10 fun things to do in July to benefit your wellbeing

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From optical illusion cake videos to a virtual challenge across the UK, and a film that’ll inspire you to chase your dreams, try something new with our enriching suggestions

1. Page-turners

10 fun things to do in July to benefit your wellbeing

Great TED Talks: Creativity by Tom May

Never underestimate the power of a TED Talk, especially when you can access 100 of them right at your fingertips! Packed with motivational advice and lessons from TED speakers worldwide, this handy guide will inspire you to unleash your creativity and unlock your full potential.

(Portico, £9.99)

2. Out and about

Land’s End to John O’Groats Virtual Challenge

To conquer this virtual challenge, you must walk or run 874 miles, which is the same as the distance from the bottom to the top of the UK. You can track your progress and stop at any time, but what better way to motivate yourself than knowing you are planting trees as you progress? Not only that, but when you reach 50% of the way, a meal is donated to someone in need.

(Visit endtoend.run for more information)

3. Act of kindness

Thank someone every week

We often underestimate the power of a simple ‘thank you’. We might think we’re showing our appreciation through our actions, but how often do we actually say it? Show your gratitude to your loved ones by simply writing a thank you note, or sending a text. Not only will it make them feel appreciated by you, you’ll also feel great for doing it.

10 fun things to do in July to benefit your wellbeing

4. Lend us your ears

‘Griefcast’ with Cariad Lloyd

Coping with the loss of a loved one is one of life’s biggest challenges. While healing can take a long time, this down-to-earth podcast is here to help ease the process of your grieving journey. Caraid Lloyd invites well-known comedians and other guests to talk openly about their experience with grief, and provides comfort in a time of need.

(Available on all podcast platforms)

5. Plugged-in

The BakeKing

Award-winning cake artist Ben Cullen deliciously turns cake into everyday objects and food – and we can’t get enough of it. His lighthearted video content creates a recipe for visual trickery, and has us screaming at our phones while we watch him bite into a milk bottle or raw potato that is actually (yep, you guessed it) made out of cake.

(Follow @thebakeking on TikTok)

@thebakeking

If you look hard enough, There’s always Cake 😂

The baby pinks: What is postpartum euphoria?

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We’ve all heard of the baby blues. But do you know the warning signs of the baby pinks?

The baby pinks: What is postpartum euphoria?

Welcoming a new baby into the world is a life-changing time. Emotions running high, excitement abounds, anticipation at the new, tiny person who will be joining your family. Yet for many of us, the journey isn’t without its challenges.

Most of us who have given birth will have been warned about the baby blues. According to the UK National Screening Committee, as many as eight in 10 women experience the baby blues following the birth of their child, while it’s thought around 30% of new parents will experience postpartum depression.

What are the baby blues? Everything you need to know

Typically lasting up to two weeks, most of us will experience a mild case of the baby blues. We may feel emotional, irrational or overwhelmed. We may get tearful, irritable, or moody, or feel down or anxious without knowing why. While the exact cause of the baby blues isn’t known, it’s thought that the rapidly changing hormone levels following birth, combined with the lack of sleep and increased pressure at looking after a newborn baby may be significant contributing factors.

For most people who give birth, symptoms will pass within a few days. Having the support of friends and family can help some people, giving them the chance to talk over how they are feeling. For others, putting a temporary ban on new visitors can be more helpful, so they can feel like they have breathing space to bond with their baby without feeling overwhelmed.

If your symptoms begin to get worse, you start to have thoughts about harming yourself or your baby, or your symptoms don’t begin to ease after two weeks, it could be a sign of postpartum depression. Speaking with your midwife if you haven’t yet been discharged, your health visitor, or GP should be the next step towards finding the right kind of help for you. If you’re worried about your or your baby’s safety, seek help immediately.

But what about the baby pinks? What are they, how do they affect those who have given birth, and do you need to seek help if you’re showing signs?

What are the baby pinks?

Also known as postpartum euphoria and postpartum hypomania, around one in 10 women and people who give birth will experience the baby pinks. When people talk about the baby pinks, they are referring to feelings of extreme euphoria or mild mania experienced by some people who have given birth. You may feel like you are overly full of energy, or like you don’t need to sleep. Others may notice that you are talking too fast, aren’t able to consentrate, or your behaviour seems impulsive or otherwise unusual.

While the effects of the baby pinks can last for around six to eight weeks, some may experience it for a week or two. Counsellor and midwife Samantha Phillis explains more about the baby blues and baby pinks.

Learn how to embark on your healing journey and welcome the new you

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We all deserve to embark on those first steps towards healing, but what does that look like in reality, and how can we learn to enjoy the ride?

Learn how to embark on your healing journey and welcome the new you

Many of us are on a journey towards healing and self-transformation. It might be following trauma, periods of ill-health, the end of a relationship, abuse, burnout, bereavement – or, perhaps, simply because we want to be better versions of ourselves.

And change can happen. In fact, research published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin explored how most of us would like to change ourselves in some way, and that people who were able to do so, in ways that aligned with their desires, tended to experience increases in wellbeing over time as a result.

Of course, though a hopeful reminder, those data-backed conclusions don’t completely capture the full picture of the healing journey – the good days and the bad days, the hurdles and uphill struggles – let alone the fact that healing is about so, so much more than just changing ‘something’ about yourself; it’s about tending to emotional wounds, unlearning unhelpful thought-patterns, grieving, forgiving, and learning. So, what can we do to make it a positive and successful experience?

Bon voyage

Say you’re at the start of your healing journey, what are some common misconceptions that can hold you back? We put this to Dr Liz Sparkes, a health psychologist and life coach, and she answers by looking inwards.

