Making The Best Of A Bad Situation.

Credit: My Mind Porm

We’ve all been there. Having a bad time at work? Missing someone that you won’t see for a while? Going through a difficult breakup? When you’re feeling low and the weeks ahead look bleak,  it can feel like there’s nothing to be happy about. We get ready to trudge through the up and coming days, determined to rush and get it all over and done with, but with a change of perspective it’s possible to power through and, dare I say it, even enjoy the rough patch approaching. So, without further ado, here are five tips to help you do what needs to be done:

Focus – the most important thing to remember is that all things must pass. Life might seem bad at the moment, but in a few weeks, even months, whatever it is will be over. Time cannot stand still and so inevitably, things will get better.

Angles – think about what it is that’s getting you down. Is it possible to alter your perspective? Look at the next month of your life as a challenge. If you can get through this, you can do anything! Assert your strength by summoning your own positivity.

Excitement – Nothing fun approaching? Create your own fun! Make plans with friends and organise a party or night out. Filling up your social calendar is an excellent way to, not only pass the time, but also to enjoy it. On the other hand, you don’t need to be a social butterfly to find something to look forward to. Read one of the books you’ve been meaning to get into for months, or crack on with that Netflix series everyone is talking about. Even the promise of feasting on a favourite meal can be the small glimmer of light that we need to get through those more difficult days.

Enjoy –  When we’re stuck in life it’s important to savour rare moments of happiness. The activities are intended as a distraction, but they are also moments that are passing you by. Don’t spend your time dwelling on the bad things. It’s not enough to simply make plans, you have to actually enjoy them. Whatever you’re doing, do it properly. If you’re out with friends, don’t sit in the background, engage in conversation – after all, time flies when you’re having fun.

Action – sometimes it isn’t just a rough patch, it’s a rough year, or even longer. If times have been testing it’s best to assess the situation and deal with it. Ongoing stress and misery can lead to poor health and a host of other emotional problems and that usually means it’s time to make a change. You need to do whatever it takes to make the sun come out again and that means putting yourself first.

Accepting that the future isn’t bright can feel like admitting defeat, but it’s actually a great time to test yourself. By taking a difficult week/month and turning it into a more enjoyable one we allow ourselves to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and better yet, realise that maybe we’re not in such a rush to reach that glow after all.

Words by Erin Voysey

Post Pals: Letters Of Love.

Credit: Post Pals.

One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to be more charitable. I know this is something I should always be thinking about, but I have decided this year to make more of a conscious effort to send more positive vibes out into the universe and try to do little things to make people happy and to really make a difference.

A charity that I heard about whilst at University, that I have made numerous cards for over the years and which I think is a really great cause, is Post Pals. Post Pals is a UK charity that helps children aged 3 – 17 who are extremely ill and in need of support, and also helps the siblings of these children who also struggle with their brother or sister being unwell.

Credit: Post Pals.

If you visit the website ( you can see all the children that the charity help, and there is a page which features those that are especially ill and are currently in hospital and need extra support. As the name suggests, volunteers send post to whichever of the children they wish to. You can write a letter, make a card, write a poem or a story, or send little gifts. The website contains guidelines for writing post if you are unsure of what to say, and there is information on what the children like such as their favourite colour or cartoons so it is easy to make something that will be special and personal to them.

This charity is so nice because it is so easy to help make the day of a child’s life just a little better. If you like arts and crafts (even if you’re not amazing at art, it really doesn’t matter, anything you send will be appreciated!) then this is something that will be perfect to contribute to. For example, I spent a fun afternoon in December watching films and making Christmas cards for those children that were in hospital and going through an especially tough time.

Credit: Post Pals.

It’s so easy to do something special like this, and being creative is such a fun activity that just making a card for a child definitely benefits both of you. The father of one of the girls I made a Christmas card for got in touch in the New Year and informed me that she was out of hospital and doing well, and it made me so happy to hear that she was doing better.

You can also donate to the charity to help fund things like days out for the families, but posting a little something special is more than enough to make a difference and make a child smile!

Words by Ally McLaren

Self-Love On Valentine’s Day.

Credit: Collective Evolution

The idea behind Valentine’s Day, a day to celebrate love, is actually really nice. Yet it seems like in modern day society it has just turned into a day for couples to throw their love in everybody’s faces all over social media, for brands and companies to sell specialised gifts, and for people who are single to feel especially bad about themselves. It really shouldn’t be that way, because couples who love each other should tell each other all the time and Valentine’s Day shouldn’t even be such a big deal. But it is hard not to feel lonely when all you have thrust upon you is other people professing their love for one another and talking about romantic getaways, and it doesn’t help when you’re binge-watching TV and all the adverts are about buying something special for the Valentine that you do not have.

This year I am just hanging out with my friends and ordering a pizza (coincidentally the most romantic thing I’ve ever done on Valentine’s Day was attempt to make a pizza in the shape of a heart which ended up looking more like a blob, because I truly associate pizza and love). Because if Valentine’s Day is all about showing your love for someone, why can’t that someone be your friends or family or (most importantly) yourself?

If you’re super in love with your friends and hang out with them all the time and they’re basically like your significant other then why not spend Valentine’s Day with them? You can still literally ‘Netflix and chill’ the night away, order your favourite food, drink wine and talk about how much you love each other. If you’re really dedicated to the Friend-Valentine’s idea you could even get each other cards and little gifts, or buy a bunch of heart shaped chocolates and devour them together. You can even go out to a restaurant and have dinner, or plan another fun date activity – you can have just as much fun and maybe even more doing these things in a friendship group!

A day to express all kinds of love is also a wonderful time to show yourself some love. Instead of wishing that you had somebody to buy you something special, why not think of what you’d want to receive from someone else and buy it for yourself? It might not be exactly the same but having something that you want is always going to make you happy. You can make your favourite food, buy a yummy dessert, watch your favourite film and have a pamper day and treat yourself to all your favourite things. This is also the time to throw some compliments at yourself and remind yourself that you’re a fabulous person and that not having a significant other does not define your self-worth and won’t seem like such a big deal once this day is over. Remind yourself of all the things that are actually amazing about your life and that you are grateful for, because having a significant other isn’t the only thing that’s going to fulfil your life. Love comes in lots of forms, so not having a partner does not mean you are unloved – your friends, family and yourself all love you loads and that’s just as important!

If you know it’s going to make you feel bad, maybe avoid all social media for that day – I know it’s hard to resists the temptation and switch it off, but it’s good to avoid anything that will make you feel negative about yourself.  Instead make sure you use up all that social media stalking on a different day.

Words by Ally Mclaren

10 Steps To Daily Happiness.


Though we might often experience moments of joy or exhilaration, this does not necessarily mean we are ‘happy’. It’s the small things that constitute happiness. Benjamin Franklin once said “Happiness consists more in conveniences of pleasure that occur every day than in great pieces of good fortune that happen but seldom.” Due to the fact, many of us dedicate much time to worrying about the future, the present and the everyday is often neglected. Psychologists have recently suggested that happiness lies in a positive daily routine, and therefore we can effectively ‘choose’ to be happy by consciously adapting our everyday lives. But how do we do this?

1. Smile – The phrase ‘a smile can go a long way’ is indeed one to live by. Starting the day smiling may prove difficult especially with early rises, however it can determine your mood for the entire day. Watching a short funny video or reminiscing about a memory that made you laugh will instantly brighten your day. Laughing and smiling is also scientifically proven to release endorphins and heightens levels of serotonin, the ‘happy hormone’. Smiling at others also develops a feeling of self-worth and allows them to smile back in return, which can feel rewarding.

2. Think Of A Positive Thought For Every Day – On your way to work, university or whilst getting ready, it’s beneficial to reflect on something positive about the day ahead. Even if it’s as simple admiring the beautiful morning frost, thinking about catching up with friends later that evening, or knowing you will meet a deadline at work. This will set goals for the day, which will in turn provide you with a sense of achievement once it comes to a close.

