Mid-year wellbeing reset: Feel the benefits in five days

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The summer months are a great time to rethink our relationship with social media and incorporate more mood-boosting time outdoors. So when Very offered us the opportunity to try a five-day reset, we jumped at the chance…

Mid-year wellbeing reset: Feel the benefits in five days

I admit that, in recent months, I’d become a self-care hypocrite. My phone tells me as much with weekly usage reports creeping up and up and its tiny screen being my first and last sight every day.

I write and speak about mental health and wellbeing every day but I’ve become adept at preaching and not practising what I know to be important. I’m good at making excuses about why I can’t get outside more (something that brings me joy) and away from my laptop beyond working hours. I tell myself that I don’t have the time, there are other things I should be doing and it’s too hot/cold/rainy and my hiking boots leak and rub and I don’t have time to replace them.

Then, like a gift - quite literally - the team at Very contacted us with an offer to work together to highlight the wellbeing benefits of spending more time outdoors, and a challenge was born! I would prioritise stroll time in nature over scroll time on my device for five days and reflect upon the impact it had.

My task was to challenge my ‘productivity’ and technology-focused mindset while Very kindly and swiftly addressed my incessant procrastination around buying new outdoor gear. Just a day after I selected them, two new beautiful pairs of Adidas hiking shoes and a lightweight Berghaus jacket from their sports clothing and equipment range arrived on my doorstep. I no longer had any excuses left…

Day one

With the high-summer morning sun peeking through the blinds at 5.30am, I wake up earlier than my alarm and consider reaching for the phone. I could easily spend an hour scrolling through reels but, instead, I throw on some clothes and the Adidas Terrex Hikster low hiking shoes (I love the colours - beige, purple and white), wake up my dog, Zac and head out.

It’s already a warm day and, as I walk by the Thames, I notice how the river sparkles and witness two cygnets swimming alongside their parents. I remind myself that I wouldn't have seen this if I’d indulged in my regular morning social media binge.

Mid-year wellbeing reset: Feel the benefits in five days

adidas Terrex Hikster low hiking shoes and Zac

I sit down on the grass while Zac sniffs the ground around me and I close my eyes for a moment and breathe deeply before turning back towards home. It’s not yet 7am and I’ve felt the sun on my face, connected with nature and spent some quality time with my canine chum. I feel like I’ve achieved something already but, more than that, I feel calm heading into a new work week.

Day two

“As soon as you make the call to Samaritans, you are wholly supported”

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To raise awareness of Samaritans and the support they offer to everyone, listening volunteer and previous caller Kay shares her story of picking up the phone and the difference it made to her life

“As soon as you make the call to Samaritans, you are wholly supported”

“I can say without irony or agenda, that person I spoke to saved my life,” Kay asserts on Happiful’s podcast I am. I have. Kay is now a listening volunteer for Samaritans and dedicated to helping people when they need it. She knows from first-hand experience the perspective changing power of a conversation when you are at your lowest ebb.

Kay’s own call to Samaritans changed what was an overwhelming and frightening situation for her into a series of interactions that helped her recover from a potentially life-changing illness and subsequent low mood and fearful feelings.

It all began with a health emergency that took place on her daily commute into London. Kay collapsed on board her train after unknowingly developing sepsis from a tick bite on a dog walk, and had to be rushed into hospital as a result. This experience was understandably very traumatising for her.

“When I woke up in the hospital I was physically on the mend,” Kay explains. “Mentally, I was challenged.”

Kay shared her feelings with her GP who offered antidepressants but it wasn’t a route she wanted to take at that time. However, Kay was looking at an eighteen month waiting list for counselling with the NHS and six weeks through her work’s medical insurance. Even the shorter period of time, Kay shares, felt far too long for her to cope with.

Kay found herself waiting on a train platform during this period and this is when she noticed the sign for Samaritans. “As luck would have it that day the train was delayed. I called and got through within three minutes,” Kay says. “Suddenly I had someone actively listening to me. That call was the conversation that triggered me to think that there is support available.”

I knew I was supported and could always call Samaritans at any time all year around

The Samaritan’s listening volunteer explained to Kay that she could contact them whenever and however she needed to, as her train arrived. “I emailed them and phoned again,” Kay says. “Then, I ran speaking to Samaritans and the wholesome support alongside the therapy I started to have. When I felt strong enough to finish my course of talking therapy, I knew I was supported and could always call Samaritans, at any time, all year around.”

Unvaccinated: A BBC documentary

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With cases of Covid-19 on the rise, the BBC has announced a new documentary that seeks to understand why five million people are yet to receive the vaccine

Unvaccinated: A BBC documentary

In recent months, Covid-19 infections have been increasing in the UK. Following several lockdowns and over 197,000 deaths, the experts are warning that we could be entering the fifth wave, yet 8% of the UK population is still unvaccinated. A documentary due to air on Wednesday 20th July at 9pm, on BBC Two, BBC Factual, and iPlayer aims to determine why this is the case.

The documentary will be presented by Mathematician, Professor Hannah Fry. Hannah worked on the data that contributed to bringing the UK out of the first lockdown in 2020 and, together with leading experts, will try to uncover what the nation thinks of the vaccine roll-out today.

