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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    Welcome to Mixed Up, a series looking at the highs, lows and unique experiences of being mixed-race.

    Mixed-race is the fastest-growing ethnic group in the UK. It means your parents hail from two (or more) different ethnicities, leaving you somewhere in the middle.

    In 2001, when the ‘mixed’ categories were first introduced to the national census, mixed-race people made up 1.3% of the population. Fast-forward 10 years, and that figure almost doubles to 2.3%.

    It’s a trajectory that’s unlikely to slow down.

    Alongside the unique pleasures and benefits of being exposed to multiple cultures, being mixed comes with complexities, conflicts and innate contradictions.

    For many, it’s about occupying two identities simultaneously, reconciling the differences and trying to carve out a space to exist between the two.

    The mainstream understanding of being mixed-race most often refers to people who are white and black Caribbean, or white and black African. But the voices of the mixed-race diaspora extend far beyond this.

    Mixed Up aims to elevate those voices, look deeper at the nuanced realities of being mixed-race and provide an insight into the inner workings of this rapidly growing ethnic group.

    Alexandra Sheppard is an author. She says she didn’t realise how much being mixed-race meant to her until it all started pouring out in her debut novel.

    Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris
    (Picture: Jerry Syder for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘The short version is that I’m half Jamaican and half English. The longer version? My Mum’s Jamaican side is also mixed with Chinese, and my Dad’s family also has Irish and Jewish heritage,’ Alex explains to Metro.co.uk.

    As with many mixed-race people, Alex’s heritage is far from simple. The clash of cultures, backgrounds and ideologies can be a beautiful thing, but it can also be overwhelming. Alex’s parents wanted to make it as simple for her as possible.

    ‘My parents raised me and my sisters to view ourselves as black. They didn’t want us to grow up confused, and they figured that the world will sooner view us as black than white.

    ‘But when I described myself that way, people would often ask what else I was mixed with – I have been asked if I’m mixed with everything from Colombian to Chinese.

    ‘Now, I see myself as black mixed-race. It just became easier to expand the label I had for myself and reduce the annoying questions.

    ‘When I was ten, my parents divorced and my mum moved us from North London to Derby. At the time, it was a far less racially diverse city. It was the only time that my blackness was questioned, often by white classmates who couldn’t get their heads around the fact that I was an Avril Lavigne fan and a bookworm – traits that they considered “white”.

    ‘Looking back now, I’m baffled that they didn’t realise how racist those statements were.’

    Little Alexandra on holiday in Jamaica (Picture: Alexandra Sheppard/Metro.co.uk)

    It’s only with hindsight that Alex is able to truly evaluate some of the problematic encounters she faced as a child. At the time she couldn’t quite place her finger on what she found unsettling.

    ‘I went to a mostly white secondary school, and the most difficult thing was my white classmates erasing my black heritage,’ Alex explains.

    ‘They would say things like, “don’t worry, we don’t see you as black.” They meant it as a compliment but it made me feel awful in ways that I’ve only recently learned to verbalise.

    ‘I wish I had had the language then to challenge their racism and explain why it made me feel so terrible.

    ‘Some of the white girls at my after-school job would talk excitedly about the mixed-race children they hoped to have, cooing about “olive skin, not too dark” and “ringlet curls.” It was like they were talking about sofa swatches, not actual people, and it annoyed me for reasons I couldn’t explain.

    ‘As an adult, what I really dislike is being described as “exotic” – nearly always by men. I certainly don’t feel exotic!’

    When you’re mixed, there are often elements of your background that are difficult to access. Grandparents can provide a window into worlds you otherwise wouldn’t know much about. Alex’s Jamaican grandparents helped her connect with that side of her heritage.

    ‘I became more immersed in my Jamaican culture when my mum moved us to Derby. I spent nearly every day at my grandparent’s house surrounded by uncles, aunties and cousins.

    ‘Grandma and Granddad only ate Jamaican food, and the rest of the family followed suit. Saturday soup, curry goat, rice and peas, fried plantain and hard dough bread were regular fixtures.

    ‘As much as all of those things feel like home to me, I definitely think I’m more immersed in British culture than Jamaican culture. When I went to Jamaica, some things felt familiar to me – like the accent, food and even certain words in patois. But it doesn’t feel like home, and everyone can tell that I’m not from there

    ‘I always thought that I identified more with my Mum’s Jamaican family than my Dad’s English family. But after a few trips to the US, I realised how British I was.

    ‘I missed tea and people saying “sorry” all the time. That said, I have never considered myself English, or even British. I prefer the label Black British.’

    For Alex, her grandparents’ history and journeys have shaped the woman she has become. Both sides of that heritage are equally important to her.

    ‘My grandparents couldn’t be more different. My dad’s parents were white, middle-class artists who divorced after having three children. This made my grandma a single mother – which was practically unheard of in the late 1960s.

    ‘On my mum’s side, my grandparents are traditional Jamaican immigrants. They both arrived in Derby in their late teens, met in a boarding house for new West Indian arrivals and married within the year. They worked extraordinarily hard to become homeowners and pay off the mortgage on the family home.

    Alex with her mum (Picture: Alexandra Sheppard/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Both sets of grandparents had to be resilient in their own way. For my dad’s mum, she had to put up with being ostracised in the tiny village they lived in after divorcing her husband. She placed immense importance on creative expression, even if it wouldn’t turn out to be a lucrative career.

    ‘My Jamaican grandparents didn’t have the luxury of pursuing creative expression. They had to put up with low-paid jobs, the racism of late 1950s Britain and the heartache of leaving their home behind.’

    ‘My grandad doesn’t talk about it much because he prefers not to dwell on upsetting memories, but my mum has told me enough stories to know that life must have been tough.

    ‘From my dad’s mum (I never met his dad), I learned to prioritise my creative writing. To her, it was every bit as important as academic subjects.

    ‘From my mum’s parents, I learned the importance of family – a subject that I love to explore in my writing. Sadly my grandmothers have both passed away. My novel is dedicated to them both.’

    Oh My Gods is Alex’s debut Young Adult novel. The young protagonist is mixed-race with a supernatural twist – she is half Jamaican, and half Greek god.

    ‘The main character is fourteen-year-old Helen Thomas, who has just moved in with her dad’s family in North London. But Helen and her family have a secret – they are gods living incognito. Her dad is Zeus, head of the gods, making Helen half-mortal.’

    Instagram Photo

    Alex says there are certainly elements of herself in Helen. She knows how important representation is in literature and wants to play her part in improving diversity in YA books.

    ‘It was a conscious decision to write a mixed-race protagonist. I think it’s natural to write what you know, so in some ways, my main character aligns quite closely with my identity – Helen is half-Jamaican, lives in North London and has my thick, curly hair.

    ‘The state of black, mixed-race, and basically anyone who isn’t white, representation in the UK publishing industry leaves a lot to be desired, and it’s so unfair on the young children who are denied the joy of seeing themselves in books. It is changing, but not fast enough.’

    There is a tendency to cite the growth of the UK’s mixed-race population as evidence of the country’s shrinking racism. But Alex says this absolutely isn’t the case. It’s much more complicated than that.

    ‘I want people to understand that mixed-race people don’t symbolise society’s progression. People in interracial relationships aren’t inherently more progressive or open-minded.

    ‘There’s this ongoing narrative that interracial relationships cure racism, and it’s total nonsense.

    ‘It’s tempting to believe that an increase in mixed relationships means that we are progressing as a society – but people in mixed-race relationships are perfectly capable of reproducing racism.’

    Alex with her two sisters (Picture: Alexandra Sheppard/Metro.co.uk)

    And when it comes to the country as a whole – Alex isn’t sold on the concept that we’re moving forward. How is it possible for a country to move forward without first looking back?

    ‘Honestly? I don’t feel good about this country’s current position on racism,’ explains Alex.

    ‘I don’t believe that Britain has ever fully reckoned with its racist past.

    ‘It’s shocking how little people know about the atrocities of the British Empire – the millions of black and brown lives destroyed, the stolen wealth and this country’s integral role in the transatlantic slave trade.

    ‘How can we move forward when 59% of Brits think that the British Empire is something to be proud of?

    ‘I like that younger generations seem more clued-up about politics and race. I’ve had the pleasure of working with teens while promoting my novel, and they are so much more switched on than I was at that age. They keep me hopeful.’

    Alex’s debut novel, Oh My Gods, is out now.

    Mixed Up is a weekly series focused on telling the stories of mixed-race people. Next week we speak to YouTuber Nadir Nahdi 

    MORE: Mixed Up: 'I would never call myself black, that shuts off half of me'

    MORE: Mixed Up: 'I may be white-passing, but skin tone and ethnicity aren't mutually exclusive'

    MORE: Mixed Up: ‘If they’re not going to tell stories about us, then we need to get out there and do it ourselves’


    Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie MorrisMixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morrisnataliemorris88Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie MorrisMixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie MorrisMixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morrisnataliemorris88Mixed Up - Lifestyle - Natalie Morris

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    I work five days a week for our country’s NHS, and on top of that I spend my Saturdays and Sundays cleaning (Photo: Getty)

    I’m exhausted. Every morning I wake up, drag myself out of bed and go to work. As soon as I finish, I’m straight on the phone to my husband, thousands of miles away.

    I work five days a week for our country’s NHS, and on top of that I spend my Saturdays and Sundays cleaning. Why? I’m told I don’t earn enough to be with my husband in the country I grew up in – so I’m fighting with everything I’ve got.

    Me and my husband met almost four years ago. I was doing a gig as a make-up artist at a wedding in India, and he was there as a guest. For him, it was a bit of a lightning bolt, but I wasn’t that interested initially.

    We met up a couple more times after that, just as friends – but from there we fell in love.

    I was wary about getting into a relationship at first because I’d been hurt in the past. I let him see me at my worst and I pushed him away. But he saw the real me and he stuck around. About 18 months after we first met, we got engaged, and we tied the knot last November.

    Throughout our relationship, music has played a huge role. He’s a music producer and he loves to make his own sounds and send them to me on WhatsApp.

    It makes me angry that I’m being deprived of the right to get on and start the family I dream of.

    For me, though, music is more than that – it’s been a life-saver. I’ve needed it because of the hell my husband and I have been through just to be together.

    Because I’m British and my husband is from India, the government says we can’t live together unless my salary is over £18,600 a year. So even though I work full-time (and then some) for the NHS, getting well above the minimum wage, I still don’t earn enough to be with my husband in the country I grew up in.

    The policy that keeps us apart is called the Minimum Income Requirement, and it separates thousands of British people from their partners and families every single year.

    As with many people, family is the most important thing in my life. I’m at the age where I want to start my own family and have kids with the person I love. And like all couples, we dream of enjoying simple things: watching telly together, spending the weekends relaxing and going for little trips away.