3. Give Yourself A Compliment – Whilst standing in front of the mirror think of one positive feature about your appearance, what you are wearing or something great about your personality. This might feel strange at first, but it really does work and will make you feel valuable and ready to face the world.

4. Eat Something Healthy – Healthy eating is continually encouraged – and for good reason. This simple step is guaranteed to make you to feel healthy in body and mind. Drinking a smoothie, eating fruit and conquering your five a day will indeed make you feel good about yourself. Choosing to pursue a healthy life will have positive effects on your body shape, skin and digestion.

5. Listen To Some Music – Turning on the radio or listening to music in general can set your mood for the rest of the day. Music has the power to dominate your brain and consequently set your immediate mood.

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Positivity Playlists.

Credit: Thought Pursuits.

We all know that music can make a mood. This is why there are breakup playlists for when you need to cry and let all your emotional anguish out, by singing along to words that seem to apply perfectly to your situation and capture your utter heartbreak in a way you thought no one understood.

This is why sleep playlists are composed of peaceful melodies to calm and soothe. This is why I listen to old school R&B whilst getting ready for the club (there is no better time to feel sassy), and this is why there should be positivity playlists. In the same way that some songs remind you of sadness, there are a million more that can make you deliriously happy. Whether it is the lyrics, the beat, or just the way you can dance to it – the right song can put you in an amazing mood.

As I am walking to work at 8.30 on a Saturday morning, dreading the busy day ahead and becoming increasingly jealous of people who are nursing hangovers and watching TV in their pyjamas, the only thing that can cheer me up are the songs I listen to on the way there.

It’s only a short 15 minute walk, but that means I can plan around 3 songs to listen to that I know will start my day off just right. It is fair to say that I am the opposite of a morning person, and so a really upbeat song can provide me with energy that I didn’t have before. Then as the end of the day drags on, I can actually look forward to the walk home and celebrate with those joyous songs that I am free for Saturday night (this is usually when the R&B kicks in).

Travelling to work is just an example of when these positive songs are needed; you cannot work out to sad music in the gym, you need something that makes you feel happy and alive and energetic. Being on a road trip or a long car ride is the perfect time to liven up the trip with some of your favourite songs, and will create long-lasting memories associated with the music.

Listening to happy songs when you are with others will make everybody’s energy positive and will bring people closer together – even better when everybody knows the words and harmoniously sings along. If you need your music to take an inspirational turn, such as before an interview or a date, listening to songs about empowerment and confidence will make you feel like you can do anything, even after the last line of lyrics has finished (this is of course when I turn to Beyoncé ).

Music is an easy way to achieve daily happiness, without any effort put in you can be feeling extremely positive in just a matter of minutes. So grab your iPod, or go on your Spotify, and create a playlist of all the songs that make you feel good. So next time you’re tired and irritable, you have to hit the gym, or somebody has eaten the last of the Doritos that you were saving for yourself (how dare they), just immerse yourself in some funky positive vibes and forget about your troubles.

Words by Ally Mclaren

40 Things To Be Grateful For.

Credit: Psychology Today

How often do you pause to appreciate what you have in life?

We spend so much time racing through life that we don’t always appreciate the small and beautiful things that make us happy. There are many simple pleasures that we take for granted. Being thankful for what we already have can significantly increase wellbeing and life satisfaction.

It’s easy to feel bad when you are going through a tough time in life but no matter how bad your situation may seem, there is always something to be grateful for. People who regularly express gratitude, experience more positive emotions, sleep better, have more empathy and have higher self-esteem.

Take note of the rare moments throughout the day that you smile, whether it’s the first cup of tea when you get home from work, a hot bath or a chance to read your favourite book over and over again, love all of the little moments in life that make you happy.

Here are 40 things to be grateful for:

1. Life – Life is a gift. Having the chance to experience being alive is not something we should take for granted.

2. Health – Having the ability to live life with good health is not an option we all have.

3. Family – No matter what, having a family that love and care for you is a blessing.

4. Love – Life would not be the same without love.

5. Friends – Life is better with a few close friends by your side.

6. Freedom – Being able to life your life peacefully is not something many people ever experience.

7.  Choices – Today you have so many choices, be grateful for the amount of luxuries you have in your life.

8. Animals – Animals add to the diversity of life and bring us so much joy.

9. Education – It is a fundamental human right to have access to an education but unfortunately, not everybody in the world has this right. Be thankful that you are educated and know how to communicate, read and write.

10. Food –  Having enough food to eat is a blessing in itself, having a variety of food to choose from makes you very fortunate.

11. Breathing – Be thankful and pay attention to your breath, go outside, breathe in the fresh air.

12. Books – There is nothing better than finding a book you love, it’s amazing how words on paper can bring so much to joy to so many people.

13. Time – None of us know how long we have on this planet to live our lives but wake up each morning and be thankful for another day, another chance to make your dreams come true. Time may not be infinite but you can certainly experience an infinity in your lifetime.

14. Laughter – Have you ever laughed so much that your stomach hurts? It’s a great feeling to laugh. Sometimes we take life too seriously and forget to have fun, laugh, play and love, like we did when we were children.

16. Clean Water – It’s extremely unfair that every single person in the world doesn’t have this right. We turn on the tap and have an endless flow of clean water that we can drink and bathe in. Never take clean water for granted, it is essential to our lives.

17. Sunshine – When the sun shines in the sky, the day takes on a whole new level of positivity. Be thankful for the sun that keeps us warm and brightens up the darkest of days.

18. Art – Life would be nothing without it. As human beings, we have the freedom to express our true emotions through different mediums of art, music and performance.

19. Technology – Love it or hate it, the technology that we have created makes our lives much easier. We have a whole world accessible to use through a handheld device, how amazing is that?

20. Holidays – Having the chance to go on holiday and travel to different places is a privilege that we don’t all have. Some people save up for years before they can afford a break away from their ordinary lives.

21. Singing – Even if you can’t sing in tune, sing in the shower, hum your favourite song and enjoy yourself.

22. Rainbows – One of life’s most beautiful and natural phenomenons, the rainbow represents hope.

24. Electricity – It hasn’t always been around but electricity is a crucial part of our modern lives.

25. Hugs – A natural anti-depressant, hugging someone is the perfect thing to do when you feel sad about the world. Be grateful for every single person in your life that you can hug.

26. Trees – They make life possible.

27. Jobs – They give us purpose, without jobs there would be no value to the world. It might not be a dream job that you are currently in, but you are earning money to live life each day.

28. Home – Having a home is a blessing. Knowing that you always have somewhere you can be safe and warm is something you should not take for granted.

29. Music – It has the power to change your mood, uplift you, move you, excite you. Appreciate the artists who make the music you love listening to. Life just wouldn’t be the same without your own personal soundtrack.

30. Senses – If you are fortunate enough to have all five senses, observe how amazing it is to see the colours of life, hear the voices of your loved ones, feel the breeze of the wind, taste sweet and savoury foods and smell beautiful flowers.

31. Snow – There is something beautiful about snow, the way it falls, how each individual snowflake has its own pattern, how untouched snow looks like an image from a postcard.

32. Clothes – Having clothes is a privilege, having a choice of clothes is a luxury many don’t have. Next time you think about the new designer jeans you have to have, think about where your clothes came from, how fortunate you are to have that choice in your life.

33. Transport – You can go anywhere in the world by travelling on an airplane, boat, bus or train. How amazing is that?

34. Nature – Thank Mother Nature for this beautiful world that we live in.

35. Films – To visually see stories unfold before our very eyes is amazing, there are so many films to watch and there is always another film being made to entertain us.

