April 29, 2018

Hobbies That Can Do More Than Just Pass The Time

Note: This post has been contributed.

It’s good to have a hobby, and at some point in your life it’s likely that you’ve had one. Whether it be playing with lego, kicking a ball around a pitch, or even painting your nails, there’s something that you’ve enjoyed doing as a hobby. However, hobbies don’t just have to be something you enjoy doing to pass the time. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s always great when you can take more away from it than just a few hours of your time. There are many hobbies that can do more than just pass the time. To name a few:

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Many people take to blogging because it gives them a chance to reach out to like minded people, and blog about what they are passionate about. Did you know that not only can you easily do both of these things, but you can make money from doing so as well? Many bloggers begin their blog as a hobby and end up finding their feet and turning into a business in which they can make some extra money on. Thousands of people around the world even live off what started off as a hobby! Take a look at this guide on how you can start your own blog and even some tips on how to begin making money from it too!

Venturing outdoors is an amazing hobby to take up because it allows you to clear your mind of anything that’s troubling you. Not only that, hiking is a strenuous activity that will help keep you fit and healthy. You can pick up women and men’s hiking shoes fairly cheaply these days, and that’s literally all you need to continuously enjoy your new hobby. One other thing that you might want to invest in is a decent camera so that you can capture all of the amazing sights that you see on your journeys!

You’ve probably heard of stamp collecting, and many people do it because they enjoy finding all the different designs of stamps and keeping them as a collection. Why not try collecting something that you’re passionate about? Whether it be stamps, old school toys, wine or even records, it will give you enjoyment being able to collect the latest trend and also save it to look at whenever you feel like it. Not only that, in years to come you could fetch yourself a pretty penny for your collection!

Finally, gardening is another perfect example of a hobby that can do more than just pass the time. It allows you to destress in the comfort of your own garden, experiment with new plants and ideas for your garden and ultimately, create a haven for you and your family to enjoy and relax in! All you need is a little imagination!

Consider these four hobbies so that you can get more out of your pass times than originally expected!

April 17, 2018

How To Help Your Health By Adjusting Your Mindset

This post has been contributed.

When you first realize that you’re not feeling as healthy as you’d like, you sometimes think that things are just meant to be. That you aren’t meant to enjoy great levels of health. Because our health levels are set in stone right? And unless we take medication or get treatment, there’s nothing we can do about it! Well, if that’s how you think, you’d be wrong. Sometimes, people do get really sick and they will need life-saving treatment - but not every health issue has to be this way. In fact, some can be treated with lifestyle changes more effectively than anything else! So if you want to help your health, you’ll need to adjust your mindset. You can control how you spend your money, so of course, you can control how you choose to live your life. Let’s take a look at five ideas that can help you.

See It As A Choice

First of all, you’re going to want to make sure that you realize that how to approach your health levels is a choice. You can choose to take better care of yourself, and you can choose to acquire the knowledge to help you to do this. Reading and becoming more educated on health and your body can help. Sometimes, all it can take is reading one article to help you change your mindset. But above all else, you do have to realize that your future is ultimately in your own hands.

Focus On Your Hydration

One of the best choices you can make for your health is to drink more water. This is something that you’ll hear time and time again - and for a very good reason. Water is like liquid gold. When you ensure that you’re staying hydrated and drinking at least eight glasses each day, your body will feel transformed. You have more energy, your digestion improves, your skin even gets clearer! So give water a chance just to see what a difference it can make to your body.

Fuel Your Body

Next, you’re going to want to make conscious choices about what you put into your body. Yes fried chicken might taste nice, but what is it doing for your health? When you choose to enjoy whole grain, fruits, and veggies above all else (particularly as a balanced diet), your body will thank you. Your weight will be healthy, you’ll have more energy, and you’ll feel better in yourself too.

Enjoy Some Exercise

And what goes hand in hand with healthy eating? Exercise, of course! Now, you don’t have to become a fitness fanatic, but you do need to move more. Go for a walk, join a class, take up tennis - do what you need to do to keep your body active and health issues at bay.

