Happiful April 2021



APRIL 2021



A wellbeing boost

could be a belly

scratch away

You are more

than enough



cards to help

you flourish



How to support

someone you love

Think they

might be

'the one'?

6 signs you've

got yourself

a keeper


steps to



your mindset



Live with


This April issue is a pretty special one

for us. We’re celebrating four years

since Happiful first burst onto the

magazine scene – that’s 48 issues,

thousands of articles, countless

moments of panic at last-minute

changes, and the thrill that you can’t

quite beat of sending another issue

to print.

But what I’ve realised is that month

after month, deadlines roll around,

the cycle repeats itself, and those

highs and lows all start to blur

together a little. We can sometimes

take these ‘average days’ for granted,

and fall into the trap of just living

unconsciously by routine.

I imagine it’s something so many

readers will be familiar with. Many

things bring comfort, joy, and

excitement to our daily lives, and

yet they become habitual. We run

through those moments or actions on

autopilot, never really stopping to be

present, and aware of the impact they

might be having on our wellbeing.

But this month that all changes. From

today, we implore you to join us in

living intentionally.

We may know that being around

animals makes us happy, but let’s

really embrace that wellbeing gift. Get

inspired on p60 to let loose, and allow

yourself to be playful, comforted, and

connected to another living thing.

Push the conversation forward on

p46 as we explore modern-day

masculinity, and on p50 uncover

how we can step away from feeling

helpless to instead proactively

support our loved ones, by being the

best advocate possible.

Choosing to live with intention may

not always be the smoothest path,

but it will be the more rewarding


As the 13th-century Persian poet

Rumi said: “Respond to every call

that excites your spirit.”

It’s time to take notice of the

moments that make your day, and

actively create more of them.

Happy reading.


W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine

Pet power

20 Anxiety in animals

How to support your companions


49 Did you know?

60 By your side

The mental health benefits of our

pets and how to harness them

72 What a wonderful world

A fresh perspective

14 What’s an echo chamber?

Is everyone’s opinion starting

to sound the same?

64 Saboteur no more

Face up to bad habits

68 Priyanka Chopra Jonas

The global star on anxiety,

vulnerability, and the tide of change

87 Nikesh Shukla

The author on the work that shaped

him, and what’s still to come


22 On track

How mood can be affected by

the menstrual cycle

44 Sit back and relax

We ask a hypnotherapist for their

top tips for switching off

76 Balance the books

Essential ideas on how to take

care of your financial wellbeing

90 Sleep on it

Simple steps to good sleep hygiene

Try this at home

25 Spot an empath

36 Manage overthinking

83 Overcome overwhelm

98 Stop saying sorry...


8 Good news

This month’s uplifting stories

13 The wellbeing wrap

55 Pager-turners

The latest unmissable reads

92 Things to do in April



46 Modern men

We dive into masculinity in 2021

74 Green flags

Spot the signs that you’re on to

something good with your relationship

84 Love in lockdown

Feel-good food

27 What’s the fuss about?

How to tackle fussy eating

80 On the pulse

Tuck into a delicious, nutritious,

bean-based meal

Positive pointers

16 All on the Board

We meet the duo behind the viral

London Underground boards

30 Motivation matters

10 questions to help you realise

your goals and aspirations

41 Support a food bank

50 Use your voice

How to speak up for others

30 20


True stories

37 Stephen: after burnout

He ignored the warning signs, but

recovery was on the horizon

57 Bex: reaching out

After her baby died, social media

helped Bex find support online

95 Katie: a place to belong

How a love for horror helped her

make peace with her ‘monsters’





Every issue of Happiful is

reviewed by an accredited

counsellor, to ensure we

deliver the highest quality

content while handling

topics sensitively.

The mind has great potential

to determine our feelings

in any given moment, but

it takes time to be able to

learn the ways in which we

can harness this power – a

journey that we all subscribe

to throughout life. It starts with

self-awareness, and in this

month’s issue there are a host

of tips on how to become more

aware of the self. On p64 you

can find insight on how we

can connect internally, and

retake control. It’s only natural

that we’ll sometimes fall into

patterns of behaviour that are

unhelpful, we’re all human, but

sometimes simply recognising

small truths can be a catalyst

for great change.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

Expert Panel

Meet the team of experts who

have come together to deliver

information, guidance, and insight

throughout this issue



Uta is a nutritional

therapist specialising

in fertility.



Rachel is a life coach,





Magdalena is a

counsellor specialising

in trauma.


MNCS (Accred) MBACP BSc (Hons)

Baljit is a psychotherapist

and the founder of Well

Space Therapy.



Sarah is a


life coach.



Katerina is a BACP

accredited counsellor

and psychotherapist.




Ayesha is a life coach

helping clients achieve

their goals.


MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.



Sophie is a hypnotherapist,

coach, and NLP master




Fiona is a clinical,

medical, and dental




Kathryn is a counsellor

and director of

HumAnima CIC.



Bibi is an integrative





Lorna is a nutritional

therapist, cookbook

author, and recipe writer.

Our team


Rebecca Thair | Editor

Kathryn Wheeler | Head Writer

Chelsea Graham | 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

Tamyln Izzett | Graphic Designer


Alice Greedus | PR Manager



Jenna Farmer, Katie Conibear, Sarah Thayer,

Katie Evans, Bex Gunn, Stephen Lynch,

Katerina Georgiou, Fiona Vitel


Uta Boellinger, Sophie Parker, Magdalena Stanek,

Fiona Vitel, Baljit Kamal, Kathryn Kimbley, Sarah Thayer,

Bibi Jamieson, Ayesha Giselle Dornelly, Lorna Rhodes,

James Wilson, Rachel Coffey, Graeme Orr


Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder


For new orders and back orders, visit

shop.happiful.com, or call Newsstand on

+44 (0)1227 277 248 or email



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nformation on the support available, visit stepchange.org




A wellbeing boost

could be a belly

scratch away

Think they

might be

'the one'?

6 signs you've

got yourself

a keeper

Help for self-harm

Find support for self-harm, and for families and

friends of those who self-harm, at harmless.org.uk


Cover artwork

by Rosan Magar

APRIL 2021


You are more

than enough



cards to help

you flourish



How to support

someone you love


steps to



your mindset



Our two-for-one tree commitment is made of two parts. Firstly,

we source all our paper from FSC® certified sources. The FSC®

label guarantees that the trees harvested are replaced, or

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are those of the authors of that content and do not necessarily

represent our opinions, views or values. Nothing in the magazine

constitutes advice on which you should rely. It is provided for

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One undeniable truth is that

finding the right help for each

individual is a journey – what

works for one of us will be

different for someone else. But

don't feel disheartened if you

haven't found your path yet. Our

Happiful family can help you

on your way. Bringing together

various arms of support, each

of our sister sites focuses on a

different method of nourishing

your wellbeing – from

counselling, to hypnotherapy,

nutrition, coaching, and holistic

therapy. Download our free

Happiful app for more.

Prices and benefits are correct at the

time of printing. For full terms and

conditions, please visit happiful.com

The Uplift



book helps


children feel seen

Storybooks have incredible power. They

can transport us to distant lands, and

teach us lessons on the big things in life.

For children, books are a chance to feel

seen and heard, and to build confidence.

But for dual-heritage children, these

opportunities aren’t always there.

With this in mind, parents Alexandra

Branzan and Andrei Andreescu decided

they were going to offer something

different, creating A Child of Two Worlds

– a customisable children’s book for kids

under seven, which helps children to

explore both parent’s heritage.

Families are able to pick each parent’s

home country, design themselves with

customisable avatars, and the book is

made to look like a passport, helping

children to work through the different

components of their identities.

“We passionately believe that

connecting children with their heritage

early on, in a playful, simple way, is a

crucial step to the development of their

sense of identity,” Alexandra and Andrei

say. “We hope this book helps parents

communicate to their dual-heritage

children just how special they are, and

that it ignites little ones’ curiosity about

the two worlds they come from.”

There is so much joy to be found in

honouring the things that make each

of us unique, and A Child of Two Worlds

is another chapter in the celebration of

difference and the power of connections.

For more info, head to twoworlds.co

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Sailing above and

beyond for charity

Ferry company Wightlink has been taking

care of the pennies, for a good cause

Wightlink ferry | wightlink.co.uk

We all know the feeling of

stumbling upon the odd forgotten

coin, but imagine totting up £1,000

in loose change. That’s the scenario

Wightlink – an Isle of Wight ferry

company – found itself in.

At the end of 2020, Wightlink

counted £1,000 worth of

unclaimed coins sitting in its

lost property office, left behind

by passengers on board and in

terminals. So Wightlink decided

it would donate the total to local

mental health charity Solent Mind.

Speaking to Happiful, chief

executive of Wightlink, Keith

Greenfield, noted how vital

mental health services are,

highlighted by the current

pandemic. “I know Solent Mind

does a great deal of good work on

the Isle of Wight. When we found

we had £1,000 of lost property

money to donate to a good

cause, several of our colleagues

suggested Solent Mind, and I

was delighted to confirm their

choice,” he said.

For Keith, his main goal with

these annual donations is to

improve the quality of life for

young people on the Isle of Wight

– that’s one local ferry company

that’s really making waves with

their community support.

Writing | Katie Hoare


World’s first parenting programme for men launches

Parenting courses can do a world

of good, and yet only one-fifth of

people who take part in them are

men. With this in mind, men’s

health charity Movember have

set out to welcome fathers into

parenthood with the world’s first

online parenting programme,

aimed specifically at men.

Aptly named ‘Family Man’,

the course is free online and

is designed to help parents of

children aged between two and

eight, covering practical skills

to manage behaviour, and also

tips on increasing parenting


Jane Endacott, director of

digital health, mental health, and

suicide prevention at Movember,

says: “Being a parent can be a

very rewarding experience, but

it isn’t always easy. Dealing with

meltdowns in the supermarket,

or a child who repeatedly ignores

instructions, can be incredibly

stressful. It can cause friction

at home, and over time that can

impact the whole family’s mental

health and wellbeing.

“There is a huge amount of

research that shows parenting is

more effective when it’s done as

a team. We know that when all

available parents are engaged in

parenting decisions, it benefits

the whole family.”

During a time when families

are spending a lot more time

together, it makes sense that

dads should have access to the

guidance that they need to feel

confident when supporting

their children, and it’s another

step in the right direction

for an open, emotionally

intelligent approach to roles and


Search for ‘Family Man

Movember’ to find out more.

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

happiful.com | April 2021 | 9


Just a phase: could

the moon affect


Full moon, half moon, total

eclipse… No, we’re not talking Jaffa

Cakes – we’re talking lunar cycles.

Matching the length of an average

menstruation cycle, the lunar cycle

takes 29.5 days to go from new

to full, leading many cultures to

associate the moon with fertility.

Until recently, the idea of the

moon affecting humans was

largely dismissed. But studies are

now noting links between sleep,

mood, and the lunar cycle – with a

study published in Science Advances

revealing its potential impact on

menstrual cycles.

Examining 22 women, for

between five and 32 years,

researchers found menstrual

rhythms varied. But out of six

subjects who kept records the

longest, five intermittently synced

with the moon. When combining

the records for all participants,

periods started in alignment with

the full moon, new moon, and

perigee (when the moon is closest

to the earth) more often than

would be expected by chance.

With such a small sample size,

more research is needed to

uncover if there is truly a lunar

link with our menstrual cycles. But

until then, we can still explore the

connection between our cycle and

mood – simply head over to p22!

Writing | Kat Nicholls

happiful.com | April 2021 | 11

Take 5

Enjoy a moment for you – sit down, relax, and put

your mind to the test with this month’s puzzling fun


Try this variation on a classic

wordsearch – instead of

being in straight lines, words

are spelled out in winding

paths, with each next letter

joining the previous either

horizontally or vertically –

no diagonals here. Start

with the bold letter and

complete the whole grid!

Clue: animals of the world


Decipher the band names described in emoji form...

How did you do? Search

'freebies' at shop.happiful.com

to find the answers, and more!













Glasgow is voted

the friendliest

city in the world

in a survey by

travel firm Rough


A 20-year-old

student donates

games consoles

to a children’s

hospital after

profiting from his

GameStop shares

Influencers can

no longer use


filters on beauty

ads, the ASA

has ruled

Nestlé confirms

it is launching

a plant-based

version of

a KitKat

Paul, from the

Chuckle Brothers,

is selling ‘2 metre

U’ face masks

in a play on

the duo’s iconic





You’ve got to

be kidding?

Farmer Dot McCarthy,

from Lancashire, is

renting out goats to pop

up on Zoom meetings!

What started as a joke

on her website, turned

into a huge profit almost

overnight, making more

than £50K so far, and

bringing a lot of laughs

to people all across the

globe throughout the


























Do you ever just scroll through Rightmove,

hunting for your dream home? Well, an

estate agent recently caught a lot of

people’s eyes with a viral post, jokingly selling a

makeshift igloo built during the snow in February in

the UK. Listed at £250,000, the agent found himself

inundated with viewing requests from prospective

buyers. But, as the saying goes, it’s all about

location, location, location.

One day more!

Perhaps reflecting the chant in each of our hearts

at the moment, a Radio 2 poll has revealed our fav

musical songs, and in the top spot is ‘One Day More’

from Les Mis! Rounding out the top five are ‘Bring

Him Home’ also from Les Mis, ‘Defying Gravity’ from

Wicked, ‘This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman, and

‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of

Oz – sounds like a pretty good playlist to me.

Need a ride?


’em laugh!

Which British comedian tickles

your funny bone the most? Well,

according to science, we actually

have the answer. Number one,

with the most laughs per hour in

OnBuy.com’s survey, was Jimmy

Carr –whose witty one-liners

definitely lend themselves

to the metric.

Fancy a


We Brits definitely seem to! Fresh

Student Living says we’re on track

to spend £11 billion on takeaways in

2021, with searches for Deliveroo up

67% year-on-year, while a poll by

YouGov suggests a Chinese is the

UK’s fav dish. Spring roll anyone?



















Getting into the community spirit, a

Pembrokeshire tourist transport company,

Tuk Tuk Time, is using its fleet of vehicles to take

pensioners to their Covid-19 vaccination appointments.

After delivering shopping to vulnerable people during

the first lockdown, the company wanted to help those

in need again, safely transporting people who might

typically rely on public transport.

What is an

echo chamber?

We all like to have our thoughts and opinions validated; it’s

a part of what makes us feel connected to others. But what

happens when we only engage with those that share our

view of the world, and tune-out everything else?

Writing | Becky Wright

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

What image does

the term ‘echo

chamber’, conjure

in your mind? I

picture a large, dark, cavernous

space, where any noise would

reverberate around me. But, an

echo chamber doesn’t have to

be a physical construct. In more

abstract terms, echo chambers can

happen anywhere information is

exchanged, whether that’s online

or in real life.

Think of it this way: when you’re

with your friends, although you

may have the odd disagreement,

generally, you share similar core

values. When you talk about

subjects you share the same views

on, you bounce off each other,

much like an echo.

The problem is that when

we’re surrounded by people

who think the same as us, it can

be easy to forget that there are

other perspectives, and we fall

into a trap of finding our beliefs

are reinforced and legitimised

– regardless of whether they’re

actually true. But in normal dayto-day

life, we’re always exposed to

other people, so we still encounter

a variety of opinions.

The lives we lead online have

a different set of rules. Almost

anyone can find like-minded

people and perspectives at the

touch of a button; we’re drawn to

those that have the same views as

us, and can block those that don’t.

So, while you might not realise it,

you likely have an echo chamber on

the other side of your screen...



When it comes to our consumption

of current affairs, echo chambers

aren’t a new phenomenon. With the

political ideations of newspapers,

people have sought out news that

aligns with their values, arguably,

since printing began.

But these days we receive our

news more rapidly through sources

such as Facebook, Twitter, and

Human beings like

to ‘be right’, and

echo chambers give

us an opportunity to

connect with others

who share our


Google. And these platforms work

on algorithms, which are intended

to cater specific information to an

individual’s online feed.

You ‘follow’ and engage with

content you want to see (liking,

commenting, and sharing), so

more of it is presented to you.

And, if any of the posts in your

feed don’t align with your views,

you ‘unfollow’ those sources.

The result? A perfectly built echo

chamber, where your viewpoint

becomes narrower and narrower.

14 | April 2021 | happiful.com

a fresh perspective

3 tips to avoid online echo chambers

Make a habit of checking multiple

news sources to ensure you’re

getting complete, objective


Interact with people of different

perspectives, and take care to

discuss new ideas with facts,

patience, and respect.

And remember, just because you

want something to be true, doesn’t

make it fact.


“Some individuals seem to be

drawn to echo chambers due

to so-called ‘confirmation bias’,

which is basically a tendency to

seek information that confirms

one’s beliefs or values,” explains

counsellor Magdalena Stanek.

“Human beings like to ‘be right’

and echo chambers give us an

opportunity to connect with

others who share our opinions.”

It’s thought that individuals who

participate in echo chambers

often do so because they feel

more confident that their

opinions will be more readily

accepted by others.

Magdalena agrees. “Echo

chambers might be popular

among people with poor selfesteem,

who tend to look for

acceptance that what they

feel and think is valid. To seek

confirmation in such places

seems a good option to boost

confidence, and protect one’s




Some critics believe that

echo chambers can create

misinformation. It’s often equated

to tunnel vision; distorting a

person’s perspective, whereby

it’s not possible to consider

other points of view, let alone

acknowledge them. It’s also

argued that we’re more likely to

be taken in by false information –

fake news, anyone?

However, some studies suggest

the effects of echo chambers are

weaker than often assumed. And

having a social media cleanse –

making sure your online space

makes you feel good about

yourself – certainly isn’t wrong.

But we need to remember that

every time we unfollow something

that differs from our point of view,

we still need to acknowledge the

opinion is out there, even if we

don’t agree with it.

Ultimately, it’s up to you whether

you want to open up your online

world to other opinions and views,

but we think a little healthy debate

is to be encouraged.

