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

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    Little girl with pink lipstick smeared on
    A meticulous colouring in job (Picture: Caters/Victoria Kidner)

    The first rule of parenting is not leaving your kids alone for too long.

    Even a second can be too long, lest they get acquainted with a Vaseline tub or Nutella jar (RIP furniture).

    When one little girl decided to get artistic with her mum’s lipstick, her choice of medium was her face.

    Annoyingly for mum Victoria Kidner, from West Midlands, four-year-old Sofia decided to make a whole mess out of her makeup.

    The youngster smeared lipstick all over her face, leaving a pink tinge for days.

    Victoria, 33, had walked into the kitchen to do some washing up and left Sofia on the sofa watching TV.

    Despite only leaving her daughter to her own devices for 10 minutes, Victoria was shocked to see the chaos Sofia had caused in such a short space of time.

     Sofia, 4, with her mum Victoria Kidner, 33
    Victoria and Sofia before her lipstick-ruining days (Picture: Caters/Victoria Kidner)

    When her daughter came bouldering into the kitchen to show mummy her ‘artwork’, Victoria was furious.

    Even though the lipstick was in a cupboard upstairs in her mother’s bedroom, Sofia had managed to take the make-up and colour in her face.

    The mum had to spend the next 10 minutes cleaning her daughter’s face. While it came off, there is still a pink hue on the child’s face.

    Victoria, a postal worker, said: ‘I didn’t hear her making any noise, so thought she was just enjoying herself and behaving.

    ‘But whilst my back was turned she had gone upstairs and got my make-up bag from a cupboard in my bedroom.

    ’10 minutes later she came running into the kitchen with a massively proud look on her face.

    ‘This is when I saw her with a perfectly coloured in bright pink face with the biggest smile.’

    Victoria used baby wipes to get it off before giving Sofia a bath.

    Pink lipstick
    RIP lipstick (Picture: Caters/Victoria Kidner)

    Despite having her favourite lipstick ruined, Victoria admits that she couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.

    She said: ‘At first I just couldn’t believe how perfectly she had got it – I couldn’t even be mad at her!

    ‘After looking over her face I had to get a quick picture to look back on and give her credit for the amazingly perfect job – not one bit was missed out!

    ‘I did bolt upstairs because I was expecting to find a massacre of lipstick across my bedroom, but I was pleasantly surprised that no trace was left – that was one silver lining!’

    MORE: Little girl has to have hair trimmed short after toddler brother cut it all off

    MORE: Mum hits back at critics who call her gender neutral parenting ‘disgusting’

    MORE: Mum praised for sharing photo that sums up the reality of parenting


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    Incels are involuntarily celibate men who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner.

    Some experience hatred towards women for ‘denying’ them sex, while others use online communities as Reddit and 4chan to vent about their struggles.

    In recent years, the community has been propelled to the limelight following violent acts committed by self-labelled incels.

    That has worried another corner of the internet occupied by men who identify as Forever Aloners. Like incels, they inhibit online spaces where they recount their experiences struggling to form romantic relationships and search for camaraderie.

    But they’re keen to stress the differences between the two communities.

    Recently, Metro.co.uk uncovered reasons why the incel community is so appealing to its followers despite obvious problems with masochism and racism as well as talking exploring why some men are trying to wean themselves off it.

    Since then, some men have contacted us to explain how Forever Alone (FA) communities are completely different and people should not conflate the two.

    Paul*, (aged 35+) emailed Metro.co.uk to tells us he’s a Forever Aloner who just craves human companionship. Sex isn’t his main focus – even when he paid for it, he ended up ‘crying and cuddling’ the woman.

    He says sex is the focus for incels, who are so condemned on FA forums that they’re banned.

    He explains: ‘Forever Aloners tend to be in a similar situation as incels but without any of the adolescent/toxic nonsense that incels spout (Chad, Stacy, etc) nor the hatred and hostility.

    ‘There is a tension between the incels and FAs because incels are banned from Forever Alone discussion boards.

    ‘Forever Aloners tend to be people who have failed at dating – adult virgins, those with Asperger’s, the mentally ill, etc. We don’t “blame” women, nor are we fixated on sex (no more than anyone else is).’

    Illustration of men conventionally unattractive sitting around in a canteen not talking to one another
    Incels occupy notoriously misogynist spaces online (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    People end up as Forever Alone for a variety of reasons but the commonality is a lack of connection with other people.

    There are different levels of being FA – many have no one at all in their life (no friends, family, or love interest), others have regular friendship networks but have never had a romantic relationship.

    Paul, who works at a university and earns a good income, is indifferent to sex but craves human companionship.

    He adds: ‘I have dated for only a few months or so in my 35+ years and that was all 16 years ago. I am profoundly introverted, and simply can’t talk to women that way.

    ‘The dating world is not anywhere nearly as forgiving for men with lifelong mental illnesses as it is for women.

    ‘I don’t think I’m a bad person. I’m not some sort of basement dweller. I’m caring and kind by disposition. I shower and groom daily, I’m polite and pleasant. I’m the quintessential nice guy.’

    Paul highlights the thing that sets him, as well as other FA members, apart from incels: responsibility.

    ‘I don’t have any hatred whatsoever for women,’ he says. ‘The problems I have are all due to my own failings.’

    He reveals that he has poor mental health and reliance on alcohol, which he knows only he can get help for. He isn’t looking for the ‘perfect woman’ to offer emotional labour. He wants to get better for himself.

    How can people on Forever Alone forums help themselves?

    Dr Shaun Davis, a professor at the University of Nottingham and co-author of Positive Mental Health, tells Metro.co.uk some ways FA followers can help better themselves.

    ‘Train to become more positive – it’s easy to lose balance because you can have a month of great days and one bad day can throw it all off-kilter.

    ‘Keep perspective. Get objectivity by stepping outside of yourself.

    ‘Personally, I’ll make notes on something, stand back from myself and self-reflect.

    ‘If I need to get some headspace, I get the dogs and go for a walk in the woods to process issues/challenges and approach. But I need to get away from the thing affecting me.

    ‘There’s no one size fits all solution, you have to understand what’s caused the problem.’

    Some of his recommendations include actively trying to immerse yourself in social situations such as community events, the gym, and generally expanding social interactions.

    Connect with people with similar interests, a book club, a mindfulness activity, things that interest you. If you have social anxiety, speak to GP, get support, and explore medication if you can.

    From chatting to FAs, one thing seems clear – they take ownership of their shortcomings, unlike incels who often accuse women of racism and misogyny, and blame their rejection on an ethnic hierarchy of ‘Tyrones’, ‘ricecels’ and ‘currycels’.

    Another male FA user, Bob, tells us he’s been FA for most of his life since being homeschooled in the fourth grade.

    Similarly to Paul, Bob blames himself for not having anyone in his life.

    ‘I have nobody to text; nobody to hang out with on the weekends,’ he explains. ‘My parents support and encourage me, but at the end of the day, my FA status comes from myself.

    ‘I believe the incel community place the blame on others rather than themselves. They refuse to take responsibility for their lives.

    ‘It took me years to realise the only thing that can change our status is for us to take responsibility and do something. I have failed to take responsibility for my situation, which, I believe, is why I’m still FA.’

    Bob adds that the incel community consists of people who primarily blame their status on women.

    In comparison, he says, ‘the FA community has more open-minded individuals who give encouragement and important advice.’

    Like other FAs, Bob goes through mental fluctuations where he feels content and other times where he’s disconnected from the world.

    To alleviate some of that loneliness, he goes on these forums, which he feels can be a positive avenue of escape. He’s also starting to see the positives of being free of a romantic relationship.

    He tells us: ‘With no friends, there is so much time to learn whatever I want to do without interruption.’

    But a 19-year-old user on a Reddit FA group expresses the opposite sentiment.

    He tells Metro.co.uk: ‘I joined FA simply because it was what comforted my worries. But it’s kind of funny because the FA sub created most of my worries.

    ‘When I discovered the sub I realized my wishful thinking of “the right person will come along one day” was wrong, and that by sitting around, nothing was going to happen

    ‘But joining hasn’t helped. It’s done me more harm than good.’

    Dr Davis, a professor at the University of Nottingham, thinks these spaces reinforce negative behaviours and encourages followers to leave them altogether.

    ‘These sites help perpetuate these behaviours by continuing a negative spiral when followers label themselves “forever alone”,’ he says.

    ‘There is a mental toll for reinforcing negative behaviour, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby they talk themselves into being forever alone.

    ‘These users need to ask why they’re on FA sites – Is it an alternative to reaching out, for attention to show others their struggle? Because they genuinely don’t know what to do about it?’.

    He recommends identifying what’s at the heart of isolation, such as poor self-esteem or badly regulated mental health.

    Getting a change of environment might help – which means logging out and leaving the computer.

    *Names have been changed.

    MORE: Why do so many men think feminism is a cancer?

    MORE: In the midst of racism and violence, why is the incel community still so appealing?

    Illo request: Forever Aloners are trying to distance themselves from incel communitiesIllo request: Forever Aloners are trying to distance themselves from incel communities

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    metro illustrations
    Pick up the phone (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Few things fill a person with dread more than an unexpected phone call.

    Texting, Whatsapping, Slacking, and DM-ing have become so recognised as the go-to means of communication that a phone call feels like it can only be a bad thing – a medical emergency, a situation so serious it needs to be discussed over the phone, a telling-off, a scary monster calling to say they’re outside/you’re going to die.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s from a family member, someone from work, a friend, or an unknown number. A phone call is so anxiety-inducing that the recipient is caught between either silently waiting for the ringing to stop or experiencing the stomach-sinking adrenaline rush of answering with a ‘hey, what’s up?’.

    No wonder Ofcom has found that phone calls are dying out, with one in four of us making fewer than five calls on our mobile phones a month. I’d guess that those five calls are for the doctor’s offices and hair salons that refuse to allow online booking.

    But in spite of all the horror and misery around phone calls, it would be a huge shame if we stopped making calls entirely.

    Phone calls can be a truly wonderful way to connect – something that’s hugely important considering the epidemic of loneliness that’s reaching every corner of society.

    There’s something about a phone conversation that inspires honesty and openness in a way texting and messaging doesn’t.

    Woman holding phone in front of her
    We need to reclaim phone calls as a vital form of connection (Picture: Getty)

    There’s no time to edit your responses to make you seem like you’ve got your sh*t together. If someone asks you a question over the phone, you do eventually have to answer – and they’ll be able to hear in your tone whether you’re upset, pissed off, or tired.

    It can even be a more honest type of communication than talking IRL. Not having to look someone in the eye can embolden you to say things that would feel too awkward or painful face-to-face – that’s why you’ll often find phone calls with a friend turning into impromptu therapy sessions.

