BREAK UP AFTERMATH

Phase 1: Depression

This is pretty much the saddest state of existence you’ll ever find a woman in. We’re complete emotional wrecks. But it’s OK, because that’s exactly how we want to be. We’re feeling the breakup. The anger, the frustration, the jealousy, the sadness, the loneliness, the fear — we’re letting it all simmer together, right at the surface if not already boiling over into one steaming hot mess. This is a time where we don’t really have a grasp on any of our thoughts or emotions and we’re not really trying to have one, either. Where literally everything and anything reminds us of you. It doesn’t really matter what it is, or if makes any sense at all; we’re allowing ourselves to be totally susceptible — to everything. In fact, there are only two rules: 1) let it out, and 2) do not, under any circumstances, see him.

Where she stands on you:
She misses you, is driving herself nuts wondering what (or rather who) you’re up to (yes, we know how you guys do) and she might just be ready to drop everything in a heartbeat if means getting back together. If you’re a dick you’ll take advantage of this and pull her back in, and it will be all too easy, and everything might be normal and “happy” again for two weeks until your next fight and then you’re back to this all over again. (Yeah, this is where that starts.) But if you ever really cared for her at all, you’ll give her the space she needs to get through this. You might get a few (read: 1 million) texts and several incredibly long, incredibly desperate-sounding emails, but leave it be. Her friends will be there for her, I promise. Let her go through the motions.

Phase 2: Numbness

This is the actual sad part. (And this time I actually mean heartbreaking.) It’s the part where she doesn’t have any more tears to cry, or anger to feel, or energy to eat or care about anything in general. Where things like getting fresh air and taking a shower are literally written down on a ‘to do’ list and are considered accomplishments for the day. Not much goes on in this period except for a ton of thinking, and it can last anywhere from a good few days up to several weeks. It really comes down to the type of person she is, and the kind of self-talk she’s capable of. Because there is an unnatural amount of self-doubt going on in her head, and it doesn’t matter what was said or how it was done, or if it really was you and not her. At this point, as far as she’s concerned, this is about her not being or doing enough. As a person. And she’s analyzing every minute of everyday you spent together trying to figure out where she failed.

Where she stands on you:
She’s still missing you, desperately. The comfort, the routine, her best friend. The only difference now is that she’s cut out the chatter and the soundboards. She’s not looking from any more opinions, she’s just thinking. A lot. Like all day, every day. And despite trying to understand what all went wrong, she’s also just taking note of all that went wrong. She’s feeling less, and listening more. She’s sorting it out for herself. Oh, and her family officially hates you by the way. And that is something you will probably never make up again, regardless of how this turns out.

Phase 3: Justification

This is phase is usually the first sign of light after a very dark, very long and winding tunnel. And really, it can only happen once she’s had to go through literally every emotion and memory she has. She’s starting to understand why things turned out the way they did. And she’s starting to get that, after plenty of review, any problems you guys had were in fact both of your faults, and also that you are an idiot. For not fighting for her, sure, but mostly for not realizing what you just let go. That part is going to mess you up when it hits. (And we both know it’s going to hit). And also, it’s now been weeks and you haven’t even checked in once, so really, how much could you have loved her anyway? Clearly, this was for the better. And truthfully, there is a part of her that that knew you weren’t the one. Yes, maybe you talked about where you’d honeymoon, and what you’d call your babies, but deep down, there was a reason she never canceled her birth control prescription.

Where she stands on you:
At this point, you can bet that she’s pretty comfortable in your separation. In fact, she’s actually even starting to enjoy her newfound space; doing what she wants when she wants it, how she wants to, pants on or off. Her feelings of you now are very much buried. She’s probably cut you off completely, and removed anyone and anything associated with you from her life as well. For now anyway. She needs to focus on her and get back to her amazing, independent, pre-you self; because you have to get rid of the bad stuff in order to make room for the good stuff.

Phase 4: Rebounding

I mean, this part is pretty straightforward, I think. She’s been inside sulking for an unhealthy amount of time of time, and there’s no sign of you coming back, so might as well move on with it and get back on the horse, so to speak. You made your choice and it wasn’t her, and that means that there is, obviously, someone better out there, wondering where the hell she is already. And by God, she’s going to find him, and have some fun doing it.

Where she stands on you:
…What was your name again?

Phase 5: Self-Work

By now she’s got her mojo back and is, at the very least aware that she’s still got ‘it’, and at the very most high-fiving her vagina for showing her that life is indeed worth living. The rebounding is bringing back her confidence on all the outside stuff, and some good old fashioned self healing is doing it for the inside. She’s now going to the gym a minimum of three times a week. Partly because if she ever does have the pleasure ignoring you in person at some point in the near future she’s going to make sure you you notice it, and partly because screw you.

Wiser, stronger, tighter; that’s the mission. And, while it may be the case that all her crap with you brought this on, none of this is because of you, or even in spite of you; this is 100% for her. Getting healthy; both mentally and physically stronger than she was before is her new power. The growth she needs to protect herself. From rejection, from falling for the wrong guy, and from ever getting that low again. Also, it feels really good to imagine your face meeting her glove when she’s having a go at that punching bag.

Where she stands on you:
Funny enough, while it sounds like there may be a lot of anger at the root of this phase, the truth is that she’s probably seeing all this, and you, as something more like a blessing. She may be a little annoyed at the time that was wasted or how things were handled, but the humility and self-awareness that is coming from all this really only allows for appreciation and thanks. So you’re off the hook. (Kind of.)

