10 enriching things to try in April to benefit your wellbeing

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From a nature-inspired journaling workbook to an activity that will help you rediscover your inner-child nature, try something new with our enriching suggestions

1. Page-turners

10 enriching things to try in April to benefit your wellbeing

The Wildflower’s Workbook: A Journal for Self-Discovery in Nature by Katie Daisy

If you’re someone who loves to journal equally as much as spending time outdoors, this wonderful workbook is for you. Immerse yourself in the natural world and go on a journey of self-discovery with these nature-inspired journaling prompts and activities, created by artist, author, and ‘wildflower’ Katie Daisy.

(Out now, £14.99)

2. Out and about

Try beachcombing

As a child, how often did you scan the beach for hidden treasures? For adults and kids alike, discovering the hidden treasures of the beach is a fun outdoor activity that we can all enjoy. Whether it’s sea glass, shells, fossils, or animal footprints, tap back into your curiosity and search for objects washed ashore on the coastline. The beach is your oyster…

(Visit countryfile.com for their beachcombing guide)

3. Act of kindness

Become a Green Aiders volunteer

If you’re someone who enjoys gardening and would like to put your skills to good use, the Green Aiders programme is always on the look-out for volunteers to help support older or disabled adults care for their overgrown gardens. You’ll be helping someone to reclaim their garden and reap the benefits of the outdoors again, while pursuing your passion at the same time.

10 enriching things to try in April to benefit your wellbeing

(Visit groundwork.org.uk)

4. Lend us your ears

‘Nothing Much Happens’

If you have children, you might know the trick of reading them story after story to help them sleep. But what happens if you’re an adult who can’t sleep? Yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai is here to help adults find some shut-eye with this series of bedtime stories. So if counting sheep doesn’t work for you, listen to this podcast!

(Available on all podcast platforms)

5. Plugged-In

Sam Bentley

Whether you’re an eco enthusiast or you want to mix up your feed, environmentalist Sam Bentley posts regular news round-ups from the sustainability world. From a company making mushrooms from old coffee grounds to an underwater forest helping to restore coral reefs, you don’t want to miss these stories.

(Follow @sambentley on TikTok)

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Do you have tinnitus? Here’s how to recognise your triggers and reclaim control

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Ringing, whistling, humming, buzzing – we often talk about the physical side of the hearing condition tinnitus, but it can take its toll on our wellbeing, too. Here, Emmie Harrison-West reflects on her own story, and explores the management tools that work for her and others

Do you have tinnitus? Here’s how to recognise your triggers and reclaim control

I remember hearing it for the first time, that ringing noise. It came to me in the dark, when I was in my late teens. It sounded like the screeching, erratic tones of dial-up broadband. Or like someone keeping their finger pressed on the doorbell deep inside my head – and there was no way to stop it. It would come and go. Sometimes I’d hear a rush of high-pitched ringing throughout the day, but it was worse at night.

Until my early 20s, I was constantly anxious and on edge before bed. Sometimes, I dreaded going to sleep in case I had a flare-up. When it happened, I’d spend hours staring at the ceiling, wishing for it (whatever it was) to disappear again. I suffered for it during the day. Felt drained, emotional, and tearful.Stress only made it worse; it was a truly vicious cycle.

Turns out that noise, deep in my ears, was tinnitus, and I joined the one in eight adults in the UK who suffer from it.

“Tinnitus is the name for hearing noises in your ears or head that are not caused by an outside source,” Franki Oliver, audiology adviser at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) told me. “It’s often described as ‘ringing in the ears’, but some people describe it as hissing, humming, buzzing, or whooshing.”

Do you have tinnitus? Here’s how to recognise your triggers and reclaim control

“Imagine hearing an unwanted sound all day,” Carly Sygrove, coach and hearing loss blogger told me. “Perhaps it’s the high-pitched whirring of the fridge, or maybe it’s a noisy neighbour playing music throughout the day. Like these scenarios, tinnitus is an intrusive sound, and there’s no way of turning it off.”