36. Children – They see the world through new eyes, explore every new opportunity with optimism and wonder. Children are fascinating to watch, we really should pay attention to them more and copy their ability to see the world in a positive way.

37. Dreams – Be grateful for the dreams you have achieved and the ones you haven’t. Having ambition to make something of your life is inspiring. Make the most of every day and dream big, you never know what will happen.

38. Stars – Look up at the night sky and admire the stars. It’s a breathtaking view of an endless universe, you are just a speck of dust in the galaxy.  It really puts everything into perspective.

39. Words – To be able to communicate and express yourself with words is incredible. Be thankful that you are educated, that you are able to talk and connect with the world.

40. Memories – It’s a beautiful thing that we are able to playback moments of our lives in our mind. We can smell something familiar or hear a song and be transported back to a different time.


Why 2016 Should Be The Year You Embrace Feminism.

Credit: Sexy Feminist

A lot of positive changes have happened for women over the years. We are no longer regarded as nothing other than the wife to a man or the mother of a child. Women now have further educational, career and life choices they can make for themselves.

Women can choose to never marry or to not have children; women can define everything about their own lives in a way that they never could before. Women have more freedom and choice than ever before in history, though this is not true for all women and girls around the world. This is why feminism is needed and it is a strong and powerful movement.

Yet many people, even those in Hollywood who have influence, will claim that they want equality but that they are not feminists. The word is seen to have negative, combative connotations. Far from the image of the man-hating stereotype, what feminists actually want is equality of the sexes (I mean, do none of these people listen to Beyoncé?).

Women do not want to be more important than men in society; they just want to be represented as equal. Feminism needs to be taught to and learned by children, they need to grow up knowing that it means equality and that it is not a negative term. If more people identified as feminists in a positive way then the term may get the incredible recognition it deserves. On a positive note, there are many celebrities who are proud to announce their feminist status and spread the message to the world.

Beyoncé often incorporates her feminist messages into her music, apparent in the catchy hit ‘Run the World (Girls)’. Her song ‘Partition’ contains a verse entirely in French, part of which translates to ‘men think that feminists hate sex, but it’s a very stimulating and natural activity that women love’. In her song ‘Flawless’, Beyoncé samples parts of writer and novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s talk about feminism. The sample talks about how women should not be too ambitious or successful in case they threaten men, and ends with ‘We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes’. As one of the most popular musical artists of our generation, Beyoncé is a queen at spreading powerful feminist messages through her mainstream material.

Lena Dunham has always been a supporter of feminism, detailing this in the essays of her book ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ and her ‘Lenny Letter’ newsletter. She is the star, producer, director and writer of her own TV series, determined to be taken seriously in an industry run by men and has been incredibly successful in doing so. This is positive, as it means that young girls can look up to their idols and learn more about a term they may not have heard before.

Malala Yousafzai is an inspirational girl who opposed the Taliban by standing up for the right for girls to have an education and was ultimately shot for her activism. She won a Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigns to help promote education equality, and is incredibly brave to stand up for her cause and is an inspiration for women everywhere. Yet she recently admitted that until she heard Emma Watson’s UN Speech, she did not call herself a feminist, despite knowing that equality was everything that she stood for. This is an example of how awareness of a term can lead to it being embraced and used more readily.

The UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson recently launched a #HeForShe campaign which encourages men to support feminism. Many male celebrities such as John Legend, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Daniel Radcliffe are openly male feminists, meaning that boys can learn that feminism is for men too. Encouraging men to help the feminist cause can make a real change, as a problem in history is that not enough men wanted to help women change society to make it equal. If both genders do not want the same thing for society then it is unlikely that the change can ever happen fully.

Other feminist hashtag campaigns that have taken place this year are #FreeTheNipple, which addresses the issue over men being able to display their nipples in public whilst women are punished for doing so. This protest encourages women to literally free their nipples to stop the unnecessary sexualisation of women’s bodies and the control and punishment of this sexuality. Women, and the society and world we live in, should be able to accept women’s bodies exactly the way they are.

#IWD2015 refers to International Women’s Day which takes place on the 8th March. This day celebrates all the achievements of women and the struggle they have been through to get to where we are today. It celebrates women throughout history who did great things, feminist icons and looks forward to a future where women can achieve even more.

For feminism to truly achieve what it aims to, for the world to be completely equal for men and women, then the word feminist and everything that it stands for need to be understood and supported. Women need to help women, we all need to stand together to try and make a change in the world.

If as many women and as many men can get on board with the cause and become proud to call themselves feminists then the movement can do so much more than it already has done. So join in with the positive hashtags, watch Emma Watson’s UN talks and Malala’s documentary, and listen to some Beyoncé (always great advice) and learn about what it truly means to be a feminist.

So much has already been done, and so much more can be done in the future. A lot could be done this year alone.
I cannot wait for #IWD2016.

Words by Ally Mclaren

Be SMART About Your Goals In 2016.

Credit: Innovate Gov

It’s that time of year again, a new year with a whole new selection of New Year resolutions. The time of year we all look forward to with fresh hope and expectation. The year it all happens, the year in which our dreams come true, it’s the year we have all been waiting for. It’s the year we kick off with good intentions and dreams, the year our seeds grow to fruition.

Be it losing weight and getting into the dress bought at last year’s January sales, to getting the job promotion, to finding love, to ticking that thing off your bucket list you have been meaning to tick of for the last twenty years. Every year we start off with the determination that it will happen. Nothing will get in our way this time.

As we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ in merriment with our friends and family, we’ll smile and nod with satisfaction, 2016 is the year it happens. We have made a promise to ourselves, a solemn promise we must not break. We have an obligation to make sure it happens no matter what obstacles present themselves.

The big question soon looms; how will this year be different to all the others? There’s no use in kidding ourselves. Most New Year resolutions only last until the morning, after which they are easily forgotten as we nurse our weary heads. At best they’ll last until the end of January, most are soon forgotten as the winter winds take hold and we slip into old habits as comfort against the cold.

Zest For Life is here to help you stay positive and reach your goals this year. With nothing more easy than a stroke of your finger, you can scroll down the Zest for Life blog and get all the inspiration and motivation you’ll ever need to succeed. Packed full of positivity, the Zest for Life Magazine is your one stop for all your positive quotations, bright ideas and good advice. You’ll never read a negative comment or feel a negative vibe, and it’s about to get even better, the first issue of Zest For Life is being released at the end of the month!

Here’s some good advice – Be Smart! 2016 is the year to be SMART, and being SMART is a tried and tested Life Coaching technique which anyone can apply and utilise:

The Smart Model.

As the New Year kicks off we’ll all have a whole new set of goals to pursue and achieve. Meet any Life Coach today and they’ll tell you the best way is the SMART way.

S. Specific.

M. Measurable.

A. Attainable.

R. Relevant.

T. Timely.

It’s an easy acronym which we can all remember. To be smart in our thinking and goal achieving, we need to know specifically what our goal is. It’s all very well saying we want to lose weight, but how much weight? It’s all very well saying we want a new job, but what job?

Only by breaking the goal down into its specifics can we get a better and smarter idea of how to achieve it. So rather than saying I want to lose weight, be smart and give yourself the goal of losing 2lbs a week. Now you have a smarter idea of what you need to achieve and it ties in nicely with M.

It needs to be ‘Measurable.’ It’s no use saying you want to be more successful when you haven’t got a measure to determine how successful you are week on week. So if your goal is to lose weight, only by being specific as to how much you want to lose, can you measure how much you lose. 2lbs a week is not only specific, it’s measurable and it also brings us neatly onto the A.

It’s ‘Attainable.’ I want to lose more, run faster, think quicker, do more, or do less. Our goals must be attainable otherwise they’ll never be attained. Booking a place on Britain’s Olympic team in time for Brazil 2016, is unattainable. While I hate to break the news, you most probably won’t make it past the first day auditions for The Apprentice or Britain’s Got Talent.