Phase 6: The Relapse

The relapse is inevitable. It could be six months after the breakup or it could be six years; either way, it’s not necessarily because she misses you. No, it’s usually more to do with the fact that modern dating is so damn hard, and seems to get harder the older you get. Especially after you’ve been let down by love. Especially when you’re hyper-aware and protective of your time and energy and hold your independence in high esteem.

The truth is, after what she went through over you, the next (serious) guy is, for better or worse, going to have be willing to jump through some serious hoops. And that’s hard to find. So yeah, she’s going to think of you, naturally. She’s going to compare every guy to you and what you said and did and how well you did it. She’s going to miss not having to try because you already did all that. The harder it is for her in the dating game, the more you’ll be on her mind.

Where she stands on you:
While you are on her mind a lot while she’s out there dating, it’s more as a point of reference. You see, she’s not really missing you the person, so much as she’s missing you the boyfriend, and all the goodness that comes with that. The friendship, the inside jokes, the comfort, and the familiarity. That’s what she’s longing for, and might sometimes be confusing for love. That’s not to say that it never actually is love — and considering we do move in opposite directions, this may be your last chance if you’re hoping to rekindle — but usually, something inside us wakes up and snaps us out of it first.

RELATED READING: Four Signs Your Relationship’s Headed For A Breakup

Phase 7: Just Plain Over It

Finally ready to move on, this is the last stop on her way to singlehood bliss. After all the crying and sexing and healing and then crying again, she’s basically sick and tired of being sick and tired over you. And that’s what turns the page in the end; not wise words, not anger, not dates — emotional exhaustion. It may hit each of us in different ways and at different points in our lives, but it does eventually hit us all, and when it does — it’s final. No more second chances, no more what-ifs and what-could-bes; just getting the hell on with it and letting life take the lead. Whether it’s been because of you, or after you, or in spite of you, the fact is at some point she got tired of hearing herself relate everything back to you, and decided to let go. Of all of it.

Where she stands on you:
If you’re one of those guys who thinks you can dump a girl into changing and plays that insanely slow long game to win her back all along, joke’s on you, because this ship has already sailed. To put it frankly, you’ve taken up too much of her damn time, and she is painfully aware of it. And while she may have loved you once, and cried over you a thousand times, at this point you’re really just a good lesson and a memory in her mind.

SURVIVING WORK

So, how can you prevent yourself from totally losing it while you prepare to leave your soul-sucking day job? 

Here are a few suggested ways you can pass the time plus tips I’ve put together after doing it myself. (The 10+ years of helping other creative women keep their sanity at the tail end of their day jobs doesn’t hurt, either.)

1. Try to make it a game (especially if you’re competitive!) to help your timeline go quicker.  Whether it’s “How fast can I get this done without majorly screwing it up?” or “ If my boss says ‘um’ 100 times this week, then I’m taking myself out to lunch”, it counts. At the end of each week, tell your partner/roommate/mom how many times you “won” that week and try to “win” more the next!

2. Give yourself a visual reminder of why you’re still there/what’s awaiting you, and put it up within constant eyesight in your cube/office, on the wall, on your desktop, etc. I put up my When I Grow Up logo, another client put up a poster she designed, and another drew Post-Its with scenes of what she planned on doing when she quit, like yoga on a beach, for example. If it represents “freedom” to you, then you have my full approval.

3. Find time to leave the office during the day, no matter how short the amount of time, no matter the circumstances. Take a field trip. Call a friend. Read a book. Take pictures. Fake food poisoning that mysteriously showed up for an hour and then left. Know what? They recommend this for people who like their jobs, too! You need air, perspective, and a little bit of time each day to let your brain focus on you — just you — so you can tell remind yourself this is temporary and the good life is coming. 

4. Start and end your day in ways that feel good. Instead of just waking up, taking a shower, getting dressed and heading right to work, what can you do for yourself before walking out the door? No need for it to be extensive, especially if you’re not a morning person (like me)! What will take 10 minutes or less, but still be a piece of the morning you actually look forward to? Think about reading your favorite magazine, or dancing to your favorite song, or doing a few sun salutations. Then, ask yourself the same question about the end of your day! I write quickly in my journal and read a chapter of my book before shutting off the light every night– that’s just for me. My copywriter says she indulges in her skin care routine and makes a mini spa in her bathroom before bed. By bookending your days with things that feel good, you’re ensuring you get something out of each day that passes while you count down to your day job exit!   

5. Set an intention at the start of every day, and if you can, write or paste it on something you’ll see throughout the day, like your phone’s background or a sticky on your computer. By focusing on just one word (i.e. “friendly” or “inquisitive” or “helpful”), you can have an M.O. for the day – a way for you to more easily fake it ‘til you make it, if you will. (<— Hey, that shiz is real!)

6. Come up with a mantra that’ll help you get through the day. Whether it’s your Giving Notice Day (“January 2nd; January 2nd; January 2nd”) or the end result (“I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer, I’m gonna be a dog trainer”), or a truth you believe in (“I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy, I deserve to be happy”) find the words that’ll calm you down and put things in perspective. Just try not to say them out loud in public at full volume, but you can always email me instead!! 

7. If you know the date you’re giving notice, start a backwards countdown on your calendar. I did this for the last 4 months I was at my day job (which is when I realized I could give my notice), and I loved sitting down to work each day and seeing that I was a day closer to my goal. It was super motivating, and also acted as my little secret, since there was nothing there but “53 days!” Exciting stuff.