    Phone calls are intimate. They’re a way to dive inside another person’s life while they’re comfortable in their own environment, allowing social interaction for anyone who’s not able to leave the house or can’t afford to go out for drinks and a catchup. They let friendship span across miles and countries without the need for expensive train tickets and put-off plans.

    Think of the times before texting was so common, when a phone call with someone you fancied would drag out into hours of late-night laughter, a walk to the bus stop was filled with speedy recaps of your day, and you’d call your mum to verbally guide you through how on earth you roast a chicken in an oven that’s quite clearly too small.

    The trick to turning phone calls from something of horror into an important moment is simple: plan your calls in advance.

    We need to reclaim phone calls as a vital form of connection in a time when our mental health is – generally speaking – in dire condition and we desperately need to just talk. 

    Get rid of the anxiety of a mystery phone call by agreeing to chat with a friend, a partner, a parent at a set day and time for as long as you can. Free yourself from the worry of what needs to be spoken about, the desire to check your phone to see what time it is, and the anxiety of your phone’s battery running out midway through (if you plan in advance, you’ll have a charger handy and be sat close enough to an outlet).

    We need human connection, and when highly edited messaging isn’t enough, and face-to-face conversations feel too daunting, time-consuming, or difficult, phone calls are the answer.

    MORE: Doctors should prescribe technology to tackle loneliness, report urges

    MORE: Sainsbury’s is testing out talking tables to combat loneliness

    MORE: Why you should hold your iPhone in your right hand to make phone calls

    Mental health series #4Mental health series #4

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    Green Natural Beech Tree Forest illuminated by Sunbeams
    Lush (Picture: Woodland Trust)

    Experts have been saying for years that spending time in and around nature is good for our mental health, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.

    A new report published today, aka World Mental Health Day, by The Wildlife Trusts, has found that ‘nature prescriptions’ can improve the moods of people with poor mental health.

    Researchers said: ‘Prescribing nature works – and saves money.

    ‘A natural, community-based approach to health offers an important non-medical service that will deliver health prevention at scale and reduce the current burden on the NHS.’

    With this and plenty of other research supporting the fact that nature is good for our mental health, and with it being World Mental Health Day to boot, what better time is there to find more ways to get extra nature time in your life?

    Full Length Rear View Of Woman Walking Amidst Plants Against Sky
    Even standing next to a tree can have the desired effect (Picture: Getty)

    Take a 20-minute walk

    Scientists found earlier this year that spending just 20-30 minutes in nature can cut levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, by 10%.

    Spending even more time out there amongst the greenery will continue to have benefits on your mental health and wellbeing, however those first 20 minutes are the most impactful.

    Even if you live in a big city, the authors of the study have said that getting out of your house or office and spending time on or around a tree or patch of grass will be enough to have an effect.

    Eat your lunch outside

    If you’re not the active type, or you’re just not in the mood, you don’t have to be moving for nature to have an impact on your cortisol levels.

    According to Dr Mary Carol Hunter, the study leader, even just sitting in ‘a place that provides you with a sense of nature’ can help.

    A runner in a park wearing a tracksuit and wearing headphones
    Exercise is also beneficial to your mental health (Picture: Ryan Edy/taxi/Getty)

    Exercise in a local park as well as in the gym

    In addition to the stress-hormone-lowering power of being around nature, you can give your mental wellbeing an extra boost by doing heavier exercise outside too.

    Dr Dimitrios Paschos, a consultant psychiatrist at Re:Cognition Health, told us in the past: ‘There are many things to improve your resilience against depression, people do mindfulness, yoga, sports, generally a balance between work commitments and some form of movement and enjoyment.’

    The NHS also supports exercise as a way to look after your mental health, with their website stating:  ‘Being physically active can lift your mood, reduce stress and anxiety, encourage the release of endorphins (your body’s feel-good chemicals) and improve self-esteem.

    ‘Exercising may also be a good distraction from negative thoughts, and it can improve social interaction.’

    a person holding herbs in a garden
    The spoils of having green thumbs (Picture: LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)

    Take up gardening

    Studies have also shown that actively working with plants can reduce stress.

    In 2015, a study which compared two activities – working on a word processor and tending to plants – found that participants were calmer when working with nature.

    If that sounds like your cup of tea but you don’t have access to your own garden, you can rent an allotment, or you could even ask a friend or family member if you can use their garden every now and again.

    Plant pots on a balcony – or even a windowsill – will also work. Think of all of those fresh herbs you could cook with.

    a summerhouse
    Shed goals are a thing now too (Picture: Cuprinol/PA Wire)

    Turn your shed into a summerhouse

    If you’re one of those fortunate enough to have your own garden, you might consider taking your shed to the next level by turning it into a summerhouse.

    Summerhouses, which are effectively detached conservatories, can be great to hang out in during summer or winter, depending on how well insulated they are.

    Picture the scene: a comfy chair, a good book, some cosy clothing and the sounds of birds ahead, what could be more peaceful?

    If you add some lovely big windows, you’ll be able to enjoy the outside without actually having to be outside.

    Try camping for your next holiday

    The more intrepid of you out there probably don’t need another excuse to go camping, but it’s always worth keeping the mental health benefits of being out in nature in mind.

    Who knows, maybe telling your less-keen friends and loved ones that being outside is good for their wellbeing will finally get them to come along with you?

    Even if camping isn’t really your bag, there are plenty of glamping options out there all over the world – from the Peak District to Croatia.

    Indoor green places Barbican Conservatory Provider: TimeOut London
    The Barbican Conservatory (Picture: TimeOut London)

    Check out your nearest greenhouse/botanical garden

    It can be hard finding new and satisfying green spaces to explore in big cities, and with winter creeping up, soon plenty of us will be finding it all too easy to stay in with a warm blanket and a cuppa instead of braving the elements.

    That’s where indoor green spaces really come into their own.

    From the Temperature House in Kew Gardens to the Barbican Conservatory, there are plenty of lush places to get your nature fix without suffering the colder weather.

    plants in the office
    This could be you but you’re playing (Picture: Getty)

    Get house or desk plants

    The Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) previously told Metro.co.uk: ‘We know for sure that plants and gardening are vital for our mental health.

    ‘There’s nothing quite like being around, and interacting with nature to relax and help ease the mind. With gardening, simply focusing on the task in hand, be it weeding, pruning or planting, can have an astoundingly positive effect on your mood.

    ‘Ninety per cent of us say we feel better just by being around plants and evidence continues to stack up around the positive impact of gardening and having access to green space has on our mental health.’

    Plants like Aloe Vera, Bamboo and Devil’s Ivy can all do well in low-light and/or low-water environments, which makes them ideal for an office or home.

    For more XX

    MORE: Plant-themed baby names are a major trend right now

    MORE: Ever fancied growing your own d*ck plant? Well, now you can

    MORE: Man is tricked into thinking a potted pickle was a cactus, believing it for weeks


    Green Natural Beech Tree Forest illuminated by Sunbeams through FogGreen Natural Beech Tree Forest illuminated by Sunbeams through Fog

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    Shopping spree, bags.
    Let’s be honest, there are altogether too many occasions at which a gift is allegedly required
    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    So you want to get out of giving your mate a gift, then, huh? Absolutely fair enough.

    Let’s be honest, there are altogether too many occasions at which a gift is allegedly required. Birthdays, Christmas, engagements, baby showers, bridal showers, weddings, hen dos, anniversaries, house warmings and miscellaneous other happy times when frankly a hug and a high five should suffice.

    Not to mention – Carrie Bradshaw was entirely correct in that episode where she argued that married people are entitled to too many presents and single people deserve to have expensive high heels bought for them.

    We’ve all gone a little mad on the materialism front and truly, we could be getting away with a sentimental card rather than splurging on a burnt orange Le Creuset pot for someone whose betrothal we don’t even fully condone.

    It’s time we did away with the unspoken pressure to validate every occasion with the presentation of a gift and perhaps even limited ourselves to giving presents only when we truly want to.

    I will quickly say that giving a gift can be a jolly old feeling, sometimes, and it is a nice thing to do. If you’re into giving gifts, absolutely go for it, my friend.

    Getting the perfect present for someone you actually cherish and seeing their face when they open it is a real delight. But on so many other occasions, it’s a straight-up nuisance.

    Expensive, superfluous, inconvenient. An affront to your bank account and potentially even your principles. So, let’s trot through some circumstances in which you have my permission not to buy your mate a present.

    When your presence is present enough

    Destination weddings. Your best friend’s birthday dinner at a posh restaurant. Hen dos with multiple locations, activities and outfit changes.

    Sometimes, your presence at a celebratory occasion ought to be present enough, especially if you’d had to pay for the pleasure of being there.

    It really is your call here but I think we should be quietly rebelling against the social convention that we must lavish everyone in gifts, when attending someone’s event is actually a lovely (and expensive!!) enough gesture as it is.

    Truly, if you’ve paid for flights to Ibiza, drinks all night, a spa day and then a Beyonce dance class (for which you also paid in dignity) to congratulate your friend on getting hitched, I don’t believe you owe them an extravagant present.

    Maybe a little something, maybe a heartfelt card, maybe a promise to love them forever more, but really they should appreciate your physical presence more than anything.

    We should not feel the need to mark every significant day with a tangible gift; might I suggest simply enjoying each other’s company and perhaps saying a nice thing, instead?

    Flying cash
    Would the patron saint of giving gifts (I don’t know, Santa Claus) approve this kind of behaviour? (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    When you can’t afford it

    There are always pay disparities in friendship groups. If some of you are minted and others less so, then it truly is only fair that people feel comfortable staying within their own budget.

    If you cannot afford to treat your mate on her birthday or wedding or whatever, then simply do not. You might like to explain, if you’re into that sort of transparency, but equally you could just tell them how much they mean to you and make sure they know they matter instead.

    You especially shouldn’t feel as though you must match someone’s own spending habits in the gift you get them.

    Why do rich people always get the most lavish presents? It makes no sense.

    It’s perfectly acceptable to give small, affordable gifts – in fact, they’re often the loveliest because let’s remember, if you’re measuring your friendship in monetary value, you’re doing it all wrong.

    When in doubt, bake, write something genuine or get a houseplant.

    When you don’t really like the person very much if you’re honest about it

    Oof, buying a present for someone you don’t even like very much is a total injustice. A small one, in the scheme of things, but an injustice all the same.

    Presents should really be gestures of love – a happy little physical object that signifies how much you like or adore a person. A treat, for both giver and recipient.

