Let’s talk…Walking on Sunshine with Rachel Kelly

We all need some help from time to time, right?

Sometimes we need friends or family. Maybe time alone. A nice bubble bath. Meditation. Chocolate. Shopping. Nature. There are many things which we may turn to for when things aren’t going so well.

As anyone who has experienced some form of stress will know, you can never have enough tricks up your sleeve to cope.

Enter Rachel Kelly.

‘Walking on Sunshine. 52 Small Steps to Happiness’ is Rachel’s second book, following on from her Sunday Times bestseller ‘Black Rainbow’ This new offering provides 52 tips, tools and positive ideas to guide you through the seasons and better manage the pressures of everyday life.


Where did the idea for you new book come from and who is it aimed at? 

Last year I published a memoir entitled ‘Black Rainbow’ in which I described my past experience of debilitating depression and how I recovered from this serious illness. The book was based on diary entries, letters and emails I wrote at the time.

Since then, I’ve continued to get better. And I’ve also continued my habit of writing letters and keeping a diary. This time, I was able to move away from the heavy stuff and focus on what helps me through what Freud called ‘ordinary human unhappiness – the inevitable ups and downs of everyday life rather than depression.  Most days I feel steady and well – and sometimes I even feel as if I’m walking on sunshine. I wanted to share the strategies that had helped me.

So the book is aimed at anyone who feels stressed, is busy and overwhelmed, and needs to find ways of feeling calm and grounded so that they can allow happiness to flourish – in other words, all of us! It’s not aimed at those suffering the serious clinical illness which is depression.

As both a sufferer and a campaigner, what do you see as the key challenges facing us with mental health? 

The key challenges for us as a society facing mental health are to make sure we take our mental health as seriously as our physical health. At the moment in the NHS mental health is the poor relation: less money and resources are spent on it: we need to increase investment in the provision of mental health services. There are endless challenges: too many children and adults are still ending up in police cells rather than hospital when going through a mental health crisis. Too few people who lose their jobs are having the mental health impact of unemployement taken into account, and so lack treatment that might help them get back to work.

Tell us about your work with the mental health charity Sane

I was very honoured when in the Spring of this year I was appointed an Ambassador for this mental health charity founded by one of my heroines, Marjorie Wallace. I’m lucky enough to help raise awareness of mental health issues, to try and combat stigma, and to highlight the work does by speaking at conferences, schools, and to businesses in my role as an Ambassador. I also try and help fund raise for Sane. All my author proceeds from my memoir ‘Black Rainbow’ go the charity. One aspect of Sane’s work that I’m especially proud of is its mental health hotline, providing a friendly and knowledgeable person on the end of the line when often those suffering poor mental health have no where else to turn.

2. Turn Control into Curiosity PughWhat have you found the benefits of talking about your own experiences with depression to be? 

By sharing my experience, I’ve felt less alone. Others have confided in me about what they’ve suffered, and I feel as if I’ve found my tribe. It’s also be truly wonderful when someone tells me that something I’ve written or a speech I’ve made has helped in a tiny way. If I can make a tiny difference helping others, then I feel as if what I’ve experienced has been put to good use, and I can’t ask for more than that.

What is your favourite philosophical nugget? 

It’s a line from Corinthians in the Bible:

My grace is sufficient for thee; my strength is made perfect in weakness.

I love the idea that our broken – ness and weakness is also what makes us strong. While I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone it’s made me who I am. 

How do we move from focusing on our destination to enjoying the whole journey? Tidiest Sock Drawer PUGH

I’m working on it! I think it’s a real challenge, in a results-driven world, to take the time to stop and stare and to enjoy the ride. I’ve found elements of mindfulness especially helpful, particularly the breathing exercises and learning how to meditate. You can’t breathe in the future; you can’t breathe in the past, you can only breathe in the now. It’s a  great way of enjoying the moment and being in the present, thereby enjoying the whole journey.

