Spotlight on sleep: are you dreaming of a restful night?

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From a deep dive into what our dreams mean to creating the ultimate countdown to calm, it's time to revolutionise your slumber

Spotlight on sleep: are you dreaming of a restful night?

Hello Happiful readers,

I’ve noticed recently that I’m tired. In fact, dare I say it, I’m exhausted.

I’ve never really been a morning person; as a kid I was the night owl, reading under the covers with a torch until some ungodly hour, letting my imagination rule the night.

As adults, we don’t have that luxury. Our sleeping and waking schedules are determined by our responsibilities – what time our next shift starts, or the traffic on our commute, getting the kids ready for school, or caring for someone else. Suddenly we have to fit into an entirely new rhythm, one that our bodies and brains might not be geared up for.

Now, when I roll out of bed and start my day, getting some fresh air first thing helps, but still I often notice I’m lethargic by lunchtime. It’s almost like my body is ready for the day, but my mind needs more rest.

It’s so easy to forget the impact of our night the moment we leave the bedroom. No point ruminating or longing for that bed, we have to crack on with the day and put it to the back of our minds. But how we’ve slept can signal so many things; why are we ignoring the lessons?

In this special issue, we’re putting a spotlight on slumber – from five top tips to stop snoring in its tracks, to scientifically-proven, natural ways to help you nod off.

We’re taking a deep dive into the connection between our waking and night lives, and asking what our dreams could really be telling us. Plus we’re putting sleep paralysis under a microscope, sharing counsellor-approved questions to improve your pillow talk, and we have a dream diary within our print-exclusive journaling pages, to not let those fleeting glimpses of your true feelings pass you by.

Spotlight on sleep: are you dreaming of a restful night?

Plus, this print edition includes:

Intriguing features including a look at 'wabi-sabi' and what the imperfections of nature can teach us about ourselves, dealing with a diagnosis of ADHD as an adult, six of the best dog breeds to support your mental health, and real people on their return from rock bottom.

Insightful life hacks from how to deal with jetrospective jealousy, to what to eat to soothe anxiety, how to help kids get a good night's sleep, and wellbeing support for students.

Expert input on a topics including mental health equality, past life regression, recipes to show you care, and how to handle empty nest syndrome.

It’s time we reclaimed the night, and took power over our pillows. So, if you’re tired of being tired, or at a loss for what is keeping you wide awake, read on to see if we can make res

Could hypnotherapy be the key to cultivating confidence?

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We explore an untapped resource in building confidence and self-love

Could hypnotherapy be the key to cultivating confidence?

Self-acceptance, confidence and self-worth are all subjects I’m passionate about. Why? Because I believe the lack of these can have devastating impacts on our mental health.

In building our sense of worth, we recognise our value and treat ourselves more kindly. This paves the way for better self-esteem and confidence as we realise our voice deserves to be heard and that we’re more capable than we think. It helps us build resilience and feel more able to handle life’s ups and downs. It encourages us to set healthy boundaries, honouring our own needs without guilt.

I’m not saying confidence is the sole key to mental wellness, but it plays a pretty important role. So, dedicating time to work on our confidence could have some far-reaching results.

There are many ways you can look at improving your confidence, from changing the clothes we wear to neuroscience-backed tips, but today I want to take a closer look at a potentially untapped resource – hypnotherapy.


How can hypnotherapy improve confidence?

Hypnotherapy for confidence is a type of therapy that works on the subconscious. This means it looks to make changes that we may struggle to do ourselves through willpower alone, like changing thought patterns and behaviours.

When it comes to a lack of confidence, this can often stem from negative thought patterns. Perhaps you’ve been offered an opportunity at work, but you immediately think you aren’t the right person for the job. Maybe you want to strike up a conversation with someone new, but your thoughts tell you that no one wants to talk to you. We often refer to this as our ‘inner critic’ and for some of us, it can be tough to recognise and change this voice because it’s so automatic.

The aim of hypnotherapy is to change these automatic negative thoughts. In her article, Three strategies to let go of self-doubt, cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist Morag Stevenson shares more on how cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy can do this.