    If you stick to that logic, you hereby have permission not to purchase items for people you don’t care for, people you actively dislike and people you have perhaps even chosen as a nemesis.

    If social convention suggests that you should buy a present for someone you don’t like, think to yourself, is this really in the spirit of presents?

    Would the patron saint of giving gifts (I don’t know, Santa Claus) approve this kind of behaviour?

    I don’t think so. Go on, give yourself a cheeky little policy of only ever buying things for people who make your heart warm. Either that, or get this awful person something objectively terrible, if it’ll make you laugh.

    When you have taken a no-present pact

    Do you know what? If you routinely do not want to give your friends presents and you’d like to feel comfortable with that decision, you could consider setting up a no-present pact among your group.

    You could all pledge to just spend time with each other and shower your birthday, engaged, pregnant friend with compliments and borderline inappropriate affection instead of handing them something wrapped.

    You could set a monetary limit for birthday presents and just exchange mince pies at Christmas time. You could do a Secret Santa style setup, where you’re all only responsible for one person’s gift.

    Do whatever feels right for your friendship group, but a no-present pledge could work. That way, you know what to expect and you can just do away with any guilt or awkwardness altogether.

    You should relax into your anti-present stance. There’s no point being scrupulous about this if you’re arbitrarily going to feel guilt alongside it.

    If you decide not to give gifts to your mates, stand by that choice and simply try to be extra pleasant company instead.

    If we are friends and you’re going to see me on my birthday week, though, I’d like a personalised limerick about how much you love me – and a cookie.

    Metro IllustrationsMetro Illustrations

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    Topshop unveils new collection for Mental health awareness day
    Topshop has collaborated with charity CALM (Picture: Topshop)

    Today, high street favourite Topshop has unveiled a new collection in collaboration with charity CALM — Campaign Against Living Miserably – to mark World Mental Health Day.

    The 13-piece collection has been created with the aim of stimulating conversations around mental health and normalising the discussions.

    T-shirts, hoodies and sweaters all feature in the range – with six pieces for Topshop and seven for Topman – and each item has its own unique design.

    The capsule collection includes garments with illustrations and slogans on the front, each relating to the ‘speaking out’ theme.

    T-shirts and sweatshirts in the women’s range are adorned with phrases such as ‘talk talk talk’, ‘fragile’ and ‘express yourself’ on the front. The menswear collection includes a series of cute drawings, such as a humanised ear and mouth walking together and a switch illustration.

    topshop and calm collection for world mental health day
    A number of slogan T-shirts feature (Picture: Topshop)
    topshop and calm collection for world mental health day
    Boxing gloves represent not fighting emotions (Picture: Topshop)

    Prices range from £16 to £35 and £5 from every garment sold goes towards funding CALM’s lifesaving helpline and webchat.

    Each piece of clothing comes with a special care label stitched onto the outside of it but, instead of laundry instructions, it has self-care phrases such as ‘talk to a mate to iron them out’ and ‘completely spun out? Call CALM’, as well as contact details for the charity.

    topshop and calm collection for world mental health day
    The creative self care label (Picture: Topshop)

    The British retailer has been working with CALM since 2011, to get the nation talking about mental health. Together, over the past eight years, they’ve created campaigns and zines and hosted events.

    topshop and calm collection for world mental health day
    Some other cute animations (Picture: Topshop)

    Jason Griffiths, brand communications director at Topshop and Topman, said: ‘We chose to launch the first phase of our Care Sewn In initiative to coincide with World Mental Health Day as well as at a time when “back to college” is a focus for students and young people.

    ‘We know that this is a time where many are faced with the pressures of starting or returning to education. By partnering with CALM we hope to empower young individuals to self-care, change the conversation around mental health and encourage peer-to-peer support so that no one suffers alone.’

    Need support? Contact the Samaritans

    For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

    MORE: As a psychiatrist, this is what I want you to know about mental health

    MORE: World Mental Health Day: ‘Nature prescriptions’ can improve people’s mental health

    MORE: UK students are waiting up to three months for mental health care

    Topshop unveils new collection for Mental Health Awareness DayTopshop unveils new collection for Mental Health Awareness Day

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    iceland unicorn shaped potatoes
    Magical (Picture: Iceland)

    Would you eat a unicorn? Now you can – in potato-form, thanks to Iceland.

    It can’t have escaped your attention that unicorns are all the rage for under-tens – okay, and some ‘over-tens’ (twenty-somethings?), too.

    Iceland, along with McCain, has leaped on the unicorn trend to launch unicorn-shaped potato shapes, costing £1 a bag. Think potato smiles – but unicorns.

    The unicorns are made with real potato mash and can be cooked quickly from frozen: excellent news for busy parents of toddlers who are transfixed by unicorn YouTube, no doubt.

    In case one unicorn-based foodstuff isn’t enough to entice your child to the table, Iceland also stocks Bernard Matthews Unicorn Dippers for £2, and an own-brand Strawberry and Candyfloss Unicorn Ice Cream for the same price.

    Let’s be honest, that sounds like an irresistibly Instagrammable meal.

    Unicorn love has swept the nation for a surprisingly long time. It was two years ago that Starbucks introduced its garish unicorn frappuccino. And still, aficionados spent this summer lounging on giant inflatable unicorns and riding ‘demeaned’ horses in unicorn getups.

    Google Trends shows that people have been searching for ‘unicorns’ more since 2012, and if these sure-to-be soon sold-out potato snacks are anything to go by, the trend is not waning.

    The magical spud-based bites are exclusive to Iceland – online and in-store – and are available from 16 October.

    Unicorn horns coated in ketchup, anyone?

    MORE: World Mental Health Day: 8 easy ways to improve your mental health with nature

    MORE: Mum turns her back and finds four-year-old has smeared lipstick all over her face

    MORE: I’m Your Biggest Fan: Transformers collector holds world record after spending £50,000 on toys

    McCain unicorn potatoesMcCain unicorn potatoes

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    English Cheesecake Company and £Waitrose collaboration
    A potential Christmas dessert? (Picture: English Cheesecake Company)

    Put Biscoff on anything and it’s pretty much going to bang, but this cheesecake seems to be doing so even more.

    Since Waitrose launched their collaboration with the English Cheesecake Company – including a Lotus Biscoff offering – it’s been receiving rave reviews from cake connoisseurs.

    The cheesecake in question is described as a ‘Creamy vanilla cheesecake swirled and topped with delicious Lotus Biscoff spread and crumb, on a crunchy digestive biscuit base’.

    Certainly not for those without a sweet tooth, but if you’re a fan of speculoos you’ll be hooked.

    A pack of two single slices of the cake costs £2.63 (down from £3.29), or you can get a 484g, 6 inch cake in store for £4 (down from £5).

    English Cheesecake Vanilla Cheesecake with Lotus Biscoff (Picture: English Cheesecake Company)
    Saving huge pennies on the English Cheesecake Company originals (Picture: English Cheesecake Company)

    Since its launch this month, glowing praise for the confection has poured in.

    One reviewer said: ‘ I’ve introduced so many people to it that I’m now afraid our local Waitrose will be in constant low supply!

    ‘Best cheesecake I’ve had in years! Very rich and buttery, biscuit is crunchy and portion is quite generous so you could cut each slice in half and share with more friends (who am I kidding, let them buy their own. If they get to the shelf before me that is!)’

    Another claimed, ‘This is what angels must eat in order to be angelic’ and said that ‘the rich biscoff topping atop a sumptuous creamy but not cloying vanilla cheesecake filling, with a buttery and crisp biscuit base is quite simply heaven on a plate.’

    Given that the cheapest cheesecake you can get direct from the English Cheesecake Company is £25, it’s also a pretty big bargain.

    Vegans and those who aren’t Biscoff lovers needn’t miss out, either, as there are dairy free options and other flavours. These include Sicilian lemon mascarpone, cookies and cream, and chocolate and salted caramel.

    To check stockists near you, you can do so online. Better get your skates on, though, as it looks like these might fly off the shelves.

    MORE: Topshop teams up with CALM to release a creative new collection for World Mental Health Day

    MORE: World Mental Health Day: 8 easy ways to improve your mental health with nature

    Cheesecake fans are going nuts for this Biscoff creation from WaitroseCheesecake fans are going nuts for this Biscoff creation from Waitrose

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    A guide to eating on public transport
    The dos and don’ts of eating on public transport  (Picture: Getty; Metro.co.uk)

    It’s a truth universally acknowledged that sitting next to someone eating a tuna sandwich on a bus is absolute hell.

    There’s no denying that, as a nation, we seem to have some issues with people eating on public transport.

    But a new proposal, put forward by the chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies, is urging the government to ban people from eating on trains and buses entirely.

    The move has prompted a lot of criticism online, with many commuters arguing that lots of people have no choice but to eat while they are on the move – particularly pregnant women and those who are diabetic. In fact, it’s something most of us will have to do at least once in our lives.

    But anyone eating food on public transport should be mindful of those around them.

    Considering this, these are the most important things to keep in mind when eating on buses and tubes.

    Do be aware of allergies

    This is the single most important factor – especially in light of the tragic food allergy deaths that have been in the headlines over recent months.

    It’s now best practice for airlines to ask customers to refrain from eating nuts in case anyone has an allergy on board. The same should apply on buses and trains – particularly due to the fact that personal space doesn’t exist during rush hour. So anyone with an airborne allergy is seriously at risk.

    Food allergies can be both life-threatening and life-altering, so best to avoid some of the most common culprits on public transport – aka nuts, shellfish and fish.

    You never know who you are sitting next to, after all.

    Do avoid stinky food

    Sushi, eggs, smoked salmon, camembert and mackerel pâté are all big no-nos.

    Any food that has a pungent smell should not be consumed in closed-off areas like a tube carriage or bus. It’s just inconsiderate for fellow passengers and it’s likely the smell will linger around, even after you get off at your stop.

    It’s worth keeping in mind that most hot foods will also have strong aromas. So while your post-night out doner kebab might smell like heaven to you, the rest of your carriage might disagree.

    If you have to eat on the tube, opt for something cold that has little or no aroma.

    A guide to eating on public transport
    Burgers smell and have potential to spurt juice (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Don’t litter

    No one wants to find a pile of chicken bones on the Northern Line – so be mindful of the type of food you’re eating and how you’re going to dispose of it when you’re finished.

    According to TfL, drinking alcohol on the tube is not allowed – but if you decide to pull a Diane Abbott, be sure to take your tinnies with you. The same goes for fizzy drink cans and cartons.

    Do think about logistics

    We’ve already covered smell but there are plenty of other logistical factors to consider when it comes to food on public transport.

