Archive | July 2013

Happiness Weekly’s favourite STRESS-FREE websites


It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it. Hans Selye

This week Happiness Weekly is taking a bit of a back seat and looking at the great work others have done to promote stress remedies, as we celebrate Lifeline’s Stress Down day on Friday, 26 July. You can find out more information about stress down day here.

Before reaching for the Valium to assist in managing your stress, try checking out these websites (listed in no particular order) which promote very simple and mostly natural techniques for managing stress:

Website #1: Help org’s quick stress remedy
Why we love it: Help org recognises that different people respond to stress differently which means there’s no blanket solution. In recognising this, it offers various solutions – so you can pick your type and try some of the suggested remedies which should be perfect for you. The tips and tricks are also fantastic – not only are they detailed, but the ideas are original and informative.

Website #2: Oprah’s all-natural help with anxiety and stress
Why we love it: This website is great because it’s promoting natural ways to manage your stress – the suggestions are very cheap and easy to do, so they’re great for everyone. Then once you finish this slide show, it links to more pages with stress-solving solutions.

Website #3: Whole living: Stress relief your guided tour
Why we love it: This is a very practical website and focuses on some alternative techniques, such as Acupressure which is pressing points on your body to alleviate tension. Once again a lot of the remedies are very simple and natural.

Website #4: Sha Wellness Clinic: Anti-stress program
Why we love it: If you have the time and money, why not consider heading to Sha Wellness Clinic in Spain and take part in their seven day anti-stress program. Even if you decide you can’t do it or it’s not for you, the website is quite inspiring and the resort certainly looks like a peaceful place to be! For 1880 euros (excluding accommodation), this may be the break you need!

Website #5: Better Homes and Gardens: Superfoods for stress relief
Why we love it: Most of us know that fish is good for our brain development and mental health but who would have thought that there are a list of foods that can assist in reducing your stress? If you’re feeling stressed, maybe try adding these items to your grocery list for a couple of weeks!

Website #6: Entrepreneur: How to stop stressing in 60 seconds or less
Why we love it: These tips will take longer to read than to do and take effect. In a world where most people are time-poor these fantastic tips are easy to pick up and do anywhere – including at work. I particularly like the first tip which encourages some physical activity!

Website #7: 33 ways to reduce and prevent stress
Why we love it: Todd Smith does a fantastic job coming up with a big list of ideas for how you can reduce and prevent stress. He also discusses the various situations that may have caused our stress to begin with and how that can impact our lives. A very interesting post with extremely productive tips!

Website #8: Success: stop stressing yourself out
Why we love it: Many people make the mistake of stressing themselves out without realising it and this article brings it all to the forefront. It looks at things such as reading into things, trust, perfectionism, accountability and saying no. We can all learn a little lesson on this page!

Website #9: Body and Soul: 10 quick and quirky stress busters
Why we love it: Chew gum, get a cat, hum a tune… these are just some of the ideas Body and soul suggests to try and reduce your stress. Many of the focus on the idea of distraction, once you calm down to your rational self you will be better able to deal with the problem at hand.

Website #10: Advance life skills: 100 ways to overcome stress
Why we love it: We love this blog because it draws so much variety to how you can effectively manage your stress. This list is extremely practical and there’s no reason anyone can’t do the things on here. In fact, we’re going to give quite a few of these ideas shot and see how our life changes for the better! “Start every conversation with a positive thought” – imagine if everyone did that.

Don’t forget to donate to Lifeline and tell us your favourite website for managing stress.

Anti stress, stress relief, remedies, stress, stress relief remedies, stop stressing

How to change conversation and take control


A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet. Truman Capote

Our conversation influences a lot of the things around us – the type of friends we have, our jobs, the way people respond to us… and ultimately it affects who we are as people. Some of us have small talk down to a fine art, some can talk under water … others find conversation a little more challenging and there is nothing more awkward than being stuck in a conversation you don’t want to have! When things start going awry when talking to my partner one or other of us will go “We’re not talking about this!” and the conversation changes, like a switch. But sometimes we find ourselves in a situation (for example at work), where we can’t say that because people may go there anyway. This week Happiness Weekly looks at tactical ways you can take control of your conversation and subtly change the topic if need be.

