ella Mills (Yellow Kite, £25)

I think that’s why I keep coming

back to it. That’s what pushes me to

practise and learn more.

“And yoga isn’t for everyone,”

Ella explains. “But there are so

many other types of movement

to explore and enjoy, and if you

find what you love, you will keep

coming back to it, too.”

Having and maintaining her own

wellness, Ella says, is a privilege

that she doesn’t take for granted,

because of her own ill-health in

the past. The original Deliciously

Ella blog, and catalyst for her

books and business, emerged

from an extended period of illness

and isolation at home in her early

20s, after being diagnosed with

Postural Tachycardia Syndrome – a

debilitating condition that causes

even the simple act of standing

up to become a overwhelming

challenge for some people.

And how is she today?

“Now, on a day-to-day basis, I feel

good physically and mentally, and

that’s something I’m so grateful for.

My wellness is also a massive workin-progress,

and always will be.”

Further reflecting upon the period

of isolation she spent as a younger

woman, as well as currently social

distancing, Ella ponders the advice

she might now give to her 21-yearold


“I’d probably say enjoy the ride a

little more!” She laughs. “There’s

been so many intensely busy

and scary periods for all kinds

of reasons, and it’s really hard to

enjoy it when you feel like you

could go out of business tomorrow,

and when you’re always moving on

to the next thing. That’s something

I’d like to change.

“I’d also say that this year has

taught us, more than ever, that we

just don’t know what’s coming next,

but as human beings we have an

unbelievable ability to adapt and

put one foot in front of the other.

More trust in our ability to do that

would probably serve us well.”

How to manage

anxiety over returning

to the new normal

We share simple practices to help you manage adjusting to life after lockdown

Writing | Katie Hoare

As schools start to

reopen, and retail

stores return, the

lockdown cloud is

slowly starting to shift.

And while many are eager to feel

a sense of normality again, the

prospect of a ‘new normal’ may

bring some new anxieties.

‘Re-entry anxiety’ – a specific

form of stress related to being

unable or not wanting to adapt

to previous routines – is the fear

of trying to establish, and be

comfortable in, our old lives before

the Covid-19 outbreak. Lockdown

has created a safe bubble for me

(my home) in which my partner

and I exist safely, and the threat of

bursting that makes me nervous.

People experience re-entry

anxiety over a number of things –

for example car accidents, which

can leave victims unwilling to get

back into a car as their association

with the vehicle is negative. And

whether you unfortunately caught

this virus or not, you can still

identify with this anxiety around

returning to normal, which for

the past few months we have been

denied, as this increased the risk of

spreading the outbreak.

I’m comforted to know that I’m

not alone in this fear. A recent poll

by Ipsos MORI found that 67% of

British people feel uncomfortable

about attending large public

gatherings, or music and sporting

events, compared to how they felt

before the virus, and three in five

Brits are sceptical of going to bars

and restaurants, or using public

transport again.

I haven’t ventured far; the weekly

supermarket shop, or the odd trip

to Homebase has been my limit,

but as soon as I see the front of

the shop, there is a noticeable

tightening of my chest. I am on

high alert for anyone within a twometre

radius, and I can recognise

that lockdown and the easing of

it has triggered some previous

anxious habits I thought I had

under control.

We’ve not lived

through a pandemic

before, and re-entry

is inevitable, but it can

be at your own pace

Counsellor and supervisor

Beverley Hills explains that not all

of us are able to embrace change.

“Some people find the thought of

a ‘new normal’ terrifying, and the

fear of the unknown looms large,

often threatening to overwhelm us;

our brain imagines all sorts, but

none of us can predict the future.”

We must remember that this is

unknown territory – we’ve not

lived through a pandemic before,

and re-entry is inevitable, but it

can be at your own pace. While I

may be yearning for my previous

life, I’m taking things slow. Here’s

how you can prepare yourself for

re-entry, and manage your anxiety

around doing so. >>>



Although measures are loosening,

if possible, you don’t have to jump

straight back into your old routine.

If leaving the house on foot is the

only method you’re comfortable

with, stick with it, but try to go a little

further each day. Perhaps introduce

a break on a bench for five minutes,

and learn to be comfortable in the

presence of others – responsibly

of course.

If your office reopens, but you

can still work from home, build up

your attendance gradually, so you

slowly re-establish a routine that’s

comfortable for you.

If you have no control over when

you return to work, have measures

in place that allow you to be as

comfortable as possible, and that you

can detail to your employer. Whether

it’s anxiety over returning to work, or

catching the virus, talking is a great

tool to move forward.



Things may not turn out as you

planned, so try to prepare yourself.

You might struggle with mood

swings and a feeling of unease, so

find a place in your house that you

feel totally comfortable in, and

spend five minutes there, practising

some simple breathing exercises to

create a sense of calm.

Perhaps you have struggled with

panic attacks in the past, and are

nervous that they may return.

Illustration by Dzana

Serdarevic. Submitted for United

Nations Global Call Out To

Creatives – help stop the spread

of Covid-19

Knowledge is key, and engaging in

supportive conversations is paramount

Practise 10 minutes of mindfulness

a day, tuning into all of your

senses. What can you see, hear,

smell, touch, and taste? When you

feel an attack coming on, try to tap

into this practice, feel your feet on

the ground, and know that you are

safe and grounded.

Beverley says: “Take a moment

and do what we call Socratic

Questioning. Ask yourself what’s

the worst that can happen, what’s

the best that can happen, and

what’s the most likely thing to

happen? That way you can be

prepared for all eventualities

without going down the rabbit hole

of rumination, which as we all

know, leads nowhere.

“Remember, your anxious

thoughts won’t stop things

happening, however they will

ensure you get upset. Pace yourself

– what’s the rush? A good idea is to

talk to a counsellor who can help

you learn how to manage your

anxieties in a healthier way.”


Holistic therapy can be a viable

option to support you through

re-entry anxiety. With a variety

of practices to choose from,

crystal healing in particular can

be effective as its grounding and

energy absorbing qualities can

help evoke the energy you need, to

quell your anxieties.

Try working self-massage into

your daily routine. A simple

practice with powerful benefits,

the power of touch can physically

relax you, ground you in the here

and now, and it gives you the

opportunity to slow down and

acknowledge how you’re feeling.




The thought of my three-year-old

niece returning to nursery makes

me uncomfortable. It makes me

feel helpless. But is it my place to

voice my concerns?

This is tricky. With the fear of

sounding like a judgemental

auntie, I didn’t know how to

broach the subject with my

brother. So instead, I looked at the

facts, I spoke to colleagues with

children, and discovered how they

were managing things.

As I’m not a parent, I didn’t

understand the measures put

in place by each school for the

protection of staff and children,

nor did I understand how the virus

has affected the area my brother

lives in. So I did speak to my

brother, purely to understand how

the nursery would move forward

safely, and this put my worries at

ease. I have to remember that my

brother knows his child best, and

will have taken all precautions to

do what’s right for her.

In this instance, knowledge is

key, and engaging in supportive

conversations is paramount.



Children returning to school

may also be struggling with

anxiety and fear, similar to that

feeling of first starting school.

It’s difficult for a child to fully

understand lockdown, alongside

re-introducing a normal routine

that is still restricted. Clinical

hypnotherapist and NLP

practitioner Les Roberts explains

in her article, ‘Helping children

with anxieties and stresses during

the pandemic’, how you can

support a child struggling to make

sense of the pandemic.

She says: “It’s important to talk

to your children about what’s

happening. Be open and explain

the situation as well as you can.

Talk to them about their feelings,

anxieties, what can you do to make

them feel better, help them find

solutions, offer alternative things

to do to take their minds away

from whatever is causing them to

feel anxious. Reassure them all will

be OK, and you understand what

they are going through. Be mindful

of what you discuss/talk about

within earshot of children.”

If you’re struggling with re-entry

anxiety for yourself, or for others,

try not to put too much pressure

on yourself, and take control of

the things that are in reach. If you

need to talk, Samaritans offer a

free, confidential listening service

available 24/7 on 116 123, or you

can speak to a qualified counsellor

via Counselling Directory.

Whatever the new normal will be,

you’ll adapt, and you’ll find comfort

in the knowledge that you could.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 53



Make now the time to find out more about what matters to you, so you can use your

voice to make a difference. If you’re passionate about being a better ally, please

continue to do your research, educate yourself, and speak up against injustice



Me and White Supremacy:

How to Recognise Your Privilege,

Combat Racism and Change

the World

Many of us are unaware

of just how much white

privilege affects our lives.

Layla Saad created Me and

White Supremacy to help us

dismantle the privilege, so that

we can stop inflicting damage

on people of colour, and help

others do better, too.

(Quercus Publishing, £14.99)



The Daily Show with

Trevor Noah

Comedian and bestselling

author Trevor Noah hosts the

award-winning The Daily Show.

During the show, Trevor and

his team look at the day’s top

headlines through a sharp,

reality-based lens. Trevor’s

mixture of comedy and thoughtprovoking

stories reaches

audiences worldwide.

(Search The Daily Show with

Trevor Noah on youtube.com)




It may seem simple, but

checking in on your friends and family members at difficult times can

mean the world. Ask them how they are doing, and let them know you

are there to support them. Standing up to injustice can be tiring and

draining, look after yourself, and others, so we can continue the fight.

(For tips to get the conversation started visit happiful.com)



‘About Race with

Reni Eddo-Lodge’

Author of Why I’m No Longer

Talking to White People

About Race, Reni Eddo-

Lodge, created the podcast

‘About Race’ to keep up the

conversation around racism,

and find out whether things

really have changed. Black

Lives Matter is louder than it

has ever been before, lets keep

the momentum going.

