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How to overcome a phobia: tips on managing extreme fears

Illustration of stressed woman
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Phobias might seem silly when you’re teasing your arachnophobic friend about the spider on the ceiling but they can be incredibly debilitating.

Overcoming an extreme fear is not always straight forward.

For mental health awareness week, we’re answering Google’s most searched for mental health questions – including how to overcome a phobia.

What is a phobia?

Phobias are often related to anxiety disorders but are specifically the fear around a situation or object, when it is not actually a danger.

Examples include claustrophobia (a fear of enclosed spaces), arachnophobia (a fear of spiders) and agoraphobia (the fear of going outside).

It can triggered by thinking or talking about something, not just experiencing that thing.

If the fear is out of proportion to the danger, it lasts for more than six months and it has an impact on your day to day life, it is more than just a fear – it is classed as a phobia.

How can you overcome it?

Overcoming a phobia and reducing the impact it has is not easy but it can be done.

Mental health charity Mind recommends a few key things:

A man and woman hugging
Talking about your phobia can help (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Talk about it

Find someone you trust who will listen to you. When you know that your fear is not proportional to the danger, it can feel like you are being silly but talking it through with someone can help you start to identify that.

Use relaxation techniques

These can help you manage the anxiety around your phobia. Methods include breathing control, stretching and meditation.

If your phobia causes panic attacks, you can learn how to manage these. You need to focus on your breathing and your senses. You can try grounding techniques to help you control the panic.

Face your fears

Avoiding the thing you are scared off only makes it get worse. Try to face your fears when you can, with lots of help and support. Taking it in small steps can help as repeated experiences of facing your dear can help you gain some control over your phobia.

A woman on a laptop
Try to look at the evidence to understand your fear is bigger than the danger (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Look at the evidence

If there is something in particular that you are scared about happening, addressing the realistic possibility of something bad happening can help you realise how your fear outweighs the danger.

Look at courses to help your specific phobia

There are courses to help you address and work through specific fears. Some airports and airlines, for example, run courses to help people overcome their fear of flying using simulators.

Zoos also run courses for fears of spiders or snakes. Take a look online to see if there is a course nearby that is suitable for you.

Speak to your doctor

If your phobia is having a lasting impact on your life, speak to your GP about getting help so you can understand why your fears are there and how to work through them with a counsellor. Hypnotherapy is also used to treat some phobias.

If your fear is stopping you from leaving the house, speak to your doctor about home visits or telephone assessments.

Mental Health questions answered

Google's most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked 'how to' questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

MORE: How to deal with stress: Tips on how to cope with everyday tensions

MORE: How to know if you have anxiety: the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder

Asos recreates Britney Spears’ iconic catsuit for men but it looks like ‘giant red condom’

Gif featuring Britney Spears dancing in her music video for 'Oops...I Did It Again' dressed in her iconic red catsuit, with an image of an Asos model on the other side in a similar outfit
The outfits are pretty similar (Picture: Asos)

Britney is known for her fashion choices, both professional and personal.

Who can forget the time she covered herself in glitter with barely-there knickers in the Toxic music video, or the time she and then boyfriend Justin Timberlake dressed up in all-denim outfits for the 2001 American Music Awards.

Asos has just revived another one of Brit’s most iconic looks: the red PVC jumpsuit from the music video ‘Oops…I Did It Again’. The song was released in 2000 and became a big hit, both for Britney’s unusual fashion choice and the catchy melody.

Fashion always comes back around and this time it’s for men; Asos has recreated the jumpsuit with a two-piece t-shirt and trouser look.

Asos creates replica of Britney Spear's red PVC outfit from her music video 'Oops I did it again' but for men. A man can be seen wearing the Asos outfit, along with a black cross-body bag and a black cap
‘It’s Britney b****'(Picture: Asos)
Asos creates replica of Britney Spear's red PVC outfit from her music video 'Oops I did it again' - but for men. A man can be seen wearing the Asos outfit, here from behind
It will probably get a tad sweaty in summer (Picture: Asos)

People are perplexed by the sudden revival of the infamous red catsuit, and most are mocking Asos pretty hard.

One woman said the model looks like a ‘giant red condom’, while another claimed the model looked ‘like a gorgeous baby bell’.

‘Asos you okay hun?,’ asked someone else. To which Asos swiftly replied: ‘Thriving, hbu [how about you]?’.

At least the brand is taking the comments well – perhaps it’s because despite the trolling, the outfit is proving very popular.

It’s selling fast, with the t-shirt available for £22 and the trousers slightly cheaper at £20.

It’s not actually the first time the catsuit has been recreated for men; actor Kevin Bacon, 58, wore a similar style in an EE advert where he appeared alongside Britney in 2016.

Fashion stylists have paired the Asos look with black accessories including a crossbody bag and cap, as well as black trainers.

The trousers appear very tight though, and we can’t help but wonder what will happen once the hot weather rolls in.

You could get a tad sweaty and end up like Ross from Friends, in the episode where he takes off his leather trousers and is unable to pull them back on.

Then again, the Asos outfit is made from vinyl fabric, so you might be alright.

And hey, if it works for an international pop star, why not give it a go?

MORE: Asos mocked for £30 lucky cat bra that barely covers anything

MORE: ASOS slammed after being caught out using clips on model’s dress

MORE: ASOS model shows off bikini but people are more concerned with what’s on her plate

Bowel cancer rates are on the rise in younger people

Man suffers painful abdomen injury and holds painful area with hands, Gastritis, Stomach pain, Reflux acids.
Bowel cancer rates are on the rise (Picture: Getty Images)

Bowel cancer is on the rise in people under the age of 50, according to the experts.

Research published by medical journal The Lancet, reported that bowel cancer diagnosis in people between the ages of 20 and 49 had increased substantially over the latest available 10-year period, which has lead to calls to lower the age where people are eligible for screening.

The research showed that while incidences of bowel cancers in adults under 50 had increased, the levels for other age groups either dropped or remained the same.

The study showed that between 2004 to 2014, there were substantial increases. Incidences of colon cancer in younger people had risen by 1.8% and rectal cancer went up by 1.4% on average each year for those in the UK.

It also found that younger people born in the UK were now at higher risk of bowel cancer than older generations.

Woman with abdominal pain on gray background
If you’re worried, speak to your GP (Picture: Getty Images)

Bowel cancer screening is currently offered on the NHS from the age of 50 in Scotland, 55 or 60 in different areas of England, 60 in Wales and 55 on the HSC in Northern Ireland. Public Health England announced last year it intended to lower the age to 50.

NHS advice suggests younger people with concerns can speak to their GP for advice.

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?

According to the NHS, bowel cancer symptoms can include:

A persistent change in bowel habit

Going more often, with looser stools and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain.

Blood in the stools without other piles (haemorrhoids) symptoms

This makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids.

Abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating

Sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss.


Where you pass harder stools less often, but it is rarely caused by serious bowel conditions.

The photo of internal organs is on the women's body against gray background, Viscera on Human
Blood in your stool is a red flag (Picture: Getty Images)

However, according to the NHS, most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer.

Dr Marzieh Araghi, the lead author of the study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, said: ‘Although the incidence of colorectal cancer in adults younger than 50 years remains much lower compared with that in older age groups, our findings are of concern and highlight the need for action to counteract the rising burden of the disease in younger people.

‘This rise in incidence among younger generations is likely to be driven in part by the changing prevalence of risk factors, such as obesity and poor diet.

‘National programmes to promote healthy diets and physical activity might be the most efficient approach to ensure population-level changes.’

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with 42,000 people a year diagnosed with it. More than nine out of 10 new cases (94%) are in people over the age of 50 but more than 2,500 younger people are diagnosed each year.

About 268,000 people living in the UK today have been told they have bowel cancer, while one in 15 of all men and one in 18 women will be diagnosed during their lifetime.

Responding to the findings of the study published in the Lancet, Deborah Alsina, chief executive of Bowel Cancer UK, said: ‘More research is needed to help us fully understand the reasons behind this increasing trend.

‘In 2018, both England and Wales committed to lower the bowel cancer screening age to 50, in line with Scotland.

‘It’s crucial that Northern Ireland also reassess their screening age. Screening is the best way to diagnose bowel cancer early when it is treatable and curable. Lowering this age will help to transform survival rates for bowel cancer.’