    Anything that has the potential to splash on fellow travellers must be avoided – so that’s noodles and any kind of spaghetti ruled out.

    Any fruits with peel or a core are likely to be troublesome once feasting has finished. Everyone knows that holding on to a browning banana skin for seven stops is bad tube etiquette.

    Opt for snacks that are quick to eat and create very little mess.

    Do carry a napkin

    Eating can be a messy business, especially when crumbly croissants are concerned.

    If you know you’re going to be eating on the tube, take a napkin or tissues with you. Any unexpected spillages or crumbs can be cleaned up.

    Don’t be noisy

    Not everyone enjoys watching ASMR food videos in their free time.

    Crunchy and slurpy foods are likely to get on commuter’s nerves – so hold fire on the nuts, crisps and soups. And sucking each finger after eating a packet of cheesy Doritos is terrible tube behaviour.

    You may not be at the dinner table but it’s always best to remember your manners – so eat with a closed mouth. This will help keep noise to a minimum. Unless, that is, you want the entire tube carriage to see the ingredients of your cereal bar make their way around your gob.

    Sandwiches, salads and chocolate are great examples of some quieter foods.

    MORE: Pasta lovers assemble as London finally gets its very own Italian food hall

    MORE: I’ve created a label to stop you from chucking good food away

    MORE: George the cat becomes a star thanks to his solo adventures on buses and trains

    A guide to eating on public transportA guide to eating on public transport

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    Passionate woman gapping bed linen
    Oh yeah… I’m a feminist! (Picture: Getty)

    Research suggests feminist women have more orgasms with men.

    It’s no secret that women who sleep with men often have their complaints. But a 2019 study by The Centre For Sexual Health Promotion, indicates that women who embrace feminism are more likely to orgasm during sex.

    Of course, more orgasms doesn’t necessarily equal better sex. But faking orgasms might mean a less enjoyable experience.

    The research, published in a journal called Archives of Sexual Behaviour, surveyed 462 heterosexual women in the UK with an average age of around 40 and set out to see how their opinions about gender-related to their likelihood to fake orgasms.

    The results showed that women who ‘espoused anti-feminist values’ faked significantly more orgasms. Sadly, in this patriarchal world, women can hold sexist views, too and – perhaps unsurprisingly – the study suggests that those who do are less likely to enjoy sex with men. 

    Also, women who were uncomfortable saying the word ‘clitoris’ were more likely to fake it, indicating that communication and comfort with your own body means you’ll be a stronger advocate for your own sexual pleasure. 

    ‘Furthermore, the more that women believed female orgasm was necessary for men’s sexual gratification, the more likely they were to have faked an orgasm at least once in their lives compared to women who had never faked an orgasm,’ the researchers explained.

    Almost half of women in the study who reported faking orgasms said they did so to avoid hurting their partner’s feelings. 

    But faking orgasms appears to be on the decline. The study found that while almost 60% of women had previously feigned such pleasure, almost 70% of them said they no longer do so. 

    Deciding to fake an orgasm is not inherently anti-feminist; women could have all kinds of reasons for doing so. But it’s nice to know that feminists are less likely to put on a show to protect a man’s feelings.

    Smashing the patriarchy is going to involve shrinking some male egos – and hopefully increasing women’s sexual pleasure, too. 

    MORE: Incredible foster mum teaches the black children she cares for about their heritage and culture

    MORE: Iceland is selling unicorn-shaped potatoes (and unicorn chicken and ice cream, too)

    MORE: The dos and don’ts of eating on public transport

    Feminists have better sexFeminists have better sex

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    Thea Thorpe and Jack Logan-Beddings who fell in love on an extra-marital dating site while cheating on their partners pictured embracing each other
    Thea Thorpe and Jack Logan-Beddings fell in love on an extra-marital dating site while cheating on their partners (Picture: Cavendish Press)

    A couple who met unconventionally – on a cheating website – are planning to get married and stay faithful to one another.

    Entrepreneur Thea Thorpe, 30, is tying the knot with removals firm boss Jack Logan-Beddings, 36, next year after they both cheated on their respective partners.

    The pair, from Nottingham, met through IllicitEncounters.com, a dating website for married people, but plan to stay well off in future as they’re now in love.

    Having liberal views towards monogamy, Thea opened up the new relationship with her then-boyfriend, but Jack’s wife didn’t know about his affair.

    But Thea has since changed her attitude to open relationships and hopes to make a fresh start with Jack as an exclusive couple.

    ‘We thought being in an open relationship was the way to find happiness because life is too short to spend all your life with one partner,’ explained Thea.

    ‘But that all changed when I met Jack. I wanted to spend the rest of life with him and that meant ditching the extra-marital dating.

    ‘I appreciate this is not your conventional love story but they do say that love finds a way – and it certainly has with Jack and I.’

    Couple who met on a cheating website hugging
    They plan to marry next year (Picture: Cavendish Press)

    Thea and Jack first started dating a year ago when Thea was in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend, and Jack was married.

    Jack said: ‘If you had told me that I would meet the woman of my dreams on a cheating site, I never would have believed you.

    ‘But after my first date with Thea, I knew that I never wanted to share her with anyone else. I wanted us both to build a future together as a normal man and wife.’

    When they first spoke, Thea was dating several men. Using IllicitEncounters.com suited her as other users were also into polygamy.

    Thea explained: ‘I had several affairs in this way and thought that I was living the perfect life – with lots of sex but the stability of having a steady partner back at home.

    ‘For a long time, I convinced myself that this is what I really wanted and that I was enjoying the best of both worlds.

    ‘Then I met Jack and all that changed. I had something much more meaningful and I knew I could not handle the idea of him sleeping with another woman.’

    After a few dates, they cancelled their subscription to the website and became faithful to each other.

    At the moment, Jack is still married to his first wife but will marry Thea as soon as his divorce is finalised.

    He said: ‘I knew straight away with that I was living a lie and that I had met my life partner.

    ‘Obviously it was slightly more complicated for me because I was married to my wife but we split shortly after that first date with Thea.

    ‘I had had other flings with women I had met on dating sites before I met Thea. It was fun at first but it does get a bit tiring moving from one relationship to the next when you are still married.

    ‘I didn’t really connect with anyone until I met Thea and then love hit me like a thunderbolt.’

    Jack insists that he trusts Thea completely and they have been completely faithful since falling in love.

    ‘We cannot bear to be apart so I know where Thea is 24/7 – we have total trust and cannot wait to build a future together,’ he said.

    Thea added: ‘Just because we have both cheated before doesn’t mean will do it again. It’s different with Jack.’

    MORE: Polyamorous married couple get engaged to woman they met on Tinder

    MORE: High school sweethearts who fell in love with the same woman set to marry her

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    Healthy fruits and vegetables falling towards outstretched hands.
    Fruit and veg could improve your mental health (Picture: Getty)

    Fresh research has found that just three weeks of healthy eating improves depression symptoms in young adults.

    The study, published by Australian researchers this week, looked at how changes to 101 young adults’ diets impacted their mental health. Those involved in the study – aged 17 to 35 – many of them university students – were experiencing depression and were eating what the study deemed unhealthy diets.

    Half of the participants started eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and lean meat, and experienced significantly lower depression symptoms after three weeks than the group which stuck with the normal diet.

    The research is one of many studies that link a healthy diet to improved mental health, but this study is considered one of the most reliable yet.

    Before the study, all volunteers shared information about their eating habits and mood. They all had symptoms of what is considered moderate or high levels of depression, and all ate a lot of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and sugar. 

    The group that changed their diets for the study were shown a video detailing recommendations around healthy eating – including aspects of Mediterranean-style diets and foods that are known to be good for the brain (such as foods with omega-3, cinnamon and turmeric). 

    They were instructed to have a particularly high intake of fruits and vegetables – three and five servings respectively – and to cut down on refined carbohydrates, sugar, fatty or processed meats and soft drinks. To cover their costs, volunteers were each given a hamper and a weekly food budget. 

    After three weeks, the group that had started eating healthily saw their levels of depression, anxiety and stress fall significantly. Those who kept eating the same did not report any changes to their mood. 

    The researchers wrote: ‘These findings add to a growing literature showing a modest change to diet is a useful adjunct therapy to reduce symptoms of depression.’

    This research may provide some comfort to those experiencing depression who are able to alter their diet – but mental health is complicated.

    All kinds of factors – including biology, poverty and experience of oppression such as racism – impact a person’s likelihood to face mental health challenges. 

    Whilst eating more healthily may improve some people’s symptoms, other remedies include talking therapies, medication, and being in nature

    MORE: Couple who met on ‘affairs website’ plan to marry and be faithful

    MORE: Straight women have ‘more orgasms’ if they’re feminists

    MORE: Incredible foster mum teaches the black children she cares for about their heritage and culture

    Changing your diet can lift your mood in less than a monthChanging your diet can lift your mood in less than a month

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    Quality Street Simply Strawberry Delights
    No more fighting for your favourites (Picture: Quality Street)

    We announced recently that John Lewis had brought back their much-loved pick-your-own Quality Street tins, for picky fans of the Christmas delicacies.

    For £12, customers could go all in on their Quality Street choices, even opting for a tin with only one kind in if they so wished.

    For those of you who aren’t able to get to John Lewis, though, it’s kind of a bummer.

    Instead of having to go back to picking your Green Triangles out and keeping them in a secret hiding place, though, you can opt for this tub from B&M.

    A savvy shopper on the UK Extreme Couponing and Bargains group on Facebook noticed that the discount retailer is selling tins of Strawberry Delights Quality Street for just £4.99.

    The tub is packaged up to look like a big giant sweet, and holds 385g of the treats.

    Customers can pick and mix their own tin of Quality Street chocolates and have the tin lid personalised at John Lewis
    If you can’t make it to the John Lewis pick-and-mix stations (Picture: Ray Tang/REX )

    For those who prefer The Purple One, tins of these are also available.

    It’s worth noting, that although this seems lik a total bargain compared to the John Lewis tins, you do actually get less for your money. The £12 tins are 1.2kg while you’d need to buy more than three of these to break even.

    They’ll certainly do the trick if you can’t make it to the bigger stores, though.

    Facebookers are clearly loving them. One commenter on a post said: ‘That is Christmas dinner right there!’

    There were also plenty more who tagged in their significant others, so if you want a good idea for a stocking filler, don’t say we aren’t good to you.

    It’s been a tough time for sweetie lovers, after the Toffee Deluxe was discontinued earlier this year, and it was revealed that tubs are getting smaller by the year.

    Hopefully these wee beauties will go some way to consoling you all.

    MORE: Changing your diet can lift your mood in less than a month

    MORE: Straight women have ‘more orgasms’ if they’re feminists


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    Our homes mean more to us than just a place to rest and a roof over our heads.

