Is constipation making your child miserable?

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Is constipation making your child miserable?

Every parent goes through That Phase. The one where your child, no matter what you try, seems to struggle to poo. It’s estimated up to one in three children in the UK has constipation. at any one time, thanks to illness, poor diet, fear of using the toilet, and poor toilet training.

It comes as no surprise that constipation can make little ones miserable. Younger children experiencing constipation may not fully understand why they are in discomfort or pain. This can lead to them becoming grumpy, having trouble sleeping, and struggling to explain why they are feeling uncomfortable. A recent poll of over 1,000 parents for Docusol Paediatric found that two-thirds of parents (66%) report their child getting grumpy when constipated, leaving half (50%) of parents feeling helpless and unsure of what to do. So, what can we do to help our kids feel more comfortable and have more regular bowel movements?

Is it common for children to be constipated?

Pharmacist Sultan Dajani, advisor to Docusol Paediatric, commented, “We assume that emptying our bowels should just happen as a normal bodily function; an instinct. Right? We don’t have to teach newborn babies how to empty their bowels – they just do it. Yet, constipation in children is incredibly common.

“It’s estimated that around one in every seven adults and up to one in every three children in the UK has constipation at any one time. Three-quarters of parents polled say their child has had constipation at some point. Almost four in 10 (39%) of parents say their child has experienced constipation two to three times in the last year, while more than a quarter (28%) say it’s happened seven times or more. The knock-on psychological and emotional effects are often underappreciated.”

So, why is it so common for children to be constipated, how can we recognise the signs, and what can we do to help?

Why do children get constipated?

Children can become constipated for a wide variety of reasons. Common causes can include:

  • Being early on in the toilet training process (which can mean: children ignore, resist, or don’t recognise the urge to use the toilet; feels pressured; or may be interrupted when trying to go).
  • Changes in diet. This can include when weaning, trying new foods, going through a ‘fussy eating’ stage, or starting at a new school or nursery.
  • Not eating enough high-fibre foods (including fruits, vegetables, whole grain cereals or breads).
  • Routine or big life changes, such as starting at nursery, reception, or a new school; moving house, or having a new sibling, can cause feelings of anxiety, worry, or stress, which can lead to constipation.
  • Not drinking enough fluids (which can lead to dehydration).

When children get constipated, they can find it painful to poo. This can lead to them trying not to poo or ‘holding it in’, which c

Could a change of air really be the key to better wellbeing?

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A wellbeing ritual favoured by the Victorians might just be the answer to our 21st-century ‘nervous ailments’...

Could a change of air really be the key to better wellbeing?

I daydream, sometimes, about the sea. It’s not far from my house, but always feels like it’s somewhere foreign and exhilarating whenever I act on the urge to hear the waves crashing. Just being able to see the horizon, and take in the shifting shades of blue, grey, and green, brings me a calmness. It restores me, even if for just a few moments before the children’s demands for ice cream, chips, or a toilet visit bring me back to reality.

A close friend and I donned every layer we owned and wrapped our young daughters up to collect pebbles on the beach all through last winter. We couldn’t feel our noses or toes in the bitter, salty air, but we breathed it in and came back to our cars with burning cheeks, tired babies, and soaring souls. School and work have kicked in now, and so our trips are sporadic. But we reminisce and talk about why we needed it at that time. As my friend said: “I wanted to be witness to something that was bigger than me – the sea – and to gain perspective after an overwhelming period of our lives.”

The restorative virtues of the seaside have been praised for years, even before the mid-1800s when the first trains trundled from smoky London to the open horizons and pebbly beaches at Brighton. It was a whole century before this that the concept of moving from one place to another for your health had started gaining traction in Europe, where a ‘change of air’ was prescribed for patients suffering from ‘nervous ailments’.

By the Victorian era, the idea was widely accepted, and different locations gained favour for the treatment of different illnesses. These were both physical and mental maladies, including the illnesses collectively called consumption, of which tuberculosis was one of the most deadly. Trips to the Alps, though, for its clean, crisp air would only have been possible for the wealthy few.

