Happiful December 2020



DEC 2020





We celebrate the heroes of 2020 who have

fought tirelessly to keep us safe










stories you

might have





Finding a

silver lining

I think it’s fair to say that this year has

been full of unexpected twists and

turns. I doubt many of us predicted

that we’d be accessorising facemasks

to our outfits, ordering from apps in

the pub garden, or learning to express

ourselves as much as possible with

only our eyes – ‘smizing’ (smiling with

our eyes) as Tyra Banks calls it.

As the nights draw in and the

temperature drops, it can be a

reminder that all we want is to be close

to our loved ones and hold them again.

We might feel nostalgic for winters

past, as we acclimatise to a new way of

celebrating the festive season.

It won’t always be easy. Some days

will be really hard. But, as put so

beautifully in our explainer on

komorebi on p26, even on the darkest

days a ray of sunlight can break

through. We just have to watch out

for it, and enjoy our moment in the

sunbeam for as long as it lasts.

And that’s what this issue is really

about. It’s been an unforgettable year,

and while it’s one many people may be

happy to put behind them, we want to

pause and reflect on the moments of

positivity that still shone through.

In our feature on p60, we hear from

some of the incredible essential

workers who gave their all through

the most testing and extreme

circumstances this year, and celebrate

their selfless and kind natures.

While 2020 has challenged us in

ways we could never have imagined,

through it all we have seen so many

examples of kindness, compassion,

and a world reassessing what truly

matters. We’ve found gratitude in new

places, and beauty in things we never

really saw before.

If there’s one thing we take with us

from this year, let it be that those

feelings continue...


W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine

Feel good

8 In the news

This month’s uplifting stories

12 Good news from 2020

Feel-good stories from the past year


26 What is komorebi?

Can the relationship between light

and shadow guide our wellness?

38 Build a healthy mindset

How can hypnotherapy help you

live more positively?

60 Make some noise

We celebrate the people who

touched, enhanced, and saved

lives in lockdown

Feeling festive

21 Christmas gift guide

Buying from independent retailers

is the gift that keeps giving...

37 To-do this Christmas

44 Giver’s guide to wellness

How to prioritise self-care

47 Seasonal social anxiety

Tips for the festive period

56 Festive flavours

Warming Christmas recipes

66 Craft with love

Five handmade gift ideas



58 What’s your EI?

Follow these tips for improving

emotional intelligence

72 Don’t be a bystander

Discover steps for de-escalating

stressful situations

74 Are you a HSP?

Find the power in your sensitivity,

and learn to protect your wellbeing

87 Say what you mean

How to tackle passive aggression

True life

41 Jan: the road to recovery

After addiction and destruction,

came the desire to help others

69 Karin: finding a purpose

Hearing loss didn’t hold Karin

back, as she crafted her own path

91 Hannah: embracing hope

Homeless at 15, Hannah shares

her journey to finding safety

Put into practise

18 Self-care for families

Put wellbeing on the to-do list

28 Making it up

An expert’s guide to apologies

33 Baby jitters

What to do when you’re are

experiencing pregnancy anxiety

55 Six ways to say ‘no’







51 Fresh off the press

We review this month’s best reads

52 Kenny Ethan Jones

The activist on what drives him,

and his hopes for the future

84 Things to do in December

95 What’s in a word?

Entrepreneur Steph Dunleavy on

what affirmations mean to her


16 What is manifestation?

Grace Victory on willing our

dreams into reality

25 Master your memory

The tip to help you spell any word

78 Put your mind to the test

Muddle through these puzzles

98 Make a difference

Nine random acts of kindness




Every issue of Happiful is

reviewed by an accredited

counsellor, to ensure we

deliver the highest quality

content while handling

topics sensitively.

The festive season can

be anxiety-inducing for

many people, and with the

increased expectations and

responsibility it can feel quite

overwhelming. This is why

it’s so important to listen to

how you feel, connect with

your emotions, and try to trust

what they may be telling you

– as they will often guide you

to a place a comfort. Check

out p47 for some excellent

tips on how you can manage

your wellbeing during this

time of year, and the worries

the season may bring. Your

anxieties are not permanent,

and you have the power to

overcome them. It’s possible

for us all to enjoy what the

festive season may bring.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

Our team

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Expert Panel

Meet the team of experts who have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight throughout this issue


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 | Head of Product

Charlotte Reynell | Creative Lead

Rosan Magar | Illustrator



Helen is a qualified

coach, mediator, and




Ruth is a

psychotherapist who

specialises in CBT.



Howard is a

hypnotherapist and

master NLP practitioner.



Rachel is a life coach,





Ondine is an existential

psychotherapist with an

interest in depression.



Anna-Maria is a

nutritionist and sports



MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.


BSc PgDip

Yvette is a counsellor

helping clients live their

life to its fullest.


Alice Greedus | PR Officer



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Jan Willem Poot, Karin Weiser, Hannah Lee


Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Yvette Winstone,

Ondine Smulders, Ruth Parchment, Charlotte Turner,

Howard Cooper, Lee Chambers


Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder


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DEC 2020


We celebrate the heroes of 2020 who have

fough tirelessly to keep us safe




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We celebrate the heroes of 2020 who have

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DEC 2020


Cover illustration

by Rosan Magar







stories you

might have


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The Uplift

Lockdown micro

weddings could

teach us a thing

or two about love

When lockdown began in March, 73,600

weddings and civil partnerships were

affected – and even more with lockdown

2.0. While many couples are making

the difficult decision to postpone their

weddings, others are considering their

options – with Google Trends showing a

300% increase in the number of people

searching for ‘elopement weddings’.

There are going to be many life lessons

learnt from lockdown (see p60 for some

inspirational stories), but, according to Jane

Caterer from Petite Weddings, we might

also learn a thing or two about marriage.

“Intimate weddings cut through all

the stress that can be part and parcel of

larger weddings for some people – be it

expectations, family politics, or financial

strain,” says Jane. “This leaves couples to

focus on what truly matters: their love and


“It’s been amazing to witness the

outpouring of love and happiness that’s

amplified in the pared-back experience

of a micro wedding,” she says, reflecting

on the couples she’s seen opt for smaller

ceremonies since lockdown. “They

feel confident to make the experience

reflective of their romance and future

commitment, without distraction.

Intimate weddings are enveloped in

complete love and support, with everyone

feeling fully invested and involved.”

Things are going to be done differently

for some time, but something that

never changes is the power of love,

companionship, and a dash of romance.


Brits drop the

stiff upper lip


ASDA opens first sustainability store

The supermarket giant is taking steps in the right direction

Lately, we’ve all been thinking

a little more about the things

that we can do to protect the

environment. One option is

cutting back on the amount of

plastic we’re using in our daily

lives. Though, with plastic firmly

ingrained in our society, this

doesn’t come without challenges.

But that could, finally, be


In a move to help customers

chose greener options,

superstore ASDA has opened

a new sustainability trial

store, partnering with some

of the biggest brands in the

UK – including PG Tips, Vimto,

Kellogg’s, Radox, and Persil – for

their plastic-free section in the

Middleton, Leeds, store.

The trial is set to evaluate

what works best for customers,

with plans to roll it out to more

locations in 2021, if it proves


“Our own insight tells us that

more than 80% [of customers]

believe that supermarkets have

a responsibility to reduce the

amount of single-use plastics in

stores,” says Roger Burnley, CEO

and president of ASDA. “We want

to give them the opportunity to

live more sustainably by offering

them great product choices and

value, underpinned by a promise

that they won’t pay more for

greener options at ASDA.”

Is this the sign that a more

sustainable world is on the

horizon? We certainly hope so!

It’s an age-old stereotype that

British people don’t like to talk

about our feelings, and would

prefer to stay quiet and try to

work through them alone. But

things seem to be changing for

the better, as a new survey, from

data research and analytics firm

Glow, now shows.

In the study, almost two-thirds

of respondents reported that

they felt comfortable asking for

the help that they need, and also

felt confident that they would be

able to support others who are

struggling with their own mental

health, too.

With a rise in the number of

people speaking out about their

mental health in the media and

online, it makes sense that it may

be becoming more normalised –

and that, in turn, is affecting the

ways that we speak and respond

to the people in our own lives.

So often, the first step to feeling

better is to begin talking to others

about the things that are going on

out of view. And while stoicism

has come hand-in-hand with

British culture so far, breaking

down the walls that we put up,

and learning how to be there

for one another, is a vision for

a kinder future. So, perhaps we

should be less ‘keep calm and

carry on’ and more ‘keep calm

and keep talking’.

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

happiful.com | 9

Photography | Eric Johnson Photography / Shutterstock.com

Clap for Our Carers 2020

Good news you might

have missed

It’s not all doom and gloom – here we revisit some of the most uplifting

stories and positive news to come out of 2020, to shine a light on the kindness,

compassion, and empathy that have truly been the highlights of our year

Writing | Rebecca Thair

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

More women than ever are

directing films, a report

in January revealed, with

twice as many directors of

2019’s top grossing films

being female


with 2018!

In March,

after 240

days, New

South Wales,

Australia, was

finally free of



The right tune can

make a big difference,

with a study revealing

that songs with a slow

tempo, simple melody,

and no lyrics, help you

relax – and work in 13

minutes. Plus, if you’re

feeling low, 13 minutes

of music with lyrics

that you can connect

with may reduce

overwhelm. I guess

13 might be a lucky

number after all.


A disabled grandmother

from Hanau, Germany,

is paving the way in

spreading awareness

of the importance of

accessibility. Having

used a wheelchair for

more than 20 years, Rita

Ebel was frustrated with

the difficulty of getting

around town, and was

inspired by another

wheelchair user’s plans

for a LEGO ramp. Using

donated bricks sent from

all over Germany, Rita

builds and places the

ramps around her home

town as a useful tool for

others with disabilities,

visual impairments, and

prams, and to draw

attention to the obstacles

wheelchair users face in

their daily lives.

12 | happiful.com

After 13 years of playing

it cool, two giant pandas

at the Ocean Park Zoo in

Hong Kong have finally

made a move – and

conservationists couldn’t

be happier. It seems

that perhaps all the

pair needed was a bit of

privacy in order to mate,

as the zoo closed to the

public in January due to

the pandemic.

We’ll keep

our fingers

crossed for

the patter

of tiny paws


Hamilfans around the

world rejoiced as the

movie of Hamilton was

released 15 months

ahead of schedule

– thank goodness,

because I was not

willing to ‘wait for it’.

For the first time ever,

renewable electricity

exceeded fossil fuel

generation during the

first half of 2020! Fossil

fuel use fell by 18%,

and renewable energy

increased by 11%, too.

To lift spirits during lockdown, furniture store IKEA

decided to publish the recipe for its iconic meatballs

so that frustrated fans could make them at home.

In May, Moonpig launched a campaign for Mental

Health Awareness Week encouraging people to see

‘the hidden message’, and to feel comfortable opening

up. It gave out 25,000 free postcards as part of its

mission to prompt people to reach out.


Many of us found a new love of nature this year, as

demonstrated by the record visits a tree mapping site

received during lockdown. TreeTalk, which features

the location and species of more than 700,000 trees in

London, had a fiftyfold increase in visitors, with the site

creating walks specific to users’ locations, and revealing

information about the trees you pass along your way –

along with how rare they are. The natural world awaits!





now a part of

our daily lives,

a Japanese

store has found

a novel way to

ensure employees

remain approachable.

Staff members’

masks now have

human smiles printed

on them to display

an endearing and

friendly demeanour.

A mother-son team from

India have gone viral

with their Instagram

account that shares

wholesome and


motherly advice.

Poonam and her

son Pranav set up

the ‘Mother With Sign’

account in January,

sharing photos of

Poonam holding signs

with relatable and funny

words of wisdom – and

have now got more than

150,000 followers. One of

our favourites is: “Even

marathons are run one

step at a time.”

happiful.com | 13

The city of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, is

leading the way in combating climate

change after unveiling 10-year plans to

replace 10% of asphalt with grass and

greenery. This move will help to absorb

up to 90% of rainwater through the soil –

addressing the frequent floods seen in recent

years – as well as providing cooler areas with the

additional foliage to assist with the increasing heat.

After a two-month delay due

to the pandemic, the world’s

largest rooftop farm opened

in Paris in July! Sitting atop a

six-storey building, the plot

covers 14,000 square metres

and is expected to produce

around 1,000kg of fruit and

vegetables every day.


Since being hunted to extinction 400 years ago, beavers

miraculously appeared in Devon in 2013. After a study

revealed their positive impact on the environment, the

beavers have now been given the ‘right to stay’ – hot dam!


An amazing






been born

in a Ugandan

national park so

far this year –

more than twice

as many as in

2019 in total!

Lockdown quizmaster

Jay Flynn was made

an MBE after raising

£750,000 for charity

through his virtual pub

quizzes. From being

homeless in 2007, Jay

now also finds himself

a Guinness World

Record holder for ‘most

viewers of an online

quiz’. Win, win!



One positive to come

from the pandemic

is seeing the growing

connections in

communities, as a study

of 2,000 people by

‘Remember a Charity’

found that more than

50% have grown closer

to their neighbours. It

also revealed that just

more than half of people

believe that they are

more appreciative of

their local communities

and charities due to

Covid-19, and 47% are

consciously choosing to

value the smaller things

in life.

In September, LEGO announced plans to phase out

its single-use plastic bags used for loose bricks, and

instead switch to recyclable, sustainably-sourced

paper bags. The move is part of the toymaker’s

mission to make all packaging sustainable by 2025 –

with a £310 million global investment in the plans.

14 | happiful.com

Undoubtedly the national treasure of 2020,

Captain Sir Tom Moore, 100, launched a podcast

in partnership with Cadbury and charity Age

UK’s ‘Donate Your Words’ campaign, which looks

to tackle loneliness in elderly people. The podcast

encourages youngsters to start conversations with

older generations, by sharing fascinating life stories and

unmissable anecdotes, including one 79-year-old’s kiss

with Elvis Presley!


A disabled 14-year-old girl from Columbia, Missouri, has

inspired millions of people by proudly demonstrating her

incredible invention on a TEDx stage – and as she sees

it, the creation gives her superhero abilities. Following a

STEM workshop, Jordan Reeves, whose left arm stopped

developing from her elbow, created a prosthetic arm

using a 3D-printer that shoots glitter! Jordan hopes that her

‘Project Unicorn’ design can encourage other youngsters

with disabilities to see the possibilities in them, rather than

as hindrances.

In Edinburgh, Scotland, a

small village of 11 houses

has been built on vacant

land, with full-time

support staff, to create a

safe community for the

homeless, and to help

rehabilitate people.

Ever get a song stuck in your

head, but can’t quite place

it? Google has launched a

new hum-to-search feature

allowing you to whistle, sing

or hum to discover the song.

A school in Sydney,

Australia, is breaking

gender stereotypes,

and teaching essential

life skills, with lessons

in hands-on car

maintenance for Year 11

girls, including how to

change a tyre, and

what to do in a

crash. The aim

is to promote


strength, and





A heartwarming video

recently went viral, which

captured the moment

a couple, married

for 60 years, were

reunited after 215 days

apart due to Covid-19

restrictions! Joseph

and Eve Loreth were

staying at an assisted

living home in Florida,

when Joseph had to

undergo rehabilitation

at another location.

The joy of seeing these

true loves finally being

together again after

such a stressful time is

an incredibly moving


The comeback of

the year in 2020

has certainly been

that of the ‘drivein’.

From concerts

to movies, we’ve

embraced some

socially distanced

outdoor fun.

happiful.com | 15

The low-down on


with Grace

Whether you’ve heard about it on social media, or in self-help and female

empowerment books, ‘manifesting’ has become a real buzz word – and it’s

one our columnist Grace uses daily. Here, she shares everything you need to

know about the power of ‘manifestation’ and how to make it work for you

When I was 23, I

began searching

for ways to connect

to myself more

deeply, as well as how to create a

life that I really wanted – and this

is when I discovered the power of


We are conditioned and

programmed by the beliefs of

adults around us growing up,

our childhood experiences, and

any trauma we may have been

through. From a young age, I didn’t

want to be a statistic or a product

of my environment; I wanted more

for myself, even if wanting more

was against all odds.

In my early 20s, I stumbled

across the documentary The Secret

– and it completely changed my

life. It confirmed how powerful

I perceived visualisations and

positive self-talk to be. As a child,

I had an innate knowledge that

if I believed I could, I would,

and essentially that is what

manifesting is.

The stories we tell ourselves

eventually become our reality

through our perspectives. A

lot of these perspectives are

subconscious, and until we

become aware of them, they act

as scripts that play out throughout

our lives. If we were bitten by a dog

as a child, we might have a fear

as an adult that we will be bitten

again, thus resulting in certain

behaviours and thought patterns

that may come to fruition.

Now, I’m not saying that every

tragic thing that happens in

adulthood is a result of our own

actions, but our thought patterns

and subsequent behaviours

do have the ability to create

experiences – both positive and

negative. We create our lives and

get to choose who we will become

through what we think, how we

talk to ourselves, and the actions

we take based on those thoughts.

Manifesting is the universal law

of attraction “thoughts become

things”, and the way in which we

can bring tangible things into our

life through mindset, thought

patterns, and action. We have the

ability to manifest anything – a car,

a holiday, a relationship, a job. But

the tricky part is, we have to:

1. Really believe we deserve

whatever we are trying to


2. Be truly grateful for what

we have right now.