    In fact, a new report by GoodHome, commissioned by B&Q and Kingfisher, found that in the UK, the people who were happiest with their homes were happiest overall.

    This indicates that taking pride in our homes can bring us great joy and, according to the report’s findings, that is even more important to our happiness than income, employment, our relationship status and many other aspects of life generally believed to be more influential on our well-being.

    So, a simple way to give your happiness a boost could be to improve the interiors of your home to reflect our style, mood and changing needs. Thanks to B&Q, creating a haven at home doesn’t have to involve timely or costly renovations.

    Carefully curated innovations, like the ones in store from the GoodHome range at B&Q, include everything you need for a fuss-free transformation, from durable paints in 80 complementing colours to flooring that fits seamlessly into any home. And with three for two on paint and three for two on flooring and tiles*, it’s the perfect time to make some changes to your space.

    So, with a few handy tips on how to get started, find out just how easy it is to make your home somewhere you feel happy…

    Zone off different areas

    The GoodHome report found that spaciousness is three times more important to us than the actual size of our homes, including the number of rooms and how many people we live with.

    So, in order to create the perception of space in your home – without knocking through any walls – try coordinating colours, materials and finishes in pockets of the home that create a smooth flow through different zones.

    For example, offsetting B&Q’s Pahea Dark Grey Curtains and Pahea Dark Grey Cushions with something like the Pahea Yellow Cushions (£12 at B&Q) could help distinguish a communal living room sofa from the armchair you set across the room for private reading and snoozing. By keeping the textures the same but changing the colours, you can find harmony in the asymmetry.

    And you can use paint to achieve this effect too. If you’re working with a small space, keep the colours on your walls light and instead of doing a more traditional ‘feature wall’, create a focal point with a two tone design. It’s easier than you think and you can really get experimental with geometric patterns and interesting colour combinations. Top tip: Keeping the paint closest to the ceiling pale will give the illusion of a taller room. For more of those handy hints, check out B&Q’s step-by-step guide when painting a wall with multiple colours.

    Choose colours to boost moods

    When making a space your own, it’s important that the ingredients you put in work well with the original features, like the layout, proportions and amount of light.

    So, consider the right update for each space in your home, such as energetic, mood-boosting shades where you’ve always lamented a lack of sunlight.

    Think about each room and what you use it for. What is the atmosphere you’d like to create and how would you like to feel when you’re spending time in there? Obviously, your bedroom is designed for sleeping, so darker, richer colours such as burgundy will help you feel cosy and relaxed – while stamping your own personality on the space. Deep shades are also traditionally romantic – perfect for the boudoir! Meanwhile, vibrant yellows are brilliant at helping to create energy and focus in zones such as a home office. And, thanks to B&Q’s extensive GoodHome Durable Paint Range (2.5L for £16, £6.40 per L at B&Q), you’ll easily find a shade that suits you and your style.

    Freshen up the floors

    Every home experiences a bit of wear and tear so if yours needs a little TLC to get it back to its best, consider a simple change that runs right through the heart of the home.

    While re-flooring may seem like a big job, the new ‘drop click’ laminates at B&Q make it easier than ever to improve the appearance from the ground up.

    Not only is the GoodHome Dunwich Grey Oak Effect Laminate Flooring (£10 per m2, £21.80 pack at B&Q) a stylish option, but it’s hard-wearing for heavily trafficked areas like hallways, bedrooms and living rooms too.

    Freshen up flooring and the whole house will feel brand new

    Makeover old furniture

    In rented spaces, it can seem tricky to create a sense of identity without splashing colour on the walls or floors. Upcycling furniture to suit your family’s changing needs is a simple solution that can create a stylish environment that you feel good about.

    These days there are more sustainable alternatives to room renovations that don’t have to involve an ‘out with the old, in with the new’ approach. The GoodHome range of renovation paints are self priming and ideal for transforming cabinets and wardrobes, and allow you to upcycle existing and perhaps beloved items of furniture, breathing new energy into a space with just a lick of paint.

    Whether it’s a wardrobe, chair or kitchen cabinet, prepare it for its new life by washing with sugar soap, filling any holes, before sanding it down and then painting it shade of your choice. Easy and effective.

    Simplistic changes like upcycling furniture can bring new joy to your home
    Simplistic changes like upcycling furniture can bring new joy to your home

    Use textures for a hygge home

    At this time of year there’s nothing we enjoy more than getting cosy at home and that’s why the hygge philosophy really comes into its own in the autumn and winter.

    It’s all about the simple pleasures of spending time with loved ones in environments that create a sense of contentment and wellbeing. And making that environment a reality in your home is easy with a few textural touches.

    Use soft furnishings and decorative accessories to make your rooms inviting and warm. Snap up something like the Lulu Grey Plain Fleece Throw (£18 at B&Q) and get comfy underneath now the nights are drawing in.

    Pile on the cushions for extra snugness and light a luxurious scented candle to help create a serene ambiance.

    For more ways to make your home into a harmonious haven head in store or visit diy.com.

    • Three for two on all paint. Three for two on flooring and tiles excludes cut to measure flooring, flooring accessories and underlay. Every third item per single transaction in descending price order free. Offer Ends 03/11/19. See diy.com

    B&Q interiorsB&Q interiors

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    CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 04: A general view of a Lidl store sign on July 4, 2019 in Cardiff, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)
    Please be true, please be true (Picture: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images)

    Gone is the Lidl stigma of yore, where you’d hide the own-brand crisps and cartons of juice put in your lunch box after your mum hit up the discount retailer.

    Nowadays, it’s one of the supermarkets of choice for savvy shoppers, and we’re all well aware that these own-brand items are just as good.

    Stocking everything from skincare to power tools, the Middle of Lidl section also has us spending our weekends digging through big wire baskets for the latest bargains.

    Although it’s usually worth it for a cut-price hot tub or dog bed, you soon won’t even need to do that, as the supermarket have given serious hints that you’ll be able to order online.

    First off, they advertised for a ‘digital project manager’. According to the job description, the person in this role will be tasked with ‘identify new business opportunities to drive revenue’ and ‘will be instrumental in helping to deliver a new online platform with the aim of acquiring new customers and driving online sales’… despite the fact Lidl currently don’t sell anything online.

    They’ll also have to ‘contribute not only to individual projects but also to the ongoing formation and success of other functional areas’, suggesting plenty of options for growth.

    Lidl supermarket logo sign
    Middle of Lidl straight to the door? Sign us up (Picture: Canopy)

    The successful candidate will be based out of Lidl’s head office in Wimbledon, so get applying if it suits your experience.

    On top of that, bosses at the store told The Grocer that they were planning a brand new ‘platform’ that customers could use to purchase products. Do we smell an app?

    They claimed they were ‘actively exploring’ the possibility of moving into this sphere.

    It’ll be welcome for all of us who love their produce, but perhaps not so much for Aldi, who currently offer online purchasing (but only on certain special buy products).

    With their competition in the digital game, they’ll have to compete. Hopefully this means more releases of fancy candles and cleansers, or just a full-service grocery delivery option!

    Other supermarkets who’ve been offering home delivery and online shopping for years include Asda, Tesco, and Sainsbury’s, who let you order everything from pints of milk to homeware online.

    So if Lidl are planning to go big (and beat Aldi) they may emulate this. We can but dream.

    Metro.co.uk have contacted Lidl for comment, and will update this article when they provide it.

    MORE: Only the privileged can afford not to eat on public transport

    AD FEATURE: How to create a harmonious haven (without any stress!)

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    meet the people who have given up alcohol
    Sober October has got people thinking about giving up booze (Picture: Getty)

    This month, people across the country will be swapping ciders for cordials as they take part in the national initiative Sober October, to raise money for charity.

    We often make jokes about how we are ‘gasping for a drink’ or ‘pushing through Dry January’ but this language raises questions about how reliant we are on alcohol and how much it’s ingrained into everyday culture.

    Work drinks? Date night? Hen dos? The expectation for drinking is hard to escape.

    To mark this national month of sobriety, we spoke to people who decided to ditch booze all together and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done – both physically and mentally.

    Dom McGregor, COO of Social Chain, realised he was drinking too much when he founded his business around five years ago. As a start-up, his business grew extremely quickly, with reasons to celebrate every week – be it an amazing new client or a new starter. This culture for celebration led to weekly drinks. But with this growing business came increased responsibilities for Dom.

    ‘Instead of these weekends being celebratory I found they were self-medicating,’ he says.

    ‘I was spending a lot of time going out drinking, but it wasn’t to enjoy the feeling of the party it was literally to get drunk – so that in my head all the problems would disappear – and they did temporarily.

    ‘It spiralled when I would get more and more drunk. The speed of drink would increase, the strength of the drink would increase. I would get completely out of control. There were a number of things that happened during this spiral that made me start to think subconsciously about what was going on.

    ‘Firstly I broke my ankle on a Thursday and needed to go to A&E on Friday when I had clients emailing me asking me for things which obviously I couldn’t do. I also kept embarrassing myself and making a fool of myself to the team and that was something that I started to get a reputation for.

    ‘And then one day, after a full day of drinking at the races, one of the guys from work was trying to help get me home – because I was uncontrollable – and I was derogatory towards him. He’s one of my closest friends. When I heard what I had said to him, with no memory of it, I realised I was someone that I never wanted to be.

    ‘To me that hammered home something was wrong.’

    Dom decided to see a therapist who told him he had anxiety over his future, low self-esteem and Imposter Syndrome and that he was taking it out on himself by turning to alcohol. His therapist advised him to give up alcohol. The first month was a struggle but Dom pushed through and has been sober ever since.

    dom mcgregor before and after he stopped drinking
    Dom before and after he stopped drinking (@dpjmcgregor)

    Dom says there’s been a huge rise in female sobriety over the past few years, but he thinks there needs to be more of a focus on male sobriety.

    ‘Veganism and sobriety are two things I think women lead the way in and I think the male space is massively under-represented,’ he tells us.

    ‘The expectation of male activities and male lifestyle choices revolve around alcohol – the expectation when you go to say football or business meetings. The expectation is very common within the male lifestyle. I think there’s a lot of work to be done for young men especially to feel comfortable about a life without drinking.’

    In terms of advice he would give to others thinking of giving up drinking, Dom says: ‘Everything that alcohol gives you temporarily – the energy, the humour, the confidence – you can achieve being sober forever.’

    British food writer, journalist and author Jack Monroe is another person who has ditched drinking for good. Earlier this year she wrote a piece for the Guardian about coming to terms with the fact that she was an alcoholic.

