Happiful September 2020



Be bold.

It's time to step

into the unknown

Overcome your fear

of failure to uncover

your true potential


• issue •

Give your life some

TLC with our free

coaching tool



ends here

Ditch the doubt &

see your greatness



The power of human

touch is more than

skin deep


steps to cope

with life after





Conquer insecurity & know your worth.

The path ahead is in your hands


Body confidence

Grow your own

Achieve your goals


9 772514 373000


Discover plant-based postpartum essentials made with the

fourth trimester in mind, to help Mums heal, rest and recover.

10% off when you use code HAPPIFUL10 at checkout

Valid until 31st Oct 2020


A Community Interest Company supporting women, and empowering mothers and families

through their transition into parenthood.

A leap

of faith

Whether you’ve been plagued by selfdoubt,

or are familiar with the little

gremlin of comparison sitting on your

shoulder, it’s all too easy to fall into the

trap of negative self-talk.

It happens to all of us at some point

in our lives; we can let external

influences, or even the person in the

mirror, put us in a box. We set internal

barriers on what we’re capable of

achieving, because we’re afraid to

test our limits, and find out our real


But this issue is all about tearing down

those self-destructive monsters, and is

instead devoted to inspiring self-love,

the courage to follow your dreams, and

empowering you to create a life that

you truly desire.

We delve into the positive impact a

little self-love can have on our lives,

and just how you can cultivate it, plus

our incredible columnist Grace Victory

opens up to encourage you to take

a deep breath, and step out of your

comfort zone.

We uncover the powerful lessons we

can learn from ‘failing’, share a unique

life-coaching tool to recognise what

areas of your life need some extra TLC,

and investigate imposter syndrome.

We hope you’ll find the compassion,

and comfort, of a friend in the next 92

pages, who is rooting for you all the

way – and in those moments where

your confidence feels rattled, know

that we believe in you.

Because, above all else, we want you

to know you are worthy, and you

deserve the life you’re dreaming of.

Don’t let fear of the unknown hold

you back a moment longer!


W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine


14 Self-love lessons

Practical steps you can take to start

embracing self-love, and to finally unlock

your full, unbridled potential

26 Stevie Blaine

The body confidence influencer chats

masculinity, and the power of tuning-in

34 Fear of failure

Is anxiety about things not going to plan

holding you back?

44 Ashley Banjo

The founder of Diversity reflects on his

growing family, and a slower pace of life

49 Fresh perspective

We debunk eight common misconceptions

about life with sight loss

The Uplift

8 In the news

13 The wellbeing wrap

21 What is imposter syndrome?

Discover what's behind that niggling feeling

at the back of your mind which tells you

that you're not enough

90 Have a guilt-free month

Lifestyle and


18 Into the unknown

Columnist Grace Victory on the benefits of

stepping out of your comfort zone

30 Hungry for touch?

We explore the power of touch, and how to

harness it in the age of social distancing

32 The wheel of life

Use this practical tool to help you look inwards

42 Create honeybee hotspots

59 Life after job-loss

Discover support for the next steps

70 Entrepreneurial life lessons


54 Go-getter

Set goals and achieve your dreams

64 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Be inspired by the author and speaker

79 Four page-turners

New reads you won't want to miss

84 Things to do in September

Life Stories

37 Vanessa: new beginnings

Vanessa survived immense

challenges to become a successful

businesswoman, before burnout finally

hit. It was then that she knew it was time

to start over

55 Andy: reaching out

A series of difficult events left Andy

unsure of the future. But, at his lowest

moment, a simple message from a

friend made all the difference

87 Flo: the breakthrough

Childhood health problems led Flo to a

breakdown at just eight, but with time

she came to terms with her journey

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



40 Self-care secrets

We speak to an expert about the key to

getting the most out of self-care

67 Happiness boosts

Discover how the ancient practice of

Ayurveda can support your wellness

80 Take a breather

Four breathing techniques to help you

through life's challenges

Happiful Hacks

24 Deal with a toxic boss

52 Put anxiety in perspective

62 Listen without judgement

82 Grow your own veg

Food & Drink

73 Food IRL

How has social media affected our

relationship with food?

76 Power-hour

Quick lunches to fuel your day


Helen Unwin, Claire Munnings, Caroline Butterwick,

Lucy Nichol, Pixie Turner, Ben Douch,

Dr Nigel Bending, Vanessa Poolian, Flo Sharman,

Andy Salkeld


Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey,

Rowse Hives for Lives, Louisa Pini, Ayesha Giselle,

Deborah Maloney- Marsden, Tessa Armstrong,

Juliette Clancy, Mira Manek, Rebekah Esdale,

Laura Harley, Beverley Hills


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.

Rav's review

To feel love is a wonderful

thing. The beautifully inspiring

potential of self-love is that it

isn’t determined by external

influence – it can be felt on a

very personal level. As people,

we often give ourselves a

hard time – due to a number

of different reasons – and

this can really depreciate the

value we place on ourselves.

In order to maintain and

enhance our wellbeing, it’s

important that we allow time

and space to feel love from

within. Head over to page

18 to explore how you can

cultivate self-love that will help

you reconnect with yourself

from a perspective of care

and appreciation; the impact

of this can be life-changing.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue



Louisa is an

aromatherapist with her

own line of skincare.


BMus (Hons) LCH Dip

Tessa is a life coach,

author, and owner of Tessa

Armstrong Associates.



Beverley is a relationship

counsellor and



BSc (hons) PG Dip BACP

Laura is a counsellor who

works with millennials and

LGBTQ+ people.



Rebekah is an integrative

health practitioner and

nutritional therapist.



Rachel is a life coach

encouraging confidence

and motivation.



Juliette is a psychotherapist,

psychosexual and

relationship therapist.



Deborah is a

psychotherapist and

leadership coach.



Iona is a life coach,

hypnotherapist, and the

author of Making Waves.



Mira is a wellness consultant and

author of Prajna – Ayurvedic

Rituals for Happiness.


MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.

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Ayesha is a life and

accountability coach working

with change-seekers.



Find help

Our cover


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



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


Be bold.

It's time to step

into the unknown

Overcome your fear

of failure to uncover

your true potential


• issue •

Give your life some

TLC with our free

coaching tool




Connect with life coaches in your area and those offering online

coaching by visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk


Read fact sheets about sight loss and blindness, and discover support

by visiting rnib.org.uk or calling their helpline on 0303 123 9999



ends here

Ditch the doubt &

see your greatness




Conquer insecurity & know your worth.

The path ahead is in your hands

Body confidence

Grow your own

Achieve your goals



The power of human

touch is more than

skin deep



steps to cope

with life after


Cover artwork

by Becky Johnston

9 772514 373000




If you are living with depression, you can join a penfriend

scheme and connect with others online at depressionuk.org


Discover nutritionists who can help you tune into your needs and

create a nutritional plan by visiting nutritionist-resource.org.uk

In light of the Covid-19 social distancing guidelines, our September 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 fifth 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.

Artist Becky Johnston

has had a lot to contend

with, from anorexia

to depression, body

dysmorphia, and

borderline personality

disorder. But her mental

health journey has also

inspired her to use her

creativity and experiences

to support others, so no

one has to feel alone.

More of Becky's beautiful

work can be found at


and on Instagram


The Uplift


Artists’ project

provides 137,500

meals for migrant


When Covid-19 hit India, more than 140

million migrant workers lost their jobs,

leaving many unsure of where their next

meal would come from. But with their

new series, ‘A Plate Full of Hope’, 20 artists

from around the world have joined The

Plated Project to support those in need.

Their 20 limited edition plates each

depict an experience or emotion that has

been universally felt during lockdown,

with all profits going to Goonj, an Indian

NGO specialising in disaster relief. Each

plate sold is able to provide 250 meals

and, while the organisation initially

hoped to provide 100,000 meals, in

just one month they have provided a

staggering 137,500.

Chitresh Sinha, founder of The Plated

Project, explains: “Hunger kills more

people each year than AIDS, malaria,

and terrorism combined. However, most

of us don’t realise the significance of

hunger as an issue. So we were trying to

find a way of getting people to donate to

charities working on eradicating hunger,

and we also wanted to start larger-level

conversations around this issue.”

It’s Chitresh’s hope that the plates will

continue to help the cause beyond the

initial donation, simply by sparking

conversations about what they represent,

and how we can address global hunger.

With 15 more artists to be announced,

the Plated Project proves that progress is

best served with a side of kindness.

Find out more by visiting


Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Virtual choirs

tune-in to the

perks of singing


Rough and tumble helps kids

keep their cool

A study reveals that playtime with

dads can boost children’s wellbeing

Play fighting, tickle attacks, and

being lovingly tackled – who

knew this roughhousing could

have wellbeing benefits that last

a lifetime? Following a new study,

it turns out that physical play is a

great way to teach little ones how

to manage their emotions.

With 40 years of data behind

it, research from Cambridge

University and the Lego

Foundation has revealed that

children who had quality playtime

with their fathers, who tend to be

more physical, were better able to

control their own behaviour later

in life.

But why does it have that effect?

Paul Ramchandani, professor of

play in education, development,

and learning, at the University of

Cambridge explains.

“Physical play creates fun, exciting

situations in which children have

to apply self-regulation. You might

have to control your strength, learn

when things have gone too far, or

maybe your father steps on your toe

by accident, and you feel cross.”

Having this safe environment

to test boundaries and reactions

is key. Of course, it’s not just dads

who can get in on the action – the

most important thing, according to

researchers, is for parents to offer a

variety of ways to play.

Sounds like a great excuse to

embrace your inner child, and

extend playtime!

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Studies have shown the mental

health benefits of singing in

groups, but when lockdown banned

mass gatherings, as well as singing

in communal places, those who

were reaping the wellbeing rewards

were left lacking. Luckily, Emma

Rowland, founder of Sing Out

Strong, was on hand to fill the gap.

Running social singing groups

designed specifically to help boost

member’s mental health, Emma

understands first-hand how singing

can affect our mood. So when

lockdown began, she launched a

free virtual choir practice that uses

Facebook live to connect members.

“Singing has got to be one of the

best ways to look after your mental

wellbeing,” says Emma, who lives

with anxiety and depression. “But

more than that, the health benefits

are greatly increased if you sing in

a group – so choirs are even better

than singing in the shower.”

Emma plans to continue the

virtual choir service throughout

2020, and has launched her

autumn project, which asks people

to record tracks to raise money

for charity Mind – and everyone’s

welcome to join in.

“If someone is interested in

singing, I would say go for it –

there’s no such thing as ‘can’t

sing’!” Emma says.

Want to get involved? Head to


Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

September 2020 • happiful.com • 9


The secret to a

successful sex

life revealed...

Even the most fulfilling of relationships

could do with a little boost now and

then. But what’s the best way to

improve our relationships? According

to researchers from the University of

North Carolina at Greensboro, simple

compliments to show our gratitude

could be the answer.

Through a series of surveys designed

to explore couples’ relationships and

sexual bonds, researchers discovered

that showing and receiving gratitude

helps foster a sense of commitment

between partners.

Social psychologist and author of

the paper, Ashlyn Brady, commented:

“Recent findings suggest that having

the motivation to fulfil a partner’s

sexual needs may help buffer romantic

couples from experiencing normative

declines in sexual satisfaction.”

But how can we motivate ourselves

to better fulfil our partner’s sexual

needs? This is where gratitude can

come in. While more research is still

needed, results from the study found

that those who agree more strongly

with statements such as, ‘My partner

often tells me things that she or he

really likes about me,’ or, ‘I appreciate

my partner,’ were more likely to want to

fulfil their partners’ sexual needs.

As with all things, variety is the spice

of life, so keep gestures both big and

small fresh to keep the good feelings

flowing. Who would have thought

showing a little thanks could have such

a steamy effect?

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

September 2020 • happiful.com • 11

Take 5


It’s time to challenge those little grey cells with this month’s

puzzling fun – it’s like a crossword, but with no clues! Each letter

of the alphabet is used at least once in the grid below, and

is represented by a number. Use your logic to uncover all the

answers – good luck!




16 4 15



7 24

18 1 9 13 22 3



1 19


3 25 3

7 19 4


3 20 7











How did you

do? Search

'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!

HINT: Inspired

by our self-love

feature on page 18

4 3 23 5 3 7


9 26 19


17 1 19 4

3 5

13 1



15 23

3 9






1 4



2 13 18 3

16 3







7 1 21 15 13




12 8 14 11 6 10

Pakistan meets

UN climate

change goal 10

years early!

NHS staff offered

a free Ibiza

holiday as a

thank you for their

work during the


Bogged down

with ideas? NASA

is offering a $35K

prize to anyone

who can design

a loo roll that

works in space

Wild bison

are set to be

introduced to the

UK for the first

time in 6,000


An estimated

one million Brits

have quit

smoking since

the start of





Love letters

Brace yourselves:

the following

story is almost too sweet.

The Haven Care Home, in

Lincolnshire, recently put

out a call on Facebook,

asking for pen pals for its

residents – and the support

was overwhelming. The post

was shared 17,000 times, with

people around the world

keen to get chatting, and

put pen to paper.













The Highlands are

definitely raising the

bar when it comes to

representation and

progress. Scotland

is set to become

the first country in

the world to add

LGBTQ+ history and

equality to the school

curriculum. Other

countries could

certainly learn a

thing or two...


Bethaney Mouzer, a qualified British

Sign Language interpreter and yoga

instructor, is shaking up the system to ensure the

benefits of yoga are accessible – including online

classes since lockdown. As 50% of deaf people live

with a mental health condition, it’s vital to make

these positive wellbeing tools available to everyone.

Top of the class

For some more vulnerable children, lockdown

brought uncertainty around where their next meal

would come from. But Zane Powles, an assistant

headteacher from Western Primary School in

Grimsby, set out to make sure that no one would go

hungry by delivering more than 7,500 free meals to

kids in need – and walking 550 miles in the process.

A selfless act from a true local hero!

Problem (dis)solved

Often a staple in student

diets, a college grad from

Ravensborne University

London has invented

‘dissolvable noodle

packaging’ to satiate

cravings, while protecting

the environment. Normal

packs can take 80 years to

degrade, but this dissolves in

boiling water in one minute!

Fancy a 99?

It might not be the first thing you

crave in the morning, but studies

have revealed the benefits of eating

ice cream for breakfast! A study from

Tokyo’s Kyorin University found that

ice cream awakens the brain, and

can trigger positive emotions.

Anyone for a Mr




If you’re struggling to get your

40 winks, you’re not alone.

According to research by

Supplement Place, the cities

feeling most sleep deprived

are Bolton, Bristol, Leicester,

Liverpool, and Nottingham. The

good news is that there are lots

of ways to help you drift off more

easily. Try to stick to a bedtime

and waking routine, limit your

screentime in the evening, and

get a little exercise during the

day. Hopefully you’ll be off to

dreamland in no time.

Eco-warrior win!

If you’re searching for great

news for the planet, Ecosia

might just have the answer.

The search engine is a

German non-profit, and the

country’s first B Corp, which

uses the ad revenue from

searches to plant trees around

the world. And in July this year

it announced a milestone

moment as it planted its

100-millionth tree! You can

support the company’s fight

against climate change from

your keyboard by simply

downloading the Ecosia plugin

extension for free on your

browser. A ground-breaking

initiative you can be-leaf in.

Self-love conquers all

Cupid’s stringing up his bow, and he’s asking you to shift your focus

inwards. Discover the power of self-love and the ways that it can change

your life, as we get the inside scoop from a life coach on the practical

steps you can take to start falling head-over-heels for yourself

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Artwork | Becky Johnston

The greatest gift we can give

ourselves is self-love. It lifts

us up, assures us of our

strengths and worth, and carries

us through the hard times.

Of course, throughout our lives

we may find ourselves riding

through peaks and troughs in

terms of our relationship with

ourselves. One day, we might

be our own best friend, and feel

proud of the person that we are.

Other times, we come up against

self-doubt, and feelings that we

aren’t worthy of the support and

love that we really do need. But

through it all, self-love has the

ability to help us ride the waves.

“To me, self-love is holding

yourself in the highest possible

regard,” Ayesha Giselle, a life and

accountability coach, explains.

“It’s loving, liking, enjoying,

appreciating, and accepting your

individual qualities. It’s being

kind to yourself, being committed

to yourself, and taking care of

yourself. It’s the degree to which

you believe that, deep down, you

are worthy and deserving of the

good things that you desire.”

As Ayesha sees it, self-love

emerges when you really take the

time to explore and understand

who you are, and who you are

becoming. Each of us has our

own personal hurdles to jump,

and feelings of contentment can

come and go – but if you’re ready

to commit to self-love, where

should you start, and what are

the practical steps you need to

take? With help from Ayesha, we

explore the secrets to uncovering

unconditional self-love.

What do we have to gain?

For Ayesha, self-love and wellbeing

go hand-in-hand.

“Self-love enables you to

understand yourself enough to

know what your needs are, and

it helps you regard and honour

yourself, so that you get those

needs met,” she says.

And, as Ayesha highlights, selflove

ripples out, and those good

feelings that you’ll be harnessing

will seep into your relationships

with others, as you approach them

with confidence and assurance.

“You’ll be able to be more tolerant

of life’s frustrations, encouraging

a more forgiving attitude towards

others and yourself,” Ayesha adds.

Beyond that, when we’re kind

to ourselves, there are some very

real physiological forces at play.

A study published in the journal

Clinical Psychological Science found

that participants who thought

kind thoughts to themselves

displayed lower heart rates and

sweat reponses, which suggests

that having our own back switches

off our threat response, and puts

the body in a state of safety and

relaxation. >>>

What’s in our way?

For many, the first step towards a

better relationship with ourselves

is taking a hard look at the things

that are standing in our way. In her

work with clients, Ayesha often

sees five main obstacles: clients

being too hard on themselves;

not communicating boundaries;

not meeting needs; not feeling

‘lovable’; and people-pleasing.

“I have come across many

clients who are extremely hard

on themselves – for the choices

they’ve made, for not following

through on their promises, for how

they behave, or for their habits,”

says Ayesha. “I’ve had to teach

clients to be kind to themselves,

and to remember that the only way

we improve our lives is by learning

from our mistakes, rather than

putting ourselves down. Being too

hard on yourself takes you on a

downward spiral – it’s not a loving

act at all.”

In the same vein, Ayesha notes

how understanding our needs,

avoiding people-pleasing, and

setting boundaries can help us lay

the foundations of what we will

and won’t tolerate, both from the

people in our lives, but also from

ourselves. And a good place to

start when we’re looking to focus

inwards, is actually outwards.

“If you think about when you love

a person, you do whatever you can

to meet their needs, because you

believe that they are deserving

of that,” Ayesha explains. “To

not meet your own needs is to

disregard yourself – it’s like telling

yourself you are unworthy of the

basics. Which isn’t true.”


