How fossil hunting can help you find your mindful moment

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Pursue a piece of history as you focus on the present and explore the outdoors with this thought-provoking pastime

How fossil hunting can help you find your mindful moment

A fantastically fun activity to indulge your curiosity and unleash your inner Indiana Jones, embrace the outdoors next time you’re at the coast, and spend some time scavenging for timeless treasures.

A snapshot of life, typically thousands of years old, fossils are often found in sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, limestone, and shale – or sometimes even slate. They are formed when sediment falls over the remains of organisms, as the layers build and compact over years, it forms solid rock that preserves them.

You can hunt for fossils at any time of year, but you’re most likely to be successful over the winter and spring months, due to more bracing weather eroding the rock formations around the coastline. And while you’re out breathing the fresh air, completely focusing on the task at hand, you can just ‘be’ in the present, and allow the stresses and pressures of normal life to leave you in peace for a short while.

Ready to try fossil hunting for yourself?

Things to look for:

  • Focus on the details. See if patterns, marks, or regular lines in rocks catch your eye.

  • Wet stones often highlight the marks of fossils better, so they’re easier to spot. So it can be helpful to watch for clusters of rocks by the water’s edge.

  • You might not always find a ‘complete’ fossil – some might be partial, or the edge of one, so ensure you’re not overlooking these fascinating finds as well.

Some of the more common fossil types to spot are:

Ammonites

Probably what you instantly picture when you think of a ‘fossil’, ammonites are historic sea predators that resemble coiled snail shells. They were similar to squid creatures, and can often be found in Dorset.

Shark teeth

It’s reported that these are often found on the Essex coast, and some can be as large as your hand!

Sea urchins

These could be up to 450 million years old, and can range in size from similar to a Brussels sprout, right up to a grapefruit. They are some of the more common fossils, but can be hard to spot.

Gryphaea (Devil’s Toenails)

Originating from oysters, these fossils have a claw-like appearance, and are often found off the coast of Yorkshire.


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TOP TIPS

1. Do a little research before your trip, to ensure you have any necessary permissions before visiting a location.

2. Look up the tide schedule ahead of fossil hunting.

3. Always stay safe and be aware of your surroundings (water, cliffs, loose rocks).

4. Respect your surroundings and ensure you cause as minimal impact to the environment as possible. You don’t have to take everything you find!

5. Find something really special? You might want to report it for official records to a local museum or an online fossil hunting site.

What is Alice in Wonderland syndrome and how can we find support?

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We all struggle with body image from time to time. But what if your actual perception of how you (and things around you) look is being affected? We explain more about Alice in Wonderland syndrome, how it affects different people, and where you can find help to stop from falling down this rabbit hole

What is Alice in Wonderland syndrome and how can we find support?

It can be hard to remember sometimes, but we each perceive the world in our own unique way. While some differences are more common – we’ve all heard of colour blindness – others can occur much less frequently.

Despite the whimsical name, Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AWS), also known as Todd’s syndrome, is a rare neurological disorder. First discovered in the 1950s by British psychiatrist Dr John Todd, and named because its symptoms resemble experiences that happened to Alice in Lewis Carroll’s famous novel, the syndrome can cause temporary changes in your visual perception, body image, and how you experience time. It can lead people to feel like they are physically larger or smaller than they really are, or that the furniture or room around them is shifting to become nearer or further away.

Mostly found in children, there’s still a lot we don’t know about this rare neurological disorder, why it happens, or what we can do to fix it. But, as with most wellbeing-related matters, with awareness comes some relief in itself.

How does AWS affect people?

Alice in Wonderland syndrome can affect your vision, hearing, and touch, as well as your perception of time – making you think it is passing faster or slower. Exactly how it can affect you varies from person to person, as well as episode to episode.

Typically, these episodes can last anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour, and common symptoms you may experience include:

  • Migraines
  • Size, perceptual, sound, or time distortion
  • Loss of coordination or limb control

Some people also experience a feeling of disconnection from their body, thoughts, feelings, and/or environment, which can be unsettling.