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American woman swore off dating British men because they’re ‘ignorant’ and drink too much

Compilation featuring two profile photos of Jenny Jacobs, a personal trainer from Cincinnati
Jenny Jacobs, 37, isn’t a fan of British men (Picture: Total Health/Facebook)

An American woman claims she swore off British men because they are ‘ignorant’ and drink too much.

Jenny Jacobs, 37, from Cincinnati, visited England in 2013 but wasn’t impressed by the UK’s men, saying most are short and out of shape, with bad teeth to boot.

She is now married to Justin Hopkins, a 29-year-old – you guessed it – American, with whom she has two children.

Jenny, who works as a personal trainer, spoke to the Sun about why she dislikes British men so much – and the list is pretty long.

Personal trainer Jenny Jacobs dressed in a turquoise hoodie
She’s not very keen on Russian men either (Picture: Total Health/Facebook)

Apparently, she’s not always had such a negative view of men in the UK, and even chatted to a few on dating websites like Beautiful People (which recently made headlines due to its ‘ugly’ features which boots people off the site).

There were plenty of British men  to chat to, but Jenny didn’t feel a spark because she wasn’t physically attracted to them.

It’s not just Brits who rub her the wrong way, she’s also not particularly keen on Russian men.

‘I’d say Brits are up there with Russian men as the ugliest men on the app,’ she told the Sun.

One British man did however catch her attention thanks to photos of himself on yachts which made him look ‘very successful’, but Jenny was concerned that he didn’t smile in his photos.

The personal trainer likes men with nice teeth and so asked him: ‘I see you’re not showing your teeth in any of your pictures, do you have bad teeth?’.

Apparently, he never replied – which Jenny took as a bad sign on the state of his teeth.

‘I’m a big teeth person’, she said.

‘That’s something that stands out to me. [And] my main issues with British guys are height, teeth, and fitness.’

Photo of Jenny Jacobs, a personal trainer from Cincinnati, dressed in workout gear and taking a selfie with her phone
Jenny said she is a ‘fitness nut’ (Picture: Total Health/Facebook)
Personal trainer Jenny Jacobs, 37, and her boyfriend Justin Hopkins, 29, pictured laughing while in a car
Jenny and her American husband, Justin Hopkins (Picture: Total Health/Facebook)

Jenny herself is 5ft 9in tall and is a self-proclaimed ‘fitness nut’, who prefers her men tall and athletic.

Unfortunately, according to her, the British men on the Beautiful People app didn’t fit the criteria.

‘I noticed a lot of the guys weren’t physically fit,’ she said.

‘A lot of them had bad teeth. They tend to be short and stocky framed, not tall and broad shouldered like the German frame.’

Jenny was also shocked that the British men she spoke to had difficulty grasping that a woman can know about football, and said they were ‘ignorant’.

She did get along with one British man from Brentwood, Essex, and went to see him for four days, during her one and only visit to the UK.

Sadly, although he was nice, she wasn’t attracted to him.

METRO GRAB - Woman vows to stop dating men Personal trainer Jenny Jacobs From @Total Health/Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Total-Health-242979812434145/
(Picture: Total Health/Facebook)

It’s not just physical traits that made Jenny say no to British men.

She also claims many had ‘disgusting’ smoking habits, as well as excessive drinking habits. Meanwhile, she stopped drinking at age 21, coincidentally the legal drinking age in the US.

‘Alcohol is a big thing in England,’ said Jenny.

‘If you get wasted every day, or you get drunk every day, maybe you’re a functioning alcoholic, it’s a little much.

‘I noticed a lot of the Brits I was talking to were drinking every single day.’

That’s when it hit her: there was ‘no way’ she’d find a British man ‘who didn’t drink drink every single day’ – and the rest is history.

Thankfully her American husband, who works as a medical researcher, has ‘perfect teeth’ with an ‘athletic’ frame and ‘crystal blue eyes’. He’s also 6ft 4in tall.

The pair have two children together, including their three-month-old son, Xavier, and two-year-old daughter, Miracle.

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UK schools ‘discriminating against pupils with Afro hair’

Little girl getting her hair twisted by her mum.
There are calls for the introduction of hair protection laws (Picture: Getty)

One in six children with Afro-textured hair are having a bad experience at school, according to a new study.

The report, led by De Montfort University Leicester,  showed a 66% rise in negative hair policies towards Afro hair

Additionally, 95% of adults surveyed said they would like to see the introduction of hair protection laws – similar to those introduced recently in New York – brought to the UK.

Working with campaign group World Afro Day, researchers conducted a survey with 1,000 people, looking into attitudes, school policies and the experiences of children.

Of the children responding, nearly half (46%) had issues with the hair policies, compared with just 27% of adults saying it was an issue when they were at school.

young girl going to school with parent
46% of children who responded have had issues with school hair policies (Picture: Getty)

Currently neither the Department for Education nor Ofsted monitor school uniform policies, which cover hair, so they don’t know how many schools are breaking UK equality laws.

‘This is a really important issue that needs to be highlighted,’ said Sarah Younie, Professor in Education Innovation at DMU.

‘Nobody should be discriminated against because of their natural appearance and we wanted to find evidence that this was happening in UK schools, because we had heard anecdotal stories that it was.

‘The education research team at DMU worked collaboratively to support World Afro Day by creating the survey and gathering a large sample in a short period of time.’

World Afro Day organisers are calling for school hair policies to be independently monitored and for greater enforcement of the current law and removal of unlawful policies.

They also want to see an amendment to the 2010 Equality Act to further protect Afro hair in society.

‘There has been an overwhelming need to evidence the consequences of hair discrimination not just in individual cases but also quantitative research to look at the school system as a whole,’ said Michelle De Leon, World Afro Day founder.

‘The findings reveal that black and mixed-race children are under constant pressure to fit into a school and a society that doesn’t understand or value their Afro hair type.

‘This has been a generational burden that needs to be lifted.’

MORE: Mixed Up: ‘I was adopted by two black parents – they made me who I am today’

MORE: Bowel cancer rates are on the rise in younger people

MORE: Asos recreates Britney Spears’ iconic catsuit for men but it looks like ‘giant red condom’

The 10 best bronzers for a realistic post-holiday glow from Benefit, Chanel, Morphe and more

The 10 best bronzers to fake a post-beach glow
Get the glow (Pictures: Body shop/Getty)

Do you want a realistic post-holiday glow in seconds?

Bronzer is the best way to warm up the skin and fake a summer glow all year round – minus the sun damage (not that we mind a moderate dose of vitamin D).

Whether you’re after sun-kissed glow, looking to enhance a natural tan, or create contouring definition, there’s a bronzer to suit all skin tones.

So we’ve picked the best powder, liquid and cream bronzer formulations from top beauty brands including Benefit, Chanel, Morphe and more.

Here are our favourite bronzers so you can go ahead and get your glow on:

1. Morphe Glamabronze Face & Body Bronzer

Morphe Glamabronze Face & Body Bronzer
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

This supersized bronzer from Morphe can be dusted over your face and body for a beachy glow, minus any burns or sandy toes.

It has a gorgeous matte finish that can be built up and a soft texture, so there’s no chalky, dry feeling at all.

Better yet, it comes in three shades – opt for Icon if you have fair skin and the shade Phenom works wonders on medium-to-deep skin tones.

Morphe Glamabronze Face & Body Bronzer, £19, cultbeauty.co.uk

2. Benefit Hoola

Benefit Hoola
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

This iconic bronzer should have a place in your makeup bag all year round.

The boxed Hoola bronzer from Benefit is free from any tell-tale sparkle or shine and is now available in three new shades – Lite, Caramel and Toasted (hooray).

Hoola original is great for contouring and washing across the lids. Whereas the shade Toasted has reddish-brown undertones, that looks especially gorgeous against dark skin tones.

Did we mention this bronzer comes with a brush too?

Benefit Hoola, £26, cultbeauty.co.uk

3. Lumene Invisible Illumination Watercolor Bronzer

Lumene Invisible Illumination Watercolor Bronzer
(Picture: Lookfantastic)

We recommend adding Lumene Invisible Illumination Watercolor Bronzer to your beauty stash ASAP – especially if powders or creams just aren’t your thing.

Inspired by the fresh-faced beauty of Nordic women, this liquid sheer bronzer, never looks cakey and importantly reflects light, leaving skin bright, healthy and dewy.

The best bronzer yet for an effortless bronzed glow.

