Sole2Soul’s top five tips to beating Blue Monday


My clients are always asking what they can do to beat the January blues. Here are my top tips to help you through the month…


1.    Get active

There are lots of reasons why exercise is good for us physically but it is also scientifically proven that exercise can help to manage mild to moderate depression and anxiety. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, releases the feel-good chemicals in the brain - our endorphins. Dopamine and serotonin are also stimulated which help us to regulate and improve our mood and thoughts.

If you are new to exercise, set yourself small achievable goals; don’t think you have to get into lycra and sweat buckets. Simply going for a walk and increasing your steps, or doing a light spot of gardening (if it’s not too cold!) can be an easy way to start improving your activity levels. Whatever you choose, make it enjoyable and remember, energy fuels more energy, so stick at it and see what you notice!


2.    Challenge negative thoughts and behaviours

Notice the impact your thoughts, feelings and behaviours have on one another. If your thoughts are negative, they are most likely making you behave in a negative way. Try challenging your negative thoughts by coming up with alternative and more balanced thoughts. Focus on making your behaviours positive and productive to encourage a better outcome. This will have a significant impact on your mood which will reinforce a more positive cycle in your thoughts and behaviour process.

If you find this a challenge, you can write down the situation you’re in, along with your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and try to reflect objectively on how they are all impacting one another. Then write down how you could make changes for a more positive outcome if a similar situation arose in the future.


3.    Connect and spend time with others

Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with others! Building connections, sharing and talking with others can really help support you and can give you a sense of responsibility and identity. It also gives you a sense of pleasure and achievement when you give and share with others, helping to improve your mood.

Steps you can take here may be as simple as meeting with friends, but you can go further! Try joining a social group or sports team, or engaging with your local community by doing some volunteering. These are all simple things that can make a real difference, not only for you, but for others too!


4.    Take care and reward yourself

Simply giving yourself some all important down time is a good way to look after your mental wellbeing, but it is often the first thing we ignore when we feel busy, stressed or down. We all need a bit of TLC; this doesn’t have to be getting an hour long massage (as nice as that is!), it could just be putting the laptop down and getting an early night, allowing yourself to relax. Making sure you schedule in the time to be kind and boundaried with yourself allows you to recharge and nourish your mental wellbeing. If you haven’t practiced mindfulness or deep breathing this could be a good way to give yourself that quiet time. ‘Headspace’ is a very popular mindfulness App and you can use it on the go. Just taking ten minutes a day can really help.


5.    Set yourself realistic plans and goals

The new year is all about resolutions, helping to create the “new you”. When making plans and goals make sure they are achievable, rewarding and enjoyable. Do this by breaking goals down into bite-sized chunks and by making them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound). There is no point in setting yourself up to fail, or making a goal unrealistic or idealistic. It will not help your motivation or mindset. It is, however, important to acknowledge that setbacks are all part of personal growth, as I like to say, “giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing all your tyres because of one flat tyre”.

With any goal, it’s best to set milestones and once achieved, you could give yourself a reward; treating yourself to a new item of clothing, a night out to the cinema or getting a beauty treatment… whatever floats your boat! Just make the journey of change as positive and as enjoyable as possible. 😊


If you would like any more information or would like to learn more about Sole2Soul please get in touch. 

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year!


Sole2Soul's interview with Ad-Lib Training: All Things Mental Health

Q.      Tell us a bit about you

I was born and raised in Devon, so I consider myself a proper country girl who loves the outdoors and staying active, and I still do to this day.
When it comes to mental health, in my gap year I worked as psychiatric care assistant and that’s where my love for mental health began. I moved to Oxford in 2006 to study mental health nursing and I stayed there for 7 years working in various different nursing roles. In 2013 I decided to do something a bit different; I moved to Thailand by myself to teach English. I lived there for 6 months, travelling and teaching. It was a truly life changing experience for me. I lived minimally and simply, learning about Buddhism and practicing mindfulness. I kept myself physically really fit by running every day and doing workouts in the park and I felt the best I’ve ever felt! It was there that I decided to become a personal trainer on my return to the UK and set up my own business to incorporate physical and mental health fitness.

