How to Have a Gentle Lockdown

The contours of our lives have changed in the coronavirus lockdown or shelter in place. For now, we don’t have the regular rhythms and rituals which give shape to our days. Without the activities which normally punctuate our waking hours, we are faced with a shapeless mass of time which we need to mould into a recognisable and manageable form.

And we are doing so well at it. Each day we are increasingly aware of the importance of caring for our own and others’ physical and mental health. We are embracing advice to structure the days with a variety of pursuits, and people are generously offering their skill and experience to help us to continue the activities which bring us pleasure and which nourish our well-being.

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How the Five Whys Could Help You to Manage Stress

It’s not often that tools for improving productivity and effectiveness in the workplace can be happily transferred to our personal lives, but with a little bit of tweaking, the technique called the Five Whys may provide a way of helping us deal with personal pressure and demands.

This method, which originated in the Toyota company in Japan in the 1930s and is in widespread use today, presents the potential for solving a problem by asking a series of questions, typically five, which lead you to identify the problem’s root cause. This is a route to preventing the problem from occurring again. It’s a technique which seems to work well in certain circumstances.

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Be Wary of New Words that Disguise their Real Meaning

Our language is vibrant and flexible, constantly changing as it reflects the changing nature of the world it describes. Communication has always been enriched by varieties of slang, for example, and by the emergence of new words and phrases that sometimes refer to a new reality, and at other times present a new way of expressing something which is already established.

While relishing the colour and vividness of newly-coined expressions, it’s good to be aware of what they actually refer to. If we buy into the neat-sounding phrase or the cool neologism and accept it at face value, we may be accepting practices which we don’t whole-heartedly endorse and which could stand a little more scrutiny.

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The Assertive Way to Fight Body Shaming

For years and years, the practice of making fun of fat or thin people has been a staple of cartoons, picture postcards, film and television comedies, books and stories.

It’s what we do, mock and marginalise our fellow humans who don’t conform to some manufactured ideal of physical appearance. The shame is on us, not on our bodies.

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Talkin’ ’bout your generation — How to overcome generational differences in communication

The phrase ‘the generation gap’ came into common usage in the 1960s. It referred to the lack of understanding between the older generation, born earlier in the century, and the new tribe of teenagers and young people which emerged after World War Two.

Depending on your viewpoint, the younger generation changed a moribund society into one which was better, brighter and freer, or it plunged the country into the depths of depravity, permissiveness and uncouth behaviour.

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How to Deal with Workplace Jargon

The Oxford English Dictionary has asked the public to contribute examples of the work-specific language — slang, technical terms, acronyms, ‘in’ phrases — which is current in their profession.

The fine lexicographers at the OED are following the practice of Sir James Murray, who in 1878 took on the huge task of preparing and editing the dictionary. Sir James asked people to send in examples of words and the contexts in which they were used, so that every word in the dictionary was accompanied by references and quotations to illustrate its range of meanings and usages. Information and evidence continue to be key components of the fascinating task of tracking and recording our language as it changes and develops.

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The Assertive, Friendly Way to Refuse a Drink and Keep Your Personal Power

It can be very hard to resist the pressure to drink, and to deal with the suggestion which is sometimes implied that your refusal means that you are boring, or weird, or a killjoy, or that you are being judgemental about other people.

What could be more social than a bar or a pub, right? It could be your local pub-grub watering hole, or a sophisticated cocktail lounge (get you), or an old-school tavern with a darts board and other trad cons, or the kind of party at someone’s house that turns it into a bar of sorts for the evening.

These and similar situations have two things in common — they encourage fun and sociability, and they share an assumption that having a few or more alcoholic drinks is the way to a good time.

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How Parents Can Manage the Stress of Exam Results

Once upon a time, way back in the day when there were only two television channels available and they were both in black and white, the only people interested in exam results were those directly involved. The results arrived at your house by post, in an envelope addressed to you, the exam candidate, and could be opened when and where and how you chose.

You could absorb the grades in the privacy of your bedroom, or in the company of your parents or a friend or a sympathetic dog, or sitting on your backpack ready to hit the Kathmandu trail if it had all gone Pete Tong, as we didn’t say in those days.

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It Is What It Isn’t

The expression ‘it is what it is’ has been in use for a good few years, but seems to have extended its reach to all kinds of situations in which it is too often used to mask attitudes which limit rather than encourage communication and understanding.

In some contexts, the phrase expresses a wonderful philosophy. It suggests that we should accept the unique existence of something without trying to change it or subjugate it to our own wishes. Who better than Mr Bob Dylan to express this: ‘I ain’t looking to simplify you, classify you… analyse you, categorize you… or inspect you or reject you’.

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How to be Properly Busy

We tend to use the word ‘busy’ to indicate being active and having a lot to do. But the term has lost its neutral descriptive quality and become loaded with implications and judgements about the value of our lives.

Perhaps it’s the word which is offputting. ‘Busy’ isn’t a great word. It sounds like the irritating buzzing of a wasp. It brings to mind the old-fashioned term ‘busybody’, a pejorative term which in the olden days would be applied to people who meddled in others’ affairs.

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How Words Can Cloud Our Thinking

The words we use in everyday interactions are under intense scrutiny. In some contexts, we are increasingly aware of how language can be used to hurt, to demean, to belittle, to exclude. We choose words carefully, not wanting to offend through carelessness or ignorance, and not wanting to take offence when none was meant.

In the new atmosphere of heightened awareness of, for example, equality between sexes, we could take another look at some of the habits of language and communication that we have taken for granted for years.

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