    But until I can get my income above the required amount, we’re being held back. It makes me angry that I’m being deprived of the right to get on and start the family I dream of.

    This has changed me. I used to be proud to say I was born and bred in the UK, but not any more – it doesn’t feel very British to make people suffer like this.

    These rules are causing so much heartache and distress and splitting loving couples up. We’re made to feel like we’re worth nothing, when all we want is the chance to have a normal life together.

    People need to understand that this could happen to them and their families, too.

    Just imagine if your son or daughter fell in love with someone but they weren’t allowed to be together because of their income. After Brexit, the government wants to extend these rules to anyone who falls in love with someone from Europe, too – so thousands more British people risk being split from their partner because of what they earn.

    I can’t stand by and watch this happen in silence. Now is the time for us all to stand up, tell our government to see sense and scrap the Minimum Income Requirement once and for all.

    MORE: Brexit will force me to choose between caring for my husband and looking after my parents

    MORE: I built a life for myself in the UK, now Brexit has unravelled it

    MORE: I stood up on a plane to protect an asylum seeker. Now all of us must join the protest


    Female nurse on phone in outpatient/recoveryFemale nurse on phone in outpatient/recoveryrmve86Female nurse on phone in outpatient/recoveryFemale nurse on phone in outpatient/recoveryrmve86

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    Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a street view of The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    (Picture: PA)

    If you’re keen for a relaxing weekend away, there’s no need to hurriedly search for the best cheap flights to somewhere far away.

    It turns out the best bed and breakfast is a little closer to home.

    That’s according to TripAdvisors’ Travellers’ Choice awards, anyway, which gave the title of the best B&B in the world to The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, Devon.

    There’s a reason it’s so highly praised.

    The hotel has six bedrooms with fancy tech bits, including voice-controlled TVs and air conditioning. Snazzy.

    Throw in the massive showers, standalone bathtubs (yes, I do choose my hotels for the bathrooms alone), and a cracking breakfast in the morning, and it’s no wonder it topped the rankings.

    Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a bathroom in The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    (Picture: PA)

    Oh, and while guests aren’t allowed to bring pets, there is a resident dog to fuss over; Patsy the miniature Schnauzer.

    The 25 Boutique B&B sits by the English Riviera, right where Fawlty Towers is supposed to be set. That means lovely views of sea and sand, plus scenic routes for morning strolls. Lovely.

    The B&B’s owners, Andy and Julian Banner-Price, said:  ‘We were absolutely thrilled to hear that The 25 has been named as the best B&B in the world.

    Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a bedroom in The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
    (Picture: PA)

    ‘We love creating special and memorable experiences for our guests and receiving their excellent reviews makes our hard work truly rewarding.’

    Prices for a room start from £169 a night, but be warned that it’s not the best place for families, as only over-18s are allowed.

    If you don’t fancy Devon, four more UK-based B&Bs made the ranking’s top ten.

    In third place was Bindon Bottom in West Lulworth, Dorset, in fourth was The Grange in Fylingthorpe, North Yorkshire, and in fifth was Swallows Rest in Brigstock, Northamptonshire.

    Anyone else fancy a weekend break?

    MORE: Why the English Riviera is perfect for a Christmas, New Year’s Eve or weekend break

    MORE: A romantic weekend in Paris is no longer all about escargot and classic art: The city is changing, and so is travel


    World's Best B&B in DevonWorld's Best B&B in DevonellencscottUndated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a street view of The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a bathroom in The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a bedroom in The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.World's Best B&B in DevonWorld's Best B&B in DevonellencscottUndated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a street view of The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a bathroom in The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.Undated handout photo issued by TripAdvisor of a bedroom in The 25 Boutique B&B in Torquay, which has been named the world's best in the travel review website's Traveller's Choice awards. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday January 23, 2019. See PA story TOURISM Torquay. Photo credit should read: TripAdvisor/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

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    Psychic dating advice
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    We’ve all faced relationship struggles – whether it’s finding out your partner has had an affair, being dumped with no warning or just worrying you’ll never meet ‘the one’.

    After some time moping under a duvet with Netflix and a tub of ice cream, most people turn to their friends for support and advice.

    Some people, though, turn to the spirit world to help them figure out what to do when it comes to love.

    Taking it beyond flicking through your horoscope in the back of a magazine, a personal reading might help you understand what you want in your future.

    Fortune-telling fans see it almost like a sort of therapy.

    Although it is obviously no replacement for professional help, going to a stranger who has an understanding of your life while still being detached from it can be the first step towards opening up.

    It’s not necessarily about believing in someone’s psychic powers, but it’s like tossing a coin: If your heart sinks when you get the answer, you know what you really want.

    Paris initially laughed off a prediction from a psychic about her relationship but it made her reconsider what was going on. A few months later, the prediction came true.

    ‘I had been with my partner for four years at the the time. I was at an event and the psychic was chatting to a friend who had recently had a reading,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘He told me “Don’t date anyone from Manchester”, and my friend and I laughed because my boyfriend at the time was from Manchester.

    ***ILLUSTRATION REQUEST*** How to date after being with a gaslighter
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘When I mentioned that, he added: “It’s not going to last”.

    ‘I was skeptical and didn’t think much of it so jokingly told my boyfriend the next day. We both thought it was funny.

    ‘But my relationship started to unravel. It definitely made me think twice about my relationship and question its longevity. A few months later, the relationship ended, which was the right thing to do.

    ‘After that experience, I would certainly seek out that particular psychic for future advice.’

    When Jane* saw a psychic a few years ago, he gave two bits of relationship advice – firstly that she was bisexual and should accept that and then that she was going to get married someday.

    She says: ‘It’s hard to imagine the latter but he basically convinced me it was right and good to accept my sexuality, which is something I had been denying for a long time.’

    ‘I started going on dates with women as well as men after that, and coming out to more and more people.’

    Psychic Stella Phillips has been working in the field for 18 years and although, like most psychics, she is open to speaking to clients about anything, love and relationships are the most popular topics.

    She explains: ‘The kinds of questions that I get a lot of are “Are they going to come back to me?” or “Are they being dishonest?”

    ‘When people come to me, they tell me their first name. They haven’t even necessarily told me their second name.

    ‘One lady a few weeks ago, for example, had found me on the internet and I just knew her first name. As soon as she sat down I told her I could see that she had separated from her partner.

    ‘I always ask people if there is a particular topic that they want answering but less is more for me. They might say can you look at my relationship just generally or can you look at my career. I don’t want them to leave feeling I haven’t covered something.

    ‘I don’t play God and tell people what to do. I believe that we all have free will and all I can do is let people know what I pick up for that person.’

    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Speaking to anyone about such a sensitive topic means that Stella has learnt to be gentle with her approach.

    She explains: ‘I would never say “By the way your partner is cheating”. I am always wary that although I see it, they might have no idea and I need to be gentle.

    ‘I would say something along the lines of “I feel there are trust issues in the relationship and I feel the trust has been broken in some way.”

    ‘If I say that, I can get the idea of how aware they are that their partner might have cheated. If I feel that they do, I would then say “I get the feeling one of you has been unfaithful, do you understand this?”

    ‘It is very sensitive when it comes to relationships. I think I have got used to dealing with it and I don’t get negative reactions.

    ‘I think that a lot of what I say, it is just conformation. We all have intuition and gut feeling but I think hearing that from me helps them trust their own judgement.’

    Over the past two years, Stella has noticed an increase in the number of men she sees and thinks it helps them to face issues in their life and open up for the first time.

    She explains: ‘A lot of them just want to talk about how they are feeling and their own spiritual growth. Sometimes they don’t feel ready to talk about it with friends, family or professionals but they come to me and talk about it in a different way.

    ‘If somebody comes to me and we speak and I feel they do need professional help, I will try to encourage them in that direction.’

    Phil Flanagan is an initiative healing coach at triyoga who says he can use his psychic abilities to sense his clients’ deepest feelings and help them come to terms with what is happening in their lives.

    One of his clients, Sarah, had sessions with Phil when her 15 year long marriage came to an end.

    She explains: ‘I wanted help to heal from my relationship and I wanted to be able to move on and love again.

    ‘I felt stuck and the sessions with Phil have absolutely helped. He helped me see what I was holding back in relationships and with myself and that there were certain emotions I was covering.

    ‘Through the healing sessions, I was able to face them and overcome them.

    ‘I only attended a few sessions as that was all that was needed.

    Why we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘I had tried counselling also and although I think it can be worthwhile, I felt I ‘didn’t move on enough’ and I was often left hanging or wondering at the end of a session. I didn’t feel this with Phil. At the end of the session I felt grounded and safe.

    ‘It’s a form of therapy that you do need a certain openness with and to be open minded. This is because what Phil does could be seen to be a ‘bit weird’ at first when you start.

    ‘He has an amazing understanding of empathy and his technique is far too broad to describe him as he is a very unique individual. He has a certain intuition.’

    Like many others, Sarah feels that Phil’s work helped her realise things that she already knew but struggled to face.

    She adds: ‘My life has changed so much since the sessions. I’ve met a new partner mid-therapy and was self-sabotaging that relationship.

    ‘I felt I wasn’t good enough to be with him, however Phil taught me to accept the love that she received and trust the process.’

    MORE: Durex’s new advert is taking a stand against painful sex for women

    MORE: Muslim women explain why it’s so hard for them to find a partner


    Psychic dating advicePsychic dating advicelauraabernethy6***ILLUSTRATION REQUEST*** How to date after being with a gaslighterWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration IllustrationsPsychic dating advicePsychic dating advicelauraabernethy6***ILLUSTRATION REQUEST*** How to date after being with a gaslighterWhy we should care about children?s mental wellbeing - and what we can do to help (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Metro.co.uk) Metro Illustration Illustrations

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    Gender reveal lasagne villaitaliankitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8den6gSX6/
    (Picture: villaitaliankitchen)

    The straights are at it again.

    Not content with making cakes that recreate the experience of eating a baby’s flesh, or starting wildfires with the use of blue or pink explosives, parents-to-be have found another way to make gender norms more unbearable.

    This time, they have taken something that is good and holy, and used it for their straight, child-rearing agenda.

    We are, of course, speaking of lasagne.

    Which means that, yes, gender reveal lasagnes are now a thing.

    A gender reveal lasagne is a lasagne (you know, sheets of pasta, bolognese, cheese), but with its innards dyed pink or blue to represent the sex of a yet to be born child.

    Gender reveal lasagne villaitaliankitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8den6gSX6/
    (Picture: villaitaliankitchen)

    Who do we blame for this horror? Food chain Villa Italian Kitchen, who is now offering a gender reveal lasagne catering package.

