Tips to quit smoking: Part I

You have probably heard that smoking is bad for you. Quitting is widely recognized in being hugely beneficial for your health. If you are reading this, you are probably looking to get serious and stop smoking, but realize its easier said than done. We have written some ideas to help you quit smoking for good. Give them a try!

1. Write it down

As we wrote earlier, putting down your ideas on paper makes it an ‘official promise’ for you to keep. Ask yourself, why don’t you like smoking, and why do you want to quit. For example: do you get nervous about health risks? Do you dislike the constant smell of tobacco? Is your habit too much of a financial expense? Do you worry about whether you will be around for your loved ones? Write these down & keep it in a place where you see if often: your wallet/purse or bathroom mirror/fridge. The list will give you the motivation to curb your instincts the next time you feel like lighting up.

Answer this question: Why Do I want to stop smoking?

2. Get a support network

Now that you’ve taken the first step, seek support from people you: friends, family or coworkers and tell them that you’re trying to stop smoking and want their help. They can be a good influence on you by helping you to stay true to your promise the next time you feel the need for a puff. You can also join a support group such as Sumithrayo or 7cups of tea, with trained listeners (including Sri Lankans) who will patiently listen to a variety of problems such as smoking, depression, alcohol abuse etc. The main point? Having a good support network gives you a push in the right direction.

stop smoking, keep calm and stop smoking
Your friends will help you to stop smoking

3. Talk to your doctor

This is not a new problem, ask your local doctor about ways to stop smoking. Given that its a medical issue, doctors are likely to be connected towards fellow professionals who can help you out. Furthermore, this strengthens your desire to stop smoking since you’re reaching out to a health professional.

Celebrate when you avoid giving in to temptation

4. Manage your stress

Being under a lot of stress and anxiety is more likely to lead you to smoke, which is the last thing you want to do when you’re trying to quit. In order to stay in control, we urge you to look at our earlier articles about what stresses you out and learn how to manage your stress triggers and follow these ideas to get on the road to recovery.

5. Take it slow

Unsurprisingly, a lot of people who wish to quit smoking immediately rarely succeed- it requires you to change your behavior drastically. If this is you, set a date by which you wish to stop smoking- a year from today would be appropriate. Set little milestones along the way to mark progress- for example, the day you delayed your first cigarette of the day, the day you smoked just one pack, or weekend you switched 2 days of smoking with exercise.

When you do reach those milestones, reward yourself with something you like-such as an edible treat, or even let your friends/family/support group know. They will be delighted to celebrate in your success and not only will it make you happier, but they will help you attain your goals to live smoke-free.

Got any ideas we’ve missed? Tell us in the comments section, and subscribe so that you can catch Part II later!

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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 ways to politely decline a drink

Picture this: you are out with a few friends, coworkers or strangers while you’re out. You’re having a good time. However, you get pushed to take an alcoholic drink, but you don’t want to: how do you say no without offending anyone? Here are 5 ways to say ‘no’ to alcohol.

1. “I don’t drink and drive” OR “I’m driving”: This is a very good response if you are driving. It reinforces the concept of safe driving and shows that you are a responsible individual. This is arguably the best also the perfect job for those who don’t drink-they can hang out with friends, not drink and then take them home. Everyone appreciates a free ride home.

no alcohol today
Don’t drink and drive. Ever

2. “I don’t drink”: Probably the response which requires numerous follow-up questions, but its worth a try. You may wish to decline drinking as you may have taken a religious vow, or you are taking a break from alcohol altogether. Expect to get teased and joked about your sense of fun, and/or masculinity/femininity. That said, be firm and is a good reply as long as you can keep up with the fun activities with your friends.

3 “I have to get up early tomorrow” OR “I’ve got work in the morning”: It’s an interesting reply, as it may prompt a follow-up question (ie: ‘what are you doing tomorrow?’). That said, It’s good as it demonstrates that you don’t permit alcohol to interfere with your daily activities and you have a good head on your shoulders.

Know your limits when it comes to alcohol

4. “I’ve just had one”: It’s a good, easygoing response. This prevents someone from accusing you from being too uptight. This insinuates that you are have boundaries and that you don’t need to drink continuously, but indicates that you could have taken a drink if you wanted.

5. “I’ve had enough to drink”: This is a hugely powerful statement when you drink with a regular crowd. If it’s a new group, they will learn about your tolerance eventually. It’s good to drink responsibly, especially for those who may have problems with alcohol

What are other effective methods you use to drink responsibly? Tell us in the comments!

