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Reasons Why Dogs Make Us Happy

1) You’re never alone
A dog is a true pal who will always be there for you, never judges you and is invariably happy to have you around. Imagine: you get out of the wrong side of bed, you’re feeling blue and are simply not yourself this morning. Then along comes your happy four-legged, tail-wagging buddy. Your pooch places their head on your lap and looks at you with those huge, adoring eyes: “Don’t be sad. Why don’t we go outside?” And your bad mood instantly evaporates 🙂

2) You get plenty of fresh air…
… and you will discover the most beautiful places! A dog needs to be walked regularly. Those already accustomed to owning a dog will know that this is certainly no punishment. In fact, in our busy day-to-day lives at work or in front of the computer, it’s great to be able to go outside and catch your breath. Together with your canine companion, you’ll get to know some of the most beautiful parts of your local area. You’ll enjoy daily visits to pretty bushland, parks and beaches where you can truly unwind and your dog can run free. Those taking a daily walk with their dog generally feel happier and healthier, and are lucky enough to experience nature on a regular basis.

3) A dog teaches you about yourself
A dog is like a mirror into your soul: they are totally honest and their response to human behaviour is pure and unfiltered. Your faithful friend will also react directly to your behaviour and emotions. This can be quite confronting: a dog will consistently pick up on your stress, anxiety or anger. Similarly your confidence and composure will also affect your dog. So, take the time to get to know your dog inside out and you’ll become better acquainted with yourself. And that results in a super special bond between you and your dog!

4) A dog encourages fun social contact
A cute dog attracts all the right attention: “What a sweetie! What’s their name?”  And if you’ve ever taken a dog for a walk, you’ll know that you usually bump into other dog owners and enthusiasts. Which is great, because you can share your experiences and the dogs get to play with each other! Of course, you might not always fancy a chat, in which case you can simply say a friendly hello and continue on your way. But if you do wish to meet new people, you’ll find that a dog is a wonderfully sociable friend to have at your side!

5) A dog is good for your health
A dog is extremely good for your health. Not only because it gets you moving, but also because pet ownership can help to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote the production of endorphins, also known as ‘happy hormones’. Dog owners recover faster and more efficiently after illness, and having a pet also offers health and companionship benefits for the elderly. And children who grow up with dogs are less likely to develop allergies and asthma.

6) A dog brings joy to children
Research has shown that pet ownership is good for both the physical and emotional wellbeing of children – it really is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child! Children confide all of their secrets to their dog, because a dog never judges and is always there to listen. And those who learn about careful and responsible pet ownership at a young age will benefit from it for the rest of their lives. The animals will too, of course!

7) A dog gives meaning to your life
Dog ownership is a huge responsibility and as such it’s essential that you think it through carefully. In your dog’s eyes you’re the master of the universe, the most important person in their life because they are totally dependent on you. As an owner you are responsible for the physical and mental health of this wonderful creature. This might sound daunting, but it’s the real beauty of ownership. Anyone who has ever adopted a dog knows just how great it feels to give such a deserving creature a good home.

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How to Change Unhealthy Habits

Do you ever find yourself standing at the refrigerator when you’re not hungry? Have you ever reached for the one food in your cupboard that is guaranteed to be bad for you?

It’s not just you. We all do it. These are “bad” habits—and habits, by definition, are the things we are so used to that they become our default even when we know better. Instead of using the word “bad,” however, let’s call them “unhealthy”—it’s much more accurate and less judgmental.

Whether it’s not sleeping, lack of exercise, poor food choices, or overindulgence in alcohol—we know these things are not healthy for us. Why do we persist—and just as importantly, how can we stop?

The trick to getting rid of unhealthy habits is to stop justifying our poor choices and rewrite the script so we default to where we want to be. Although positive and affirmative self-talk is powerful, I am not going to whitewash today’s message with unhelpful clichés—which are about as useful as saying “just relax” to someone having a panic attack. Thus, “Just think positively,” or “Flex your willpower muscle” are not on my list of steps towards change. Instead, let’s dive into a really juicy, habit-changing discussion.

