Health

Best Ways to Finally Kick Your Smoking Habit

The recent advice coming from Public Health England (PHE), the government health body, suggesting that electronic cigarettes should be available in hospitals will come as no surprise to the thousands of ex-smokers who have already quit the habit by becoming vapers. The news brings the dangers of smoking back into the public eye and while this is a positive thing, what it fails to address is the need for people to take a more holistic approach when it comes to finally kicking the habit.

The Argument for Electronic Cigarettes

The evidence that electronic cigarettes are much safer than traditional cigarettes has been building for some time now and established vaping companies such as VIP Electronic Cigarette have long since been publishing information on their websites that document this. In 2015, for example PHE released research suggesting that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking tobacco and the huge reduction in the numbers of people smoking, since the introduction of electronic cigarettes, has also been well covered.  What is less well documented, however, is that how, if, several other factors are brought into an individual’s approach to quitting their chances of being successful are even greater.

Living More Healthily

The number one reason that people choose to kick the smoking habit is to live a longer and healthier life. It stands to reason then that when attempting to quit smoking they could perhaps take on board a number of other things to do just that and to aid the process. Exercise is a typical example, starting to exercise can really support and incentivise an attempt to quit smoking as it amplifies the positive effects on the body greatly – the same can be said of eating more healthily.

A Suitable Replacement

Giving up smoking, as well as being beneficial to your health and your finances, also leaves you with more time and finding a proactive way to spend that time can help the process no end. One of the reasons vaping is good for helping people quit smoking is that it offers a direct replacement and one that is so similar, but there are other activities that could be explored, such as doing a crossword each day or another hobby/pastime. Finding positive ways to fill the time is paramount to success of those wishing to quit – “the devil makes work for idle hands”.

Vaping, it would appear, is an effective way to help people quit smoking, but add into the equation a range of other positive factors and the battle becomes significantly easier and more rewarding.

Liverpool · Travel

Things to Do in Liverpool #LiverpoolGuide2018

Liverpool Town HallIf you follow me on social media or have read this blog for a while you’ll probably be aware that we’re a family of Liverpool FC fans, and were lucky enough to go along to Anfield for a VIP visit a few years back. It’s still one of the best things we’ve ever done (not least of all because we got to watch Liverpool smash West Brom 4-1 and witnesses Luis Suarez score his first home hat-trick!) but my one regret is that we didn’t have more time to spend around the city of Liverpool.

Husband and I have said many times that we’d love to visit Liverpool and spend time in the city, and there are lots of things we’d like to do while we’re there. Here’s just a few of them:

 Shopping

Okay, okay, so I know this one is a cliche, but our local town has a high street which is populated with Pound shops or empty units which are being squatted in by mobile phone case shops – absolutely DIRE if you want to buy something to wear and don’t want to do it all online! I have it on good authority that Liverpool ONE is absolutely amazing for shopping, and I think I’ll be doing a lot of saving up before hand so that I could really treat myself.

See The Liver Birds

Liverpool is full of iconic sights, but the Liver birds on top of the town hall are probably the most famous – Husband even has one of them tattooed on him (along with five stars for every time we’ve won the Champion’s League!). Seeing them in real life would be really cool, and another thing to tick off of the bucket list.

Museums

Liverpool has some amazing museums, including a Beatles museum, TATE Liverpool and the International Slavery Museum. Liverpool has such a rich history and is a true melting pot city because of the docks, and I’d love to absorb as much of the history as possible – museums seem like a good place to do that.

Albert Dock

The Albert Dock used to be a busy industrial area where boats would load and unload, but it’s been renovated to be a busy waterfront leisure area, full of bars, restaurants, shops and museums, all set in the country’s largest collection of Grade I listed buildings. It sounds like an amazing place for Husband and I to have a night out!

Anfield Stadium

Yes, I know this is what we did last time we were in Liverpool, but when you’re not a season ticket owner or Liverpool local, tickets are like HENS TEETH and really hard to get hold of! We’ve not been to Anfield for a match since 2013, and although I was pregnant with BB at the time (so she’s technically been there!) we’d love to take her up again for her first proper experience.

Are you a lover of Liverpool? What’s your favourite place to go while you’re there? Do leave me a comment below, I’d love to hear all about it.

Money

How to Always Be Prepared for a Job Loss

Most of us will lose a job at some stage in our life. It can be a stressful time, particularly if you have a family to provide for.

Even if you’re in the twilight of your career, think your job is secure and you’re excelling in every way, you could still find yourself being made redundant due to external factors.

Unless you own or run the company, some things are just out of your control. Because of this, it’s wise to be prepared.

By applying the following 11 tips you will survive losing your job and be in a good position to find the next one.

1) Assess Your Finances

First thing’s first, you need to assess your overall financial situation. How much are you being paid, how much are you spending now, and how much do you require to cover the essentials? Do you have any assets or a mortgage? And how many people depend on you? What about savings and investments?

If you are in debt and/or spending most of your wages or salary (living pay check to pay check), you will be hit hard if you lose your job.

