Staying (mentally) healthy at Christmas time

festive-seasonChristmas – it’s called the silly season for a reason. The big day is just around the corner and this is when our emotional health and wellbeing gets put to the test. We need to stress less and enjoy more.

Here are some tips for you to keep your nerve and still have a smile on your face, even after all the Christmas pudding has been consumed.

Avoid the rush. Planning ahead saves time and money. Make lists (and check them twice!) for groceries, presents and jobs to be done. Sticking to your list and a budget will save burning a hole in your pocket and starting the New Year broke. Take advantage of extended hours at shopping centres, or avoid them altogether and buy online. Alternatively, get the kids busy in the kitchen and make edible gifts for neighbours, teachers, friends and family. There’s nothing better than receiving a home baked present.

Give the gift of gratitude. Express gratitude to those that have made your year special, even if it was in a small way. Send a Christmas card with a heartfelt message. Say thanks to the tradie that came out on the weekend, or the babysitter that was able to turn up at short notice, or your neighbour for checking your mail while you were on holidays. By being grateful, you not only let someone know they are appreciated, but you open yourself to deeper connections and friendships for the year ahead.

Say no to holiday stress. Prioritise what’s really important to you and your family. It could be putting up the tree, religious observances, holidays, catching up with friends, or quality family time. At this time of year it’s too easy to say ‘yes’ to everything, including uninvited house guests, Christmas parties and long shopping trips and overspending, leaving you mentally and physically exhausted.

Focus on your priorities and say ‘no’ to everything else. Politely decline the extra invitations and if it’s someone important to you, suggest to catch up after the silly season.  You’ll feel less frazzled and able to embrace your true meaning of Christmas.

Relax. The Christmas rush can be overwhelming and these feelings can produce symptoms of anxiety, anger and stress. Take 15 minutes at the end of your day to sit, relax and practice mindfulness. Focus on your breathing and let your thoughts come and go. It will not only alleviate the stress but will give you a sense of calm and inner peace.

Eat, drink and be merry (in moderation). With the many festive parties, catch-ups and celebratory drinks, Christmas is synonymous with over-indulgence with food and alcohol. Enjoy indulgent food and alcoholic drinks in moderation and balance them out with lots of healthy choices. Keep hydrated by drinking lots of H20.

Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Christmas is about sharing good times with friends, family, work colleagues and other special people that make our lives enriched by being around them.


About the writer
Luke Sheedy is a gifted life advisor, motivator and free thinker. He combines his metaphysical talents to advise clients on their natural strengths, talents and abilities. Luke helps release what is holding you back, so growth can occur and your life’s plan can unfold naturally.

Eating in London

Eating in London

If you’re a foodie eating in London, you’d be mistaken to think there’s only over-cooked food and fish and chips. Far from your typical pub fare, London offers so much for the discerning foodie, especially when you know where to look.

eating in London - Mozz Tozi -

Best spots for eating in London

Fine dining

Located in London’s Victoria and serving some of the city’s finest Italian fare, diners at TOZI will find something so much more than the expected. TOZI specialises in Venetian cicchetti, or smaller sized plates designed to share as well as a selection of wood fired pizzas. Dishes at TOZI are inspired by the casual dining of the Veneto regions with a strong emphasis on seasonal and quality ingredients, sourced where possible from the best Italian producers.

Italian born, head chef Maurillo has years of experience running Italian restaurants in some of the city’s most exclusive private member clubs including Shoreditch House, and the menu reflects exactly the fine dining calibre you’d expect.

Paired with an Italian wine list and a sophisticated classic Italian (of course) cocktail menu, don’t be surprised if you find yourself already planning your return. And if you’re the type to get a bit of ‘menu paralysis’ whereby you’re unable to order when there’s just too amazing choices, you can leave the ordering in the very capable hands of the wait staff at TOZI and you won’t be disappointed.

Meals are generously portioned, deliciously fresh and cooked to perfection. And while the meals are certainly a win, it’s the friendly service that adds so much more to the experience.

The bar menu includes a signature Spritz, home-made barrel-aged Negroni and Amaro TOZI, served straight from the barrel.

eating in London - Tozi rabbit pasta -

Casual dining/street food

Truly one of the most fun places for eating in London – street food at the Brick Lane Food markets!

