December 7, 2017

Here's How To Make 2018 Your Best Year Ever

As 2017 closes, a new year is set before us. Like a new chapter in your favorite novel, 2018 dawns, and you are likely thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Look at the year as a new start, and no matter how the last year has gone, there may be things you can set your mind to which will benefit your life. In this article, we will give you a few resolutions you can add to the list, but be sure to take the time to look at all the different areas in your life, and plan improvements where they are needed.

Change your diet
After Christmas, you will be desperate to start eating healthier, what with all the turkey, chocolate, and alcohol you may be consuming. Cutting back on the calories is a lifestyle change we all need to make, because as well as losing weight (if that’s important to you), you will feel better in your day to day living. So, cut back on junk food, ditch the processed meals, and find healthy recipes which are of higher nutritional value.

Learn a new skill
Is there something you have always wanted to learn? From playing the piano to learning to drive, make this the year when you finally get round to picking up a new skill. Life is too short to put off learning for another year, and procrastination will literally never get you anywhere.

Plan a holiday
Holidays can be expensive, but it would be a shame if you had to sit surrounded by the four walls of your house all year round. You can get some good deals abroad if you book early, or you could consider an outdoors adventure with the options provided by Campsmart. Taking a holiday is a great way to unwind, so this is something you need to stick in your year’s itinerary.

Have more fun
All work and no play will make Jack (and Jill) very dull people, so remember to set aside plenty of time to have more fun in your life. There are some ideas here to get your mind thinking, and remember to involve all the important people in your life into your fun activities. Having fun is subjective, but think about all the things you used to love doing before life got in the way, and spend time doing them again.

Broaden your mind
Don’t just write ‘broaden your mind’ on your list, but focus on specific activities that will prompt you to get motivated. The way you do this is up to you, but you may consider adding more books to your reading list, learning a new fact a day on Ted Talks, or visiting new places. We can live a blinkered life sometimes, but gaining new perspectives and learning new tidbits of knowledge will shape your way of thinking.

Practice gratitude
Basically, we need to try to stop moaning about our lives. While it's true that there are always things that will get us down, there are always things to be thankful for. Perhaps you have supportive family around you, or friends you can turn to in the good times and the bad? You may not like your job, but be grateful you do have one. Make a list of all the things you are grateful for, and make a conscious effort to remind yourself of them each day.

Exercise more
You knew this was coming, didn’t you? This is the traditional resolution people make, though starting at the beginning of a new year can be a bad idea. It is cold outside after all. Still, you can exercise at home if the weather upends your jogging plans, or you could join a local gym or sports club. Be sure to do something you enjoy too. Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore, so joining a dance class or taking up bike riding may be just the thing to motivate you into keeping fit.

Get in touch with people
There will be people you see everyday, and people that you only see on rare occasions. Get in touch with those folks who have grown distant and rekindle old relationships. Picking up the phone is a start, but making an effort to visit them may make both your days. It’s natural to lose touch with people over time, but it would be a shame to lose a friend because you can’t be bothered, or ‘don’t have the time’ to contact them.

Be charitable
Our world is full of people who are only content to take from others, but we have very few willing to give their time or money. So, don’t be a taker, be a giver. You could pick a charity close to your heart and make a monthly donation. Or you can go the next step and actively involve yourself in a charity near to you. From food banks to homeless shelters, you may be in the position to help others. This will benefit you as well. By giving, you will be making a difference in the world, finding those opportunities where you can change someone’s life for the better. It only takes one person to make a difference, and that person could be you.

Cut out bad habits
Another popular resolution, but one that people break all too easily. Smoking, drinking too much, eating junk food, being lazy...these bad habits are dangerous to your health. If you are struggling to give up a bad habit, consider visiting a counselor to gain some useful strategies, or even attend a self-help group. If you do fall back into bad habits, you don’t have to wait until the start of 2019 to start again. Begin today, and your health will improve as a result.

Bottom line
These are only a few examples, but they will improve your year if you add them to your list. However, there are bound to be a few more worth adding, so take stock of the year gone and contemplate ways to make next year even better. We hope you have a fantastic 2018!