Lumene Invisible Illumination Watercolor Bronzer, £22.50, lookfantastic.com

4. Nudestix Nudies Matte Bronze in Bondi Bae

Nudestix Nudies Matte Bronze in Bondi Bae
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

This travel friendly stick bronzer from cult US brand Nudestix works a treat on your morning commute and provides a trip to Bondi Beach in just a swipe.

The matte cream bronzer offers total control over application and has the perfect natural finish. And the swipe-on format also means it’s great as contour.

Here at Metro.co.uk we recommend using a Beautyblender if you want to create a softer seamless finish.

Nudestix Nudies Matte Bronze in Bondi Bae, £28, cultbeauty.co.uk

5. CHANEL Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base

CHANEL Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base
(Picture: Feelunique)

We get that the price tag is a little discouraging, but your skin deserves CHANEL’s velvety bronzer.

CHANEL Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base has orange undertones making it suitable for a variety of skin types.

And it can be worn beneath or on top of makeup. For an overall glow gently sweep across your cheek bones, temples and forehead.

CHANEL Soleil Tan De Chanel Bronzing Makeup Base, £40, feelunique.co.uk

6. Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer

For that subtle I’ve-been-laying-out-all-day glow, Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer is a great option.

We’ve been obsessed with the on-the-go stick products from Milk Makeup since the brand launched into the UK. But their Matte Bronzer is easily favourite.

It blends in beautifully, doesn’t emphasise dry patches and covers large areas effortlessly for a believable tan, while the cream formula adds a little luminosity to the skin.

Milk Makeup Matte Bronzer, £20.50, cultbeauty.co.uk

7. The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder
(Picture: The Body Shop)

This butter-soft bronzer should be your go-to if you want to look like a bronze goddess for just £14.

Rated an impressive 5 out of 5 stars online at The Body Shop, the honey-enriched bronzing powder offers a luminous golden glow without leaving your complexion muddy.

The shimmer-free, pressed powder is available in five shades to suit even the palest skin tones.

The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder, £14, thebodyshop.com

8. Huda Beauty Tantour

Huda Beauty Tantour
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

Step-up your contour game with Huda’s Tantour cream-to-powder contour and bronzer.

The new release from beauty mogul Huda Kattan, will sculpt your cheekbones to perfection and add the perfect amount of bronze to your makeup look.

The hyrbid powder is sweat and water-resistant and it’s incredibly long-lasting – perfect for warmer weather.

Huda Beauty Tantour, £26, cultbeauty.co.uk

9. NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Lauguna

NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

The NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer in Laguna is a luxurious classic.

This finely-milled, satin-finish bronzer is buildable and lightweight, melting comfortably into the skin and giving it a natural sun-kissed glow.

And thanks to its ‘Soft Blurring Technology’ skin looks healthier and imperfections are diffused.

NARS Sun Wash Diffusing Bronzer, £31, cultbeauty.co.uk

10. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Diffused Bronze Light

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Diffused Bronze Light
(Picture: Cult Beauty)

A slightly pearlescent finish helps bronzer look more natural and part of the skin.

Enter Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Diffused Bronze Light, that gives tired lacklustre skin an instant soft-lit glow thanks to its Photoluminescent Technology.

It’s marbled, luxurious and best yet, it’s universally flattering.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Diffused Bronze Light, £45, cultbeauty.co.uk

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Meet Pooh, the rescue cat with brand new prosthetic legs

Pooh, a one-year-old cat, who lost his hind legs in an accident and has been given bionic paws, plays with a toy in a vet clinic in Sofia on January 31, 2017. Pooh, who is thought to have lost his legs in a car or train accident last April, is back on the prowl thanks to Bulgarian veterinary surgeon Vladislav Zlatinov. He is the first vet in Europe to successfully apply the pioneering method of Irish neuro-orthopaedic surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick, who shot to fame in 2009 when making Oscar the first bionic cat by fitting him with new hind legs in Britain. / AFP / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Meet Pooh. The Cat, not the bear.  (Picture: AFP)

This is the story of Pooh.

No, not Winnie, Pooh the cat who was saved from being euthanised after he was brought in to a hospital in Bulgaria by a kind woman.

Despite his injuries, surgeon Dr Vladislav Zlatinov, thought that it could be possible to save his hind legs, but Dr Zlatinov found that the legs would have to be amputated.

This picture taken on January 26, 2017 in Sofia shows a vet holding one-year-old cat Pooh with new bionic paws. Two Bulgarian cats who lost their hind legs in accidents are being given new bionic paws in what vets say is the first such operation in Europe outside ground-breaking Britain. But that is not all there is to it the stray fluffies who are also looking to find homes. / AFP / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pooh loves a little tickle.  (Picture: AFP)

Surgeries like this can cause complications for the patient, usually ending in the animal being put-down, so he thought about ways to save Pooh’s life.

His bright idea was to use prosthetic legs, similar to what human amputees use, to enable Pooh to walk again.

This picture taken on January 26, 2017 in Sofia shows the one-year-old cat Pooh playing with a toy with new bionic back paws. Two Bulgarian cats who lost their hind legs in accidents are being given new bionic paws in what vets say is the first such operation in Europe outside ground-breaking Britain. But that is not all there is to it, the stray fluffies are also looking to find homes. / AFP / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pooh is the hero we’ve all been searching for (Picture: AFP)

He said: ‘I had the vague idea that this is done sometimes, but it sounded impossible for our practice. But I wanted to try.’

And in trying he created a new life for Pooh.

This picture taken on January 26, 2017 in Sofia shows one-year-old Pooh in her new bionic back paws. Two Bulgarian cats who lost their hind legs in accidents are being given new bionic paws in what vets say is the first such operation in Europe outside ground-breaking Britain. But that is not all there is to it, the stray fluffies are also looking to find homes. / AFP / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV (Photo credit should read NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Super-cat Pooh (Picture: AFP)

The cat can now walk and climb and jump (not too far though) with the painless joy and freedom that most animals experience.

Dr Zlatinov said: ‘Pooh can move freely on flat surfaces, walking, running, even making small jumps. What’s important is that he doesn’t seem to be in pain.’

Meet Pooh, The Rescue Cat Who Just Got Brand New Legs, And Nobody Is Going To Stop Him Now Provider: Facebook/Let's Adopt Bulgaria Source: https://www.thedodo.com/cat-amputee-peg-legs-2231407833.html
And stretch and pose (Picture: justsomething.co)

Pooh is an inspiration to all of the other animals who have come up on hardships.

Here’s to Pooh getting adopted from the shelter and healing from his injuries.

To Pooh!

MORE: Owners shove dog off wall into animal shelter and abandon it

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MORE: Grumpy Cat dies at the age of seven after falling ill

How to cope with depression

Illustration showing someone with depression
Small things you can do to help matter (Picture: Dean Noroozi/Metro.co.uk)

Depression can be debilitating for many people. With NHS waiting times and prohibitive costs for private treatment, it’s also something that people have to deal with on their own (at least for a time until treatment is secured).

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and while awareness is extremely important, it’s good to know practical tips that can get you through.

If you have depression, these coping strategies can help you find each day a little easier than the last.

Seek treatment early

Although we’re looking mostly at the day-to-day things you can do to make things better, a good starting point is visiting your GP and looking into what is on offer.

You may be prescribed medication, which can improve your mood, and if therapy is offered, you’ll be able to have something to aim for.

In the first instance, even just talking to somebody who understands what you’re going through can be cathartic.

Nominate at least one friend to check in

You might not be ready to disclose to the world that you’re feeling low.

However, if there’s someone you trust enough to tell, let them know that you might withdraw from time to time, and ask them to drop in or give you a call.

Although being alone is what you might want to do in the moment, socialising can improve your mood.

Reduce substance intake

The NHS recommends that those with depression should cut down on alcohol.

Their website states, ‘You may drink more than usual as a way of coping with or hiding your emotions, or just to fill time. But alcohol won’t help you solve your problems and could also make you feel more depressed.’

This is also the case for any drugs or other substances that affect your mood. It’s better to have a clear head.

Exercise and eat right

You don’t need to become a gym bunny or clean eat 24/7, but staying active can produce endorphins that lift your mood.

We also all have to eat, so why not do it while keeping your body fuelled up with vitamins and nutrients?

Try this list of easy meals you can make when you’re feeling low. The NHS recommend starting exercising by walking 20 minutes per day.

Write a – very small – to do list daily

Instead of seeing weeks of emptiness spread before you, chunking things down into days and tasks can make it seem less insurmountable.

In the morning (or before you go to sleep each night) jot down a few things to get done, and you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you do.