Ya know what, though? Regardless of howyou do, you’re gonna do it, and that’s worth so, so much. Make sure that you pat yourself on the back and give yourself tons of credit for making (and acting on!) the plan to begin with! That’s more than most people do, and will absolutely give you a leg up when it’s time to hoof it out of there and shuffle off to become a Woman of the World (<– what I like to call “a full-time entrepreneur”). You can so do it! No horrible panic or purse-screaming required.  

Credit:

https://whenigrowupcoach.com/

EDITORS WEEK

This week parenting came to the forefront of my mind as I am now the proud owner of a 14 year old. You here virtually every single person that has a child say it that time goes so fast and my god it does.

Where we are now is a good place, in her 14 years she has had to go through and process a lot. I don’t know if she remembers her mother and I together, revelations with her telling she remembers getting her ears pierced would now lead me to believe she does remember because that memory she was tiny, very young indeed.

So she has had to go through and process that, my parents were together until my dad passed away so I have no idea what it feels like all I know now is I wish I hadn’t put her through it. But we can’t change the past all I could do was be that consist figure there for her and to date I have never missed a beat, although this weekend was close when we discovered her mathematic group was starting half an hour earlier that we both thought which turned the journey into nothing short of a rally stage..

She’s a good kid, don’t get me wrong she’s a full blown teenager now with huff and puffs and shoulder shrugs but nonetheless she is an absolute diamond and proud isn’t a word that does it justice. It’s now though that I can see how my influence plays such a large role in how she is, I’m very much a middle of the road guy and happy for others to choose what they want and I’ll run with it. Which is no issue as an adult but give that skill set to a teenager and ‘I don’t mind’ takes on a whole new power.

Now we see a change, we see decisions being made and opinions forming, incredible engaging conversation and really thought provoking questions. Which only reinforces her career path into the police force. I think she will win at adult, certainly a lot quicker that it took me. As each year has come along and then passed she has grown steadily, still very cautious with her emotions and nerves but the confidence is now beginning to build. So as I bed in for the ongoing teenage years I raise a glass to those of you surviving the same and those who made it through to the other side. I think I’ve got it quite easy if I’m honest but that could very well just be the return of my chilled and calm outlook.

But saying that, I’ve yet to have the first boyfriend (or girlfriend) surface yet though. Now where did I put my samurai sword….?

EDITORS WEEK

It’s never been lost on my how important good friends are and I consider myself very lucky to have the friends that I do.

We all have ‘friends’ but there is always those that are more than that, people with a deeper connection and stronger purpose. This is usually and should be a small circle, a core of friends that know you, understand you and taking all that into consideration still tolerate having you around!

Speaking for myself and with my friends, I love them. We all bring something different to the table but are all on exactly the same page. It doesn’t matter how many times we reminisce about a thing, it doesn’t matter what the passage of time has been since we saw each other it just picks up instantly from where we left off. From prepubescent boys, through our teenage years, sailing through our twenties and thirties and currently coasting through our forties nothing gets old, no one falls out or argues. All we want is to have a laugh and know that everyone else is happy in their lives. That’s maybe why is seems to be a winning formula. There’s no drama, no spite or jealousy just a few guys enjoying their lives together.

Heck it’s even why I started MANPEDIA, so hopefully we can build a professional life together too, seeing the world and experiencing as much as we can.

It’s these times, the nights out, the trips away, the gigs, the meals, when we catch up and spend the night belly laughing it really makes me thankful for those around me. It’s testament to the pros of keeping your circle small.

So as the week goes, it’s been nice to be reminded of the kind and genuine people around me. It’s been a week of family visits, photography trips and just quite simply good times.

It’s been a welcome reminder that while the world we love in seems to spiral further out of control that the simple things can make it all wash away in a heartbeat.

SD

BE A GOOD LISTENER

When you’re told, “Listen!” by someone, most often you think, “I need to hear this.” Listen to your teacher’s instructions; listen to your parents’ rules; listen to the information your friend is sharing. But listening is so much more than hearing. It’s what happens when we not only open our ears, but also open our minds – and sometimes our hearts – to another person. 

“I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
Larry King

boy with hand to ear

Good listening isn’t something that we should limit to authority figures. It’s something you can do with everyone you encounter: your friends, your family, significant others, new people in your life – and even yourself. Effective listening offers you many benefits, and encourages the speaker to feel valued as well.

Being a good listener is important for a number of reasons. There’s the obvious practical side – you can’t do well academically if you don’t pay attention to instructions, you’ll get in trouble at home if you drown out your parents when they’re laying down the rules, and you won’t keep a job if you ignore your boss’s orders. Good listening connects you to the world around you and helps you understand your responsibilities.

Aside from the practical benefits, being a good listener is important for the quality of your sociallife. What kind of relationship would you have with someone who talks all the time and never listens to you? No real relationship at all. There is reciprocation in the communications involved in any good relationship – a “back and forth,” a mutual exchange. If you’re being talked at without being listened to in return, that’s no relationship; and the same goes if you’re the one doing all the talking. Being a good listener fosters meaningful relationships with those around you.

Finally, listening to others, and listening well, is important for your personal developmentbecause it allows you to expand your horizon. As Larry King points out in the quote above, we don’t learn things from what we have to say; we learn from what others have to say. We each have a world of our own, filled with our thoughts, ideas, opinions, values, experiences and perspectives. Collectively, these make up our horizon. One of the best ways to expand that horizon is to expose ourselves to other thoughts, ideas, opinions, values, experiences and perspectives. We do this by opening our ears and minds to them. We do this by listening.