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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: 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.

thinking about stress, react to stress, reaction to stressful events in life
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: Manage Stress. Part I: What Stresses you out?

Stress is built into our system, its part of our ‘fight or flight’ system. Its how our bodies adapt to challenging situations. That said, we seemingly believe that stress is always bad for you. This is not true.

stressed out
Confused? Keep reading

Upto a certain level stress is good as the adrenaline keeps us going, and helps us overcome our struggles. However too much stress affects you negatively by disrupting your sleeping patterns, causes difficulty in concentrating on tasks and makes people a lot more irritable and anxious. In a nutshell, stress can be visualized onto a graph such as this:


How do you know if you’re stressed? Here are the signs.

  • Feeling tired
  • Feeling irritable
  • Frequent headaches
  • Having a hard time concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep


Identify what makes you stressed out, and learn to relax

Common Stress Triggers

Now that you can understand when you’re stressed, its necessary to know what causes stress. Common stress triggers often include the following, but aren’t limited to:

  • Financial difficulties
  • Getting injured or badly ill
  • Traumatic events such as war, violence or natural disasters.
  • Emotional issues such as anger, depression and low self esteem
  • Work stress
  • Significant life events: losing a job, death in the family, moving to a new country, divorce, getting married.
Homeowork: Write down your stress triggers

Now, Ask yourself: ‘What stresses me out?’ and write these down. Now that you know what your stress triggers are, you will be more prepared to deal with stress the next time it happens. We will cover this more in part II. Until then, have a low-stress week!

Note:– If you think you need a rest day, you might use the upcoming long weekend to relax and take a rest day.

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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.

Your First Zumba Class: What You Should Expect

We’ve already written about the health benefits of Zumba. Now its time to take the first step and answer the all important question: what should I expect at my first ever Zumba class? Our guide provides you with suggestions about what to bring, what to expect &  tips to make your first Zumba outing a successful one.

      1. What to bring?

  • Towel: Expect to sweat a lot, so keep it close by
  • Comfortable, movable clothes (shirt and track pants/shorts are fine)
  • Water bottle: to be sipped when you get that handy 30-60second break!
  • Sneakers/Shoes: Ones with decent ankle support and have a good grip as you will move a lot
  • A friend (if possible), so you feel less at ease and can motivate each other
You WILL sweat it out, so pack a towel & some water

      2. What to Expect

  • Duration: 60-75minutes per class including stretching to warm-ups and cooldown (ie: to ease your tired muscles)
  • Trained instructors: The instructor we spoke to was well qualified, and has been teaching Zumba for 5 years, so he was well versed to answer all questions in a professional manner.
  • A varied workout: For example, you may do 30 jumping jacks & then switch to push ups or squats based on the type of music which is pumping through the speakers.
  • The classes are priced from Rs. 400 per class, which is a great option if you’re not sure if you can commit to Zumba on a long-term basis, or you just want to ‘give it a try’
  • Equipment: These are usually provided by the class, so grab yourself a mat, some free weights (1kgX2 is recommended for beginners) and get going
Zumba classes frequently use 1kg dumbbells

         3. Our Advice

  • Go early on the first day: Introduce yourself to the instructor and/or a few other classmates. Chances are they are just as nervous as you are!
  • Watch the Instructor: Grab a spot in the middle or back of the room where you can clearly see the instructor, this lets you perform the moves correctly without the pressure of being in the front and making mistakes.
  • Move at your own pace:What you put into Zumba= What you can get out of it. The classes can be  pretty intense, so if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to slow down and take a quick water break.
  • Spot the regulars: If you lose the rhythm (and you probably will), check out the regulars; they are the ones who are hitting the moves with precision so you can always look to them to ensure that you’re getting the correct technique and getting the most of your Zumba workout.
  • Enjoy it: Although a few lot of us were struggling at the 45 minute mark, but we caught each others eye and laughed it off, determined to finish off the set
Zumba workout, Zumba Sri Lanka
Spot the regular members in case you lose rhythm

Bottom Line: Follow these suggestions and don’t stress: the point of Zumba is to relax & have a fun workout. For more information about Zumba classes in Sri Lanka, check out this official link.

Enjoyed this article? Tell us in the comments & subscribe to us for more great, weekly content!

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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.