    She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s been just over nine months since I recognised that my relationship with alcohol is an unhealthy one – I was using it heavily as a coping mechanism for past traumas and low self-esteem – and it was affecting my work, my friendships, and my family.

    ‘It’s not been easy, and I’ve admitted that I’ve slipped up a couple of times, but I’m definitely more emotionally stable, more productive, sleeping better than I ever have done.

    ‘I have been overwhelmed by the support of my family and friends; people making sure there are alcohol-free options at work events, friends bringing me nice sparkling grown-up soft drinks when I make them dinner. It’s an all-round positive change and I’d encourage anyone who might be considering it, to give it a go.’

    illustration of person drinking beer
    Drinking is a part of everyday life for many (Picture: Ella Byworth/ Getty)

    Nicole Sage, from Plymouth, gave up alcohol six years ago for health reasons – following a pancreatitis diagnosis. Now, aged 27, she’s a commercial director for a baby company BabyDam.

    Nicole said: ‘I unfortunately had pancreatitis when I was 17, which is incredibly rare for someone of my age,’ she explains. ‘At the time I had no support, indication to what caused it or advice on what I would need to avoid in the future.

    ‘The doctors basically said I had to stop drinking and it was honestly the best thing I have ever done with my life.

    ‘My life changed for the better in my health and personal life. Along with the confidence that I gained which wasn’t found at the bottom of a bottle, so did my self-worth. I know who I am now and know where I want to be in life. There is nothing that overshadows how I feel or perform in my daily life now.’

    illustration of two people drinking coffee
    There are both health and financial benefits to going teetotal (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Richard Maule decided to give up alcohol almost a year ago and his fiancé Jade followed suit, six months later. The pair have both seen substantial health and financial benefits from their decision to go teetotal.

    Richard says: ‘The first couple of months were challenging especially during social situations but the longer I persevered the easier it got and actually it challenged me to find confidence whilst being sober and to seek out more interesting ways to spend my time with friends.

    ‘Instead of going to a bar and getting drunk, we’d do things like go to low key music gigs, go rock climbing or do a martial arts class together – which actually meant we had better quality time together.

    ‘This naturally started to translate into a healthier lifestyle and a better diet as I felt I also had better control over my food choices with no binges due to hangovers. Since cutting out alcohol I have also experienced much better sleep, which in turn has given me a greater clarity of mind. It’s had a huge impact on my life coaching business and relationship too as I have a lot more capacity to be patient and understanding.

    ‘My fiancé, Jade, has also experienced life-changing benefits. She used to regularly suffer with periods of low mood but since stopping drinking alcohol they have significantly improved and she almost never experiences them anymore.

    ‘We generally have a much happier life than before. Our decision to stop drinking has allowed us to put money aside and move to Bali this year, thanks to cheaper living cost.

    ‘We are also saving around £400 a month from not drinking – so we live a pretty abundant life out here. We’d never look back.’

    ILLUSTRATION REQUEST** Tea detoxes/ eating disorder piece (India Benjamin)
    Swap the Tia Maria for a tea (Picture: Mmuffn for Metro.co.uk)

    Cai Graham, a parenting coach, saw alcohol as a de-stressor and a reward. She decided to make a change after realising she was using alcohol as a ‘crutch’.

    ‘For a very long time, booze had been a big part of my life. For as long as I can remember, most of my family gatherings and social occasions revolved around me having a glass in my hand.

    ‘As a young mum, my frazzled nerves were softened with a chilled glass of Sauvignon or my signature gin, lime and soda. Booze was daily de-stressor and my reward. I used to see these celebrities on TV saying they were sober and I couldn’t even imagine my life without booze.

    ‘I convinced myself that is was a fun part of my life. The crunch came when my daughter, then aged 10, wanted a lift to see a friend and asked me to pick her up at 9pm. I begrudgingly agreed – blaming her for denying me my gin.

    ‘This pulled me up short. This “fun part of my life” was now my crutch.

    ‘Knowing myself as I do – booze had to be “all or nothing for me”. So after inhaling Allen Carr’s book The Easy Way to Control Drink – the decision to quit was a no brainer. It was as simple as just making that decision to throw my crutch away… and the relief was palpable.

    ‘That was 10 years ago.

    ‘My life is great. I have clarity – none of that brain fog. I have my weekends back as I used to stay in bed till midday – pretending it was a lie-in. My social circle has shifted a bit, but that’s to be expected I guess. I am so thrilled that I no longer have the paranoia at the weekend, wondering if I have upset anyone or made a fool of myself from the night before.’

    MORE: For those that can, going sober for October is brilliant, but alcoholics aren’t getting the help they need

    MORE: How do you go sober for October?

    MORE: What is Sober for October? Everything you need to know

    Sober October - meet the people who have given up drinking for goodSober October - meet the people who have given up drinking for good

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    Simon and Kirsty pictured with Beast from Beauty and the Beast
    Kirsty has always been obsessed with Disney (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kirsty Goldsmith)

    Kirsty Goldsmith, a 26-year-old HR administrator from Bedford, grew up obsessed with Disney movies and has always wanted to get married in Disney World in Florida.

    So when her husband, Simon, decided to pop the question, he absolutely nailed the proposal by doing it during a trip to the most magical place on earth, getting down on one knee at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

    From the moment he proposed, Kirsty had her heart set on a Disney themed wedding.

    But after trying to track down all the Disney bits she needed, she realised there weren’t many affordable options – so she set about designing everything herself, from the champagne glasses and cake toppers to ‘Just Married’ T-shirts.

    Simon and Kirsty pictured with Minnie Mouse in Disney World. BEDFORD, UK: MEET THE Disney-mad bride who managed to spend ?17k on a ?DIY? DISNEY THEMED WEDDING after her husband proposed to her at DISNEY WORLD - she even walked down the aisle to The Lion King?s ?Can You Feel The Love Tonight?. HR administrator, Kirsty Goldsmith (26) from Bedford, UK, grew up obsessed with Disney movies and has always wanted to get married in Disney World, Florida. So in May 2016, her husband, Simon, knowing her love of Disney, proposed to her during their trip to Disney World while they were visiting Cinderella?s Royal Table, which was a big surprise to her. From the minute he proposed, Kirsty knew she wanted to have a Disney-themed wedding, but after some research she struggled to find affordable Disney decorations, so she decided to create them herself. She designed everything herself, even the champagne glasses, candles, cake topper and ?Just Married? t-shirts. In May 2019, keeping with the theme, her maid-of-honour organised her Disney-themed hen party where they all dressed up either red or black and she wore white with a Minnie Mouse veil. It was decorated with many Disney-themed balloons, a Disney movie quiz and Minnie Mouse cupcakes. Altogether they managed to spend just ?17,000 for the entire wedding, which was in June 2019, including her wedding dress and alterations which cost ?900, dresses for her two bridesmaids, for which she spent just ?300 altogether. She says that through it all her Prince Charming was proud of her efforts in designing everything for their wedding and that it made it unique to them. MDWfeatures / Kirsty Goldsmith
    Simon surprised Kirsty with a proposal at Disney World (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kirsty Goldsmith)

    Al in all, she spent just £17,000 (the average cost of a wedding in the UK is £31,974, so that’s quite the saving) creating her dream wedding day.

    The Disney extravaganza kicked off with the hen party, where her maid of honour asked guests to dress up in either red or black, – while Kirsty wore white with a Minnie Mouse veil, Minnie Mouse heels, and Mini Mouse nails – decorated the spot with Disney balloons, threw a Disney movie quiz, and made Minnie Mouse cupcakes.

    Kirsty pictured with her friend on her hen party
    The hen party was Minnie Mouse themed, of course (Picture: MDWfeatures / Kirsty Goldsmith)

    Then came all the details for the wedding.

    Guests knew the big day would be Disney themed from the get-go thanks to Disney invites. Kirsty then painted MDF numbers into Disney Characters, used a stamp cutter in the shape of Mickey’s head to make table confetti out of sparkly wallpaper, painted a stand of Ferrero Rocher in Mickey Mouse colours, made a Mickey and Minnie shaped cake topper to match the Disney cake, and gave out favours of candles with a Mickey and Minnie motif on, plus sweet packets with Kirsty’s own made labels.

    On the morning of the wedding Kirsty wore ‘just married’ Disney pyjamas, while the best man enjoyed his custom decorated Disney hipflask.

    Kirsty also made a Disney chalkboard, Disney coat hangers, a Disney seating plan and a post box insert too.

    The Disney Ferrero Rocher stand
    Kirsty designed every detail, including this Mickey Mouse Ferrero Rocher stand (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)
    ?Mr and Mrs? champagne flutes designed by Kirsty for their wedding
    Kirsty printed Mickey and Minnie on champagne glasses (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)
    The Disney wedding cake
    She made the cake topper herself (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)

    During the wedding breakfast the bride walked down the aisle to Can You Feel The Love tonight from The Lion King.

    The actual wedding outfits weren’t too in-your-face with the Disney references. Simon wore cufflinks shaped like Mickey with his £300 grey suit, while Kirsty wore a classic white dress she bought and had altered for a total of £900.

    The photographer cost £1,500, the cake was £400, the venue, food, and registrar cost £8,000, the bridesmaids’ dresses were £300, the wedding rings were £1,000, makeup was £350, and Kirsty’s hair stylist cost £250.

    Simon and Kirsty during their wedding shoot
    The bride walked down the aisle to Can You Feel The Love Tonight (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)
    Simon's customised Mickey Mouse cufflinks
    Simon wore Mickey Mouse cufflinks (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)

    ‘We planned everything on spreadsheets,’ said Kirsty. ‘This tracked saving, budget, deposits and also an itinerary of what needed to be done when. It went perfectly.

    ‘I found it very hard to find anything Disney for the wedding which wasn’t very expensive, so I decided to try and do it myself.

    ‘My favourite moment was arriving at the venue and listening to the orchestral Disney songs playing. It took me right back to Disney when we got engaged and that’s when it became real.

    ‘I didn’t want loads of ‘in your face’ stuff so I knew by doing it myself I could take something classic and put a hint of Disney into it.

    A guest table designed around the Disney theme
    Roses were arranged in the shape of Mickey and Minnie Mouse heads (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)
    A customised board displaying who sits where
    The seating plan (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)
    A Disney table number 1
    Each table number was painted to theme (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)
    The customised post box where guests put their cards
    Kirsty even made a custom postbox insert (Picture: MDWfeatures / Marcus Charter Pho)

    ‘I used Pinterest and thought about creative ways to include Disney on a classy scale.

    ‘We had a small wedding of sixty guests; they knew it was Disney themed as soon as they saw the invites.