“With cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy, you learn to experience a hypnotic mindset of deep relaxation, clear focus and concentrated attention.

“Together with your hypnotherapist, you can use this mindset to freely explore your current unhelpful thoughts and their root beliefs. Once uncovered, you can consciously decide to swap these out for more self-loving ones that power and revitalise you. You discover how to take back control.”

Hypnotherapy isn’t a magic wand that will instantly eliminate self-doubt, but because it works deeper than many of us can go consciously, it can turbo-charge your efforts, making everything feel that little bit easier.


Can hypnotherapy help my imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is when we have fraudulent feelings, usually at work, where we don’t believe we deserve to be where we are (and are sure we’ll be found out one day). This phenomenon has many roots, but it often has ties to low confidence.

“Put simply, imposter syndrome is a n

6 valuable tips to soothe your mind with food

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6 valuable tips to soothe your mind with food

Mental health has affected me in many ways over the years. I have watched close friends suffer and fail to manage illnesses, noticed mental health go uncared for, witnessed first-hand the stigma, and seen the personal struggles of people trying to get help, yet getting nowhere within an impersonal system.

Following my own mental health struggles, I have spent the past decade creating my own mental health handbook, that’s been my guide to life ever since.

This all started for me at the end of a five-year degree in fashion. I was at an all-time low, and just on the turning point of a period of intense depression and eating disorders, after losing someone I loved very much.

I had finally found the right combination of talking therapy and holistic treatments, and was opening up to the idea of getting better – but the missing link was finding some sort of passion again.

6 valuable tips to soothe your mind with food
Portrait | Olivier Yoan for Gung Ho London

Fashion certainly wasn’t it, and neither was the food I had always previously adored. So, I set out to rewrite this story, and create a trend book ‘rebranding’ mental health with an emphasis towards wellness.

Exploring adaptogens (active ingredients in certain plants and mushrooms), rituals, and this new idea of wellbeing, was so exciting to me, and I jumped feet-first into a lifestyle that could feed my mind, too.

Many years, three restaurants, and hundreds of cookery classes later, Mind Food became a book earlier this year, and at a time where the world of mental health is changing, and our mental health as a nation is worse than ever. Here are my six practical ideas for positive mental health:

Mindset

This is all about prevention rather than cure, and sharing resources and foundations for good mental health, so that whatever you are going through, you have the tools to best support yourself and those around you.

We don’t always think about how food will make us feel, but understanding your personal recipe for feeling good is a very powerful tool. The idea of mind food is to include ingredients that can support you when you need to soothe, lift, balance,focus, or chill. This could be eating rosemary daily for better memory and focus, saffron tea for a natural lift each morning, or a cosy hemp hot chocolate for a moment of calm.

6 valuable tips to soothe your mind with food

Whole foods

On the whole, mind food ingredients are eaten in their natural form – not only because unprocessed ingredients optimise taste and nutrition, but when you start any recipe with good ingredients, you can’t go wrong.

Leafy greens, rainbow vegetables, fruit, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans, healthy fats, herbs and spices, are all essential in a balanced diet. But the real key is biodiversity, which means eating a range of foods rather than always sticking to what you know. Try buying a different vegetable, or ordering s

5 useful ways to challenge a mental health misdiagnosis

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Questioning a diagnosis can be intimidating, so we’re sharing ways to work alongside health care professionals to make it a smoother and less stressful experience

5 useful ways to challenge a mental health misdiagnosis

According to Bipolar UK, it takes an average of nine years to receive a bipolar diagnosis, with patients being misdiagnosed an average of 3.5 times during that period. And the long road to diagnosis isn’t exclusive to this particular mental illness.

As someone who was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) instead of autism and ADHD, I know this feeling all too well. And a National Autistic Society study found that 42% of women were misdiagnosed with a mental health condition before being recognised as autistic.

Questioning a diagnosis can be nerve-racking, which is why we’re sharing some useful tips for going about it, with the help of counsellor Jenny Warwick.