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

The Emotional Power of Giving

There’s an ancient Chinese proverb that says:

If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap.
If you want happiness for a day, go fishing.
If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune.
If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody."

There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that “giving” is beneficial to both the recipient and the ‘giver’... but today, scientific research is providing compelling insight to support the notion that giving, whether this be in the context of time, money, or talent is a powerful way to find purpose, fulfillment and meaning in life.

This power of giving can be particularly helpful when people face emotional difficulties, as it shifts the focus from internal to external.  When the the focus is internal, we often ruminate, and get lost in the windmills of our mind where we mull things over and over which exacerbates any anxiety we feel.  

Whereas, when the focus shifts to being outside of ourselves we are able to gain some perspective and clarity, moreover when we give to another we receive the gift of increased self-esteem, pride and self-worth.  When we help another, we feel we have the power to make a difference, and this empowered feeling is quite the opposite to the stale impotence one often feels when facing seemingly insurmountable difficulties that keep us trapped in our own mind.

Indeed, many psychologists working in the areas of suicide intervention and prevention recommend a key step is to get people ‘outside of themselves’ and shift their focus from internal to external.  Often, they recommend the person facing difficulties does something altruistic that creates value -- such as sweeping an elderly neighbors' driveway.  These random acts of kindness are known to create a more positive affect in the giver than the receiver.

The idea of altruism having a similar effect to a runner’s high, known as the “helper’s high”, has been around for at least twenty years; a variety of psychological studies have reported people helping another report a feeling of being more strong, energetic, and happy -- they get an endorphin rush similar to the endorphin rise experienced from a person running.

This article looks at several ways you can activate this principle and reap the emotional rewards of ‘giving’ to others:

“Giving” isn’t restricted to acts of service such as sweeping your neighbor’s drive, or giving money to someone in need -- it can be as simple as giving someone a heartfelt compliment at the grocery store; taking the time to “see” that person and take an interest in their world.  

Today, we are all so busy that our interactions are often transactional to the point we lose sight of the person behind the interaction.  In taking an interest in the person you are giving a powerful gift; one of connection and making that person feel significant and valued enough to have an interest taken in their life.  The power of remembering someone’s name, or something they are doing can be a fantastic way to build rapport -- and, again, it gives the recipient a sense of feeling important; not in an egotistical way, but in a way they feel like they matter.  In a world where so many people suffer with low self-esteem, helping a person to feel like they matter is a very powerful gift you can offer…yet, out of our own shyness or insecurity we often restrict what we say, in order to protect ourselves from the potential rejection of giving a compliment that lands in an uncomfortable way.

Indeed, one has to be mindful of the notion that giving a compliment or taking a significant interest in the person you are talking to could be perceived as either flirtatious or as a thinly veiled attempt of getting something you want from that person.

Simply showing appreciation via words or a simple gift can have a profound effect on a person.  We are all emotional creatures and the best reward we can get is an emotional reward that makes us feel appreciated, empowered, respected, valued and important.  Think of the sacrifice a service-person makes; in fact, take a look here, as these simple gestures of bespoke military coins offers a physical token of gratitude and respect for what that person is doing for their country. Appreciation isn’t restricted to those saving lives though; appreciating your partner for cooking dinner or picking up the dry cleaning lifts that person.  We all want to feel valued and respected; rather than taken for granted and unappreciated.  Find ways to appreciate the little things and your life will become much richer.

Taking an interest in other people’s significant life events, whether that’s a celebration of something like an engagement or a condolence of something like a death in the family - people like to feel connected and valued with others; sending flowers, as an example, is a great token to just let people know their life matters just as much as your own.

World Kindness Day, which falls on November 13th every year, encourages people to go out and deliver at least one random act of kindness.  A random act of kindness is something simple, and often anonymous, whereby the giver isn’t expecting anything in return… no recognition, no applause, no reward.  They are acting from a place of pure giving.  The student who holds the door open for a teacher with her hands full of books… the train passenger that offers their seat to an elderly passenger… the checkout girl that makes sure she compliments every single customer she sees or just takes a genuine interest in their wellbeing.  