Magdalena Stanek is a personcentred

counsellor, specialising in

trauma. Get in touch with

Magdalena and discover more

communication advice on


happiful.com | April 2021 | 15



The people’s poets

You may have passed by the boards yourself, or seen them

going viral online, but now we talk to the duo responsible for the

inspirational messages left on London Underground customer

information boards, to discover the story behind their iconic verses

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

It was March 2017, and

crowds of people were

surging into North

Greenwich tube station for

a Craig David concert at the

O2 Arena. While singing some

of his songs to themselves, two

TFL employees working on the

platform came up with a poem

using well-known Craig David

titles and lyrics. They decided to

share it with the excited crowd,

so they wrote it on the platform’s

customer information board.

The board was an instant hit –

it made people happy and that,

in turn, made the two poets

happy. They began covering

more events, before eventually

reaching out to offer words of

wisdom, hope, and inspiration

on a plethora of topics. Photos

of the boards went viral online

– garnering millions of ‘likes’ –

shared under the name

All on the Board.

The mysterious poets behind

the emotive boards are Ian

Redpath and Jeremy Chopra,

who are finally stepping into

the spotlight after four years

of letting their work do the

talking. In that time, they have

given us laughs, made touching

tributes, and offered accessible

information on – and support

for – serious topics. Whether

it’s mental health, a national

tragedy, or a celebration of

Michelle Obama (the former First

Lady herself adored the board

dedicated to her and her story),

it seems the pair’s repertoire has

no bounds. And so, I ask them,

when reflecting on everything

they’ve achieved so far, have they

reached a point where it’s started

to sink in yet?

16 | April 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

Photography | Max Rose-Fyne

The Underground poems of Ian

Redpath (left) and Jeremy Chopra

have been published in a new book

Having words

“It doesn’t always seem real. Or

it almost feels like you’re talking

about someone else,” Jeremy tells

me – fresh off a night-shift when

we catch up. “I’m thinking: ‘Oh,

yes, Ian did really, really good

with that. Wow. I’m so chuffed for

him.’ And he’s probably thinking

the same about me – actually, I

don’t know, are you?”

“No, not really mate, to be

honest,” Ian chimes in, laughing.

“No, of course. But you know

what, we’ve got that much

material, and then we look

through it it’s like: ‘Oh, do you

remember that time Michelle

Obama shared her board?’ It’s still

a very pinch-yourself moment,

you know?”

I can only imagine.

Along the right lines

Of course, it was only in

November 2020 that Ian and

Jeremy officially stepped into

the spotlight – removing the

face-covering masks they wore

when writing on the boards up

until this point (while donning

the appropriate facewear for

If it was making the

concertgoers happier, then

maybe we can make those

lonely people on their tube

journeys stop and see that

they’re not alone

the current era). Before this,

they were known as N1 and

E1 (standing for ‘no one’ and

‘everyone’), and going public

wasn’t an easy choice.

“People who knew who we were

said: ‘Don’t do it, because you’ll

just get surrounded by people.’”

Jeremy explains. “But, we were

like: it’s time to do it now, really.”

And so, they did. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 17

Mental Health






















We’re just writing

about how we feel

06_ATOB_MENTAL HEALTH.indd 171 10/11/2020 08:50

“I’ve had one person want a

selfie with me,” Jeremy reflects.

“I’ve had two,” Ian says. “I’ve

had someone at work, and then

my neighbour recognised me

from TV. I was rushing for the

train, he goes, ‘Ian, Ian.’ I was

like, ‘Yes?’ He said, ‘I saw you

on TV.’ I was like, ‘Oh, good.

I’ll chat to you later.’ He goes,

‘Ian, Ian. What were you doing

on TV?’ And then I missed my


Above board

It’s evident that their work

has always had very clear

intentions – to spread messages

and to get people thinking, and

talking – effortlessly tapping into

the pulse of the capital, and the

nation. And so, as the pair see it,

when they began to take on more

serious topics with their board,

the transition was only natural.

“We were doing the concerts,

and people were getting excited,

and we realised how many

people we were reaching,”

says Ian. “We thought, if it

was making the concertgoers

happier, then maybe we can

make those lonely people on

their tube journeys stop and see

that they’re not alone.”

Ian explains that they began

writing about their own

experiences and conditions,

putting the poems out into the

world, and seeing if anyone felt

the same way. Very quickly, it

became clear that they did.

“People were saying, how

did you get this spot on about

anxiety attacks, or depression, or

post-traumatic stress disorder?

We were like: ‘We’re just writing

about how we feel.’”

In their book, both Ian and

Jeremy lay bare their experiences

– Ian covering anxiety and PTSD,

Jeremy speaking to depression

and an eating disorder. This

kind of candour is powerful in

any circumstances, but the fact

they’re two men adds another

dimension to the move.

18 | April 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

When reflecting on this, both

Jeremy and Ian say they’ve always

been sensitive, but the fact that

they’ve lost friends to suicide – as

well as talked people out of suicide

while working at the station –

means that they see first-hand the

power of their words, awareness,

and compassion.

Considering a moment that

became clear, Jeremy tells me

about a message they received

recently from someone who

explained how their poem ‘Don’t

Give Up’ had saved their life.

“It was incredible to read that,

because it just confirmed to us

that we’d done the right thing,”

Jeremy reflects.

Write this way

As Jeremy sees it, it’s the

simplicity with which they make

their points that opens up mental

health topics, but their poetic

medium is something they’re also

keen to unlock.

“We’re not polished speakers or

anything, we just say things as we

do usually,” he says. “Poetry has

become quite closed off to a lot of

people. We’ve simplified it, and

made it a bit more bouncy, in the

way that people usually talk in the

streets, or just to their neighbours.

We used that way of talking, and

people get it.”

On the flip side, the creative

process is also cathartic for

them, and they note how

expressing themselves has

had a positive effect on their

own wellbeing. For Ian, this

is particularly relevant when

considering how he deals with

anxiety attacks.

“They can last about 27 minutes,

but if I can stop and think, ‘I’ll

try to rhyme this word with that

word, and that word with that

word,’ I can work myself out of it.”

“For me, it’s also like you’re

searching for a solution for

things,” adds Jeremy. “Even if it’s

not whatever you’re feeling, you

feel like you’re accomplishing


We’re about to wrap up our

call, so I ask the pair a difficult

question. Do they have a

favourite board?

“That’s cruel,” Ian scolds.

“Imagine they’re children and

you’re picking your favourite!”

“In our book, there is an

exclusive poem in the ‘In It

Together’ chapter – which is

about the pandemic – and it’s a

poem that my daughter wrote,”

says Jeremy. “So if we had to

choose between children, in

terms of the poems, I’m going

to pick that one, because it was

written by my actual child.”

A sign of the times

Since All on the Board began

in 2017, we have faced many

hardships. In 2021, after an

incredibly difficult year, words

of comfort and hope, like those

the duo specialise in, couldn’t

be more important. So often, it’s

the simplest actions that speak

the loudest, and join us together,

instilling the optimism and unity

that we need to carry on. Now,

more than ever, Ian and Jeremy are

just the ticket.

“We’ve been wearing masks for the

last three years, so we thought we’d

take those masks off, and then put

on the other masks that everyone

is supposed to be wearing. So, it’s

a little bit of a statement without

being a statement,” says Ian.

“That’s us though, isn’t it?”

Adds Jeremy.

Ian nods. “Yeah. Yeah, it is.”

‘All On the Board: Inspirational

Quotes From The TFL Underground

Duo’ is out now (Yellow Kite, £14.99).

happiful.com | April 2021 | 19

How to support a pet with

separation anxiety

Animals can experience anxiety the same way that humans can,

and seeing them in distress can be heartbreaking. With the

help of a clinical animal behaviourist, we explore how

we can better support our companions

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Illustration | Becky Johnston

Many of us will

be familiar

with anxiety or

depression, but

did you know that our furry

friends can experience this, too?

According to research by Rover.

com, one in 10 dogs are living

with a mental health problem –

equating to nearly one million

dogs in the UK. And it’s not only

affecting man’s best friend – cats,

rabbits, birds, and all other kinds

of pets can experience mental

health problems, too.

Characterised by agitated, and

sometimes destructive, behaviour

in your absence, separation

anxiety can sometimes be

debilitating for our pets. And,

following lockdown, where many

of us have been spending a lot

more time with our companions,

it could be on the rise.

Here, clinical animal

behaviourist Heather Thomas,

head of behaviour at pet care app

Joii, shares tips for supporting

a pet that is experiencing

separation anxiety.

Create a safe haven

“To ensure our pets are happy

at home, we need to make sure

they are comfortable with being

left alone,” says Heather. As she

advises, there are a number of

ways that you can create a safe

space for your pet, including

making sure they have a

comfortable place to relax.

“Make the safe haven a place

your pet wants to be – drop treats

there and have toys available for

them, too. Pheromone sprays can

also help to relax them –

this is something you

should plug in near

the space.”

Beyond that,

Heather also points

out that certain genres

of music – reggae and

classical – have been

found to be particularly

soothing to animals, and so it could

be worth leaving music on low

when you leave the house.

Teach them to settle

It’s something that can be

often overlooked but, as

Heather notes, just as

humans can be taught

how to relax by using

yoga and mindfulness

techniques, so can our

animals – and it might

be key to helping them

work through anxiety.

It’s worth speaking to

your vet about specific

tips for your animal,

but there are also

some general things

you can look out for in

cats and dogs.

20 | March 2021 | happiful.com

pet power

Signs of separation

anxiety in dogs:

• Destructive behaviour

• Howling or barking

• Toileting

• Trembling or pacing

• Excessive salivation

• Self-mutilation

• Repetitive behaviour

• Vomiting

“A ‘settle’ is them laying down,

but in such a way that it promotes

relaxation,” Heather explains.

“Often, it’s when they’re on their

side with their hips popped over a

little. Any time you happen to see

your pet laying down like this, give

them a treat.”

Make alone time appealing

There are certain ways that you

can gradually help your pet

come to see a bit of alone time

as a good thing. “For example,

if your pet follows you to the

toilet, pop some treats outside the

bathroom door before you go in,”

Heather advises. “This gives them

exposure to being alone for a

short period of time, and creates

positive associations by giving

them a treat.”

For dogs, you can also try filling

a toy with treats, and leaving it

in a room where you don’t spend

much time – Heather notes

how this can encourage them to

investigate, and enjoy keeping

themselves occupied. For cats,

she recommends popping a

heat-pad in a space away from

you, to help them build a positive

association with being in a

different room.

Do it gradually

Systematic desensitisation is

another technique that is also

used in humans – gradually

exposing ourselves to a fear to

aid in overcoming phobias – and

it can be used to help pets feel

comfortable with being alone.

“The concept is essentially

leaving your pet for snippets of

time, then gradually building up

to longer periods,” Heather says.

This is a particularly good tip

for those who are worried about

how their animals will react if

they go back to a workplace after

lockdown. If you can, try to leave

your animal alone, increasing

your time out of the house as the

Signs of separation

anxiety in cats:

• Toileting

• Being aggressive

• Hiding

• Under or over-grooming

• Sleeping a lot

• Being on high alert

days go by. With time, this could be

the key to helping your pet feel calm,

safe, and happy.

If you’re worried about your pet’s

behaviour, speak to a vet, or visit

rspca.org.uk for more information.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 21




Most of us could be more in-tune with our mind and body, but for

those who menstruate, having a clear understanding of your monthly

cycle is particularly important. Whether it’s knowing when PMS is

around the corner, or pinpointing the days when you’re likely to be

most productive, tracking your cycle and mood can be truly beneficial…

Writing | Jenna Farmer

We all know that


syndrome (PMS) is

common the week

before your period, with 5–8%

of people struggling with severe

PMS that impacts their lives. But

have you ever thought about how

it changes throughout your cycle?

There are several stages that

make up your menstrual cycle,

which usually lasts between 21

and 40 days, and learning more

about this, and the hormones

involved, can be really useful in

managing symptoms and feeling

more connected to your body.

Understanding your cycle

It begins with your period,

and the first day of bleeding is

classed as day one of your cycle.

At this time, your oestrogen

levels are at rock bottom, so it’s

understandable to feel irritable

and moody. Oestrogen helps

modify the effects of our feelgood

endorphins and boosts

serotonin, so we can feel teary

and emotional when our levels

drop as our periods start. As

your period goes on, you might

notice fatigue kick in, too;

this can be due to the drop in

hormones but also due to your

iron levels, which may dip with

your monthly bleed.

Some are lucky enough that this

part of the cycle only lasts a few

days, but others might notice it

goes on up for up to eight days.

But, once it’s stopped, we head to

the second part of the cycle.

Ever have days where you feel

like you can take on the world?

Chances are you’re in the second

week of your cycle. Here, your

oestrogen is on the up, which

means your feel-good hormones

probably are, too. While it varies

for everyone, you might notice

feelings of calm and excitement.

22 | April 2021 | happiful.com


As you reach the middle of the

cycle, ovulation usually happens.

This is when you hit the peak

oestrogen levels, so your moods

may continue to be positive, with

studies showing women are more

sexually active in the days leading

up to ovulation. Body temperature

rises slightly when ovulating too,

so you might feel warmer.

Just after ovulation, our

progesterone levels start to rise.

This hormone is responsible for

helping our body make the stress

hormone cortisol, so you might

notice moodiness begin to kick in,

along with feeling bloated.

“Studies of women with IBS

have shown that symptoms tend

to be worse during the luteal

phase, just after ovulation,”

explains dietitian, and director

of CityDietitians, Sophie Medlin.

“The bowel contains receptors

for the hormones oestrogen and

progesterone, telling us that the

bowel is designed to sense and

react to them – and the luteal

phase is when they peak.”

Assuming you haven’t fallen

pregnant, the last part of your

cycle is the week before your

period, and it’s

here when both

your oestrogen and

progesterone levels

drop in anticipation.

This sudden dip

can cause the mood

swings we associate

with PMS, but this

isn’t something

that everyone will


Why tracking your

menstrual cycle can help

Although we know the science

behind our monthly cycle,

naturally we’re all a little different.

“Lots of factors can have

an impact on our hormones,

including: sleep, the foods we

eat, especially getting enough

fibre and the nutrients which are

building blocks for hormones;

and, of course, stress,” registered

nutritionist Uta Boellinger

explains. “When we are stressed,

our body produces stress

hormones including cortisol.

These take priority over other

hormones. So it’s a really good

idea to track your cycle to make

Oestrogen helps modify

the effects of our feel-good

endorphins and boosts

serotonin, so we can feel teary

and emotional when our levels

drop as our periods start

sure you notice any changes

that can indicate hormonal


Some of this is out of our control,

but getting to know your cycle can

be really helpful in pinpointing

these highs and lows. It has a

practical purpose, too; you can

schedule in projects during the

times in your cycle when you

know you’re more clear-headed

and productive, and arrange that

pampering evening for the time

you know you might feel low.

Top tips for tracking

your monthly cycle

• Get appy: A simple app can help

you track your cycle, and receive

notifications at different points in

the month. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 23

“I really like the Flo app,” explains

Uta Boellinger. “Not only can you

track your cycle, but also a whole

host of symptoms.”

Clue is another good option for

this, while Frendo is an app for

those with endometriosis who

want to track their periods.

• Consider journaling: For more

lengthy reflections, perhaps try

a wellness journal that can allow

you to deep dive into things such

as sleep, diet, and symptoms. This

can be particularly useful if you

need to visit your GP to chat about

your periods.

• Grab a thermometer: Your

temperature rises around

ovulation, so using a thermometer

is an alternative way to pinpoint

different parts of your cycle. Some

women do this alongside other

checks – such as monitoring their

cervical fluid – and it’s called the

fertility awareness method.

“The fertility awareness

method is the most precise way

of charting your hormones,”

explains Natasha Richardson,

medical herbalist and founder of

Forage Botanicals, which makes

natural products for period

problems like PMS and pain. “It

allows you to chart your moods

and any other symptoms you

have alongside it, and is probably

the most scientific and wellresearched

form of tracking for

cycle and mood.”

Eat to support your cycle

The start of your cycle: During

your period week, iron-rich

foods such as leafy greens and

lean meat, can help with feelings

of fatigue. Lots of us crave sweet

things during this time, and

while it’s fine to indulge, you

might find upping your protein

intake can be more helpful.

The middle of your cycle:

Uta Boellinger suggests eating

ground flaxseeds during the first

two weeks of your cycle, when

oestrogen is lower.

“Seeds can help naturally

increase your oestrogen, while

also providing fiber to support

healthy oestrogen metabolism,”

she adds.

The end of your cycle: While

you don’t want to overhaul your

whole diet this week, some

studies have found a higher

intake of fruit and vegetables

seem to help with PMS

symptoms. Herbalist Louise

Westra suggests that herbal teas

can be helpful at this time.

“Rose petal tea can be incredibly

nurturing and uplifting,” Louise

says. “If someone tends to suffer

from a lower mood as part of the

PMS picture. Fennel tea can be

good for abdominal type bloating,


Whether you grab a notebook, or

prefer to use an app, getting started

with menstrual tracking is simple

to do, so why not give it a go?

Jenna Farmer is a freelance journalist

who specialises in perinatal mental

health and gut health. She has

Crohn’s disease, and blogs about her

journey at abalancedbelly.co.uk

Uta Boellinger is a registered

nutritional therapist specialising in

fertility, pregnancy, and hormonal

balance. Director of Cannelle

Nutrition in Brighton, Uta has just

finished her debut book on teenage

nutrition. To get in touch with Uta and

for more nutrition information, visit


24 | April 2021 | happiful.com

try this at home

Are you an empath?

12 signs to watch out for

Listening and

communication are

strong skills of yours

People regularly turn

to you for advice

and support

You’re particularly

sensitive to others’


You understand

and connect deeply

with others

You may find yourself

frequently fatigued,

drained by the emotions

Others view you

as incredibly


Others feel calmer

in your presence

Public spaces can

feel overwhelming

You can be quite sensitive

to the environment

around you

Your mood can change

quite rapidly, from real

highs to lows

You often unintentionally

mirror the emotions

of people and things

around you

You have a strong

desire to help

people in need

happiful.com | April 2021 | 25


Hope is a small rebellion

Photography | Feeh Costa

feel-good food

Overcome fussy

eating habits

with hypnosis

Our mind is an incredible thing. While we may not understand all

of its secrets, by utilising the power of storytelling and suggestion,

we can change the narrative around our food habits...

