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STAYING SANE IN COVID TIMES #2

People are experiencing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and various states of lockdown very differently. A large area of concern is the impact of the pandemic on mental health and how this is affecting certain people more than others. This is our second article on this topic.

10 Tips to Safeguard your Mental Health during the COVID pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic has unfolded, many around the world face measures of self-isolation, social distancing, quarantine or full ‘lockdown’. For many of us, this is the first time we’ve experienced such measures. The pandemic has also developed at an alarming rate, leaving us shocked, anxious or uncertain.

The near-universal guidance is to stay indoors, observe increased hygiene practices and only leave the house for vital tasks with only essential workers as exceptions. This is incredibly important to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but this suspension of normal life also presents a challenge for our mood, mental health and well-being.

The good news is there’s a lot you can do in your home environment to look after yourself.

Amber Cowburn, founder at Working Well and Mental Health First Aid Instructor has compiled 10 tips to get you started — we hope you can feel well even during this time of isolation.

  1. A good morning routine — Whether you’re working from home or in full isolation and not working, a good start to your day is important. Try to wake up at a regular time and get washed and dressed, just like you used to. Consider using the time that you would normally be commuting to read a chapter of your book or listen to a quick guided meditation. Routine can feel reassuring in uncertain times, so try and stick to one every morning.
  2. Fresh air — Open your windows and get fresh air moving around your home. If you’ve got a balcony or garden, spend some time sitting outside. Fresh air and natural sunlight are important for your overall health, and ventilating your house is a good start. Try and spend a few minutes outdoors each day — guidelines permitting in your area — and take some deep breaths into your tummy, filling your lungs.
  3. Set up a work area at home. — Working from home might be a new experience for you, and without the structure of the office, it can be difficult to adapt. Whilst we don’t all have spare rooms to convert into home offices, try to mark the start of the workday by setting up your work essentials in a suitable spot. All you need is a table or desk, ideally with some natural light. Clear away all work duties at the end of the day, or enjoy your downtime in a different part of your home to create that separation. 
  4. Structure your days. — It’s important to accept this period of transition as one where you might feel unsettled. Take charge of a schedule or to-do list for the day. If you are working from home, then factor in breaks, and make time for your well-being, too.
  5. Try meditation and mindfulness. — Have you always wanted to try meditation but never got around to it? Now is a great time, especially if you’re feeling anxious. Meditation is a powerful tool to quieten over-thinking brains. Download a free app or go onto YouTube, pop your headphones in and listen to a guided meditation for 10 minutes of your day. You could factor this into your morning routine or try it in the evening before sleep.
  6. Home workouts to keep you active. — Without our walk to work, nipping to the shops or gym visits, our activity levels go down. But you can still get active at home, and there are brilliant resources at your fingertips. Try YouTube, fitness apps or fitness streaming services for a huge range of exercise classes, relaxing yoga classes and at home workouts.
  7. Be kind to yourself. — Give yourself time to not feel your best during this period of extreme transition and uncertainty. You may feel worried about health, family members or financial circumstances. All of that is normal. Try to take things day by day. Don’t set massive targets or goals that put pressure on you. Do a little bit of what feels good each day. 

  8. Video call friends and families. — Stay connected with some of the brilliant video-calling and videoconferencing services. You can get your whole family or a group of friends onto a videoconference call for a big chat. Or why not play a game or take a quiz together? Make time for these check-in calls and social interaction, as they will help sustain you emotionally.
  9. Limit your news intake and focus on the positive. — The news can be overwhelming now. It comes through non-stop on our phones and is often coupled with opinions and emotions from social media. Sometimes we need to quiet the noise and focus on our priorities: Ourselves, our well-being, our families and our work. If the news is making you anxious, limit how much you take in each day. Lift your spirits by focusing on positive news stories and accounts of people helping each other on social media.
  10. Remember there is help available if you are struggling. — If you’re feeling low or worried about your mental health, please ring a mental health phone line, contact a text line, access online communities or speak to trusted friends or family. ‘You are not alone. There is help and support available.

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STAYING SANE IN COVID TIMES #1

People are experiencing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and various states of lockdown very differently. A large area of concern is the impact of the pandemic on mental health and how this is affecting certain people more than others.

