A therapist and a science writer look at the issues with wellness apps and argue for a radical new approach.

Photo by Lorenzo Herrera

In 2017, two psychologists from Duke University published the results of a decades-long study that stands to change the way we think about mental health and what we do to protect our own wellbeing. After following more than 1,000 people from the time they were 11 until they turned 38, the researchers found something unexpected in the data: a whopping 82.7% of subjects met the clinical criteria for a mental health problem at least once during the course of the study, meaning that only 17.3% never developed clinical symptoms.

Other studies have shown that positive mental health is not the…


The happy-family aspirational blueprint is a farce. It’s time to make a decision for yourself.

Photography: Amy Shamblen/Unsplash

“Hazel, I think it might be time to freeze your eggs.”

Mum barely bothered with a “hello” before dropping that telephone bombshell — but she was probably right to convey some urgency. Menopause comes early for the women in our family. Her periods stopped at age 42 and I was only a handful of years younger than that when we had this conversation. If I wanted to be a mother, I’d better act fast.

It’s nothing short of miraculous that we’re able to take a collection of ova out of our bodies, put them on ice for a few years…


How to escape the distraction trap and train your mind to flow

Bella Jones (right) boxing Claire Edwards in 2017. Fun fact: Bella and I fought each other for a British title in 2010. To this day, it remains my favourite bout. Unfortunately, the photos aren’t as good as this one. Image credit: Sam Riley.

On a hot Tuesday evening last summer, I leant over the ropes of a boxing ring to watch two men sparring. Something wasn’t right. Having coached both of them for years, I knew these fighters well. Normally, their rounds were full of classy angles, pinpoint accuracy and quick reactions. But on this day, they looked sloppy and out of synch. Rather than connecting with intention, most of their punches were hitting nothing but air. Their footwork was messy, they failed to defend, and they looked out of breath after a minute of work.

As any coach would likely do, my…


How to write for greater emotional meaning, self-empathy and change

Image credit: LUM3N

Magic happens when we engage with our inner worlds from a place of curiosity rather than fear. All those horrible human tangles of anxiety, doubt, resentment and pain can unravel when pen meets paper in the spirit of enquiry. What’s more, when we choose to share this kind of writing with the world, it helps others free themselves from their own emotional traps. Carefully chosen words can ease pain, and they do so for both writer and consumer.

You’re reading this article on Medium, so there’s a good chance you already know about the analeptic power of writing. What you…


Why Your Eyes Tell You Lies

Hallucination is a word that most people associate with drug-use or psychotic disorder. However, the ability to distort and add to the information that we perceive as reality is a standard function of a healthy mind. If we’re to go by the definition above — taken from the Oxford English Dictionary — then we all hallucinate on a moment-to-moment basis.

In this article, we’re going to explore the different ways in which your eyes can tell you lies. Then, we’re going to take a look at how you can start to see past the more limiting illusions.


A six-step process for generating true drive

Image credit: Samuel Zeller

How do you know when you’re feeling motivated? Think of an activity that draws you in — one that has the kind of shiny, sparkly lure that gets you moving automatically in its direction.

This article is about finding and fuelling that experience.

But first, let’s talk about what happens when you don’t have the luxury of ready-made motivation. What do you do to get yourself going when lethargy strikes? Do you have a technique? …


Image credit: Andrew Ridley

How to Unearth the Joys of Wonder, Awe and Epiphany

When I was about seven, I found fragments of a buried relic in our front garden. Outdoors was my favourite place to be. Few things could fascinate me as much as an army of ants marching up a skyscraper-scale plant stem, or a butterfly painted in impossible colours. The garden was the realm of foxes, mice, treehouses and icicles. It was magic.

My big discovery began with a single piece of porcelain under the bushes. It was just the tiniest chip of potential, but I knew immediately that I’d struck on something important. So, I searched for more. …


“The Destroyed Room” by Jeff Wall, 1978

On death, longing and little glimpses of more

I once thought myself into a state that verged on existential crisis. I was at art school (predictably), comparing the work of Lucio Fontana to the photography of Jeff Wall. I wanted to know whether it was possible, while observing a piece of art, to catch a glimpse of the real, the Other.

Fontana took canvasses and sliced holes in them, literally rupturing the screen of representation so that the space behind was brought to light. Wall made hyper-real, staged photographs; enormous panoramas of everyday life in Middle America. His choreographed scenes were so “almost-real” that your eyes longed to…


How to beat the failure formula

Self-sabotage. We’ve all been there. The crappy decision that ruins our chances of promotion. The mindless splurge when we’re supposed to be saving money. The completely unnecessary Tuesday night tequila shots that lead to Wednesday morning misery…

People often talk about the “keys to success,” but those things don’t work when your unconscious is running a failure program in the background.

This article explains the mechanics of self-destruction.

Image credit: Kristian Alsidig (https://instagram.com/kr1srr1sr)

The function of belief

We each uphold a complex matrix of beliefs — about the world, our spirituality, other people and ourselves — and it’s as unique as our fingerprints.

Some of our beliefs will be…


Five powerful questions for winning freedom from self-sabotage

What does your self-destruct button look like? We all have one, although we use them in different ways.

Maybe you’re an avoider? Do you procrastinate your time away with computer games, cleaning or Netflix? Do you fail to submit your job applications? Do you steer clear of the challenging conversations that you really ought to have?

Or, perhaps you like to be more dramatic with your self-sabotage? Maybe you fly into frequent fits of rage? Maybe you get drunk and show off shamelessly (but only when your secret crush is around)? …

Hazel Gale

Therapist, and co-creator of Betwixt, the interactive novel that helps you make sense of yourself (www.betwixt.life). Author of “The Mind Monster Solution”.

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