Friday, June 27, 2008

100 Ways to Relax, Unwind and Loosen Up

Another excellent article by The Daily Minder which I will use as a reference list whenever there is a need to slow down and loosen up.

100 Ways to Relax, Unwind and Loosen Up
Over the last few weeks I have really been struggling to relax and unwind at the end of the day. My stress levels have been high and my sleep has been restless. Following the massive popularity of my eBook Enlightening Stress Relief I realized that so many of us are struggling to relax. For this reason I have compiled the ultimate list of ways to relax, unwind and loosen up before, during and after work. Enjoy!

100 Ways to Relax, Unwind and Loosen Up
1. Drink some green tea
2. Take a nap
3. Go outside
4. Get fresh air
5. Get sunlight
6. Meditate on the breath
7. Breathe deeply
8. Watch some TV
9. Listen to classical music
10. Go to the gym
11. Eat more fruit
12. Go for a walk in the city
13. Get a fruit milkshake
14. Talk to a friend on the phone
15. Strengthen your Facebook addiction
16. Walk around the office
17. Do some deep muscle stretches
18. Look at inspiring photos
19. Read your favorite blogs
20. Call your mother
21. Read national geographic or magazines about far away places
22. Go somewhere high with a vast view
23. Reduce the amount of coffee you drink
24. Drink more water
25. Get a shot of wheat grass juice
26. Go for a walk around the markets or somewhere with lots of natural produce
27. Go somewhere where sunlight warms your face
28. Exercise before work to get the blood flowing
29. Get some healthy comfort food (hearty soups or something that makes you feel great)
30. Go for a swim or a spa
31. Get a massage at your local massage school (its cheaper)
32. Call some old friends and meet for lunch
33. Listen to relaxation mp3’s
33. Delete all the emails in your inbox
34. Clean your desk
35. Tidy your room and make your bed so it’s clean when you go to sleep
36. Open up windows and let fresh air in
37. Make a list of all the things you need to do today
38. Write a letter to your parents or someone in your family you haven’t seen in a while
39. Take a day off work
40. Go shopping for someone in your family
41. Visit an awe-inspiring monastery, church, temple or piece of architecture
42. Head down to the beach and walk in the shallow water
43. Go to a lake and skim rocks on the surface
44. Read a book you enjoyed as a child
45. Cook a lavish and complicated dinner
46. Make a lemon, ginger honey tea
47. Go to your local botanic gardens where there are lots of colorful flowers
48. Tense all your muscles for ten seconds and then suddenly let go
49. Get a stress ball or hand grippers

50. Get off the computer and relax your eyes
51. Go for a run around the city at lunch time
53. Get a big Chinese noodle soup for lunch (warm water is good for stress)
54. Go and see a comedy show
55. Go to bed early
56. Have a sleep in
57. Take some allotted time to do nothing at all
58. Plant some trees to make your life more carbon neutral
59. Go and see a sporting match
60. Hire some comedy movies and relax on the couch with a blanket
61. Take deep breaths for five minutes
62. Join an evening yoga class
63. Go to the city library and just sit down
65. Have a big long conversation with your partner about nothing in particular
66. Turn off the television/computer and do something low tech
67. Eat a big bowl of fruit with natural honey on top
68. Pack a picnic, get in the car and drive to a new outdoors spot
69. Play some after work team sport like indoor soccer or cricket
70. Go to a meditation class (they are usually very relaxing)
71. Drink a cup of plain hot water (old Chinese method of healing)
72. Do a painting or drawing of your home
73. Call up 10 mates and organize some sport in the park and a BBQ
74. Go out to a favorite restaurant for dinner
75. Hire an Xbox 360 and have a lazy weekend
76. Study a topic you have a deep interest in but which doesn’t relate to work
75. Buy a beanbag and fall asleep watching TV
76. Take a hot shower and leave the fan off so the room steams up
78. Buy a cheap self-massaging wand and massage your tense spots
79. Get the daily chores out of the way now instead of worrying about them
80. Get a 20 minute power nap like Leonardo da Vinci
81. Light some healing and relaxation incense
82. Ride your bike to work instead of driving in the hustle
83. Get the kids off to a friend’s house for a sleep-over
84. Use some bath salts and take a long bath in a candle lit bathroom
85. Talk about your problems with someone
86. Plan a holiday you would love to take in the future
87. Cut out the sugar in your diet (it causes stress)
88. Take a relaxation supplement like Brahmi
89. Watch your thoughts without engaging them
90. Get to work early and finish the day’s work as fast as possible and then forget it
91. Unsubscribe from blogs that you really don’t need in your Feed Reader
92. Stop wasting so much time on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter
93. Spend some more time with your dog or animal (they’ll love you for it)
94. Throw out stuff around your house your really don’t need or use
95. Create a list of relaxation tips to help other people
96. Start a detox diet
97. Turn on some music and dance around your house
98. Have a warm glass of milk
99. Pick up a hobby you have neglected
100. Just relax!


