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To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible and have good planning and organizational skills. Many people start a business thinking that they’ll turn on their computers or open their doors and start making money – only to find that making money in a business is much more difficult than they thought. You can avoid this in your business ventures by taking your time and planning out all the necessary steps you need to reach to achieve success. Read on to find out how.
1. Get Organized
To be successful in business you need to be organized. Organization will help you complete tasks and stay on top of things to be done. A good way to do this is to create a to-do list each day – as you complete each item, check it off your list. This will ensure that you’re not forgetting anything and you’re completing all the tasks that are essential to the survival of your business.
2. Keep Detailed Records
All successful businesses keep detailed records. By keeping detailed records, you’ll know where the business stands financially and what potential challenges you could be facing. Just knowing this gives you time to create strategies to overcome the obstacles that can prevent you from being successful and growing your business.
3. Analyze Your Competition
Competition breeds the best results. To be successful, you can’t be afraid to study and learn from your competitors. After all, they may be doing something right that you can implement in your business to make more money.
4. Understand the Risks and Rewards
The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help your business grow. A good question to ask is “What’s the downside?” If you can answer this question, then you know what the worst-case scenario is. This knowledge will allow you to take the kinds of calculated risks that can generate tremendous rewards for your business.
5. Be Creative
Always be looking for ways to improve your business and to make it stand out from the competition. Recognize that you don’t know everything and be open to new ideas and new approaches to your business.
6. Stay Focused
The old saying that “Rome was not built in a day” applies here. Just because you open a business doesn’t mean that you’re going to immediately start making money. It takes time to let people know who you are, so stay focused on achieving your short-term goals and give the rest time to come together on its own.
7. Prepare to Make Sacrifices
The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after you open your doors, your work has just begun. In many cases, you have to put in more time than you would if you were working for someone else. In turn, you have to make sacrifices, such as spending less time with family and friends in order to be successful.
8. Provide Great Service
There are many successful businesses that forget that providing great customer service is important. If you provide better service for your customers, they’ll be more inclined to come to you the next time they need something instead of going to your competition.
9. Be Consistent
Consistency is key component to making money in business. You have to consistently keep doing the things necessary to be successful day in and day out. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you make money over the long term.
Starting and running a successful business can be rewarding and challenging. Success requires focus, discipline and perseverance. However, success will not come over night – it requires a long-term focus and that you remain consistent in challenging environments.
Get physical. Moving your body with regular exercise before, after or during work, especially outdoors, helps reduce stress and improve sleep, Russell says. “And the sunshine you feel from being outside may give your spirits a much-needed lift.”
Start your year over. If you think you’ve ‘blown it’ for 2015 because you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolutions, think again, Moore says. “First, simplify so you focus only on one or two. Next, start your new year today. January 1st is arbitrary anyway. Forget the old all-or-nothing thinking and restart your new habit any time you slip into old behaviors.” This may give you the motivation you need to be more productive at work.
Spend time outside. If you suffer from SAD–and even if you don’t–get ten minutes of sunshine every day if possible, Moore says. “Getting outside, if only for a little while, changes your perspective and reminds you that spring is just a little ways away.”
Keep your office or cubicle warm. If you live in a colder climate and you’re chilly at work, your focus will be on how to get warm instead of how best to complete your next project,
Eat well. Watch what you eat and drink. “Comfort foods and sugary drinks will leave you sluggish and bloated. A heavy meal leading to a nap may sound like a good idea on the weekend, but especially during the week you’ll want to watch your sugar and carbohydrates intake,” she says. Warm yourself up with a cup of green tea to refresh, instead.
Set goals. The wintertime is ideal for focusing on new projects, Russell says. Even if you’re feeling a bit sluggish, set new goals and volunteer for a new assignment that excites you. Your initiative will not only give you a sense of accomplishment and make you more productive, but it will most likely impress your boss.
“Spring Clean” during the winter. “Many people wait until the weather warms up before they do their spring cleaning at home, but you can do it at work when it’s freezing outside,” Teach says. Take advantage of the fact that you prefer to be inside at this time of year. Go through your hard copy files and computer files and throw out or delete anything that is no longer useful to you. You will be less overwhelmed and will feel less stressed out if you do.
