happiful september 2021

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SEPT 2021





Could journeying through

your past help form

a better future?






Find joy in

the simple


In it together

What really happens

at group therapy?


A trip down memory lane

I’ve always been fascinated by

the ways that every experience

we’ve been through, the good

and the bad, come together to

create the people we are today.

Maybe the child who was always

picked last for the sports team grew

up determined to make others

feel welcomed and wanted. The

one obsessed with music now

effortlessly tunes-in to moods

and emotions, another who faced

tragedy holds those they love a

little closer, and the friend who

always left the group belly laughing

harnesses that confidence to drive

them towards their dreams.

In a fascinating area of

psychological study, researchers

consistently trace the ways that

early experiences shape the

people we become, with biological,

sociological, and psychological

influences gradually unfolding over

the course of a lifetime (for more on

that, head to p45 where we explore

personality tests and how to use

them). On a holistic level, looking

back can help us reconnect with

our hopes and dreams, as well as

examine the challenges we’ve been

through, and the hurt we might still

be holding on to.

On p92, we share practical

activities to help you plot, and

reflect on, your life. And on p16, we

look at the peaks and troughs of

nostalgia, questioning whether this

psychological phenomenon helps

or hinders our mental health, and

asking what happens when our

lives don’t follow the trajectory we

once longed for.

The past can stir up bittersweet

feelings, which muddy the

waters when it comes to the

topic of nostalgia. We can just

as easily get caught in remorse

as we can in relish. But, recently,

I was given some advice

that completely changed my

relationship with the past: “You

can’t blame yourself for not

knowing back then what you

know now.”

Something clicked inside me,

and with that, the shame, guilt,

disappointment, hurt, frustration,

and regret that so often builds

up over a lifetime, didn’t vanish

– anyone who’s been through

anything knows it’s never that

simple – but felt manageable.

The affirmation worked because

it’s not particularly philosophical,

it doesn’t require self-belief,

hope, or even any real reflection.

It’s just a fact, it’s just the truth.

This month, I pass this wisdom

on to you. And as you journey

through these pages,

I hope they support,

touch, entertain, and

enrich you – but, most

of all, I hope they inspire

you to treat yourself

with the kindness

you deserve,

because it’s

about time.



W | happiful.com

F | happifulhq

T | @happifulhq

I | @happiful_magazine

Memory lane

16 Right on time

Can harnessing a sense of nostalgia

benefit our mental wellbeing?


22 Child’s play

Start embracing your inner child

to excel at work

70 Piecing it together

We explore the ways jigsaw

puzzles support our mental health

89 The book of life

Meet the photographer who

captured 100 people aged 0–100

92 Plot your course

Creative activities to help you

trace, and reflect on, your life


25 The big chat

How to tell your partner you want

to begin working with a counsellor

33 Mindful activities for couples

45 Who am I?

What do personality tests show us?

85 Keepin’ it in the family

How to navigate difficult

family relationships

Food & health

58 The taste of childhood

Tasty, nutritious recipes to

transport you back in time

74 PCOS: 10 things to know

Get to the core of this commonly

misunderstood condition


14 What is media gaslighting?

Learn to spot the signs of this

sinister form of manipulation

20 Soothe strong emotions

Tap into these handy tips

34 Orthorexia explained

55 Self-harm myths

Eight misconceptions debunked

67 Sick-day guilt

Overcome the fear of calling in sick

72 Suicide awareness

What you need to know

78 Strength in numbers

What to expect from group therapy


Try this at home

32 September nature watch

66 Feel-good throw-back

84 De-escalate conflict

98 This month’s kindness goals

85 42


8 Good news

This month’s uplifting stories

13 The wellbeing wrap

49 Unmissable reads

64 Things to do in September



Positive pointers

28 Alternative Limb Project

Meet the woman behind the unique

and stunning prosthetics

40 Eco inspiration

42 Have you zine?

It’s your turn to create a miniature

publication to be proud of

50 Everyday romance

52 The power of laughter

We tried laughter yoga

80 Take pride in achievements

True stories

37 Jason: opening up

He felt pressure to keep it all

inside, until everything changed

61 Sheena: imperfectly me

Self-doubt ruled her life, until she

stepped into the next phase

95 Victoria: coming through

Thanks to her support system,

Victoria rediscovered the light




Every issue of Happiful is

reviewed by an accredited

counsellor, to ensure we

deliver the highest quality

content while handling

topics sensitively.

The experience of our past

has a huge impact on who

we are today. The past is

often explored in therapy to

allow people to work through

their experience – and, to a

degree, liberate them from

it. However, there can be

benefits to exploring the past.

For support with maintaining

our wellbeing and stability

– head over to p16. Our

experiences in the past often

inform the ‘self’ in the present.

By connecting with the past

and making sense of it, you

unlock the ability to determine

‘who you are’ in the moment.

This is very powerful, and

worth investing your time and

energy into as, ultimately, it

enables you greater control.


BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Rav is a counsellor

and psychotherapist

with more than 10

years' experience.

Expert Panel

Meet the team of experts providing information,

guidance, and insight throughout this issue



Nikki is an NLP master

practitioner, life coach,

and hypnotherapist.



Bernadette is an integrative




MBACP (Accred) Reg Ind

Graeme is a counsellor

working with both

individuals and couples.




Naomi is a psychotherapist

and WCMT Churchill Fellow

for suicide prevention.


BA Hons Dip Couns

Jeremy is an integrative

psychotherapist who

specialises in trauma.



Sasha is a nutritional

therapist and eating

disorder recovery coach.


BSc (Hons) PgDip MBDA

Rania is a nutritionist

specialising in fertility and

chronic conditions.



Rachel is a life coach,



Our team


Kathryn Wheeler | Guest Editor

Rebecca Thair | Editor

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

Janette Owen | 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



Rosie Cappuccino, Fiona Thomas,

Caroline Butterwick, Gabby Willis, Sarah Young,

Rania Salman, Katie Conibear, Jenna Farmer,

Jason Wood, Victoria Hennison, Sheena Tanna-Shah


Graeme Orr, Rachel Coffey, Nikki Emerton,

Jeremy Sachs, Bernadette Padfield, Sasha Paul,

Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska, Michele Scar,

Nicola Ockwell, Denise Bosque, Pam Custers,

Dee Johnson, Clare Percival



Denise is a life coach,

hypnotherapist, and

mindfulness teacher.


BA (Hons) Dip Nut

Michele is a nutritional

therapist, health coach, and

CNN lecturer.



Clare is a life and

executive function coach,

empowering her clients.



Pam is a counsellor who

specialises in supporting

relationships that thrive.



Nicola is a counsellor

with experience working

with groups.



Dee Johnson is a counsellor

interested in working with

individuals and groups.


Aimi Maunders | Director & Co-Founder

Emma White | Director & Co-Founder

Paul Maunders | Director & Co-Founder


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One undeniable truth is that

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Mindfulness could

be key to helping

kids drift off

The Uplift

Sleep is important for all of us, but

for children, it truly is the fuel that

powers their curiosity, concentration,

and playfulness – and a new study

from the Stanford University School

of Medicine has discovered a key way

kids can boost their shut-eye.

A group of ‘at-risk’ children from

low-income families took part in a

mindfulness curriculum at school.

This taught them how to relax and

manage stress by using mindfulness

techniques, without specifically

instructing them on how to get more

sleep. Teachers taught the class about

stress, how to spot it, and techniques

on how to help keep it under control.

Following the lessons, researchers

found that, on average, the children

slept 74 minutes more per night than

they had before taking part.

Although the findings can be applied

to kids from all backgrounds, working

specifically with ‘at-risk’ children

meant that researchers were able

to target what was keeping them up

at night, with principal investigator

Victor Carrión highlighting how

much more challenging it is to relax

when you don’t feel safe.

Moving forward, the study shows

that when we learn to identify the

signs of stress, we can start to tackle

it with deliberate actions – and how

a curriculum incorporating simple

mindfulness techniques could have

a much larger impact than first

thought. Writing | Kathryn Wheeler


Students create a buzz with bee-friendly seed launcher

A group of student designers

are sowing the seed of hope for

bees, as they tackle extinction

threats with their awardwinning

seed launcher, Sow


The compact, biodegradablepackaged

creation distributes

wildflower seeds effortlessly, to

provide a source of pollen for

the declining bee population.

Four Heckmondwike

Grammar School students are

behind the innovative device,

which was awarded first place

in the annual Design Ventura

awards run by the Design

Museum, London. Tasked

with creating a product that

enhances everyday life, theirs

channels both sustainability and

ecological development.

The programme, which received

more than 15,600 entries this year,

seeks to shine a light on young

talent, encouraging participants

to gain real design experience and

enterprise skills.

Yinka Ilori – an artist, designer,

and Design Ventura 2020 brief setter

– is a keen supporter of the seed

launcher, saying: “The young people

behind me, they are the future of

the industry, the future of design.

We need to nurture that talent and

support and encourage those young

people. Let them know that you can

make a career out of design.”

The seed launcher will be available

to buy in the museum shop, with

proceeds going to a charity of the

students’ choice. While there’s

still work to be done to reverse the

decline in bees, it just goes to show

that the smallest of creations can

sprout a big change.

Writing | Katie Hoare


Hairdressers and beauticians

offered domestic abuse training

Hairdressers and beauticians

play an important role in our

communities and, in line with

news that the Office for National

Statistics recorded a 7% rise in

domestic abuse offences during

lockdown, a new programme

aiming to equip stylists with the

skills to spot the signs of abuse is

launching in UK and Irish salons.

Founded in Nashville in 2017,

by salon owner and survivor

of domestic violence Susanne

Post, the Shear Haven education

programme consists of an online

training session, followed by

a quiz and certificate – and, to

date, more than 25,000 beauty

professionals from around the

world have been trained.

Tapping into the unique role

those in the beauty industry

play in the lives of their clients,

the training hopes to equip

participants with the knowledge

to recognise the signs of domestic

violence, the skills to navigate

conversations with those who

may be in danger, and signposting

tools to help them get to safety.

With the training highlighting

the role community can play in

supporting individuals in need,

and the programme seeing

success elsewhere in the world,

salon business expert Liz McKeon

has been appointed UK and

Ireland Ambassador, with training

and local-specific helplines

available via her website. It shows

how, with the right resources,

professionals have the ability to

step in to make a real difference.

Head to lizmckeon.com

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

happiful.com | September 2021 | 9


Did lockdown

make cats more


For many cat owners, cuddling up

with furry friends helped them

cope during the pandemic. But how

has this affected our companions?

In the past year, more of us stayed

home than ever before, and pets

of all types were thrown by the

change in routine. A new study

from the Universities of York and

Lincoln confirms this, with results

noting that 65% of pet owners saw

a change in their pets’ behaviour

during the first lockdown in 2020.

Nearly 36% of cat owners reported

that their feline friends were more

affectionate. And most owners

noted that changes in behaviour

were positive, with 10—15% saying

their pets were more playful and

20-30% noting that they seemed

more relaxed.

Scientists suspect the change

in cats specifically being more

affectionate is likely due to humans

seeking extra contact, and their cats

seeking more… treats.

Even though the affection may be

driven more by a cat’s belly than its

heart, the benefits of contact with

our pets can’t be denied. In a 2019

survey by Cats Protection, nine out

of 10 cat owners said owning a cat

helps their mental health.

Lockdown restrictions may

be lifting, but it’s safe to say pet

cuddles are always going to be the

cat’s pyjamas.

Writing | Kat Nicholls

happiful.com | September 2021 | 11

Take 5

Thinking caps at the ready, it’s time for this month’s brain teasers


Connect the numbers from 1–111 to reveal a throw-back image

4 7 8



11 12 15 16 19






5 6 9 10

13 14 17 18



34 35

24 25

How did you

do? Search

'freebies' at


to find the answers,

and more!


38 39



40 72 73 74

80 79


76 77









106 68


105 67



















60 58


















95 96 97 98



78 47












Decipher the nostalgic film and TV shows represented with emojis

Gender neutral

emojis are coming

in 2022, along

with multiracial



and catcalls could

be made crimes

under proposals

for new laws

against public

sexual harassment

Japan has hired

its first Minister

for Loneliness to

tackle its mental

health crisis and

rising suicide


Monthly Google

searches related

to ‘hayfever’

increased 220% in

the past 5 years

A bride recreated

her wedding at

a care home in

Bridgend for her

nan who couldn’t

attend the big day




Stub it out

Five councils in England

are kicking smoking to the

curb, in support of outdoor

eating culture. These

authorities banned smoking

on stretches of pavements

where establishments have

outdoor tables, getting

ahead of the curve with

the UK government’s bid

to become


by 2030.

Musician Pink offered

to pay the fines for

the entire Norwegian

women’s beach

handball team, after

they were penalised

for breaking uniform

rules which dictate

that female athletes

must wear bikini

bottoms, while the

men’s team are able

to wear shorts.

Working it out

Supporting accessibility with exercise, deaf online

fitness instructor India Morse recently created a

series of deaf-friendly videos alongside Joe Wicks,

which now feature on The Body Coach YouTube

channel. India, who runs You Lean Me Up, is

passionate about opening up exercise to anyone

who wants to be involved. What a champ!

The greatest gift

Donating an organ is a huge life decision, and a

recent study has investigated the mental impact of

this – with some heart – warming news. Published

in the British Journal of Health Psychology, the study

found that donating a kidney to a stranger had a

positive impact on mental wellbeing, with participants

reporting feeling that they’d contributed to society,

and experienced positive emotions.

A new project looks to provide sustainable

shelter for homeless people in London, as

the Salvation Army, Citizens UK, and Hill

Group team up to build 200 ‘pod homes’

over the next five years. Fully-furnished

pods will be on pockets of unused land

across the city, suitable for one person,

and highly efficient, expected to cost just

£5 per week to run. Plus, the total build is

predicted to come in under £50,000!

Grow with it

A farmer from Western

Australia is doing something

incredible to support mental

health, following a friend

taking his own life. Sam Burgess

is donating all profits from 60

hectares of his crop to mental

health charities for the rest of

his farming career. Now

that’s the root of


Time to shell out

In a landmark case, a court in

the Netherlands has ruled that

oil company Shell is responsible

for its own and suppliers’ CO2

emissions, and must cut these

by 45% by 2030! This is the first

time a company has been legally

required to comply with the Paris

climate accords, and found liable

for its impact on climate change –

a big win for eco-warriors around

the world.

Nicola Coyle, a retired nurse

from Nottinghamshire, has set

up The Grey Muzzle Canine

Hospice, to take care of old,

abandoned, terminally ill, or

stray dogs in their final days.

Bringing the animals into her

home, Nicola tries to ensure

their tails keep wagging,

as they get to live out

their days to the fullest.

Independence day

A disabled dad has been able to take

his newborn son for a walk, thanks

to his wife Chelsie, a teacher, and a

group of her students from Maryland,

USA. Together, they designed the

WheeStroll – a special child seat which

can attach to a wheelchair, providing

much more independence for Jeremy!

What is media


Are we victims of this sinister form of manipulation? With the help of a

life coach, we explore how to spot and stamp out media gaslighting

Writing | Katie Hoare Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Have you ever found

yourself confused

by guidance from a

newspaper? Listened

to a politician continuously

deny a fact when science says

otherwise? Read a news story

with scary health facts that don’t

add up elsewhere?

This type of reporting actually

has a name: media gaslighting.

Gaslighting is a form of

psychological manipulation

that seeks to sow seeds of doubt

in a person’s mind, making

them question their own

reality, memory, or beliefs. A

gaslighter aims to gain control

over another person, group, or

nation by trying to convince them

they’re wrong, reinforcing their

preferred narrative by repetition,

regardless of fact.

“The term is derived from

the play Gaslight (1938) which

features a husband’s systematic

psychological manipulation of

his wife,” says Nikki Emerton, a

life coach and hypnotherapist.

“This eventually leads to her

questioning her own sanity.”

So how does this translate to the

media? “In media and societal

terms, ‘gaslighting’ may be seen as

propaganda, indoctrination, or mass

brainwashing. Telling people what

to think to fit in. Creating a ‘gang

culture’ so that if you want to ‘fit in’

and be part of the gang, you must

think a certain way, no matter how

inaccurate it is,” Nikki explains.

It isn’t just about spreading

misinformation, but extends to

the deliberate act of attempting

to rewrite the narrative to control

public opinion, and refusing to

acknowledge information that

tarnishes said narrative.

Classic examples of media

gaslighting include the portrayal of

vulnerable women. When Britney

Spears, Paris Hilton, and Lindsay

Lohan came into the limelight,

social media didn’t exist, they didn’t

get to choose how they wanted to

present to the world. The paparazzi

made the choice for them, and the

media ran with that persona.

For Britney, that persona

involved a sexualised childhood,

vilification when she embraced that

sexualisation, and her public mental

health deterioration. Lindsay was

heralded as a child star before being

blacklisted by Hollywood, as we

witnessed her multiple mugshots

being bandied around. In other

words, their only narrative was one

of damaged goods.

Doctors and scientists are

often also at the mercy of media

gaslighting when they offer an

alternative opinion or fact that

doesn’t fit with mainstream media.

They’re vilified, dismissed as

‘radical’, and even their level of

stability comes into question.

So with never-ending scope to

distribute ‘fake news’, how do you

sort fact from fiction?

How to spot gaslighting

in the media

Nikki shares five ways you can

identify when the media is using

gaslighting techniques to tell the

desired narrative...

14 | September 2021 | happiful.com


1. You can’t crossreference

the facts

Often, you may hear a report

and go online to source further

information. If you find it is

difficult to attain additional or

unbiased facts about it, gaslighting

tactics could be at play.

2. Information is vague,

unclear, or contradictory

The facts you’ve read often don’t

add up, leaving you questioning

what the actual message is and,

importantly, what the desired

outcome of the piece was. How

did you expect to feel upon

Nikki shares four examples

of how media gaslighting

tries to maintain control:

• Raising anxiety levels,

leading to a desire to

follow a person(s) in


• Repetition brings

retention. Information

repeated often enough

is likely to be adopted as


• Shutting down

oppositional views or

overpowering them with

one-sided views.

• Editing media to portray

a predetermined public

image that is


reading the headline vs how you

feel now? Often it’s confused, and

even fearful.

3. Information is altered

Have you ever read a story, gone

back to show a friend a few

days later, and the information

is not as you remember? Did

you question if you had read it

correctly? With media gaslighting,

information is changed and

altered as time goes by without

factual evidence to support it, or

signposts to note the changes.

4. A significant

bias is present

What is reported is published for

positive gains biased towards an

individual, group, or organisation,

and not the bigger picture. This

is often seen in politics, notably

around elections.

5. You’re urged to support

the story on social media

When you read a story on

social media, are you instantly

bombarded with messages

asking you to ‘show your support’

by sharing the piece? Media

gaslighting often calls on readers

to advocate for their narratives;

asking you to share their story

suggesting you have subscribed

to an official recommendation,

that may or may not be true.

Whether you’re privy to the

gossip columns or it’s strictly

business only, we hope these tips

will put media gaslighting on

your radar, and support you to

question the unquestionable.

Nikki Emerton is an NLP master

practitioner, life coach, and hypnotherapist

specialising in helping people recover

from controlling relationships so that they

can rebuild their lives. Find out more by

visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk

For old

time’s sake

Join us as we step back in time and explore how harnessing

a sense of nostalgia can support our wellbeing

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler Artwork | Charlotte Reynell

It’s in the scent of the perfume

your mum used to wear, it’s

mixed in with the taste of

your favourite homemade

meal, it sounds like that track

that could be heard blaring from

your teenage bedroom, and it

looks like the skyline from the

personal pilgrimages you’ve made

throughout your life. Nostalgia

creeps up on us, stirring us

emotionally, reminding us of the

places that we’ve been, and of the

journey still ahead of us.