So once you’ve worked through the

things that might be holding you

back, what are your next steps? As

Ayesha sees it, there are several

practical things that we can all do

to foster self-love, and there’s no

time like the present to get started.

To begin, Ayesha recommends

taking care of yourself mentally,

physically, spiritually, and

emotionally, by checking in with

yourself regularly. She suggests

asking yourself: “What am I


The only child to Catholic

parents, Jackie Handy faced

many challenges to her sense of

self-love and confidence, as she

came to terms with her sexuality.

“As a teenager, I felt weird and,

despite being generally popular

in school, I didn’t like myself very

much,” Jackie explains. Although,

with time, her parents came to

support her, Jackie remained

‘in the closet’ at work, hiding a

part of who she was. But that all

changed when she met Shar, who

is now her wife.

“She was, and still is, my number

one fan, and I no longer wanted

to hide my truth, or conduct a

secret relationship,” says Jackie.

“I realised soon after meeting

her, that life was too short to live

inauthentically, and that I need

never feel shame for who I am.”

Seeing ourselves through the eyes

of those who love us can teach us

valuable lessons on self-love, and

today Jackie says this realisation

manifests itself in her gratitude,

the actions she takes to give back

to others, and her relationship.

“Life is a rollercoaster of selfdiscovery,

and you should never

stop learning,” says Jackie.

“Self-belief and self-love might

take time to manifest in your life,

but when it does you will find

the possibilities it presents are


Watch Jackie’s talks on inclusion

and authenticity by visiting


feeling? Am I maintaining and

setting healthy boundaries? How

will I meet my needs?” It might

be helpful to frame your thoughts

with the following prompts:

I feel…

I need…

I forgive…

I trust…

I celebrate…

I release…

Above all else, Ayesha asks:

“What would someone who loves

themselves do?” It’s a simple

question, but it reveals the layers of

thought that go into each decision

we make. Take stress, for example.

Would someone who loves themself

push ahead and berate themselves

for getting flustered, or would they

take some time off, and try again

with a fresh, healthy mind? Apply

this thinking to the things that

come up in your everyday life, and

you’ll soon discover the path that

you need to take.

Along for the ride

We’re each on our individual paths

but, as we move forward with our

own journeys, we have the power

to bring others along with us.

“Being patient with others will

encourage them to be patient with

themselves,” says Ayesha. “Respect

people’s boundaries. You don’t

always need to understand them –

reasons for certain boundaries can

be complex – but respecting them

will give them the space they need

to tune-in to themselves and grow.”

As with the first steps in your own

journey, extend your compassion

and understanding to those you

see going through the same thing,

noting how they may need to do

Seeing ourselves

through the eyes of

those who love us

can teach us some

valuable lessons on


a lot of ‘unlearning’ – tackling

unhelpful and self-deprecating

thought patterns – which can be

challenging and draining.

“By leading by example, you

inspire hope and belief in others,”

says Ayesha. “One of the best gifts

we can give to other people is being

our authentic selves. This teaches

others how to love themselves; by

being a vessel of love, and sharing

your love, you can teach others how

it feels to be loved.”

Over to you

If you’re not already convinced

that it’s time to start investing in

self-love, Ayesha breaks it down

clearly: “There’s only one way to

live a life of fulfilment and joy,

and that is through self-love,” she

says. “Self-love is the gift that keeps


And it does. Through the good

times and the bad, from moments

in our lives when we’re pushed into

unknown territory, and those that

make us question our characters,

everything’s easier when we have

our own back.

Want to learn about life coaching?

Head to lifecoach-directory.org.uk

to connect with coaches remotely and

in your area.

The power of stepping out of

your comfort zone…

We all want to feel safe, and secure. But as our columnist

Grace Victory reveals, if life is feeling stagnant, stepping into

the unknown could be both energising, and rewarding

with Grace

If I look back on my almost 30

years of life, there is so much

to be grateful for. But I am

definitely the type of person

who rarely stops to celebrate my

achievements, because when

I’ve accomplished one thing, I

immediately move on to the next.

However, the pattern that I’ve

noticed with my successes –

whether big or small – is that

more often than not, to achieve

whatever I have achieved, I had

to step out of my comfort zone.

And if I’m being totally honest,

sometimes I’m dragged out of my

comfort zone by my therapist, and

sometimes I leap!

Maybe you can relate? It pains

me to admit that while I regard

myself as quite adaptable, there

are certain experiences relating

to my childhood trauma that have

affected my ability to make adult

decisions, and experience growth

in certain areas of my life.

I took me two years to make a

career change, because I simply

wasn’t sure if it was the right thing

to do. I knew I felt stuck and that I

needed a change, but to muster up

the courage to do so... well, it took

me longer than I’d like to admit.

But in other areas of my life, I can

swiftly move on, and alter the

direction of my path.

I guess it’s also dependent on

whether or not I feel in control –

buckle up for some serious truths!

Have I told you about my issues

with control? Not the control

that polices people, or screams

at my boyfriend that he can’t go

out. I’m talking about the kind of

control where if something out of

the ordinary happens during my

usual routine, I will immediately

feel stressed. I used to use food

to feel a sense of calm, because

everything else in my life felt

chaotic. Control, and a person’s

need for it, isn’t always obvious;

sometimes control works in

manipulative and subtle ways, but

the crux is always to feel safe.

Staying within comfort zones

creates a sense of safety and

security, because the box we or

others have placed us in, is what

we’re used to. For nearly all of

us, our comfort zones begin as

children, often residing within

our subconscious. Take playing in

the park. Some toddlers can climb

about, and go down big slides,

without a care in the world, while

Change is full of

vulnerability and

uncertainty, but

without those

things, how will

you ever know


others will be petrified and stick to

playing in the sandpit. Or perhaps

as a child you were boisterous and

unafraid to try new things, but

growing up, an authority figure

made you feel inferior, so now you

only stick to what you know.

Whatever the reasons may be,

comfort zones may make you feel

safe, but they also play a part in

you feeling stagnant, bored, and


“A redirection to a new life means

a rejection of your current life” –

you can quote me on that.

Listen, rejection isn’t always bad.

Making changes rarely leads to

a catastrophe, even if your mind

tells you it will. Comfort zones


are made up of old patterns that

no longer serve us – maybe they

never did. When was the last time

you felt alive and enriched? One

of the main reasons I made a

career change was I constantly felt

uninterested and unenthusiastic,

and I became so bored with feeling

that way. The same goes for my

personal development. And the

only person who can change your

life, your circumstances, and the

direction of your journey, is you.

We all have the tools within

us – some of us will also need

therapists and mentors to help us

see those tools – but the biggest,

most important thing of all, is

the belief that we can create our

own lives. That we can take leaps

of pure faith, and make it out the

other side. That we believe we are

capable of whatever we want to


But (and this is what you have

probably anticipated), in order to

live a life full of rejuvenation and

stimulation, you have to leave your

comfort zone. The excitement, the

rush, the joy, the opportunities, are

waiting for you, right outside the

walls you’ve put up.

Change isn’t always fun, or a

beautiful enlightening journey

– I’d be lying if I said it was.

Change is full of vulnerability

and uncertainty, but without

those things, how will you ever

know courage? Our time on earth

was never supposed to be easy

or enjoyable all the time. We are

here to learn lessons, experience

blessings, and to feel all the

feelings we need to feel – there is

something really beautiful about

that, if you are able to adjust your


Magic happens when you take

a deep breath and step into the

unknown. Maybe you’ll find your

superpowers. Maybe you’ll find

the parts of yourself that you had

forgotten. Maybe you’ll realise

your worth. Maybe you’ll finally

understand your purpose, and

never, ever, look back.


Grace x

Photography | Manny Moreno

20 • happiful.com • April 2020

Laugh loudly, laugh often,

and most important,

laugh at yourself


What is

imposter syndrome?

Do you feel like you’re constantly waiting to be found out? That you’re

a fraud and shouldn’t be in the position you’re in? You’re not alone.

Here we take a closer look at imposter syndrome – what it is, why it

affects us, and, most importantly, what we can do about it

Writing | Kat Nicholls Illustrating | Rosan Magar


As I read and re-read the message

I’d been sent, I couldn’t help but

feel a wave of imposter syndrome

crash over me. Someone from the

BBC wanted to interview me live,

via video call, during a primetime

news slot. Despite the fact

I had written a comprehensive

article about the topic they wanted

to discuss, all I could think was:

“They’ve got the wrong person.”

It took some serious

encouragement from a close friend,

and a lot of deep breaths, to say

yes, but I did. And lo and behold, I

did know what I was talking about,

and the sky did not come tumbling

down on top of me the moment I

opened my mouth.

This is just one example of the way

imposter syndrome can show up.

For some, it’s even more insidious,

sneaking its way into their daily

lives, as they live in fear that any day

now they’ll be caught out.

“Imposter syndrome is believing

you are not as competent as others

perceive you to be,” career coach

and author Tessa Armstrong

explains. “You develop a fear of

being found out, and may believe

you have only got to where you are

by luck. This commonly leads to

feelings of self-doubt and anxiety.”

If this is resonating with you,

you’re in good company. According

to a review article published in the

International Journal of Behavioural

Science, around 70% of us will

experience imposter feelings, with

famous faces such as Tina Fey and

Tom Hanks admitting to feeling like

a fraud at times.

Imposter syndrome

is believing you are

not as competent

as others perceive

you to be

So what is it that leads so many

of us to feel this way? Our high

standards may be one piece of the

puzzle, according to Tessa.

“We live in a world of high

expectations. This is largely

experienced through education,

and in the workplace,” Tessa

says. “This can lead to

individuals developing

high expectations

of themselves,

and then setting

unrealistic goals.

It also can lead

to people not

speaking out

when they’re

struggling, as they

don’t want to be

found out.”

This can be compounded by

growing up with parents or

teachers who put a great deal of

pressure on us. We can quickly

internalise these expectations,

pushing ourselves, and believing

that nothing we do is good enough.

When we do find ourselves

succeeding, we become quick to

dismiss it as ‘luck’, and imposter

syndrome can start to fester.

Sometimes new situations trigger

imposter feelings too, such as when

I was asked to do a live interview on

TV. Other situations, such as starting

a new job or going to university, can

have the same effect.

Certain characteristics also come

into play. Tessa notes a common

trait shared by her clients who

struggle with imposter syndrome is

perfectionism. “This is a link that

I frequently see displayed by my

clients, particularly lawyers, and

those in similar professions.

“My clients who show signs of

imposter syndrome often spend

far too much time over-preparing

for tasks, and after the event they

over-analyse how they did, often

thinking their performance was

worse than it really was.

“Unfortunately, this forms a

vicious cycle, as thoughts such

as ‘I don’t want to fail’ or ‘I’m not

good enough’ trigger self-doubt,

and anxiety. They don’t tell anyone

because of the fear of being found

out, and therefore don’t seek help.”

With this vicious cycle in full

swing, how exactly can we move

past imposter syndrome?

Overcoming imposter syndrome

Whether we’re conscious of it or

not, imposter syndrome stems from

beliefs we hold about ourselves. As

we’ve mentioned, there are lots of


Ultimately, you

want to be able to

challenge these

thoughts, to believe

you are good

enough, and that

you can do it

1. Talk about your feelings. Opening up to others

can help reframe your thoughts and gain some

self-awareness – but you could also try journaling.

2. Separate thoughts and feelings from fact. Try to be

objective, and consider your actual achievements and

skills – there’s probably a lot to support the fact that you

are incredibly capable!

3. Keep track of feedback. Our minds naturally focus on

criticism and negativity, so we should make a conscious

effort to remember and reflect on the positive comments

and praise next time imposter syndrome creeps in.

different things that can affect these

beliefs, but wherever they’ve come

from, it’s important to root them

out and examine them.

You may want to journal about

what core beliefs you hold about

yourself, or speak to a professional

coach who can guide you through

the process. As with many mindset

issues, shining a light of selfawareness

is key.

Tessa recommends bringing this

light of awareness to your imposter

syndrome thoughts as they show up.

“Be aware of when your imposter

syndrome or perfectionist thoughts

occur, and how they make you feel.

The more you are aware of these

thoughts and feelings, the easier it

will be to do something about them.

“Ultimately, you want to be able to

challenge these thoughts, to believe

you are good enough, and that you

can do it.”

Being able to challenge your

imposter thoughts may sound

easier said than done, but often

it’s simply a case of searching

for the evidence. The next time

that wave of imposter syndrome

crashes over you, and you feel like

you’re drowning in self-doubt, ask

yourself: “Where’s the evidence?”

Where’s the proof you don’t

know what you’re doing? Where’s

the evidence you do? Become a

detective of your own thoughts, and

recognise that thoughts aren’t facts.

Tessa also highlights how

speaking to someone can be a real

source of support if you’re finding

this step challenging.

“Remember, it’s normal not to

know everything. If you are unsure

about something, talk to someone

who can help you. It may also help

to ask for feedback from colleagues

– it’s often more positive than you

might expect.”

As difficult and scary as it may

feel to let someone else ‘in’ on how

you’re feeling, we hope this article

has shown that you’re not alone.

A quick chat with a colleague or

friend may put your mind at rest,

or you may benefit from talking to

a coach. If your imposter syndrome

is causing anxiety, and you feel the

roots are deep, exploring this with a

counsellor may also help.

Either way, don’t be afraid to reach

out and tell people what’s going on

for you – reassurance, support, or

even guidance, can be a real life raft

when you’re all at sea.

Learn more about Tessa, and

find a coach to support you, at


How to deal with

a toxic boss

If the culture at work is causing you anxiety, and making you doubt

your abilities, the good news is that things can change. Here we

share how to maximise your strengths, and regain your confidence

Writing | Helen Unwin

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

If you’re struggling with selfconfidence

at work, thinking

there is something wrong

with you, please stop. Take

a step back, and look at things

objectively. While there are times

when we might not be performing

quite to our best, if it feels like the

culture is crushing your spirit,

and you get that dread in the pit of

your stomach each morning, there

could be something else at play.

Toxic bosses create a culture of

fear, mistrust, and presenteeism

– where hierarchy determines the

value of your input, and everyone

is judged on their ability to imitate

the ‘leader’. Some people thrive in

this environment, but if you don’t,

it can make your life hell, as you

doubt your self-worth, and your

overall abilities.

Creating a foundation of selfknowledge

and acceptance is the

first step we need to take back

control. So, if you’re struggling

under a toxic boss or culture,

read on to find ways to rediscover

yourself, take back your power,

and feel happier at work.


Without clarifying what you

stand for, or what’s important to

you, you can find yourself living

someone else’s ideal life. In his

2009 TED talk, Simon Sinek asks:

“Why do you get out of bed in

the morning?” Having a purpose,

cause, or set of beliefs, can

motivate us through the hardest

days at work. Have you ever

considered what your ‘why’ is?

Living from your values is

another way to shift your focus on

to what’s important. To discover

yours, find a “core values list”

on Google. Narrow down your

options to a top five that resonate

most, and describe what each one

means to you. Next, explain what

the opposite looks like. Finally,

rank yourself against this value

from one to 10, on how close you

feel you’re living to it today. When

you’re not able to live out your

values, it can make you feel in

conflict or out of control, so take

time to understand how you could

move closer to them.



I remember a time where my

confidence at work hit rock

bottom. It seemed like there was

only one way of doing things,

and it felt wrong, so I completely

doubted my abilities and selfworth.


a training course

opened my

eyes to different

work personas

Everyone has unique

strengths and

talents, which can be

sidelined when we’re

trying to fit in

and personality profiles – each

completely acceptable in their

own right.

The Myers Briggs Type Indicator

(MBTi) is a personality-profiling

test that assigns a four-letter

acronym to 16 personality types.

Each type has its own unique

combination of personality

aspects, and reveals typical

behaviour and natural tendencies

in life, work, and relationships.

You can find free versions online

– I like to use 16personalities.com,

as it gives plenty of detail for each

personality type.

More and more companies are

starting to realise that focusing on

weaknesses is bad for business,

and now focus on discovering and

maximising strengths. Strengths

are ways of thinking or working

that you find easy – and because

they come naturally, we often

think everyone has them. I find

the best tool for discovering your

strengths is the Gallup Strengths

finder, which highlights your

top strengths out of a list of 34.

Although it’s not free, you could

buy the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0,

to get a code for one use of the

online test, to identify your five top




After working through your ‘why’,

core values, personality type, and

strengths, you will be able to see

how everyone is wired differently,

including your boss. One way of

improving fraught relationships,

is by trying to see the world from

their perspective using a tool

called perceptual positioning.

You place two chairs next to each

other, sitting on the first to tell

your boss everything you want

to say. Then, change chairs and

respond as them. This method

helps you to understand they are

human, and can also reveal where

they’re coming from.



Having a new sense of selfknowledge

can have a positive

impact on your self-acceptance,

but using it is where the real

benefits happen. How will you

use this information at work, to

improve the relationship you have

with yourself, and your boss or

colleagues? What boundaries do

you need to put in place? How

can you change your interactions

with your boss so they feel more

authentic and balanced? How can

you use your unique strengths to

maximum effect?

I really believe everyone has

unique strengths and talents,

which can be sidelined when

we’re trying to fit in. Please don’t

suffer in silence, or feel you’re

not good enough, for one more

minute. Take back control by

remembering who you are, what

you want in your life, and then

take action to make it happen.

Helen Unwin is a coach devoted to

helping others design and create

their lives on their own terms, by

rediscovering who they are – their key

strengths, values, and motivations.

Visit helenunwincoaching.com

for more.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 25

S T E V I E B L A I N E : W H A T M A K E S A M A N ?

It’s about time we started talking about the body confidence issues that affect men,

and Stevie Blaine is the blogger getting the ball rolling. Sharing raw and uplifting

snaps from his everyday life, and opening up about the issues that touch him, Stevie

is part of the self-love revolution that’s asking all of us to unlearn the things that have

kept us down. Here, we chat about his body confidence journey, masculinity, and

how to support the next generation

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Hi Stevie! If you reflect on your

body confidence journey, can you

pinpoint when it all began?

I grew up in the 90s, and at the time

I looked at things like magazines,

TV, and movies for validation.

They just made me feel like I

didn’t belong, that my body was a

problem. It started a long, horrible,

relationship with my body, eating,

and exercise. From there, I shifted

weight, gained weight, and I was

battling with an eating disorder

and exercise addiction. I couldn’t

actually live my life.

Did you have a support system?

My family has always been

amazing. I was probably my own

biggest enemy. A lot of people

would help me get help, but I didn’t

believe it to be true. I still felt like

I needed to lose more weight or I

needed to look a certain way.

And one of the worst things that

happened to me, when I was about

16, was when I went to see a GP.

I said: “I think I’ve got an eating

disorder, I’m really struggling.”

The first thing they said was: “Boys

don’t really get eating disorders.”

In your opinion, what needs to be

done to better reach men?