Stay healthy. More people get sick during the winter months than the rest of the year with flu, colds, etc. If you miss work due to illness, it only makes it that much harder when you go back and you’re constantly trying to catch up. It hurts your productivity. While it’s sometimes difficult or impossible to not to get sick when everyone else is, do what you can (i.e. take vitamins, wash you hands) to prevent it.
Plan a vacation. If you tend to lose steam during the winter months, this could be the time to take your vacation to recharge and get some needed sunshine and natural vitamin D. says. But remember that you may have to play catch-up when you return—which can make things even more difficult.
Follow weather reports closely. There’s nothing worse than being late for work because of the weather, leave earlier so that you can arrive to work on time and not be stressed out first thing in the morning.” If you’re prepared, you’ll be more focused and productive when you arrive.
Be social. Avoid eating lunch at your desk alone. Ask co-workers to join you in the cafeteria or at a nearby restaurant, Russell says. “Being social helps break your isolation and connect in new ways with others at work.” The happier you are, the more productive you’ll be.
Stay later. There are only so many hours in the day but if you work late more often, you can be more productive and get more things done. During the winter months, what do you have to look forward to if you leave on time? Dark, cold nights? You might as well stay in your warm office and work a little overtime so you can get more work done and make a great impression on your boss.”
4 Tips For More Productivity in the New Year
It’s January and we have all sorts of ambitions for the things we’d like to accomplish this year… and right now, it’s all still possible. How do we keep that fresh drive and passion going all year?
I’ve been thinking, productivity is sort of a corporate word and we’d all like to think we are more evolved than that, but how else do you get things done?
There are four main areas that drain our time and energy at the office… we won’t get into office politics here. Let’s stay on the stuff that you do have complete control over.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
First things first, your time is valuable. When you create a schedule, or even put a meeting on your calendar, you really must stick to it. If there is an hour long staff meeting on Thursday mornings – start it on time and stick to the one hour allotment. It shows that you care about the time crunch that everyone else in your office is under, and it keeps you moving through your day in such a way that your to-do list has a chance of shrinking.
Don’t Be An Email Addict
If email is the biggest time drain on your day, you are not alone. Instead of being pulled away from a task every time your inbox chimes to let you know that “You’ve Got Mail”, reserve a specific amount of time – say half an hour in the morning and another half hour before you leave for the day – to tackle all those requests. I promise your email will still be waiting for you when you are ready for it.
Answer the Phone
This is going to sound a little counter-intuitive, especially after that last paragraph, but you should respond to phone messages immediately. Here’s the logic: if a person took the time to pick up the phone instead of dashing off a quick email, there is a sense of urgency involved. I’m not saying that every phone call is automatically an emergency, but you can knock this chore off your list quickly. Plus, forgetting to return phone calls makes you seem disorganized which is definitely not true.
While we are on the subject of phone calls and focus, let’s talk about the way you conduct phone meetings.
Phone Meetings Matter
If you stand up while talking on the phone, your calls will automatically be more focused and to the point. It also keeps your energy level up, and people can hear that on the other end of the line. You will be regarded as a positive and upbeat individual who gets things done.
Now, that’s the right way to start the new year, with productivity!
We are all creatures of habit. Once we get used to doing something a certain way or using a particular product, it can be very difficult to change. Routine is good for our productivity, but it can be burden if you’ve latched onto some bad habits. Here’s how to get out of them quickly.
1. Don’t multitask.
Instead, try focusing on one thing at a time.
Multitasking can often make us feel as though we’re getting more done, which is what makes it so difficult to stop. In reality, though, when your focus is spread over so many activities, it’s a lot harder to concentrate. You probably won’t save any time, and the quality of your work will be greatly diminished. I do recommend grouping like tasks together, such as paying bills, but try to focus on the individual task at hand until it’s complete.
2. Don’t procrastinate.
Instead, try creating fake deadlines and rewarding yourself for meeting them.
I’m a master procrastinator. It’s probably my worst habit. In fact, as I was writing this paragraph, I checked my email two times and took a few swipes through Facebook. To counteract my natural inclination to put things off, I give everything a deadline.
For bigger projects that already have a deadline. I break those down into smaller chunks, each with their own mini-deadline. I also like to give myself little rewards, like a snack or a call with a friend, to stay motivated.
3. Don’t obsess over email.
Instead, try checking your email only once an hour.
Emails are a huge source of distraction in the workplace. Especially as we’ve created an almost compulsive need to check our inboxes every five minutes. (I just did it a few seconds ago!) Remember almost every email can wait — nothing is that urgent!