It is the regular,

sustained thoughts

and core beliefs we

have that can then be

turned into our reality

And both of these can be hard if

you don’t have much self-belief,

and you’re not entirely happy with

where you are, or who you are

right now. In order to manifest, we

have to show gratitude and love,

regardless of our circumstances.

If you’re a particularly anxious

person, you will be pleased to

know that one single thought won’t

come to fruition – if you have a

random thought that the world is

going to end, it’s very unlikely that

it actually will. It is the regular,

16 | happiful.com


How to start manifesting:

Be specific

The universe cannot provide you

with what you want if you don’t

know what you want. So, you want

a new car? What model is it? What

colour? How does it feel when you

sit inside it? How does it smell?

Visualise it all, because if it’s real

inside your mind and heart, it will

become real inside your life.

Vocalise your desires

Talk to and seek guidance from

whatever you believe in – a deity,

the universe, or even nature. If

you don’t ask, you don’t get, and

you can ask for anything – there

is nothing that you don’t deserve.

You have to believe you are worthy

of whatever your heart desires.

Take action

You have to take action in creating

a life that you want. You can’t sit

around waiting for change, you

have to actively seek it. And there

are signs all around us, guiding

us down the right path. Signs can

come in many forms – we just

have to be open to receiving them.

sustained thoughts and core

beliefs we have that can then be

turned into our reality. Of course,

we also need to put our thoughts

and words into action, too.

You’re not going to buy a house,

or be able to travel the world, if

you’re sitting around all the time.

Manifestation magic can only

work if you work, too!

Studies have shown that how

a person sees the world is the

world which they will create, so if

you want a life full of abundance,

joy, and love, you have to actively

seek it, believe you’re worthy of it,

and that it is already here.


Grace x

Be grateful

Showing gratitude for where we

are right now, what we have, and

who we are – even if we aren’t

entirely satisfied – will put us on

a more positive frequency. Every

day, take time to be grateful for

what you have in your life. You can

be grateful for sunshine, for rain,

for a hot shower, for your kids,

for fluffy socks – for anything. It’s

the little things that truly make us

happy after all.

happiful.com | 17



Among the routines, school runs, runny noses, and sleepless nights, it can be

easy to put your own needs on the back burner. Fortunately, we have some

tips to ensure you’re taking care of yourself, and your relationships, too

Writing | Yvette Winstone Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Work-life balance

can be difficult for

many people, and

being responsible

for a child can be another added

challenge. Taking care of children

can often take the focus, and with

work and chores, along with social

commitments, it can be a lot to

juggle – where is the time for our


Here we explore some thoughts on

how to balance your role as a parent

alongside your other relationships

and identity, to feel the benefits of a

more harmonious life.

1. Make a plan about who

does what and when

For couples returning from work,

or having spent the day caring for

the kids, it’s likely they may reach

the end of the day feeling tired and

stressed. Then comes the question:

who’s responsible for what chores?

18 | happiful.com

put into practise

Sometimes, it can be assumed

that one parent will do certain

tasks; this can lead to resentment

and arguments. To ensure

everyone is taking an equal

share, it can help to sit down

together and write a list of

household duties. Communicate,

and have a discussion about tasks

– changing it up now and then to

keep things balanced.

For single parents, it can

feel like everything’s on your

plate. Depending on the age

of your children, it might be

worth having a discussion with

them about how they can help

out. Using an activity calendar

with them can help spread out

some responsibilities. And with

younger children, it could be

worth asking if family or friends

can help out once a week, to

give you a bit of a break where


2. Ensure you have time for

yourself, and your relationship

Life is fast-paced and can be

stressful, so it’s important to

ensure that you are looking after

yourself. Always remember, it’s

not selfish to take some time to

recharge your batteries.

We want to enjoy our family

life, and the time we spend

together. When you put the

children to bed and finish the

chores, run a bath or read a

book. Find time to unwind.

Mindfulness can be helpful with

this, and it doesn’t have to take

long – try just 15 minutes of

mindful practice or meditation,

and see how quickly it can

change your day.

If you’re in a relationship, it’s

important to make time for each

other as a couple. It’s not always

possible to find a babysitter,

but if you can, try to organise

regular date nights where you can

reconnect. You don’t even need

to leave the house, just sit down

together on the sofa and watch a

film, put your phones away, and

talk to each other.

Always remember,

it’s not selfish to take

some time to recharge

your batteries

3. Keep up with your hobbies

When you have a baby, the

dynamics in your relationships

– both with yourself and others –

tend to change. Some people can

also lose their sense of identity,

and fall into the role of being

‘mum’ or ‘dad’. It’s important to

spend time doing something you

enjoy, on your own – continuing

a hobby, or taking up a new one.

Pursuing a hobby can help to

stimulate your mind, and boost

confidence, as we feel a sense of


4. Spend time together

as a family

It can be fun to pick a theme night

once a week, such as Italian food

on Wednesdays.

You could also have a movie night,

and take it in turns to choose a film.

Some people use the alphabet game

to choose family days out. Simply

work through the alphabet, taking

it in turns to pick an activity in line

with each letter. This means that

each family member gets to choose

something fun, and you make new

memories together.

5. Know that everyone

has arguments

It is important to realise that all

families argue, but the trick is

to be able to discuss things, and

work through them together

before they build up. Remember

that it is about the give and take

in a relationship, and there may

be some things you need to

compromise on.

If a conversation with a partner

is becoming heated, agree to have

a 10-minute break to calm down

before you discuss the issue.

Communication, and working as

a team, are really important in any

relationship, and help to build an

all-round better family life.

Yvette is a psychotherapist who

works with children, adults, and

couples. You can find her on


happiful.com | 19

What lies behind us and what

lies before us are tiny matters

compared to what lies within us


Illustration | Becky Johnston, @heybooxy

feeling festive

Small brands

doing good

Shop small this year, from

the pick of our favourite

independent sellers who, in

their own way, are having a

positive impact on the world

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Christmas is going to be a

little different this year.

But something that will

never change is the power of

generosity. Nothing beats the

feeling of watching someone’s

face light up with delight as they

unwrap a thoughtful present

selected just for them, and when

you shop from independent

sellers, not only are you able to

uncover truly unique gifts, but

you’re also supporting a dream.

For your loved ones, to pop on

your own list, or simply a gift

from you to you (we won’t tell),

without further ado, let us present

to you the Happiful Christmas gift

guide, 2020... >>>

happiful.com | 21

Pure Thoughts, meditation candle

The perfect antidote for a long, tiring day, the

mediation candles from Pure Thoughts are

slow-burning, cruelty-free, soy wax candles,

that use pure essential oils to help ease your

mind with their gentle amber glass glow.

Choose from love, gratitude, peace, and trust

scents, or go all-in with the complete gift set.

Prices start at £16.00, purethoughts.co.uk

Rosi Tooth, artwork print

Lover of all things playful and pink, Rosi Tooth

is a Bristol-based artist and designer. With a

refined talent for capturing the quirky moments

in everyday life, her prints are bound to brighten

up any wall and make for excellent conversation

starters, as well as serving as a reminder

to embrace the small moments of joy and

empowerment that usually pass us by.

Prices start at £10.00, rosi-illustration.com

About: Blanks,


This is a notebook, with a

difference. Made by reusing

old book covers, About:

Blanks gives new life to

materials that would

otherwise be thrown away.

Filled with responsibly

sourced, unlined, light

cream paper, these

notebooks are the perfect

gift for the jotter in

your life. Prices start at

€11.95, about-blanks.com

ChilliChopCo, chilli sauce

Some like it hot, and for spice lovers, you can’t go wrong with

chilli sauce from ChilliChopCo. Based in Essex, these Africaninspired

sauces are designed to help take cooking from novice

to expert level, all with the scoop of a spoon. Pick from Three

Chilli Sauce, Jollof Sauce, and Sweet & Spicy Chutney.

£5.99, chillichopco.com




Make it a cosy

Christmas with a throw

from Yorkshire Blankets.

Handmade in the north of

England, using eco-friendly

materials, choose from an

extensive range of neutral,

patterned, and colourful

blankets – sure to warm

any and all cockles this

winter. Prices start at £18.00,


Images: ChilliChopCo | Instagram @chillichopco

22 | happiful.com

The Clay Drop,


If you’re on the hunt for

unique, handmade jewellery,

look no further than The Clay

Drop. Crafted from polymer

clay, these earrings come in

eye-catching patterns, droolworthy

colours, and quirky

shapes – guaranteed to make a

statement. And watch out for

special charity ranges, so you

can look good and do good at

the same time. Prices start at

£8, theclaydrop.co.uk

La Basketry, DIY kits

Crafting is a wonderful way to unwind and let your mind run free,

and with the DIY kits from La Basketry, you can do just that – plus,

by the time you’re done, you’ll have a usable basket to show for it.

Choose from twine sets in a range of sizes and customisable colour

schemes, or opt for a minimalist-looking rope basket, all designed

for beginners. Prices start at £25.00, labasketry.com

House of Kato, house plants

To add a dash of greenery to urban homes,

House of Kato is a sustainable, eco-friendly,

online plant shop that delivers the joys

of nature straight to your door. Browse

their extensive collection of unique and

conspicuous plants, perfect for brightening

up any space.

Prices start at £8.00, houseofkato.com

Tilda’s Tribe, Naked Box

If you have dry or sensitive skin, goat’s milk skincare

is a total treat – and, for anyone else, it also offers a

host of vitamins, minerals, and healthy acids. Tilda’s

Tribe goat’s milk soaps come straight from the source

– three Yorkshire goats: Gurti, Wooly, and Joanna.

The Naked Box gift-set allows you to pick four

bars of soaps in different scents, with the

option of adding beeswax wraps and a soap

dish, to help extend the life of these plasticfree


Prices start at £13.00, tildastribe.co.uk

Glass Half Full

Glasgow, lavender

eye pillow

Handmade in Glasgow, for

those looking to elevate

their self-care routine, these

lavender eye pillows take

relaxation to the next level.

Available in a huge range

of removable and washable

patterned fabrics, find the

perfect match for any lucky

receiver. £10.00, etsy.com/uk/


happiful.com | 23

Sweet Backflip, book stamps

For book-lovers who like to make a

mark, the personalised book stamps from

Sweet Backflip are a great way to add a

unique touch to any personal library. Choose

from a range of different designs, from traditional

to contemporary, and be assured of the quality by

requesting a free proof with your order.

Prices start at £18.00, sweetbackflip.com

Dark Sugars, hot chocolate

From a journey that began on a stall in

Borough Market, Dark Sugars now sell

luxurious Ghananian hot chocolate from

their Brick Lane shop and online. There’s

a hot chocolate kit for everyone, including

vegans, with flavours including warming

cinnamon and intense pitch-black.

Prices start at £19.95, darksugars.co.uk

Bespoke Binny,

aprons and

oven mitts

Inject a dash of colour into

your home with the kitchen

range from Bespoke Binny, all

made with beautiful Africaninspired

patterns, with the

aprons lined with thick cotton

twill and the mitts suitably

filled with heat resistant

wadding. And to round it off,

the aprons are also available in

a child’s size, for the budding

chef in your life.

Prices start at £16.99,


Kate Brigden Ceramics, ‘friendship’ mug

Celebrate the power of friendship, by gifting the ‘friendship’ mug

from Kate Brigden Ceramics. Hand-painted in the UK, these simple

pieces pack a whole load of charm and, what’s even better, 10%

from the sale of every ‘friendship’ mug is donated to The Prince’s

Trust ‘Women Supporting Women’, an initiative

helping young women gain the skills needed to

live, learn, and earn.

£26.00, notonthehighstreet.com/


MUD Urban

Flowers, dried


Dried flowers are the gift

that keeps on giving, as

you can create the illusion

of fresh blooms, with real

flowers that can last for up

to three years. MUD Urban

Flowers create bouquets in a

range of colours and styles,

from traditional white

daisies to irresistible

coloured bunny

tails (a must-see!).

Prices start at £20.00,


Images: Dark Sugars | darksugars.co.uk, MUD Urban Flowers| mudurbanflowers.com

24 | happiful.com

Visual recall

If there are certain words you

always struggle to spell, try this

neuro-linguistic programming

(NLP) technique that can help

improve your memory


Write down the word that

always eludes you on a piece

of paper or flashcard.


Move the paper so

it’s in the top left of

your field of vision.


While the paper is in

this position, spell

the word out loud.


Try spelling the word later on,

looking up and to the left when

you do. This will prompt your

visual recall, and should make

it easier to remember the

correct spelling!

Bonus tip!

Try spelling the word

backwards and forwards when

you first read it in the top left

of your vision. This can help

improve your recall further!


What is

A dance between shadow and light that we

can all relate to – we explore the meaning

behind komorebi, and the lessons it can

teach us about mental health

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Every time I look up from my

desk, I see my favourite art

print – The Shyness of Trees by

Marcel George. Imagining

you’re looking straight up towards

the sky, the illustration depicts a

canopy of trees with channel-like

gaps between the crowns, caused

by a phenomenon known as ‘crown

shyness’. Whenever I look at it, I feel

small in a wonderful way.

In real life, the space between

the canopy and branches

allows sunlight to gently

filter through. In Japan,

the dappled light this

creates is called komorebi

(pronounced koh-moreh-bee)

and is made up of the

kanji characters for tree ( 木 ), shine

through ( 漏 れ), and sun ( 日 ).

The contrast between sunlight

and shadow, and the way the two

dance, is a sight artists of all types

try to capture – just look at Claude

Monet’s Garden Path and The Olive

Tree Wood in the Moreno Garden. The

beauty of komorebi isn’t just skindeep,

however. The interplay of

light and dark can teach us a thing

or two about life and wellness.

For example, there can be times in

our lives when we feel shrouded in

shadow. Perhaps our mental health

is suffering, we’re experiencing

grief, rejection, or disappointment.

Komorebi meditation

To help you feel more present

and appreciate komorebi, try

this short meditation:

• Find a comfortable seat and

surround yourself with a

scent you love.

• Close your eyes and take

three deep breaths, in

through the nose and out

through the mouth.

• Visualise yourself on a path in

a forest. There’s a soft breeze

and dappled light appears all

around you.

• Take your breath a little

deeper, and focus on the

movement of the light and


• If any other thoughts come

up, let the gentle breeze take

them away and refocus your

attention on the light.

• When you’re ready to return to

your day, take another deep

breath and bring movement to

your limbs as you

reconnect with your


• Gently open your eyes and

remember you can come back

to this forest any time you want.

When we feel like this,

existential psychotherapist

Ondine Smulders encourages

us to remember that everything

passes, including the darkness.

“Rather than consider this

process pessimistically, we can

see it for what it is: a process

of continual change whereby

experiences of pain and sorrow

are as definite to pass as life’s

special moments.”

As well as recognising this

impermanence in life, Ondine

suggests that we find acceptance

for the fact that the journey to

mental wellness is rarely linear.

Ondine likens it to a path, slowly

winding up a mountain.

“For some of us, the healing

will be a relatively gentle walk.

For others, it will be a steep hike.

We’re all different and so, every

journey is different.

“Be prepared for setbacks,

perhaps even for moments

where you believe you’ve gone

backwards. Sometimes we make

lots of headway, other times we

get stuck and need to make a

U-turn. It may be tempting to

give up when you feel worse and

your progress appears to have

ground to a halt. Before you do,

take stock, and see how far you’ve

come in spite of the problems.”

When we give ourselves the

space to do this, we allow

ourselves to cherish the positives.

Even if we discover something

isn’t helpful for us, Ondine notes

that it’s still a step forward.

The interplay of light

and dark can teach

us a thing or two

about life and

mental wellness

These darker moments in our

journey may be difficult, but

they’re also a sign that we’re

showing up in our own life.

But how can we see the light,

or komorebi, when there’s a lot

of darkness? Ondine suggests

staying active, managing stress,

and reaching out to friends,

family, and professionals.

“Make time to discover how to

care for yourself in your own way,

too,” Ondine says. “I try to look

up during my daily walk so I can

discover something new that I

haven’t spotted yet.

“You don’t need to be in the

perfect forest to see komorebi.

Just one tree and a bit of sun

through the clouds will do.”

Our paths may be different,

but now and then we can look

around, notice the komorebi

and appreciate the gentle dance

between light and dark.

Ondine is an existential psychotherapist

with an interest in depression. To

learn more about Ondine Smulders

and to find professional support, visit


happiful.com | 27

How to apologise,


Begrudgingly, desperately, softly, sincerely – however you

go about it, we all have to make up for the things we’ve

done every now and then. But how can we ensure that our

apologies have real meaning? With help from psychotherapist

Ruth Parchment, we explore what makes a real apology, and

the tips you can use to make amends, for good

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

The importance of

apologies is something

that’s drilled into us

from when we’re young

children. Think back – can you

remember parents and teachers

instructing you to apologise to

a friend or sibling following a

quarrel? The simple phrase,

“I’m sorry,” becomes part of our

vocabulary very early on, but how

many of us go on to learn how to

apologise with real depth?

A study commissioned by

PiCKUP! found that the average

adult in the UK apologises eight

times a day, adding up to 4,380

times a year. Now, not every

one of those apologies will

be over the big stuff – they’re

more likely to be for those

accidentally bumps when

you’re out and about, being a

couple of minutes late for a

meeting, or even just saying

sorry too many times – but the

sheer number of apologies

we get through does tell us

something about the slight

flippancy of the word ‘sorry’.

