How to be better at (almost) everything

Experts share their tips on how you can lead a better life in Bahrain

How to be better at (almost) everything

Your home
Take heed these tips from Home Centre's Michelle Dinsmore for a clutter-free life

A de-cluttered house can reflect and even encourage a calm mind so make it your mission this year to spring clean your life using these helpful tips from a woman who, as head of visual merchandising, knows how to make rooms and homes look smart.

Sort and Toss
Stuff in your home gets cluttered when everything doesn’t have a home. This first step in getting organised is to sort through your closet and drawers. Clothing or paperwork that you don’t use or need any more to be tossed.

Separate and Organise
For important paperwork, create separate files for all key topics. The same goes for your clothing – for hanging items, separate your dresses, trousers and shirts and hang them together. This creates additional storage space below. Don’t forget the space under your bed. This is ideal for storing items that you only use a few times a year.

Keep it Simple
We spend a lot of time in the kitchen so it quickly gets cluttered. Clear glass jars are ideal for organising items you use every day like tea, sugar, coffee or after-school snacks for the kids. Drawer dividers are ideal for keeping items separated and easy to find.

Get creative
Beds with storage are a clever way to organise shoes, extra bedding or even your Christmas ornaments. Ottomans with storage are great in the living room for toys, book or magazines. And don’t forget your walls – just add shelves.

The Golden Rule
Every time you get something new, toss something old. This is a great rule to follow especially for the closet. Getting a new pair of shoes? Then it’s time to part with an old pair. The best way to keep your home from being cluttered is to ensure everything has a place.

Your body

Tribal Fitness founder Craig Heslop gives advice on getting a killer form

The neck and shoulders
The neck and shoulders can become very stiff from sitting in a forward lean all day. Try bamboo dislocators by raising a stick above and over your head to mobilise these joints.

The heart
Walk every day. A 15-minute walk in the morning and evening is your secret weapon for a healthy heart. Walking outside reduces stress, vitamin D from direct sunlight improves immunity and frequent movement helps your trusty pump to work more efficiently.

The back
You need to lift stuff off the floor with great technique (it’s called a “floor lift”). This is practical to lifting your bags, babies or suitcases off the floor. Use your hips as the primary mover and maintain a neutral spine.

The glutes
Try the hard ball backside roll. Sitting on your glutes all day can lead to immobile and stiff behinds so rolling your glutes using a tennis ball can help to remove “knots” and bring life back to your muscles.

The expert
Craig Heslop is the founder of Tribal Fitness and is the only RKC IKFF Level 2 kettlebell instructor in Bahrain, as well as a MovNat Level 2 trainer, TRX personal trainer and desert survival instructor.
Visit www.tribalfitness.com; email craig@tribalfitness.com or call 17 300 859.

The abdominals
Eat less junk. The reality is that if you want to see your abs, you need to modify your food. Exercise is not an efficient way to burn belly fat when compared to modifying the quality and quantity of your food.

The feet
Similarly to your glutes, try the hard ball foot roll. Take off those containers you call shoes and help bring life back to your feet by rolling them on a tennis ball. More than 25 percent of your body’s bones are in your feet – they are an amazing piece of engineering. Let them breathe every day and even try walking barefoot every day.

Your mind

Health and life coach Daniela Rosu's tricks on maintaining complete calm

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make drastic changes in order to notice an improvement in the quality of your life. At the same time, you don’t need to wait a long time in order to see the measurable results that come from taking positive action. All you have to do is take small steps, and take them consistently.

Meditate
The practice of meditation helps slow us down. Once you begin meditating daily, old habits will break down, outdated belief systems may come into question and you’ll likely start sleeping like a baby. It can have positive effects on just about everything from waking up earlier to learning patience, making faster decisions and losing that fear of missing out and trusting yourself more.

Journal
Successful people throughout history have kept journals. You can start with keeping “morning pages”. First thing in the morning, simply do three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing. This daily routine can be the key to a clearer mind, better ideas, less anxiety and more creativity. Do not over-think it: just put pen to paper and scribble your thoughts each day.

Brain Fitness
Brain training can improve your life in many ways: faster thinking, better memory, trying new things, finding words, sharper listening, sharper vision, quicker reactions, safer driving, self-confidence. Games and puzzles that are intellectually challenging give your brain a workout. Over time, when one type of puzzle becomes easy for you, try a more advanced version or a new game.

Colour in
Colouring books are not just for kids anymore. More and more people are getting into the soothing art of colouring in. Adult colouring books are created specifically to help you de-stress by focusing the mind. Psychologists say it gives the sense of satisfaction that comes with finishing a job and the meditative state induces relaxation, even when you don’t stay in the lines.

Love yourself
Self-love is important to living well. Become mindful, practice good self-care, act on what you need rather than what you want, set boundaries, protect yourself, forgive yourself and live intentionally. You can only love a person as much as you love yourself so the more love you have for yourself, the better you are at relationships. You'll even start to attract people and positive circumstances.