Invite other people into the conversation
A skilful way to dodge a sticky conversation is to invite other people in by asking for their opinion – this will take the focus off you. You can also be subtle by speaking a little louder so others can over hear you and jump in regardless of the invitation. If you can’t take it off topic, someone else is bound to eventually! As soon as it starts veering off topic, the person that originally started the conversation may leave or zone out, try to ensure it stays on the new topic but also try to include the original person by asking their thoughts as well – this assists in not making you appear disinterested in talking to them directly.

Link the conversation back
If the conversation is heading towards a topic you don’t know much about or something that is making you feel uncomfortable you can acknowledge where that person is going and steer it back to a previous conversation you had. For example: “I love chocolate, but when I lost all my weight recently I just found it gave me so much confidence”.

Word association
Sometimes it can be as simple as picking up on a single word the person has used and using active listening you can subtly change the topic. For example, someone starts talking about their dream car and they say it’s red and if they give one more detail you’ll be asleep – you could say: “Well, they say red goes faster! Actually, I had these sneakers a couple of years ago that had red on them, and I could have sworn they helped me run faster!” Run! RUN!!!

Politicians are really good at this one. When someone asks a question, they instantly start talking about whatever they want to lead the conversation in that direction – regardless of if it has any relevance to the topic or not. A more subtle way to deflect a conversation is to vaguely state your opinion (so you’ve semi-satisfied the person), and then lead the conversation in a different direction by talking about something positive to do with the same topic or something very closely linked to the topic “A great example of this was when the same situation happened at Stanford University and the way they handled it!”

Use the art of small talk
If you are skilled in the art of small talk – better than being able to subtly change the topic – why not just start a new conversation all together? Some ideas include:
* Talking about something you have in common (even if it’s the place where you are at the moment)
* Comment on a topic of general interest (the Royal baby appears to be a hit at the moment!)
* Ask an open-ended question
* Ask a follow up question or offer your own response to your question leading off topic
* Inspire them to share their thoughts or their story
* Share lessons that you have learned

Start a conversation
Starting a conversation can be awkward, depending on the context of our situation. While looking on the internet to gather research for my article, I found these fantastic cards! They sound like a really great way to assist your dinner party or next function into a whole new level of interesting conversation and laughter.

Not so subtle ways to change the conversation

Flattery will get you … somewhere
Complimenting people will generally change the mood in sticky situations however, it may not be very subtle if the conversation is getting a little rough and you say “I really like your tie”. It can help them forget an issue that had them up in arms a few moments ago or soften them towards you – but also prepare for rejection. Some people are just hard to please, no matter what you see. Others may just see through this tactic! A more subtle way of using the flattery tactic to change the topic is to ask the person how they found out so much about the topic at hand – hopefully it leads them to talk about a fond memory or experience and abandon the current awkward conversation!

Excuse yourself
Sometimes it’s easier just to get out of the situation all together. Come back to it at a later time. The easiest way to do this may be to excuse yourself whether it be short term (for example going to the bathroom to regroup) or long-term (for example feeling sick and going home to reassess your thoughts). The trick is to change the topic upon your return – so while you take a moment to recharge, think of a positive direction you can take the conversation. The problem with excusing yourself is that is can make you appear guilty or vulnerable.

Do you have any tricky ways to change a topic of conversation? Share them below!

How to be inspired


If we look at the world with a love of life, the world will reveal its beauty to us. Daisaku Ikeda

People often ask me how I get inspired to write my blog posts – how do I always have a topic to address? Where do I find my inspiration? How do I know what people want to read? The truth is, my instincts tell me.

I have a basic plan that I follow throughout the year which prevents me from getting “writers block”, and I sometimes blog a couple of weeks ahead to ensure I fulfil my commitment of a blog a week – after all, it is Happiness Weekly! But my inspiration comes from living my daily life. If something comes up professionally or personally that I have learnt from, particularly any big lessons, then I will share that instead of going ahead with the planned blog. I keep my ear out and my heart on my sleeve – generally if I’m passionate about it and it’s something I am feeling at the time, it comes through my writing.

But it’s not just writing. Often when we’re depressed or feeling out of sorts, we can spend long periods of time at home, lounging around or in bed. This week Happiness Weekly looks at how you can be inspired to get up and go every day!