However, losing 2lbs a week is attainable if you swap the take-away diet for fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s attainable to win a new client a week, rather than winning the best sales-person’s of the year award in 12 month’s time. Shoot for the stars by all means. Go for it with a passion, gusto and determination. Just keep in mind your own talents, responsibilities and limitations. Your goals and aspirations must be attainable otherwise you are condemning yourself to failure and misery as yet another New Year’s resolution bites the dust.

Make your goals ‘Relevant.’ Only if your goals are relevant to you will they be achieved. If you are losing weight to please your partner, you’ll have less chance of losing weight than if you are doing it for yourself. Being smart is being honest with yourself. Why do you want to achieve this goal? What is the objective? What will the goal ultimately achieve for me?

If you want to progress at work and you need new skills to make it happen, then you can do the courses to help you achieve this. However, if you want to be a better sales person, it’s not smart to take a course in administration. It’s no use taking a cookery class when all you want to do is get stuck in with the garden. Which brings us swiftly onto Time.

T for Timely. Give yourself a deadline to make it happen. Be smart in deciding what that deadline will be. You’re not going to drop two dress sizes in two weeks. Be realistic and give yourself three months. A plan isn’t a plan without a deadline. Be flexible. If it looks like the deadline is looming and you are going to miss it, change the deadline rather than dumping the whole thing.

Only you can achieve your own goals and aspirations. Go easy on yourself. Life often gets in the way of our best laid plans. You have help all around you, from friends, family and colleagues. The Zest for Life Magazine is always at your finger-tips to give you an added lift and much needed positive boost.

Good luck with all your New Years resolutions. 2016 is a great year to be alive and a great year to achieve it all. Happy New Year and may all your New Year resolution’s come true.

Words by Matthew Taylor

Less Perfect Turkey, More Cold Turkey On Social Media This Christmas.

Credit: Sentinelha

They keep leaping out at you. Happy couple with a bottle of red in front of a roaring fire. Group of friends posing on 5th Avenue, the ultimate Manhattan Christmas. Not to mention endless shots of cute kiddies sitting in mounds of gift wrap (‘She liked the paper more than the gift LOL!’).

It’s good to see what everyone is doing and the far-flung places they have jetted off to and it goes without saying that social media is great and a big part of most of our lives. A whopping 94% of us use Facebook as part of our daily routine and 78% of us use it for 30 minutes or more every day. It’s a cracking way to link up, keep in touch and share news about your life, but there are drawbacks. There’s Facebook envy, for starters.

One idyllic Christmas picture too many can leave even the most confident of us with a nagging sense of self-doubt. A feeling that we’re not doing enough, not beautiful enough, not happy enough. Okay, so the tree looks pretty cool but did YOU spend all morning making gingerbread decorations with the kids? Your romantic stroll around a Christmas market in Manchester seemed like a one to notch up until you see a group of friends have done the real thing and been on weekend hops to the legendary Christmas markets of Budapest.

According to the cheerily named Happiness Research Institute in Denmark, 5 out of 10 of us envy the amazing experiences others post on Facebook and 1 in 3 of us envy how happy people posting on it seem to be. The Institute recently published a study which found people reported significantly lower signs of stress (55%) when they stopped using Facebook for a week or more.

They took 1095 Facebook users and split them into two groups. Half used it as usual and the other half were forced to go cold turkey and have no access to Facebook. After one week, the group without Facebook reported significantly higher levels of life satisfaction. They also reported feeling happier and being less sad and lonely.

On top of this, people experienced an increase in their social activity (in the ‘real world’ not on Facebook) and also increased satisfaction with their social life. Concentration was an issue too. After a week without, the no-Facebookers said they experienced fewer concentration difficulties, were 18% more likely to feel present ‘in the moment’ and that they wasted their time less.

It goes without saying that the Happiness Research Institute wades through a lot of data on happiness and one of the things that often comes up, is how comparing ourselves to our peers can increase dissatisfaction.

‘Facebook is a constant bombardment of everyone else’s great news but many of us look out of the window and see grey skies and rain’, says the Institute’s CEO, Meik Wiking. ‘This makes Facebook world, where everyone’s showing their best side, seem even more distortedly bright, by contrast.’

This time of year can make all of this stuff even more intense, as most of us spend at least some time over Christmas with family, and they can be our harshest critics. Got a boyfriend yet? When are you going to get a proper job? You should get a move on if you want to have kids. Since when did you start drinking mint tea (you have changed). Gosh, do the kids always whine like this? And so on.

And if your self esteem is taking a battering, Facebook can compound it. The researchers noticed that instead of focusing on what we need, we have a tendency to focus on what other people have. ‘Social media is a non stop great news channel’, says the Institute. ‘A constant flow of edited lives, which distorts out perception of reality.’

Realistically, unless a cool sounding research organisation comes knocking on our door, we’re more likely to be photographing our perfect roast turkey than going cold turkey on Facebook. But when shots of the beautiful people start coming in thick and fast, maybe we need to take a step back from time to time and remember Wiking’s words – it’s everyone showing their best side.

And do us all a favour. See it as your social duty to post the odd picture of the sad untouched sprouts, the stroppy toddler tantrum and the bloody tangled tree lights which for the love of God won’t be untangled. If there’s one way to give everyone a laugh and make us all feel good about ourselves, that’s it.

Words by Alexandra Borthwick

12 Good Things About Christmas.

Credit: The Art Of Making A Home

1. Christmas Presents.

We all love opening Christmas presents passed to us from under the Christmas tree. With over £74 Billion being spent in the six weeks before Christmas Day on presents this year, the prospect of a special gift is sure to bring some festive cheer. From friends, colleagues and family, receiving presents is one of the best thing about Christmas.

2. A White Christmas.
The last time mainland Britain enjoyed a white Christmas was in 2010. Defined by the Met Office as “a single snow flake falling during the 24 hours of Christmas Day”, a white Christmas is a dream come true for all Christmas enthusiasts. With bets of £200,000 placed every year on whether it snows or not, a white Christmas is still a major talking point. Building snowmen, making snow angels and throwing snow-balls, nothing completes Christmas more than a picturesque covering of snow.

3. Christmas Dinner.
The main event of Christmas Day is the coming together around the table, cracking open the Christmas crackers before feasting on the Christmas meal. Traditionally turkey, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts and all the trimmings; Christmas pudding and mince pies, no Christmas would be Christmas without collapsing back onto the sofa after the meal, feeling as if your stomach is about to explode. “Watch the calories at Christmas,” is often a warning which falls on deaf ears!

4. Christmas Shopping.
While some may detest the Christmas rush to buy presents no one really appreciates, Christmas shopping can be an adventure all in itself. With your Christmas list in hand there is nothing better than buying your loved one’s presents to be opened on Christmas morning. Wrapping paper, labels and bows, neatly wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree, you can sit back with satisfaction with a mulled wine in hand; Christmas is sorted, well done.

5. Jesus Christ’s Birthday.
Not far from anyone’s mind is the real reason we celebrate Christmas. With a nativity play performed in primary schools across the country, to mangers set up on mantle-pieces, the story of a special boy being born into abstract poverty is on the top of many a mind. Religious or not, Christmas Day is ultimately a huge birthday party enjoyed by all. Are you going to midnight Mass this Christmas? If not, why not? Why don’t you give it a try!

6. Santa Claus.
Ho, ho, ho. Saint Nick, Mr Crinkle or Father Christmas, Christmas is the only day of the year conscientious parents are happy for an old man to be creeping around their homes at the dead of night. A firm legend for all kids, the story of a merry and kind spirited man delivering presents under the Christmas tree is still enjoyed today as it has been for kids for centuries.

