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Mindful Mermaids

A unique outdoor meetup with a magical blend of wellbeing ingredients

(weekly on Thursdays at 8.45am for perimenopausal/ menopausal women)

Welcome to Mindful Mermaids... make space for weekly mindful walks, meno chat and giggles under an open sky

Take some time to tune into nature and meet like-minded people for a weekly walk to boost your mental and physical wellbeing. The walk is a good warm up for a swim/ dip if you choose to do so whilst also tapping into the '7 steps to wellbeing'.

Mindful Mermaids is designed for women who will, or are, experiencing menopause; women who want to benefit from the great outdoors with or without their mermaid tails. You do not have to be an outdoor swimmer but if you would like to swim/ dip in Clevedon Marine Lake this is a natural follow on to maximise the 'feel good' factor of this meetup.

If you choose to swim hopefully other Mermaids will join you so that you can buddy up. Please note it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with what to expect if you are new to outdoor swimming and remember you swim at your own risk. As a Mindful Mermaid you will receive tips on outdoor swimming to help you prepare.

I am passionate about helping people improve their mental and physical wellbeing and have been helping people to do this since 2006. I am warm and welcoming, therefore a key part of my role during the meetups will be about helping everyone feel welcome and at ease. I have been told I have a natural aptitude for this when I have run other groups.

As someone who appreciates the value of smiling and laughter I would like to encourage the group not to take itself too seriously! I am also passionate about the benefits of the great outdoors and as a woman ‘of a certain age’ I have created this informal group to help you…

Keen to join a meno support network, have a few laughs and boost your wellbeing under an open sky?

Drop me an email/message:

claire.paul@harmony4life.co.uk

Text/ call 07813 138 171

Use the enquiry form at the bottom of this page

Remember to watch this space for other meetups too. To find out more read on...

About you...

Mindful Mermaids can help you if you agree with ANY one of the following points:

About me...

You may be wondering about me and how my skills and experience lend themselves to facilitate the Mindful Mermaids. I have a strong background in Psychology and have been using this to help people since 2006. I have completed a Natural Mindfulness course and would like to help others discover a deeper more mindful connection with nature.

I am passionate about the benefits of the great outdoors, exercise and social connection. I started outdoor swimming all year round in 2016 and set up a group to help others discover the benefits of this a year later. From this I know the impact of various factors that apply both to this and Mindful Mermaids- being outdoors, exercising, moral support, to mention just a few.

Social connection can benefit anyone at any time and if you are going through the menopause or experiencing perimenopaual symptoms this will be even more important for you. I am warm and welcoming and strive to help people feel included in any group.

I know how rewarding exercise can be in so many ways. With a background in Psychology and someone who enjoys exercise I am especially interested in it's psychological impact. I have experienced this throughout my life and want to inspire others so that they can experience it too, especially during what can be a challenging time of life.

The following concepts underpin this meetup:

The unique blend that makes up Mindful Mermaids

Do you struggle to incorporate self care into your day/ week? Mindful Mermaids meetups are designed to incorporate 7 steps to wellbeing.

This is across a number of weeks but each meetup will naturally cover most of these steps. Also you can opt to reinforce this by choosing a weekly task to practice between meetups.

LA GEMS is an acronym for the following 7 steps to wellbeing:

L is for Learning & Laughter

A is for Achievement Therapy

G is for Giving plus Gratitude Therapy

E is for Exercise

M is for Mindfulness

S is for Social connection

These are all hugely important.  When you join Mindful Mermaids you will be given information on each of these.  As you read more about the unique blend that makes up Mindful Mermaids you will come across some of these and how they are woven into the meetups.

I am also happy to prescribe Internet-Delivered Cognitive Behavioural Programs and ensure the usual charges for these are waived.  This offer is open to any Mindful Mermaids signing up for 6 meetups or more in advance.