Located a short walk from East Aldgate and Shoreditch stations, you’ll find absolutely every cuisine you could possibly imagine (and many you didn’t even know existed!) here.

Just walking into the food market area, your senses will certainly be overcome with the buzzing atmosphere of authentic cuisines served up with pride. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon. Just make sure to arrive hungry!

And if street food isn’t your thing, while you’re in the Brick Lane market area, you can visit boutique food shops, bars, restaurants, cafes as well as a cereal bar called Cereal Killer (yes they serve boxed cereal only and yes people queue to eat it). There’s truly something for everyone here.

While you walk off those calories, enjoy the art, craft and second-hand  markets that spill out over several streets and include hundreds stalls selling clothing, artwork, handmade items, vintage items and antiques, collectibles, you name it. It’s essentially more shopping than you’d likely be able to do in a day.

eating in London 10_UK_London_Brick Lane Market_Gwen OToole

Afternoon tea

It’s the quintessential London experience to enjoy an afternoon or high tea and Scoff & Banter, located just below The Radisson Blu Edwardian, Bloomsbury Street Hotel in Covent Garden is just the place to do it.

Located a short stroll from many of the city’s theatres such as the popular Cambridge Theatre, it’s a great spot to enjoy a matinee and high-tea experience. Scoff & Banter offers afternoon tea experiences that are often themed to accompany the performance taking place at the theatre.

The afternoon experience offers a menu both adults and children will adore with the traditional tea sandwiches, scones, jam and cream and decadent sweets.

After tea, enjoy a bit of retail therapy in the popular Seven Dials shopping district loaded with a heavy mixture of international brands as well as smaller boutiques.

No matter your preference in dining styles, spending just a few days in London will still allow you to experience a whole world of delicious dining experiences.


About the author

Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focussing on travel, events management and food and wine. She also published a fiction novel while spending the past eight years as a magazine editor and travelling the globe before launching The Ideas Library, a creative services and event management company. She is regularly featured in a variety of travel and leisure publications and blogs.

Honouring the value of sweet serendipity

Honouring the value of sweet serendipity

What does serendipity mean to you? In my world, it’s about more than coincidence; it’s when things – people, places, scenarios – come back around, and become significant. It is about when you knew there was something there all along, but it’s not until years later that you’re proven right.

Life is full of great surprises, and these types are some of the nicest. Here’s a quick story about how my mate, Amy (the Hardy Traveller), and I, recently ‘got to know’ each other – years after we initially met.


What’s Amy say about it?

“I started my blog blindly in September 2014 (she is still a baby) with nothing but passion, enthusiasm and a hunger to learn. I’ve succeeded with very little media experience behind me. Through Facebook, I was in contact with an old ‘colleague’ also in the industry. She kindly fed me her wisdom, and through various discussions we realised we had a lot more in common than merely travelling and blogging. Sarah told me about TBEX Costa Brava, and I realise as I’m writing this that it seems weird to suddenly go away on a trip with an ex-colleague, whom I’d worked with briefly many years ago and we’d never socialised! But I jumped at the chance, and so pleased I did.

Happily ever after, we now have a good solid friendship! And that’s just the icing on the cake; TBEX has left me with friendships across the globe, a bucket load of new information and ideas, contacts and a ridiculous amount of opportunities to work with people I respect and admire. The seminars were top notch; those alone have given me so many open-doors for the future, but the real life-changer for me came from just hanging out with really interesting, inspiring, encouraging and like-minded people… like Sarah!

Without being totally dramatic, it’s changed my life – there is a lot to look forward to!” -Amy, The Hardy Traveller

All that big life stuff happened because we ended up in the same little office, south of London; just for a short while – me from Australia, Amy from… somewhere else in this big old town! Perhaps we didn’t end up working that job just because it was a way to make money. Imagine if we were meant to meet there, in order to inspire each other further down the line?! We think that’s entirely sweet serendipity, and we hope you agree.

Do you honour serendipitous occasions in your life? If you’ve got a story, do share – drop us a line in the comments below.