What are your thoughts on mindfulness? 

Bits of mindfulness have proved very helpful, especially the breathing exercises and meditation. But I’ve found it’s not been enough on its own to help quieten my mind. I also use diet, exercise, some philosophical nuggets, bits of poetry, and other approaches in what I like to think of as my ‘salad bowl’ approach to staying well and calm.

Like a lot of holidays and important occasions Christmas can be a really tough time for some. What is your advice for those who find the festive season particularly challenging?

I’ve found the easiest thing is to try and remember that the Christmas we expect today is not the original meaning of Christmas, which was much simpler and not about things, but about our values and our spirituality. The best advice I can give if you’re finding the season challenging – and who doesn’t – is to get back to fundamentals. And the most fundamental way

I’m helped is by trying to make a tiny difference to someone else. We know that’s really good for our mental health. When I volunteer at my local prison, or run one of my workshops for MIND or Depression Alliance, Christmas ceases to be so stressful.

22. Nourish Your Body PUGHWhat would you say are the key ingredients to nourishing our minds, bodies and souls? 

I believe in several key principles. The first is that small steps work best. Set the targets too high, and I end up feeling a failure. Second, I don’t think you can pursue happy minds, bodies and souls directly. Rather, we feel peaceful and happy as an indirect consequence of the way we think and our actions, whether its tending a garden on helping others. And finally, mind and body are inextricably linked. By learning to relax physically, I’ve learnt to relax mentally.

Finally, what are your top five sanity-saving tools?

  1. My pet dog – Our wheaten terrier Sammy who wills me to get up in the morning and take him out when I find it hard to get up. He’s five now, I would bottle his biscuity smell if I could. His crazy optimism and edible looks bring a smile to my face.He also provides a clue when I go to the hairdressers at the right shade of bronde to dye my hair.

A St Andrews University study last year showed that dog owners over the age of 65 have fitness levels a decade younger than their biological age. Pet ownership promotes exercise, lowers blood pressure and heart rate as well as reducing loneliness.

2. Gardening – Chancing on a last fading rose while sweeping up the rotten leaves in our back garden. Gardening always reminds me that this too shall pass, however grim life can seem.

Research by the National Gardens Scheme showed that more than a third off people questioned said that being in a garden makes them feel healthier, while 79 per cent believer that access to a garden is essential for quality of life.

3. Human contact – When saying goodbye or hello, embracing someone for that little bit longer, sorting acknowledging their physical presence with yours. Touch is the very first sense we develop in the womb and I’m cheered every time someone reminds me of their human warmth.

David J. Linden, a neurobiologist at Johns Hopkins Unviersity in Baltimore, Maryland says that touch is not optional for human development and reinforces social bonds, inspires loyalty, encourages cooperation and enthuses sports teams.

4. My dance class at a local community puts a spring in my step, literally.

Dr Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics reports that the best activities for human happiness are when we are in the ‘flow’, and dance is one of them for me. I can’t think about anything other than where to put my foot next.

5. Thinking of myself a cracked pot – I like to remind myself of the Japanese art of mending, known as ‘kintsugi’. Far from chucking out a broken pot, artists mend them with golden glue, making the piece more beautiful. I often try and think of myself as that cracked pot. I wouldn’t wish depression on anyone, but it’s made me who I am. There isn’t any hard research for this, but I think that too is important. Sometimes the research just hasn’t been done yet, but that doesn’t stop such philosophical approaches being important.

Further links:

(Ode to) 2015

I begun 2015 a single, almost homeless, bus-stop-wanker. I am ending the year rather differently.

Good things come to those who wait?

No. Good things come and go. Bad things come and go. It really is how you face them that really matter.

In a split second you can have something wonderful, or nothing at all.

Life is hard work.

Life is a lesson learnt everyday.

I spent many years in search mode. Looking for myself, for love, to feel complete, happy, and searching for so much more. This year I found stability, and I couldn’t ask for more.