Think about it: have you

ever received an apology from

someone else that feels slightly

surface-level? Or have you

found yourself uttering those

words obediently at the end of

an argument, without really

considering the weight of what

you’re saying? The truth is,

there’s an art to apologising

that a lot of us aren’t taught. But

we’re about to change that.

“Unhelpful apologies can

happen both intentionally and

unintentionally,” explains Ruth

28 | happiful.com

put into practise

Finding the ‘sweet spot’

In 2005, Cynthia M Frantz, from Oberlin College,

Ohio, published a study titled ‘Better Late Than

Early’ where she looked at the importance of

timing when apologising. To illustrate this, Frantz

asked 83 students to imagine that a friend

had forgotten to meet them for a party, and

had gone alone. She asked them to visualise

the friend apologising at different points in the

conversation, following the mix-up. The students

responded most positively when the apology

was delivered after they had been able to vent,

express themselves, and feel heard. As Frantz

sees it, the ‘apology curve’ is U-shaped, and

apologies that come too late or too early after

the fall-out are likely to fail – there’s a sweet

spot in the middle. But where this falls depends

entirely on the individual circumstances.

Parchment, a psychotherapist

with a special interest in

forgiveness and authenticity.

“They may form patterns of

behaviour that are developed

over time – an instantaneous

reaction to feeling accused of

doing something wrong.”

Ruth points to the wise words

of Dr Karina Schumann, who has

studied apologies and suggests

that: “Apologies disrupt our selfimage

of being a ‘good person’

who is moral, decent, fair, and

caring.” When we apologise,

Ruptures are an

inevitable part of

connections; we

come from different

backgrounds, life

experiences, values,

and perspectives

But it’s worth working through

those uncomfortable feelings.

An authentic apology shows that

you acknowledge the hurt you’ve

caused, which helps build trust

and respect – two cornerstones

to a healthy relationship.

“Ruptures are an inevitable

part of connections; we come

from different backgrounds,

life experiences, values, and

perspectives,” adds Ruth.

“Genuine apologies can have

a positive impact on your selfesteem

and self-confidence.

we’re faced with feelings of

shame and vulnerability – things

we might want to mask with

shallow words. >>>

happiful.com | 29

There’s a sense of relief and

integrity that apologies provide.”

So what are the tips and

techniques that we can use to start

apologising from the heart? Ruth


Common mistakes to avoid

You will have heard these phrases

countless times, and may have

even fallen back on some yourself.

But what exactly is wrong

with them, and what are the

implications of our words?

Giving a grudging apology. For

example: “OK, just move on,

I’m sorry,” or “Fine, I’m sorry.

There I’ve said it!” A grudging

apology is made reluctantly

and with resentment. It’s not

about the person who has

been hurt, but rather about

alleviating discomfort at being

accused of wrongdoing. It

sends a message of not really

caring about the harm caused

to the person owed an apology.

Not expressing any genuine

regret. “I was just joking,” and

“I guess I should say sorry,”

are examples of non-apologies

that do not show genuine

regret. A sincere apology

demonstrates remorse for

our actions. In non-apologies

there’s an absence of keywords

and actions that signal

regret. Directly verbalising

wrongdoing acknowledges the

impact of hurtful actions.

Not accepting responsibility.

Words such as “I’m sorry but…”

or “It wouldn’t have happened

if...” deflect responsibility for

the hurt caused and are excuses.

Instead of remorse, there’s

blame – and a justification for our

actions is prioritised.

Giving an in-direct apology. “I’m

sorry that you feel that way,” is

another non-apology. There’s

an implicit message of the hurt

person being hypersensitive or

irrational. Instead of admitting to

any wrongdoing, it implies that

the person’s emotions are the

problem, rather than the actions.

30 | happiful.com

put into practise

How to apologise


To apologise in a constructive

way, Ruth suggests four tips

from When Sorry Isn’t Enough,

by Gary Chapman and

Jennifer Thomas.

Express regret. This means

showing that you are genuinely

sorry for your actions. The

words “I am sorry” are crucial,

alongside acknowledging what

you have done.

Accept responsibility. Instead

of making excuses, or trying to

justify your actions, show that

you are owning your mistake

or wrongdoing. Instead of “I’m

sorry I have upset you,” you

might say: “I’m sorry that I

shouted at you, it was my fault.”

Make restitutions. Restitutions

open communication with the

person hurt and show that you

care. By asking: “What can I

do to make it right?” there is a

chance to recompense for the

hurt caused, and what may

have been lost as a result.

Genuine repentance.

Genuinely repenting shows that

you will make endeavours to not

repeat your actions. Because

words alone can be hollow,

empty, and meaningless, it

helps to exemplify the ways in

which you plan to change and

not repeat your wrongdoing.

An apology becomes more

sincere when you can provide

assurance that you do not

intend to repeat your mistake.

Genuine apologies

can have a positive

impact on your

self-esteem and


Request forgiveness. What’s

key is an awareness that it is a

choice that lies with the person

who has been hurt. Rather than

demanding forgiveness and

expecting it, it’s crucial to impart

an apology with humility and


Building bridges, making

amends, putting it behind

us – isn’t it funny how all the

phrases we use around apologies

involve an action? When we ask

for forgiveness and admit our

wrongdoings with purpose and

insight, we’re actively making

a move towards a kinder,

more sympathetic, and honest

connection. We won’t say it’ll

always be easy, but when it

comes to nurturing relationships

it’s worth putting the effort into

the small things, because it’s

better safe than sorry.

Ruth Parchment is a psychotherapist

who specialises in CBT and helping

people connect with their value.

Find out more by heading to


happiful.com | 31

When you can’t change

the direction of the

wind – adjust your sails


Photography | Roberto Nickson

32 | happiful.com

put into practise

The complete guide to

pregnancy anxiety

Is pregnancy anxiety normal? Will worrying affect my baby? We share

everything you need to know about experiencing pregnancy anxiety, and

explain how you can feel calmer and more in control

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

Beneath the ‘pregnancy

glow’, the ‘exciting

times’, and the months of

planning and preparation,

there can be a whole host of

emotions you may not have

been expecting while pregnant

– including anxiety, stress,

worry, and fear. Whether you’re

a first-time mum who doesn’t

quite know what to expect, or

are already a parent who has

faced a tough past pregnancy or

birth, feeling apprehensive is

completely natural.

According to a study by King’s

College London released in

2018, one in four pregnant

women will experience a mental

health problem while they are

expecting. Of the 545 women

who were interviewed, 15% were

seen to be experiencing anxiety,

with a further 11% experiencing


When does anxiety

become a problem?

No matter what your journey

to becoming pregnant may

have involved, pregnancy

itself is a huge, life-changing

event – it’s only natural to feel

anxious, unsure, or scared at

times. Hormonal changes can

play havoc with your emotions,

which can lead you to feel even

more worried. And hearing

‘horror stories’ from friends

and family, can also exacerbate


While there’s no such thing as

a ‘normal’ level of anxiety (we all

experience worries to different

degrees), it’s natural to feel some >>>

happiful.com | 33

Having people you can rely on is

more important than ever, as you

start this new phase of your life

level of anxiety. But if you start to

feel anxious all of the time, your

worrying thoughts outweigh your

everyday thoughts, or you find your

anxiety is interfering with your dayto-day

life, you may benefit from

seeking support.

If you’re experiencing antenatal

or prenatal anxiety (anxiety while

you are pregnant), postnatal anxiety

(during the first year after your child

is born), or perinatal anxiety (anytime

from becoming pregnant to a year

after giving birth), it’s important

to speak with your GP, midwife,

or consultant about how you’re

feeling. They can help to assess your

symptoms and find out what will

work best for you, so that the feelings

are no longer overwhelming.

What support is available?

Depending on your individual

circumstances and what’s available

in your local area, there are many

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

• Fast breathing

• Sweating, dizziness, or nausea

• A rapid or irregular heartbeat

• Trouble sleeping or


• Feeling irritable, restless, or


• Panic attacks

• Difficulty controlling or stopping

anxious thoughts

• Feeling on edge or anxious a

lot, or most of the time

treatment options you could be

offered. According to the National

Institute for Health and Care

Excellence (NICE), you should be

offered talking therapies before

prescription medication.

Counselling for anxiety is one

of the most common forms

of treatment. By talking with

a therapist, you can uncover

specific triggers for your anxiety,

as well as coping techniques to

manage these feelings. Cognitive

behavioural therapy (CBT) is a

commonly recommended form

of talking therapy that can help

you recognise how your thoughts

affect your feelings and behaviour.

How can I manage

pregnancy anxiety?

There are a multitude of ways

you can try to manage feelings of

worry and anxiety, so it’s worth

exploring your options to discover

what works best for you – there’s

no right or wrong way to find help.

Develop your

support network

Having people you can rely on is

more important than ever, as you

start this new phase of your life.

If you have a partner, they can

be a key source of emotional

support – but it’s important to

make sure that they aren’t your

sole source of help. Having an

outside party you can turn to,

who isn’t experiencing the same

ups and downs, can help by

offering a different perspective.

• Friends and family can offer

a great deal of support. Being

open about how you’re feeling

can allow them to recognise

signs that you’re struggling,

and encourage them to reach

out without prompting.

• Attending antenatal classes

can not only help you to

feel more prepared and

confident about your baby’s

34 | happiful.com

put into practise

birth, but also provides a great

opportunity to meet other soonto-be


• There are numerous online

forums and groups you can

join for free. Facebook offers

local and general groups for

expecting and new parents,

while forums like Mumsnet

offer advice and support on

everything from conception to

dealing with teens (and all the

bits in between).

• Apps such as Peanut help likeminded

women chat, meet, and

learn from each other about

fertility and motherhood, while

Mush – the self-proclaimed

‘friendliest app for mums’ – can

help you to make local friends

with children the same age,

arrange meetups, and get advice.

Keep a diary

Regularly writing in a digital or

physical diary can help track

your feelings, record when

you’re feeling anxious, and begin

noticing patterns or triggers you

may have. Try to write down

when, what, and how you’re

feeling – this can help you to pick

up on not only what is causing

you the most anxiety, but also

to work out what helps you feel

calm and in control.

Open up with your employers

and colleagues

Not everyone may feel

comfortable with this, but having

a supportive work environment

can be key to enabling you to

feel calm and avoid overwhelm

at work. You’re already anxious

about so many things – with

an understanding boss and

colleagues, work doesn’t have to

be one of them.

You may not need to tell your

employer you are pregnant until

15 weeks before your due

date, but telling

them sooner may

reduce some of the

anxiety around taking

time off for antenatal

appointments, as well as

helping you to avoid any

worries around pregnancy

symptoms while at work,

such as morning sickness,

mood swings, or feelings of


Explore hypnobirthing for

labour fears, stress, pain,

and birth anxiety

The more tense, anxious, or

stressed you feel during labour,

the more likely you are to feel

pain as your body releases stress

hormones – such as adrenaline.

This can mean that blood is

pushed towards the bigger

muscle groups in your limbs as

your body prepares for ‘fight or

flight’, reducing blood and oxygen

to your womb, which can make

these muscles less efficient. As

you feel more stressed, your body

is also less likely to produce ‘love

hormones’, which can naturally

help ease the pain of labour.

Try to write down when, what, and

how you’re feeling – this can help

you to pick up on not only what is

causing you the most anxiety, but

also to work out what helps you

feel calm and in control.

Feeling calm, relaxed and in

control really is an important

part of preparing for giving birth!

Typically recommended to

begin around 25–30 weeks into

pregnancy, you can still benefit

from hypnobirthing classes

(in-person or online, as a group,

with your partner or solo) at any

point during your pregnancy. >>>

happiful.com | 35

For more support and information on

pregnancy anxiety and how to overcome it,

you can find a wealth of resources, articles,

and professionals on our Happiful app.

Just learning some of the basic

techniques and premises can be

an immense help for anyone who

feels particularly anxious about

giving birth, or labour pain.

Hypnobirthing can help by:

– Teaching you self-hypnosis

techniques, visualisation, and

breathing exercises.

– Helping you to reframe giving

birth in a more positive light,

instead of focusing on what

could go wrong or anticipating

pain, by encouraging positive


– Supporting you to gain a sense

of control, reduce anxiety, and

ease stress.

– Informing you about ideal

positions to help shorten the

length of labour.

– Providing materials to

help you practise the

techniques at home.

Take a look at your diet

What you eat not only has

a big impact on how your

baby is growing, but can

also affect your mental

health. The more wellrounded

and nutrientrich

your diet is, the more it can

improve your mood, increase your

energy levels, and even help you

think more clearly and with clarity.

“It’s not a widely known fact, but

certain foods can exacerbate anxiety

symptoms,” health nutritionist

Charlotte Turner explains. “I think

most people would understand

that caffeine may be a trigger

mechanism, as it heightens your

senses and heart rate.

“But the good news is that the

foods we eat can actually help

us feel calmer and happier, too.

Choosing foods that release

tryptophan, such as bananas,

turkey, and cashew nuts, can boost

the happy hormone serotonin.

Also, when we are stressed or

anxious, our bodies can become

depleted of certain vitamins and

other micronutrients that may need

to be rebalanced.

“If you want to learn a few tips and

tricks to give your body a real boost

to fight back against your anxiety,

then speaking to a nutritionist

who can help you understand

and advise you on foods to

consume based on your lifestyle

may give you the biggest chance

of success.”

If you’re worried about your

levels of anxiety, or are struggling

with any aspect of pregnancy

(regardless of your due date, or

whether you’ve recently given

birth), looking after your mental

health is vital. The Mental

Health Foundation estimates

around 50% of perinatal mental

health problems go untreated

or undetected, which can have

a devastating impact on you and

your family during a time when

you most need help. By reaching

out and getting help and support,

you can begin to turn feelings

of stress and anxiety back into

excitement and joy.

36 | happiful.com

Holiday to-do list

Essential ideas to celebrate the festive season

Watch your favourite classic

Christmas movie

Play a board game

Bake some winter-themed


Enjoy a hot chocolate, filled

to the brim with whipped

cream and marshmallows

Go for a walk on a frosty


Write some heartfelt

Christmas cards to loved

ones you’ve missed this year

Get crafty and make your

own tree decorations

Donate to a clothing bank

Complete a puzzle

Wear an ‘ugly’

Christmas jumper

Have a virtual Christmas

party and belt out some

festive karaoke tunes

Embrace novelty socks

Listen to your body and

what it needs

Cut out some paper


Build a gingerbread house

Read a story from your


Snuggle up on the sofa with

someone you love

Spend some quality

time with you

Ask the experts

Hypnotherapist Howard Cooper answers your

questions on developing a positive mindset

Read more about Howard on


QI know

Christmas won’t

be the same

this year, and it’s really

getting me down.

How can I let go of my

expectations and enjoy

the holiday season?


Back in December 2019,

how did you feel about

2020? Positive, right? Looking

forward to a fresh New Year.

What did that positive feeling

tell you? Did it reveal anything

about how 2020 was actually

going to pan out? No! Perhaps

those feelings that ‘Christmas

will be a let down’ aren’t also

entirely accurate.

Imagining your ideal festive

period, focusing on the past

and what you loved most about

it before, and then ruminating

over all the reasons it can’t

be like that this year, is a

sure-fire way to set yourself

up for disappointment.

Essentially, what you’re doing

is getting caught up in a

mental narrative of what isn’t


Instead, try to experience

what is going on right now. Live

in the moment. What if the best

present to give yourself this

Christmas is the gift of ‘being



I’m finding it hard

to focus on the

positives right

now. Do you have any

exercises or suggestions

that could help?

AStop, close your eyes, and

say to yourself, “I have to

relax right now.” Notice how that

feels. Now repeat this same

exercise, but this time say to

yourself, “I’d like to relax.” Notice

the difference. Which of these

experiences helped you to relax

more? The second one, right?

The “have to” and the “right

now”, probably felt like a demand

you were placing on yourself,

which usually creates much more

tension in the body (making it

much less likely for relaxation to

occur). So what if you stopped

demanding that you must focus

on positives right now?

Perhaps letting go of the need

to be positive at the moment is

the thing that’s getting in your

way. Instead, explore the idea

that even though “you’d like to

feel positive” you don’t always

have to be.

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

feel good


1. Let go of demands. Is there

a universal law that says all

people have to be positive?

No! However, putting a lot of

pressure on yourself to always be

positive, ironically creates more

tension. Instead, accept that

feelings and thoughts come and

go without trying to control them.

Practising this mindset will lead

to much more internal peace.

2. The past doesn’t equal

the future. Often thoughts of

past failures colour one’s

perceptions of how we think

our future will unfold. But don’t

fall for this illusion. Seeing

mental images that we label

‘the past’ as ‘fleeting constructs

in our mind’ helps liberate you

from this trick.

3. Be kind to yourself. You don’t

have to climb Mount Everest,

solve ‘world peace’, or be

productive all the time. Cut

yourself some slack, and give

yourself permission for regular

mental downtime.


I need support

with my

mindset, and

hear good things

about hypnotherapy.

Can you tell me more

about how it helps?

Have you ever had the

A experience where someone

scrapes their fingernails down a

blackboard so that it makes that

sound? In fact, even just reading

that sentence probably gave you

a real squirmy feeling inside!