Each of us will experience

it in different ways, but the

science is there to support this

phenomenon’s powerful force,

for all of us. More than a decade

of research from the University

of Southampton has shown

that nostalgia can counteract

loneliness, boredom, and

anxiety, as well as make us more

generous to strangers. It can

improve our relationships and,

incredibly, can even make us

feel physically warmer.

And, this past year, it appears

we’ve been pondering the past

more than ever. Spotify saw a

54% rise in listeners making

nostalgic playlists, and a Radio

Times survey found that 64%

of respondents said they’d

rewatched a series in lockdown,

with 43% watching nostalgic

shows for comfort.

So, what is it about journeying

back in time that is so soothing,

and how can we manage this

bittersweet emotion when

the past isn’t always a perfect


A trip down memory lane

From the start of lockdown,

each Sunday evening, Father Lee

Taylor – Vicar of Llangollen, in

Wales – could be found sitting

at his piano, ready for a weekly

livestream, aptly named ‘An

evening of pure nostalgia’. In a

regular singalong enjoyed by

people across the world, Father

Taylor performed hymns from

Sunday school, Victorian music

hall songs, and the songs that

“people remember hearing while

sitting on grandma’s knee”.

“At the beginning of the

pandemic, there was much

fear and uncertainty about the

future,” Father Taylor says, as

he reflects on those early days.

“Many people, especially the

elderly and vulnerable, felt they

16 | September 2021 | happiful.com

memory lane

were being plunged into the

darkness of isolation, and cut

off from the world. We all need

an anchor to give us a sense of

stability and security during

turbulent times.”

For him, music was that anchor.

“It is incredibly evocative, and

can transport us back to happier

and more certain times. It can

trigger personal memories, and it

can help us recall people, places,

and events from our past– the

memories can come flooding

back to us in an instant.”

It’s this particular power that

Father Taylor believes is the

reason why his livestreams

took off, each one garnering

comments such as, “This song

means so much to me. It has

taken me back to my childhood,” >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 17

“This has brought back so many

wonderful memories of my

grandparents”, “I haven’t sung

this for many years”.

Reminiscent of studies which

found that music has the ability

to unlock memories in dementia

patients in ways that no other

form of communication quite

can, Father Taylor’s livestreams

tapped into this unique force,

transporting singers on a journey

through time.

“I think people respond well

to nostalgia, especially through

musical memories, because it

makes us feel safe and grounded,

giving a strong sense of identity

and our formation as we look

back to our younger years,”

he explains. “It gives us that

warm and cosy feeling of being

embraced by a long-lost friend.

It can also bind us together with

others who either share our tastes

in music, or are of the same

generation as us.”

The story so far

Beyond the specific things that

trigger a fond sense of nostalgia –

such as music, photos, and foods,

to name but a few – reflecting on

our personal history can help us

to develop better insight into the

things that drive us, as well as the

hopes and dreams that we still

have for the future.

It’s something Helen Hart sees

first-hand in her role at memoir

writing service SilverWood Books.

“The past is such a personal

and important aspect of our

lives; it shapes our present,

Father Lee Taylor

allowing us to identify who

we are and how we can be

the best version of ourselves,”

she explains. “Deliberately

reflecting on the past can stir up

all kinds of emotions, but it can

be healing. Many SilverWood

authors creating a memoir enjoy

working through past events,

reliving them or sorting through

memories as they decide how

to express what they feel on the

page – and that can help them

move forward in their lives.”

Helen describes how, for some

people, writing a memoir can be

like pressing the reset button on

their lives, prompting them to dig

deep into their needs and desires.

With the help of chronological

formats, we might uncover

a newfound appreciation for

the journeys we have been

It makes us

feel safe and

grounded, giving

a strong sense of

identity and our

formation as we

look back to our

younger years

on, for the challenges we

have overcome throughout

our lives, the things that we

have lived through that, in

the end, made us stronger,

more compassionate, and fully

rounded people. We can track

our values systems that guide us

forward, and in moments where

we feel a bit lost, we can retune

into these guiding principles

that have always been with us.

Don’t look back in anger

Of course, not every journey

is straightforward, and we

haven’t always viewed the

experience of nostalgia in such

a fond light. As counsellor

Jeremy Sachs points out when

considering this point, in 17th

century Switzerland, nostalgia

was treated with opium,

18 | September 2021 | happiful.com

memory lane

leeches, and a prescribed walk

in the alps, due to its links to

melancholy and depression.

Today, if you’re about to go on a

trip down memory lane, Jeremy

recommends doing so with a

degree of caution.

“Nostalgia looks to the past,

often simplifying it and looking

at it through rose-tinted glasses.

This in itself is not a bad thing,

however people can get stuck

looking back to their past,”

Jeremy explains. “This often

happens when the pain of what

is happening in the present is too

overwhelming. This doesn’t mean

to say the past was better – rather

that nostalgia creates a false, but

reassuring, narrative that it was.”

As an example, Jeremy points

to how, in early 2020, there

was a tendency to compare the

Covid-19 crisis to the Blitz.

“In truth, Covid-19 is nothing

like the Blitz,” he says. “However,

this past experience existed in

our societal consciousness (even

if we don’t have lived experience

of it), and this comparison made

sense of something new.”

He explains how this same

concept can work on an

individual level too: reliving

times from our past can help us

confirm our idea of ourselves and

our connections, and that in turn

can make us feel safe and secure.

“As therapists, we’re constantly

moving between three time

zones: past, present, and future.

We look to the relationships in

our past in order to make sense

of current or future ones.

“However, we can get stuck in

the past, regretting past events,

and believing ‘if only things had

been different’ we could find

happiness in the present.”

Those kinds of thought spirals

can be difficult to break free of,

but the key is to spot when you

might be caught in one. Spend

some time reflecting on the

relationship you have with the

past, and ask yourself: are there

things that you need to let go of in

order to thrive in the future?

When all’s said and done

Human beings are fascinated

by the passing of time – we’ve

been recording it, celebrating it,

and predicting it since, well, the

start of time – and many of us are

sentimental creatures by nature.

But, as with anything, the past is

best served up in equal measures,

with an appreciation for the

present and the future.

Tap into this unique element of

the human experience, connect

with those you love the most,

reminisce on the things that

have brought you happiness,

and celebrate the hurdles you

overcame – while knowing that

there is still so much more to

come on the horizon.

Jeremy Sachs is an integrative

psychotherapist who specialises

in working with trauma recovery,

long-term conditions, adolescents,

and young people. Find out more by

visiting counselling-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | September 2021 | 19

5 ways to soothe

painful emotions

Ride the waves and tap into self-care with these tips

Writing | Rosie Cappuccino

Have you ever had an

emotion that felt ‘too

much’, or feared that

your feelings would

overwhelm you? While emotions

have an adaptive purpose – to

help us stay safe, make decisions,

communicate, and build social

bonds – there are times when

they become so strong that their

intensity hurts.

Although some people

experience intense emotions more

frequently (such as those who, like

me, have borderline personality

disorder), painful emotions are

part of being human. It is normal

to feel large amounts of emotion,

especially in response to difficult

events such as an illness, or the

death of a loved one. Here, we

take a look at five ways to soothe

painful emotions.

1. Engage your senses

“[This] is an act of mindfulness,

pausing and tuning-in to your

body, surroundings, and what

is happening in the now,” says

counsellor Dee Johnson. “It helps

with concentration skills, and

brings awareness, sharpening

your observational abilities.”

If you’re sad or anxious, try

recreating a fragrance you

associate with comfort, perhaps

spraying diluted lavender oil onto

a tissue. Experiment with looking

carefully at leaves during a walk,

and try savouring something

fresh, such as a juicy piece of fruit.

Explore textures to see what you

find soothing; prop a cushion

behind your back when you’re

writing a stressful email. Play

around with sound to see if the

chatter of the radio soothes you.

2. Delve into a story

Stories can take us temporarily

into the minds of others, and

to diverse locations, providing

a short break from whatever is

going on in our lives. For some,

stories involving crime, war, or

horror can exacerbate fear, guilt,

or sadness – so genres involving

romance, fantasy, or nature may

be more soothing options.

Undoubtedly, the cognitive

effort needed for reading a book

or processing narrative twists

can be difficult when emotions

are intense, but audiobooks of

familiar or childhood stories

may be able to offer escapism

more easily, and without any

jarring surprises. Travel vlogs on

YouTube can also be a fun way of

momentarily exploring interesting

landscapes or cities.

20 | September 2021 | happiful.com

3. The power of temperature

Have you ever felt either

uncomfortably hot or miserably

cold during times of painful

emotions? Sometimes, restoring

balance to your temperature

helps bring us closer to emotional

equilibrium. If you’re feeling

chilly, relating to deep sadness,

consider taking a warm shower,

and snuggling up with a hot water

bottle. Conversely, if you’re too

warm, maybe due to shame or

anxiety, put a damp face cloth in

the freezer and then gently rest it

over the back of your neck or your

brow. Alternatively, try soaking

your feet in a bowl of cold water,

and see if that settles you.

4. A safe place in your mind

Imagine you’re visiting a

location that makes you feel safe

and comfortable. It might be

somewhere you know well, a place

you have been to in the past, seen

in a film, or an entirely made-up

place. Some people find it tricky to

visualise a scene in great detail, so

browse Pinterest or Instagram to

gather inspiration for how it might

Painful emotions

are often

amplified by

anxious thoughts

look, feel, and sound. The more

detail you can generate, the more

vivid your mental picture will be.

As Dee explains: “Safe place

imagery [is] very helpful for

trauma and anxiety – a great

grounding technique to remind

you that you have experienced

safety, feelings are transient, and

to give a sense of control as it’s

your place to choose to go to.”

5. Make a list, and

then put the list away

Painful emotions are often

amplified by anxious thoughts

(‘what if…’, ‘I don’t know how…’),

not to mention a ‘to do’ list that

feels unmanageable. List all the

thoughts bothering you, and all

the jobs preying on your mind.

Then put the list out of view and

take a break from ruminating,

planning, or solving. When your

mind wanders to your worries

or tasks, gently tell yourself they

are safely recorded, and you will

take care of them when you’re

ready. It’s amazing how worries

can dissolve and tasks seem

more manageable once painful

emotions start to subside.

Rosie Cappuccino is a Mind Media

Award-winning blogger, and author

of ‘Talking About BPD: A Stigma-

Free Guide to Living a Calmer,

Happier Life with Borderline

Personality Disorder’.

Dee Johnson is a counsellor

interested in working

with individuals and groups.

Find out more by visiting


happiful.com | September 2021 | 21

By the end of play

How embracing our inner-child in the workplace

can help us rediscover our passion

Writing | Fiona Thomas

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

What would you

give to turn back

the clock, and live

a day as your fiveyear-old

self? For many of us,

the life of a child looks not just

fun but easy, especially when

compared with the pressures

of adulthood. Instead of dealing

with bills, appointments, and

endless meetings, playing in the

sandbox and taking naps seems

like a far better deal.

The funny thing is, you connect

with your inner child more often

than you think. Have you ever

played a harmless prank, or

doodled to pass the time? As

humans, we need an element

of play in our lives to manage

stress and release endorphins,

and once you allow yourself to

act like a kid again, you’ll want

to do it more often.

22 | September 2021 | happiful.com

memory lane

Contrary to popular belief,

bringing playfulness to the

workplace isn’t an excuse

for employees to skive off.

It boosts productivity and

can induce a flow state; that

in-the-zone feeling when

you’re concentrating hard on

something you find challenging,

but also creatively stimulating.

A study published in The Tohoku

Journal of Experimental Medicine

found that the simple act of

laughter can mitigate the effects

of stress, strengthen teams,

and build better relationships.

Adults who prioritise play may

be able to find more happiness,

fight off depression, and lower

their risk of dementia.

Now we’re not suggesting you

surprise the team with a bouncy

castle in the office car park, but

we do have some ideas to help tap

into your inner child at work.

1. Ask questions

As an adult, you’re expected to

be the fount of all knowledge

for children. If you’ve ever

witnessed a child descend into

a ‘But, why?’ spiral, then you

know exactly what we’re talking

about. Try stepping out of your

adult role from time to time, and

lean into the fact that you cannot

possibly know everything all of

the time. Explore the idea that

it’s OK to admit you don’t have

all the answers, and instead try

asking questions to figure out a

way forward. Try posing openended

questions, such as: ‘What

seems to be the problem?’, ‘What

else do I need to know about

this?’, and ‘What’s holding you

back from succeeding?’

2. Talk to someone new

Have you ever noticed that

children are experts in making

new friends? They don’t think

twice about inviting newcomers

into their space to talk or play

games. We adults are a different

breed entirely. According to a

Try stepping out

of your adult role

from time to time,

and lean into

the fact that you

cannot possibly

know everything all

of the time

YouGov poll, just a quarter of

older Britons report having made

a friend in the past six months,

and only 18% over the age of 55

have made a new friend in the

past six years. But reaching out

to a colleague could be the ticket

to boosting job satisfaction,

because – according to a study in

Social Psychological and Personality

Science – small talk has been

shown to improve executive

functioning; the area of the brain

related to focus, prioritisation,

and organisation. The next time

you try to avoid that after-work

event, consider what your inner

child would do.

3. Gamify your tasks

Reward charts are common in

academic settings because they

are brilliant motivators to get kids

engaged in learning, but this can

be applied to modern workplaces,

too. Say you’ve got a stack of

boring paperwork to complete.

Why not split it between you and

a colleague, and whoever finishes

last has to buy the other one a

coffee? Alternatively, set yourself

a deadline and reward yourself

with lunch from your favourite

sandwich place. You could even

bring health and wellbeing goals

into work and get others involved,

trying to walk 10,000 steps every

day, or taking short meditation

breaks together.

4. Be curious

As children, we’re endlessly

curious and encouraged to make

mistakes. There isn’t a person

on Earth who learned to speak

without a whole lot of garbling

and gobbledegook beforehand.

No one figured out how to walk

without stumbling and crawling

along the way. Your inner child

chooses curiosity over ego

every time, so try to accept that

failure might occur when you

try new things. That said, having

a curious mind doesn’t have to

involve big scary challenges.

Something as simple as switching

up the time you have lunch will

offer up new experiences, such

as hearing an interesting radio

show or bumping into an old

friend. Take on that new project,

volunteer to do something you’ve

never done before, and embrace

being a beginner.

Fiona Thomas is a freelance writer

and author, whose latest book, ‘Out

of Office’, is available now. Visit

fionalikestoblog.com for more.

happiful.com | September 2021 | 23

There comes a time in your

life when you have to choose

to turn the page, write another

book or simply close it


24 | September 2021 | happiful.com

Photography | Joanna Nix-Walkup


How to tell your partner

you need help

We explore how to navigate the conversation, and help you

integrate your therapeutic life into your dating life

Writing | Becky Wright


need some professional counselling, mentoring, coaching, Part of my reluctance to tell

or something else), you may still my boyfriend I wanted to access

feel worried to say it aloud to the therapy was that it suddenly felt

person closest to you.

very serious and final. I’d been

thinking about getting support for

a while but, once I said the words

out loud to him, I knew there

would be a sense of accountability

for me to book the sessions and to

attend. And that in itself was scary.

help, but what will my

partner think? Will they

think it’s their fault? Or that

I’m being overdramatic? Will

they think it’s unnecessary?’

These are some of the questions

that went through my mind

before deciding to start therapy

sessions earlier this year.

Admitting to yourself that

you need help is a huge step

in looking after your mental

health. But, often one of the most

daunting steps in getting the

support that you need is telling

other people – especially the

important people in your life –

that you’re struggling.

As much as you should feel

proud of yourself for trying

to access help (whether it’s

Why is it hard to ask for help?

In a romantic context, people can

fear that ‘having issues’ will make

them seem less attractive. But,

according to counsellor Bernadette

Padfield, there could also be other

fears that make you feel reluctant to

tell your loved one that you want to

access professional help, including:

• They’ll feel inadequate or hurt

because you can’t discuss your

issues with them.

• They’ll feel they are responsible

for you seeking help.

• They could share this

information with others you

don’t want to tell.

Why should I ask for help?

Undeniably, the strongest

intimate connections are built

on a foundation of honesty,

mutual support, and trust. As

part of this, it’s natural to want

to discuss important aspects of

your life – including your mental

health. If you’re reluctant to talk

about this with your loved one,

ask yourself why. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 25

Do I have to tell

my partner?

You deserve to get the help you

need, but it’s important that you

feel secure and safe in having the

conversation. Here, Bernadette

lists some reasons you may not

want to tell your partner that you’re

considering professional help:

• You don’t feel safe.

• They may react violently.

• They may make it difficult

for you to access help.

• They may make life difficult

at home.

• They may try to humiliate you.

“All of these are acceptable

reasons for not telling them.

However, from a therapist’s

perspective, they all appear

to identify issues within the


If there are problems within your

relationship, a therapist may have

some useful advice, or you could

explore scheduling a couple’s

counselling session to help you

improve communication with

your partner.

26 | September 2021 | happiful.com


Perhaps you’re dealing with

a painful or difficult issue and

you’re not comfortable sharing

that information with anyone

yet. “Whether or not you tell

your partner is entirely your

decision,” says Bernadette. “But,

it may be worth exploring this

with a therapist.”

Despite any worries you have

about telling your partner you

need help, there is a lot that you

could gain from talking to them.

Bernadette says it’s important

to think about how you could

benefit from opening up. “Ask

yourself ‘What is motivating

me to tell them?’, then list some

of the things you could gain by

telling them.”

For example:

• They may acknowledge

my unhappiness.

• They may be supportive/


• They may respect my courage.

• They may listen.

• They may offer practical help.

Remember, if you’re dating

someone seriously and you want

the relationship to progress, you

need to have hard conversations

sometimes – including letting

them know when you’re


How do I start

the conversation?

If you’re concerned about telling

your partner that you want to

seek help for your mental health,

then remember, you don’t have

to do anything until you are

ready. Don’t put yourself under

any pressure, as this could

prevent you from accessing the

support you need.

But, when you do feel

ready, create a comfortable

environment to have that

conversation in – at a quiet

time, without distractions, when

you’re both feeling relaxed.

It’s perfectly

normal to get

upset and to feel


Prepare what you’d like to say

You may be feeling nervous

or emotional, so having a few

points in mind can help you

to structure the conversation.

Unless your problems are very

serious, a short explanation

about how you’re feeling and the

type of support you want to get

will be fine.

It’s perfectly normal to get upset

and to feel vulnerable. Just take

your time, and ask them to be

patient as you open up.

Say as much or as

little as you want to

If your partner wants more

information, they can ask, and

you can answer to whatever

degree you feel comfortable.

If this is the first time you’ve

discussed mental health with

your partner, it could open

a new world of conversation

between you. They may decide

to share details about their own

mental health experiences.

If your issues are deeper, a

longer discussion may need to

happen, but you don’t need to go

into this right away if you don’t

want to. You might feel more

comfortable disclosing this with

therapeutic assistance, such as

in a couple’s therapy session.

Ask for what you need

Perhaps you need practical

support. Could they help you

search for a suitable counsellor

online? Could they take you to

an appointment with your GP, or

your first therapy session?

Asking for help is a big step,

and you should do it on your

own terms. But, when you’re

ready, talking to your partner

could not only help you to

access the support you need, but

it could also help you to unlock

a whole new level of connection

within your relationship.

Bernadette Padfield is an integrative

psychotherapeutic counsellor and

a registered member of the BACP.