These don’t need to be massive – it can be as simple as having a shower or making the bed – and if you don’t manage to finish it, simply throw it away and start again tomorrow. No need for guilt, here, just little wins when you can get them.

Keep to a routine

Depression can do thing to your brain that you might not understand – including making you want to sleep all day or be unable to sleep at all.

Try to stick to your normal wake up and bedtimes, and eat regularly as your normally would too.

This guide can help you get a better night’s sleep if you’re struggling.

Do one thing each day that scares you

It’s easy to reject speaking to people, going to work, or doing any of the things that make you ‘you’.

Depression is an illness just like any other, and there’s no shame in feeling fear in things that others may deem mundane.

To help yourself long-term, though, it’s good to try and break through those barriers.

Once you do meet friends or do whatever’s worrying you, you’ll likely find it was much more beneficial than staying at home.

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.

Mental Health questions answered

Google's most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked 'how to' questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

MORE: Gardening has a ‘better impact’ on mental health than hitting the gym

MORE: Single people believe mental health issues ‘makes it harder to find a relationship’

Say goodbye to the Toffee Deluxe as it’s once again axed from Quality Street

Split image of Quality Street box on one side, and Quality Street sweets on the other with a yellow, green and orange one, as well as one that has been unwrapped and cut into
Goodbye, Toffee Deluxe (Picture: Twitter/@KevsSnackReview)

Percy Pigs isn’t the only classic British treat getting a makeover this year.

Fans of the pig-shaped sweet were left outraged as M&S announced the arrival of a vegetarian version – which, coincidentally, was today announced as a permanent change – and now, Quality Street will be mixing things up too.

The traditional confectionery box is a regular feature in most British households during Christmas, but this coming December you’ll notice there’s one treat missing.

Nestlé, which owns Quality Street, has decided to remove the Toffee Deluxe from its offering and replace it with a brand new flavour: Chocolate Caramel Brownie.

It’s a controversial move, especially given the brand tried to kill off the treat nearly three years ago but opted to to bring it back after a social media campaign was started by fans of the flavour.

Unfortunately, this is truly the end.

Twitter/@KevsSnackReview https://twitter.com/KevsSnackReview/status/1128338223489531904
The treat is replaced by the Chocolate Caramel Brownie (Picture: Twitter/@KevsSnackReview)
Twitter/@KevsSnackReview https://twitter.com/KevsSnackReview/status/1128338223489531904
But the Toffee Penny is still there, don’t worry (Picture: Twitter/@KevsSnackReview)

While you mourn the loss of the delicious, chewy goodness and frantically search stores for a box that still contains the Toffee Deluxe, here’s some info on its replacement.

The Chocolate Caramel Brownie features a milk chocolate exterior, with a gooey chocolate and caramel-flavoured centre.

But don’t get too attached to this flavour either, as it’s not a permanent addition (meaning Nestlé could potentially bring back the Toffee Deluxe, again).

As expected, people aren’t thrilled about this new development.

One Twitter user, Josh Handscomb, doesn’t seem too bothered though, and instead questioned if it’s ‘necessary’ to have so many toffee options in Quality Street products.

He and his partner had a ‘lengthy discussion’ about the issue and so contacted the brand for a reply.

He followed up with another tweet which said: ‘Toffee is good but we’re not sure it warrants making up a quarter of the box.’

Quality Street replied with a cheeky reference to footballer Tammy Abraham, who recently scored a penalty for Aston Villa, which will see the team go to the Championship play-off final.

‘But Josh our toffee’s are a bit like Tammy Abraham…good in the box,’ the brand tweeted back.

‘Well, we know we got your attention the last time we dropped the Toffee Deluxe so couldn’t resist trying it again,’ a Nestlé spokesman told The Sun.

‘But seriously, everybody’s got a favourite Quality Street and the assortment has changed a lot over the years.

‘Every now and then we like to introduce new exciting flavours to the mix and are certain that our delicious chocolate caramel brownie will be a hit for 2019.’

Toffee Deluxe isn’t the first treat to be removed from Quality Street; last year, Honeycomb Crunch was ditched.

Let’s hope this is the only change coming for a while, we’re not sure our hearts can deal with more.

MORE: Co-op launches £1 bags of halloumi fries crisps – and they’re vegetarian

MORE: Lidl and Aldi battle it out over square sausage ‘invention’

MORE: Lidl and Aldi battle it out over square sausage ‘invention’

Woman shames Pretty Little Thing for bikini that can only be used for ‘poolside posing’

Poolside only swimwear from Pretty Little Thing
Poolside only, ladies (Picture: Twitter/Pretty Little Thing)

A woman has shamed Pretty Little Thing on Twitter after the dye in her bikini seeped out when she soaked the product in water.

Apparently, water and (some) bikinis don’t mix.

Alisha purchased the Teal Triangle Sequin Tassel Bikini set for £60, but was left disappointed when she realised she wouldn’t be able to use the swimwear for, er, swimming.

In a tweet that has since gone viral with over 20,000 retweets and 62,800 likes, Alisha presents photos of her newly purchased bikini soaking in a sink filled with water – which has been stained teal by the product.

Poolside only swimwear from Pretty Little Thing
The conversation between Alisha and Hakim from Pretty Little Thing (Picture: @Princrastinate / Twitter)

Alisha contacted Pretty Little Thing about the issue and wrote: ‘I love the bikini, I just don’t know how to stop the dye from running everywhere when it’s in water, just doesn’t seem normal to me’.

The retailer advised that the product should only be used for ‘poolside posing’ and pointed out that this information is noted in the product description on its website.

‘Thanks for sending the order number,’ a representative named Hakim replied.

‘Great to hear that you love the bikini but on the website it does say that the set shouldn’t be worn in water and the colour may transfer.’

Model posing in Pretty Little Thing's teal sequin bikini set
Fancy a swim? Not in this bikini (Picture: Pretty Little Thing)
Pretty Little Thing bikini bottoms soaking in water and staining the water teal
Oops? (Picture:: @Princrastinate / Twitter)

Alisha wasn’t pleased with the reply and so decided to take to Twitter to find out what others thought of the situation.

She also pointed out how ‘laughable’ the price of the swimwear product is, given it can’t be used in water.

‘Be cautious when buying SWIMwear from @OfficialPLT this summer because it’s only for “poolside posing” and they’ll still charge you £60 a set, absolutely laughable,’ she wrote.

Meanwhile, photos showed the bikini soaking in a sink, as well as screen shots of the product description and Alisha’s conversation with Pretty Little Thing.

People are heavily mocking the ‘poolside posing’ product.

One user asked if the brand is ‘…making swimwear strictly for IG [Instagram] models now’.

Another pointed out health concerns.

I’d also be kinda worried about that material around my crotch,’ Lea tweeted.

‘If that transfers that bad in water it must be leeching chemicals and dye into your [cat emoji] too. That can’t be good.’

One Twitter user shared a hilarious photo of herself in a different bikini that also transferred dye when it came in contact with water.

Renée said it looked as if she had ‘wet’ herself while on holiday in Marbella and said she would also like ‘compensation’, though there has not been a reply to her tweet yet.

Pretty Little Thing has since messaged Alisha again and issued a refund, as well as offered a 40% discount code for her next purchase.

That is, if she decides to make one.

The product has also now been removed from the brand’s website, so sadly people will have to find another bikini to wear for their ‘poolside posing’.

Darn it.

MORE: ASOS recreates Britney Spears’ iconic catsuit for men but it looks like ‘giant red condom’

MORE: Asos mocked for £30 lucky cat bra that barely covers anything

MORE: ASOS model shows off bikini but people are more concerned with what’s on her plate

How to get help for depression, and when to reach out

Someone speaking to a therapist for depression
A problem shared is a problem halved (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

Depression can be an extremely isolating illness, and one with causes you to question your own sanity.

Some of the symptoms of depression include low mood, loss of energy, a feeling of worthlessness, or difficulty concentrating and making decisions.

As such, it might make it hard for some people to seek help; with some feeling like they don’t deserve it, and others unsure of what’s out there to help them.

Thankfully, there’s many places you can turn to, and although you might have to wait for a while for things like therapy, it’s very worthwhile to reach out.

When to seek help for depression

The NHS state that ‘as a general rule, if you’re depressed, you feel sad, hopeless and lose interest in things you used to enjoy.’