But what was that squirmy

response in relation to? It can’t

have been from a scraping

sound as it wasn’t really

happening. Instead, all that

happened was that when you

read the sentence, at some level

you imagined the blackboard

and fingernails interacting, and

became so absorbed in this

thought that you responded to it

as though it were real.

That is hypnosis – imagination

made so vivid that you have a

real response to it. Now, what if

you could learn to harness that

power, so you could get so good

at imagining success, happiness

and positivity that your body

responds to those instead?

I can be changed by what

happens to me. But I

refuse to be reduced by it


Photography | Oluwatobi Fasipe

40 | happiful.com

true story

12 steps to recovery

From a destructive childhood, talking drugs, drinking, and gambling,

Jan tried countless treatments that all fell short. But with a new, warmer

approach, he finally allowed himself to be vulnerable and found

his way out of the negative spiral

Writing | Jan Willem Poot

From a very dark period of my life, I turned

things around. When I was 12, I smoked

weed, started gambling, and by the age

of 18 I was using cocaine and drinking a

bottle of vodka a day. But following my recovery,

I put all my life lessons into practice, and am

now running the biggest youth clinic in Europe.

The rise of Yes We Can Youth Clinics has

everything to do with how I broke down in my

younger years. I come from a destructive family,

where there was chaos, fights, and alcohol abuse.

I was only nine years old when I started smoking

cigarettes and skipping school. Between the

ages of 10 and 12, my mom had a partner who

terrorised my family, drinking profusely, was

aggressive, and cursed all day.

It was horrible, but I didn’t do anything with

all those violent experiences – and nobody gave

me a reason to talk about it. That’s why, since

the age of 12, I mainly lived on the streets. I was

surrounded by people who had experienced

similar issues, and I got stuck in a downward

spiral. We kept each other in this bad situation.

Smoking weed and gambling: that seemed to be

the solution for me to not think about anything,

and to not have to feel anything.

When I hit puberty, my parents started to

see that things weren’t going well. They tried

everything, and in 1991 they sent me to a reeducation

camp. At the end, my friends and I

were sent on a solo bivouac with money for food

and drinks. But of course, we ended up buying

cigarettes and alcohol instead.

This was also the time that school didn’t work

out. I was held back three times, and in the end

the school removed me. The next year, things

got so bad I needed mental healthcare, and

my search for change and answers began. This

search, which lasted nine years, consisted of

different treatments and hospitalisations, and I

saw and felt a lot of unsafe situations – including

drug abuse, fights, little-to-no connection with

therapists, and absolutely no love or warmth.

After my first admission to rehab, everything

went downhill. I was completely isolated for

two years, I used 24/7, my guilt doubled every

day, while my self-esteem decreased. I truly

hated myself and I pushed my boundaries. I was

lonely. Very lonely. I continuously thought about

taking my own life, and even my dad came by to

say farewell. After this, I couldn’t do anything. I

was emotionally and physically broken. >>>

happiful.com | 41

Left: Jan with his wife, Petra

In 2004, when I was 27, I accidentally received

a note with a phone number to a helpline. I

decided to call, and for the first time a friendly

voice on the other end said: “It’s so brave that you

are calling. Are you able to come by tomorrow

morning? I’ll make sure you have a nice cup of

tea.” Because of this warm person, and the way she

treated me, I decided to give rehabilitation one last

try. That’s how I arrived in a clinic in Scotland. I

was extremely anxious. I couldn’t look people in the

eyes. I lied about everything. I was an enormous

‘people pleaser’, scared that other people would

harm me.

In Scotland, after more than nine years of different

mental healthcare services, and 20 psychiatrists,

psychologists, and God knows how many other

people, without any result, they realised they had

to do something different. So instead they pushed

me to connect, and overloaded me with attention

and warmth. I spoke with experienced experts, who

showed me their vulnerability. This gave me trust

to be vulnerable, too. Very slowly, I was able to truly

face myself and show my emotions. I felt warmth,

love, and safety, for the first time.

With the 12 Steps and the Minnesota Model, which

was the core of the treatment in Scotland, I learned

to acknowledge my problems and addictions, ask

for help, face my own bad behavior, show my

intention to work on this behavior, make amends

with those people to whom I caused pain, and

share my experience with others in need.

You can get off-track

sometimes, but by never giving

up and finding the right help,

there is always a solution

I’d been in the clinic from 16 November 2004

until 5 May 2005, and it was an incredible

journey – life changing, I can say. One of the most

important changes was forgiving the partner of

my mom. As an addict, I was manipulating and

cheating on people. I came to understand that

through this bad behavior, I actually became a

copy of him. Everything I blamed him for, I was

doing myself. The same pain and grudge I felt,

I saw in the people in my environment as well.

That was extremely confronting.

42 | happiful.com

true story

Below: Jan with Dutch Secretary of

State for Health, Paulus Blokhuis

After the treatment, I did my utmost to put

everything I had learned into practice. I went

to meetings four times a week, I searched for

a sponsor, and I followed the 12 Steps over and

over again. But above all, I wanted to spread the

love I had received, and to be thankful every day.

I learned that if you want to keep what you have

received, you need to give it away every single

day. And that’s why I started Yes We Can Youth

Clinics in 2011.

Nowadays, Yes We Can Youth Clinics is a

is a treatment centre in the Netherlands for

youngsters between the ages of 13 and 25 years

old, with mental health issues, addictions, and

behavioral problems. More than 5,000 young

people and their families have been treated, and


Growing up, Jan had a difficult adolescence, with

a sometimes chaotic family background that was

often dangerous and violent. Feeling that there

was nowhere to turn, he ended up using addictive

behaviours to cope.

Though he tried many treatments, he found

it difficult to engage in his recovery until he

experienced the acceptance of a kind individual

more than 330 caring colleagues are working on

the recovery of these youngsters and their families

each day.

I think that every child growing up deserves

a chance to live the best life they can. Very bad

things have often happened to the youngsters

arriving at Yes We Can Youth Clinics, and

sometimes they did bad things to others as well.

They took the wrong direction, because they didn’t

see a way out anymore. It is our responsibility to

bring those young people, with a full life ahead,

back on the (right) track.

With all the treatments I experienced myself, I

got to know what people need to find a way out. We

have found that our approach at Yes We Can Youth

Clinics is working; more than 70% of the fellows

leaving the clinic are not in need of specialised

mental healthcare anymore. That is something we

are very proud of!

You can get off-track sometimes, but by never

giving up and finding the right help, there is always

a solution. We pay it forward; that is what I truly

believe in, and that’s my mission now. Yes We Can!

from a helpline. This call led to his success in a

programme where he found the understanding

and vulnerability he needed to heal. This is

a crucial revelation: part of our

recovery is about finding the right

treatment for us. Now, he helps

others with their own recovery.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) counsellor

happiful.com | 43

The giver’s

holiday survival guide

Does the thought of Christmas put you on edge, as you start to

mentally list everything you have to do and consider? It may

be the season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you should burn

yourself out. Follow these tips to find balance this year

Writing | Helen Snape

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

At this time of year,

there’s a lot of pressure

to make the holidays

a magical time for

everyone. We don’t want to let

anyone down, and yet wonder if

we’re going to get to the end of

the season needing another


It can feel like you

are being pulled in

every direction – by

family expectations, the financial

pressure of finding perfect gifts,

making sure everyone is having a

good time, and finding it hard to

say ‘no’ to requests – and that can

quickly become overwhelming.

Here are some simple steps to

harnessing a sense of peace over

the holiday period.

Master ‘the pause’

If you find that you automatically

say ‘yes’ to any request, next

time someone asks you, inject a

pause. Breathe. This is enough

for your conscious mind to

recognise you have a choice.

In many cases, you don’t need

to give an instant reply. You can

let the pause become a delay by

saying something like: “I’ll get

back to you on that” or “I need

some further information from

you about that.” This gives you

time to check in with yourself

about what you really think and

feel, and how you actually want

to respond.

The automatic ‘yes’ often

comes from trying to avoid

feeling guilty when we say ‘no’.

You can handle that feeling,

and know you must take care of

yourself first.

Forget expectations

Other people will have

expectations, but you don’t have

to adhere to them. Even more

so, you may have burdensome

expectations for yourself. You

may over-commit yourself, or

expect that you won’t get angry

44 | happiful.com


to turn that


attention that you

give to everyone else

towards yourself

with the same relative who

annoys you every year.

Expectations can set you up

for disappointment, so try to

re-frame them as preferences.

Instead of: “I expect to have a

phone call with my father on

Christmas Day” it becomes:

“I would prefer it if I had a

telephone call with my father on

Christmas Day.”

Ask for help

You may be used to helping

others, and yet feel you shouldn’t

have any needs, or that no one

wants to help. Most people do

want to help, but they may worry

that they’re interfering if they

offer, or figure that you will ask

if you need help. Remember

that other people can’t read your

mind, and if you need help,

please ask for it. There is a good

chance you will get the help you

need, and you won’t feel resentful

about having to do it all on your

own afterwards.

Put self-care at the

top of your list

Remember to turn that

wonderful attention you give to

everyone else towards yourself,

and to ask yourself every day:

‘What do I need?’ Then, make

sure you meet that need. It could

be rest, chatting with a friend,

going to bed on time, and so on.

This will help you to avoid

running on empty, and will

instead mean that when you do

give to others, it will be from a

place of fulfilment.

Take the good

and leave the rest

Enjoy your favourite

Christmas show that leaves

you feeling warm and fuzzy

inside. Even if the parsnips

are burnt, take pleasure in

the rest of the meal.

Maybe your family is

dysfunctional. You can still

feel touched by the conversation

you had with your mother about

her life growing up. You can still

enjoy witnessing your nephew

learning to walk.

You can look out at the sky, the

clouds, the stars. They are always

there for you. Sure, some things

won’t go to plan. But you can still

take the good from it all, and

leave the rest.

Helen Snape is a qualified coach,

mediator, and mentor. Get in touch with

her through lifecoach-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | 45

Partnership feature

Happiful loves...


Photography | Georgia De Lotz


Thoughtfully designed, ethically

made, and quite frankly

beautiful, whatʼs not to love

about Ponderlilyʼs range of

planners and journals?

The team at Happiful already

have the 2021-ready gift-set (and

who isnʼt ready to say goodbye

to 2020?!), ruby red travelersʼ

journal, and smile-inducing

marigold weekly planner on our

Christmas lists.

Whatʼs more, we really love

Ponderlilyʼs ethos. They believe

that we should all make space

for meaning in our lives, and

take a little time out of each day

to focus on our own thoughts

and needs.

We couldnʼt agree more.

46 | happiful.com

feeling festive

How to navigate

the holidays with

social anxiety

Whether it’s a face-to-face catch up (socially distanced, of course),

numerous phone calls, or another Zoom hangout, if the thought of social

gatherings over the festive period makes you uncomfortable, we’ve got six

essential tips to help you manage your social anxiety and sleigh all day

Writing | Katie Hoare

Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

For anyone struggling with

social anxiety, Christmas

is often a time when the

festive cheer is replaced

with a heightened sense of fear.

And although the opportunities

to socialise may look a little

different this winter, it doesn’t

mean that feelings of social

anxiety will ease. Sometimes,

fewer people can actually mean

more pressure.

Social anxiety is an overwhelming,

persistent fear of social situations,

specifically relating to the fear of

being watched or judged, saying

the wrong thing or embarrassing

yourself. This mental health

condition can affect all areas of

your life – even your ability to

do everyday tasks. And, it is very


As we enter the second full

lockdown in the UK, December

might look a little unpredictable.

But whether we’re able to meet

in small groups by Christmas, or

are socialising virtually, you can

still feel that pressure to push

the connect button on a video

chat, or attend a family meal. At

a time when there are multiple

friendship, work and family

groups to catch-up with, here’s

how you can navigate the festive

season with social anxiety. >>>

happiful.com | 47

1 Enlist a confidante

Share your thoughts and

worries with a trusted

member of your family or

friends, someone you feel

comfortable with. If an event

gets too much, you’ll have

support in place to spot the

signs of your heightened

anxiety or the trigger, and

comfort you if needed. In

sharing your worries, you can

also manage your family’s

expectations of you.

According to charity

MQ, anxiety has

trebled in the UK

since 2008

2 Learn to say ‘no’

Knowing your boundaries is

important at Christmas, as

increased social interaction

and forced cheer can add

pressure to portray the ‘perfect

festive attitude’. But if a certain

social event is bothering you,

or there are too many events

going on, politely decline.

It’s perfectly acceptable not

to attend something, but be

mindful that you don’t fall

into a cycle of not attending

anything, feel guilty for

missing out, and then remain

disconnected all the time.

Take small steps to push your

boundaries, but be aware of

your triggers.

3 Challenge your thoughts

On the flip side, learning to

identify and challenge reallife

examples of automatic

negative thoughts associated

with social environments,

can go a long way in

combatting social anxiety.

Take a recent situation

where you felt uncomfortable,

and break it down into

bite-size pieces. Identify the

specific negative thoughts you

had, and write them down.

Try to challenge a negative

thought and provide a

plausible alternative. For

example: “She was yawning

throughout our conversation.

That must mean I’m really

boring.” Instead, practise

replacing that thought

with the focus on the other

person: “She was yawning a

lot at the event, perhaps she

had a bad night’s sleep.”

4 Avoid the comparison trap

Christmas can be a

particularly difficult time if

you struggle with comparing

yourself to others. Party

dresses, presents, New Year

plans, and even festive food,

can add to a catalyst of low

self-confidence and anxiety.

It’s easier said than done,

but be gentle with yourself. If

you’re in the presence of other

people (be it virtual or other

means), you’ve already taken

a big step forward, and that’s

worth celebrating.

48 | happiful.com

feeling festive

Social anxiety

is believed to

affect one in

10 people

5 Switch to an external focus

When specific events or

situations arise that enhance

your anxiety, try to focus on

the people around you, and

really listen to what they’re

saying. This will help your

physical signs of anxiety to

settle, and encourage you to

tune out of negative thoughts.

If you’re constantly focusing

on your body betraying your

nervousness, the obsessive

concentration will further

fuel your anxiety. You can’t

pay attention to two things

at once, so try to switch to an

external focus.

6 Plan ‘you-time’

As with any part of life, ‘youtime’

is particularly important

to rebalance, de-stress, and

spend some time doing the

things you enjoy as just you, as

opposed to ‘we’. Our everyday

routine is often disrupted at

Christmas, so ensure you have

some uninterrupted time, and

a space where you can retreat,

to ensure you reconnect with

yourself and your needs.

happiful.com | 49

Where there is no struggle,

there is no strength


Photography | Rustem Baltiyev

50 | happiful.com

Happiful reads...

From saving money to changing the world, we share four

upcoming books you won’t want to miss

Writing | Bonnie Evie Gifford

With the holiday season

rapidly approaching,

we could all do with

a few hints and tips to help us

save money without feeling

like we’re missing out. Bargainhunter,

mum, and founder of the

Extreme Couponing and Bargains

UK Facebook group, Holly Smith,

has cut thousands of pounds

from her shopping and bills

each year. Known for sharing

her advice, hints, and tips across

TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram,

Holly has been helping people

save and make money using

simple but life-changing ideas.

For the first time in print,

Holly shares both her and

her community’s top moneysaving

hacks to help with costly

moments in our lives – from

little everyday expenses during

supermarket shops, right through

to big special occasions such

as Christmas, New Year, and

Holly Smith’s

Money Saving Book

by Holly Smith

Out now

wedding planning. Learn fun and

simple ways to start saving, find

bargains, and make your money go

further – regardless of your budget.

Must reads

The Hand

and Flowers


by Tom


Out now

The first


only pub in the world to be

awarded two Michelin stars,

Tom Kerridge’s The Hand

& Flowers is known for its

innovative, sophisticated, and

masterfully reinvented British

classics. Sharing 70 of the

best dishes to have appeared

on the menu, this cookbook

celebrates the best of British

like never before.



by Arounna


Out now

We all have

that favourite

piece in our

wardrobe that, no matter how

worn it might be, we just can’t

bear to part with. Discover how

to reinvigorate your existing

wardrobe through repairs, new

decorations, re-purposing and

reusing. Providing a step-bystep

guide with illustrations,

learn mending techniques that

can give old favourites a fresh,

modern look.

One Hundred

Steps: The

Story of

Captain Sir

Tom Moore by

Captain Tom


Out now

Filled with adventure, family,

and the power of never giving

up, this illustrated book shares

the inspirational story of

Captain Sir Tom Moore and

what can be achieved when we

work together. This new picture

book shares the story of the

veteran who walked 100 laps

of his garden and captured the

hearts of a nation.

happiful.com | 51

Kenny Ethan Jones:

L i v i n g m y t r u t h

He made history by becoming the first trans man to front a period campaign and,

since then, the only way is up for activist Kenny Ethan Jones as he tackles topics from

body politics to mental health, all with his signature dose of candid authenticity.

Here, we find out more about the journey that led him to where he is today

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Hi Kenny! When we spoke in May

2020, you said that mental health

mattered to you because it’s a

universal experience. That stuck

with me, what did you mean by

that? We’re all humans, right? And

we all differ in moods. So that’s my

classification of mental health. It’s

something that we all experience

in our own way, but we can all

relate to feeling extremely happy

or feeling low.