Q·      How did Sole2Soul begin?

I love exercise and the outdoors and I know it has the potential to make a huge difference to people’s mental wellbeing, not just physical. I wanted to do more in my nursing roles, but there were limitations to what I could do due to the time and money constraints in the NHS.

Q·      How did you get your idea for the project?

People with serious mental illness are among the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in society, and are proven to die between 16 and 25 years younger than the rest of the population from diseases related to smoking, obesity and poor lifestyle choices, including lack of exercise.
During nursing assessments, I have heard numerous times from patients that they used to exercise but since becoming unwell they stopped, or that they knew exercise would help them but they just can’t manage it by themselves.
I wanted to make exercise more accessible and enjoyable, by bringing it to people rather than asking them to get to a class. I also wanted to remove the stigma that is associated to exercise and make it something that everyone can do regardless of their current situation and wellbeing.

Q·      What is your background in Mental Health?

I started my career in acute child and adolescent nursing, working on an inpatient ward in Oxford. I was so lucky to have such a supportive team for my first job. I learnt a lot and I linked with lots of schools and colleges during my child and adolescent work.
I then moved to work in a community team, specializing in psychosis and supporting young adults who were experiencing mental health difficulties for the first time.  I have since worked in crisis mental health teams, electro-compulsive therapy (ECT) and nursing research.

Q·      To what do you attribute your success?

I have just been lucky to have had the opportunity to deliver what I love doing. It took some courage and a lot of dedication to set up Sole2Soul, but it’s been so rewarding to see how it has been able to support and inspire people over the years.  I believe if you are genuine and passionate in what you do, people will see that and it creates a better outcome for everyone.

Q·      Was there a particular moment when you realised that you had something unique in Sole2Soul and that it could evolve into the programme it is today?

I knew that my clinical experience in mental health alongside my personal training skills meant that I am able to offer something unique, but winning the London Sport Coach of the year award 2016 bought home just how much interest there is in Sole2Soul and how it could evolve into something bigger to support many more people.

Q·      Have you seen any real changes in the language around policy development in the NHS based on the Sole2Soul intervention of physical activity in a mental health setting?

I have been able to show through patient evaluation that Sole2Soul’s programme can create very positive outcomes. A lot of the patients in mental health services find it very hard, if not impossible, to access the services in the community such as Exercise on Referral or mainstream gyms. Sole2Soul’s programme has enabled patients to take a first step into the world of physical fitness and in some cases, this has lead them to become members of a gym and being able to access community-based services.
These outcomes have certainly supported a positive drive to include more exercise in the services we offer in Camden and Islington NHS Trust, my task now however is to continue gathering evidence and roll out more exercise services for people with mental health conditions across different settings.

Q·      You have recently partnered up with Ad-Lib Training.  What do you look for in a partnership?

Ad-Lib will be crucial in providing the highest quality training to the people involved in the Sole2Soul programme. We seek to work with organsiations who share the same values and interest in mental health, and Ad-Lib’s empathsis on special populations is hugely important. We are excited to work with Ad-Lib and to build a wider programme to benefit hundreds of people together.

Q·      How important is the skills development of the workforce in the delivery of physical activity in a mental health setting?

Ideally people delivering an exercise programme in a mental health setting need to have some experience or training in mental health in order to confidently demonstrate the right qualities to make the programme a success. People need to be incredibly flexible and adaptable to the environment and people they work with, taking a non-judgmental approach and working with the client to create a programme that is rewarding, enjoyable and achievable. 

Q·      What are your plans for Sole2Soul in the future?

Sole2Soul will be expanding to the south west of England in the next few months, so we are really excited and very busy! As well as continuing to offer one to one personal training to support people’s physical and mental health, Sole2Soul’s vision is to establish community programmes that act as a preventative measure to poor mental wellbeing, and this is where having Ad-Lib to train up skilled practitioners will be part of the development.