Teri Goetz, LAc
Source: Teri Goetz, LAc

First, love yourself into change. The concept is simple. Use some compassion with yourself and notice that your unhealthy behavior is probably an alert that something is off-kilter in your life. Love yourself enough to make some changes. Don’t wait until you hit “rock bottom” to have to make the change.

Most unhealthy habits are in reaction to stress: excessive work (or hating your job), loss, worry, and avoidance of the tough stuff. These kinds of stressors can paralyze us. Change becomes harder than ever and we compensate for the stress by exercising behaviors that, though they are unhealthy, serve a clear purpose for us—whether physical, emotional, or psychological.

10 More Steps to Change Unhealthy Habits

  1. Identify the habits you want to change. This means bringing what is usually unconscious (or at least ignored) to your awareness. It does not mean beating yourself up about it. Make a list of things you’d like to change, and then pick one.
  2. Look at what you are getting out of it. In other words, how is your habit serving you? Are you looking for comfort in food? Numbness in wine? An outlet or connection online? Stress alleviation through eating or nail biting? This doesn’t have to be a long, complex process. You’ll figure it out—and you’ll have some good ideas about how to switch it up for healthier outcomes.
  3. Honor your own wisdom. Here’s a common scenario: You feel like you have no down-time, so you stay up way too late binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix. You know you’ll be exhausted and less productive the next day, but you feel “entitled” to something fun, just for you. Your wisdom, however, knows this is not a healthy way to get it. Use that wisdom to build something into your schedule that will provide what you really want. Realize you do have the answers and are capable of doing something different.
  4. Choose something to replace the unhealthy habit. Just willing yourself to change isn’t enough because it does not address the underlying benefit of the behavior you want to replace. What can you do instead of standing in front of the fridge when you’re stressed? If you have a plan, you will be “armed” with tools and a replacement behavior. Next time you catch yourself not hungry but standing in front of the refrigerator anyway, try a replacement behavior. Some ideas: Breathe in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 8, focusing only on your breathing. Do that 4 times and see how you feel. If you need more support, stand there until you come up with one reason why you shouldn’t continue with this habit. This is a key step. When you do something different to replace an unhealthy habit, acknowledge to yourself that you are doing it differently. You need to bring whatever it is that is subconscious to the conscious mind so that you can emphasize your ability to change. It can be as simple as saying to yourself, “Look at that. I made a better choice.”
  5. Remove triggers. If Doritos are a trigger, throw them out on a day you feel strong enough to do so. If you crave a cigarette when you drink socially, avoid social triggers—restaurants, bars, nights out with friends. This doesn’t have to be forever—just for a while, until you feel secure in your new habit. Sometimes certain people are our triggers. Remember that you end up being like the five people you hang out with most. Look at who those people are: Do they inspire you or do they drag you down?
  6. Visualize yourself changing. Serious visualization retrains your brain. In this case, you want to think differently about your ability to change—so spend some time every day envisioning yourself with new habits. Picture yourself exercising and enjoying it, eating healthy foods, or fitting into those jeans. See yourself engaged in happy conversation with someone instead of standing in the back of the room. This kind of visualization really works. The now familiar idea that “nerves that fire together wire together” is based on the idea that the more you think about something—and do it—the more it becomes wired in your brain. Your default choice can actually be a healthier one for you.
  7. Monitor your negative self-talk. The refrain in your brain can seriously affect your default behaviors. So when you catch yourself saying, “I’m fat” or “No one likes me,” reframe it or redirect it. Reframing is like rewriting the script. Replace it with, “I’m getting healthy, or “My confidence is growing.” Redirecting is when you add to your negative self-talk of “I’m fat” with “But I’m working my way into a healthier lifestyle.” Judging yourself only keeps you stuck. Retrain the judgmental brain.
  8. Take baby steps, if necessary. Even if you can’t fully follow through with a new habit right away, do something small to keep yourself on track. For example, if you’ve blocked out an hour to exercise and you suddenly have to go to a doctor’s appointment, find another time to squeeze in at least 15 minutes. That way, you’ll reinforce your new habit, even if you can’t commit 100 percent.
  9. Accept that you will sometimes falter. We all do. Habits don’t change overnight. Love yourself each time you do and remind yourself that you are human.
  10. Know that it will take time. Habits usually take several weeks to change. You have to reinforce that bundle of nerves in your brain to change your default settings.