    The brand has marketed this creation with photos of an overjoyed couple slicing into their lasagne to reveal cheese sauce that’s been dyed blue. It doesn’t look particularly appetising, if you ask us (did you know that blue is supposed to be an appetite suppressant), but we guess actually eating the lasagne is secondary to using it as a way to declare what type of baby shall emerge into the world.

    Just to be clear, the cheese is dyed pink to signify that a baby assigned female will be born, and blue to signify a baby assigned male. Yes, the gendering of colour continues.

    The gender reveal lasagne package costs $140 (£107) and includes the blue or pink dyed lasagne, garlic rolls, and salad for 12 people.

    The reaction to the gender reveal lasagne has been just as enthusiastic as you’d expect.

    But let’s try to focus on the positives.

    First off, lasagne is good, and if you close your eyes while eating this one it’ll still be a cheesy delight.

    Secondly, there’s a chance that some parents will order a gender reveal lasagne, accidentally get sent a regular undyed lasagne, and then will spend a significant amount of time trying to work out what that means for the sex of their baby.

    Imagine: This lasagne has meat in it. Are we having a… beef baby?

    What an incredible possibility.

    MORE: If you can’t afford a trip to Tahiti, make Sardinia your next holiday

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    MORE: I work 7 days a week and still do not earn enough for my husband to join me in the UK


    Gender reveal lasagneGender reveal lasagneellencscottGender reveal lasagne villaitaliankitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8den6gSX6/Gender reveal lasagne villaitaliankitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8den6gSX6/Gender reveal lasagneGender reveal lasagneellencscottGender reveal lasagne villaitaliankitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8den6gSX6/Gender reveal lasagne villaitaliankitchen https://www.instagram.com/p/Bs8den6gSX6/

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    (Picture: Caters News)

    Parents have shared a warning to families about the impact just one kiss on the lips can have.

    One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days and came close to death after a family member kissed her on the lips when they had a cold sore.

    Kaylah quickly developed a purple rash all over her body and cried in pain.

    She was rushed to Darlington Memorial Hospital, where she was diagnosed with eczema herpeticum, a viral infection caused by the herpes virus.

    Little Kaylah needed two rounds of antibiotics and several different creams just to soothe her skin and reduce her pain.

    Doctors said the child’s experience could have been fatal.

    Mum Brogan said: ‘Kaylah was crying so hard, I knew it could only mean she was in pain.

    ‘We were at home and I was about to put her in the bath when I suddenly saw all the marks on her legs.

    PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Kaylah Merritt, 1, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham,was diagnosed with Eczema Herpeticum after a family member kissed her on the lips) - A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips. One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.The tot was left in agony after quickly developed a painful red rash all over her body and was rushed to A&E for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: Caters News)

    ‘It was an awful nightmare, there were purple rashes everywhere and Kaylah was sobbing her heart out.

    ‘I was terrified, my first thought was it had something to do with meningitis because she had it before.

    ‘My fiancée was petrified, but he kept me calm and made sure Kaylah was calm too.

    ‘I instantly knew we had to take her to the hospital.

    ‘The doctors told us that someone with a cold sore must have kissed her on the lips and because babies’ immune systems are not strong enough, she developed the rash.

    What is eczema herpeticum?

    Eczema herpeticum is an infection that’s usually caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus, which can cause the appearance of cold sores.

    It’s more common among young children, but people with atopic dermatitis and other skin conditions are more prone to being infected.

    Symptoms include blisters, rashes, high fever, and swollen lymph glands. It can be deadly.

    ‘When the doctors told me how dangerous it was I cried and cried thinking how I could have lost her due to a silly kiss.

    ‘Connor was shocked and couldn’t believe all this was down to a kiss too.

    ‘If we hadn’t gone to the hospital quickly, it could have been very dangerous, we could have lost her.

    ‘I was so relieved when Kaylah was out of danger.’

    PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Kaylah Merritt, 1, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham,was diagnosed with Eczema Herpeticum after a family member kissed her on the lips) - A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips. One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.The tot was left in agony after quickly developed a painful red rash all over her body and was rushed to A&E for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.SEE CATERS COPY
    (Picture: Caters News)

    A month later, Kaylah still hasn’t fully recovered. She must take daily medication until the virus is gone and has to attend doctor’s appointments each week.

    Brogan is sharing her daughter’s story to show parents just how serious an effect a kiss on the lips can have.

    ‘I am over the moon Kaylah’s home now and enjoying herself with her toys and extra cuddles,’ she said.

    ‘I just want other parents to know, you don’t have to be a physically ill to harm a baby – you can just be a carrier of the virus and still affect them.’

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    BABY NEARLY KILLED BY A KISSBABY NEARLY KILLED BY A KISSellencscottPIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Kaylah Merritt, 1, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham,was diagnosed with Eczema Herpeticum after a family member kissed her on the lips) - A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips. One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.The tot was left in agony after quickly developed a painful red rash all over her body and was rushed to A&E for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.SEE CATERS COPYPIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Kaylah Merritt, 1, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham,was diagnosed with Eczema Herpeticum after a family member kissed her on the lips) - A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips. One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.The tot was left in agony after quickly developed a painful red rash all over her body and was rushed to A&E for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.SEE CATERS COPYBABY NEARLY KILLED BY A KISSBABY NEARLY KILLED BY A KISSellencscottPIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Kaylah Merritt, 1, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham,was diagnosed with Eczema Herpeticum after a family member kissed her on the lips) - A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips. One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.The tot was left in agony after quickly developed a painful red rash all over her body and was rushed to A&E for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.SEE CATERS COPYPIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: Kaylah Merritt, 1, from Staindrop, Darlington, County Durham,was diagnosed with Eczema Herpeticum after a family member kissed her on the lips) - A traumatised mum has issued a warning after her baby daughter almost died from a kiss on the lips. One-year-old Kaylah Merritt was hospitalised for four days last month after an unknown family member kissed her on the lips while they had a cold sore.The tot was left in agony after quickly developed a painful red rash all over her body and was rushed to A&E for emergency treatment by concerned parents Brogan Thomas and Connor Merritt, both 22.SEE CATERS COPY

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    Sign for the health, beauty and chemist brand Boots in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)
    Boots are angering bargain hunters with their stalling (Picture: Getty Images)

    We’ve been sleuthing for weeks to find out the start date for the Boots sale, and it seems we’ve been foiled again by the health and beauty retailer.

    After using clues to deduce when we’d see those long-awaited 70% discounts, it turns out that the pattern has changed completely.

    Many people were even getting up early to nab their bargains, only to find that no such bargains existed yet. Gutting.

    Never fear, though, as it does seem like it’s still happening. Here’s the down-low.

    Boots pharmacy green cross logo and shop, Haslemere, Surrey, England. Boots is U.K's leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer with 2,500 stores country wide.
    Hurry up, Boots (Picture: Getty Images)

    Last year the sale fell on Friday 19th January. The year before that it was Friday 20th January, and the year before that, Wednesday 15th January.

    Every year before that has been a Wednesday. Therefore, we were pretty certain that if it wasn’t 16th January, the sale would most probably begin on Friday 18th.

    That day came, though, and still no sale. Even Martin Lewis was shook, tweeting:

    ‘Important I tipped off unconfirmed reports this morning on @GMB that Boots may be starting a clearance tomorrow reducing sale items from 50% to 70%. It has now confirmed this is NOT happening.’

    From there, it’s just been a waiting game, particularly focusing on today and this Friday. Today was sale-free, so we can assume (although we my be wrong) that Friday 25 may just be the day.

    Rumours have been doing the rounds that it won’t be long, with some eagle-eyed shoppers saying they’d spotted posters in stores. It’s the latest it’s ever been, but expect the clearance within the next week.

    As with previous sales, you’ll likely see the biggest discounts in store, so get down there to bag the best bargains.

    It’ll most likely be Christmas stock reduced the heaviest, so brands like Soap & Glory, Jack Wills, and Champneys are a great place to start.

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    Sign For Brand Boots The ChemistSign For Brand Boots The ChemistjessicacvlSign for the health, beauty and chemist brand Boots in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)Boots pharmacy green cross logo and shop, Haslemere, Surrey, England. Boots is U.K's leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer with 2,500 stores country wide.Sign For Brand Boots The ChemistSign For Brand Boots The ChemistjessicacvlSign for the health, beauty and chemist brand Boots in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (photo by Mike Kemp/In PIctures via Getty Images)Boots pharmacy green cross logo and shop, Haslemere, Surrey, England. Boots is U.K's leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer with 2,500 stores country wide.

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    (Picture: Getty)

    The other day, a friend of mine (let’s call him George) told me about his best-ever oral sex experience.

    As someone who regularly writes about unusual activities in the bedroom and answers controversial questions such as whether it’s OK to masturbate in hospitals, I wasn’t expecting him to bring anything new to the table – but I was wrong.

    Let me present the ‘double blowjob’.

    Similar to a solo blowjob, but much less known and not clearly defined – which was made evident when I discussed this with colleagues in the office. Some thought it included two women and one man, while others assumed it was two men (and effectively, two penises).

    With nearly 10,000 videos on Pornhub and 363,878 on Porn.com, I found that there’s actually a bunch of variations.

    The Classic

    This is the most common kind, and also the one George tried.

    It involves two women and one man (though can definitely be done with just men, too); the women are on their knees in front of the man who is seated on either a bed or a sofa.

    One will focus on the balls, either playing, licking or sucking, while the other does the same with the shaft. There’s also a bonus trick – once the man ejaculates, the women pass the sperm between them.

    Yum.

    The Classic 2.0

    A spicier version of the classic, but with a few added extras. Think of it as Nando’s lemon & herb flavour vs extra hot.

    Firstly, the man is lying down, with his legs hanging off the edge of the bed. One woman (or once again, man) is on the floor, playing with the scrotum or giving head to the man. The other woman is lying on top of him in the 69 position.

    It requires a bit of maneuvering.

    The Ol’ Switcheroo

    According to the Urban Dictionary, the ol’ switcheroo, also known simply as switcheroo, is when a man has sex with a woman from behind and at one point stops, has a friend take over and goes in front of her and waves.

    Just to clarify, this is never OK, unless the girl is fully aware of the scenario and consents to it.

    However, when it comes to the double blowjob, this works differently and simply includes two penises, and a woman or man switching back and forth between them.

    You could also add a third penis into the mix, and call it the triple blowjob or a fourth for group oral.

    The Double Blowjob: Female Edition

    Based on research through various porn sites, the double blowjob appears more popular among a mixed gender scenario with at least one penis involved, however there is a female version, too.

    The search brings up 1,659 results on one site, while on another it simply redirects you to female porn star pages.