Listening vs. Hearing

“When you are listening to somebody, completely, attentively,
then you are listening not only to the words,
but also to the feeling of what is being conveyed,
to the whole of it, not part of it.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti

A good place to start on your way to becoming a better listener is to think about the difference between listening and hearing. Hearing is a sense – it happens when sound hits our ears and involves the processing of sound in the brain. I hear a truck outside my window. I hear my roommate’s footsteps upstairs. Hearing is a passive physical process. In this sense, saying “I hear” is almost too generous, since it describes hearing as an action I perform. It’s not something that I “do,” it’s simply that sound is heard by my ears and, to some extent, by my brain.

Listening, on the other hand, is an action we consciously take. When we listen, we go beyond simply hearing words by giving our attention to what is being said. In the section above, we went over the practical, social and personal developmental benefits of listening well. Now, let’s consider what kind of attention is required to listen effectively in these three areas.

  • Practical: This one’s pretty basic. When you listen to instructions, you pay attention to them with the intention of understanding them. This allows you to do well on tests, stay out of trouble, keep a job, and do what you are supposed to do among other things.
  • Social: When you listen to another person attentively and try to understand him or her, you go beyond the words to the speaker, him- or herself. This may be what Krishnamurti was getting at in the above quote – we should listen to the feeling withinwhat a person says. Speakers and their intentions or feelings are part of the words they speak. Until we consider those intentions or feelings without immediately butting in with our own, we’re not listening to the whole of the speaker’s words. Listening involves empathy – the act of putting yourself in another’s shoes, attempting, to the extent possible, to understand what he or she feels. In this sense, listening involves not only the brain and ears, but the heart as well. When we give our attention to the person speaking as well as to the words spoken, we are treating that person and his or her feelings with respect.
  • Personal Development: When we give our attention to other people and try to understand them, we are treating them as people with something potentially valuable to say. In this way, we acknowledge that the individual before us, whose experiences and perspective are different from our own, may be giving us something of a gift. Listening well is how we set ourselves up to accept that gift, with the full understanding that our own world is limited and that the speaker may be able to expand our horizon and improve our understanding of the world around us. When we listen to another, we allow ourselves to reflect, learn and grow as we work to make more informed choices in our own life. 

boy with hands over his ears

It should also be noted that effective listening involves paying attention to what is said, but not judging it at that time. Judgment is a different faculty, and one that should certainly be used after you have listened to another. Paying a person respect with your attention doesn’t mean accepting everything another person says. Sometimes, what people have to say is not very valuable, or could even be harmful to us – their “gift” is no gift at all. But we can’t judge another person’s offerings very well if we have not first allowed them into our minds and hearts, nonjudgmentally, by attentively listening to them. Only by listening first are we in a good position to know if we’ve been given a gift or something never to be a part of our thinking or our lives. 

Why Don’t We Listen?

While being a good listener is certainly important for getting by in the world, for the quality of our relationships with others and for our own development, it likely doesn’t come naturally for most of us. One study, reported in the book Business Communications: Strategies and Skills, found that the average person retains only about 25% of what he or she hears. That means most of us are missing out information when we’re not paying close attention. Here are some common reasons people don’t listen well:

  • Self-absorption: Frankly, it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own worlds, populated by our own thoughts, values, ideas, opinions, etc. In a sense, we’re each the center of our own universe. It can be easy to forget that we aren’t the center of everyone else’s – that each individual has his own universe, and one of the ways each universe expands is by allowing another to share part of theirs with you. A “me-centered” attitude is a huge impediment to good listening.
  • Know-it-all attitude: As mentioned above, listening is one of the most effective ways to learn and grow. However, sometimes we like to think that we’ve already got it all figured out. So we don’t allow the perspectives, knowledge, ideas, opinions, etc. of others entry into our minds and hearts. Sadly, we’re wrong – none of us, no matter how old, smart, cultured, mature – has it all figured out. So long as there are different perspectives and experiences in the world – and there are as many different perspectives and experiences as there are people – there’s always something new we could learn from someone else.
  • Distraction: Sometimes we simply get distracted. There is no shortage of distractions today, particularly with the number of smart phones, apps, text messages, viral videos, memes and so on drawing our attention away from people in the flesh to the screen. It’s commonplace for young people to pull out a phone at work or in the middle of a conversation and start texting, “liking,” browsing the internet. We may also simply drift off in thought when someone is speaking to us – an older but in no way extinct form of distraction.
  • Overestimating our listening skills: If you think you’re already great at something, why work to improve it? The truth is, no matter how well we may listen now, listening is a skill that can be developed. Like all skills, performance increases with practice. Listening well is something we have to work for, and we won’t do that work if we’re convinced we have nothing to improve upon.

We owe it to ourselves and to those around us to cultivate our listening skills. For some of us, this may mean first dropping the ego, accepting that we aren’t the center of the universe and that we don’t know it all. For others, the obstacle may be distraction; this, too, can be overcome. 

Improve Your Life: Become a Better Listener

If you want to improve your life practically, socially and developmentally, become a better listener. Having finished this first part, you can now proceed to Part 2 of this series. There, you’ll learn about common listening mistakes people make, allowing you to more easily identify these and avoid them in the future. You will also find a detailed action plan for developing and implementing better listening skills. It is our hope that this series will provide you with a newfound appreciation for what other people have to offer you and equip you with tools to become a better listener.

SOBER OCTOBER

Giving up alcohol completely is no easy task. After all, cracking open a frosty one or pouring out a dram of your favourite whisky at the end of a hard day’s work is one of life’s great pleasures. It is, however, a pleasure that can hit your health hard if you overindulge.