While children and young adults are thought to experience it more often, some experts think that adults may actually experience AWS more than is reported. As we often see with mental health concerns, stigma could be playing a role here, causing people to not reach out due to worries about describing what they are seeing, and being afraid it might be mistaken for hallucinations, or dismissed completely.

What causes AWS?

The actual causes of Alice in Wonderland syndrome aren’t currently known. Some experts believe AWS may actually be an aura (an early sensory indication of a migraine), or a rare type of migraine in and of itself. Other researchers believe it could be caused by head trauma, infections, or unusual electrical activity in the brain affecting blood flow to the parts of your brain that process your environment and visual perceptions.

Other possible causes are thought to be stress, epilepsy, stroke, brain tumour, or cough medicine. Those with a family history of AWS or migraines&

Communication delays in children: supportive advice and guidance for parents

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With good communication important to so many aspects of a life, parenting a child who finds this tricky can be a real challenge. Mum of one Jenna Farmer, whose son has a speech delay, discusses the rise in children who have speech and communication issues, and how families can best support them to help them thrive

Communication delays in children: supportive advice and guidance for parents

Whether it’s the first time you hear ‘mama’, or perhaps a shrill ‘NO!’, the memories made when your child begins to talk can be really exciting. But, for some parents, these milestones can take much longer to happen. If you’re concerned about your child’s speech and communication development, then you might have already spent some time on Google. But what does it actually mean, and how can you get the right support for your child? As a mum to a three-year-old who is speech delayed, I chat to the experts about the rise in children who need some help communicating.

What is speech and communication delay?

Speech and communication delay is a broad term that covers a range of different causes for why your child’s speech and communication skills may be late to emerge.

The term ‘delay’ can sound scary, but it’s really just a way for you to understand if your child needs a helping hand. What’s ‘normal’ can really vary, but there are a few key things to look out for which may help you figure out if your child might need support.

Speech therapist Joanne Jones explains: “In general, we advise reaching out to access support if you have an 18-month-old who isn’t babbling, or isn’t trying to get their message across; a two-year-old who isn’t putting words together; or a three-year-old who isn’t yet able to have a two-way conversation or tell you about their day.” If any of these scenarios sound familiar to you, having a chat with your health visitor could be a good idea.

Why might a child experience speech and communication delays?

This current generation of school and nursery starters have experienced part of their lives in lockdown, and recent Ofsted reports have found the Covid pandemic could definitely impact key communication skills, with half of four-year-olds not ready for school. In fact, a survey from Kindred2 revealed that 91% of teachers say at least one child in their class does not have basic language skills.

It’s reassuring to hear I’m not the only one experiencing this as a parent. But why has it had such an impact?

“There’s definitely more children having difficulties right now – schools and nurseries that I attend have said they would previously have one or two children in their class with significant communication delays, and now it’s more like five or six. This definitely is partly due to lockdown, but from talking to parents, they were finding it very difficult to access early support during this time too,” says Joanne Jones, who runs The Can-Do Bootcamp, a support group for parents who are often waiting to access NHS therapy.

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20 ‘and/but’ statements to immediately halt negative thought spirals

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'And/but' statements are designed to help you reframe your feelings, and take an objective, practical approach to problems. Here, we’re sharing 20 examples

20 ‘and/but’ statements to immediately halt negative thought spirals

Two things can be true at once. It sounds like a basic concept, but it’s something that can often go out the window during times of stress and self-deprecation. For example, have you ever made a mistake and spiralled into a negative thought cycle before, ultimately, concluding that you’re a bad and undeserving person? If so, ‘and/but’ statements could be the tool that you’re looking for.

These statements are designed to help you recognise that we are not our negative thoughts, we are not our mistakes or our shortcomings. We are complex people, with perfectly reasonable needs, reactions, and emotions. To create them, you simply make a statement that sums up the problem and then add ‘and’ or ‘but’ to qualify it with a second that puts it into perspective or offers some reassurance. They can also function as affirmations, reminding you of a truth, belief, or value you have.