7. Christmas Decorations.
With a whopping fortune spent on Christmas decorations every year, decorating our front rooms, Christmas trees, homes and gardens has become a national pastime. Raising the spirits of any mean spirited individual, Christmas decorations light up the festive season like no other way. Doing our Christmas shopping under the twinkling Christmas lights of city centres and shopping malls, to passing elaborately decorated homes on the way home, to walking into our own front room covered in colour and twinkling lights. Everyone loves to hang a piece of tinsel and kiss under the mistletoe!

8. Christmas Carols.
The fight for the Christmas number one should be kicking off about now. Will it be Simon Cowell’s X-Factor winner, a heart-warming charity single or someone out of the blue? The music we share at Christmas adds to the cheer and nothing is more soothing and heart-warming than a Christmas carol that we can all sing along. ‘Away in the Manger,’ to ‘Jingle Bells’ to the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’, Christmas carols have been imprinted into our memories in a good and wholesome way.

9. Christmas Parties.
“It’s Christmas!” Noddy Holder once famously shouted at the top of his voice. It’s also the time for Christmas parties, the one and only time you can kiss your boss and behave outrageously without getting the sack. Work colleagues across the nation are coming together around the Christmas table this year to enjoy their annual Christmas parties. Have you brought their presents for Secret Santa? And remember, drink in moderation, it’s back to work on Monday morning.

10. Christmas TV.
Other than settling down as a family to watch the Queen give her Christmas speech, there is nothing better than making yourself comfortable in the sofa, with a mince pie in hand, readying yourself for a Christmas movie treat. There is something for every taste at Christmas time. From the classic black and white movies which bring a tear to Granny’s eye, to the most recent block-busters which make the kids shake with excitement. Christmas TV boasts the spirits and banishes the boredom, the only downside of which is deciding which movie to watch.

11. Friends And Family.
Other than weddings, baptisms and funerals, Christmas time is the best time to meet up with friends and family. A festive season to give and receive there are no better people to share it with than your most dearest and nearest. Smile, laugh, cheer, eat and drink, friends and family make it complete. Remember to send out your Christmas cards. Everyone likes to receive them through their doors. Also, remember that without your friends and family, Christmas would be a bore!

12. Goodwill To All Men And Women.
“Humbug,” Scrooge once groaned; but just remember how the story ends. The good will to all men and women this Christmas season is sure to warm the coldest of hearts. Think about the lonely this Christmas, those without families and friends to enjoy it with. Extend your good will to the people you have nodded to throughout the year but never quite managed to speak to. If ever there is a season to be jolly, a season to be fair and generous, it’s Christmas time. Smile, laugh and be happy. Christmas time is upon us and we have plenty to be happy about. We are alive and kicking. The Sun is shining and our planet is spinning. Christmas time is about remembering the past and looking forward to the future. It’s about remembering dear friends and family and showing consideration to those worse of and in need.

Happy Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year!

Words by Matthew Taylor

How To Own Your Positivity.

Happy business people laughing against white background
Credit: Go See Kit

Positivity is greatly influenced by external surroundings; of course you are going to be happier when good things are happening to you, but being positive is more about internal thoughts – being happy really is a choice, and you can create and use your own positivity by doing a few things:

Take A Second to Breathe

Life can be pretty overwhelming sometimes, so it is a good idea to take a moment to breathe, chill out, have a nap, meditate, and think everything over.

Live By Cheerful Mottos

Every cloud has a silver lining’ – this may be a little old and cliché, but it is a good place to start with positive thinking, by looking for the good in any situation. ‘Everything happens for a reason’ – I find this saying ridiculously comforting. No matter what happens, good or bad, however life goes, I find it so reassuring to think that there is a reason behind it. ‘Amor fati’ – loosely translated from Latin, this means ‘love of one’s fate.’ This is one of my all-time favourite sayings, because it is similar to the saying above, in that it reminds you to embrace everything that happens.

Don’t Live In Denial

When something bad really does happen, you need to accept the situation for what it is. You need to be sad before you can be happy and process everything in order to feel better about it later. You can’t pretend that everything is fine. You need to grieve, mourn, and cry, before you can think rationally about anything. Don’t pretend that you’re not upset; embrace all of your emotions to work through them.

Think Of Everything Good About A Situation / Appreciate What You Have

Do you have great friends? A loving partner? A wonderful family? The career you want? Amazing travel plans? An adorable pet? If you have even one of these things then you are doing incredible in life. Maybe you have been fired, or are recently single, BUT have supportive friends and family by your side. No matter what is going on, there is always something that you can be thankful for. Even if it is something small, like your pet being happy to see you when you come home, there is always something you can appreciate about life.

Look To The Future

It is easy to aspire to a happy life, and your life can be whatever you want it to be (within reason – you cannot guarantee that you will be a millionaire or famous or anything), but it is easy to accomplish the basic things in life that can make you happy. It is nice to think about what you want from life and how amazing your future could be. If things are not going your way right now just remember that it is not for forever!

Do Little Things That Make You Happy

Eat your favourite food, listen to an album that makes you happy, or watch a feel-good film. Praise all of your accomplishments no matter how small, and give yourself cute little pep talks whenever you feel like you need them.

Make Others Happy

Being nice to others, even when you do not feel like it, and putting them in a good mood can make you feel more cheery too. Rather than feeling bitter or resentful because you’re in a bad mood, creating a general happy atmosphere will make everyone feel good. If you are nice to other people, they will most likely be nice to you back and be there to cheer you up when you really need a helping hand in feeling good.

Leave Positive Messages

This is similar to giving yourself pep talks, by doing things like leaving yourself little post-it notes lying around with smiley faces and messages reminding you that you can do it, and that you’re a great person, and that you are trying your best. You cannot always rely on others to lift you up, sometimes you have to really appreciate and support yourself.

Being positive is super fun and can get you through some tough situations. Being a happier and more positive person is beneficial to wellbeing, so try it out!

Words by Ally Mclaren

Countdown To Christmas.

Credit: I Like Wallpaper

Christmas is evidently descending on us in all its glitter and glory. Decorations are all around, the magical adverts are taking over our TV screens and the countdown has begun. Have you started your Christmas shopping yet? Have you planned out all that needs to be done? It is overwhelming and the next few weeks will be really frantic.

With the first Sunday in Advent already gone, which also doubled up as Stir-Up Sunday, our first candle in church is lit and the Christmas pudding is made! Letters to Santa have been written, finalising what the children have asked for. Advent Calendars are up and now it is all systems go.

Here at Zest For Life, we would like to give you a few little pointers to help with your preparations.

3 Weeks To Go.

• Pre-Christmas offers. Now is a great time to start picking up some of those great offers on party treats, alcohol and gifts. The supermarkets and stores are all competing. Non-perishable foods such as crisps, biscuits, nut selections are great to stock up on. I always wait till this time to get my bargain bottle of Baileys and then have to resist the temptation to have a sneaky glass before Christmas Eve.

• Online shopping. Before everything goes out of stock and delays on deliveries begin. Start scanning the web for your best deals. Those hard to find presents can be found at the click of a button and it saves the frantic searching through stores.

• Stock up on wrapping papers, tags and sellotape. It’s good to have these in ready, so that you can start your gift wrapping as the weeks go by.

• Finish putting up the decorations. This can be a lengthy process depending on how much you like to fill your home with the festive spirit.

• Now is a good time to buy in your kitchen and bathroom essentials such as tinfoil, cling film, plastic tubs, baking paper, toothpastes, soaps and toilet rolls. Splitting the household shopping list over the weeks is an excellent way of keeping check on where you are up to and minimizing the chance of forgetting things in the last minute shop.

• Now is the perfect time to get your Christmas Tree. If you do the real deal! Any sooner and the needles will start to drop before the big day. The smell of the pine is a gorgeous scent that fills the whole house and really makes my Christmas. Make sure you leave the tree to dry out and drop for a couple of days before decorating! Water plenty and make sure it is kept away from any really hot radiators.