(Visit aboutracepodcast.com)



Alishia McCullough

Alishia is a mental

health therapist who uses her

platform to speak about Black

feminism, race, body justice, and

anti-diet culture. Follow her for

a mixture of insightful quotes,

topical news stories, and her

own personal experiences.

(Follow @blackandembodied

on Instagram)

54 • happiful.com • August 2020

6 9



Change.org allows people from

all over the world to start campaigns and

influence change in their communities. You

can sign existing petitions, start your own,

and keep up to date with their progress.

There are a number of petitions you can

sign to support the Black Lives Matter

movement, including Justice for George

Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others.

(Find, sign and share petitions

at change.org)

7Ava DuVernay’s documentary

13th uncovers the history

behind the 13th Amendment, and how

this led to the criminalisation of African

Americans. Netflix has made the

documentary free to watch for

non-subscribers in support of Black

Lives Matter.



(Available on Netflix)


Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013 in

response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s

killer. Their mission is to eradicate white supremacy, and

build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on

Black communities. You can help by signing petitions,

learning about racism, and donating to the cause. Join the

movement. (Find out more about how you can show your

support at blacklivesmatter.com)



Move for charity

Walk, run, or dance to

raise money for a cause

that’s important to you! If

you are looking for a UKbased

charity to support,

Stop Hate UK is committed to supporting people affected

by hate crime across the UK.

(Visit stophateuk.org for fundraising tips)

Alishia McCullough | Instagram: @blackandembodied



Consciously supporting Black-owned businesses is one step you can take towards

becoming a better ally. Founder Sam Jameson created Soapsmith products to

capture the vibrant culture of London. The Lavender Hill bath soak is full of

natural ingredients and essential oils to revitalise the skin, body, and mind.

Soapsmith Lavender Hill Bath Soak

(£25, shop online at soapsmith.com)

Win a Soapsmith Lavender Hill Bath Soak!

For your chance to win, simply email competitions@happiful.com

with your answer to the following question:

How many museums are there in London?

a) 120 b) 150 c) 170

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







Reader offer

On an annual subscription using

code HAPPINATURE at shop.happiful.com

Includes postage and packaging (mainland UK). Prices and benefits are correct at the time of printing, using code

HAPPINATURE, which expires on 17 September 2020. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com


A crash wrecked my

life – until I found

my own way back

A serious road accident left Tamara

traumatised and in deep despair. It took

her 10 years to finally discover a path that

helped her to heal from the inside

Writing | Tamara Selaman

In 1999, at the age of

19, I was involved in a

serious road accident

that turned my life

upside down, and created

a series of life-changing

events. I was thrown out

of my car into a field. A

section of my lower spine

was crushed, but I was

breathing. Two days later, I

had a bone graft – titanium

plates and screws inserted

into my spine to help the

bones fuse and re-grow.

In the five years that

followed, I went from

survival to instinct, as

I struggled with my

physical limitations and

excruciating pain. There

were times when the

medication wore off, and I

couldn’t move. Some days,

it would take me hours

of self-treating to be able

to leave the house and

manage my daily tasks.

I was a survivor on the

outside, but inside I was

in a space where I couldn’t

function properly. Anxiety,

depression, and panic

attacks had now become

a constant part of my

existence, and I could feel

myself slipping into the

depths of despair. I was

taking antidepressants

and strong painkillers that

caused side-effects, and I

was totally misunderstood

by those around me.

My mental wellbeing

was slowly deteriorating.

The trauma and negative

emotions were eating me

up from the inside, and

I had days where I felt as

though I couldn’t go on

anymore. I was desperate

to move out of this space.

I wasn’t offered any

form of therapy, and was

unaware that such help

existed as it hadn’t formed

part of my path prior to

the car accident. I was

about to discover a whole

new world.

The year 2004 saw lots

of change. I requested

the removal of the metal

supports and stopped

all my medication, even

though I was in immense

pain. That same year, I

underwent more than

seven major operations,

which added to my

long list of symptoms. I

started to build a form of

relationship with my father

for the first time since I

was eight, and was also

sexually mistreated by an

individual who I thought I

could trust.

Then I was declared

bankrupt – by

recommendation of the

courts, due to the debt

from the finance I had on

the car involved in the car

accident – and was left

completely drained and

traumatised physically,

mentally, emotionally, and

financially. I had never

felt so low in my life. I felt

alone. My mental agony

had now reached its


Then one day, it dawned

on me that it was up to me

to reclaim my life and start

living once again. I decided

to replace my anger with

compassion, to forgive

myself, and to focus on

the things that were in my

control, and able to change

– my health, my energy, my

mindset! >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 57

To find out more about Tamara

and her wellness programme,

search breathe360 on

Facebook, tamaraselaman on

Instagram, or email


I was a survivor on the outside,

but inside I was in a space where

I couldn’t function properly.

Anxiety, depression, and panic

attacks had now become a

constant part of my existence

I needed to heal from the

inside out. This started to

turn my life around, my

spirits were lifted, and I

was improving – not just

my physical health but also

my mental and emotional


Studying, reading books,

and searching the web for

alternate paths of healing,

turned into my passion

and way of life. The next 10

years were spent finding

my way through this maze

of mixed messages about

health, trying and testing

many forms of healing

– both conventional and

alternative. I used the

services of more than 60

medical and alternative

healing experts, but

nothing helped me.

Sometimes, I would even

feel worse if the treatment

wasn’t right for me, and

released what I realise now

was unspoken trauma.

I was depressed, my

mind was jumbled, and

my thoughts toxic. At that

point, I just wanted to

let go of everything and

finally give up.

However, life had other

plans. My symptoms

improved and I started

to get on track. I was in

a relationship, and my

business was delivering

something – dancing

and remedial massage

therapy – that I had a

real passion for. Dancing

has always felt like my

form of meditation and

expressional healing.

In 2012, I gave birth to

a beautiful boy, named

Charlie. I now knew that

my life wasn’t just about

me anymore. When

Charlie was 10 months, I

became a single mum, and

I knew I had to be OK for

me and my child.

That same month, I lost

my father, with whom I

shared a complex, distant

relationship, but had

been building on. I flew

to Canada to say goodbye,

and introduce Charlie to

him. This was a beautiful

moment when he called

him his grandson.

Two years later I lost my

grandfather – the man I

looked up to, the only man

I hadn’t felt abandoned by,

and who was my rock.

Slowly, I was being led

into a path where cellular

healing was of interest,

along with diet and

nutrition. I realised that

everything is energy, and

that blockages caused by

stress, shock, trauma, and

genes affect your flow and

functioning – a bit like a

traffic jam. I knew that

my body’s energy flow

needed to be corrected. I

started with mitochondrial

therapy, and began to work

on the adrenal and limbic

systems (responsible for

emotions, memories, and

stimulation). My mind

started to clear, and my

energy improved.

For the first time in years,

I started to experience

positive change, not just

58 • happiful.com • August 2020

With time, Tamara stopped

looking for symptoms and

started noticing healing

I felt I had started to heal

from within. My thinking

became clearer, my energy

levels soared, and I started

responding – rather than

reacting – to situations

in my mental wellbeing,

but also my physical and

emotional health. I was

activating the body’s

miraculous capacity to

self-heal – I felt like I was

actually watering and

nourishing my roots. I

was excited. I stopped

looking at my symptoms,

and started looking at

the energy system, and

frequency healing that

matches the body’s own

language. I trained in the

NES Health bioenergetic

scanning system, and

began seeing the unseen

happening in my body – I

felt I had started to heal

from within. My energy

levels soared, and I started

responding – rather than

reacting – to situations.

For the first time in a long

time, I felt strong.

My quality of life has

changed beyond belief,

and I am able to better

manage life’s challenges.

I’m now completing

training as a Total Release

Experience Practitioner

with TREUK, which has

added to my understanding

about the importance of

a comprehensive healing

model, releasing stress and

trauma from within.

Looking back at my

years of pain, depression,

trauma, learning, and

growth, I realise that all

along, I was creating a

unique, multi-dimensional

360 approach to

wellbeing, albeit rather


So many of us have

headaches, mood swings,

chronic pain, or low

energy, and while the

standard protocol might

be to take a pill, this often

can reduce symptoms

temporarily, but may not

offer the long-term health

solution you desire. This

inspired me, and today I

run Breathe360, teaching

people how to activate

your body’s own healing

ability by re-energising

your system naturally

from the inside out, like I

have my own.

While it’s a continual

journey, this has turned

into a daily lifestyle and

extension of me, that now

not only supports me, but

also my little family tribe.


Tamara is very strong to have

found a way through such

testing times, and to build a

successful career and family

life. Her story illustrates

though that she didn’t always

realise she had the strength

inside – not only to survive,

but to grow and thrive.

Life can throw some pretty

hard punches, and we all

have times that seem too

difficult to bear. Tamara

reminds us, however, that life

is also full of opportunity. It’s

up to us to take on

the responsibility

to tap into the inner

strength, and begin

our journey on the

road to happiness.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

August 2020 • happiful.com • 59

8 tips for

beating the bloat

Most of us are familiar with having to unbutton a tight pair of jeans after a

slap-up meal. But for some people, bloating can be more regular, painful,

and distressing. Here we uncover the reasons behind the problem, and

come up with some top tips for easing your digestive discomfort

Writing | Jenna Farmer

It’s normal to feel a little

bloated and sluggish after

overindulging, but some people

are plagued with frequent bouts

of bloating, which leave them

feeling really uncomfortable, and

can take a massive toll on their

mental health.