When I was younger, I didn’t

understand. I just thought, “Oh,

these things are happening,

emotions are happening,” there

wasn’t a word. I think about my

parents and the way they were

raised, there wasn’t any discussion

of mental health. But we’ve moved

to a place where this generation is

so much more aware.

When did you first start having

conversations about mental

health? I would say around

the same time that I started to

experience body dysmorphia. I

began to realise that how I felt

towards my body was affecting

the way that I carried myself on a

day-to-day basis. I was probably

around 11 years old.

I understood that there was

something else going on, but as a

kid – mental health, what’s that?

It’s only when you start to have

grown up conversations, where

you talk to people about what’s

actually going on inside, that you

start to understand that there’s

a lot more going on than you


When you began having those

conversations, how did people

react? People just didn’t get it.

You’re talking maybe 16 years

ago, people weren’t really aware

of what being transgender was.

Some people would be quite

positive and others would just

totally dismiss how I was feeling.

It boarded up my feelings, and I

only started to have those deeper

conversations with people that I

really trusted.

52 | happiful.com


I don’t want somebody else

to grow up like how I did, it

shouldn’t be that way

I had a smaller platform, it was

very much trans guys, probably

about five years younger than

me, reaching out, saying, “I’m

so grateful to have you there as

a role model.” But now my page

has become more established as

a resource for parents, teachers,

and doctors.

Do you think things are different

for young trans kids today? Yes.

100%. Some of the most common

DMs that I get on social media

are from parents of trans kids

– they’re so much more aware

now of how their children feel.

I’ll have conversations with a

mother, and she will tell me the

conversations that they’ve had

with their child about how they

feel around their gender, and

how that translates into their Did you have role models when

day-to-day life. It’s really wild you were growing up? Not who

that those conversations are were trans, no. I’d never seen

happening now.

anybody close enough to me

It speaks volumes that it’s

to be, like, that feels like me.

parents reaching out as well, Even to this day, I would say that

and not just the individuals

there’s a lot more trans women


in the media than trans men.

I would say I probably get

I’ve tried to become my own role

messages from parents or

model if I’m honest. I was just

teachers more so than I do actual like, right, no one’s going to do it

trans people. I think that when for me! >>>

happiful.com | 53

For more from Kenny, follow him

on Instagram @kennyethanjones

As I got older, I held that really

close to my heart and thought I

don’t want somebody else to

grow up like I did, it shouldn’t

be that way.

Thinking back over those

formative years, is there a

standout moment where someone

did something supportive or

empowering for you? I can’t say

one particular moment, but I can

say one particular person, and

it has to be my mum. She was

my number one support, hands

down. The first time we had a

conversation about me being trans

was basically me coming home

one day and spewing out how

I felt. I basically said that I was

attracted to women. So my mum

turned around and was, like, “Oh,

so you’re a lesbian?” And I was,

like, “No, it’s a bit more than that.”

[Laughs] And we dived into it a

bit more, and literally after that

conversation she turned around

and said to me: “I think we should

go to the doctor. I want you to talk

to somebody else and get a second

opinion on this, and I want you to

be happy, and it doesn’t sound like

you’re happy. So let’s work on that.”

Our relationship was full of

moments like that, where I was

lost and wanted to feel whole, and

she was holding my hand. She did

that through my entire childhood,

up until the day she died.

Your activism is based so much

around your own experiences.

Do you feel the need to ever

put up certain boundaries

because of that? It’s funny

because when I first became an

activist, I was, like, “I’ll talk about

anything. I don’t care. Ask me

anything, it’s fine.” And I had to

build tough skin around people

asking questions in a way that

wasn’t sensitive. But by the time

I discuss something with the

internet, I’m usually at a place

where I can talk about it without

being emotional. But on certain

topics – for instance when I talk

about my mum, she passed away

three years ago – I give myself

the space afterwards to be upset.

However I’m going to feel after

talking about something, I allow

myself the space to really feel it.

What Kenny’s reading

Women Don’t Owe You

Pretty by Florence Given

Trans Power: Own Your

Gender by Juno Roche

Quit Like a Woman: The

Radical Choice to Not Drink

in a Culture Obsessed with

Alcohol by Holly Whitaker

If I were to take a quick scroll

through your Instagram, I could

find hundreds of messages from

people, saying how your work

has helped them. How does that

make you feel? It’s like a light

to my soul. Honestly. There’s

something so special about

knowing that you’ve helped,

even if it’s just informing people

who aren’t trans on how to better

help trans people. A lot of the

discrimination that happens to

trans people is just on the basis

that they’ve never met a trans

person. But now when they meet

a trans person, they’re going to

be equipped to understand their

journey. And it’s something I hold

on to daily through times when

it’s hard to be an activist. This is

why I keep going back, because

of this. This has changed.

Photographer | Muffadal Abbas, Stylist | Paolo Casseb, Grooming | David Lawrence

54 | happiful.com

How to say ‘no’

When you’re overwhelmed, and just cannot

deal with one more request – regardless of the size –

here are some polite ways to express yourself…

Thank you for the

opportunity, but

I’m afraid I can’t

help with that.

I’m actually busy

then, but I’d love

to next time. Let

me know then!

The timing isn’t

great right now –

can we raincheck?

I’m taking a step back for my

mental health at the moment,

so I’ll have to decline.

That doesn’t

work for me, but

perhaps we could

look at that next

week instead?

Thank you for

thinking of me.

I’m unable to take

on anything more

right now though...

I love the sound of that –

unfortunately I’m not available,

but let me know how it goes.



Find a


near you on the

Happiful app

Satisfy your sweet tooth with two healthy

options for a winter feast

Writing | Katie Hoare

The holiday season is often

abundant with chocolate,

treats, and plenty of sugary

snacks. Personally, I find

the sugar headaches kick in around

mid-December, and all thoughts of

a balanced meal go out the window.

But not this year – it’s possible to

enjoy those festive flavours without

sacrificing your nutrition.

For me, the holidays wouldn’t be

complete without spicy mulled

wine warming on the stove, and

homemade gingerbread cooling on

the side. So this spicy gingerbread

oat cookie recipe is perfect for

satisfying your sweet tooth, and

setting the mood for the festivities.

And some will say it isn’t

Christmas without a mince

pie, while others loathe the

traditional treats (who, I don’t

know!). So we’ve whipped up an

alternative recipe to cater for

all dietary needs, with a unique

blend of rich fruit and classic


Turn up the Bublé, and enjoy

filling your home with the sweet

scent of Christmas.


Makes 12


• 25g vegan butter or nut butter

• 150g vegan fruit-based

mincemeat (apple or pear)

• 100g figs, chopped

• 100g dates, chopped

• 2 tsp cornflour

• 6 sheets vegan/dairy-free

filo pastry


• 200ml coconut whipping cream,

chilled overnight in the fridge

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Take the coconut cream out of

the fridge and set aside for 10

minutes. Grease a 12-cup bun/

muffin tin with the butter.

2. In a bowl, combine the

mincemeat with the figs, dates,

and cornflower, stirring until

the cornflour has dissolved.

3. Melt a teaspoon of butter. Place

a sheet of pastry on the worktop

and brush with the melted

butter. Lay another sheet on top

and brush again. Repeat once

more. Cut the layered pastry

into 12 circles using a cutter and

lay each piece into a cup of the

tin. Press gently into place.

4. Next, spoon the mincemeat

mixture equally into the pastrylined


5. Brush the remaining pastry

sheets and gently tear each

sheet into roughly 6 pieces.

Crinkle the pieces of pastry on

top of each mince pie.

6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until

golden-brown and crisp.

7. If using, make the whipping

cream. Discard the coconut

water and place the hardened

cream in a mixing bowl. Whisk

for about 30 seconds until

smooth and creamy.

8. Remove the pies from the oven

and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Once cooled, place a dollop of

coconut cream on the top, and

serve with a warming cup of

mulled wine!

56 | happiful.com

feeling festive


Vegan mince pies

This recipe doesn’t contain any

processed sugars (only natural

sugars from the fruits) and has a

variety of different vitamins and

minerals. It’s a good source of

vitamin E, an antioxidant which

fights free radicals, and protects

our cells from oxidative stress.

Figs contain fibre, a nutrient

which is important to have in our

diets daily – aim for 25 to 30g per

day – as fibre brings satiation and

improves digestion.



Makes 20


• 100g whole wheat pastry flour,

plus extra for dusting

• 2 tsp baking soda

• 1 tsp ground ginger

• 1 tsp ground cinnamon

• ½ tsp ground cloves

• A pinch of salt

• 1 egg

• 100g nut butter (hazelnut/walnut)

• 100g porridge oats

• 50g walnuts, chopped


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and

line two baking trays with


2. In a bowl, combine the flour,

baking soda, spices and salt, and

set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk

together the egg and nut

butter. Once mixed, slowly

fold in the oats and chopped


4. Combine both bowls and mix

until a dough-like consistency.

Tip the dough out and knead

briefly before placing in the

fridge covered, for 15 minutes.

5. Lightly dust the worktop with

flour, and roll out the dough

to 1cm in thickness. Cut the

dough with a cookie cutter

and place on a baking tray,

leaving small gaps between the


6. Bake for 10–12 minutes or

until lightly golden.

7. Remove from the oven and

leave for 10 minutes, then

transfer to the cooling rack.

When cooled, decorate if you’d

like. Enjoy!

Spicy gingerbread oat cookies

These cookies are a nutrientdense,

dairy-free alternative if

you want a nutritious dessert –

and are suitable for those who are

lactose-intolerant. They contain

zinc, iron, B complex, vitamin E,

potassium, calcium, phosphorus,

magnesium, and selenium –

all necessary nutrients for the

body’s immunity and correct


It also contains the ‘good’ fats

– omega 3 and six fatty acids

– which help in the reduction

of LDL (bad cholesterol), and

the increase of HDL (good

cholesterol). Focus on foods

which are lower in saturated fats

and sugars and which contain a

good amount of fibre and protein.

Anna-Maria Volanaki is a sports

nutritionist, sports scientist, and

former athlete specialising in

encouraging people to follow

healthy diets, active lifestyles,

and positive psychology.

happiful.com | 57

How to build



Learning to tune-in to our own and others’

emotions can unlock a whole new level of

wellbeing. Here’s how to do it

Writing | Dawn Mitchell Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

Emotional intelligence

(EI) is the ability to

accurately notice your own

emotions, and manage

them effectively. It’s also our

ability to notice and respond

to the emotions of others. EI is

related to the neuroplasticity of

our brain, which means we can

develop it and, with continuous

practise, we can create changes

and make connections that

enable us to become more intune

with ourselves and others.

So how can we build our EI? Here

are five tips to get you started.

1. Stay curious

It’s all too easy to be judgemental

about our own thoughts and

feelings, as well as those of

others. Do you tell yourself:

‘I shouldn’t feel like this’?

Try to notice this and, rather

than being your own harshest

critic, be curious about what

you are feeling and why. With

others, sometimes we react to

behaviours rather than stopping

to think about the emotion

behind the behaviour. A simple

example would be, your partner

comes home from work and

slams the door – you may get mad

at the slam rather than thinking

about why the behaviour is

there. Perhaps they’ve had some

bad news during the day or felt

frustrated? If we stay curious, we

ask what’s happened to cause that

behaviour rather than judging it.

2. Name emotions

Once you get curious, you might

start to notice more emotions.

The debate remains around

how many emotions there are,

ranging from four, to 27, to

infinite! Being able to increase

the range of emotions we can

recognise expands our EI. So one

day you might think to yourself:

‘I feel rubbish today.’ ‘Rubbish’

isn’t an emotion, but when you

notice this and get curious, you

might realise that actually you

feel disappointed your friend

cancelled your lunch meetup,

and now you feel lonely as

you’ve not spoken to anyone this

afternoon. Naming emotions in

this way is EI.

3. Sit with emotions

Sometimes, when we don’t

consciously identify emotions,

we respond unconsciously – a

common reaction is to numb

it out. This can be done in

many ways – alcohol, drugs,

overworking, gaming. But if

you begin to recognise these

emotions, you can do something

to deal with the root cause. For

example, you recognise you

feel lonely, so you call a friend

or family member to get that

connection, which is the antidote

to loneliness – as opposed to

binge-watching a new box set.

A note on emotional numbing:

you can’t selectively numb,

if you numb the negative

emotions – grief, heartbreak,

disappointment – then you

automatically numb the positive

emotions – happiness, love,

belonging – which can lead to

a void of emotion. This is not a

good place to be for us, as we are

hard-wired for connection.

4. Create empathy

Once we have become more

aware of our own emotions, it’s

58 | happiful.com


Anxious: feeling

worried or uneasy

about something

Fearful: an

unpleasant feeling

caused by the threat

of danger, pain,

or harm

Naming emotions

Excited: a sense

of enthusiasm and


Amused: finding

something funny

Joyous: great

delight or


Sad: emotional pain

associated with

loss, despair, grief,

helplessness, or


Love: a strong sense

of attachment

Interested: paying

special attention

to something or



tired and


Envious: feeling

inferior or lacking in

quality, achievement, or

possession, compared to

someone else



pleasure when you

do or get something

that you want

or needed

Nostalgic: thinking

fondly of the past

If you begin to recognise

emotions, you can do

something to deal with

the root cause

more than likely you’ll start to

notice emotions in others also.

Being able to recognise and

name emotions in others can be

a game-changer when it comes

to building authentic, trusting,

relationships at home and work.

Seeing beyond behaviour and

into emotion can allow people

to feel seen and understood.

You can’t presume to know

how another person is feeling.

In fact, one of the best ways to

disconnect with someone is to

say: “I know exactly how you

feel.” We can never know this,

as every situation is experienced

differently, but we might notice

how we feel when someone tells

us something. “That makes me

feel sad, is that how you felt?”

shows that you are recognising

the presence of emotion.

5. Reflecting on emotion

When we get hooked by an

emotion, it can be difficult to

practise curiosity and naming

emotions. So to build EI it can be

helpful to reflect on your day,

and writing it down has a

stronger evidence base than just

thinking about it. Realise where

you got hooked on an emotion

and name it. With practice you

can become better at noticing

the emotion come up before it

overwhelms you.

happiful.com | 59

feel good

H e r o e s o f h o p e

Out of incredibly trying times this year have come moments of hope, kindness, and

inspiration. Here, we celebrate just some of the people who have stepped up to support

others, and ask them what lessons they’re taking with them as we look forward to the future

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Have a think back over

the past year. No doubt,

you’ll be able to conjure

up countless examples

of selflessness and heroism that

have inspired you. That said, a

survey from Totaljobs saw, in the

past six months, three in five key

workers disclose that they felt

undeserving of the title ‘hero’.

If that finding tells us anything,

it’s that perhaps it’s time we reevaluate

what we mean by ‘hero’.

Because in the world that we

live in, heroes don’t wear capes.

Heroes are the everyday people

who go out of their way to support

those around them – through

personal challenges, and at the

risk of their own wellbeing.

From the bus driver who united

the city, to the engineer who

used his daily exercise to deliver

face shields, and the mother and

daughter who made sandwiches

for local NHS crews, be touched

by these stories, and leave

knowing that with hope, kindness,

and community, we can achieve

more than we could ever dream.

Susannah Fenton: Lending an ear

Just one week into lockdown,

Susannah took over as the new

director of the Herts and Essex

branch of Samaritans, in Ware.

Overseeing 170 volunteers sharing

24/7 shifts on the phone, webchat,

and over email, Susannah had her

work cut out for her.

“We were quickly given the

green light to operate as ‘essential

workers’,” Susannah explains.

“We altered shift times, changed

how we ran our duty room,

adopted vigorous cleaning

protocols, suspended outreach

and fundraising events, and found

alternative ways to keep volunteers

in touch with one another.

“I learned what a

brilliant bunch of people

we have,


to come in

night and

day in the


for callers,”

she continues.

“Some who

couldn’t come

in helped from

home, volunteering

for the NHS. The

dedication shown by

everyone has made

me very proud of our

wonderful team.”


7 seconds

a Samaritan

answers a call

for help

S u s a n n a h

happiful.com | 61



a week delivered

to the local



E u n a

Euna Kang: Café owner feeding

the heart of the community

March was tough for Euna. Not

only did she have to close her café

in Effingham, Surrey – named

Layla’s after her nine-yearold

daughter – but as a

cancer patient, she

was categorised as a

vulnerable person.

However, none of

that stopped her

from deciding to

take action.

“Layla and I

decided to make

sandwiches, cakes,

and food to show our

gratitude to the NHS,”

says Euna. “We delivered them to

Leatherhead ambulance centre,

Redhill ambulance crew, St

Peter’s hospital, Epsom hospital,

and some local elderly people,

three times a week.”

In total, Euna counts nearly 350

meals delivered.

Throughout lockdown, Euna

had offered the closed café up

as a community store, to sell

essential goods for elderly and

vulnerable people. When that

came to an end, and Layla’s was

opened again, Euna had the full

support of the community.

“You do good things without

expecting anything, but it’s

karma,” she says. “This is

what we’ve learned from the

experience. We can’t change this

situation, but we can adapt and

share what we’ve got.”

Zita Newcome and Claire Ross-

Masson: The joy of song

Lockdown has been a very

confusing and difficult time for

young children, who may not truly

understand what is happening.