Two years ago, aged 27, I was diagnosed with hearing loss and tinnitus, one of a reported 12 million deaf people in the UK. I realised my hearing wasn’t quite right when I couldn’t understand people who wore masks – it was only then that it dawned on me how much I relied on lip-reading.

“Many people wrongly assume that it is their tinnitus, rather than their hearing loss, that is causing hearing difficulties,” Nic Wray, communications manager at British Tinnitus Association told me. They added that the causes of tinnitus are still ‘not fully understood,’ but could be triggered by exposure to loud noise, ear infections, wax build-up,’ and even Covid-19, or long Covid.

At first, thinking it was a wax build-up, I sought help from an audiologist who soon diagnosed me with mild nerve deafness. It was genetic, but likely exacerbated by listening to loud music through ear buds, or going to loud concerts growing up.

According to Duncan Collet-Fenson, audiologist at Aston Hearing: “We can all experience temporary tinnitus when we spend the evening at a l

What is intergenerational trauma and how can we break the cycle?

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Intergenerational trauma can feel like an unrelenting trap, but it’s time to break free

What is intergenerational trauma and how can we break the cycle?

The generations who raised us invariably have a huge impact on our lives, and the people that we become. As adults, we may find a lot of joy in noticing that we have adopted, for example, our mother’s sense of humour, our grandfather’s agreeableness, or our aunt’s passion. But there’s another side to this coin.

There’s a saying you might have heard of: ‘Hurt people hurt people.’ It’s a very simplistic way of talking about the way that one person’s pain can, often completely unintentionally, affect others. And when it comes to the way this manifests in family relationships, it turns into a well-documented psychological phenomenon.

“Intergenerational trauma is defined as trauma that is transferred from one generation of trauma survivors on to the second, and further generations, through genetics and experiences,” counsellor Melanie Kirk says. “This means that even though the original trauma may not have been experienced first-hand, the feelings, symptoms, and behaviours can live on.”

What is intergenerational trauma and how can we break the cycle?

The trauma can be personal, – for example, the parent might have experienced abuse, been the victim of a serious crime, or have suffered loss or bereavement. Or, the trauma could be shared – Melanie points to the example of Holocaust survivors.

“In 2015, a psychiatry and neuroscience professor called Dr Rachel Yehuda directed a team of researchers, and conducted a study on the descendants of Holocaust survivors,” she explains. “It was discovered that the descendants had low levels of cortisol (the hormone that is released during times of stress, which helps to bring down the high levels of adrenaline released when a ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered).

“It was concluded that if one parent has experienced PTSD then future generations may be more likely to inherit the gene adaptation caused by a traumatic event. This in turn could result in the descendant being more susceptible to conditions such as depression and anxiety. Comparable studies were also carried out on the survivors and descendants of 9/11, which revealed similar results.”

What does intergenerational trauma look like?

In the same way that trauma will present differently from person to person, intergenerational trauma does, too. It’s a complex experience, and one that is best explored with the help of a mental health professional. That said, there are common themes.

Besides the genetic impact that Melanie previously explained, if the parent has experienced the trauma, it may affect the way that they interact with their child – they may find it more difficult to regulate their emotions, or to model appropriate coping behaviours to their children. In practice, this may look like a reduced tolerance to stress – perhaps finding they become overwhelmed or angry quickly – or they may find it more challenging to express love and affection. All this may then affect their children’s behaviour and coping mechanisms, and the way they go on to parent, or treat the

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

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When done right, distractions can help us regulate our emotions – and, with the perfect activity, you could be introducing another layer of joy into your life

1. Go for a mindful walk

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

Going for a walk is a recommendation we’ve all heard before, right? Being mindful on your walk, however, can take things up a notch. Allow yourself to be fully present during your walk; what are you seeing? What are you hearing? What are you smelling? Engaging with your senses has a grounding effect, and can distract you from swirling thoughts, all while reaping the benefits of being out in nature.

2. Write a letter to a loved one

Connecting with others has a host of benefits, and, thanks to technology, there are more ways to connect than ever before. When you need a distraction though, why not slow things down and write a letter? Taking time to hand-write your conversation can help to slow our thinking and take a beat. And, let’s be honest – who doesn’t love receiving post?

