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

Coconut Desserts You Need To Make

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I couldn’t hide my love for coconut desserts if I wanted to. Whether it’s sprinkled on top of a cake, stirred into cookies, or whipped into ice cream, coconut plays a key role in many of my favorite desserts.

Coconut Pound Cake

Coconut Dessert Recipes

When it comes to desserts with coconut, I can’t get enough. Coconut might make you think of tropical summertime weather but I definitely don’t limit my enjoyment of these treats to the warm months of the year.

Coconut desserts are wonderful all year long and I love including them in my holiday baking. Today, I’m bringing you my ultimate list of the best coconut desserts I’ve made over the years!

Coconut Cookies

Do you like those girl scout cookies covered in coconut, chocolate and caramel? They’re called either samoas or “caramel delights” depending on who you ask. If so, you’ll love these coconut cookie recipes.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies are pretty much the ultimate cookie in my world. These Toffee Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies could be described as my “everything but the kitchen sink” cookie. Rich chocolate chips with crunchy bites of pecans, toffee and (of course) plenty of coconut are a little taste of heaven.

Toffee Coconut Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies - save the recipe now so that you can make it all year long!

Coconut Lover’s Oatmeal Cookies are a must-try for any coconut enthusiast like me. These cookies are extra coconutty thanks to the use of coconut oil in the dough along with plenty of shred

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

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