Bring the process to your awareness by writing it down. It is very easy to forget a new plan that is conceived with best intentions, but never reinforced. For maximum success, take 15 minutes to plan out your new habit, pen in hand.

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5 Secrets to Gaining Perspective During Trying Times

 

Pixaby
Source: Pixaby

There’s no question that in the present moment, we’re facing huge challenges—personally, nationally, and globally. Sometimes it can all be overwhelming, especially if we listen to or watch the news obsessively. This negative energy can affect us to our cores, thereby hurting our overall well-being. It’s very easy to lose perspective.

We all have our own ways of coping with such difficult times. Some people practice relaxation techniques; others turn to exercise, hobbies, friends, family members, and therapists. However, we all need reminders to do so, and we also need to gain perspective on everything that’s going on.

We might feel a sense of hopelessness and an inability to manage our issues, but one thing we can manage is our emotions and reactions. While many people are turning to their own devices and what’s worked for them in the past, our current situation is quite unprecedented, so it might be helpful to learn new coping skills during these times.

Many of our habits and ways of being have been fostered during childhood, and what emerges for me personally is my way of coping with challenges, which has always been through writing. I have my mother to thank for the red-leather Kahlil Gibran journal she gave me back in the 1960s after my grandmother died by suicide in my childhood home. In those days, therapy wasn’t as commonplace as it is now, so people either suppressed their emotions or shared them with close friends or loved ones. I was a quiet 10-year-old, and my mother was dealing with her own grief, so I needed an outlet for my feelings.

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Why Indoor Plants Make You Feel Better

That whole succulent trend? It’s healthy.
Image: Plants in a bedroom

Houseplants are good for your health — and not just for their visual beauty. Why? They essentially do the opposite of what we do when we breathe: release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide. This not only freshens up the air, but also eliminates harmful toxins. Extensive research by NASA has revealed that houseplants can remove up to 87 per cent of air toxin in 24 hours. Studies have also proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent!), reduce stress levels and boost your mood — making them perfect for not just your home but your work space, too.

How to Create your Personal Plant Sanctuary

An indoor garden can be your refuge from the outside world, and for many people it is a source of great joy. Whether you live in a small apartment, or a large house, by introducing certain plants into your home, you will start to notice improvements to your health, and overall happiness. As well as enhancing your mood and creating a living space that is soothing to be in, plants can also help with loneliness and depression: caring for a living thing gives us a purpose and is rewarding — especially when you see that living thing bloom and thrive.

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What to Do When Disaster Strikes

Lives can be turned upside down by natural disasters, from earthquakes and fires to hurricanes and tornadoes — as well as terrorist attacks and other human-caused disasters. Your best defense is emergency preparedness — having a plan and knowing the steps to take so that you and your family will be ready if disaster strikes.

Has your family put these emergency preparedness basics in place?

  • Learn evacuation routes. Contact your local officials and find out how you should get out of your area if you need to.
  • Have a family emergency plan. Sit down and talk about the emergencies that are most likely to happen in your area. Determine how your family will react in each situation. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has tools to help you put together an emergency preparedness plan.
  • Assemble an emergency kit. In a tote or other easy-to-carry bag, store copies of important documents such as birth certificates, photo identification, medical cards, cash and extra checks, spare keys, a list of important phone numbers, an extra supply of prescription medications, a three-day supply of water and non-perishable food (don’t forget pet food), a first aid kit, a flashlight, matches, blankets, and changes of clothing.
  • Keep your gas tank filled. Since you will likely need your automobile to evacuate your area, it is a good rule of thumb to always refill your gas tank when it dips below half.