There can also be other psychological symptoms including irritability, feelings of guilt, and constant low self esteem, as well as physical ones like low sex drive, appetite changes, or constipation.

They recommend that you seek help if you experience symptoms for most of the day, every day, for two weeks or more.

However, if you’re feeling low for no reason and and want to speak to a professional, it’s worth doing so even if you haven’t reached this length of time.

How to get help for depression

The type of help you need will depend on the severity of you’re situation.

If you’re in crisis and feel like you may harm yourself or others, then it’s best to go to A&E.

A few helplines you can try if you’d rather reach out over the phone include:

  • Sane Charity – between 4.30pm and 10.30pm 365 days a year – 0300 304 7000
  • The Samaritans – 24 hour – 116 123
  • NHS 111 – 24 hour

For more long-term support, your GP is a good place to start. They’ll ask you about your symptoms, and will decide on the right treatment, which may be medication, therapy, or a combination of both.

Some areas have IAPT services available, where you can self-refer without having to get a GPs appointment and be sent to the right mental health service. You can check if there’s one in your area on the NHS website.

You may find it easier to write down some of the symptoms your experiencing in a diary or list, as this can help you feel less nervous when you’re speaking about something so personal to you.

It’s worth remembering that there may be waiting times for certain treatments, so to ask your GP about ways to cope in the meantime.

They’re not there to judge you, and will be keen to work with you to improve your symptoms and find the right way forward.

If you’d prefer to go private, you can use the BACP website to find qualified consellors and psycotherapists in your area. Similarly, the BABCP has a register of accredited CBT therapists available, if that’s the treatment you’d prefer.

Costs can vary, and there’s no guarantee that the first person you speak to will be the therapist who suits you. Going forward and speaking about what’s going on in your head, though, will always be a positive step.

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.

Mental Health questions answered

Google's most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked 'how to' questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

MORE: Gardening has a ‘better impact’ on mental health than hitting the gym

MORE: Single people believe mental health issues ‘makes it harder to find a relationship’

Strong Women: ‘Surgeons didn’t want to remove my healthy breast, but I know my own mind’

Strong Women: Juliet
So my diagnosis was a confirmation of what I already knew in my own mind – that I did have breast cancer (Picture: Ella Byworth for metro.co.uk)

We are crying out for diversity when it comes to images of the female body on mainstream platforms.

All too often we only see one kind of woman – slim, young, able-bodied, usually white – in ad campaigns, movies and magazines, and it is damaging women’s self-esteem.

A recent Sport England study found that 75% of women are put off from being active due to a fear of judgement.

Strong Women aims to normalise diversity in the world of sport and fitness and reaffirm the idea that women of any age, size, race and ability can be fit, strong and love their bodies.

Juliet Fitzpatrick’s world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Deciding to have her remaining, healthy breast removed was her way of taking back control.

Juliet Fitzpatrick
Juliet’s surgeons refused to give her the double mastectomy she knew she wanted (Picture: Sue Lacey Photography)

What happened when you were diagnosed with cancer?

I’d had a call-back after my routine mammogram to go and have more tests as there was something that didn’t look right on the results.

I was very blasé about it and went on my own to the clinic. That feeling soon changed after an ultrasound and needle biopsies when I saw the doctor’s and nurse’s faces – I felt that there was something very wrong.

I asked the doctor if she’d seen a tumour, but all she would say was that there was something suspicious in the breast – her tone of voice and facial expression gave her away though. My decision to go on my own came back to bite me then, as I had no one to drive me home and it’s very tricky driving when your eyes are full of tears.

So my diagnosis was a confirmation of what I already knew in my own mind – that I did have breast cancer.

Hearing those words though was shocking and I felt that I had been hit hard in my stomach. I felt sick and dizzy – the room really did lurch.

I heard that I would have a lumpectomy and probably radiotherapy, but I don’t remember what he said about the practicalities of what they entailed.

I do remember thinking that I was going to die and my next thought was; how do I tell my children? They were 24 and 20 at the time and both at Manchester University, but I still dreaded telling them.

Tell us about your relationship with fitness

I have always loved sport, rather than fitness. As a girl and into my twenties, I played sport for the love of the game, whether that was hockey, netball, tennis, basketball, athletics, volleyball, football or even rugby.

Coming back to London after university was when I stopped playing so much sport. Life choices and work meant that there wasn’t so much time to devote to it and I became a passionate watcher of sport instead.

I did do a bit of running and going to the gym, but I definitely spent more time in the pub or in front of the television watching my beloved Manchester United.

The next phase of my sporting/fitness life came after my youngest child had started nursery school. I was in my late 30s and decided that I wanted to start playing tennis again.

I joined a local club and found that I was still pretty good at it and that I loved playing. So much so that I played four to five times a week, both socially and competitively for the club team. I even won the women’s singles competition one year.

Then I got my breast cancer diagnosis in January 2016.

Juliet Fitzpatrick
(Picture: Juliet Fitzpatrick)

Most of 2016 was taken up with surgeries, chemotherapy and Herceptin injections and then recovery.

I know now that exercising through treatment is said to be really beneficial, but at the time I wasn’t given that information. The message was rest and don’t try to do too much.

2017 came and I decided that I wanted and needed to get fit again. I love walking and have two whippets, so I decided that Nordic walking might be the activity for me.

I found a beginners class was running five minutes from my house, so I gave it a go and loved it. The poles mean that you use your upper body as well as your legs, so the cardio workout is much more than normal walking. I was hooked!

However, sciatic pain struck with a vengeance and, long story short, I had to have a hip replacement.

It turns out that was one of the best decisions I have ever made. The operation has been an amazing success, meaning that I’m pain-free in my right leg and most amazingly, almost all of my sciatic pain has gone from my left leg.

My attitude to exercise has definitely changed. Now I want to get stronger and fitter, both physically and mentally.

I started walking my dogs again but I now walked them fast so that I could get my 30-minutes of activity in each day. Then I began Nordic walking again, and started seeing a personal trainer twice a week. She incorporates cardio, HIIT, strength and flexibility into my sessions and I even do some weights which I’ve never done before. I love those sessions. Being pushed beyond what I think I can do and then achieving it is amazing.

And I’m so much stronger and fitter than I’ve been in years. I’m going to join a tennis club this month and I’m really looking forward to getting back on the court.

How did you make the choice to have a double mastectomy?

After my lumpectomy in February 2016, I was told that I would have to have a mastectomy because the surgeons couldn’t get clear margins from the tumour. I had no choice with my first mastectomy.

I was given lots of information about having a reconstruction. This is where tissue is taken from your stomach and used to make a breast shape mind on your chest. I agreed to this initially, but over the following week I began to have doubts about the long, eight-hour operation.

I didn’t know that it was OK to stay flat because I wasn’t given that option. I only discovered that lots of women do that after finding a Facebook group called Flat Friends where all of the women are flat – some on one side and some on both sides.

This was my lightbulb moment and I told my surgeon that I didn’t want reconstruction and asked him to do a double mastectomy. He declined the double mastectomy so I was left as a GG cup ‘uniboober’ after the mastectomy.

I wasn’t happy living as a ‘uniboober’. I had to wear a bra with a large prosthetic breast on my flat side, and it was very heavy and hot.

Over time, I grew to like my flat side much more than my remaining breast and I knew that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life so lopsided.

At every check up, I asked my surgeon to remove my healthy breast so that I could be symmetrical. Eventually he agreed as long as I had a psychological assessment to make sure that I wasn’t mentally unstable.

Eighteen months after the first mastectomy, my second breast was removed in November 2017.

In the end, my decision to have the second mastectomy seemed a natural and positive one to take.

The difficulty was convincing the medical professionals that I knew my own mind and wanted to take control over my body and how I wanted to live.

Deciding not to reconstruct and choosing to have my healthy breast removed meant that I took back control of a terrible situation, and from that decision flowed strength and positivity and empowerment.

Having the second mastectomy was probably the bravest thing that I’ve ever done. I didn’t know what I’d look like completely flat, or whether I’d be able to accept my new body. I thought that it would be a good decision but until Id actually done it there was a small amount of doubt in my mind.

Juliet Nordic walking
Nordic walking helps Juliet feel fit, strong and powerful (Picture: Juliet Fitzpatrick)

Looking at myself in the mirror after the operation was amazing and I really felt the strength of my mind transferring into my body. I was so happy with what I saw and drew strength from knowing that I’d made the right decision for me.