Forgive
Forgiveness can change your life. Is there any grievance or unhappiness from the past which you have been holding on to? If so, it’s time to let it go. Holding on prevents you from moving on and becoming a better person. The past is over so bring your focus back to the present moment. Find the joy in life right now, as it happens, and stop reliving history.

Time management
Time management is all about spending your time in the right places and on the right things. It’s about knowing your priorities, obligations and schedule. It’s also about spending your time where it matters most to you. Your life will improve in MANY ways: less stress, getting more done, more opportunities, fewer problems, less wasted time and more free time.

Slow down
We are living in an era of “time poverty” were we are caught in a constant state of “hurry sickness”. We consume massive amounts of caffeine to speed us up, eat fast foods to save us time, work while eating to stay productive, but we never catch up. Health and happiness are strongly linked and both begin with slowing down to enjoy every moment of your life.
Daniela is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach based in Bahrain. Contact her at daniela@allinallhealth.com or visit www.danielarosu.com.

Your spare time

Don't waste time on the couch. Instead, pick up a hobby and learn something new this year.

On the pitch

Whether you’re one or one hundred, the benefits of playing team sports are undeniable. Not only does it mean you’ll get some good exercise into your weekly routine, but you’ll also learn how to work better with others, gain confidence and make new friends. To join rugby, football and/or netball teams, check out the Bahrain Rugby Football Club (33 464 700).

Snap happy

American photojournalist Dorothea Lange said: “The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”. Basically, one of the most rewarding, creative hobbies you can have is photography. Don't know your aperture from your shutter speed? In Bahrain, regular workshops are held at Words BookstoreCafe (17 690 790) and Al Riwaq Art Space (17 717 441).

Green fingers

Just because we live in the desert, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have fabulous, blooming gardens full of bougainvillea and beetroot. Gardening relieves stress, boosts heart health, reduces Alzheimer’s risk and improves your mental wellbeing. Get together with like-minded hobbyists at the Bahrain Garden Club who meet regularly through the month (www.bahraingardenclub.com).

To be or not to be...

Did you always want to play Puck in your school’s rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream but were too shy to audition? Now’s the time to take the plunge and live out those childhood am-dram fantasies and make new friends, learn new skills, discover your passion, the list goes on. Join The Manama Theatre Club and find a place on the team (manamatheatreclub.bahrain@gmail.com).

Saved by the bell

No-one can deny the benefits of continuing education until a ripe old age. Whether you’re looking to learn something that will further you in your chosen career, or you’re still curious about the world, or you simply love learning, you’re bound to find a course for you either on land or online. Luckily, we have access to the Arab Open University in Bahrain (www.aou.org.bh).

Art for art's sake

You shouldn’t underestimate the power of being creative. The developmental benefits of arts and crafts is widely accepted for kids, but as an adult such activities are therapeutic and are especially good for those struggling with mental health issues. We suggest checking out open sessions at The Art Therapy Centre (www.arttherapybh.com).

Twinkle toes

Dance classes aren’t just a fun way to get fit – it’s also a way to make friends, improve posture, reduce stress, learn about new cultures, boost self-esteem and express yourself, plus more. There are many classes to choose from in Bahrain from ballroom to ballet to Bollywood. See what they have at Ballare Studio (www.ballarestudio.com).

Jam nights

It’s official, music can actually change your brain. In 2003, a Harvard neurologist found the brains of adult musicians had a larger volume of gray matter than that of non-musicians. And there’s plenty more research where that came from. So, visit Room 2 Rock where they sell instruments, as well as offer lessons (www.room2rock.com).

Your dinner

Award-winning chef Susy Massetti lets us in on the secrets of great home cooking

The chicken
For the juiciest chicken ever, brine it. Brine is a mixture of salt and sugar dissolved in cold water (one cup each per four litres of water) used to soak any sort of meat to obtain a juicy roast and to remove gaminess. Eight hours or overnight is ideal or two to four hours is more than enough for smaller pieces (400 grams or less).

The salad
Here are a few simple tricks to make a beautiful salad: always salt the dressing, add textures such as crunchy (like cucumber), crumbly (like cheese), juicy (like tomatoes) and chewy (like chicken). Incorporate as many flavours as possible. This salad for example is sweet from strawberries, salty from cheese and acidic from vinaigrette. Lastly, play with different greens and add luxurious toppings such as quail eggs and smoked salmon.

The hummus
Good hummus starts with great quality chickpeas and tahini and requires a bit of work. Soak the beans overnight in cold water with a pinch of baking soda as it makes the skin softer. Rinse well and cook them for 90 minutes. Don't salt. Cool down and process until very smooth, adding your favourite flavours.

The omelette
A good omelette is all about fluffiness and flavour. Season your eggs and whip vigorously to incorporate as much air as possible. First cook the whipped eggs with olive oil or butter for three minutes and add your favourite ingredients in the middle before folding one half over. Use a good heavy bottomed non-stick pan and your omelettes will always be of fine dining restaurant quality.