Writing | Ellen Hoggard

While I’ve always

been a lover of new

foods, finding joy

in exploring new

flavours, textures, and cuisines,

I can clearly remember my two

brothers not experiencing food

in the same way. As a child, I

couldn’t understand why they

would fight against our family

meals and eat only their favoured

foods – in this case, Marmite on

toast or chicken nuggets. Despite

my parents’ best efforts, they

often had to accept the failed

argument and return to the table

with the usual selection. After

all, the most important thing

was ensuring we were fed, and

following a full day of work, why

would they use the little energy

they had left on a battle they

couldn’t win?


Fussy eating (also known

as picky eating or selective

eating) is incredibly common

in young children, especially

between the ages of three and

six. It’s characterised by an

unwillingness to eat unfamiliar

foods, try new foods, as well as

having strong food preferences.

Often, children will grow out

of it as their tastes change and

they become more inquisitive.

However, there are cases where

this behaviour continues into

adulthood. It’s here that it can

become more of a problem, as

relationships develop and social

events circulate around food, the

person may feel embarrassed

by their limited palette. Teens

and young adults may also start

to notice problems with their

health developing. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 27

This could include: tiredness,

lacklustre skin and hair, and

difficulty exerting themselves


While two common causes

of fussy eating include parents

having a limited diet, or a

traumatic event that has

resulted in a fear or hatred of

certain types of food, reasons

behind this behaviour can

vary. If you’re a parent and

your child is showing signs of

picky eating, firstly know that

they may well grow out of it

on their own. Be patient and

know that you’re doing all you

can. But if it does appear to be

becoming a problem, there are

steps you can take to work with

your child to introduce new

foods and textures. Likewise, if

you’re a young person or adult

experiencing these behaviours,

there is help available to you.

Hypnotherapy, in particular, is

an approach that can be effective

in helping you to overcome fussy

eating, and introduce you to the

joys and health benefits a varied

diet can bring.


“In most cases, children aren’t

born fussy eaters, so hypnotherapy

can help to understand why they

are saying no to certain foods,

and yes to others,” explains

cognitive hypnotherapist Sophie

Parker. “Being a parent to a child

with fussy eating habits is not a

reflection of how good a parent

you are. I am a foodie, so when my

daughter was weaning, I earnestly

introduced her to a range of foods.

She ate what I ate from six months

old, but despite my efforts, my

daughter can still sometimes be

picky about what she will eat.”

Hypnotherapy can be an

effective approach for those

who have anxieties or fears

around food. With the support

of a hypnotherapist, you can

learn to quiet the mind and

address negative behaviours at

a subconscious level, using the

power of suggestion. Sessions

will often focus on lowering the

anxiety around trying new foods,

as well as providing you with the

tools to practise self-hypnosis

and mindfulness techniques

throughout your journey.

“A hypnotherapist can uncover

events and experiences that have

led to the dislike, or unwillingness

to try, certain types of foods. With

children, this will be through

storytelling and engaging their

imagination to reframe their

experience with food.”

As well as hypnotherapy,

cognitive behavioural therapy and

solution-focused therapy can be

useful to understand what triggers

anxiety around food, and identify

what changes need to be made.

What your child is

exhibiting is perfectly

normal. Fussy eating is

quite often about control

and independence, and

it will pass

28 | April 2021 | happiful.com



More often than not, fussy

eating in young children is

a phase. If you believe it’s a

behaviour that isn’t going to go

away and/or they’re expressing

frustration in the behaviour

themselves, you may benefit

from seeking support from either

a hypnotherapist, a nutritional

therapist, and/or a medical


“It’s important for parents not

to blame themselves for their

children’s fussy eating habits. It’s

considered normal for children

to be picky about what they eat,

or be ‘neophobic’ and avoid new

or unfamiliar foods,” says Sophie.

“Fussy eating is quite often about

control and independence, and

it will pass. The fact is, most

children become less fussy as

they grow older.

“Food neophobia is thought to

be an evolutionary adaptation

that helps to prevent the

ingestion of potentially harmful

foods until children learn what

is safe to eat. Framing fussy

eating within this context can

help you to see things from your

child’s perspective. Ultimately,

fussy eating habits come down to

control and consistency, which

explains why some children may

favour more foods like pasta and

bread, which in their minds, are

tried and tested in terms of look,

texture, and taste.

“The key to overcoming fussy

eating habits is exposure to a

variety of foods and starting

small,” Sophie says. “It can take

children up to 15 tries before they

form a preference for something,

so consistency is key. When you

want to introduce something

new, make sure it’s not their main

meal, and involve them.”

Sophie suggests turning it into

a game, as emotions of surprise

and delight can make eating

a fun experience. “It takes the

pressure off, by focusing on the

activity, rather than eating itself,

especially if you’re worried about

them going hungry, as you’re still

serving them tried and tested


For parents of picky eaters,

know that you’re doing the

best you can. Mealtimes can be

stressful for both you and your

child, but you’re not alone in

this. Speak to your friends, seek

out fellow parents and support

groups, and share experiences

and tips. The chances are, your

child will start trying new foods

on their own.

And if not, help is available.

Hypnotherapy can be a

successful therapy for adults and

children alike, helping them gain

a better understanding of what

these behaviours are, why they

came about, how to overcome

them and enjoy all the joys food

and mealtimes can bring.

Sophie Parker is a cognitive

hypnotherapist, coach, and NLP

master practitioner. She is the

founder of London-based mind

health and wellbeing practice

The Inner. To find out more and

get in touch with her, visit


happiful.com | April 2021 | 29

10Writing | Kat Nicholls

coaching questions

to stay motivated

and achieve

your goals

When we begin a new challenge,

we’re often full of excitement. But,

understandably, that energy can

dwindle, especially when we hit

roadblocks. But with these 10 powerful

coaching questions in your back pocket,

you can get yourself back on track in no time...

Now and then we all need

a gentle push to stay

positive and motivated.

There’s absolutely

nothing wrong with feeling low

in energy and uninterested in our

goals occasionally, but when this

becomes a default state of mind,

it’s time to take action.

Here we’re sharing 10 powerful

questions used by coaches to

encourage their clients to feel

more positive, more motivated,

and excited about their goals

again. So, dig out your favourite

notebook and pen, stick the kettle

on, and note down your answers

to the following...

1. When do

you feel

happiest in

your daily


It’s easy to think happiness only

arrives during big life events or

special occasions but, in reality,

it’s peppered throughout our days

in small doses. It takes a keen eye

to recognise it but, when you do,

you can savour the moment and

truly enjoy it.

Think about your current

daily routine and when you

feel happiest. Is it during your

morning coffee? At lunch when

you get out for a walk in nature?

Or perhaps it’s in the evening

when you cosy up with a loved

one? Whenever it is, consider

how you can really savour this

moment, or introduce more

times like this into your day.

2. What were

your three

most positive

moments in

the past week/


Our brains have a negativity bias,

which means they hold on to

negative experiences more easily

than positive ones. The impact of

this is that we need to be really

30 | April 2021 | happiful.com

intentional about remembering

the lighter moments in life.

Take some time to think

about three positive things that

happened in the past week,

month, and year. Reflecting on

these moments offers a new

perspective, and can shift you

into a more optimistic mindset.

3. Why is it


for you to


your goal?

If you have a goal you’re

struggling with right now,

come back to the basics and

ask yourself why it’s important

to you. What will change if you

accomplish this particular goal?

What won’t change if you don’t?

Reiterating the importance of

what you’re working towards

can give you a renewed energy

around the goal, and inspire you

to keep going.

4. How will achieving your goal

support others around you?

If you’re still struggling with motivation, look at your

goal in a different way. We often think about the ways

our goals will change our own lives, but have you ever

thought about how they will change other people’s lives?

For example, if your goal is to meditate more to help manage stress,

think about how those around you will benefit from you being less

stressed. Sometimes taking the focus away from ourselves in this way

can help us to feel more committed to our goals.

5. How can you motivate yourself?

Motivation is an inside job – you really need to tune-in

to what excites you, drives you, and lean into that. Think

about what’s propelled you into action in the past, to see

how you can recreate that inspiration in the future. Is it

about setting yourself deadlines for milestones you want

to achieve, or having calendar reminders on your phone? Is it about

being held accountable, by sharing your goals with friends or family,

or even a life coach? Once you know what fires you up most, you can

utilise this in times when your motivation seems to dwindle. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 31


• Go green - this colour has been found

to boost motivation and spark creativity.

Take a walk outside to soak up some

natural inspiration!

• Treat yourself - decide on a little reward

for achieving certain milestones, or even just

for a small win. This could be a special hot

drink, a break to listen to a new podcast, or

a phone call with a friend.

• Tackle the tough stuff - avoid procrastination

by starting with the tasks that might be more

challenging. You’ll get momentum, and once

you tick these off your list, it can give you

confidence to keep going.

32 | April 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

6. What are

some steps

you can take

towards your

goal? What will

you do first?

Taking action

is what makes a goal a reality.

Hopefully, you’re feeling more

positive and committed to your

goal, so now is the time to think

about how you’ll achieve it. What

small steps will help you get

there? What is one thing you can

do today to bring you closer to

achieving your goal? Remember,

small steps lead to big changes in

the long run.

7. What


barriers are

there to you


your goal, and what will you

do if these barriers come up?

It’s important to be realistic when

it comes to goals. As much as we

would love to believe everything

in your life will line up perfectly

and you’ll have no problem

at all achieving your goals,

sometimes… life happens. A

bump in the road might come up,

and something unexpected might

derail you.

While you can’t prepare for all

eventualities, taking some time

to think about potential barriers

and, crucially, how you’ll handle

them if they do appear, can help.

You’ll be more able to problem

solve as hurdles arise, and help

yourself stay on track.

Remind yourself

of your resilience,

and move forward

knowing you have

the strength to pick

yourself back up

For more insight

and support with your

motivation and goals visit


8. Who can you ask to help

you along the way?

Remember, it is OK to ask for help. In fact, having

the right support system around you can be crucial

to your happiness – we were never meant to do this

alone. Think about who you have in your life who could support you, and

consider whether or not you would benefit from hiring a professional,

such as a coach. This is someone who can listen, support, and help guide

you on your path, without judgement.

9. How can you best support yourself right now?

As well as considering your external support, it’s helpful to

think about how you can support yourself. Take a holistic

approach here, and think about how you’re looking after

yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually. Self-care,

while you work on your goal, is essential for avoiding

burnout. Ensure you build this into your day-to-day routine, in whatever

form it looks like for you.

10. What past experiences can

you draw on to help?

Reflecting on past experiences and successes is an

easy technique that can help you build confidence.

Think about the times in your life where you’ve been

challenged, and how you came through the other side. Remind yourself

of your resilience, and move forward knowing you have the strength to

pick yourself back up should you need to.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 33









Take time for you

From boosting confidence to

reducing stress, take proactive steps

to create the life you deserve. Each

of these cards features an emotive

affirmation, along with four

activities to help you on your

self-development journey.

You do not just wake

up and become the

butterfly. Growth

is a process

Rupi Kaur

These inspiring

affirmation activity

cards are available

exclusively in our print

edition! Purchase

yours today

My tension is

melting away

happiful.com | April 2021 | 35


Don’t overthink it

If you struggle with spiralling thoughts that cause you endless stress,

here are some essential ideas to keep overthinking under control

Step back and assess. Gain

some self-awareness – things

aren’t always as they seem.



4 5

Change your mindset.

Flip that automatic

negative thinking, and

instead focus on what

could go right.

Distract yourself. Have

some fun, and take your

mind off it. When you

return to the problem with

fresh eyes, it might not

appear so immense.

Share the love. Doing

something nice for

someone else can remind

you it’s not so bad, and

stop the spiral.

One step at a time. If

the challenge or task

seems insurmountable,

break things down into

manageable chunks.




Pause and reflect. Take

time to think about how

far you’ve come and what

you’ve achieved. You’ve

risen to challenges before,

and you will again.

A little kindness goes a

long way. We’re looking for

progress, not perfection,

so show yourself some


Talk it out. Just saying those

thoughts out loud can make

them much less scary, so speak

to someone you trust, and

never be afraid to ask for help!

true story

How I rebuilt

my life after burnout

Stephen worked hard and played hard — ignoring the

warning signs that his mind and body were sending. Then

one day, it all became too much…

Writing | Stephen Lynch

For as long as I can remember, I’ve

struggled to switch-off.

Since leaving university, two-day

weekends of relaxation, rest, and

energising play have been few and far between.

In 2019 in particular, I’d get up far too early on a

Sunday morning, with a diary full of things to do,

but short on fun. This would be the time in the

week when my mind and body would try telling

me loudly that I needed to stop – having built up a

relentless habit of working at weekends.

My first job after graduating was six days

per week. But even when I broke into the 9–5,

Monday-to-Friday world, I still liked to train at the

gym for long hours on Saturdays and Sundays. My

girlfriend at the time couldn’t understand it, and

rightly resented that I felt time spent with her was

keeping me from doing other things.

I’ve lost several relationships now due to my

inability to switch-off and relax. Being present

during rest and play is equally as important as

being engaged at work.

At weekends, I would always carry my backpack

with me – heavy with my laptop, gym gear, journal,

the latest self-help book I was reading, and those

all-important smartphone chargers. My laptop

even went with me to a friend’s wedding in Malta.

I had a junior role working on a general election

campaign in the UK – but somehow thought I was

important and indispensable enough to check my

emails regularly during the trip.

My ‘always-on’ working mentality was most

clearly revealed through my ‘perfect Saturday’

routine. I’d begin the day with high intensity

interval training (HIIT), boxing training,

spinning (or some combination of these!). Then

I’d take the release of happy endorphins, and the

other neurotransmitters of dopamine, serotonin,

and oxytocin into working on passion projects

for a few hours.

By early evening it would be time for public

speaking class — the highlight of most of my

weeks — with some socialising afterwards.

Some weeks I would have arranged a date —

capitalising on my peak mood, and assuaging

any feelings of loneliness or emptiness for a few

more hours.

This routine ticked all the boxes for me, as it

combined all of my loves and passions: public

speaking (particularly improvised speeches);

socialising with like-minded people with shared

interests; intense, challenging, but enjoyable

exercise; and above all, being productive –

‘getting stuff done’.

In hindsight I was throwing myself into

‘busyness’ for the sake of it – subconsciously

distracting myself to avoid confronting the real

issues within.>>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 37

Stephen Lynch is the co-author of

‘Eject the Autopilot: Choosing

Self-Mastery over Safety’

I was throwing myself into

‘busyness’ for the sake of it —

subconsciously distracting myself

to avoid confronting the real

issues within

Despite a few years of absent mindedness and

blank, forgetful moments when asked what

I’d been up to, the moment I realised I’d burnt

myself out was in December 2019.

The morning before, I’d woken to my usual 5am

alarm and immediately felt a strong urge to get

straight back into bed and sleep an hour or two

longer. This was a very rare feeling for me.

The next morning, my body and mind were

telling me to go the long way to work, to stop off

at the playground and jump on the swings for a

while, to linger over a proper breakfast at a hotel

near me. In hindsight, they were trying to delay

me from reaching the office.

Reaching my central London workplace a

couple of hours later – full of breakfast and

caffeine – I knew something was wrong as soon

as I booted up my laptop and sat down to write a

communications plan for a client. On a normal

day, I could draft one of these standing on my

head. But this morning I could barely type a

sentence. I was looking at the laptop, the page

of my journal, and around the office, when it

dawned on me that I was overcome with stress,

anxiety, and dullness in the brain.

I felt dead inside. I’d pushed myself too far, for

too long. The well was dry, there was no water

left to pour, my cup was empty.

This was my realisation that the way I was

working wasn’t working for me.

I spent the next five days doing as little as

possible – but regretfully accepted three media

appearance requests. The ability to prioritise

your own health and wellbeing is often the

ability to simply say no.

One month before my burnout, I’d booked a

one-way flight to Africa for January 2020. One of

the questions I began asking in the days leading

up to the flight was: how have I got to this point,

where taking myself away to a vast, unfamiliar

continent, with no return flight booked, was

something I decided was a sensible, logical, and

rational thing to do in my life?

38 | April 2021 | happiful.com

true story

Out in Zanzibar, I noticed what a better mood

I was in when I’d slept well – sometimes with a

gratuitous afternoon nap – and not spent hours

staring at screens or commuting.

The signs I’d previously ignored included the

relationships I’d walked away from, when I felt

they were contradicting my ambitious goals and

my flawed means of trying to achieve them.

I’d long glossed over my forgetfulness and

absentmindedness. Anxiety and stress had

slowly built-up to a point where I’d hardly

realised they were regular fixtures in my life.

I’d overlooked my Sunday fatigue, and general

listlessness throughout the week. My increasing

isolation since becoming self-employed I’d

chalked down as a necessary sacrifice.

My main lesson was that I couldn’t live or

work at 100 miles-an-hour for long. Burning the


Many of us will resonate with Stephen’s story. We

will certainly have felt the stress of having too

many demands vying for our attention.

For Stephen, it was a full on burnout that

instigated change. Fortunately, he achieved

this by looking at life differently, managing his

workload, and noticing how having fun is just as

important to our mental health as having space.

candle at both ends was no longer sustainable.

I have learnt to be much more strategic about

what work I take on, and how I approach each

day. I allow plenty of time for exercise, rest, and

the odd inane TV show or film to allow my mind

to switch off. I also make more time for friends,

and talk to them about anything and everything

– except work.

Scheduling fun activities that are enjoyable

for their own sake, is a major part of recovery.

A walk, reading a book, or playing a game, are

simple antidotes to burnout-induced anxiety.

The coronavirus lockdowns are a challenge

for us all, but have presented me with a chance

to live at a slower pace – more consciously and

deliberately. With time, I have come to see my

burnout as a wonderful opportunity to choose a

better way of living.

Particularly during such a challenging

time, it’s essential we recognise when work

or family demands are causing

undue stress. Remember, there’s

always help out there, and a

different to approach life.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr | Life coach

happiful.com | April 2021 | 39

There is always light, if only

we’re brave enough to see it. If

only we’re brave enough to be it


40 | April 2021 | happiful.com

Photography | Wahyu Setiawan

positive pointers




and why?