This complex debate has been around for a few years now, and Hannah wants to unearth these long-held opinions, beliefs, myths, and fears that have prevented people from getting vaccinated. Looking at the latest statistics and science, alongside how media misinformation spreads, Hannah will bring in seven unvaccinated participants, all of which will be asked if their opinions have changed and if they would be more likely to take up the vaccine, after the experiment.

“With covid infections on the rise again, there couldn’t be a more important time to examine the reasons why so many adults are still not getting the vaccine.” Tom Coveney, BBC Commissioning Editor, Science.

Scientists have said that we are likely to face more pandemics in the future, meaning further vaccine roll-outs. With this in mind, now is the best time to explore the views of the nation.

The documentary commissioned by Jack Bootle is made by STV Studios and will be a one-hour feature exploring how this debate has become the “heart of modern life”. It will look at the views from both sides in an “open and sensitive way”, says Craig Hunter, Creative Director of Factual, STV Studios. It will reveal why some people are hesitant, and teach these reasons to those who advocate the vaccine so, collectively, we can get a better understanding of what the vaccine means to the UK population.

If you have been affected by the pandemic and are looking for further support, reach out. Visit the Counselling Directory.

Best Ever Cookie Dough Ice Cream

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Bite-size chunks of Monster Cookie dough are more irresistible than ever when tucked into the Best Ever Cookie Dough Ice Cream.

Monster Cookie Dough Ice Cream

Let’s talk cookie dough. I have a weakness. Hand me a spoon, a fork, or a mixing bowl, there’s no cookie dough that doesn’t have a siren call for me.

That said, I do play favorites. The Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream is a classic that I do love. However, it will never trump Monster Cookie Dough for me.

We’re celebrating three weeks of new ice cream recipes this summer with a very cool ice cream maker giveaway! Enter to win the Cuisinart ICE-100 1.5-Quart Compressor Ice Cream Maker by CLICKING HERE and submitting your email. The giveaway ends July 8th, 2022.

The most popular question I get is whether it’s possible to make ice cream without a machine. The answer is YES. You can make ice cream without a machine. Find the full directions here!

Monster Cookie Dough

I’ve had a weakness for Monster Cookie Dough for about as long as I can remember.

I’ve mentioned it before, but a particular friend and I have a history that includes eating almost the entire batch of the dough for our Monster Cookies at times in the past.

This love of the dough led to making Monster Cookie Dough Bites many years ago and now it has led me to the best ever Cookie Dough Ice Cream.

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8 myths about schizophrenia that are simply untrue

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Few people really understand this severe mental health condition – and the stigma attached to schizophrenia remains so great that the illness itself is often used as a throwaway insult! Here we demolish the untruths surrounding a disorder that affects millions worldwide

8 myths about schizophrenia that are simply untrue

We’ve all felt paranoia at some point in our lives, those days when it feels that even the plants are out to get us. We’ve all suffered from delusions, too, whether it’s the teen musician hoping to be the next superstar, or the school crush where love is unrequited.

We all know how unpleasant these fleeting blows are, yet for those of us diagnosed with schizophrenia, delusions and paranoia are the daily treadmill we walk on.

I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2009, after a hospitalisation. It may surprise you that I, too, wasn’t immune to the myths and misunderstandings about this illness, and didn’t know what to expect. But, over time, I came to read up about the condition and get more savvy.

Simply put, schizophrenia is a severe mental illness where people experience psychosis for the longer term. People with schizophrenia often lose touch with reality, see visions, hear voices, or experience delusions.

Sometimes, the stigma of schizophrenia is worse than a good day actually living with it. I’ve lost friends, and can count quite a few people who are scared of me. Of course, this is completely unjustified – schizophrenia can be treated with antipsychotic medication, and managed as an outpatient by a mental health community team. With this care in place, people diagnosed with schizophrenia can go on to be re-diagnosed with less severe conditions, hold down jobs and relationships, and live meaningful lives.

So, in case you missed the memo, here are eight myths about schizophrenia that are simply untrue:

1. MYTH: People with schizophrenia are violent

Research has established that people with schizophrenia are more likely to be victims of crime, rather than perpetrators. Sadly, the public’s prejudices will continue, as the media still chooses to report the rare incidences where a person unwell with schizophrenia has committed a crime. For most people experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia, the experience itself is terrifying, so it seems ironic the terror the diagnosis can provoke in some people.

2. MYTH: Having schizophrenia means you’re a bad person

We’ve all seen on Twitter, or heard down the pub, people speculating that someone has some sort of schizophrenia – and it’s not a description that’s intended to be flattering. You wouldn’t use ‘cancer-sufferer’ or ‘wheelchair-user’ as a derogatory comment to insult others, so why use schizophrenia? Another prime example of stigma I’ve experienced is feeling like I’m not always being listened to or heard by medical professionals. For example, if they ask if we’re feeling suicidal, and in our notes, if we’ve said no, they write: “Denies feeling suicidal.” It can feel like we’re not believed when we say we’re doing OK.