Good mental health is essential to holistic health and therefore linked to good physical health – both of which support positive social and economic outcomes for individuals and society. Mental health disorders account for roughly 25% of the total burden of ill health in society. This suggests that COVID-19, and the response to the pandemic, could have a significant impact on a nation’s mental health through increased exposure to stressors. Exacerbating this, there has been a loss of coping mechanisms for many, and limited access to mental health treatment. As we are acutely aware of the mind over body impact, we have compiled a series of articles by professionals that resonate with us:

Strategies to manage your mental health and well-being during COVID-19 from clinical psychologist Desiree Dickerson 

  1. Manage your expectations

The suggestion that periods of quarantine might bring unprecedented productivity implies we should raise the bar, rather than lower it. Do not underestimate the cognitive and emotional load that this pandemic brings, or the impact it will have on your productivity, at least in the short term. Difficulty concentrating, low motivation and a state of distraction are to be expected. Adaptation will take time. Go easy on yourself. As we settle into this new rhythm of work and a degree of isolation, we need to be realistic in the goals we set, both for ourselves and the people around us. 

  • Proactively manage your stress threshold

Try to lay a solid foundation for your mental health and well-being by prioritizing your sleep, and practise good sleep hygiene (for example, avoid blue light devices before bed, and maintain a routine around your sleep and wake times). Eat well (be conscious that you might be inclined to lean on alcohol, or other indulgences, to manage stress — this is understandable, but potentially damaging in the long run). Exercise: it will lower your stress levels, help you to better regulate your emotions and improve your sleep.

  • Know your red flags

One way to manage moments of distress is to identify key thoughts or physical sensations that tend to contribute to your cycle of distress and feelings of being overwhelmed. Our thoughts (“Why can’t I concentrate?”), feelings (frustration, worry, sadness), physical sensations (tension, upset stomach, jitters) and actions (such as compulsively checking the latest COVID statistics) each feed into and amplify these negative emotional spirals. Addressing one aspect of this loop by, for example, actively reducing the physical symptoms  can de-escalate the cycle and help you regain control.

  • Routine is your friend

It helps to manage anxiety, and will help you to adapt more quickly to this current reality. Create clear distinctions between work and non-work time, ideally in both your physical workspace and your head space. Find something to do that is not work and is not virus-related that brings you joy. Working in short bursts with clear breaks will help to maintain your clarity of thought.

  • Be compassionate with yourself and with others

There is much that we cannot control right now, but how we talk to ourselves during these challenging times can either provide a powerful buffer to these difficult circumstances or amplify our distress. Moments of feeling overwhelmed often come with big thoughts, such as “I cannot do this,” or “This is too hard.” This pandemic will cause a lot of stress for many of us, and we cannot be our best selves all the time. But we can ask for help or reach out when help is asked of us. 

  • Maintain connections

Even the most introverted of us need some sense of connection to others for our mental as well as our physical health. Many working groups have created virtual forums where you can contribute or just sit back and enjoy the chatter. Staff teams have instigated virtual coffee groups, online book clubs and co-working spaces where you can work in the (virtual) presence of others. We are in various degrees of social isolation, but we need not feel alone. Reach out to those who might be particularly isolated. 

  • Manage uncertainty by staying in the present

Take each day as it comes and focus on the things you can control. Mindfulness and meditation can be great tools.

This will probably be a stressful time for all of us, and will test the mental-health policies and practices of many research institutes, just as it is testing much else in the world. By embracing good mental-health and well-being measures, and by relying on others when necessary, we can protect ourselves and those around us.

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A CALL TO SUPPORT THE SOUTH AFRICAN HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

A CALL TO SUPPORT THE SOUTH AFRICAN HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY

The severe impact of COVID-related restrictions on the SA hospitality industry will be felt for many months in the future, with a growing number of industry employers and employees under increasing financial stress. Consumers looking to support the hard-working people in this sector can use the option of paying for adventure and travel experiences now, to use at a later stage. This provides both the immediate support the sector requires and peace of mind associated with extended redemption periods (up to 2 years).

Online experiences sites, Buy A Gift Experience and Hospitality Vouchers, were developed by experienced hospitality professionals mindful of these primary goals. These innovative voucher platforms aim to assist consumers and the hospitality industry during this challenging period through additional marketing avenues and the opportunity to tap into an immediate revenue stream during and post restrictions. 

Both Buy A Gift Experience and Hospitality Vouchers offer a convenient platform for consumers seeking to purchase an affordable, premium hospitality experience for immediate or future use. Consumers can choose from various premium hospitality products including hotels, lodges, restaurants, spas and activity service providers. The platforms also enable friends, family, companies or departments to contribute to large events, functions, gifts, incentives and rewards. 