It would seem that many people are taking the health risks of alcohol on board, with 13% of adults saying that have stopped going for a drink with one friend because they believe that pal drinks too much, according to research from Macmillan Cancer Support.

The research also suggests that there is a shift among young adults to socialising without alcohol, a trend Macmillan has called “soberlising”. Let’s be honest, that name probably won’t catch on, but the trend might – in fact, one in eight young adults doesn’t drink at all.

If the idea of going completely cold turkey on alcohol sounds horrendous to you, trying a sober month might be a better option. If you need further convincing that joining in with Macmillan’s Go Sober for October campaign is a good idea, we’ve got some pro advice that might just make your mind up for you.

In support of Go Sober for October, we asked nurse John Newlands and fitness expert Matt Kendrick to detail eight eye-opening health and fitness benefits that you can expect to enjoy when taking a break from the beer, covering everything from a happier mood and a slimmer waistline to better sex, a handsomer face and a drive to rediscover your top fitness levels.

RECOMMENDED: Sober Survival Tips from Coach Readers

You’ll Wake Up Feeling Awesome

Just as day follows night, an unshakeable fatigue follows a big session on the booze because getting a solid night’s kip is tricky with one too many beers inside you. “Alcohol interrupts your normal sleep pattern, so waking up after a few hours or feeling exhausted the next day is common,” says Newlands. “Taking a break from alcohol will enable you to get better-quality sleep, ultimately giving you more energy.” Expect to achieve more at work, smash some running PBs and be in a better mood.

The Person You Sleep Next To Will Wake Up Feeling Awesome

If you’re commonly accused of taking a buzzsaw to bed, a sober October should help you keep it in the shed where it belongs. Let Newlands explain: “On top of interrupting your normal sleep pattern, alcohol also relaxes your throat muscles which causes you to snore when you do get to sleep. Taking a break for a while could help you, and your partner, get a better night’s kip.”

RECOMMENDED: How to Stop Snoring

You’ll Dodge The Biscuits

Ever wondered why you want to eat utter trash when drunk or hungover? “Alcohol plays havoc with your blood sugar levels, causing your body to crave sugar and starchy foods. Staying off the booze will give you a much better chance of making healthier food choices,” says Kendrick.

RECOMMENDED: How Many Calories in a Kebab?

You’ll Find a New Level of Training Motivation

Every failed miserably at dragging your sorry behind to the gym with a groggy head? Of course you have. We all have. “A hangover write off the whole day and leave you feeling lazy, lethargic and absolutely not wanting to train,” says Kendrick. Waking up fresh will boost your levels of motivation and, Kendrick adds, “reducing the calories that alcohol brings means you can look forward to more effective training and better results.”

You’ll Shed The Midriff Bulge

And finally, one for all of us who look at ourselves in the mirror each morning and grip our beer bellies in sheer frustration. That food baby’s coming off, champ. “Alcohol mobilises insulin, a fat-storing hormone, which can lead to the production of fat cells around the middle,” Kendrick explains. “You’ll be amazed how quickly your waistline starts to shrink when you bin the booze.”

RECOMMENDED: The Best 4-Week Diet Plan is No Booze

You’ll Look Handsomer

When you finally succumb to the urge and “break the seal” in the pub, it’s not only your internal plumbing that you’re putting under strain. It’s your skin, too. “Alcohol is a toxin that makes you go to the loo more often. It also makes your kidneys work harder and your liver has to go into overtime to break it down,” Newlands explains. “This leads to dehydration, which can cause dry, flaky skin.”

You’ll Banish Embarrassing Sex

Cue the gut-wrenching flashbacks… “Sadly, brewer’s droop isn’t a myth – too much booze over a long period can lead to problems getting and maintaining an erection,” Newlands says.

You’ll Quash Your Moody Spells

“While your first drink may make you feel better,” says Newlands, “booze is actually a depressant. Those dreaded hangover blues, or beer fear, are caused by a direct effect of alcohol on your brain chemistry.” Yep, while one drink is OK, pretty soon booze will betray you by interfering with neurotransmitters in your head and can even reduce your levels of happiness-boosting serotonin. Not cool.

If you want to get involved, register here:

Sober for October

YOUR FELLOW MAN

Too often the trend in our society is for people to be separated from either other, to be cut off from the great mass of humanity, and in doing so to be dehumanized a little bit more with each step.

Cars have taken us off the streets, where we used to greet each other and stop to chat. Cubicles have taken away a bit of the humanity in working, as have factories and even computers to some extent. Television has planted us firmly in our living rooms, instead of out with other people. Even movie theaters, where many people get together, cut us off from true conversation because we’re staring at a big screen.

And while I’m not railing against any of these inventions (except perhaps the cubicle), what we must guard against is the tendency of that individuality to have us focused on ourselves to the exclusion of our fellow human beings. The tendency towards selfishness rather than giving, on helping ourselves rather than helping our brothers and sisters in humanity.

I’m not saying we’re all like that, but it can happen, if we’re not careful.

So strike back against the selfishness and greed of our modern world, and help out a fellow human being today. Not next month, but today.

Helping a fellow human being, while it can be inconvenient, has a few humble advantages:

  1. It makes you feel better about yourself;
  2. It connects you with another person, at least for a moment, if not for life;
  3. It improves the life of another, at least a little;
  4. It makes the world a better place, one little step at a time;
  5. And if that kindness is passed on, it can multiply, and multipy.

So take just a few minutes today, and do a kindness for another person. It can be something small, or the start of something big. Ask them to pay it forward. Put a smile on someone’s face.

