Edwina HawkridgeCounselling in Stamford, and City of London

Body Positivity 7-Day Challenge

Blog. Body Positive

Love Island seems to be everywhere at the moment. At 9PM every night of the week sees beautiful (on the outside) people plastered all over ITV2. Probably coincidence that I seem to have had a spate of women presenting in my therapy room with body image issues. Feeling negatively about your body independently and in comparison, to others feels awful and stops you appreciating the body that you have.

Therefore, it felt prudent in the middle of Love Island mayhem to invite people to implement one of these 7 steps each day over the next 7 days to start feeling more positively about themselves. Take the 7-day body positivity challenge, whatever your weight, shape or size so that you can start feeling more positively about yourself.

Day 1) Make a list of 10 things that you like about yourself. Sounds simple enough, none of these should be linked to how much you weigh or what you look like. Character traits, and skills only.

Day 2) Shut down the negative voices. That pesky inner critic that tells you “your body is not right” “you’ll be the biggest one in the room” or that you are a “bad person” for not fitting in to the media portrayal of the perfect body. The next time you try to tear yourself down with these negative inner monologues notice what you are doing and revisit the list of 10 things you like about yourself.

Day 3) Beauty is a state of mind. When you feel confident and happy with your body you carry yourself differently which people may or may not notice. Practice repeating to yourself positive affirmations about parts of your body you do like when you wake up and before you go to sleep. Remind yourself that true beauty is not simply skin deep, and beauty can and does take many forms.

Day 4) Wear clothes that are comfortable and work with your body as it is now. Learn your body shape and research types of clothes that suit your shape, for all occasions. Don’t buy clothes too small in the hope you’ll be inspired to lose weight to fit into it. Even if you do lose weight you have little control as to where that weight will come off. Wear clothes that help you feel cared for, special and bring you joy.

Day 5) Become a critic. Start to view social media and TV shows for the influencers they are. They have a purpose the by product of which is normally targeted at insecurities that has you buying something in order to feel better about yourself. Consumerism, of which social media is a huge part, thrives off dissatisfaction. Pay attention to social media accounts, TV shows and images that make you feel bad about your body. Notice their influence and decide if it’s worth still following or watching if it has you in a shame spiral negatively comparing yourself to the heavily edited images. Perhaps a social media cleanse is in order. I will be doing a blog soon of body positive social media accounts you might like to follow.

Day 6) Stop shape checking. When you look in the mirror try not to focus on specific body parts but instead see yourself as a whole person, if you are surrounded by positive people who are supportive and see your natural beauty this becomes a lot easier for you to internalise and see yourself in your entirety and all that you have to offer.

Day 7) Do something just for you. Use the time and energy that you would have spent worrying about food and counting calories to do something nice for yourself. Something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Visit the hairdressers, indulge in a mani-pedi, get a massage, do some yoga, take a bath, have a nap, find a peaceful space to relax in, you can be as inventive with this as you like as long as it brings you happiness.

Move forward with your body appreciating it for all that it does for you and treat it in the way it deserves to be treated with kindness and compassion. The above 7 steps should start you off in a more positive relationship with your body, your positive body image will need to be nurtured if you want to continue to feel better about yourself.

Good Luck

P.S I was only watching Love Island for the insight it gives into social anthropology honest!

Technology is not all bad...

Blog. Technology

Young people use technology in a different way to adults. Some mental health services and apps are adapted to better help teens however most of these apps can be used by adults too. Listed below are some Apps that can help mental health recovery. You’re welcome…

SAM - self help anxiety
Clear fear – a anxiety management app
Beat Panic – overcome panic attacks and anxiety wherever you happen to be

Thrive : Feel Stress Free – use games to track your mood and teach methods to help you control stress and anxiety

Self Harm
Calm harm – helps to manage emotions and reduce the urges to self-harm
BlueIce – App helps young people manage their emotions and reduce urges to self harm
Distract – quick and discreet access to information and advice about self harm

What’s up – an app designed to provide helpful tools for managing depression
Leso – connect confidentially and securely with mental health therapists using instant messaging

Stay Alive – suicide prevention app

Headspace - meditation and sleep
Sleepio – an online sleep improvement programme

Other Apps
Think up – positive affirmations and daily motivations
Catch It – learn to manage negative thoughts and look at problems differently
Chill Panda – use breathing techniques to help you relax more and worry less
Cove – create music to capture your mood and express how you feel
Cypher – an anonymous social network where you can share your feelings and receive support
SilverCloud – an 8 week course to help you manage stress anxiety and depression at your own pace

Eating Disorders Awareness Week (EDAW) 2019

Blog. Knife and Fork

A lot of the time in Eating Disorder’s we hear the phrase it is not about food. It seems strange that a preoccupation with all things food weight and shape is not primarily about the food. So, what are eating disorders about? In short, they are a culmination of predisposing factors, mixed with stress and at some point, the sufferer has tried to diet. These three things added together make it more likely that someone will develop an eating disorder. A part of Eating disorder behaviour is the sufferers attempt to gain self-control through food.
Most eating disorders are maladaptive which means they do not help the person adjust to the environment or situation. The more people try to control their binges or purging episodes the more difficult it becomes to get rid of these strategies.
Monday 25th March marks the start of Eating Disorders Awareness Week. There will be information a plenty circling the internet regarding eating disorders. For me as an Eating Disorders Specialist therapist every week should be eating disorders awareness week as awareness is important but not as much so as the messages of hope that recovery stories carry.

How do ED's Develop?

There are several predisposing factors to eating disorders appearing these are not in themselves causes of the mental health problem but some of these things will be present prior to the eating disorder manifesting and are classed as predisposing factors.