I am petrified of having operations and my anxiety levels were through the roof before my lumpectomy and first mastectomy. I had no choice about having those operations. The second mastectomy was a different situation.

This was my decision and I needed to call on huge reserves of strength that I didn’t know I had to make myself go through with an elective operation.

Knowing that I’d made the right decision has given me the strength to follow through on other aspects of my life that I wouldn’t have felt able to do before.

Why is it important to you to show off your scars?

The first topless photo shoot that I did with a very good friend who’s also a photographer. It happened when my scar was fully healed and that one was mainly for me to show myself how beautiful and courageous I was after having been through so much trauma.

As soon as I saw them I knew that I wanted to disseminate them to as big an audience as possible.

I think that I had in the back of mind the fact that I had never seen a flat woman after a double mastectomy and how helpful it would have been if I had when I was faced with making a decision about my post-mastectomy treatment.

So it was important to me that I added to the body of flat mastectomy images on the internet and if possible in the press and media.

If only one woman has been positively impacted by seeing my photos then I know that I have made a positive contribution.

I want  to show that these scars are not scary or ugly, but beautiful and life affirming.

You can’t be what you can’t see and I couldn’t see that it was acceptable to stay flat because my healthcare professionals didn’t show me that.

Once I started looking myself, I could see that a flat scarred chest is more than acceptable – it’s beautiful.

How does fitness help you now?

The exercise that I do now is massively important to me.

I have thrown myself into training, especially because I want to get stronger and fitter.

I know that there has been recent research that shows that exercise is a big part of preventing the recurrence of breast cancer and that’s an extremely good reason for me to exercise as much as I can.

I was unable to do very much exercise at all for almost four years so I feel like I’m making up for lost time. Exercise time is time for me and that’s important too.

Training makes me feel great about myself. It releases all of those endorphins and gives me a massive buzz.

I never thought that I’d be doing what I do now, especially the weights, at my age and after what my body has been through. Even though I find the training really hard, I find that I can push on because I know what a brilliant feeling I’ll have at the end of the session.

It demonstrates to me that I’m resilient and can push myself further than I thought I could.

Walking is my go-to if I feel stressed and anxious. I walk my whippets every day and I love being outside in Nature.

I try to notice all of the little things – the flowers, leaves, the noise of the wind, the sound of the water on my local lakes and the birds. Because I walk every day, I notice the changes that each season brings and I love that.

MORE: Strong Women: ‘Arthritis is misunderstood, it doesn’t have to be a life sentence of pain’

MORE: Strong Women: ‘I was obsessed with being thin, now I’m happier at a size 18’

MORE: Strong Women: ‘My mum died so young – I needed to be healthy for my children’

How to stop worrying

Talking about your worries can help alleviate them
The adage is true: a problem shared is a problem halved (Picture: Dave Anderson for Metro.co.uk)

Most people worry on a daily basis about small things; did you turn your straighteners off before you left the house? Did you forget your keys?

But for others, it’s a more deep-rooted issue and it’s almost impossible to switch off. Unrelenting worries can be exhausting and, ultimately, debilitating.

For Mental Health Awareness Week we’re looking at the most searched questions on Google surrounding mental health, and unsurprisingly, worrying comes near the top.

It goes without saying that there’s no straightforward way to just ‘switch off’ when you feel paralyzed with worry, but there are some simple steps you can take to try to reframe your thoughts and make day to day life a little easier.

Schedule time to worry

Whether its ten or thirty minutes, deciding a time-frame where you’ll confront your worries can help you shelve those thoughts for the rest of the day.

The psychology behind this works on the premise that worrying has no limits because there are endless things that you can worry about, and your worries can be repetitive.

By limiting these thoughts to a specific amount of time, you are more likely to look for a solution too, rather than just dwelling on them.

If you catch yourself worrying outside of this time frame, just remind yourself that you have dedicated time to think about it later.

Illustration of woman worrying
Scheduling worrying time can help make worries feel less unconquerable (Picture: Phébe Lou Morson for Metro.co.uk)

Talk about your worries

It’s a tired but true cliche that a problem shared is a problem halved.

Talking to friends and family about your worries can be cathartic and can help make your worries seem less overwhelming.

Verbalising and discussing your worries may help you understand which ones are needless, and a loved one can help you think of solutions.


Most worries relate to scenarios and ‘what ifs’ which could take place in the future so another way to alleviate your worries is to try your hardest to focus only on the present moment.

Enter mindfulness, which is all about being aware of, and giving attention to, the present moment.

There are various ways you can practise mindfulness, from formal methods such as yoga, tai-chi or meditation to just trying to be more mindful in your day-to-day.

Find out more about mindfulness and how to get started on the NHS website. You can also visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website where they offer an online mindfulness course.

Alternatively apps such as Headspace can help you get started on mindfulness and meditation.

Avoid ‘what ifs’

Worst case scenarios are highly unusual. They may play out in your head as a likely result, but it’s important to step back and assess the real likelihood of them happening.

None of us can predict the future and we worry about what may happen, instead of what will happen.

Remember that your ability to risk assess is impaired by your worries, so your perception of the situation may not be realistic either.

Try to step back and think about what is the worst that could happen, realistically?

Illustration of anxious person, for Mental Health Awareness Week
What If thoughts can be unconstructive and crippling (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Don’t avoid your worries

Focusing a little time to really think about your worries can help you take action to solve them. Avoid procrastination by writing them down and thinking about how to resolve them during your designated worry. Are they solvable, and how?

Try to avoid burying your head in the sand in terms of finding a solution, as your worries will often persist.

Mental Health questions answered

Google's most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked 'how to' questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

MORE: How to know if you have anxiety: the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder

MORE: How to cope with anxiety at work: strategies to banish the panic

Love, Or Something Like It: I think everyone should try divorce before they’re 30


I used to think divorce is something that happens to 50-something men with wildly inappropriate girlfriends and disappointed wives left to explain it to world-weary kids.

Now, aged 30 and already one marriage down, I know this isn’t reality.

Being divorced at my age is less common than you’d think; of over 100,000 divorces in the UK in 2017, fewer than five per cent of those involved a man under the age of 30.

However, the odds were already against me. The average age for men and women divorcing is their mid-40s – and those who marry younger are more likely to divorce.

I met my ex-wife on Tinder in the simpler times of early 2014, back when this was a relatively new form of dating.

At the time, I had a track record of falling quickly into new romances before letting them burn out when the prospect of a new one came along. Most of my mates also remained convinced that online dating platforms were the domain of middle-aged men with three chins and a comb over.

A man who got divorced before he was 30 smiles at guests on his wedding day
I find it hard to talk about the intimate details of my divorce (Photo: Mark O’Brien)

When she walked in, I had to surreptitiously check my inbox to be sure I got her name right. She was strikingly beautiful, with a sparkling imagination and great sense of humour.

She invited me back to hers with a spellbinding self-assuredness and I didn’t leave until almost 48 hours later – we turned out to really quite like each other.

Three years on we were separated, divorce pending.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds worth of couple’s therapy didn’t manage to explain what went wrong in my marriage.

I cheated, which didn’t help, and she retaliated. We got trapped in a cycle of hurting one another, each of us one-upping the other’s last misdemeanour.

The fire in our personalities that attracted us to one another ended up burning us out and I didn’t yet have the emotional range and experience to handle this kind of situation.

It’s tempting to clutch at bigger themes about the world today and say that these caused my divorce, rather than admit to my own personal failures.

It’s tempting to clutch at bigger themes about the world today and say that these caused my divorce, rather than admit to my own personal failures.

Social media, the internet and dating apps make people readily available, and renders casual validation as easy as getting to a higher level of Angry Birds.

My grandparents clocked over half a century together and they didn’t have exes lurking on their newsfeed, or under-dressed strangers collecting thirsty likes.

But Facebook didn’t send flirtatious messages to old flames still orbiting my friends list – I did. Tinder didn’t re-download itself onto my iPhone like a bad U2 album – I did that.

I find it hard to talk about the intimate details of my divorce. There are old colleagues and close friends I haven’t even told yet, because I can’t bear to have the conversation (much less receive the pity).

Sympathetic people tell me life only starts to get interesting at 30 and joke ‘well at least it’s not like you have any kids to worry about’.

A man who got divorced before he was 30 makes a speech on his wedding day
Love is simply finding someone you can kill time with and who you don’t mind the look of (Photo: Mark O’Brien)

Yet I do quite enjoy the shock factor on first dates when I candidly reveal my status. Some women are wary of my ‘baggage’; others find my marital experience more compelling.