Prioritize Mental Health

Finally, you also need to make some room for your mental health in there too. Because how you feel in your mind largely impacts on your physical health. You’ll find that these ten tips can help you to get it right. When you actively take time to care for your mind, your body will feel much better and your health will be balanced.

April 16, 2018

So You Want To Change Your Money Habits?

This post has been contributed.

Poor money management is something that many of us are guilty of, and while they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks - it’s never too late to improve the way you handle your money. If you’re fed up with living from paycheque to paycheque and always scraping by before the end of the month, then it’s time you did something about it.

Image: Pxhere

With the right attitude and determination to succeed, you can help to change your money habits to leave you with more money left over, and a healthier approach to your spending.Take a look at some of the ways you can improve your finances below.

Get a clear picture of your money
It’s hard to start improving your money management if you don’t know the reality of your situation. While it can be scary to face up to your debts and spending habits, it’s important that you do so. Make a list of all of your income and your outgoings to help you work out where you’re going wrong. If your outgoings are higher than what you have coming in, you’ll have some much-needed changes to make to your spending.

Set yourself a budget
Creating a budget is a smart way to improve your spending habits. Having a budget that is flexible and easy to follow will make it easier for you to stick to it, and leave you with some savings left over at the end of the month. Budgeting allows you to make sure that all of your outgoings are covered, leaving you with a set amount to spend on things such as clothes and eating out. 

You don’t have to be in a tough financial situation to create a budget. Having an ongoing budget is a good way to manage your money, and can help you plan for any increases or decreases in your income.

Make a plan to clear your debts
Dealing with debt should be at the top of your money priority list, especially if you have some high-interest debts to manage. Every month spent paying back interest is costing you money unnecessarily, and you should aim to do something about it.

Make a list of your debts, putting the ones with the highest interest at the top. Allocate more of your money to paying off the highest interest debts first, paying the minimum payment for the ones at the bottom of the list for now. As you clear your debts, you can work your way down the list to help reduce your overall repayments and pay them back quicker. 

If you’re struggling to manage your debts, make sure that you do something about it. While you can help yourself to manage your debt, there is advice and services available to help you cope with debt.

Cut your spending
Getting a better grip on your spending can change your habits for good, ensuring that you have some money to put into savings each month. Some simple tips for reducing your spending overall include:
  • Reduce your monthly bills by switching utility providers or cell phone services. Use comparison sites to help you find the best deal.
  • Get rid of any services you rarely or never use such as gym membership, subscriptions to on-demand services or magazine subscriptions.
  • Adopt a wiser approach to shopping by using discount codes and coupons.
  • Reduce your weekly grocery spend by planning your meals in advance and avoid picking up items you may not want or need simply because there was a deal.
  • Take time to mull over purchases. Sleeping on a decision might make you realize you don’t need the item at all, saving you money on those typical impulse buys.
  • Entertain at home instead of going out - take turns with your friends so that everyone can get involved.
  • Avoid putting things on a credit card simply because you couldn’t wait to buy it. Wait until you’ve got the money or sacrifice something else to buy the things you really want.
Start saving
Whatever your saving goals, having a savings plan is a good way to help you become smarter with money. Whether you’re hoping to save for a house, to go traveling or for a new car - it’s wise to have a plan of how much you need to save each month. Having some rainy day savings is also a good idea, and is something that will keep you in the habit of saving - even when you’re not saving for something specific. 

Familiarize yourself with different ways to save money, using the savings you make to put into your funds to help your savings grow even quicker.

Once you’ve got some savings in the bag, and an overall healthier financial picture, you can start thinking about making some investments. Investing your money is a good way to help it grow, and you don’t need to be a financial expert to get started. 

There are plenty of ways you can invest your money, including apps designed for first-time investors. Starting off with lower risk investments can help you to develop your confidence in this area, growing your money slowly before you move onto larger scale investments.