You can choose to complete one or more of the following 5 evidence-based programmes:

* Anxiety and Depression (6 lessons)

* Depression (6 lessons)

* Basic Mindfulness (4 lessons)

* Mindfulness-Enhanced CBT (6 lessons)

* Stress Management (4 lessons)

These programmes are:

* Practical – teach core cognitive-behavioural coping skills
* Convenient – offer flexible, self-paced online access
* Comprehensive – contain a full dose of evidence-based, step-by-step CBT treatment
* Effective: 80% of people who complete a program will benefit substantially, 50% to the point of no longer being troubled by anxiety or depression. 

In addition to the above, other evidence-based wellbeing resources will be sign-posted for use in between sessions.  To help with accountability you will be invited to complete an action plan template, and if you wish, share this at meetups with a buddy or in the wider group.  The rationale behind this is that research shows you are more likely to commit to something if you share your goals with others.

To get the maximum benefit from Mindful Mermaids please try to commit to completing a wellbeing step, however small, between sessions.  As cliched as it sounds ‘the more you put in the more you will get out’! 

Our relationships are really important for keeping us happy and healthy. Lockdown highlighted our need to connect with others in real time and there's never been a better time to meetup outdoors.

Mindful Mermaids brings people together with shared interests and experiences. This plus walking and being able to enjoy the scenery facilitates natural connection even for those who may feel a bit shy.

‘The true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking,’ said Mark Twain.

It’s important we take more time to do what we do best: connect with each other.  One of the most obvious benefits of a meetup is an opportunity to do just this.  

Social connection means the feeling of belonging to a group and generally feeling connected to people.  This is one of the ‘7 Steps to Wellbeing’ because scientific evidence shows it’s a core human need; one that’s essential for us to feel satisfied.

You may have a whole raft of reasons as to why you want to increase social connection…  maybe you want to start the day off in the right way.  Connecting at the beginning of your day if you are working from home or feeling isolated in any way is a great way to boost positivity for the whole day.  Maybe you just want a support network around this phase of your life. 

Perhaps you have found that you are growing out of an old lifestyle choice, such as drinking in pubs, and want to create new friendships around outdoor activities.  Mindful Mermaids creates the perfect opportunity to form new friendships, or to develop existing ones, if you come along to the group with someone you already know.

Whatever your reasons there are many benefits to social connection and one that is important in Mindful Mermaids is giving to others through smiles, listening and sharing.  Learning will naturally occur when we listen and we can learn so much from others around this stage of life.  The meetups are intended to provide a positive space for you to share your experiences and solutions. 

Research shows that as well as exercise alone releasing endorphins, group settings can do this through smiling.  So when you’re walking with a great group of people like the Mindful Mermaids you will naturally feel better and more energised due to this double whammy of endorphins.  These feel good factors are infectious and spread throughout the group like wildfire, benefitting everyone.

Science also shows that when we socially connect the pleasure-inducing hormone oxytocin is released, which reduces anxiety and improves concentration.  In addition to this our cardiovascular and immune systems are given a boost helping us to function better.

Mindful Mermaid meet ups generate a sense of camaraderie, because everyone is there for the same purpose.  The people you see each week will hopefully become like family and you may feel a sense of accountability.  For most of us it’s a challenge to be consistent with exercise but being part of a group provides the motivation and accountability to keep going.  

Research suggests people enjoy exercise more with others than when they are alone.  Furthermore, they’re more likely to maintain exercise if they’re outdoors in green spaces with other people.  

In one study (York, 2017) group exercise participants showed significant improvements in three quality of life measures: mental, physical and emotional.  This may be another reason people are more likely to stick to routine of group exercise.  

The Köhler Effect also means that we want to avoid being seen as the weakest link in a group.  This translates to us pushing ourselves harder.  Mindful Mermaids will hopefully benefit from this both during and outside of meetups when there is the opportunity to put wellbeing tips in place.

Want to join a meetup where you can feel comfortable talking about your meno experiences? This group aims to positively impact your physical/ mental wellbeing so that you can continue with life as usual.

Even if you are not sure you are experiencing any perimenopausal/ menopausal symptoms please join us. Start as you mean to go on by being proactive in joining a network that will help you better prepare for life changes. Within the group there may be differences between cause, age, or stage but we all cope better with support. It’s never too early!

