Lydia Salerno

Hello, I’m Lydia, pleased to meet you! I live in Haverfordwest in a small Victorian end of terrace just a short walk from the town centre. Over the last few years the local people and organisations of Haverfordwest have really pulled together which has made a huge difference to the atmosphere of the place. It feels like an exciting time for our county town, with more and more going on and a few new businesses popping up here and there.

The new library is also awesome with people young and old taking advantage of the lovely space and I really hope this continues to be a meeting place for our community. It’s fab to have a gallery to tell visitors about too!

My everyday life

I live with my husband (we’ve been married for 8 years, together 13) and enjoy a pretty quiet home life after a busy day at work. We both work for Mind Pembrokeshire – an organisation which has been supporting the people of Pembrokeshire with their mental health for over 25 years.

People often ask what it’s like working together and living together, mostly assuming it’s a bit much! It’s actually pretty great when the other person understands what your day really looked like. However if work is particularly busy or a bit stressful it can be difficult, it’s ever so tempting to talk work ‘non-stop’ so we have to be mindful of that. Luckily the tough times are short-lived and the good times are fun to be able to share!


Lydia and her husband Joe on Oslo Opera House for 30th birthday


I am also a member of Haverfordwest Ladies Circle; a group of girls having fun whilst fundraising. I joined after I was asked to give a talk on Mind Pembrokeshire at the Wolfscastle Country Hotel. The welcome was warm, fudge delicious and ladies intelligent with big hearts and infectious enthusiasm – how could I not go back!?

We meet monthly (the first Wednesday of the month except for August) to plan ways in which we can raise money and awareness for awesome causes. We then try to get together monthly for a social activity – a chance to let our hair down and often try something new.

Lydia with Haverfordwest Ladies Circle hosting Belle’s charity dinner

The group is so supportive that I’ve happily (although nervously) stepped out of my comfort zone a number of times. Being interviewed in Welsh for BBC and S4C being the biggest challenges! The support of a good group of friends/colleagues has a huge impact on my own wellbeing and something I‘d encourage everyone to find. Making friends as an adult can be so daunting but groups like these are a fab way to find your tribe!

Working in an industry where wellbeing is always a topic of conversation can be helpful (the latest information, research, tips and techniques) but can also make you hyper-aware which I don’t always find useful. If you feel you’re ‘doing all the right things’ but you’re still not feeling amazing it can be frustrating and disheartening!

Symptoms and triggers of decreased mental/physical health

I have been lucky in general with my health and wellbeing but last year something was really off… at least monthly I would experience some sort of illness, be it a dodgy stomach or days of feeling tired to my bones. I was getting unexplained rashes and visiting the doctor regularly with no improvement.

This went on for 8 months and was really starting to get me down – it felt like everything I tried cost loads and didn’t have any result.

Managing my wellbeing

Finally I decided to make an appointment with the Nutrition Detectives at the Ark and I’m so glad I did! The process was rather unconventional. Tiny glass vials labelled with everything under the sun are tested by placing them in your hand while one of the ladies notes your muscle response to each by touching you and holding their arm out (yes I know how strange it sounds) but after 45 minutes of testing I was advised of what they thought would improve the situation. They looked at my diet and made recommendations and prescribed some natural remedies.

After just 2 days the rash had totally disappeared, a week later I felt stronger, by my second appointment I felt like a new woman! 10 months on and I still feel that way – much higher energy, no rashes, mentally more resilient and generally well! I have since advised a couple of friends to try this when feeling under the weather for a prolonged period and they too have benefited!

So if you’re not feeling awesome and you’re trying everything to improve it and you have the funds and open mind to try them I’d highly recommend it! One of the suggestions was Vitamin D – though we’re so lucky to live in such a glorious part of the world, one thing we don’t see enough of is the sun. If you notice your mood lowers in winter and your energy can dip dramatically then Vitamin D could be worth investigating.

Enjoying some natural Vitamin D

Finding support

Low mood, worrying, stress and mood swings are just some of the side-effects of the modern age and can make us feel quite alone, many of us ‘don’t like to worry’ friends or family and consequently live without the support we need. If you feel you’re one of those people then why not pop in to see me or one of my lovely colleagues at Mind Pembrokeshire, we’re open every day and very happy to chat. 

Lydia and the Mind Pembrokeshire team taking time out on the Pembrokeshire coast

Nowadays we’re all so busy, taking the time to look after ourselves can feel like a luxury, I think it’s important for us to change the way we think about this. It’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. If we didn’t do any maintenance on our garden, would we expect it to be healthy and to thrive? We’d have to admit that we hadn’t maintained it and to get it back would take considerable effort. If we tend to ourselves regularly we don’t then have to muster up the energy and enthusiasm to ‘sort it out’ at a later point. Think of it as an investment…

Things I feel are essential to sustain a positive level of wellbeing

Some things I do to keep myself feeling good include:

  • Having something planned to look forward to – it needn’t be expensive, if I’m not feeling flash with cash then I’ll email an invite to myself and my husband to come to a yoga retreat on the weekend at our house. I cook something different, do a little yoga and it feels special because we got invited!
  • Developing a ‘uniform’ or ‘recipe’ for my outfits during working hours, now I don’t have to think about clothes at 7:00 in the morning and I can ‘get creative’ with outfits on the weekend and actually enjoy it!
  • Extending an open invitation to my closest friends to join us for supper on a Thursday night, we rotate who cooks and it makes every Thursday a treat!
  • I finish off every day with a bedtime story from the Calm app – it’s worth every penny to have Matthew McConaughey in my room every night 😉

Many thanks to Lydia for taking the time to share her personal experience about physical and mental health with the west Wales community. We hope these stories will provide you with food for thought and inspiration to take positive action for your own wellbeing.

If you are affected by any of the issues raised in The Smile Files interviews please click below for mental health support services in the UK and Wales

About The Smile Files

It’s a common misconception that those living a ‘happy life’ have been rewarded in some way. A large section of society experiences some form of physical or mental health challenge during their lifetime and we are keen to show our readers (via interviews with individuals and business leaders), that we ALL have the ability to manage and improve our wellbeing, through choices about how we think and the things we do.

We hope these stories provide food for thought and inspiration to instigate positive action in your own life.

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