Set a timer to help you space out the time between emails and close out the window until it’s time to check.
4. Don’t stress yourself out.
Instead, try to give yourself time to work it out.
When the pressure is on, the obvious first move is to dive right in. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to take a moment and come up with a plan first. Rushing can lead to missing vital information and overlooking simpler methods or opportunities to outsource.
5. Don’t say yes automatically.
Instead, try to consider your options.
Saying yes is probably the easiest part of any task, but when you actually have to carry it out you might regret your eagerness to agree. Before you say yes to something, think about what the task entails. If you feel like you’re saying yes because you have to, you’ll end up feeling overbooked and under appreciated.
6. Don’t overdo it.
Instead, try being kind to yourself.
We all know someone who boasts about all the projects they currently have or how they only slept for three hours because they’re “so busy.” They may seem like they’re on their way to big things, but they’re going to burn out pretty quickly.
Don’t feel guilty for taking the occasional break, or sleeping your seven to eight hours. The way you treat yourself can have a huge impact on your work. Try taking something off your plate — it feels so good to be nice to yourself.
As the end of the year approaches, it’s a natural time to reflect on how this past year went. Yet, so often, we steamroll right into the next year with New Year’s resolutions we’ve posted on Facebook.
The same is true in your business, where one year after the next can feel like —when the same frustrations, challenges, and stagnation keeps repeating as if you’re in a perpetual time-loop.
Promises and resolutions are not enough. They’re a start in admitting that something is not how you want it to be. But inspiration alone doesn’t pay the bills.
So how do you build an Business Plan for the upcoming year that actually works? Here are the steps to creating a practical and executable plan.
- Create time to strategize. With all of the last-minute sales, holiday plans and typical overwhelm, now is the time to carve-out your strategic hours to work ON your business and create a plan. The technician inside of you will most likely procrastinate on this first step until it’s too late, and you’re back to the grind of the next year.
- Create Your 3 Year Company Vision. Do you know where you are driving the vehicle of your business? If there’s not a larger context for where and why you’re going in the direction you intend, it makes it quite difficult to have a yearly action plan that can spell out the steps necessary to build toward your goals.
- Take an honest assessment of where your business is today. Get out a piece of paper (or an electronic doc) and make note of what you need to:
- Start doing
- Stop doing
- Continue doing based on last year’s results
What’s not working in your marketing activities? Where are you dropping the ball with customers? How can you improve your profit margin? This one step alone will make a huge difference in creating new strategies and action steps for the coming year.
- Prioritization. What comes first: purchasing that new CRM or getting your budget in-place for the coming year? Should you update your website, or do you need to hire a new staff member to free yourself up with more time? Assess which action steps will have the most positive impact on your business and place them in order. And then double-check to see if that’s really true.
- Breaking it down into bite-sized steps. This is the critical step that often gets missed. It’s one thing to declare lofty or even practical goals for your business. It’s another thing to then roll-up your sleeves to look at how to break these down into smaller steps over time, and establish project plans for each initiative in the new year. This may seem time-consuming, but I guarantee you the time you take to work ON your plan will bring huge rewards in having a clear, detailed strategy for leading into the new year.
- Calendar your plan. Now that you have a sense of your top priorities, how are you going to space them out over the course of the next year? Does the order still look right when it’s down on paper? Don’t try to do everything in January—that’s not going to happen. So what is a realistic pace to achieve your goals?
- Accountability. Who’s going to be accountable for the various steps that you’ve declared? How will you create feedback loops and project management meetings to stay on top of progress? What’s your protocol if projects are running behind schedule?
As the old saying goes, you can’t have different results if you don’t have a different approach. This is your best opportunity right now to make the year to come your best year yet. Are you truly ready to lead your business? The first step is waiting.
We do stuff that doesn’t quite work out all the time.
(A few particularly embarrassing aerial yoga classes come to mind.)
And that’s okay! Contrary to some of the notes we received on middle school report cards, failing at something isn’t a problem in and of itself. It’s how you address that failure – and particularly, whether you take it as a sign to cut your losses and move on.
When you’re faced with a failure or setback, it’s tempting to want to completely drop the thing you’ve been trying. But does that actually work better, or does it just feel better in the moment?