Bloating happens when our body

retains water and gas, leaving our

tummy feeling swollen and full.

While it’s not usually serious, the

anxiety it can cause is huge.

Since it happens suddenly, and

sometimes in the most awkward

of situations, many sufferers

find bloating can impact their

social lives, make them feel selfconscious,

and even affect their


Like any health issue, it’s

important to know that when

it comes to bloating, you’re not

alone. A quick scroll through the

hashtag #mybloatedwardrobe

on Instagram (started by blogger

Lottie Drynan @thetummydiaries)

reveals hundreds of women

sharing the daily reality of living

with bloating.

But what causes bloating to

happen in the first place, and is it


Registered nutritional therapist

Anna Mapson says: “Bloating can

stem from many different reasons,

but more frequent and longer

episodes of bloating can be down

to the strength of digestion.

“If your stomach acid, or

digestive enzymes, are low, you

won’t be breaking food down

properly. This can cause partially

digested food to ferment in the

intestines, resulting in bloating

and gas.

“Food intolerance can also be an

issue for some people,” explains

Anna, who runs a seven-day gut

reset course online (goodnessmenutrition.com)

to help people get to

grips with their gut.

Of course, sometimes bloating

can be an indicator of underlying

conditions (it is a key symptom of

ovarian cancer, for example), so

Anna advises those with ongoing

bloating to always see their GP

before making any diet changes.

Once you’ve ruled these out, it

could be worth looking at your

diet and lifestyle choices to see if

these could potentially help relieve

or lessen your bloating. Here are

some of our top tips...

1. Slow down when you eat

Is your idea of a lunch break

wolfing down a sandwich at

your desk? It turns out eating too

quickly could be to blame for

your bloating episodes. Experts

60 • happiful.com • August 2020

ecommend we chew food around

30 times before we swallow it, but

lots of us eat too quickly – leading

us to swallow more air, which can

cause bloating.

Anna Mapson explains:

“Chewing is really important –

there are no teeth in your stomach!

Also, there are enzymes to start

digestion of carbs in our saliva,

so allowing food to start digesting

in the mouth can really help. Sit

down to eat, don’t eat on the run or

in the car.”

Experts recommend we chew

food around 30 times before we

swallow it, but lots of us eat too

quickly – leading us to swallow

more air, which can cause bloating

2. Tuck into fermented foods.

When it comes to improving your

digestion in general, working on

our microbiome (the collection

of bacteria in our guts) is a great

place to start. Instead of taking a

probiotic, it can often be just as

effective to incorporate fermented

foods – like sauerkraut, kefir and

kimchi – into your diet.

These foods are teeming with

good bacteria to help our digestive

system, but a word of warning:

take it slow. “Some people may

find their bloating gets better with

fermented foods, but others can

find it makes things worse with

more bloating! Start slowly, and

build up,” advises Anna. >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 61

Keep a food diary

Up your fibre

Cut down on

cruciferous veg

3. Up your fibre

Sometimes bloating is actually

caused by constipation, so upping

your fibre can kill two birds with

one stone! Regardless of whether

you’re constipated, fibre is crucial

for improving your digestive

health, and eating a varied diet

that’s rich in fibre will usually

make a real difference to your gut.

“The beneficial microbes we

want to encourage flourish in a

higher fibre diet, so include lots of

vegetables, fruits, pulses, and whole

grains in your diet,” explains Anna.

As with fermented foods, it’s

important to take things slowly,

as a sudden increase of fibre

may temporarily cause stomach

discomfort and diarrhoea. Some

individuals with inflammatory

bowel disease, or even severe

IBS, can find too much fibre may

worsen their symptoms – so work

with your body, and find a level

that works for you.

4. Keep a food diary

There’s no one food that

worsens bloating, but if you’re

experiencing it regularly, and

have been tested by your GP for

other causes, a food diary can

be a practical way to find out

if particular foods are making

things worse.

“A reaction to certain foods

can trigger fermentation and

bloating,” says Anna. Keeping

a food diary will help you find

patterns in your symptoms – but

if you plan to cut food groups out

of your diet, always seek support

from a qualified dietitian or

nutritionist first.

5. Cut down on cruciferous veg

Ever find certain veggies make

things worse? Well it could be

that they fall into the cruciferous

vegetable family. Cabbage,

Brussels sprouts, cauliflower,

and broccoli are all packed with

nutrients, but they’re also high in

raffinose, a complex sugar that

our body sometimes struggles to

digest – meaning it can cause gas

and bloating in some individuals.

It doesn’t mean you can’t eat these

veggies, but it might be worth not

eating too many of them at the

same sitting if you’re particularly

sensitive to them.

62 • happiful.com • August 2020

Sip on fennel tea

Try the low FODMAP diet

Pick up a papaya

For more nutritional insight and

support, and to see if a nutritionist

could help you, check out our free

Happiful app.

Fibre is crucial for improving

your digestive health, and

eating a varied diet that’s

rich in fibre will usually make

a real difference to your gut

6. Sip on fennel tea

When you’re feeling bloated, swap

your regular cuppa for a cup of

fennel tea. Fennel has been a

natural digestion remedy for many

years, with the seeds of fennel

traditionally being chomped on to

aid digestion. We think it’s much

easier to simply brew a cup of

fennel tea instead! Peppermint and

ginger are both good alternatives if

you haven’t got fennel tea to hand.

7. Pick up a papaya

After a big meal, it could be worth

tucking into a bowl of papaya for

dessert. Why? Well this exotic fruit

is known for containing digestive

enzymes, making it a perfect afterdinner

treat. Papain – the main

enzyme found in papaya – helps

break down the food in our gut,

making it easy to digest, and thus

hopefully preventing bloating.

Another enzyme-rich fruit is

pineapple, which contains the

enzyme bromelain. Both of these

fruits are rich in fibre, so they can

also help ease constipation, another

common cause of bloating.

8. Try the low FODMAP diet

While some of the food choices

we’ve mentioned above can

certainly help bloating, some may

find they need to overhaul their

whole diet. The low FODMAP diet

limits certain types of short-chain,

fermentable carbohydrates that are

thought to cause digestive issues in

those with sensitive guts. There’s

some evidence that following this

diet can eliminate bloating and

stomach pain but, given the nature

of the diet, you’ll need to work

closely with a dietitian for support.

Jenna Farmer is a freelance journalist

who specialises in writing about gut

health. She has Crohn’s disease and

blogs about her journey to improve

gut health at abalancedbelly.co.uk

August 2020 • happiful.com • 63

Robert Douglas:

Joy, laughter, and

Black Lives Matter

A quick scroll through blogger Robert Douglas’s Instagram feed will quickly give

you an idea of exactly what he’s about. A capsule of the joy that he finds with

wife Sherrianne, six-year old ‘J’, and two-year-old ‘R’, mixed with important takes

on the issues of today, Robert’s passion is palpable. Here, he speaks about Black

fatherhood, everyday racism, and the power of the online community

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Hi Robert! What drew you to

begin blogging your family life?

I’d just joined Instagram in

2016, and I came across dad

blogger Simon Hooper, ‘Father

of Daughters’. I was following his

journey, and I connected with

more dads, but then I quickly

realised that the space was

predominantly white.

There’s been a reputation about

Black dads not being present and

not being engaged. I wanted to put

my stamp on the blogging world

and say: “We’re here. We exist.

We do exactly the same things as

everybody else. Let’s break down


That’s still one of my focuses,

but it’s also about bringing joy in

times of heaviness. We naturally

have a laugh in the family anyway,

and so hopefully we put a smile on

people’s faces.

You’re also open about anxieties

surrounding fatherhood. Do

you consciously try to strike a


At first, I was really conscious

of what I put online and I was

thinking, this needs to be a polished

picture. Then after a while I just

thought to myself, this isn’t real. So,

I started writing about my worries.

I got a lot of messages from other

dads to say: “It’s great that you’re

talking about this because I feel

exactly the same, but don’t know

how to express it.” I think that gave

me the confidence to share more,

and to make the account more real.

Especially in this time, with the

Black Lives Matter movement,

it’s opened all of the wounds and

emotions that myself and others

have hidden for a long time,

because we don’t want to disrupt

things, or because it helps us cope.

You’ve recently begun sharing

examples of times you’ve

experienced racist discrimination.

Could you speak to that?

I had a friend who had an issue

with a family just up the road from

him – he was white and the family

were white. It got to the point

where he wrote a letter to them.

We were about 14 at the time, so it

didn’t say anything too bad, but he

told me he posted it.

On the Monday, I was sitting in

my English lesson and a teacher I

didn’t know asked to speak to me,

in earshot of everybody else. She

told me that I’d been accused of

harassing a girl who went to my

school. She told me everything that

she thought I was, and how much

trouble I was going to be in.

I tried to speak, but she just

said: “Don’t respond. You’ve been

caught. I’m going to call your

64 • happiful.com • August 2020

parents, and I think the police

need to get involved.”

I was a 14-year-old boy who

had never been in trouble, and

who had been working hard at

school. I didn’t know what to do.

I remember just saying: “Call my

dad, call my dad.”

I was made to sit in a room on

my own, and make a written

statement. Then I went home that

lunch, and saw my dad, where I

told him about it. After lunch, I

went back to school where I saw

a police car pull up. But then

everything disappeared. I wasn’t

spoken to again.