    As for the blowjob, it’s actually very similar to the the Classic: there are three women, with one women lying down or on all fours, while the other two pleasure her by giving her head and rimming her bumhole.

    Some lovers also bring toys into the mix for the ‘double-ended deepthroat’, i.e. both sucking on either part of a double-ended dildo (though it’s unsure whether this is for pleasure or just to provide a good show for a third party).

    It’s unlikely the double blowjob will ever trump the original, but if you’re looking to spice things up by inviting a third or fourth person to your couple activities, it’s potentially worth a go.

    Or, if you’re single, try a sex club or sex party and jump into a group sex scene, mouth first.

    Here's what the expert said

    ‘A double blowjob is that rarest of things: two people performing oral sex on the same penis,’ Stuart Nugent, Sex Expert at LELO, tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Because two heads are better than one, obviously.
     
    ‘It doesn’t happen very often, at least outside of porn, because of the slightly unusual relationship dynamics it implies. The two ‘givers’ would have to be very close and very generous friends, or in a sharing relationship. But when it does happen, it’s very sexy.
     
    ‘There’s no specific female variation per se, although female-focused threesomes will generally incorporate similar sensations. Being kissed while another partner performs oral sex is one example. Just the feeling of being spoiled and the centre of sexual attention is a pleasant feeling for most people.’

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    The double blowjobThe double blowjoballieabgarianThe double blowjobThe double blowjoballieabgarian

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    (Picture: SWNS)

    Hannah Taylor, 23, grew up with ‘scary’ stories about childbirth from her own mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, now three months.

    Yoga teacher Hannah, and her sister Jessica Taylor, were born by cesarean section which left her keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy.

    Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman decided to have an unassisted birth when she fell pregnant after hearing of a friend’s positive experience.

    Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family.

    The couple welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in an outdoor bath on October 8 with just Tyler and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance.

    The pictures of the moment they shared as the baby was born are beautiful (though just a warning, if you scroll on, they contain some nudity).

    Hannah Taylor, 23. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ???scary??? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal???s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.
    Hannah Taylor, 23 (Picture: Hannah Taylor / SWNS)

    Hannah, of Sacramento, California, USA, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.

    She said: ‘My mum had traumatic births with me and my sister and it didn’t sit well with me.

    ‘Growing up I had only heard scary stories of birth and when I heard about my friend’s experience with unassisted birth, it felt right to me.

    ‘A unassisted birth is one without medical intervention. You give birth unhindered and without medical interference.

    ‘No one telling you when to push, you just completely listen to your own body.

    ‘During my pregnancy I did a lot of research and I read a lot of books. I listened to podcasts focused on women and their unassisted birthing stories.

    ‘I went into labour in early morning at about 5am on October 8 and my active contractions started around 9.30am.

    ‘I was just home with my partner and my best friend Shea. I hadn’t planned to move to the outside to the tub, I just wanted to use it as somewhere to take a break during labour.

    ‘I was on the floor of my room when I decided to move outside to the tub. It is connected to the warm water mains from our house.

    This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.
    Hannah welcomes Koa into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth (Picture: Shea Zamarra / SWNS)

    ‘It was an incredible, blissful, experience and I was ecstatic. Meeting my little boy for the first time was incredible.’

    Hannah’s partner Tyler, 34, a chef, added: ‘So far it was the most amazing experience of my life.

    ‘I had never heard of free birth before, but catching my son in my arms was the most amazing thing.

    ‘Holding him brought tears to my eyes. It felt like a dream.’

    This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.
    (Picture: Shea Zamarra / SWNS)

    While Hannah’s birth was unassisted, the mum did attend regular prenatal appointments with a midwife to make sure her pregnancy was healthy.

    Hannah said she would have rethought her plans had there been a health issue or potential danger for baby Koa.

    She said: ‘I had a healthy pregnancy and I visited a midwife all along. I had prenatal care.

    This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ???scary??? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal???s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.
    (Picture: Shea Zamarra / SWNS)

    ‘There was no sign that anything was wrong, and if there had been I would have had to think about changing my plan.

    ‘Depending on the severity I would have had to consider a hospital birth in that case. But I really made sure I had done a lot of research.’

    Hannah has described her first three months as a mum to be ‘blissful’ and she will always feel blessed to have had such a serene birthing experience.

    Hannah Koa and Tyler. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.
    Hannah, Koa and Tyler (Picture: Hannah Taylor / SWNS)

    Tyler said the couple feel ‘lucky’ that their friend was there to capture the moment on camera.

    He added: ‘It’s really special that we have those pictures. They captured the moment so perfectly.’

    Hannah said: ‘The sun was out and it was beautiful. I felt extremely powerful.

    Hannah Koa and Tyler. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.
    Hannah, Koa and Tyler after the birth (Picture: Hannah Taylor / SWNS)

    ‘A few days afterwards he was checked out and everything was great.

    ‘I think all people should follow their hearts. I did what I thought was the best thing for my baby.

    ‘An unhindered birth allowed the experience to be sacred and it was incredible. I have never felt so connected to my body. I felt very blessed.

    ‘He’s so wonderful. I underestimated my capacity for love.’

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    Unassisted birthUnassisted birthlauraabernethy6Hannah Taylor, 23. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ???scary??? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal???s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ???scary??? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal???s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.Hannah Koa and Tyler. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.Hannah Koa and Tyler. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.Unassisted birthUnassisted birthlauraabernethy6Hannah Taylor, 23. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ???scary??? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal???s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.This is the incredible moment a mum welcomed her first baby into the world in an outdoor bathtub after choosing to have a medically unassisted birth. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ???scary??? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal???s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.Hannah Koa and Tyler. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.Hannah Koa and Tyler. See SWNS story SWNYbirth; Hannah Taylor, 23, said she grew up with ?scary? stories about childbirth from her mum and wanted a more serene birthing experience for her son Koa, three months. The yoga teacher and her sister Jessica Taylor were born through cesarean section which made Hannah keen to explore other options during her own pregnancy. Hannah and her partner Tyler Couchman, 34, a chef, decided to have an unassisted birth when she first fell pregnant after hearing of a pal?s positive experience. Unassisted birth is the process of having a baby without the presence of a medical attendant or professional, which Hannah believed was the best option for her family. The mum welcomed 6lb 10oz baby Koa in a bathtub beneath the Californian sun on October 8 with just her husband and best friend Shea Zamarra, in attendance. Hannah, of Sacramento, California, said the experience was empowering and extremely serene.

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    (Picture: Getty)

    We don’t need to tell you that a lot of people are talking about clutter.

    Blame Marie Kondo and her Netflix show, which has propelled the concept of chucking away anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’ to new heights of fame.

    The conversation has made a load of us look at our surroundings and our mass of possessions with new eyes.

    You might have taken up vertical folding, or done a full clear-out of your bookshelves.

    But what if you watch the show and find the onscreen couple’s clutter far, far more minimal than your own, you might be struck by some worries.

    At what point do you cross the boundary of being messy or having a lot of stuff to being a hoarder?

    Last year hoarding was officially recognised as a medical disorder, which means that there are defined diagnostic criteria for hoarding disorder versus just being cluttered.

    It’s important to remember that you can have hoarding behaviours without having a hoarding disorder, the same way as you may experience depressive symptoms but not experience depression longterm.

    Essentially, the difference between having a lot of clutter and showing hoarding behaviour comes down to how you feel about the clutter and how it’s affecting your day-to-day life.

    Symptoms of hoarding:

    Hoarding is considered a significant problem if:

    • the amount of clutter interferes with everyday living – for example, the person is unable to use their kitchen or bathroom and cannot access rooms
    • the clutter is causing significant distress or negatively affecting the quality of life of the person or their family – for example, they become upset if someone tries to clear the clutter and their relationship suffers

    Symptoms of hoarding:

    • keep or collect items that may have little or no monetary value, such as junk mail and carrier bags, or items they intend to reuse or repair
    • find it hard to categorise or organise items
    • have difficulties making decisions
    • struggle to manage everyday tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and paying bills
    • become extremely attached to items, refusing to let anyone touch or borrow them
    • have poor relationships with family or friends

    Items that are often hoarded include:

    • newspapers and magazines
    • books
    • clothes
    • leaflets and letters, including junk mail
    • bills and receipts
    • containers, including plastic bags and cardboard boxes
    • household supplies

    NHS

    Symptoms of hoarding include feeling extremely attached to items and becoming upset if people try to touch, borrow or tidy them, difficulty making decisions, and a poor relationship with family or friends as a result of your excess possessions.

    If you find yourself feeling a strong emotional attachment to items that have little or no value – whether that’s in terms of money, purpose, or sentimentality – that’s a sign that your clutter may be stepping into hoarding territory.

    Similarly, if your clutter is preventing you from moving around your home, leaving the house, or is causing friction in your relationships with family and friends, that indicates that hoarding has become an issue.

    How much clutter you actually have does come into the diagnosis, however.

    HoardingUK, a charity which supports people with hoarding behaviour, shared with Metro.co.uk the images used to assess whether someone may have a hoarding disorder.

    People are encouraged to look at the images and select which most closely resembles that room in their home. A rating of four or above is enough for the charity to encourage the person to get help with hoarding.

    Take a look below:

    (Picture: The International OCD Foundation)
    (Picture: The International OCD Foundation)
    (Picture: The International OCD Foundation)

    ‘A level five or above on the clutter image rating would trigger some sort of statutory engagement,’ HoardingUK explains. ‘The London Fire Brigade wants to be informed and an Adult Safeguarding might be considered with consent of the person.

    ‘The Care Act (2014) recognised hoarding behaviour as a form of self-neglect. As such it recommends that a person’s social care needs be assessed.

    ‘This is still not standard practice and even where it is – there is nothing ‘there’ to provide support for the person after the alert is raised in too many places across the UK.

    ‘HoardingUK is the UK National charity which supports people with hoarding behaviour. We work to ensure that people’s rights and responsibilities are understood; to provide practical and psychological support and to work to improve outcomes for all impacted.’

    To put it all more simply: If you feel like you have a lot of stuff, that’s not automatically cause for panic.

    If your clutter is causing you distress or impacting your life in a negative way, or you simply feel worried or guilty about how much stuff is in your home, it’s worth reaching out for support.

    Chat to your GP about any mental health concerns or contact HoardingUK by phone or through their website.

    MORE: Illustrations highlight all the unsolicited advice people give about mental health

    MORE: Boohoo is being called out for selling ‘obsessive Christmas disorder’ pyjamas

    MORE: ‘Too many parents of special needs children are being let down’


    Abandoned house, full of garbageAbandoned house, full of garbageellencscottAbandoned house, full of garbageAbandoned house, full of garbageellencscott

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    Two people talking after a workout at the gym
    (Picture: Getty)

    Staying fit is expensive.

