Emotional consent to vent: 5 things to consider before offloading to friends

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Before you unload your worries onto a friend or loved one, take a moment to think about these five things

Emotional consent to vent: 5 things to consider before offloading to friends

As a mental health blogger who often listens to people vent, I wish more people checked in with me first. Because, even though I encourage those with mental health struggles to reach out, there are times when I am emotionally unavailable. When I’m overwhelmed by my own issues, I cannot help anyone else – and this is something that many of us will be familiar with.

Talking about your problems with a troubled confidante may not always give you the insight or advice you’re looking for, but it will almost certainly add to their mental burden. So, here are some simple, organic ways to ask your go-to listener for their emotional consent before you vent.

1. Ask them how they are

Before you offload your worries onto someone, it is essential to know if they are in a reasonably alright physical and mental state. When you vent as soon as you begin your conversation, you do not give your listener the option to say no if they need to.

According to psychologist Tania Diaz, ‘emotional consent’ is the act of responsibly asking for permission to share an emotionally charged experience with another individual. In accordance with that, it is crucial to enquire about their wellbeing before you do so.

2. Keep it simple

Once you know that they are indeed fine, it’s time to ask for emotional consent. If you are worried about doing it without sounding awkward, don’t worry.

Tania says: “It is not what you say that influences the tone of the dialogue, but how you say it. Using your own words will help you keep it simple and authentic. For example, ‘Hey do you have a moment for me to run something by you; I’m sort of in a funk. If not now, let me know when it’s a good time to talk.’ See? You don’t have to use any jargon. While it may feel strange to ask for permission, your loved one will feel respected. Over time, it will feel more natural and help to build a healthy relationship.”

3. Use trigger warnings

After they have consented to a conversation, give the listener an idea of the subject of your problem(s). Tania believes that this is important not only for the listener, but also for you.

She explains: “A trigger warning is imperative, as your friend may not have recovered from past injuries. They may be still recovering from their emotional wounds. One can hold space for someone only when they have the emotional capacity to do so. Not giving a warning to your ventee can be considered short-sighted, irresponsible, and selfish. Done repeatedly, it can strain your relationship.”

4. Exercise discretion and respect boundaries

Even after getting consent, use your judgment. For example, if the listener has recently ended a long-term relationship and the venter wants relationship advice, should you approach them in the first place? Would it be better to vent to someone else? Another thing to keep in mind is boundaries.

Even if you have a green flag to talk about what is on your mind, respect boundaries. If you aren’t sure of what they are, ask without hesitation. Make sure you

Grace Victory's top tips on how to take the stress out of travelling with toddlers

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We all could do with a good break, but holidaying with little ones can be a challenge in itself. So, if the thought of some time away with a toddler is leaving you stressed, our columnist Grace Victory is here to share some first-hand tips and relatable advice to help you enjoy making some magical memories together

Grace Victory's top tips on how to take the stress out of travelling with toddlers

Ah, the sheer joy (and chaos) of going on holiday with your toddler. As a family, we just got back from our first sunny holiday to Turkey and, after not travelling for two years, it was bloody wonderful to put our toes in the sea, eat Lays with a Fanta on the balcony, and chase our little boy around a pool all day, because he’s a lightning-speed crawler!

Going on holiday with children is a completely different experience, and one that you have to embrace and surrender to. You won’t necessarily be able to sit on a lounger reading for hours, but making memories and showing them little corners of the world makes everything worthwhile.

Our trip was… intense! When people say “going on holiday is just parenting while being hot”, they are absolutely right. My partner and I had to tag-team mealtimes, de-escalate mini meltdowns in front of other holiday-goers, and, yes, there were moments we felt embarrassed and as if everyone must think we’re bad parents. Truth be told though, Cyprus found his voice on our holiday, and wanted to use it to shout at every opportunity – but that’s just kids, and while it can be hard when you feel like you can’t control a situation, it is absolutely normal for children to test your boundaries, even when you’re in paradise.

So, what I’m trying to say is going abroad with your little ones in tow is hard, but there are ways to manage, things I recommend for the plane, and little tips and tricks we did to minimise stress.

