Goodreads (for book lovers)

Goodreads is a social media website that allows you to search its database of books, annotations, quotes, and reviews. You can sign up and register books to generate library shelves and reading lists. You can also create your own groups of book suggestions, surveys, polls, blogs, and discussions.

I’ve joined Goodreads since retirement to keep a record all my books (since July 2020) and to keep in touch with friends. I’ll be pleased to link up with my friends and contacts to share our reading. The links above take you to my profile or you can click here. Apps for smartphones and other devices are available.

How are you coping?

There’s a deliberate double-meaning in the title of this post. It’s asking (1) how are you coping in the present difficult circumstances, and (at the same time) it’s asking (2) what positive things you are doing to help yourself cope with life right now.

In difficult and unsettling times, it’s important that we remain grounded.

Grounding exercises are things we can do to bring ourselves fully into contact with the present moment, the here and now. This is where we live, breathe, and have our being. They can be quick strategies like breathing deeply and consciously, or longer exercises (of which there are many).

Different strategies work for different people, and there’s no right or wrong way to live in the present.

If you think about it, we can only live and breathe in the present. We can’t live or breathe in the past, any more than we can live and breathe in the future. We need to be present fully in the here and now, it’s a way of coping with an uncertain future.

Breathing exercises can help, and there’s an app for that, although you don’t need one. Here’s a helpful page from the NHS, but Google is your friend.

So, I’ll ask the double-meaning question again, how are you coping?

Maintaining your Smartphone

You don’t need the latest smartphone! Let me repeat that, you don’t need the latest smartphone! There, I’ve said it! My current smartphone is four years old today (Wednesday 14 October 2020) and it’s still going strong, so why change it?

When your contract comes up for renewal, you can just walk away. You can simply exchange your expiring contract for a SIM only one. I’ve written about it here.

It still does everything it did when it first came to life; it still takes great photos, music still sounds great through quality earphones or headphones, and it continues to enable me to share ‘dad jokes’ on Facebook – but for half the monthly cost of the first two years!

There’s some simple steps you can take to help ensure your smartphone lasts a long time:

  • Don’t let the battery become completely exhausted.
  • Switch off and on again at least once a day.
  • Use the power-saver feature.
  • Don’t have too many apps running in the background.
  • Limit the notifications to the ones you really need.
  • Only install apps that you actually use.
  • Always have plenty of free memory space.
  • Delete unwanted photos, videos and downloads regularly.
  • Close, rather than minimise, apps after use.
  • Use a cleaning utility app like CCleaner regularly.
  • Use the built-in [Optimise] app or widget regularly.
  • Make sure you have a tempered glass protector on the screen.

Finally, and most important for the long-term well-being of your smartphone, don’t drop it down the toilet!

Note: If you find my blog posts helpful, especially if they save you money, you might like to make a donation towards my running costs. You can find out more information here.

Delete Tweets with Semiphemeral

Semiphemeral protects your privacy by making it easy for you to automatically delete years of old tweets while giving you control over exactly which tweets you want to make sure you keep.

For example, you can set it to automatically delete tweets that are older than 30 days unless they have at least 20 retweets or at least 20 likes (all these numbers are configurable). You can also:

  • Keep all tweets that are part of the same thread as a tweet that meets those RT and like thresholds
  • Search through all of your tweets and pick which ones to exclude from automatic deletion, so that Semiphemeral will never delete them
  • Unretweet tweets after a number of days
  • Unlike tweets after a number of days
  • Automatically delete your old direct messages

Note: Semiphemeral is the source of above text.

Simple Tips to Boost your Mood

As much as many of us enjoy fresh coffee (not instant), it’s not always the best thing for our moods, especially if we’re anxious or stressed. It’s one of the reasons I usually limit myself to one coffee a day before about 2.00 pm so it doesn’t disturb my sleep.

I’ve previously written about the value of nature in lifting our mood. I found being outside especially helpful in the strict coronavirus pandemic lockdown earlier this year. Simply taking a walk can boost our mood, moving our bodies and getting out in the daylight can also help clear the mind. Problems will often become less intractable after a break in the open air.