It wasn’t until after a recent

conversation with my dad that

he actually told me he’d got a

call before I’d come home for

lunch. He went to the school that

afternoon and had it out with

them, there and then. He wrote a

letter of complaint and the teacher

had disciplinary action against

her. Years later, I found out from

other people who had similar

experiences that she would target

Black boys.

Recently there’s been some talk in

the online parenting community,

Candice Brathwaite in particular,

about the point where young

Black boys go from ‘cute to scary’,

which reminds me of the stage

you’re talking about.

Absolutely, it’s those teenage

years. A lot of people look at my

Instagram, they’ll see pictures

of the children, and I’ll get

comments about how cute they

are, how lovable they are, how

smiley they are.

But I want people to understand

that, at some point, they will go

from cute to being demonised –

people crossing the road when

they see them coming. They’re

the same joyous children, but

before you get to know them,

you’ll judge them.

As a father, how do you even

begin to rationalise that?

It’s really difficult. You have to

keep the balance of not putting

something in your child’s head

that will limit them, but also share

with them the reality.

You have to try to explain

to them: “People are going to

treat you differently, because of

nothing that you have done. As

an individual, you could be the

happiest, most positive person,

but because of this aspect – which

is the colour of your skin – you

are going to have to work harder.

Expectations of you are going to

be low. You may face teachers, like

I did, who don’t want to see you


Are you having conversations

with your children about the

BLM movement?

We’re drip-feeding our six-year-old.

We had a BLM protest close to us –

we didn’t join walking consciously,

because of the children. >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 65

But we drove alongside them on

part of their route so he could see

what the protest was about.

Some family members were

marching as well. We saw them

walk past our car with their

signs. We did that purposely

so he could see that this thing

is real, and that it affects our

family. But he’s such a sensitive

child that we have to be really

careful about what we say.

He’s recognised the differences

already and, towards the end

of last year, he actually said: “I

want to be white because white

is better.” Of course, we were

crushed by that.

That just shows us how much

work there is to do to combat

this thing, even at that level, with

children. That thought is going to

stay with him for a long time, and

it’s going to take a lot of work to

get that out of his head.

You’re having these

conversations online as well.

What’s the response been?

It’s been absolutely amazing.

The main thing that came out of

it, particularly from white dads,

was: “I hadn’t ever considered

the things that you have to think


From the Black dads, it sparks

so many emotions, and they

open up a lot. Men aren’t known,

of course, for opening up. But

I’ve had so many WhatsApp

conversations and phone calls

with other dads, just talking

about things that happened to

us, things that we were scarred

by, or that we didn’t realise until

now were racist. Things that have

limited us, and things that have

driven us to do better.

Throughout it all, how do you

maintain a healthy mindset?

For one, we’re a family of faith.

We base a lot of what we do in that.

But also, I don’t want to waste my

time on this earth. I pepper my

Instagram with real serious issues,

and things that put a smile on

my face.

There’s so much weight, and

there’s so much to get your head

around. If I didn’t do that, I’d never

move from my sofa, because I’d

live in fear constantly. So that’s

kind of it. It’s a desire to have a

I think


that we’ve all

learned is that

our home is

based on joy

and laughter

good time, enjoy what I’m doing,

and enjoy seeing others happy.

After the struggles of the last few

months, what lessons have you

learned about your family?

It’s reaffirmed to me that, as a family,

we’re so strong. We get on so well, we

have a laugh. I think something that

we’ve all learned is that our home is

based on joy and laughter.

Follow Robert on Instagram


66 • happiful.com • August 2020

Are tattoos

a form of


Going under the inker’s needle might hurt physically, but there is some

evidence that the painful process could be making you mentally stronger

Writing | Fiona Thomas

As someone without

tattoos – I’ve always been

fascinated by people

who choose to get inked.

Apart from the pain of an electric

needle puncturing my skin 50 to

3,000 times per minute, it sounds

like a club I’d quite like to join.

There’s a camaraderie. I’ve seen

acquaintances become best buds

as they discuss the likelihood of

time travel, a result of an obscure

Back to the Future reference

peeking out from an open shirt.

I’ve seen couples commemorate

anniversaries, and individuals

immortalise their loved ones on

their skin. It’s such a socially

acceptable form of creative

expression that one-fifth of British

adults have at least one tattoo.


The origin of tattooing can’t

be pinpointed to one specific

place or time, and its purpose

varies, depending on location

and cultural norms. There are

49 known mummified remains

which show evidence of tattooing,

and they originate from all over

the world including Alaska,

Greenland, Mongolia, Egypt,

and Siberia.

The earliest known evidence of

tattoos can be found on Otzi the

Iceman, Europe’s oldest mummy.

The body is thought to date back

as far as 3370BC and has a total of

61 tattoos. On closer inspection

of Otzi’s bones, experts noticed

that the placement of many of

his tattoos matched areas which

showed degeneration. It’s widely

speculated that his tattoos were

strategically positioned as an

early form of pain relief, similar

to modern-day acupuncture.

Nowadays, tattoos are generally

used to symbolise a feeling or to

express identity. >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 67

You know that

amazing mood

boost you get

after an intense

gym session?

The tattooing

process has the

same effect



To find out more about the

physiological effects of tattooing,

I spoke to Doctify-rated

psychotherapist Mark Bailey

— who has tattoos of his own —

and he talked me through the

associated brain chemistry.

It all starts with the anticipation

phase, when your brain

experiences a rush of adrenaline

and dopamine. This can feel

exciting and a bit scary, similar to

riding a rollercoaster or going on a

first date. Once the needle touches

your skin, you produce adrenaline.

“This can then help mask some

of the pain,” says Mark, “although

from experience it doesn’t always

feel like any pain is being masked!”

Then come the endorphins.

You know that amazing mood

boost you get after an intense gym

session? The tattooing process has

the same effect. These feel-good

chemicals reduce your perception

of the pain in the same way as

drugs like morphine or codeine.

You’ll also feel a ‘natural high’

according to Mark. There is even

research to suggest that getting

multiple tattoos may affect your

long-term ability to cope with

stress, and improve your immune

system by reducing the release of


With this potent mixture of

adrenaline, dopamine, and

endorphins taking hold, it’s easy

to see why some people insist on

going back for more. But what

about the agony of getting inked?

Is experiencing the pain of a tattoo

therapeutic in some way?


Some people say that living

through the controlled, physical

pain of a tattoo has made them

more mentally resilient. I spoke to

Rosalie Hurr, co-editor of Things

& Ink magazine, who told me that

for her, the pain of a tattoo is a

mixture of emotions.

68 • happiful.com • August 2020

“At the beginning of the tattoo

appointment I feel nervous and

excited,” says Rosalie, “then I settle

into the pain like ‘this is OK, I can

cope with this’. There is definitely

a ‘buzz’ especially if your tattooist

is excited to do the tattoo too, and

seeing the finished piece at the

end is amazing. But there is also

exhaustion, and it can take a lot out

of me to push through the pain.”

Rosalie also describes the sense

of empowerment that comes from

travelling to a new tattoo parlour,

and then spending the day with

a complete stranger who will

permanently alter her body. “As

someone with anxiety, this is a

huge achievement,” she tells me.

“Throw in the mix the time spent

in an uncomfortable position, and

the pain of the actual tattoo, and I

am a goddamn warrior.”

Dr Kimberly Baltzer-Jaray, a

lecturer in Women’s Studies at

Kings University College, says that

getting tattoos has supported her

journey with PTSD, depression,

and auto-immune disease. In

particular, tattooing has offered a

positive transition from unhealthy

coping mechanisms such as selfharm.

Kimberly finds that going

under the needle holistically

complements her professional

therapy sessions, and offers a

welcome distraction. The act of

caring for her healing skin has also

proved to be a powerful process.

“I’ve also been tattooing over my

old cutting marks, and that has

helped me come to terms with

my past and move forward to a

better relationship with my body

and mind,” she tells me. “I can see

the old marks through the tattoos,

but no one else knows they are

there, so it’s not really a secret,

Getting multiple

tattoos may affect

your long-term ability

to cope with stress,

and improve your

immune system

by reducing the

release of cortisol

Consider these things before

getting a tattoo, says Mark Bailey:

• Try out temporary tattoos for a

few weeks before you commit

to a real one.

• Discuss your tattoo out loud

with someone you trust.

• Talk to an expert. A good

tattoo artist will suggest you

plan your tattoo(s) carefully.

they’re right there, but only I know

where to look to find them in the

colourful patterns and shading.”

Both Kimberly and Rosalie

highlight the significance of their

relationship with each tattoo artist.

Similar to a therapist, finding the

right one can lead to a lifelong

connection. Kimberly says the

artist she currently works with has

become a trusted friend. “The time

I spend on his table is therapeutic

in a sense. It is an escape from my

world and everything outside, and

it is a safe space, where we both

attend, in some way, to me.”


According to Mark, this crossover

between tattooing and self-harm

should be approached with

caution. “We know that a principal

reason people self-harm is to

relieve psychological distress. And

if someone were getting tattoos to

provide this relief, I would want

to explore other ways for them to

regulate their emotions.”

No matter what your reasons for

getting a tattoo, there’s no doubt

that it can have transformative

powers. Whether you love the

rush, or just the way it looks, it’s

proof that your body – and mind –

are stronger than you might think.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 69

Time to relax

Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin. Hypnotherapist Natasha Crowe talks

us through how we can use self-hypnosis to create a sense of calm, promote

relaxation, and improve our wellbeing

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford and Natasha Crowe

We’ve all heard of

hypnosis. Whether

it’s a headline on

the latest celebrity

trying hypnobirthing, or TV

specials on how you can stop

smoking in ‘just one session’. But

have you heard of self-hypnosis?