Q·      Mental Health awareness is all over the media at the minute.  Have you seen a difference in the amount of people talking about Mental Health and a change in numbers?

There’s been a big change in the last year, which is really great and something that mental health rightly deserves. However, in certain environments there is obviously still a lot of stigma around the subject, but I hope Sole2Soul and Ad-Lib can try and bridge this gap by offering services to the public and making it normal to bring our physical and mental health together. What we have to remember is that we can all make a difference to someone’s mental health, it is not something we need to have permission to do; we just need to lead by example and accept that it is something we all have.

Q·      What is your life mantra to keep you motivated?

“Mia pen ria!” A saying I learnt in Thailand, and something that I lived by. It means “don’t worry, don’t stress, it will be alright”. I also strongly believe that “to lead a positive life you need a positive mind and exercise not only changes your body, it changes your attitude and your mood”. So, if ever in doubt – get outside and get active, it really works!


Freelance work


We are looking to recruit skilled personal trainers who have suitable experience and knowledge of working in mental health.

Suitable candidates would be based in London and would be available to take on freelance work from December onwards. As well as having exceptional skills in coaching, candidates will need to be able to demonstrate that they have the right attitude and character to promote the ethos of Sole2Soul. 

Please get in touch with us if you would like to be considered for the role  


Healthy body, healthy mind...

Featuring as the centre fold in Sport & Physical Activity Professional Magazine! DeeDee summarises my interview nicely as I talk about mental health and exercise and how I came about to develop my own company Sole2Soul... 

 #mentalhealth #centrefold #feature#profile #fitness #exercise #health #psychiatry #selfemployed #courage#career #change #ambition #dream #big #feelgood #mind#body #sole2soul The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity


"Mai Pen Rai" - my Coaching Philosophy

Take a look at my interview with Sports Coach UK which delves into my background and how I came to make the decision to take a career change and join the world of health and fitness. I will never look back and always believe that a "mai pen rai" outlook is the best way to be... so much so, that I got myself my very first tattoo when I was out in Thailand to symbolise it! Living life mindfully and leading a lifestyle that gives you happiness and health is the most important thing, and I have created a career where I am lucky enough to share my experiences and expertise to help others lead a happier, healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle.

I hope the interview can also offer some inspiration you, to help you make those changes you've been dreaming of. Sole2Soul was once a dream for me...! Happy reading :)

Sole2Soul in London's local newspaper

It's great to read how Sole2Soul has managed to positively impact service user's health and well being. #satisfaction #rewarding #makingadifference

1 Comment

Coach of the Year Winner!


The highlight of my career so far, winning the Coach of the Year at the London Sport Awards! It was a total surprise and is a true honour to have such recognition and support for the work that I have delivered in Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust. Working with mental health service users and seeing such progression and improvement in their physical, social and mental well-being has been the most rewarding work of my career. I am privileged to have a job that I love and feel so passionate about.

Such projects like this are only possible with the help of others, and I owe a huge amount to Chris Anderson, Manager at London Sport, for giving me the opportunity to create such a project and to Fiona Nolan, former Deputy Director of Nursing and Research at Camden and Islington NHS Trust, for the consistent support and guidance in the set up and evaluation of my work, and to my partner, Toby Giles, Consultant Project Manager, for his motivation, direction and guidance throughout the whole journey of Sole2Soul. 

I am excited about the future of Sole2Soul; I believe there is so much more that we can do to help others, and we will be doing everything we can to create more programmes for mental health services.