The movement of random acts of kindness is founded on the principle that kindness can change the world.  Go out today, and find just a few ways you can engage in a random act of kindness; whether that’s donating clothes, food & supplies to homeless shelters, volunteering at a youth organization or simply giving your time for an old person that is clearly lonely and would like someone to talk to.

Remember, the “secret to living is giving!” 

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 6, 2017

Lifestyle Changes

I think we can all admit there are a few lifestyle changes that we need to make. Whenever anyone thinks of lifestyle changes, they automatically assume it means diet and fitness. While that is a huge part, it doesn’t necessarily mean just those two. To have a healthy lifestyle you need to take the whole picture into account. It might be the fact that you only get 5 hours of sleep each night because you’re too much watching TV or on your phone. It could be that you’re in a really unhealthy relationship that is damaging you as a whole. But for this article, we are mainly going to focus on your health, and how changes to your diet can change your overall level of health.

Most everyone is partial to a takeaway once a week. Cooking can just be so much effort after a hard day at work. But a lot of people turn this takeaway into twice a week, or they’ll cook the quick & easy chicken nuggets and french fries because cooking anything more is just too much effort. But this poorly balanced diet is going to be doing your body so much harm, even if it is making you happy at the time. Do you ever feel really sluggish after a takeaway? Well, that's because your body is struggling to digest what you’ve just put in it, plus you’re not really gaining any nutrients from it. If you’re looking to improve your overall health, then diet really is key.

People who stick to clean eating say they feel more awake, have more energy, and have much better sleeping patterns. This is all because they’re fueling their bodies with what they actually need. If you eat a well balanced diet, and cut out at least half the amount of saturated fats and sugars than you previously consumed, we can guarantee you’ll have so much more energy within days. Supplements are also great for giving your body those extra vitamins and minerals that they so desperately need. A natural health store will sell everything you need in terms of vitamin supplements. Different ones do different things, so do your research beforehand and make sure you’re getting the right one for you.

If you want to improve your diet, but feel like you don’t have enough time to cook healthy foods, you need to stop fooling yourself. You can batch cook healthy lunches that’ll really boost you for the rest of the day. Chicken, brown rice or pasta, and vegetables are a bodybuilders favorite meal prep idea. However, you can also use tasty meats such as flat steak or chicken. Cook a few days worth of meats & vegetables and leave them in the fridge. Then each night all you have to do is put a pot of pasta or rice on while you’re cooking your dinner. Start the day off right with something nutritious such as oatmeal, or poached eggs on toast and you’ll definitely have enough energy to make a healthy dinner. Staying hydrated throughout the day is also essential if you want to maintain your energy levels.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 4, 2017

Reasons to Consider an Experience Gift This Christmas

As Christmas edges closer, you're probably in the midst of doing your gift shopping. With every year that passes by, it seems that it gets more and more difficult. You don’t want to buy someone a clich├ęd gift, which they are likely to have received time and time before. But equally, you want to make sure they are going to like what you have chosen for them. Why not consider an experience gift instead? Here are some of the benefits…

  • Give someone a memory they can cherish forever – Materialistic gifts provide short-term entertainment, but experiences last for a lifetime. You will give someone a memory that they can cherish forever, and this point alone is reason enough to consider an experience as a gift.

  • It’s thoughtful – You will certainly make a good impression if you give someone an experience they can enjoy for Christmas. After all, it shows that a lot of thought has gone into the gift and that you wanted to get them something special.

  • The options are endless – There is something for everyone when it comes to experience gifts. From wine tasting to a luxury car experience, you are bound to find something that suits the recipient. You can find some inspiration here: If you’re not sure what type of experience or event to book, why not give them a voucher? There are many companies available nowadays that offer a wide range of experiences. All the person needs to do is call up to redeem their voucher and pick an event that is suitable for them.