Results of the ‘Women’s Health – Let’s talk about it’ survey (April 2022) showed that 48% of respondents wanted the Department of Health and Social Care to prioritise the menopause as one of 5 topics for inclusion in the Women’s Health Strategy.

For the first time in history, women are likely to be experiencing symptoms related to perimenopause/ menopause/ postmenopause for longer than they are reproductive. Mindful Mermaids aims to normalise this transition and help women learn from each other whilst benefitting from an evidence based wellbeing framework. As women make up nearly half the world’s population this is crucial so that they feel supported and can continue to thrive in all areas of your life.

Many women have suffered in silence and continue to do so. This regular meetup is a simple and effective way to start the menopause conversation and keep it going. It is an opportunity for you to connect and support other women. It is intended to provide a safe nuturing space where you can talk openly, ask questions, listen and learn. It will hopefully help you find comfort in knowing you’re not alone on this journey and beyond. By talking to others you may feel clearer about anything that’s already happening to you and forewarned of things to come.

It’s important you are able to talk openly about the menopause, feel safe to ask questions plus have the opportunity to connect and support other women. This benefits everyone, both at work and at home.

Do you get 2.5 hours exercise every week? The NHS recommends this and Mindful Mermaids will help you incorporate extra exercise into your week or month more easily.

Women often exercise less when they enter menopause, which can lead to weight gain (Mishra et al, 2011). This is just one of many reasons why it is good for us to exercise as we enter this phase of our life and transition through it.

The mental health benefits of exercise are of course huge; it can help with low mood, anxiety, stress, confidence and self esteem. The great news is that simply getting out for a sociable walk will help.

There are many barriers to exercise for women. Maybe finding the time and the motivation is a challenge. Mindful Mermaids meetups are kept short for those under time pressure. For those with extra time there’s the option of a cuppa or outdoor swim.

Sometimes women feel too self conscious or not good enough to do traditional forms of exercise. When we hit the menopause other barriers can come in such as tiredness, heavy periods, pelvic floor problems, hot flushes, achy joints and brain fog.

A paper on ‘Exercise beyond menopause’ by Mishra et al (2011) states ‘even a moderate exercise schedule can not only keep the weight in check, but it also lowers the risk of stress, anxiety, and depression, all of which tend to show up liberally during and beyond menopause. Exercise works by improving muscle mass, strength, balance, and coordination. Therefore, unlike treatment with medicine, exercises work simultaneously on various aspects of one’s health.”

Walking at a set time on a regular basis is an obvious choice for exercise during the menopause. This gives you routine plus the sense of belonging and feeling supported by a group. This will increase motivation to attend and therefore help you get regular exercise. Also knowing that you will be doing gentle exercise compared to going to the gym or running will hopefully help you maintain this.

Mindful Mermaids aims to seamlessly facilitate interaction with nature, social interaction, and physical activity. Escape your immediate surroundings, take in the sea air and walk by the water whilst chatting to others- you won't even notice you're exercising.

‘Walking is man’s best medicine,’ said Ancient Greek physician Hippocrates. Indeed, once you commit to regular exercise it can be more effective than taking medication.

The simple act of putting one foot in front of another is said to be 'the perfect exercise'; one that is both meditative and rejuvenating. But what are the other benefits of walking?

At least 30 minutes of brisk walking or other physical activity is recommended five times a week. ‘Brisk’ meaning your heart rate will increase, you will feel warmer and breathe a little faster than normal but are still able to carry on a conversation.  This is perfect for Mindful Mermaids!