Demand for food banks is on the rise in the UK. Whether

you’re looking for support yourself, or you want to help out,

we’ve gathered together everything you need to know

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

According to the

Trussell Trust, in the

first six months of

the pandemic, nearly

2,600 food parcels were given to

children every single day – and

between 1 April and 30 September

2020, 1.2 million people in crisis

received emergency food parcels.

These figures are just a snapshot

of the bigger picture, but they tell

a story of a nation struggling to

adequately care for those who are

most vulnerable.

Poverty goes beyond hunger – it

consumes your life, and impacts

your mental health. One-quarter

of adults in the poorest fifth of the

population live with anxiety and

depression and, on the flip side,

those who are struggling with their

mental health are more likely to be

affected by income loss – making

poverty and mental health a vicious,

relentless cycle.

No one should have to depend

on charity in order to access food,

and the responsibility to work

towards a hunger-free nation

lies with the government. But

since March 2020, volunteers

and public figures, such as

footballer Marcus Rashford, have

continued to work tirelessly to

support those in crisis – fuelled

by compassion, lived-experience,

and a drive to make a difference.

Whether you feel empowered

to support food banks, or you are

in need of help yourself, here, we

break down everything you need

to know. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 41


There isn’t a simple answer, as people can

find themselves in poverty for a myriad of

reasons – including job loss, the breakdown

of relationships, illness, and delays to benefits.

That said, in areas where Universal Credit has

been fully rolled out, food banks have

seen an average of a 30% increase

in demand. There is a five-week

wait for people moving on to

UC, which charities see as a

contributing factor – and

it’s being challenged by the

Trussell Trust’s campaign:

Five Weeks Too Long.


Where should I go?

The Trussell Trust is the UK’s

biggest network of food banks,

and you can head to trusselltrust.

org/get-help to find a food bank

near you. Additionally, if you are

in a financial crisis and live in

England or Wales, you can call

their free helpline on:

0808 208 2138.

Places of worship also often

run their own food banks, and

there may be small independent

organisations in your area, which

you should be able to find by

searching online, or watching

out for flyers or details in local


Each food bank may function

slightly differently, so it’s

important to check what their

procedure is, but many work with

a referral agency, who will give

you a voucher, which you can then

exchange for a minimum of three

days’ worth of emergency food. A

food parcel will then be created

for you, taking into account

how many people you need to

support, their ages, and any

dietary requirements.

What do I need to know?

Visiting a food bank is as much

about picking up the supplies that

you need, as it is about reaching

out for support beyond that. The

volunteers who you meet are also

there to listen to you, to help you

to discover additional resources,

and map the steps you can take to

move forward.

In the first six

months of the

pandemic, nearly 2,600

food parcels were given

to children every day

Something that is often

forgotten about life in poverty

is how isolating it can be, and

a report by the Child Poverty

Action Group found that those

who used food banks often

described the experience as

‘embarrassing’. Shame is a

difficult emotion to deal with,

but it’s worth remembering that

food banks are non-judgemental

spaces, where the volunteers

are there with a listening ear,

and they can also signpost

community groups, links with

other charities, and support for

emotional wellbeing.

42 | April 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers


The Hunger Free Future is a campaign by the

Trussell Trust to end hunger and destitution in

the UK, for good. To learn more, and to add

your voice to the movement, head to



Personal tragedy led Jo to

spiral into depression and,

soon after, she lost her job

during the global pandemic.

She managed to find casual

work here and there but, after

paying off debts, her income

from Universal Credit came

to just £250 a month – all she

had to pay for all her living

expenses. On the brink of

homelessness, Jo realised that

she needed help, but reaching

out to a food bank wasn’t easy,

and it took courage for her to

take that first step.

Yet when she did, she was

immediately supported – given

a choice of what food she

wanted, as well as additional

household products. With this

care behind her, Jo was able to

address other areas of her life,

and was put in touch with Beam

– a platform that crowdfunds

new career opportunities for

homeless people.

Although reaching out

wasn’t easy, reflecting on

the experience, Jo sees how

it restored her confidence in

people during what was a

difficult and isolating time.


Where should I go?

You may have spotted food bank

collection boxes in supermarkets

– they’re usually behind the

checkout area, and this is a really

convenient way to donate. Simply

add a couple of spare items into

your trolley as you’re doing your

usual shop, and then drop them

in the box on your way out.

You can also look into donating

directly to a local organisation

– many have donation times

where you can drop off items, so

it’s worth checking in with them

to see if there are certain days

you can donate on, or if they

have any additional or specific

requirements or requests.

You can also donate money

to food banks, either one-off

donations or set up a monthly

payment. This money helps them

to run their services and, in the

case of the Trussell Trust, also

goes towards campaigns to help

end food poverty for good.

What do I need to know?

Food banks don’t just supply

food, and there’s a host of other

household items that you can also

donate, including:

• Toiletries: deodorant, toilet

paper, soap, shampoo, dental

hygiene products

• Cleaning supplies: washing up

liquid, disinfectants, laundry


• Feminine hygiene products

• Baby items: nappies, wipes,

baby food

Other ways that you can

help could be through

volunteering your time, or

putting on a fundraising event

to donate money to your local

organisation. It’s also important

to keep the conversation going,

stay up-to-date with the state

of things, and look out for

opportunities to get involved

in long-term campaigns and


When faced with a problem as

big as the one food poverty has

become in the UK, it’s easy to

feel overwhelmed and hopeless.

But in difficult times like these,

it’s good to reflect on the things

that we do have control over,

and which we can help with.

Big or small, in donations or

in fundraising, there are ways

that we can all get involved in

supporting the people who need

it most.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 43

Ask the experts

Hypnotherapist Fiona Vitel answers

your questions on switching off

Read more about Fiona Vitel on



I’m feeling

stressed a lot

these days, and

I’m finding it hard to

cope. Is this something

hypnotherapy could

help me with?

AStress and anxiety can

feel overwhelmingly

hard to cope with during

challenging times. That’s why

so many people seek help, and

hypnotherapy is one of the

fastest and most effective ways

of regaining a sense of balance.

The ‘fight-or-flight’ response is

identified, which enables the root

cause to be understood, and

then this is contrasted with the

physical and emotional changes

of the relaxation response.

Healing images, positive

suggestions, and other concepts,

are offered to the subconscious

to act upon, rather than allowing

the limiting beliefs, that create

fear and discord, be the

driving force. Hypnotherapy

helps to strengthen right

thinking by overriding negative

conditioning. The subconscious

is, after all, the servant and

the master! It can’t tell the

difference between what is

real or unreal, and therefore

gives us a great opportunity to

programme something new

and true. Coping skills are

increased, making way for lifechanging



Falling asleep

is hard at the

moment as

my mind is constantly

whirring. Do you have

any advice to help me

drift off?



well as good nutrition and

regular exercise, deep and

rejuvenating sleep is incredibly

important. During times like these,

it can be easy to slip into the

habit of snoozing during the day,

and arising late in the morning.

When there is mind chatter

going on, then it’s time to take

action to silence it.

The ‘monkey mind’, as it’s

frequently called, brings on

doubt, fear, distraction, and

even depression. I address this

more fully in my hypnotherapy

sessions, but there are some

ways you can address it by

shifting your focus to reading,

listening to soothing music, doing

breathwork, and meditation. A

warm lavender-scented bath

works wonders, as does a

herbal tea or warm, milky drink

before bedtime. Make sure the

temperature of your bedroom

is comfortable. And finally, stop

using devices like TV, phones,

and tablets at least an hour

before sleep time – head to p90

for more sleep tips.

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



1. Move away from your

computer, phone, or whatever

activity it is that’s taking all of

your attention, and take a short

walk outside or simply move to

a window and watch the world

go by for a while. A different

sensory experience helps to make

a change to how you process

emotions, and will hopefully have

benefits such as relaxation.

2. Practise meditation and

deep-breathing techniques.

3. Use self-hypnosis to calm the

autonomic nervous system, and

use picture imagery to transport

yourself to other realms – be it

nature, or whatever your fabulous

imagination can conjure.

Immerse yourself while listening

to relaxation music.


With everything

that’s happening

right now, I’m

struggling to relax.

Do you have any

suggestions to help me

switch off?

AFor most of us, we never

even considered we would

have to deal with long periods

of isolation, which is outside

of our control – or so we think.

Perhaps we don’t have control

over a pandemic, but we do have

control within our own sphere of

influence. Our mind and breath

are the best places to start.

Switch off all devices, make

yourself comfortable by either

sitting up straight or lying

down, and take your focus

to your breathing. Breathe in

and out to a ratio of 4:6, while

repeating words such as ‘calm’,

‘relax’, or ‘peace’. Do this until

your breathing feels even and

rhythmic, and the body/mind has

responded to your command.

Listening to soothing music,

doodling, using colouring-in

books, going for a walk, doing

gentle yoga, or sleeping, can all

help you to relax. Remember

– you get to choose how you

respond. You have more control

than you think!

happiful.com | April 2021 | 45




Founder of The Book of Man, journalist Martin Robinson,

has delved deep into the chaos of modern masculinity,

and has emerged with plenty of insight to share...

Writing | Lucy Donoughue


can honestly say that I was

nervous to speak to Martin

Robinson about his new book,

You Are Not the Man You Are

Supposed to Be. I’ve met him three

times before, and Martin has never

been anything other than kind and

warm; he’s intelligent, thoughtful

and has a 25-year career in

journalism that I’m in awe of, but

that’s not why I was trepidatious.

I was nervous because, among

other topics, we were going to talk

about the time I made him cry.

It was back in 2019, when I was

new to hosting Happiful’s podcast,

and I still remember holding my

breath as Martin’s voice cracked,

and I desperately fought against

every instinct to say something

soothing, funny, or just awkward.

“You asked me a question about

what I’d say to my teenage self,

and I said: ‘Get your haircut, buy

some better clothes, and it’ll

be alright,’ and at that point I

started crying. Properly crying,”

Martin recalls while smiling at

me over Zoom. “It was quite an

honest moment, but it was really


“In the aftermath though, it was

pretty important for me. I went

out on the street, and called my

girlfriend saying something like,

‘I can’t believe I was on a podcast

crying…’ Then I went into a pub,

had a pie and a pint, got myself

together, and I just thought, what

am I doing? I’m such a bloke! I

got a bit upset, and went straight

to a pub.”

When Martin started to think

about the shape of his new book,

that day came back into his mind.

“It really showed me that I’ve still

got loads of issues I’m not dealing

with. I’d started The Book of Man,

and was showing an interest in

men’s mental health, but why?

Why was I really interested?”

To answer this question, he

decided that his book would

be part self-exploration, part

documenting others’ experiences

and relationships with

masculinity and mental health.

His journey began back in the

North of England, visiting Andy’s

Man Club, a now nationwide,

free, men’s support group, set up

by mental health advocate Luke

Ambler after his brother-in-law,

Andy, died by suicide.

“I attended as a regular person

would, from the viewpoint of

what could this do for me?”

Martin explains. “Andy’s Man

Club is kind of group therapy;

you sit around with other blokes

and it’s no frills. A rugby ball gets

passed around and you talk – or

you don’t.”

The concept of speaking about

his challenges in front of a group

of strangers felt alien to Martin

at first, but he soon realised his

concerns were unfounded. “I

couldn’t believe how warm they

all were. It was brilliant, and I

just thought, there really is more

to men than meets the eye. Once

you make men comfortable in a

space where you say ‘We’re not

going to take the piss out of you,’

it all comes out.”

46 | April 2021 | happiful.com


Photography | Ed Miles

Men and boys

are as fragile as

anyone else –and

shouldn’t we

stop pretending


From there on in, he examined

a lot of the clichés around

perceptions of masculinity, as

well as the fact that men and boys

are as fragile as anyone else – and

shouldn’t we stop pretending


“There’s a certain strand in

masculinity where men are in

denial of that fragility,” he says. “I

started unpicking that, and where

that urge to deny what’s really

going on comes from.”

But questioning what

masculinity means now, doesn’t

come without a backlash, as

Martin explains. “There’s often

a resistance to men talking in

this way, but I keep returning

to the idea that this is simply

about self-questioning. Trying

to understand that is a really

healthy process.”

Beyond the personal, Martin

delves into issues around class,

poverty, and politics. He’s keen

to impress that environmental

factors also have a role to play.

“Statistically, you are more

likely to have a mental health

problem, including addiction, if

you live in an impoverished area,”

he shares. “People can often

blame themselves, and think

it’s something that they have to

untangle on their own. But it’s not

your fault, and it’s important to

acknowledge that.

“Getting more men to look at

tricky issues is the starting point,

because I think we can clam-up.

That’s partly because masculinity

and mental health is such a big

issue to get your head around.”

But that’s why the work Martin,

and many others, is doing is so

important – pushing for the next

chapter on modern masculinity.

And with his honest selfreflection,

challenging the status

quo, and asking for change,

Martin really is writing the book

on this.

Martin Robinson is the editor,

CEO and founder of thebookofman.

com, a site working towards a new

concept of masculinity. ‘You Are Not

the Man You Are Supposed to Be: Into

the Chaos of Modern Masculinity’ is

out now (Bloomsbury, £20).

happiful.com | April 2021 | 47

I have learned you are never

too small to make a diff erence


Photography | Caique Silva

pet power

Did you know?

10 facts about animals that feel

like a warm hug for your soul


Flamingos can only eat

when their heads are

upside-down – they’re

also naturally white! It’s

their diet of shrimps and

algae that turns them pink.

7Wombats poo is



Sea otters hold paws

while they sleep, so

they don’t drift apart

with the current.


Much like lobsters,

seahorses mate for

life – but they also,

sweetly, hold each other’s

tails when they travel!

5Dogs’ nose prints

are as unique as our

fingerprints, and can

be used to identify them.


Baby elephants like

to suck their trunks,

just like human

babies sucking their

thumbs for comfort.


When squirrels fall

or jump, they land

in what seems to

closely resemble

a ‘superhero pose’.



can sleep

standing up, but

apparently only dream

when they’re lying down.

9Parrots will

selflessly help out

other parrots, with

studies showing they’ll

voluntarily help others get

food rewards, even if they

don’t know the other bird.


animal of

Scotland is


the unicorn.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 49

How to


for someone

with mental


Living with




comes with many

challenges. It’s

often overwhelming

and emotionally

draining – and when

you’re struggling the most, making

decisions, accessing support, and

articulating thoughts and feelings

can feel near impossible. This is

where an advocate can come in to

lend a hand.

One common emotion that can

arise for someone with mental

illness is frustration, particularly

when they feel they aren’t being

listened to. As someone with

bipolar disorder, I know from

my own experience that it can be

hard to have my opinion heard,

When a loved one is struggling, we can

sometimes feel helpless as we try to work

out how best to support them. But with

these simple steps, you can really be

there for them in their time of need

Writing | Katie Conibear

and to be taken seriously. This is

why having a family member or

close friend act as an advocate for

you can be a big help.

An advocate supports a loved

one, helps them express their

views, and can stand up for their

rights. Psychotherapist Baljit

Kamal says: “Being an advocate

for your loved one who is going

through mental illnesses may

mean that you are easing their

nervousness, and bringing

clarity for them. It may include

assisting them to

receive the medical

attention and

care they deserve,

and ensuring

that their voice is

heard, especially

if they have been

afraid to speak

up for themselves.” It really

is an often vital role to play in

helping someone overcome the

challenges that can come with

the mental health system.

The key thing to distinguish

here though, is that being

an advocate does not mean

pressuring someone into a

decision. You’re there to help

your loved one to make informed

decisions, and support them in

whatever they decide is right for

them. Listening to someone’s

50 | April 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

concerns, opinions, and fears is

hugely impactful.

“The most helpful thing a

loved one can do when they are

advocating for someone with

a mental illness, is to be fully

present and listen, without

judgement,” Baljit Kamal

explains. “Active listening is when

you have your full focus on what

someone is saying, while making

a conscious effort to hear not only

the words being expressed, but

also the complete message being

communicated through nonverbal

aspects of communication,

too. This may include putting

yourself in their shoes, which can

be calming, reassuring, and even

healing, during moments of crisis

for your loved one.”

The following five steps can

help improve your listening

skills, and ensure you’re giving

them the best support possible:

1. Think carefully about

your body language

Make eye contact, but not

constantly. Try not to fold your

arms, cross your legs, look away

or at your phone – basically

anything that signals to them that

you’re not paying them your full


2. Give them space to talk

Try not to interrupt or give them

unsolicited advice, as this could

shut them down and abruptly

end the chat. Instead, reflect

back what they’ve told you by

paraphrasing and putting it in

your own words to ensure you’ve

understood, and show them that

you’re listening.

3. Stay in the moment

Try not to daydream, or listen to

your inner voice, while they’re

speaking. This can also help you

to watch out for what isn’t said, as

much as what is. You’ll be more able

to pick up on their tone of voice,

facial expressions, and whether their

body language is hinting at a hidden

meaning behind their words.

4. Pause and reflect

When they’ve finished speaking,

take a moment before answering.

Reflect on what they’ve said now,

rather than preparing an answer

while they were talking. If you need

any clarification, try to ask open

ended questions that encourage

them to explain things in more

detail – avoid closed ‘yes’ or ‘no’

questions, as this can shut down the

conversation. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 51

Being an advocate for your loved

one may include assisting them to

receive the medical attention and

care they deserve, and ensuring

that their voice is heard

5. Be patient

Try not to change the direction of

the conversation abruptly. What

they’re telling you is obviously

important to them, so listen

patiently, even if you feel other

issues are more pressing to discuss.

Allow them to take their time, be

open to what they’re saying, and do

your best not to judge.

Beyond being there when they

need to talk, you can step up to

give more practical support, too:

1. Research their rights

People with mental health

conditions are often vulnerable,

may have low self-esteem,

and can have difficulty being

decisive. This makes it more

likely that they can be a victim

of discrimination. It also means

they are less likely to challenge

discrimination, or feel capable

of standing up for their rights.

As an advocate, you can help

with this – whether it’s looking at

their rights at work, to housing,

being a patient in hospital, or

discrimination in everyday life.

52 | April 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

The most helpful thing a

loved one can do is to be

fully present and listen,

without judgement

Charities such as Mind have

extensive information about

mental health and rights, with

links to other organisations that

can offer support. Research their

rights together, and discuss if

they want to pursue anything.