Find out more about Bernadette on


happiful.com | September 2021 | 27

The perfect alternative

With a passion for promoting uniqueness, Sophie de Oliveira Barata,

founder of The Alternative Limb Project, shares her inspiration for

developing bespoke and stunning prosthetics, and why her creations

are an active invitation to see and celebrate difference

Writing | Lucy Donoughue

Founder of The Alternative

Limb Project, Sophie

de Oliveira Barata, is a

little shocked when I

congratulate her on 10 years of

her company’s existence. It’s

not something she’d realised,

she laughs, slightly baffled as to

why she hadn’t noted her own

anniversary, but as we chat it

becomes clear why this milestone

may have passed her by.

The Alternative Limb Project,

her brainchild, was established

in 2011 to create unique,

imaginative limbs that empower

the wearer, and inspire a positive

dialogue about the human body

and its differences. Her drive to

design and realise these pieces,

she confesses, keeps her artistic

brain more than busy, and she

recalls many years of working

through the night, and excited

conversations about materials

from crystals to light beams,

clocks to faux porcelain. No

wonder the years have flown by.

During this time, Sophie has

collaborated with amputees

including models, paralympians,

children, charity founders, and

ex-military personnel to create

bespoke limbs that are both

stunning to look at, and actively

draw attention to what can be

seen, rather than a part of the

body that is no longer there, or

was never present. She’s also

exhibited creations across the

world, prompting conversations

about transhumanism, body

perception, and personal

choices of limb representation

and expression.

Sophie, how did you first

become interested in

working with prosthetics?

I studied art in my early 20s,

and worked in a hospital in

my spare time. I was offered

an opportunity to help with a

medical disaster re-enactment

they were carrying out for

training, by creating realisticlooking

wounds with makeup.

The experience marked the

beginning of medicine and art

running side by side throughout

my work ever since.

I went on to study special effects

makeup at the London College of

Fashion, and I became fascinated

with the ways makeup can trick

the human eye. Shortly after

graduating, I took some work

experience at a company that

made prosthetics for amputees.

To me that was the ultimate trick

of the eye: making an artificial

limb appear convincing!

I worked there for eight years,

and was lucky enough to learn

how to make fingers and toes,

partial hands and feet, forearm

and leg covers.

How did your limb creation

practise evolve?

The process within that company

was for the prosthetist to see

clients, and then I’d create the

limb required from drawings,

measurements, and photographs.

So, I rarely met the people we

were making limbs for. However,

one of our prosthetists met with

a little girl called Pollyanna Hope

who was just 2 years old and

travelling in a pushchair when a

bus mounted the pavement and

sadly killed her grandmother,

severely scarred her mother, and

injured her, resulting in a leg


28 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

Through insurance, she was able

to have a realistic looking leg each

year, and I was assigned to work

with her. Pollyanna had received

another limb prior to meeting me –

she’d had stickers on that and liked

the idea of something different. I

could see she was really engaged

with the process, and creating

her a bespoke leg meant she was

getting something special that said

something specifically about her.

Her family and friends were always

excited to see what was coming

next, which changed the dialogue

around her being an amputee.

Pollyanna’s leg had colourful

pictures of her family in frames

one year, Peppa Pig another, and

at one point she drew a picture of

a limb with drawers containing

special items. I was just really

inspired by Pollyanna and, from

a rehabilitation perspective, I was

deeply interested in pursuing

the personalised limb route,

and collaborating with others to

reflect who they are through the

prosthetics they chose. >>>

Image | Omkaar Kotedia

happiful.com | September 2021 | 29

How did The Alternative Limb

Project come about?

I had an unwavering passion

for what I’d started with

personalising limbs, and I

realised it was fulfilling a deep

artistic desire within me, as

well as reflecting the unique

personalities of the people who

wore them.

I started to look for amputee

models to create with, and I

found artist Viktoria Modesta,

who was on the front cover of

Bazaar magazine, with her leg to

one side and her stump on show.

In her article, she explained how

she chose to have an amputation,

despite being warned against it,

because she had a withered limb

and had encountered problems

because of that. She shared that

after the amputation she’d never

looked back. Her boldness and

beauty really spoke to me, the

way in which she claimed control

over her body.

Viktoria and I spoke, and she

expressed that she saw how a

prosthetic limb could be playful

and an accessory, rather than

something that’s purely functional.

We began to collaborate, and

together we created the sensational

leg she wore to dance as an

Ice Maiden for the Paralympic

Ceremony in 2012, covered in

Swarovski crystals. She wanted

to focus on being an amputee,

and to make a point of having an

alternative, beautiful limb.

Around this time, I also worked

with Priscilla Sutton on the Spare

Parts exhibition, which turned

pre-loved prosthetic limbs into

modern works of art, Kiera Roche

who is the chairperson for Limb

Power, and with British swimmer

and amputee Jo-Jo Cranfield. And

all of that was the beginning of

The Alternative Limb Project.

How has your work evolved

in the past 10 years since the

company began?

As time passed, our creations

were getting more and more

interest from museums and

galleries. Now, by exhibiting the

limbs I co-create, I’ve realised

they have the ability to start

and extend wider conversations

around bodies, prosthetics,

individual personalities, art,

medicine, and science.

Images (left to right) | Omkaar Kotedia, Channel 4, R. Williams, Lukasz Suchorab

30 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

To continue this work, I

often use money generated to

collaborate with amputees on the

development of a piece they own,

in return for being the inspiration

and model for a copy of that limb

to go on public display.

Recently I made a leg for a

beautiful champion pole dancer

– a man in his 50s who I sought

out for a collaboration. Initially

he thought that an alternative

limb might be cumbersome but,

after a conversation, we created a

tattooed leg with a hoof that clips

onto the pole, with a sculpture

on the back that spins as he does,

adding another feature to his

phenomenal performances.

What impact do your

alternative limbs have on

people’s outlooks?

From the beginning, the people

who came to me said they

wanted a limb that would be

seen. One lady I met was born

without her arm just below

her elbow, and she shared how

people might not notice this

as they began a conversation

with her but she would clock

the moment that they did, and

it was awkward. For her, having

an alternative piece was a way of

non-verbalising that difference

while speaking volumes, as she

was actively inviting people to

see her chosen limb.

Another gentleman who lost

his leg while he was in the

military explained how he was

surrounded by amputees when

he was in service, but when

he returned to civilian life that

wasn’t the case, and people stared

at him constantly. We worked

together because he wanted to

give people something to really

look at, in a playful way and one

that was positive for him. After

we fitted his alternative limb, his

whole body stance changed. He

was completely empowered. It

was just incredible to witness.

Find out more at altlimbpro.com

and @thealternativelimbproject

happiful.com | September 2021 | 31

September nature watch

This autumn, tune-in to the world around you

Squirrels hunker

down for winter

Blackberry picking

British hedgerows and

bushes will be ripe for

the picking, with juicy

blackberries coming to

fruition this month. Harvest

these tasty treats for home

baking and snacking. Make

sure to stay on the path, and

pick berries from at least

one metre above the ground.

At this time of year, squirrels

begin to hoard food for the

coming cold months. If you’re

happy to welcome these fluffytailed

creatures into your garden,

unsweetened and unsalted

peanuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and

almonds will go down a treat.

Swallows and house

martins head south

Between September and

October, both swallows

and house martins will be

preparing to fly the nest, as

they leave the UK and head

south for winter.

Deer watching

Autumn is the deer rutting

season, where stags clash

heads as they seek to secure

the perfect mate. Living both

in the wild and on private land,

rutting deer can be dangerous

and unpredictable, so if you’re

interested in watching this

spectacle for yourself, the

safest option is to find an

organised group near you.

Conker season

Falling from horse chestnut

trees from August to October,

conkers may take you on a

nostalgic trip straight back to

your childhood. But there’s

more to them than the classic,

game. Conkers are thought to

keep spiders away – and you

can even use them as a natural

washing detergent as they

contain saponin, a substance

used around the world to

clean clothes.

32 | September 2021 | happiful.com


It takes two

Spend some quality time together, with these

five mindful activities for couples

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Offer a sensual massage

You don’t have to be a master

masseuse to take your partner

on a relaxing mind and body

journey. YouTube has a huge

selection of tutorials for basic

massage techniques that you can

try out. Just remember, take it

slow, keep it simple, and tune-in

to what works for your partner.

Create a shared vision board

Vision boards are all about

putting together a picture of the

future that you want. What’s the

next step in your relationship?

Perhaps there’s an experience

you always wanted to try

together, a project you want to

undertake, or maybe there are

big life milestones waiting for you

just around the corner, such as

buying a house, or heading into

retirement. Whatever it is, get

creative and visualise your future

on the board.

Spend time in

nature together

Tuning-in to the sensations of

the natural world around us can

transform our mindset – and

getting back to your roots with

your partner by your side makes

it all the more rewarding. Do you

have a favourite spot that has a

special meaning to you? A view

that takes your breath away? Or a

route you have fond memories of

walking together? Tie your laces

and head on out.

Declutter your space

It may sound more like a chore

than an exercise in mindfulness,

but you could be surprised at

how cleaning and tidying can

help us to switch off and unwind.

Choose an area of your home

you want to focus on. If your aim

is to declutter, take a moment

to consider each item you come

across – does it have a particular

meaning to you? Does it spark

any emotions? And once you’re

done, you can both relax in a

fresh, clean environment.

Couples yoga

When you think of ‘couples yoga’,

your mind may automatically

go to the acrobatic feats often

shared online. But, in reality,

couples yoga can be done at any

level, and is much more about

tuning-in to each other’s bodies,

aligning your breath, and finding

support in your partner, than it

is about pulling off impressive

shapes. Search on YouTube for

free introductory videos.

happiful.com | Month 2021 | 33

Ask the experts: orthorexia

Nutritional therapist and eating disorder recovery coach

Sasha Paul answers your questions on orthorexia

Read more about Sasha Paul on nutritionist-resource.org.uk


I’ve heard the

term orthorexia

being used,

but I’m not sure what

it means – can you

explain it?


Orthorexia is a word used

to describe an unhealthy

obsession with healthy eating.

What often starts out as a wellintentioned

health goal, can

become a serious problem that

affects all areas of a person’s life.

Those experiencing orthorexia

tend to follow rigid food rules

around what they ‘should’ or

‘shouldn’t’ eat – and, over time,

the number of foods they allow

in their diet can reduce. It is very

common for those with orthorexia

to spend a lot of time thinking

about food, and to feel a

significant amount of distress

if the foods they deem to be

healthy are not available.

Although healthy eating is not

a problem as such, it’s when

the pursuit for health stops

being about balance, that

things can start to tip towards



My relationship

with food feels


but I’m not sure what

to do about it. How

do I know if I need

professional help?


Recognising a potential

breakdown in your

relationship with food is an

incredible step. My ethos is that

if your relationship with food is

affecting your life in any way,

then you are absolutely right

to seek out support. And the

sooner you reach out, the better!

The next step is to find a

practitioner who specialises in

this area, so that you receive the

right support for your journey.

I strongly believe that eating

problems require a holistic

approach that incorporates

work on understanding nutrition,

shifting unhelpful thought

patterns, and emotional

support. Together, this can

change your relationship with

food for years to come.

Many health professionals

will offer you a complimentary

initial call, where you can

ask about their approach

to this problem and if they

have experience in this area.

This is also an opportunity

for you to make sure that you

feel comfortable with the


Nutritionist Resource is part of the Happiful Family | Helping you find the help you need


Top tips for those struggling with orthorexia:


I’m trying to eat

healthier at the

moment, and am

finding myself thinking

about food a lot. Is it

possible to take healthy

eating too far?


It’s wonderful to hear that

you are considering your

health. However, if you are

starting to think about food a lot,

it may be time to shift your focus

from health to balance.

When we focus on healthy

eating, often we restrict the foods

we really enjoy. This increases

our thoughts around these foods,

and makes them more desirable.

In many cases, it is far healthier

to take an intuitive approach

to nutrition, where we focus on

nourishing the body as well as

allowing ourselves the foods we

enjoy – satisfying both our wants

and needs.

It can also be helpful to consider

if what you are eating is enough

for you. This is important because

one of the direct effects of undereating

is increased thoughts

around food.

1. Create a supportive

environment for yourself.

This may include spending

more time with people who

have a balanced relationship

with food, leaving triggering

environments, and following

supportive accounts on

social media.

2. Keep focused on your

motivation for recovery – your

‘why’. List all the reasons why

you want to recover – think

about what making peace

with food will bring you. Next,

create a vision board inspired

by your list, so you can wake

up ready to take on the day.

3. Get the right support.

Working with an expert will

arm you with the tools and

support to break free from

the problem. Take the time

to choose someone who

specialises in this field, and

can support you with the

different aspects of recovery.

happiful.com | September 2021 | 35


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36 | September 2021 | happiful.com

true story

Bringing the walls down

Following the deaths of both his parents, Jason felt immense

pressure to be ‘the man of the house’, and to bottle up his emotions.

But, with time, he discovered the healing power of vulnerability

Writing | Jason Wood

What is your most vivid childhood

memory? Mine is from 15 May

1997. It was a chilly spring day

in Chicagoland. The sky was

painted an abstract portrait of greys, whites, and

yellows. The home, where glorious memories

were once made, had now been converted

into a makeshift hospice. My dad, my hero,

lay in a hospital bed, drifting in and out of

consciousness. He had only been sick for a few

months, but the end was near. The cancer had

ravaged his body, much like how this event

would eat away at me for years to come.

I arrived home from school and came to his

bedside. I was able to hold his hand one last time

as he whispered, “I love you, Jason.” His body,

yellow from jaundice, looked like a fragment of

the man I once knew. This was my last memory

with him. He breathed his final breath a few

minutes later, and life changed forever. That

is the memory that defines my childhood. It

quickly trumped the joyful ones of holidays and

fishing trips. My hero, my innocence, and my

naivety died that day.

“You’re the man of the house now,” he said

just a few weeks prior, as Mom and I left the

hospital. At 11-years-old, I needed to take care

of Mom, who was chronically ill herself. My

childhood was over. I needed to be an adult.

The top priority was making sure Mom would

be OK. To do so, I put up a front. I began to

mask my inner fears and feelings because

I could not appear weak. I started to lose

touch with who I was, but chalked it up to just

growing up under special circumstances.

Fast forward to 2005, and it felt like my life

was a terrible rerun. Mom, my last pillar, slept

in a hospital room full of beeping machines

and rattled breathing. After two successful

battles with cancer, she was about to lose

this one. I was only 19 – what the hell was I

supposed to do? I was not prepared to be an

adult yet. The wounds from Dad’s death were

still fresh.

I held her frail hand, she reminded me to let

the dog out, and then she joined Dad. I was

alone, really alone. My siblings had turned on

me. They seemed like the enemy now. There

was an age gap in our family, and I was the

youngest by 15 years. They did not approve of

my new party lifestyle. I didn’t approve either,

but it was the only way to feel somewhat my

age and escape the pain I felt.

I faced eviction, arrest, a nasty estate battle,

and a few dead-end jobs in the aftermath. I felt

broken, I felt useless, but above all, I hurt. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 37

I had lost my parents. My childhood memories

felt tarnished. Meanwhile, the rest of my

friends were living their best lives at college

while I struggled to survive.

Did I ask for help? Did I let others into

my world of pain and inner turmoil? No! I

needed to stay ‘the man of the house’. Act

tough, put on a brave face, and impress

others with my resilience. I turned to alcohol

a lot. It temporarily numbed the pain. I was

that obnoxious, loud friend, always up for

another beer. I lied to myself that this is who

I was and wanted to be.

In 2010, I met my future husband, my knight

in shining armour. I could never understand

why he loved me or wanted to be with me.

I felt like I wasn’t worthy of him, and that

he could do so much better than me. As

such, I only allowed him to see the tip of the

iceberg of my pain. I feared that my complete

openness might chase him away. I had already

lost too much to lose again.

This hurt eventually turned into anger. My

perspective soured as the years went along.

I was bitter at the world, at my family, at life

I began to embrace vulnerability;

I felt empowered each time I let

my guard down

for handing me this unfair deck of cards. My

loving relationship with my husband grew tense.

Bickering progressed into arguments and tears,

usually as a result of my abusive relationship

with alcohol. I turned to beer to escape my pain

and insecurities, while still masquerading as a

happy-go-lucky guy.

In 2020, I bottomed out. My weight and selfrespect

reached an all-time low. My drinking

and frustration hit an all-time high. My husband

expressed his concerns, and in this moment of

weakness, something awoke in me. He opened

my eyes to the pain and hurt in my childhood,

and the damage I was doing to myself now.

He recognised my pain and, in a move of

independence, I did too. I realised I was broken.

I ached. I needed help. The following Monday,

I called my doctor and started my road to

recovery. I began working through personal

issues with my therapist, who helped me better

understand my anxious and OCD thoughts, thus

enabling me to address my disordered eating.

38 | September 2021 | happiful.com

true story

We talked about how I never had a chance to

eulogise my parents, my jealousy about never

having a normal childhood, the pain of losing

my family, and how the fallout from the estate

battle left the good memories tarnished.

My therapist helped me open up and face

problems I didn’t know I had. In turn, I began

to embrace vulnerability; I felt empowered

each time I let my guard down. I found the

strength to take the upper hand with my eating

disorder, to cope with the pain I buried away. I

reconnected with the parts of me I always loved.

I remembered who I was before life’s vicious

attacks commenced.

I’ve always enjoyed writing, and found this as

my outlet to speak my truths. Through writing,

I learned that ‘the man of the house’ can show

vulnerability. That does not equal weakness

but, instead, it shows love for himself and those

around him. I can be honest with myself now,

with my husband and with my friends. I broke

free from the chains of my eating disorder, my

insecurities, and the hurtful memories.

Vulnerability is defined as the state of being

exposed to the possibility of being attacked or

harmed, either physically or emotionally. All

along, I was the one doing the attacking and

harm to myself by not allowing myself to share

my struggles. I am now on a mission to help

others live their best lives, just like I am finally

doing after two decades of inner hell.


Jason’s inspirational story provides insight into

how difficult life events at an early age

can have a damaging impacting our self-esteem.

The trauma Jason experienced was evidently

very challenging, and he used alcohol to cope.

However, over time, with a supportive husband

and access to therapy, Jason was able to

work through his past and challenge the

stigma of what it means be a man.

Jason is living proof that men

can be vulnerable, and this is a

true sign of strength.

Rav Sekhon | BA MA MBACP (Accred)

Counsellor and psychotherapist

happiful.com | September 2021 | 39

Vision for the future

10 incredible innovations changing the world for the better

Writing | Rebecca Thair

When it comes

to saving the

planet, there are

countless people

and organisations achieving

astounding things – and yet we

often don’t even know about

them. Here, we’re celebrating

10 fantastic eco-feats that are

worth shouting about.

A fashion brand in Kuching,

in Malaysia, is breathing new

life into old food delivery

bags for a good cause. Neng

Kho Razali repurposes

‘Grab Food’ delivery bags

into school bags, which

are donated to orphanages

across the country.

By utilising an enzyme

found in red blood

cells, scientists from the

Worcester Polytechnic

Institute, Massachusetts,

have created ‘self-healing’

concrete – four times more

durable than traditional

concrete, that reacts with

CO2 to repair cracks in itself

before they become bigger

structural problems.




A team of engineering students from Quebec’s University of

Sherbrooke has developed a ‘beach vacuum’ to collect and separate

microplastics, which are extremely damaging to our ecosystem,

from sand. The Hoola One can process about three gallons of sand

per minute, and could be key to cleaning up beaches.