2015 has had its highs and lows. I have met incredible people, and a few I would rather forget. I have grown as a person, and I have had a lot of fun.

I lost all my confidence at work for a period and I worked hard to reclaim it. Anxiety knocked me for six and I faced it head on. I met someone and fell in love. For the first time ever I saved. I bought my first car (let’s hope I pass my test). I accepted more things than I could list.

I stopped searching.

Not everyone will like you. Things won’t be good all the time. There will always be something you want. There will always be things you want to get rid of and change. Someone will always have it better. Someone will always have it worse.

imageTime will keep ticking away. The trick is to stay in those moments. Feel what you feel. Learn from everything. And, have lots and lots of fun.

Accept. Things are just as they should be.

2015 Taught Me:

  • Speak up and people will listen and be there for you.
  • Life is definitely a state of mind.
  • Stay focused. Stand still when needed. Never forget how far you have come.
  • Trust yourself, even when those around you have their doubts.
  • Patience is hard work.
  • Stop people pleasing, start putting You first.
  • Saving money feels amazing!
  • When you meet the right person, you know.
  • Things happen when they need to.
  • Every year I grow more ditsy.
  • My mum actually is Supermum.
  • The news is sad and painful but we can all only do so much individually.
  • Being different ain’t so bad.
  • I may love my job but I shouldn’t let it consume me.
  • Online dating is worth it and you can meet someone who will sweep you of your feet, be your best friend, and love you so much you may burst.
  • As I say goodbye to my fifth year since diagnosis I still can’t find enough thank you’s to all those who have supported me.
  • You are never too old to colour in.


What has 2015 taught you?

Let’s talk… The Food Remedy with Kirsten Davies

Kirsten Davies qualified as a Harley Street trained nutritionist and body confidence coach. She trained with Ian Marber, the Food Doctor and has also worked with Dr Marilyn Glenville and Jamie Oliver, a champion of healthy eating.

Combining her nutritional knowledge with mindfulness and psychology, Kirsten helps clients understand the link between the food they eat and the thoughts they think. She is on a mission to educate people that a healthy body image goes much deeper than what you put on your plate. She wants people to get out of the diet trap and finally be in control of the way they feel about themselves.

Ever been trapped in a cycle of self-loathing? Are you all too familiar with yo-yo dieting? Do you hate the way look? Ever find yourself comparing yourself to others? Do you feel like you are missing out because of these things?

You are not alone.

Maybe it’s time to to ditch the “diet” mentality and to start to understand how food is central to your spiritual and physical well-being.

Meet Kirsten Davies.

KD 1235238_539452052814074_242332514_n

How has your own personal journey influenced your work and life choices?

I spent most of my teenage years and early twenties hating my body, confused about what to eat. It got to a point that I just wanted to understand it once and for all so I trained as a nutritionist.

What inspired you to create The Food Remedy and how did you get started?

After qualifying as a nutritionist I was still working as a nanny however, four months after I qualified I was made redundant from my nanny job. The following summer I did an internship in Hayley street for The Food Doctor and I loved it. I knew this was the path I wanted to take and The Food Remedy was born!

What approach do you take to helping others?

I look at their mindset, lifestyle, current and past eating patterns and we discuss goals and the changes that will help them get to where they want to be. My motto is:

Feed your mind. Nourish your body. Fuel your soul.

Tell us about the key challenges you see facing people today?

I think there is information overload. However I think that when people understand how their bodies work they start to be able to understand all that information a little more. I also think the role of social media can erode and confuse people. People look at media sensations online and want to eat what they eat. What someone posts on social media may not be the whole story.

In terms of healthy problems, I see a range of clients but mainly women in the twenties and thirtys suffering from depression, infertility, distorted eating patterns and then those with full blown eating disorders.

With so much information being thrown at us about what is and isn’t good for us by the media/social media, how do we know what to believe?