“I suppose the best way to address this is to reflect on my own misconceptions that I have become aware of,” she says. “It’s important to be gentle with yourself and there is no rush. Healing is most definitely not linear, and you haven’t failed if you find you are revisiting the same issues or feelings. As long as you have awareness and take steps forward each time, that’s progress.”

Treating yourself with kindness is more than just a pat on the back, it’s a whole shift in attitude, and it’s key to any journey with healing. But if ‘self-compassion’ feels out of reach for you sometimes, you can easily break it down into its practical elements. Self-compassion researcher Kristen Neff believes it has three main components:

1. Self-kindness, or having the ability to refrain from harsh criticism.
2. The ability to recognise your own humanity, or the fact that each of us is imperfect and each of us experiences pain.
3. The ability to maintain a sense of mindfulness or unbiased awareness of experiences, even if they are painful.

While you’re working on your healing, how does your attitude stack up against these principles? What do you do well, and what might you need to consider working on as you move forward?

Off-trail

“There is more than one route to the top of the mountain,” says Dr Sparkes. “It’s very empowering to realise that nobody else has the ultimate answers, they come from within.”

She goes on to highlight the ways that we can do everything ‘right’ – access the right support, the right guidance, the right environment for healing and development – but, ultimately, this journey is

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

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There’s more to beekeeping than just the yummy honey! Looking after the busy insects is good for the planet, can improve your mental wellbeing, and really boost your self-esteem. It’s time to uncover what all the buzz is about

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

My son announced recently, quite unexpectedly, that he wanted to buy some bees.

Now, while this might be considered strange bee-haviour, it is perfectly in-tune with his dream of living a happier, and altogether less stressful existence.

Plans to live in a van with his partner and two children have, for the time being anyway, come to naught, and so acquiring some bees is the latest stop on the road to a more sustainable, healthier, and better-balanced lifestyle.

At first, I must admit, I was a little sceptical, but with my interest piqued, I decided to delve a little deeper and it seems that working with bees, or apiculture to the initiated (the word is derived from the Latin apis meaning bee), really can improve your mental wellbeing and boost self-esteem.

Human interaction with wild bees can be traced back 10,000 years, while beekeeping began domestically in North Africa 9,000 years ago, with pottery vessels being used as crude hives.

Fast-forward to the 21st century, however, and bee numbers are declining rapidly. So much so that 20 May has been declared World Bee Day. Approved by the United Nations, the day offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the threats to bees caused by human activities.

You might have noticed that these last couple of years have been a bit difficult for us humans, too. In fact, 48% of UK adults say the pandemic has negatively affected their wellbeing. Getting outside, taking a moment, and really connecting with nature has become more important than ever.

Research into exactly how interacting with nature can positively affect our mental health is being conducted all the time, but repeated studies show that spending time in our natural surroundings can produce an inner peace and boost self-esteem, helping us to feel good about ourselves, and see things that may be troubling us in a different, more positive light. But what if you could do more than that? What if you could help nature while you were helping yourself, how good would that make you feel?

But why should I care about bees? I hear you ask. Well, according to Friends of the Earth, bees help produce around one-third of our food supply, provide us with half of the world’s fibres, oils, and other minerals, provide food for wildlife, aid us in developing medicines, and contribute to the prevention of soil erosion. Quite a list!

What's the buzz: the benefits of bees on our wellbeing and self-esteem

Catherine Howell is co-director of Barefoot Kitchen CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise based in Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire, that delivers “plot to plate projects for people, places and the planet”. She is passionate about creating beautiful spaces for others to enjoy, and is a keen advocate of community activism.

Catherine and her small team (who operate on a co-operative basis) deliver projects that link the outdoors with wellbeing, and were instrument

Monday morning affirmations to boost your week

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Mondays can be hard, so refocus your energy with these uplifting affirmations

Monday morning affirmations to boost your week

Mondays can be a drag. And when you’ve got an overwhelming, never-ending to-do list in front of you, the stresses of the week ahead are creeping up, and the thought of putting one foot in front of the other feels too much, it’s easy to be filled with Monday morning dread.

While we can’t actually take away the source of the dread – as much as we might want to – there are some tried and tested techniques for building up resilience, and affirmations top the list.

Affirmations are short, simple phrases that we can repeat to ourselves to ground us in the moment, and to remind ourselves of the strength we have inside. They can also prompt us to refocus our attention on the reality that we face, and are a helpful reminder of the ability that we each have to take some control back over our mindset.

These affirmations are designed to help build a sense of calm and reassurance, so that you can go on to face the day, and the week ahead, with confidence and resilience. Repeat them to yourself first thing in the morning, or whenever you need an extra boost. Each week brings new challenges our way, but by dedicating just a small amount of time to this simple practice, you could uncover the key to staying balanced.

  1. Today is a new day.

  2. I am committed to my personal growth.

  3. I am capable of tackling any obstacle.

  4. My thoughts do not control me, I control my thoughts.

  5. I am worthy of investing in myself.

  6. My feelings deserve to be recognised.

  7. I am the architect of my own life.

  8. I give myself permission to follow my dreams.

  9. I can deal with the hurdles that come my way.

  10. I am safe.

  11. I know what I am doing.

  12. I deserve respect.

  13. I recognise my achievements.

  14. My feelings are valid and I Iisten to them.

  15. I do not need to prove myself to anyone.

  16. I live in line with my values.

  17. I will take time to find joy in my day.

  18. I am calm.

  19. I will make time for myself when I need it.

  20. I will achieve my goals.


Need extra support? You might benefit from working with a life coach. Find out more, and connect with a professional using lifecoach-directory.org.uk

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