New work: Stylist cover features – “The Hungover Games” and “The Stylist Sex Survey 2014”

Here are two cover features I’ve recently written for Stylist magazine. “The Hungover Games” is an investigation into competitive hangovers: why are we so determined to feel worse than our colleagues the morning after the night before? “The Stylist Sex Survey” is an analysis of the results of a huge survey undertaken by the magazine looking into UK women’s sex lives.

Hope you enjoy them! You can see more of my work for Stylist here.

(Please click on images below to be redirected to PDFs of the features)

Stylist The Hungover Games

Stylist Sex Survey 2014

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BOOK LAUNCH DAY! Our new books are available to buy NOW

This Book Will copiesMy new books with Dr Jessamy Hibberd on mindfulness and body image are available to buy RIGHT NOW (nudge nudge, wink wink, shove shove). Please form an orderly queue at your local run-down bookshop (or at the online tills) to get some no nonsense, practical advice on how to improve your self-esteem and how to make the most of every day.

This Book Will Make You Mindful:

We live increasingly busy lives and can often struggle to cope with the pressure we’re put under by external factors and, most importantly, by ourselves. But help is at hand: THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU MINDFUL shows you how to stop worrying about the future and dwelling on the past. You’ll learn how your mind works, enabling you to live in the moment so you become more positive, confident and productive in everyday life.

This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful

Body image insecurities can affect your entire life. Constantly worrying about how you look can ruin your day-to-day experiences, curb your ambitions and make you feel you don’t measure up in some way. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL addresses the root causes of body image anxiety and breaks them down so you can start changing how you view yourself and learn how to appreciate your appearance.

These two books draw on the latest CBT research, providing simple tips to improve your day-to-day life. They’ll join our other four titles in the This Book Will series: This Book Will Make You Happy/Calm/Confident/Sleep.

We really hope you like them.

The only New Year’s resolutions you should be making this January

New Year's resolutionsOoh, would you look at that – it’s the first week of January and you’ve already broken your resolutions to stop smoking, to go to the gym nine times a week and to stop eating cake. Now you feel a bit coughy (from all those roll-ups), lazy (because walking past the gym doesn’t count as going) and full (from all that delicious ginger cake). But, worst of all, you feel massively guilty about everything. God, you’re such a monumental FAILURE. 2015 is pretty much ruined, right?

WRONG.

You’re not a failure. Your only mistake was making resolutions you had no hope of keeping in the first place. A study of 4000 people found that 39% gave up their resolutions within just two weeks – hardly surprising when January is grey, miserable, cold and awful and you’ve decided to give up the only things that are getting you through it.

The resolutions you should be making this year are ones that add to your life, not detract from it. For example, instead of signing up to some ridiculous diet that will only ever work in the short-term at best (sorry, but it’s true), choose to up your fitness levels instead – do more ­exercise rather than eat less cake. Add something to your life rather than take something away. That way you’re not restricting yourself and so won’t feel resentful when you troop off to the gym. You can still cut down on the cake munching if you want, but do it gradually, day-by-day, rather than ordering yourself to go cold turkey (or cold cake). If you do want to improve how and what you eat (and manage emotional eating), Dr Jessamy Hibberd and I set out a totally achievable eating plan in our new title This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful.

Also, get into mindfulness NOW. There are billions of studies (I’ve counted) that prove meditating will make you happier, healthier, more creative, more patient, more open-minded, less angry and less anxious. So why aren’t you doing it? Book out a slot each day (actually book it in your diary so you’re less likely to skip it), set a timer for ten minutes, go sit in a quiet room and employ all your senses: what can you see, hear, feel, taste and smell? Try to notice when your mind wanders off, but don’t get angry – your mind is designed to wander – just bring it back to the task at hand, which is being aware of the world around you. Use your breath as an anchor if it helps – counting your breath in and out (an inhale and exhale count as ‘one’ breath). Again, don’t worry if you lose count, just start again at ‘one’ when you notice your mind has wandered. There are lots of basic strategies in my new book This Book Will Make You Mindful, a starter-kit for becoming more present in your day-to-day life.

Next, make a list of things you’d like to achieve this year, positive things that will add to your life rather than negatives to give up. For example, ‘get a new job’ rather than ‘tell my boss to get stuffed’. Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. So if you’re hoping to get a new job, aim for one that’s realistic (achievable), i.e. ‘look for a job one-step up from where I am now’ rather than ‘become CEO of Google’ and set yourself a time frame of when you want to achieve it by (timely). Speak to people who might know of any jobs going in the field you want to work in and discuss what you’ll need to do to improve your chances (specific). Then write down each step of the plan so you can tick them off (measurable). Perhaps most importantly though, note down why this is relevant – why do you want to achieve this? Why do you want this job? The goal has to be worthwhile or you won’t bother trying.

Check back in on your plan every week or so to see how you’re getting on and ask friends or family to remind you why you’re doing it if you hit a lull (social support is a huge motivator). By making a plan (and actually writing it down) you’re much more likely to stick to it and by breaking down your goals into small manageable steps and rewarding yourself as you meet each target you’ll be far more motivated to keep going.

Good luck!

Christmas: the perfect time to be mindful

mindful christmas sceneSo yep, December is finally here. Although you’d be forgiven for thinking it arrived three months ago with Noddy Holder’s gleeful bellow of “It’s Chriiiiiiistmas!” having  taken over radio airwaves from September.