Even a short walk as little as 10 minutes can have a whole raft of benefits.  A Ramblers factsheet lists the following mental health and wellbeing benefits:

* Physically active people are nearly 30% less likely to become depressed and staying active helps those who are depressed recover (Walking for Health)

* According to the NHS, 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience a mental health problem in England https://www.england.nhs.uk/mental-health/

* Being physically active helps people manage stress, anxiety and intrusive thoughts. It can also help improve self-esteem and mood (Mind, 2019)

* Regular physical activity can also reduce your risk of becoming depressed by 30% (Public Health England, 2019)

* Being active on a regular basis can also lead to people having more energy, feeling more relaxed and having a better concentration and memory (British Heart Foundation, 2018)

* People who walked to work reported greater job satisfaction and wellbeing in a study of over 26,000 employed people living in England (Chatterjee etc, UWE Bristol, 2017)

Being active also improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality.

Walking has numerous benefits that will help women with perimenopause/ menopause symptoms, some of which are already mentioned above.  Studies show it improves mood and reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue, all of which can occur more during this life transition.  It can also ease brain fog and improve concentration.  This is because getting fresh air and natural light whilst being active can increase focus.

Also, as slow movement pioneer Carl Honoré says, “travelling on foot can be meditative, fostering a slow frame of mind. When we walk, we are aware of the details around us – birds, trees, the sky, shops and houses, other people. We make connections.”  

Here’s a link with more information specifically on the menopausal benefits of a 10 minute walk: 

https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/menopause/videos/7-menopausal-benefits-of-a-10-minute-walk/

Use the following link to discover more health benefits of walking- ‘the wonder drug’:

https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au/

Spending time outdoors in Clevedon is really rather special.... it offers truly superb green and blue therapy. '

I strongly believe connecting with nature and absorbing it's effects is a massive boost to wellbeing for both body and mind but does research back this up?

Firstly, what to expect from a Mindful Mermaid walk…

As stated above and it’s worth repeating… walking in Clevedon is really rather special.  It has “the most beautiful pier in England” according to John Betjeman. This was opened in 1869- a great part of Clevedon history and well worth a tour.

Poet’s Walk is a fantastic way to see more of Clevedon as it starts beside the stunning Marine Lake (opened in March 1929), which is said to be the world’s largest sea water infinity pool. This walk also takes in woodland and grassy areas, increasing the benefits of green therapy.

Walking along the cliff-tops offers constantly changing views of the Bristol Channel, which has the second-highest tidal range in the world. Blue therapy at it’s most extreme!

Mindful Mermaids walking routes will always include the sea front as this can be most uplifting and revitalising. Over the years I have walked these routes regularly with clients and now I want to share them with the Mindful Mermaids.

Use the following link to find out more about Poet’s walk:

Poets Walk and Clevedon Seaside Stroll

Now for the research behind green and blue therapy…

A survey carried out in April 2021 by the Mental Health Foundation outlined the following positive impact of engaging with nature:

* Improved mood (reported by 70%)
* Positive emotions such a joy, calm and wonder (reported by 65%)
* Being able to cope with stress (reported by 49%)
* Less worry and anxiety (44%)

Research suggests that spending two hours a week in nature significantly boosts health and wellbeing. Interestingly prior to the pandemic the Mental Health Foundtaion survey found that 12% of adults were in nature for one hour or less. If you are one of these people coming to Mindful Mermaids can contribute towards your two hours to help your health and wellbeing.

The Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation Mark Rowland said:

“Nature can be a powerful ally in protecting our mental health, preventing distress and ensuring good mental wellbeing.  During the pandemic, millions of us discovered nature’s power to relieve stress, worry, anxiety and restore us with positive emotions, such as joy.

While nature won’t solve all our problems – prioritising time in nature can really help support good mental health. However, the most important thing is the quality of the experience and feeling like we connect with nature by noticing its beauty and absorbing its sights, sounds, and scents.”

The benefits of walking and exercise are akin to being in nature or observing it.  You may notice how much better you feel after a walk as it can improve mood and reduce anxiety. 

This is partly because you can find it easier to focus on the present moment and your mind is distracted away from daily stress and tasks.  Mindful Mermaids focuses on reinforcing this so you can dial into your senses and be in the here and now.