Grace Victory's top tips on how to take the stress out of travelling with toddlers

On the plane

Take lots of games and things to keep your kids entertained. Reusable sticker books, suction toys to stick on the window, their most loved book, and a tablet to watch their favourite shows (remember to download episodes at home so they can watch without WiFi).

I also recommend snacks upon snacks upon snacks. When you think you’ve packed enough snacks, pack more. I opted for crisps, cut up pieces of fruit, and then some trusty Ella’s Kitchen pouches. And we fed our little boy a proper meal before the flight to make sure he was full enough for the four hours we were in the air.

Use packing cubes for your hand luggage to separate changing stuff, feeding stuff, important documents etc., so you have easy access to things! Don’t forget to pack spare outfits for both your kids and you in case any accidents occur. There is nothing worse than being covered in sick, and you haven’t packed a fresh pair of leggings.

On holiday

It goes without saying that children shouldn’t be in the sun for long periods of time, so taking a UV pop-up tent with you is a great idea! You can

5 science-backed tips to boost your endorphins

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Lift your mood with these proven positive pointers

5 science-backed tips to boost your endorphins

A group of hormones that have a number of physiological functions, endorphins are responsible for triggering positive feelings in the body, as well as being the body’s natural painkillers.

There are many ways that we can trigger the release of endorphins, and we’ve rounded up five science-backed tips:

Laughter

When we laugh, we take in a load of oxygen-rich air, which stimulates our hearts, lungs, and muscles, and, in turn, triggers the release of endorphins into the body. So, this is your sign to put on a comedy, or spend some time with that person who tickles your funny bone. But remember, our brain can’t tell the difference between fake and real laughter, which is why ‘laughter yoga’ is a popular option. Head to laughteryoga.org for free sessions.

Spicy food

Rationally, we shouldn’t really enjoy eating spicy food, should we? The burning sensation isn’t objectively pleasant, but scientists think they understand why we persevere, and it’s all to do with endorphins. Scientists believe that, when we eat spicy food, our body is fooled into thinking that we are hurting ourselves. Cue the endorphins.

Sex

During sex, the pituitury glad is activated, leading to the release of endorphins, as well as fellow hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, which come together to reduce pain, and boost intimacy and bonding. What’s more, several areas of the brain that are responsible for pain are also active during orgasm. Why? We’re not quite sure, but the endorphin effect can help to explain why some sexual activities that might not be so appealing usually – such as hair-pulling and bites – have a whole different effect during sex.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is the traditional Chinese practice where the therapist inserts fine needles into the skin at certain points on the body (called ‘acupoints’). Acupuncture is often said to help with pain relief and relaxation, and can you guess which brain chemical is involved with that feeling? You got it, endorphins. Most studies into the long-lasting effect of acupuncture have been relatively small, and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence only recommends it for specific complaints – but it is sometimes available on the NHS.

Dancing

Most forms of exercise are a reliable way to boost your endorphin levels, but there’s something special about dancing. In a study, researchers from the University of York and Sheffield had participants choose to either sit and listen to music, exercise on a stationary bike, or dance for five minutes. What they found was that dance releases more endorphins than typical aerobic movement – plus, it also comes with a whole host of other emotional releases that other forms of exercise don’t. Is it time to turn up the tunes?


Mr. Men Little Miss launch book series exploring kid’s emotional wellbeing

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The new titles in the classic series focus on emotional wellbeing, getting the conversation started early, and helping the next generation to flourish

Mr. Men Little Miss launch book series exploring kid’s emotional wellbeing

The Mr. Men and Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves have been staples in the lives of children for generations, and their colourful pages have made their way onto many a childhood bookshelf.

But, now, a new Mr. Men Little Miss series is launching, and 10 books that focus on exploring emotional wellbeing are hitting the shelves. The Discover You series has been created to help kids address their emotions, and work through feelings, and has been designed to be used as a tool to help parents explore these topics with their children.

Titles in the series include: Try Again – a book about resilience; Be Kind – a book about kindness; Worries – a book about feeling anxious; and All Different – a book celebrating diversity.

