Author Archives: Heather-Anne Bailey

About Heather-Anne Bailey

Employment Lawyer by Day, Social Butterfly by Night. Loves Blogging as much as she loves Food. Coffee-Snob. Gin Aficionado. Cat Mom to Luna. Terrible Dancer. Hilariously Awkward at Times. Incurable case of Wanderlust. Lives the Good life in Manchester's Media City. Host for Social Circle.

5 Reasons why Friends are the Best.

 

With Friendship Day behind us and conversations still taking place over mental health following #TimetoTalkDay, it got Social Circle HQ thinking about our friends and the wonderful ways they contribute to our lives. It’s not just us being soppy though. Turns out scientists agree that good friends come with (health) benefits.

So friends are great, so why do I feel so lonely?

You would not be alone, a sense of isolation is increasing amongst adults as our friendship groups dissolve with every life change.  We move towns, change our jobs and relationships and spend what little downtime we have on social media.  It is no wonder we feel that life is all about work, or we focus on finding ‘the one’ when actually what we need is a  small quality network of friends.

‘How can I find like-minded people?’. It is easy, choose an event that appeals to you and come meet wonderful like-minded people who are looking to expand their Social Circle in Manchester.

So here are 5 surprising reasons why it is important to get out there and make new friends. 

Increase your sense of belonging and purpose.

Whether it is our love of niche horror films, a particular football team or the fact we are a coffee snob, our unique qualities in the wrong environment can remind us of being the awkward kid at school.  Friends not only accept us for all we are, including our weird ways, but they often have the same quirks and interests.  So whether you are laughing over drinks at your latest dating nightmare, or cheering on your favourite team, your friends are with you as they are part of your tribe.

Boost your happiness and reduce your stress.

Despite the fact many of us like our own space, humans are sociable creatures and need human interaction.  Most of us lead stressful lives, whether we work or at home there is an overwhelming sense of competition which can be isolating at times. Having real-life friends gives your brain a much needed boost of happy hormones and instantly reduces your blood pressure and other signs of stress. In fact, good friendships lead to a longer healthier life overall.  

Improve your self-confidence and self-worth.

Good friends are there for the good times and will encourage our ambitions, even if it is with healthy dose of realism.  We can trust them not to put us down when we excitedly tell them about the promotion we have applied for, they will help you see all your wonderful qualities when you are nervous before a big night out and will show their pride when you speak up for yourself.  This sense of validation is integral to our self-esteem and overall happiness.

Help you cope with traumas, such as divorce, serious illness, job loss or the death of a loved one.

We have all been through our own version of hell at some point and whether or not you are in a relationship,  having your friends around you can give you hope and comfort in otherwise dark times. Whether it is the remarried divorcee who assures you that you will survive this breakup, or the friend who brings you a movie and takeaway when you are ill, it is the seemingly small gestures which have the biggest impact and make us look forward to the future.

Encourage you to change or avoid unhealthy lifestyle habits, such as excessive drinking or lack of exercise

Good friends are honest and are prepared to have difficult conversations with you in a loving way. Not to be confused with the idiot that points out that you have gained a few pounds by jabbing – literally- at your soft spots.  It means that they will question whether you can afford that luxury item when they can see the unopened credit card bills in the corner, they will invite you to join them for a walk in the countryside when you have been stuck on the sofa with a stale pizza all week .  Good friends care about you and will point out the things that will get in the way of your happiness, but likewise they will cheer you on when you make changes.

Do you have a friend who has all these wonderful qualities?  Do share your stories and tag them. 

 

How to Beat the January Blues.

January! The dark nights, terrible weather and the fact payday is a long way away can really drag the most cheery of folks down.  Not to mention, the excesses of the Christmas season finally catch up on us.  Today, Monday the 15th January is officially Blue Monday.  But don’t let that get you down.  Fortunately, we have rounded up the best ways to put the spring back in your step.

Look after No. 1

If you are anything like us, you probably look as terrible as you feel.  The best way to feel better is to start from the inside. Ensure you get your 7 hours of sleep a night, drink plenty of water and green tea, and eat healthy home-cooked food.  If your cooking skills are lacking, why not join us at a Masterclass and learn how to cook up a storm?

