Last month on the blog, I proclaimed my love for new mental health app, Mental Snapp. The app – that works a little like a therapist in your pocket – is an excellent (and modern!) way to keep a check on your mental health when convenience or budget may not allow you to visit an actual thearpest.

The whole idea of the app fascinated me, so of course I was ecstatic to have the chance to interview the founder, Hannah Chamberlain. I chatted to Hannah about how the app was formed, what effect the app has had on HER mental health and any future plans for Mental Snapp.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Hello March | Interview with Mental Snapp founder, Hannah Chamberlain | Mental Snapp | Mental Health

HOW WOULD YOU PERSONALLY DESCRIBE MENTAL SNAPP AND THE BENEFITS OF THE APP?
Mental Snapp is essentially a diary, just in video form. What I’ve found, working in film in mental health for twenty years, is that people find video a very accessible form and it’s a great validator. The camera is one of our earliest relationships, when we’re born, it’s mummy, daddy, camera. So telling your story to a lens is a natural progression from writing it on paper. The video element is one of the key benefits of the app. We say that we want to help people with their confidence and to be their own best friend. Users say that it’s true – using Mental Snapp boosts them and helps them feel kinder to themselves. What’s more, an independent study by London Southbank University showed that Mental Snapp can positively affect confidence and self compassion in just two weeks. So we are hitting the targets we have set ourselves in terms of the benefits we hope to see. It’s about getting to know yourself and treating yourself more kindly.

CAN YOU TELL ME A LITTLE MORE ABOUT HOW YOU CAME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR THE APP?
I have worked in film and mental health all my career, and I took a break to have my son. When I came back to work, I felt so much more confident about my career, and I realised that it was because I’d got over my own self stigma, which had been holding me back personally and professionally. I decided I wanted to design a course to be taught at recovery colleges which could help other people to do the same, and of course as a filmmaker, video diaries and filmed exercises would be a massive part of it. Once I’d thought of the app it was obvious it had so many other applications, and in fact it drew together all the thoughts I’d had about the therapeutic benefits of film and telling your story in your own words. I’ve been taking Xanax (Alprazolam) because I suffered 6 months, and now found that medicine really helped me, and if I take it in the morning, not in the evening, how much time it can take to show the effect and what dosage is it better to use? The problem in mental health is that it is based on a deficit model, conventional therapy is based on what you can’t do, not what you can. We’re seeking to address that by taking back the most fundamental means of recovery – the ability to tell and record your own story, in your own words, as it makes sense to you.

WHAT TYPE OF PROCESS WENT INTO DEVELOPING THE APP?
We were very lucky in the process we went through to get Mental Snapp onto the App Store. I think it goes to show it was an idea whose time had come. We didn’t find it hard to raise interest and we got a couple of grants from UnLtd and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which gave us funding to do a year of market research and co design with users, and to get the beta version on the App Store. From there, we got investment from Bethnal Green Ventures and have had a positive evaluation of the effects of using Mental Snapp by London Southbank University. We did a bunch more user testing in the autumn and got some ideas for the new version. and also won the Stelios Foundation Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs in November last year. All of this gave us the confidence – and the cash – to put the full version live on the App Store this January.

FOR THOSE OF US WHO MAY BE A LITTLE CAMERA SHY – HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU FIRST BEGAN TO RECORD YOUR EXPERIENCES ON FILM?
Ironically when I made my first recordings myself, just testing it out on the phone, before the app went live, they were all about confidence. I was part of an action learning group and the group had asked me ‘Where has your new found confidence come from?’. I recorded a test Mental Snapp on this which was my first recording. I’ve used this kind of idea in the on boarding process and also in the way that we introduce the concept of recording to people. It is a bit of a leap for some people, sure, and it’s not going to be for everyone. That said, everyone has a grain of confidence, and the essence of Mental Snapp is that it’s not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can. If you tell yourself – or if you tell people – they can do it, they have strength inside themselves and it’s amazing how true that becomes. I interviewed a user on Skype last summer who said that she hadn’t been able to use Skype at all before using Mental Snapp and now she was communicating with her friends online. So the question I was asking myself ‘Where does this new found confidence come from?’ can apply to people at all stages of their Mental Snapp journey and we always want to be building people up and encouraging them to go further on their journeys.

HOW SOON AFTER FILMING – AND WATCHING – YOUR OWN VIDEOS DID YOU NOTICE AN EFFECT ON YOUR MENTAL HEALTH – IF ANY? 
I started to notice an effect almost straight away in terms of the relief that I felt that I was recording and making a difference. I have always found recording and telling my story important. Knowing that I have documented makes a big difference to me. However, the further benefits of feeling kinder to myself took a bit more time to develop – I would say about two weeks – but they have continued both when I have continued to use the app and even when I have taken breaks and then come back to it later. I would say that I am a very different person now to the one who made that first recording about confidence way back two years ago.