Forest bathing was introduced in the 1980’s by the Japanese government to address a society prone to overworking.  Time in nature was prescribed to reduce stress, anxiety and blood pressure.  The main objective of forest bathing is to be in the moment by immersing your senses in the natural world.  This serves to help you move away from focusing on what has already happened or what is (potentially) going to happen.  Mindful Mermaids is based on this very concept.

After the meetup some of you will hopefully have time to make more of being next to Clevedon Marine Lake. This may be about getting together for a friendly chat over a cuppa or perhaps going for an outdoor swim.

Make sure you do whatever works best for you because either option will be beneficial in various ways.

As you may be aware there is a lot of research and anecdotal evidence on the benefits of outdoor swimming, especially through the winter.

Maybe you suffer from depression, low mood, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) or anxiety?

Maybe you just want to feel better about yourself and feel more confident?

If you have time after the Mindful Mermaids walk do hang around and make the most of it and hopefully others will join you.  You can choose a cuppa or to discover the benefits of Open Water Swimming, if you haven’t already. 

If you opt for the latter ideally this will be with someone else as it’s safer for swimmers to dip together in a controlled way than to swim alone.  It is recommended that you have a good level of swimming ability as you swim at your own risk. Also, you are advised to always exercise caution especially during the winter.  

It is recommended that anyone with an underlying cardiac condition, diabetes or epilepsy are cleared by their GP or treating consultant before outdoor swimming.  Clevedon Marine Lake does not have anyone on standby, such as lifeguards, or people who are first aid trained.  

Please consider whether you are confident swimming out of your depth, be aware of what you are capable of and use common sense whilst having fun!  Outdoor swimming and cold water swimming can be dangerous if you are unprepared. 

If you haven’t been winter swimming before please read the ‘Winter Swim Tips’ guide which will be sent to you when you sign up for Mindful Mermaids.

Check out my web page on Free Outdoor Swim Therapy; here you can find out more about the benefits of outdoor swimming.

Ever wondered why you feel so good after a woodland walk, going to the beach, being by a river, in the mountains or just breathing in the fresh air after its rained?

This is because negative ions (small molecules that gain a negative electrical charge), are highly concentrated in places of nature. For nearly 100 years researchers have explored how they positively influence the mind and body.

Typically, rain, wind or sunlight causes an atom to break apart which produces negative ions.  Therefore forests, beaches, waterfalls, rivers and just about any natural space will have high concentrations of negative ions.

They can bring more energy and vitality and help stablise mood.  This can therefore help depression and seasonal affective disorder.

One of the key findings of research over the years is that negative ions positively impact serotonin levels in the brain.  In contrast positive ions make us feel bad and we are often over-exposed to them via electrical equipment such as computers and mobile phones. This can affect our magnetic field by leaving us feeling depleted of energy so that we feel lethargic and tired.

So in the Mindful Mermaids meetup you are invited to turn off your mobile devices and breathe in the fresh air.  This is especially important if you cannot freely access the goodness of negative ions in your every day life.

Use the below link to find some more benefits of being outdoors:

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/70548/11-scientific-benefits-being-outdoors

How I can help you...

I can work with you to achieve your goals, whatever they may be… CBT, Hypnotherapy and the other psychological therapies I offer can be tailored to address many issues, so if you would like to work on something that’s not included below get in touch.

Contact me

If you’re interested in taking the next step towards positive change get in touch, I would love to hear from you.

All messages come through to me personally, which I deal with as soon as I can. If you reach my answerphone please leave a voicemail or send a text or email.

I am happy to provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have. I will also create an effective solution tailored for you personally, if you choose to work with me.

Get in touch for more information, to arrange an appointment, FREE initial consultation or call back. All information is treated as strictly confidential.

Make positive change for life with Hypnotherapy and NLP plus CBT Therapy Bristol and North Somerset

Claire Paul (Hons), MSc, Dip. Hyp, Dip. LC/ PC, Psychologist Hypnotherapist and Professional Life Coach Bristol and North Somerset

FREE initial consultation: claire.paul@harmony4life.co.uk/ 07813 138 171/ www.harmony4life.co.uk

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