Vouchers can be purchased for a specific product, or for a set value that can be used across the platform. There is no cost for listing a service or product on the platforms. A small, all-inclusive handling fee is charged, which is offset against the invoiced face value price of the service at the time of purchase. Payment is processed to the listing hospitality partner prior to redemption, dependent on the type of product, thus ensuring a risk free pre-paid revenue stream.

Hotels, lodges, restaurants, spas, experience and activity / service providers are invited to list their products or services for free on Hospitality Vouchers by sending an email to sales@hospitalityvouchers.co.za or Buy A Gift Experience at sales@buyagiftexperience.co.za

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EXTENDED REDEMPTION PERIODS FOR EXPERIENCES AND TRAVEL

EXTENDED REDEMPTION PERIODS FOR EXPERIENCES AND TRAVEL PURCHASES

COVID-related restrictions may still be in place for the foreseeable future, with a growing number of consumers looking at the option of paying for adventure and travel experiences now, to use at a later stage. This provides the peace of mind associated with extended redemption periods (up to 2 years).

Online experiences sites, Buy A Gift Experience and Hospitality Vouchers, were developed by experienced hospitality professionals with this in mind. These innovative voucher platforms aim to assist consumers and the hospitality industry during this challenging period through additional marketing avenues and the opportunity to tap into a new revenue stream during and post restrictions. 

These sophisticated e-commerce hospitality platforms enable consumers to instantly pre-purchase hospitality services and experiences for future redemption, either for themselves, a gift recipient, or as a contribution towards a function or event, such as a wedding, family holiday or milestone birthday. 

Both Buy A Gift Experience and Hospitality Vouchers offer a convenient platform for consumers seeking to purchase an affordable, premium hospitality experience for immediate or future use. Consumers can choose from various premium hospitality products including hotels, lodges, restaurants, spas and activity service providers. The platforms also enable friends, family, companies or departments to contribute to large events, functions, gifts, incentives and rewards. 

Vouchers can be purchased for a specific product, or for a set value that can be used across the platform. There is no cost for listing a service or product on the platforms. A small, all-inclusive handling fee is charged, which is offset against the invoiced face value price of the service at the time of purchase. Payment is processed to the listing partner via secure EFT prior to redemption, dependent on the type of product. 

Hotels, lodges, restaurants, spas, experience and activity / service providers are invited to list their products or services for free on Hospitality Vouchers by sending an email to sales@hospitalityvouchers.co.za or Buy A Gift Experience at sales@buyagiftexperience.co.za

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PRESS RELEASE

NEW ONLINE HOSPITALITY VOUCHER PLATFORM LAUNCHED

Inter-provincial leisure travel may still be off the cards, but in the near future all travel will resume and a surge in travel is expected. A growing number of consumers are looking at the option of paying for travel and adventure experiences now, to use at a later stage. 

In response to this, a new voucher platform for premium hospitality service providers in South Africa – Hospitality Vouchers – has been launched to ll this gap in the market. Developed by hospitality professionals and companies with vast experience in all segments of the industry, this innovative voucher platform aims to assist the industry during this challenging period through additional marketing avenues and the opportunity to tap into a new revenue stream during and post the current lockdown. 

Hospitality Vouchers is a sophisticated e-commerce hospitality platform that enables consumers to instantly pre-purchase hospitality services and experiences for future redemption, either for themselves, a gift recipient, or as a contribution towards a function or event, such as a wedding, family holiday or milestone birthday. 

Beyond the current lockdown, Hospitality Vouchers offers a convenient platform for consumers seeking to purchase an affordable, premium hospitality experience for immediate or future use. Consumers can choose from various premium hospitality products including hotels, lodges, restaurants, spas and activity service providers. The platform also enables friends, family, companies or departments to contribute to large events, functions, gifts, incentives and rewards. 

Vouchers can be purchased for a specic product, or for a set value that can be used across the platform. There is no cost for listing a service or product on Hospitality Vouchers. An all-inclusive 12.5% handling fee is charged, which is offset against the invoiced face value price of the service at the time of purchase. Payment is processed to the listing partner via secure EFT within 48 hours of the purchase date / invoice or upon redemption, dependent on the type of product. 

Hotels, lodges, restaurants, spas and activity / service providers are invited to list their products or services for free on Hospitality Vouchers by sending an email to sales@hospitalityvouchers.co.za.

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Gifting Memories That Last A Lifetime With Hospitality Vouchers and Buy A Gift Experience

Gifting Memories That Last A Lifetime With Hospitality Vouchers and Buy A Gift Experience

By The Blessed Barronness

It was my birthday on Thursday, 16th June and what a birthday it was, probably the most memorable birthday I’ve ever had and it was all compliments of Hospitality Vouchers and Buy A Gift Experience!