  • You can get creative – You don’t need to book a trip or gift a voucher in order to give someone an amazing experience. Why not bring the experience to them? If your grandparents are elderly and they cannot leave the house, bring them an afternoon tea set. They can enjoy their scones and cream tea together without having to go to a tearoom. Or, why not put together an adventure gift set? You can find all of the things required for a camping trip at After all, it’s likely that people will want to sort the finer details of a camping trip themselves. However, by giving them the equipment required, you ensure they have everything they need for an amazing experience.

  • You may benefit too – Of course, there is the benefit that you may get to enjoy the experience with the recipient. If it is an experience for more than one person, there is a very high chance that they will pick you to go along with them.

  • It gives the recipient something to look forward to – Once all the presents have been opened, the excitement isn’t over for your loved one, as they have an experience to look forward to!

As you can see, there are many reasons to consider an experience gift for someone you love this Christmas. After all, isn’t giving someone the gift of an amazing memory the best present of all? You never know, they may even want to share the experience with you!

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

December 1, 2017

Struggling To Find The Christmas Spirit? Here’s Ho, Ho, How!

snow holiday christmas laugh santa hat snowman funny wink smiley computer wallpaper
image Let’s make December a delight.

December is now underway and, whether you like it or not, Christmas 2017 is fast approaching. So if you’re struggling to get yourself in the spirit, now is the time to make a conscious effort to inspire some festive cheer. After all, nobody like a Grinch.

If you’re currently feeling the winter blues, Christmas cheer probably sees a million miles away. However, these five simple steps will put you on the right track. What are you waiting for? Let’s get to work.

Start at work. If there’s only one location where the festive cheer will transform atmospheres for the better, it’s the workplace. For employers, generating a Christmassy spirit can work wonders for morale and productivity. Even as a multicultural society, we can celebrate the happiness without getting too religious. If you’re an employee, simply wearing a jumper can serve as a reminder that you’ll soon have some time off. If that doesn’t raise a smile, will anything?

Do your shopping. The thought of going out to buy presents on Christmas Eve is enough to drain anyone’s enthusiasm. Finding the ideal gifts for loved ones isn’t always easy. Thankfully, this simple gift guide should help you discover some of the best items this year. Alternatively, you could just ask recipients for some suggestions. Either way, completing this task will allow you to relax, and this will inevitably build a far greater festive atmosphere.
image You’ll never relax until it’s done.

Explore your town. By now, there’s a good chance that your town/city/village has installed it’s Christmas decorations. Likewise, the most eager families will have their homes looking all sparkly. Taking a drive around the local area should help put you in the right mood. Meanwhile, winter walks through the snow are sure to have a positive influence. With cafes and shops focusing on the festive season too, simply learning to enjoy life is the best thing you can do.

Buy festive accessories. Even if you think it’s a little early to get the tree out, there’s nothing wrong with getting in the spirit with a few simple products. Festive jewelry and hair accessories are a great starting point. Meanwhile, you can learn more about primping your smartphone with a Christmassy flavor. Familiarity and a little consumerism go a long way to affecting your mindset and mentality. You needn’t spend big money, and those small gestures are sure to be met with positive reactions too.

Give back. As we get a little older and wiser, we realize that giving is better than receiving. Playing an active role in that community spirit can also get you ready for the festivities too. Whether it’s helping out at a homeless center or donating toys to children suffering hardships is up to you. In addition to the emotional satisfaction, those activities can bring your family closer together. Quite frankly, that’s the key ingredient of the Christmas spirit and will bring huge joy.

The festive season only arrives once a year while there’s no point in trying to escape it either. As such, you might as well enjoy it.

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.

November 30, 2017

Facing Up To Stress

Life is one big stressful mess. Well, not for everyone, but at some point during the course of our lives we all encounter stress. Work stress, family stress, social stress; you name it, you can encounter it. Stress happens to all of us, but you can’t really avoid your job, family or paying the bills, so it’s something you must learn to manage rather than run away from. Stress management will differ for everyone and the level of stress you encounter will also be different for you. Everyone handles stress differently, but there’s one thing we all have in common when it comes to stress, and that is how we wear it.