    ‘What I love about Disney the most is that anyone of any age can fall in love with Disney. You’re never too old or too young and when you hear the music and see the castle, the feelings you have inside are just magical. It’s like a whole new world.

    ‘Simon knew my dream was to be married in Disney, but we couldn’t have only half the family come with us, so he was 100% behind bringing Disney to the wedding in the UK.

    ‘I think he’s proud of me making everything because I put so much effort in and it made our wedding unique to us.’

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    Disney-mad brideDisney-mad bride

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    Sleep illustration
    There’s an interesting link between sleep and dementia (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    We’re all aware of the damage we cause by not getting enough sleep.

    But according to new research, sleeping for too long can be a cause for concern, too.

    Despite there being a load of studies that have linked Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with a lack of sleep, a recent study from the University of Miami Miller School found that people who slept for nine hours or more per night showed a decline in memory and language skills – both of which are early signs of dementia.

    That doesn’t mean you should dramatically cut down on your snoozing time, though – those who got less than six hours of sleep a night were also found to be at an increased risk of developing dementia.

    As you might expect, the ideal amount of sleep is still seven to eight hours a night.

    Researchers aren’t sure why there’s a relationship between sleeping lots and developing dementia, and it’s not as simple as a cause and effect connection.

    They believe that people at risk of dementia may have disruptions in their brain which mean they need longer sleeps.

    Too much sleep has been linked to lesions in the brain known as white matter hyperintensities, thought to be caused by decreased blood flow to the brain. The presence of these raises the risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and stroke.

    Image of a bedroom with an illustration of a person in a blue t-shirt and purple trousers sitting on top of the bed with their back turned to the reader
    We should be getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Researchers looked at 5,247 Hispanic participants, all between the ages of 45 and 75, assessing their attention, memory, language, reaction time, and perception. Participants were also given a neurocognitive test at the start and end of the study, and were asked to fill out weekly questionnaires about their sleeping habits over the last week, including what time they normally go to bed, what time they wake up, and if they have any naps during the day.

    Just 15% of participants slept for an average of nine hours each night, and this group saw their cognitive performance across all fields fall by the end of the seven years. Their memory decreased by 13% while their word fluency dropped by 20%.

    Dr Ramos, a neurologist and sleep expert at the University of Miami, said: ‘Insomnia and prolonged sleep duration appear to be linked to a decline in neurocognitive functioning that can precede the onset of Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

    ‘We observed that prolonged periods of sleep and chronic insomnia symptoms led to declines in memory, executive function and processing speed.

    ‘Those measures can precede the development of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.’

    ‘We may also be able to identify at-risk patients who may benefit from early intervention to prevent or reduce the risk of dementia.’

    What are the symptoms of dementia?

    Dementia is an umbrella term for a set of symptoms that affect cognitive function, such as memory loss, confusion and changes to personality.
    Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for around two thirds of all cases.

    Common early symptoms of dementia:

    • Memory loss
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Find it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks
    • Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word
    • Being confused about time or and place
    • Mood changes

    Symptoms of advanced dementia:

    • Memory problems to the point that people may not recognise close family and friends or remember where they live
    • Communication problems
    • Mobility problems
    • Behavioural problems, such as agitation, depression, anxiety, wandering around, and aggression
    • Incontinence
    • Weight loss

    What's the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia?

    Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia, and the most common type.

    Dementia is a group of symptoms that affect mental cognitive tasks – it’s a syndrome and not a disease. It’s the umbrella term which diseases like Alzheimer’s fall under.

    There are other types of dementia, too, and each has their own symptoms to look out for.

    Common types of dementia and their symptoms:

    Alzheimer’s disease

    • Memory problems
    • Asking the same questions over and over
    • Becoming confused in unfamiliar environments
    • Becoming withdrawn or anxious
    • Difficulty with tasks that require planning and organisation
    • Difficulty finding the right word
    • Difficulty with numbers

    Vascular dementia

    • Stroke-like symptoms such as muscle weakness or temporary paralysis on one side of the body
    • Difficulty walking or a change in how someone walks
    • Struggles with attention, planning, and reasoning
    • Mood changes

    Dementia with Lewy bodies

    • Fluctuating levels of confusion, with periods of being alert or drowsy
    • Visual hallucinations
    • Slowness in physical movement
    • Repeated falls and fainting
    • Sleep disturbances

    Other types of dementia include frontotemporal dementia, early onset dementia, mild cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s disease dementia, Korsakoff syndrome, and Huntington’s disease dementia.

    MORE: Getting enough sleep and forgiving your enemies are among the secrets to happiness

    MORE: This is what less than six hours of sleep does to your body

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    Sleep illustrationSleep illustration

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    Exercise addiction can develop alongside eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia – and it can be deadly.

    Pushing a body that may already be malnourished and underweight can put an incredible strain on the heart, and gyms don’t seem to be fully equipped to deal with this problem.

    If you see someone in your gym or fitness class who looks worryingly thin – what can you really do about it?

    Public intervention in these cases can be difficult, and could even make the situation worse. Also, who’s to know what’s actually going on in any individual case? It’s impossible to tell if a person has a mental illness and needs help just by looking at them.

    And would it ever feel appropriate to approach someone in the gym who appears to be overweight, with concerns about their health? Exactly.

    Hope developed anorexia when she was just 13 and a fixation on exercise was part of her illness.

    ‘I had to do it at all hours, and at my worst, I would be running on the spot in my room into the early hours of the morning,’ Hope tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘When you have an eating disorder so much of exercise is wrapped up in punishment.

    ‘You have a bad day, so you go and work out more and the endorphins make you feel better – but you get obsessed with that feeling. You panic that if you aren’t doing as much then your weight will increase.’

    Hope Virgo
    Hope developed anorexia when she was 13 and exercise was always a big part of her illness (Picture: Conan Marshall)

    Hope thinks that gyms can be incredibly dangerous places for people with eating disorders and says that better strategies need to be put in place to help members who are struggling.

    ‘Gyms need a policy – but an open one,’ says Hope.

    ‘When I was unwell, my gym just used to call my mum and tell her – which only annoyed me and made me lie even more.

    ‘With PTs, it is about them having education, getting them to ask the right questions, working out whether their clients are obsessed or exercising for the right reasons.

    ‘Also periods – trainers should be able to ask these questions around periods. When I was over-exercising, mine stopped, and this happens to others too.’

    If you break your leg falling off a treadmill or pull your back trying to squat with a heavy weight, gyms have a policy. They know how to treat your injury, refer you to the necessary medical care and help you ease back into fitness as you recover.

    Why isn’t mental illness treated in the same way? Surely duty of care for patrons should include any detrimental effects that can be caused by using the gym – physical or mental. Particularly when the two are so intricately linked, as with eating disorders.

    The difficulty is that no two eating disorder cases look the same. And being underweight may not be the only warning sign – in fact, some people with eating disorders or exercise addiction aren’t underweight at all.

    ‘While young girls and women aged 12-25 are most at risk, eating disorders can affect anyone at any age,’ explains Tom Quinn from Beat Eating Disorders.

    ‘Boys and young men are more likely to use exercise rather than extreme dieting to control their body shape and size. Gyms should be aware of these behaviours and realise that it isn’t just about being underweight.

    Tom says that people with bulimia nervosa can also be over-exercising, and they are most likely to be at normal weight.

    ‘We would like to see gyms and health clubs becoming more aware of eating disorders and put in place policies and safe working practices that would reduce the known risks,’ adds Tom.

    now that summer is over, it's harder to harness that spring
    Gyms have no consistent consensus on how to tackle this problem (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    ‘Policies could look at enrolment or membership systems and the types of health-related information collected; staff training; and ensuring confidential access to information and support for their clients and customers if necessary.’

    Exercise addiction is more common than you might think. Endorphins produced when you exercise strenuously affect the body in the same way as opioids, a bit like heroin. The resulting ‘buzz’ can become addictive.

    You might think that going to the gym all the time isn’t exactly a problem, but it can be incredibly dangerous.

    Excessive exercise is hugely stressful on the body and can impair the immune system, lead to increased risk of infection, premature ageing, and injury. Couple that with a pre-existing eating disorder and things quickly become even more serious.

    Signs of exercise addiction

    Signs of exercise addiction include:

    • Excessive training without sufficient breaks
    • Exercising even when injured
    • Persistent muscle soreness
    • Frequent exercise-related injuries
    • Excessive weight loss
    • Poor appetite
    • Increased infections
    • Insomnia

    There will also be withdrawal symptoms when the exercise is stopped. These may include anxiety, depression, and restlessness.

    Dr Clare Morrison, GP and medical advisor at Medexpress

    ‘It is now well recognised that exercise addiction is strongly associated with eating disorders, principally bulimia and anorexia nervosa. There is also an association with body dysmorphic disorder,’ explains Dr Clare Morrison, GP and medical advisor at Medexpress.

    ‘When exercise addiction is combined with an eating disorder, the risk is even greater. These people can appear surprisingly well, especially if they cover their thinness with baggy clothes.

    ‘Those with anorexia can remain active until their reserves are dangerously depleted. In extreme cases, they may suffer fatal heart failure, with very little warning.

    Dr Morrison says gyms are competitive environments that could ‘normalise’ excessive exercise behaviour.

    ‘Gyms also make a lot of money from those keen to use their services,’ she adds. ‘Therefore it is likely that gyms may not try to stop their clients from exercising excessively when perhaps they should.’

    Weight illo
    No two eating disorder cases look the same – being underweight may not be the only warning sign (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    So, what are gyms doing at the moment?

    We spoke to a number of well-known fitness facilities in the UK and found that, while attempts are being made at individual institutions, there is no consistent consensus on how to tackle this problem.

    Virgin Active told us that member safety is always top of their list of priorities. They say they work closely with UKActive and ‘follow their duty of care as a fitness and health provider’, but they were vague about their specific approach to eating disorders and exercise addiction.

    ‘We give every new member a pre-activity health screening, where we work with the member to set an appropriate fitness plan to ensure they receive the best available advice and ongoing support,’ said a spokesperson.

    ‘Where possible and if appropriate, we are advised by a members’ GP, as in certain situations, exercise can be detrimental to a condition. However, removing it from someone’s routine can also hinder recovery.’

    What to do if you're worried about someone at your gym

    Over-exercising is one of the signs of somebody suffering from an eating disorder – if a person is worried somebody is showing a sign of ED they should act quickly and get in touch with Beat or their GP.

    Our ‘spot the signs’ poster has been displayed in many GP practices, schools and community centres and gyms are welcome to contacts us if they would like to display one for their customers.