2) Have a Budget

Once you’ve assessed your finances you are now in the position to create a budget (if you don’t use one already). This will allow you to stay informed about your finances moving forward. Should you lose your job you’ll know exactly where you can tighten spending.

3) Build an Emergency Fund

The time to build an emergency fund is while you’re in a secure job. It should be able to cover at least 3 months of essential expenses (or longer for added security), but the exact amount to save will depend on your individual situation. You will be able to rely on these savings if you lose your job.

Even though saving can be tough, you’re only doing this until the pot is full. And remember, if you cut into the fund, don’t forget to top it back up again.

4) Assess Your Job Prospects

 Even if there’s no sign of losing your current position, it’s always a good idea to regularly overview your skills and qualifications, and update your CV. How quickly could you find another job if you lost the current one?

Take a look at the job market for positions you are qualified for and could apply for. If there aren’t many available or requirements have changed (sometimes you might find yourself disqualified from your current job on paper), you might want to prepare for a career change or even some retraining.

5) Consider Insurance

Income protection insurance is a form of insurance that pays out when you lose your job (though certain requirements have to be met). Typically, you will be issued regular payments (much like a wage) for the time you are out of work or for an agreed period. Other policies pay out a lump sum.

Unlike a straight savings plan, you could be paid out much more than you paid in. However, if you never lose your job you do not have access to the money you paid in.

6) Know Your Employer’s Benefits and Policies

To properly prepare for a potential job loss, you should become familiar with your employer’s severance policies and other benefits.

Do you get severance pay if you’re laid off and if so what is the criteria? Does your health insurance plan continue under COBRA if you lose your job?

7) Be Ready to Downsize your Life

Even if you have an emergency fund and other sources of money that can tide you over until you find a new job, you’re still likely to need to cut back on your expenditure and learn to live frugally. That means no more meals out or impulse buying.

8) Get a Side Gig

One hedge against losing your job is to have another one on the side. For example, you might start freelancing online during the weekends. Of course, if you are in a fulltime job you won’t have time to make a lot of money, but if you lose your job you can dedicate more time and immediately fill that income gap.

9) Maintain Good Credit

If you lose your job and need to borrow money to stay afloat, a good credit score is going to help. It will provide the widest possible range of credit and loan options, with the best interest rates and other terms.

10) Maintain Your Network

The old saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is still very much applicable. Always keep in contact with your close clients and work colleagues, as you never know who could be offering you a job in the future.

11) Learn New Skills

Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you can’t continue to learn new skills and get new qualifications. In fact, that’s how a lot of people progress in their career. Some firms might pay for extra training in the hope that you stay with them and move up the ladder.

If there’s not much room to progress in your current job, you should still advance your skills in your own time. If you lose your job, you may end up with a better one!

Even though losing a job can be one of the most stressful times in your life, with good planning it doesn’t need to be.

Health

Tackling Anxiety the Natural Way

Guest Post

As a person who has suffered with anxiety attacks for almost 20 years, I regard most things which claim to solve them (or even help) with extreme cynicism.

It doesn’t matter whether they’re things that the doctor has prescribed which have pleasant side-effects like “suicidal ideation and malfunctioning penis”, or more benign, gentle things, like peppermint tea, they all seem to do the same thing for my anxiety – nix.

So when someone recommended CBD oil, such as Blessed CBD, I did my usual. I smiled, vowed to go and buy some immediately and walked away with precisely zero intention of ever doing so.

A time later, on a day when my anxiety was really amped up, I was feeling pretty low. The usual “I can’t go on like this” mantra was bouncing off the walls when I recalled my pal’s recommendation. I’d have a look, I thought. Even if it distracts me from this latest bout, it’ll be a good thing.

After a bit of cynical Googling I found myself eye-to-eye with some actual, honest to goodness information. Not the sort of thing chucked around by folk who prescribe crystals for haemorrhoids, either, but proper, science-based stuff. It was telling me that extensive research into CBD oil was under way and that, so far, results were encouraging.

The stuff may help with anxiety, along with a laundry list of other illnesses, and it carried with it minimal risk when compared to other medications and treatments. So, after exhaustively devouring every piece of reputable information I could find on the subject, I chose to give it a go.

Fast forward 2 months and I can say with some certainty that the stuff has changed my life. And I don’t make these proclamations lightly. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, an effusive person.

I started off on a small drip under the tongue once a day, and within a week or so I began to feel more even. It wasn’t a silver bullet effect, but day by day things started to dial down, until the invasive thoughts were less like a nagging voice and more like a barely audible echo.

Perhaps the only major drawback was the taste. To say it’s unpleasant would be an understatement. But I got around that potential sticking point by moving from a drip on the tongue to a vape liquid and electronic cigarette, which gives me the same benefits without the feeling that I was going to vomit.

I honestly cannot stress how much better I feel thanks to this stuff.

Given the costs of prescriptions, the potential damage that some pharmaceutical medications can do to you long term, and the potential side effects, it’s a no brainer for me.