And how can these techniques

help us in our day-to-day lives?

We speak with hypnotherapist

Natasha Crowe, to find out

more about the benefits of

self-hypnosis – and how you

can try it yourself at home,

right now.

“It’s important to understand

that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis,”

Natasha explains. “We move

through states of consciousness

throughout our daily lives, such as

focused creative pursuits, perhaps

a skill you mastered some time

ago, or simply daydreaming.

“These shifts create

physiological changes in our

nervous system – for example,

if we feel stressed then our body

and mind will respond. If we

experience extreme anxiety,

our body will immediately shift

into its fight-or-flight response,

preparing us for the threat that

we subconsciously fear. Yet more

often than not, the fear is not

actually real.

As Natasha notes, self-hypnosis

techniques can be applied at

any time when we might feel

overwhelmed, worried, or when

thoughts are spiralling out of

control. She says: “Breathing

techniques are key when it comes

to sending our brain messages of

calmness, grounding our bodies

into the present, then allowing

the subconscious to use its ability

to imagine and create a new, more

successful picture or outcome.

When we use these techniques,

we activate the parasympathetic

nervous system – the body’s restand-digest


70 • happiful.com • August 2020

Try it yourself

While self-hypnosis can be done

anytime, anywhere, there are

small things you can do to set

yourself up for a better chance

of success. Find somewhere

comfortable where you can sit,

ideally without interruptions.

Ensuring you have a distractionfree

environment can help you to

focus. Then try this simple selfhypnosis

technique from Natasha

to help you feel more relaxed and

calm, right now.

Repetition is key.

Try to make

self-hypnosis a

regular part of

your self-care


1. Breathe deeply,

rhythmically, and slowly

Inhale and exhale to the count

of four, or breathe in, hold for a

moment, and release for a longer

exhalation – find whatever feels

most calming for you. If you

haven’t yet, close your eyes.

2. Picture this

Picture yourself in a place that

brings you comfort and peace. It

doesn’t have to be a real location,

or somewhere you’ve been. It could

be riding a horse, on the beach, or

something more every day, such

as a bath or your favourite chair.

You can even return to a happy

or joyful memory – just choose

somewhere you’d like to spend

some time.

3. Engage all of your senses

To ground yourself in your new

mental surroundings, it’s time to

engage all of your senses. Smell

your favourite flower. Feel the

ocean breeze on your face and

sand between your toes as you

visualise lying on the beach. Watch

the flicker of candlelight from a

relaxing bubble bath. Hear the

gentle breeze in the trees.

The benefits of


Self-hypnosis is a tool that can

help support and strengthen

new ideas or behaviours. It

may be able to help with:

• Lessening pain and stress

during childbirth

• Promoting relaxation and

better quality sleep

• Enhancing memory

• Overcoming anxiety

• Building confidence and

improving self-esteem

4. Choose an affirmation

you need at this moment

It can be tailored to the specifics

of any situation, or as simple as

a few short words, such as “I am

safe”, “I am peaceful”, or “I am

strong”. Notice the subtle changes

in breath, body, and mind.

Getting the most out

of self-hypnosis

As with all forms of hypnosis,

in order to experience the most

benefit, you need to approach

things with an open mind, and

a willingness to make positive

changes. Self-hypnosis is a skill

that takes ongoing practise to see

lasting benefits.

Experimenting by yourself can

help you to feel more relaxed,

improve your quality of sleep, feel

more confident, and even increase

your sense of wellbeing. However,

if you struggle to focus, or want to

learn more techniques, working

with a hypnotherapist can help. Not

only can they help you with specific

problems or issues, they can also

teach you self-hypnosis techniques

to reinforce new behaviours that

you want to see, allowing for

positive results beyond the duration

of your sessions.

Repetition is key. Try to make selfhypnosis

a regular part of your selfcare

routine, and be patient with

yourself. The more you practise,

the more likely you are to see the

benefits in your day-to-day life.

For more on how hypnotherapy can

help you, check out the Happiful app.

Natasha Crowe is a qualified

hypnotherapist, counsellor, and

psychotherapist, working with clients on

reducing stress, building confidence,

and facing life’s crossroads.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 71

Nothing we do can change

the past, but everything

we do changes the future


Photography | Elizeu Dias

Life lessons

with Joe Wicks

He’s known to millions as ‘The Body Coach’, and he’s possibly the

most famous PE teacher in the world, but it’s the titles of ‘dad’ and

‘husband’ that Joe Wicks loves the most

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Earlier this year I found

myself, alone, bunny

hopping around my

living room, pretending

to be Spider-Man, and pulling stars

down from the sky. No alcohol

was involved, it was before 10 in

the morning, and I was just one of

more than 800,000 people across

the world doing the same thing at

that time, led by Joe Wicks (AKA

The Body Coach) from his home in

south-west London.

‘PE with Joe’ started at the

beginning of the lockdown,

featuring weekday HIIT sessions,

fancy dress Fridays, and guest

appearances from his wife Rosie,

daughter Indie, and son Marley.

Between March and June, Joe

raised hundreds of thousands of

pounds for the NHS, made exercise

accessible and fun, and gave

families a reason to get up, move,

and smile every single day.

Although all of this is a massive

achievement, Joe is quick to turn

the attention and praise on to those

who’ve taken part. “This time has

been tough, especially for parents

who are having to homeschool and

do academic subjects,” he says.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for parents

who are having to step up and be

teachers when they haven’t got that


“So I thought it would be nice to

offer my services as a trainer, just

to try to get people active, and start

their morning off in a way that

could give them energy to be more

productive and focused throughout

the rest of the day.”

Joe’s workouts have had the

desired effect. Households up and

down the country have shared

photos and films of their daily

sweat sessions, and the hashtag

#PEWithJoe brings up thank you

notes from parents, pictures of

Joe drawn by children, and groups

happily posing with the certificates

he has provided for participants. >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 73

When I

get those

moments when

I feel a bit flat,

I go and do a

workout and

I’m instantly


Seeing this joy means everything

to Joe. Mood and mindset, he

says, are the most important

factors when it comes to children’s

relationship with exercise. “It’s

not about competing with other

people, it’s about coming together

to have fun, lift your mood and

your energy – it’s just a really good

way to elevate your mindset.”

Joe is also very aware of the

positive impact exercise, as well as

healthy eating and behavioural role

modelling, has at home, too. It’s

something he has worked hard to

embed in the Wicks’ own routines.

“As a kid we didn’t sit down for a

family dinner,” he says, reflecting

upon his own childhood. “It was

very chaotic, and my mum and dad

didn’t exercise in front of me, I got

into it myself.

“I’m now realising how much my

own behaviour, and how I interact

with Indie, affects her and helps to

sculpt her personality, so I really

love reading with her and doing

flash cards. I love teaching her to

be emotionally stable as well – if

she’s having a tough time, I don’t

raise my voice, I try to demonstrate

that you can communicate and

stay calm.

“I also believe in role modelling

through cooking together, eating

together – and obviously the major

one – through exercise,” he smiles.

“Parents who exercise in front of

kids help them to see the benefits,

and they might be more likely to

try it themselves.”

Joe and his wife Rosie share

snippets of their home life,

exercising, interacting, and feeding

their children through social

media – specifically the Wean in

15 Instagram account, where they

document the methods and recipes

they’ve used to wean Indie.

The account led to a book,

published earlier this year. Written

with the help of leading registered

nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-

Reed, Wean in 15 explores how to

transition babies on to their first

foods, and lay the foundations for a

lifetime of healthy, happy eating.

74 • happiful.com • August 2020

“I loved the whole process

with Indie. I’ve really enjoyed

trying her on different foods and

experimenting, and we started

her so young on healthy food that

she’s really adventurous now, and

loves anything spicy.”

Joe hopes the book will help

other parents with the process

of weaning, which may feel

daunting at first. “This, hopefully,

will help them relax and get

excited about doing it – because

it’s over so quick!”

I always want

Rosie to know that

she’s beautiful,

and that I’m really

proud and grateful

that she’s given me

these beautiful


“I’m always honest online,” Joe

continues. “If I’m not training or

I’m feeling a bit low, I just talk

about it, but I always bring it back

to the two things I believe in:

exercise and healthy food.

“When I get those moments

when I feel a bit flat, I do a workout

and I’m instantly better. I’m not

perfectly happy every day, no-one’s

like that.”

His honest approach extends to

sharing his gratitude for what he

has. It’s obvious that Joe has a deep

love and respect for his wife Rosie

– which he’s totally unabashed

about declaring.

“I always want Rosie to know that

she’s beautiful, and that I’m really

proud and grateful that she’s given

me these beautiful babies,” he

states, smiling broadly.

Prioritising love and gratitude

is something Joe says he wants

‘Wean in 15: Up-to-Date Advice

and 100 Quick Recipes’ by Joe Wicks

(Bluebird, £16.99)

to champion, but can see that

it can disappear with time.

“Guys, especially, can be really

affectionate when they first meet

someone,” he says, “and as time

goes by they stop saying the nice

things, they forget to tell that

person they’re beautiful and they

love them.

“People fall out of the habit of

doing it, and we shouldn’t. We

have to keep the love going.”

Joe Wicks, we couldn’t agree


The enthusiasm Joe shows in

his online sessions flow through

everything he does, although he’s

keen to be real about his day-to-day

experiences. In the week before

we chat, he shares on social that he

had to take half an hour away from

the house after a hard couple of

hours with his kids and work.

