HOW TO: Manage Stress, Part II: Improve how you react to Stress

A few weeks ago, we spoke about identifying your stress triggers. Now, let’s focus on ways which you can improve your reaction to these stressful situations.

 Step 1: Look at your existing responses.

Look at the responses you currently undertake when you encounter a stressful situation. For example, if you get annoyed due to a rough day, pressure based on your financial situation or because of other matters, then monitor how you respond: do you get angry, irritated, shout in public, get physically involved? The first step to solving a problem is understanding that a problem exists.

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How do you normally respond to stress?

Step 2: React better

When you have the time, take 15minutes to view Dr. Kelly Mcgonigals’ TED talk on How to Make Stress your friend. It’s fascinating, as it suggests that your perception of stress defines how stress effects you. For example, believing stress is bad means that people are more likely to have more ‘stress related illnesses’. However, if you perceive stress to be a good method to get yourself ‘ready’ for life’s challenges, it can serve you well by allowing you to form relationships with people (to help you through tough times) and releasing Oxytocin, sometimes called the ‘happy hormone’ which is associated with feelings like joy and ecstasy. 

ted talk given by dr kelly how to make stress your friend
Dr Kelly gives her TED talk

Step 3: Application

That being said, learn to improve your reaction to stressful events. Below are 5 popular tips to get started:

1. Count to 10 slowly: Sometimes you just need to step back and relax.

2. Be in Control: Realize that you can only control your actions, and not the action’s of others. Basically, you alone determine how you react according to the challenges life throws at you.

3. Get a stress ball: These are available in Sri Lanka in Pettah and numerous other locations. If you cant get them, consider buying them online (Upto Rs. 500) and since they are made of foam, just squeeze them whenever you get worked up. The idea is to transfer all your stress onto the foam ball. This is especially popular among working individuals!

stress ball

4. Prioritize: If you work or are in university, learn to prioritize your workload. Order your activities based on the most important ones and create a work routine. Tackling the most pressing issues first will make life a little easier. Take a notepad, or use apps

5. Get healthier: if you’re not doing so already, learn to exercise often and eat healthier. You can run, go to the gym, play a sport, do yoga, get involved in Zumba-anything you like, but be consistent. Consitency in eating well and exercising gives you peace of mind and goes a long way towards improving your health

How do you manage stress? Tell us in the comments below!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

How to Create a Strong Password

A few weeks ago, we talked about how you can protect yourself from identity theft. Today, the primary focus is about creating a strong password. Here’s an easy way on how to make passwords which are tough to crack, plus a couple of extra tips for those who have to remember multiple passwords.

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Keep your online accounts secure

Working example

For example, let’s say you want to make a simple password for yourself, and your name is Sampath. Rather than making it ‘sampath’, which wouldn’t be too difficult to guess. Consider making it a little tougher. How?

Well, ‘sampath’ could have a number such as 2015, to indicate the current year, making the password ‘sampath2015’, which is a little harder to crack.

To get to the next level, use Upper case letters and symbols, so the password could be ‘Samp@th2015’ or $amp@th2015, which are much stronger passwords.

If you can use a phrase and incorporate it into the password, that would be even better. For example, add the place where you live into your password, and add the tips you learned earlier. Therefore, $amp@th2015 could become $amp@th2015Jael@ or $amp@th2015@Jae1@ (where we substitute the letter L for no. 1).

password
Make your password secure

Different accounts, same password

In theory, it’s a good idea to have different passwords for different accounts. However, in reality this is quite difficult as people find it difficult to remember complex passwords and phrases. Subsequently, one of two things happen: a) you have the same password for multiple accounts, which is helpful as its easier to remember. However, it is very dangerous as it means that all your accounts could be hacked if someone steals your password. The other, more likely option is: b) You have many simpler passwords which are easier to crack. Once again,this poses a risk to your online security.

Too many passwords to remember? Why not try a password generator

Depending on which online system you use, it may be necessary to change passwords often. For example, certain banks request customers to change their passwords every few months. This is a problem for a lot of people as it takes time an effort to create & remember new passwords. In addition, a lot of us might have multiple passwords (personal email, online banking, Facebook, work/student emails etc). For these reasons, it’s probably a good idea to look into a password generator.

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Keepass Screenshot

Here, you need to remember just the one password to open the password generator. The software will create & store existing passwords. We’d recommend looking at popular systems such as Lastpass, Keepass, Password Genie or Dashlane.

All these software makes life easier as you will only need to remember one password…. just don’t forget it though!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

5 occasions to re-assess your life insurance coverage

Life insurance is something which you ought to invest in. However, once you lock into a policy, it doesn’t mean that the same policy will serve you for the rest of your life. Here are 5 instances when should reassess your life insurance policy.