There can be something liberating about failing at something and cutting it out of your routine – after all, it’s one less thing you have to do! Can’t run more than a quarter mile without gasping for air like a fish out of water? Then canceling your gym membership and sparing yourself the discomfort can feel pretty darn good!
But quitting doesn’t actually solve the problem.
Instead, it just allows you to pretend that there isn’t a solution at all – so why bother looking for one, right?
And that can be a dangerous line of thinking.
Failing doesn’t tell you to quit something – it tells you to change something.
Here’s an example we hear small business owners mention a lot.
Say you have a blog on your website. You know that blogging is important for driving traffic, and you’re committed to writing for it, but…nobody’s reading.
The tempting solution is to say that blogging just isn’t going to work. Sure, maybe it works for the other guys, but it’s just not for you. So you stop writing.
One less thing to worry about!
That’s easier. But it isn’t smarter.
If you aren’t getting visitors to your blog, that doesn’t mean you’ve straight up failed at blogging – it means it’s time to try new ways of driving traffic, like focusing on your email list. It might mean it’s time to rethink what you write about, or how you write about it.
Getting visitors on your website, but nobody’s opting in? That doesn’t mean you should give up on building a list – it means you should rethink what you’re offering, and how people are getting there.
All too often, we write off our failures as a sign to stop doing something instead of as a sign to improve.
This is why A/B testing is even a thing at all – and why it should be part of your strategy, even if you think it sounds like some next-level nonsense you don’t need in your life. The teensiest of adjustments can make a massive difference, so why scrap an entire idea instead of making a tweak? Why throw out your entire sales page when all you had to do was change one or two words?
Think of when you go to the doctor and they write you a prescription. If that particular medication doesn’t quite do the trick, the doctor doesn’t say, “Well, apparently medicine won’t work for you” – they prescribe something else, and you give that thing a try!
This is why we ask ourselves three very specific questions about every major thing we do here at Edgar – whether that task went well, or feels like it was a dud. Just like few things ever go 100% perfectly, few things ever go 100% wrong – which means throwing out your hard work and your attempted ideas wholesale is a mistake.
Instead, ask yourself these questions when you feel like what you’re doing isn’t working:
- What exactly am I failing to accomplish?
- What can I change about how I’m attempting this?
- Which change(s) do I want to implement first?
Use a scalpel to refine your strategy – not a chainsaw. Almost nothing you do can’t go from a dud to a success with the right nipping and tucking! You just have to be patient, and willing to look at a failed attempt as an opportunity, rather than a total loss.
So don’t pull the kill switch on a disappointing project just yet.
Sure, setbacks are a drag. And it’s okay to be disappointed when you try something and it doesn’t turn out quite the way you’d hoped!
Just don’t take it as a sign you should stop what you’re doing, or that there’s no solution to the problem you want to solve. Think about doing things differently instead of giving up on them entirely – you might find that the solution you were hoping for is a lot closer than you’d realized!
Staying organized is not for sissies! Unlike getting organized it requires a commitment to DAILY ACTION to maintain the order you created when you got organized. That means, you must do the same actions day after day after day after day after day . . . in order to avoid the trauma of having to reorganize chaos all over again!
So what? What’s the big deal? All you have to do every day is pick up things, put them away, throw them away or give them away. That’s the simple answer for how to stay organized. No big deal!
The actions you must take are not difficult. In fact, they are pretty easy once you have established an initial order. But, they are boring and repetitive. For those folks who are creative, fun-loving and who crave variety and stimulation, the repetitive actions required to stay organized can seem deadly. But, they must be done if you want to stay organized and have a peaceful life free of chaos.
Here are 8 steps to learn how to STAY ORGANIZED:
1. Watch your behavior to identify actions that contribute to the problem of being disorganized and commit to changing problem behaviors.
Common problem behaviors include: dropping, plopping (choosing couch potato mode before taking care of business), avoiding and procrastinating.
2. Identify specific places in your schedule for daily organizing activities.
Work and school schedules create a structure around which to arrange routine organizing tasks. For example, there is usually a small window in the morning before leaving for the day that can be used for loading the dishwasher, putting in a load of wash, and cleaning up breakfast dishes. And, there is a window in the evening upon returning home where mail can be processed, voice mail checked, etc. There is also another window before bedtime for a final pickup of clothes and other items used during the day. People who are retired or self-employed sometimes have difficulty staying organized because they don’t have the structure provided by work and school schedules. It is even more important for them to consciously commit to specific times for getting routine maintenance chores done.