2. Additional support

Look into whether there is any

additional support they may

be entitled to. This includes

benefits such as Universal

Credit, Employment and Support

Allowance, and Personal

Independence Payment. As an

advocate, you can make phone

calls on their behalf, attend

appointments such as a Work

Capability Assessment (WCA),

and help them to appeal a benefit

claim that has been turned down.

3. Attend appointments

As an advocate, you can attend

appointments and help your

loved one to explain what’s

wrong, especially if they’re in

distress or are struggling to

articulate how they feel. And

there are several key things you

can do to help here :

• Talk about the appointment

beforehand. Discuss what they

want to get across, and what

needs to be covered. Consider

what could potentially be asked

of them, and how they would

want to respond.

• Plan your journey to the

appointment, and research

the setting together, to avoid

additional anxiety on the day.

• Be careful not to talk for,

or over, the person you are

advocating for, and don’t

assume you know what the

best decision is for them,

unless they have discussed

it with you beforehand.

Give them space to express

themselves when they feel

capable, and support them in

asking their own questions.

• Take some notes with you

to ensure all the points you

discussed together are covered

during the appointment.

• You can also jot down the

important points from the

conversation while you’re

there. This is important so that

you can both look back over

the meeting to see what was

discussed, agreed on, and any

actions you’ll need to take.

• If the person you’re advocating

for is having a difficult time

concentrating, or taking in new

information, you can be there to

help explain their options.

• Make sure to keep them safe.

This might include taking

regular breaks, and giving them

emotional support to answer

difficult or potentially upsetting

questions. If you believe

answering might cause them

distress, you can ask if they

would like you to respond on

their behalf.

Being an advocate for someone

is a big responsibility, and it can

feel daunting. But know that

being there for them in their

time of need, whether it’s simply

by allowing them to voice their

feelings, or taking a few tasks off

their plate, can really make the

world of difference.

Katie Conibear is a writer who blogs

at stumblingmind.com. Her first

book, ‘Living at the Speed of Light’,

about bipolar disorder, is out now.

Baljit Kamal is a psychotherapist

in private practice, and the

founder of Well Space Therapy.

You can get in touch with

Baljit and find out more at


happiful.com | April 2021 | 53


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Happiful reads...

Whether you’re looking for a comforting novel full of pet

therapy, or a colourful collection of affirmations, we share

four reads you won’t want to miss this month

Writing | Chelsea Graham

From Wilma Rudolph to

Ida B Wells, this small

but powerful book of

quotes is a celebration

of some incredible women of

colour, whose words will inspire

you to love yourself a little

more. Beautifully illustrated,

this refreshingly colourful

book makes for the perfect

accompaniment to daily self-

love affirmations, and looks

wonderful on your bookshelf!

As a certified holistic and

wellness coach, Sunny Fungcap

compiles a collection of

encouraging and motivational

statements from those who

worked hard to achieve

greatness. The icons featured in

this book will help to remind you

that you can achieve amazing

She Believed She

Could So She Did

by Sunny


Out now

things when you let confidence

take over, and express yourself in

a way that is true to you!

Must reads

The Sad Ghost

Club by Lize


Out now

Based on the

online community

of the same name,

this young adult

graphic novel delves into feelings

of depression and anxiety in an

accessible and relatable way.

When we feel low, it’s easy to

believe we’re invisible, and that

we’re the only ones who feel this

way. As a comforting story of

belonging, The Sad Ghost Club

advocates that we are never alone.

Dog Days

by Ericka Waller

Out now

When we stop to

think about life,

we start noticing

how much has

changed without

us ever paying any attention.

George, Dan, and Lizzie, each

wrapped up in their own lives

and happy being alone, quite

literally cross paths. With dogs

leading them along, they

learn that looking around and

making connections isn’t so

bad after all.

Living at the

Speed of Light

by Katie Conibear

Out now

Blogger and

contributing writer

at Happiful, Katie

Conibear was

diagnosed with bipolar disorder

in 2012. Having shared her

experiences online to a growing

international audience, Katie has

now written a no-nonsense guide

to living with bipolar, including

frank explanations of symptoms, as

well as practical advice for facing

the stigma of mental illness.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 55

Animals are such agreeable

friends – they ask no questions,

they pass no criticisms


56 | April 2021 | happiful.com

Photography | Chewy

true story

Breaking the silence

over miscarriage

When Bex lost her baby during lockdown, she couldn’t be physically

comforted in her grief by her friends and family. So, she used social

media to help and encourage women like her to openly discuss

a subject that has been taboo for far too long

Writing | Bex Gunn

Instead of writing this article, I should be on

Instagram posting a grainy, black and white

ultrasound image showing a tiny human, along

with some witty banter telling the world I’m

expecting a baby.

But when I went for my 12-week scan, instead

of seeing a little baby full of excited, flashing

heartbeats, I saw a shape; a still, white shape.

And then I heard the words that have engraved

themselves into my brain: “Have you had any pain

or bleeding, Rebecca?”

I was told that there was no heartbeat and that

my baby had died two weeks earlier.

The aftermath — the messy impersonal,

coronavirus-led aftermath — was horrendous.

There were masks and screens and staring eyes

and gloves — and no Rob. My husband had not

been allowed to accompany me to the scan;

coronavirus cruelly robbing us of contact when

we both needed it the most.

And then there were the decisions. Should I let

nature take its course, go home, and wait to start

bleeding? Or should I take the pills that bring

on the miscarriage? Or do I opt for a surgical

removal? The questions and language barriers

between the medics and me were only made

harder by masks.

And then, after the longest time, Rob arrived,

and the nurses made an allowance as these were

‘exceptional circumstances’. They let him in, and

finally there was comfort in touch, and relief,

more pain, but shared pain, the explanations, and

the begging of the nurses: “Are you sure? Could

you have made a mistake? Maybe it’s just too early

for a heartbeat?”

What followed was nearly a week of drugs,

scans, questions, and procedures. There was so

much confusion between doctors about what the

‘safe thing’ was to do during the pandemic, but

eventually, five days later, after the drugs I was

given to bring on the process had failed three

times, I had emergency surgery to remove an

incomplete miscarriage.

The hurt of losing a baby is inescapable and

unbearable. I’ve never known anything like it. It

scorches you from the heart outwards and then,

when the initial burn fades, it’s replaced by a

deep, dark, ache.

I did everything right. I gave up drinking well

before we conceived, I took folic acid, I didn’t

eat rare meat, soft cheese, tuna, or egg yolks.

I exercised, but not too strenuously. I selfisolated

to be safe from the virus, and I was 100%

diligent… and it still happened. It wasn’t my fault.

Baby loss is never anyone’s fault.

Although ‘missed miscarriages’ are not as

common, one in four pregnancies end in

miscarriage, and it’s out of anyone’s control. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 57

You never really hear about it, though. It’s

painful to read about, and easier to pretend it

doesn’t happen, because miscarriage is brutal

and harsh, and no one ever knows what to say.

The baby hasn’t yet seen the world, so the loss

is almost brushed aside as ‘less than a baby’.

But what is totally underestimated is the impact

that the baby has already made on the world of

the mother. We shared our bodies, we planned

the birth, we chose names, guessed birth dates,

times, and weights.

We’re all still stuck in this place where we

think it’s only acceptable to show the shiny,

aesthetically pleasing side of ourselves.

Miscarriage is dark, and it is ugly. Yet reaching

out and talking to friends who I knew had

experienced this aching despair, has been

the only thing that’s brought me anything

approaching comfort: knowing I’m not alone.

In the absence of face-to-face comfort and

physical contact with my friends and family, I

began to write. I shared my story on a public

Facebook page, and within hours it had gone

viral. I received more than 2,000 messages of

support, of love, of solidarity.

So, I made a space for women, ‘One in Four –

Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Support Group’,

and overnight found myself with more than 1,000

new friends. All hurting, all desperately wanting

to be heard, to be given a platform to grieve

together, without shame or judgement. To be

able to talk openly about a subject that has been

‘taboo’ for far too long.

(Left) Bex and her husband, Rob

We’re all still stuck in this

place where we think it’s only

acceptable to show the shiny,

aesthetically pleasing side of

ourselves. Miscarriage is dark,

and it is ugly

Without exception, these women said: “I wish

it was more acceptable to talk about miscarriage,

I wish we could normalise it so it isn’t such an

isolating experience.”

And what about our partners? Rob has had to

watch on helplessly. He couldn’t be present for

the scans and conversations, and to hear the

options, yet he has lost a child, too. The physical

pain and emptiness isn’t the same, but the grief is

all still there.

Losing a baby is new, fresh, and raw for us, but

we’ve experienced previous trauma in our lives,

enough to know that healing lies in sharing and

kindness. Despite the fact that this is way out of

my comfort zone, I’m talking about it because it

only takes one person to speak out to help, and I

want to give help.

Wedding photography | Micaela Karina, Portraits | Nadia Meli

58 | April 2021 | happiful.com

true story

Bex has teamed up with a friend to create the

multi-award nominated podcast and community ‘The

Worst Girl Gang Ever’. They can be found on Instagram,

Facebook, and Apple podcasts, and are working

hard towards breaking the misplaced silence that has

surrounding topics such as miscarriage for so long.

The last few weeks have been challenging

to say the least. As a wedding photographer,

Covid-19 has put paid to my work, while Rob is

out every day working as a tree surgeon. This

space has given my imagination unlimited

boundaries, along with limitless possibilities.

I’ve put things in place to prevent myself from

visiting dark places in my mind. The social

media support group has been invaluable, along

with exercise, reading, and writing.

Experiencing this grief during lockdown has

felt very lonely at times. Being unable to hug,

touch, hold and be held by my closest friends in

a time of extreme grief, has felt alien and wrong.

It added a new depth to the sadness of losing

our baby. It showed me how important human


Bex’s heartbreaking story emanates strength

as she allows herself to connect with the pain

– as difficult as that may be. She speaks with

authenticity and openness, shining a light on

a taboo topic. It’s impossible to be prepared

for this kind of grief, and the process of

loss must be experienced for the pain to be

The hurt of losing a baby is

inescapable and unbearable

contact is, something I’d taken for granted all

of my life. I realised that when you experience

trauma, you look for it; that contact, that

connection, that comfort in touch.

But lockdown has also given us the space and

time we needed to come to terms with what

has happened, to cry without inhibition or time

restraints, to lock ourselves away and begin the

healing process, and to continue to love each

other in the quiet peace of a world that has been

put on pause.

less present over time. Bex courageously

connects with people online, and in doing

so is able to continue her process

of healing, while admirably

helping others.

Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

happiful.com | April 2021 | 59

Animal magic:

the life-enhancing

power of pets

From pooches to parakeets, koi to cats, our

animals can have a profound effect on our

mental wellbeing. But why is that, and are

there things we can do to deepen

the connection even further?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Illustrating | Rosan Magar

They’re in our homes,

our hearts, and our

passwords – and it really

goes without saying that

pets play a huge role in enriching

our lives. In the UK, 12 million

(44% of) households own pets,

with an estimated 51 million pets

owned in total. Cats and dogs top

the charts as the most popular

companions – no surprises there

– but beloved pets come in all

shapes and sizes, sharing our lives

and staying by our side through

all the highs and lows.

It’s something many of us will

be familiar with, but in their 2019

review animal charity the Blue

Cross highlighted seven areas of

wellbeing that pets can support.

60 | April 2021 | happiful.com

pet power

Plant power

Not everyone is able to have a pet,

whether that’s due to allergies,

living arrangements, or economics.

That said, there are other ways that

you can benefit from the wellbeing

boost that comes with caring for a

living thing, and it may be time to

put those green fingers to work.

A study published in the Journal of

Physiological Anthropology looked

at the effect that a transplanting

task (repotting or putting a plant

in a bed) had on a subject’s

emotional wellbeing. The results

found that the task left the subjects

feeling soothed and comforted,

and they also saw a decrease in

blood pressure. Sounds pretty

familiar, right?

Indoor plants are all the rage

at the moment, and there’s a

variety for every kind of space –

no matter how small. If you have

outdoor space, this adds another

dimension to the experience and,

as many of us already know, time

outdoors often leaves us feeling

invigorated and refreshed. Plants

also offer us the opportunity to

get creative, as we can plan out

arrangements, and train our

specimens to our heart’s desires.

Those points were: love and

company; motivation and

purpose; trust; a distraction

from symptoms; increased

social interaction; exercise; and

humour. In a survey, it also found

that 43% of respondents felt that

their pets were crucial in keeping

their ‘mental health in check’.

But precisely what is it about

pets that is so beneficial for our

wellbeing? With help from an

expert, and those who have their

own stories to tell, we dive in to

the core of these relationships.

The joy of play

Research has consistently

found links between time spent

with animals and a decrease in

stress, anxiety, and even blood

pressure. They act as companions

– warding off both isolation and

loneliness – they help establish a

routine, get us out of the house,

provide responsibility, and are

something to nurture and love.

But, as Kathryn Kimbley – a

counsellor specialising in animal

assisted therapy – sees it, one of

the most important things when

considering the mental health

benefits is our pets’ ability to help

us rediscover the joy of play.

“If we are depressed, anxious,

stressed, or worse, then it’s nigh

on impossible to play – it goes

against every instinct,” Kathryn

explains. “If we are able to ‘switch

off’ and play, this means that

our brains are not in that state of

heightened arousal.

“We know that when we interact

with animals certain good

hormones are released. We also

know that other more negative

effects of stress hormones,

such as cortisol, can also be

reduced through interaction

with animals.”

Did you have a pet as a child?

Can you conjure up memories of

playtime together? Or perhaps

you didn’t have a pet back then,

but you can remember the

thrill of adventures and play?

Nurturing our inner child can

be hugely supportive, and the

silliness of animals is bound to

bring those old habits back to

the surface. But if you ever need

more evidence of this link, and

there isn’t a friendly animal to

hand, Kathryn recommends

heading to social media.

“Evidence of the positive impact

of the human-animal bond is all

the more so now, thanks to social

media,” she says. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 61

“Cute cat videos fill platforms like

YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok,

and we have to ask ourselves why

it makes us feel good? Whether

we’re watching wild animals

playing or dogs goofing in the

snow, in many ways such footage

has been the saving grace for lots

of us during lockdown and the

global pandemic.”

While there’s no true

replacement for the real thing,

animal videos aren’t to be

snubbed, as a study from the

University of Leeds found that

participant’s stress levels were

significantly reduced after

watching half an hour of animal

videos. ‘Surprised kitty’, anyone?

All creatures great and small

Off the screen, it’s true that

help comes in many forms, as

Jade Hopkins found out when

she adopted a baby tortoise,

called Dell, at the beginning of

lockdown in 2020.

“Just like many other families,

lockdown hit us pretty hard,”

Jade says. “Having a tortoise join

our family, just when we were

all starting to struggle, has really

helped us.”

With her family, Jade researched

safe and healthy foods for Dell to

eat, and together they ventured

outside on long walks, to forage

for suitable weeds and flowers.

“Dell really has improved our

mental health, and not just by

being a little cutie!” she adds.

On the other side of the

spectrum, Amanda Gaughran

found a huge amount of

comfort in her Blue Cross

rescue horse, Jasmine,

following the death of her

daughter, Genna.

Amanda’s mental health

was deteriorating, which

led her to spend some

time in hospital while

she recovered.

“Caring for

Jasmine gave

me a purpose,”

Amanda says. “We

rescued each other

in our times of need.

I think she was sent

to help me. It proves

what great healers

horses can be.”

Through our most trying times,

animals are non-judgemental

companions, loving us

unconditionally, helping us to

reclaim structure, and challenging

us in new ways. And while

Amanda and Jade’s pets may look

very different, their emotional

impact is felt just the same.

Working animals

Outside of the home, animals are

supporting our mental health in

innovative ways. Animal assisted

therapy (AAT) is a therapeutic

model that uses animals to help

people with both physical and

mental health conditions. Exactly

what those interactions are, or

which animals are involved, will

entirely depend on the individual

and their needs – but studies

have found AAT to be particularly

helpful for decreasing anxiety,

depression, and isolation, while

increasing motivation, feelings

of being socially supported, and

even decreasing the perception

of pain.

“Dogs, cats, rats, rabbits, or

more exotic creatures such as

degu, geckos, or even fish, can be

hugely beneficial for us,” explains

counsellor Kathryn.

“Whether this is training them,

caring for them, playing with

them, grooming, or exercising

them, it all contributes towards

a beneficial human-companion

animal relationship, which in

turn can be therapeutic.”

Outside of therapy, this is

something that anyone with a

62 | April 2021 | happiful.com

pet power

Research has


found links between

time spent with

animals and a decrease

in stress, anxiety, and

even blood pressure

Jade and Dell

Amanda and Jasmine

pet can engage in, and Kathryn

suggests spending time aligning

your breathing with your pet

while taking slow, purposeful,

relaxing strokes or brushes. She

also points to animal massage,

such as ‘TTOUCH’ (a simple

technique using light, clockwise

circular motions with your

fingers), which can be beneficial

for both your pet and yourself.

“Working on small projects

linked to our companion animals

can be immensely enjoyable, as

well as helpful,” Kathryn adds.

“Starting a blog, social media

profile, or journaling about our

pets’ antics, and milestones can

be a great way to not only track

their development, growth, and

learning, but may be a welcome

escape if we are struggling

with low mood, depression, or


By your side

If you’re a pet owner yourself,

it’s likely that you’ve already

discovered many of the benefits

we’ve explored here, and maybe

even have your own story to

tell about the ways that your

pet has enhanced your life,

or been there for you during

challenging times – particularly

during the past year. So just

imagine the wellbeing benefits

that you could unlock by being

intentional about the supportive

relationship you have with your


On difficult days, when you

need a friend, or on new

adventures that lead you off-trail

and down a path of discovery,

give a nod to the animals by your

side, and savour their unique

ability to touch lives.

Kathryn Kimbley is a counsellor and

director of HumAnima CIC, a social

enterprise offering counselling,

Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT), and

training in AAT. Find out more by

visiting counselling-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | April 2021 | 63

How to make friends with your

inner saboteur

Do you find that certain habits and behaviours get in

the way of achieving your goals? This could be your

inner saboteur at play, and it’s time to take a stand

Writing | Sarah Thayer

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Our inner saboteur is the

part of us that routinely

sabotages our desires,

good intentions, and the plans we

make for success or a better life.