As you grow more confident with investing, you can look at other ways to invest your money. It’s worth searching for more info on what you should be investing in to help you get started while talking to an expert or a broker could also help you get the most from your investment. Investing is something that can come with many risks - so you need to make sure that you’re prepared for that before you proceed.

Getting a firm handle on your money situation can help ease stress and concerns about your future. While you can still enjoy your money, being sensible and realistic with your spending can help you to avoid getting into debt and being left with nothing to show for your earnings. Start thinking about your financial future and change your money habits for the better now. 

April 12, 2018

Common Issues Any Of Us Can Still Struggle With In The Workplace

This post has been contributed.

These days, we expect that going to work will be straightforward. Offering a safe and happy environment in which to do our jobs in the required time qe are allocated to do with. There is so much talk about equality, treating people the same, rising talks about pay, and even the way we talk to people being scrutinised, it might be surprising to hear that there are still common issues that have much to do with some of the above happening today.

It isn’t just women who face this problem either. Although it is reported far more about women in terms of some of the most common issues, but men can struggle in this environment as well. Dominating managers, employers that don’t care too much in terms of the welfare of their staff, it can be quite a toxic place to be if you are not careful. In some cases, you may not even feel there is an issue. You just might have that gut feeling that makes you feel uncomfortable, but yet, won’t say anything about it through fear of your job or making more from something. It has to stop. If the media are prepared to report everything there is to know about pay gaps, harassment and bullying, then people need to realise what is happening in their own workplace and take action. I wanted to share with you some of the common issues any one of us can still struggle with in the workplace today, and hopefully offer you a little insight and advice of what to do if you are feeling the pressure. 

Sexual harassment from colleagues or managers

Sexual harassment is such a big area and it isn’t as obvious as you may believe. In the workplace, especially in make or female dominated areas where you feel like a minority. You can find that sexual harassment can be something as trivial as remarks or phrases of a sexual nature directed at you. It can be inappropriate advances, being hassled on a regular basis by phone or email, and can even be physical if you are not careful. Sexual harassment is serious, and it is something that your managers and your employers should take very seriously. There is more about what you can do online if you want to take matters into your hands. Of course, one of the first instances should be to discuss your concerns with a line manager, although, in many situations, the manager is possibly the culprit. Feeling that role of “power” can give them some sort of sway over what they do and how they go about it. Find someone you trust and communicate your issues. If something has made you feel uncomfortable then it probably isn’t right, and definitely something you need to discuss further. 

Being targeted online

The online world can be a great place to communicate with your friends, reconnect with people you haven't seen for a while, and share your pictures and your lives with your nearest and dearest. But it has also become a platform where people are stalking and harrassing people, and this can be extremely common in the workplace where colleagues will look at your profile. Of course, friends and follower requests are there for a reason, and you can pick and choose who sees what you put up online. However, if your privacy settings are not set right, then you could be leaving yourself wide open. People who don’t have a fully private account and check in places are allowing people who they don’t know seeing what you're doing and where you are going. If you want to be involved in social media, then ensure that you have tightened up your privacy settings so that you can’t be targeted and harassed online. 

Made to feel alone

When you are in the workplace surrounded by people, you may be surprised to read that actually some people can feel very much alone in the workplace. Evn in today modern society we can naturally divided into groups and connect with people we have more in common with. This can happen at work very easily as you tend to spend a lot of time with these people, but what it can also do is isolate people, and some people who haven’t confirmed in some way can then be left out and made to feel alone. Perhaps you feel that way. Not party to the inside jokes or the plans being made for after work drinks. If you do feel alone in the workplace try and reach out to people and gain some confidence to step out of your comfort zone and communicate. If you do notice people being left out be the bigger person and include them. It is never a nice feeling to feel lonely. 

Pay gap differences

There has been a lot of coverage about gender pay gaps recently in the press. So much so, that people with celebrity status are speaking out and making the issue more known than ever before. It is calling upon big corporations to disclose what they pay people, and some of the results have been staggering. But on a more normal level, this is still a very prominent issue. Sure companies have a duty of care to be equal to both men and women, but the pay gap can still be evident. Of course, there are other reasons why someone might be paid more than you for a similar job role, and that can be down to experience and skills. But in the same breath, if you are being paid considerably less and there is no rhyme or reason as to why then make sure you raise it with managers and above to get what you deserve. 

