James first approached me in 2015, after reading my article for Vice on the declining effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). It took a while before we managed to sit down together and talk about his project (thanks for your patience, James!) but I instantly loved the idea of Less-Stress London. James is really passionate about promoting holistic health and wellbeing solutions to Londoners, and exploring the many and varied stresses of urban life. Less-Stress London combines a directory of practitioners, events, services, and green spaces, with an online magazine full of news, features and reviews.
So far, for Less-Stress London, I’ve covered a fantastic range of issues – the health impacts of working night shifts, anti-pollution skincare solutions, the impact of urban stress on babies, road rage and anxiety on public transport, and lots more. I’ve also had the privilege of working on LSL’s behalf with some fantastic wellbeing charities, including the Mental Health Foundation, Freedom from Torture, and the Phoenix Prison Trust.
I sat down with James for a chat about how Less-Stress London came to be, and how my writing services are helping to create his editorial vision for the site.
SG: What’s Less-Stress London all about, and where did the idea come from?
JL: Less-Stress London takes a holistic approach to keeping healthy in the city. A directory of mind-body services, weekend workshops and events, all wrapped up with London news and a genuine sense of the city’s local landscape. Is London a more stressful place to live than other parts of the UK and beyond? Quite the opposite. Because, however lonely we are in the big city, there are choices, neighbourhoods, communities and, crucially, other Londoners to bond with over an evening or a weekend activity and shared interest.
SG: Who and what are your personal inspirations and motivations?
JL: As a native Londoner, I feel proud and grateful to live in one of the safest and most tolerant cities in the world. The changes I’ve seen since growing up in the north-west suburbs as a child have been vast – not only the buildings and infrastructure, but also the incredible diversity of people who have made London their home over the years. The pace of life in the city means that most of us are so time poor it’s difficult to slow down and look around, to find the beauty that’s everywhere in the city, especially in the scruffier corners.
SG: What do you look for in the practitioners and services you feature?
JL: At different times, when I’ve received counselling or psychotherapy, I’ve instinctively felt that my body very much needed the same levels of attention that I was giving to my mind. I could process insights and reflection mentally, but my body often felt like it needed its own catharsis, or at the very least direction toward self-care. I think that whether therapist or practitioner, teacher or coach, it’s absolutely critical to encourage clients to explore complementary ways of working with different therapeutic ideas and techniques in between sessions.
SG: What do you see as the biggest issues impacting on Londoners’ everyday mental and physical wellbeing?
JL: Expectation – whether that comes from others or, more likely, ourselves. A fear that we may fall behind socially and economically unless we drive ourselves, and often our loved ones, to the absolute limit Cramped housing that often means it’s a struggle to find private space to unwind. Loneliness and lack of connection.
SG: What do you ultimately hope Less-Stress London can achieve?
JL: If our Less-Stress websites could have half as much influence as Mumsnet in the heads of politicians I’d be very happy. A better understanding that a holistic health agenda is not just an airy fairy ideal but a realistic solution to so many of society’s social and economic problems. Not just mind-body practicesm but also spreading the word about educational initiatives from organisations such as Young Happy Minds, who understand that a holistic education system is just as important as holistic health.
SG: How does the editorial content, contributed by myself and others, help you to stand out?
JL: There’s a huge amount of health advice available online right now, but it can get a bit shouty: ‘I’ve got a wonderful life, how can I make it better?’ That’s ok, but the wellness movement would do well to remember to build from the bottom-up as well as top-down.
Information about back care and posture is a bit lacking generally. A healthy spine is a critical component of wellness and we’re particularly interested in articles about the crossover point between therapeutic movement and therapeutic bodywork. Also clarity and understanding regarding the many different therapeutic techniques available.
London’s a big city and advances in technology are going to leave more of us struggling to find meaning and purpose from our lives, as the things we take for granted slowly become more and more automated. I hope the articles we commission at least nod in that direction once in a while.
We are a commercial organisation but I hope that the advertising partners we are able to attract complement the articles and features rather than detract.
You can find out more about Less-Stress London and the range of holistic health services available across the city at: less-stress.london
Could my writing services also benefit your business? Click here for information about working with me, check out some examples of my work for Less-Stress London, or click here to see what other clients have said about my writing.