I think people need to look at the source of the information, read the study the information came from and really only ask qualified people about nutrition. The problem with nutrition is people are all too often happy to believe what they read or follow the advice of an untrained but slim, healthy looking person. Looks can fool us and with so many young women focusing on being slim and not always healthy, this can be a problem.

How do we move from body shaming to promoting healthy body images?

That’s an amazing question and one I’m not sure that I know the answer. However women can start by loving themselves more, comparing themselves less and respecting other women’s bodies and that means not shaming or criticising them. Imagine if every women stopped hating her body? Imagine if every woman stop criticising other women. Whilst companies and the media play a part individually we can’t change them, we can only change ourselves. If everyone changes these other sources of body shaming would stop because there wouldn’t be a demand for them.

If you want body shaming to stop – start by loving yourself more, your weight isn’t your worth, your body is not an ornament!

KD 1461381_539453209480625_2003867337_n

What are your top three favourite foods which you could not live without?

  1. Raspberries
  2. Coconut or Greek yogurt
  3. Roast chicken dinners – yum

What advice would you give to anyone wishing to overcome self-sabotage and to fall in love with their body again?

You can’t shame yourself slim and you can’t criticise yourself happy, it all starts with love. If you can’t quite love your imperfections then just stop being unkind to yourself. Become your own best friend. Be kind to yourself. You believe what you repeatedly tell yourself so become conscious of how you speak to yourself and focus on thinking thoughts that make you feel good.

Also, write down any compliments anyone gives you on post-it notes and put them in a large glass jar anytime you feel sad read the notes.

What does Holistic living mean to you?

Holistic health to me means that the whole person is treated. When someone comes to see me we don’t just discuss their diet and food goals we look at how their life is working for them. We discuss jobs, relationships, mindset and so forth. What I’ve come to realise is that many people use food to escape, numb or to hide from other factors in their life. I believe so many addictions are due to a lack of self love.

Holistic health is health of the mind, body and soul.

KD 1460198_539452519480694_647296727_n

What is your message to cynics, sceptics, and the intrigued?

Food is powerful when you change your diet you really can change your life. Don’t believe me? Try my 7 day whole food plan yourself and see your mood improve, your energy increase and your cravings curbed!

Finally, what are your top five tips for self-love?

  1. Have an attitude of gratitude by focusing on the good in things and the sliver linings.
  2. You get what you give so, give what you want to get. When you give pure loving energy you start to have a deeper appreciation for life.
  3. Stop terrorising yourself with your thoughts! Be kind to yourself and think thoughts that make you feel good.
  4. Learn to give yourself the love you deserve. Sometimes we look to others to love us because loving ourself isn’t that easy. No one can fill the void that a lack of self-love can create.
  5. Stop dieting. Focus on eating real, whole foods. Think deliciously, satisfying fats from oily fish, avocados, nuts, seeds, and good quality protein from grass fed beef, organic free range poultry , eggs and live natural yogurt. A lovely wide range of different coloured vegetables with a few fruits eaten every day.
You are gorgeous.  You can feel well.  You will be happy.
KD 12196003_10156106163810447_2974724812412600975_n

Further Links

Images courtesy of Lauren Amelia Photography

Let’s talk… Mandalas and Meditation with Jen Smith

Jen Smith is a mandala artist, meditation teacher, and serial entrepreneur. She is a qualified social media trainer with over 10 years blogging experience and 5 years working in the digital marketing industry. Jen lives in the heart of the South Downs National Park in England, with her tabby cat Monty and fiancé Tim.

Meet Jen Smith.

Copyright Michelle Wildman

How has your own personal journey influenced your work and life choices? 

I remember a friend from university told me once that I was always striving and never happy with my lot. Too ambitious.