3. Incorporate the most important organizing tasks into routines.
Routines create a structure within which specific activities can happen. Repeating routines over and over again will make actions automatic rather than dreaded daily events. A morning routine might include getting up, showering, hanging up wet towels, getting dressed, eating breakfast, cleaning up after breakfast, checking email, leaving for work/school. An evening routine might include putting away any items you bring into the house (groceries, shopping bags, etc.), processing mail, checking voice mail, making dinner, cleaning up after dinner, helping children with homework and cleaning up afterwards.
4. Reward yourself for changed behavior.
Commit to a new organizing behavior that you know will help you stay organized. Then repeat the behavior 21 days in a row. It takes repeating a new behavior 21 days in a row before it becomes a habit. Beware, you will resist new behaviors. You may have to start over again several times if you find yourself sliding back into old messy habits. When you reach the 21st day, reward yourself with something you enjoy, a special meal or purchase. Use email, TV or a phone call to a friend as a reward for finishing your evening chores.
5. Be willing to pay to get help if you haven’t been successful in your efforts to stay organized by a certain date.
Professional organizers and professional coaches can provide the structure necessary to hold you accountable to your goals to stay organized. (Admit it; you’d pay for help if you couldn’t get your car to start.
6. Hire others to do the things you hate the most and/or have the hardest time doing.
Consider paying for a cleaning service, a professional organizer, a person to pay your bills, a lawn service or a person to do your laundry/ironing. I pay to have my bills paid because I hate doing it, I’m prone to math errors and I want it done right. I also pay to have my house cleaned every two weeks. Again, I hate cleaning. And, it always gets done better than I’d do it. Having someone clean my house also gives me a deadline to pick up my house so I can get the most out of the cleaning!
7. Make staying organized a family commitment.
Invite family members to participate in the process of maintaining an organized, comfortable place to live. If you have a husband or wife, start with him/her. It is always easier to encourage children to participate if you and your spouse both consider staying organized a priority. Teach children early that picking up after themselves and participating in on-going organizing efforts is not optional; it is essential to having a rewarding, comfortable life.
It should be introduced to them as a normal part of life as soon as they are capable of throwing toys into open tubs. Be sure to reward them with praise for their on-going efforts even though they are expected to do them. Never use getting or staying organized as a punishment. And, remember, they will be watching what you do. You are a model for behaviors they need to learn like cleaning up after themselves and regularly getting rid of things they no longer love or use.
8. Have realistic expectations for the level of organization you can maintain.
It is fairly common for women to believe that they should keep a perfectly organized and clean house, even though they may work outside the home and/or have several children running around. That is an old standard that probably has NEVER been attainable without regular outside help. If you have children, especially under the age of 10, cut yourself some slack and shoot for relative order. As long as you keep picking up daily, regularly get rid of stuff, and you have all family members doing their part in the process, you probably can function without any major organizing challenges.
As your life changes, so too will the level of intensity of your daily organizing efforts. Efforts should intensify when raising children and become less intense when children leave home (if you haven’t replaced the obligations as a parent with other commitments). When you reach retirement, initially, you will have much more time to get organized and stay organized. But, you will also lose the structure provided by a work schedule. Resist the urge to drop helpful routines at retirement. Those who do find their homes in chaos and wonder what happened!
You will be rewarded for your daily organizing efforts with the ability to think clearly and accomplish your goals more easily, improved relationships and greater peace of mind. A few minutes every day is not a great price to pay for an improved life!
The game show Minute to Win It gave us all kinds of fun games that we can play at home, and their special Christmas series of episodes offered up a holiday theme for a bunch of these games. They’re perfect for Christmas parties, school games to play in the classroom, office parties, or any other holiday gathering. Here’s how to play all of the Minute to Win It Christmas games. Once you’ve browsed the games, get tips for hosting a Minute to Win It Christmas party too. Remember, all of these games must be completed in one minute or less.
1. Christmas Ball
Christmas Ball is based on the regular Minute to Win It game called Egg Roll. To play, you must use a gift-wrapped box (about the size of a shirt box) as a fan to move a round Christmas ornament across the floor and into a marked square. The box must not touch the ornament while the game is in play. You can vary the distance that the ornament must be fanned depending on the age of the people playing.