“I had a bit of a tough day, so I

went out, found a bench, and just

took a bit of time out. When I came

back I was so much better with

Indie, Marley, and Rosie – and I

don’t think parents should ever feel

guilty about needing time away.”

August 2020 • happiful.com • 75

Find a


near you on the

Happiful app

Picnic picks

Writing | Katie Hoare

Sunny summer picnics

on a Sunday afternoon

evoke a sense of

nostalgia. Strawberries,

scotch eggs, sausage rolls, and

plenty of crisps and dip – a

picnic just wouldn’t be the same

without these classic goodies!

But nowadays, you don’t

have to stick to the traditional

recipes, anything is on the

menu, and all tastes are catered

for. We’ve knocked up three

of our favourites to give your

picnic baskets a little shake up.


Vegan sausage rolls

Makes 9


• 6 vegan sausages, chilled

• 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry

• Half a red onion, chopped

• ½ cup plant-based milk

• Handful of sesame seeds

• Salt, to season


• Preheat the oven to 180°.

• Line a tray with baking paper.

• Lay out the pastry sheet and cut

into three strips.

• Remove skin from sausages and

place two sausages on each pastry

strip. Flatten a little using fingers.

• Line the chopped red onions

on top of the sausages, fold the

pastry, and seal with a fork. Cut

each sausage roll into three

mini rolls.

• Place on a baking tray, sealed side

down and make a light cut on top.

• Brush the sausage rolls with

plant-based milk to give a golden

finish, and sprinkle on sesame

seeds. Season lightly with salt.

• Place in the oven for 25 minutes,

until golden brown.

Classic Scotch eggs

Makes 4


• 5 medium eggs, 1 beaten

• 300g sausage meat (or vegetarian


• 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

• 2 tsp dried sage

• 150g cooked green lentils, mashed

• 125g breadcrumbs


• Preheat the oven to 180°.

• Boil a pan of water. Place eggs in

water and simmer for 10 minutes.

• Combine the sausage meat with

the parsley, sage and lentils.

• Once the eggs are cooked, plunge

into cold water and peel.

• Divide sausage meat into four and

pat into a disc shape. Lay an egg

on each disc.

• Close the sausage meat around

the egg and seal.

• Pour the breadcrumbs into a

shallow dish, and the beaten egg

into another dish.

• Dip the meat-covered egg into the

beaten egg, and then roll in the

breadcrumbs to coat the surface.

• Place each parcel on a baking tray

and bake for approximately 25


Our expert says...

Super slaw

Serves 6


• ¼ red cabbage, shredded

• ¼ white cabbage, shredded

• 2 radishes, finely sliced

• 2 small carrots, grated

• 1 apple, grated

• 2 tsp apple cider vinegar

• 2 tsp mustard

• 200g Greek yoghurt

• Black pepper, for seasoning


• On a chopping board, roughly

shred the cabbage and finely

slice the radish. Place in a

mixing bowl.

• Using a cheese grater, finely

grate the carrots and apple, and

add to the bowl.

• In a small bowl, combine the

vinegar, mustard and Greek

yoghurt, and mix well.

• Add yoghurt mix to the

ingredients bowl, and stir.

• Season with a good grind of

black pepper, and serve.

These picnic recipes are nutrientpacked,

containing antioxidants,

protein, complex carbs, healthy

fats, and fibre.

Adding red onion to the vegan

sausage rolls increases the fibre

content, helping to balance blood

sugar, improve motility, and

support healthy gut bacteria. Red

onion is also rich in the antiinflammatory

flavonoid quercetin,

beneficial for those with asthma,

arthritis, and allergies including

hay fever. Sesame seeds are little

powerhouses, containing healthy

fats and B vitamins for steady

energy release.

The super slaw is high in

vitamin C – just ½ a cup of

shredded cabbage contains your

recommended daily amount.

Vitamin C is both immune boosting

and stress-busting. Radish is a

powerful detoxifier, which helps

to effectively eliminate toxins and

waste from the body.

The classic Scotch egg is the

perfect protein-packed picnic

snack. Protein provides the raw

materials for the neurotransmitters

our brains require, such as GABA,

serotonin, and dopamine. Lentils

are a great source of plant-based

iron, essential for transporting

oxygen around the body, and

energy production. Parsley is rich

in vitamin C, which enhances the

absorption of iron. Choose good

quality, organic sausage meat,

and wholemeal breadcrumbs, to

increase the complex carb content.

Rebekah Esdale is an integrative

health practitioner and

nutritional therapist.

Rebekah is the founder of

Wild Roots Nutrition, and

runs The Wildly Well Tribe

Facebook group.

Knowing what must be

done does away with fear


Photography | Natasha Tirtabrata

78 • happiful.com • August 2020




Thinking of turning your dreams into reality? We share eight quick

tips to help you take the plunge, and go for your ideal role

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Thinking of turning

your dream into your

day job? You’re not the

only one. Nearly three

quarters of our friends

across the pond in America have

quit a job to chase a career they’re

passionate about, according to

a 2018 survey. Yet in contrast,

according to research from 2016, a

whopping 84% of young people in

the UK aren’t pursuing their ideal

roles. Are we just more reserved

about going for what we want, or

is something holding us back from

following our dreams?

Whether you’re considering

making the switch from the general

nine-to-five to something more

fulfilling, or you’re ready to release

your creative juices and jump right

in, we’ve got eight quick tips to help

you find your dream job.

1. Find your focus

It’s time to ask yourself: what do

I want? Maybe you’re thinking of

taking something you love already

(a hobby, a long-time passion,

or just a general interest) and

finding a way to channel that into

a specific career path, or perhaps

you’ve just got a more vague idea

of what you want (to feel more

fulfilled, to have more free time, to

focus on your work-life balance).

Life Coach Directory member

and career coach, Felicity Dwyer,

suggests using your imagination to

help you figure out what you really

want to do.

“Imagine yourself three years

from now, writing to a friend

about how you love working in

your dream job. Describe all

the elements of the job that you

love – the tasks you’re doing, the

location and type of workplace,

the colleagues you’re working

with, the sector and values of your

organisation, the positive feedback

you’re receiving. Most importantly,

how you feel about doing this type

of work.

“Really try to imagine those

feelings, that you already have

this dream job. This will help you

believe it’s possible. You might like

to then write about some of the

strengths and personal qualities

that helped you to get the job, from

this future perspective.”

2. Be specific

According to Universities UK,

between 2018 and 2019, around

2.38 million students studied at UK

higher education institutes. While

90% of 2016–17 graduates were in

work or went on to study further >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 79

within six months of graduating,

not all went on to work or study in

related fields. Knowing the rough

area you want to work in is great

– but it’s important to recognise

that it’s just a first step. Where,

specifically, do you want your

career to go?

3. Consider your path

Once you’ve identified your

dream job, it’s time to consider

how you’ll get there. Are

traditional forms of training the

best route, or could other areas

be more beneficial? Internships

can offer relevant working

experience, while networking

and other life experiences can

have a significant impact in ways

you may not have considered.

Think through all of your

experiences so far: what path

best suits your learning style,

and what areas of experience or

expertise do you already have

that could give you an advantage?

4. Confidence is key

Feeling confident in yourself

is, arguably, one of the most

important steps. Who knows you

– your skills, your qualifications,

your relevant experiences,

your passion – better than you?

Understanding your worth and

abilities can give you a huge


But if this is an area you struggle

with, working with a confidence

coach can help you learn how to

best present yourself, as well as

changing how you think about

yourself. This can help you to

feel more prepared, as well as

to improve on your nonverbal


Really try to imagine that you already have this

dream job. This will help you believe it’s possible

Career coach Felicity shares one

of the techniques she uses to help

clients. “A simple tip is to become

more aware of your posture, and

make some simple adjustments if

necessary. Try this: slump down in

a chair, eyes down, and mumble

‘I’m looking for my dream job.’ How

much energy does this approach

produce? Probably not much.

“Now, bring your attention into

your body. Sit up straight with

your feet connected to the floor.

Feel your head floating gently

up, as if a golden thread is gently

pulling your head up towards the

ceiling. Then smile. How do you

feel now? You may find this simple

adjustment helps put you into a

more confident state of mind, and

you can practise and tweak this

until the feeling becomes more


Felicity explains that working on

your posture, and even something

as simple as smiling before an

interview or searching for a job,

can make a noticeable difference

to how you feel about yourself

– and a confident posture can

encourage others to respond to you

in a positive way, too.

80 • happiful.com • August 2020

5. Ask: what do I have to offer?

When we’re thinking about our

dreams, it’s easy to focus on

what we want – but, frankly, why

should a company care about our

goals? Why should they invest

their time and energy into you?

Whether your dream job

involves working for someone

else, or creating your own

business, you still are looking to

do a similar thing. You’re looking

for someone (be it a manager

or a client) to pay you to solve a

specific problem, or fill a specific

need. Why are you the best

person to do that? What can you

offer that others can’t?

6. Set your sights high (but don’t

get caught in the fantasy)

A dream job may be everything

you’ve ever wanted it to be, but it’s

important to remember that no job

is perfect. It could be a colleague you

don’t quite gel with, hours that aren’t

quite what you expected, a lower

salary than you’d hoped for – big

or small, it’s a fact of life: we rarely

(if ever) find a perfect fit. Ensuring

you don’t get bogged down in the

little details and minor downsides is

key. You can weigh up the pros and

cons, but avoid the trap of setting

the unreachable goal. Reality may

have a tough time standing up to the

impossible dream.