When I thought about it, she was right that I was always striving and ambitious, but I didn’t see it as a negative thing and I actually was happy with my lot, but I was curious to discover more. Push myself further. This meant I was constantly reading, learning and growing. It started with skills in my career and when I started my business it became self development – studying techniques like EFT and NLP to more spiritual practices like meditation. This has had such a positive effect on my life, most notably reducing anxiety.

It’s led me to a passion to make meditation accessible and easy for everyone. You don’t need to be a hippy, yogi or guru to meditate, anyone can do it and reap the physical and emotional benefits.

Copyright Michelle WildmanWhat inspired you to create Mandala Meditation and how did you get started? 

I was compelled to start drawing mandalas after seeing a friend on Facebook share pictures of mandala pebbles. I began creating and drawing them in front of the telly in the evening for pure fun. I quickly realised it quietened my mind and inner critic and I entered a meditative state whilst doing. I started to share this amazing byproduct with friends and clients and the interest I received was outstanding – and people asked me to share the process. That’s how it started and it’s gone from there!

Why is meditation so special to you? 

As a creative person and entrepreneur, my brain is always full of ideas, mulling over problems and thinking through projects. I love my thoughts, and spend a lot of time thinking but it can get frustrating at times and meditation gives me peace and quiet from that constant brain chatter. It has also massively reduced my anxiety, which after trying all sorts of treatments and therapies is a huge benefit.

Colour yourself happy.

Tell us about mandalas and how we can benefit from them?

Mandalas are cyclical designs that grow in layers as you repeat patterns around a central point. They’ve been used in eastern religions for thousands of years as a meditative tool. Not only are they beautiful and satisfying to draw from an aesthetic point of view, but the creation process is what helps you get into a meditative state. This is because you’re focusing your full attention on the action of drawing, helped by the repetition process.

It is also scientifically proven to satisfy both your left and right brain. Your right brain, the creative side, loves to see the bigger picture – the full mandala as it grows. Your left brain, the more analytical side, is nourished by the individual parts of the mandala. These two states are completely satisfied whilst drawing mandalas, heightening the meditative experience.

How do you help others with their Social Media? Copyright Michelle Wildman

My other business, Jen Smith Social Media, is the business I set up when I quit my job in London. I had hit rock bottom – working long hours and commuting 2 hours each way every day and so I decided to use the skills from my career in social media and marketing to help other business owners use social media more effectively. I still offer 121 training, ecourse, workshops and copywriting services and balance my time across both Jen Smith Social Media and Mandala Meditation.

How do you balance your spirituality with your day job? 

It’s funny to think, but I wouldn’t call my businesses a day job! But, to answer your question, I always start my day with a routine of meditation and gratitude journalling – listing all the things I’m grateful for, and the visions I have for my life. This gets me in the right headspace to work. In the evenings I usually am drawing mandalas – either in front of the telly or listening to music – this always makes me happy!

In three words what does cheese mean to you?

Cheese?! oooh curveball question!

  1. Favourite
  2. Jokes
  3. Haloumi

Copyright Michelle WildmanWhat does Holistic living mean to you? 

For me it means looking at developing and growing in all areas of your life and aiming for balance and appreciation in all areas.

What is your message to cynics, sceptics, and the intrigued? 

For the curious: explore and allow your own beliefs and ideas to come through and form. It’s ok to blend ideals, ideas and beliefs and formulate your own world view.

For the cynics and the sceptics: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it

Finally, what are your top five tips for self-love?

  1. Honour your intuition (you might call it your gut instinct). It is never wrong
  2. Act on inspiration and exciting ideas – don’t question them till you’ve implemented them
  3. Take time out for just you – a massage, hot bath, time reading, walking whatever. Be selfish, it’s the most unselfish thing you can do.
  4. Look for the activities that bring you most pleasure and find time to do them frequently (childhood passions are often a good place to start if you are stuck on ideas)
  5. Surround yourself with like minded friends – you’ll need them in times of doubt.

I heard an amazing quote from such a friend yesterday:

A true friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you’ve forgotten the words

Copyright Michelle Wildman

Click here for your free mandala colouring sheets.

