Fab Four Friday: November

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With the first full week of this month already done, I take a look at some of the things I have been learning and doing to create a happy November.


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We all know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep.  It’s how we rest, recover and repair before we start a new day.  However, new research from Boston University shows our brains are also given a wash while we sleep and their findings have suggested some reasons as to why this might be. 

As we approach the deep sleep phase of the sleep cycle, cerebrospinal fluid (a clear watery like liquid) is repeatedly released into the brain in waves, and scientists think this may be in order to remove toxins.  Previous studies on mice have indicated that this process can wash harmful proteins out of the brain, including those linked to Alzheimer's disease.  It may still be early days for Dr. Laura Lewis and her Boston University colleagues, but their ongoing research could have implications for how Alzheimer's and other degenerative conditions of the brain are treated or prevented in the future.

For some top tips on improving the quality of your sleep, check out Henrietta Norton's column on page 87 of this month's Psychologies magazine. 

Getting Scrappy

George Bernard Shaw has long been attributed with saying the words, 'Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.' 

I firmly believe in the power of creativity.  On a wider scale, it has the power to revolutionise and create change, and on an individual level I believe it can do the same.  The concept of creativity is broad and vast, however.  If we don't think we are 'naturally a creative person' (although I think we all are), or if we feel we've lost our creative mojo, then it can be a bit overwhelming to get started or move forward.  During those times I feel stuck, I turn to my 'Psychologies scrapbook.'  This little book includes all of my favourite quotes, articles and pictures from each monthly Psychologies magazine.  I add to it when I want to do some gentle creative activity and from my own experience have found it helpful with the following:

  • Relaxing and unwinding
  • Practising mindfulness
  • Mood boosting/well being enhancing
  • Encouraging further creative practice

I tend to scrap book alone, as I enjoy the calm and peacefulness that comes from quietly focusing and reflecting on the pages of my creation.  However, scrap-booking can also be a great social activity whilst having a natter and a cup of tea with friends.

The Butterfly Effect

There are times in life when ‘good enough is good enough’ and as Hazel Davies discusses in her article in this month’s Psychologies magazine, there is a balance to strike between achieving our aims and being kind to ourselves.

However, for the times where we do want to progress in something or improve a particular skill,  the Austin’s Butterfly model of learning could help us.

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A well-known Case Study and model for peer mentoring, Austin’s Butterfly tells the story of a six year old boy, who was given the task of creating a scientific drawing of a butterfly.  He was asked to observe a picture of the butterfly carefully and then draw what he saw.  On his first attempt he had a quick look at the picture, but then reverted to drawing the kind of butterfly he already knew how to draw.  When he brought it to his teacher, she told him that he had done a really good first attempt, but she encouraged him with the support of his peers to do another draft.  The teacher asked Austin’s classmates to give him some very specific feedback as to how he could make his drawing look more like the butterfly in the picture.  The children supported Austin by making suggestions, so that his drawing would more closely resemble the photo.  After repeating this process of constructive feedback and redrafting six times, Austin was ready to present his teacher with a rather remarkable final drawing.  

Image result for austins butterflyAustin’s story is a great example of how we can reap the rewards of redrafting, and it demonstrates that with the right support and perseverance we can achieve more than we may have thought possible.

Yoga for Everyone

I have been practising yoga for around seven years and have, at first hand, experienced the ongoing benefits of this ancient practice; from increasing my flexibility and strength, to helping me learn how to meditate and enhance my emotional well being.  I love the collective experience of going to a class with other yogis, but for the times where I fancy doing some shorter or solitary practice from home, I usually turn to YouTube.  My current favourite channel is Yoga with Adrienne.  A qualified yoga teacher, Adrienne has a plethora of great videos available to choose from.  Whether you're looking for an early morning energising class, or a relaxing session to calm the mind and body before bed, there's something to suit all needs and abilities on this channel.  As an added bonus, most of Adrienne's videos feature her trusty sidekick Benji the dog - for sheer entertainment value of course!

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Happy Friday and have an enjoyable weekend.

Hanna x