7. Do your research

If you think you’ve found your

dream job, take time to look closer

at the company who you could be

working for. Do a little research,

and don’t be afraid to ask the hiring

manager about company culture,

how they like working there, and

how long they’ve been there. Doing

some extra research online, on sites

like Glassdoor and social media,

can give you an insight into why

employees may have left in the past,

get to know the company’s public

face a little better, and get a feel for

if you think they could be a good fit

for you.

8. Focus on quality over quantity

Job hunting can be stressful at the

best of times – let alone when you’re

aiming high! We all know the drill

– take time to craft personalised,

relevant, covering letters, tweak

your CV to fit the job description,

and triple-check for any errors,

before sending in your application.

By focusing on sending out fewer

applications, but higher quality

ones, you can ensure each one is

getting your full attention – more

haste, less speed, and all that jazz.

The more you try to hurry, or cram

in just one more application, the

more stressed you are likely to feel –

and the more likely you are to make

mistakes. A couple of errors here

and there may not be the end of the

world, but when you’re aiming for

your dream job, why risk showing

anything but your best?

Felicity Dwyer is a career change and

transition coach, helping people to

find clarity, confidence, and a sense of

direction in their career, through her

coaching practice, The Heart of Work.

August 2020 • happiful.com • 81

How to

deal with


Whether we’re struggling with

FOMO, or constantly falling into

comparison traps, one thing’s

for sure, comparing ourselves to

others is making us miserable. But

it doesn’t have to be this way

Writing | Kat Nicholls

When was the last time

you felt the prickly

sting of comparison?

You know the feeling: the hot

frustration that starts in your

belly, and rises to your chest when

you see someone doing or being

something you’re not.

Don’t worry, we’ve all been

there. This feeling can come up in

different areas of our lives, from

career opportunities to holiday

destinations. While I’m hesitant to

place the blame entirely on social

media (I’ve seen what a positive

and uplifting space it can be), the

impact it has on our comparison

habits is clear.

When Stylist surveyed their

readers on confidence and

comparison, 83% said social media

negatively affects their self-esteem,

with 58% saying social media

has changed how others view

them, and how they view others.

In terms of what triggered their

Photography | Gemma Chua-Tran

82 • happiful.com • August 2020

comparison, “people who make

life look easy” came up trumps,

with “seeing others having amazing

experiences”, “career success”,

and “benchmarking where they’re

at in life compared to their peers”

coming soon after.

Whenever I feel comparison-y, I

must admit, I’m always on social

media. I might be watching an

Instagram story of someone talking

about a successful launch in their

business, or reading a tweet from

someone at an event I wish I’d been

invited to. However, these feelings

aren’t restricted to life online.

Wherever comparison strikes, the

question is, how can we deal with it?

Something I’ve learnt from

working in the self-development

world is that self-awareness and

curiosity are key to unpacking

difficult emotions. This is why I like

to do a little internal digging when

I feel comparison elbowing me in

the ribs.

Here are a set of questions to help

you understand what’s at the root of

your comparison, and how you can

move on in a positive way.



This question is trickier than it

sounds, because a great deal of our

comparison feelings are grounded in

societal expectations. For example,

you may feel like your relationship

with your partner isn’t as good

as other people’s, because you

constantly see representations in the

media of what love ‘should’ look like.

The next time you find yourself

comparing, ask yourself if it’s truly

coming from you, or if it’s actually

an external expectation? If it’s

external or societal, ask yourself –

how can I let this go?



Our brains are wonderfully

complex, so it’s helpful to step

back and look at the full picture

when difficult feelings arise. Are

you particularly stressed? Are

you sleeping? Have you had any

arguments lately that are hanging

over your head?

All of these factors can make you

more vulnerable to comparison.

If this is the case, give yourself

some slack. Ramp up your selfcare

and connect with a friend to

talk it out. Consider whether or not

something deeper is going on, and

if you’d benefit from the support of

a counsellor or coach.

Let comparison be

a compass of sorts,

gently guiding you to

what you truly want



Often, when we compare ourselves

to someone, it’s because they

have something we want. This

is an opportunity to dig a little

deeper and understand what your

comparison is telling you – what

is it you want more of in your life?

What qualities of this person/career/

lifestyle do you admire? What steps

can you take to get closer to these?

Let comparison be a compass of

sorts, gently guiding you to what

you truly want. However, remember

to check in again with where the

comparison is coming from – it has

to come from you for this question

to work.



By now you should have a

clearer understanding of your

comparison. So, it’s time to take

action to help you move away from

it. Here are some ideas to consider:

• Block, mute or unfollow anyone

triggering your comparison on

social media. You can always go

back and un-mute or follow when

you’re in a better headspace.

• Take a break from social media

altogether – especially if you find

it triggering.

• Reach out to the person you’re

comparing yourself to, and let

them know you admire them

– kindness and connection is a

great comparison killer.

• Take positive action to do the

thing you’re feeling jealous about.

You could take steps to launch

your own business, or reach out

to the event you want an invite to.

• Celebrate and amplify your

uniqueness – your USP is you!

Shout about what makes you

different, and embrace yourself

as you are.

Living life 100% comparison-free

may not always be possible, but

armed with the right questions

and mindset, you’ll be able to nip

it in the bud, and move on quicker.

We’re busy people after all, and we

have better things to be spending

our energy on.

A life coach could help you

overcome comparison and get

closer to what you really want in

life. Visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk

August 2020 • happiful.com • 83


Friend, partner, sibling, colleague, dog-person,

cat-person, reader, walker, French horn player. Can you

sum up your identity with tick-boxes, or is there a deeper

‘you-ness’ bubbling below the surface? With help from

a psychotherapist, we explore what happens when we

lose our sense of identity, and look at the ways we can

get back in touch with the person we truly are

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler



We all fit into different

‘boxes’, capturing our

relationships, our

roles in the world,

and our interests – and from

these boxes, we start to build an

idea of our characters. But when

it comes to developing a healthy

and strong sense of identity, boxticking

and labels can only take

us so far, occasionally limiting

our understanding of the mosaic,

multifaceted people we are. And

because our sense of identity is

right at the core of everything we

do – helping us stay away from

things that cause us harm or

inner-conflict, and connecting us

with those who share our values –

taking time to tune in couldn’t be

more important.

“Having a sense of identity

means knowing what makes us

tick,” integrative psychotherapist

Anne-Marie Alger explains,

“what we like or don’t like, having

an idea of where we fit in and

belong in our lives, being able

84 • happiful.com • August 2020

to connect with people, and being

able to initiate and sustain healthy

relationships. It means that we can

make the right choices for ourselves

in meeting our needs, in choosing

how we spend our time, and who

we spend this with.”

A good understanding of our core

qualities helps us navigate the world

around us, and yet many of us will

experience periods in our lives

when our sense of identity slips –

perhaps through patches of poor

mental health, when our feeling of

who we are is shaken as we’re less

sure of our needs. As a result, we

might experience an increase in

social anxiety, low-confidence, and

emotional numbness, or perhaps

struggle to settle on an external

image – drastically changing up our

interests or our appearances.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong

with shopping around and trying

new things. And we should neither

beat ourselves up about being

unsure about what we like or

dislike, nor judge others who go

through phases themselves. But

for many, losing a sense of self can

cause problems when it begins to

undermine the boundaries we set

with other people.

“People with a low sense of identity

have a tendency towards peoplepleasing,

at their own expense,”

Anne-Marie explains. “They may

seek constant approval from others,

and worry excessively about what

other people think of them.”

Anne-Marie goes on to explain

how this may lead to emotional

dependency. For example, we might

only feel OK when someone close

to us is feeling happy. This can

quickly become a problem as, when

The most important

relationship we can ever

have is the one with

ourselves, but we don’t

always protect the time

we need to invest in it

we get to the crux of it, our overall

wellbeing is dependent on how we

feel about ourselves, and we need

to get these cues from within rather

than from others, who may not

always be available and who may

become drained over time.

Beyond this, Anne-Marie suggests

that those struggling with identity

may find maintaining relationships

difficult, either because they’re

wrapped up in a fear of rejection

and so hold people at arm’s

length, or – on the other end of

the spectrum – may over-invest in

relationships, merging into their

partners, neglecting their values,

and losing sight of who they are.

Cultivating a strong sense of

ourselves is vital, so if we’re lacking,

how can we get back on track?

“Spend some time getting to know

yourself,” Anne-Marie suggests.

we can ever have is the one we have

with ourselves, but we don’t always

protect the time we need to invest in

it. True investment in yourself is not

about retail therapy or money, it’s

about reflection, self-awareness, and

personal growth. Creating a space to

explore who you really are

is essential.”

To do this, Anne-Marie

recommends activities to increase

our self-awareness and, by default,

our sense of identity.

“Simple questioning and journaling

can be a starting point to the ‘who

am I?’ journey,” she advises. “Think

about all the labels that you have

attached to yourself over time. Are

they ‘your’ labels or have you taken

them on from other people – parents,

family, friends, work colleagues?

How do these labels fit? How do you

‘wear’ them? How true and valid are

“The most important relationship they? How stuck are they? >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 85

A healthy sense of

identity provides the

opportunity to live a life

that brings us purpose,

gratitude and joy

boundaries in our relationships,

and share emotional and physical

intimacy in our close relationships.

It means knowing and accepting

ourselves deeply, and taking care

to look after who we are, so that we

can continually grow.”