This is what I struggle with,

even now. My audience online is

primarily women. A lot of women

will tag their boyfriends or their

husbands in my posts, and then

I’ll get messages from men who I

would have never come in contact

with normally. It’s reaching them in

the first place – that’s the hard part.

I’ve had the same group of friends

my whole life, but throughout

everything that was going on, I

didn’t speak about things. When I

finally started my Instagram page

talking about it, they were all like,

“Oh, I feel the same way.” I’m like,

“Why have we not spoken about

this for the past 10 years?”

What do you think is holding men

back from engaging in these


I think the biggest thing is how

ingrained toxic masculinity is

within our culture. Men believe

that they need to be strong, that

they need to be unmoving, and

that talking about emotional

things, or things that society

would deem as feminine – such

as our bodies and body image

– is admitting that you’ve got a

weakness, and that’s emasculating.

Is that something you feel that

you’ve had to contend with?

Yes, and I think I’m a good

example, because I had the most

supportive family ever, yet I still

ended up struggling for years,

solely based on outside pressure

and expectations.

I think boys are more conscious

about the way they look nowadays.

We think it’s perfectly normal for

guys to be spending two or three

hours, every day, in the gym. We’re

using health as a metric to judge

people on, yet health is something

that you can’t see, and it’s a

privilege. I’ve had the same genetic

condition since I was born. I’m

never going to be ‘healthy’, never,

that’s it. When I was extremely

underweight, and battling an

eating disorder, people would

praise me for being in the gym

every day. It was self-fulfilling.

When did things start to look up?

One day, there was a plus-size girl

on my Instagram explore page.

I was like, wow, this person can

just live their life whereas my sole

purpose, for the past 10 years, has

been to change my body. I’d lost the

weight, but I was left with all these

other things that men don’t talk

about, such as stretch marks and

excess skin.

That was when Instagram went

from being a really negative tool

to being a positive one, because

then I reached out to her and said, >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 27

“You’ve honestly saved me.” It was

actually bodyposipanda [Megan

Jayne Crabbe], now one of my best


We often talk about body

confidence as a journey, not a

destination. Is that something

that rings true to you?

Definitely. The most common

thing I get asked in every Q&A or

DM will always be: “How do I be

body confident?” I try to remain

completely honest on social

media. I talk about days where

I’m feeling terrible. You’re never

going to reach the endpoint of

being completely happy, but what

I think is important is working

through that.

If you’re having one of those

days, do you now have strategies

to take care of yourself?

Yes. I always talk a lot about selfcare

being really important. Every

morning, I used to find something

in the mirror that I liked about

myself. I was never allowed to use

the same thing twice. At first, I

would go: “I like my eyes, I like my

hair.” But over time, I’d have to look

at my surgical scars, I’d have to look

at my stretch marks, and things that

I’ve done all I can to hide.

These are all things you talk

about online. If you’d had access

to these kinds of resources when

you were young, do you think

things would’ve been different?

You’re never going to

reach the endpoint

of being completely

happy, but what I think

is important is working

through that

That’s why I do what I do. If I’m

able to help one person who’s like

I was when I was 10, then that’s

enough. Whether that’s being able

to point somebody in the direction

of fantastic resources, working

with youth charities, or going

into schools.

For more from Stevie, follow him

on Instagram @bopo.boy

So, tell us about your work

with schools.

Last year, I was invited to

Bodykind, which is the UK’s first

body empowerment festival.

Two girls, I think in year 10, were

campaigning in their school to get

a group of us to come and speak

there. We went, and it was me,

bodyposipanda, and a few others.

We spoke to every single class in

the entire school.

Then we did small workshops,

which are where we’d each focus

on something. I did mine all about

self-love. That was more intimate,

with 10 kids. When I came back, I

thought, this is something I really

want to do more, even if it’s just me.

Do any experiences at these talks

particularly stand out?

I remember I was explaining how,

when I was at school, I would sit

at the back of the room wearing

an oversized hoodie. My hair

would cover my face. I would do

anything I could to divert attention

away from me. Coincidently,

there was a girl who was in an

oversized hoodie and had a black

fringe covering all of her face.

Her teacher came over to me

afterwards, and was speaking to

me about how she’s going through

a hard time, and asked what they

could do to help. Being able to

provide the help that I needed is

the big thing for me.

Do you think that people are now

better equipped to deal with the

issues that you went through?

Yes, 100%. I think a lot of it is that

no single person has the resources

to help everyone, but being able to

provide them with the tools or the

language for them to label what

they’ve been going through, makes

a huge difference. Comparing it

to me coming out, being able to

use ‘gay’ as a label, gave me such

empowerment. It’s the same with

language related to my body. To

be like, “This is body shaming,” or,

“I’ve experienced body worries.”

Being able to provide that dialogue,

I think it allows people to start

having conversations.

Are you hopeful for the future?

I think so. Nowadays, I think we’re

a lot more self-aware. You can

see how these communities on

social media pop up where people

don’t have access to all of the right

people, in their day-to-day lives.

Being able to have a place online

for them to go to find like-minded

people who can give them the

support they need, give them the

encouragement, or give them the

tools to help themselves, that’s only

going to become more of a thing,

right? It can only help.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 29

What is

skin hunger?

Has the pandemic had you missing hugs from your nearest and dearest?

You’re not alone. Social distancing guidelines are vital to prevent the spread of

coronavirus, but they’re depriving us of our human need for physical touch

Writing | Becky Wright

As humans, we’re wired for

physical connection. From

the moment we’re born,

we learn that touch is crucial for

building relationships with others

– it’s how we get fed, and are taken

care of.

And, although you may not

usually notice it, our lives are full

of human touch. From shaking

hands when you meet someone

new, to the comforting squeeze

on your arm from a friend when

you’re having a tough day, life

is full of gestures that keep us

connected to other people.

But, thanks to the global

pandemic, we’ve been starved of

physical contact for months.

Why is touch important?

It’s an instinct to try to establish an

emotional closeness with others

by being spatially close. Touch is

thought to be crucial for building

healthy relationships, and is

how we establish intimacy with


Of course, touch isn’t just

important for our romantic

connections. Physical contact

also has a direct link to our sense

of mental wellbeing. Human

touch has the power to stimulate

pathways for the love hormone

oxytocin, as well as the natural

antidepressant serotonin, and the

pleasure chemical dopamine.

When we hug, touch, or sit close

to someone else, levels of these

chemicals rise, reducing our stress

levels, and boosting our happiness.

Plus, it tackles loneliness. Even the

gentlest touch from a stranger has

been shown to reduce feelings of

social exclusion.

What’s more, skin-to-skin contact

is vital for our physical health.

Touch can calm certain bodily

functions, such as heart rate and

blood pressure.

What happens when we lack

physical touch?

There is no doubt that social

distancing is essential to slow the

spread of Covid-19. But, there

are consequences to missing

out on regular touch, especially

for a prolonged, undetermined

period. Missing out on physical

contact means we are deprived

of its social, psychological, and

physiological benefits.

The pandemic has been like a

period of famine, and we’re all

experiencing an insatiable hunger;

human touch is the forbidden

fruit, and social distancing is the

gag in our mouths, starving us of

physical closeness.

While we’re all facing these

restrictions, it’s thought that some

people could be feeling the impact

more than others – specifically,

those who show their affection

mostly through physical acts.

According to author and marriage

counsellor Dr Gary Chapman,

there are said to be five love

languages: words of affirmation,

acts of service, receiving gifts,

quality time, and physical touch.

The language you connect

with most determines how you

communicate in a relationship,

to feel a rapport, care, and

connection with your loved one.

Although Dr Chapman was

thinking of romantic couples

when he defined these love

languages, you can apply them to

any interpersonal relationship.

People whose love language is

physical touch prefer physical

expressions of love – a hug, a kiss,

a pat on the back, holding hands –

over all other acts. Of course, this

is problematic in an era of social

distancing because it can result in

feelings of neglect when these acts

can’t be performed.

I wouldn’t describe myself as a

very touchy-feely person. Don’t

get me wrong, I love a cuddle,

but physical touch isn’t the love

language that I’m fluent in. But,

even for me, it feels alien not

to bring my loved ones into an

embrace these days, having not

seen them ‘properly’ for so long.

So, I can only imagine that, for

those who speak the love language

of physical touch, social distancing

must be unsettling.

If you have a dog or cat, stroking them

can act as an emotional substitute for

human interaction for the time being

How can we combat skin hunger?

With social distancing guidelines

likely to be required for some time

still, it’s important to do what you

can to feel close to others. Touch

starvation doesn’t have to last


Counsellor Juliette Clancy

says: “Although there is no exact

substitution for human touch, there

are some alternatives that might be

worth considering that offer similar

health benefits.

“Anything that moves your

skin will stimulate pressure

receptors and, although we may

immediately think of massage,

which is normally administered by

someone else, self-massage gives

the same kind of stimulation.

“Yoga, walking, jogging, riding

a bike, hugging yourself, dancing

and singing, are actually also

forms of self-touch.”

Juliette recommends the

following simple ways to feel more

connected right now:

• Spend some quality time with

animals. If you have a dog or

cat, stroking them can act as an

emotional substitute for human

interaction for the time being.

• Try to smile. Although we are

facing uncertainty, laughter is one

of the easiest ways to feel better,

and release endorphins.

• Get sentimental. Keepsakes can

help us feel the presence of loved

ones. Photographs, treasured gifts,

are reminders you’re cared about.

• Boost your endorphins.

Vanilla and lavender are scents

linked with the production of

endorphins. Studies have shown

that dark chocolate and spicy

foods can release endorphins, too.

• Keep in touch. Technology

makes it easy to maintain face-toface

communication, and this can

be a highly effective substitute for

physical contact. Video chats are a

great way to see and be seen.

Of course, nothing can replace

the importance of human contact.

But, until we can safely socialise

without the need to keep our

distance, we can find alternatives

to satisfy this basic human need.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 31

Wheel of life

If you’re feeling unsatisfied with key areas of your life, then this special

coaching tool could be the perfect thing to help you reassess and rebalance

Writing | Kat Nicholls

When was the last time

you took a step back

and evaluated how

content you’re feeling

with life in general? Maybe you’re

struggling in your career, or your

health is worrying you. Whatever

the issues are, they can build

slowly, knocking you off balance,

and having a profound impact

on your wellbeing. But taking a

moment to look at your life as a

whole can help you identify the

areas that need attention to bring

you back into balance.

What is the wheel of life tool?

By plotting how satisfied we

are with each area of our life as

spokes on a wheel, we can create

a visual representation of how

happy we are. Connecting the

dots to form a circle helps us

to see quickly and easily where

we’ve lost balance, and recognise

which areas need work.

The original concept was

created by Paul J Meyer, and

today different variations of

the wheel are used by coaches

and those in the personal

development space. But this is

the great thing about the wheel

– it’s versatility. You can pick

whatever areas of your life are

most important to you, and even

go deeper with separate wheels

for different areas. For example, if

you’ve noted that your family life

needs attention, you could create

a dedicated wheel to help you drill

down further.

How to use the wheel of life tool

If you’re ready to take a bird’seye

view of your life, follow our

instructions to have a go on the

template wheel.

1. Pick your life areas

Choose which areas you want to

look at. Need a little inspiration?

Here are some ideas:

• Relationships

• Career

• Parenting/family

• Physical health

• Mental health

• Finances

• Personal development

• Fun/recreational activities

• Home

• Spirituality

These are just some ideas, so

pick the areas that feel most

relevant to you right now, and

then name each spoke.

2. Assess your life areas

Rate each area of your life on a

scale from 0–10. If everything in

that area is perfect, it’s a 10, but

if there’s work needed, it’ll score

lower. Take time with this step,

and really consider how much

attention you’re currently giving

each area. Mark your scores on

each spoke with a dot or cross.

3. Connect the dots

Simply connect the dots to form

your circle. How does it look?

Can you see where your balance

may be off?

4. Consider your ideal score

for each area

While many of us may want to

achieve a perfect score of 10 in

32 • happiful.com • September 2020

each area, this can be unrealistic,

and will likely only make us feel

worse as we pursue an impossible

goal. Instead, we encourage you to

think about what an ‘ideal’ score

would be for each area.

Consider your circumstances,

what time and resources you

have, and which areas you really

want to focus on. Remember,

you can return to this tool time

and time again – it’s OK for your

priorities to change.

5. Set out your next steps

Now you know which areas need

attention, and what your ideal

score for those areas would be,

it’s time to create an action plan

By plotting how satisfied we are with each area

of our life as spokes on a wheel, we can create

a visual representation of how happy we are

to make this happen. Ask yourself

how you can prioritise these areas,

what steps can you take to gently

lift these scores, and feel more


How coaching complements

this work

The wheel of life tool is used by

coaches to help clients uncover

what they truly need to feel

balanced and content. Once

they’ve used the tool and identified

areas to work on, the coach can

offer some much welcomed

support, guidance, and

accountability. Having someone

objective to talk to can help you

uncover what’s achievable for

you, and what would make the

most impact.

This tool can be used any

time you’re feeling off-balance

– we recommend checking in

regularly to see what tweaks can

be made.

Try it yourself




September 2020 • happiful.com • 33

Let go of the

fear of failure

Do you constantly worry about what could go

wrong if you try something new? Here’s why

letting go of this anxiety, and embracing the idea

of failure, could lead to bigger and better things…

Writing | Claire Munnings

In a world where carefullycurated

social media feeds show

us pictures of perfection and

success every day, failure is not

something many of us like to admit

to. In fact, a lot of us will go out of

our way to avoid it, focusing on the

‘what ifs’, and shying away from

any potential disappointments. But

worrying too much about failing

can hold us back in many ways.

This is something Iona Russell,

life coach and author of Making

Waves, focuses on a lot in her

work. “A fear of failure stops us

from trying new things, creates

self-doubt, and slows us down,”

she explains. “If we give into that

fear all the time, we would never

achieve anything. Imagine if as an

infant we stopped trying to crawl

or walk – we would never have

learned to run!”

Psychotherapist and leadership

coach Deborah Maloney-Marsden

agrees. “When we don’t take risks,

we keep ourselves small, and we

don’t live expansively,” she says.

“Sadly it means that so many of us

are not living to our full potential.”

As these experts explain, failure

is part of what makes us who we

are. Often, we learn far more from

our mistakes than we do from

our successes, and this is what

allows us to grow. And it’s in those

moments of risk-taking that we

truly strip back our layers, and

discover things about our inner

resilience and capabilities that we

never knew.

“When we make mistakes, we

experience an essential part of

being human,” Deborah adds. “We

start to learn that we don’t need to

be perfect, and it’s OK to be fallible.

It helps us accept our whole self.

When we see ourselves survive,

even when we fail, we grow. We

learn lessons for the future, and we

build resilience, confidence, and

self-esteem.” And it’s often these

skills that will – ironically – help us

succeed later in life.

For life coaches such as Iona and

Deborah, then, the key to feeling

A fear of failure

stops us from

trying new things,

creates self-doubt,

and slows us down

more fulfilled is working out how

to limit our doubt, and instead

focus on courage and curiosity.

“We need to be careful to not

fall into fear,” Ioana says. “Our

minds want to keep us safe in the

circumstances we’re in, and in the

comfort zone. But, magic happens

outside the comfort zone.”

34 • happiful.com • September 2020

can help you move forward and

embrace your fear. “Knowing and

naming the difference between

the past and the present is really

important,” she says. “It allows

you to have dual awareness, and

operate from the place in your life

that you are in now, not the past.”

Ask yourself what you’re

actually worried about

What is it that’s holding you

back? Questioning this is really

important, says Iona. “Is it being

unsuccessful? Or people disliking

you? If you know what’s holding

you back, that’s half the battle.

Address and acknowledge your

worries, and let them go.”

Also consider all the benefits of

trying something new – and focus

on the positives. “Our self-esteem

and confidence grows when we get

out and try things,” says Deborah,

adding that we should gently

challenge any inner voices that tell

us differently.


Keen to explore the magic of your

dis-comfort zone? Our experts

share their insight…

Consider whether there’s

a reason you’re scared

While we all worry about not

succeeding in certain areas of our

life, for some this may stem from

an event in our past.

“Be aware of the roots of your

fear,” advises Deborah. “Were you

overly criticised in the past? Was

too much expected of you, and

now only perfection will do? Have

you been painfully humiliated

at some point?” Recognising this

Realise the potential for growth

In Deborah’s opinion, we need to

embrace our edge. This is where

we challenge ourselves, and the

area where we can learn the most.

“This is the place where things can

feel scary and uncertain,” she says.

“And it’s often the place we decide

to back out. But, if we can start to

stay here longer, and tolerate the

feeling of working at our edge, we

have the potential for growth.”

Know the difference between a

potential opportunity, and an

irresponsible risk

Some things really are risky, and

having a fear of failure in this case

is a must. This isn’t just about times >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 35


Listen to: ‘How to Fail’

by Elizabeth Day

This award-winning podcast

sees journalist Elizabeth Day

interview well-known figures

about what they’ve learned from

things going wrong in their lives.

Previous guests include Phoebe

Waller-Bridge, David Nicholls,

and Dame Kelly Holmes. Find all

the episodes on iTunes.

where your life may be in danger,

but where your financial security

may be impaired, or your mental

wellbeing impacted. In these

situations, taking a step forward

should be properly considered.

“Evaluate what may be

genuine danger,” says Deborah.

“Remember, we’re trying to work

at our internal edge, not endanger

ourselves!” Take a moment to

reflect, and don’t feel like you need

to rush in. This can help us decide

what risks we shouldn’t take,

but also those we should. If you

can distinguish between the two

confidently, then you should feel

more secure taking the risks that

are safe to do so.

Begin slowly

“Write a list of the things that

you would love to do, or achieve,”

Deborah says. “Start to make

small steps in these areas. It’s not

about the end goal, but little wins,

learning, and growing as you go.

It will build your confidence as

you start to experience different

outcomes, and your ability to flex,

and adapt. Ask for feedback, tips to

move forward, and integrate this as

you go.” You’ll soon see that being

adaptable and overcoming small

setbacks is easier than it looks.

See the lessons in failing

“Overcome disappointment by

re-framing it,” says Iona. “Call it

a lesson in life. Ask yourself what

that perceived failure taught you,

and then move forward. You’ve

tripped, now focus on getting up.

Consider how you can tackle the

problem with a positive growth

mindset.” Evaluate what worked

and what didn’t, and think about

how you may have done things

differently. The lessons learned

here can help you thrive later.

Claire Munnings is a health and

wellbeing journalist. She enjoys

writing about how we can live

more mindfully and explore our full


Read: Life Lessons from

Remarkable Women

Yes, this may be about women,

but it’s not solely for women.

These stories address the

challenges faced by females

today – from overcoming

setbacks to finding fulfilment

– with contributions from

entrepreneurs, politicians and

writers. It’s a motivational read

for all. Buy it from amazon.co.uk

Watch: The Dawn Wall

This film is about testing yourself

to your limits. Of course, we’re

not encouraging you to try

to climb a 3,000ft rock face

in Yosemite National Park

(like the protagonists in this

documentary), but instead take

note of the lessons learned from

the two climbers. It makes for

truly inspiring viewing. Find it

on Amazon Prime or Netflix.

