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Culture Tip: The Book of Mormon

Culture Tip: The Book of Mormon

The next morning my cheeks are aching. A solid two and a half hours of smiling is hard to beat, and that’s exactly what The Book of Mormon induced in me. From the makers of South Park, the musical charts the progress of Elder Cunningham and Elder Price, two Mormon missionaries sent to Uganda on a divine quest to baptise as many people as possible. It simply feels gloriously unacceptable.  This musical is camper than a Carry On film, and so self-aware it almost hurts. It would be easy to piously reject jokes about rape, racism and Aids, but once you embrace the...
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Knitting Therapy

Knitting Therapy

The feel of soft yarn between your fingers, the rhythmic click-click-click of knitting needles, the satisfaction of watching your work growing inch by inch while at the the same time your breathing slows, your body relaxes and the cares of the day slip away with every stitch. No wonder knitting is so popular. People knit for four main reasons - relaxation, stress relief, therapeutic qualities and in order to be productive. The rise of this old-fashioned hobby over the last few years has very little to do with thrift - after all, you can buy a scarf on the high street...
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Cycling Can Change Your Life

Cycling Can Change Your Life

How many times have we heard that doing exercise is good for us?  But easier said than done, right?  I currently work full time as a beauty editor and am also in my fifth year of training as a psychotherapist so it can be hard enough to factor in time to see my friends and boyfriend, let alone some me-time.  As for exercise – are you crazy? Then last November, over a glass of wine, a friend suggested this hare-brained idea of cycling the length of the country - from Lands End to John O’Groats - to raise money for a small school for underprivileged kids in Peru where I...
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Self-soothing: Coping with Stress

Self-soothing: Coping with Stress

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can be the most effective. Connecting to our senses promotes wellbeing and relaxation through our sight, sound, smell, and touch. Learning how to manage the everyday and extraordinary stresses of life is a vital skill – one that everyone can develop simply and easily with minimal expense. While there is little that can be done to take away the risk factor, stress - including traumatic events - is increasingly part of everyone’s experiences. While you may not be able to avoid it, you can do something to mitigate the risks and reduce...
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Getting Too Close to Your Therapist

Getting Too Close to Your Therapist

The relationship you have with your therapist is intimate. You say things to him or her that you may never even have articulated to yourself before, let alone another person. You show them your most vulnerable side, and parts of your psyche that even you have trouble tolerating, yet they accept all this non judgmentally. In your relationship with them, you deepen your relationship with yourself. A therapist in this and other processes can become an idealised figure for their clients. An idealised figure has a lot of power over you, power that might be helpful, benign or...
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My Mad Fat Diary: Journals as Therapy

My Mad Fat Diary: Journals as Therapy

It doesn't matter in which decade you were an adolescent, My Mad Fat Diary will resonate. It's dark, funny, touching and painfully true. I was never fat (though I thought I was, agonising over my weight when it crept over – shock horror! – 9st) and never mad (though it's jarring to re-read my diaries and see the young me passing off casual mention of suicidal thoughts as "nervous tension"), but watching this programme is a sweet agony. It transports me right back to those teenage years of acute self-consciousness and vulnerability when binge-eating followed by...
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Are Role Models Useful to Women?

Are Role Models Useful to Women?

The discrepancy between women’s intelligence and talents on the one hand and their career achievement remains a puzzle for the people who teach them, particularly at university level, as well as for professional mentors who may be bewildered as to why the advance towards equality remains so slow.  Earlier this year the University of Cambridge launched a book about successful women in which the breadth of Cambridge women’s achievements are noted and lauded.  While the aim is to embed and reward different kinds of success, there is a danger that such a project shifts focus...
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What Not to Wear to Work - and Why

What Not to Wear to Work - and Why

Does it matter what you wear at work? In an ideal world, perhaps it shouldn’t matter what you wear, as long as you’re good at your job. In the real world, in many jobs, it matters quite a bit. Lawrence needed a company to organise a corporate event. “I met this woman twice and both times she wore a low cut top. Great for a night out, but for a financial services conference? I don’t think so.” The business went to someone else. And here’s Alice talking about a new grad who hasn’t realised yet that his clothes are stopping him being taken seriously: “His outfits...
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Discovering Vedic Meditation

Discovering Vedic Meditation

It's early on a Thursday evening, and I'm standing alongside a man I have just met, Will Williams, in his smart Shad Thames apartment. We are in front of a photograph of Guru Dev, one of the masters of the Vedic tradition, and Will has his eyes closed while singing something in Sanskrit and offering the gifts I was encouraged to bring - three pieces of fruit, a bunch of thornless flowers - to the guru. As he sings, I steel a glance at Will. His eyes are closed, and he looks utterly serene. Will himself does not resemble what we in the west think of as a "guru". He is...
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