Ultimately, when we take the

time to really connect with the

person that we are inside, with

our passions and desires, our likes

and dislikes, our motivations and

the things that excite and thrill us,

we’re giving ourselves permission

to exist confidently in the world

around us. And that’s something

each and every one of us deserves.

“Explore your values. What

matters to you most, and why?

Where have these values come

from? How have they been

shaped? How do they align with

the life that you’re currently


But for when we feel especially

lost – and problems about our

sense of who we are is starting

to interfere with our daily lives,

causing real, long-term damage

to our relationships – counselling

can offer support and guidance.

As Anne-Marie sees it, counselling

creates a space to explore what

makes you ‘you’. Taking a closer

look at your qualities and attributes

without relying on validation from

others, counselling can help you to

break free from the labels that hold

you back, or which don’t apply to the

person you are today.

“A healthy sense of identity provides

the opportunity to live a life that

brings us purpose, gratitude, and joy,”

adds Anne-Marie. “A strong sense of

identity allows us to uphold healthy

Discover counsellors in your area, as

well as online and telephone support,

by visiting counselling-directory.org.uk

Anne-Marie Alger is an integrative

psychotherapist offering short

and longer-term counselling and

psychotherapy from her private

practice in Heaton, Bolton.

86 • happiful.com • August 2020


After tragedy

and loss, I took

back control

A glittering City career was beckoning, until

a brutal murder turned Gian’s world upside

down. But from adversity, he drew the strength

to forge a new future, dedicated to helping

others build happier lives

Writing | Gian Power

Outwardly, you

would think my

life was perfect,

and until 2015 it

really felt that way.

Graduating from

university, spending time

at Deutsche Bank, and

about to embark on my

career at PwC – life was

great. I’m a competitive,


person, and if someone

had mentioned mental

wellbeing back in 2014,

I wouldn’t have taken it

seriously. Until everything

came crashing down.

In May 2015, my father

left for a business trip

overseas and never

returned. He was

murdered, and my whole

world turned upside down.

At 23, I found

myself involved in an

international murder

investigation, liaising with

government authorities,

and fighting in the courts

for justice. This continues,

even today.

After three months away,

I remember returning

to work and being

overwhelmed with the

amount I was having to

deal with. Working long

hours, continuing to take

my intense accounting

exams, and looking

after my family, while

managing my father’s case

throughout the night.

My body was constantly

filled with emotions –

from sadness to anger,

confusion and panic. All

I knew was that I had to

keep going in the name of

my dad.

When the body of

my father was flown

back to Heathrow from

India, I began planning

his funeral to say our

goodbyes. Some days later,

however, we were told that

it was not my dad’s body

that had landed in the UK.

To this day the uncertainty

continues. It was a second

major blow.

I began to realise that

no matter how hard I

worked, or how much

energy I put into this,

I could not control

everything. I soon realised

that there’s a lot I can’t

control, and in fact there’s

only one thing I can

control – and that’s how

I respond to a situation.

Nobody can take that away

from me.

It was at this moment

that I realised I needed to

look after myself, and take

the concept of self-care

seriously. They say you

need to put the oxygen

mask on yourself before

you help others, and this

is exactly what I needed

to do.

I began speaking openly

with my colleagues at work

about the challenges I was

facing, I started putting

a self-care routine in

place, and what I saw was

incredible. More and more

people started sharing

their stories with me, both

in my teams at PwC, but >>>

August 2020 • happiful.com • 87

I’m a very competitive,


person, and if someone had

mentioned mental health and

wellbeing back in 2014, I would

not have taken it seriously

Gian with

his family

also in friendship groups,

and friends-of-friends

working in corporate


I soon realised that we all

have a story we would like

to share, if only more of us

in business organisations

would take the time just to

stop and listen.

When I was able to speak

to my team about how

I felt, I realised I would

work harder – go above

and beyond – for those

leaders who showed care

and understanding. There

was a direct link between

kind leadership and

increased productivity.

I saw the need for

storytelling in companies.

I knew I couldn’t change

my past, but I had to do

something to help others.

I had to try to ensure that

anyone going through

challenging times felt

they could speak up about

it at work; and I had to

encourage more leaders to

support their teams, as I

had been supported.

After several years at

PwC I decided to leave and

launch TLC Lions – Lion is

the middle name I share

with my murdered father

– and we are on a mission

to ignite emotion and

empathy among those in

the corporate world.

I’ve brought together a

collective of 25 ordinary

people with extraordinary

stories – the Lions. The

Lions (our speakers) share

powerful yet uplifting

sessions that are tailored

to clients’ inclusion,

wellbeing, or learning and

development agendas.

Both our online series,

and virtual and live events,

bring emotion to life, and

encourage employees

to take action and feel


Our Lions include:

• Dr Kamel Hothi, the UK’s

first female Asian bank

manager, who is now an

advisor to the Queen’s

Commonwealth Trust, a

global network of young


• Jonny Benjamin, who

was talked out of taking

his own life in London by

a stranger.

• Victoria Milligan,

who lost her husband,

daughter, and left leg

during a speed boat

accident off Padstow,

Cornwall, in 2013.

We now support more

than 150 companies,

including EY, Sony, Rolls-

Royce, Tesco, Mastercard,

88 • happiful.com • August 2020

For more information see @Gianpower on

LinkedIn and Instagram, email gian@tlclions.com,

or go to youtube.com/gianpower

There was a direct link between kind

leadership and increased productivity

and many more, to bring

inclusion and wellbeing

strategies to life. Today I’m

proud to have an advisory

board that includes

experts from Harvard and

MIT, as well as the HR

Director of Rothschild &

Co, and a senior partner

from EY.

Life has changed a lot for

me in a short time. I’m now

incredibly happy and do

a lot to look after myself,

and ensure I reflect and

monitor my feelings.

Number one is my

SHED – sleep, hydration,

exercise and diet. I

constantly monitor my

SHED, and if I don’t feel

100%, it’s usually because

one of them is out of

balance, so I adjust and

correct myself.

Meditation has been a

huge part of my life since

2015, and is something I

practise every day. I feel

so passionately about

encouraging more people

in the corporate world to

meditate that I launched

The Unwind Experience

– transforming rooms

in offices into candlelit

oases, with Europe’s

first surround sound

meditation experience.

We’ve rolled this out with

Deloitte, Universal Music,

Hyatt, Bloomberg, and

many more.

It’s important to me to

use my experience and

learning to help others.

Being on the board of

This Can Happen, which

empowers workplace

mental health, as well

as sharing my own

story of wellbeing as a

superpower, allows me to

help others to be equipped

to survive in times of

difficulty, and to thrive

every single day.

I’ve learnt a lot over the

last few years and I’m

committed to supporting

others to lead happier lives.


After his father’s murder,

Gian became overwhelmed

with the emotional strain of

the investigation, along with

the pressure of his career,

and supporting his family. He

began to realise how draining

trying to control these

stressors were, and noticed

how little he put into self-care.

After making a difference

in his own life, he wanted to

reach out and share some of

the same practices for others

to help themselves. It’s worth

noticing that we can all help

our mental health by

making sure

that we have a

strong self-care

regime, too.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) counsellor

August 2020 • happiful.com • 89

Mental health


In 2016, Ruqsana Begum became the world’s first

female Muslim boxing champion. Despite facing

prejudice and the weight of anxiety, depression,

and chronic fatigue syndrome, Ruqsana went on to

captain the British Muay Thai team, and made her

professional boxing debut in March 2018. Here, she

talks about the importance of support systems, and the

tips she uses to stay focused on her goals

Image | Instagram: @ruqsanabegum_mt

Mental health matters to me

because... we can have a more

fulfilled and happier life if we

know how to seek the right

support. Identifying it helps us

deal with stressful circumstances

more effectively, alongside

having your support system

in place. I find it so important

to recognise that we will all

encounter some level of mental

health issues throughout our life,

and so we all need techniques to

address it.

I cultivate a healthy mindset by...

first respecting my mind and

body, and then by being kind to

myself and others through words

and actions. The charity work I

do is also really important to my

mindset, as what I consume and

surround myself with is crucial,

as it influences my choices

on a daily basis. I’m growing

constantly and consistently to

achieve my higher potential, not

living in fear of the outcome. Find

out who you are, set goals, work

towards them, and take action.

I first knew kickboxing was

something I wanted to pursue...

when I saw Bruce Lee and

Muhammad Ali on television as a

child, and I was fascinated by the

sheer skill and discipline of these

amazing human beings.

Kickboxing makes me feel... alive.

When I’m training, I’m being

challenged mentally, physically,

emotionally, and spiritually.

When I need support I... try to

remember to be my best self each

and every day, to live life in the

present, and prepare for the future

by being present.

When I need some self-care, I...

take time out from my day to have

long baths, enjoy classical music,

talk and engage with others, and

appreciate their point of view –

even if it’s different to mine.

People I find inspiring online are...

Joe Rogan, the American mixed

martial arts commentator – I find

his podcast really insightful. I

also really enjoy listening to Dr

Joe Dispenza, especially his ‘The

Power of Your Thoughts’ talks.

Three things I would say to

someone struggling are... take a

deep breath, turn this situation

into an opportunity – there is

always a silver lining – and don’t

judge the situation, embrace it.

The moment I felt most proud

of myself was... when I finally

accepted who I am. We all have

gifts to share with the world,

whether that’s being a good

communicator or showing

tenacity. It’s not how many times

you get knocked down, it’s how

many times you pick yourself up

that counts.

‘Born Fighter’ by Ruqsana Begum, is

out now (£12.99, Simon & Schuster).



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