A member of the family, has a history of eating disorders, depression, alcohol or drug addiction

Stress or traumatic events, social media, food famine or food feast

Anxiety, low self-esteem, an obsessive personality, a perfectionist, sensitive

Sexual, emotional, physical psychological

Overly concerned with being slim, particularly if you also feel pressure from society or your job – for example, ballet dancers, jockeys, models or athletes

Body Issues
Criticised for eating habits, body shape or weight.


For quite some time ED behaviour has been a global response to stress. Most ED behaviours will become more prevalent at stressful times in a person’s life. That coupled with an emotional deficit of being able to cope with difficult emotions is normally how the eating disorder creeps into someone’s life.

Why it is not all about the food
Eating Disorders are not all about the food, for the sufferer food dominates their waking hours whether they are denying themselves the correct calorie amounts or overeating in bingeing episodes. The ED behaviours are simply the symptoms of the illness, the pervasive low self esteem and battle for self-control.

Some Signs/Symptoms

Whilst only a Dr or Psychiatrist can diagnose an eating disorder, if you have a nagging doubt that something is up with your or someone you know behaviour then these signs could suggest that you may want to start looking for some help.
Dramatic fluctuations in weight
Preference to make own meals or not eat what others are having
Excessive food restrictions
Expressing extreme body dissatisfaction
Secretive Exercise
Secretive Eating – evidence of wrappers
Feelings of guilt after eating
Frequently weighing themselves
Trips to the bathroom soon after eating
Hoarding food in preparation of bingeing
Skipping meals and fasting
Food disappearing
Making lists of good or bad foods
Sudden interest in healthy eating and refusal of foods previously enjoyed
Body checking behaviours
Continual denial of hunger

How to get Help

Finding an Eating Disorder Specialist Therapist or centre can be tricky. There are however great services in the community that are separate to the NHS. Beat is a a charity that has a directory of therapists that treat Eating Disorders. As does the National Centre for Eating Disorders. Recovery from Eating Disorders is possible and often I see people who have nearly lost hope of getting their lives back to normal. 'You don't have to see the whole staircase, just to take the first step (Martin Luther King) and a step towards Eating Disorder recovery is worth it.

Beat Website.

National Centre for Eating Disorders UK

Eating Disorder Specialist Area

Blog. Balloon Love


February the 14th is approaching and for many, being single or bereaved on Valentine ’s Day, makes it a difficult day to get through. Over the last few years it seems that Valentine ’s Day has exploded, year on year it seems to be bigger than ever. From cards, to shop displays, to social media blasts, memes and supermarket deals. For those people who are singletons who don’t want to be or people who are bereaved it can be a potent reminder of what they feel is missing from their lives. Although I am all for spreading more love in the world I guess it’s about recognising that it’s not all love and happiness for everyone. There are plenty of people who find Valentine ’s Day and the preceding weeks leading up to it difficult and it is possibly more people than you may think.
In a world where we are more ‘connected’ than ever and it is easy to catch up with that long lost cousin over social media we are becoming ever lonelier and socially isolated so why is this? Social isolation is linked to higher blood pressure, lower cognitive abilities and increased chances of premature death (The Conversation 2018). It is thought that loneliness is the new bad kid on the block and its negative impact on health are thought to rival that of smoking and obesity.

Blog. Little Hearts

9 Million people in the UK or to put it another way 1/5th of the UK’s population say that they are always or often lonely according to a survey completed by the British Red Cross and the Co-op in 2016. Feeling lonely can be difficult especially if it coincides with other co-morbidity such as obesity, depression or anxiety. There are steps that can be taken to help make you feel less lonely.

Charles Bukowski once said – “if you have the ability to love, love yourself first” and I think this is true. Love does need to come from within and it feels as though with Valentine ’s Day looming it is the perfect time to remind you how counselling can help you feel less lonely.

Blog. Best Gift is You

1) Counselling gets you out of the house and away from work. By going to see a therapist you are tackling the problem head on by admitting that something in your life is not OK. It gives you somewhere to go that is a neutral and safe space where you can talk about anything that is on your mind, including your loneliness.

2) Your Counsellor will most likely focus on your feelings. By expressing what is going on for you and letting it out you are no longer holding on to the same level of emotional distress. The saying goes; a problem shared is a problem halved and although there are no guarantees that your therapist can cut through your problems like a hot knife through butter they will listen to you with empathy and understanding and help you make sense of your emotions.

Blog. Connected

3) Your Counsellor is dependable they will be there week in week out at a time and date of your choosing. This helps to make you feel more grounded and in control, plus your week will have structure, centred around human connectivity. You’ll know when the next time that you will be talking to someone will be to directly tackle the issue of your loneliness.

4) Entering into counselling has a likely side effect that your confidence and self-esteem will grow which may lead you to wanting to try new things which seemed daunting in the past. Trying new things is a great way to make new friends and meet new people who if you connect with should stop you from feeling so lonely.

5) The therapeutic, professional relationship between yourself and your Counsellor is genuine and real, not only will your Therapist be supporting, empathetic and helpful it also proves that you are able to make and maintain a genuine relationship with someone else. This connectivity from another person is priceless, as humans we are social animals and need to connect with others to survive and thrive. Which is why feeling lonely can be so detrimental to our health.

Blog. Pink Love

Therapy is a great place to start feeling better about yourself and your life so that you can move forward feeling more empowered to make new and lasting connections with other people and to make significant changes.

Loneliness is not to be taken lightly given its mental and physical health impact. If you are feeling lonely perhaps it is time to reach out to a professional counsellor who can help you start feeling less isolated and more in control.

If you’d like to reach out to me feel free.

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