In the run-up to Christmas it can be easy to get lost in your head. What do I buy everyone? How will I have time to go shopping? Who’s going to pick up Aunt Maureen on the 24th? All the planning and worrying can mean you forget to actually enjoy what you’re doing; to be present in the moment, rather than stuck in your head. To pay attention to all the things you’ve been looking forward to rather than allowing it to pass by in a blur.

Fear not though, help is at hand in the form of mindfulness. Mindfulness teaches you to live in the moment, taking notice of what’s happening around you and in your head, enabling you to better cope with stress and enjoy life more. It will stop you only living for the future (“If I can just make it to the weekend everything will be okay”) or dwelling on the past (“this is just like last year – nothing changes”) so life – the life you’re actually living, rather than the one you wish you were living or are planning on living – doesn’t pass you by. It’s perhaps unsurprising then that mindfulness is proven to reduce anxiety, stress and depression because you’re actually present in what you’re doing. You’re letting yourself simply be.

As a simple introduction to mindfulness try two strategies over the next week. While you’re doing them engage all your senses – sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. Focus completely on what you’re doing and when other thoughts try to butt in (which they will), don’t get angry, just acknowledge them and then turn your mind back to the task. Try it for two minutes (or more if you’re enjoying it).

  1. Become more aware of the world around you. The next time you’re walking from A to B, instead of checking your phone or watching your feet look around you and employ all your senses:
  • What sounds can you hear? Cars, birds, people talking or laughing, horns, airplanes etc.
  • What can you see? What are the buildings like: old, new, beautiful, ugly? Is there graffiti on them? What are the people wearing? What colours are the leaves on the trees?
  • What can you feel? Is the air cold or warm? Is it raining?
  • What can you smell? Grass? Food? Flowers? Rubbish?

You can do this strategy anytime any place – it’s particularly good at Christmas time when there are decorations and twinkling lights to admire, carols and festive cheer to tune into, and the smell of mulled wine or mince pies tickling your nostrils.

  1. During your festive nights out (or just during day-to-day life) start really listening to people. When you’re caught up in your own head often you either miss what others say or just wait for your turn to speak. You’re behaving as if what’s going on in your head is more important than what they’re saying. If you’re constantly forgetting what people have said, (“Oh, you’re going on holiday tomorrow?” “Since when did you apply for a new job?”), you’re simply not listening properly. Start paying attention and you’ll be surprised by how much you learn and how much more interesting everyone suddenly seems!

Next time you find yourself rushing ahead and blitzing through days, weeks, months and even years (“how is it Monday already?” “What shall we do for Christmas 2015?”), put these strategies into practice to ensure you’re more present in your own life – and have a truly memorable and merry Christmas!
This Book Will Make You Mindful is out on January 15th 2015.

This Book Will Make You Mindful and This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful

This Book Will Make You Mindful pb+f.indd This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful

I’m delighted to announce that I have two new books coming out in the series I co-author with clinical psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd: This Book Will Make You Mindful and This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful.

This Book Will Make You Mindful:

We live increasingly busy lives and can often struggle to cope with the pressure we’re put under by external factors and, most importantly, by ourselves. But help is at hand: THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU MINDFUL shows you how to stop worrying about the future and dwelling on the past. You’ll learn how your mind works, enabling you to live in the moment so you become more positive, confident and productive in everyday life.

This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful: 

Body image insecurities can affect your entire life. Constantly worrying about how you look can ruin your day-to-day experiences, curb your ambitions and make you feel you don’t measure up in some way. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL addresses the root causes of body image anxiety and breaks them down so you can start changing how you view yourself and learn how to appreciate your appearance.

These two books draw on the latest CBT research, providing simple tips to improve your day-to-day life. They’ll join our other four titles in the This Book Will series: This Book Will Make You Happy/Calm/Confident/Sleep.

They will be available to buy in bookshops and online from 15 January 2015. We hope you like them!

My two new books! This Book Will Make You Mindful and This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful

This Book Will Make You Mindful pb+f.indd This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful

I’m delighted to announce that my new books on mindfulness and body image with clinical psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd are out now!

This Book Will Make You Mindful:

We live increasingly busy lives and can often struggle to cope with the pressure we’re put under by external factors and, most importantly, by ourselves. But help is at hand: THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU MINDFUL shows you how to stop worrying about the future and dwelling on the past. You’ll learn how your mind works, enabling you to live in the moment so you become more positive, confident and productive in everyday life.

This Book Will Make You Feel Beautiful: 

Body image insecurities can affect your entire life. Constantly worrying about how you look can ruin your day-to-day experiences, curb your ambitions and make you feel you don’t measure up in some way. THIS BOOK WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL addresses the root causes of body image anxiety and breaks them down so you can start changing how you view yourself and learn how to appreciate your appearance.

These two books draw on the latest CBT research, providing simple tips to improve your day-to-day life. They’ll join our other four titles in the This Book Will series: This Book Will Make You Happy/Calm/Confident/Sleep.

They will be available to buy in bookshops and online right this minute. We hope you like them!

Come to my talk on procrastination at Birmingham University

Birmingham University talkI’ll be speechifying at my old haunt Birmingham University this Saturday (18 October) as part of the annual Book to the Future Festival. I’ll be chatting about how to beat procrastination…RIGHT NOW! (See what I did there?)

Taking place in room 201 in the Arts Building from 4 – 5pm, I’ll be going through why we procrastinate, how it affects us (our mood, body, thoughts and behaviour) and the best ways of beating it. All the info, tips and insight are taken from our books.

Please come along and join in (don’t procrastinate over coming) or I’ll be chatting to an empty room. You can read more about the festival and register to attend my talk here.

Hopefully see you there!