2. Christmas Ball Conveyor
Christmas Ball Conveyor is played with two people. They stand, facing each other, at a distance to be determined by how difficult you wish the challenge to be. A ribbon is wrapped around both players’ waists, creating a loop surrounding them both. The first player has a bowl with Christmas ornaments on hooks as well as a small Christmas tree beside him. To play the game, the first player hooks an ornament on the ribbon. The two players must then spin in tandem in order to move the ornament all the way around the ribbon, ending up back with the first player, who must then hang it on the tree. Make the game more difficult by requiring more ornaments to be transferred around the “conveyor.”
3. Christmas Cliffhanger
Set up Christmas Cliffhanger by placing ten open Christmas cards in a row on a table, close to the edge. Stand cards horizontally so they look like little tents. Then, stand at the opposite side of the table. The object of the game is to blow on the cards, across the table, to move them to the very edge of the table so that one of them is left hanging over the edge without falling off. You have one minute and ten attempts to accomplish your task.
4. Christmas in the Balance
Christmas in the Balance is played in pairs. Place an empty wrapping paper tube on a table or on the floor, and balance a yardstick on top of the tube. Each of the two players has five Christmas tree ornaments of equal size and weight. Standing on opposite sides of the yardstick, players must work together to hang all five ornaments on their side of the yardstick without toppling the structure. If the structure falls the game is over. We recommend plastic ornaments to avoid a mess.
5. Christmas Jingle
Based on the game Spoon Tune, Christmas Jingle requires a bit of prep work before playing. 11 glasses must be filled with varying amounts of water, tuned so that they play the notes of the first line of the Christmas song Jingle Bells when tapped with a metal spoon. Place the prepared glasses in random order on a table. To play the game, the contestant must rearrange the glasses in the proper order to play the song.
6. Deck the Balls
Deck the Balls is another game for teams of two. Using an empty wrapping paper tube, the first player uses suction from his mouth to lift an ornament with the tube, and transfer it to the second player. The second player must receive the ornament in the same fashion (with a wrapping paper tube and suction), and then hang it on an awaiting string (hung in a clothesline fashion). To win this game, players must hang three ornaments using this method in a minute or less.
7. Do You Hear What I Hear?
To set up Do You Hear What I Hear, take seven gift-wrapped boxes of the same size and place small jingle bells in each of them. Boxes should contain the following number of bells: 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, and 35. Place the closed boxes on a table. To play the game, the contestant must arrange the boxes in order by the number of bells they contain, from smallest to largest. Contestants can pick up and shake the boxes, but they must not look inside.
8. Extreme Christmas Nutstacker
Extreme Christmas Nutstacker is a difficult game – even tougher than the original Nutstacker game that it’s based on. Players must use a candy cane to scoop up eight hexagonal metal nuts and stack them, one by one, to make a tower of the nuts on a plate. The candy cane and nuts are presented on a tray, which the player then uses to loop the nuts onto the candy cane. The plate is held in the players’ hand while he tries to make the tower by sliding the nuts gently off the candy cane, one by one, on top of each other. The nuts must be stacked standing on one side (so that the hole is visible when you view it straight-on), not flat. If the tower tips, the game is done.
9. Face the Gingerbread Man
Face the Gingerbread Man is played exactly like Face the Cookie, using a gingerbread man in place of the Oreo. Sit down and lean your head back; place the cookie on your forehead and move it to your mouth using only the muscles in your face. Don’t touch the cookie with your hands! The best part about this game is that, if you’re successful, the prize is already built in.
10. Holiday Hustle
Holiday Hustle is played with two people. Each person has a yardstick attached to her waist at the back (this can be tricky to set up, but the easiest way to do it is to use strong glue and attach the yardsticks to old leather belts). Wrap a length of ribbon around the end of one of the yardsticks – the length can vary depending on how difficult you want the game to be. Attach the end of the ribbon to the end of the other yardstick. To play, the players stand facing each other with enough distance between them so that the ends of their yardsticks meet up. Using only their hips, they must wind the ribbon from one yardstick to the other.
According to sports dieticians it’s possible to lose two pounds a week with a small amount of daily exercise on holiday.
And, tasting new dishes could expand your cooking repertoire and become the start of a healthier lifestyle. Although sunlight can cause skin cancer, there is some evidence to suggest that its rays can actually help prevent some illnesses.