Giving yourself a good old pamper will also lift your spirits. (Yes, gents you too!)  Whether it is a long soak in the tub or a massage, being gentle with yourself will have you back on the road to recovery in no time.

Laugh More!

Science says that a big hearty belly laugh is actually good for you. Laughing floods your your system with feel-good hormones that reduce your stress levels and help you beat off the seasonal coughs and flu.  

If you are feeling so low that you feel you lost your sense of humour, then go out to a comedy club.  Studies show that laughing is contagious so before long you will be laughing so hard your ribs will hurt, and any stress will melt away.

Why not  join us on one of our jaunts to Manchester’s best comedy clubs and you get the added bonus of a confidence boost from meeting new people too.

Book your next Holiday.

There is a wealth of research to suggest that planning and anticipating your next holiday is as good for you as actually going on one. Whilst your post-Christmas budget may be tighter than your post-Christmas jeans, it is surprisingly easy and affordable to plan a European getaway. So within a few weeks you could be exploring the best Europe has to offer.  Now your in-tray does not appear as bad does it?

Did you know Social Circle loves organising exciting weekend breaks?  We know it can be a pain organising everything or even travelling alone. So now you can have a great time exploring new cities with other Manchester-based singles knowing every detail is planned (we even source the best pubs and clubs!). Best of all, our breaks start from as little as £75!

 

5 Ways to Exercise for the Gym-Phobic.

Rather hide under the duvet, than head to the gym?

It’s that time of year again.  That dreaded time where we stand naked in a cold bathroom and stare at the scales in utter disbelief.    We all know the importance of keeping fit and healthy.  If your doctor has not recommended you lose a few pounds, then the endless stream of media telling you that weight loss will make you irresistible/an internet celebrity/immortal* will probably have burned itself to the inside of your eyelids.   

Admit it. You hate the gym. You would rather gnaw off your own arms off than lift weights, and you cannot see the appeal of pounding the hours away alone on a treadmill.

Fortunately, there are numerous gym-free ways of exercising in Manchester that are so fun you may actually enjoy yourself.

 

Get some Action on a Night Out.

 

Not that kind of action! We are talking about bringing a bit of sporting fun to your weekly social with friends.  You can burn 68 calories** playing a crazy golf for half an hour at places like Junkyard Golf.  Hit the bowling alley to lose 100 cals over a few rounds, and tone up those bingo wings at the same time. Just swap the usual beers and nachos for healthier alternatives m’kay.

Strictly Come Dancing.  

If you enjoy Strictly then you may secretly harbour ambitions to get on the dance floor yourself.  We do.  There are lots of dance classes popping up around Manchester where friendly teachers will show you a few smooth moves and let you work up a sweat and meet new people on the dance floor.(197 cals per half hour to be precise)  The good news is you can bring a friend and grab a (low calorie) drink at the same time.  Those of you who love salsa  should join us for a free class. 

Appeal to your Adventurous Side.

If you have always wanted to try more adventurous sports, there are some great places in Manchester to learn the basics.  You can try Kayaking (186 cals)  or Wakeboarding (223 cals) at the Helly Henson Watersports Centre in Salford.  There are indoor rock climbing facilities that can literally show you the ropes whilst you burn off 298 cals.  In Trafford Parks Chill Factore you can learn the basics of Skiing and Snowboarding (up to 298 cals) and go shopping (130 cals!) for your new clothes afterwards.  

Walk the Weight Off.

Walking is free, and you can already do it!  Even better is that it is recommended by medical professionals due its extensive benefits, from reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes to improving mental health. Make time in your diary for a 20-30 minute brisk walk (83 cals for 30 mins) even if it is just around the block at lunch time.  If you fancy more of a challenge, and want take in some great scenery, why not join us on a hike?  You can burn a whopping 225 cals every 30 minutes which means you can enjoy Sunday lunch with new friends knowing you haven’t ruined your diet.

Pay-As-You Go Fitness

Ok. We admit it. This is slightly gym-like but group exercise can be a great way to work out and meet like-minded people. In Manchester, you can find everything from Ashtanga Yoga (176 cals)  to Zumba (350 cals) available on your doorstep where you can join in with zero commitment, so you could try something different each week until you find a class that suits you.

Psst, on a budget?  Did you know if you cut out a latte and a shop-bought sandwich per week you could not only save a whopping 500 cals per week, you would have enough spare change to go to a class.  If you want to try over 150 leisure activities including gym-free fitness for less than a fiver per week. Click here.