To read more about the other inspiring winners and runners of up the night, click here  

Back stage at the O2 Arena 

Back stage at the O2 Arena 

Recieving my award on stage by John Nurse, Director of SportPlan

Recieving my award on stage by John Nurse, Director of SportPlan

1 Comment

London Sport awards "Coach of the year" finalist

Sole2Soul is delighted to be recently named one of three finalists from hundreds of nominations for the London Sport Coach of the Year award. The award acknowledges the work of individuals who have created an inspiring environment for Londoners to achieve their potential in physical activity and sport. The winner will be announced at the award ceremony at the indigo O2 arena on January 19th 2017.

We are so excited to be part of this amazing event and to meet other inspiring coaches and organisations to help make London the most active city in the world! We will have our fingers and toes crossed, and hope that we can bring more attention to the field of mental health to improve people's lives in so many ways.

Winner of London Sportivate Project of the Year 2016!

Winning the London Sportivate Project of the Year for Sole2Soul's work within NHS mental health services has been such a huge achievement and honour. We feel very proud and grateful to have had the opportunity to demonstrate just how significant a project like CANDI Sole2Soul is to it's service users. The project has gained incredible recognition from Sport England and London Sport and has enabled mental health service users to develop their confidence and interest in exercise, whilst providing numerous physical, social and psychological benefits. 

Chris Anderson, Programme Manager for Youth Participation at London Sport, said:

“It has been a real pleasure to work with CANDI Sole2Soul over the past year, and their recognition as Sportivate Club of the Year for London is truly deserved. Sport has the power to make a real difference to people’s lives, and CANDI Sole2Soul are a great example of the role sport has to play in addressing the real issues faced by young Londoners.”

Through the evaluation of the project 96% of participants wanted to continue exercising and over 65% of participants rated a significant improvement in their mood following the sessions. This amazing result highlights the huge difference that could be made if exercise was offered as treatment option with the right support. We hope this is the beginning of something much bigger for the future of mental health services! 

To read more click the link below

The importance of sleep


Sleep plays an important role in our physical health. In fact, it is just as important as eating healthy and exercising. Yet millions of people do not get enough sleep and many suffer from lack of sleep. Everyone’s individual sleep needs vary. In general, most healthy adults are built for 16 hours of wakefulness and need an average of 8 hours of sleep a night. However, some individuals are able to function without feeling sleepy or drowsy after as little as 6 hours of sleep. Others can't perform at their peak unless they've slept ten hours.

A person can develop poor sleep habits (i.e. watching TV in bed or eating too much before bedtime), irregular sleep patterns (sleeping too late, taking long naps during the day) to compensate for lost sleep at night. Some people also develop a fear of not sleeping and a pattern of worrying about the consequences of not sleeping.

People are now sleeping less than they did in the past, and sleep quality has decreased as well. If you are trying to lose weight, getting quality sleep is absolutely crucial. Your body repairs and builds muscle when you are sleeping, and many body builders actually take a nap straight after a workout to get maximum benefit from their training!

There are a few simple things you can do to improve your quality of sleep:-

* keep a regular routine, go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time, but don’t go to bed until you feel tired

* don’t eat a heavy meal late in the evening, this can lead to heartburn and difficulty in falling asleep, opt for something light

* don’t drink caffeine late in the day, instead switch to decaffeinated drinks after 4pm

* the NHS recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise/activity plus two or more strength sessions per week. However, strenuous exercise late in the evening will stimulate the body so if you have problems sleeping you might find that a more calming exercise, such as Yoga or Tai Chi, works better for you, or perhaps even try meditating

* keep your bedroom dark, cool, clean, clutter-free and quiet

* keep your bed for sleep, reading, listening to relaxation music and sex. The mind and body will then create a positive association between these things and the bed

* if you are not asleep within 30 minutes get up and do something relaxing, but not stimulating, until you feel tired and ready to go back to bed. Try to be relaxed about it, don’t clock watch and your natural sleep rhythm should soon return

* ensure that you have a good bed and pillow that is comfortable and suits your need

What is mental health?

With still so much stigma around mental health this BBC article is useful to give you an idea of just how common mental illness is, and what exactly it all means...there's also a quiz at the end so you can give yourself a health check!