For those eager to explore

the world once again, as

soon as restrictions allow,

using the site ecohotels.com

not only gives you a range

of sustainable property

options, but also for every

booking made through the

website, it plants a tree to

increase reforestation.

40 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

Dutch artist and innovator

Daan Roosegaarde has

created an award-winning

world-first with his smog

vacuum cleaner. The

tower (7 metres tall) takes

in polluted air, cleans it

through ionization, and

then releases it again – and

is able to clean up to 30,000

m3 of air each hour!



A piece of plastic can only

be recycled two or three

times, which prompted

Nzambi Matee to come up

with a longer-term solution.

She started a social enterprise

called Gjenge Makers, which

turns waste plastic into

bricks, able to withstand

twice the weight of concrete

blocks. And the best part?

Every day her factory recycles

about 500kg of plastic,

producing 1,500 bricks, and

providing jobs to those from

marginalised communities.

In 2020, Waitrose began

using a fleet of eco-friendly

delivery vans, which run on

biomethane (a sustainable

alternative to fossil fuels).

Given the volume of carbon

emissions delivery vehicles

are responsible for, these

green machines could gear us

up for a brighter future.



Coral reefs are a natural, sustainable way to protect coastlines from

erosion, but rising water temperatures and bleaching due to acidity

are killing off this protective ecosystem, with 50% of the world’s

reefs already destroyed.

To counter this, CCell Renewables is utilising wave-generated

electricity to grow artificial reefs faster than they would naturally,

to protect vunerable coastal communities and support marine life.

A 3D mesh, called CloudFisher,

is capable of converting fog into

safe drinking water, or water

to irrigate agriculture. Able to

withstand high wind speeds, the

mesh can be made in various sizes

depending on the need, and could

be a game-changer for those living

in coastal areas or the mountains.

Solar glass technology might be the next big thing, with several

companies developing their own versions. One start-up from San

Francisco claims its transparent solar cells, which layer over glass,

convert ultraviolet and near-infrared light to electricity, while

allowing visible light through. Efficiency is being worked on, but it’s

believed this tech could be cheaper than solar panels, with a range of

applications – from the windows of our homes, to car windshields.



happiful.com | September 2021 | 41

Zine better days

Something on your mind? Why not produce, publish, and

distribute your own magazine about it? All that creativity is

therapeutic, empowering, and fun

Writing | Caroline Butterwick

Lots of us love getting

creative, as a way

of supporting our

wellbeing and

expressing ourselves. And

alongside more notable artistic

outlets, such as painting and

poetry, is the world of zines.

In his fascinating book on zine

culture, Notes from Underground,

author Stephen Duncombe

defines zines as “non-commercial,

non-professional, smallcirculation

magazines which their

creators produce, publish, and

distribute by themselves”.

Zines often contain a mix

of materials: poetry, collage,

sketches, first person reflections,

advice pieces, photos, lyrics –

anything the maker feels like

including. There’s no set way to

produce them either, as zines

may be handmade, with items

glued or drawn directly on to the

pages, photocopied, or created

entirely digitally.

Some people make zines just

for themselves, or as gifts for

friends. Others print copies

to distribute more widely.

Increasingly, zines are available

to view or buy online on

platforms such as Etsy.

For decades, zines have been

used to share interests and

experiences, from the science

fiction zines of the 1930s to the

Riot Grrrl zines popular in the

90s. They can be on literally any

subject: there are zines available

on everything from The Tiny

Little Book of Bunny Behaviour to

Doing Stuff Outside – a guide for

anxious autistics.

Being self-published, zines are

a place where we can control

the content. This makes them

perfect for sharing a diverse

range of experiences, such as

experiences of marginalised


“We don’t need to fit into anyone

else’s framework or rules when

we have creative outlets such as

zines,” explains counsellor Jane

Fellowes. “If we feel passionate

about sharing a part of our

identity or story, we can then

express this in a creative way.

This gives us space to tell our

own story in a way of our own

choosing, not someone else’s.

There is great therapeutic value

in telling our story, and in this

being welcomed and accepted

by others.”

Mental health is a common

theme in contemporary zines.

Author and journalist Erica

Crompton started Hopezine after

losing two childhood friends to

suicide. “I wanted to use my own,

and others’, experiences to give

hope to all people feeling low or

suicidal,” she says. Erica publishes

Hopezine quarterly, and it includes

a combination of articles, short

stories, poetry, and artwork.

“I’ve always believed that

writing can help us process

difficult feelings,” Erica explains.

She also sees Hopezine as an

opportunity to give a voice to

her friends and colleagues, who

may sometimes be overlooked by

more traditional forms of media.

42 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

The value in zines as a space

for marginalised voices is a

sentiment shared by professional

artist Deborah Rogers. Deborah

is the founder of participatory

arts organisation The Cultural

Sisters, and ran a project with the

YMCA encouraging participants

to make zines.

“Zines can help provide a

voice to someone who might

feel voiceless,” Deborah says.

“Self-publishing is extremely

empowering, and this is where

zines came and grew from.”

Zines are one of my favourite

creative activities. I find it

cathartic to have this space

where I can write candidly about

my experience of disability and

mental ill-health. One of the

great things about zines is how

you can use different artistic

techniques. On one page I can

include a poem, on another a

collage of words taken from

doctors’ notes, rearranged

to reflect and subvert how

alienating these notes can feel.

“I feel zines allow us to

thoroughly explore an issue, each

page looking at it from another

angle, using a different material

or technique, to look at the issue

differently,” explains Deborah.

“Zines allow us to create

something as unique as we are,”

says counsellor Jane. “They

are a form of free expression,

where parts of ourselves can

be explored creatively, and

presented with freedom and


I’ve also made zines as gifts

for friends, the pages full of

things meaningful to us. Many

people share their zines more

widely. Erica posts print copies

of Hopezine to friends and family,

and then around 700 PDFs go

out to her colleagues, past and

present. She also sells them on

her Etsy shop, and archives them

on Hopezine.com.

The power of zines comes, too,

from their ability to connect

communities. “Zines can help

you feel listened to and valued,”

Deborah says. “They can help

link people together, or be a voice

to the community.”

Zines are a feature of many

subcultures because of this

ability to connect people. It can

be really validating to read a zine

that resonates with your own

experience. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 43

Zines allow us to create

something as unique as we

are. They are a form of free

expression, where parts of

ourselves can be explored

creatively, and presented

with freedom and choice

“They provide us with something

to focus on which will be of

interest and value to others, which

can give us a sense of purpose

and meaning,” explains Jane.

“Creativity provides an outlet for

us to explore, be, and express our

true selves.”

Visit hopezine.com


A good way to start is to decide

what you want your zine to be

about. Try thinking of a theme,

such as ‘living with anxiety’ or ‘my

favourite family recipes’. Consider

if it is a project for yourself, a

gift, or do you like the idea of

distributing it?

Zines can contain a range of

creative techniques. One of my

favourites is using ‘found objects’:

items we are all surrounded by.

This can be newspaper cuttings,

old train tickets, receipts –

anything goes! These can be kept

whole or arranged into collages.

If you feel stuck, try “free

writing”. Take 10 minutes to sit

with your notebook and write. You

could use a key word or phrase

that summarises the theme for

your zine as a starting point.

Maybe you have illustrations or

photos you’d like to include? Lists

are also great to use.

It could be music

you’re listening to,

places you want to

visit, stereotypes

you want to challenge, or your


The other consideration is how

you will put it together. I like

using quality A4 paper folded into

an A5 booklet. Once it’s done,

and I’ve made any photocopies, I

staple these in the middle. I once

used thread to bind it – which

looked beautiful, though sewing

paper is time consuming and

fiddly! There are also various

paper-folding techniques, with

lots of guides available online.

Plus you can create zines

electronically. Erica’s Hopezine is

a great example of this, and she

provides both PDF and printed

versions of the finished work.

You could, like Erica, collaborate

with others. Do you have friends

who write poetry, or create

artwork? Some zine creators post

callouts for contributions online.

This is a great way of bringing

together diverse voices around a

theme, again building the sense of


There is no right way to make a

zine, so relax, and enjoy creating

something that’s personal and a

perfect space for exploring your


44 | September 2021 | happiful.com


Takin’ it


INFJ, type 2 – ‘the helper’, high agreeability… There are lots of personality tests

out there, each promising to give us more insight into the people we are. But

what do the results really mean, and how can we use their findings?

Writing | Kat Nicholls

As humans, something

that sets us apart

is how unique we

are. Like snowflakes

under a microscope, we all have

different patterns – of behaviour,

preferences, and responses –

which form who we are as a

whole. This can be thought of as

our personality.

Each personality is different,

formed in a certain way

depending on how and

where you grew up, among

countless other factors. But,

in between the differences,

there are similar patterns to

be found. Certain traits seem

to sit together neatly, and this

is what personality tests look

for – clusters of traits that form

alongside one another to create

a personality ‘type’.

Helping us to recognise our

particular patterns, personality

tests were first used in the

workplace and by psychologists.

These days, a quick Google for

‘personality test’ will throw up

numerous results, with various

tests promising to help you

uncover who you ‘truly are’.

As these types of tests are

self-reported – you are the

one answering the questions

– and not always put together

with evidence at their core, it’s

important to take the results with

a pinch of salt. These tests are a

fun and engaging way to learn

about your personality, but they

don’t dictate who you truly are.

So, should we bother with

personality tests, and how can we

use the knowledge we gain from

them in our everyday life? Let’s

start by looking at some of the

major tests you may come across.


happiful.com | September 2021 | 45

The Enneagram of personality









It’s estimated that more than two

million people take the MBTI

test every year, so it’s likely you’ll

spot it when searching for a

personality test to try. Created

by mother and daughter team

Katharine Briggs and Isabel

Myers, the test is based on Carl

Jung’s theory of personality,

and looks at the following four


1. Attitudes: extraversion or

introversion. This is about how

people regain their energy

(introverts do so with internal

reflection, extroverts do so

by reflecting outwards with

others), and whether or not

someone is thought-oriented

or action-oriented.

2. The perceiving function:

sensing or intuition. This

identifies whether or not a

person perceives using their

five senses, or their intuition

3. The judging function: thinking

or feeling. This is about how

a person makes a decision,

either with rational thought or

using empathic feeling

4. Lifestyle preferences: judging

or perceiving. This reveals

how a person primarily relates

to the world, either through

their perceiving function, or

their judging function.







When you take the test, you’ll

see your combination of these

factors, and be given one of

16 different personality types

such as ESTP (extraverted,

sensing, thinking, perceiving)

or INFJ (introverted, intuition,

feeling, judging). You can then

learn more about common

characteristics of this type,

and see if you recognise

yourself in the description.




Created by Paul T Costa, Jr.

and Robert R McCrae in the

70s, this test started life as a

way to investigate age-related

changes in personality. The

most recent version of the

test, NEO PI-R, looks at six





facets of what’s known as the ‘big

five’ personality traits:

1. Neuroticism

2. Extraversion

3. Openness to experience

4. Agreeableness

5. Conscientiousness



Today the test is typically

used during recruitment and

employment, to help maximise

the productivity of a workforce.


Inspired by ancient traditions,

the Enneagram (coming from the

Greek words ‘ennea’, meaning

nine, and ‘grammos’, a written

or drawn symbol) was brought

to the 20th century in 1915, by

philosopher and teacher George

Gurdjieff. Over time, other

46 | September 2021 | happiful.com


Self-awareness is a

key part of personal

development – it’s

how we grow

psychologists added personality

types to the diagram, integrating

it with modern developments in

the psychology field.

When you take the test, your

result will be a number between

one and nine, which represents

an Enneagram type such as ‘the

helper’, ‘the enthusiast’, or ‘the



If you’re interested in learning

more about yourself, and having

a little fun on the way, why not?

Self-awareness is a key part

of personal development – it’s

how we grow. There are lots of

activities you can do to support

this, including journaling and

meditation, and you can consider

a personality test the cherry on

top of your self-awareness cake.



Read up on your result and see

how much of it resonates with

you. Some tests will give detailed

report, and tell you more about

how your personality type affects

your relationships, work-life, and

even what motivates you.

Use this information to note

the strengths, weaknesses, and

behavioural patterns you tend to

fall into. Having this insight can

help you adjust accordingly to

work with your personality type,

not against it. For example, if you

learn you are more introverted,

you can factor this into your

lifestyle and make room for solo

reflection to rebuild energy.

You could also ask loved

ones to take the same test and

compare results. Knowing each

other’s personality types can

open the door for more honest

communication. Encouraging

colleagues to take the test could

also be incredibly valuable. It

may reveal how you can work

better together as a team, as you

understand each other’s needs

and ideal working environments.

With all this in mind, it’s worth

noting that as we grow and

change, our personalities can too.

Try taking the same test every

few years, and see if you notice

any differences.

The more we know ourselves,

the more we build self-trust.

This paves the way for self-belief

and the confidence to go for

what we truly want in life. So, a

personality test in itself may not

be life-changing, but what you do

with the results could be.

If you’re keen to explore personal

development more, why not work

with a life coach? Learn more and

find the right coach for you at


happiful.com | September 2021 | 47




8-12 TH SEPTEMBER 2021


Set at the inspirational Sculpture by the

Lakes, Wellbeing by the Lakes is 5 day festival

dedicated to wellbeing, exploring what it means

to be mindful and live well in today’s world.

Yoga . Fitness . Pilates . Breathwork . Qoya . Sound Healing

Expert Talks . Guided Meditations . Delicious Food . Art Gallery

Award-Winning Gardens . Marketplace . Massage & Healing Therapies


*Excludes bookable activities. Please see website for more information. Please note no children under 14 (including babies) or dogs are permitted on site



Our partners:

Wellbeing by the Lakes - Sculpture by the Lakes, Dorchester, Dorset DT2 8QU

48 | August 2021 | happiful.com


Happiful reads...

Happiful reads...

From ways to spice up your favourite noodle recipes to uplifting

stories, we share four books you won’t want to miss this month

Writing | Chelsea Graham

Grief can come as a

shock, and it can be

difficult to know how

move forward. When

Amy loses her mum, she realises

she has now become the ‘woman

of the family’. While navigating

her feelings, she also begins to

work her way through learning

the skills her mother never got a

chance to teach her.

Amy comes to realise that

she doesn’t know how to keep

the peace between her feuding

aunts, or how to react when

her dad makes lasagne for an

unknown woman. Uplifting,

relatable, and honest, Amy

Lavelle’s novel will resonate

with anyone who has ever

experienced the loss of someone

close to them, or who has had

Definitely Fine

by Amy Lavelle

Out now

to navigate challenging and

important life moments without

the person who had, before,

always been there to guide them.

Must reads

Book covers | amazon.co.uk

Bowls & Broths

by Pippa


2 September

Once a cancer


scientist, and

now a cook

and author, Pippa Middlehurst is

a keen advocate for building the

noodle bowl from the bottom up.

Sharing recipes for heart-warming

broths, fiery noodle bowls, and

crunchy toppings, Pippa has a

recipe for every craving. She

believes it’s important to offer

accessible recipes that can be

adapted for each reader, and so

creates options with each dish.

Patience by

Victoria Scott

Out now

The Willow’s



Patience, has

Rett syndrome

– meaning she is trapped in her

own body – forcing her family to

make all of her decisions on her

behalf. An extraordinary story

of love, hope, and dilemma,

Patience is a heart-wrenching

tale of parents given the chance

to cure their child’s disease, and

who must to decide whether

a seemingly impossible risk is

worth the reward.

A Book of Secrets

by Derren Brown

2 September

Having previously

written a book all

about happiness,

Derren now

explores why this

may not be our only successful

route to finding value. He delves

into the idea that maybe there

is something to be found in our

frustrations, and in uncertainty.

A deep dive into history, his own

experiences, and the opinions of

others, this book is a wonderful

exploration of how we can find

compassion and consolation in

surprising places.

happiful.com | September 2021 | 49

How to find romance

in the everyday

See the world around you in a new light with these

tips for introducing romance into your day

Writing | Gabby Willis

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Not just something

connected to love and

relationships, romance

can be as simple as harnessing

feelings of mystery, excitement,

exoticism, and appreciation of the

day-to-day things that make life a

pleasure to experience.

Deeply connected to gratitude

and self-love, harnessing the

romance of the everyday can be

the perfect foundation for lifting

our spirits, and self-soothing

when life has been a little rough.

We’ve all experienced throwing

open the curtains to bask in warm

rays of sunshine that flood into a

previously cool and dark room,

and it’s time to tap into that

feeling more.

Danielle Thornton-Walker, a

life coach at Danielle Louise

Coaching, says: “The love that we

feel for anything comes from us

– so if the inside of you is a soft,

sunny space, it’s going to radiate

from the outside too.”

Whether you find romance in

the smell of fresh laundry

and new books, or

50 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

the rush you get when listening to

your favourite song in the car with

the windows down, here are five

ways you can find and harness the

romance of the everyday to make

your own, and others’, lives better.



Danielle encourages you to take

some time to immerse yourself

into the present moment. Just like

being in love, being wrapped up

in a moment – as if nothing else

matters – does wonders for our


As Danielle explains, when you

tune-in to the simple things, and

get real joy from them, your brain

floods your body with oxytocin,

serotonin, and dopamine – ‘happy’

hormones that make you feel alive

and at peace.


Starting, and/or ending, your day

with gratitude can also help you

remain present and in love with

the moment. Danielle says: “You

can’t be practising gratitude and

feel angry, or shame, or jealousy,

or any of those uncomfortable

feelings. Practising gratitude

brings in all the joy, the

love, the hope, and the

optimism, and raises your

emotional vibration.”

You might be grateful for

the taste of your favourite

food, or the soothing sound of

heavy rain. You could have a bad

day, but there’s always something

romantic to be grateful for,

somewhere. Try making a list of

five things you’re grateful for in

the day ahead when you wake up,

and add five extra things before

you go to sleep.


Really paying attention to sights,

sounds, smells, sensations, and

tastes will give you more things to

find romance in.

We’ve all experienced

throwing open the

curtains to bask in

warm rays of sunshine,

and it's time to tap into

that feeling more

This is something Karen

Liebenguth, qualified life coach

and accredited mindfulness

teacher, believes in strongly. She

says we should also engage in

things we are passionate about,

like really immersing ourselves in

a piece of music, or finding bliss

in sinking our hands into the

dough when baking bread.

All of these feelings and

activities contribute to making

us feel relaxed, fulfilled, and

alive, which in itself can be

very romantic. At times, it is

impossible to hear the birds sing,

feel the dewy grass underfoot,

and see summer blossoms in

bloom without feeling in love

with yourself, your surroundings,

and your companions.


Karen says: “Beauty can ignite

awe and wonder, [but that] can

also happen with meditation

– when we sit quietly with

ourselves, are connected to the

body and breath, and the mind

quietens down.”

Karen often meets her coaching

clients outdoors, and encourages

them to practise mindfulness

and meditation in green or open

spaces. This can help with a sense

of connection to life around us,

something bigger than ourselves,

which is key to appreciating the

romance of the everyday.


Danielle adds that this all needs

to be done regularly to appreciate

the effects. Your brain likes

consistency and evidence, and

will start to do these things on its

own once you’ve taught it to.

Pamela Rose, psychotherapist

and coach, says creating a habit

of appreciating the romance

around you will help you fall back

in love with your life, and boost

your wellbeing.

Pamela says: “Try starting a new

daily habit of picking one thing

that day you’ve loved. It can be

difficult to remember to do this

at first, so leave yourself a note

perhaps next to your toothbrush.

And while you’re brushing your

teeth, think back through the

day and pick one thing you felt

was perfect, just the way it was.

