Uncover the reading habit bringing joy to our lives and improving our wellbeing

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Join us on a fascinating adventure through the rich history of reading aloud, and meet us in the present day, when we’ve never needed the wellbeing benefits more

Uncover the reading habit bringing joy to our lives and improving our wellbeing

Reading aloud is an activity we might assume is just for young children who can’t read themselves. However, when my 10-year-old daughter recently asked me to read a book to her one evening, I realised that there is something more to it.

She has an Audible library packed with books to choose from, and a bookshelf full of her own books. But, that night, she chose me. She likes the way I do the voices, and we both enjoyed the time bonding and connecting together.

In a world where we have access to an infinite amount of audiobooks at the click of a button, the idea of reading to each other might seem incredibly old-fashioned, and it is! In fact, it has a very rich history. In philosopher St Augustine’s Confessions, written around 400 AD, he reflects on the reading habits of Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan.

“When Ambrose used to read, his eyes were drawn through the pages, while his heart searched for its meaning; however, his voice and tongue were quiet. Often when we were present – for anyone could approach him and it was not his habit that visitors be announced to him – we saw him reading in this fashion, silently and never otherwise.”

The Bishop’s silent habits were considered an unusual anomaly. In Saint Augustine’s era, reading aloud was the way to do it.

While silent reading gradually caught on as time went by, reading aloud was still common. Prior to a world of television, radio, and internet, reading aloud was a source of entertainment, particularly when not everyone was literate. It was part of daily life, in people’s homes, or at the local pub. In the diary of Samuel Pepys, written in the 1660s, Pepys recalls his domestic life, reading aloud to his wife in the evenings, and laughing together about a book that was ‘sillily writ’. On one occasion, he befriends a woman in a carriage and persuades her to read to him. When his wife was upset with him, talking, listening, and reading aloud were how they made up.

Uncover the reading habit bringing joy to our lives and improving our wellbeing

Today, in an age of distraction, we might put on an audiobook while loading the dishwasher, or to pass the time while driving. In these moments our attention is split, the clatter of dirty dishes interrupting the voices, or the honking of horns, a red light, and the frustration we feel during drives. There’s a whole cornucopia of sensory input demanding our attention.

But when we listen to a loved one, it’s not just that we get to hear their voice. We see their mannerisms and facial expressions as they read the story. It is a multi-sensory experience that involves sight, sound, and even touch if we snuggle close together. This allows us to truly rest in the moment, our attention on a single point of focus rather than being called in dozens of different directions.

While researching this article, I heard from many adults who enjoy reading aloud to their adult loved ones. They reported enjoying spending time together, sharing what they are reading with each other, and that it was a more intimate activity than simply watching

Finding support for self-harm

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The act of self-harm is a sign we need support, but how can we recognise this and ask for help?

Finding support for self-harm

Despite how far we’ve come in many aspects of mental health acceptance and understanding, self-harm still feels like one of those topics seeped in stigma and misunderstanding. While I’m open about a lot of my mental health concerns, discussing my history of self-harm always feels sticky.

There are many myths around self-harm, from what it entails to the notion that it’s done purely for attention. Debunking these myths can be a first step in understanding.

The more we understand how self-harm can come about, the more able we are to speak up about it. Perhaps you’re struggling with this yourself and are unsure where to turn, or maybe you’re worried about a loved one or child. Either way, keeping these topics in the dark only helps them thrive. Bringing them out into the light is the first step to moving forward.

Finding support for yourself

Talking to someone you trust about what’s going on is a helpful way to start the process of getting the help you need, however, it can often feel difficult. What if the person doesn’t understand? What if they don’t believe you? Doubts and worries may be swirling around in your mind, but there are some steps you can take to put these at ease.

Firstly, you may want to help them understand what self-harm truly is and how it can affect people by sending them some information. Counselling Directory has information about self-harm, you can also take a look at guides from Mind and Harmless. When it comes to telling them how it’s affecting you, you may feel more comfortable writing a letter or email telling them how you feel, or you may prefer to do it in person – do what feels right to you.