Further Links:

(All images copyright Michelle Wildman.)



Are You Going Sober for October?

Fancy doing something amazing for people with cancer? By signing up to be a soberhero you can make a difference.

All the money raised by those Going Sober this October will make sure that Macmillan can be there to help even more people take back control from cancer. It will mean that they can be there right from the moment of diagnosis, through their treatment and beyond. It will mean they can be there to help give them the energy and support to take back control of their life.


The original alcohol free challenge ‘Dry July’ started in Australia in 2008 as a challenge amongst friends to raise funds for local cancer support services.

Running for 8 years now, Dry July has raised over AUD$24 million to benefit the lives of those living with cancer across Australia and New Zealand.

The team behind the original Dry July concept are extemely proud to team up with Macmillan Cancer Support to bring ‘Go Sober for October’ to the UK and help make a massive difference to the lives of people affected by cancer.

What are the other benefits to going sober this October?

Becoming a soberhero might not mean you have X-ray vision or you get to wear a cape (although you can if you want to). But not drinking does mean you’ll gain many heroic qualities, that us beer and wine drinking mere mortals can only dream of.

Staying off the booze (along with a few small improvements to your diet and exercise routine) can mean:

  • Increased energy levels, higher productivity
  • Clearer head
  • No more hangovers
  • Sleeping better / snoring less
  • Weight loss
  • Clearer skin
  • Healthier bank balance / Save money
  • Sense of achievement
  • Fresh approach to alcohol consumption
  • Generally feel healthier
  • Doing something positive for a good cause

It almost makes you feel better just reading that list doesn’t it? So there you have it: having 31 gloriously hangover-free days will not only see you raise lots of money to help people with cancer, you’ll also be doing good for your own health.

To find out more about how Go Sober can make positive changes to your lifestyle, click here.


No one said that being a sober-hero was easy. Only the bravest and most fearless heroes will see it through to November without any alcohol touching their lips.

Every superhero needs a sidekick and we want to be the Robin to your Batman. That’s why they have put these top tips together to make this 31 quest a little easier:

  • Sober-heroes assemble!
    You don’t have to go it along. Assemble a squad of the best, non-drinking soberheroes by inviting friends, family or work mates to join your Sober Squad.
  • You’re doing something heroic for people with cancer
    Even though going sober can be tough, just think of the people you’re doing it for. Your month off the booze will mean many people can take back control of their life from cancer. Focus on the cause to keep you strong.
  • Think of what you can achieve
    31 days of no alcohol means you’re doing something amazing for people with cancer – but you can also develop new powers for yourself. A clear head, better sleep, you may even be able to fly. (Sorry, we’ve just checked – it’s a no to the flying thing).
  • Send out the sober signal
    The world needs to know about your bravery. We think it should be on the front of all the newspapers but if you can’t do that send lots of emails and put it on Facebook. Tell everyone you know you’ve signed up to Go Sober. The more people that know you’re doing it, the more money you’ll raise.
  • A Golden opportunity
    Even a hero needs a night off sometimes so don’t forget about the Golden Tickets, your get out of jail card. A chance to have a night off, and a cheeky tipple or two.
  • TAXI!
    Become the most popular person in your group and be the Designated Dryver to your mates. (And remember to get them to donate to your taxi service).


And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Check out these Tools area for inspirational ideas and creative ways to raise awareness and let people know about the heroic challenge you’re taking on.

Stay strong, soberhero. You’re doing something incredible.

So, wanna get involved?

Everything is managed through the Go Sober website. From here you can Sign Up, make and receive donations, run your own profile page, create a team, go ‘Head-to–Head’ with a mate or colleague, see your national ranking, update your status and much more. We are also on Facebook and people can follow us on Twitter.


Feel free to donate to kick cancer’s butt – https://www.gosober.org.uk/profile/helenereinbolt