Job description not being adhered to

Finally, there can be some employers that can take advantage of people in terms of their kindness and generosity, especially in the workplace. For example, having people take on extra responsibility for things that are predominantly not their area or in their job description. Furthermore, expecting these things to be done without any reward or remuneration. It can still happen today, and so if you do find yourself in this situation make sure you speak up. 

I hope that this has made you more aware of what can still happen in todays workplace. 

April 08, 2018

The Figures Of Sacrifice That Live In The Shadows

Note: This post has been contributed.

No matter how hard you think you have it, think again. Over and over we have to tell ourselves that we’re not the only ones in the world that are going through tough times. Sometimes you can’t even imagine someone else who is suffering and going through traumatizing experiences because you just can’t. Seeing is believing, which is why so many people explore through cultural such as reading stories, watching movies, listening to hauntingly beautiful music etc. it's very easy to allow yourself to believe, you’re the only one that is finding it difficult to cope, seeking answers in life and lacking the motivation to carry on. You’re not! We walk around the society not knowing who is standing or sitting beside us in public transport and when lining up at stores. Have you ever thought you might be standing next to someone who has been or is going through something that is testing their willpower to carry on? These are the figures that walk in the shadows, but bear the greatest burdens in our communities.

Credit AliziaZinn

The blues

They’re known as the men and women in blue. They’re just ordinary people at heart. They come from local communities where they grew up and made lifelong friends in. Every day without fail, they put themselves in harm's way for us. Whenever there is something that disturbs the peace, be it a terrorist attack, or a large house fire, these brave men and women will take the call and respond as fast as possible. So what happens to policemen and women when they retire and can no longer be on the force? There is NARPO which stands for the National Association of Retired Police Officers. They can reconnect with people they served with and live life after work together by going on trips and to events. For those who are injured in the line of duty, life can seem as if it has been robbed from you. Hope For Heroes is a charity dedicated to looking after disabled police officers that have had to leave duty to their injuries. Far from being allowed to fade away into the shadows of society, this charity stages events such as gatherings, dinners, picnics and days out with the similar company. It's a way for those who have lost limbs, eyesight and possibly suffering from PTSD to meet and stay in touch with a really supportive network that can help them stay positive. 

The scars of war

Veterans are some of the bravest and courageous people you can ever meet. When national governments call upon them to protect the country, they answer the call. Usually, in popular culture, we always hear about the aftermath of wars through the microphones of politicians who made those decisions that deployed soldiers to the battlefield. What Max Martini is doing is telling the story from the soldier’s perspective. He’s dedicated seven years of his life to making a movie about a serviceman who returns from war, with scars that many people cannot see. He survived an IED blast which made him the sole survivor of his team. Max is telling this story by looking at the very real impacts of traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress disorders. While everything may look fine on the outside, these warriors can often feel alone as they deal with mental conditions that war has left them with. 

All too often society gets lost in sensationalist nonsense. Whether it be some kind of celebrity spat or political scandal, we always seem to forget that line of men and women who become our shield against evil. 

April 03, 2018

The Gender Pay Gap: Is A Peaceful Protest Worth It?

Note: This post has been contributed.

We live in the most advanced time of our lives at the moment. Technology has advanced us in ways we could have only dreamed of thirty years ago, and yet in some ways we are still living dramatically behind the times. March holds International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate some of the most influential and inspirational women of our lives. With the social media posts, the announcements on the news and the general support of women who work, women who stay at home and women who change the world, there is still one rather large elephant in the room. Despite all our pushes for equality between men and women since the times of Emmeline Pankhurst and the Suffragette movement, there is still a tipped balance in the favour of men in the current world. I’m talking cash money, people!