Iona Russell is an intuitive life coach,

clinical hypnotherapist, speaker,

and author of ‘Making Waves’. Visit


Deborah Maloney-Marsden is a

psychotherapist and leadership

coach who works at a deep level to

clear blocks and heal trauma. Visit


36 • happiful.com • September 2020


It’s never too

late to change

Vanessa survived an upbringing blighted by

violence and abuse to become a business

high-flier. But burnout made her look again

at the direction of her life, and to make a

fresh start helping others

Writing | Vanessa Poolian

What do you

see when

you look at

my picture?

A confident, professional,

female executive, right?

You can probably guess it

was not always the case.

The truth is, I am a survivor

of domestic violence and

sexual abuse. And these

soul-destroying behaviours

are more common than we

might think. The more I tell

my story, the more I hear:

“Yes, I have been through

that, too.”

It saddens me, but I

understand why it’s not

often talked about. It is

a heavy topic, and most

people don’t know how to

react. Some respond with

disbelief or denial.

Until I was about 21, it

seemed I was living on an

iceberg. At the top, life

appeared fine, and I was

known for being a smiley,

positive person. But

underneath, I was trying

to keep it all together

by suppressing my

emotions, and trying to fit

in with the rest of society.

Behind smiles, there can

be pain.

I was an academic

child, and also creative,

so I often daydreamed

– usually about being

somewhere that was

fantastical and magical.

The school I attended

was strict, and you had no

choice but to behave. If I

ever stepped out of line,

I would be punished at

home as well as school, so

I learned to be obedient

and not to ask too many


I did well academically,

and teachers praised me

for never being late or

absent. But they never

questioned why that was

the case. Everything

was working fine on the

surface of the iceberg

– so it appeared there

was nothing wrong


But I felt I was dying

inside, and there was

nothing I could do to

escape, as everyone else

was pretending everything

was fine. I became

an expert at making

everything appear as if

nothing was wrong.

Home was not a safe

place. Fear puts you in

fight-or-flight mode, as

it feels like life-or-death

when you do not know

how an abusive parent is

going to react. Over time,

your intuition is finetuned,

and you almost

learn how to predict the

abuser’s behaviour. You are

always thinking of ways

to calm a situation, even

before it happens.

Most days I would witness

my mother being beaten

by my father, and some

form of abuse towards my

sisters. I received some

beatings, but not to the

same extent, as I was the

‘academic’ one, and was

mostly left alone.

From a young age, I

thought beating people

up was normal behaviour.

For example, my mother

would be hit just for not

cleaning the kitchen to

a high enough standard.

I don’t know how she

survived all this. >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 37

Vanessa as a baby,

with her mother

I felt I was dying inside, and

there was nothing I could

do to escape, as everyone

else was pretending

everything was fine

My father treated her like

she was his slave. There

was absolutely no respect,

and no apology for his

appalling behaviour.

In 2000, during my

second year at university,

my mother fled to a

neighbour’s house after

my father tried to kill her.

I contacted the police and

my father was arrested,

but my mother was so

scared that she decided

not to press charges.

While we waited for the

domestic violence unit

to arrive at the police

station, my mother made

the decision to leave my


I said to her: “If you do

not leave now, I will not

speak to you again.” This,

of course, wasn’t true, but

I knew it would prompt

her to leave. She and my

sister had to come to live

with me at my university

student accommodation.

It was surreal. We

packed all of their

belongings in 10 minutes,

so arrived at my digs

feeling distraught

and exhausted. My

housemates were

surprised, as they had

absolutely no idea that

this was going on in my

life. But luckily, they

understood, and allowed

them to stay as long as

they needed.

I had no way to express

myself, and sometimes,

when I told people,

they did not believe me.

This lack of expression

and validation from

others turned into

anger towards toxic

masculinity. Whenever a

male got aggressive with

me, I would just go into a

shell. Some of my bosses

had absolutely no idea

this happened, or the

effect it would have on

me at work.

I turned to alternative

therapies for help. I felt

conventional medicine

had let me down, as no

issues could be found

despite test after test.

Deep down, I knew

something wasn’t right,

especially as I was intune

with my body. All

the tablets I took never

made me feel better,

but the meditation,

sound healing, crystal

healing, Reiki, emotional

freedom technique,

kinesiology, acupuncture,

hypnotherapy, and

spiritual counselling,

really and truly helped me

– so I am grateful to all the

‘healers’ I encountered.

I don’t regret embarking

on a corporate career.

I’ve had the privilege

of working for the top

technology companies

in the world. I’ve learned

how to be professional,

manage several projects

at once, how to deal with

conflict, build strong

relationships, and also

to utilise complex IT


One of my main roles

was as a customer

relationship manager for

large corporations dealing

with multi-million-dollar

accounts, so there was a

pressure to perform well,

attend site meetings, and

take clients out to high

profile social events.

I now use these

transferable skills today

in my coaching, and my

professional history gives

me credibility that my

clients can trust.

In 2013, I left the world

of IT, and my body literally

shut itself down like a

computer overloaded with

viruses. I had to sleep for

four days to recover, and

then knew I had to make a

change, as my lifestyle was


38 • happiful.com • September 2020

You can email Vanessa via

contact@bluebellcoaching.co.uk or

visit her website bluebellcoaching.co.uk

I cleaned up my diet,

took courses in nutrition,

and started to meditate

and exercise more. I felt

I had a shot at a more

authentic life and to be

genuinely happy, so I took

the opportunity to start

again. I learned that it is

never too late.

I enrolled at a business

school to study for a

professional certificate

in executive coaching,

graduated in 2014, and

started my own business.

Deep down I knew this

was my calling, that I had

to give back to society in

some way, and that the

trauma I had been through

had prepared me for this.

My work as a coach

means that by helping

others, I am also helping

myself. Growing up in

a toxic environment

means you can easily

take on negative thought

patterns, but it takes a

Deep down I knew this was

my calling, that I had to

give back to society

true willingness to change

to break that cycle. Even

though I had anxiety and

depression, there was a

part of my soul that still

wanted to grow and break

free from what I perceived

as a mental prison.

This type of abuse can

make you feel as if you

are not worthy of great

achievements. I try to

communicate to others

that they are worthy, and

that success is defined by

you, not others. You are

not alone in this journey,

even though it may feel like

that at times.

At almost 40, I’m running

a professional coaching

business (called Bluebell

Coaching, as bluebells

represent new beginnings)

and hope to continue

helping others with their

challenges. You can always

start again, no matter how

hard life gets. I feel that if

I can succeed through all

this chaos then others, with

the right support, can too.


Vanessa’s story is one

of transformation

and renewal. The

incongruence she felt

between her inner and

outer self is something

many of us will recognise.

Having to deal with such

complex situations meant

she went into survival

mode, striving to break

free of the world she was

trapped in. When this

happens, it is hard for

our brain to process our


As Vanessa grew in

her self-knowledge,

she realised she had a

different life ahead. We

all have this ability

to change and to

create a future that

fits with who we

really are – both

inside and out.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

September 2020 • happiful.com • 39

Ask the experts

Aromatherapist Louisa Pini answers

your questions on self-care

Read more about Louisa Pini on Therapy

Directory and try her free self-care quiz by

visiting justbenatural.co.uk/7-days-to-self-care

QI feel guilty

when I spend

time on selfcare

– do you have any

suggestions on how to

overcome that guilt?

Feeling guilty is a big

A barrier to practising

self-care, and there are many

reasons why you may feel

guilty about putting your own

needs first. In truth, you cannot

keep giving without reaching

burnout, or developing serious

health issues.

I find it useful to remember the

cup analogy. Imagine yourself

as a cup of water, and you give

some of your water to others

when they need it. Self-care is

always about keeping your own

cup full. If you don’t keep your

cup full, then you’ll have nothing

left to give. When you spend

more time on self-care, you

feel more fulfilled, you will have

more to give to others, and the

things you do, feel, and say will

have a more positive impact on

others. It’s a win-win situation

for everyone.


I’m really


aromatherapy at

the moment. How can I

incorporate this into my

self-care routine?


Consider using energising

and uplifting oils in the

morning, and during the

day. Place up to five drops of

invigorating essential oils into an

oil burner or diffuser on waking,

so you are breathing them in

as you get ready for the day

ahead. Good choices to create

an energising and positive

atmosphere are lime, grapefruit,

peppermint, or rosemary.

You could pop a drop of your

favourite essential oil on a tissue,

and keep it in your pocket so you

can take it out and inhale when

you need a quick pick-me-up

during the day.

Later in the day you may wish

to add some oils to a bath to

help you unwind and relax.

Choose oils such as lavender,

geranium, frankincense, or

chamomile, and blend five to

six drops with two teaspoons

of carrier oil, such as apricot

kernel or jojoba, mix well, and

add to running bath water.

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

Top tips for those struggling to

make time for self-care:

1. Start small. Begin by giving

yourself just five minutes

every day to do something

you love! Singing, reading,

painting, whatever it is that

lights you up. Give yourself


2. Bring self-care into your

daily routine, so it happens

at a convenient time for

you, and comes as easily as

brushing your teeth.

3. Turn everyday actions into a

self-care ritual. It’s too easy

to rush through the day just

‘going through the motions’.

Turn these everyday

activities into mini-rituals. In

the shower, don’t just quickly

cleanse your body, feel the

contours of your skin, spend

time reconnecting with your

senses and soothing touch.


I can’t get

hold of my

usual skincare

products, and would

like to try making my

own – do you have any


ATry some oil-based

products, because if you

introduce water then you need

preservatives, and it all gets a

bit more complicated. A lovely

oil for removing eye makeup

is jojoba oil, and you can

blend this with some castor

oil to create a natural all over

make-up remover. Castor oil is

good for drawing out dirt from

the pores, and jojoba is a lovely

softening oil.

Another good place to

start would be to make your

own facial oil. Once you’ve

researched what oils are good

for your particular skin type,

blend them together and apply

to your skin overnight. For

hydration, include oils such as

sweet almond, macadamia nut

oil, and avocado oil. For oily

skin consider safflower, apricot

kernel, and grapeseed.

Five flowers for a

bee-friendly garden

How to create some honeybee hotspots

this summer, when bees’ food supply

is most stretched

Writing | Rowse Hives for Lives

Illustrating | Rosan Magar


Honeybees are wonders of

nature. You may see them

buzzing from flower to flower

at this time of year – but that’s

just one pollination pitstop, as

honeybees can cover three miles

in one trip. In fact, a colony of

around 60,000 bees will travel the

equivalent distance from the earth

to the moon every day!

In turn, honey bees are

responsible for pollinating a third

of the fruit and vegetables we

consume, as well as producing

honey – with different flowers

producing distinct flavours. In

their lifetime, 12 honeybees will

produce a teaspoon of honey –

their collective impact on the

environment and food production

shouldn’t be underestimated.

Sadly, the UK’s honeybees

have been in long-term decline.

So, Rowse, the UK’s favourite

honey brand, is passionately

spearheading positive change

through Hives for Lives – a

programme of vital initiatives that

protects the bees, and improves

livelihoods through beekeeping.

The good news is we can all play

a vital role in protecting and saving

this incredible species. Planting

certain seasonal flowers is kind

to the bees, and you’ll enjoy a

‘bee-autiful’ garden as a result!

Plantlife’s Every Flower Counts

survey showed that even just

letting your lawn grow a little

longer can generate enough

nectar for 10 times more bees

and other pollinators. Watching

your flora bloom, and bees

delighting in pollination, is highly

rewarding – especially when our

buzzing friends’ food is in short

supply over the summer.

Here are five bee-friendly flowers

to plant that are perfect for this

time of year, and will create a

haven for these vital pollinators:


The scent of lavender is as lovely

as its pretty purple flowers. This

plant can live for years, flourishing

best when planted in a sunny spot,

especially through June and July.

With many flowers and a high

nectar content, our buzzing friends

are bound to make a beeline.

This plant is popular with other

pollinators too; bumblebees spend

1 to 1.14 seconds per lavender

flower, while honeybees delight in

its pollen for 3.5 seconds.

Top tip – from ‘bee’ to you:

Lavender can also aid sleep, with

its distinct scent believed to help

invoke feelings of calm.


Depending on the variety, borage

can be annual or perennial, and

grows quickly from seed. This

plant also reseeds itself, so can

easily be grown the next year by

allowing the seedlings to grow, or

they can be transplanted. Borage

is a hotspot for honeybees because

its flowers replenish nectar often.

Therefore, our buzzing friends

can frequently return to feed. For

this reason, borage attracts other

insects like butterflies too.

Top tip: The beautiful blue

flowers that bloom on borage are

the perfect addition to a summery

cocktail or mocktail. Young borage

leaves also add texture to salads.


Marjoram has pretty pinky white

flowers, which look lovely in a

garden. It is great for alluring a

whole host of nature’s little visitors,

from honeybees to bumblebees,

butterflies, and hoverflies. It

blooms in summer when the bee

food supply is most stretched, and

is also easy to grow.

Top tip: Marjoram belongs to

the same family as oregano, so is

delicious on a pizza, with roasted

meats, or in soups! Marjoram tea

is also popular, made using dried

herbs, hot water, and honey.


Helianthus – otherwise known as

sunflowers – bloom for several

months throughout the year,

starting in August. This towering

plant makes a real statement in

the garden, and will certainly

catch a honeybee’s attention! Its

vibrant yellow petals also attract

bumblebees, butterflies, and

hoverflies to the hundreds of tiny

tubular flowers in the middle of

the flower. This centre is brimming

with nectar, which is the main

source of carbohydrates for our

buzzing friends, as well as fluffy

protein-packed pollen that collects

on their bodies. Sunflowers

are also considered to be ‘lowinfection’

flowers – their pollen has

Sunflowers are

also considered to be

‘low-infection’ flowers –

their pollen has medicinal

and protective effects on

bees, helping to improve

bee colony health

medicinal and protective effects

on bees, helping to improve bee

colony health.

Top tip: Sunflowers are easy

to grow, and can reach up to two

metres tall! Why not challenge

your family to a fun competition to

see who can grow the tallest one?


This delicate British wildflower,

which belongs to the daisy family,

can be planted in grass or flower

beds. Fleabane produces a mass

of lovely white flowers that may

be tinged by lilac or yellow,

with a sunny centre that entices

honeybees, bumble bees, flies,

and butterflies. A perennial plant

that flourishes from late spring to

autumn, fleabane is an oasis for

honeybees at cooler times of the

year when flowers are sparser.

Top tip: This low-maintenance

plant is ideal for filling bare spots

beneath shrubs and trees.

Rowse is passionately spearheading

positive change for the bees through

Hives for Lives, a programme of vital

initiatives that protects the bees,

and improves livelihoods through

beekeeping. Find out more

at rowsehoney.co.uk




2020 has brought some huge changes in the life of dance group Diversity’s

founder, Ashley Banjo. While the global pandemic may have slowed the

pace of life for some of us, the Banjo household has welcomed a new

addition, had time for reflection, and given Ashley a renewed desire to

share his love of dance

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Way back in 2009,

the nation

watched openmouthed

as dance

group Diversity performed

their competition-smashing

routine on ITV’s Britain’s Got

Talent final, led by founder

and creative director Ashley

Banjo. Their choreography and

razor-sharp movement was

nothing short of spellbinding.

The audience was in awe,

and Diversity won the hearts

and votes of millions. They’ve

remained firmly in the public

eye ever since.

Now, 11 years on from their

landslide victory, Diversity are

still going strong, with a biggerthan-ever

tour lined up for 2021,

and thousands of fans following

their every move on social

media. However, performing

together has been curtailed

lately, with lockdown and social

distancing rules putting a stop to


While Diversity’s output may

have temporarily slowed, life

for founder Ashley Banjo, has

remained full-on. In March,

Ashley and his partner Francesca

welcomed their beautiful son

Micah to the family – a little

brother for their 17-month-old

daughter Rose. It’s been, he says,


“Any parent will tell you that

the leap from one child to two

is massive,” Ashley explains

“With one, you’re sharing

everything between you, but

with two – especially when

they’re both under two years old

– the amount of care more than

doubles. It’s just a whole new


As well as welcoming a new

family member, Ashley believes

the months of enforced time

at home during lockdown

has significantly shifted his

perspective on life.

“I’ve started to question and

notice different things. I’m not

the kind of person who usually

says, ‘Let’s go sit outside, have

a picnic, and chill out.’ I’m

always ready to move and work.

But being in this situation,

and having the kids, I can now

be with just them for hours,

watching them play in the

garden – that’s everything to me.

It’s made me realise what’s really


There’s a sense that the arrival

of the pandemic has refocused

and renewed priorities for

Ashley, with his family, Diversity,

and dance solidly at the centre

of his universe. His voice warms

instantly when conversation

moves from Covid concerns

to the artform that propelled

him and his closest friends

into the limelight more than a

decade ago, and it’s clear that his

passion for movement is deeply

embedded in his soul.

Although their BGT victory was

11 years ago, the group has been

in existence for 23 in total, and

44 • happiful.com • September 2020

Being together

every day, going

through every

high and low,

and seeing each

other grow up, it’s

quite a rare thing

between friends

Ashley has been there for every

one of those years since the age

of eight. It’s easy to imagine that

such longevity as a group brings

with it an intensity, level of trust,

and loyalty.

“Dancing together, being

together every day, going through

every high and low, and seeing

each other grow up, it’s quite

a rare thing between friends,”

Ashley explains reflecting on the

impact the sudden coronavirus-

September 2020 • happiful.com • 45

led halt has had for them all. “Then

when you’re ripped away from

each other, you can’t train, do your

skill, manage your business, and

see each other – and your families

are growing in the meantime – it’s

emotionally tough.”

Ashley says that turning to

dance to elevate his mood and

mind when situations are difficult

is a key tool in his own mental

resilience kit. He’s keen to

champion its value. “The benefits

of dancing are slightly overlooked

in this area,” he says. “It’s proven

that physical activity is massively

important when it comes to your

mental health and wellbeing, and

that music is a mood-lifter, moodchanger,

and mood-enhancer. So

when you combine the two, with

creativity and the opportunity to

express yourself as well, dancing

is a proper powerhouse for mental


And, if there were to be a silver

lining to the cloudy Covid sky,

the fact that more people are

engaging with dance, and receptive

to moving for their mood, might

just be it for Ashley. He reveals

that Diversity has seen a huge

surge in demand for their online

dance classes, and he loves the

fact that people want to move for


TikTok, he suggests, has had

a really key role to play in this

societal change. “The ability to be

free, create moves, dance, listen to

music, all those things that bring

people joy – it’s all there, and it’s a

little bit raw and more real.