The setup costs were minimal. The oil isn’t cheap cheap but it isn’t mega expensive, and a 5 minute visit to somewhere like Vapour.com to get a decent vape kit didn’t break the bank, either.

As I sit here now, typing this, I actually feel better, and I didn’t need any mad pills, transcendental meditation or expensive pseudomedicines to get there.

I don’t expect you to blindly take the word of a stranger on the internet, but if you’re on the fence, dealing with anxiety or depression and can’t think of what to do next, consider the opinion of this here cynic. It may well change things around for you.

Photos

How To: Create Valentine’s Day Cards + Content for Social Media using the Instasize App

Who said Valentine’s Day was just for lovers?! We view Valentine’s Day as a day of love – celebrating with whoever you’re lucky enough to hold close. With social media playing such an integral part of our day to day lives, avoiding the massive amount of Valentine’s Day posts that your feeds and timelines are about to be flooded with sounds impossible. So why not join in on the fun? Instasize – a premier photo editor + content creating tool kit gives you the ability to completely transform the photos you’ve taken with your smartphone into engaging content pieces that both your friends and followers will love. The app is free to download for both IOS and Android platforms: http://instasize.com

Spice your feed up this V-Day with some border love. Create custom family collages to show the special people in your life just how much you appreciate them. The app currently has two available border packs that contain a plethora of Valentine-y backgrounds.  And at the start of this week the people over at Instasize introduced a flashy new Marble Border Collection we’re obsessed with. Keep reading to find out what types of content you can be creating for your various social media platforms – all created in under 2 minutes and with the Instasize App.

Borders & Collages:

You can find the Valentine’s Day themed border packs within the apps border editor. After selecting a photo to edit, click on the border icon (it looks like a square within a square) and from there you can download the “XOXO”, “LOVE”, and “Marble” border collections. Here is the step by step breakdown on how to re-create the collage above:

  1. Open the Instasize App (download here: https://instasize.me/xcSO/OdnBzRMzvK)
  2. Tap the “plus” sign to select which format you wish to edit.
  3. Tap the “collage” icon.
  4. Choose up to 6 images to be placed in a single collage. (we chose 3 to begin with)
  5. At the top, you may swipe left to see different layout options.
  6. Tap the layout option you wish to use.
  7. At the bottom of the editing screen, tap the “borders icon”
  8. Choose either the LOVE or XOXO border packs.
  9. Select Valentines borders of choice.
  10. Use the bar above to adjust border width
  11. Next to the “borders” icon, tap the “A” icon, meaning text.
  12. Write your desired message (we wrote “XOXO”) followed by the checkmark when complete
  13. Swipe left to choose from an array of fonts. (We love “Cute Love” font)
  14. Pinch with two fingers to move or adjust size of text.
  15. To add another text, swipe right at the bottom until you see the plus sign and tap.
  16. Next type your family’s name to complete your valentines card. (The Sorenson Family)
  17. Move Text to desired area on photo.
  18. Share with friends, family, and followers!

Valentines Card w/ Text:

These easy to make cards are the perfect addition to any Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and/or Instagram feed. The Instasize App comes equipped with over 30 fonts to choose from for creating themed content online. Best part? You can make add text to any photo in under a minute. GO.

  1. Open the Instasize app.
  2. Tap the plus sign at the bottom.
  3. Tap the “photo” icon to choose your image.
  4. Apply desired filter on top.
  5. At the bottom tap the “A” icon meaning text.
  6. Type your message “My Loves” and desired color of text.
  7. Choose font (we used Playlist Script)
  8. Position text on image.
  9. At the bottom scroll all the way to the left until you see the “+” sign to add another line of text.
  10. Repeat steps 6-8
  11. To create the lines on either side of your text like pictured above above, repeat step #9 and type — side by side to create a “line”
  12. Create two and add to each side of text “My Loves”

Unlock new fonts, filters, and border collections every month with a subscription to Instasize Premium – enjoy a free 7 day trial on us: https://instasize.me/xcSO/OdnBzRMzvK

Valentine’s Quote w/ Background

Another great addition to any Instagram Stories, Snapchat, and/or feed are themed text posts. We’ve discovered that our borders (typically used with photos) make phenomenal backgrounds for quotes! Here’s how to recreate the above image on your own device.

  1. Open the Instasize app.
  2. Tap the plus sign at the bottom.
  3. Tap the “photo” icon to choose an image (it can be any image, we’ll be removing it from the frame so we can have full access to the border).
  4. At the bottom scroll to find the borders icon.
  5. Choose desired border from the “XOXO” or “LOVE” pack.
  6. Pinch your photo to make it small and slide it off to the side until you no longer see your photo.
  7. Find the text icon below
  8. Type out your Valentines message.
  9. Choose font (we used Blackout Midnight)
  10. Position text on border.

With 20 different border backgrounds to choose from there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t be posting some fun + engaging content this Valentine’s Day! Tag the Instasize app on Instagram for a potential chance at being featured.
Instagram: @instasize.official