• The Christmas cake. Traditionally, this should have been made in November and have been feeding nicely on Brandy to keep it rich and moist. All is not lost though! There are lots of traditional and quick recipes around to make an exquisite Christmas cake. Search on line and see what takes your fancy. Try or If you leave the icing until a few days before Christmas, there is still time for a cheeky Brandy, for the cake I mean!

2 Weeks Before.

• Finalise your shopping for presents. Make sure you have any last minute gifts that you needed to buy and check that you haven’t left anyone out.

• Make a dent in the gift wrapping. Get started, a glass of mulled wine, paper and scissors at the ready. You really don’t want to leave this to the last minute and you can make it fun. Put on a lovely Christmas film and start wrapping.

• Post all your U.K mail. Any parcels or presents really need to go in the post this week if they are going to arrive on time!

• If you are being creative this Christmas and making gifts, it is a good time to start. Any home-made chutneys or jams can be cooked and sealed in air tight jars ready to be decorated with ribbons.

• Mince pies and cookies can be made in advance. Also, sauces, butters and stuffing, these can be placed in the freezer until the big day.

1 Week To Go.

• All lists should be checked for last minute things. With only one week to go, this is your last chance to get organised.

• Don’t forget your crackers! Now is an excellent time to buy them as most of the stores reduce them to half price.

• Supermarket shop. You can do your big shop a week in advance, leaving your fresh goods until a few days before. Try early morning shopping or late in the evening for a quieter experience.

• Make sure you have a few craft activities or games for the children to play. Whether they are your own little darlings or just visiting, excited children need entertaining and it makes things less chaotic.

• Don’t forget batteries!

• Finish writing any last minute Christmas cards.

• Decorate your Christmas cake. I always let the children model any leftover icing or marzipan, usually nibbling most of it but having lots of fun.

2-3 Days To Go.

• Don’t panic!

• Pick up the turkey or start defrosting so that it has thawed out completely before cooking.

• You can make more mince pies if you have tucked in a bit too soon.

• Get the kids set up making gingerbread. This has been a family tradition of mine for years. Put a little hole at the top of the biscuits before baking. You can then thread through some ribbon to hang the biscuits on the tree.

• Any last minute bits can be done now – setting the table, cleaning up the dinner set, making beds for guests. The list is endless and different for us all. Get everyone in the house to help out. Write a chore list and get the kids involved, hot chocolate and a cookie is an excellent reward for their hard work.

• Have some relaxing time. It is always good to wind down, even in the midst of things. Watch a family film, go for a walk in the park, take a bath, book a manicure or read a book.

Christmas Eve.

• Prep the vegetables and other side dishes. Take out any sauces, puddings or dishes that have been frozen, leaving plenty of time to defrost in the fridge.

• Turkey preparation. Some people like to cook the turkey the day before or on Christmas day. Either is fine, just make sure that you work out the cooking time from the guidelines or as suggested by the butcher.

• There are always a few things that need doing, people visiting or delivery of gifts. Just make sure the Christmas films are on and a glass of sherry or port are in hand, this is when I open the Baileys!

Deep breath, enjoy your Christmas and don’t forget to have fun!


Words By Diane Eliza Maccabe

5 Ways To Bring More Gratitude Into Your Life.

Credit: Root Whole Body

“Everyday, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can.” – Dalai Lama

Gratitude. The one simple, easy and positive action that can change your life. Humans underestimate the power of gratitude, by simply giving thanks and appreciating the lives we have been blessed with, we can create a positive attitude and move forwards with our lives, knowing that we always have something to be thankful for.

Here are five ways you can bring more gratitude into your daily life:

1. Write A Gratitude List – At the end of each day, before you go to sleep, write down three things you are grateful for. Sometimes we need to constantly remind ourselves of the blessings we have. On tough days, you might struggle to find something new to write on the list, the more you practice gratitude, the easier it will become.

2. Practice Positive Affirmations – Mantras and affirmations are a great way to empower ourselves when we need uplifting. They allow us to rework our subconscious, by saying a positive phrase out loud to yourself every day, you will start to believe in yourself and the power of positive thinking. Some examples you can use are – I am good enough, I love my life, I will not let another person, place or thing dictate my personal happiness, I trust my journey or I believe in myself.

3. Tell Someone – It’s easy to get annoyed with the people around you, particularly spouses, family members and close friends. If you learn to calm your mind when you are frustrated with someone and realise how grateful you are to have them in your life, you will naturally develop a positive energy when you are surrounded by these people and in turn it will strengthen your relationships.

4.  Gain Perspective – Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, focus on what you do have. You might not have your dream job or the best gadgets, but remember that your value should not be measured by the amount of material possessions you own. Appreciating what you already have is an important step in bringing more gratitude into your daily life. It’s easy to forget about those less fortunate than yourself but by comparing your life to theirs, you will realize that you have everything you need, happiness is not a destination, you are probably already experiencing it, but it is often clouded by your need to always want more in your life.

5. Meditate – Practising meditation and mindfulness is becoming increasingly popular, people are searching for silence in a chaotic world and you should too. The goal of meditation is to focus and quiet the mind, eventually reaching a higher level of awareness and inner calm. The more aware you are of your feelings and natural thought processes, the easier it will be to practice gratitude. You don’t have to be a spiritual or religious person to meditate. Give yourself a moment each day to relax and practice being in the moment.

By developing an attitude of gratitude you will start to believe that every step forward is a step towards achieving something bigger and better than your current situation. The more gratitude you have, the more you open yourself up for abundance. A grateful heart is a contented heart, learn to appreciate the simple things and it will definitely lead you to a simpler life.

Have A Stress-Free Christmas.


Planning Christmas presents early is a great way to remain calm during the Christmas season. It’s also a great way to set up a budget of how much you would like to spend. Try to start buying at least a month in advance, so you have enough time to return if your unhappy with your purchase.

Tips For Planning

Christmas Budget: In the first two weeks of November, you should set a present budget of how much you want to spend on family and friends. We can all get too carried away in the Christmas spirit and end up spending way too much. By planning how much you want to spent, you will keep your purse/wallet and yourself happy.

Create A List: Once you have your budget in place, start listing who you need to purchase gifts for. Usually the main part of your funds will go to close relatives and friends. Make a list of all the people you have given gifts to in the past or people you’ve received a gift from.

Prioritise: Create a list of people you are buying for and put them in order of what you can buy now and some you can leave till later. Try to shop in stores and online as you can find a lot of sale items which will help with your shopping budget.

Avoid Peak Times: The main reason why Christmas shopping is stressful is due to the amount of people buying presents at the same time. Avoiding peak shopping times can make a big difference to how you feel and how much you actually buy. There are times in the week which are busier for shopping than others, these times are usually when people aren’t working. If you have the option, try to avoid shopping on Saturdays or late night shopping events.

Don’t Leave It To The Last Minute: As tempting as it is to leave everything until tomorrow, it’s not a good idea to think this when Christmas shopping. The sooner it’s completed the better, as the shops get busier and busier the nearer we get to Christmas. Also your perfect gift could sell out, starting early can save you from forgetting or missing out on presents.

Box Or Wrap In Advance: In order to hide gifts from family members and friends who may visit. Create a special box or place in your wardrobe to store your Christmas gifts. If you pre-wrap them; remember, it’s important to keep a list of what you have bought just in case you forget. If you like to save the wrapping for later, keep all your gifts in a box where no one will find them.

Keep Receipts:
Keep all receipts for all gifts until you have wrapped all of your presents, or you can keep them until after Christmas, in case the person wants to send the gift back. You may also need to return any damaged items.