Having kids,

I’m much more

aware that I’m

sowing the seeds

for the world that

they’re going to

be living in

“I think that TikTok has been a

bit of light relief, and an escape

for many people. What they’re

experiencing is kind of my job –

that’s why I love it, and why I’ve

missed it so much.”

If there was ever to be a

national ambassador for the

mood-enhancing benefits of

dance, Ashley Banjo should be

handed the title immediately.

Undoubtedly, he’s already inspired

thousands of children to get up

and move through the many dance

programmes he’s appeared in

and judged on. And now it seems

he’s passed on his enthusiasm

and dancing DNA to his young

daughter Rose.

“I haven’t had to teach her

anything, she’s already started

moving her hips, bless her.” he

laughs. “When music comes on,

she just loves it!”

Will he bring Rose into the

Diversity troupe? “If you’re part of

46 • happiful.com • September 2020

3 amazing online dance

classes to lift your spirits

Join weekly tutorials with

Diversity at 20dv.co.uk

Check out The Fitness Marshall

on YouTube, for dance workouts

to Britney, Lizzo, and more.

Learn to samba with Strictly

Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse,

also on YouTube.

this family, you’re already in it,” he

says fondly. “You can’t not be.”

A future Diversity tour with two

additional Banjo members may

be some way down the line, but

Ashley is already thinking years

ahead. “Having kids, I’m much

more aware that I’m sowing the

seeds for the world that they’re

going to be living in,” Ashley


This focus on the future has

also brought new ventures for

Ashley, and this spring he teamed

up with Pura, the eco-friendly

children’s brand, to promote

their range of ‘fine to flush’ 100%

plastic-free, biodegradable, and

compostable baby wipes, reading

the educational and entertaining

Lilly and the Wipe Monster bedtime

book on their Instagram account,

to share the devastating and

unnecessary impact of plastic on

our planet.

“Before, I was using hundreds

of baby wipes and adding them

to landfill because most wipes

are full of plastic – unlike these,”

Ashley explains. “They’re as

good as anything I’ve used on my

babies, and they’re affordable so

it’s a win-win.

“In all honesty, I can’t say that I do

everything eco yet, but that’s why

I like working with Pura, because

it allows me to do something small

and meaningful. At this moment

in my life, I’m trying to be more

reflective and thoughtful – and so

this just fell into place.”

The idea of making small

personal changes which could

have a big positive impact on your

own life, mood, and family, and

keeping your creative passions

alive, are recurring themes that

come through loud and clear in

conversation with Ashley. This also

applies, he says, to self-care.

“What I’ve realised in the past

year, is the ability to lift your mood

and pick yourself up, can come

from within. Even if you wouldn’t

usually, get up and dance, put on

that piece of music, read the book

you love, take time out – selfcharge

that battery.

“Don’t get too caught up in the

values of the world around you,”

he continues. “Try to recharge

from inside out, and when you do

that, everything falls into place a

lot easier. I call it your ‘self-worth


Finding out what charges your

batteries may be a truly personal

Ashley Banjo is an

Ambassador for Pura –

100% plastic-free baby

wipes, available from

mypura.com, with

free next day delivery.

Tickets are on sale now

for Diversity’s 2021

Connected tour.

thing, but after speaking to Ashley

I’m intrigued by the thought of

dancing as a way to lift my solo

home-working blues. The house

is quiet, the dog is asleep, and

although I’ll never make it into

an award-winning dance group

like Diversity, it feels good to stick

on my headphones and shimmy

around the living room in the

middle of the day.

Ashley is right, dancing is

a powerful tool for mood

improvement, and I’d thoroughly

recommend it, too.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 47

Photography | Muhammad Fajarruzaman

In the midst of movement

and chaos, keep stillness

inside of you






We would hope that many partially-sighted people feel

supported by those around them, and yet so often prejudice, a

lack of awareness, and misunderstandings about what it really

means to have impaired vision, can put barriers to this. Here, we

debunk the myths to uncover the reality for those with sight loss

Writing | Caroline Butterwick

From friends guiding me

through crowded bars, to

strangers helping me find

a seat on the train, I’ve

experienced lots of support as

a partially-sighted person. But

I’ve also come across plenty of

misconceptions about what it

means to live with sight loss. Here,

we share eight of these, in the hope

of breaking down stigma, and

transforming perceptions.




Visual impairment is a spectrum.

Some people will have a lot of

useful vision, while others may

be able to see colours and shapes,

have light perception, or, more

rarely, have no sight at all. Not

every person with sight loss uses a

cane or has a guide dog, but people

who do can have a range in levels

of vision. I’ve overheard people

make comments like, “How is

she reading that?” when I’ve been

looking through Twitter on my

phone, cane in my other hand. My

cane acts as a symbol that I may

need help or that I’m not being

rude if I bump into someone. It

doesn’t mean I have no useful

sight at all. It’s important to be

respectful and supportive of those

with differing abilities and needs,

and not alienate them.



Whether it’s texting a friend,

sending emails for work, or

reading the news, our phones,

tablets, and laptops, are a key part

of our day – and, for many visually

impaired people, that’s just as true.

Holly Tuke, who blogs at Life of

a Blind Girl, says: “I use a range

of assistive technology on a daily

basis, which enables me to carry

out tasks just like sighted people. It

enhances my independence.”

A few useful tools I’ve found

include Windows Magnifier,

which zooms in on what’s on my

computer screen, and also textto-speech

software – there are lots

of free versions available, such as

Balabolka, Natural Reader, and

WordTalk. We can also adjust the

settings on our phones to increase

the font, enhance contrast, or read

out loud. The likes of Siri and Alexa

make it easy to get information

quickly in a non-visual way, too.




I’ve been told I “don’t look blind”,

or had people be surprised when it

comes up that I’m partially sighted.

I have to resist the urge to respond:

“What does a visually impaired

person look like, exactly?”

Focusing on our eyes is rarely a

way to tell. We can’t assume that

someone does or doesn’t have a

disability just by looking at them.




Personally, I hated PE as a teenager,

and found sports that involve

interacting with a ball in any way

pretty difficult. But many visually

impaired people enjoy sports and

exercise – and are perfectly capable

of taking part in them.

“I love swimming and tandem

cycling,” says Holly. “We may need

support from a sighted person,

such as having a guide runner, but

this is all part of the fun.”

I have friends who play goalball

– a team sport designed especially

for visually impaired people that

uses a ball with bells in order to

tell where it is – as well as others

who take part in more mainstream

sports, from running to wrestling.



When I was in school, I struggled

to follow what was happening on

stage during trips to the theatre.

It was only as an adult that I made

the obvious connection that it was

because I couldn’t see what was

happening properly, rather than

me being uncultured.

Many TV programmes, cinemas,

and theatres, offer audio described

showings and performances,

which give a description of the

visual action so that those with

sight loss can follow the story –

something I wish I’d known about

when I was younger. My local

theatre, where I’m discovering my

love of plays, also provides me with

front row seats so I can better see

the stage. It’s always worth asking

about accessibility at venues to see

how they can better support you.



According to the Royal National

Institute of Blind People (RNIB),

only 27% of blind and partiallysighted

people of working age

are in employment. Many of the

50 • happiful.com • September 2020


• The Royal National Institute

of Blind People (RNIB)

website has information,

advice, and a helpline for

further support (rnib.org.uk,

0303 123 9999).

• Charity Retina UK also has

a helpline, along with email

support, information, and

volunteering opportunities

on its website


0300 111 4000,


• The NHS website has

information on getting

specialist referrals, as well

as support groups for those

with sight loss.

It’s always

worth asking



at venues to

see how they

can better

support you

barriers causing this seem to

come down to a perception that

we aren’t able to work, or that

employing us will be expensive.

For a lot of jobs, there are

adjustments that can, and

should, be made, and can often

be funded via the government’s

Access to Work scheme. “I

would be unable to do my job

without specialist software such

as a screen-reader,” explains

Holly. Other adjustments can

include support with travel,

electronic magnifiers, large

screen monitors, or providing

documents in an alternative





“Beauty and fashion can be

made accessible through

learning to apply makeup by

touch, and organising your

wardrobe in a particular way

so that you know which pieces

of clothing make a nice outfit,”

Holly says. For me, things like

using a magnifying mirror

help. We can take pride in our

appearance, and enjoy the way a

good outfit makes us feel, just as

much as anyone else.



We may pay more attention to

our other senses – for example,

when I cross the road, hearing

is particularly important –

but there’s nothing special or

different about these senses. We

just use them more.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 51

Four alternative ways

of thinking about anxiety

With more than eight million people in the UK experiencing anxiety, it’s vital to

ensure it doesn’t take over our lives. Here, we share four methods of addressing

anxiety, and how a change of perspective can help us get one step ahead

Writing | Lucy Nichol

With the unexpected

way 2020 has gone so

far, it’s not surprising

that anxiety is all

around us. The future of politics,

the planet, and even our daily

life, is reinforcing the country’s

unease as a whole. But what if

the anxiety of the modern world

is compounded by a diagnosable

anxiety disorder?

Generalised anxiety disorder,

PTSD, OCD, social anxiety, health

anxiety, panic disorder – these are

all forms of anxiety-based mental

health problems that can occur

regardless of who’s feeding Larry

the cat at Number 10. Having an

anxiety disorder on top of living in

today’s unsettling world is certainly

not an easy ride.

According to the charity No

Panic, anxiety is one of the most

common forms of mental illnesses,

and in 2013, there were 8.2 million

cases of anxiety in the UK – not an

insignificant number.

The thing is, on top of actually

experiencing an anxiety disorder,

there’s the added complication

of the stigma surrounding it

– whether that be dismissive

comments about ‘anxiety being a

normal part of life’ or a feeling that

you’re somehow ‘weak’ or ‘feeble’

for living with an anxiety disorder.

As somebody who has personally

experienced anxiety and panic for

decades, I’ve found a few ways to

make peace with it. Here are four

alternative ways of thinking about

your anxiety:



I’m an arachnophobe. When I was

younger, a friend suggested that

when a spider gate-crashed my

night in front of the telly, I should

imagine it wearing a disco dress.

It’s far less frightening when you

change your view of it. We can

do the same with anxiety. My

therapist once suggested it was like

a meerkat – always on the lookout

for danger. I might be scared of

spiders, but meerkats are adorable

– and they’re always looking out

for one another. So, if I feel panic

coming on, rather than get angry

at my anxiety, I try to think of it as

being a well-meaning, albeit rather

misguided, meerkat. The anger

soon subsides.



You’ve been free of panic for 10

years and all of a sudden – bam

– you’re awake at 3am having the

mother of all panic attacks (true

story). There’s no need to feel as

though you’ve catapulted back

to the days of relentless anxiety

and panic. Those early days were

terrifying because you didn’t know

what was going on. But over the

years, you’ve learnt what anxiety

is, and techniques to help calm

your mind. You know that a panic

attack has never killed you. You’re

already one step ahead. There’s a

difference between a relapse and

a lapse – and neither means you’re

suddenly back at square one.



I remember feeling disappointed

when I was told my symptoms

were more aligned to generalised

anxiety disorder (GAD) than health

anxiety. I thought – does that mean

I’m anxious about everything then?

I thought I was no longer neat or

niche. But actually, generalised

doesn’t mean everything.

52 • happiful.com • September 2020

We’re rarely afraid of what we

can see directly in front of us. It’s

the unknown – the ‘what if?’ – that

frightens us. If anxiety showed its

face and screamed like a banshee,

we’d probably tell it where to go.

We’re not weak and feeble – we

just don’t like things creeping

up behind us when we’re not

expecting it. If anxiety ever tells

you you’re weak, think about all the

brilliant things you’ve achieved,

the times you’ve stood up for

yourself, or done something others

might consider brave. Make a list –

you’ll probably run out of paper.



Some of the most assertive, kick-ass

people I know are mental health

campaigners with lived experience.

Take author and activist Natasha

Devon’s unwavering approach to

tackling injustices in mental health.

Natasha lives with anxiety which

can sometimes be crippling. But

she’s also stood her ground with the

likes of Piers Morgan, spoken out

in parliament, dealt with trolls, and

used humour to tell them where to

go. Natasha, and so many others

like her, like us, are amazing.

So we can probably forget about

the ‘worried well’ and the shame

that comes with it. In 2020,

we’re all about the ‘awesomely

anxious’. The awesome part is

us, while the anxious bit is that

pesky thing that we sometimes

have to live with and manage.

Whether it’s a meerkat, a

spider, or a cute little Mogwai

that occasionally turns into a

terrifying Gremlin, you deal with

it as best you can. And that’s

certainly no mean feat.

Here’s to the awesomely


September 2020 • happiful.com • 53

How to achieve

your goals

Whether lockdown prompted a change in your

outlook, or you’re simply feeling the ‘back-toschool’

vibe that September often brings, we’ve

got you covered with five techniques to help

you set and achieve your goals – you’ve got this

Writing | Kat Nicholls

1. Visualise your average

perfect day

So often people focus on the

big life moments, or that one

achievement we think will make us

happy. But picturing what our ideal

life would look like on a normal

day can reveal our heart’s actual

true desires – and prompt us to

think about what our goals should

be to achieve this.

Take some time to visualise your

average ‘perfect’ day – where you

are, who you’re with, and what

you’re doing. Most importantly,

notice how this makes you feel.

Write this day down, and use it as a

template to set your goals.

2. Try reverse goal-setting

The idea is to shake up your

perspective by starting with your

end goal. Ask yourself what you’d

like to achieve, and when, and

work your way backwards from

there – pretty quickly you’ll find

yourself with a plan of action.

This method can help you think

about the big milestones you need

to reach, so you can prepare in

advance rather than addressing

difficult decisions as they arise.

This approach is especially

helpful for big or time-intensive

goals. It helps us be more realistic

about how long actions will take,

and ensures our goal is truly


3. Anchor new habits to

existing ones

If your goal requires regular action,

you’ll need to create some new

habits – though this can be easier

said than done. Although it can

take a while to really make these

behaviours part of our routine, an

easy way to fast-track this process

is by anchoring your new habit to

an existing one.

Take something you do regularly,

such as brushing your teeth, and

use this action to link to a new

one you want to form. Every time

you brush your teeth, spend some

time on your new habit, and after

a while it will feel as natural as…

well, brushing your teeth.

4. Try the WOOP technique

Designed off the back of more than

20 years of scientific research, the

WOOP technique was created by

psychologists Gabriele Oettingen

and Peter Gollwitzer. It’s a

visualisation technique that asks

you to do the following:

Wish – wish for something you

want to accomplish, your goal.

Outcome – imagine the best

outcome of achieving your goal.

Obstacle – consider what obstacles

you might face.

Plan – make an ‘if/then’ plan to use

if your obstacle occurs, so you can

feel prepared.

Try making this part of your daily

routine – why not anchor it to your

shower and WOOP while washing?

5. Celebrate your wins

This is an essential part of goalsetting

that we often forget. Keep

yourself motivated, and boost your

confidence, by celebrating when

you achieve your goal, and all the

smaller wins along the way. You

may want to plan a reward for

yourself, and note all of the wins

on your journey so you can reflect,

and see how far you’ve come.

For support with achieving your

goals, visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk


A message

of impact

Feeling numb to life, Andy Salkeld’s

depression was a secret from those

around him. But in his darkest moments,

a simple connection and kind gesture

from a friend saved him

Writing | Andy Salkeld

Six years ago, I

was diagnosed

with depression.

Four years ago, I

decided to end my own

life. Two years ago, I

finally accepted it and told

the world. I expected a few

“oohs” and “aahs”, maybe a

little sympathy, but mostly

just, “Glad to hear you’re

doing better.” As with most

things, expectation is not

reality. It was never that

I was alone. It was never

that people didn’t care

about me. It was simply

that they didn’t know what

I was struggling with.

I was living a ‘middling’

existence. I was at

that point of mid-life

mediocrity. My career was

stagnant. My friendships

were fading. My life

was lacklustre. Nothing

brought any excitement

anymore. Being diagnosed

with depression gave

context to what was

happening, but it certainly

didn’t help with any of

it. Sure, the medication

(sertraline) helped dull

the existential dread a

bit, but the depression

itself left me mostly numb

anyway. Seeing a therapist

helped as well. It gave

me a time and a place to

express what little feelings

remained within me.

I learned to exist. I

was almost becoming

comfortable with it. I

wasn’t happy. I wasn’t sad.

I just existed. However,

the rock bottom I thought

I’d found was not the

bottom at all. There was

a darker depth I hadn’t

reached yet.

Then my wife left me.

Suddenly everything faded

to black.

My seven failures were

finally complete. I had

failed in my career; I was

far from the successful

accountant I was meant

to be. I had failed as a son

and as a brother; I was

not a child to be proud of,

nor someone to be looked

up to. I had failed as a

friend; too distracted by

my own problems, I was

distant and detached from

those around me. Now I

had failed as a husband

and as a man; closing

the circle around me.

The capstone to it all was

that in all these failures,

I had failed as a human.

I no longer felt emotions.

I was numb to it all. As

my humanity dwindled

to nothing, I decided the

only reasonable course of

action was to end my life.

I convinced myself that

something selfish was

completely selfless; ending

my life was ‘for the greater

good’. The short-term pain

of losing me was better

than the long-term pain >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 55

My life was lacklustre.

Nothing brought any

excitement anymore.

Being diagnosed

with depression gave

context to what was

happening, but it

certainly didn’t help

with any of it

of living with me in this

state. All the colour faded

from my life, and I knew

what needed to be done.

I did my research. I

prepared. It was no longer

a matter of ‘if’, only ‘when’.

I waited. One fateful day

I decided it was time. I

had closed all the open

loops in my life, and I was

at peace with what I was

about to do. I sat on my

bed ready.

Then a sound. A

vibration. A perturbation.

My phone was in the

room next door. I decided

to check it. I didn’t want

anything left undone.

It was a message from

my best friend. It wasn’t

even much of a message.

Barely a line or two. No

narrative. No exposition.

No nuance. All I

remember now is a single

word. It read, “Pub?”

It was a simple reminder

that I was meant to be

meeting them in a few

weeks or so to catch up.

We live quite a distance

from each other, so

organising when we can

actually see each other is

hard. They’d been through

a rough patch themselves,

and I felt I’d let them

down by not being there

as I was too distracted by

everything happening

in my life. But in this

moment, regardless of

what had come before, or

could come again, they

still wanted to see me.

They still wanted me here.

Some say that you’re

never really best

friends unless you’re

a bad influence on

each other. We are the

worst (best) when we’re

together. Everything is a

competition. Everything

is dialled up to 11. But

we’ve never let the other

down. We’ve never given

up. Regardless of time,

distance or anything else,

we’ve always been there

for one another.

I was about to give up.

I was about to let them


And that was all it took

for me to stand down.