If you don’t want to tell someone you know, you may prefer to go straight to your doctor. Your doctor will be able to discuss with you how you’re feeling and offer different routes of support. This may include counselling, self-help techniques and/or support groups.

Talking to a professional like a counsellor or therapist can give you the space to explore why you might be self-harming and how you can reduce harmful behaviours. Discussing the process in her article Unwrapping self-harm, counsellor Fiona Austin shares that starting sessions off by establishing that you are OK with what’s happening in terms of counselling is key.

“With your confidence in the process secure, we then move on to examine why you self-harm, gently. Obviously, this is not necessarily easy, as one of the beginning challenges is not just untangling but putting emotions into words, especially as self-harm is often a feeling of overwhelm, wordlessness.”

Fiona goes on to highlight that once you’re able to establish your why, you’re halfway there as you’ve been able to externalise what’s happening.

“It's like suddenly there's a handle on the door. But a door you can open as far as you feel comfortable enough to.”

In the video below, integrati

The pursuit of progress: how to truly appreciate and celebrate our wins

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It's easy to get so focused on the end result, or the next 'thing', that you forget all the positive steps you've already taken. But a little recognition goes a long way – you deserve to be proud of every achievement, and acknowledge each victory, no matter the size

The pursuit of progress: how to truly appreciate and celebrate our wins

Do you ever have days, or maybe months, where the challenges you’re facing feel insurmountable? Time is passing, but you seem rooted in place, making no headway, no matter how hard you try.

The truth is we’re so used to worrying about every stumble, or infinitesimal step back that we don’t often look over our shoulders to appreciate how far we’ve come.

Last summer, alongside a group of friends, I climbed the three highest mountains in the UK in 24 hours for charity – and it struck me what a real-life metaphor this was.

Every ascension offered spectacular views, but we didn’t dare take more than a swift glance around us to appreciate the passing beauty, due to the strict timeline.

As we progressed, that view became obstructed by clouds, or the path hidden behind outcrops, weaving between the folds of Mother Nature. And from the top? Elation at having actually made it, knowing we’d come a long way, but, in a literal sense, not being able to see it. Then, moving immediately on.

When bringing together this issue, our sixth anniversary edition, naturally it felt like a time to celebrate, to reflect on how far we’ve come. But in doing so, I realised how little we do that very thing in real life. How the passage of time sweeps us along, and we’re so focused on that next step that we don’t really appreciate all the ones we took to get there in the first place.

Climbing those mountains, every step was an uphill battle. I was bringing up the rear the entire way, worried about holding everyone back. But descending? I felt like I was flying down. Yes, I fell repeatedly, but did I get back up? Yes. Did I make it to the end? Yes.

Much like in life, we need to go at our own pace. We struggle and succeed uniquely, and above all, we’ll all get there in our own time.

You’ll get there in your own time.

The pursuit of progress: how to truly appreciate and celebrate our wins

Alongside covering this theme of celebration and appreciating the moment, our issue 72 print edition includes:

Engaging features such as an inside look at 'career cushioning' and why it's trending right now, breaking age stereotypes, and the powerful effect of the five elements of wonder.

Effective hacks on re-establishing routines, recognising food allergies vs intollerances, self-care rituals, and supporting a friend through an infertility diagnosis.

Expert advice on topics such as the importance of pronouns and how

Patient Information Forum highlights the struggle to source reliable health information

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Over half (58%) of healthcare professionals have difficulty sourcing reliable health information to share with patients according to a 2022 survey conducted by the Patient Information Forum (PIF)

Patient Information Forum highlights the struggle to source reliable health information

Even healthcare professionals struggle to source reliable health information, according to a new PIF survey. In response, the Patient Information Forum has launched a new toolkit to help healthcare professionals overcome these struggles and give trusted information to their patients.

What is the PIF TICK toolkit?

The new PIF TICK toolkit has been produced to help professionals overcome the difficulties of misinformation. Endorsed by GPs, the toolkit includes:

  • Patient resources on spotting false health information, BMI, and clinical evidence, including easy-to-use factsheets.
  • More than 85 independently assessed trusted information creators, sorted by therapy area.