Gift Ideas

Gift Cards: Gift cards are great if you’re unsure on what to buy the person. Buying a gift card to their favourite store or restaurant is a great way to put a smile on someone’s face. This also helps you to figure out how much you would like to spend on the person.

Gift Sets: Body/make-up gift sets look great when wrapped and it also makes life easier because you don’t have to buy more than one item. You can get gift sets for anyone at any age, which is perfect when you’re unsure of what to buy. The prices will depend on the amount of items the gift set holds.

Stocking Fillers: Sometimes a collection of smaller presents are more appreciated than bigger ones. Everyone loves unwrapping more than one gift, so having a few to open will put a smile on anyone’s face.

Make Your Own Gift: In order to make your own gift, all you need is an empty jar, box or basket to put your presents in. There are plenty of items you can buy from the pound shop and other shops that sell accessories and small gadgets. Creating your own gift is thoughtful and also lets you keep to a budget on how much you would like to spend.

Credit: Lifehacker

Stay stress-free this Christmas, the best part about starting to plan early is that it enables you to enjoy the holiday season and avoid the Christmas shopping rush.

It means you can focus on the fun things in December, like the Christmas work party or catching up with friends and extra time to decorate the house of course.

Words by Savannah Lloyd-Smith

The Charcoal Solution For Oily Skin.

Credit: Oily Skin Guide

Everybody has different skin types, and I happen to have a ridiculously oily complexion.

I am skin lucky, in that I rarely get spots and only break-out after excess drinking or eating really badly. But I can see the excess oil glistening on my forehead and nose, sitting on top of my skin in a sheen, and my nose is completely clogged with blackheads.

Tired of having a constantly greasy face, I used Google to find things that are supposed to help and discovered that charcoal, tea tree oil and witch hazel remove oil from your face. The reason for this, is that charcoal attracts dirt and oil, so it pulls it off your face and out from your pores to clean your skin, whilst tea tree and witch hazel soothe the skin and help to keep it clear.

While in my local Boots, I started looking for charcoal based products and I happily stumbled across both a facial wash and face mask from their range that were a combination of all three ingredients I wanted; Tea Tree, Witch Hazel and Activated Charcoal. I’m not suggesting that you have to use the Boots brand, any product that has a combination of these ingredients would likely help, but this is an affordable range with both products priced between £3-£5.

The facial wash is thick and dark grey, not as easy to get off as other face washes because of its thick texture but it can still be used as an everyday wash. I usually put the face wash on and leave it for around three minutes while I brush my teeth, then lather it up with warm water and wash it off. The face mask comes in a little bottle, but because the product is so thick a small amount goes a long way. The texture is similar to the facial wash, except the face mask dries out easily while you leave it for fifteen minutes and has often hardened by the time you wash it off.

I have noticed most immediate results with the face mask, which I use once a week, but have found that both products make a difference to my oily skin. After using both products my skin feels dried out (but in a good way, if you have oily skin too you’ll know what I mean!) and the traces of excess oil have been removed from my skin.

If you have oily skin, I would definitely recommend trying some sort of charcoal-based product to help remove it. I’m not promising that it works for everyone because skin types are so different, but my skin always feels soft and smooth and more balanced after I use it.

Credit: Words by Ally Mclaren

An Insight Into Adult Colouring Books.


I’m not one for following creative trends.

Over the years I’ve avoided the likes of loom bands and other craft-like endeavours in favour of the comfort of a laptop screen and a Netflix subscription: I’m almost obscenely proud of the amount of time I can spend happily watching the most awful of American TV shows.

But I’ve been trying new things – opening my mind as some would say – and so the recent wave of adult colouring books has taken me by surprise, for the fact that they actually appeal to me. Adult colouring books are being consistently marketed as ‘tools for mindfulness.’ They are portrayed as relievers, as mediums through which we can reduce the stress and anxiety that have become common symptoms of modern life.

As adults we deal with difficult, emotional issues on a daily basis, ranging from financial worries to relationship troubles. We often haven’t developed the faculties to handle such problems effectively – instead we dwell on things we cannot control and in turn allow negative thoughts to control us.

Students are particularly feeling the strain; there’s the last-minute deadline panic, worries about stretching yourself too thin, and finally the anti-climax of a graduation ceremony. At university I defined myself as the person who was involved in every interesting project going – though I’m often happiest when busy, I often felt that I wasn’t able to make any time for myself. This is where adult colouring comes in.

After getting my first colouring book, I decided to set aside an hour each day to focus on a particular page or pattern. I’d work on my book whenever I felt overwhelmed by my workload or was at a dead-end during essay writing; I’d also pick up the colouring pencils when I was unable to concentrate or was simply sick of writing, editing, or even just answering my emails.

It may sound like a cliché, an infantile one at that – reverting to crayons after a bad day at work. But finding some time for yourself to maintain a focus, particularly on an activity that can be both relaxing and creative, is extremely effective at putting your work into perspective.

There are also some stunning publications to choose from. Adult colouring books are usually based around elegant themes ranging from mandalas to cityscapes to wild animals, whatever suits your current mood. The practice of colouring is the perfect antidote for those times when you can’t escape your worries – it can help organise your thoughts and allow you to regain focus on your original task, so you can return to it without reluctance.

If you’re a serial multitasker, now is the time to get some colouring pencils and just sit in a quiet room with your book. It’s an easy excuse to turn off your phone and withdraw from social media, if only for an hour or so. Adult colouring shouldn’t be a replacement for therapy, or be exalted as a cure for mental health issues. It’s simply a creative tool that has the potential to inspire you for a few hours each day, something that could create a space for you to concentrate on yourself and get your thoughts together. It’s worth a try.

Words by Lydia Osborne

When Quantity Time Beats Quality Time.

Credit: Picsant

Time. Too much of it, not enough. Good times, bad times. It’s been there, ticking away in the background since – well, since time began. Then at some point in the 1970s, quality control got involved. All of a sudden, people started talking about quality time. You may have spent a few hours with your nearest and dearest but was it quality time? Or were you just passing time?

It works like this. Father and son spend the afternoon at home together, but if dad has his head in a paper and the young ‘un is upstairs on Planet Minecraft, they’re not really spending time together. Not quality time. On the other hand, if dad takes his son to football practice, that’s quality time. They’re doing something together that makes their relationship stronger.

So a buzzword was born and quality time became a useful promise when we’d been neglecting a loved one. Sorry I haven’t been around; we’ll spend some quality time together this weekend. It worked because our lives have never been busier, so we need to consciously plan time for people we love. The downside is that if our lives are so busy, free time should be the one area where we don’t need structure.

I struggle with the whole quality time thing, as it can take levels of forward planning I often lack. I’m often too disorganised to arrange memorable nights out and struggle to manage a full timetable of enriching activities. My weekends are less Facebook-happy tales of kite making and kayaking, more sitting on the sofa sharing flapjacks and wondering where the day has gone.

So I’m excited to see a shift in thinking. Quality time is out and quantity time is the new big thing, according to family and relationship experts. What’s that about? Well, people have started to realise that while the idea of quality time is good, too often people get hung up on the doing something memorable, rather than being together. So for lots of us, quality time has become more about the hour spent taking a child to taekwondo or the couple going to the gym together.

We schedule small pockets of time for each other, convincing ourselves that it’s good enough. But in reality, often it’s not a set-up that lends itself to spontaneous, relaxed conversation. You don’t get the chilled out, meandering chats one might have eating fish and chips on the beach or pottering in the garden.

As parenting guru Steve Biddulph, author of best-seller Manhood said on a recent UK tour, it’s the drifting, aimless hours we spend with our loved ones that are important. That’s when we share what’s going on in our lives. It’s when we work out who we are, where we’re going and how we’re feeling. This opening up doesn’t happen in the hour we set aside to do a set-piece activity together.

Our best times together happen on long walks together, on car drives, on lazy afternoons spent in some joint activity at home. That’s when people tell us what’s on their mind and that’s when we get to know what makes them tick.