Salaries are imbalanced and there is a great need for change. When the gender pay gap is being talked about from the stars in Hollywood to the cleaners in the local restaurants, you know it’s big news. It’s not avoidable, because it stares us all square in the face on a daily basis. The gender pay gap affects women of all backgrounds, all races and all ages. The question is, why? If a man and a woman are on the same level of education, the same job title and even the same race if you want to get into the nitty gritty, why does he earn more than her? We’re still trying to figure it out.
asphalt, communication, commuter
If women have less economic power in the workplace and less economic security, there’s a big nod to the phrase that no one says out loud: she’s just not as good as her male counterpart. It’s wrong. And yet many protests for salary equality are blacked out by the media. Usually the reason for this is that the bigwigs in the media corporations are mostly men, and they earn more than their female counterparts. Why would they want to highlight the greed? Why would they want to bring to the surface the fact that others are saying that this isn’t okay? It’s 2018 and it’s time to make a stand.  The last thing that anyone wants is for a woman to throw herself under the horses of royalty all over again to prove a point. We don’t want to go back to a time where women were thrown into prison cells, putting themselves through hunger strikes and force fed purely to be heard. Protesting should be done in a way that gets noticed, but this doesn’t have to include riots. Let’s be honest, rioting is literally the toddler equivalent of pulling a dirty diaper off and smearing it all over your own walls. If you want to protest, it has to be effective and it can’t mean messing up and damaging your own town and your own people. Rioting is also a crime, and companies like Wallin & Klarich can explain to you in layman's terms the futility of getting a felony purely because you want to make a point. We’ve all seen the riots in the news, and they may get attention, but they get the wrong kind of attention.

artistic, blossom, bright

If women want to stand up and be counted, be equal, we need to protest and march again, but we need to do so in a way that is effective and gets the right type of attention. Thankfully, due to the culture of social media in the world that we live in, blogs, vlogs and opinion polls go viral faster than anything. Peacefully protesting your point is lawful in civilised society. No one needs to act like animals to be noticed, because – as the police and lawmakers believe – animals belong in cages and that’s exactly where you can end up: jail. Peaceful protests are respected by the lawmakers and they can bring about change if enough peace can rock the boat. Women now have the right to vote, LGBTQ+ followers now have the right to be recognised and have insults viewed as a hate crime, workers now have the right to be a part of trade unions and be heard by their employers, and all because of peaceful protests. Being able to go out onto the streets and publicise the viewpoints of the public is a good way to gain interest and raise the profile of your campaign. If you’re protesting about the lack of benefits or pay for women, then holding a few days where every woman in your community does not go to work, does not do housework, does not ‘look after’ anyone but herself and her children can be an effective tool in proving their worth.

We need to live in a world where our daughters are as equal in their efforts as our sons. I would be mortified if one day, my own children had a different pay level purely based on their genders. There are companies out there that are still following draconian methods, where women are paid less based on the fact that one day they may leave their roles and procreate. It’s often easier to pay a man more to stay in his job, as he’s less likely to leave because of children. However, this is a very outdated viewpoint. Some women cannot have children. Some choose not to have children. Those who do are still women; they are still people who are educated and deserving of the salary that they have worked hard for. The right protest can bring about change, but it has to be done lawfully for it to be worth it.

Making demands and standing up to be counted has to be legal. Silent protests and sit-ins are very powerful, and women may have been oppressed by men for a long time, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Standing up and being counted takes grit and determination and we all know that women have those qualities in spades.

April 02, 2018

Do You Have A Dream To Understand The Appeal Of Inspiration?

Note: This post has been contributed.

Inspirational quotes are a marmite matter. Some people out there can’t get enough. They spam your Facebook feed with their best finds and even get tattoos of quotes which speak to them the most. Any hard situation they face, they have a set of quotes to hand which they know can see them through.

For others, though, this inspirational frenzy makes no sense. You’ll know you’re one of these people if you’re unaffected by those inspirational memes. You’ve never in your life looked out for the motivational words of someone else when you’re struggling. Instead, you face all your issues head on, and deal with things in the present rather than looking at words from the past.