That was all it took for

me to write a similar, nonuanced

message back

reading “ofc.” That was

all it took for life to find a


It took me the best part

of a year or two to even

tell them what happened

that day. For the longest

56 • happiful.com • September 2020

Andy Salkeld is the author of ‘Life is a Four-Letter Word:

A Mental Health Survival Guide for Professionals’ –

available now in paperback and ebook on amazon.co.uk

Show the people in your life

that you care for them, and

that you want them to be

there. You never know what

someone is going through

until you communicate

properly with them

time I was so scared

and so ashamed that I’d

reached that point in my

life that I kept it hidden

away, preferring to avoid

than confront it. When I

finally told them, over a

pint at a pub of course,

they were shocked.

It wasn’t that it had

happened. It was that they

didn’t know, and that they

weren’t able to be there

for me more.

I’ve learned a lot from

living all this, so much so

I’ve written a book on the


One of the questions I

am always asked is: “How

can I help someone who

is struggling?” It’s with a

heavy heart that I always

respond by saying that:

“You can’t help someone

until they are ready to be

helped.” Until someone

is ready to face what

they’re struggling with,

you can’t do much. What

you can do is remind

them you’re there. Keep

being their friend. Keep

inviting them to things.

Keep being as close to

them as you can. When

that person is ready to be

helped, there will come a

point where they’ll turn

round to look for people

to help them. This is the

inflection point. The pivot.

Whatever you want to call

it. This is the point where

we can lose people.

When you are going about

your daily lives and you

think of someone, or a fond

memory of a distant time

comes to mind, share it with

them. Show the people in

your life that you care for

them, and that you want

them to be there. You never

know what someone is going

through until you speak and

communicate properly with

them. Ask. Reach out. Chat.

Converse. Be present!

Don’t do it for you. Do it for

them. Because you’ll never

know the impact just the

smallest of messages can

have on a person.


Andy struggled with

depression for more than

six years. He felt that his

life was undistinguished,

and these feelings of a

lack of success led to

a descent into despair,

where he felt that he

had little to go on for.

A chance call at his

lowest moment helped

him to reconnect with

his friends, and the

relationship they wanted.

Although it took time,

he was able to reach out

and recover when he was

ready. Andy’s story shows

that we can all help each

other by being

ready to both

give and accept

support, and talk

when needed.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) counsellor

September 2020 • happiful.com • 57

Photography | Carles Rabada

A fl ower blossoms

for its own joy


10 steps to cope

with redundancy

Facing redundancy can be an

emotional, difficult time. Not knowing

what the future holds can lead to

more worries and uncertainty, but with

the right support and planning, you

can start making your move towards a

successful next step in your career

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Whether you knew

it was a possibility

or the news was a

complete shock,

being made redundant can feel

like you’ve had the rug pulled out

from under you. You’re probably

going through a barrage of

emotions: shock, denial, anger,

worry, anxiety, uncertainty.

Losing your job can impact your

sense of wellbeing, negatively

affect your mental health,

relationships, and confidence.

But it’s important to remember:

you will get through this.

We share 10 simple steps to help

you cope with the redundancy

process, and start the next step in

your career.

Know your legal rights

Understanding your legal rights,

and knowing what to expect, can

have a calming effect, and help you

to feel in control. It’s important to

know how much redundancy pay

you will get, how long your notice

period is, and if you’re able to leave

sooner to start a new position.

Once you have the basic details,

you can start thinking more clearly,

regain your balance, and face the

next steps.

The Money Advice Service is

incredibly useful, and the official

gov.uk website has everything you

need to know about redundancy,

along with a simple tool to help you

calculate whether you’re entitled

to a statutory redundancy payment

and, if so, how much.

As well as looking at external

sources for information and

guidance, remember to check your

contract, speak with someone

in HR, or chat with your union

representative to discuss your

specific entitlements. >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 59

Manage your money

Once you know what you’re

entitled to (and when you’ll be

paid), it’s worth working out a

budget. It’s not something we

like to think about, but there’s

no guarantee how quickly you’ll

be able to find a new position.

Thoughtfully managing your

finances can be key to reducing

feelings of stress and worry.

Are there any areas you can cut

back on – subscriptions you don’t

need? Could you save money

by switching bill providers or

changing mobile tariffs? Small

changes add up and go a long way.

Remember to check if there are

any benefits you may be entitled to

– Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal

Credit, or an Employment and

Support Allowance. Charity

Turn2Us offers more information,

plus an easy-to-use calculator to find

out what you might be entitled to.

If you’re worried about credit

card debt, loan payments, or bills,

Citizens Advice can be one of the

best places for guidance. But it’s

also worth checking any existing

insurance policies to know where

you stand with mortgage or loan


Try not to take it personally

A big part of the redundancy

process is understanding what’s

happening and why. It can help

to acknowledge that the decision

isn’t personal – there’s a logical,

commercially-driven decision

behind what’s happening.

Losing your job can be extremely

stressful, but you aren’t alone.

You may not have control over

losing your job, but you are able to

control how you deal with that loss

and move forward.

Be open and honest

Speaking with your loved ones can

be a crucial part of the redundancy

process. If you’re in a relationship,

it’s important to be as open and

honest with your partner as you

can. Together, you can tackle any

financial or emotional worries; you

don’t have to face these alone.

You have nothing to be ashamed

of; redundancy can happen to

anyone, at any time – it isn’t a

reflection on your work ethic, the

quality of your work, or you as

a person. Loved ones can offer

support and guidance through this

tough time. But if you don’t feel

ready to talk yet, that’s OK too.

Protect your energy

Approaching your options with

a positive mindset can help

to increase your productivity,

allow for more effective

communication, boost your

confidence in what you say

(and how you say it), as well as

allowing you to present the best

possible version of yourself.

Practising regular mindfulness

and meditation can be a simple

way to help refocus your

energy, as well as to understand

your motivations. Protecting

your energy can also include

examining how you frame what

is happening in your life, and

how you can move forward

towards new opportunities.

Reassess your career

(and life) goals

Redundancy can present the

opportunity to take stock of your

skills, talent, and experiences.

Is there anything you want to

change in your career? Have

your goals remained the same,

or is now the chance to start on

a new journey? Changing jobs

can allow you to readdress your

work-life balance if your old role

left you feeling stressed, or on

the path to burnout.

If you aren’t sure where your

passions lie, what you want

to do next, or what your longterm

goals are, working with a

personal development coach

can help. They can help you set

goals, track your achievements,

and start recognising your

progression. A career coach can

help you in a number of ways

– from teaching you to identify

obstacles, to improving your CV.

Set realistic parameters

Entering the job market can feel

both liberating and terrifying.

Although it can be tempting

to open up your search to a

wider range of opportunities,

make sure to consider factors

that affect your day-to-day


Keeping geographical location,

economic factors, and creativity

in mind, can create a solid basis

Start networking

It’s not about what you know,

it’s about who you know. When

job hunting, making the most of

your network, and expanding on

your contacts can be beneficial.

Using social media can be a

simple way to network at any

age. Have a clear social media

presence, and have an active,

Let the search begin

To set yourself up for success, it’s

important to make sure your CV

is up-to-date. It’s not just about

stuffing keywords in to be picked

up by online algorithms, your CV

gives you the opportunity to show

how well-rounded you are as a


Tailoring your cover letter to suit

each role is key. Having templates

can be handy, but it’s important

to personalise it with details

about the specific role, how you

fit the criteria, and why you’re

interested. Simple details like

getting the hiring manager’s name

right can help create a good first

impression. If you aren’t sure how

to get started, Reed offers great CV

and cover letter templates.

for your search. Maybe you’ve

found the perfect career move,

but have you considered the

stress a longer commute may

cause? Or perhaps you’ve found

a well-paying role in the right

area, but is it going to challenge

you? It’s good to dream big and

keep your options open, but

make sure you factor in areas

that may affect your wellbeing.

engaged account on LinkedIn,

professional Facebook groups,

and even Twitter. Share

your expertise and industry

knowledge – the more you put

yourself out there, the more you

can start raising your profile,

and (hopefully) get noticed by

the right people.

Look after your mental

health and wellbeing

It can be tempting to

spend every waking hour

searching for new jobs, but

putting that extra strain on

yourself won’t help – you

can neglect your wellbeing,

become disheartened, and

start making small but silly

mistakes (such as sending

the wrong cover letter to

the wrong company). It’s

important to practise regular

self-care, and spend quality

time with loved ones.

To discover more about redundancy

coaching, what to expect, and to find

a coach near you, check out our free

Happiful app.

How to listen

without judgement

How fine-tuned are your listening skills? Counsellors Laura Harley and

Beverley Hills share their top tips to become a more active listener

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

We all like to think

we’re good listeners,

but when the

moment arrives do

we deliver? If you’ve ever found

yourself glancing at your phone,

planning ahead, or interjecting

with personal experiences, then

the chances are you haven’t been

listening as closely as you think.

Listening without judgement

can be even trickier. We all have

opinions, and when approached

by a friend or colleague, we may

assume they’re looking for a

solution when this isn’t actually

the case. Sometimes, we just want

to share – and to feel truly heard –

without expectation or judgement.

But is being a good listener a

natural talent, or something we

can all improve?


Active listening is all about

focusing on, and engaging with,

what is being said, paraphrasing

the discussion, and reflecting

this back – all without offering

judgement or advice. Through

active listening, we can help

others to feel heard and valued.

Over time, this can improve our

relationships, by showing we are

both attentive, and care about

what others have to say.



“Have you ever chatted to someone

and felt your words were just not

sinking in?” counsellor Beverley

Hills says, explaining why it’s so

important to develop our listening

skills. “They may be playing with

their hair or phone. This is called

passive listening; they are not

really paying attention, and it

62 • happiful.com • September 2020

leads to you feeling diminished,

and unimportant – it shuts you

down. Active listening is a skill

all counsellors learn in order to

ensure the client feels heard.”


According to online counsellor

Laura Harley, when it comes

to learning how to be a better

listener, practise is key.

“Supportive listening is a skill

which we become better at the

more we practise it,” Laura says.

“When we hear a loved one

describe something emotive, it can

be hard to keep our judgements

out of the conversation – naturally,

we have personal ideas around the

things we have been taught to feel

ashamed of or embarrassed by –

but crucially, supportive listening

is about the other person, not us.”

When we’re able to hear

what other people have to say

without allowing our personal

opinions, or biases to affect the

conversation, we demonstrate

our skills as a good listener. We

may feel a certain way about a

situation, however it may not be

an appropriate time to share our

thoughts or feelings.

Ensuring we give the person our

full attention is an important part,

Beverley explains. “This can be

conveyed by, among other things,

putting down your phone, keeping

eye contact, paraphrasing what’s

just been said, and nodding in

agreement so the speaker feels

heard, understood, validated.

“So many times people appear

to be listening, but instead they

are formulating their own replies,

ready to interject when there is

a pause. Instead, let the silence

continue until the speaker gives

you a verbal or non-verbal clue

that they are ready to continue

– they may look up at you and

smile, ask if you understand their

viewpoint, or even cry. Whatever

they do it’s their time, their space

in which they can be heard.”

But why is it important to become

comfortable with silence during


“What’s happening in this silence

is you are giving the speaker time

to think, to reflect, to add, to



• Listen for non-verbal cues

– pay attention to body

language, tone of voice, facial

expressions, and gestures.

• Don’t interrupt – hold any

questions or attempts to relate

until they’ve finished talking.

• Give feedback – nod, make

noises that encourage them to

continue, and avoid fidgeting.

• Paraphrase and reflect –

summarise what the other

person has said to ensure you

are understanding, and show

that you’re listening.

• Don’t offer a solution or

opinion – unless asked! If in

doubt, ask if they want to vent

or hear suggestions.

be,” says Beverley. “Think of the

silence as a bit of breathing space,

helping the speaker reframe.”

It’s good to remember that

people reach out to speak with

us for all manner of reasons. Not

everyone is looking for a solution.

Sometimes, they just want to be

heard. I think that’s something

that we can all empathise with.

Laura Harley is an online counsellor

who works predominantly with

millennials and LGBTQ+ people.

Beverley Hills is a counsellor and

clinical supervisor, working with

psychotherapists, mental health

professionals, law firms, and

counselling trainees.

If you need to feel heard, you can find

professional online and face-to-face

support on the Happiful app.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 63

Chimamanda | chimamanda.com


Craving empowerment and

inspiration? Look no further than

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

If you’re not already aware of

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, then start

consuming all her content, immediately.

With her elegance and wit, it’s no wonder

her award-winning work has been

translated into more than 30 languages,

and has been published in ‘The New

Yorker’, and the ‘Financial Times’, among others. With her

rallying call for 21st century feminism, Chimamanda shares

insight, and draws on her own experiences to promote inclusion,

and raise awareness of the discrimination in the world.

Read: We Should All Be Feminists (Fourth Estate, £5.99)

Based on her iconic TEDx talk of the same name,

Chimamanda pens this powerful and eloquent essay to

share her unique definition of 21st century feminism. While

drawing on her own experiences, she puts the spotlight

on discrimination and behaviours around the world that

marginalise women. It’s an inspirational read, empowering

both men and women to live true to themselves, in her witty

style that explains why the gender divide is harmful for all.

An absolute must-read.

Watch: The danger of a single story on TEDGlobal

You can’t write

a script in your

mind, and then

force yourself

to follow it.

You have to let

yourself be


Viewed more than 22.7 million times, Chimamanda’s

TEDGlobal talk from 2009 is an essential watch to broaden

your perspective. She shares insight on the power of

representation, and how singular stories can perpetuate

stereotypes. The problem with seeing only one story?

Chimamanda explains: “It robs people of dignity. It makes

our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasises

how we are different, rather than how we are similar.”

From her own experience of both sides of this,

Chimamanda shares, with humour and wisdom, how she

found her own authentic cultural voice, and how important

it is to appreciate and see the many overlapping stories that

create a person, and culture.

Listen: ICYMI Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie on How to Raise a

Feminist Child on ‘The Daily Show with Trevor Noah: Ears

Edition’ podcast

Chimamanda discusses negative stereotypes around

feminism, and gender roles with host of Comedy Central’s

The Daily Show, Trevor Noah.

Follow: Instagram @chimamanda_adichie






Reader offer

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code HAPPISEP at shop.happiful.com

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

HAPPISEP, which expires on 20 October 2020. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com

Ayurvedic rituals to

boost your happiness

Turn to this ancient Indian practice to nourish your mental wellbeing

Writing | Claire Munnings

Holistic therapies – that

see the body and mind

as intrinsically linked –

have become increasingly

popular in recent years, as people

look for fresh ways to achieve

physical and mental rejuvenation.

So, it’s no surprise that Ayurveda

has become a buzzword in

wellness circles lately.

This Indian philosophy dates back

5,000 years, and is centred around

balance, harmony, and wholesome

self-care. But how can we use it to

improve our wellbeing?

For Mira Manek, a wellness

consultant and author of Prajna

– Ayurvedic Rituals for Happiness,

it’s fairly straightforward. She

first started exploring the idea

of Ayurveda as a teenager, and

now lives her life in tune with its

principles – a move which she says

has been a revelation for her.

“Ayurveda is one of the world’s

oldest medical systems – developed

by ancient seers, sages, and natural

scientists – and is based on the

premise that humans come from

nature, and from the universe, and

therefore our bodily rhythms and

wellbeing are intrinsically linked to

it,” she explains.

“For me, understanding the

importance of living according to

my circadian rhythm, and eating

wholesome cooked foods, has been

an essential lesson in realising what

affects my health and happiness.”

According to Ayurveda, we each

have our own individual pattern

of energies (or doshas) working

within us, and by incorporating

this knowledge into our lives we

can be healthier and happier. >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 67

What, when, and how we eat is a

key part of Ayurvedic teachings, as

well as movement, mindfulness,

and gratitude.

“The overarching principle of the

practice is to live a more sattvic

life (which promotes purity of both

body and mind) by instilling daily

rituals to bring about balance,

prevent disease, and promote

longevity – all of which create and

fuel happiness,” Mira says.

Keen to reap the benefits? In

Mira’s opinion, following a couple

of simple rituals on a regular basis

is the best way to begin. Try the

following in your daily routine…

Start the morning right

By introducing uplifting rituals in

the morning, we can set a positive

tone for the day ahead. Ayurvedic

tradition recommends starting the

day by drinking warm water from

a copper jug (which is thought to

help balance both your body’s pH

and your inner energies), using a

tongue scraper after brushing your

teeth, and practising ‘oil pulling’.

Mira says: “Using a tongue

scraper is something I’ve always

done – I just didn’t know it was an

Ayurvedic practice! It’s a great way

to get rid of ama (or toxins).”

Mira Manek is a wellness consultant

According to Ayurveda, these

toxins build up in the body when

we don’t digest our food properly

or cleanse fully, or if we have

unprocessed emotions storing

trauma in our mind.

Oil pulling (swishing sesame or

coconut oil in your mouth for five

to 20 minutes to draw out bacteria

from your gums) has a similar

effect, and the movement of

your facial muscles can also help

release stored tension in your jaw,

allowing you to feel more relaxed.

Use pranayama

The term pranayama refers

to breathing practices which

encourage us to focus on the

sensations involved with our

inhalations and exhalations.

“Pranayama balances our minds

and brings us into our rest-andrelax

mode,” Mira says. “It’s a good

way to calm your mind.”

One of the easiest exercises

involves slowing your breath and

lengthening your exhalations, but

there are lots of others – breathing

through alternate nostrils helps to

settle your mind and body, while

kapalbhati (which features short

powerful exhalations) creates heat,

cleanses, and energises.

By introducing

uplifting rituals in the

morning, we can set

a positive tone for the

day ahead

Try self-massage

Known as abhyanga, self-massage

is recommended in Ayurveda

as a way to relieve lymphatic

congestion, and express self-love.

Research has shown that massage

can increase levels of our ‘happy

hormones’ (such as serotonin and

dopamine), and self-massage is

no different. Experts recommend

using warm oil and massaging this

all over your body, leaving it on for

20 minutes or so, and then washing

it off. It’s thought to allow toxins to

be cleared through the skin.

You can also massage specific

marma points, depending on

what issues you’d like to resolve.

In Ayurvedic teachings these are

vital energy points within the

body which help the flow of prana

(or energy) and are similar to the

meridian points in acupuncture.

There are 108 marma points, and

if energy is flowing freely through

these, our body is thought to be in

optimum balance.

68 • happiful.com • September 2020


A key part of Ayurveda is

the idea that there are three

different energies, or doshas,

within us, and we tend to have

one or two that are dominant.

These energies are vata, pitta

and kapha, which relate loosely

to air, fire, and earth. You can

use the knowledge of how

the doshas come together to

understand what makes you

thrive – what to eat, what

exercise suits you, etc. The best

way to discover your dosha is to

visit an Ayurvedic practitioner,

but a brief overview is below.


People who have dominant vata

energies tend to be excitable,

energetic, creative, and flexible.

How to stay balanced: Eat warm

nourishing meals, maintain a

consistent routine, avoid cold

and windy conditions, and set

aside time for self-care and rest.