We may not immediately

recognise this part of ourselves –

or even know it’s there – but we

can spot the repeating patterns

of ‘failure’ we experience when

we keep on trying to achieve the

things that we want.

Here, we’re taking you through

how to point out, and cut out,

self-sabotaging behaviour, so that

you can begin to realise your full


1. Recognise your

inner saboteur

You really want to go to bed early,

but you binge on another box set.

You want to start saving money,

but you end up paying for your

friend again when you promised

you’d stop doing that. You find a

job you’d love to do, but you keep

putting off the application until

it’s too late. You want to harness

a closer relationship with your

partner, but you continue to

argue over the same things.

Sound familiar? All these

scenarios could be your inner

saboteur at work, trying to

maintain your current identity,

64 | April 2021 | happiful.com

a fresh perspective

keeping you away from

something new and improved. It

could well come from a place of

fear – perhaps about the future

and what that could bring – or low

self-esteem. Whatever it may be,

recognising it is the first step to

tackling it.

2. Get to know it

In order to start working with

your own saboteur, list the

circumstances in which it

appears. How does it sneakily try

to outmanoeuvre your positive

attempts for change? What do

you end up doing instead? When,

in particular, does it ruin your

dreams and intentions? Are there

some patterns you can find?

Next, check-in with yourself.

Consider whether you really do

want the change, or if your inner

saboteur is actually trying to

tell you something. Sometimes

we want something because

we think we should want it, or

because someone else thinks

it’s a good idea for us, and we’re

stuck in people-pleasing mode.

Ask yourself why you want this

change. Then, what will it give

you? And what will not making

the change mean to your life?

3. Accept that it’s just

trying to do its job

Once you’ve recognised your

saboteur character, and know

that you definitely want to

change, find out what it’s trying to

protect you from. Think of your

inner saboteur as having a job to

do: to protect us from something

our current identity perceives as

dangerous or frightening.

Change can feel scary. Certain

behaviours could be telling you

that you’re feeling vulnerable –

perhaps to criticism, failure, or

rejection. Of course, that doesn’t

make self-sabotaging actions

any less frustrating, but it does

prompt you to consider whether

there’s another layer to what

you’re going through.

4. Build a new connection

By building new bridges, and

even making friends with your

inner saboteur, you can stop

playing into its hands time and

time again.

Once you’ve taken the time

to understand it, next time it

stirs – perhaps, for example,

manifesting as silence in

an important meeting you’d

promised you would speak

up in – how about catching it

on arrival, greeting it warmly,

thanking it for protecting you all

these years, then gently saying to

it that you’d really like things to

change from now on?

When we’re kinder to that part

of ourselves, and sit with our

fears, we allow space for a new

and more nourishing relationship

with our saboteur to take place.

5. Nurture that relationship

Just as we know that ongoing

kindness, listening, and doing

our best to understand others in

our relationships yields positive

results, it also works for our

inner saboteurs, too.

So many of us find it easy to

react angrily towards ourselves

when we think we’ve ‘failed’

again in our attempts to change.

However, inner saboteur parts

don’t respond well to bullying.

They just want to be understood.

So, when we can nurture that

part of ourselves, to feel seen,

heard, accepted, and understood,

it’s much easier for the change,

and the transformation we seek,

to follow automatically.

Sarah Thayer is a transformational

coach helping high-achieving

individuals and organisations to slow

down, transform past patterns, and to

live more authentically. Find out more

by visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | April 2021 | 65








Take time for you

A moment of stillness amidst the

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to nourish your inner self. Each of

these cards features an affirmation,

along with four reflective activities

to help you focus that mirror on your

own self and needs.

We don’t see things

as they are, we see

things as we are

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These inspiring

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I accept my


and allow them

to be, without


happiful.com | April 2021 | 67




As yet


She’s the multi-award winning, multi-talented,

actress, producer, singer, and all-round global

superstar. But, here, we draw back the curtain

to speak candidly about anxiety, vulnerability,

and the unstoppable force of change...

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

68 | April 2021 | happiful.com

a fresh perspective

She doesn’t know whether

it was a bug, something

she ate, or anxiety,

but one night – when

Priyanka Chopra Jonas was just

eight years old, having recently

started at boarding school – she

vomited in her bed. Not wanting to

disturb the peace, she lay next to

the puddle until, late at night when

everyone was asleep, she crept out

to wash the sheets. She hung them

up to dry, slept on an unmade bed,

and then remade her bed with

damp sheets early in the morning,

before anyone woke up.

It’s a startlingly intimate

snapshot of the now globally

famous, endlessly glamorous

star, and receiver of countless

accolades – including Miss

World in 2000, a spot on Time

magazine’s 2016 list of most

influential people, two National

Film Awards, two People’s Choice

Awards, six IIFA awards, eight

Screen Awards, and the Mother

Teresa Memorial Award for Social

Justice, to name only a selection

– but it’s one of many that she

chose to share in her memoir,

Unfinished. As we chat over Zoom

I wonder, is pulling back the

curtain intimidating? Priyanka

laughs in response.

“I was bored with what I was

reading when I wasn’t open,” she

says, candidly. “Eventually, I think

it was very healing for me. I’ve

been dinner table conversation

for the public for a very long time,

but then the pandemic happened

and I think, like everyone, I was

feeling overwhelmed, so when I

started writing, it just poured out

of me, and I didn’t stop myself.”

Although she still doesn’t know

what it was that caused her upset

stomach that night when she

was eight, anxiety is something

that Priyanka does have some

experience with.

If I talk to

someone –

friends, family,

therapists – about

what I’m feeling, it


away the power

“I think all of us do, don’t we?”

She ponders. “We internalise

feelings, and that’s what turns

into anxiety. But, over time,

what I learned is that if I talk

to someone – friends, family,

therapists – about what I’m

feeling, it takes away the power of

the anxiety.”

As she reflects on her

experiences, Priyanka’s tone is

calm, even, and thoughtful.

“I feel it has a lot more control

over me when I’m alone – when

I choose to incubate or when

I choose to deal with what I’m

feeling myself, because I’m self-

sufficient, self-reliant; I’m strong,

I’m tough,” she says playfully, with

a blend of irony. “When I do that,

it’s my pride that fans the flame of


“I’ve realised that I don’t want to

be solitary in my sorrow,” Priyanka

declares. “Sadness is seductive.

It feels like a warm blanket. But

that eventually starts eating away

at your spirit, and changes who

you are. You become a liability

to yourself, you can’t get out of

your own way. I’ve had anxiety, of

course, but now I have the tools in

my toolbox to deal with it better

than I did as a kid.”

Her main tool is conversation,

speaking to people she trusts

about the things that are going

on inside. But it wasn’t until she

reached her 30s that she was able

to really articulate what she was

going through. As Priyanka talks

me through the things she does

for self-care (“A couple of hours’

chit-chat, being able to have a

laugh, talk about silly things –

and do silly things!”), I’m picking

up on a vibrant, loving, and

supportive social life.

But it hasn’t always been that

way. While she gushes about the

nurturing backing of her parents,

when she was a young teenager,

Priyanka moved to America and

experienced racially charged

bullying while at school – to the

point where she had to return

to India – and she notes similar

experiences as an adult. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 69

Though it was to a lesser extent,

Priyanka recognised the patterns

when she went back to America

to start doing work as an actor.

“I blamed myself for a very long

time, and then I reached a point

where I realised it wasn’t my

fault, and there was nothing that

I did or that is wrong with me,”

Priyanka says.

A 2014 study by King’s College

London found that the mental

health effects of childhood

bullying are still evident up to 40

years later – but, for Priyanka,

this is a point on character. “I

think everything really boils

down to creating a strong

relationship with yourself, and

then if someone treats you badly,

or you don’t get the job, or you’re

having a really shitty day, it

doesn’t matter.”

It’s relevant for all of us, but

it’s clear to see how resilience is

a vital instrument for a woman

in Priyanka’s vocation. In her

memoir, she recalls a moment,

early on in her career, where

she met with a producer who

instructed her to stand up, spin

around, and then listed all the

things she would need to change

about her body before she was

able to become a successful actor

– even recommending a surgeon

who could make it happen.

It’s a striking, disempowering

scene but, when I query how one

even begins to build resilience to

that kind of encounter, Priyanka

Priyanka sings with with her

father, an army doctor, at a

New Year party

With her mother and uncle in

1998 in the United States

Priyanka winning Miss India

World in January 2000

is quick to note how this single

instance is merely a product of a

much bigger problem.

“Women deal with critique of

their physical self on an everyday

basis – not just by a singular

person, but by society. We are

constantly told how we could

be better. That’s what builds

resilience. It’s not one person

who has had a tough conversation

with you, it’s the narrative that we

all live with,” Priyanka explains.

“I could have very easily fallen to

those insecurities, I just don’t like

surgery. I had self-esteem issues,

of course I did, but I don’t think

you can make one person the

villain of it, it’s a larger narrative.”

I float the idea of ‘body

neutrality’ with Priyanka –

the idea of creating a neutral

relationship with your body,

moving away from negativity,

while acknowledging that ‘selflove’

isn’t achievable all of the

time – an approach that feels

more forgiving when faced

with the forces that Priyanka


“That’s a great way of

articulating that, and it’s exactly

what I mean,” Priyanka says.

“Your body is forever changing,

your face forever changes –

everyone, men and women

alike. We’ve got to wake up in the

morning and be like, ‘Well, hi,

you’re here!’ And be able to be

OK with the changes, because

the changes will come.

70 | April 2021 | happiful.com

a fresh perspective

Dancing with children in Soweto,

South Africa, as part of her work

as a UNICEF Goodwill ambassador

On set in New York during the

second season of ‘Quantico’

Priyanka presenting at

the 2016 Emmys

All photography featured in ‘Unfinished’ by Priyanka Chopra Jonas

“Change is the most constant

thing in life, and it’s futile to

chase consistent happiness,

consistent success, or consistent

anything, because it’ll always

come and go,” she continues.

“I feel like confidence is not

something you need all the

time. Confidence should be your

greatest tool. You put it in your

backpack, and it comes out when

you need it. When you don’t need

it, it’s OK to be vulnerable, and

it’s OK to feel all the feelings, and

it’s OK to be sad and tell yourself

that: ‘I don’t need to be confident.

I need to strip myself of the

burden of being confident, and

be vulnerable,’ and allow yourself

to grieve, fail, and feel.

“When you walk out of that

door after you’ve felt everything,

that’s when you pick up your

I need to strip myself of

the burden of being confident,

and be vulnerable

confidence and show the world

what you’re going to do.”

Our time is up and, as I click

‘leave meeting’ on our Zoom call,

I’m left reflecting on that idea

of ‘change’. It’s now been a year

since lockdown in the UK began

and it often feels as though time

has stood still, or that our lives

have been on hold. That said,

in this period, many of us – not

unlike Priyanka – have been

reflecting on the things that have

made us who we are today, and

the things that bring us comfort,

promise, and joy. And there’s

something to be said for the hope

to be found in that fact that our

stories are, as yet, unfinished.

‘Unfinished’ by Priyanka Chopra

Jonas is published by

Michael Joseph.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 71

What a wonderful world…

Here’s a monthly dose of positivity, with a reminder of all the good

things going on around us – and this time it’s an animal special!

Writing | Rebecca Thair



They might not be the first

thing you think of, but rats

are performing some pretty

heroic actions thanks

to non-profit APOPO.

The organisation trains

African giant pouched rats

as ‘HeroRATS’, that can

sniff out landmines and

tuberculosis, to save lives.

Did you know that adult

cats only ‘meow’ at

humans? While kittens

meow to communicate

with their mothers to

signal when they’re

cold, or hungry, as they

age cats stop this

trait with each

other and

only meow

at people!



UK charity Pets As Therapy

has more than 6,000

volunteers visiting places

across the country to

support people’s health

and wellbeing. Taking their

temperament-checked pets

to hospitals, hospices, care

homes, and special needs

schools, the programme

provides companionship

and support for many people

in need. But one special

project in particular stands

out; Read2Dogs helps young

people develop confidence

and self-esteem, practising

reading and public speaking


An incredible organisation

in Belfast is not only

rescuing donkeys, but

providing essential

therapeutic services

for vulnerable

people in need, too!

The Donkey Sanctuary

Belfast recognised the

emotional intelligence of

these lovely creatures, and

has been offering donkey-

with four-legged, nonjudgemental

friends, and has

been particularly beneficial

for those with ADHD, or who

are on the autism spectrum.

assisted therapy for more

than 40 years. Initially, the

programme centred on

children with additional

needs, but has since expanded

to support adults and children

with a range of emotional,

psychological, and cognitive

needs, by helping with key

life skills such as managing

emotions, empathy, and

building self-esteem.

72 | April 2021 | happiful.com


Great news for some special

species that were previously

considered endangered, but

in recent years have really


• Back in 1977, sea

otters were put on the

endangered species

list due to oil spills. But,

thankfully, today their

numbers exceed 100,000.

• White rhinos are still very

much in danger, but the

outlook is positive since

their numbers have grown

from under 100 in 1985, to

more than 20,000 now!

A new study has found that bottlenose

dolphins have personality traits much like

humans! The research published in the

Journal of Comparative Psychology

revealed four personality traits:

high openness (creativity or

curiosity), low agreeableness

(your own happiness as priority),

high extraversion (sociability), and

directedness (conscientiousness and

low neuroticism).


pet power

• New Zealand loves it’s five

kiwi species, but one in

particular that’s struggled

historically has been the

Okarito kiwi, which had as

few as 150 left in the 1990s.

Thanks to conservation

efforts though, these

small, flightless birds have

officially been declared no

longer endangered, with

400–500 in the wild.

• North American beavers

used to be abundant, but

their numbers shrank to

100,000 in 1900. But now,

due to initiatives in the US

and Canada, it’s believed

that there’s somewhere

between 10 and 15 million

of these natural builders.

• As of 2016, giant

pandas officially went

from ‘endangered’ to

‘vulnerable’, so the future

is looking more hopeful. In

the decade between 2004

and 2014, giant pandas in

the wild increased by 17%!

Man’s best friend might be a

dog, but there are plenty of

creatures providing comfort

to those in need. Here are just

a few of the more surprising

emotional support animals…

• Jimmy, an 8-month-old

kangaroo was kicked out of

a McDonald’s in Wisconsin

in 2015.

• Parrots for Patriots is an

organisation based in

Washington that provides

these amazing talkative

birds as emotional support

companions for veterans.

• Teenager Megan Curran in the

states has a bearded dragon,

Chief, who provides relief for

her anxiety.

• Daniel Turducken Stinkerbutt,

an emotional support duck,

went viral after a flight in North

Carolina, where he was pictured

wearing a Captain America

nappy and little red shoes!

• American low-cost airline JetBlue

has banned numerous animals

– including snakes, reptiles,

and ferrets – but ones that are

allowed to keep roaming the

skies are miniature horses.

While we know nature is good for us, a recent

study published in the Proceedings of the Royal

Society B journal, has found that the sound

of birdsong, even if it’s simply a recording,

can be a big boost to our wellbeing,

partly thanks to the perception of

biodiversity – that feeling of being

surrounded by nature.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 73

6 relationship

green flags

You may be aware of relationship red flags –

warning signs to avoid – but what about the

things that give you the signal that you’ve

got a good thing going on?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Illustrating | Rosan Magar





and not respecting your

needs – we’re all familiar

with some of the major red

flags to watch out for in

relationships. But what

about the things

that can indicate

your relationship

is healthy,

productive, and


Here, with help

from relationship

counsellor Bibi

Jamieson, we

explore the green

flags that are

letting you know

that you’re on to

something good.


“Being accepted, just the way

you are, means you feel safe to

be physically and emotionally

intimate,” says Bibi. “You can

be authentic, revealing all parts

of your body and personality,

without feeling judged.”

Feeling physically safe might be

about both respecting boundaries

and controlling body language,

and this should be something

you can pick up on quite quickly.

Feeling emotionally safe may

take a little longer – particularly

if you have been hurt in the past

– but as you develop as a couple,

you should begin to create a

space where you can be truly

vulnerable with each other.



“Conflict doesn’t scare you,

because you are secure in your

relationship,” Bibi explains.

“When you do have an argument,

there is no intent to hurt one

another, you repair quickly, and

feel closer afterwards.”


Being able to express your feelings

and work through everyday conflict,

without fear of being abandoned –

or of that conflict escalating to an

unmanageable level – means that

you are able to consciously create

a safe place to explore your fears,

frustrations, and desires, all the

while learning lessons about each

other that you can take forward.



There’s a difference between

growing together, and being in

competition with each other – and

that differentiation is key to a

lasting, productive relationship.

Does your partner bring out the

best in you, and vice versa? Do you

share in each other’s achievements,

and celebrate each success equally?

“You root for each other and

support each other’s growth

and happiness,” says Bibi.

“There is no competition or

resentment, and although

you have influence over

each other’s decisions, you

don’t hinder each other’s

growth – when they win,

you win.”

When there is

attunement, you

feel each other’s

needs deeply



“You can express what you need,

and they will meet those needs

as best they can – or, even better,

they respond to your unvoiced

needs before you ask,” Bibi says.

“When there is attunement, you

feel each other’s needs deeply.”

This is another green flag

that may come with time but,

even in the early stages of a

relationship, you should be able

to notice whether your partner

is taking the time to listen to and

understand your needs.



“You enjoy each other’s presence,

and have a sense of humour

about both of your quirks,”

says Bibi.

Ease, happiness, and

joy are all things that

you will be able to pick up on

yourself, simply by reflecting

on your mood and desires

when you’re with your partner

– but Bibi adds that this is also

something that others will be

able to notice about you. Do

your loved ones, the people

who care for and know you the

best, pick up on the effect that

you have on one another?


“There is freedom in love,”

says Bibi. “You give freely

of yourself, you don’t feel

restrained or trapped, you do

things for each other because

you want to – not because you

have to.”

Nothing about the

relationship feels forced,

everything comes naturally,

and you’re moving at a pace

that feels good to both of you.

You don’t feel a pressure to be

anything but yourself, and you

are free to continue the rest of

your life as you did before the

relationship, only your partner

is now by your side, supporting

you as you go.