Two simple steps to change how people treat you

Two simple steps to change how people treat you

IMG_1101Whilst keeping in touch with family and friends via social media on an overseas trip recently, I spotted a reoccurring picture with a quote throughout my Facebook news feed, it reads:

“You can’t change how people treat you or what they say about you. All you can do is change how you react to it” 

And while the ‘likes’ were adding up, I thought about how frequently people tolerate being treating poorly by those they care about without speaking up.

Let’s focus on the first line in that statement only. Surely the way somebody treats you is something you can influence or at least have a say in? In fact, I would argue to a point that a person will only treat you in a way that you allow or deem appropriate – and it’s that opinion which I want to emphasise with you.

Has there ever been a time where you have allowed yourself to be:

  • Spoken to in a derogatory way?
  • Embarrassed or humiliated by colleagues/family/friends because you were too scared to speak up?
  • Done something that went against your wishes to keep the peace?
  • Made to feel guilty due to being spoken to in a passive aggressive tone?

Chances are that you replied with yes for one (if not all) of the above scenarios. This might be due to a number of reasons, all of which are completely personal/confidential to you, however it should always be your priority to be treated in a respectful and honest way.

How can you change how people treat you?

Value yourself – This is about making sure people are treating you and speaking to you with a level of respect at all times, address yourself internally on how you want to be spoken to and treated in ALL situations in life and ensure that you stick to your guns. Remember, you deserve respect and to be treated with it.

Speak up – When your boss/friends/family members are not treating you how you wish, let them know. You don’t need to be rude or nasty in how you do this and it may be understandably uncomfortable/confronting for you to do so, however if someone isn’t aware of what they are doing and you’re keeping quiet about it, you may be contributing to the problem. Simply say ‘When you speak to me/treat me like that it makes me upset/annoyed/embarrassed/frustrated/feel belittled/feel inferior/feel bad etc’…. and end the sentence with ‘I would appreciate it if you didn’t do that anymore/stopped doing it”

Don’t allow people to walk all over you but also remember that you don’t get to walk over anyone either. Respect is a two way street and as my sister always said to me during my teenage years:

“Treat people how you want to be treated yourself”


About the author
Megan Luscombe is a professional life and wellness coach at Starting Today Coaching. Melbourne based, Megan assists her clients in making positive transformations in their personal life, relationships and careers. Follow her on Facebook.


We’d love to hear from you – if you have a question or comment, please drop us a line in the comments box below, or find us on FACEBOOK or TWITTER.

Two simple steps to change how people treat you

How to write a book: Step four – understanding the parts of a book

Many people are confused about the parts that they need to have in their book. There’s also some uncertainty about what the different parts actually are. I was a bit perplexed when I wrote my first book as well, so I decided to break it done and make it simple for all your authors out there.

Listen to Lauri’s March 2014 podcast on understanding the parts of a book


Fantasy book


Book Title – Great titles sell books! Give it the time, energy and care that it needs to create a show stopper.

Primary Selling Point – The subtitle and the reason why someone would want to buy your book. It’s “the what’s in it for them”.

Book Category or Categories – Choose specific categories that accurately describe the subject matter of your book.

Manuscript submitted, double-spaced and paginated – Remember the spacing and the page numbers.

All illustrations, table, charts and/or graphs – It’s important to include them.

A reference list of all materials referred to in the text – For books that are resources, guides and manuals.

All written permissions to reprint or adapt copyrighted material – Protect yourself and get all approval in written. Maybe check with a lawyer to see if some financial transfer is necessary.

Foreword – Written by someone other than the author.

Preface – A preliminary statement written by the author.

Introduction – This is a half to one-page about the content of the book. Include a hook, the benefit to them, info on why you wrote the book, a sample of your chapter format and a motivation to keep reading.

Tale of Contents – Organize, submit and make sure it is accurate, when you get the proof.

Dedication – Who are those people who sacrificed time with you, picked up the slack at home or work and generally made your book possible. This is your opportunity to tell them that you appreciate they’re support.

Acknowledgement – Your editor, your publisher, your friends who said you had it in you write a book. Those people that wouldn’t give up on you, refused to believe that you didn’t have it in you and the ones who pushed you to the finish line. Thank them in this section.

Appendix – Supplemental information that will help the reader.

Index – A list of words, phrases, concepts, names of people, places or events that are included and where they can be found in the book.