People who have dominant pitta

energies tend to be intelligent,

sharp, and excellent speakers.

How to stay balanced: Keep

cool, avoid too much spice and

excessively hot conditions, try to

be considerate and patient.


People who have dominant

kapha energies tend to be calm

and loving, loyal and patient.

How to stay balanced: Include

a variety of activities to avoid

stagnation, limit heavy foods,

and opt for warm, light meals.

Mira Manek is a wellness

consultant and the author of

‘Prajna – Ayurvedic Rituals for

Happiness’. Visit miramanek.com

Eat mindfully

Studies show that eating the right

foods can have a dramatic impact

on our mental wellbeing. In

Ayurveda, eating well and at certain

times of the day, is important – and

there are plenty of ways you can

incorporate Ayurvedic ideas into

your mealtimes.

“Cook with spices as often as

possible. These not only provide

extra warmth, but reduce

inflammation in the body, and aid

digestion,” Mira advises. “Eat your

largest meal at lunchtime if you

can. Our digestion is in sync with

the sun – and so, with the sun at its

strongest at lunch, our digestion

is also at its strongest. Leave three

to four hours between meals, and

try not to snack – this means that

your digestive fire, or agni, has

a chance to reignite before your

main meals.”

Enjoy yoga

Mindful movement is an important

aspect of Ayurveda, so yoga has a

prominent place in its teachings.

Both aim to help your body, mind,

and spirit thrive, and are rooted

in the same vedic tradition. A

good way to introduce yoga into

your routine is to start with sun

salutations (which sees you move

through 12 poses including upward

salute, cobra, and downward dog,

in a smooth motion). Or you could

research how to adjust your regular

sessions based on your individual

energy pattern.

Meditative moments

The scientific research around

the uplifting and stress-relieving

effects of meditation is compelling,

and as Mira explains, this idea is

key to Ayurveda. “Ayurveda is a

back-to-basics approach to life,

at the centre of which is selfawareness,

and meditation helps

bring about a sense of self, an

understanding of the inner voice,

and a connection to nature,” she

says. “I like to think of meditation

as moments of stillness to help

channel into myself.”

Set aside a few moments for quiet

contemplation, and if you don’t feel

ready to sit in silence, just enjoy a

short time of reflection with a cup

of chai and some calming music.

Claire Munnings is a health and

wellbeing journalist. She enjoys

writing about how we can live more

mindfully and introduce joy into

our days.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 69

Forget perfection

keep your promises

Lara Morgan, co-owner and founder of Scentered, has a head for business

and a passion for personal development. As she shares here with Happiful,

perfection isn’t possible, but all lessons in life and business are valuable

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Stop. Inhale. Reset. These

are the guiding words used

by the aromatherapy brand

Scentered. The concept is

that we can all adjust our mood,

focus, and direction if we take a

little time out to smell the roses –

or lavender, sage, and citrus. And,

in my humble opinion, it really


The founder of Scentered, Lara

Morgan, is deeply passionate

about her products, although I

suspect she rarely takes a moment

for herself to practise what she

advises. Our interview takes place

over a hands-free phone call as

she’s driving her daughters to

an event, before heading off to a

business forum and, after that, a

plethora of work commitments


During our chat, I get the strong

sense that Lara thrives on the

pace she lives and works at. Her

favoured method of relaxation, she

says, is running with a friend. It’s

all about the forward momentum

for her.

In a time when so many of us are

contemplating our careers, and

a change of lifestyle, prompted

or necessitated by the global

pandemic, Lara’s experience and

drive is incredibly helpful.

Here, for anyone who is

contemplating starting their own

business, Lara shares just a few of

the lessons she has learned about

the realities of entrepreneurship.

Keep your promises

My father was ex-military, so

it made me disciplined and

organised, because if I turned up

late, I might go without. He always

believed that you did what you said

you would, so it became important

to me to never make a promise I

couldn’t keep.

My mum was unbelievably

people-focused, naturally

engaging, and terribly generous

with all her time – probably too

generous. I inherited a little of

both their traits, and I believe that

the more you put into life, the

more you get out.

Learn the value of money

When I was a child, my parents

were gradually going bankrupt, so

we were taught that if you looked

after the pennies, the pounds

looked after themselves.

Living with scarcity, and learning

to budget as a child, meant that

we really valued what we could

spend, and where we spent it.

That appreciation of money and

possessions continued into my

business – my first laptop and brick

of a mobile were the most precious

things I had!

Be honest and be humble

I was very lucky that I arrived

in business in the middle of a

recession at the age of 23, without

any qualifications – so there was no

lack of humility, as I had nothing to

stake a claim in, other than I was a

good salesperson.

When my career took off, I

employed people who were more

talented than me in many areas,

and I was very clear where my skills

lay so I could drive the growth of

70 • happiful.com • September 2020

the organisation. I depended upon

experts for other stuff.

Understand that hierarchy

creates barriers

My parents always said it didn’t

matter whether you were a dustbin

man, the general manager, the

president of the golf club, or the

caddie – everyone should

be afforded the same level

of respect.

You can either

treat hierarchy as an

inappropriate weapon, or

you can understand that

hierarchy creates barriers

and slows success.


doesn’t exist

There is no such thing as

perfection – it’s human

nature to pick holes in

somebody else’s work, and

to find ways of showing

how clever we are. Always

remember, you might

have done something

differently, but it doesn’t

mean you would have

done it better!

You need to have a

mindset of ‘let’s just have

a go’ in business, and then

take customer feedback

onboard and adjust. Like

a child learning to ride a

bike, you may fall off and

scrape your knee, but you’ll get

back on and learn.

Tough choices are inevitable

I went to a playground to pick up

my children, and the other parents

thought I was stepping in for their

mum, who was the nanny, because

I was there so irregularly. That

hurt, but the reality was that I was

paying the bills, I was growing the

business, and that was the sacrifice

I chose to make.

Remove guilt

Please take the word “guilt” out of

your vernacular! Life isn’t perfect,

and there is no continual state

of balance – though you can find

pockets of calm.

Do stop, to move forward again

The “Stop. Inhale. Reset” mantra

from Scentered is a powerful one.

If you have a determination to lead

a really interesting life, then you

need to pause and plan it. Taking

time to do this can absolutely

change your trajectory.

Be a work in progress

Keep working on yourself, writing

those plans, and learning. You are

your own life-long project.

Find out more about Scentered at

scentered.me. Lara’s book ‘More Balls

than Most: Juggle Your Way to Success

with Proven Company Shortcuts’,

is available on Amazon.

To fall in love with yourself is

the first secret to happiness


Photography | Hian Oliveira

How social media

has shaped the

way we eat

Food, glorious food – it’s all over Twitter,

Instagram, Pinterest, and the rest. And our

insatiable online appetite has changed our

mental and physical relationship with what

we actually put on our plates

Writing | Pixie Turner

Social media occupies

two out of every five

minutes we spend online,

and boy do we spend

a lot of time online. Twitter,

Instagram, Facebook, YouTube…

these platforms have become a

standard part of our lives – to the

point where we can’t imagine life

without them.

As someone who’s career started

on Instagram, I’ve always had a

certain curiosity about how we

humans navigate and process

these online spaces. In particular,

I’ve become curious about how

social media has changed the way

we eat. The answer, it turns out, is

a lot.



What and how much we choose to

eat is influenced by those around

us, both physically and virtually.

When we eat in large groups, we

tend to eat more, which is not in

itself a bad thing as the benefits of

human connection go beyond what

any single food can offer.

Seeing picture after picture of

delicious food on our phones can

provide us with great inspiration

– after all, food is one of the most

popular categories on Pinterest

– but this can easily descend into

comparison. Some comparison

is normal and human, but the

amount of information we’re

receiving over the internet is often

more than our brains are equipped

to handle.

There is always someone online

whose food is prettier, more

popular, more enticing. There is

always someone whose stomach

is flatter, whose legs are stronger,

whose smile is wider. Thin and

toned fitness bloggers post ‘What I

Eat in a Day’ videos, enabling us to

compare every morsel and make

modifications, so we can eat like

them to look like them.

This is despite the fact that

people often edit what they eat and

publish online to make themselves

look better. This comparison often

ends with us feeling inadequate

and disheartened.



Ever wondered why extreme

content gets more clicks and likes

online? It turns out there are

several reasons.

Firstly, social media algorithms

are designed to show you more

of what you interact with. If you

search for ‘how to start running’

and watch a few videos on

YouTube, it’ll end up pushing

you towards more extreme

content with titles like ‘I ran

six ultramarathons in six days!’ >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 73

This extreme content grabs our

attention, which keeps us online

and watching for longer, thereby

generating more advertising

revenue for the platform.

Secondly, we have a tendency to

follow people who agree with us,

while ignoring those who don’t,

which can easily lead to an echochamber


Thirdly, we don’t want to be

kicked out of a group, so if the

group leaders become more

extreme, we feel we need to go

along with them or risk being

ostracised. Rejecting a food group

means rejecting the people in

that group who we’ve connected

with, which makes it much more


When it comes to taking down

harmful and extreme online

content, social media platforms

don’t have a great track record.

When pro-anorexia (pro-ana)

content began appearing on

YouTube many years ago, strict

measures were taken to protect

viewers. But somewhere down

the line, advertising revenue has

become more important than

viewers’ health.



In 2019, there was a big scandal

on YouTube: several vegan

YouTubers had been ‘caught out’

eating animal products, and the

subsequent backlash from their

followers was swift and severe.

The criticism and food shaming

that has been thrown at these

individuals has come almost

entirely from other vegans.

Social media allows us to food

shame others much more easily,

as we can say anything we like in

the heat of the moment, and there

are simply too many comments to


We see what someone eats as

a key identifier of who they are

– just think of how many online

quizzes you’ve done that tell you

where you should live, or who you

should date, based simply on your

favourite cheese.

We see food as identity, and

when people post parts of their

lives online, we feel a sense of

ownership over their identity. So

much so that when it changes, we

get angry and lash out.

Food shaming is a way for us to

target others, and take attention

away from our own deficiencies

and insecurities. Research shows

that we tend to shame others

for the very things we’re unsure

of about ourselves. This means

that our food shaming likely

stems from an uncertainty and

sense of shame about our own

eating, whether that’s because we

‘cheated’ or because we’re afraid

of others perceiving us as ‘lazy’ or

‘unmotivated’. Or maybe it’s because

we’re afraid of being unwell.

Regardless, we desperately want

to believe that good things happen

to good people, and bad things only

happen to bad people, because it

means the world has simple rules.

So, when someone gets hurt, we ask

“What was she wearing?” or when

someone has a heart attack we

think ,“It must have been something

they ate.” Sadly, the world is not that

simple, and that makes us deeply

Food shaming is

a way for us to

target others, and

take attention

away from our

own deficiencies

and insecurities

uncomfortable, as it means we

can’t have as much control as we

would like.


Yes, it’s clear social media can

easily have a negative impact on

our mental health, with research

74 • happiful.com • September 2020

linking many platforms to higher

risk of depression, anxiety, body

image issues, and disordered eating.

However, social media can be

used to change the world. For

example, Gina Martin made

upskirting illegal with a powerful

hashtag and a willingness to fight.

Jamie Oliver helped introduce

the sugar tax, again through a

powerful hashtag and a strong

online presence. Petitions are

debated in parliament, and shares

and retweets amplify messages

we want our politicians to be

aware of. Too much social media

may not be great for us, but when

used correctly it really can make a


‘The Insta-Food Diet: How Social

Media Has Shaped the Way We

Eat’ by Pixie Turner (Head of

Zeus, available August 2020).

September 2020 • happiful.com • 75


Serves 2



Skip the 3pm slump with three energy-inducing eats

Writing | Katie Hoare

When 3pm hits, do

heavy eyelids,

foggy headache,

and waning


sound familiar? You might be

struggling with the 3pm slump,

when your lunchbox hasn’t quite

made the cut to give you that allday

energy boost.

When we’re pushed for time,

we’re often tempted to grab

something quick and easy from

the supermarket shelves. While

it might be delicious, often,

sadly, it isn’t the most nutritious

– we’re looking at you, white

bread, cookies, and cakes! These

tempting goodies are great for

an energy injection or simple

treat, but they might be leaving

us feeling even flatter in the


So we’ve rustled up three simple,

delicious recipes that provide

a slow release of energy all

afternoon to turn your 12–1 into

the power-hour. Fuel up!


• 2 tsp low-salt soy sauce

• 2 tsp honey

• 2 tbsp of sesame oil

• 150g fillet of salmon, baked

• 1 tsp sesame seeds

• 1 boiled egg (optional)

• 75g cannellini beans

• Handful of leafy greens


• Mix the soy, honey, and 1

tablespoon of sesame oil together

and marinate the salmon.

• Leave for 15 minutes, then place

the salmon on a baking tray,

skin-side down.

• Bake for 12 minutes, remove

from the oven, and sprinkle with

sesame seeds.

• Set aside to cool.

• If using, place an egg in boiling

water, and simmer for 8

minutes. Plunge into cold water,

peel and slice.

• Drain the cannellini beans, and

rinse through. Combine with

leafy greens and mix.

• Lay the salmon and sliced egg on

the bed of salad and beans, and

drizzle the remaining sesame oil

on top. Yum!

Find a


near you on the

Happiful app


Serves 1


• ½ avocado, sliced

• Chilli flakes, to season

• Black pepper, to season

• 75g roast turkey breast, sliced

• 1 whole wheat wrap

• ½ lemon, to drizzle

• Handful of spinach

• Handful of rocket


• Halve the avocado and slice into

even pieces, season with chili

flakes and black pepper.

• Arrange the sliced turkey breast

and avocado in a line in the

centre of the wrap, leaving a

small gap at the bottom.

• Drizzle with lemon juice.

• Place a handful of spinach and

peppery rocket on top, and fold

the wrap, burrito-style. Tuck in!


Serves 1


• 50g almond butter

• 2 slices of brown rye bread

• 1 banana, sliced

• Ground cinnamon, to season


• Spread the nut butter equally on

both slices of rye bread.

• Slice the banana into equal

portions, and place on top of nut


• Season with cinnamon, and

simply enjoy!


These three delicious power-hour

lunches will help you gain the

mental edge by staying alert and

focused throughout the afternoon.

The ‘cold sesame salmon’ is

a nutrient-packed summer

salad. Protein is essential for

growth and repair of the body,

and maintaining good health.

A 150g salmon fillet provides

30g of protein, which is around

half of an adults’ recommended

daily amount! Kale is rich in

chlorophyll, which has essential

fatty acids, helps to renew

cells, and supports healthy gut

microbiota. It’s an energising

food source, so would greatly

benefit anyone with fatigue.

Avoid reaching for the

mid-afternoon biscuits by having

a ‘sweet vegan sarnie’. Rye bread

is dense and high in fibre, which

will help you to feel fuller for

longer. It’s a great source of iron,

zinc, and magnesium. Almond

butter is a great choice as it’s the

most nutrient-dense of all nut

butters. It’s high in vitamin E, and

great for hair, skin, and nails.

The turkey in the protein wrap

is a great source of the amino

acid tryptophan, which builds

mood-boosting neurotransmitter

serotonin. The vitamin B6 found

in the spinach is essential for

the conversion of tryptophan

into serotonin. Bitter greens like

rocket also help with digestion

and absorption of the healthy

fats, such as those found in


Rebekah Esdale is a mental

health nurse and nutritional

therapist specialising in women’s

mental health and wellbeing.

Photography | Daniel Odame

Owning our story and loving

ourselves through that process is the

bravest thing that we will ever do


Happiful reads…

From inspirational trailblazers making history to reimagined classics for kids,

we share four upcoming books you won’t want to miss

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Memoirs have a special place

in both literature, and in our

lives. They have a way of

touching us and speaking to

us – of reminding us of the true

breadth of lived experiences out

there – that few other forms of

writing or entertainment can.

While celebrity autobiographies

may start topping the bestseller

lists in the run-up to the holiday

season, now is the time to read

something more unexpected,

more impactful, and more


Haben tells the incredible story

of the first deafblind graduate

Must reads

of Harvard Law School, and her

journey from isolation to the

world stage. From her parent’s

refugee story inspiring her

quest for knowledge, to her

explorations of the world to find

out more about belonging, Haben

Girma shares her definition of

disability: as an opportunity for


Now using her talents to

help advocate for those with

disabilities, her journey has taken

her from climbing an iceberg in

Alaska to helping build schools

in Mali, creating a text-to-braille

communication system to help

Haben: The

Deafblind Woman

Who Conquered

Harvard Law by

Haben Girma

Out now

others connect, to meeting

President Obama at the White

House. Funny, warm, thoughtful

and uplifting, Haben’s journey

is an unforgettable testament to

one woman’s determination to

find the key to connection with

others and the world around her.

The Witches by

Roald Dahl and

Pénélope Bagieu

Out 3 September

Just in time for

Roald Dahl Day, a

fresh adaptation of the beloved

children’s classic looks set to

capture the hearts of a new

generation – a graphic novel,

illustrated by Eisner Awardwinning

artist Pénélope Bagieu.

When a young boy and his

grandmother come face-to-face

with the Grand High Witch, this

could be their only chance to

stop the witches’ plan to get rid

of every child in England.

Out of Office by

Fiona Thomas

Out 1 October

Thinking of

ditching the nineto-five

to become

your own boss? The latest nononsense

guide from author

and regular Happiful contributor

Fiona Thomas looks to answer

the questions you’ve been too

embarrassed to ask. Fiona

delves into why working from

home has a positive impact on

our mental health, and covers

everything you need to consider

before taking the leap and going


From What Is to

What If by Rob


Out now

With so much

division in the

world, it’s hard to deny that in

many ways, things look grim.

But what if unleashing the power

of imagination could help us

to create the future we want?

Transition movement co-founder

Rob Hopkins explains how we

have the capability to effect

dramatic change, and the power

imagination has on our empathy,

ability to create better lives, and

to create a more positive future.

Take a deep breath

Four ways the resonance breath technique can support your mental health

Writing | Ben Douch

There’s an ever-changing

yearning for homeostasis

within our body. Through

our breathing, we search

for this balance, engaging two

branches of our autonomic

nervous system – the sympathetic

branch, which speeds things up

and readies us for action, and the

parasympathetic, which slows

things down, and facilitates rest.

With every full cycle of our

breath we activate these branches,

altering the chemistry in our body,

our heart rate, the brain’s neural

circuits associated with awareness

and memory and, ultimately, the

emotional state we experience.

With the resonance breath

technique, we bring intention

to this autonomic process,

harnessing it for our wellbeing.

By slowing down your breathing

to around five to six breaths a

minute, with an equal inhalation

and exhalation, you can positively

affect your emotional wellbeing

and build resilience to stress.

Following these next steps, I’ll

take you through the science and

biology behind this practice, and

just what makes it so powerful.