7 Disasters and the Steps You Should Take

Here are emergency preparedness specifics for each of the following types of disasters:

  • Earthquake. “Drop, take cover, and hold on.” This means you should drop to the ground, get under a sturdy shelter, maybe a desk or table, and hold on until the ground stops shaking. When the earthquake is over, follow the instructions of local authorities and put your family’s emergency plan into place.
  • Explosion. Take shelter under a desk or table during the explosion, and exit the building as soon as possible once it’s over. Avoid using elevators and be careful of hot doors, since there may be fire on the other side.
  • Fire evacuation. Have a fire evacuation plan for your family with multiple routes of escape from all rooms of the house. If you live in a multi-level home, consider installing escape ladders in the upper levels. If a fire occurs, get out immediately. Do not put yourself in danger by placing a phone call or gathering your valuables.
  • Flood. Listen to the TV or radio for information on where the flooding is happening. In the case of a flood warning in your area, you may be advised to evacuate; in this case, do so immediately. If you are under a flash flood warning, seek higher ground immediately.
  • Hurricane. If you live in a coastal area, have a hurricane plan in place with supplies to cover your home’s windows and secure outdoor objects. If a hurricane is approaching, listen to a local TV or radio station to stay informed, and be prepared to evacuate. Before you leave your home, remember to turn off your utilities and propane tanks as recommended.
  • Terrorist attack. Watch TV, listen to the radio, and check online news sources to determine how authorities suggest you react. If you are in immediate danger, quickly leave the area and contact local authorities to find out what you should do next.
  • Tornado. You should be prepared for a tornado no matter where you live. In a tornado situation, take shelter in a basement, storm cellar, or the most interior room of your home. Stay away from windows, doors, and exterior walls. If you are outside and cannot get to shelter, lie flat in a ditch or other low location.

By planning and practicing with your family about what you will do and where you will go in the case of a natural disaster or other emergency, you will increase your chances of safety.

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3 Tips for Consistently Winning More Clients

If you’re only using the same tried and true techniques for generating business and closing sales, you may be missing out on a chance to grow your company and increase the bottom line. Consistently winning clients requires a commitment to trying new approaches. Don’t miss out on proven strategies just because they make you uncomfortable.

Start Winning New Clients

You never know when one of your current accounts is going to bail, or when a big client will cut back on an order and eat away at your revenue. And while you can’t always prevent these things from happening, you can insulate yourself against situations like these by consistently winning more clients.

It’s easy to get comfortable with your current approach to lead generation, but branching out and trying new things will increase your chances of achieving superior results. Here are some things you can do to really ramp up your efforts:

Constant Lead Nurturing

Networking takes a lot of effort, time, and energy. One of the worst things you can do after meeting with a new lead or having a conversation with a prospect is to go cold. Sure, the prospect might not be ready to convert, but you have to keep them warm.

Drip campaigns work really well and represent one good method of constant lead nurturing. Marketing expert James Scherer suggests using a 4:1:1 email strategy for early-stage nurturing. With this approach, you send out six total emails to clients: four educational, one transition, and one closing.

“Stitch them together with a bit of a delay and you deliver relevant value to your lead, becoming trusted and reliable,” Scherer explains. “So when you happen to mention that your platform or service addresses one of their pain points, they believe you.”

Obviously this is just one example of constant lead nurturing. There are strategies for social media, in-person networking, SMS, voice, and just about any other method you can think of. Find the methods that work best for your business, but make a commitment to not let warm leads go cold.

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7 Steps to Attracting Customers Away From Your Competitors

7 Steps to Winning Your Competitors' Customers

7 Steps to Attracting Customers Away From Your Competitors

Be strategic to encourage competitors’ customers to switch to your brand

BY DAVID HOWELL

One of the most lucrative ways to improve your business is to attract your competitor’s customers to your business. Consumers will switch brands and businesses if they can see real value, so you need to give them a pretty good reason to choose your business over your competitors.