But, what if we were to tell you that inspirational quotes could serve you better than you think? In fact, people who don’t at least experience some boost from these have possibly just never found the right words. We can almost guarantee that there’s at least a few quotes out there which could help you deal with difficulties. That doesn’t mean, of course, that you need to post your inspiration for the world to see. But, having a private stash of motivation could be a huge help when you need it.

The first thing to bear in mind is that motivation is vastly varied. For proof of how much so, let’s look at the variety found in even the most famous choices

  • ‘I have a dream’ - Martin Luther King said this in his famous ‘I have a dream’ speech, and it’s since gone on to be one of the most cited quotes of all time.
  • ‘And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.’ - Found in the Bible, this has since gone on to be an unofficial slogan for the CIA, and even appears on many a CIA challenge coin. Given its origins, it’s no wonder this gets the inspiration going.
  • ‘Be yourself; everyone else is taken’ - One of Oscar Wilde’s most famous quotes, though certainly not the only one worth your time.
  • ‘There is nothing permanent except change.’ - Greek philosopher Heraclitus famously said this one way back when.
This is by no means an expansive collection, but it proves a pretty good point about the variety on offer. But, of course, throwing a few quotes you’ve likely already heard your way won’t sell you here. Instead, let’s look at a few of the reasons why many people find quotes so inspirational. You may find that a few of these reasons speak to you, too.

A guiding hand

It’s in our nature to look to role models and leaders. Predominantly, this is because there’s always been someone in charge. When we’re younger, our parents lead the way, and our teachers take their place. But, once we fly the nest, it can feel as though we’re in it on our own. That is, of course, until we look to the advice found in quotes from others. Through our readings, we can sometimes convince ourselves that these figures of history are leading the way. Given that the feeling of flying solo is so frightening, it’s easy to see why that would be so appealing. You won’t have to go it alone anymore if you take the lead of these inspirational figures.

It’s also fair to say that we often ascribe coach-like roles to those from whom these quotes originated. The fact that they aren’t actually in our lives doesn’t matter. While reading their words, we can still develop a sense of responsibility to them. And, that ensures we go out and be the best versions of ourselves possible. After reading something which speaks to you, you may feel driven to change those problems you’ve been putting off. You wouldn’t want to let your inspiration down, after all.

A moment of pause

Many of us have a habit of catastrophizing when things go wrong. We may lament ourselves with sentiments such as ‘why does it always happen to me?’. Sometimes, we even convince ourselves that there’s nothing we can do to fix things. And, with an attitude like this, you can be sure your situation will hit you that bit harder. But, having a backup of quotes to turn to can stop you from entering that downward spiral. Instead, you’ll absorb your situation, then have a moment of quiet in which you pick out a quote to make you feel better. You may even suspend thinking about that issue as you scroll through those words which mean so much to you. And, by the time you find the right quote, you should be in a much more peaceful and capable mental state. Instead of panicking, then, you can face the issue head-on and sort it much faster. Try this next time you get some bad news, and see how it serves you. You may find that taking that quiet time out becomes a little like meditation in the face of disaster. And, that’s got to help.

The pure power of words

Let’s not forget that sometimes, quotes find their strength purely through the power of words. It shouldn’t be news to you that many people turn to books and literature to make sense of themselves and the world. Reading can have a massive impact on who you are and how you perceive things. It’s a mind-altering experience for sure. In many ways, the same can be said for quotes which strike a chord with you. Only, these are like emergency shots for when you don’t have time to read a whole book. Still, those quotes have the power to impact how you move forward in your life. If you’ve never experienced that moment of recognition while reading before, you’re in for a treat. Nothing beats that moment when an author or famous figure finds the perfect words to describe how it is to be you. Experience this once, and you’ll fast see the appeal of those quotes.

A Christian Approach To The End Of Life

 Note: This post has been contributed. Unsplash - CC0 License Talking about the end of life isn’t a popular topic. But it is something that ...