This helps to release serotonin

and fills you with peaceful calm.

Your brain will start to realise

how great this feels, and will

encourage you to do more of this

throughout the day.”

happiful.com | September 2021 | 51

You’re having

a laugh

Laughter yoga classes are taking

off around the world, so Happiful’s

Kathryn Wheeler signed up for

a session to discover the serious

benefits behind having a chuckle

It’s 3pm on a Monday, and I’m sat

in front of my laptop, ready to

join a virtual laughter yoga class.

When I first stumbled across the

idea of ‘laughter yoga’, in my mind’s

eye I envisioned a group of people

heartily laughing while in traditional

yoga poses – similar to my own

reaction every time I poorly attempt

downward facing dog – and I was

about halfway right.

Laughter yoga, as it is done today,

was developed by medical doctor

Dr Madan Kataria who, after

studying the numerous benefits

of laughter, was inspired to

launch the first ‘Laughter Club’

with five people in a park. The

group gathered in a circle, told

jokes, messed around, were

generally silly, and had a laugh.

Rather than adapting the yoga

poses we’re accustomed to, Dr

Kataria’s laughing yoga was

more focused on tuning-in to the

intentionality and mindfulness

of yoga, mixing in breathing

and stretching with moments of

prompted laughter. Following

the first few trials, he realised

that the body cannot distinguish

between real and pretend

laughter – furthermore, makebelieve

laughter often turned

genuine, and the physiological

benefits of the exercise were felt

for days after the sessions.

With that discovery, the practice

took off, and today Dr Kataria

runs a free virtual laughter club

every day – which is what I’m

about to dive into.

52 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

With a mix of periods of laughing,

stretching, and breathing, Dr Kataria

masterfully switched the tone between

peaceful quietness and jubilant laughter

A perk of going virtual, the

Laughter Club attracts people

from all over the world, and

as the host welcomes the

‘international family’ to the

call, I see ‘hellos’ from Italy,

Japan, Spain, Brazil, Portugal,

Germany, Israel, Uruguay, and

Hull. The first part of the session

was hosted by laughter yogi

Vinayak Shastri, who took a

moment to remind us that we’re

all small children, that the child

is still within us, that we have

suppressed that child, but in

Laughter Club we’ll allow that

child to come out once again.

This leads us seamlessly into two

minutes of freeform ‘silly time’ –

and, let me tell you, the attendees

of the Laughter Club understood

the brief. As my Zoom window

jumps from person to person,

I watch, half in bewilderment

and half in awe, as people blow

raspberries, pull funny faces, and

make all kinds of odd noises with

not a single punch pulled. At this

point, I did try to access my own

inner child – but because, as a

child, I was painfully shy, serious,

and usually found on the sidelines

of the action, I didn’t find much

help there. That said, who could

resist letting out a chuckle as an

adult man gleefully flies across

your screen making aeroplane

noises? It was all very, very

silly – though, of course, that’s

completely the point.

But the benefits of laughter

yoga are no joke. On a physical

level, laughter increases our

intake of oxygen, stimulating

our heart, lungs, and muscles.

From there, it increases the

endorphins (feel-good chemicals)

that are released by the brain,

soothing our stress response

and even decreasing our blood

pressure. It’s these endorphins

that leave us feeling happy and

calm after a good laugh – add

some friendly company into the

mix and you’ve got yourself a

recipe for a good time.

About 20 minutes into the

session, it was time for the

main attraction, as Dr Madan

Kataria came on the call to

guide us through the next

stage. With a mix of periods of

laughing, stretching, clapping,

and breathing, Dr Kataria

masterfully switched the tone

between peaceful quietness

and jubilant laughter, and soon

– without really realising it – I

found myself laughing along

without having to try. Over the

course of the session, I shed that

self-conscious layer that was

stopping me from letting go at

the start. I was laughing from

my belly, and feeling the warmth

spreading through my body,

mixed with deep, healing breaths

and stretches as I embraced this

hour of silliness and solace in

the middle of a standard, busy


The session ended with a

dance party to Pharrell Williams’

‘Happy’ (no prizes for guessing

that song), and as I watched the

images of people from all over

the world freely dancing while

grinning ear-to-ear – one man

even taking a break to wipe

the tears from his eyes – I got

it. I got the power of letting go

of the behaviours you may not

have even realised were holding

you down, to let all the silliness

bubble up to the surface, to shed

seriousness and sensibleness,

and to just have fun. That

evening, I felt lighter, playful,

and relaxed. And the best part? A

good laugh doesn’t cost a thing.

Fancy giving laughter yoga a go?

Join free, virtual classes every day

at laughteryoga.org

happiful.com | September 2021 | 53

Let us make our future

now, and let us make our

dreams tomorrow’s reality


54 | September 2021 | happiful.com

Photography | Emiliano Vittoriosi


Content warning: this piece

discusses topics and details

relating to self-harm

7 myths about

self-harm, debunked

Sort the facts from the fiction when it comes

to the sensitive topic of self-harm

Writing | Sarah Young


Lancet Psychiatry study

found that, in 2014,

6% of 16–74-year-olds

living in England had

self-harmed, which is equivalent

to more than one in 20 people. In

young women aged 16–24, this

figure is one in five. And yet, selfharm

is still a topic that’s often

considered ‘taboo’, surrounded by

myths, stigma, and stereotypes

that make people afraid to ask for

help for fear of negative attention.

So, it’s time to clear up some of the

myths and misconceptions about


1. People who self-harm

are attention-seeking

This may be one of the most

pervasive myths surrounding

those who self-harm, and one

that dismisses and invalidates

the emotional anguish that they

experience. Many people who selfharm

feel ashamed and go to great

lengths to hide their injuries from

others, as often the attention that

self-harm brings is negative due to

stigma. The reasons why people

self-harm vary immensely and are

personal to each individual.

Emily, 29, who lives with

depression and CPTSD, says: “Selfharm

is a coping mechanism for

when I’m experiencing extreme

emotions that cannot be relieved

by anything that isn’t destructive.

Also, when I am dissociated and

not able to connect to the real

world, it grounds me.”

It’s also important to address

our perceptions of “attentionseeking”.

When someone sneers

that “people who self-harm just

do it for attention”, we can feel the

need to prove them wrong. But

why do we view this through such

a negative lens? Often people don’t

have the words, or the confidence,

to say that they need help. While

the last thing many people who

self-harm want is attention, for

others it may be a call for help.

When someone is trying to

communicate that they are in pain,

they need validation and support,

not ridicule and dismissal.

2. Self-harm is just cutting

Typically, when people hear ‘selfharm’,

the first thing they think of

is cutting. While this is a common

method of self-harm, it is not the

only way that people can cause

damage to themselves, either

internally or externally. Other

forms of self-harm to be aware of

include overdosing and substance

misuse, excessive exercise, or

harming themselves through

eating disorders. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 55

Where to get help

If you are affected by self-harm,

here are some ways you get

support or information

Phone and text lines

• Samaritans: 116 123 or


• Shout crisis text line: Text

“SHOUT” to 85258 or

“YM” if you’re under 19

• Childline: 0800 1111

(under 19s).

• YoungMinds parents helpline:

0808 802 5544

• Mind: 0300 123 3393

Webchat services

• Self Injury Support webchat

(for women) is open Tuesday,

and Thursday from 7pm to


• CALM webchat (for men) is

open from 5pm to midnight

every day

3. It’s just a phase

Some people’s experience of

self-harm can be more isolated,

related to a specific situation, and

may stop once that has resolved.

Others may self-harm as a

long-term coping mechanism.

Similar to how some people

crave cigarettes or alcohol in

times of great stress, others may

find an emotional release from

self-harm, which could become

habitual, or even addictive.

“When I was younger, I was

genuinely addicted to it and would

self-harm every day at some

points,” says Emily. “I didn’t know

how else to deal with emotions.”

4. Only teenagers self-harm

Ivy*, 30, who has struggled with

severe depression throughout

her life, says: “One of the biggest

myths around self-harm is that

it’s just teenagers and young

adults who do it. A lot of selfharmers

carry on much further

into adulthood.”

A culmination of the emotional,

hormonal, and physical changes

in teenage years can mean that

this age group is more likely to

become overwhelmed and use

self-harm as a way of coping,

especially if there are other

difficulties going on in their lives.

But self-harm can begin or stop

at any age. Claire*, 28, shared

her experiences of her daughter

Anna* with me.

“When Anna was only three

years old, she began hitting

herself on the head when she

became overwhelmed. I was

56 | September 2021 | happiful.com

*Names have been

changed for privacy.

very concerned and searched for

counsellors to help Anna but,

due to her age, there wasn’t any

support that they could provide,

which was very upsetting.

I talked with Anna about

expressing emotions and tried

to validate any feelings she had.

When she started school there

was an incident where Anna was

playing with another child and

an accident happened that upset

the other child. Anna’s way of

dealing with that was to slam

her fingers in the door. She was

trying to hurt herself to make

things right.

“It hasn’t happened again but you

can see when she gets upset or

frustrated she does bang her fists

on herself. It is her struggling to

deal with difficult emotions.”

5. It’s a slippery slope to more

severe self-harm or suicide

Some people who self-harm

may have suicidal thoughts, but

many do not. The intent behind

self-harm and suicide can be

very different: one is a coping

mechanism, and one is a desire

to end their life. In this way,

they could even be said to be at

opposite ends of the scale, and

each require a different approach

to treatment.

It’s important to be aware that

some people’s self-harm may

escalate over time, but for many

their level of self-harm will

remain consistent. For example,

I self-harmed frequently for

more than 10 years: I never

required hospital treatment and

my self-harm never increased in

severity. This isn’t to minimise

the seriousness of it, but more

to make you aware that not

all those who self-harm will

require hospital treatment, and

hopefully in time people can

find alternative, healthier coping


6. People can choose to

stop self-harming

Telling someone that they

can ‘just stop’ is an unrealistic

expectation that they often won’t

be able to live up to. And for

some, who may use self-harm

to cope with extreme feelings,

it can even be dangerous to

abruptly cease all self-harm

as they may be left without an

outlet. It’s important to support

them in finding safer ways of

coping – this is likely to involve

working with a therapist.

Attempting to prevent someone


When someone

is trying to


that they are in

pain, they need

validation and

support, not ridicule

and dismissal

from self-harming may mean

that they use riskier methods to

self-harm, or feel unable to come

to you with issues.

Often self-harm is a symptom

of another issue. My self-harm

was completely entangled with

my eating disorder, as a symptom

of that illness. Once my eating

disorder was addressed and I

recovered, the daily self-harm

wasn’t something I felt I needed

to do anymore.

7. Only ‘goths’ and

‘emos’ self-harm

There isn’t a ‘look’ for someone

who self-harms. Anyone of any

age, background, race, gender,

or sexuality can self-harm. It is,

unfortunately, all too common in

our society, so it’s important we

break down the stigma around

it so that it’s easier for those who

self-harm to feel comfortable

sharing their struggles. No one

should have to suffer in silence.

With love and understanding, we

can create a safer place for those

who self-harm to seek out help

when they need it.

happiful.com | September 2021 | 57

Family favourites

Childhood dishes got you hungry for more? Try these two

family favourites, each with a nutritional twist

Writing | Rania Salman

Reminiscing about

childhood family

dinners? Want to

recreate your favourite

family feasts? We’ve got two

delicious dishes packed with

veggies and key nutrients, plus a

dash of nostalgia!

High in taste, but low in salt

and unhealthy fats, these classic

meals are incredibly versatile –

it’s easy to substitute vegetables

to suit your personal taste. So

have a go, and make some new

memories around the stove.

Vegetable lasagne

Serves: 8

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 1.5 hours


• 1 medium yellow pepper, 1

medium red pepper, ½ medium

green pepper, chopped

• 1 very large courgette, chopped

• 1 medium aubergine, chopped

• Handful of cherry

tomatoes, halved

• 1 Italian sun-dried tomato mix

• Grind of black and white


• Olive oil

• 1 medium onion, diced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• Tomato passata with basil

• Pinch of oregano

• 15 wholegrain lasagne sheets

• 100g butter/spread alternative

• 80g flour

• 500ml semi-skimmed/

skimmed milk

• 220g cheddar cheese, grated


1. Preheat the oven to gas mark


2. In an oven dish, mix the

chopped veg, Italian sun-dried

tomato mix, and salt and pepper

with olive oil, to coat the veg.

Cook in the oven for an hour, or

until soft.

3. While the vegetables are

roasting, sauté the onion and

garlic with olive oil until the

onion is translucent. Add

the tomato passata, pepper,

oregano, and salt to taste.

4. Boil the lasagne sheets for 7

minutes and sieve to drain.

5. Make a Béchamel sauce by

melting butter in a saucepan.

Add the flour and milk slowly,

whisking until the mixture

thickens. Add cheese and

pepper to taste.

6. Once veg has cooked, remove

from the oven and mix in the

tomato passata to make the

veggie lasagne base.

7. In another roasting dish, layer

as follows: lasagne sheets,

Béchamel sauce, vegetables.

Repeat until you get a few

layers. Add remaining grated

cheese on top.

8. Cook for 30 minutes at gas

mark 5/215°C, or until the

cheese has browned.

9. Enjoy with a side salad!

58 | September 2021 | happiful.com

food & health

Chicken curry with cumin rice

Serves: 6

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 45 minutes


• Rapeseed oil

• 155g onion, diced

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1–3 bird’s eye chilli, diced


• ¼ tsp turmeric

• 2 tsp curry powder (mild–

medium, as per taste)

• 2 tsp garam masala powder

• 360g raw chicken breast, cubed

• Pinch of salt

• 80g yellow pepper, 80g red

pepper, 80g green pepper, diced

• 90g carrot, diced

• 200g potato, diced

• 1 medium tomato, diced

• 1 ½ tbsp tomato puree

• 30g coriander, chopped

• Handful of peas

• 3g cumin seeds

• 300g basmati rice


1. In a pan, heat a tablespoon of oil

and add the onion and minced

garlic. Add the bird’s eye chilli (if

using) and sauté until the onion

is translucent.

2. Add ¼ tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp curry

powder, and ½ tsp garam masala

to the pan, and mix well.

3. Add an extra tablespoon of oil,

turn up the heat and add the

chicken. Add salt to taste.

4. Add the diced vegetables (apart

from the peas and coriander).

Add another ½ tsp of garam

masala and ¾ tsp of curry


5. Add 650ml of water, the tomato

puree, 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp

of garam masala, and bring to

a boil.

6. Boil for approx 20 minutes or

until sauce has thickened. Once

thickened, add the coriander

and peas.

For the rice:

1. Add 1 tbsp of oil and the cumin

seeds to a medium-sized pot.

Sauté the cumin seeds over

medium-low heat for 1–2


2. Add the uncooked rice, stirring

for 2–3 minutes to toast.

3. Add enough water to just cover

the rice. Place a lid on the pot,

turn the heat up, and bring it

to boil.

4. Once boiling, turn the heat down

low and simmer (with lid) for 15

minutes. Turn off the heat and

let the rice sit undisturbed for 10

minutes before lifting the lid.

5. After resting, fluff with a fork,

and serve alongside the curry.

The healthy bit

This lasagne is loaded with

vegetables, meaning there’s lots

of fibre and good plant chemicals

that our bodies love and need.

Switching to wholegrain lasagne

sheets is a great idea, as emerging

research shows the importance of

fibre, so trying to get it in wherever

you can is important for optimal

health – most people don’t meet

the government’s target of 30g of

fibre per day. Remember, when

using margarine, opt for one that

doesn’t include trans fats – look

out for ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially

hydrogenated oil’, and avoid.

The chicken curry is a healthy

twist on the family-favourite

takeaway, an Indian chicken curry!

This recipe hits all the right spots

without using unhealthy fats and,

by adding a load of vegetables

into the mix, you ensure you

meet at least two of your fivea-day

in just one serving. The

spice mix used in this recipe is

packed full of polyphenols which

are increasingly known for their

incredible bounty of health


Rania is a registered

dietitian and nutritionist

specialising in fertility,

PCOS, weight management

and chronic conditions.

Find a

nutritionist on

our Happiful


happiful.com | September 2021 | 59

Happiful Partner

Championing mental health in the workplace

Why become a Mental

Health First Aider?

Here’s what our

delegates say:

• Recognise the symptoms

of mental ill-health

• Help to improve awareness

and break down stigma

and discrimination

• Join a growing

community of amazing

people supporting the

conversation around

mental health

• Improve your own mental

health and self-care

• Virtual courses mean you

can train from the comfort

of your own home

Plus our readers enjoy an exclusive £10 discount

off all Happiful MHFA courses when you book

through training.happiful.com using the

code HAP10

You can hear more about the impact of MHFA

training on Happiful’s ‘I am. I have’ podcast,

featuring Happiful’s MHFA instructor Matt

Holman. Listen on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

A course that really made

me reflect. Delivery was

excellent, and the instructor

makes you feel valued and

listened to. They make

the course interesting and

inclusive by sharing their

own experiences. – Sol

I felt very comfortable and

in a safe space. Honestly, it

was life-changing. – Jamie

The instructor was amazing

– so open and personable,

and really made the tough

subject matters digestible.

It was really engaging, and

they created a wonderful

space for us to share

openly. The course has

enthused me even more to

shout about mental health,

and I feel extremely proud

to now be a Mental Health

First Aider. – Emma

60 | September 2021 | happiful.com

true story

Embracing my

perfectly imperfect self

Self-doubt and social anxiety ruled Sheena’s world, until her

children became her motivation to push past the fear and step into

the next phase of her life

Writing | Sheena Tanna-Shah

Throughout my childhood, I always felt

a sense of loneliness and insecurity.

Changing cities and then school a few

times, I struggled to make good friends

and I never felt like I fitted in. I wasn’t outgoing,

confident, or social – and always felt like I

wasn’t enough. What added to this was people’s

constant comments to stand straighter, to talk

slower, and to smile more.

These weren’t one-off comments, they were

constantly coming from the people around

me, and it gave me long-lasting social anxiety. I

made sure I didn’t win anything to avoid walking

in front of people in assemblies, it made me fear

talking in public, it made me fear being in social

settings as I was always afraid of judgement – it

even made me fear catching the bus to avoid

people watching me find a seat. The only thing

that kept me going was my passion for studying.

At 18, after a devastating break-up with a

boyfriend, I was diagnosed with depression in

my first year at university. I was at my lowest

point, and not only nearly quit my degree but

my life as well. I didn’t want to carry on, I felt

like a failure, and I was starting to become very

critical of myself.

Coming from an Indian background, it was

really hard to open up about my situation and

what I was going through. I felt like I was

letting my parents down, as it was uncommon

for situations like mine to be heard of then.

Online support forums and social media

wasn’t something I was part of back then, so

this period was extremely lonely. I almost felt

like there must be something wrong with me. I

couldn’t see anyone around me going through

what I was, and certainly no one in my culture.

I was studying to become an optometrist but

I failed two of my end-year-exams. Before,

studying was what had kept me going, so I

felt like I had nothing left to give. During the

summer break, I retook my exams and luckily

passed to continue into my second year. I

managed to get my degree and qualified as an

optometrist, however, the anxiety still followed

me around.

I married when I was 23, and moved to a new

location. This triggered my loneliness and

insecurity, as I hardly knew anyone and had

to start again. I would be sitting in my locked

room, crying endlessly as my husband sat on

the other side of the door, trying to help me.