    We know that it can be very difficult to tell somebody you are worried about them having an eating disorder – you might feel like you’re accusing the person of doing something wrong, or that it’s insulting to them. But they haven’t done anything wrong, and you’re concerned for a reason.

    It’s always better to approach the person with compassion and understanding so that they can get the help they need as soon as possible.

    Beat Eating Disorders

    Anytime Fitness told us that they take a detailed assessment of members at the induction stage, which aims to make staff aware of any pre-existing medical conditions – although that is dependent on members choosing to actually disclose that information.

    They said that staff are automatically alerted if a member is coming to the gym too often – but they didn’t specify what qualifies as ‘too often’, or would happen if that were the case.

    ‘Anytime Fitness members can only access the gym via a fob which records when they visit,’ said a spokesperson for the gym.

    ‘All of this information is available electronically to the in-house team and highlights any members attending the gym too frequently. At this stage, clubs are alerted to contact the member.’

    Traditional gyms are no longer the only venues for people to develop problematic relationships with exercise.

    The boutique fitness sector is thriving and there are now more than 300 fitness studios in London alone. The good news is that the studios seem to have a more comprehensive approach to tackling mental health than the bigger, traditional gyms.

    Barry’s Bootcamp is one of the originals. Its HIIT classes combine weights and cardio and are notoriously challenging. But they say that they are now getting tough on exercise addiction too.

    ‘This year, we introduced mental health first aid training for every instructor,’ says Barry’s co-owner and master trainer Sandy Macaskill.

    ‘It started off as a voluntary exercise but due to its success, and the feedback we got from the team, we have now made it compulsory. The training equips our instructors to be able to spot signs of poor mental health in one another and in clients who come to class.

    Illustration of woman squatting with weights
    ‘Exercise addictions can be difficult to spot because it is not about how much you exercise, it’s about the motives behind it’ (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Our instructors are now better-placed to offer assistance to Barry’s clients who are at risk from a number of mental health issues and disorders and, where required, recommend expert help where necessary.’

    Barry’s recently appointed a mental health consultant and psychotherapist, Zoe Aston, who specialises in addiction and eating disorders. Zoe’s job is to advise the company on how they can do better in looking after their team and community.

    ‘Through things like mental health first aid training and bringing in experts such as myself, fitness and wellness brands are becoming increasingly able to spot when someone might be suffering – and more capable to offer support,’ explains Zoe.

    Zoe says that it is not the food or the exercise itself that cause the problem, but a build-up of unprocessed emotion that can lead to ‘self-loathing’ and a ‘difficulty coping with life events’.

    She says intervention from gyms and studios can only really go so far: ‘Although exercise communities must be careful not to enable self-destructive behaviour, only the individual and those very close to them can decide that something needs to change.

    ‘Exercise addictions can be difficult to spot because it is not about how much you exercise, it’s about the motives behind it.

    ‘Someone can exercise every day of the week out of self-love and someone else can exercise every day of the week in order to punish themselves – they would look the same to the untrained eye.’

    Zoe says that it’s vital that people in the industry are brave enough to have frank, honest conversations about mental health, and a good awareness about the range of different conditions.

    ‘There are eating disorder sufferers of all shapes and sizes in every community and the main thing we can do is to make sure the community is safe enough that, if they want it, they can ask for help.’

    Barry’s has chosen to bring mental health support in-house. This feels like a positive step that could connect people to the help they need at the earliest stage possible.

    When Hope relapsed in 2016, she found that having an understanding PT who wasn’t afraid to engage with her illness was really helpful in helping her manage her approach to exercise.

    ‘She learnt what she had to say to me, to help with the nutrition, everything.

    ‘I still see her, every six months or so, for a few sessions to help me stay on top of my exercise and to ensure I am doing it for the right reasons, and in the right way. She even pointed out last time I saw her that healthy doesn’t mean thin. It is true!’

    If someone is unwell and addicted to exercise, the gym or a studio isn’t the only place they could indulge in unhealthy behaviour.

    Hope thinks it’s in everyone’s interest to keep these people in safe spaces to give them the chance to get the support they need.

    Harsh measures like outright bans, approaching people directly mid-workout, or calling family members, she thinks, could lead to someone falling off the radar entirely and continuing to deteriorate without the possibility of intervention.

    But gyms need to be equipped to cope with these problems sensitively and effectively – and that means looking at more than just the physical symptoms.

    ‘Exercise can be really helpful in recovery and it is important that people have the chance to learn that and develop a healthy relationship with it,’ says Hope.

    ‘Mental health care in gyms is needed, but I think gyms, and society as a whole, are still too scared to take that responsibility.

    ‘First off, it is about having resources available. We need to find a way to look beyond the physical symptoms and open up the wider discussions around mental health.’

    We also approached David Lloyd, Pure Gym and DW Fitness for comment – we will update this article if we get a response.

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    Illustration of a woman crying while a woman with a pram walks by in the distance
    In my mind, I had already given birth to our baby and the future that came with it (Picture: Virgin Miri/ Metro.co.uk)

    The day I lost my baby, my friend said to me: ‘You’ll never be the same again.’

    I had been 14 weeks pregnant, which may not sound like much but in my mind, I had already given birth to our baby and the future that came with it.

    The baby we had only just allowed ourselves to believe was coming, the baby that had already changed my body and our plans so much, was gone.

    In its place, grief. It was a loss that felt like bereavement.

    ‘The rawness will slowly heal and the tears will slow down,’ my friend said. ‘But you’re not the same person as before. You are now someone who’s lost a baby. It changes you. It changes the way you think, the way you are. It will always be with you.’

    She was speaking from experience – she lost the baby she had carried less than an hour after it was born. Of course, she was right.

    Her words made me feel sad for the ‘us’ we had lost. Our Teflon-coated happiness, the bubble we lived in that no longer protected us.

    My partner and I were no longer an excited couple about to have a baby. We were now a couple who had suffered loss, who had tried and failed to have a baby.

    The lens through which we viewed the world was tinged with grief. We had felt young and full of life. Now we felt old.

    My reaction surprised me. Until eight or nine weeks, I had been prepared for miscarriage – perhaps even expecting it. By 14 weeks, I was not. I cried almost constantly for the first three days. I cried all day until my eyes were swollen closed. I woke in the night, first sobbing silently into my pillow then anguished howls that woke my partner and set him off, too.

    Gradually the crying stopped, or at least became less frequent. But I still couldn’t go out.

    Still, at every mention of the baby, every time someone asked how I was, each appointment, the tears would come.

    They came weeks later when I walked past the hospital where we had painful tests – a long, thick needle directly into the womb – to confirm the diagnosis that led to our termination.

    My partner had asked the sonographer to turn off the screen that showed the baby we were about to lose but it was too late.

    They came when I opened a drawer to find matches and saw our 12-week scan pictures put away there. My partner had taken them down from the wall. He said they were too painful to look at. I hadn’t been able to take them down. How could I?

    Illustration of father and daughter hugging
    When I cried constantly those first three days, he was there crying with me (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    They came two months later when my partner handed me our pre-natal file – scan results, referral letters, appointment details – to check if there was anything we needed before he threw it away.

    I cried, of course. ‘Oh… I thought you were okay about it now?’ he said.

    He didn’t mean to sound uncaring. He cares so much. When I cried constantly those first three days, he was there crying with me.

    But now he wanted to stop crying and get back to feeling like himself again. He didn’t want to become someone defined by loss and grief and failure.

    I wasn’t ready to let go. A friend who had recently lost a baby at 25 weeks in unfathomable circumstances – she delivered their stillborn baby, dressed it and held a funeral – told me not to be afraid of my grief.

    She told me people would try to get me out of it, adding: ‘They’ll invite you out for drinks to “cheer you up” – don’t feel you have to go. Stay at home, cry, sit with your grief.’

    It was the best advice I had – not to feel guilty about grieving. Not to feel like I had to pull myself together and get on with it. She also reminded me that the hormones from both pregnancy and post-natal hormones would be flooding my body for three months afterwards and to understand that – and help my partner to understand it too.

    It was hard – when your hormones are making you feel and act crazy you haven’t got the clarity to explain it, if you even recognise it. And why shouldn’t my partner take it at face value when I say something that makes him feel bad?

    I felt bad too, though. I was lactating and in enormous pain. I felt unattractive, fat, insecure. I had a deep fear that I would now never be able to give my partner a child.

    It was three months before I felt able to spend a night away from my him. I didn’t go out, I only wanted to see him or family.

    A few weeks after the loss, we planned a holiday to a beautiful location, an idyllic beach-front hotel with nothing to do all day but look at the ocean. I felt more lonely sitting there next to my partner than I had in years.

    I looked at the women with post-natal bodies holding their babies and at the thin women in bikinis and I was neither. I had the post-natal body without the baby. I wasn’t ready. I cried.

    Now, three months on, I still cry sometimes. I cry writing this. But I finally feel like myself again. Almost. I am a more fragile version. I’m wiser, if I can say that about myself. I am more empathetic to those who have suffered the loss of a child.

    This morning I walked down a sunny street and thought about the future and it wasn’t shaped by the loss of our baby. It was a glimpse into our future and we were happy.

    The need for a baby has quietened to a want.

    We are trying again and I hope it happens. I know how much my partner wants a child and I want to give that to him. But I know, or at least I hope – and this is in huge part down to how convincing my partner is on this point – that we will be happy and fulfilled no matter what.

    If we don’t have children, we will live our most wonderful life – the sort of life we couldn’t lead if we had children. We will travel, we will live in apartments with sharp edges and balconies and big TVs and no garden. We will have impractical cars and drink wine and go to the theatre or dinner at a moment’s notice, sometimes both.

    We will love each other’s company and we will love other people’s children.

    Yes, the loss has changed me. It has changed us. But I will not let it define us.


    Baby Loss Awareness Week is held annually from 9 to 15 October. It’s a special opportunity to mark the lives of babies lost in pregnancy or at or soon after birth. Find out more at miscarriageassociation.org.uk

    Other charities that can help:

    Arc-uk.org (Ante-natal Results and Choices) – a non-judgemental charity that supports families who have terminated or lost their baby after pre-natal testing. They understand that ante-natal testing can lead to difficult decisions that it can be hard to discuss with friends or family. They offer advice, support and a private network of people in similar situations.

    Tommy’s – funding research into stillbirth, premature and miscarriage, providing information for parents-to-be and support for parents who have lost a child.

    MORE: Nobody wants to hear about miscarriage, but I need to talk about mine

    MORE: Photographer creates beautiful tribute to newborn baby’s twin brother who died in the womb

    MORE: This is what really happens when you suffer a miscarriage

    Social infertility is very real and very shitSocial infertility is very real and very shit

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