There were, however, people trying to open up green spaces for everyone, as understanding deepened about the spread of diseases. Helen Antrobus is the assistant national curator for cultural landscapes at the National Trust. She explains: “It was generally understood that coal and smoke-filled air could be damaging to the lungs, and in the mid-19th century the belief that water-borne diseases, like cholera, were air-borne still prevailed. You can understand, then, why accessing clean air was so important. For the rich, accessing new climates abroad for health benefits was easily attainable, but not so much for those working and living in dire conditions.”

Could a change of air really be the key to better wellbeing?

The Public Parks movement – which regulated holidays for workers and cheap railways – as well as the work of Octavia Hill and the other co-founders of the National Trust, gave people access to green spaces, both nearby and beyond. Helen adds that Octavia Hill advocated for pockets of green space, playgrounds for her tenants, and outdoor ‘living rooms’ for the urban poor.

This was a time when factories belched pollution above cramped, cobbled streets, and so a ‘change of air’ for the majority meant seeking out

What is sleep tourism?

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With one in eight of us feeling tired all the time, could sleep tourism help us feel more rested and relaxed? Or is it just another wellness trend to get us to book a new kind of vacation?

What is sleep tourism?

As a nation, we are tired. According to YouGov, one in four of us feels tired most of the time, while one in eight feels tired all the time. In fact, we’re so tired that two in five of us would rather sleep more than spend time with our families. It’s no wonder that so many of us are willing to try anything to get a better night’s sleep.

What is sleep tourism?

Sleep tourism refers to any kind of holiday with programmes focused on getting a good night’s sleep. Thought to be a top trend for 2023, the travel industry has reported seeing more sleep-related services appearing on hotel and tourism-related websites and packages. Designed to promote restful sleep, relaxation, and overall wellbeing, you can even find specific ‘sleep retreats’ to help guide you towards improving the quality of your sleep.

Why are we focusing our holidays around sleep?

While the thought of building a vacation around rest and relaxation seems natural, the idea of going on holiday to sleep more can seem a little strange. But sleep expert and CEO at MatressNextDay Martin Seely thinks we could all benefit from trying a sleep retreat.

“Going on a sleep retreat could benefit anyone. This is because sleep is essential for many, many reasons. Sleep helps us learn new information and consolidate memories. There’s also evidence that lack of sleep can make you more prone to depression or anxiety by affecting your moods and emotions, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH)”.

While the reasons why we may feel the need to seek help to get a better night’s sleep can vary, Martin explains that there are often common themes. “Many people have trouble falling asleep at night because their minds are racing with thoughts about work or life in general. Others have trouble staying asleep due to stress or anxiety about what tomorrow may bring.”

By taking a break from our normal routines, we may be able to help break the cycle of bad quality sleep (and our anxiety surrounding it), helping us to reset and gain a better night's rest.

Counselling Directory member and therapist, Nicole Grilo, (MBPsS, MBACP, FDAP) explains more about the benefits of sleep and how it can be seen as a superpower linked with better health outcomes.

“Sleep is so beneficial and essential, as it facilitates body restoration and repair. Sleeping heals our body and is what [we need] after a day of movement or exercise. Give yourself at least nine hours in bed. Stay away from coffee and sugar at the end of the day. Give yourself time to wind down [and] keep a consistent routine.”

What to expect from a sleep-focused retreat

If you’re considering building a holiday around improving your sleeping patterns and overall feelings of rest and relaxatio

Understanding the decline in queer spaces and why they are worth saving

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Queer spaces are vital hubs for LGBTQIA+ people, combatting loneliness and deepening connections, so what’s behind the decline in their numbers? Alessandra Vescio takes a closer look

Understanding the decline in queer spaces and why they are worth saving

When talking about the experience of queer people, it is very common for the word ‘community’ to come up. LGBTQIA+ people themselves often recognise that they are part of a community, a large group made up of different lives, stories, backgrounds, who share the identity of being queer, and what this means and brings with it.