I tried to fill the void by booking holidays,

dinner dates, and spa days. Even though these

made me happy, it was all temporary and I

would return to feeling anxious and insecure. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 61

I searched for various therapies, constantly

trying to find people to help me shift my

mindset and get me to a better place. I used

life coaches, counsellors, hypnotherapists,

CBT, and it helped to a certain degree. During

this period my interest in coaching grew,

and I trained to become a life coach and NLP

practitioner. My aim was to help other people

who may be going through what I was, but my

business didn’t start because my own recovery

was still in progress.

When I had children at 29, I came to a

new crossroads. Motherhood completely

overwhelmed me, and my anxiety spiralled.

I found everything a struggle. I found it

hard to take my kids out for a walk because

I was nervous of people judging me. I found

playgroups hard as I saw other mums getting

on so easily and confidently. I was a nervous

driver as it was but the pressure to go to baby

swimming, baby yoga, and everything else I

saw others doing, almost tipped me to the edge.

I was a snappy mum, frustrated, low in mood

and energy, and this led to each day ending in

guilt and tears.

I practised gratitude, and every

day I was a little kinder and more

patient with myself

I knew something had to change. I needed to

be an inspiration to my girls, the best mother to

them, and strong for myself. I stopped looking

at the outside world to fill my needs, stopped

looking for temporary fixes and solutions,

and started to read and listen to speakers who

motivated and inspired me. One of the first

books that I read was all to do with meditation,

so that’s where I began. I also started to look at

my nutrition, and what exercise I was doing.

Everything is connected with the mind and body,

so I had to learn to fuel both. I made my inner

world and inner focus a constant practice.

I started to step out of my comfort zone, even if

it was just having a coffee on my own in public.

I practised gratitude, and every day I was a little

kinder and more patient with myself. I started

doing things for myself, instead of what I thought

the world expected of me. If I wanted an extra

rest day, I took it, if I wanted to take the kids for

a coffee and cake (a big deal for me in a public

space) I took my time, gave it a go, and practised

being mindful of our time together. I felt proud

62 | September 2021 | happiful.com

true story

of small achievements like taking the kids to the

library, or a play date. Things that were no big

deal for some, were a huge deal for me. But these

were my achievements and milestones, and I

was going to feel proud of my steps. Everyone is

on a journey, and this was mine.

I continued to train in various therapies

including mindfulness, mediation, and rapid

transformation therapy. My company, Inspiring

Success, has grown successfully, I also run a

plant-based healthy treats business and promote

healthy eating through this, and more recently

became a published author of the book Perfectly

Imperfect Mum.

It was motherhood that truly inspired and

motivated me to change. Being a mother is

overwhelming, challenging, and stressful, but

it’s also rewarding, beautiful, and brings so much

joy. I know if my mindset wasn’t strong enough, I

would have missed the beautiful moments, and I

wouldn’t have been able to provide and be there

for them fully – I would be surviving not thriving.

At times, I truly cannot believe how far I’ve

come – from sitting on the floor crying daily,

not wanting to exist, to running two businesses,

being an optometrist, regular public speaker,

embracing motherhood, and becoming an

author where my book has been featured in

national publications.

As a person, I feel so much happier. I still have

moments where I am anxious or uncertain but

I am much more aware and mindful of those

times, and can recover more easily. Finding my

inner peace, inner belief, and inner calm helped

me embrace my perfectly imperfect self.


In this world impacted by Covid-19 and social

media, the pressure can feel overwhelming at

times. However, Sheena recognised something

incredibly important: change comes from


There isn’t one way to move forward, there

are many paths. Having the strength to make

the decision to change, and

allowing ourselves to be proud

of our achievements is a great

way to begin the journey to the

life you truly deserve.

Rachel Coffey | BA MA NLP Mstr

Life coach

happiful.com | September 2021 | 63



From accepting yourself, to embracing tranquility when out

and about, we share 10 things to do this September



You Are Enough: Embrace

Your Flaws and Be Happy

Being You

How often do you find

yourself striving for perfection,

or comparing yourself to

others? Cheryl Rickman’s

new book aims to help those

who experience imposter

syndrome, or who criticise

themselves constantly.

Encouraging us to let go of

the myth of perfection, You

Are Enough is a feel-good

action plan to help challenge

your inner saboteur. (Out 9

September, Summersdale

Publishers, £10.99)



Wellbeing by the Lakes

After so much time indoors, we’ve found the perfect festival set in

nature. What’s more, we’ll be there too! Wellbeing by the Lakes has a stunning

programme complete with expert talks, workshops, yoga, breathwork,

and more. You’ll be able to embrace both the tranquility of the 26-acre

surroundings and breathtaking sculptural pieces – and yes, it is as blissful as it

sounds! (8–12 September, visit wellbeingbythelakes.co.uk to book tickets)




‘Getting Curious

with Jonathan

Van Ness’

Whether you’re simply missing

Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness,

or you love diving into nuggets of

information, the ‘Getting Curious’

podcast is a great way to learn

something new. Speaking with

experts in their field, Jonathan

explores everything from the

importance of Pride, to the way

animals communicate with one

another. (Listen to the podcast on

iTunes and Spotify)




A game that all of the family can play, rounders is the classic

sunshine pastime. How far can you hit the ball and will it be enough

for you to start a run, or even make it all the way back to base?

Gather up everyone’s bags and jackets to act as posts, and carefully

choose your teams for an afternoon of cheering one another on.


Yuki Kawae

Yuki’s soothing videos

are a welcome change to the

fast-paced feeling of the usual

Instagram feed. His sand videos,

in which he creates anything from

mesmerising circular patterns to

satisfying line drawings, offer an

almost meditative quality to calm

your mind. (Follow @yukikawae

on Instagram)

64 | September 2021 | happiful.com




Kitchen Stories Recipes

Hosting a range of thousands of free

recipes, Kitchen Stories Recipes allows you to

set up your own profile and save your favourites

ready for when you fancy them. With its own

cooking mode, the app lets you effortlessly chop,

dice, and simmer your way through step-by-step

dishes, making dinner time that little bit easier!

(Download from the App Store or Google Play)


International Happiness

at Work Week

Do you dread Mondays? When we

are happy at work we are likely to

enjoy ourselves outside of work,

too. International Happiness at Work Week invites

everyone to start conversations about employee

wellbeing. (20–26 September, to learn more visit,




Sex Education

Back for its much anticipated

third season, Sex Education promises

a hilarious and uplifting watch.

Tackling relationships of all kinds

and following main character Otis

and his friends through the trials

and tribulations of love, makes for a

wonderful way to brighten any day.

(Available on Netflix)



Bungee Workouts

A more unusual, but

extremely fun exercise class, bungee

workouts are taking the world by storm –

and prove that bungee cords can be used

to create joyous and thoroughly unique

workouts. Attached to a cord hanging

from the ceiling, bungee workouts will

have you using all your muscles. (Search

Bungee Workouts to find a class near you)

Africology Bath Rituals Set | uk.africologyspa.com



Visiting a spa is not always possible in the evening, but who’s to say that you can’t

bring the spa to you? With the Africology Bath Rituals Set, complete with bath salts, scrubs,

and mud masks, you’ll be all set for a tranquil dip in the tub. A great way to cleanse your

body, mind, and soul, the set offers something for everyone. (£18.53, africologyspa.com)

Africology Bath Rituals Set

Win an Africology Bath Rituals Set

For your chance to win a bath set, simply email your answer to the following

question to competitions@happiful.com

Which of these would you not typically find at a spa?

a) Climbing wall b) Sauna c) Swimming pool

*Competition closes 16 September 2021. UK mainland and Northern Ireland only. Good luck!


happiful.com | September 2021 | 65

Turn it it up

Step back in time, with these feel-good

tracks from across the decades

• ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, Gerry & the Pacemakers (1963)

• ‘Feeling Good’, Nina Simone (1965)

• ‘What a Wonderful World’, Louis Armstrong (1967)

• ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell (1967)

• ‘Here Comes the Sun’, The Beatles (1969)


• ‘Move on Up’, Curtis Mayfield (1970)

• ‘December 1963 (Oh What a Night)’, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (1975)

• ‘Dancing Queen’, Abba (1976)

• ‘Go Your Own Way’, Fleetwood Mac (1977)

• ‘I Will Survive’, Gloria Gaynor (1978)

• ‘You Make My Dreams (Come True)’, Hall & Oates (1981)

• ‘Come on Eileen’, Dexys Midnight Runners (1982)

• ‘Sisters Are Doin’ it For Themselves’, Eurythmics, ft. Aretha Franklin (1985)

• ‘Take On Me’, A-ha (1984)

• ‘End of the Line’, Traveling Wilburys (1988)

• ‘Movin’ on Up’, Primal Scream (1991)

• ‘Friday I’m in Love’, The Cure (1992)

• ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’, Deep Blue Something (1995)

• ‘Wannabe’, Spice Girls (1996)

• ‘Brimful of Asha’, Cornershop (1997)

• ‘Take Your Mama’, Scissor Sisters (2004)

• ‘Better Together’, Jack Johnson (2005)

• ‘Put Your Records On’, Corinne Bailey Rae (2006)

• ‘Pocketful of Sunshine’, Natasha Bedingfield (2007)

• ‘You Got the Love’, Florence and the Machine (2009)

To listen to this playlist, search for ‘The Happiful Selection: Feel-good through the decades’ on Spotify

66 | September 2021 | happiful.com


How to overcome

sick-day guilt

It’s the phone call we all dread – letting your employer know you need a day

off sick. But when your body is telling you it needs a break, it’s time to listen.

So, how do we get past the guilt, to get the rest we need to recuperate?

Writing | Katie Conibear

We all know the feeling;

you’ve woken up

feeling terrible. You’re

too sick to work, but

there’s something in the pit of your

stomach that stops you from making

that call to your boss. You sit there

watching the clock – you might even

start getting ready to go in or log

on – putting off a decision you know

you have to make. You don’t want

people to think you can’t cope with

the job. You feel bad about colleagues

having to cover your work, and don’t

want to make life more difficult for

anyone else. You’re worried that you

might be judged for calling in sick,

and it’ll affect performance reviews

or your chances of that promotion.

Then there are the questions we ask

ourselves: “If everyone else can cope

without taking time off, why can’t I?”

When we’re ill, we often give

in to the pressure to carry on

working – whether that’s a

perceived external pressure, or

the expectations and standards

we set for ourselves. It’s easy

to fall into this trap when we

have deadlines to meet, work

on commission, or have a team

that relies on us. Whether it’s

a physical or mental illness,

pressure to keep going can make

us feel 10 times worse. But it’s

time to put that unnecessary guilt

in its place – here are four things

to help you do just that.


I asked life coach Clare Percival

how to overcome sick-day guilt.

Her thoughts? “I would ask, where

does that guilty voice stem from?

Is it a parent, a boss, or just a

limiting belief that somehow

we think we are supposed to

be super human rather than

listening to our body?”

Being honest with

yourself that you

need a break can

make you stronger,

and healthier, in the

long run

We need to learn to be

vulnerable, and to show that

we’re not OK – even if our inner

critic doesn’t like it. But the truth

is it’s nothing to be ashamed of. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 67

Being honest with yourself that

you need a break can make you

stronger, and healthier, in the

long run. Convincing ourselves

we must go into work, that we’re

letting people down, that we’re

letting ourselves down, avoids

focusing on the real issue. Plus,

hiding behind a mask can be

exhausting – and it’s bound to

slip at some point. Clare sums it

up: “Listen to your body. It knows

what is best, and it is trying to tell

you something important.”



If you’re unwell, but believe that

a sick-day is out of the question

because you can’t possibly miss

a day of work, it could be time

to take a closer look at what’s on

your plate. The world shouldn’t

stop if you need a day or two

to recover, and if it feels like it

will, it might even be the level

of responsibility on your plate

contributing to your poor health.

Ask yourself: is what I want to

do realistic? Will I burn out, or

make myself ill trying to achieve

it? Am I setting myself up for

disappointment if I don’t reach

my goal? Or is it a case of realistic

goals, but overwhelming myself

by trying to achieve too many

things all at once? If the answer

is yes to any of these, it could

be worth reevaluating whether

pushing yourself like this is worth

it – more often than not, the

answer will be no. And if that’s

the case, it could be time to speak

to your boss, HR, or colleagues

about your workload and any

support you need. Working until

you burn out shouldn’t be a goal,

or something that should earn

anyone praise. Our number one

goal should be to stay healthy.


Deep down, everyone struggles

for one reason or another,

whether they like to admit it or

not. Looking like you’re always

keeping it together isn’t reality.

Everyone has a persona they

68 | September 2021 | happiful.com


Working until you burn out shouldn’t

be a goal, or something that should

earn anyone praise. Our number one

goal should be to stay healthy

try to keep up, to an extent. If

you live with a chronic illness, a

disability, or both, it can feel like

sick-days come around more than

your colleagues, and guilt could

be a factor in whether you take

that much-needed day off. But

it’s important to remember that

everyone will have a time when

they struggle mentally, physically,

or both. And when that voice of

self-doubt rises up, just consider,

would you judge someone else for

needing a sick-day? Treat yourself

with that same compassion you’d

show your colleagues.

Get past the guilt

Life coach Clare Percival

suggests digging deeper and

asking yourself questions that

shift your focus to help put the

decision to take a day off in a

new, guilt-free light:

• What are the benefits of

taking a sick-day?

• How would I feel if I

passed on an illness to

my work colleagues?

• Why am I not prioritising

my health?

• What is really making me feel


• How will my performance

improve at work and home from

taking time off now to recover

compared to keeping going?

• Would my world collapse if I don’t

go in?

• How much better would I feel by

investing in myself and my health?


Most of us have worked with

an ‘office gossip’. They love to

let everyone know how you

were off last week, again. These

words make us feel ashamed,

guilty, and inadequate. But just

because you feel unwell, it doesn’t

make you weak-minded.

“When you’re not feeling 100%,

your inner critic voice kicks

in – the negative self-talk that

feeds off a poorly you, and has

been lying dormant waiting for

a moment to come out and play

in your mind, and tell you those

guilty thoughts,” Clare Percival

explains. Taking time off shows

you value your health and your

colleagues. It’s the responsible

thing to do, especially if

you’re potentially infectious

or your job involves caring for

others. So, remember, listening

to your mind and body when it

needs a breather isn’t just for

your own benefit, it’s the most

selfless thing you can do.

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.

Clare Percival is a life and executive

function coach. Find out more at


happiful.com | September 2021 | 69

Picking up the pieces

What is it that makes a simple jigsaw puzzle

such an effective mindfulness practice?

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

It’s the rainy day classic that

became a lockdown essential,

and while there’s nothing

new about puzzles (the first

jigsaw is thought to have been

created in 1762), many of us

are just starting to realise the

potentially mindful boost that

comes with putting the pieces of

a puzzle together.

Picture this: you’ve got the

whole of the day ahead of you, no

commitments, no meetings, no

chores – the time is yours. So you

sit down with a puzzle. There’s no

rush, no deadline and, piece by

piece, a beautiful picture starts to

form in front of you. It’s a homey,

mindful scene but, in lockdown,

hobbies like puzzling took on a

whole new meaning.

“I was furloughed in April

2020, and it struck me that I had

all this extra time and nothing

to fill it with,” Jody Kenny tells

us, as she reflects on when

she discovered her passion for

puzzles. “I hadn’t long moved to

a new town to be closer to work,

but it meant I’d moved away

from family – I didn’t realise how

difficult it would be to occupy

every minute of the day.”

Jodie started off with some

jigsaw apps on her phone,

before digging out some puzzles

she’d had for years, but had

never opened.

“I get deep into doing jigsaws,

and time tends to fly. I hyperfocus

on tasks because I have

Asperger’s, but the concentration

needed specifically to complete

jigsaws took my mind away from

being alone,” she explains.

There’s much

more to those

oddly shaped

pieces of joy than

meets the eye

“The puzzle piece has long been

used as a symbol of autism, but it

doesn’t have positive connotations

in the autistic community,

because it’s thought that autistic

people are puzzles that need to

be fixed,” Jodie explains. “Doing

jigsaws has re-wired my brain

into believing that the puzzle isn’t

broken because it’s not complete,

but rather it’s one small piece that

makes up the whole. Jigsaws have

helped me to accept myself.”

Echoing the wellbeing benefits

of jigsaws, James Edwards, cofounder

of Piece & Quiet puzzles,

is passionate about their holistic

value. “Jigsaw puzzles are making

a comeback, and there’s much

more to those oddly shaped pieces

of joy than meets the eye,” he

says. And that comeback is taking

place on a huge scale, with the

Guardian reporting that UK sales

of jigsaws totalled £100 million

in 2020, up 38% on the previous

year. So what’s behind the draw

to simple pastimes like puzzles?

James thinks he knows and, here,

he breaks down some of the major

wellbeing benefits:

1. Improving brain

function and memory

The oh-so-satisfying act of

successfully placing a puzzle

piece does more than just get you

one step closer to finishing your

piece of art. It actually encourages

the production of dopamine,

a chemical in the brain that

contributes to learning, brain

health, and memory.

70 | September 2021 | happiful.com

Win a Piece & Quiet

mindfulness pack

For your chance to win a Piece &

Quiet jigsaw puzzle, candle, and

adult colouring book, simply send

your answer to the following riddle

to competitions@happiful.com:

2. Time away from screens

An article in the Independent

investigated the time an adult

will spend looking at screens

in their lifetime, and it doesn’t

make for good reading. They

found that, on average, British

adults were spending more

than 13 hours a day looking

at screens – that equates to

more than 200 days a year.

We are huge advocates for

anything which helps to get

this number down, and that

gives us the opportunity to

take the time to be present in

the moment, and what better

way to do that than with an

artistic jigsaw puzzle?

3. Increased cognitive ability

Jigsaw puzzles are proven to

exercise the mind, boosting

cognition and visual-spatial

reasoning, but they’ve also been

shown to increase creativity and

productivity. The science behind

why jigsaws are so effective at

kicking your brain into gear

is that they engage both the

left (analytical) and the right

(creative) side of the brain.

4. Reducing stress

and anxiety

Exercising both sides of the brain

simultaneously has other benefits

too. It allows brainwaves to move

from a ‘beta’ state into an ‘alpha’

What word gets shorter when

you add two letters?

Competition closes 16 September.

UK and NI entries only. Good luck!

state – the same state activated

for dreaming, and where our

subconscious comes into play –

in other words, the mindful side.

When times get tough, it’s

remarkable what taking things

back to basics can do for our

mindset, and the rise in the

popularity of jigsaw puzzles is the

perfect example of this principle

in action. So, whether you’re

ready to dive into a 1,000-piece

whopper, or want to start simple,

it could be time to pick up the

pieces of good wellbeing.

happiful.com | September 2021 | 71

Ask the experts: suicide

Counsellor Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska answers your questions on suicide


How can I

support someone


suicidal thoughts?


It’s best to stay calm and

collected, and remember

they are talking to you for a

reason. It is really important

that we react with empathy, not

shock or panic, and do not close

the conversation down. It is then

about supporting the person

with regular check-ins and not

forgetting about them. Kindness

and care go a long way.



Is suicidal ideation

something people

can recover from?

Yes, with time, space, and

the right support. Therapy

is one option, but we also need

to consider someone’s support

network. If they struggle to

identify someone they can confide

in, which helplines are they

comfortable accessing until their

next therapy session, or when they

are experiencing suicidal thoughts?


A friend makes

jokes about

suicide and

it makes me feel

uncomfortable. Should

I confront them?

If something makes

A you uncomfortable, it is

always best to say something.

For example, “When you joke

about suicide it makes me

feel uncomfortable,” and then

just leave a space for them to


It could be they are covering

up suicidal feelings of their own,

or they do not understand how

hurtful jokes like that are. It is

always best to be honest and

tell someone how you feel.