    There’s the basic gym membership, the additional spinning classes at the weekends, the latest Lululemon gear – it all adds up.

    So for many of us, the thought of also paying for a personal trainer can seem like a ridiculous luxury.

    And for those of us who already know our way around a gym – can a PT really provide anything that you couldn’t just do on your own?

    But bespoke, tailored fitness certainly has its benefits. Our bodies are unique and optimal fitness is a never a one-size-fits-all package – perhaps a personalised approach is the best way to get the most out of your workout.

    But when the average price for a PT session in London is £50-£60 per hour (it’s closer to £40 outside the capital), it’s a decision that can’t be made lightly.

    We spoke to some experts and gym-goers to find out if it’s really worth shelling out your hard-earned for a one-to-one session.

    A woman training with a gym ball with help from her personal trainer
    (Picture: Getty)

    If the gym has never been your thing, then paying for a PT makes sense.

    If you’re terrified of dumbbells and can’t work out how to turn the treadmill on, investing in someone to show the basics seems like a wise idea.

    Aimee always had a complicated relationship with fitness. Not being naturally sporty, she found herself in a workout rut, but her personal trainer changed everything.

    ‘I’m not exaggerating when I say my PT, Georgia, changed my life,’ Aimee tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘For as long as I can remember, I have had a turbulent relationship with my body and it’s ability to do sport. I’ve never been gifted in the sports department and, to be truthful, I was terrified that everyone would be laughing at the fat girl trying to do a burpee.

    ‘My PT changed that. I started seeing her around two years ago after becoming increasingly bored of pounding miles away on the treadmill – and the shin splints and self-hatred that came with it.

    ‘I told Georgia what I wanted to achieve – to feel good in my own skin and strong – and she taught me how to lift weights.

    ‘I see her once a month (at £48 per session) where she gives me a routine I can do alone three to four times a week.

    ‘In the sessions we concentrate on getting my technique right and trying new exercises – something I would never be able to do alone. She’s given me confidence to walk into a weights room and be happy in my skin.’

    It’s a common misconception that personal trainers are nothing more than drill sergeants, barking at you to keep doing press ups until your arms turn to jelly and you want to throw up.

    But if you find a good PT, they can provide so much more.

    Lewis Paris is a London-based personal trainer who’s philosophy incorporates a well-rounded approach to fitness. As well as the cardio and the weights, Lewis considers nutrition, rest and building good habits to be critical components for healthy living.

    ‘The general objective of a personal trainer is to be able to motivate and curate a tailored plan to suit the needs and goals of their client, this can be quite relative as no one person is the same,’ Lewis tells us.

    ‘I take the title personal trainer quite literally. “Personal” is the keyword, although it can be a lot to take on, in my opinion I believe it’s important to set basic touch points and standards with a comprehensive consultation so I can understand everything about the person I could be working with.

    ‘No matter the fitness level, a personal trainer will be able to find a person’s weaknesses and create an effective plan to strengthen them.

    ‘Beginners will have basic knowledge and will be coached to understand the importance of technique and nailing the fundamentals, which are carried throughout all exercises.

    ‘Seasoned gym-goers will need the extra motivation due to repetition of the same workout routine, lack of technique to ensure the effectiveness of the exercise or the common trap of plateauing.’

    A personal train helping his client with her weight training
    (Picture: Getty)

    So what about these seasoned gym-goers? What do they really get out of it? If you’re strong and fit, surely paying someone to tell you what you already know is a waste?

    Claudia doesn’t agree. The super-fit sportswoman is incredibly active, but she says paying for a PT helped her to optimise her specific goals and fine-tune her training.

    ‘I was training for fitness and weight-loss, so I was also put on a specific training program and diet that helped me achieve that,’ Claudia tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘It helped break my training up into bite-sized goals and it kept my sessions interesting.

    ‘I’m pretty self-motivated with the gym, but when I started to feel too tired or maybe getting ill, I know I’d have to justify myself to him. I didn’t want to disappoint him and therefore had the hardest working six months of my gym life.’

    How much should you be paying for a PT?

    The average price for a PT session in London is £50-£60 per hour.

    Outside of London the average price is £40-50 – so keep these figures in mind when you are getting quotes.

    It’s important to look at what other benefits your PT may be offering – including personalised nutrition plans or movement analysis sessions.

    At the very top end you can pay around £150 for a single session. Obviously it depends on your budget, but it’s worth shopping around.

    Hattie agrees with this – she found working with a PT incredibly motivational, and, as a netballer, she finds it reassuring to have someone there who will reduce her risk of injury when working with weights.

    ‘My PT is really just there for strength work and weights. With a personal trainer on board, I can make sure my sessions are incredibly targeted – so I can just work on leg strength if that’s what I want,’ she explains.

    ‘Although I know my way around a gym, I still find it much safer having a PT with me – they’re there to catch the weights and perfect my form so I’m not going to do anything to injure myself.

    ‘Because I play sport, i’m probably more concerned about injuring myself than the general public – so in some ways it’s even more important for sportspeople to invest in this extra expertise.’

    So how does it actually work? You can pay for a PT on a freelance basis, completely separate from a gym – and they will either train you in their own space or outdoors.

    Or if you’re already part of a gym, there are usually trainers you can pay for there. Normally, the cost for PT sessions isn’t included in standard gym membership, and you will have to pay an extra fee on top.

    For example, at Pure Gym, their personal trainers receive a fee directly from the client – as though they were freelance.

    On their website it says; ‘The cost for a personal training session varies from PT to PT. As a benchmark, a personal training session usually costs somewhere around £30-£65, and is 45 minutes to one hour long.

    ‘PT prices in London are usually slightly higher, costing an average of £40-65 per session. This cost is separate to your membership and you would pay your PT directly.’

    Lesley, a sports-lover and netball coach, says she actually saves money on gym membership by opting to use a PT instead.

    ‘I’ve had the same PT for about 10 years,’ explains Lesley.

    ‘He comes to my house rain or shine, two or three times a week. And I do my sessions whether I’m in the mood or not. Sometimes I’m chatty, sometimes I can’t talk at all.

    ‘It saves me money on a gym membership because I actually do a purposeful hour of training. I do free weights (having invested in a squat rack over the years) – and with his help I actually get so much more done in an hour than I could in the gym.’

    What are the benefits of a PT?

    ‘Having a personal trainer on board will greatly increase the chances of someone reaching their goals within a specific time-frame, increase their knowledge of exercise and technique, provide routine, which encourages good habits, expert guidance and advice, prevent recurring or future injuries, improve lifestyle choices and install belief.

    ‘Its very important to state the facts in regards to what will work effectively and what wont.

    ‘Doing classes six times a week cannot be sustained long enough nor is it effective, quality over quantity should be the mindset!

    ‘Yes it encourages a healthy lifestyle, yes you will see results, yes its time-efficient but it can lead to over-training (or under resting), injury, muscle imbalances plus workouts, which are not tailored or specific.

    ‘Technique is very important and I emphasis this a lot within all of my sessions.

    ‘When my clients develop the correct techniques it helps to enhance confidence and help them develop and advance their exercises quicker – which they may have previously felt was unattainable – that’s the beauty of my job.’

    Lewis Paris, personal trainer

    It is a lot of money, but if fitness, strength and endurance is your goal – then it will likely be money well-spent.

    That being said, it’s really important to shop around and trial as many PT’s as you can before signing up for anything long-term.

    Personal trainers have wildly different styles, and they’re not all going to be your cup of tea.

    ‘These days I am skeptical about PTs, as some aren’t in it for the right reasons,’ Claudia tells us.

    ‘I’ve had a few crap trainers  who were talking absolute nonsense because they thought I wouldn’t know any better.

    ‘Or they didn’t keep on top of my progress outside of the hour per week I trained with them.

    ‘My time is precious, as is anyone’s who works 8-8 during the week, and if I am paying a fortune to improve myself for an hour of my evenings, which I technically could do by myself, it had better be worth it!’

    We couldn’t really have said it any better.

    MORE: TRX suspension training might be the toughest thing you can do in the gym

    MORE: Do collagen supplements work, and is there a vegan version?

    MORE: Rio Ferdinand explains why your DNA could hold the key to getting fit


    Trainer and female client talking in gymTrainer and female client talking in gymnataliemorris88Two people talking after a workout at the gymA woman training with a gym ball with help from her personal trainerA personal train helping his client with her weight trainingTrainer and female client talking in gymTrainer and female client talking in gymnataliemorris88Two people talking after a workout at the gymA woman training with a gym ball with help from her personal trainerA personal train helping his client with her weight training

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Good for you if you know what DTF and DTR mean, but the language of young single people will only get you so far.

    You also need to be clued up on mum-speak, the secret language used by mums and dads around the UK.

    Yes, pals, there’s a secret code that you must decipher to know what your child-rearing friends are on about.

    ChannelMum has shared a list of the funniest phrases used by parents these days, noting that 35% of parents they surveyed use secret slang so their children don’t understand what they mean.

    But do you know what these terms mean? Or are you just as clueless as that poor, hapless three-year-old who doesn’t know what her mum and dad are laughing about?

    20 mum phrases you need to know:

    Mum bun – mum hairstyle, when your hair’s just thrown up in a messy bun so it’s out of your face

    Poonami – an explosion of poo

    Winging It – doing your best when everyone else seems to be more organised

    Threenager – three going on 13

    Sniff test – checking to see if the baby really needs a change by sniffing their butt

    Mombie – a mum who’s absolutely exhausted through lack of sleep

    Flying solo – coping on your own

    Mumboss – mum in charge

    The handover – passing the baby to your partner as soon as they get home

    Velcro baby – clingy baby

    iParenting – using a tablet to keep your child quiet

    Niplash – when a breastfeeding baby twists their head without letting go of your nipple

    Freezer tapas – serving up whatever bits you can find in the freezer

    Adult headache – hangover

    Musical beds – when children change beds all night long

    Beige rainbow – ready-made playdate food like chicken nuggets and chips

    Mum spa – opening the dishwasher so you’re hit with some steam

    Deja poo – when the baby fills their nappy for the 20th time that day

    Ginwag – catching up on the gossip over a glass of gin

    As well as being highly entertaining ways to talk about poo, this secret mum language might help parents feel a sense of community and support. Sweet.

    ChannelMum.com founder Siobhan Freegard said: ‘They say necessity is the mother of invention – so the UK’s mums and dads have invented some very colourful phrases to describe the ups and downs of parenting.

    ‘It’s fun but it has a serious side helping parents bond through tough times.

    ‘A clever parenting phrase which makes people laugh can go right around the world due to social media.

    ‘It’s a lovely way to bring mums and dads together across the globe – and raise a smile too.’