Bibi Jamieson is an integrative

psychotherapeutic counsellor and

couples therapist. She also volunteers

at mental health charity Headstrong,

and as a couples pre-marital guide

at HTB church. Find out more by

visiting counselling-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | April 2021 | 75

How to build




Money worries regularly fall in the top 10 causes of stress

for UK adults, so let’s take a look at how to balance

your budget, and take back control

Writing | Katie Hoare

Money is often a

taboo subject,

something we

daren’t discuss in

social settings, and can even feel

a great deal of shame about. At

times, we might find ourselves

living pay cheque to pay cheque,

dipping into our savings, or even

checking in at the bank of mum

and dad. I know I’ve been in that

queue once or twice.

Knowing exactly where our

money is coming from each

month might not always be a

given, and if the past year has

taught me anything, it’s that

understanding my finances can

help me feel more in control,

and a rainy day fund is actually

essential. Often, our finances

underpin how we measure

our safety, security, and even

happiness to an extent.

“Most of us want a better life

and desire more security. Having

healthy finances can help you

acquire both,” says life coach

Ayesha Giselle Dornelly, who’s

qualified in personal finance

management. “To become

better in your finances requires

discipline, good money habits,

and a solid structure.”

So to take back control, let’s look

at four key steps Ayesha Giselle

suggests to help build better

finance habits, whatever budget

you’re working with.

1Determine your current

financial situation

This means understanding

your total monthly income, your

outgoings, and a forecast of your

financial future. You can’t tackle

your finances without a clear

picture of every penny, so in this

76 | April 2021 | happiful.com


instance, facing reality is key. I

know this is difficult – the phrase

“I just don’t know where my

money is going,” was no stranger

to my younger self – so take a

deep breath, and be brave.

“Firstly, figure out how much

you make on a monthly basis,”

says Ayesha Giselle. “This

should cover all sources

of income, regardless of

the size. Next, make a

list of your expenses. Be

precise, and list down

everything, no matter

how small. Take your time

with this, using your last three

months to work out your averages.

Sorting expenses into categories

can help, so you can see exactly

where your money is going.

“No matter how frustrating

and long-winded this is, it’s

one of the most crucial steps in

understanding your financial

situation, and can make or break

your budgeting plan.”

Once you have a clear idea

of your spending, be honest

with yourself and remove any

expenses that you don’t really

need, and note where you could

reduce spending.

The final step is determining

what your financial future

looks like. “How would it look

if you don’t create a budget and

continue spending – how will

this affect your family, your life,

what would happen if you had a

financial emergency?” >>>

Embracing financial

discipline will help

bring back control

happiful.com | April 2021 | 77

Make sure the money you

allocate makes sense, keep

your total expenses lower

than your income, and keep

your priorities in order

Ayesha Giselle says. “Being aware

of your financial situation gives

you the power to improve your

circumstances – when you know

where you are, you will be able to

assess what you need to do to get

to where you want to be.”

2Allocate your money

before you get paid

It’s often hard to hear this,

particularly if you spend a lot of

time in your overdraft, and feel

like your monthly wage packet is

already spent before it reaches

your account. But embracing

financial discipline will help

bring back control.

“Firstly, separate your money

into different categories:

income, bills (essential and

necessary payments), pocket

money (entertainment, gym,

all unnecessary spending),

emergency (for emergency only),

savings, and business,” says

Ayesha Giselle. “Make sure the

money you allocate makes sense,

keep your total expenses lower

than your income, and keep your

priorities in order.”

Ayesha Giselle also suggests

the following priority: bills,

emergency, pocket money,

savings, and business. “Open

an account for each of these

categories, and set up automation

from your income account to

your other accounts.”

In this case, discipline is key

to your success, and you should

only use the money in each

account for its intended purpose.

Be strict with yourself, what

really constitutes an emergency?

It can be tough to watch your

emergency fund build up when

your pocket money dwindles

within a few days, but try to

determine a real emergency, for

example the difficulties that 2020

brought. It makes the emergency

fund far less tempting when we

have a real life example to put

things into perspective.

3Differentiate between

true need and desire

Again this step is about

discipline, and getting clarity

on what the words ‘want’ and

‘need’ actually mean. If you

can’t differentiate between the

two, use this: want is something

I desire, need is for personal

survival, health, and shelter.

“If you need it, get it. If you want

it, ask yourself ‘Why?’ Your ‘why’

may turn out to be based on an

unmet need – if this is the case,

try to meet those needs with a

healthy alternative that doesn’t

break the budget,” Ayesha Giselle

explains. “You could be spending

because you’re lonely, so what

other ways can you meet your

need for connection? Pick up the

phone, meet a friend for a walk,

or join a community on Meetup

to connect with others.

“If this doesn’t feed your

craving, and you still find that

you really want this thing, try

asking yourself if you can afford

it three times over. If you can,

and it doesn’t affect your budget,

then get it (you do deserve a treat

once in a while).”

78 | April 2021 | happiful.com


4How to manage joint

financial commitments

When it comes to joint

commitments, money can

really be a third party in your


Ayesha Giselle says it’s all about

honesty. “Create a safe space for

both of you to express your needs

and your worries. Discuss your

strengths and weaknesses when

it comes to money management.

Get clear on what your current

financial situation is, then

discuss your short, medium, and

long-term goals.”

It’s key at this point that

you and your partner agree

on future financial ideals.

“Collectively work together

to create a plan to help

you achieve those goals,”

Ayesha Giselle says. “You’re

a team, so be supportive and

encourage each other to take


Money is a complicated

business. So whether you’re

splashing the cash or feeling the

pinch, budgeting can bring a

sense of stability, particularly in

the current sea of uncertainty.

Ayesha Giselle’s top

three saving tips

1. A simple, stress-free approach

to saving is automating things

by using apps that round up

change and save it without you

noticing. Try apps like Acorns

or Qapital.

2. Automate your allocated

monthly saving fund from your

income account. By doing this

you’re less likely to forget, and

the bank will save your money

before you accidentally spend it.

3. Make it difficult to access your

savings, by opening an ISA or

savings account which requires

you to write in advance to

access the money. This will deter

you from taking the money out

unless you really need it.

Ayesha Giselle Dornelly is a life and

accountability coach working with

change-seekers. Find out more by

visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | April 2021 | 79



This three-bean chilli is budget-friendly,

and anything but basic

Writing | Katie Hoare


know what you’re thinking; a

three-bean chilli doesn’t sound

like anything new, but let me

stop you there. Often the token

vegetarian dish on the menu,

I’m calling time on this chilli’s

‘boring’ rep.

This delicious bean mix is the

ideal starting point for any chilli

recipe, packed full of protein

and fibre. And from your base,

you can get creative and mix

things up with a lighter take on

the classic rice side dish, and

have some fun with different

ingredients by baking your own

tortilla chips.

You can get the whole family

involved with this hearty and

healthy recipe, or make a big

batch and freeze it for those

evenings when simplicity is the

only thing on the menu! Plus

this dish can cost as little as £12,

including the sides, so it’s budgetfriendly,

too. Enjoy!

Three-bean chilli

with cauliflower rice and

baked tortilla chips

Serves 4


For the chilli

• 1 tsp olive oil

• 1 red onion, chopped

• 2 cloves garlic, thinly chopped

• 1 carrot, thinly chopped

• 400g (can) cherry tomatoes

• 1 red pepper, deseeded and

finely sliced

• 1 tsp chilli powder

• ½ tsp cayenne pepper

• 1 tsp dried oregano

• 400g (can) pinto beans, drained

and rinsed

• 400g (can) kidney beans,

drained and rinsed

• 400g (can) baked beans

• 2 handfuls kale

If you are a meat eater, substitute

the pinto and baked beans for 500g

lean turkey mince.

For the rice

• 1 whole head of cauliflower

• 1 tsp olive oil

• 2 spring onions, thinly sliced

• Handful of fresh coriander,

roughly shredded

For the tortilla chips

• 1 pack wholemeal medium

tortilla wraps (approx 6)

• 1 tbsp olive oil

• 2 tsp paprika

80 | April 2021 | happiful.com

feel-good food

Find a

nutritionist on

our Happiful


Nachos more your thing?

Omit the cauliflower rice,

load up your tortilla chips

with the chilli, finishing it off

with a dollop of homemade


For the guac, simply mash

one ripe avocado with a fork,

drizzle in some olive oil, and

mix through a light sprinkling

of sea salt and chilli flakes.


For the tortilla chips

1. Preheat the oven to

180 o C/160 o C fan/gas 4.

2. Place the tortilla wraps on top

of one another, and cut them

into 8 pieces.

3. Place the pieces into a bowl

and drizzle with olive oil.

Sprinkle on some paprika and

toss to coat.

4. Place the tortilla chips on a

lined baking tray, leaving a fair

gap between each chip.

5. Bake for 8 minutes, turn and

repeat. Remove from the oven

when the tortillas are crispy

and golden brown. Set aside.

For the rice

1. While the tortilla chips

are baking, prepare the

cauliflower by removing all

greenery, and washing it


2. Pat it dry with a kitchen towel,

and cut into small chunks

if using a food processor. If

using a traditional grater, cut

the cauliflower chunks into

medium pieces.

3. Grate or blitz the cauliflower

until it mimics rice. Set aside.

For the chilli

1. Heat the olive oil in a large

pan over a medium heat. Add

the onions, garlic and carrots,

and sauté for 5 minutes, or

until soft.

2. Add the cherry tomatoes and

red pepper to the pan. Stir

through the herbs and spices.

3. Add the beans and kale,

gently stir until thoroughly

combined, and reduce to

simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, finish the rice. In

a medium frying pan, heat the

olive oil over a medium heat.

5. Add the cauliflower and

spring onion, and sauté for

approximately 8 minutes.

6. Plate up the chilli and rice

with a sprinkling of fresh

coriander. Pop the tortilla

chips on the side, and tuck in!


A dish full of beans is a great

way to increase soluble fibre

in the diet, especially when

many people fall short of the

recommended average intake

of 30g per day for adults – this

bean mixture alone has 13g per

portion! Fibre helps to keep you

regular, and feeds our good gut

bacteria. A high fibre diet also

helps with blood sugar balance,

reducing the risk of type 2

diabetes and heart disease.

As a plant-based dish, the

beans also provide protein,

and are considered a healthy

source of carbohydrates.

Making cauliflower rice is a

great substitute for traditional

rice, adding more veggies to the

meal, and contains compounds

that may help to prevent cancer.

These compounds support liver

function, by clearing toxins and

used hormones from the body.

Lorna Rhodes is a registered

nutritional therapist, author,

and recipe writer specialising

in womens’ health, including

digestive problems and menopause.

She has a special interest in

supporting breast cancer patients.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 81

I am. I have



Photography: Skin | Marco Ovando, Martin | Ed Miles, Rosie | Matt Lever, Nikesh | Jon Aitken



• Listen • Share • Subscribe •

Listen to conversations with Skin, Martin Robinson, Rosie Green,

Nikesh Shukla, and many others, who share their passions, and

reveal the moments that shaped them

82 | April 2021 | happiful.com

try this at home

Feeling overwhelmed?

Try this

There’s a lot going on right now, so it’s not surprising

many of us are getting overwhelmed more easily.

The next time this feeling creeps up on you, try the

following techniques to reclaim your peace of mind

Writing | Kat Nicholls

Look up and breathe

Go outside, or head to your nearest

window, and look up. See the

clouds, the birds flying by, and

remind yourself how big and

beautiful this world is. As you look,

breathe in for the count of four,

pause, then exhale for the count of

four. This can help to give you some

perspective, while calming both

your body and mind.

Have a brain dump

Grab a pen and note down every

to-do item swimming around

your head. Group them together

according to themes (such as work

or life admin) – our brains love

patterns, and doing this can help

us see the big picture.

Now, it’s time to prioritise. As

much as we wish we could, we

simply cannot do it all. The next

tip can help you prioritise things.

Use the 4Ds technique

A time management hack

designed to help you focus on

what’s important to you, the 4Ds

technique asks you to look at your

list and decide what to delete,

delegate, defer, and do.

Delete – what can you simply

remove from your list? Is there a

‘should’ on there that doesn’t need

to be done, or doesn’t add value?

Delegate – is there a task on your

list you could ask of someone else?

It can be easy for us to think we

have to do it all, but by delegating,

you may help someone else feel

needed, and encourage them to

develop new skills.

Defer – what can wait until another

time? If it isn’t urgent, but you’d still

like to do it, defer it and let it go

from your current list.

Do – what can you start now?

Some people like to begin with

small tasks to feel accomplished,

and start the momentum. Others

might tackle the tricky stuff to

stop it weighing you down – do

what works for you!

Drop a ball

Many of us are juggling multiple

balls at once, and sometimes

it’s not possible to keep them all

up in the air. Is there an area of

life where you can drop the ball

temporarily? Could you order a

pre-made birthday cake instead of

baking one from scratch? Could

you take a rain check on the

weekly family Zoom call?

As author Nora Roberts said:

“The key to juggling is to know

that some of the balls you have in

the air are made of plastic, and

some are made of glass.”

Recognising the balls that are

essential to keep hold of, versus

the ones that can survive being

dropped now and then, will give

you some breathing room.

Learn more about coaching and how

it could support you to make room in

your life for what you truly want at


happiful.com | April 2021 | 83

Ask the experts

Counsellor and psychotherapist Katerina Georgiou

answers your questions on lockdown love

Read more about Katerina Georgiou

on counselling-directory.org.uk



My husband and

I are working

from home, but

I’m also homeschooling

our two kids, and taking

care of the house – it

feels like I’m responsible

for everything. What

should I do?

AWith all of that on your

plate, it’s understandable

you feel that way. I can hear a

number of conflicting demands

on you, in your various identities



The past year

has been really


for my mental health.

I’m finding everything

really tough at the

moment, but how do I

communicate that to my


as a mother, an employee, and

a partner. I can imagine you’re

operating in each of these roles

with strong messages inside of

you of what being the best in

each of those roles requires (e.g.

being punctual for work, always

emotionally available for your kids,

and loving as a partner). Notice

what you’re telling yourself, and ask

if these are others’ requirements of

you, or requirements you’re putting

on yourself?

I also don’t hear you factoring in

time for yourself. If you can, rather

than trying to ‘take away’ things

AYou’re right that this is

tough. It can be easy for

people to want to try to fix things

when we tell them how we feel,

and while they may mean well,

this can add fuel to a fire, or

stop us from voicing our feelings

for fear it won’t be heard. So

it can be useful to begin with

an opening statement such as

from your day, try to ‘add’ things

that are purely for yourself. So, if

you’re cooking dinner, make that

dinner and light your favourite

candle; if you’re meeting a

deadline, meet it and then sing

along to your favourite song.

If you can, ask your partner

to make you a cuppa or run

your bath while you’re doing

something else, try these if you

think they’ll work. This won’t

reduce the emotional labour

as such, but it will increase the

space for yourself to help you

manage these tasks.

“I’m not looking for advice or a

solution, I just want to tell you

what I’m feeling,” and check

what capacity they have to hear

you. Also pay attention to what

you might need in any given

moment – is it a hug, some

space, help with a task? If you

have access to this knowledge,

it’s helpful to ask for it.

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




I’m on dating

apps, but I’m


with making a virtual

or socially distanced

connection – it’s such

a different experience.

Have you got any advice

on how to approach this?


You’re right that dating in this

context isn’t ideal – it can feel

everything from unsatisfying, to

horribly demoralising. If you had

hopes of finding love, starting a family

or – frankly – even having sex, then

this year will have felt like all of that

has had to be put on hold. That can

feel like a loss akin to grief, or give

way to feelings of panic.

Firstly, know you’re not alone in

that experience. Secondly, consider

moving online conversations to the

phone, or sending WhatsApp voice

notes. While this still doesn’t replace

meeting face-to-face, hearing

someone’s voice, and them hearing

yours, can allow for nuance, and

even a bit of flirtation. Dating apps

can also be exhausting, scrolling

and matching only to be met with

the same kinds of conversations over

and over. So why not experiment

with something different? If you

usually always respond to people

who get in touch with you, try

contacting them first. Likewise, if

you’re the first to message all the

time, perhaps only respond to those

who contact you.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 85

Happiness comes from being who

you actually are instead of who you

think you are supposed to be


Photography | Ronny Sison

a fresh perspective

Putting it

on the page

Author Nikesh Shukla reveals how his writing career

has shaped him as a person, and why he’s sharing

his most vulnerable self through his words...

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

When Nikesh

Shukla is

asked to



on Happiful’s podcast ‘I

am. I have’, he pauses for a

moment. “I always feel weird

answering these questions,

because my natural instinct

is to undercut everything

and say: ‘I’m just one of those

guys, you know…’”

But Nikesh is far from ‘just’

anything. He tells me that he’s

a writer, a dad, and probably

best known for editing The

Good Immigrant – a critically

acclaimed collection of

essays. His latest offering

is the beautiful, poignant,

and deeply personal read

Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race,

Family and Home.

Nikesh has spent the majority of

his adult life writing, continually

developing new ways of reaching

audiences and sharing stories.

It’s clear that he’s passionate

about his craft and helping

emerging writers, paying forward

the support he’s received, and

speaking up about the mental

health impact of being a writer

of colour, something that’s so

rarely addressed in the industry,

or beyond.

From mentoring to mental

health, and what makes for

the best writing, here Nikesh

shares the insight he’s gained,

the choices he’s made, and the

challenges he’s encountered in

his career and life to date...

The importance of

paying it forward

Part of the reason I am where I

am, is because at the moments

in my early career when I was

ready to give up, and I’d lost all

capacity for persistence, I had

the right people intervene. I’m

really lucky to have had amazing

mentors at those points in my life.

I had so many people get me to

where I needed to be mentally and

spiritually. My mentors gave me so

much time and space, and I would

be nowhere without them.

I can’t ever pay them back, I can

only ever pay it forward, because

that’s just what you do. When you’re

from a marginalised community,

your elders pass on skills and

support to you, and then you pass

them on to the next generation. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 87

I now do that. I’ve helped

writers to set up magazines,

find literary agents, and edit

their work, and I’ve helped them

to understand what happens

to you mentally when you

get published, or win a prize

because no one ever tells you

that. I’m not expecting anything

back from them. What I do

expect is that when they are in

the same position, they’ll pay it

forward, too.