The long journey of figuring out who we are is something unique to the queer community, and although every life is different, there are some very common patterns for LGBTQIA+ people, such as the importance of ‘coming out’ and living our true selves. All of this can be very isolating, especially at the intersection of identities such as race and disability.

According to a 2022 government report, queer people are more likely to feel lonely than their non-queer peers. In particular, gay or lesbian and bisexual participants were 1.4 and 2.5 times more likely to experience loneliness, respectively. Furthermore, transgender people, and trans women in particular, experience high levels of social loneliness. Also, older LGBTQIA+ people are more likely to live alone and to not see their biological family compared to non-queer people, and LGBTQIA+ pupils are more likely to have fewer friends and a smaller group of friends than non-LGBTQIA+ pupils.

Isolation and loneliness amongst adolescents are on the rise, and the pandemic has taken its toll on young LGBT+ persons’ mental health,” says Lukasz Konieczka, executive director at Mosaic LGBT+ Young Persons’ Trust. “A young, queer person can attend a school of 2,000 students and feel like they are the only one who is queer at the best of times, but often also face hostility aimed at them directly or at someone else within the school of broader society.”

Understanding the decline in queer spaces and why they are worth saving

Nevertheless, being queer doesn’t mean being alone. There are thousands of people out there who share similar experiences, and who long for meaningful and trusting connections. And this is why queer spaces are so absolutely vital.

Over the years, they have played an essential role in raising awareness, fighting for LGBTQIA+ rights, and helping queer people make new connections and find a new family, especially for those who were rejected by their biological ones. A queer space can be a café, a bookshop, a bar, a club, a restaurant, a community centre that organises meetings, workshops, events, and parties – or that simply welcomes queer people who want to have fun with others who understand them.

But, despite their importance, queer spaces are on the verge of disappearing, and although the pandemic has made the situation worse, these venues have been at risk for a long time. For example, 58% of LGBTQIA+ venues in London closed their doors between 2006 and 2017, while in the US there are fewer than 25 lesbian bars compared to the 200 that were open in the 1980s.

There are many reasons behind this decline. For instance, dating apps now play an importan

10 terrific things to try in March to benefit your wellbeing

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From a book that will reignite your creativity to an outdoor activity made for moments of reflection, try something new with our enriching suggestions

1. Page-turners

10 terrific things to try in March to benefit your wellbeing

My Year In Small Drawings: Notice, Draw, Appreciate by Matilda Tristram

If you’re seeking a new creative outlet, this wonderfully visual diary is a fantastic place to start. From trees to objects in the window, get drawing little-by-little with Matilda Tristram’s sketching prompts, designed to help you find a moment of relaxation throughout the year.

(Out now, £10.99)

2. Out and about

Go for a gratitude walk

When life gets busy, it can be difficult to make time to recognise the things that make you happy, but going on a gratitude walk can be an effective solution. Use your daily walk to think about what you’re thankful for, or use prompts from a gratitude scavenger hunt to help you better understand yourself. For example, pick up something along the way that makes you thankful, or find one thing that you love to smell.

3. Act of kindness

Donate a letter

There’s no denying that one letter can make someone’s day – especially for those who are going through a difficult time and living with cancer. By donating a letter through the charity ‘From Me to You’, you’ll be helping someone feel less alone on their journey. So if you want to put pen to paper and spread a little bit of kindness, sign up today.

10 terrific things to try in March to benefit your wellbeing


4. Lend us your ears

‘Radio Lento’

‘Radio Lento’ is a must for anyone who enjoys listening to the sound of birds tweeting in the morning, crashing coastal waves, or falling rain. Bring the outside in and be transported to a moment of solitude with these un-edited soothing soundscapes from around the UK. What are you waiting for? And relax…

(Available on some podcast platforms)

5. Plugged-In

Dr Justin Puder

Dr Justin Puder is a therapist and psychologist who uses funny and informative TikTok videos to educate his viewers on mental health, in the hope of reducing the stigma and helping people along the way. Whether you want to learn more, or you just fancy a relatable chuckle, give him a follow!

(@amoderntherapist on TikTok)


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