That’s where Zita and Claire

come in – the two person team

behind Teddies Music Club, an

independent singing group for

pre-school children and their


Zita and Claire had been

recording music videos for the

last couple of years and, when

lockdown began, not only did

they send these out to Teddies

families, but they also offered

them for free nationwide – so

that everyone could enjoy the

power of song.

“We’ve learnt

how isolating it is

to be in your own

bubble,” says

Zita. “It makes

you realise how

important it is to

take care of your

mental health,

and how

important it

is to reach

out to


Z i t a &

C l a i r e


62 | happiful.com

feel good

B e n


face shields

made for the


Ben May: For the front line

When Ben’s work as a

prototype engineer came

to a complete halt in

March, his first thought

was that he could’t stand

by and watch NHS workers

putting themselves at

risk. So he teamed up

with two colleagues,

Dean Carran and Si

Freedman, to create

safe, fully-approved

face shields, by setting

up their nonprofit




Their work

was non-stop, with Ben

and a group of friends using

their daily exercise to deliver

prototypes to surgeons working

on Covid-19 wards around


Ben received help from the

National Physics Laboratory in

Teddington, manufacturers across

the UK from Gateshead to Kent,

and 245 ordinary people who

donated to the crowdfunder. To

date, they have created more than

100,000 face shields for the NHS.

Ben says: “The point is, while

the idea was mine, the execution

was enabled by a massive

network of people. It’s a whole lot

easier to achieve the impossible

if you do it for reasons that

others can get behind, because

the power of community is

absolutely immense.”

Louise Pipes: There for families

A family support practitioner

at St Giles special school in

Derby, where her role involves

identifying when families may

need more support, Louise

is used to working alongside

parents and children in her

community. But while her school

closed in March, her work


Louise called parents two or

three times a week, and organised

supermarket shopping runs to

gather essentials for families who

were in need. But that’s not all,

with the help of her colleagues,

Louise also collected prescriptions

for those who were isolating, and

offered resources to help

children with routines.

Reflecting on her

lockdown experience,

Louise says: “I have

personally learned from

this experience that

the only things that are

important are our health,

wellbeing, and the love of

those around you.”

I have personally learned

from this experience that the

only things that are important

are our health, wellbeing, and

the love of those around you

L o u i s e

happiful.com | 63

Ali Harris: On the front line

“When I first heard about

Covid-19, I was so scared, I

thought I would run away,” Ali, an

ITU senior operating department

practitioner, says, as she reflects

on the year. “But as it got closer,

I put on my PPE and, standing

shoulder-to-shoulder with my

colleagues, I walked towards it.”

Ali says that, throughout this

time, an “overwhelming feeling

of care” took over her, and never

once dwindled. She worked

through difficult personal times,

on the ward on the anniversary of

her mother passing away – and,

on her day off, she ran 21km to

raise money for blood cancer

charity Bloodwise. All this hasn’t

gone unnoticed, and Ali is due

A n d r e w

Andrew Pattison:

First on the case

A paramedic and

senior operations

manager for South

East Coast Ambulance

Service, Andrew bears

a huge amount of

responsibility. At the

same time as attending

emergencies to treat

patients, he also liaises

with hospitals to assess

how they can work

together to offer the

best care possible.

At the start of the

pandemic, Andrew was

one of seven managers

to be recognised in the Story

Terrace Unsung Heroes book, a

well-deserved accolade.

“Has Covid-19 changed me?

Honestly, I am

not sure that it A l i

has,” says Ali.

“What it has

done is reaffirm

the love that

I have for my

family and

friends. I will

never forget

the love that

was shown to

the NHS by the

British public

– it helped

to carry me


called to headquarters to form

a ‘command hub’, to support

the crews out on the road. To

do this, Andrew did a 100-mile

round trip to HQ every day.

“Doing the job that we do in

the emergency services, we

are resilient,” Andrew says

as he reflects on what he has

learned during this time. “Work

is important. At the end of the

day, without work you can’t put

food on the table. But it’s also

important to have your family

time, and live life to the best, as

it is far too short.”

I will never forget the

love that was shown to

the NHS by the British

public, it helped to

carry me through

64 | happiful.com

feel good

Moe Manir: Planning

a safer route

As a bus driver and trade union

safety activist, Moe was never

going to be satisfied to sit

back and watch the struggles

of his colleagues. He set up

a Facebook group to bring

together London bus drivers,

so that they had a space to

share their experiences, offer

reassurance, and exchange tips.

These groups allowed Moe to

keep on top of the latest safety

challenges and requirements,

all of which he fed back to

employers, leading to steps

being taken to better protect

drivers and passengers.

Also recognised by Story

Terrace as an Unsung Hero, there

is no doubt that Moe’s

self-motivated initiative

led to many lives being


“I hope that I have

made my dad

proud,” says

Moe. “He worked

tirelessly to help

the community.

He became Mayor

of Tower Hamlets,

where I grew up. I am

the only son among

six sisters, and one of

my younger sisters,

Apsana Begum, is now

an MP. We learned

about the road my

father took, and we’ve

followed it.”

M o e

Z o e

Zoe Stothard:

Constructing a safer


Even before lockdown,

Zoe was going above and

beyond in her role as

senior site manager for

David Wilson Homes,

going on to win the Pride

in Job Quality award

four years in a row –

becoming an advocate for

women in construction.

As part of her role,

Zoe is in charge of all

safety, health, and


aspects of the

development, and was there

when her site was closed at the

start of lockdown. After a few

weeks, they were able to open

again, with measures in place

to make sure that everyone was

safe, including a ‘Covid Marshal’

who oversaw all guidance.

“I interact with many different

people, whether it’s tradesmen,

customers, or office staff, and it

has been amazing how everyone

has opened up and wants to talk

about this strange time,” says

Zoe. “I will always remember

that, no matter how busy we get,

there’s always time to ask how

people are doing.”

happiful.com | 65

Made with love

Five handmade gift ideas

for your loved ones

Writing | Becky Wright

You don’t have to splash

the cash and spend a

fortune on presents to

show loved ones just how

much they mean to you. Here are

some ideas to help you get creative

and make something meaningful

to put under the tree this year.

Map magnets

International travel might be off

the cards for a while, but you can

keep the dream alive with these

sweet magnets.

You could choose places you’ve

been with your loved one, or

places that are on their travel

bucket list.

You’ll need:

• Clear, round glass pebbles

• Magnets

• Mod Podge (or similar glue) and

a paintbrush

• Maps to cut up

• Hot glue gun

Simply choose the destination

of your dreams, cut it to size, and

glue it to the pebble. Let it dry,

then use a hot glue gun to attach a

magnet to the back.

Sugar hand scrub

After the ‘year of hand washing’,

your hands could probably do

with some extra TLC. So, why

not put together a little jar filled

with a sweet smelling hand

scrub? Simply mix the ingredients

together to your preferred

quantities, and your loved one will

be rubbing their mitts in glee.

You’ll need:

• Sugar (white or brown)

• Coconut oil

• Your chosen scent. We love

ground cinnamon and vanilla

extract, but you could use

peppermint essential oil, or

something else of your choosing.

• An airtight container

66 | happiful.com

feeling festive

Essential oil perfume

You can make a wonderfully

unique scent for your loved one –

no one will be wearing the same


You’ll need:

• 5 or 10ml roller bottle

• 2 or 3 essential oils, e.g. ylang

ylang, grapefruit, lavender, or

vanilla. You can find guides online

that tell you which scents go best


• An unscented carrier oil, e.g.

almond or coconut oil

• Dried flowers like edible rose

petals or lavender

Take the rollerball off of the bottle.

In the container, combine 10 or

fewer drops of your essential oils.

Remember, you can always add

more, so start slowly. Swirl the oils

in the glass together to combine the


When applying directly to your

skin, essential oils should always be

diluted, so add your carrier oil and

any dried/decorative flowers you

might want. Fill with the carrier oil

until you reach the top.

‘Reasons why I love you’ jar

Fill a large mason jar with hand

written and sentimental notes for

your loved one.

Use the following prompts to

inspire you:

• Reasons why I love you…

• Remember when…

• Quotes/lyrics…

• You/we have to do this…

You could fill it with 52 notes (one

for every week of the year) or, if

you’re feeling ambitious, you

could aim for daily memos with

365. Tell them to pull out a note

any time they’re feeling down – to

cheer them up and to make them

think of happy times with you.

Create (and bake) your own

food hamper

If your loved one’s a bit of a foodie,

the best kind of present might be

one that speaks to their stomach.

Putting together a personalised

food hamper means you can

choose a few of their favourite

sweet or savoury foods.

If they’ve got a favourite dish

– something they always order

when eating out – you could buy

a few of the key ingredients, and

make them their own step-by-step

recipe card. You’ll find lots of great

templates on canva.com that you

can edit, download, and print.

To make it even more personal,

you could give them something

you’ve cooked or baked. Some

Christmas cookies would be great

for someone with a sweet tooth

(check out our recipe on p56), or

a chutney (to go alongside some

cheese) is a great choice for a

savoury snacker.

happiful.com | 67


It is only in our darkest hours that

we may discover the true strength of

the brilliant light within ourselves

that can never, ever, be dimmed


68 | happiful.com

Photography | Andreea Pop

true story

I never let my hearing

loss hold me back

From being thrown into the spotlight against her own wishes, and feeling

like she didn’t fit in, Karin realised she could create a world without

limitations. Here, she shares her personal journey of embracing

hearing loss, and finding her purpose

Writing | Karin Weiser

Can “

you hear what I’m saying?”

“Yes!” I beam with pride. Finally, after

a cochlear implant in 2017, this is my

default response. But it hasn’t always

been this way.

My hearing loss was discovered at the age of

15. The initial diagnosis, in the mid 80s with no

explanation, concluded: “There’s nothing we can

do. Go away and get on with it.”

This phrase defined my life. And I went away

and got on with it. But I worked extra hard

to prove to the world I could, and would, do

whatever I chose to.

I went on to travel the world, teach English as a

foreign language abroad, learn three European

languages, and enjoy an international corporate

career in communications, and learning and

development. Communication is at the centre

of everything I do. And as an extrovert, I seek

company rather than avoid it.

Being different is painful – this is something

I’ve learnt over the years. Being different due

to hearing loss means you never fully fit in –

whether it’s because you don’t laugh at a joke,

can’t follow a conversation, or simply miss out on

information. Every day.

I grew up disliking attention. I would rather

be in the audience than on the stage. When

you are thrown into the limelight because

of a disability, it feels uncomfortable. It’s the

wrong kind of attention. It’s something you

cannot control or even change. It’s a neverending

embarrassment on the journey to selfacceptance.

As my audiologist reminded me, you are the

first person to notice when your sight declines.

However, others notice before you do when you

suffer from hearing loss. There’s no hiding.

Living with hearing loss and speaking a

foreign language on a daily basis is double

trouble. The fine line between understanding

and hearing merge into a grey zone. Is it a

linguistic issue, or hearing loss challenge?

An invisible disability means you have to

work twice as hard to tell the world what you

need, even when you don’t know what that is.

And sometimes your baggage just weighs you

down. Over the years, people have told me

they thought I was stuck up because I “used to

ignore” them, or asked why I looked at them

so intensely – it’s called lipreading – or seemed

confused when I didn’t respond to a question. >>>

happiful.com | 69

Karin lives with hearing loss, and works as an

international business coach and copywriter. She

offers coaching to support other hearing-impaired

individuals who need to build self-coping strategies.

Learn more at karinweiser.com

Being open and honest has sometimes meant

all eyes are on my ears – literally! At least until

I move my hair to show my hearing device as

the visible proof. On occasion, I’ve been spoken

to slow and patronisingly, like a two-year-old. And

I’ve had to defend my well-functioning, normal

life to the medical profession who have let me

know, once again: “You really don’t hear so well.”

Discrimination against those with hearing loss

certainly exists. My first permanent contract at

a family-owned business in the late 90s turned

into a confidence nightmare. I struggled with

the phones, and was eventually ‘demoted’ to

shredding paper. Neither my employer nor I knew

how to handle my hearing loss.

Suddenly my disability became the elephant in

the room in all areas of my life. The psychological

damage had been done, and I spent the next

decade repairing it. Although I ended up at a large

organisation with a HR department, with diversity

and inclusion practices, I never felt protected or

understood. Hearing loss feels like a solo journey.

Help and support doesn’t knock on your door, you

have to find it. And this journey is exhausting,

especially when you’re young, climbing the

corporate ladder, and just want to enjoy life. And

not be slowed down by that elephant in the room.

Living a life with hearing loss is a cocktail of

situations that leave you feeling embarrassed

more often than not. I’ve had to sit at the front

of the room my whole life, ask people to repeat

While the world battles with

mindfulness and fights for quiet

time, I have found my calm

things, and be in the limelight for all the wrong

reasons. But like anything in life, you get used to

it. My personal challenges have oiled my wheels

of tenacity, deepened my self-awareness, and

supported me to create a life with no limitations.

I do the best I can with what I know. And I have

fully accepted my imperfections and disability.

I’ve become who I am today because of my life

experiences, as well as my hearing loss. And I like

that person very much. One thing I know is that

I have a growth mindset and would gain a very

high score in resilience. Plus I’m armed with the

motto: “What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.”

70 | happiful.com

true story

Karin is

passionate about

having a positive

impact on the

people around her

Self-care is top on my agenda, and life is all

about balance. I plan my week so there are more

nights in than out. I’ve spent my youth leaving

an event or night out ‘early’ to get enough sleep,

to be fresh and ready to hear the next day. I use

more energy to hear when I’m tired. If I burn the

candle at both ends, I get a cold. A cold means I

hear less. It’s a vicious circle.

My essential tips for successfully managing all

this? Firstly, I had to learn to ask for help. This

is not easy when you are a fiercely independent,

strong-willed individual. Lipreading became

a life raft to communicate – a skill I developed

innately, that allowed me to follow conversations

in bars, restaurants, at parties and on public

transport. But only with one person at a time.


In a world where being different made her stand

out, Karin reminds us how we are all unique.

Although Karin’s challenge was harder than

most, we’ve all found ourselves feeling out of

place – dealing with the impact of not fitting in.

It’s fascinating that as she has grown, she’s

been able to find solace in the quiet, and

continually strives to find ways to help others.

I’m still learning new strategies as I navigate

our noisy world. There’s almost too much

information out there, and sometimes it’s

overwhelming. I’ve never wanted my identity to

be about my hearing loss. I don’t want to wear

that label.

One vital thing I’ve learned to appreciate is that

silence really can be golden. While the world

battles with mindfulness and fights for quiet

time, I have found my calm. I love to practise

intuitive, energising yoga at home at the end

of a busy day, in my own quiet bubble. I turn

my ears ‘off’ in cafés if I’m working, when the

background noise gets too much.

And through all this, I’ve found my purpose.

My glass is nearly always half-full. I’m an

enthusiastic individual, and people appreciate

my positive energy. I’m known as a motivator,

and have a listening ear ready when required.

With this in mind, coupled with my passion for

people and personal development, I found my

purpose: to have a positive impact on people –

face-to-face, virtually, and through words.

What strikes me most though is how

valuable finding her purpose has been.

Purpose is essential in life to feel

fulfilled and valued – not only

by those around us but, most

importantly, by ourselves.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

happiful.com | 71


ways to de-escalate

stressful situations

Don’t be a bystander. Learn how to gently step

in, and soothe stress, with these simple steps

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Illustration | Rosan Magar

It’s never easy to see someone

else going through a stressful

time. It can often leave us

feeling hopeless, agitated,

and maybe even stressed

ourselves. But, with the right

amount of caution and gentle

management, there are several

things that we can do to support

those going through stress,

helping them to manage their

emotions in the moment, and

also look forward to addressing

the root of the problem. Here,

with help from psychologist

and wellbeing consultant Lee

Chambers, we explore five ways

that you can step in to de-escalate

stressful situations.


We all appreciate being heard

and having our feelings taken

seriously, so this is a good place

to start when you’re trying to

support other people. “Utilise

empathy to help the individual

involved know that you care about

how they feel, and understand

why they are acting in this

manner,” advises Lee. “A simple

observation such as, ‘I can see

how upset this has made you’,

shows you understand their pain,

you appreciate their concerns,

and you’re treating them as an

equal. Feeling heard and valued

when in distress is a powerful

defusing mechanism.”


When we’re at the height of

emotion, we’re often also feeling

quite vulnerable. According

to Lee, respect is a powerful

situational resolution tool when

we find ourselves dealing with a

very stressful situation.

If we remain

calm, attentive,


and objective, they

will start to adjust

to your state

“Many times, when we’re

stressed, it is likely something

isn’t being respected, and if we

can fill that gap it has an instant

calming effect,” he says. “By

giving a respectful compliment or

statement, suddenly they will feel

like a respected person, and this

will shift their emotional balance

to a more stable point.”


“Nothing fuels the fires of

stressful situations more than

a person who storms off, or is

clearly not present,” says Lee.

We don’t always need to offer up

solutions – in fact, the heat of the

moment is rarely the right time

to do this – but being present

and engaging in the problem in a

sympathetic manner goes a long

way. “Listen to the other party,

ask questions, and be curious to

understand why they feel that

way,” Lee adds. “Just being there

will allow them to process their

own emotions, often getting more

clarity and bringing themselves

down from a high arousal state.”