    MORE: Woman has medically unassisted free birth in an outdoor bathtub

    MORE: Mum shares shocking photos to show how a kiss on the lips nearly killed her daughter


    Excited young girl being held by mother during backyard birthday partyExcited young girl being held by mother during backyard birthday partyellencscottExcited young girl being held by mother during backyard birthday partyExcited young girl being held by mother during backyard birthday partyellencscott

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    Romantic candlelight dinner table setup. Man & Woman hold glass of Champaign.; Shutterstock ID 1010722126; Purchase Order: -
    (Picture: Shutterstock)

    Ah, a new relationship. Those first few blissful months where you just want to impress.

    A time for days out and nice dinners before you slip into the takeaway in front of the TV date routine.

    And although men aren’t expected to foot the bill these days, it might be something they offer for a special occasion.

    Twitter user Tim noted this cute exchange between the couple sitting next to him as he enjoyed Sunday dinner at a restaurant.

    He said that they looked and sounded like a couple who were just starting out and he thought this might be their first meal together.

    As the meal unfolded, he noticed that the man was insisting on paying but the woman was aware that it was quite expensive.

    The waiter arrived and offered the wine list and Tim describes how the man clearly wanted to treat his girlfriend. But the restaurant was slightly pricier than he expected.

    The woman, sensing this, continued to try to pay and although he insisted it was fine, she settled on a non-alcoholic drink and tried to change the topic.

    Apparently she told him it was lovely, so he replied ‘So are you’. Our hearts can’t take it.

    Eventually they both decided on roast beef and a glass of water.

    As they waited for their food, Tim continued to observe the chemistry between them.

    Although they were trying hard and they were very much into eachother, the date maybe wasn’t quite as special as they planned. And the waiting staff clearly noticed.

    Soon they had two glasses of champagne to celebrate properly (no, you’re crying).

    It is true – we have all been there but at least there is some good in the world.

    MORE: Do you know these secret mum phrases?

    MORE: Is paying for a PT worth the money?

    MORE: When does having a lot of clutter become hoarding?


    sei_48890007-7baasei_48890007-7baalauraabernethy6Romantic candlelight dinner table setup. Man & Woman hold glass of Champaign.; Shutterstock ID 1010722126; Purchase Order: -sei_48890007-7baasei_48890007-7baalauraabernethy6Romantic candlelight dinner table setup. Man & Woman hold glass of Champaign.; Shutterstock ID 1010722126; Purchase Order: -

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    How is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental health
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    With a new year, comes new challenges and there’s one in particular I’d really like us to scrap.

    Namely, the 10-year challenge.

    For those blissfully unaware of this new social media trend, it consists of a person taking their existing profile picture and comparing it to one from a decade ago and presenting the two side by side on either Facebook or Instagram.

    The practice is seen as a bit of harmless fun, an extension of the daily reminder you get from Facebook about your memories from a year ago, while in reality, danger is looming on the social media horizon. For some people, the challenge can trigger mental health issues – regardless of whether they take part in it or not.

    There it is, your old self staring you in the face, next to your new self. Except, what if you don’t like what you see?

    Hayley Smith, a 30-year-old PR executive who took a two-month break from social media last year, tells Metro.co.uk that she regrets taking part in the challenge, and felt overwhelmed after doing so.

    ‘After posting a picture, I was overwhelmed with feelings of dread and depression. I’m in a great place now, but that period of my life still has its affects on me and I was reminded of what I had to go through to get here, and that I’m not quite over it.

    ‘It was a massive trigger. I initially did it out of ego reasons, as I love that photo and wanted to share it, but didn’t think it would cause anything as bad as it did from a mental health standpoint. I’m still struggling from the initial imaginary punch to the face, especially seeing other people’s photos – as I want what they had 10 years ago.

    ‘In the years after that photo was taken, I experienced a series of events filled with neglect, loneliness, abuse, a mental breakdown, suicide thoughts and toxic relationships, as well as anxiety and panic attacks, depression, ill health and job losses.

    ‘Even writing this, I’m filled with anxiety. Life is good now but I know what it can be like, and this challenge reminded me of that.’

    Hayley’s experience is reflected in what experts said on the topic, with the recommendation that people not compare themselves to others – as that’s not the point of the exercise (and could have negative effects).

    ‘For many social media users, the 10-year challenge will be a humorous way to look back at what they previously looked like and see how much they have changed in recent years,’ associate director of Clinical Services, Nicola Jagielski, tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘However it’s worth being aware that for others it can be a reminder of previous stressful or negative experiences that they have faced in recent years. It can also lead to a person critically comparing their life with other people’s that they see on social media and using other people’s lives as the benchmark for success in their own life.

    ‘The potential impact on their own well-being should be the main focus when considering whether someone should do their own 10-year challenge and not what others have done previously.’

    What is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    While there are clearly negative aspects, some experts tell Metro.co.uk that there’s a need to reflect on the positive side to this type of challenge, too.

    ‘If the challenge is only self-reflective, it could be really detrimental, particularly if the usual comparisons are made to others who only present a positive message,’ said Dr Nick Maguire, associate professor in clinical psychology at the University of Southampton.

    ‘However, if comparisons are made to external issues, e.g. the environment, society etc., the experience may be more positive. So the issue of engagement becomes more about what we focus on rather than whether to engage or not.

    ‘My significant health warning about social media use is that it can be a punishing experience if you take all the posts you read as indicative of people’s life quality. If you find yourself thinking ‘everybody else’s lives are better than mine’, remember that most people post ‘edited highlights’. If anybody were to take all those edited highlights as some sort of reality, nobody’s life compares well. This includes the images people post.

    ‘How many people are likely to post images of themselves looking a bit rough, or dare I say it, normal? The way out of the distress that may result from this selective attention process is to remember that most people have as many ups and downs in their lives as we do; they’re just less likely to publish the downs.’

    Ellie Pilcher, 23, decided against posting a photo of her younger self on Facebook as just looking at others’ gave her anxiety.

    ‘I did consider taking part in the challenge but as I was searching through my old photos I realised that 13-year-old me was not in a particularly happy place, whereas 23-year-old me is. I don’t want to look back, I want to look forward.

    ‘I suffer with anxiety anyway, and am pretty self-aware now, which is why I can’t look at photos without remembering what I was going through at the time and how unhealthily I was dealing with it mentally.

    ‘Of course, there were good experiences too and there are some photos where I was genuinely happy, but sharing those for the sake of a 10-year challenge seemed false to me, and I didn’t want to share an unhappy photo either. For what purpose? And for who?

    ‘Ultimately I’ve chosen not to share anything as I think this is a healthier choice for me, as just looking caused me undue anxiety.’

    There’s nothing wrong with celebrating who you’ve become and what you’ve done in the past 10 years, but by doing so in a comparative way that encourages you to judge yourself and others (or against others), you run the risk of indulging in a negative thought pattern.

    If it makes you happy, by all means go ahead and share a photo of yourself from a decade ago. But if you’re unsure, remember that you don’t need to give into social media trends or pressures to ‘join the fun’, just because your friends and family are.

    You could just as easily skip the process and simply reflect on it for yourself without sharing it with the World Wide Web.

    MORE: 13 mental health resolutions you should set yourself for 2019

    MORE: It's time to Marie Kondo your online life

    MORE: It’s not cool to pad shame women who don’t use tampons or cups


    How is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental healthHow is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental healthallieabgarianHow is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental healthWhat is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?How is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental healthHow is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental healthallieabgarianHow is the 10 year challenge affecting your mental healthWhat is cognitive fog/cognitive fatigue and how can you deal with it?

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    (Picture: Twix)

    Attention, white chocolate lovers: White chocolate Twixes are finally available in the UK.

    The Twix is a firm favourite among chocolate lovers, even though some were outraged when it took the place of the Galaxy Truffle in the Celebrations tins a few years back.

    The shortbread and caramel bar now comes smothered in white chocolate. They’re not exactly new – as they have been previously available to buy in the US, but now they’ve been spotted on UK shelves.

    Instagram Photo

    The Instagram account InstaFoodieTwins shared a photo of the white chocolate Twixes, which they found in Asda, captioning it: ‘Look what’s now available in @asda.’

    The post has so far received over 800 likes and plenty of comments from excited customers.

    Instagram Photo

    One person wrote: ‘THIS HAD BETTER NOT BE A JOKE. I’m going to find them and destroy them alllllllllll.’

    The Twix fingers come in packs of nine and cost just £1.99.

    Instagram Photo

    Alongside the regular versions, there are also limited edition miniature versions in the UK, one packet of 14 was recently found in Pound Stretcher.

    If you want to get your hands on a packet, you’d better act fast, because we don’t see these lasting on Asda’s shelves for very long.

    MORE: Do collagen supplements work, and is there a vegan version?

    MORE: You can swim naked in a vat of beer with unlimited booze on tap in Iceland


    This Is Not A Drill: White Chocolate Twixes Have Arrived In The UKThis Is Not A Drill: White Chocolate Twixes Have Arrived In The UKhattiegladwellmetroThis Is Not A Drill: White Chocolate Twixes Have Arrived In The UKThis Is Not A Drill: White Chocolate Twixes Have Arrived In The UKhattiegladwellmetro

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    Dad & bonus dad pics Credit: Willie + Rose Photography https://www.facebook.com/willieandrosephotography/
    Dylan, Willow and David (Picture: Willie + Rose Photography)

    Willow is pretty lucky – she has not one dad, but two.

    David Lewis and Dylan Lenox aren’t a same-sex couple but David is Willow’s biological dad and Dylan became her ‘bonus dad’ after he started a relationship with her mum, Sarah.

    The pair took these cute photographs with five-year-old Willow after a daddy-daughter dance to show how co-parenting and blended families can work.

    In a post on Facebook, Dylan, from Texas, U.S., said: ‘Our daughter Willow. You may never know how your love has changed us all.

    ‘The guy to the left is myself (Daddy, Daddy Dylan or Bonus Dad), in the middle is of course our Princess Willow and the guy to the right is David (Daddy, Daddy David or biological Dad).

    ‘No we are not a same sex couple, but we do share a daughter. David is Sarah’s ex husband and I am the Fiancé. We have molded ourselves into one unique family, of only for the sake of our children to know the power of love. Not only did I gain a daughter, I gained a brother and a best friend. Thank you Sarah for letting this all happen!’

    David and Sarah broke up two years after they married but they were determined to make Willow a priority.

    And Dylan backed them completely.

    He added: ‘When we care more about our children (on both sides of the party) than the way society has taught us to be towards (ex’s/baby mommas/daddy’s) then walls will fall, life will be free of hatred and remorse, and our children will conquer the foolish “norms” that media has shoved in our faces.

    ‘He stays at our home when he visits, because family is always welcome.

    ‘He is not an outsider, he is and will always be apart of my life for the simple fact that we share the same daughter!