As a writer, I’m

communicating from

the heart. I throw

myself into my books

and it takes a piece of

me every single time

Photography | Jon Aitken

a fresh perspective

The mental health impact of

being a writer of colour

As a writer of colour, people will

constantly challenge where you

are in your career, and accuse

you of being there because of

‘positive discrimination’, or

because everyone is so ‘woke’ at

the moment. Or they’ll question

why you take up certain spaces,

and that will mess with your

head. Your own community will

tear you apart because when

you’re the one writer who gets

through, they expect you to be

representative of everyone, and

that is impossible.

For me specifically, the thing

that I didn’t even consider

as a job was being a public

intellectual about race and

immigration. I’m a comedy and

fiction writer, that’s where I

started out, and then The Good

Immigrant led me down this

weird cul de sac where I was

asked to go on the news and talk

about Nigel Farage!

My tweets were mentioned in

the papers, MPs were reporting

me to the Equality and Human

Rights Commission, and editors

were snarking behind my back

saying the only reason I was

doing any of this ‘race chat’ was

to further my own career.

So you’re constantly made to

feel like you don’t deserve any of

it. The sad truth was that I didn’t

want to be speaking on any of

those platforms in the first place.

I just wanted to be writing my

dumb jokes, and books about men

trying to be better at their lives,

that’s all I wanted to do when I

started out, and now here I am.

In the two years that I was

touring The Good Immigrant, I had

a new kid, I was being trolled on

the internet, and was being sent

death threats to my house, my

inbox, and on social media. All of

this because I just wanted better

representation in books. With all

of that vitriol, you start to think:

‘What’s the point? Why am I

doing all this stuff?’ and you start

to feel alone.

No one tells you about any of

this when you start out, so I’ve

decided to be honest about it.

The value in being vulnerable

I’ve been having a lot of therapy

recently to address a couple

of things I talk about in Brown

Baby, such as binge-eating and

depression, and it’s all rooted

to a feeling of worthlessness

that I have. I’m still trying to

understand where that comes

from, and I’m working through

the murky waters of it.

When I feel stressed, worthless,

or anxious, I reach out for

comfort. Now my mum isn’t

around, and because I can’t lie on

the sofa with her, split a bag of

crisps and watch Frasier – which

would be my happy place – I

just reach for the bag of crisps

instead. The thing about it is

one bag is not enough, the act

of eating is what’s sustaining the

feeling. The immediate response

afterwards is to feel shame, and

that’s why I think: “If I keep

eating, I’ll be OK.”

Putting the binge-eating into

the book was my way of carving

out a space, because I’m happy to

be vulnerable and open with my

friends, and I really want that to be

reflected in my writing. I shared

it in the hope that other men

can start to have these open and

transparent conversations, too.

The big questions about parenting

My new book is about the stuff

that keeps me up at night, such as

raising my kids to be proud of their

heritage, but also mindful that the

world is very racist, and how I – as

a father – raise my daughters, but

don’t take up space in their life that

perpetuates the patriarchy. Also

how I might talk to them about my

own mental health.

The best writing bleeds

on the page

I remember when I May Destroy You

first came out, Michaela Coel talked

about bleeding for your art, and

putting your soul on the page, and

her words just really resonated with

me. As a writer, I’m communicating

from the heart. I throw myself into

my books, and it takes a piece of

me every single time. I think that’s

really important.

‘Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race,

Family and Home’ by Nikesh Shukla

is out now (bluebird books for life,

£16.99). Listen to Nikesh’s episode of

‘I am. I have’ on iTunes, Spotify, and

other podcasting platforms.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 89

5 steps for healthy

sleep hygiene

If sleep constantly evades you, it could be time to

address your sleep hygiene – and we don’t

mean washing your bedding more often...

Writing | Katie Hoare

Do you find you often

answer “How are

you?” with “I feel

exhausted”? You

wouldn’t be alone,

but the good news is there is

something you can do to address

this energy imbalance.

Sleep hygiene is about building a

suitable environment and healthy

habits for restorative sleep, it’s

highly beneficial to your mental

and physical health, cognitive

functioning, and overall quality

of life. It also sets the tone for our

circadian rhythm – known as the

body-clock or sleep-wake cycle –

which is a 24-hour natural process

that’s highly dependent on the

clues your sleep hygiene sends to

signal it’s bedtime.

For many, sleep may be hard to

come by. So, with help from sleep

behaviourist James Wilson, AKA

The Sleep Geek, we share five

steps to better sleep hygiene.

1. Use natural light

to set your body clock

As James explains, light plays an

important role in sleep, and you

can use it to your advantage.

“Getting light exposure early in

the morning helps to reset the

body’s rhythm, as the light clearly

says to the body: ‘Now is the time

to be awake.’ This, in turn, helps it

feel sleepy at the same time every

day. A light box can be a useful

substitute if the weather does not

allow us to get out into the great

outdoors as much.”

Additionally, embrace the

darkness. Two hours before bed,

dim the lights. Your circadian

rhythm is at its most sensitive at

this time, and informs your brain

that it’s time to wind down.

90 | April 2021 | happiful.com


Getting light exposure early in the morning helps

reset the body’s natural rhythm, as the light exposure

clearly says to the body: ‘Now is the time to be awake’

2. Set the temperature

The ideal room temperature for

sleep is 18 o C, and a bedroom that

is too warm or too cold could

be disturbing your circadian

rhythm, as the body naturally

expects a dip in temperature

at nighttime.

Aside from room temperature,

James says it’s important to

address the temperature between

the sheets, which can also impact

sleep quality. He recommends

avoiding foam mattresses, and

opting for natural materials for

bedding, such as alpaca fleece,

wool, silk, and bamboo.

Alpaca wool is particularly

effective due to its hollow nature,

so has the ability to keep you

cool in the summer, and warm in

the winter. Other natural fibres,

like cotton and linen, can also

help regulate sleep, as they have

sweat-wicking properties.

3. Use your bed for

two purposes only

Do you pull your laptop into bed,

or reach for your phone when

you’ve barely opened your eyes?

These unhealthy habits can

actually affect both your quality

of sleep, and your relationship.

If you can, limit your bedroom

activities to sleep and sex. When

you associate your bed with

sleeping, or spending time under

the sheets with your partner (or

yourself), you’ll establish a clear

mental association between your

bed and sleep. Your brain will

slowly start to register that when

you climb into bed, it only means

one of two things.

4. Limit your lie-ins

As tough as this may sound,

elongated lie-ins can be

detrimental to sleep quality. The

body prepares itself to wake up

approximately an hour before

you open your eyes, so if you

often lie-in for hours at the

weekend, it can disrupt your

circadian rhythm.

If you do want to stay in bed for

an extra hour now and then, find

a snuggly position, but try to stay

awake, and don’t exceed an hour.

5. Wash away the day

Switching up your shower

routine, so that you enjoy a

cleansing wash an hour or so

before bed, can have a number of

different impacts on the quality

of your sleep. The physical act of

cleaning yourself can symbolise

washing away the day, cleansing

both your body and mind. You

could even add essential oils to

the mix, lavender, jasmine, and

bergamot are known to induce

feelings of calm. After a warm

wash, body temperature tends to

drop – which again helps prepare

the body to expect sleep.

James Wilson, known as The Sleep

Geek, is one of the UK’s leading sleep

behaviour experts, helping people

nationwide to solve their sleep

issues. Visit beingwellfamily.com

for more information.

happiful.com | April 2021 | 91



Spring into action by learning something new this April. Focus on

your wellbeing, and find happiness in unexpected places…




Yoga can be a really great way to switch off your mind, while

keeping your body engaged. Why not find a willing family member

and teach your own yoga class? Brush up on your technique with a

few YouTube videos, and then try to replicate the poses well enough to

teach others. Even if the technique isn’t spot on, you’ll all have a laugh

trying! (For inspiration, visit Yoga with Adriene on YouTube)


Beginners: The Joy and

Transformative Power of

Lifelong Learning

by Tom Vanderbilt

When was the last time you

learned a new skill? Perhaps

you taught yourself to plait hair,

or finally mastered the art of

wall panelling. An exploration

of our brain plasticity and how

we learn, Beginners challenges

the idea that learning new skills

is something only children can

do, and will have you juggling

all of your new skills in no time.

(Atlantic Books, £16.99)




‘Different minds’

Since losing his

brother and father in 2013,

broadcaster John Offord has been

on a mission to raise awareness

about mental health issues,

and has since begun hosting

the ‘Different Minds’ podcast.

Chatting to everyone from Chris

Packham to Christopher Eccleston

about the ways our brains can

work, and how they deal with

mental struggles, the podcast

offers a wonderful insight into

the human mind.

(Listen to the podcast on

iTunes and Spotify)



Frisbee fun

Sometimes the simple things possess the most joy.

Why not gather up some family members from your

household for a game of frisbee out in the local park? Once you’ve

mastered the technique, and have the frisbee moving through the

air, try throwing it into the distance and running to catch it. A great,

family-friendly way to get the heart pumping! (Learn about more

frisbee games at catchthespirit.co.uk)


The Good News


If you constantly

find yourself endlessly scrolling

through Instagram, then

perhaps it’s time to consider

whether the accounts you

follow are bringing you joy? The

Good News Movement seeks to

share only uplifting, sweet, and

positive news. This is an account

you won’t feel bad for getting

distracted by. (Follow


92 | April 2021 | happiful.com

Book cover | amazon.co.uk, Adriene | Instagram: @adrienelouise, ECOHOLIC Mother Reusables Thermal bottle | motherreusables.com





Learning a new language can be a

great way to exercise your brain, but is often

misunderstood as a huge endeavour. Duolingo

gives you the choice of 35+ languages you can

learn in small intervals, at any time. Using short

exercises, and practice conversations, the app

can help you progress in any language, from

Russian to Japanese! (Download from the App

Store and Google Play)



It’s a Sin

Reknowned for his

groundbreaking masterpiece Queer

as Folk, screenwriter Russell T

Davies OBE is back with a flawlessly

executed five-part exploration of

the Aids crisis. Following five friends

living in London during the 1980s,

It’s a Sin tells a compelling story of

intense love, terror, and uncertainty,

in a way that is equally emotional,

raw, and funny. (Catch up on All 4)


IBS Awareness Month

Irritable bowel syndrome is a common,

but often misunderstood, condition

thought to affect 7–10% of the population.

As a nation, we shy away from talking about gut

health, as if it is something to be ashamed of, but IBS

Awareness Month aims to get people talking about the

daily reality of living with the condition, so that people

can get the support they need. (1 April–30 April, find out

more at aboutIBS.org)



As the days get lighter, and spring arrives, there’s nothing better than a long walk

with a drink in hand. Reduce plastic waste, and keep your drink warm (or ice cold!),

with an Mother Reusables thermal bottle. For every luxury bottle that is sold, a tree is

planted, and all shipping is completely carbon neutral, so you can treat yourself and the

environment, too! (£32, shop online at motherreusables.com)

ECOHOLIC Mother Reusables thermal bottle



Zumba Fitness

If you’re in need of

a sweaty exercise

session to get your endorphins flowing,

Zumba will do just that. A high intensity

workout to the beat of catchy songs,

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

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Flat white, americano, and caffè latte are all types of which hot drink?

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*Competition closes 22 April. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!

happiful.com | April 2021 | 93

Never give up, for that is just the

place and time the tide will turn


94 | April 2021 | happiful.com

Photography | Gift Habeshaw

true story

My monsters and me: how a love of

horror helped me face my demons

Katie spent much of her life feeling as though she didn’t fit anywhere. Years

of bullying, loneliness, and anxiety eventually led her to self-harm and

suicide attempts. However, it was in the dark world of monsters and horror

that she found comfort, an understanding of herself, and a place to belong

Writing | Katie Evans

Have you found that place where you

feel you truly belong? That sense of

warmth, joy, and relief? Well for me, it

was Halloween. As a therapist, I feel I

should be talking about something more spiritual

or tranquil, but it was, and still is, Halloween.

You might ask why this corny event should

mean so much to a 35-year-old woman from

Liverpool, but the reason is quite simple.

Halloween is a place for the misfits to belong.

I have always felt like a misfit, either because

I hated the way I looked, or because as an only

child I didn’t develop the best social skills. I

struggled to make friends, and was painfully

shy. Everybody else seemed to manage in the

world, but for me it felt like a nightmare. I was

lonely and sad, and by the time I was in my midteens

the depression and desire to die seemed


I had a pretty normal upbringing. I lived with

my parents in a quiet area on the outskirts of

Liverpool. I was close to my grandparents, had

some friends, and enjoyed trips away and playing

outside. I attended a small primary school and

started to do pretty well, despite my shyness. It

was towards the end of primary school that the

bullying started, a theme that would stay with

me, in different forms, until my 20s. In high

school it only got worse.

I was a lanky teenager who hit puberty late. I

had bad skin, needed glasses in class, and at one

point had a head brace to rectify my overbite. I

looked in the mirror and hated who I was. I tried

everything to fix my looks, and I fantasised about

being somebody – anybody – else. In reality, I was

an average looking girl, but in my head, I was a


I didn’t have the tools to control any of this, or to

manage the huge feelings that I was experiencing.

So much was building up inside me, and the

medication that was supposed to help only seemed

to make things worse. When I was around 15, I

began self-harming. I don’t think it was a cry for

help, because I didn’t want anyone to see. But I

knew that I needed something. I wanted the pain

to go away, I needed to find relief of some kind.

I clearly remember sitting in the garden with my

parents on a sunny day, and telling them that my

life felt like a prison sentence, and I wanted to be

free. It was not long after that I took an overdose; I

still feel tremendous guilt about that day.

My later teens saw me start to discover and

embrace counterculture. I had one big passion

that had been with me since childhood; monsters.

The first picture of me from Halloween is at

around 18 months old, clinging to a mask and

smiling. From then on, I threw myself fully into

everything spooky. >>>

happiful.com | April 2021 | 95

You can find out more by following Katie’s

Instagram @mentalhealth_monsters

I could escape into my fantasy world of

colourful creatures and exciting characters,

forget about the world around me, and

completely lose myself. As life became more

difficult, horror stayed with me. I began to

watch films, read Stephen King, and my own

image became darker. Things that scared other

people felt like comfort to me. However, the

truth was that the real world left me terrified.

When I look back at my life, it amazes me just

how much of it I have spent afraid. Anxiety felt

like my normal state and I couldn’t shake it. I

was scared of people, scared of failing, scared

of judgement, scared of everything; and,

honestly, I did not make things easy for myself.

Becoming a goth in Liverpool in the early

2000s meant developing a whole new skillset

– the main one being how to run fast in

incredibly impractical footwear. I was a

moving target for abuse of every kind, and

even had men of my dad’s age spit in my face.

But at the same time, I found people who were

equally as hated as I was. Others who felt alone,

different, and often sad. Others who struggled

with mental health, who didn’t fit, and who

found safety in the darker things in life. I had a

community for the first time, and while I still

struggled, I didn’t feel so alone.

When I did have time to myself, I embraced

my fantasy worlds. In these spaces, I would be

a vampire, a werewolf, or a witch. Monsters

were powerful and exciting – they could take

Anxiety felt like my normal state

and I couldn’t shake it. I was scared

of people, scared of failing, scared

of judgement, scared of everything

on the world that judged them, and make it

understand their pain. I never saw monsters

as bad things; they were just different, and the

world couldn’t understand them. Frankenstein’s

monster, or Beast from Beauty and the Beast,

were seen as ugly and freakish, but I thought

they were beautiful, and they often just wanted

to be left alone. I could relate strongly.

That’s the thing with monsters and horror, they

have always had strong messages within them

and have always reflected the psychological.

Creatures who are made to feel unwanted or

96 | April 2021 | happiful.com

true story

feared, are often the victims of ‘normal’ society.

They have emotions, like rage, that take over them

until they cannot control it; they hide themselves

away, search for companions, they long for peace.

All of these themes fitted the way I saw the

world; after all, I had my own demons to work

with. Much like my creepy counterparts, I started

to find that I could use my difference as power.

I could take what I thought were my weaknesses

and my weirdness, and turn them into my

strengths. This all came together when I was

training to be a therapist.

I was lucky that the teacher on my counselling

course also embraced difference, and encouraged

me not to lose mine. I saw that my demons

now created an empathy in me for those who

struggled. Once I had developed my private


Growing up, Katie had support from friends and

family, but still struggled, and found bullying

throughout school to be emotionally damaging.

Katie’s life felt out of control, and she selfharmed

and had suicidal thoughts. Feeling like

an outsider, she was drawn to horror fiction, and

connected with the monsters who provoked fear,

and yet in reality were incredibly vulnerable.

Identifying with these characters allowed

practice, I did not hide my own identity, and

I still don’t. I have tattoos, I have hair that

changes all the time, and my clothes still reflect

my goth/punk roots. I am proud of this, and

I know that it still fits with my therapy style,

which is professional and warm.

I have been able to help so many others

connect with their own identities, and be

proud of who they are, by showing my own

flawed self. I’m not sad or lonely any more. I

have a wonderful partner, who embraces my

weirdness, and I am able to exist in a world that

feels right for me, without having to escape.

Monsters are still my friends, and I am

now working on a book project that uses

characters from classic spooky stories to help

us understand mental health. It isn’t dark or

scary, but colourful, positive, and full of life.

My monsters took me from the darkness and

helped me feel comfortable in myself: they

helped me feel human.

her to find the strength to move past the

persecution she felt, showing us the

power of valuing our own identity. Katie

trained as a counsellor, and uses

her empathic understanding

to help others to face and

embrace their own demons.

Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) | Counsellor

happiful.com | April 2021 | 97

try this at home

Stop saying sorry for…

Using Just Eat

(again) instead

of making a



Being too

drained to go for

that after-work

run you swore

you’d go on.

Taking four days

to text back, at a


Needing a

moment to

yourself now

and then.

Feeling proud

of yourself,

and wanting

to share that.


your own

growth and


Being human.

You’re doing the

best you can –

and that’s more

than enough.

Your house not

looking like a

showhome 24/7.

All endings are also beginnings.

We just don't know it at the time





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