As a blogger, I won’t lie, I get spoiled…. a lot with weekly blogger drops, press packs and other interesting pressies. I have a bathroom cabinet overflowing with bath, body and other beauty products, I have a roof over my head, food in my tummy, a stable job, a cupboard full of clothes, even when I complain about having nothing to wear. Basically, in a nutshell I have everything I could need and don’t really want for anything.

So what do you buy for the person who has everything?

Or who needs and wants for nothing? That special someone in your life that you’d like to spoil but you’re at a loss as to what to get them?

Hospitality Vouchers and Buy A Gift Experience!

This company literally has something for everybody. From adventure packages, to romance packages and spa packages, ideas for him and ideas for her, even romantic date night packages so when they contacted me and requested to send my husband and I on an experience, in exchange for a review, I had a REALLY hard time choosing a package, but in the end, settled on this one:

A full country breakfast, followed by a horse trails safari and romantic picnic

And what an incredible day it was, our first stop was our country breakfast at the Serendipity Art Cafe which is an undiscovered gem.

Built on an excavated shallow seabed, formed some 2300 million years ago, it’s the most fascinating spot with really hospitable and charming staff and perfect for kids too. The food was fantastic, we started off with coffee and juice, fruit, yoghurt and muesli.

Which was followed by a full cook up breakfast. Walter and I then took our coffee and went exploring in the amazing and incredible gardens. This place is beautiful you guys, bring your children, there is a massive play area, rabbits, chickens, ducks, peacocks and just tons of place for your kids to explore and adventure.

I also loved how the garden is made up of a maize of pathways, with tables hidden in alcoves so there’s no chance you land up sitting on top of anyone else. I could have spent another hour there just exploring!

The restaurant itself is packed with arts and crafts and interesting trinkets, so when you’re done spending time exploring the gardens and the paintball arena, you could browse through all the goods on offer in store, including home made artisinal foods and goods like flavored chutneys etc etc.

Once we were done eating and exploring, we headed over to La Wiida Lodge for our horse back safari.

Walter was really dreading this. He is a completely inexperienced horse rider, having only ridden about 3 times in his life and as a result, he’s really scared of horses but turns out, we were in great hands with Harties Horse Trail Safaris.

The staff paired us up with the perfect horses, Walter got a really lazy boy named Patat who was happy just to plod along at the slowest walk possible and follow the trail, while I landed up on Frida, an Arabian Boerde perd cross who had a bit of spunk in her and she was happy to get up close and personal on the trail and also break into a little trot or canter every time I encouraged her.

We had an incredible safari! Our guide, Daniel, was an absolute gem! Knowledgeable, encouraging and helpful throughout our safari and full of fun too!

He also introduced us to Frankie! At first I thought he was joking when he said Frankie was a tame zebra, but he wasn’t, and I made sure to get some good zebra cuddles in.

We also spotted the lodge’s new acquisition, a Golden Wildebeest. I have never seen one before! What a site, he is just beautiful, fully integrated into the herd of blue Wildebeest, he stands out a mile away and it was incredible to see.

We saw so many incredible animals and sites on our safari, it was such an awe-inspiring experience. Seriously, if you have friends visiting from overseas, you HAVE to take them.

At the end of our safari, we enjoyed a simple, but delightful picnic, complete with champagne and chocolates! And visitors too!

This day was just the most incredible and memorable day. I loved every minute of it. The places we visited, the things we saw, the experience itself, it has created memories for me that will last a lifetime and THAT is for me, so much more precious than any gift anyone could give me.

The Blessed Barrenness

Parenting, lifestyle & health blogger. 2015 Winner best parenting blog – African Blogger Awards.

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New Luxury Gift Boxes on Buy A Gift Experience

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EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS

EXPERIENCES, NOT THINGS

Blog Article from “Making Mountains” by Belinda Mountain at www.makingmountains.co.za

It’s Gareth’s birthday today (if you are new to this blog, he is also known as The Husband – not the Hubby, because that is a terrible word that I do not use in real life). Anyway, I find buying gifts for him incredibly difficult. Mostly because he just wants expensive gadgets or surfboards. Or the things he really needs are so boring that I actually let out a yawn whilst shopping for them. Socks. Shirts. Underpants. See? YAWN.