*Slight exaggeration, but it feels that way.

**Cals based on 150lb person for 30 minutes of exercise.  You may burn more or less than this, but it’s all good.

3 Steps to Making Resolutions that Matter.

Whilst we may collectively roll our eyes at every ‘New Year, New Me’ pledge that we see on Social Media, there is something about a new year that inspires us to take action to become better people.  

Whether we want to get fit and healthy, super-charge our dating life by meeting new people or save more, the future vision of a happier version of ourselves can lure us into making resolutions. Of course, there is also the temptation of parting with your hard-earned cash to join in the latest wonder diet/dating site/get rich-quick scheme.  Yet research shows that only 8% will actually stick to their resolutions.  

So let us show you how you can make 2018 your best-ever year, with our tried-and-tested approach.  

Take a good hard look at your life.

Eeek! Whilst this sounds ominous, it is not as scary as it sounds.  This is about figuring out where you want to be, and knowing where you are now.  An annual appraisal of your life, if you like.  We suggest you break down the areas of your life into sections such as career, finances, health and fitness, hobbies, your everyday environment, your social life, relationships and personal development. Now rate your happiness in each of those areas with 1 being extremely unhappy to 10 being ultimate happiness.  It helps if you write a few lines which describe what life in each is like now, and what your 10/10 life would look like, e.g.  

The Vision:  I am in a happy and loving relationship with someone who has a good sense of humour and loves local history and hiking as much as I do.

Now: I am single and have not had much luck with dating sites.  I would like to get out more but my friends don’t share my interests.  3 out of 10.

There are two reasons we suggest this approach.  Firstly, creating a vision for your future is key to success. Secondly, aiming to improve your happiness score in each area is likely to give you a realistic goal to focus on.  Even if reaching your ultimate goal takes longer than a year, a small increase in satisfaction in an area will give you a lasting sense of achievement.

Prioritise Your Goals.

Now you have completed your Life Appraisal it is time to look at which areas to focus on.  The reality is that you don’t have an infinite amount of time or money to spend chasing your dream life.  Instead, look at the areas that are causing you the most unhappiness and commit to focusing on those areas first.

Why?

Well put simply, because if certain aspects of your life are making you miserable then ultimately it will drain your energy away from your resolutions.  You will not feel like hitting the gym if your finances are keeping you awake at night.  You will bore potential dates if you give them a 20 minute monologue of reasons you hate your boss. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day will not help you feel better about the damp-encrusted flat you are living in.

Even if you are happy with life overall, choosing no more than three areas to focus on will take the pressure off you.  Your life is not a complete disaster, and you are perfectly lovely the way that you are.  Just focus on a few areas of your life where you really want to see a difference. Remember, committing to a resolution is about a better and happier life for YOU. So there is no need to go for broke on this ‘New Me’ malarkey.  

If you are clever about it, you may even find creative ways of working on multiple goals at the same time. For example, if you want to save cash, and meet new like-minded people then you may want to look at how to enjoy 150 social and leisure activities in Manchester every month for as little as £19.99 a month

Build Good Habits.

Now you have the areas of life you want to work on, and your vision for the future, you need to put in place some habits that you can build into your life and commit to. It is the small  changes to everyday habits that lead to success, rather than relying on willpower alone.  So instead of challenging yourself to ‘lose a stone in a fortnight’, why not commit to exercising 3 times a week and put it in your diary. If you want to travel more then work out a budget and commit to putting money aside every week so you can afford some fun weekends away.  Before you know it, you will have reached your goal and developed the habits to make it a change that lasts a lifetime. Sounds like a good plan to us.   

So let’s look back at our lovelorn hiker.  What good habits could they put in place?

  • Go on weekly local history walks and countryside hikes to meet new  people.
  • Go  to Comedy Nights in Manchester at least twice a month. I may stand a better chance of finding the love of my life if we are laughing at the same jokes!
  • Join Social Circle  so I can plan the weeks social activities from my phone (and take advantage of the introductory offer-yippee)

If you take this approach to building your dream life, we can guarantee that in January 2019 you will be happier and more fulfilled than you are now.  So what areas of your life will you be working on in 2018? Do tell us and share your goals in the comment box below.