Each book works through its topic in the classic Mr. Men Little Miss style. Worries, for example, tells the story of Mr Worry, who worries about everything – sometimes, it starts with a funny feeling in his tummy. As Mr Calm and Little Miss Sunshine help him to ease his worries, the story prompts conversations about the worries that we all feel, how they make us feel, and the things that we can do to ease them.

Mr. Men Little Miss launch book series exploring kid’s emotional wellbeing

The new release comes at a time when a report from the NHS saw the rates of probable mental disorder have increased from 2017 from one in nine to one in six. With much evidence pointing to the impact of Covid-19 and lockdown for this increase.

Books and reading have long been celebrated for their ability to build comprehension skills, but also emotional intelligence, and to support wellbeing. In fact, research from the National Literacy Trust found that children and young people who like to read are three times more likely to have better mental health than those who don’t. Beyond that, regularly reading to a child can strengthen the bond between parents and children, creating a supportive and open home environment.

When it comes to facing mental health and wellbeing topics head-on, it can be difficult to know how to explain such complex subjects to children. But, as Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, a children’s clinical psychologist working with Mr. Men Little Miss, explains, it's worth pushing through the challenges.

“Through my 20 years experience, I’ve learnt how tough it is for children to understand emotions and personality traits and how difficult it can be for parents and children to talk about these complex ideas,” Dr Kilbey says. “Even though it is really tough, it is vitally important we get this right for them. That’s why I’m working with Mr. Men Little Miss to launch their new Discover You book series. The stories bring to life a range of different emotions and feelings to help children understand what it means to be happy, sad and everything in between.”

Beyond the new book released, Dr Kilbey also shares further tips for parents, and free resources to help young children explore their emotions at Read more

Could constipation be contributing to weight gain?

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Throughout our lives, our weight fluctuates. For those wanting to lose weight, seeing that number on the scales up from the week before can be disheartening, but it’s important to remember that that number measures more than just muscle and fat. So, what else could be contributing to our weight?

Could constipation be contributing to weight gain?

Our weight oscillates month by month, day by day, and even hour by hour, and changes in fat are rarely the cause. In fact, our weight is also a measure of our bones, organs, bodily fluids, and waste. So, if you’re constipated, your weight is likely to go up until your body releases everything that’s causing you to be ‘backed up’.

Does constipation cause weight gain?

In short, yes and no. Constipation and weight gain are linked, as factors contributing to constipation, bloating and fullness can cause weight gain, but constipation itself is only likely to cause an increase in weight in the short term (a matter of a few hundred grams per day) until your constipation eases.

Culprits causing constipation, such as a lack of hydration, poor diet, and lack of exercise can contribute to your weight. These can cause your metabolism to slow, meaning you could gain weight quicker.


How can we prevent constipation?

Keep hydrated

Make sure to drink plenty of water each day. Water increases the softness of stool, so the less hydrated you are, the harder your stools can be, resulting in constipation. If you’re not a fan of water, try adding some fruit, and if keeping tabs on how much you’re drinking is a problem, try pre-measured bottles. It’s also recommended to stay clear of soft drinks.

Increase fiber

Increasing your fiber intake is a natural way to ease constipation, gas, and bloating. Fibre works by cleansing the colon and moving waste through your digestive system. A lack of fiber can slow your digestion down, leaving you ‘backed up’ for longer. Aim to get around 30 grams of fiber into your body per day.

Here are some foods that increase fiber:

  • wholewheat cereal (such as Weetabix)
  • wholegrain cereal (such as Shredded wheat)
  • porridge oats
  • wholemeal and granary bread
  • wholewheat pasta
  • bulgar grains
  • pulses, such as beans and lentils
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • unsalted nuts and seeds

Stay active

Muscle tone, particularly those in the diaphragm and abdomen, is crucial in the process of going to the toilet. Spending long periods of time sitting can slow digestion and cause constipation, so in order to ease bloating, try to keep things moving. As guidance, adults should aim to do around 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week, such as walking or cycling.


When does constipation become a concern?

If you’re noticing that you are frequently constipated, bloated or full, there could be an underlying issue that might be contributing to weight gain. If you have tried to self-remedy your constipation with limited success, it’s important to speak to your doctor or another medical professional to determine if it’s being caused by something else.

Some possible causes

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