1. Have something to look forward to
Often when things become routine they can also become a bit boring or demotivating and we start to drop off as our passion for something we may have once enjoyed, also dims. Whether it’s a job, going to the gym, or even catching up with our partner – our feelings for things are always changing. The way to resolve this problem effectively is to always have something to look forward to. If it’s work getting you down – set up a lunch with a colleague you enjoy spending time with or find a local walk you enjoy that you could only do by working in your location or find a boutique shop nearby that you enjoy going to and go during your lunch break; if it’s the gym, perhaps scheduling a reward after you go to the gym, or mix up your routine to keep it interesting … or just weigh yourself – it generally works for me! And if you’re having a lull with your partner, don’t threat – we all do! Why not plan a nice date night out – often people forget how great it feels to dress up really nicely and enjoy the company of our favourite person in the world. Spice things up. Go away for a weekend. Instead of rejecting your partner, as many of us do during those lulls, encourage them to come closer – the hug and kiss at the end of the night make everything worth it!

2. Remind yourself why it’s important to do what you’re doing
Sometimes, no matter how much I enjoy my job, I find myself dragging my feet to work. Maybe I feel I have too much on my plate and I’m burdened; maybe I disappointed a colleague the day before and I’m scared of repercussions… I have done two things to prevent this from happening. First of all, I have made a promise to myself to look forward to every day no matter what – because each day is a gift, not a right (thank you, Nickelback!) and secondly, I remind myself how lucky I am to have a job in the first place. I look at everything I have, the bills I’m paying, the clothes on my back … and no matter how hard everything feels, I realise how fortunate I am to have this role and I continue to promise myself to do the best I can in that role every day that I am there. If this positive thinking isn’t helping, go with your negativity – what would it be like without this role? Have you ever been unemployed? Speak to someone who doesn’t have a full time role at the moment who is seeking work and believe me, it will be a ten minute conversation before you’re appreciating what you have again! Nothing is more depressing than not having a purpose to get out of bed each morning.

3. Know what you want
As outlined above, sometimes in order to be inspired, you need to dig a little deep into what is really bothering you and find out what you really want from your situation. Spend a weekend once every few months to reassess what you really want out of life. What is your motivation, your ambition, your purpose for being on earth. Start planning how you will chase your dream – even if you only start with a course or trying something slightly new, the only thing holding you back from getting what you want is you.

4. Find out what others want
If you’re looking to be inspired, and you’re completely directionless with your life – you’re not alone! You can resolve this by simply finding out what other people want from their lives. Ask a few friends about their interests and passions. Once you have this information you can have a look through it and take the ideas that you like and disregard the ideas that don’t resonate with you as much. I always find that finding various ways that I may be able to inspire others also helps to inspire me.

5. Fill the voids
Have you ever got that feeling where you have so much … STUFF … in your life but you feel completely empty? Like nothing you have is anything you want or need? And then it’s hard to know what to do next … we can’t have a garage sale with our life! You need to stop filling your life up with things and start looking for the voids and finding what you can do to satisfy these areas in your life. Soul searching is required and it may be exhausting – if you need help, a good psychologist or life coach is recommended.

6. Write it down
I must drive you all crazy with the amount of things I say to write down. Maybe it’s because I enjoy writing lists (as some of you may have noticed?) – but by writing down the things that inspire you, you have a tangible list to refer back to. Then if you’re feeling lost or stuck for inspiration at a later date, you can refer back to it again.

7. Take photos/screenshots
When you find something that inspires or motivates you, take a screenshot or photo of it. If it makes you laugh, take a video on your phone – post it to your Facebook page – trust me, you will still find yourself laughing when you look back in time to come. If you appreciate something now, you may well appreciate it later. By taking a photo or screenshot of something that inspires us, it makes our feelings towards that thing more vivid – it takes us back to the time when the photo was taken and draws us into the picture, that’s what photography can be so powerful.

8. Talk to people and LISTEN
Talking to people can generally involve listening to their thoughts and feelings about certain things, but if you listen really hard, you can build on that for yourself. Similar to trying to find out what others want, you can draw your inspiration from everyday conversation – the same way you can drop something you’ve been working on and pick it up a week later with a fresh perspective to create it into something better. This is actually a powerful one – it is mainly through talking to people and really listening to what they have to say that I am mostly inspired for my Happiness Weekly blogs! Let’s hope people still talk to me once they read this…!