Don’t know where to start? Here’s an extremely incomplete list, just to get you thinking — I’m sure you can come up with thousands more if you think about it.

  1. Smile and be friendly. Sometimes a simple little thing like this can put a smile and warm feeling in someone else’s heart, and make their day a little better. They might then do the same for others.
  2. Call a charity to volunteer. You don’t have to go to a soup kitchen today. Just look up the number, make the call, and make an appointment to volunteer sometime in the next month. It can be whatever charity you like. Volunteering is one of the most amazing things you can do.
  3. Donate something you don’t use. Or a whole box of somethings. Drop them off at a charity — others can put your clutter to good use.
  4. Make a donation. There are lots of ways to donate to charities online, or in your local community. Instead of buying yourself a new gadget or outfit, spend that money in a more positive way.
  5. Redirect gifts. Instead of having people give you birthday or Christmas gifts, ask them to donate gifts or money to a certain charity.
  6. Stop to help. The next time you see someone pulled over with a flat tire, or somehow in need of help, stop and ask how you can help. Sometimes all they need is a push, or the use of your cell phone.
  7. Teach. Take the time to teach someone a skill you know. This could be teaching your grandma to use email, teaching your child to ride a bike, teaching your co-worker a valuable computer skill, teaching your spouse how to clean the darn toilet. OK, that last one doesn’t count.
  8. Comfort someone in grief. Often a hug, a helpful hand, a kind word, a listening ear, will go a long way when someone has lost a loved one or suffered some similar loss or tragedy.
  9. Help them take action. If someone in grief seems to be lost and doesn’t know what to do, help them do something. It could be making funeral arrangements, it could be making a doctor’s appointment, it could be making phone calls. Don’t do it all yourself — let them take action too, because it helps in the healing process.
  10. Buy food for a homeless person. Cash is often a bad idea if it’s going to be used for drugs, but buying a sandwich and chips or something like that is a good gesture. Be respectful and friendly.
  11. Lend your ear. Often someone who is sad, depressed, angry, or frustrated just needs someone who will listen. Venting and talking through an issue is a huge help.
  12. Help someone on the edge. If someone is suicidal, urge them to get help. If they don’t, call a suicide hotline or doctor yourself to get advice.
  13. Help someone get active. A person in your life who wants to get healthy might need a helping hand — offer to go walking or running together, to join a gym together. Once they get started, it can have profound effects.
  14. Do a chore. Something small or big, like cleaning up or washing a car or doing the dishes or cutting a lawn.
  15. Give a massage. Only when appropriate of course. But a massage can go a long way to making someone feel better.
  16. Send a nice email. Just a quick note telling someone how much you appreciate them, or how proud you are of them, or just saying thank you for something they did.
  17. Show appreciation, publicly. Praising someone on a blog, in front of coworkers, in front of family, or in some other public way, is a great way to make them feel better about themselves.
  18. Donate food. Clean out your cupboard of canned goods, or buy a couple bags of groceries, and donate them to a homeless shelter.
  19. Just be there. When someone you know is in need, sometimes it’s just good to be there. Sit with them. Talk. Help out if you can.
  20. Be patient. Sometimes people can have difficulty understanding things, or learning to do something right. Learn to be patient with them.
  21. Tutor a child. This might be difficult to do today, but often parents can’t afford to hire a tutor for their child in need of help. Call a school and volunteer your tutoring services.
  22. Create a care package. Soup, reading material, tea, chocolate … anything you think the person might need or enjoy. Good for someone who is sick or otherwise in need of a pick-me-up.
  23. Lend your voice. Often the powerless, the homeless, the neglected in our world need someone to speak up for them. You don’t have to take on that cause by yourself, but join others in signing a petition, speaking up a a council meeting, writing letters, and otherwise making a need heard.
  24. Offer to babysit. Sometimes parents need a break. If a friend or other loved one in your life doesn’t get that chance very often, call them and offer to babysit sometime. Set up an appointment. It can make a big difference.
  25. Love. Simply finding ways to express your love to others, whether it be your partner, child, other family member, friend, co-worker, or a complete stranger … just express your love. A hug, a kind word, spending time, showing little kindnesses, being friendly … it all matters more than you know.

EDITORS WEEK IN REVIEW

So there I was on the train home, flicking through the socials as we all do when I encountered a post that pretty much made me stop in my tracks and got me thinking. So firstly, applause to the post because it did exactly what we hope every post does. It got my attention and it held it. So much so that I made it a topic of conversation with my 13 year old daughter when I got home. After all, the post would be deemed to be very relevant to her age bracket.

The post itself? Well here it is and it is not for me to condone or condemn, freedom of speech is something we thrive on as a nation. I just wanted to raise this meme to effectively start s discussion. To hear your thoughts to it’s message.

As we all know we bask in memes all day every day with some almost becoming so viral that they are a household products. That is the power of social media, it can convey any message to an audience of absolute millions and millions. What a tool to possess, for the right message.

But here we are, someone has taken the time to create and send out this meme to an audience to whom I feel may be the most influenced and fragile even in the most traditional of times but now where filters are torn down people are exposed to content, views and influences when quite honestly they may not be ready to be. We all wanted to be grown up and beyond our years and now that power is applied more and more as time rolls on. Fantastic, everyone should have a voice but… a voice also has hearing and being that when a generation is working out where they are, who they are such negative vibrations could cause catastrophic ripples.

The younger people of our population as their bodies begin to fill with hormones have the freedom to feel and be whatever their soul feels aligned to, which is amazing. But they are still just children. The most delicate of confidence and so easily influenced by the freight train that is social media. Caution is advised when dealing with this ever evolving issue.