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

3. Organise something

We’re all different, but for some of us, a cluttered space can make our minds feel cluttered, too. Having a moment to tidy and organise a space gives us something physical to do (grounding us in the here and now) while taking our mind off of whatever we’re worried about. Pick a shelf, cupboard, or even a room, pop on a playlist, and get organising.

4. Read a couple of pages

Sometimes we need beautiful words as a palate cleanser for difficult times. Pick up a poetry book, a book of essays, or a short story, and read a few pages when you need it. Focusing on short-form writing can take away the overwhelm that can come with longer reads, and makes it easier to dip in and out.

7 productive distractions to effectively reduce stress

5. Create something

Tapping into our creativity has a wonderful way of reducing stress and lifting our mood. Next time you need a distraction, create something. Try out a new recipe, play an instrument, work on a puzzle, or write a story. This reminds us of our capabilities, and gives us a great confidence boost.

6. Learn something new

Learning something new engages our minds and shifts our perspective, giving us permission to be messy beginners. Why not learn a language, and distract yourself with Duolingo lessons? Or sign up to a learning platform like Skillshare and work through a class? You’ll not only be distracted, but you’ll also be working on your personal development, and, hopefully, finding a whole heap of fulfilment along the way.

7. Play a game

Whether you prefer board games or video games, all forms of gaming offer a sense of escapism and accomplishment that can be positive. Bring out your favourite when you need a break, and allow yourself to be immersed in a new world, even if only for a while.

Michelle Elman on how to learn to ask for help

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Why do we feel so much pressure to be self-reliant, and how come it is so hard to accept a helping hand? Columnist Michelle Elman delves into our curious obsession with independence, and the life-changing realisation that allowed her to welcome support

Michelle Elman on how to learn to ask for help

We live in a culture that encourages us to be strong and independent, but is it possible that we have gone too far? When there is so much pressure to do everything yourself, is it any wonder that we associate weakness with relying on other people?

Alongside the ‘strong independent woman’ trope that has been sold as an aspirational goal, I believe part of what has caused this is the fearmongering around being ‘codependent’. Codependency was defined by Melody Beattie, in her book Codependent No More, as “one who has let another person’s behaviour affect [them] and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behaviour.”

Of course, codependency brings its own set of problems, but have we run so far away from codependency that we are now on the opposite end of the spectrum: hyper independence?

Hyper independence is the belief that you are the only person you can rely on. It is often born out of a trauma where you have relied on someone in the past and been let down, so, as a result, you have a “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself” mentality. Consequently, instead of understanding that relying on others is not only normal, but necessary, you feel shame for not being strong enough to go it alone.

I used to be the same. The thinking behind my behaviour was that if I relied on someone, asked them for help or even just a favour, that made me vulnerable, and when you are vulnerable you are exposing yourself to being hurt. What I ignored was that the immense pressure I put on myself to do everything alone was incredibly isolating and, in fact, blocking me from forming genuine and intimate connections, because in order to ask for help, you need to allow yourself to trust others and let them in. And yes, that’s scary! But it’s worth it.

I tell the story in which I learned this myself in my new book, The Selfish Romantic. I had just come back from a funeral when the guy I had been on three dates with checked up on me to see how I was. Being so used to being single, and very hyper independent at that point, I shut down the conversation and said he didn’t need to worry, to go out with his friends, and I’d speak to him the next day. Hours later, he turned up at my door simply saying: “I thought you might want a hug,” and he was right. I really did.

Later that night, I said to him that it was really kind of him, but he didn’t have to come over and that I would have been fine. His response? “I know you would have been fine, but just because you can do it alone doesn’t mean you have to.” It taught me a valuable lesson to not only ask for what you need, but it was actually OK to ask if you didn’t need it, but you simply wanted it. I didn’t need a hug, I would have survived without one, but I sure did want one!

Letting someone in is terrifying. I was right, letting people in gives them potential to hurt you and use your vulnerability against you. But living a life where you don’