We also need to seek out the good stuff. Since retirement I’ve started to keep a daily journal. I simply write about the day to day events, but also what I’m grateful for, and how I’m feeling about things. At the end of the day it can be helpful to write down three things you were thankful for or enjoyed. Even bad days will have had their good moments, so reflect on them and what you’re feeling.

Finally, ask for help, even though we’re often reluctant to do this. Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way is how Roger Waters of Pink Floyd summed up the English character in the song Time on the classic album The Dark Side of the Moon. Yet it can be so beneficial when we overcome our natural unwillingness to ask.

I found life difficult before, during and after moving to a new house and area this year. Fortunately, I had a colleague and friend who I could chat to on Messenger or telephone at any time. This was invaluable in lifting my mood and keeping me focussed. Incidentally, asking for help often gives the other person a wellbeing boost, a win-win situation.

Life will always throw challenges and difficulties at us, ones that can affect our mood negatively. Let’s take simple steps (as far as we’re able) to lift our emotions and moods.

Reasons to be Cheerful

Pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and imagine you’re sitting on the bench looking out into the distance. Think about the reasons you have to be cheerful in the harsh realities of today’s world. We can’t make them go away, but we can focus on reasons to be cheerful.

First, there’s the beauty we can see all around us. Nature has remarkable restorative powers; I’ve previously posted about it here.

Second, simply the act of feeling happy and smiling more can have positive effects on our physical health and lift the mood of people around us. People groan at the jokes I post on Facebook, but laughter is a good medicine.

Third, we can learn to be happy. We have more control over how we feel than we might think, and feeling a sense of control over our lives is an important ingredient of happiness. One builds up the other.

Fourth, the happier we are the more we’re able to encourage and help others, and there’s such a need for this now. People are hurting and need encouraging. Doing someone else a favour activates the ‘feel-good’ area of our brains, we help each other. It’s a no-brainer, a win-win situation.

Finally, we need to look for the positives; not the insipid reassuring lies that are so often peddled today, but realistic affirming hopes. We need to train our brains to notice the good things around us and be grateful for them. There will always be negatives, but we need the tools in our emotional toolkit to deal with them constructively.

Photo Credit: I’m grateful to my colleague and friend Shelagh Clift for allowing me to use her photo.

My First Pablo (by Buffer)

We all love a motivational quote with a nice background on social media, we share them with relish, and glory in the subsequent likes and dopamine highs.

Often we have no idea where they’ve come from, and we modify them to suit ourselves. Now they’re even easier to create and share using Pablo. You can create them in your browser or with a browser extension.

Above is my first Pablo created within the popular Google Chrome browser. I can’t remember where the quote came from, one which I’ve changed and already shared on social media.

LibreOffice: A Free Office Suite

The best free office suite just got even better as LibreOffice 7 was released recently. It’s the nearest you’ll get to Microsoft Office without having to pay a penny, and the latest version is even more compatible to it than previous versions.

LibreOffice includes several applications that make it the most versatile Free and Open Source office suite on the market: Writer (word processing), Calc (spreadsheets), Impress (presentations), Draw (vector graphics and flowcharts), Base (databases), and Math (formula editing). Source.

So, if you don’t want to pay for Microsoft Office and like to use software installed on your computer (rather than in the cloud) this might be for you. There’s also a portable version that you can run directly from a USB flash drive, and you can even install it on your Chromebook.

Note: I currently use both LibreOffice and Microsoft 365 (as Microsoft Office is now called) because a subscription to the latter includes OneDrive cloud storage.

Are you drinking enough water?

We all know the value of drinking plenty of water, but equally we don’t always get around to doing it. That was certainly the case for me, but since retiring I’m making a concerted effort to look after myself, especially with three young children to care for.

Just over a month ago I started to drink at least five glasses of water a day (one as soon as I wake up). It’s made easier because we have one of those convenient cold-water dispensers on our fridge. I also drink herbal tea in addition to my regular drinks and restrict coffee to one a day no later than 2.00 pm if possible.

I have to say I feel much better as a result. Keeping hydrated is so essential and has many health benefits, both physical and mental. Any downsides? Not really, although I do have to go to the toilet more often!

This article is very helpful, along with many other you can find with your friend Google.