If we as a society enable those of us wanting to chose our own individual path so the smoothest of plains can be attained then let’s not show that streak of human cruelty by pulling the rug out from under their feet.

Sending a message that if you are not by traditional values one thing or another then you clearly must be something else and that something else is not a good thing. Is cold and heartless, possibly simply born from a fear or lack of understanding. I don’t fully understand the volume of genders, maybe because I have never felt anything but my gender so therefore simply can never understand what it feels like. But I can relate to mental illness and mental wellbeing, we all can. We’ve all at some point been at a low point, thinking and making decisions when our minds are fogged.

The mixed message this meme sends out is dangerous. In a time where we should be helping and nurturing each other regardless of our age, gender, sexual preference, background or any other measure you want to apply to it. Life these days is tough, let’s not make it any harder for ourselves.

I would love to know your thoughts on this subject.

To close out, should it be worth pointing out that each of the gender symbols appear to spur from a circle. Looks like regardless of who we are, we may have something in common.

We’re all people…

Scott.

WELLNESS AT WORK

We spend a shockingly high percentage of our lives at work. If your people are unhappy, unhealthy or have any other issues surrounding wellness – then you must address this! Failure to establish a culture that encourages wellness will lead to your people having wandering eyes and your business being less attractive to the next generation of workers, who often value happiness over pay and benefits…

You might have spent time and resources on building a strong vision and brand, improving your product/services and investing in new tech. But that overlooks the most important element of your business… your people! What have you done to improve their wellness? I thought it was timely to highlight the importance of a happy and engaged workforce as it’s “Cranky Co-Workers day” tomorrow!

THE IMPORTANCE OF WORKPLACE WELLNESS

We recently compiled our own research into what factors most affect the happiness and well-being of people at work. We surveyed over 2,500 employers and employees around the globe. Our results highlighted that factors like enjoyment of role, trust and work-life balance are more important to employees than salaries – when it comes to feeling happy at work.

(To read our whitepaper which outlines all our research Click Here)

Workplace wellness is critical to your business due to the huge cost implications related to employee illness and stress. According to the 2017 Health and Safety Executive report, “37% of all work-related sickness is due to stress, including anxiety and depression; costing UK employers an estimated £3.7 billion a year in absenteeism.”

So what sort of initiatives should you implement to improve workplace wellness within your business?

Tips to improve workplace wellness:

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE TRAINING

Superior emotional intelligence (EQ) improves your worker’s performance, wellness and stress levels. Sounds too good to be true, right? To effectively develop a culture of mindfulness and self-reflection it is important to have training sessions or even ”lunch ‘n’ learns” that provide practical exercises and takeaways to help improve EQ.

Here at The Happiness Index HQ, we have an in-house specialist who has empowered us to diagnose our EQ personality types:

  • Emotional – expressive, empathic, creative, energetic…
  • Instinctive – knowing decisive, territorial, conviction, certainty…
  • Rational – logical, organised, objective, process-driven…
  • Reflective – intuitive, self-aware, insightful, visionary…

This helps us understand how to communicate with each other and work collaboratively. This is an effective technique for wellness, as we modify our behaviours to ensure we complement each other’s working practices. We also know when to take our foot off the pedal if someone is more sensitive to certain behaviours, or personality types.

ASK DAILY WELLNESS QUESTIONS

An effective technique is to ask your people questions daily that make them consider how they approach their day in terms of healthy mind, body and working practices. You don’t necessarily need written or verbal answers. Simply asking the questions will lead to the individual considering their choices and answering internally. This will help your people to think positively and tailor their working practices.

Example questions:

  • “What are your personal goals toward your own health and well-being today?”
  • “What form of exercise will you partake in today?”
  • “What can you do today that will make you happy?”
  • “What can you do today to improve someone else’s day?”

FOCUS ON FLEXIBILITY

“Working nine to five” may have been a big hit for Dolly Parton but for most of us, it’s archaic. It’s also a very unattractive prospect!

Thanks to technology people expect to be able to fulfil their duties away from the office. People can work in any country and at any time – day and night. Assuming everything gets done, does it really matter if everyone is chained to a desk all day?

It goes without saying that not everyone can work from home effectively, so it’s important to get to know your people and learn what works best for everyone. For those who do work well from home, it will lead to a boost in performance and offer a break from a grim commute and the stresses of office politics.

CONSIDER THE LOSADA LINE

We borrowed this strategy from workplace psychology guru Shawn Achor and his incredible book The Happiness Advantage. The theory is centred around focussing on the number 2.9013. Don’t worry I’ll explain…

According to mathematician Marcial Losada, this is the ratio of positive to negative interactions required to make a workforce happy and ultimately successful. The idea is that it takes about three positive comments, experiences or even expressions to fend off feelings of negativity and sadness. If you drop below this ratio your worker’s wellness and performance will drop and if you rise above it at a ratio of 6 to 1 – you are in the golden range where performance is highest and workplace wellness improves massively. Start complimenting your people and getting them to “pay it forward”. What have you got to lose?

SLEEP HAPPY, WAKE HAPPY

Another powerful approach is a self-reflection exercise that encourages positive thinking. This is also a by-product of The Losada Line. The practice involves reflecting on your day just before bed and thinking of three positive things that happened to you in the last 24 hours. This ensures you scan your memories with a positive filter and start to see the good in things… even if they are minute and your day was particularly bad! Eventually, this way of thinking will be instilled and you will start to think more positively in general.