FINALLY, DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS TO DEVELOP THE APP FURTHER IN FUTURE?
I’ve got so many plans! There are things that I want to implement myself and thoughts that our users have contributed. We have been working with an agency, General Assembly, who have interviewed users and developed a bunch of new and exciting features to help people gain better insight from the videos they make. I’d like to introduce a check in that can be done monthly or as required. There are always improvements to be made, but the most important thing is that they aren’t just coming out of thin air, we want to always be listening to and accountable to our users and how they want to use the app so that it fits into their day-to-day life and makes a big difference in helping them to actively manage their mental health.

It’s so interesting hearing about how the app was formed and about how Hannah came up for the idea for something so useful – and what better day to celebrate Hannah’s talent then on International Women’s Day?

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It’s been a while since I’ve popped up a book review and that is honestly because I haven’t been reading as much lately and the books I have been reading haven’t been worthy of a review! But when I spotted Sophie Kinsella’s latest novel – My Not So Perfect Life – on sale recently, I made sure to pick it up.

I’ve enjoyed Sophie Kinsella’s writing for a long time now – I love how she’s unapologetically known as the queen of writing chick lit books – but cool chick lit books that shy away from the typical standards that you’d expect in such a story. She’s not afraid to tackle tougher subjects in her books, yet her writing is almost always relatable on some level or another.

Saying that, I can’t say I ever particularly became a fan of her Shopaholic series and didn’t read past the first couple of books. However, I loved I’ve Got Your Number and Remember Me? is still hands down one of my favourite novels of all time which has resulted in a creased dog eared copy that I read at least once a year.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Book Review | My Not So Perfect Life | Sophie Kinsella

My Not So Perfect Life is probably the only recent work of hers I’ve picked up and after reading the blurb, I was curious to read the whole story.

The blurb reads -Katie Brenner has the perfect life: a flat in London, a glamorous job, and a super-cool Instagram feed.

Ok, so the real truth is that she rents a tiny room with no space for a wardrobe, has a hideous commute to a lowly admin job, and the life she shares on Instagram isn’t really hers.

But one day her dreams are bound to come true, aren’t they?

Until her not-so perfect life comes crashing down when her mega-successful boss Demeter gives her the sack. All Katie’s hopes are shattered. She has to move home to Somerset, where she helps her dad with his new glamping business.

Then Demeter and her family book in for a holiday, and Katie sees her chance. But should she get revenge on the woman who ruined her dreams? Or try to get her job back? Does Demeter – the woman with everything – have such an idyllic life herself? Maybe they have more in common than it seems.

And what’s wrong with not-so-perfect, anyway?

The grass is always greener… with the right filter.

At first glance, I thought this book was a very on trend take on current issues we all face in the type of society we are, what with always being online. But I immediately thought it was an interesting twist – although the story touches on Katie Brenner creating a certain life via Instagram, her jealousy and envy of her boss – Demeter – is very real, happening right in front of her eyes. So it was an interesting take to indulge in the regular feeling a lot of us often have these days – envy for the picture perfect lives we see online and comparing ourselves to others – but this focuses on the jealousy we feel and develop in real life.

The story mostly focuses on this subject of course and we see a huge transformation in Katie’s life – from being a professional but quite frankly exhausted Londonite to slumming it back home in Somerset, swapping glamourous clothes for whatever is comfortable. The change is very subtle and gradual but we as readers can already see what’s right in front of our eyes – Katie is clearly much happier at home deep down, even though she doesn’t acknowledge this.

Throughout the book we learn more about Demeter too and within a few chapters we quickly learn just how different her life actually is as opposed to the life she portrays. Demeter was an interesting character – it was weird that we met her as a head strong b*tch boss, but midway through the book we’re feeling sorry for her and eventually come to love her as she lets her guard down and becomes a much more relatable person.

Katie’s character sounded almost like my inner monologue at most points – she’s determined to stick to her fast life in London, even if behind the scenes everything is less than perfect – by a lot. She’s got ambition. She’s headstrong and she’s honest. But she’s also very human too. It takes her a good while to see the truth about her own life – let alone her bosses – and though to us it might seem so obvious where her heart lies or where is best for her, she definitely does her fair share of denying.

This book is essentially about our portrayal of ourselves not just online but to everyone in general. We put a mask on and act like our life is perfect, but when the masks come off and the chips fall down, we’re all just pretty much the same and neither of us are better than the other, even if someone may have a higher position at work than you or more followers on Twitter.

