Uncertainty and Stress – Get a Grip


Uncertainty is around us every day in this modern world: the effects of Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the threat of terrorism. Or maybe you are affected more by the uncertainty of day to day life: money shortages, a relationship turning a bit sour, or a health scare, or job insecurity or looming unemployment. The list goes on.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,Courage to change the things I can,And wisdom to know the difference. Reinhold Niebuhr.

On thing is for sure; if it not dealt with effectively, uncertainty can lead to stress, lack of sleep, fuzzy thinking, or too much drink or food.  Best to get a grip, so here are some strategies.

Strategies with impact

  1. Concentrate on the things you have direct influence or control over (see Serenity Prayer above). Worrying aboutwhat you cant change is totally pointless but by acting within your circle of influence you can gain a sense of control, and maybe a good night’s sleep. Is there a threat of lay offs in your workplace? Well just concentrate on doing your own job well!
  2. Make a plan and take action! If there is something that can help you move forward then do it. Even writing some possible options down and making some progress on one or two of them will lift some weight off your shoulders. Maybe you need to learn some new skills, or visit the doctor, or start   saving a bit of money each month.
  3. Don’t indulge in a spiral of negative thoughts  and ‘What if?’ thinking. If you find yourself being effected by such thoughts, then remember that they are just thought. Mentally turn them into footballs and kick them into touch!
  4. Try some stress management techniques –  breath deeply, exercise, practise mindfulness or meditation, take a hot bath, go for a long walk, listen to music – whatever is best for you. There is so much out there on the Internet to help. Use it.
  5. Talk to people. We blokes have a tenancy to bottle stuff up and let it eat away. Talk to friends or family, or your partner, or a doctor. Join  a forum or seek professional help if you need it. A problem shared does not need to be a pain in the arse!
  6. Keep a journal – putting it down on paper can be a release, and might even give you a laugh in the future.
“My life has been filled with terrible misfortune; most of which never happened.” Michel de Montaigne

Leave a constructive comment or idea –  it’s a certainty that they will be welcome!

The Joys of Solo Travel

solo travelTravel alone? Why?  Ever find yourself alone and the holidays are approaching? You may be thinking that you are going to have a sad old time staying at home or pining for the gorgeous ex who used to rub the suntan onto your back, or the days when you had a bunch of mates on tap to arrange a city break .  Think again – solo holidays are to be relished! Here are some ideas to help you seize the opportunity.

It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by whom we are with, we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others... Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel
  • You can make a lemonade out of  a lemon. Put a positive spin on the fact that you are planning a holiday alone. In a few months time you may have a partner, or no money, or a health issue, or work commitments. Any change of circumstances may rob you of what you should see as an opportunity for solo travel.
  • Learn something new. Ever fancied learning how to canoe, or brew beer, or write, or orienteer around a mountain range, or gulley scramble, or cook, or play guitar? I could go on, but let’s face it you might never have a better chance to kick start a new interest.
  • Take on a new persona. Travel alone and no one will have any preconceptions or expectations.  Maybe you are sick of being constrained by your circumstances or by people taking the p*** out of your trilby hat. Maybe you want to be the extrovert or the introvert for a change. Pretend to be a travel writer instead of a wages clerk (no insult intended to wages clerks!). You get the idea.
  • Make new friends. Nature abhors a vacuum! If you are alone, you create a space for new friends (or even potential partners) to enter. If you are on an activity holiday you have the bonus of a shared interest from the start!
  • Choose your own pace or itinerary. Want to spend another hour in the bar watching the world (or the hot girls) go by, or take some time to lake photographs, or read a chapter of the book you are getting into. There will be no one there to  pressure you to the next ‘appointment’ with the next bar, or market stall full or tourist souvenirs tat!
  • Become a more interesting and confident person. It takes an independent soul to arrange solo travel and getting more involved with the local culture of a destination, or more far flung places, or a learning new skills is a good opportunity for self improvement!
  • You get time to think. How often in life do you get real ‘me time’ to consider your options? Solo travel gives you that time, and of course should you want it, you may be able to get some objective advice for strangers!
I think one travels more usefully when they travel alone, because they reflect more. Thomas Jefferson

solo travel


Boost your Productivity – The Power of Focus

Productivity wasn’t on my mind when I was a kid messing around with my mates over long summer holidays. We would sometimes burn bits of wood or start little grass fires using a magnifying glass on sunny days (and put them out!). Looking back reminds me that focus is a powerful thing, though applying it can be tricky in this modern world.

Concentrate your thoughts on the task at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus. Alexander Graham Bell.

When I set out the write this post I was in danger of being swamped by information overload. I had ideas buzzing around in my head and not to mention the temptation the Internet! So I decided to apply what is a powerful tool f0r me when it comes to focusing and managing my limited time; I put a time limit on myself of 15 minutes to write down all of the main things I wanted to say.

The good thing about setting a limit is that you’re breaking the task down into manageable chunks, but more importantly you are creating inertia. At the end of the 15 minutes I was still buzzing with ideas and I was keen to do another burst of work. I was in the flow!