1. You’re buying a house

It’s necessary to look at home insurance if you are building your dream home, or you want to renovate your house. Proper home insurance will provide coverage for the actual house, its belongings and all its occupants.

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2. You’re expecting a baby

Bringing a child into this world is a big responsibility. Expect a significant rise in your household expenses (ie: baby food, clothes, toys etc). This means that there is a lot more at stake for your new family. As a parent, having enough life insurance coverage will give you peace of mind knowing that your family can maintain their standard of living and secure your child’s future. For more information, check out our article about the importance of having child insurance.

Photo credits: HNB Assurance. All rights reserved. This picture may not be duplicated on other websites.

3. You’re getting married

Congratulations! Wedding planning aside, one of the more important considerations for soon-to-be-newlyweds is taking out a life insurance policy. This will secure your spouse’s ability to pay living expenses, medical bills, vehicle payments etc. What better way to kickstart your marriage knowing that your future is well assured!

4. You’re getting a promotion/new job

This one applies for a lot of people, especially young people. We’ve already mentioned why getting a life insurance policy at a young age is beneficial. However, its worth taking a look at that policy as you change jobs or get promoted.

For example, a promotion would mean that you could invest in a decent vehicle, home or purchase other goods and services as you accumulate wealth. In order to keep up with your bills and maintain your lifestyle, you should consider buying more insurance, now that you have the extra money to do so.

Photo credits: HNB Assurance. All rights reserved. This picture may not be duplicated on other websites.

5. Retirees with an Empty Nest

This may be tough for some parents to hear, but you should be ready when the kids leave home. The big advantage is that your life insurance needs are likely to drop as you only need to depend on yourselves. That being said, you need to be aware that your financial & health concerns are managed appropriately. Thus, make it a point to speak to your life insurance advisor.

Even if none of these 5 reasons apply to you, its still smart to review your insurance at least once a year. The advantage is that you can speak to your advisor and find out about new products/covers which will benefit you, which you may not know about if you didn’t take the initiative.

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.

8 Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

With mother’s day coming around the corner. A lot of individuals are feeling the pinch as they hurry to get a gift and look for unique ways to make their moms feel special on Sunday, May 10th. This begs the question: what can I get for my mom? We’ve separated our ideas for those who can afford to spend a little money, as opposed to those who want to make Mother’s day special… without breaking the bank.

For those with extra cash to spend…

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Your mum took care of you. Time to return the favour

1. Take her out: It’s good to give mom a treat. Take her out to a meal at her favorite restaurant, or go shopping and buy something she wants, go to watch a movie (let her choose the film!) or take her on a drive over the weekend.

2. Get her a gift

i) Flowers and cards: The classics are always pretty good. Mother’s appreciate flowers, especially those which will last for a few days so she can show off to her friends. If you are good at baking, make her a cake.

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Good in the kitchen? Bake your mother a cake!

ii) Order online: Little bit of a gamble, but if you can find something which she really likes and can deliver it in time, give it a try. Popular items include jewellery, chocolates, gift vouchers to her favorite store etc. Given the fact that there are a number of sites which does this in Sri Lanka, this could be the easiest way to go!

iii) Spa/Ayurvedic products: Mothers are inherently busy people. So, if you can’t book a one weekend break at a nearby spa, try looking into spa products. Some outlets in Colombo allow you to purchase a number of spa items (facial scrubs, body lotion, moisturizer etc) for a decent price.

Mother’s day on a budget

Sometimes, its the little things in life which make a difference. Have a look at these ideas for inspiration.

1. Call: If you live far away from her, pickup her phone and give her a call, not an email or SMS. Call her and have a chat and catch up. She’ll be glad you rang.

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Call your mother and tell her you love her

2. Go on a picnic: Weather permitting, go to a park like Viharamahadevi or Galle face for a picnic. The food doesn’t need to be extensive: achcharu and vadai are simple items which will impress her if you do it  well.

3. Organize a family gathering & get help to cook a grand sunday lunch. This is a gem of an idea for groups, whether it be in the neighbourhood or a large family. This allows everyone to pitch it with a good dish, celebrates the joy of being a mother and provides a great reason to meet and have a good time.

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Dust off those old photo albums, its time to make good use of them!

4. Make a photo collage: Simple, but quite effective. Get a bunch of old photos from your old photo albums. Make sure these showcase milestones about your mum’s life (her birthday, wedding day, the day you were born, family outings and funny moments). Put these photos into a fancy photo collage, to the tune of her favorite song. Throw in some of her famous saying (every mother always has advice to offer!) and she’ll be elated when she see’s the final product.

We hope that these suggestions give you some ideas to pamper one of the most valuable members of our society: mothers.

Happy mother’s day from all of us at HNB Assurance!

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Disclaimer: The views shared in this blog are based on the macro economic conditions & industry status quo as per the time of publishing.