So ditch the agenda, stop the clocks and enjoy this moment in time.

Words Alexandra Borthwick

10 Ways To Power Up Your Positivity.

Credit: Attitudes4Innovation

The journey of life has many twists and turns, in a negative world it is hard to stay upbeat and positive but remember this – every day you have a choice. You choose whether you want to be optimistic or pessimistic, see the best in everything or complain about how bad your day is. Positivity is a state of mind and you are in control of how you think. You choose your own reality, if you want to transform your life and power up your positivity, follow these simple steps.

1. Live In The Present –  Don’t drift between the past and the future. You can’t change the past and you can’t predict the future, live for each day and you will appreciate every moment and experience gratitude for the little things in your life that make you happy.

2. Be More Aware – The difference between those who see the positive over the negative lies in their observations. Be aware of the messages you tell yourself and the natural direction of your thoughts. We’re not always concious of our negative thoughts, paying close attention to how you instantly react to certain situations will help to change the way you think.

3. Surround Yourself With Positive People – Toxic situations are the biggest influence on a negative mind. The more negativity you surround yourself with, the more likely it is to effect you. Studies have shown that being around positive person can influence you in the same way, maintain your sunny disposition by only having positive thinkers in your life.

4. Get Up Early, Be Ready For The Day – The early bird catches the worm! Make the most of every minute of your day. Start your day with optimism and give yourself plenty of time to relax before you start your long to-do list for the day. Enjoy the little things, whether it’s your first cup of tea, watching your favourite TV show or taking your dog for a walk, look forward to something every day, it’s the perfect way to power up your positivity!

5. Dream Big, Think Big, Act Big – Find something you are passionate about, choose something you really love doing and stick with it until you achieve your goals. Do whatever it takes to make your dreams a reality, believe that you can do anything and never ever give up!

6. Say Yes – Great things happen when you begin to say “yes” to life. You enjoy life more. You take more risks, which means you grow faster. Saying “yes” to life allows you to live up to your potential and enjoy the journey at the same time.

7. Talk To Yourself – Engage in uplifting conversations with yourself. Don’t tell yourself what you can’t do, focus on what you can do. Don’t drown yourself with unnecessary self-criticism, if you give yourself a pep talk in the mirror every morning, you will feel happier in your own skin.

8. Be Kind To Others – Doing something positive for another person can make you feel good. Studies have shown that being kind is the key to a happier wellbeing, seek opportunities in your daily life to be kind to those around you.

9. Find Peace In The Chaos – It’s a face-paced world that we live in, it’s sometimes hard to find peace in the chaos. Find something that you enjoy doing that relaxes you and spend half an hour a day to yourself. Learn to meditate, practice yoga, colour or even have a bubble bath and light some candles. Don’t forget to breathe!

10. Stop Comparing – Comparing yourself to others will only allow you to focus on what you aren’t, rather than enjoying who you are or thinking about who you can be. Your journey is different to everyone else’s, focus on your path and go through life at your own pace.



4 Simple Steps To Cleaning Your House In A Hurry.

Credit: VulcanPost

We have all experienced the moment when a friend or family member calls the house phone, asking if they can pop in for a quick visit. This is usually at a time when the house is a mess and you haven’t had chance to tidy up. In order to quickly clean up, you have to know where everything is and where everything goes.

Here are a few tips to help you clean up quick before your guests arrive:

Step One: Basket Of Cleaning Supplies

The most important thing to have in your cupboard is a basket of cleaning supplies, this helps save time from going backwards and forwards to the cleaning cupboards and keeps all your products in one place.

Step Two: Clean The Bathroom

This is the one room your guests will be using, so it’s important for this room to be the cleanest of them all and this job should be done quickly. First, you will need to use your basket of cleaning supplies so you can scrub the toilet, clean the sink and use a spray so the room smells nice. Lay out a fresh clean hand towel as it’s important for your guests to not use yesterday’s hand towel to dry their hands. Make sure you have nice smelling hand soap as this will make your guests hands and your bathroom smell nice. You may even receive some compliments on it.

Step Three: Tidy The Kitchen

This will be the place where you will be preparing the drinks or food for your guests, so it’s important for it to look spotless. First, you will need to empty the sink of dishes, either wash them or load them into the dishwasher. It helps make your house look clean and gets rid of any unwanted food smells. Give everything a good wipe from your sink to your work-tops, use a gentle sponge, then load the soap into the dishwasher or quickly clean the suds out in the sink to kill any bacteria. Make sure your work-tops look tidy by gathering the fruit from the fridge into a bowl. It’s also nice to have plants or flowers in the kitchen to make the room smell nice and look presentable.

Step Four: Focus On The Other Rooms

Your guests may not see all the rooms in the house, especially when your guest is just popping in for a drink and a chat and not a house tour. Start cleaning from the front door towards the living room or kitchen depending on where your guests will be. Clean all surfaces and any clutter lying around. Brush and hoover the floors in the path your guests will take while visiting. Stack things such as your remote controls, books and any other items in size order to make it look clean and presentable. Invest in some baskets, as they are great for hiding any extra clutter. Try buying more than one so you can assign them to each room which makes it easier to sort through once your guests leave. Last, but most importantly, close all doors on the rooms you do not want your guests entering, especially if it’s untidy, as this is usually a sign for please do not enter without the need of door signs.

This quick clean up should take no longer than fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the size of your house.

 Words by Savannah Lloyd-Smith

Meeting New People: The Click

Credit: 30DatesBlog

In the hectic daily routines of our increasingly social world, new people wander in and out of our lives more regularly than ever, and with so many new characters to meet, so many interesting opinions to hear, there comes an increased chance of meeting someone with whom you share ‘The Click.’

The Click is not an elusive, otherworldly being (although no less mysterious), it is a scientifically affirmed feeling we get when you share an instantaneous bond with another.

In Ori Brafman’s book ‘Click, The Magic of Instant Connections’, he identifies 5 factors that build rapport between us as human beings.

These are:

1. Vulnerability – sharing feelings, letting the other person in.
2. Proximity – how close you position yourselves when you talk.
3. Resonance – the feeling of being on the same level as the other person.
4. Similarity – how much you have in common.
5. Safety – how safe and at ease they make you feel.

So it’s true, there is actual science behind this inexplicable feeling … it’s almost like it’s real life chemistry.

Some may call it a spark, or a shared wavelength, but whatever your term of preference, unanimously we are here to celebrate the beautiful moment when you meet ‘One Of Your People.’

In layman’s terms, here are our ten signs to know when you have experienced the click:

1. As soon as you meet, the conversation starts flowing. And it never stops going.

2. Your sense of humour is so similar it’s like they just get you.

3. Whenever you’re together, you can be sure to spend at least 80% of your time creasing with laughter.

4. Sometimes just one look can say it all – no words necessary.

5. You have the capability to read each others minds at such an advanced level that it can only seemingly be explained as telepathy.

6. When your thoughts wander on something you don’t dare say out loud, the chances are they’re thinking exactly the same thing and you both know it.

7. They act like your personal cheerleader – always encouraging you.

8. You know that if you introduced them to your friends, they’d slot into the group effortlessly.

9. Where did the time go? You have so much fun together neither of you realised that you’ve been chatting away so long, even the sun got bored and went to sleep.

10. As soon as your meet-up ends, you’re already planning the next time you’re going to hang out.

That is when you know you’ve found them. The Joey to your Chandler, the Will to your Grace, the Patsie to your Eddie. Whichever you two are, the special moment when you find someone who understands you in this way should be celebrated! It’s a glorious moment that certainly doesn’t happen every day.

So when you experience this rare and beautiful thing, when you find ‘One of Your People’, hold on tight, because these are the connections that life is all about.

Words by Hope Lowe