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



• Call Samaritans on 116 123 or email them on


• The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a line

for men, and is open from 5pm–midnight: 0800 58 58 58

• Papyrus supports young people under 35 years old. Call

them on 0800 068 41 41

• Shout offers a crisis text line. Text ‘SHOUT’ to 85258


Prevention Day

is 10 September.

Reach out to those

around you, and join

in the conversation


Read more about Naomi Watkins-Ligudzinska on counselling-directory.org.uk


I sometimes

see people

post worrying

things on social media.

Should I step in?

A check-in message or

A phone call will never hurt –

something simple like, “Hey, I saw

your post, is everything OK?” To

care about someone, we need to

let them know we care. It could

just be that simple message that

helps someone to challenge their

thoughts and not feel alone.

You can always report a post to

the social media platform if you

are really worried, but they may

just remove the post and not offer

support to the individual.

If the person doesn’t reply, look

to see if any family are connected

to their profile – you could contact

them through the platform. If you

feel someone is in immediate

danger, call 999 and

ask the police for


happiful.com | September 2021 | 73

10 things you

need to know

about PCOS

It’s thought one in 10 women suffer with

polycystic ovary syndrome, yet more than half

may not have any symptoms at all. With PCOS

awareness month taking place in September,

Jenna Farmer shines a spotlight on the condition

Writing | Jenna Farmer

For those who menstruate,

periods might be something

we don’t take much notice

of. Some may find their 28-day

cycle runs like clockwork, yet

others struggle with irregular

periods which can differ in the

flow and length, or have cycles that

vary from the average time. And

while irregular periods may be

normal for you and can happen for

all sorts of reasons, one possible

cause is polycystic ovary syndrome


PCOS is a common endocrine

disorder that affects the way

the ovaries work. It’s thought

to affect one in 10 women, yet

many may not even know they

have it, with the condition often

only coming to light when they’re

investigated for irregular periods,

or sometimes if they’re trying

to start a family. So although it’s

reasonably common, there’s still

a lot we don’t yet know about

PCOS. Here, we’ll set the record

straight with some key facts.

74 | September 2021 | happiful.com

food & health

PCOS doesn’t stop you

conceiving a child

The 2021 Fertility Journey Survey

showed that 49% of those taking

part didn’t actually realise they

had PCOS until they started

trying to conceive.

Since PCOS often diagnosed

during fertility investigations,

many worry it will impact their

ability to conceive. Himanshu

Borase, fertility specialist and

consultant gynaecologist at Herts

Fertility, says: “One third of those

I see at fertility clinics have PCOS.

One of the reasons that PCOS

patients struggle is that they may

not be releasing an egg regularly.”

Releasing eggs to ovulate is

what is needed to conceive.

However, studies show that the

majority of those with PCOS who

wish to have children do go on

to do so, many without needing

fertility treatment.

Studies show that

the majority of those

with PCOS who wish

to have children do

go on to do so, many

without needing

fertility treatment

You don’t actually have

cysts on your ovaries

with PCOS

Despite the name, your ovaries

aren’t covered with cysts like

you might imagine. Instead, the

cysts often refer to harmless

follicles. People with PCOS have

more follicles than those who

don’t, and these follicles are

often unable to release an egg.

While they may look ‘cyst-like’,

they aren’t true cysts – they

don’t behave like cysts in that

they won’t burst or grow bigger,

and aren’t in any way linked to

more serious conditions, such as

ovarian cancer. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 75

PCOS can affect your

hair and skin

We often talk about PCOS in

relation to periods, but the

condition can affect your hair

and skin as well. This is because

women with PCOS have excess

androgen – in other words higher

levels of male hormones in your

body, which can manifest in ways

such as an increase in facial hair.

Studies have shown PCOS can

result in hair and skin problems,

such as hair loss, acne, and

seborrhea (a red itchy skin rash

with white scales).

People with PCOS are more

likely to develop diabetes

Insulin resistance is why PCOS

is also linked to diabetes. A

recent study published in Human

Reproduction Open that followed

women with PCOS showed that

around 19% of participants went

on to develop type 2 diabetes,

compared to just 1% of the

control group. While this means

it’s certainly not inevitable, if

you experience any symptoms of

diabetes it’s really important to

make an appointment to speak

with your GP.

We don’t know the

exact cause of PCOS

PCOS is thought to run in

families, so you’re more likely

to develop it if a close relative

has PCOS, too. However, that

doesn’t mean it’s simply genetic.

Other factors are linked to PCOS

as well, including high levels of

insulin in the body.

“People with PCOS are

often insulin resistant, which

means your body does not

effectively utilise the insulin you

produce,” explains nutritional

therapist Michele Scarr. “The

body may try to increase the

levels of insulin it produces to

keep your blood sugar levels

normal. Higher levels of insulin

can lead to an increase of

testosterone, which may disrupt

the hormonal balance and

exacerbate PCOS symptoms.”

PCOS can be linked to

your mental health

Like many long-term health

conditions, PCOS can impact both

your mental and physical health.

A study by the University of

Cardiff found women with PCOS

were more likely to be diagnosed

with mental health conditions

such as depression, bipolar

disorder, and anxiety. While

another study in the Journal of

Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences

showed that 40% of those with

PCOS can experience depression.

There are a few reasons why

that may be. PCOS is driven

by hormones, so the altered

hormonal levels may impact

mental health. It may also be due

to the stress and worry of living

with PCOS – the unpredictable

nature of periods, or undergoing

fertility treatment to conceive.

Those with PCOS still need

to use contraceptives

While having an irregular cycle

could make trying for a baby

more tricky, those with PCOS can

still fall pregnant – so if that’s not

on your agenda, contraception

is important. The contraceptive

pill is often used as this can also

help regulate cycles in those

with PCOS, but it may take some

experimenting to find one that

works best for you.

“There is evidence that

combined pills are beneficial

for women with PCOS due to the

oestrogen, which counteracts high

testosterone levels and improves

symptoms such as acne,” explains

GP and medical director of The

Lowdown, Dr Frances Yarlett.

“However the progestogen part of

the combined pill can also help to

improve symptoms.”

76 | September 2021 | happiful.com

food & health

“Women with PCOS don’t burn

off as much weight, even when

they’re eating exactly the same

amount of food compared to

weight match controls,” explains

Professor Colin Duncan of the

University of Edinburgh.

Remember though, your value

is not determined by a number

on a scale.

PCOS symptoms may

not disappear with the


PCOS is usually diagnosed in

premenopausal women, but

just because you stop having

periods doesn’t necessarily mean

your PCOS will stop. For those

embarking on the menopause, it

also brings additional challenges

as symptoms can be similar.

Whether you’re looking to

regulate periods, or are trying to

start a family, be sure to speak to

your GP for support and advice on

managing PCOS.

A low-carbohydrate

diet might help

Given what we know about the

role of insulin in PCOS there are

studies that show following a lowcarbohydrate

diet may help with

this. But why?

“Reducing refined carbs can

help manage blood sugar, and also

help with weight loss. Replacing

refined carbohydrates with lower

GI, high fibre options can slow

down digestion and the release

of glucose into the bloodstream,”

says nutritionist Michele Scarr.

PCOS can cause

weight gain

When insulin resistance occurs,

the body produces higher

levels than normal. This causes

ovaries to produce too much

testosterone, which can impact

or prevent ovulation. This cycle

happens to women with PCOS,

and the extra insulin in the body

can lead to weight gain, with

studies showing that between

40–80% of women with PCOS are

‘overweight’. But, it’s important

not to feel at blame for this.

Jenna Farmer is a freelance

journalist who specialises in

writing about gut health. She has

Crohn’s disease and blogs about her

journey to improve gut health at


Michele Scarr is a nutritional

therapist and health coach. Find out

more about PCOS support, and get

in touch with Michele via


happiful.com | September 2021 | 77

5 things you should know

about group therapy

Could group therapy be right for you? Here’s

what really goes on during sessions

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Illustration | Rosan Magar

Doing what it says on the

tin, group therapy is a

psychological therapy

that takes place in a

group setting, rather than oneto-one.

Available on the NHS and

privately, these sessions bring

together people with similar

problems, to create a supportive,

inclusive environment.

But what actually happens in

them? Here, with the help of

counsellor Nicola Ockwell, we

explore five key questions about

group therapy.

What happens

during a session?

Though each group will vary

slightly, they tend to have between

five and 15 members, and last for

about an hour once a week.

“There are many different

types of group therapy that

target specific problems – such

as anger, anxiety, addiction,

depression, and bereavement

to name a few,” Nicola explains.

“They can be, but not always,

run by qualified therapists, so

the therapist or facilitator can

support the group, as well as

the group supporting each other

– with the group becoming their

own therapists, in a way.”

Nicola explains that most

sessions will start with a ‘checkin’,

and finish with a ‘check-out’,

bringing together everyone’s

thoughts for the day – and it’s

common for the group to agree a

contract, e.g. approaching sessions

with openness and honesty.

Why do people attend?

People attend therapy for a

plethora of reasons, but the key

reason someone might choose

to go to a group session is for the

safe, unifying space where they

can connect with others going

through similar things.

“Using a collaborative approach

is the ideal environment for

working with CBT techniques such

as worksheets, flip charts, and

exercises to generate discussion,”

Nicola says. “The activities will be

designed to enable candidates to

examine their current behaviour,

so they can explore and contrast

against each other.

“The group tends to be quite a

cathartic space for all involved.

Members encourage each other to

share views constructively, which

can be useful for anyone wanting

to challenge or change their

behaviour patterns.

“This also allows individuals

to try different methods of

communication, as well as

experimenting with new skills and

strategies already learnt in a safe,

non-judgemental arena.”

Who goes to group therapy?

“Those who are ready to work

on their particular issue, and are

open to sharing their thoughts,

and feelings within a group

dynamic, will benefit from

group therapy,” says Nicola. She

highlights how group therapy may

also be more accessible than oneto-one

sessions, with many taking

place in the evenings and being

more affordable.

“Some people may find this form

of therapy less daunting, as they

are not alone and feel the support

from group members,” Nicola

continues. “It can be a great place

to meet new people in similar

circumstances, so it can be a safe

environment where you can gain

78 | Septemeber 2021 | happiful.com


confidence in social situations,

and also find validation in other’s


What are the challenges?

While there are plenty of benefits

to attending group therapy, it’s

also worth being aware of the

unique challenges to decide if it’s

the right option for you.

“This environment might be

difficult if you have issues with

speaking in front of people you

don’t know well,” Nicola explains.

“Sharing difficult emotions won’t

be easy, but this improves as

you start to know other group

members better. No one should

feel they have to speak if they

don’t want to.”

Nicola also states that group

therapy is not advisable for those

who are suicidal, in crisis, or

experiencing psychosis – as these

conditions need professional

help via a GP or psychiatrist.

What are the benefits?

“It’s a good place to get to know

others and yourself, to try out

different techniques with the

group first, and then implement

them into your world outside of

the group,” Nicola says.

“It might be daunting initially,

but the benefits can be fruitful

and you might gain some friends

as well! Group therapy can be as

effective as individual therapy

sessions, and can also provide a

sense of belonging.”

If you struggle with feelings

of isolation, this unique

environment could be a good

option for you. And beyond that,

you could help someone else, too.

“Sharing experiences and

listening to each other’s narrative

can be beneficial, helping

members to evaluate their

own thoughts, feelings and

behaviours, leading to greater

self-development,” Nicola says.

“This stimulating and challenging

environment can be mutually

beneficial, where new ideas and

ways of being can be observed,

as well as experimenting with

new skills and strategies already

learnt in a safe, non-judgemental

arena – which can feel both

rewarding and supportive.”

Nicola Ockwell is a counsellor

with experience working with

groups. Find out more by visiting


happiful.com | September 2021 | 79

80 | September 2021 | happiful.com




Learn how to let go of self-deprecation, and

instead talk positively about your achievements

Writing | Caroline Butterwick

Most of us have

been there: you

are introduced to

someone new as,

“A talented writer/accountant/

marketer/musician” etc. Rather

than accept the compliment,

chances are you swiftly downplay

your strengths, and feel a little

embarrassed. But why are we so

quick to respond this way when

we talk about our achievements?

It’s a scenario that’s very

familiar to me. Anxiety about

sharing my successes has meant

I’ve missed out on opportunities,

including a promotion at work

and celebrating good news with

friends. It also made it harder

for me to see myself in a positive

light, increasing my feelings

of imposter syndrome and

affecting my self-confidence.

Eventually, I realised I needed

to start talking about myself in

a better way – from challenging

the perfectionist mindset that

had me doubting my abilities

to overcoming anxieties about

seeming boastful.


successes to ourselves

To help understand why many of

us struggle to talk positively about

our achievements – and what we

can do to change this – I spoke to

life coach Denise Bosque.

“Often, when we receive a

compliment we feel awkward, as

if we don’t deserve it, thinking,

‘after all, it’s only me’,” explains

Denise. “This thinking is

prevalent in our culture, and is

limiting to both our self-esteem,

and our confidence. Deep down,

we usually think we aren’t good

enough, as if the good piece of

work we did was more of a ‘fluke’

than our efforts.”

Denise’s words ring true

for me. Whenever I receive a

compliment, my mind jumps to

why it isn’t true. I think about

the faults or the mistakes I’ve

made, and almost feel like a

fraud for being congratulated.

This perfectionist mindset makes

it harder to accept praise or to

share successes, because I’m too

focused on the reasons I feel I

don’t deserve it.

But having the confidence to talk

positively about our achievements

to others can become easier when

we start to acknowledge these

successes to ourselves. “People

worry so much about what other

people might think,” says Denise. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 81

“We have to approve of ourselves

first, instead of waiting for

validation outside of ourselves.”

“Often, when

we receive a

compliment we

feel awkward,

as if we don’t

deserve it “

Taking Denise’s advice, I try to

approve of myself first. I take

some time to look back through

some of my work, and make

a point of acknowledging the

positives in what I see. I also

think about my successes,

reading through my published

writing. I surprise myself by

enjoying the experience and,

by the end of it, I’m struck

by how I feel more positively

about myself as a writer.

The rejections that come

with a writing life seem less

important, less dominating, as

I acknowledge the positives.

Try taking time to

acknowledge your own

successes. Set aside half an hour

or so and write a list of your

achievements. At first, it may

feel challenging or forced, but

as you get going you may find

the words flow. Include things

that might seem small, but are

still important to you. This act

of self-approval can boost your

confidence and, in turn, makes

it easier to then share your

successes with others.

Denise assures me that the

more we start to talk more

positively about ourselves, the

easier it gets. “Your light will

begin to shine, and people will

take notice,” she says. “Also,

you are more likely to be seen

as a person who is capable and

confident, putting you in the

forefront for any promotions.

Each time we do this, our selfworth

grows along with our

confidence.” Talking positively

about ourselves and being open

about our successes can help

us feel better within ourselves,

as well as open doors to new

82 | September 2021 | happiful.com

positive pointers

“ All our self-worth and esteem

should be sky-high, so that we ride the

disappointments and the glories with ease ”

opportunities. And sometimes

it can be the simple joy of

getting to celebrate something

we’re proud of with others.

Overcome worries

about boasting

So how can we approach taking

this next step? One of the main

worries I have about sharing

successes is that it’ll seem like

I’m showing off. “A much better

way to think about receiving

a compliment is that you are

being honest, and it’s OK to

acknowledge that you also

thought you did a good job. It

doesn’t mean it’s boastful, it’s

confident,” says Denise. “This is

resilience, and very necessary to

lead a balanced life. As humans,

we are supposed to be growing,

doing our best, and recognising

our strengths and weaknesses.”

Many of us worry about

seeming boastful and the need

to be modest. But maybe we’re

too focused on that concern,

to the point where we devalue

our successes. “We feel it’s

‘bad’ to sound like we are

boasting and being big-headed

– particularly women. It’s

conditioning,” Denise tells me.

“All our self-worth and esteem

should be sky-high, so that we

ride the disappointments and

the glories with ease.”

Trying it out

Denise recommends that we

rehearse accepting a compliment

or saying we did something well

to ourselves. It may feel a little

awkward practising this, but it’ll

help it to become second nature.

It also helps affirm this positive

idea in our mind, making us

more confident in the words

we’re saying, so we really believe

in them.

I follow Denise’s advice and try

talking through my successes

to myself. Sure, it does feel

a little strange, but there is

also something nice about

acknowledging these positives.

Afterwards, I go out for dinner

with friends. I’m nervous about

sharing some recent good career

news. The usual doubts niggle

in my mind: “What if they think

I’m boasting, or dominating the

conversation? What if I’m not

actually good enough?” But then

I think about how important this

news is to me, and how hard

I’ve worked for it. I think about

times these friends have told me

their own good news, and how

I’ve always felt happy for them

and glad to be able to share in

their successes. Maybe it’ll be

the same for me?

So I give it a go. I tell them

my good news. I don’t add a

caveat of, “But I also had lots of

rejections!” I don’t apologise. I

don’t do anything to diminish

what I’m saying.

And the result? Genuine smiles

and congratulations. They ask

me more about it, and I actually

enjoy this opportunity to talk

about my passion. I thank them

for their compliments, and

resist the usual urge to be overly

modest. Afterwards, I like I’ve

not just shared good news, but

I’ve shared something of myself –

something important to me with

people that I care about. And it’s a

wonderful feeling.

Denise Bosque is a life coach,

clinical hypnotherapist, master NLP

practitioner, EMDR practitioner, and

mindfulness teacher. Find out more by

visiting lifecoach-directory.org.uk

happiful.com | September 2021 | 83

Phrases to

de-escalate conflict

When emotions are running high, how we express

ourselves can help keep difficult conversations

productive and kind. Try using these phrases to

keep the peace, without neglecting your needs

I don’t feel


responding to that

now, I need some

time to think it over

My understanding of what

you’re saying is…

I appreciate that

you’re willing to have

this conversation

with me

Is this something that we

need to agree on?

I’m curious

as to why

you feel

that way?

It’s important that I set

boundaries, and that

you respect them

Does what I’m saying

sound reasonable

to you?

I would prefer

to return to this

conversation when

we’re both feeling

less emotional

I would prefer it if we both tried to

keep a calm tone during this talk

I’m here to

listen to you,

and then I

would like you

to listen to me

84 | September 2021 | happiful.com


Family matters

Family bonds often run the deepest, which is why it’s all the more painful

when they break down. Here, with the help of a counsellor, we explore

how to navigate difficult family relationships

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Families: they’re not always

easy. Separation, blended

households, addictions,

mental illness, money

problems, betrayal, expectations,

communication, or simply

clashing personalities – there is an

unlimited number of reasons why

relationships might break down.

“Families bring us joy, and better

health and wellbeing, but they

can also be the source of distress,”

says counsellor Pam Custers.

“Navigating family life is a process

of being able to create a healthy

connection that can tolerate

challenges, without destroying

the intimate connections that

families bring – those of love,

respect, and support.”

As Pam explains, when family

relationships are good, they can

bring us a plethora of benefits,

including improving our ability

to cope with stress, boosting our

self-esteem, and encouraging us

to engage in healthy behaviours.

Strong bonds uplift us, playing a

huge role in our daily lives, even

operating unconsciously under

the surface.

“We are literally wired to

connect to our family,” Pam says.

“This bonding process develops

through both our relationships

with our partner and children,

with what is termed ‘the parental

caregiver attachment’. We are

able to see via brain scans that,

when we are with our loved ones,

our anxiety levels reduce and

we start producing feel-good

hormones. So when these close

relationships are in a state of

flux, we will be physically and

mentally impacted.”