As humans, we get a lot of our

social and emotional cues off

each other, which is something

you should keep at the front

of your mind when facing a

72 | happiful.com


challenging situation. “If we

remain calm, attentive, nonjudgemental,

and objective,

they will start to adjust to your

state, reducing the emotional

charge,” Lee explains. “This can

take some practise and effort on

our behalf, as we tend to react

immediately, instead of choosing

our response. But if we can

stop the initial feeling of being

attacked, and it being personal,

we can respond in a measured

and rational way. So often, it

isn’t the immediate trigger that

has caused their feelings, but a

build-up of events, and if we can

look at the bigger picture, we can

connect with them, rather than

attack them.”


Sometimes, stress is like an

iceberg. You might be able to

see the tip, but can’t see what’s

going on below the waterline,

or how deep it goes. So, if it

feels appropriate, you might

want to ask gentle questions to

try to figure out the root of the

problem. “Asking questions is

an incredibly powerful way to

show we are respectful, and

summarising the other person’s

concerns shows that we are

listening and appreciating them,”

says Lee. “You can even start

to see if you can be part of the

solution, as suddenly you become

a supportive ally, and can move

them on from ruminating on the

issue causing the stress.”

happiful.com | 73

A r e y o u

a h i g h l y

s e n s i t i v e

p e r s o n ?

Do you feel things far more

deeply than others, get

drained by certain situations,

or find your take on things

leads to conflict? You might

be criticised for your sensitivity

and wonder what you can

do about it. But what if being

highly sensitive is the answer,

not the problem?

Writing | Sally Pendreigh

If you’ve been asking yourself,

“Why am I so sensitive?”

or wondering, “How can

I be less sensitive?”, then

perhaps something about

your sensitivity doesn’t feel OK.

You may have even wondered,

“What’s wrong with me?” when

other people seem more able

74 | happiful.com


to take things in their stride, or

you’ve been told you need to

“toughen up” or “grow a thicker

skin”. And if your sensitivity

causes difficulties, it’s inevitable

you won’t welcome it in yourself.

No wonder you want to change

it. But it’s not that easy – you can’t

just flick a switch to turn your

sensitivity off. So, what can you do?

Where the answer may lie

Well, the paradox is that the

answer to your sensitivity

‘problem’ could well lie in

acknowledging just how sensitive

you are. Trying to deny, suppress,

or change your sensitivity is often

what keeps you shackled, selfblaming,

and stuck. So, let’s start

with a different premise – that you

may be what’s known as “highly


If you don’t like the word

“sensitive”, I’m guessing adding

“highly” won’t seem helpful.

It may feel like inviting more

negative connotations, but if the

term does fit you, it might just

be one of the biggest and most

important discoveries you make

about yourself.

It has been exactly that for

countless clients I’ve worked with.

They have described recognising

they’re highly sensitive as “lifechanging”,


and “finally making sense of me

and my life”. They have come

to embrace their sensitivity as

the essence of who they are,

and where their strength and

power lies. And this shift in

perception has changed confusion

into understanding, flaw into

forgiveness, and even berating

into celebrating. It could do the

same for you.

Being highly sensitive: what you

need to know

Before we look at what it means

to be highly sensitive, there are

some facts that may help you

accept the concept more easily...

• It’s a real thing

Being highly sensitive is an

actual thing. The term, “Highly

Sensitive Person” (HSP) was first

coined by Dr Elaine Aron in the

1990s. Nowadays, an internet

search will throw up a multitude

of books, blogs, and websites

about the subject. There are even

questionnaires you can take to

find out if you are a HSP.

• It’s not just you

You’re not alone in being this

sensitive. You can’t be if so

many people are writing and

talking about it! In fact, Dr Aron

estimates that 15–20% of the

general population are HSPs,

and research from Counselling

Directory suggests there are more

than 4,000 searches for the term

“highly sensitive person” each


• It’s genetic programming

Being an HSP isn’t something

you choose, but is the way

you’re genetically programmed.

Studies into high sensitivity and

sensory processing show that

the brains of HSPs are activated

and respond in particular ways

to certain stimuli. And that this

is different from other forms of

high sensitivity resulting from

They have come

to embrace their

sensitivity as the

essence of who they

are, and where their

strength and power lies

trauma or a medical condition.

So, this form of sensitivity is

innately you.

• There are many benefits

HSPs tend to be thoughtful,

conscientious, compassionate,

insightful, intuitive, reliable, loyal,

attentive to detail, focused on

quality and sustainability, creative,

and appreciative of the beauty of


Being an HSP doesn’t label or

define you, it simply describes

how you process the world

and react to it. The trick is to

acknowledge both sides: manage

the challenges, and value and use

the gifts.

Four indicators that you may be

highly sensitive

There are lots of indicators

for being an HSP, and lots of

researchers and commentators

frame them in different ways.

The most common distillation is:

1. Processing things deeply

2. Being easily overstimulated

3. Being emotionally


4. Being sensitive to subtleties


happiful.com | 75

How might these show up?

Well, you are likely to have a busy

brain – always noticing and taking

in information, deeply processing

it, and thoroughly considering

implications and consequences.

Because you absorb and process

so much, you can become overstimulated

and exhausted.

That stimulation isn’t just about

observations and thoughts, it’s

also about reactions to your

environment – for example, you

may be sensitive to light, to noise,

to textures, or you may prefer

quieter venues, less busy streets,

and socialising in smaller groups.

You will tend to spot and be

affected by the emotions of others,

and you probably think and

care deeply about many things

– people, nature, world events,

fairness, justice and equality. You

may also appreciate nuances, and

notice tiny differences that other

people don’t.

All this takes energy, so you

are likely to need downtime and

space to recover and recharge. If

you don’t get it, you can become

agitated, overwhelmed, or feel

that everything is “too much”.

Noticing all that you do, and

thinking ahead, can lead to

conflict with others, or a feeling

that you are out of sync with

them, or the prevailing culture.

And this can leave you feeling

hurt, confused, misunderstood

and alone.

How does knowing you are

highly sensitive help deal with

your sensitivity?

1. There’s a world of difference

between thinking that there

is something wrong with you,

and understanding that there


2. Fundamentally, you cannot

benefit from the gifts of

something when you see it as

a flaw.

3. Understanding there is a

reason for your sensitivity, and

it’s something you share with

others, naturally reduces the

inner conflict and aloneness

you may have been feeling.

4. Just imagine the resources

and potential you can release

if you stop spending so much

time and energy judging

your sensitivity, and trying to

change what is inherently you.

Every HSP I’ve come across has

found that discovering, exploring,

and understanding their HSP-ness

has been like finding the missing

piece to a puzzle. Despite its costs

and challenges, not one of them

would change their sensitivity for

the world, because it makes them

who they are.

76 | happiful.com


Despite its challenges,

not one of them would

change their sensitivity

for the world, because it

makes them who they are

How to begin connecting

to your sensitivity

If you are highly sensitive,

identifying and acknowledging

it is half the battle. The next

step is to use that knowledge

to make better choices in your

future; ones that take account

of your sensitivity. Here are

some suggestions to help you

connect to your sensitivity


1. Get curious

Get curious about being a HSP

– research it, read about it,

complete a questionnaire online.

Enjoy finding out what is true

(and not) about your sensitivity.

Start nurturing it the way you

would someone or something

you really care about.

2. Reflect on past reactions

Reflect compassionately on your

reactions to past events, and

situations where your sensitivity

was an issue. Try to understand

why something was difficult, or

why you reacted a certain way.

This can move you from seeing

faults in what you felt or did to a

more forgiving place.

3. Identify what drains

and energises you

Start noticing what activities,

events, environments, and even

people, deplete and drain you,

and which soothe or energise

you. Change what you can of the

things that sap your energy, and

do more of what nourishes you.

And if you know something will

tire you, prioritise building in

some recovery time afterwards.

4. Get enough downtime

Pace yourself and take regular

breaks when you can. Try to

ensure you get enough quiet,

demand-free downtime when

you need it. You will burn out if

you don’t, and get more done if

you do. Taking care of yourself

in this way is not selfish, but

essential self-care. And an

investment in you and your


Taking these steps can make a

real and meaningful difference.

You might be surprised at how

much you can benefit from

even the smallest changes.

And the more you understand

and manage your sensitivity,

the more you can harness

its potential. Throw off the

shackles, regain and refocus

your energy, and begin releasing

the power. Your power.

Sally Pendreigh is a senior accredited

counsellor, who believes that

understanding how we process and

react to the world is fundamental to

having the freedom to be ourselves.

You can find Sally and get in touch with

her via counselling-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | 77



Take some time out from the hustle and bustle of the season and

put your mental cogs in motion, with our six-page puzzle special

Word pyramid

Complete the pyramid by solving the clues below,

filling in each row with one letter per box. The

trick is that each row uses all the same letters as the

row before, plus one new letter – but the order can

change. Time to test your vocabulary.

1. Years in a decade

2. A bird’s home

3. A rock or a pebble

4. Truthful

Word wheel

Using the letters in the wheel no more than once, make as

many words as possible of three or more letters, always

including the letter in the centre of the wheel. Want an extra

challenge? Set yourself a time limit – three minutes, go!

5 = word wizard

10 = gaming guru

15+ = Shakespearean superstar










78 | happiful.com

Thinking caps at the ready – can you decipher the puzzle below? It’s like a crossword, but with

no clues. Instead, it’s a game of logic, as every letter of the alphabet is used at least once, and

is represented by a number in the grid. Uncover a letter at a time to reveal answers all over the

grid – good luck! Hint: Think festive


1 6 13 8


16 6 8 13


14 12 6 13 8 4 24 8


20 6 26

6 20 24


6 8 7 14



19 26 9 9 11 22

5 9


23 23 15

R 21 9 24 I

15 15 6 9 1 4


14 6 8




6 5 15 24 5 9 6




22 7 15

W 6

G I 4

G 6 R 5 R 6 15 21 R

4 11 6 6

14 13 4 26


18 15 4

12 26 9 9 11 13 8

4 26

R 8 12


How did you do?

Search ‘freebies’ at


to find the answers,

and more!

25 2


3 10

happiful.com | 79

Spot the difference

Keep those eyes peeled for six differences in our winter-themed illustration below...


Can you work out

the Christmas songs

based on the emoji

descriptions alone?





Emoji | emojipedia.org







80 | happiful.com


In this test of logic, can you

complete the empty boxes so that

the numbers one to nine appear

once in each row, column, and

3x3 box?

4 2 5

3 7 8 9 1 6 2

2 1 3

8 3 9

7 4 1 5 2 8

8 5 6 2 3 7

2 4 8 6 3

9 2

6 3 7 9 4

happiful.com | 81


Hunt through the grid below to find words related to our year

at Happiful – bonus points if you can find the three words not

included on the list below!

Sleep special


Explore outdoors





Self discovery






Remote work


Dawning moment

















82 | happiful.com


Answer the festive-themed

questions to complete the

grid. We recommend a

mince pie to help get those

thinking gears going.


2 3 4 5 6



9 10


5. In the ‘12 Days of Christmas’,

what seven animals were

“a-swimming”? (5)

11 12

13 14

7. What character was

invented for a marketing

campaign for a US company

in 1939? (6)

8. What is the best-selling

Christmas song of all time? (5,9)




10. What is the name of the

old Winter Solstice festivals in

Scandinavia? (4)

12. How many ghosts appear in

A Christmas Carol? (4)

13. Which Christmas song was

broadcast from space, as a

prank, by astronauts in 1965?


15. Traditionally, which festive

treat should be eaten on each

of the 12 days of Christmas to

bring good luck? (5,3)

17. What record-breaking

Christmas item was ‘pulled’ in

Australia in 1991? (7)


1. In Home Alone, where is

Kevin’s family going on

holiday? (5)

2. Which country has gifted

the UK’s Trafalgar Square

tree each year since 1947? (6)

3. Who played Graham in the

2006 film The Holiday? (4,3)

4. What is the first name of

George Bailey’s guardian angel

in It’s a Wonderful Life? (8)

5. How many rolls of Sellotape

are sold in the UK each year in

the run up to Christmas? (3,7)

6. In the poem ‘Twas the

Night Before Christmas’,

what food danced in the

children’s heads as they

slept? (5,5)

9. What country do candy

canes originate from? (7)

11. What is Scrooge’s

first name? (8)

14. One of Santa’s

lovely reindeer (5)

16. What item of clothing

brought Frosty the

Snowman to life? (3)

happiful.com | 83



As we approach the end of a testing year, it’s time to breathe a sigh of relief and

recognise how resilient we really are. There may be more challenges to come, but

together we can weather the storm


Aromatherapy: Harness the

power of essential oils to relax,

restore, and revitalise

It’s no secret that essential

oils such as lavender,

eucalyptus, and peppermint

can help soothe our senses.

This little book of self-care

shares the perfect blend of

essential oils to care for and

heal yourself, combined

with massage routines,

yoga, meditation, and


(Out 31 Dec, DK, £9.99)


Picture perfect


3Whether you have the

voice of an angel, or would

describe yourself as ‘musically

challenged’, singing is a great

way to lift your mood and

calm a nervous mind. Pick your

favourite Christmas anthem and

sing your worries away. Why not

put on a virtual concert for your

nearest and dearest if you’re

brave enough?


Christmas carols

(Connect with loved ones

virtually over Zoom)

Spread the Christmas spirit by making your own holiday cards!

Grab your coat and gloves, head out into your local winter

wonderland, and get a picturesque photo to share with your

friends and neighbours. Pop your cards in the post, or send them

virtually! (If you can’t get the perfect snap, download our free

Christmas cards on shop.happiful.com/collections/freebies)



‘Calm it Down’

When times get

tough, it can often feel like we’re

fighting just to get through

the day. American pianist

and composer Chad Lawson

talks us through how to find

calm as we navigate the ups

and downs of life, to help

make what we think are big

problems, much smaller.

(Listen to the podcast on

iTunes and Spotify)



Morgan Harper Nichols

Artist, poet, and

musician Morgan

Harper Nichols shares

daily reminders that

you are stronger than

you know, with her artwork,

which is inspired by real stories.

Follow Morgan for calming

visuals and kind words.

(Follow @morganharpernichols

on Instagram)

84 | happiful.com





Are you planning a secret gift

exchange with your friends and family?

Elfster is a Secret Santa generator that

will do all the work for you (maybe it will

actually stay secret this year!). If you think

Santa might need some extra help, you

can even make a wish list.

(Download from the App Store and

Google Play)


The Repair Shop

Christmas special

Many of us have family heirlooms or

sentimental items that could never be

replaced, but what happens when those

special objects need a little TLC? Enter:

The Repair Shop. Jay and his team of

expert craftspeople fix up precious

items, bringing joy to homes across the

country. (Watch on BBC One, or catch

up on BBC iPlayer)


Christmas Jumper Day

While things may be a little different

this year, there’s no reason we can’t still

embrace the Christmas spirit, and support

vulnerable children around the world. Dig

out your festive garments, share a #Elfie with your friends,

and donate online.

(11 December, donate online at savethechildren.org.uk)


Simple stretches

Wrapping presents can spark joy,

but in our experience it can also

bring aches and pains! Put down

your ribbons and ease your aches

by practising some stretches. You

don’t need to be flexible, just find a

comfortable space, breathe deeply,

and stretch.

(Find simple stretches you can

try at home at happiful.com)



Who doesn’t love a comforting blanket to keep you warm and cosy on cold winter nights?

Hug at Home offers an ever growing collection of natural and sustainable products to

snuggle at home. Their diamond throw is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles, but it’s

as soft as wool to keep you toasty! (£35, shop online at hugathome.co.uk)

Hug at Home diamond throw


Win a Hug at Home diamond throw

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

with your answer to the following question: Which popular Christmas song contains the

lyric “The weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful”?

a) ‘Fairytale of New York’ b) ‘A Holly Jolly Christmas’ c) ‘Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!’

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

happiful.com | 85

86 | happiful.com

Sign up for FREE at redtogether.co.uk

Active supporter of RED January:


How to deal with

passive aggressiveness

Struggling to know how to respond to an awkward person in your

life? Unspoken tension and passive aggressive behaviour can wear

you down, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Our experts have coping

strategies and top tips to help you tackle the situation…

Writing | Claire Munnings

The chances are we’ve

all experienced passive

aggressive behaviour

in one form or another.

Whether it’s a friend giving you

the silent treatment, a work

colleague ‘misunderstanding’

your instructions, your partner

making subtle comments about

the division of chores, or a

sullen teenager slamming their

bedroom door, a sense of indirect

hostility can fester under the

surface of many situations.

But just how can we deal with

it effectively? And what is at the

root of this behaviour?

“To put it simply, passive

aggressiveness is a way of

behaving that is indirectly

aggressive rather than directly

aggressive towards others,”

explains mindset coach Ruth

Kudzi. “It can show up in a

number of ways – someone may

claim that they are fine, when it is

clear this isn’t the case, they may

refuse to respond to requests,

share negative feelings through

subtle actions, or make you feel

guilty about a situation.”

The problem is that this type of

behaviour is often so subtle we

tend to brush over it, or pretend it

hasn’t happened – which doesn’t

help in the long run.

“It’s the passive nature of the

aggression that means it can

be so covert it’s hard to identify

as aggressive,” says love and

relationships coach Emma

Spiegler. “But, passive aggression

must not be underestimated for

its slow and detrimental effects,

as it can ruin a relationship. And

this is the thing – when we’re

on the receiving end of passive

aggression, we can end up second

guessing our own behaviour. This

can have a devastating effect on

our confidence, self-esteem, and

our emotional health. It can also

impact other areas of our life,

including our relationships, social

life, and work life,” said Emma.