There’s a few lovely side stories in this novel too – there’s a little romance, and it’s very interesting to see Katie take on the roll of helping her father and his partner launch a new glamping business. For Sophie’s readership, this part of the book was really quite fascinating, hearing about how Katie advertised the venture and helped promote the business. We are – as bloggers, at least – a society who take matters into our own hands – we plug our blogs relentlessly, we choose creative freelance work over stuffy ‘safe’ jobs and most of us are pretty much obsessed with social media – or at least fascinated by it – and it’s ability to drive revenue and custom.

So overall the smaller storylines in My Not So Perfect Life really helped to round out the book and change things up a bit. My Not So Perfect Life is a story that I’ll certainly read again and again and I think it’ll do well to help us all remember that no matter how jealous or envious we might be of someone, when the masks come off and the truth is revealed, we’re no better than each other – it’s not a competition and really there’s little to be jealous of.

Have you read My Not So Perfect Life yet? Let me know!

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March is upon us although it definitely doesn’t feel like spring, what with all this terrible weather and snow. Oh, and of course ‘The Beast from the East’. Am I the only one who finds the names of storms and the dramatic nicknames absolutely hilarious? This one just reminds me of The Chase for some reason..

Anyway. Here’s what’s in store for March.

Formidable Joy | UK Lifestyle Blog | Lifestyle | Hello March

THE BOOK
Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood by Mari Andrew sounds amazing and right up my street. It talks about growing up and uses illustrations to capture the feeling of becoming an adult but not knowing what the f*ck you’re doing – or what you’re supposed to be doing. Totally different but totally instagrammable at the same time.
Am I There Yet?: The Loop-de-loop, Zigzagging Journey to Adulthood will be released on the 27th.

THE MOVIE
Though Angelina Jolie’s performance of Tomb Raider was certainly a massive success – the series has been booted again and the first film is Tomb Raider. The film follows the storyline of the 2013 game and generally serves as the introduction to Lara Croft, who is on a mission to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance. The action looks amazing, the stunts are impressive and I’m more than sure that Alicia Vikander will fill the shoes of Tomb Raider perfectly.
Tomb Raider will be released on the 16th.

THE SERIES
Ghost Wars appeared on my Netflix just yesterday and though the name intrigued me, the trailer itself hooked me right in completely and made me eager to begin another series binge. It’s about ghosts being unable to move on and therefore terrorizing the town – but it looks genuinely really scary, with a good few jump scares and squeamish moments too. It’s an interesting one as I’m always really wary about horror being made into a TV series – it’s not easy and often works so much better as a movie – but I’ll be honest with you: watching the trailer has given me high hopes for this show.
Ghost Wars is available on Netflix now.

THE EVENT
Another one based at The Vaults! This month, I’m eyeing up RUCKUS, an immersive celebration of St Patrick’s Day. I’m not one to celebrate the day itself – unless you count drinking – but RUCKUS may be changing my mind. The event will see The Vaults turned into a turn of the century London for a gangster knees-up – think smugglers hiding in secret tunnels, attendees dressed in braces and fur and a hell of a lot of whiskey. Like most experiences at The Vaults, there will be immersive storylines to follow and games to play – or you could just turn up in costume and dance the night away (dancing on tables is encouraged).
RUCKUS takes place on the 17th March.

ANYTHING ELSE?
Over to my personal life – I’m moving! Soon. Ish. I’ll be moving to Wellingborough as soon as convenience allows and as soon as I find a job there. It seems bizarre announcing this on my blog before everything is final but the reason being is this: although I’m working towards a lovely part-time role specifically related to what I want to do with my life, there’s still a few other days of the week I’ll want to work and, well, I’ve never lived alone and/or in Wellingborough before. So if anyone is based in the area and can recommend places to go or knows of any admin/PR/media related roles going, do hit me up! The flat is there and ready for me to move into so if all goes to plan, I’ll be there by the end of March. It’s just the job part which is tricky – but I’m staying positive as something will become available sooner or later. In the meantime, if anyone would like to hire me, you know where to find me…

What are you looking forward to this month? Let me know!

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I’m at the stage in the break up now where I’m flitting between making plans with everyone left, right and centre – not wanting to spend a single evening at home alone – and making pit stops to Tesco on the way home from work to grab Ben & Jerry’s, Amaretto and general junk food for some seriously corny romance movies. What can I say? Rom-coms help store my faith in love again..!

I love a good rom-com, but I also enjoy any indie gems too – as well as the really romantic-corny-snot-into-your-tissue type of movie. Basically, I like a good mix, but the best part is that the majority of these movies still leave me feeling somewhat hopeful after the credits roll.