Thorough competitor analysis is the strategic way of developing a clearer picture of what’s happening in the market and giving you a basis to develop your own action plan. Follow these steps to make your business irresistible to your competitor’s customers:

1. Lower your prices

Simply being the cheapest supplier can be an effective way to attract new customers, but what your business sells will have a major impact on how effective this technique will be. If your business sells commodity items such as books, CDs, DVDs etc., which are identical no matter which retailer sells them, consumers will look for the cheapest price.

Value however, is often related to price. An item that has a very low price can frequently be perceived as inferior. Look closely at the pricing structure of your competitors before slashing your own prices, as this could damage the brand value of your company.

And value for money doesn’t simply mean more for your money, as the equation consumers use to decide what price they want to pay for any goods is complex. Attracting customers away from competitors may have a price component, but this isn’t the only factor consumers will use for goods that are not seen as commodities.

2. Create brand loyalty

Inviting customers to become part of your brand can be a powerful attractor. Companies such as Apple illustrate how successful strong brand values can be. Consumers want to be part of a group or tribe that not only delivers great goods or services but, also shows the people in their network they support the values of the brand they associate themselves with.

Trust and interest in a business’ customers and what they do are strong ways your business’ brand can become highly attractive to your competitor’s customers. The emotional ties your business can make via social media for instance can be highly effective. In addition, it has been shown that consumers who are emotionally connected to a brand are less price sensitive, which is why Apple can charge so much more for its products.

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Save the Bees

Honey bees — wild and domestic — perform about 80 percent of all pollination worldwide. A single bee colony can pollinate 300 million flowers each day. Grains are primarily pollinated by the wind, but fruits, nuts and vegetables are pollinated by bees. Seventy out of the top 100 human food crops — which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition — are pollinated by bees.

“In the last four years, the chemical industry has spent $11.2 million on a PR initiative to say it’s not their fault, so we know whose fault it is.”
Jon Cooksey, writer, director, How to Boil a Frog.

What’s Killing the Bees — and Why It Matters

Worldwide bee colony collapse is not as big a mystery as the chemical industry claims.

The systemic nature of the problem makes it complex, but not impenetrable. Scientists know that bees are dying from a variety of factors—pesticides, drought, habitat destruction, nutrition deficit, air pollution, global warming and more. Many of these causes are interrelated. The bottom line is that we know humans are largely responsible for the two most prominent causes: pesticides and habitat loss.

Worker bees (females) live about six weeks in summer and several months in the winter. Colonies produce new worker bees continuously during the spring and summer, and then reproduction slows during the winter. Typically, a bee hive or colony will decline by 5-10 percent over the winter, and replace those lost bees in the spring. In a bad year, a bee colony might lose 15-20 percent of its bees.

In the U.S., winter losses have commonly reached 30-50 percent, in some cases more. In 2006, David Hackenberg — a bee keeper for 42 years — reported a 90 percent die-off among his 3,000 hives. U.S. National Agricultural Statistics show a honey bee decline from about 6 million hives in 1947 to 2.4 million hives in 2008, a 60 percent reduction.

The number of working bee colonies per hectare provides a critical metric of crop health. In the U.S. — among crops that require bee pollination — the number of bee colonies per hectare has declined by 90 percent since 1962. The bees cannot keep pace with the winter die-off rates and habitat loss.

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Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Socialite?