    Dad & bonus dad pics Credit: Willie + Rose Photography https://www.facebook.com/willieandrosephotography/
    Dylan, Willow and David (Picture: Willie + Rose Photography)

    ‘Of course not a single moment would be like this without Sarah (mommy) and her kind and generous heart! Willow Grace you are loved by so many people in this world and your Daddies love you!’

    And David and Dylan are so close, he even added a cheeky note on the viral post to say he is single.

    MORE: Attention, chocolate lovers: White chocolate Twixes are finally available in Asda

    MORE: Do you know these secret mum phrases?


    Dad & bonus dad picsDad & bonus dad picslauraabernethy6Dad & bonus dad pics Credit: Willie + Rose Photography https://www.facebook.com/willieandrosephotography/Dad & bonus dad pics Credit: Willie + Rose Photography https://www.facebook.com/willieandrosephotography/Dad & bonus dad picsDad & bonus dad picslauraabernethy6Dad & bonus dad pics Credit: Willie + Rose Photography https://www.facebook.com/willieandrosephotography/Dad & bonus dad pics Credit: Willie + Rose Photography https://www.facebook.com/willieandrosephotography/

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    (Picture: Getty Images)

    Looking for something special to treat yourself or a loved one to on Valentine’s Day?

    Sure, a rose bouquet is a classic and romantic gift on V-day. But nothing beats new underwear and the confidence boost that a sexy set of lingerie gives you. It’s a fun, sexy, and an oh so pretty gift.

    From popular brands to suit every shape, style and budget, we’ve handpicked 15 sexy bodysuits and lingerie sets for Valentine’s Day.

    1. Black Lace Cold Shoulder Ladder Trim Bodysuit, £18, missguided.co.uk

    Black Lace Cold Shoulder Ladder Trim Bodysuit
    (Picture: missguided.co.uk)

    This black lace bodysuit from Missguided works well in the bedroom and as a cute top for a night out with the gals (although you may want to wear a bra underneath).

     

    2. Sheer Lace Strappy Teddy, £17, forever21.com

    Sheer Lace Strappy Teddy
    (Picture: forever21.com)

    Undoubtedly one of our favourites, this sheer lace teddy from Forever21 features a seductive strappy front and back design, with a very cheeky cut.

     

    3. WW x Charlotte Mckinney Brooke White Chord Longline Bra, £30, wolfandwhistle.co.uk

    WW x Charlotte Mckinney Brooke White Chord Longline Bra
    (Picture: wolfandwhistle.co.uk)

    How gorgeous is this Wolf and Whistle Charlotte Mckinney Brooke set with bow and lace-up details? Better yet, it’s available for bustier babes with cup sizing up to 36F.

     

    4. Jude Bra Black, £38, bluebella.com

    Jude Bra Black
    (Picture: bluebella.com)

    Undress to impress with this provocative and very strappy set from Bluebella. The more straps, the better, eh?

     

    5. Lovehoney Plus Size Treasure Me Set, £44.99, lovehoney.co.uk

    Lovehoney Plus Size Treasure Me Set
    (Picture: lovehoney.co.uk)

    If you’ve got a fuller figure and really want to tease and boost your breasts, this best-selling set from Lovehoney is definitely the piece for you.

    6. Iris Lace Bustier Bra, £49, intimissimi.com

    Iris Lace Bustier Bra
    (Picture: intimissimi.com)

    Sometimes you wanna be sexy, but you also want to keep it simple (and comfortable). So how about this Iris Lace Bustier Bra with moulded cups covered in lace with a cotton interior?

     

    7. Silk & Lace Set with Non-Padded Plunge B-DD, £58.50 – £65, marksandspencer.com

    Silk & Lace Set with Non-Padded Plunge B-DD
    (Picture: marksandspencer.com)

    Like classic sets? Consider this plunging, pretty and playful set from Rosie for Autograph.

     

    8. Wonderbra Refined Glamour Full Effect Boosting Bra, £36, figleaves.com

    Wonderbra Refined Glamour Full Effect Boosting Bra
    (Picture: figleaves.com)

    For a set that’s seriously sexy you can’t go wrong with Wonderbra’s Refined Glamour Full Effect Boosting Bra. An ideal option for ladies who want to increase their bosom by two cup sizes. Hello, cleavage.

     

    9. Figleaves Gigi Galloon Lace Cami & Short Set, £40, figleaves.com

    Figleaves Gigi Galloon Lace Cami & Short Set
    (Picture: figleaves.com)

    Nothing’s more classic than a lace cami and short set – grab this one for £40 exclusive to Figleaves.

     

    10. Bridgette Non-padded Plunge Lingerie Set, from £15 – £34, bouxavenue.com

    Bridgette Non-padded Plunge Lingerie Set
    (Picture: bouxavenue.com)

    This lacy pillar box red bra and sheer thong set is a classic combo for Valentine’s – or any day really.

     

    11. Gorgeous DD+ – Black ‘Arabella’ Balcony Bra, £30, debenhams.com

    Gorgeous DD+ - Black 'Arabella' Balcony Bra
    (Picture: debenhams.com)

    If floral prints and bling are more your thing, how about this elegant bra that features Swarovski crystal embellished detailing.

     

    12. Black Lace Padded Cup Bodysuit, £17.99, newlook.com

    Black Lace Padded Cup Bodysuit
    (Picture: newlook.com)

    This New Look black lace bodysuit is an absolute steal and can be worn out (as a top) or in (by itself). You decide…

     

    13. Cecile Bra and Thong, £16 – £34, annsummers.com

    Cecile Bra and Thong
    (Picture: annsummers.com)

    How gorgeous is this ‘Cecile’ set from high street favourite Ann Summers? Perfect for a seductive night in.

     

    14. ASOS DESIGN Morgan Bodysuit, £28, asos.com

    ASOS DESIGN Morgan Bodysuit
    (Picture: asos.com)

    A sheer lace body will definitely keep things sweet on Valentine’s night.

     

    15. Lipsy Lonnie Bra and High-Waisted Brief, £18 – £30, annsummers.com

    Lipsy Lonnie Bra and High-Waisted Brief
    (Picture: annsummers.com)

    Lipsy have delivered with this sexy and ultra flattering bralette and high-waisted set.

    You can’t fault the eyelash lace and scalloped hem.

     


    Midsection Of Sensuous Woman In LingerieMidsection Of Sensuous Woman In Lingerieemilyknott17Black Lace Cold Shoulder Ladder Trim BodysuitSheer Lace Strappy TeddyWW x Charlotte Mckinney Brooke White Chord Longline BraJude Bra BlackLovehoney Plus Size Treasure Me SetIris Lace Bustier BraSilk & Lace Set with Non-Padded Plunge B-DDWonderbra Refined Glamour Full Effect Boosting BraFigleaves Gigi Galloon Lace Cami & Short SetBridgette Non-padded Plunge Lingerie SetGorgeous DD+ - Black 'Arabella' Balcony BraBlack Lace Padded Cup BodysuitCecile Bra and ThongASOS DESIGN Morgan BodysuitLipsy Lonnie Bra and High-Waisted BriefMidsection Of Sensuous Woman In LingerieMidsection Of Sensuous Woman In Lingerieemilyknott17Black Lace Cold Shoulder Ladder Trim BodysuitSheer Lace Strappy TeddyWW x Charlotte Mckinney Brooke White Chord Longline BraJude Bra BlackLovehoney Plus Size Treasure Me SetIris Lace Bustier BraSilk & Lace Set with Non-Padded Plunge B-DDWonderbra Refined Glamour Full Effect Boosting BraFigleaves Gigi Galloon Lace Cami & Short SetBridgette Non-padded Plunge Lingerie SetGorgeous DD+ - Black 'Arabella' Balcony BraBlack Lace Padded Cup BodysuitCecile Bra and ThongASOS DESIGN Morgan BodysuitLipsy Lonnie Bra and High-Waisted Brief

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    (Picture: Asos)

    The retail giant known for its extensive fashion choice and speedy delivery (as well as delivery mishaps) has ventured into a new area – homeware.

    Asos Supply is due to launch on 4 February and according to the brand, includes three trends from this season summarised in three lines, known as Eclectic Luxe, Cool Minimal and Global Traveller.

    There’s a mix of everything from kitchenware to bedding and towels, with a colourful and quirky twist to most items such as pom-poms, tassel detailing, brushstroke patterns and graphic prints. From an environmental standpoint, the glassware in the Eclectic Luxe collection is recycled.

    As it’s Asos, prices start from £8, but many of the pieces are surprisingly basic in their design and similar to those offered from other brands, such as Hema and IKEA.

    Nevertheless, there are still some gems to behold and we’ve chosen our favourite pieces below.

    Asos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS
    Eye mirror £18 (Picture: Asos)
    Asos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS
    Animal print plates, from £20 (Picture: Asos)
    Asos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS
    Eye see double duvet cover, £35 (Picture: Asos)
    Asos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS
    Mixture of items – see website for prices (Picture: Asos)
    Asos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS
    Woven triangle blanket, £32 (Picture: Asos)
    Asos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS
    Mixture of items – see website for prices (Picture: Asos)

    MORE: Asos has a new line for women with big boobs and honestly it was about time

    MORE: ASOS accused of profiting off ‘black working class culture’ with ‘roadman’ socks

    MORE: Does ASOS ban people who complain about their stuff going missing?


    Asos launch own homeware collectionAsos launch own homeware collectionallieabgarianAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collectionAsos launch own homeware collectionallieabgarianAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOSAsos launch own homeware collection Provider: ASOS

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    ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Free-time, we all want more of it.

    It’s time for yourself, time to unwind, time to do the things you love and, most importantly, time when you don’t have to be at work.

    Most of us are free-time poor. We work increasingly long hours as employers push us to the limit and we scrabble to stay adrift in an unstable job market.

    As a result, the free-time we have becomes precious.

    A delicate, precious window of 48-hours which must be protected at all costs.

    In that time we are somehow meant to complete all of the life admin, socialising, resting, exercising, creative pursuits and self-care for the entire week.

    It can be overwhelming, and can lead to the unpleasant phenomenon of free-time paralysis.

    This is where you’re essentially immobilized by choice. Unable to decide whether you should write that blog post, watch that Netflix show everyone’s talking about, or meet the girls for brunch – you end up doing nothing at all.

    And then the guilt sets in. It’s a pretty horrible cycle.

    So how do we break out of it? If you suffer from free-time paralysis then it’s probably time you re-framed your own expectations for yourself.

    woman lying down
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    A lot of these feelings are caused by the hustle-porn culture we have created, where busy is king and you gain validation through achieving tasks.

    When you’re in this mindset, even the nicest activities can become insurmountable chores.