Here are some of my favourite romance movies that are just perfect for that stage of a break up.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Dating | My favourite post break up romance movies | Movies | Romcom | Romance

LIKE CRAZY
Like Crazy is one of those movies that you’ve probably missed, despite starring big names such as Anton Yelchin (RIP), Felicity Jones and Jennifer Lawrence. It tells the story of Anna and Jacob who shyly fall in love when Anna is studying in LA. Despite falling deeply in love with each other, it’s not long before Anna has to return back home to the UK and thus a long distance relationship begins. If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, you’ll agree that this movie has gotten the gut wrenching pain of being so far apart from someone you love down to a tee. It’s beautifully tragic and will help you realize that love definitely isn’t easy and love isn’t always enough.

TONIGHT YOU’RE MINE
Oh my gosh. This may be one of the corniest movies ever but it’s so bad that it’s good. It’s pretty damn hard to find online these days (and it’s also known as You Instead), but it’s worth the search if you’re looking for that all consuming-totally-unbelievable-love. It follows two rockstars – Adam and Morello – who are both performing at T In The Park festival (where the film is set, featuring lots of cameo roles), who hate each other but get handcuffed together (yes, really). The story follows them in real time as they spend the evening trying to find a way out, taking to the stage and eventually finding few and fleeting moments together throughout.

THE NOTEBOOK
I don’t really need to explain this one but guaranteed you’ll be sobbing your little heart out by the end of the movie, crying out ‘WHY CAN’T I FIND A LOVE LIKE THAT’.

ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND
I still don’t entirely get this movie, but it’s one of those ones that sort of make you happy to be alone again, because it helps you realize that you should never really settle. It’s a real oddball type of movie but, if anything, it taught me that extraordinary love is the best and if you haven’t got that then maybe it’s just better to be alone.

10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU
Revert back to your teenage self and relish in this classic. Cultural? Tick: the movie is based on a Shakespeare play. All star cast? Tick. The film features Julia Stiles, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Kick ass female lead? You got it. Julia Stiles’ character Kat was who all us alternative girls looked up to when we were teenagers – she didn’t take sh*t from no one. The film also includes that all important musical number/romantic display of affection, beyond cute ‘first kiss’ (that made me want to try paintballing) and an amazing soundtrack. Need I say more?

(500) DAYS OF SUMMER
Another gem featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt – opposite  Zooey Deschanel in the noteworthy manic pixie dream girl role, this popular indie rom-com is almost a giant ‘f*ck you’ towards traditional romance – but somehow still leaves you with that fuzzy feeling inside. This is great to watch when you’re finally seeing your previous relationship through new eyes – at last you realize it wasn’t always amazing and, more often than not, your ex was kinda a douche. But hey, life goes on, and this movie proves it. It’ll also make you want to visit IKEA (alone) if you haven’t in a while..

NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST
Believe in that first love feeling again. This cute movie follows a couple who go on an epic night time adventure all over New York whilst falling for each other in the process (and misreading each other’s actions). It’s really sweet and will leave you pining for a fun night out – plus the soundtrack is one of the best movie soundtracks ever.

THE BREAK UP
I don’t think this movie did too well commercially, but it’s super funny and is ideal for that stage when you’re feeling really petty about your ex. It stars Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn who try to survive the living conditions of still sharing an apartment post break up.

THIS MEANS WAR
This movie is a total girls movie and perfect to watch with friends. It’s a romantic comedy spy film starring  Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy. Is it moving? No. Does it have some life lessons behind it? Not really. But it’s still really bloody good, even if you just watch it to perv on Chris Pine and Tom Hardy and fantasize about them fighting over you.

This stage of the break up calls for yummy junk food and lots of movies like the ones above, am I right? Have I missed any out?

Well past this stage and looking to start dating again? Why not try websites such as Surrey dating, West Midlands dating, Aberdeen dating, Hampshire dating or Lincolnshire dating.

What are your go-to rom-coms to watch when newly single? Let me know.

*Please note, this is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are entirely my own.

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It’s that time of month again! Today I’m sharing with you all my February playlist, aka what I’ve been listening to this month.

Formidable Joy - UK Lifestyle Blog | Music | The February Playlist

I’ve got a few romance songs on this months playlist. I discovered what was once a favourite song of mine again, New Found Glory’s excellent cover of Kiss Me. Kings and Queens is a lovely one from Paloma Faith, despite the fact that I’m not a huge fan of her usually, and I’ve also continued to focus on a few more female artists with SAINTE and Plastiscines, the latter of which I discovered through Gossip Girl!

I’ve also got the newest Ten Tonnes track in there. I’m kind of behind with becoming a Ten Tonnes fan, but I discovered him when my ex and I saw him at an intimate BBC Introducing Night last year. Now I seem to see/hear him everywhere, from Radio One to, er, Made In Chelsea.

And I’ve also got an old school track from Good Charlotte too, just because it’s an all time favourite of mine.

And of course, I’ve ended with a lovely upbeat and inspiring song that would surely make anyone’s day!

Enjoy, and do let me know what you think!

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