So I decided this year that I didn’t want to get him anything like that. I wanted him to experience something that would create memories for us that we’d look back on and smile about, and which were out of the ordinary – not something he may normally choose to do himself. Enter Buy a Gift Experience, who have brought together a whole collection of incredible experiences for you to choose from.

Hot air balloon ridesRomantic horse trails. They’ve rounded up only premium quality experiences here from companies they know are top-notch (no random massages in someone’s aunty’s house – like I once went on through one of those “special deal” group buying websites!). Sure, some of them are not cheap, but they’re the perfect thing for an extra special occasion or notable birthday gift. Instead of everyone clubbing together to buy you something you maybe don’t really need or want, why don’t they club together and buy you an unforgettable experience instead? And if they don’t want to pick one, they can always give you a voucher, so you can choose any experience you really want.

In order to review the service, Gareth and I went on a Russian sidecar experience through the winelands (with a company called Sidecar Adventures) – and the day surpassed all of our expectations, in every way. This is what made the day so amazing:

  • The weather. It was one of those crisp autumnal mornings and the sky was blue and the leaves were golden and the landscape around us was just incredible.
  • The novelty. I’m not a motorbike rider so I always thought that doing a trip by bike would be similar to driving that route – but it’s not at all. When you’re driving a car, you’re distracted by kids or other traffic and you don’t get to sit back and soak up the experience.
  • In Gareth’s words: “It’s every boy’s dream to own a motorbike and I really liked being able to look 360 degrees and enjoy the open road, with no radio or phone to distract me – just the sound of the wind and the scenery all around me”.
  • You feel like a celeb! People from all walks of life smile and wave at you as you drive past, which makes you feel pretty special.
  • It’s comfy. The side car is really warm and comfortable, and the seat behind the professional driver is extra roomy, so you never feel uncomfortable.
  • You feel safe. The driver doesn’t speed – the average speed is 60-80km and you’ve got bars to hold on to and support yourself.
  • It’s your day – you get to choose where you want to go and what little restaurants or micro-breweries you want to stop at along the way and I loved this aspect (Joburgers: they also run these sidecar tours in The Cradle).
  • The sidecar itself is produced to look like a vintage bike and if you’re into that sort of thing (which Gareth was!), you’ll love finding out more about the machinery and history of it all.
  • After driving through Jonkershoek, and then having a quick picnic snack at the top of Franschoek, we went on to Babylonstoren for lunch and it was amazing (it deserves a blog post all on its own!).
  • Our driver Don was a wonderful driver and guide, with interesting stories to share with us. He really made the trip special.

All in all, it was a day we’ll cherish for a long time and it has me even more committed to giving more people in my life experiences, and not things.

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5 AWESOME BUCKET-LIST IDEAS EVERYONE SHOULD EXPERIENCE!

5 AWESOME BUCKET-LIST IDEAS EVERYONE SHOULD EXPERIENCE!

Article in www.thesouthafrican.com

Updated your bucket-list recently? You might want to hold on until you’ve seen our list of 5 back-home holiday must-do’s for every South African living abroad… and their families.

 

This post is brought to you by buyagiftexperience.co.za – SA’s favourite online gift service that specialises in extraordinary gift experiences. 

 

  1. Take an aerobatic bi-plane ride. Fly, flip, repeat. You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the world upside down… from above… at 100mp/h.
  2. Bungee or rap jumping. This is a rite of passage for anyone claiming the title of adventurer. Rated as one of the most exhilarating outdoor experiences man can have.
  3. Experiencing SA’s mountains from a hot-air balloon on a chilly winter’s morning. Paris might be the city of love, but it’s got nothing on the unspoilt beauty of Parys or Magaliesburg at dawn… glass of champagne in hand.
  4. The Harties horse trails. The pristine beauty found in the foothills of Hartebeespoortdam is enough to capture the imagination. Now imagine combining that with a one-of-kind horse-trail safari and surprise breakfast picnic. Did someone say next-level romantic?
  5. Exploring the winelands from a motorcycle sidecar. Ask any biker – nothing compares to the thrill of the open road. Add a sidecar (and your favourite sidekick in it) hogging it through the Cape winelands and you’ve got a memory to last a lifetime.

 

The good news is that all these once-in-a-lifetime experiences, and more, are available from Buy A Gift Experience for your loved ones back home… and just in time for Mother’s Day too. Buy A Gift Experience offers 100s of premium, unique and truly South African gift experiences to suit all tastes and ages. Payments can be made in all major currencies, are 100% secure, vouchers are available immediately and can even be exchanged for up to nine months… just in case what’s on your bucket list isn’t on theirs.