Once you’ve got your head around how to formulate them, you’ll likely want to start creating ‘and/but’ statements that are unique to your own situation, and your specific needs. But, here, we’ve gathered together examples for a range of scenarios, each designed to ground you during moments of heightened emotions.

Workplace

‘I am a valued member of the team, and I do not need to take on every project.’
‘I made a mistake, but that doesn’t mean I’m bad at my job.’
‘I am dedicated to my job, and I also need to rest.’
‘I get nervous before meetings, but I’m still in control.’
‘I am capable and knowledgeable, and sometimes I need support.’

Parenting

‘I enjoy being with my family, and sometimes I need a break.’
‘I sometimes feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, but I can ask for help.’
‘I feel others judge me, but I can set boundaries if I need to.’
‘I feel guilty when I can’t balance everything, but I’m trying my best.’
‘I am a capable and confident parent, and sometimes I need support from others.’

Relationships

‘I love spending time with my partner, and I love time alone.’
‘We don’t always have to agree, but we always respect each other.’
‘My relationship uplifts me, but I’m still my own person.’
‘I feel frustrated by their actions, and we can come to a resolution.’
‘I am devoted to my relationship, and I make time to pursue my interests.’

Emotions

‘I experience strong feelings, but I am in control.’
‘I feel negative emotions, and that’s OK and normal.’
‘I feel overwhelmed, but I can take a step back if I need to.’
‘My emotions are real and valid, but they won’t last forever.’
‘Sometimes things go wrong, and I am working on myself.’


Interested in working with a counsellor? Connect with a professional using the Read more

The new office working week: The pros and cons of remote working

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As we reflect on 2022, we take a look at the new office working week and the benefits that coaching brings for those working remotely

The new office working week: The pros and cons of remote working

Since the pandemic, the way we work has changed dramatically. With the majority of businesses and employees forced to operate remotely, we’ve seen a shift in attitudes toward working from home and its benefits, both for business and employee wellbeing. And it’s fair to say that things have changed a lot over the last few years here at Happiful, too.

As we enter a new year and look back at 2022, one trend that stands out is the idea of the ‘new office working week’, but what exactly is it? Recent research has revealed that a typical working week in the office now runs from Tuesday to Thursday, with many of us opting to work from the comfort of our own homes on a Monday and Friday - perhaps in an attempt to drag our weekends out for as long as possible.

With just 13% of people heading to the office for the last working day of the week, it’s clear that Thursday has become the new Friday, but what impact does this have on our wellbeing, and is it here to stay?

Aside from the obvious benefits like saving money on transport, whether that’s on fuel or train fares (this being particularly valuable in the current cost of living climate), there are a number of wellness and business benefits to hybrid working. It’s worth noting, however, that this approach to work doesn’t suit everyone, nor is it practical for all professions.

Let's take a look at some of the advantages of working from home:

Increased productivity

Whilst some people can struggle to find the motivation to work from home, for many, it can actually increase productivity as there are fewer distractions from the often trivial office matters. Home working means we can have total peace and quiet so that we can really focus and be present with our work. To add, many businesses are now adopting ‘flexible hours’, meaning you can work at times that best suit you and when you’re most productive.

Work/life balance

For those of us trying to balance work with busy family life, remote working gives us that extra chunk of valuable time that we’d typically spend commuting to be with our loved ones. What’s more, it allows more time to get things done around the home, attend appointments, etc. meaning you can really relax into your evening and recharge, ready for the following day.

The added ability for employees to have more autonomy and freedom in deciding how they plan their working day creates more trust between them and their employers, increasing job satisfaction.

Lessening your carbon footprint

Not only does hybrid or fully remote working cut down on transportation costs, but it also reduces your carbon footprint. Whilst doing your bit to help the environment, you’re also contributing towards a greener future.

Employee engagement

The global media company,

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