Copy for back cover– A description of the book.

Author’s photo – Depending on the subject matter, the photo should represent the author’s relationship to the book subject or theme itself. This could range from a casual headshot to a shot dressed with professional gear, like a cookbook with a chef in a cook’s jacket.

About the author section – A bit about you as it relates to you being the author, written in third person.

Selling price – Compare others and make your decision.

Have you read:

Stay tuned for Step Five – What You Need to Know About Traditional or Self Publishing.


About the author
Speaker, author, TV host of Focus Forward, Lauri Flaquer has extensive entrepreneurial and media experience. As founder of Saltar Solutions, she guides her clientele of international business owners to excel as entrepreneurs. Formally in TV production at NBC, CNBC and Bloomberg LP, Lauri produces/ hosts Focus Forward, a show dedicated to helping entrepreneurs soar! Lauri has been the publicist and marketing director for several best-selling book campaigns. To learn more about marketing contact Lauri or Tweet her, @SaltarSolutions.


Are you in the process of writing a book, or have you just finished one? We’d love it if you left a comment below, or found us on Facebook or Twitter. And if you think others would find this series useful, go ahead and share :-)

Want to write a book? Here’s how to market it. Step three – Starting the book marketing process

Book marketing strategy

Listen to Lauri’s March 2014 podcast on the book marketing process

There are any numbers of ways for authors to write, market and promote their books. The right way is whatever works for them. It’s a very individual choice. This article is to help people write books that achieve the author’s personal and professional goals.

Marketing is the key to success. A great book without good marketing has very little chance of success; however a decent book with great marketing can be very successful. The earlier a marketing plan is developed and executed, the better the result.

Book marketing process

Start Early

It’s best to start marketing a book is when it’s still in the development phase. Find out what the reader wants early. This will prevent wasting countless hours writing a book that people aren’t interested in reading.

Marketing campaigns should create interest for the book and the author. The idea is to have people hungry for the information included in the book, prior to the launch. By marketing right away and incorporating content marketing strategies, the author will excite and engage potential readers, while moving them closer to the sale.

Mix it Up

A content generation strategy uses content to attract the audience. The best strategies deliver a mix of content that incorporates the three learning styles, which are visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (engagement). When I create content marketing campaigns, I focus first on my client’s primary method of delivery, then round out the content with secondary methods. For example, if my client is a writer, most of the content will be delivered in written form. The writings are supplemented with videos, MP3s, photos, music, quizzes, questions, surveys, contests, games, etc. Of course, Social Media platforms are used extensively. We work hard to provide information so valuable that people will eagerly exchange their name and contact information to get it.

Develop As You Go

One easy way to create content is to choose some of the main points of each chapter and write an article about each of them. If you plainly state that the information is from your forthcoming book, people will have their curiosity tweaked. After they see a few of these articles about your book they will be hooked.

Invite people to preorder your book. A savvy web developer could set up a landing page that will support preorders. Make sure to be creative in your requests.

Roll Cameras

Video is another powerful tool in the marketing campaign. People increasingly make purchasing decisions as a result of watching videos. A series of clips promoting the book could dramatically increase orders. One great thing about video is that it works while you sleep; meaning people are tuning in, watching, leaning and thinking about your book while you are free to manage other things.

These are just a few of the things that I use to position my client’s books as bestsellers.

  • Did you miss Step One – How to Begin the Book Writing Process? –read more 
  • Or Step Two – Understanding Your Book’s Reader? –read it now

Stay tuned for Step Four – Author’s Checklist – Know the Parts of Your Book

About the author
Speaker, author, TV host of Focus Forward, Lauri Flaquer has extensive entrepreneurial and media experience. As founder of Saltar Solutions, she guides her clientele of international business owners to excel as entrepreneurs. Formally in TV production at NBC, CNBC and Bloomberg LP, Lauri produces/ hosts Focus Forward, a show dedicated to helping entrepreneurs soar! Lauri has been the publicist and marketing director for several best-selling book campaigns. To learn more about marketing contact Lauri or Tweet her, @SaltarSolutions.

Are you in the process of writing a book, or have you just finished one? We’d love it if you left a comment below, or found us on Facebook or Twitter. And if you think others would find this series useful, go ahead and share.