Stress marches across our faces because we frown. We have different emotions that invoke different facial expressions and those expressions eventually wear into our skin. Stress shows up on our weight, our skin, our hair and our nails, and it’s important to recognize what stress does to your appearance so that you can combat it before it has a chance to truly take over. Businesses like Cosmetic Laser Dermatology make it their mission to help those who are wearing the effects of stress by reducing the physical appearance of stress on your face. You want your face to stay as fresh for as long as possible, and if you can recognize these signs of stress you can also learn what to do about it.

Bags Under The Eyes
One of the first places you can wear your stress is under your eyes. Stress affects your sleep patterns in a big way, as the stuff you have to get done for both family and work can cause insomnia. If you’re not getting enough beauty sleep, fluid can pool beneath your eyes and collect into bags. This leaves you with a puffy mess under the bottom eyelids and when you’re trying to conceal how stressed you are, this becomes increasingly difficult! Getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night can help you to reduce the puffiness, and you should start avoiding bringing your smartphone to bed with you. Keep electronics out of your sleep space, and there are plenty of studies like the ones you can read here to tell you why! Cucumbers under the eyelids, wet and cold teabags and cold metal spoons are all there to help reduce swelling under your eyes, so get creative!

Yellowed, Bloodshot Eyes
Your eyes can tell a lot about you, and it’s not just about the bags we mentioned earlier. Your eyeballs should be bright white and clear, and it’s a good indicator of health if they’re not. Bloodshot eyes are an obvious sign that you are burning the midnight oil and not sleeping very well, and yellowed or dull eye whites can show you to be dehydrated and exhausted. If your eyeballs are yellow, heading to the doctor to check on your liver function wouldn’t be a bad idea! Keeping well hydrated and ensuring you’re not spending hours every night staring at a screen can lessen the bloodshot cracks in your eyes.

Dry Skin – Watch It Flake
Stress doesn’t just affect your eyes. Your skin type can change with the simplest of life changes and stress is the biggest out there. When we are wound up by work and family, we tend to stop drinking as much water and we don’t do as well with our personal health. Stressful situations also push up our caffeine intake in a big way, so you will find yourself upping coffee and soda, which can have a harmful effect on your previously normal skin. If you aren’t staying well hydrated, you will find your skin drying up and flaking. Firstly, you need to keep drinking water, even when times get hard. Keep moisturizing your skin with a good serum and up your intake of water-filled fruits and vegetables.

Spotty Skin
This is going to depend on your usual skin type, but there is a chance that your skin could go the other way from being dry and flaky, and instead grease up and spark a spate of acne across your nose and cheeks. Skin issues flare up with hormone change in the body and with the disruption in balance between good and bad bacteria, spots tend to form. Doing meditation every day, even for ten minutes a day to alleviate some of the stress that you are feeling is the best thing you can do to stop your skin from changing dramatically with the stress in your life. Again, hydration is key for your skin and you need to do this with fruit, vegetables and a ton of water. Using a good concealer and having regular facials can help to lessen the burden your skin feels trying to keep up with how busy your life has become.

Blushing? Nope.
Did you know that stress can make your skin flare into a red hue? When we are stressed, we often forget to breathe properly and instead take shorter and more shallow breaths. You can even find yourself holding your breath. The key to reducing redness in your face is taking slow, deep breaths to bring some oxygen back into your face. Flushing under pressure is common, but it’s an absolute pain to cope with as you are practically wearing your emotions on your face and everyone can get a good look. It’s just not what you want to deal with, sometimes! There are makeup solutions like these that can help you to conceal the redness and nourish your skin all at the same time. Calming your skin and cancelling out any redness should be a priority to avoid embarrassment, and avoiding the stress in the first place can really help you there.

Your skin is going to be the first place you wear your stress, with your hair and nails following on soon after. Don’t let your skin show you up; manage your stress early and you can avoid showing the world you aren’t coping very well!

*This is a collaborative/contributed/partnered, compensated post. The copy, content, images & opinions are not my own.