The lamb
For the most flavourful and tender lamb chops, marinate in yoghurt. Add mint, cumin and chilli or your favourite spices to a cup of yoghurt and mix well. Place the lamb chops in a ziplock bag, pour the mixture on top and refrigerate for two to four hours. For the best results, make sure your grill or pan is scorching hot to sear all the juices in. Let the meat rest for at least five minutes before serving.

Your money

Find it hard to save? Follow this financial advice from Credit Libanais' Aghar Kanafani

Every year come January, following a wallet-unfriendly festive season, most of us are broke. The time to save is nigh, you’re hardly leaving the house and yet you still find yourself out of pocket. But it doesn’t need to be this way if you rely more on foresight.

Budget
Write down a list of your monthly expenses (rent, groceries, petrol, etc.) and stretch your take-home income accordingly during the rest of the month. Setting a limit or a ceiling always helps one not to overspend, whether on an outing, a meal or a gift.

Plan your holiday
Most employers ask their staff to submit their annual leave dates early. So if you know when you are taking time off, and you know where you want to go, don’t leave travel arrangements until the last minute. Get deals by booking ahead and save on ticket fares and hotel stays, too. Put aside a small portion of your take-home income, on a monthly basis, so you won’t be burdened with the overall cost when the time comes.

Don't be hasty
Just because you can afford it, doesn’t mean you’re getting a good deal on your purchases. There are always equally good alternatives. Compare prices of different brands when shopping. You can save ten to 15 percent on groceries alone and shopping online is proving to be very cost effective. Also, do ask shop staff when the next sale is going to be and postpone buying certain items until then.

Prioritise
What you want and what you need are two different things. Do not buy on impulse. Your credit card can easily lure you into that “buy now, pay later” thinking. Before you head to the cash register, take a moment and ask yourself: “Do I really need this right now?” My advice is, get what you need first then spoil yourself when you have extra cash.

Keep the change
Use any large vase or tin and make a habit of throwing coins in at the end of each day. You will be amazed at how fast it will pile up. I personally saved BD300 in less than 18 months by doing this. Not only will you have extra pocket money but it will inspire your kids to learn the value of money and get into the early habit of saving up.

For rainy days
Unfortunately, we do get the occasional unexpected event that requires unplanned payments. If you cannot save then borrow an amount of money and lock it in an investment that yields income. This is called a “forced saving”. You will be “forced” to pay back your loan on a monthly basis, while your savings are earning income.

Your habits

Before starting something new, why not learn to kick the old, bad habits first? There's no time like the present

Switch off

Think scrolling through your Facebook feed, checking out your friends’ holiday photos is harmless? Think again. Once you start comparing your life to others’, your chances of sinking into a depression are far higher (trust us, there are statistics to prove this and everything). If you’re finding it hard to switch off, book a therapy session. Visit www.psychologistbahrain.com.

Stub it out

If we started spewing out facts about how smoking is bad for you, we’d fill this entire magazine in no time. So, here are some ways to quit. Firstly, visit the anti-smoking clinic at American Mission Hospital (www.amh.org.bh). Pop by your local pharmacy and pick up nicotine replacements (gum, etc.). And, read Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Quit Smoking (www.allencarr.com).

De-buzz

One or two cups of coffee per day can be harmless but when your caffeine consumption is out of control, it’s time to cut it out. A high intake can have negative effects – it increases anxiety, causes insomnia, raises blood pressure, stains your teeth, the list goes on – and the benefits of quitting are just as numerous. Either wean yourself off or simply go cold turkey and never look back.

Get active

Most of us don’t have the luxury of getting up during the day – we’re chained to our desks and glued to our screens to much detriment. Researchers call this “sedentary behaviour” and studies show people, including those who exercise, who sit for prolonged periods have a higher risk of dying from all lifestyle diseases. Even if you don't want to change career, at least turn the TV off in the evenings and get up.

Sow down

Bahrain’s traffic police work hard to ensure less people speed, but there are many drivers dangerously flouting the rules every day. Don’t be one of them. Just think about how, with one swerve, you could change someone else’s life forever. In 2013, on average, someone died in a car crash every four days while an accident happened every six minutes, according to the General Directorate of Traffic. Think about that.

Less sweet

“Just one more slice of cake.” So say the sugar addicted. Yet sugar consumption and weight gain lead to so many lifestyle diseases, the momentary satisfaction just isn’t worth it. It’s a tough habit to break but start by reading labels, clearing out your pantry and stocking up on health foods (not “low-fat”). Remember, this is not a diet but a lifestyle.

Real food

Similarly to sugar addiction, a penchant for junk food is also dangerous. With our busy lifestyles, fast food is a quick and easy fix but, if we plan ahead, we could cook more delicious, wholesome meals. How? For example, pick up some local produce at the weekly Budaiya Farmers’ Market and only shop around the supermarkets' edges.

Slop it on

The importance of a daily sun cream ritual in Bahrain cannot be underestimated. It doesn’t matter what your complexion is, everybody is susceptible to skin cancer and wrinkles. All you need is up to 15 minutes of direct sunlight each day to get your vitamin D and then you need to protect yourself. Slop on SPF 30-plus.

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