Book an appointment with your GP

When booking an appointment, explain that you suspect a possible misdiagnosis and would like a review. This is especially important if you think the medication you’ve been prescribed isn’t right.

“If medication is prescribed for a condition you don’t have, the treatment given is unlikely to work,” Jenny explains. “This could mean that you are less likely to go back to the health care provider for follow-up treatment.”

Being given the right medication, treatment, or support can be life-changing, so making that appointment is a positive first step.

Write notes in bullet points

Trying to remember everything you want to say in your appointment can be tricky, especially when you have a lot you want to talk about. Jenny says: “It can be helpful to make some bullet points of what it is you want to say, so that you have the facts easily to hand. You might not have a lot of time in the consultation to be able to explain what is happening and how you are feeling.”

That’s why, in the lead-up to your appointment, it’s a good idea to write everything down in a diary or journal. Alternatively, typing up your thoughts and printing off two copies (one for you and one for your GP) can be really helpful. You can then go through the information together.

Record signs, symptoms, and sleep

In order for your health professional to review your diagnosis, be sure to record as many signs and symptoms as you can. This includes information about your moods, how you’re feeling, any behaviours you’re worried about (for example, substance abuse or isolating yourself) and also any big life changes (relationship breakups, bereavements, job loss, etc).

Additionally, it’s important to note down how you feel physically. “Physical illness can cause symptoms which could be confused with mental health issues – for example, low mood and fatigue associated with hyperthyroidism,” Jenny explains.

“You could keep a mood diary including things like changes to sleep patterns, or changes to your appetite. Keep track of your moods and your behaviour so that it may be possible to find a link between these, which would be helpful with a diagnosis.”

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The ultimate guide to micro-gardening and growing your own in small spaces

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This growing trend sees people making the most of their, often limited, urban spaces, and proving that size doesn’t matter when it comes to the quality of your homegrown crops

The ultimate guide to micro-gardening and growing your own in small spaces

They say it’s the little things in life that make a big impact, and this certainly seems to be the case with micro-gardening. As we’re faced with the problem of ever-shrinking personal outdoor space, with more people moving to cities, or finding their time to tend to green-fingered pursuits is limited, this hobby offers a sustainable, creative solution.

What is micro gardening?

A rewarding, often cost-effective, and time-efficient endeavour, micro-gardening is an accessible outlet, encouraging anyone and everyone to embrace the wellbeing benefits of gardening and growing your own produce, regardless of your location or outdoor space. It doesn’t require a massive plot of land to commit to – you can create your own micro-garden using a small patch of earth, a balcony, or even a window box – and still reap the benefits of homegrown food.

This isn’t about spending a fortune on Instagram-worthy, perfect floral arrangements; it’s an inventive pursuit, focused on the end product, that asks you to craft pots and planters from anything to hand, whether that be upcycling a bucket, or an old stack of tyres, to maximise urban spaces and allow for efficient growth.

What are the benefits of urban gardening?

Studies have proven, time and time again, that being around greenery and gardening is beneficial to our wellbeing – including providing stress relief, reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving mood, and even combating high blood pressure – and yet the Fields in Trust charity revealed that, in 2022, nearly 2.8 million people in the UK live without access to green spaces.

All too often, city dwellers, people living in apartments, and renters are excluded from enjoying the host of wellness perks that having a space of your own to cultivate can bring – but micro-gardening is here to reclaim those rewards. Even the act of being responsible for something other than yourself, such as a plant, can support those with mental illness, as it can help to establish a routine, reminds you of the importance of caring for yourself too, and provides that sense of achievement and recognition of progress.

Plus, as a budget-friendly activity, micro-gardening can aid you in becoming more self-reliant, as well as helping with the cost of living, providing you with fresh, home-grown produce to hand, that you could even gift to neighbours!

The ultimate guide to micro-gardening and growing your own in small spaces

What do you need to get started?

Good quality soil

Healthy, nutrient-rich soil will support the growth of your plantlife, even in a confined space. Rather than regular earth, it’s worth using potting mix, as this tends to have better drainage and is sterilised to help fight off diseases.

Careful potting

For the best chance of success, take your time with the initial planti

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