Other ways to be inspired include: getting back to nature – taking a walk or going camping, calling a friend, reading something, listening to music, smelling something, listening to an expert, reading, exercising, eating something, meditating, free-writing, doing something different or trying something new, reading a biography, interviewing someone you admire, watching something interesting or different on television, search for more ideas on the internet…

8 ways to avoid the negatives in life – or at least not make them worse


I think it’s important to get your surroundings as well as yourself into a positive state – meaning surround yourself with positive people, not the kind who are negative and jealous of everything you do. Heidi Klum

Sometimes life can seem full of negatives with an abundance of obstacles and challenges and it can become quite overwhelming. In these situations, a lot of people subconsciously spread the stress and burden into other areas of their lives unnecessarily. For example, after a tough day at work you may return home tired and feeling pressure when you pick a fight with your partner or children because they haven’t done something exactly as you asked. This week, Happiness Weekly looks as how you can avoid the negatives in your life or at least not make them worse.

It’s undeniable that negativity is toxic – whether it’s a person who is negative or a situation in your life that is negative and causing you to respond and feel negative. It’s important to desensitise from the world’s negatives and try to isolate these events, people or areas of your life so they don’t infect the positive areas. It is when we repeatedly fall in the trap of letting one negative that could have been isolated affect every other part of our lives that we become consumed with darkness, loneliness and fall into a rut as all the positive and beautiful things and people around us fall away. By identifying and isolating the negative area or person in ourselves, we are empowered to change what happens to us next.

1. Identify the area that is causing upset, hurt or concern
If you sense darkness is upon you, your instinct is probably right. It may be a misunderstanding with someone that doesn’t feel right or a situation that is bringing you down – whatever it is, it’s important to stop and identify what it is. Once you know what it is, while you are on your own, consider what you will do to fix the situation to ensure you feel better as quickly as possible. Use this negative you wish to avoid to set goals to change your focus, empower yourself to move forward and start achieving the things you want.

2. If they seem bad, they probably are
Unfortunately toxic people do exist and they can be male or female. These are the people who add stress to your life unnecessarily: maybe they’re conniving, they can’t keep confidences, they lie, they backstab, they cheat and ask you to cover for them… it’s best to cut these people from your life right now – delete their number, block them on Facebook, avoid them where ever possible. You don’t need these people in your life and without them you will feel significantly lighter.

3. Make a positive friend or lover
Invite someone into your life who will support you and encourage you to grow. Ensure they have your best intentions at heart. Whenever you’re in doubt, turn to this person and let them shower you with their positive affirmations and offer some solutions and guidance towards your problems. In every situation you always have choices, sometimes when we’re bogged down with negatives we can be blind to see them and it’s these people who can point out the alternatives for us.

4. Be true to yourself
When everything is getting you down, focus on the things you can do and the goals you can achieve, don’t assume things you don’t know. Separate yourself from the negatives by accepting them and isolating them in that space. My thought patterns tend to go “Ahhh, that’s bad – but at least I have this or that!” Focus on what you do have and be grateful for that.

5. Watch your communication with others
Don’t give anyone ammunition against you. Watch how you treat others and always communicate with kindness. Verbal communication such as tone and choice of words combined with non-verbal communication such as body language and the way we do things are a key component for this. If you don’t want to upset anyone, be careful what you say and how you do things – if it’s not kind, then don’t speak or act.

6. Do something nice for yourself
After a hard day in the office, do something nice for yourself. Self-soothing exercises will ensure you feel valued and will also help you unwind from spreading any negativity for others. Be strong in your direction, know your values and goals and go forward with confidence. If your nice to yourself, inwards, generally you will also be nice to others, outwards.

7. Go forward with acceptance and confidence
When someone treats you unfairly – accept that you have no control over what they have said or done, but go forward with confidence in what you are doing and the goals you have set for yourself. Realise there is more ahead in your life plan than the current scenario and keep on your path, don’t let others and their circumstances throw you off.

8. Assess your options and take control
We always have choices. When something negative happens or someone is negative to us, we can either take control of the situation and change it or we can assess our options and change ourselves or our circumstances to move us away from the negativity. It’s important to acknowledge that we always have some level of control that we can empower ourselves with.

How do you avoid the negatives in your life?

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