But in addition to what’s

happening on a psychological

level, there’s also a lot of social

pressure that comes with family

life. Films, TV shows, novels,

and advertisements all play on

ideals about family structures

and relationships, let alone other

cultural values that many of us

have faced throughout our lives.

With all this to contend with, the

‘right way’ to run a family can

become a sticking point.

“Couples inevitably come

from different family operating

systems,” Pam says. “There

can often be a clash in how

they both wish ‘their’ family

to operate. Finding a way to

co-create a way that ‘their’

family will operate is part of the

process of creating their own

legacy for their children. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 85

Our families

bring us joy, and

better health and

wellbeing, but they

can also be the

source of distress

“A lack of communication can

also get in the way of strong

family relationships. Often we

presume we understand or know

what the other person is thinking

– learning to listen carefully is

something many people struggle

with. We need to be able to

discuss sensitive topics. Conflict

is normal but, without good

listening and understanding, we

can become stuck.”

When conflict escalates, it can

sometimes result in the total

breakdown of communication.

According family estrangement

charity Stand Alone, 8% of people

surveyed had cut contact with

a family member, leading the

organisation to predict that this

translates to at least five million

people in the UK, with one in five

families affected.

Going ‘no contact’ is, for some,

the healthiest decision. But that

isn’t to say it’s easy, and Stand

Alone provides help for those who

are struggling with this. More

broadly, you can also search for

support groups in your local area

and online – for everything from

caring for elderly parents, to

blended families, those touched

by addiction, and more.

86 | September 2021 | happiful.com


Keeping the peace

Pam Custers’ tips for smoothing out conflict within your family:

1. Try having “we” conversations. “How should we tackle this problem?”

This builds and strengthens connections.

2. Be flexible.

3. Make time to communicate. Not just to talk, but also to listen.

4. Keep a sense of humour.

5. Make kindness a central value in your family.

If things take a turn for the

worse, considering all those

expectations we have to contend

with, it’s easy to see how

the breakdown of a familial

relationship can come with a

degree of shame – as it appears

everyone around you is getting it

consistently right. But the truth

is, that’s probably not the case.

“We all go into family life with

our own sense of how it should

be,” says Pam. “And so we can

become disillusioned when the

idealised version of family life

is not the reality. Relationships

are messy, and we need to be

able to ride the waves. Behind

all those white picket fences,

there are families who are also

going through challenging times.

Keeping expectations realistic

takes the pressure off family


In the UK, ‘family’ has many

different variations. According

to gov.uk statistics, between

2014 and 2020, there were 2.4

million separated families in

Great Britain, and when the ONS

last ran an analysis in 2009, 9%

of all children in England and

Wales, 1.1 million, were living

with a stepfamily. The reality

is no two families are the same,

and releasing the pressure to

present a ‘perfect family’ could be

an important step in letting go of

relationships that are damaging.

What can’t be addressed with

mutual compassion and a

willingness to listen, could be

aided with family counselling or

group therapy. You may also want

to spend some time reflecting on

your relationship with the idea

of family, and the role that then

plays in how you make decisions

going forward. Truthfully, very few

people’s situations match a perfect

deck of ‘Happy Families’, but we’re

complex human beings, not neat

illustrations. We go through tough

times. We learn, evolve, and – with

the right support – flourish.

Pam Custers is the founder of

The Relationship Practice, and

specialises in supporting clients to

create relationships that thrive.

Find out more by visiting


happiful.com | September 2021 | 87



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*A global report conducted by The Body Shop between November 22 and December 8, 2020 across 21 countries. To find out more go to www.thebodyshop.com

© 2021 The Body Shop International Limited All rights reserved Absolutely no reproduction without the permission of the owners

88 | September 2021 | happiful.com

memory lane

One Hundred

Years: That’s life

We speak to Jenny Lewis, the portrait

photographer who captured images of

100 people from ages 0–100, about the

things ageing teaches us about life

Writing | Kathryn Wheeler

Aroko is a one year

old, and doesn’t have

much to say. “Daddy.”

reads the quote next to

his portrait – the second in a lineup

of photographs spanning the ages

0–100. The collection is the latest

endeavour by portrait photographer

Jenny Lewis, who has spent the past

three years capturing people in her

local community of Hackney, in

London – the results published in

a book, One Hundred Years: Portraits

of a community aged 0–100. On the

pages, next to striking, candid shots,

subjects share revealing quotes and

short stories from their lives, each

one as touching as the next.

“I had spent five years working

with women the day they had

a baby, another five years


artists in their

studios, and I

suppose I lifted my

head from these two

long-term projects

and wondered what else was

going on at the other two ends

of the timeline,” says Jenny, as

she points to where the project

began. “Looking back, I may have

also been questioning my own

mortality, and the vulnerability of

being human. A few close friends

my age had died of cancer, and

my dad had been very ill. I also

had come to terms with my own

autoimmune disease, rheumatoid

arthritis, so I think I may have

just wanted to figure out what

was possibly coming next, and to


reflect on what had passed. I’m

in my late 40s now, so it felt like

a good time to look around and

find out how other people were


It’s a natural journey, one that

many people may be able to

relate to – when we experience

bereavement, trauma, and

grief, we might find ourselves

reflecting on our lives, our

priorities, and our hopes, desires,

and goals. A sentiment that is

perfectly, and simply, captured by

Jenny’s 49-year-old subject Shana. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 89

Their lives can

move from extreme

arcs of happiness

to sadness, and the

other way round,

but they do find a

way through it


“I’ve had five brain surgeries. I

chose to do life. For my children,

for me, for people around me, I

chose to do life. I have found that

by doing so, life is great,” she says.

“It seems it really isn’t about

age,” Jenny explains, when asked

what the process of creating

One Hundred Years taught her.

“Everyone is on a unique

journey, and at different stages

at different times. But I was

surprised, I suppose, at how

interested and interesting the

older subjects were – and at their

enjoyment of life – as much as the

youngsters surprised me at how

articulate they could be, and their

understanding of who they were

at such an early age. I felt you

could learn so much from anyone.

People are always so much more

than you might think.”

“I’m happiest when hanging

out with my best mate, Stanley,”

reads the quote next to 14-year-

old Arran, who is just one of

many examples of such insight.

“The more you’ve been through,

the harder it gets to carry alone,

and when you have someone

that knows you as well as me and

Stanley know each other, you can

share that weight.”

That gentle resilience in Arran’s

example is a theme Jenny quickly

began to spot throughout her

subjects. “Their lives can move

from extreme arcs of happiness

to sadness, and the other way

round, but they do find a way

through it,” she says. “Some of

the stories are of strength, or

difficult childhoods, but seeing

the joy that can be found later was

incredibly inspiring. The strength

of the project is the people in

it, but I didn’t know what they

were going to talk about till we

started talking, which made me

realise there’s always something

bubbling underneath the surface.”


90 | September 2021 | happiful.com

memory lane


‘I never really experienced anxiety

until I was 24. I was so confident,

then suddenly I’m like this anxious

mess, and now I’m, like, freaking

out. It’s weird. I think maybe it’s a

lot to do with fear of the future. It’s

a big shift in energy or something.’

– Leo, 26 years old

When asked if she had a favourite

subject, Jenny’s answer was a firm

“absolutely not”. For her, they all

came together to build something

stronger: “The portrait of a

community, with 100 faces, but all

part of the same thing.

“Photographing and interviewing

someone is quite an intimate act.

Working on this series, I really got

a sense that there are no strangers,

just people you haven’t had the

time to get to know yet,” Jenny

says. “I love spending time with

new people, and seeing them open

up and share a little of themselves.

I enjoy the listening, and they

seem to enjoy the collaboration. I

want more of this, please… More

human interaction. It’s the energy

we need to stay interested in each

other. The more you talk to people

you don’t know, the more it feels

natural, and what’s better than a

conversation where you have no

idea where it will lead?”

But as well as the profound,

the philosophical, and the

unexpected, the seemingly

mundane aspects of the human

experience shine through

emotively, as demonstrated by

many of the subjects, including

88-year-old Hyacinth: “I used to

love dancing. I used to go to six

dances in one night and then not

get up till three on a Sunday. Then

I reached an age where I say, this

is not for me. Take it easy.”

Life is often far from linear.

We go down side paths, make

leaps forward, and perhaps take

steps back again. In One Hundred

Years, each story comes together

to create one journey, a human

journey, and Jenny wants to take

readers there – as she did herself.

“Listen to the voices, stories,

and opinions that may trigger

memories and reflections of your

own lives, or open up new ways

of thinking,” Jenny says. “I want

to encourage people to drop the

prejudices we all carry and how

we guess what people are like

from just looking at them – you

have to make time to listen.”

‘One Hundred Years: Portraits of a

community aged 0–100’ by Jenny

Lewis (Hoxton Mini Press) is out now.

happiful.com | September 2021 | 91

Creative activities

to plot your life

Carve out some time to reflect on where your

happiness lies, with these practical tasks

Writing | Caroline Butterwick

Illustrating | Rosan Magar

Whether it’s to

celebrate a

milestone, or if

you just want to

take some time to reflect, there

are lots of creative activities we

can do to revisit our memories.

The following are great ways to

explore the things that we have

experienced so far – they can

help us plot our lives and assess

where our happiness lies, and

think about what we

would like to

take with us

as we look


Start a scrapbook

or create a collage

Do you have drawers full of

yellowing ticket stubs from gigs

you’ve enjoyed, or postcards

collected over the years? A

scrapbook is a wonderful way

of making the most of these

mementoes. Spend some time

organising them into themes

– maybe those that relate to a

holiday, or which you associate with

friendships – and then have fun

pasting them onto the pages.

There are great resources

online on how to get started

with scrapbooking if you need

some inspiration, such as


Alternatively, you could make a

collage that captures a time in your

life, perhaps incorporating other

items such as newspaper cuttings

that resonate with you. As you put

together your scrapbook or collage,

think about why these items matter

to you, perhaps writing reflections

about the things you’re including.

Keep what you make safe so you

can look back at it whenever you

want a reminder of the people and

places you care about.

Craft a creative family tree

Most of us are familiar with the

idea of a family tree that traces

our relatives, but how about

crafting a creative family tree?

This is a fun activity to do with

a child, and can be a way of

memory lane

Think about what you would like

to leave in the past, and what you

would like to take forward

thinking about what the people

in our lives mean to us, and

treasuring those relationships.

To start, sketch out a tree on a

large sheet of paper, with branches

that represent your relationship to

each family member, writing their

names in the appropriate place.

Next, draw or write things that you

associate with each person by their

name. Maybe a delicious apple

crumble comes to mind when you

think of your aunt, or relaxing on

the beach with your cousin.

Of course, not all family

relationships are easy, and not all

associations positive. If that’s the

case, you may decide to focus your

tree on those who you feel positively

towards, reminding yourself of all

the good in your life. Or how about

making a tree that celebrates your

close friendships instead?

Photo albums

One of the most well-established

ways of preserving memories is

with photo albums. But in our time

of smartphones and social media,

many of us have forgotten the simple

joy of carefully positioning printed

photos into an album, or flicking

through old ones and smiling at the

memories and our questionable

fashion choices of yesteryear.

There are lots of services that

let you upload your digital photos

to be turned into physical prints.

Once they arrived, give yourself

an afternoon to fill a photo

album. Try taking a mindful

approach, focusing on

the feelings that come

with each photo, the

associations held within

each image, and the

memories they bring.

Get nostalgic with music

Music has an amazing power to

remind us of people and places.

Perhaps there’s a song that

always makes you smile because

you danced to it at a friend’s

wedding or a family party (‘Mr

Brightside’, anyone?).

Try putting together a playlist

to revisit old favourites. Or

find out what music matters to

your loved ones – this is a great

chance to bond over a surprise

shared song, and to learn

something new about those

we’re close to.

Write a letter to

your younger self

Writing a letter to your younger

self is a chance to think about the

ways you’ve developed in the years

since, the achievements you’ve

celebrated, the lessons you’ve

learnt, and advice you’d give.

Think back five or 10 years, or

longer if you like, and consider

how your life is different now.

Some things may be harder,

and that’s OK – but some

things may have changed for

the better. What do you wish

you had known back then?

What advice do you have? Be

compassionate to the younger

you as you write. You could also

write a letter to your future self,

capturing your current hopes

and ambitions.

Use this letter writing as a

chance to think about what you

would like to leave in the past,

and what you would like to take

forward with you.




happiful.com | September 2021 | 93

Memories of our lives,

of our works and our deeds

will continue in others


94 | September 2021 | happiful.com

Photography | Alexandre Debiève

true story

Content warning: this piece

include details of self-harm

The light after the darkness

Victoria struggled with self-harm and an eating disorder for years. But

with the help of a strong support system, she learned to live alongside

her depression, and a new hobby ignited a sense of hope for the future

Writing | Victoria Hennison


will never forget the very first time I selfharmed.

I was 13, and I needed an outlet,

a way to set the torment in my mind free.

Somewhere in the darkest part of my mind,

it made sense that allowing the blood to flow

would make me feel better – and it did, but as I

stared at the droplets of blood, I felt trapped, as

though I had just created a prison for myself.

In some ways, the self-harm had a voice. It was

comforting because it seemed to understand,

but it fed off the lies the depression told me,

and I felt overwhelmingly worthless.

My mind filled with questions of: ‘Who am I?’,

‘Why am I alive’, ‘Why would anyone love me?’

I struggled for years. Self-harming became the

coping mechanism that got me through the

days. It was controlled, and I felt it was the one

thing I had power over.

In 2003, I decided that my body image was

the reason I was depressed, the reason my life

was going nowhere. I had just turned 21, and

I thought that if I could look amazing, then I

would be a success, and then I would be happy.

It started off as healthy changes – good, fresh

food and exercise. The number on the scales

went down – it was an amazing feeling – and, in

my head, the bigger the loss the greater the good

feeling, so I went a day or two without eating

and pushed myself harder.

Initially, I saw changes in the mirror and I was

feeling good, but then my view changed. No

matter how low the scales went, no matter how

little I ate, I was repulsed by my own reflection.

When I started hiding food, pretending I’d

eaten it, and struggled to even take a bite of an

apple, I realised it had become something far

more sinister. I wasn’t in control anymore; the

darkness had introduced me to a new ally, but it

wasn’t my friend.

I was miserable, but then the world gave me

a lifeline. It was 2004, and I found love and

acceptance. It wasn’t an easy road; I refused

to need someone, but somehow, no matter

how hard I pushed him away, he pushed back,

harder. Little by little, he broke down my walls,

and as each piece was dismantled I found myself

again. The insecurities fell away, and he gave

me my fight back. It wasn’t anything he did, he

was just there loving me for me, making me feel

beautiful. It was the support, having a rock I

could lean on, someone who would catch me if I

fell while telling me I could fly. >>>

happiful.com | September 2021 | 95

Victoria’s husband has been her rock

Two years later, we got married. It was a day

of pure happiness. The darkness was nowhere

to be found and, as we walked hand in hand, I

knew we would never let each other go.

Now, 14 years later, we are still as happy as we

ever were, and have a family of our own. Life

is in a very different place now. It’s not always

buttercups and daisies, but I am in control of

my demons. They are in the darkest corners of

my mind, I am aware of them, and occasionally

they make their presence felt; the darkness still

lingers like an uninvited guest.

After all these years, though I know myself

better now, I accept that when the darkness is

present, and my world feels flat, it isn’t always

linked to anything in particular, it just exists. I

now focus my energy on something positive, I

think about things I may want in life, or dreams

I can fulfil – and although I acknowledge the

depression, it no longer consumes me. My pain

becomes constructive rather than destructive.

Last year, I needed to find myself again. It’s

easy in life, especially when you have children,

to feel a little lost. My youngest was starting

school and I was feeling redundant. I decided

I’d do something for myself, so I started writing,

letting my imagination run away, creating

characters, and escaping into other worlds.

Then I happened across a blog post asking

for submissions for a new book series called

Hometown Tales. I filled pages with childhood

adventures, but then I hit a point in my life

where the joy of nostalgia disappeared. I could

choose to continue on a different track or I could

write my truth on the page. I did just that, I laid

my life bare and it felt good; I never dreamed it

would be accepted for publication so I just wrote

it for me. It was honest and raw.

I wasn’t in control

anymore; the darkness had

introduced me to a new

ally, but it wasn’t my friend

My tale was accepted, and as the realisation hit

that my darkest secrets would be out there in

the world, I was terrified of the judgements. But

writing my truth gave me a newfound strength,

and as the editing process went along, I finally

felt free. I realised how dark my life once was, and

96 | September 2021 | happiful.com

true story

Writing gave Victoria a new-found strength

I realised how dark my life

once was, and how much

light I now had in my life

how much light I now had. I began to see who I

was, and that the battles I had faced had made me

stronger. I felt unashamed; I was a survivor.

Writing the book changed my life, it took my

nightmares and changed them into dreams:

the dream of having my name on the cover of

a book, the dream of being free, the dream of

finding out who I am.

I remembered how alone I had felt, that feeling

of isolation when the world appeared to be

bobbing along perfectly, yet I was falling apart. I

wanted to stand tall and shout from the rooftops

that life can get better. I wish I had a magic wand

and all the answers, but I don’t, although I do

know talking helps.

I held my secret all my life; I thought keeping

it to myself was strength, but speaking out made

me stronger. I don’t deny my feelings now, I

acknowledge them rather than trying to lock

them away.

Life might sometimes appear perfect, but I do

still struggle. I have many things I’m grateful for,

things to be overjoyed about, and I’m lucky to

have my husband and children by my side – they

are my light in the dark, and now my husband

holds the umbrella while I dance in the rain.


Growing up, Victoria struggled with her self-image,

and with questions around her identity and selfacceptance.

Self-harming and an eating disorder

became a way to cope, even when she realised the

harm these unhealthy outlets were causing her.

A turning point came when Victoria met her

husband, who offered the time, support, and love

she needed to recover and cope. The negativity

didn’t disappear completely, but an opportunity

to write about it helped, and offered

hope to others. As Victoria

notes, often speaking out about

our fears and anxieties to a

friend or confidant can make us


Graeme Orr | MBACP (Accred) counsellor

happiful.com | September 2021 | 97

That kinda’ week

It’s easy to take on the weight of the world’s problems –

but, sometimes, stopping to notice the positive changes

we can make to our communities, and in the lives of loved

ones, makes all the difference. Next time you want to

embrace some positivity, try these kindness challenges

Give someone a

compliment that

isn’t focused on

how they look

Just finished a

great book? Pass it

on to someone you

think will enjoy it

If you’re heading

on a walk, pop

on some gloves,

grab a rubbish

bag, and collect

litter as you go

Make a loved one

a playlist of songs

that remind you

of times you’ve

spent together

Buy some extra

food and put it

in the food bank

collection box at

the supermarket

Send ‘thank you’ notes

to people who have

helped you

Put loose change

into a public charity

box, or dedicate

a collection jar at

home and donate the

contents once it’s full

Offer to teach

someone a skill – it

could be a hobby,

a favourite dish, or

even a life hack!

Join us for Happiful Afternoons

Wellbeing by the Lakes, Dorset | 8-12 September

We’re over the moon to be partnering with Wellbeing by the Lakes to curate and

programme Happiful Afternoons on the Riverside Stage. Festival-goers will hear from Happiful

writers, best-selling authors, life coaches, counsellors, wellbeing experts, and movement mentors.

Join us for much-needed time out, relaxation, reinvigoration, and inspiration!













And much, much more…

wellbeingbythelakes.co.uk | @wellbeingbythelakes

Sculpture by the Lakes, Pallington Lakes, Dorchester DT2 8QU

On site parking available | Nearest train station: Dorchester (taxi ride from here)




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