The toolkit will help healthcare professionals confidently signpost trustworthy information. Every organisation within the directory has undergone a tough, independent assessment of their healthcare information production process.

What is the PIF TICK and why is it important?

PIF is a non-profit UK membership organisation working to improve the quality of health information; representing members across NHS, charitable and private sectors.

The PIF TICK accreditation is an excellent way for people to know that health information is dependable and accurate. It is the UK’s only independently-assessed quality mark for print and online health information.

Dr Michael Hughes, consultant rheumatologist, said, “All patients need access to reliable, high-quality, and readable information from their initial diagnosis and throughout the course of their disease. The PIF TICK is a trusted reassurance that clinicians are signposting patients to high-quality and assured information.”

With so much online information available, knowing where to go and who to trust can be tricky. The spread of misinformation can easily escalate with the mix of opinions on social media so it is really important to get health information from reliable sources. While our healthcare system is so stretched, accessing up-to-date and accurate information can better health outcomes and entrust people to make informed decisions about their wellbeing.

Dr Juhi Tandon, GP and co-founder of Cognitant Group, said, “As doctors, we want to encourage our patients to play a more participatory role in their health and empower them with the tools needed to better self-manage their care. This starts with trusted health information.

“In our short consultation time, we struggle to adequately explain health, disease and treatment, so the ability to use the PIF TICK to signpost patients to reliable, accurate and up-to-date, evidence-based health information from trusted sources, is incredibly valuable. It can really augment shared decision-making and informed choice.”

The Counselling Directory and PIF TICK

At Happiful, we’ve put the process to practice, with our website Read more

Vex King: “Returning home to your heart will create self-acceptance”

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Self-love writer and co-founder of The Rising Circle, Vex King, joins Happiful’s podcast to talk about the experiences that shaped him and the impact of practising self-love

Vex King: “Returning home to your heart will create self-acceptance”

Vex King is a Sunday Times bestseller and internationally renowned for his beautiful work on self-love and compassion, and as he shares on Happiful’s podcast, the drive to learn and share supportive words with others is the result of tough childhood experiences that shaped his desire to change his mindset and circumstances.

“I like to call myself the guy that tries to make the world a better place. Ultimately, I’m spreading a message of self-love,” he says introducing himself. “I’ve come from a place where I’ve endured a lot of suffering. To give a bit of background, my Dad died when I was six-months old and my family and I were homeless for roughly three years of my childhood. Then when we finally found a home, unfortunately we weren’t really welcome in that area and neighbourhood for at least two decades. I suffered a lot of poverty, I’d say severe poverty, racism and abuse. There were a lot of times where I suppose I nearly gave up on my life.”

Read the full interview with Vex King in issue 73 of Happiful Magazine

The transition from such trauma to the life Vex leads today might seem like a mighty mountain to have climbed, and he is clear that it was neither linear nor easy. As a younger man, Vex explains, he encountered periods of extreme anger and despair. He also had a strong vision of the life he wanted to lead and an internal drive to alleviate other people’s pain and suffering.

Vex found hope in books, foreshadowing the work he is now so passionate about. “I just wanted a way out. I turned to books and books really helped me. They really built in hope that there was something better out there for me, that I could change my mindset and that I didn’t have to be a victim of my circumstances.”

“I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I did, especially as a child,” he reflects. “At the time it was traumatic and I didn’t realise it. It was painful, it was heartbreaking and it was uncomfortable. But at the same time, I look back on it now and say to myself ‘Would I be here if I hadn’t gone through those particular things, would I have a story to tell? Would I have gone out of my way to find these tools, these ideas, these perspectives that have altered my life and that I’m now sharing with the world so that people can change their own lives?’”

Vex is visibly passionate and clearly dedicated to supporting and championing others. He co-founded The Rising Circle with his beloved wife Kaushal, to share free meditations, manifestation tracks, gratitude sessions and yoga and to ensure that everyone can access this support. He also continues to write, and his most recent book Closer to Love<