I imagine some see my first one as a sort of starter marriage – a practice lap.

So many of us in our 20s and 30s are frantically trying to scrape that promotion, secure that deposit and capture that Insta-love. It’s almost a relief to open up and declare that I’ve tried and failed.

The more I grow accustomed to it, the further the pain recedes and the more comfortable I am about being divorced.

Love is simply finding someone you can kill time with and who you don’t mind the look of, nothing grander than that. What we want and what we have to offer changes as we grow – having divorced so young makes me see my own mistakes and transformations as opportunities.

I’ve started to think that maybe everyone should try divorce before they’re 30.

The best you can do is be honest about who you are and who you’ll be as a partner, admit your abilities and your failings, your secrets and desires.

If you can endure the trauma and sadness, and admit that you tried something huge and important but messed it up, you can make it through all sorts.

Last week in Love, Or Something Like It: ‘What 15k Tinder matches has taught me about true love’

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Love, Or Something Like It is a brand new series for Metro.co.uk, published every Saturday. If you have a love story to share, email rosy.edwards@metro.co.uk

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Brace yourselves, someone has created handbags that look like Crocs shoes

A brand called Optari has created a Crocs-inspired handbag. The split image shows a blonde woman holding up two of the bags, one in turquoise and the other in purple, while in the other photo someone holds a blue bag with a plastic sunflower attached
Because you need to match your shoes with your handbag, right? (Picture: Optari)

Retailers just can’t seem to leave Crocs well alone.

So far this year, we’ve been presented with Crocs bumbag shoes, sparkly wedding-themed Crocs and grass-covered Crocs.

But it seems as if people are getting tired of simply wearing the foam clog shoes, now they want to carry them too.

Optari, a retail website in the US, has released handbags that bear an uncanny resemblance to the comfortable footwear favoured by nurses and chefs across the world.

The product is available in two sizes and six colours, including pink, green, turquoise, purple, black and blue.

And if you want to take things to a whole new level, you can also ‘customize your tote with patented Fobbz Charmz’, small decorations such as flowers and butterflies that can be attached to the outside of the bag.

Because a Crocs-inspired bag on its own just isn’t quite enough, it seems.

Blonde woman holds two Crocs-inspired bags in her hands, one in turquoise and the other in purple with a flower and 'Love' sign attached
What size to choose…(Picture: Optari)
Woman dressed in red holds a purple Crocs-inspired bag over her shoulder, with a butterfly clip attached to it
Add ‘Fobbz Charmz’ like butterflies to your new bag (Picture: Optari)

The bag works well for summer, as it’s waterproof and made from ‘easy to clean’ material.

According to Optari, the bags can also be used as ‘beach bags, shower caddy, diaper bag, garden tote, bath tub toy holder, lunch tote, book bag, gift bag and more!’.

So at least it’s a versatile bag.

Prices start from £15.71 for the smaller bags, and £19.64 for the bigger ones.

Brunette woman with her hair up and dressed in a white top, holding a blue Crocs-inspired bag with a yellow plastic sunflower attached
A very summery look (Picture: Optari)

If the Crocs-style handbags don’t tickle your fancy, there’s also a crossbody version available.

It’s not quite as interesting as the handbag, but it does come with a jazzy multi-coloured strap, and is available in five colours.

Or if you really love all things Crocs-themed, get both?

We’re not sure this trend will catch on, but what do you think?

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Londoners are the ‘most anxious’ in the UK, says survey

Illustration of two people standing next to each other, one blonde in a suit jacket and shirt, the other with black hair in a t-shirt against a purple and light green and blue-ish background
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

If you’re based in London, we have bad news.

A new survey has revealed that people who live in the capital are the ‘most anxious’ in the UK, along with people from Wales – both at 47% respectively.

Out of 2,000 participants, two out of five Londoners also claimed to have the ‘worst’ work-life balance, with 35% working over 50 hours per week.

What’s more, half of those people stated that they have experienced depression and anxiety throughout their career.

This is perhaps unsurprising, as research has found that there are links between presenteeism and mental health issues.

While the UK is still working towards embracing a healthier workplace culture with shorter working days, it seems we’re not quite there yet.

Londoners, while having a median wage that is higher than the national average, are also suffering from financial problems with rent prices that are among the highest in Europe, according to Eos Scientific, the brand that conducted the survey.

It’s not just people in the capital who are working excessive hours; the East Midlands are a close second (24%), while the West Midlands nabbed the third spot (24%).

Scotland is the best off at the moment, with just 12% working more than 50 hours.

Top 12 most overworked areas in the UK (50 hours or more)

  • London – 35%
  • East Midlands – 25%
  • West Midlands – 24%
  • Wales – 23%
  • Northern Ireland – 20%
  • South East – 19%
  • East of England – 19%
  • North East – 18%
  • South West – 16%
  • Yorkshire & Humberside – 15%
  • North West – 13%
  • Scotland – 12%

Top 12 areas in the UK where people claim their work-life balance is negatively affecting their mental health

  1. London – 38%
  2. West Midlands – 35%
  3. Wales – 33%
  4. North West – 33%
  5. East Midlands – 32%
  6. South West – 30%
  7. South East – 27%
  8. North East – 25%
  9. East of England – 22%
  10. Yorkshire & Humberside – 21%
  11. Scotland – 19%
  12. Northern Ireland – 17%

Over a third of people surveyed who were from the North West (38%) and Yorkshire & Humberside (36%) also stated that they have suffered from mental health issues at work.

People from Northern Ireland seemed to have a more positive workplace, with 21% having felt anxious or depressed throughout their career.

If you think your job might be causing you anxiety, here are some helpful tips on how to cope with anxiety at work and banish the panic.

Or perhaps it’s time for a move?

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Mum bullied for rare condition that causes large moles is signed to modelling agency

Chery Shaw was bullied for her skin condition but is now signed to a modelling agency and can be seen here in a split image. In one she is sat on steps dressed in an orange dress and in the other posing in a flowery dress
(Picture: Caters News)

Cheryl Shaw has been bullied because of a rare skin condition her entire life.

But the 34-year-old from Birmingham has finally achieved the ultimate revenge, and a few weeks ago scored herself a modelling contract.

The mum-of-two was born with a disease called giant congential malanocytic naevus, which causes large moles of different sizes to develop over her body.

Despite being mocked for years, Cheryl decided to ignore the negative comments and proudly posted photos of herself on Instagram, showing off her skin.

And it’s good she did, because it’s where she was discovered by Models of Diversity, a charity that supports women and men with ‘different and distinctive’ features. Four weeks later, Cheryl had nabbed herself a contract.

The agency has a large portfolio of models which have appeared in ads for high street retailers such as River Island and New Look.

‘I couldn’t believe it when they contacted me,’ said Cheryl.

‘My boys and my mum are so proud of me.

‘Now I just want to inspire other people who look different – especially women with my condition.’

Cheryl Shaw, 34, poses on a set of stairs in a bright orange dress
She’s a natural (Picture: James Alexander Lyon /Caters News)
Cheryl Shaw, 34, has just been signed to Models of Diversity
Being proud of her skin has helped Cheryl with her confidence (Picture: Pete Goddard/Caters News)

Cheryl currently works as a full-time practice manager at a GP surgery, as well as looks after her two sons (aged four and 11).

Her new-found modelling career looks bright and from the looks of it, she has a natural talent for the job.

She said: ‘I’ve been called names like “spotty face”, “Dalmatian” and “cookie”.

‘This made me hate myself and dislike the way I looked as I felt it wasn’t normal.’

While growing up, Cheryl disguised her moles with special skin make-up from a dermatologist and wore clothes that covered her body, such as thick tights.

Cheryl Shaw was bullied for her rare condition that causes large moles but has now been signed to Models of Diversity. She can be seen sat on a garden chair indoors with greenery across the walls
(Picture: James Alexander Lyon /Caters News)

‘Summer was always a struggle as I used to wear thick layers of clothing because of the name calling,’ she said.

‘People used to stare at me and refused to sit next to me on a bus, or didn’t make me serve them when I used to work in a fast food restaurant.

‘I decided that enough was enough and asked myself, how am I going to change this? So I ordered a few shorts and decided to wear them on holiday and didn’t care what anyone thought.

‘Slowly I started to love myself and build up my confidence.

‘Now I know that not everyone has to be the same to be beautiful – accepting who I am has changed my attitude.’