And at the end of this article, with

the help of a guided meditation,

you’ll have the chance to give it a

try yourself. Let’s go.

1. Slowing down our breath

encourages feelings of safety

Although the autonomic nervous

system functions automatically,

it can still be influenced. With

conscious breathing, we can

guide our mind and body into

a particular state. Often, our

intention is to slow things down, to

find calm and peace of mind.

When we slow our inhalation

down, through the expansion

of our lungs, our sympathetic

nervous system eases off a bit, and

then on the exhale we get more

time for the parasympathetic

qualities to register. The message

to our body here is: I am safe, I can

relax. Good mental health so often

begins with a feeling of safety.

2. Breathing like a baby gets

you extra parasympathetic

bonus points

There’s a reason why meditation

and yoga teachers, therapists, or

anyone else trying to assist with

relaxation, recommend breathing

through your belly. Abdominal

breathing is the most efficient

and relaxed way of getting air into

our lungs.

When we breathe through

the upper chest, which is

associated with a fight-or-flight

response, we send subtle signals

to the sympathetic branch.

Breathing like a baby, through

our abdomen, activates our

parasympathetic branch – the

neurotransmitter acetylcholine

gets released, blood vessels

dilate, and your heart rate

reduces. As little ones, this was

an automatic process to support

sleep and digestion. As adults, we

reclaim it for our mental health.

3. Variation in your heartbeat –

that’s a good thing!

The specific power of the

resonance breath is in the

affect it can have on our heart

rate variability, which is a

good indicator of our physical

and emotional health. It’s

measured through the variation

in time between our individual

heartbeats. We are looking for

high variability – that’s a strong

indicator of good health – whereas

decreased variability can be an

indicator of stress.

When your parasympathetic

branch is at play, the heartbeat

slows down, and there’s more

room for the variation.

That said, if you experience

an irregular heartbeat without

stimulation, it might be worth

visiting your GP, as this could be a

sign of an underlying problem.

80 • happiful.com • September 2020


The message to our body here

is: I am safe, I can relax. Good

mental health so often begins

with a feeling of safety

4. Equal in and out breaths, of

around five to six a minute, create

a resonance frequency

Research has shown the frequency

and ratio of the breath is key.

An optimal number of in-andout

breaths is around five to six

a minute – but it’ll vary slightly

for each individual. If you can

get these flowing equally, you’ll

gradually encourage your body’s

respiratory and circulatory

systems to bring your heart rate

and breathing into coherence.

Through the synchrony of

heart and breath, we stimulate

these systems at their resonance

frequency. And by doing so, we

create a healthy resonance state

within our physiology, helping

to lower blood pressure, reduce

cortisol, and change our heart rate.

It’s the stimulation of our vagus

nerve, the one that wanders

between our brain, gut, and

many other organs, which plays

a big part in this. Through the

resonance frequency we increase

its tone, which in turns increases

our capability to relax after feeling


This isn’t anything particularly

spiritual, it’s biology, and a

beautiful example of how we can

affect our mind through our body,

and our body through our mind.

I’ve created a guided meditation to take

you through this practice – search ‘Ben

Douch Counselling and Psychotherapy’

on soundcloud.com. It begins with easing

into the body, and connecting with our

abdominal breathing. Once settled, a sound

will gently guide your breathing in and out

for around 10 minutes. We'll end with a few

moments of relaxation where you can absorb

the results of your resonance breath practice.

Grab a set of earphones, and find a place

where you won’t be disturbed for the next

15 minutes. Sitting up, or lying down, put the

world away for a moment and press play.

September 2020 • happiful.com • 81

A beginner’s guide

to growing your own!

Ever wanted to tend to your own little vegetable patch? Well, there’s never

been a better time to start. Here, soil scientist and nutritional gardening

expert Dr Nigel Bending shares six top tips to help you dig in

Writing | Dr Nigel Bending

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Creating personal access

to green space has been

proven to boost self-esteem,

reduce anxiety, and even decrease

your cortisol levels (the stress

hormone) in the body. Whether

you’re growing lettuce for your

salads, or herbs for your G&Ts,

there’s never been a better time to

get outside, and get growing.

You don’t need a huge allotment,

or a big garden to grow your own.

Even the most compact space

can be turned into a flourishing

herb and veg patch with a raised

planter – or even a few pots on a

windowsill or balcony. ‘Grow your

own’ can seem an intimidating

phrase, but the journey from

plot to plate doesn’t have to be




Supermarkets usually pick varieties

that survive the rigours of picking,

transport, and display – so flavour

and nutrients are not the top

priority! Why not try veg and herbs

that you can’t get in shops? Your

crops will be of a much higher

quality in both nutrients and taste.

Try French and red veined sorrel,

which have a zingy, fizzy lemon

taste (think sherbet lemon), and are

among the most reliable and longlasting

crops you can grow.


When choosing seeds, avoid

those that take too long to reach

maturity, such as parsnips which

can take up to 180 days. Ideally,

your crops will take no more than

90 days to reach maturity.

For beginners, trying to grow

your own ‘lettuce bag’ is a great

place to start. The seeds are cheap,

readily available, and germinate

and grow reliably. Good varieties

to try include mustard ‘red giant’,

mizuna, mizuna ‘red knight’,

mustard ‘golden frills’, mustard

‘red frills’, plus spinach ‘red kitten’,

and rocket ‘serrata’. The leaves

have a peppery taste which runs

from mild in ‘mizuna’ to hot

(occasionally fiery) in red giant.

If these lettuces turn out to be

a bit too hot to handle, you may

want to opt for something sweeter

tasting, in which case black seeded

simpson, cocarde, and oakleaf

smile are likely to fit the bill.

82 • happiful.com • September 2020


Try for varieties that have a

compact form. Tom Thumb ‘pea’

produces full-size pods, but only

grows to 25cm (less than a third of

most podding peas). Others include

stripy ‘piccolo’ courgettes, yellow

‘summer ball’ courgettes, and ‘pot

black’ mini aubergines. You can

also harvest crops as ‘baby leaf’

before they reach full size.


Growing veg in a shady (cooler)

corner can provide great conditions

for crops like lettuce, spinach,

rocket, radish, and chard – so the

situation is far from helpless!

Herbs can be quite demanding in

their requirements, which makes

a raised planter or container an

ideal choice. You can also move

your container into full or partial

shade, and water little or more

often, based on the herb you wish

to grow.


Supermarkets tend to grow lettuce,

and cut them as very young

leaves. This is quite a wasteful

method, and means that plants

become rapidly exhausted. A

much better way is to allow leaves

to reach mid-size before they are

picked, in order to let their flavour

fully develop. Try to pick leaves

individually at the base of the

plant, which causes less stress and

stimulates new growth.

When growing herbs, the key is

to pinch out their tips, and pick

them regularly – this will prevent

the plants becoming ‘leggy’ and

flowering. This isn’t disastrous as it

will often produce a fantastic seed

head (a winner for bees), but will

end the production of a new leaf!


Even in a small space, you can

easily grow the equivalent of two

salad bags of lettuce per week,

enough for a round of sandwiches

for the whole family every day

– and it’s an easy win on all the

vitamin C you need.

There is something fulfilling

in taking ‘time-out’, picking a

colander of lettuce at the beginning

of each day, and appreciating the

simplicity of the exchange of effort

for reward. What’s more, at the

end of the year you’ll have saved at

least 104 currently ‘not recyclable’

cellophane packets from going

to landfill – to which more than

810,000 tonnes of plastic containing

‘fresh produce’ goes every year.

Even in a small space,

you can easily grow the

equivalent of two salad

bags of lettuce per week

Dr Nigel Bending is a soil scientist,

nutritional gardening expert, and

the creator of Ergrownomics selfwatering

raised planters. Visit




Taking care of yourself will allow you to give more to others. Discover the

app that makes you aware of your emotions, listen to the podcast unlocking

the key to confidence, and find the words that empower you most



Speedy BOSH! Over 100 Quick

and Easy Plant-Based Meals in

30 Minutes

Going meat-free for just one day

a week can be a great way to

add more nutrients into your diet,

while also protecting the planet.

Following on from their best-seller

How To Live Vegan, BOSH! are

back with more than 100 plantbased

dishes you can get on the

table in 30 minutes or less.


(Out 17 Sep, HQ, £22)


At The Drive In

With lockdown putting a stop to cinema visits, many of us have been

missing the big screen, but an outdoor cinema could be the perfect

way to get out of the house and enjoy movie magic, while sticking to

social distancing. At The Drive In will be touring the UK until October,

featuring classic 80s movies, roller waiters, and silent car discos, so we

can all enjoy some old school entertainment.

(Find out what’s on at atthedrive.in)



Coping Well

During Covid

Life has been far from normal

over the past few months,

and with uncertainty comes

new challenges. This series of

NHS-led webinars aims to help

you cope with the impact of

Covid-19, by tackling topics such

as anxiety, low mood, and sleep.

(Watch the webinars at




‘Calmer You Podcast’


coach, and author Chloe

Brotheridge guides us through

how to quiet our inner critic, and

move forward with confidence,

in this weekly podcast. In each

episode, Chloe talks to special

guests about how we can

conquer our anxieties, and be

our happiest self.

(Listen to the podcast on

iTunes and Spotify)



Dani DiPirro

DC-based artist

Dani DiPirro shares empowering

and thought-provoking artwork, to

remind us all that we are enough,

just as we are. Follow Dani for

regular self-care inspiration, and

find the perfect pick-me-up to

share with a friend in need.

(Follow @positivelypresent

on Instagram)

84 • happiful.com • September 2020

Dani DiPirro | Instagram: @positivelypresent, Drive in | Instagram: @atthedriveincinema, Queer Eye | Instagram: @queereye

6 9


Reflectly: Self-Care Journal

Reflectly is a personal journal that

helps you bring more kindness into your

everyday life. Add moments throughout

your day to become more aware of how

you’re feeling, and recognise times when

you need a little extra self-care. Each day

you’ll get a new morning motivation to help

keep you on track.

(Download from the App

Store and Google Play)

7Follow the “Fab Five” as

they carry out life-changing

makeovers for the people who have not

been able to make time for themselves.

Bobby, Tan, Antoni, Karamo, and

Jonathan help people make lasting

changes to all aspects of their lives,

and embrace every beautiful part of

themselves. Don’t forget the tissues!


Queer Eye

(Available on Netflix)


World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide can be a difficult subject to

talk about, but that doesn’t mean it’s

something we should avoid. World Suicide Prevention

Day aims to help start conversations, raise awareness

of suicide prevention, and show that recovery is

possible. Talking can save lives.

(10 September, get involved at rethink.org)



Yoga With Adriene

Practising yoga can be

a great alternative to a

fast-paced workout, while

giving you the opportunity

to clear your mind. Adriene Mishler is making yoga

accessible, by sharing yoga tutorials for people from all

over the world, of all shapes and sizes.

(Search Yoga With Adriene on youtube.com)



Words have the power to change our mood, and our mindset. Mantra Jewellery allows you to find

the phrases that inspire you, and carry them with you wherever you go. Hold on to your necklace for

a few mindful moments throughout the day, and bring its message to mind.

Mantra Jewellery necklaces

(Prices start at £20, view the full range at mantrajewellery.co.uk)

Win a Mantra Jewellery Necklace!

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

with your answer to the following question:

Which famous book does this quote originate from: “Even the darkest night

will end and the sun will rise.”

a) Les Miserables b) Pride and Prejudice c) Jane Eyre


Competition closes 17 September. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!

Photography | Ba Ba

Remember, no one can make you

feel inferior without your consent



The breakthrough

after my breakdown

Lifesaving surgery at four months old led Flo to a

mental breakdown when she was just eight, and

resulted in a childhood defined by mental health.

As a teenager, Flo had the lightbulb moment to stop

letting her mental illnesses define her, and started

sharing her story to empower and inspire others

Writing | Flo Sharman

While my birth

was pretty


when I was four months

old everything changed.

I stopped breathing on

many occasions, and my

incredible mother had

to resuscitate me several

times – including on the

day of my christening.

I needed a life-saving

operation to remove parts

of my stomach to treat

serious acid reflux, which

was affecting my ability to

breathe, and I had to stay

in hospital for months.

I had slow development,

and remember needing a

special chair and shoes,

but apart from that things

were looking up – we all

thought that once life had

dealt me that big, old card,

surely I wouldn’t have to

deal with another one.

I really wish that was the

case, but unfortunately

it wasn’t. I remember

the night that my life

changed forever as if it

was yesterday. This is

my reminder to you all

to cherish everything

you have, and live in the

moment, because you

really don’t know what’s

around the corner.

My mental breakdown

didn’t come gradually, it

happened pretty much

overnight, when I was just

eight years old – and for

me it came out as physical

illness symptoms, not

those of a classic mental

breakdown. I woke up in

the middle of the night in

May 2008 blind, paralysed,

hallucinating, my lip had

dropped, I couldn’t talk,

I was retching, and had a

headache. I was rushed to

hospital and they thought

that I had a bleed on the

brain or a brain infection,

but how wrong they were.

I stayed in overnight and

was discharged the next

morning with doctors

saying it was a fluke, and

would never happen again.

But in 2017 I found out

that the reason I had my

mental breakdown, and

the reason it showed itself

in this way, is due to my

traumatic experience in

hospital during the early

parts of my life, and this

is the main root cause

of my mental illnesses –

PTSD, OCD, depression,

and panic attacks. I truly

believe that if, at the time

of my mental breakdown

in 2008, more research

had been done to find

the links between mental

health breakdowns due

to trauma as a baby, my

journey would have been

very different. That is

why I’m so proud to be an

ambassador for MQ, who

are the UK’s leading mental

health research charity. >>>

September 2020 • happiful.com • 87

I truly believe that if, at

the time of my mental

breakdown in 2008,

more research had

been done to find the

links between mental

health breakdowns due

to trauma as a baby,

my journey would have

been very different

Follow Flo on Instagram

@flosharman, and find out more

about MQ at mqmentalhealth.org

I know how valuable

research is, and how

beneficial it would have

been for me.

I went from being an

eight-year-old girl who had

everything to look forward

to in life, to an eight-yearold

terrified of absolutely

everything, not wanting

to live, thinking society

was better off without

me, nearly sectioned but

my mother fought for

this not to happen, and

I’m forever grateful she

did. My childhood was

taken away from me in

a matter of moments,

as I was excluded from

my primary school due

to my mental health, as

they had no training or

understanding of how to

deal with someone in a

mental health crisis.

To this day, I still get the

symptoms that happened

on the night that my

life changed forever.

The blindness, pins and

needles, and headaches;

these attacks happen

around four or five times

a year, and I don’t know

when they are coming,

but I get on with my life. I

don’t let it define me, just

like I don’t let my mental

illnesses define me. I now

know I’m on a lifelong

mental health journey,

and I’m now not ashamed

or embarrassed about

that – in fact I’m incredibly

proud, as it’s made me. I

just wish I had found this

out so much sooner than

2017! But I bet you can all

guess why it took me 10

years to not feel ashamed

of experiencing mental

illness – the stigma, of

course. I hope in my

lifetime this stigma ends.

Now you’re probably

all wondering how I

overcame this mighty

hurdle the world decided

to throw me. It has not

been easy, and there have

been so many things that

I have had to get through

and continue to battle to

this day, but what I can

say is that I am beyond

proud of the person I’ve

become. I truly believe

that everything I’ve been

through has shaped the

person I am today. Life is

a rollercoaster, and it’s one

we have to ride – the good

and the bad. In the early

days of my mental health

crisis, it was all lows and

no highs. Now it’s an even

balance, and I know the

bad times make the great

times even greater.

The key things that have

got me to where I am

today, and continue to

help me on my lifelong

mental health journey,

are my amazing support

network that loves me

for who I am and never

88 • happiful.com • September 2020

There have been so many

things that I have had to get

through, but what I can say is

that I am beyond proud of the

person I’ve become

gives up on me; fitness,

which has been a huge

part of my recovery and

is my happy place, my

me-time, and the time I

learn how strong I am,

mentally and physically.

The great outdoors has

always been a huge

passion of mine, and I’m

so grateful that I grew up

in the countryside. It’s

so good for your mental

wellbeing, and having my

dogs and horses in my

bleakest moments were

the only things that kept

me fighting, because I

knew they needed me,

and they never judged

me. They loved me for

who I was – labels and all!

There is no magic cure

for mental illness, but

maybe one day, with MQ’s

incredible work, there

will be. I did have therapy

and CBT on countless

occasions, but for me

it didn’t work, while for

others it does wonders.

This just shows we’re all

individuals, and we need

to be treated as such. I’ve

been on antidepressants

for 12 years, and I don’t

know what I would be

like without them, but

this is just one very small

part of the journey. I

want to point out that

taking medication for

your mental health is no

different from taking it

for your physical health;

the taboo has to go.

I’m proud to say that

I’m a mental health

sufferer, and will never

be ashamed of who it’s

made me. I now know

the importance of being

your true self, and

that you should never

change for anybody.

Those that you need in

your life love you for

you, your flaws and all –

never forget that.

If you’re having a rough

time at this moment,

and can’t see light

through the darkness,

let me tell you the light

will start to shine. I’m

not saying it’s going to

be easy, but what I can

tell you is it really is

worth it, and you really

do have the strength to

get through this. Never

forget that seeking help

and speaking out isn’t a

failure or weakness, it’s

the complete opposite –

it’s true bravery.

“Sunsets are proof that

no matter what happens,

everything can end

beautifully.” – Kristen



Flo’s inspirational story

highlights the strong

connection between

our physical and

mental health, and how

they are inextricably

linked. Thankfully,

Flo was able to get the

support she needed to

understand this and it’s

had a profound impact

on her wellbeing. The

strength that Flo has

developed resonates

through her words, and

it’s wonderful to see

how she is leading the

way with challenging

the stigma,

cultivating selflove,

and sharing

her positive


Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

September 2020 • happiful.com • 89

Embracing your

natural looks –

and loving it.


more on online

shopping each

week than you

do on food.

Being on a


basis with your

local Deliveroo

driver. We’ve all

gotta eat.

Putting yourself, and your

needs, first. You can’t pour

from an empty cup.


every email or

Whatsapp reply

with: “Sorry I’ve

not got back to

you sooner…”

Not coming out of lockdown

with a huge life transformation

– you don’t owe anybody a

new passion for fitness, the

draft of your first novel, or a

revolutionary business plan.

Feeling socially awkward

when re-entering the

world. Do you smile

behind a mask?

Things to

not feel guilty

about this



the latest Netflix

hit to drop in less

than 48 hours

from its release.

Turning down a

social invitation

to spend some

quality time

with yourself.

Wearing loungewear

for so long you’re not

even sure where your

jeans are anymore.



The Happiful App

Happiful App is a product from the Happiful family, which includes:

Counselling Directory, Life Coach Directory, Hypnotherapy Directory,

Nutritionist Resource and Therapy Directory.

Helping you find the help you need.

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