Are you stuck in a marketing rut? Do your efforts focus entirely around email? Is your list growth limited to new website visitors? If so, you may be missing the mark with today’s shoppers who seek out brands that are prominent in fashionable society. They’re looking for socialites! But don’t worry, becoming a socialite isn’t as scary as you may think, thanks to Bronto’s Socialite app. It’s been a little more than a year since we introduced Socialite, and in that time, we’ve seen many customers join the high society, leveraging the features of the social media-focused app to target consumers through Facebook Audiences and Tabs, Twitter Cards and Instagram Shopping. In everyday life, socialites see the value of their ways in their life experiences and interactions with others. But in business, being a socialite with a penchant for social media can often be a difficult expense to justify. With Bronto’s Socialite, the benefits are clear, simple and tangible:

Increase Email Subscriptions

Socialite’s integrations with Facebook Tabs and Twitter Cards give you two quick ways to provide consumers with an easy way to opt in to receiving further communications. And the integration with Instagram lets you easily build an opt-in form to capture a consumer’s email address and Instagram username.Facebook Tab

Increase Revenue

Socialite’s integration with Facebook Audiences allows you to leverage your pre-existing lists and segments within Bronto to target or exclude consumers who see your Facebook ads. This lets you target those consumers who are most likely to be interested in your ad, increasing your likelihood of a click-through and purchase, while reducing your overall ad spend. And who doesn’t love spending less and making more? The same goes for the integration with Instagram Shopping, which lets you build targeted lists of consumers who have expressed interest in specific posts by using custom campaign tags when commenting on those posts, making them more likely to purchase whatever it is your posting about.

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How To Treat Insomnia In 4 Steps

Insomnia is a difficult condition to have because of the challenges when experiencing daytime sleepiness and other side effects. Chronic insomnia can have a real impact on your life, from damage to relationships, difficulties with work or school, and overall clumsiness. Discovering how to treat insomnia quickly and effectively is crucial to getting better sleep and seeing improvement in your day to day life.

  1. Change Your Habits

You may be surprised to find that people with chronic insomnia can benefit from just a few lifestyle changes. There are a number of habits that individuals seem to pick up often that can have a negative impact on the quality of sleep that they receive. To get a good night’s rest, trying to make a few changes is a great start.

Use Your Bed For Sleep

Many people with insomnia use their beds for a number of activities. From watching television to working, browsing social media to tossing and turning, beds are used as a multi-tasking location. However, using your bed in this manner can tell your mind that it is a place of action, not resting. By keeping your bed as a place of sleep, you will likely find that falling asleep at night comes far easier.

Be Conscientious Of Lighting

Evening lighting can be detrimental to your quality of sleep. In fact, common treatments for insomnia involve lighting. Lighting that can hurt sleep includes bright lights from both your home and your devices. By making a point to dim any and all lighting at least an hour before attempting sleep, you may experience better sleep at night. Avoid using devices or bright e-readers before bed as well. Putting a dim nightlight in your bathroom may help you to get through your nighttime routine and can help you to fall back asleep faster if you wake in the night with the urge to go to the restroom.

Discontinue Daytime Naps

Although enjoyable at the time, daytime naps can make sleeping well at night difficult. Even when you find daytime sleepiness taking hold, it’s important to avoid naps at all costs so that sleep at night is more possible. Insomnia treatment often includes challenging patients to avoid sleeping outside certain hours. Skip the nap and get your full 8 hours at night to help rid yourself of insomnia and improve daily life.

Decrease Caffeine Intake 

Although caffeine intake seems like an obvious hurdle to getting the sleep you need, there is caffeine in more items than you might think. Calculate the caffeine that you take in throughout the day and think about cutting it down. If you need a hot beverage in the evening, try chamomile tea instead. However, try to drink your tea well before your regular bedtime so that you aren’t awakened in the night with a full bladder.

  1. Pick Up New Habits

Changing old habits is crucial, but adding new habits can make a huge impact on your sleep as well. It can be difficult to add so many new components to your life at once, so it may be better for you to add each new habit gradually. You may discover the addition of the following habits can help you to fall asleep faster, sleep better, and wake up later.

Add A Morning Workout To Your Routine

Exercise is not only good for your physical and mental health, but it can make falling asleep easier. However, the timing of your workout is crucial. An evening workout that is a couple of hours within your regular bedtime can keep you up later than necessary. A workout that is done in the morning or early afternoon gives your mind and body the time to settle down before sleeping.