Whether you are at work in a busy environment (and believe me, the educational environment I work in is busy!), or at home with the distractions of family, kids, TV, Internet or whatever, it is always possible to set aside a slot of time for real productivity.

So here are some of my favourite methods for getting the best out of my time. Maybe they can work for you:

Keep it simple less really is more and if you spread yourself too thinly you might end up achieving doodle squat.

Concentrate on tasks with big pay-offs. The Pareto Principle (80/20 rule) states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the effort. Make sure you spend yours where it counts. Ask yourself -‘What impact will this have?’

Avoid distractions. Close the door, ignore the emails, the text notifications, clear a space to work on, clear your mind! If necessary, tell those around you that you need 15 minutes of slack.

Set a time and stick to it. Use a simple kitchen timer or an app on your phone.

Step into the mindset of some super focused, creative genius that you might aspire to be. Try and imagine what they would get done in the time. Act as if you were that person.

Focusing is really about saying 'No'. Steve Jobs

Remember that procrastination is the thief of time. The longer you leave something the more difficult it gets and the more stress it causes. So just do it! Rip it into small pieces and devour it a piece at a time.

I hope these work for you, and if you have some tips of your own, pass them on!


Habits Transform Your Life – Coffee and Kettlebells

The chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. Warren Buffett

The best thing I have done for myself so far this year to has been to get rid of my beer gut and get fitter – thanks to the power of habit.

I want to share the idea that if you want results in your life, then if you establish good simple routines that don’t need too much thinking about to do, you can make use of the power of habits. Yes I know that goal setting and willpower have their place, but to actually deliver what you want, you have to act! And remember that willpower runs out.

Establishing good routines then making it easier to follow through with strong habits feed themselves and can work wonders.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Socrates

This is what has worked for me:

  • I set the alarm 30 minutes earlier and get my exercise out of the way before the day starts, while drinking my first coffee of the day. I do this in my shorts before I even get showered or dressed. Yes it is difficult at first, especially when the mornings are dark and I have the thought of a ten hour work day ahead. To drag myself out of bed I count down slowly from 10 to 1 and put my foot on the floor , standing up is then the easy bit. Maybe a bit OCD but it works for me.
  • I exercise efficiently Monday, Wednesday and Friday, (sometimes sneak in a Saturday afternoon too) with bodyweight and kettle bell exercises and a free HIIT app for my phone. This means I get maximum bangs for my buck and don’t have to spend hours pounding a treadmill, getting changed and showered at a gym.
  • I cut out the carbs during the week – bread, potatoes, and all sugar loaded foodstuff and replace it with tasty and convenient food. I make life easier for myself by making myself some yoghurt and frozen forest fruit, or grabbing a couple hard boiled eggs or an apple and slice of cheese. All heated up for my exercise and shower I can ski breakfast and have my snack mid morning.

Has it worked – well yes. I have lost an inch off my belly and I can knock out 30% more press up and sumo squats than I could a month or so. And people have noticed the results!

Losing a beer gut might not be your priority, and it was not my only one. Maybe you want to get a new career, or meet the woman of your dreams, or spend more time with your kids, or quit smoking, or get yourself out of the blues or learn to play guitar. The fact is that establishing habits in the important areas of your life can really pay dividends, because it creates a pull towards action.

Any comments would be appreciated.

Catch you later!

Stop Being Miserable – Be Happy

Happiness and wellbeing. 

Lots of things can put a smile on your face in the short term without giving you any lasting happiness. Getting a wage rise , seeing your team win the local derby, a good night out with your mates, the Friday before breaking  for your holiday, and whatever else floats your boat.

Trouble is but most pleasure is short-term and often you return to feeling as you did before. Some people seem to have everything; plenty of money, stunning girl,  maybe great and a  the family, cool friends,  exotic holidays,  great home, but still have a face like a slapped a***.

Then you get others maybe working crap jobs on crap wages on a supermarket checkout who always have a smile on their face and never a bad word to say about anyone. So yeah some people are natural bright,  breezy and upbeat whilst others are miserable bastards, and that might be down to what psychologists call the happiness set point.  But beyond that set point there is a lot you can do to put a kick in your step.

Blokesnet is here  to give practical advice based on research to give us a better life. Happiness might be more useful thought of the general feeling of well-being fulfilment and contentment, even if life is always going to have there may be some tricky parts, some boring bits and some hard work along the way. So let’s look at some things that really make us feel that life is worth living.

  • A sense of purpose
  • A sense of achievement
  • Being really absorbed in some worthwhile activity
  • Exercise
  • Healthy personal relationships
  • Being around family or friends

For a great resource on the subject you cant’s go far wrong with the work of Sonja Lyubomirsky, a Professor of Psychology at the University of California. Her book The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want is a no nonsense approach based on research rather than some of the airy fairy, wishful thinking garbage that’s out there.

Check out her website and blog here.