Time to take action

Keen to stop these endless

conflict circles, or understand

how to react in different

situations? Our experts share

their tips…

• Identify it: “The first step to

dealing with these situations is

to watch out for signs of passive

aggressive behaviour, so you

can be aware of when you’re

experiencing it,” Ruth advises. >>>

happiful.com | 87

Claire Munnings is a health and wellbeing journalist.

She enjoys writing about how we can live more

mindfully and be kind to ourselves.

Emma agrees. “The key here

is to not get sucked into the

covertness of this behaviour,”

she says. “You need to name it

for what it is – aggression. This

can be a hard step, because often

denial is easier than challenging

something head on, and change

can be uncomfortable.”

Passive aggression can take

many forms, and you may

not be fully aware you’ve

been experiencing it. But, if

something feels hurtful or

someone is being deliberately

awkward, it’s likely that they’re

being passive aggressive – even

if they don’t realise it.

It’s the passive nature of the

aggression that means it can be

so convert it’s hard to identify

• Consider what is driving the

aggression: While there are

not necessarily excuses for

this behaviour, understanding

its triggers can be useful.

“Many people who display

passive aggressive traits are

uncomfortable having difficult

conversations, or believe

that sharing emotion is to

be avoided,” explains Ruth.

“Equally, some people are more

likely to display this behaviour

as they may view passive

aggression as more sociallyacceptable

than direct anger.”

Deep-rooted emotions and

long-held views can have an

impact, too. “Some people

may have simply not learned

how to communicate directly,

openly and honestly about

their feelings,” Emma says.

“They may also have a low

sense of self-worth, driven by

wounds and beliefs developed

in childhood or adulthood, that

means they resort to this type

of behaviour to gain a sense

of power,” she adds. It may be

the case that they feel simply

unhappy in a certain situation,

or underappreciated, too.

• Talk about it: “Once you’ve

identified that someone is

displaying passive aggression,

it’s time to address it in a

non-confrontational way by

recognising this behaviour,

and giving them an option to

talk about their emotions,”

recommends Ruth. Employing

different communication

strategies can be useful, and

it’s important to prepare for

these conversations properly.

How you broach the subject

will depend on a lot of different

factors – who the person is,

your relationship, the type

of behaviour you’ve been

experiencing, and the length of

time it’s been happening.

Emma recommends trying a

four-step process that involves

explaining your observations

without judgment, expressing

your feelings calmly, clarifying

your needs, and then conveying

specific requests based on

these points. “At the more

extreme end, where this passive

88 | happiful.com


Emma shares her tips on how

to cope with passive aggressive

behaviour in different situations:

With work colleagues

It’s important to acknowledge

that your feelings matter in the

workplace, and your emotional

wellbeing should be looked

after here. Many people fear

they can’t say anything in case

they lose their job, but this

shouldn’t be the case. Address

the situation directly with your

colleague, or speak to someone

higher up. The chances are that

others feel the same way.

aggression is chronic and has

severely impacted your selfworth,

I would advise seeking

help before you confront the

behaviour,” she adds.

• Take a step back: In some cases,

the best thing to do is remove

yourself from the situation as

much as possible. “If you can’t

physically remove yourself, try

to emotionally remove yourself

so you don’t let the behaviour

impact how you feel,” says

Ruth. “The more that we allow

the energy from the passive

The more that we allow the

energy from the passive

aggression to impact us, the

more it can erode our wellbeing

aggression to impact us, the

more it can erode our wellbeing.

Remember this isn’t about you:

it is down to the person being

unable to communicate how they

are feeling effectively.”

Ruth Kudzi is a mindset coach, mentor,

author, and speaker. For

more information visit ruthkudzi.com

Emma Spiegler is a relationships and

sexuality coach, and the co-founder of

The Feel Good Rooms. Visit



With friends

Passive aggression in close

friendships can be tricky to

address, as it’s easy to let certain

behavioural traits become part

of your relationship dynamic.

Let them know something has

been playing on your mind, and

arrange a time to speak. When

you do so, share a few recent

examples of the behaviour, and

express your feelings. It’s good

to open up the dialogue, and be

prepared to listen in case there

are ways you might have been

contributing to this dynamic.

With strangers

Crossing paths with a sulky

shop assistant or a rude family

at the park is not unusual, but it

can still knock your confidence.

As you’re not invested in this

relationship, remember that you

don’t need to engage with it.

With strangers, you have no idea

about their level of empathy or

communication skills, so it’s best

to just walk away.

happiful.com | 89


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DEC 2020


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fought tirelessly to keep us safe













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90 | happiful.comare correct at the time of printing. For full terms and conditions, please visit happiful.com.

true story

Homeless at 15...

This year hasn’t been easy for anyone, and the air is heavy with uncertainty.

But for those worrying about being without a roof over their heads, missing

their family, or who don’t feel safe at home, Hannah shares her story as

someone who made it out of dire circumstances, to provide hope for us all

Writing | Hannah Lee


was born into a family, half Chinese-Malaysian

and half Northern Irish. Our skin was classed

as too White to be Asian, too Asian to be

White. Then four of us became three when my

parents divorced in 2000, with my sister, mum

and I moving to Northern Ireland, and my dad

staying in London. Three became two, when I

was separated from my sister in 2002. And then

it was just one. When I was 15, nine days before

Christmas, I came home to find the house empty.

The lights were off, my mum and dog were gone,

and my belongings were in bin bags on the drive.

I was unable to articulate the emptiness I felt

towards life until recent years. My childhood was

spent praying I wouldn’t wake up, learning how

to survive, and building walls to protect myself.

Pushing people away and doing it alone was

easier than letting people in. I still can’t believe

that the life I live now is mine. It’s completely

different to the one I was dealt.

I can still remember the fear I had when I was

sitting in the council office in January 2011.

Wooden walls, a huge table, sat opposite a man

with glasses and moustache who laid out my

housing options. He told me how to scare off

an attacker – “Dance towards him and sing, it

will confuse him and he’ll leave you alone.”

He handed me forms to legally declare myself

homeless, and sent me to a halfway house B&B

with my social worker’s details and a rape alarm.

Three council houses later, I dropped out of

school, was labelled as a “troubled teen”, was

bullied and isolated from my peers. The majority

of my teenage years were spent in darkness,

wishing my life away. Days turned into weeks

in bed, phone turned off, council flat overrun

with clutter, and I wouldn’t go outside. I’d binge

eat, cut friends off, and self-harm. Going into

adulthood, I was far more comfortable being

alone, and knowing death was a way out, than

overcoming my odds.

I’ll be honest, I can’t quite pinpoint when

things changed for me. I wish I could say there

was an ‘ah-hah’ moment. There were moments

I messed up massively. I never really learnt the

importance of relationships, or how to be a good

friend, my default was to give up when things

were hard, or to run away and hide when I didn’t

want to face reality. I definitely made some

horrible and reckless decisions, often choosing

the path of self-destruction. But one day I chose

myself and I chose a better future. >>>

happiful.com | 91

Above: Hannah and her sister, Tash, in 1997

In 2015, my 20s came around and I applied

for university. I returned to London, reunited

with my sister and father, and got stuck in to my

studies. It was a classic university experience,

featuring many drunken nights out, and

hungover lectures. However, the golden people

are something I will never forget. I learnt to

I definitely made some horrible and

reckless decisions, often choosing

the path of self-destruction

navigate friendships and dynamics with women –

something I had avoided since my experience with

my mother. I learnt that people could be patient,

supportive, kind and forgiving. All these new traits

I hadn’t been exposed to before, allowed me to

forgive my mother, let her go, and put in the work

for myself.

Slowly, it was easier to put myself in

uncomfortable situations and work for a better

life. I came out as an Honours student in

Business Management, and on the Dean’s list

despite ongoing intense therapy for 18 months

(depression, anxiety, eating disorders, you name

it). I had to relive experiences and learn to

identify how the loss of my childhood manifested

in everyday life. I found yoga and trained as a

teacher, being able to be still in my body and mind

for the first time in my life. I had to invest just as

much time into myself as I did my academic and

professional achievements – but it paid off.

Looking back at the past couple of years, I’ve

had some great opportunities, and my career has

taken leaps. Now I’m in a company that continues

to astound me. It prioritises authenticity in all we

do, and always focuses on how we can protect

our mental health. My team has the most creative

minds and compassionate hearts, we spend our

days working with business owners and helping

them overcome those challenges.

It’s 2020, the year that shook the world, but I want

to wake up every day. My sister is my best friend

and rock; we often talk about the life we knew, and

how sometimes we can’t quite believe it happened

– or that we survived it. Here I am, after moving 18

times, I’m settled back home in London.

Along the way, I’ve learned a lot. And if I was to

speak to my younger self now, I would tell her:

• Do not run from your Asian heritage – this is

something you should be proud of, as it’s the

side of you that will make you feel most ‘whole’.

92 | happiful.com

true story

Below: Hannah with her

dad at her graduation

• Learning to exercise will teach you discipline,

and give you an alternative escape from stress.

• Remember to have fun, as you’ll look back at

this later on in life and wish you’d given yourself

some more slack.

• The world owes you nothing – if you’re not

prepared to work for it and make the best out of

every situation, that is on you.

• No one can take the safety and security away

from you – you have built it and it is yours. It lies

within you, and is not linked to material goods or


• The independence and resilience you are

learning now will empower you to live a life you

truly deserve, and you will know what it’s like to

feel proud.

And for anyone struggling in their own lives,

I want to tell you it does get better – but it’s

going to take time and commitment, there’s

no magic fix. Remember that you are not your

circumstances, but they will drive you in every

single thing you do. If you come from a broken

or violent home, you are not broken and you do not

need to be fixed. Learn to apologise, understand

why you’re sorry, and how you want to rectify

your wrongs. Reflect on your behaviour and keep

yourself accountable – you get out what you put

in and you need to constantly evolve. You can

be vulnerable without having to sacrifice any of

your strength or independence.

I would also say, please don’t harbour anger.

Letting it go doesn’t mean you’re being kind to

the people that hurt you, you’re just being kind

to yourself, and it’s the best thing you’ll ever

do. Always back yourself , and know it’s OK to

let people in – you need some love to get you

through. And finally, you do not need to carry

shame or guilt for who you are, or your story,

because it’s made you who you are.


Hannah’s truly inspirational story evokes

many emotions. Her very difficult start to

life clearly had a damaging impact on her

wellbeing. However, with a strong will and

determination, Hannah was able to find a

place where she has happy again, where she

could bring her self to the world – and for it

to be welcomed kindly. The negative

life experiences that once inhibited

Hannah are now her source of

learning, strength, and passion.

Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

happiful.com | 93

Never bend your head. Hold it high.

Look the world straight in the eye


Photography | Pieter Benjamin

94 | happiful.com


Steph (left) and members of the Soul Analyse team

A f f i r m a t i o n s

f o r t h e s o u l

Steph Dunleavy, co-founder of affirmation jewellery

brand Soul Analyse, shares the experiences and

inspiration that set her on a new path in life...

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Inspiration can come in many

forms. It could be something

we read, hear, see, or scroll

past, but when a phrase or

way of thinking really resonates

with you, it can make a huge

difference to your perspective in

that moment, and beyond.

For Steph Dunleavy, co-founder

of the affirmation jewellery

brand Soul Analyse, inspiration

came after listening to a talk

by the late Louise Hay, who is

acknowledged to be one of the

original founders of the self-help


However, Steph’s own journey

of change had started some time

before that moment, after she

lost her dad, suddenly, to cancer

in 2012. He was just 46 years old.

“The two years that followed

Dad’s death were a tumultuous

whirlwind,” Steph explains. “I

felt like I’d had the rug pulled out

from underneath me. Life felt so

unstable and uncertain. I couldn’t

seem to find peace, and I started

spiralling out of control. I was

self-sabotaging and not taking

care of myself, which led to me

feeling very depressed.” >>>

happiful.com | 95

I wrote phrases such as ‘You can

do this. You are strong,’ because

I felt so weak at that time

Photography | Jessie Barry

One evening, when Steph was

struggling with her emotions,

her partner, Jasper Ibrahim,

introduced Louise Hay’s talk into

their lives. At first, Steph felt

irritated by the noise coming from

his laptop, but her mood changed

when she started to really listen to

what was being said.

“I remember this feeling of

serenity, calm, and possibility

coming over me,” Steph explains.

“What Louise was saying felt real,

authentic, and really resonated.

I stared at the screen in disbelief,

because something had just

clicked. Hearing that we can all

change our lives based on what

we think was incredible. Back

then, that was a totally new

concept for me.”

The impact of that talk lasted

well beyond one evening, as

Steph stuck Post-It notes around

her home so she could read

positive affirmations throughout

her day. “I wrote phrases such as

‘You can do this. You are strong,’

because I felt so weak at that

time. Just seeing that message to

myself was the boost I needed.”

Acknowledging the success of

this simple action, Steph and

Jasper began to talk about the

power of thought, both agreeing

they wanted to help others move

through tough times, as they

were starting to, using visible

affirmations. They dreamt of

starting a business, and a new

way of life together.

Sign after sign seemed to appear

for the pair, indicating the change

of course they were on the brink

of taking was the right one. After

they came across a notebook that

read ‘Live in the sunshine, swim

in the sea, drink the wild air,’ the

couple set off to travel around

Asia for a year, to explore not

only the world, but what might be

possible for them.

Steph’s face lights up as she

shares her story of Soul Analyse’s

beginnings during this time.

“We started to live with purpose.

We were being guided, and we

were taking in the messages

we recieved. We’d write in that

notebook every day, and flesh out

ideas; how we could change our

own mindsets to grow something

Affirmations to try:

I am enough.

I am strong.

I am loved.

I am me.

that had meaning, and help

others, too.

“That’s when we came up with

our first range of jewellery, and

began designing and speaking

with manufacturers, even though

we were constantly on the move,”

she continues.

Their original ‘I am’ range

featured just three words, but

a powerful message for anyone

reading or wearing the pieces.

Bracelets and necklaces, etched

with phrases such as ‘I am

96 | happiful.com


enough’, ‘I am strong’, and ‘I am

loved’, were created to remind

people of their self-worth, ability,

and value.

When Jasper and Steph landed

back in the UK after their

adventures, they’d successfully

created their dream business –

and a new life. Steph was five

months pregnant with their


The first batch of jewellery

arrived two weeks after their

return, and the next chapter of

their lives was unfolding. Life

at that time was far from easy

though, as Steph explains. “We’d

put everything we had into this

The inaugural year of operation,

she notes, was incredibly

difficult. Money continued to be

hard to come by, but the couple

would not be swayed off course.

“It was obvious to others that we

were really struggling, and they

questioned what we were doing,

but we just kept going. Even if

we only had one sale a day, we

knew we were doing something

substantial. We were helping that

one person.”

Their gut instinct, solid work,

and strong belief ultimately paid

off. Although Steph and Jasper

have negotiated many highs and

lows between the company’s

Today, Steph continues to

listen to the words of Louise

Hay, Wayne Dyer, and other

inspirational speakers. It’s

become a fundamental part of

her own daily self-care ritual, and

she honours the impact it’s had

upon her life.

“I had a hard upbringing, with

very little money, so I had many

self-limiting beliefs about what I

could achieve and what was open

to me before I heard Louise Hay

talk,” she reflects. “I didn’t realise

that there were resources out

there that could help everyone,

including me. That changed

absolutely everything.”

Co-founder Jasper Ibrahim

I’m a big believer that

gratitude multiplies

blessings, and what you

Find out more at soulanalyse.com

Instagram @soulanalyse

give out comes back

year away and the jewellery, so

we had nothing left. We’d spent

literally every penny. We rocked

up at Jasper’s mum’s with our

backpacks, and asked if we

could stay.”

And so, the first ever Soul

Analyse range was launched from

Jasper’s mum’s front room. “We

didn’t have any experience to be

honest,” Steph says softly. “We

had an idea, we felt it was right,

had meaning, and it could help

people – and we ran with it.”

launch in 2015 and the present

day, they’ve now reached a place

they’re deeply grateful to be at.

“I say thank you every day,”

Steph says. “In the early days,

Jasper and I held hands every

time we got an order and said

thank you, out loud. I’m a big

believer that gratitude multiplies

blessings, and what you give out

comes back. When I think back

on those times, I know that they

were really hard, but they were

also really special.”

As well as listening to others

speak, Steph now religiously takes

time to respond to customers’

messages about their life stories.

“Being able to listen to their

experiences is really powerful.

I’ve had many calls where I’ve

shared my own stories too,

because if I can say something

that might help, or let them know

they’re not alone, I want to do

that. I honestly think that’s why I

was called to set up Soul Analyse,

and that means the world to me.”

happiful.com | 97

Take the

bins in for

the house

next door

Go litter

picking on

your next


Buy coffee for

the person

behind you in

the queue

Give a


to a stranger



Send flowers

or a treat to a

family member

you’ve not seen

for a while


to a local

food bank

or charity

Leave a lovely

message for someone

in need – on a car

windshield, posted

through a letterbox,

or tucked into a bench


breakfast for

someone you

live with

If you have a

neighbour who

might be isolated,

drop them a note

to arrange a

virtual catch-up



Our books change lives.

Let them inspire you this Christmas.



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