Here, we look at why holidays are good for your mind and body
According to nutritionists variety really is the spice of life. Research from Japan concludes that if you increase the variety of food you eat on a typical day, you’re more
likely to meet the recommended amount of vitamins and minerals (five portions of fresh, canned, frozen or dried fruit and veg a day) needed to fight disease and maintain healthy bones and organs.Spending time in a hot country means you can indulge in plenty of salads, fresh fruit and juices.
‘Mediterranean cuisine tends to contain a wide variety of seasonal vegetables and many tropical countries offer an abundance of exotic fruit. If you enjoy new food, you’re more likely to continue eating it once you get home. And by recreating your favourite dishes, you can pretend you are on holiday at home.’
But, she warns, it can take several days for your stomach to adapt to a new diet.
‘If you notice more bloating than usual, caused by fibre absorbing water in the gut, don’t panic. This means your stomach is simply adapting to new food,’ she says.
The message that sunlight can cause skin cancer is loud and clear. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the UK. Around 50,000 people are diagnosed with the illness each year. Of these, more than 2,000 are likely to die from the condition.
However, evidence suggests that sunlight can help prevent some conditions. Lack of sunlight is thought to trigger seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – a depressive condition experienced in the winter months. So if you suffer from bouts of sadness, going on holiday may help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Research also shows blood levels of vitamin D are lowest in winter months when the sun is rarely out. When exposed to sunlight, the body has the ability to convert vitamin A from the sun into vitamin D. This helps strengthen the immune system and is needed to bind calcium to bones and generates teeth development.
Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to catch up on sleep. Sleep deprivation through stress or work can lead to poor mental performance, premature ageing and even illness.
While we are asleep our bodies undergo certain important processes – from repair and renewal to energy restoration. According to scientists, deep sleep – rather than length of sleep – is the time when the brain recharges itself so we can function effectively during the day.
Sleep is also important for our immune system – the part of the body that is responsible for fighting infection. Some scientists believe that during sleep we secrete higher levels of cortisol – the hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that protects the immune system – than during the day.
With more time to spare on holiday, take the opportunity to walk or cycle – rather than taking the car.
‘An ideal way to lose weight is to jog along the beach at sunrise or sunset. Jogging on sand makes you work harder because all your lower leg and ankle muscles are helping to keep you balanced.’
Water aerobics is a good all-round exercise. Working against the water provides cardiovascular exercise – where the heart beat is raised – and also tones the major muscle groups.
For a more gentle work out, several laps in the swimming pool or sea can help you keep in shape. Because your body is supported in the water, you are unlikely to strain any muscles, but swimming is a great way to stretch your body and keep it supple.
Social games including beach volley ball, badminton and tennis – or even using a pedallo – can all encourage the body to burn up fat without even noticing it!
Research shows that listening to water alters wave patterns in the brain – in the same way that meditation does. This means hearing the sound of lapping waves or cascading waterfalls on holiday can help rejuvenate the mind and body.
The movement of water also has a positive effect on our minds. The purifying nature of water helps spring clean the body because it encourages our bodies to connect with their natural flow – or rhythm. This contrasts with struggling up stream when dealing with our daily lives.’
Salt water from the ocean also has the added benefit of containing detoxifying properties. Salt is known to draw out the body’s impurities leaving you feeling clean and rejuvenated.
Once back at home, you can maintain your detox and recreate a sense of the ocean by bathing in epsom salts. Alternatively, treat yourself to a flotation tank session – a sound-insulated tank containing a shallow saline pool kept at body temperature. It is said one hour in a flotation tank is the equivalent to a day’s holiday!
Holidays often evoke happy memories. Harnessing memories can be used as an effective relaxation aid to alter wave patterns in the brain – similar to meditation. This is the stage when the brain moves into alpha waves – the stage just before sleep when your body is calm and relaxed.
‘Thinking back to your holiday relaxes the mind because mental imagery releases endorphins -natural feel-good hormones released by the brain. This image can be useful to call up before a nerve-racking experience – for example public speaking or visiting the dentist.’
If you’re enjoying yourself on holiday, you’re more likely to laugh. And laughter really is the best medicine, according to recent research. A good belly laugh can strengthen the immune system by releasing endorphins, the body’s natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals. This can help reduce the risk of disease – from heart conditions to allergic reactions and arthritis.
Studies have shown that watching stand-up comedy has a significant effect on depression. Cardiac patients who watched funny videos during recovery were less likely to suffer a second heart attack than those who did not.