Showing off her skin on Instagram has changed her life, and not just because of her modelling contract.

It’s also helped her feel more confident.

Cheryl said: ‘I couldn’t be more happier with myself now, that feeling of waking up every morning knowing I am able to be confident in my own skin is such a good feeling.

‘With this modelling opportunity I want those who are suffering with skin conditions, different disabilities, scarring and weight issues to just think, no matter what people’s opinions are, or what you class as flaws, can be classed as someone else’s perfection.’

Well said, Cheryl.

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Wedding disaster as best man breaks his arm night before the wedding – half an hour later, the replacement breaks his foot

Best men Steven Jackson and Brendan O'Mara both broke a bone at their friend's wedding
Talk about wedding disaster (Picture: Steven Jackson/SWNS.com)

Most people have concerns about their wedding day.

Will the ceremony go off without a hitch?

Will the weather be nice?

Will there be cold feet?

But few couples anticipate that two people from their wedding party will end up in the hospital with broken bones.

Steven Jackson, 39, was asked to be the best man at the wedding between his childhood friend, Michael Jackson, 40, and Kelly Willets, 31.

But on the night before the wedding, which was planned for 3 May, Steven fell off his bed at the Travelodge hotel in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and snapped his humerus bone.

Best man Steven Jackson broke his arm the night before his friend's wedding. He's lying in a hospital bed with an arm sling.
Steven broke his arm when he fell out of his hotel bed (Picture: Steven Jackson /SWNS.COM)
Steven Jackson, best man, broke his arm on the night before the wedding and is seen here on a stretcher driven by an NHS worker, while his replacement Brendan O'Mara smiles and gives a thumbs up
Steven gives a thumbs up next to Brendan, who broke his foot just 30 minutes after the first accident of the evening (Picture: Steven Jackson /SWNS.COM)

Another friend stepped up to the task – but he too was soon put out of commission.

Brendan O’Mara, 41, was the best man for a grand total of 30 minutes, before he tripped on the pavement and broke his foot while having a cigarette.

The ambulance left the hotel with Steven at 11.30, but was back less than an hour later to pick up Brendan.

The groom, now left with two injured best men, was in disbelief.

‘I just couldn’t believe it was happening — it was like a film,’ said Michael.

The unlucky best men made it to the wedding and pose together, Brendan with his crutches and Steven with his sling
Injury or no injury, the best men weren’t going to miss the event (Picture: Steven Jackson /SWNS.COM)
Michael Jackson and his bride Kelly Willets
Groom Michael and his bride Kelly (Picture: Steven Jackson /SWNS.COM)

Thankfully, the rest of the wedding went off without a hitch and no more broken bones.

And it wasn’t a total disaster for the best men, as both Steven and Brendan made it to the wedding the next day.

However, one was on crutches and the other wore an arm sling.

At least they had a brilliant story for the best man speech.

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How to overcome social anxiety

How to deal with social anxiety illustration
You’re not alone (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

Many mental health problems can cause a feeling of loneliness, but social anxiety is one of the main ones that can create physical loneliness as well.

It’s sometimes called social phobia, and is characterised as an overwhelming fear of social situations.

Those who experience it will know that it’s far more than just being shy, and the dread, worry, and panic attacks that happen as a result can cause people to withdraw.

If it is having an impact on your life, the best thing you can do is speak to your GP or another licensed professional. In the meantime, however, these coping strategies can help you overcome social anxiety in your everyday life.

Challenge your unhelpful thoughts

The NHS recommend understanding more about the condition to work out what makes you worried and then try to tackle your problem.

Most people experience unrealistic thoughts as part of their social anxiety, assuming things like everybody’s staring at them, or worrying they’ll make a fool of themselves.

Trying to identify those thoughts is the first step, and you can then go on to rationalise why you can to that thought.

Remember, you’re not a mind reader, so you don’t know that other people are thinking these things about you. Trying to predict or know the unknowable is simply wasting your own energy on something that might never happen.

Illustration on mental health
Facing your fears is key to getting past them (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

You might also be looking at things in a negative light, assuming a bad past experience means this will go the same way, or taking innocuous acts from others personally.

Knowing that can help you put a more rational spin on things, asking yourself whether there is any evidence to contradict this thought, or whether your ‘worst case scenario’ would even matter to you in time.

Try not to focus on yourself

According to the NHS, research shows that those with anxiety have an increased focus on themselves when they’re feeling anxious.

You may be looking at your own symptoms and feeling negative about how you look to the outside world. You might also feel like you need to be ‘perfect’ in social situations, forgetting about everyone else around you.

When you’re around others, try to put that focus back on to other people in the room. Actively listen to other people when they’re talking, and try to become more comfortable with not needing to lead conversations.

Stay as much as you can in the present moment, avoiding replaying moments of the conversation.

Avoid avoidance behaviours

Yup, you read that right. People with social anxiety often avoid going out at all if they can help it, and sometimes retreat to a behaviour they feel safe in when they are in social situations.

If you avoid the situations you fear, not only are you never getting to do fun things, you’re continuing the cycle of being unable to create confidence.

Set yourself tasks to participate in social situations, and you’ll find the more you do it, the easier it is. Here are some tips for making friends with social anxiety.

When you are in these situations, try to avoid crutches like alcohol or hanging around with people you already know.

Alcohol will cloud your judgement and stop you actually learning the social skills you need, while also giving you a nasty hangover and ‘the fear’ the next day about what you may have said.

Staying silent in conversations or staying with good friends only might feel comforting, but it doesn’t allow you to see how you can cope without.

Try your best to confront your fear, and make a mental note of how it went afterwards (likely completely fine) and the more that happens, the more those fears should reduce.

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.

Mental Health questions answered

Google's most-asked mental health questions in 2019 so far:

According to Google, the most frequently asked 'how to' questions relating to mental health this year so far are:

1. How to relieve stress
2. How to help anxiety
3. How to stop worrying
4. How to stop a panic attack
5. How to deal with stress
6. How to cope with depression
7. How to know if you have anxiety
8. How to know if you have depression
9. How to help someone with PTSD
10. How to overcome social anxiety
11. How to get help for depression
12. How to treat OCD
13. How to help a depressed friend
14. How to overcome a phobia
15. How to treat PTSD

How to help someone with PTSD

A mother and daughter
Be there for them however you can (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is estimated to affect around 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience.

It often goes undiagnosed because it doesn’t always develop immediately after the event, sometimes not becoming apparent until years afterwards.

It goes without saying that it’s extremely difficult for sufferers, but it’s also difficult for their loved ones who may not always know how best to respond to them.

For Mental Health Awareness Week we’re looking at the most searched questions on Google surrounding mental health, and how to help someone with PTSD is in the top ten.

Here are a few pointers on how you can help loved ones who are suffering.

Be a good listener

This perhaps goes without saying, but listening to the person talk is one of the most important things you can do.

You shouldn’t push them to talk but if they do, providing an open and non judgmental ear is important.

Sometimes the person may need to talk about the event over and over again as part of the healing process, so let them speak without telling them to move on.

Don’t try to impose your own opinion or make suggestions, and importantly, never try to minimize their feelings or tell them ‘it could be worse.’

Finally, don’t worry about giving advice: the most important thing is just to listen.

Mental health illustration
Being a good listener sounds obvious, but it couldn’t be more important (Picture: Dean Noroozi/Metro.co.uk)

Be patient and don’t pressure them into talking

Let them know you’re willing to listen but resist the urge to try to get them to open up to you.

For some, it can be cathartic to talk, but for others, it can make them feel worse.

Don’t make assumptions about how they feel or apply any pressure on whether they should talk or feel a certain way.

Help increase their sense of safety

Helping create routine and structure can enhance the person’s feelings of security.

Speaking of the future and making plans can help too as many sufferers feel their future is limited.

Creating a peaceful and non-chaotic environment can help your loved one too.

It’s not always easy, but try to leave your own stress at the door: the more calm and relaxed you are, the more you can help them.

Learn their triggers and look out for warning signs

Every person’s experience of PTSD is different so if they are comfortable talking to you, it’s useful to understand what sorts of situations might trigger flashbacks or difficult feelings for them.

Whether its sight, smells, sounds or even topics of conversation, understanding their triggers can help you attempt to alleviate them.

It’s entirely unique for each person but common triggers can include new places, crowds, or being physically constrained.

You can find more advice from Mind, as well as PTSD UK.

MORE: How to know if you have anxiety: the signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder

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