    Take self-care. The recent commodification of self-care has bombarded us with messaging that we must make time for skin care, for long baths, for meditation. And if we don’t, we are somehow failing.

    Which is astoundingly counter-intuitive.

    We have all been there. We finally have a night off, no plans, no gym, no dates – just beautiful, empty hours lying before us.

    We walk home from work dreaming of the things we will fill the time with – we could batch cook healthy dinners, or finally Skype grandma, or maybe tonight is the perfect night to start that novel.

    But suddenly it’s 10 pm, you’ve eaten cold beans for dinner and wasted three hours flipping between Instagram and mindless terrestrial television.

    Why do we feel like this? Why does it seem to be an all-or-nothing scenario? Either we are nailing life and ticking everything off our lists, or we are sitting on the bed, staring at the wall.

    Counselling Directory member, Peter Klein, says it essentially comes down to stress. Our overworked brains struggle to function when left to their own devices.

    ‘As everyone is constantly reachable through their smartphone, most people have a vastly increased workload,’ Peter tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Many patients that I see who get paralysed in their free time and end up doing nothing, also attend their work emails at nine pm and stress about all of the things that they have to do.

    ‘Many people these days equate self-worth with achieving tasks and over-focus on being successful, which means that they have what is called conditional self-esteem. Such pressure can make people want to find the perfect answer as to what they should be doing in their free-time.

    ‘It is always harder to decide what to do when you have set yourself such a high bar – it usually just leads to analysis paralysis.’

    The idea of ‘conditional self-esteem’ is interesting. We only feel good about ourselves when we are meeting the expectations we have set.

    So maybe it is these expectations we need to address.

    Freelance writer, Almara, says expectation and guilt both play huge parts in how she feels when she has time off.

    ‘I definitely suffer from free-time paralysis, which I attribute to years of working far too much, and never really learning to relax,’ explains Almara.

    ‘To me, it presents itself whenever I have any time to myself; I get restless and often feel guilty for doing nothing on a day off, when in reality, I probably need it.

    ‘But it’s not just about an inability to unwind. In my head, I’ll think of big plans for my days off, outings and experiences that I genuinely want to do, but when the day comes around, I just, well, don’t.

    ‘Partly because I’m tired, but also because I’m stuck in a loop of where I want to do something, but there’s too much choice, and actually I end up lying in bed, eating and watching Netflix. And again, feeling guilty about it.

    ‘Overall, I’d say there’s too much pressure on people to ‘live life to the fullest’ and really do something special when we have time off. It creates undue pressure that we don’t need and can be amplified by social media, where we constantly have to share the amazing experiences we have.

    ‘Imagine an entire Instagram account of someone doing nothing – it’s very rare. Free-time paralysis is definitely a real thing, but combating it is easier said than done.

    ‘Personally, I try to remember that how I spend my time off is only of importance to me, and should make me happy.

    ‘And you know what? Despite living in one of the biggest cities in the world, sometimes I really just want to sit at home and do nothing. The uber-cool hipster experiences will still be there when my paralysis wears off.’

    How to use your free-time

    Motivate yourself – set yourself a task and clearly identify what good thing you are gaining or what bad thing you are avoiding by completing that task.

    Write it down to make it more tangible and more likely for your brain to retain the information.

    Make yourself accountable – if there is something that you have really wanted to do in your free time but just haven’t been able to. Get someone else involved and make them hold you accountable. This will mean you are much more likely to do it.

    Same goes for a life admin task that maybe you have been avoiding. Tell someone you will complete this by a certain time and get them to follow up with you.

    Schedule your time – free-time should be just that and I’m not saying schedule every minute of your day and turn your free time into a work day. But by scheduling in some time for some key things you want to get done will help you achieve what you want.

    If you can do this in advance, it gives your mind time to get used to the idea that you have time set aside to do only those tasks that you have planned.

    Nadia Rafique, life coach for women

    Fran, who lives in the north east, agrees. She says that now that she has reduced her office job to four-days per week, she feels the paralysis even more keenly.

    ‘The spare work day is for writing, freelance work and community projects, so technically I should feel less obliged to be productive every waking second of the weekend,’ Fran tells us.

    ‘But actually it’s just a new layer of guilt that I should be achieving more on that day, and I still can’t relax at weekends.

    ‘Even though, you know, human. Limited hours. Limited energy. I still rely on lists, and I have to write them on paper because if I try to use an app of any kind, I will end up mindlessly scrolling through social media (any site, doesn’t matter which) for an hour and then I spiral into doing nothing at all.’

    Nadia Rafique is a life coach for women. She says this is a problem that comes up a lot with her clients. She believes there’s a solid, scientific explanation behind it.

    ‘Motivation is sparked by a release of dopamine in the brain,’ explains Nadia.

    ‘Dopamine spikes when we anticipate something good happening or avoid something bad. In the work place this happens all the time, if we get that project done on time, we avoid a tongue lashing from a client. If we get extra work done, we get a promotion.

    ‘With free-time it’s harder for our brain to identify what the “reward” might be and therefore less dopamine is released, meaning there is less motivation to do the things we want and need.

    ‘As human beings we need accountability. We naturally always work that little bit harder when someone else is watching us. This is why many people tend to be so effective in the work place but not at home. Very rarely do you have someone holding you to account for all the things you want to do in your spare time.

    ‘At work we have structure, we know we have a certain amount of time to get things done and we have deadlines, so we ensure we work to this timetable. In our free-time we don’t have this, so it can be really hard to navigate as there is no set structure to stick to.’

    So maybe it’s all about the lack of structure – without it, it’s harder to stick to a plan and we are lost.

    But surely the very essence of free-time is its lack of structure. The fluidity of endless possibility, the freedom of not being tied to a rigid doctrine of how to spend your day.

    Maybe what we really need to learn is how to harness this powerful non-structure and use it to our advantage.

    ‘It is important to remember that not choosing what to do is also a choice,’ Peter tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘Having to attend many things at the same time during work hours or whilst being a parent has to be counteracted by choosing something specific and giving it one’s full attention.

    ‘Urges, which are often expressed as momentary impulses to quickly pick up the phone or do some small little task need to be resisted. This will help slow the mind down and get out of a task focused mindset.

    ‘The important thing here is to remember that it’s not about what one chooses, but how one attends a given activity.’

    Really, you can’t make the wrong choice when it comes to free-time. That’s the whole point – it’s time to do whatever you please. And you don’t have to justify your decisions to anyone.

    The only way to quieten that judgmental voice of guilt is to fully embrace the lack of structure. And to accept that your worth as a human isn’t determind by how many things you have ticked off a list.

    MORE: We need to talk about the psychological effects of suffering a sports injury

    MORE: People share their stories of the first time they had sex

    MORE: Let go of your fear of failure – it’s good for you


    ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)nataliemorris88ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)woman lying downILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)nataliemorris88ILLUSTRATION REQUEST: Brown men don’t cry – how a culture of shame stops South Asian men talking about mental health (Rupen Gahir Kalsi)woman lying down

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    H&M launch gender-neutral line
    (Picture: H&M)

    Tomorrow, H&M will launch a brand new collection in collaboration with fellow Swedish label, Eytys, known for its unisex designs.

    The entire line is gender-neutral, with a workwear aesthetic and in traditional Scandinavian feel comprises of contemporary and minimalistic looks with an edgy street style twist.

    Although the line is said to be for both women and men, it does have a distinct masculine feel to it with a nod to the 90s, featuring graphic t-shirts and baggy jeans, as well as Eytys speciality – statement footwear; from snakeskin trainers to chunky boots.

    As for colours, they’ve stuck to the basics: white, black and beige, with a pop of colour in mustard yellow and the aforementioned snakeskin pattern.

    ‘With this collaboration, we hope to introduce the H&M customer to our design philosophy of robust and fuss-free design where function triumphs embellishment and styles span genders,’ said Max Schiller, creative director at Eytys, in a brand statement.

    ‘The collection is all about proportions – creating a distinct unisex silhouette by playing around with loose silhouettes and chunky architectural footwear. It’s the Eytys idea of a ‘generic’ look, one that is meant to elevate integrity, attitude and confidence.’

    H&M launch gender-neutral lineProvider: H&MSource: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/free-form-campaigns/eytys-x-hm.html?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=3134525_The%20Independent&utm_content=10&utm_term=UK_Network&ranMID=43250&ranEAID=fZYk0n0yYYI&ranSiteID=fZYk0n0yYYI-RDTb_JrZOB9TYWy7hZFM.A#collection
    (Picture: H&M)
    H&M launch gender-neutral lineProvider: H&MSource: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/free-form-campaigns/eytys-x-hm.html?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=3134525_The%20Independent&utm_content=10&utm_term=UK_Network&ranMID=43250&ranEAID=fZYk0n0yYYI&ranSiteID=fZYk0n0yYYI-RDTb_JrZOB9TYWy7hZFM.A#collection
    (Picture: H&M)
    H&M launch gender-neutral lineProvider: H&MSource: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/free-form-campaigns/eytys-x-hm.html?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=3134525_The%20Independent&utm_content=10&utm_term=UK_Network&ranMID=43250&ranEAID=fZYk0n0yYYI&ranSiteID=fZYk0n0yYYI-RDTb_JrZOB9TYWy7hZFM.A#collection
    (Picture: H&M)
    H&M launch gender-neutral lineProvider: H&MSource: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/free-form-campaigns/eytys-x-hm.html?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=3134525_The%20Independent&utm_content=10&utm_term=UK_Network&ranMID=43250&ranEAID=fZYk0n0yYYI&ranSiteID=fZYk0n0yYYI-RDTb_JrZOB9TYWy7hZFM.A#collection
    (Picture: H&M)
    H&M launch gender-neutral lineProvider: H&MSource: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/free-form-campaigns/eytys-x-hm.html?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=3134525_The%20Independent&utm_content=10&utm_term=UK_Network&ranMID=43250&ranEAID=fZYk0n0yYYI&ranSiteID=fZYk0n0yYYI-RDTb_JrZOB9TYWy7hZFM.A#collection
    (Picture: H&M)
    H&M launch gender-neutral lineProvider: H&MSource: https://www2.hm.com/en_gb/free-form-campaigns/eytys-x-hm.html?utm_source=Rakuten&utm_medium=Affiliate&utm_campaign=3134525_The%20Independent&utm_content=10&utm_term=UK_Network&ranMID=43250&ranEAID=fZYk0n0yYYI&ranSiteID=fZYk0n0yYYI-RDTb_JrZOB9TYWy7hZFM.A#collection
    (Picture: H&M)

    You can also view the collection on H&M’s website ahead of tomorrow’s release.

    Prices range from £14.99 to £149.

    MORE: Fashion Nova is using the most liked egg on Instagram to promote new jeans

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