By encouraging your people to do this, you will create a team of happy workers who look for the best in every situation.

“IT’S BETTER TO GIVE THAN TO RECEIVE”

Businesses are quick to invest in perks in their mission to boost wellness and productivity. The reality is that it takes more than that to make a sustainable difference.  By partnering with charities or local environmental drives you will allow your people to actively help others and witness how their efforts create positive outcomes for more than just a balance sheet.

This will improve staff wellness and happiness, as they will have more of a sense of purpose and will be proud to work for a business that genuinely cares about real-world issues. We recently partnered with Hope for children – a charity that helps to enrich the lives of underprivileged children around the globe. From a personal viewpoint, I find it very motivating to know that the harder I work, the more we can contribute to this great cause.

If that didn’t convince you, it will also bolster your customer relationships. This is demonstrated by The UK Small Business Consortium; “88% of consumers said they were more likely to buy from a company that supports and engages in activities to improve society.”

USE YOUR SPACE CLEVERLY

We spoke with Head of Design at Studio 11, Paul Bateman to discover whatare the best office designs to facilitate collaboration, health and productivity,“Companies are trying to attract and retain talent straight out of university and many students are used to the modern hot-desking approach that promotes flexible working. These non-corporate office style designs are increasingly more popular because businesses need to be agile to keep up in competitive markets.”

To further promote this flexible approach, you can make small tweaks to your existing office to maximise your space, whilst encouraging collaboration and catering to different working styles/needs. Some examples could be interactive walls that people can draw on, offices that moonlight as break-out areas or even nap rooms when not in use! Turn the conference room into a games room so people can take short breaks or have a game of table tennis during a meeting. Consider getting power sockets installed in comfy chairs, so people can work from a laptop in comfort. 

Health and fitness is another huge area that can be incorporated into office design. By installing furniture that doubles as exercise equipment you will encourage people to be less sedentary at work – which is a major health risk.  This can involve standing desks, exercise balls for chairs or treadmills with laptops attached so you can take a light stroll whilst you fill out your pivot table.

The options are endless. Find solutions that align with your budget and culture, then ask your people what changes they want to see. This is a huge step towards creating an environment where people will be excited to come to work.

FILL THEIR STOMACHS

The way to a worker’s heart is their belly. Your office should provide access to organic, healthy and tasty foods at affordable prices. This may also encourage workers from different departments to eat together and socialise.

Depending on budgets you can even provide complimentary meals, or at the very least healthy snacks like fruit, salad bars and possibly the occasional sweet treat for morale! You could also install a drinks fridge for after work socialising.

Provide advice and healthy eating programmes to educate everyone how to eat healthily and the positive implications it will have on their work and personal lives.

PROVIDE FINANCIAL AND RETIREMENT EDUCATION

A necessary employee wellness initiative is providing financial education that is based on different stages of everyone’s life and career. For example, new starters you can explain about investment and how pension schemes work. Whereas for older workers you can provide retirement coaching to alleviate concerns. This will help prepare them for a future where they won’t be employed.

This will encourage mindful career planning (and beyond), be a catalyst for positive change and most importantly demonstrate how much you care about everyone’s well-being.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY

Communication is the cornerstone of a healthy and happy workplace. Create an environment that encourages and empowers everyone to share their feelings and vent any concerns. This is a very healthy technique. By implementing a flexible feedback programme that allows everyone to voice their concerns and express sentiment – you can start to create action plans to remedy concerns, build on successes and promote a happier workplace where everyone has a say! This will ensure that “Cranky Co-workers Day” is nothing more than an abstract concept for you, your workers and all your stakeholders.

Here at The Happiness Index, we are advocates of our happiness formula: Happiness + Engagement = Productivity. Workplace wellness is synonymous with high performance, high retention rates and high revenue.  By following the above tips and concentrating on your people and their wellbeing, you will create a culture of health, happiness and productivity. This will boost workplace wellness, make you more attractive for new talent and help you become a workplace for the future.

THE MILKY WAY

The Milky Way Galaxy is our home galaxy in the universe. It is a fairly typical barred spiral with four major arms in its disk, at least one spur, and a newly discovered outer arm. The galactic centre, which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth, contains at least one supermassive black hole (called Sagittarius A*), and is crossed by a bar. The Milky Way began forming around 12 billion years ago and is part of a group of about 50 galaxies called the Local Group. The Andromeda Galaxy is part of this group as are numerous smaller galaxies, including the Magellanic Clouds. The Local Group itself is part of a larger gathering of galaxies called the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies.

Milky Way Galaxy Profile

Facts about the Milky Way

  • The Milky Way began as a series of dense regions in the early universe not long after the Big Bang. The first stars to form were in globular clusters that still exist. They are among the oldest stars formed in the Milky Way region.
  • The Milky Way has grown by merging with other galaxies through time. It is currently acquiring stars from a very small galaxy called the Sagittarius Dwarf Spheroidal, as well as gobbling up material from the Magellanic Clouds.
  • The Milky Way moves through space at a velocity of about 552 kilometres per second (343 miles per second) with respect to the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation.
  • The Milky Way’s central core contains a supermassive black hole. It is commonly referred to as Sagittarius A*. It contains the mass of about 4.3 million Suns.
  • The stars, gas and dust of the Milky Way all orbit the centre at a rate of about 220 kilometres per second. This constant rate for all stars at different distances from the core implies the existence of a shell of dark matter surrounding our galaxy.
  • Our galaxy will collide with Andromeda Galaxy in about 5 billion years. Some astronomers refer to our two galaxy as a binary system of giant spirals.