I used to like Coffee a lot, almost to the point of addiction. I am cutting down on Coffee now to the one necessary cuppa in the morning as a perk-me-up and the coffee/tea breaks in the course of the working day which serve as friendly chats (Coffee Talk) with colleagues, associates and friends. I like it thick, white and not necessary sweetened. I like tea too but not nearly as much. I like Teh Tarik, Tea Halia & Masala Tea. More recently I began taking an interest towards 西湖龙井 having visited a tea plantation in Hangzhou late last year. I like the lightness of this variety of Green tea and its anti-oxidant effects. I take it either with hot, warm or even cold and room-temperature water. The beauty of it to me was that it could be taken with any temperature of water, I particularly subscribe to the idea of drinking it with plain, room-temperature water rather than drinking just plain water. I put the tea leaves in my water bottle and take it as a normal drink, refilling it a couple of times and eventually chewing the tea leaves and eating it. The dried tea leaves could even be eaten on its own like you would do for snacks or bites.
I came across this article on TEA HEALTH by The Daily Minder which serve as a sort of TEA-FOR-DUMMIES quick reference guide, reproducing the post as below:

Tea Health: The Types, Problems and Health Benefits of Tea

Today we will be looking at all things “tea”. I want to tell you about the different types of tea, where it came from, the health benefits and problems associated with tea as well as a few tricks I learned about tea in India. If you drink tea everyday but don’t really know much about the effects it has on your body then this article is for you.

I am going to structure this article like this:

History, origins and types of tea
Tea health benefits
Tea health problems
Tips for healthier tea
My favorite teas

A bit about the history, origins and types of tea

Tea origins
Tea is the most popular drink in the world. It has been drunk for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in China when some tea leaves fell into the Emperors water. Since that time tea has been used in many different ways and at some points in history it was so valuable that it was used as currency. It has been used by doctors to treat disease and is thought to improve longevity, vitality and general well-being.

Types of tea
Many people do not realize that tea comes in five main types:

Green Tea
Oolong Tea
Black Tea; and
White Tea
Pu Erh Tea

All of these teas come from the same plant called the Camellia sinensis and are given different names only after certain cooking or preparation methods are carried out. Green Tea is pan fried or steamed to prevent the leaves from oxidizing or fermenting. Oolong Teas are the most expensive because they are semi-fermented and made in a more elaborate method. The color of this tea is usually a light yellow. Black Tea is the strongest tea of them all the the type we are most used to drinking in the west. It is fully fermented and has up to three times as much caffeine in it than the other teas. White tea is quite rare and is made from the white buds of the tea plant as opposed to the green tea leaves. It is a clear white color and much finer. Pu Erh Tea is chinese tea that has been fermented twice and then left to grow mold on it. It is said to have strong medical properties.

There are also herbal teas like you find in a Chinese Doctors Shop but these are not really teas as they are not usually made from tea leaves but other types of plants. There are now also some infused blends of tea where other flavors have been added.

The health benefits of drinking tea
Scientists, doctors, mystics and even our grandparents all talk about the health benefits that come from drinking tea. Many of us have the general idea that tea is good for us but don’t really know what it specifically does. It is also good to know that different types of tea have different effects on the body. Here are some health benefits of tea:

1. Tea is an anti-cancer plant
The studies are now pretty clear - if you drink a lot of tea you are less likely to get cancer. And not just a little bit less likely, a lot! If you drink about four cups of tea a day you are up to 60% less likely to get cancer thanks to the antioxidants in tea leaves. That is an amazing statistic.

The studies have really only been done with Green Tea but others are currently underway. White Tea is supposed to be even more effective from a traditional point of view and there is some scientific evidence to support this fact. I personally would love to see more studies done on Oolong Tea as it has the added benefits of the mold growing on it.

2. Tea boosts your brain
One of the notable effects of tea is that it helps you concentrate and focus. This is important for all of us who are sitting on a computer trying to stay on track with some really boring data analysis.

This effect is said to be due to the amino acid L-theanine which gets absorbed in your gut and travels in the blood to your brain. This results in a more awake you! The thing that is really cool about this is that tea doesn’t make you get all hyper like coffee does. It is a calming drink that wakes you up without over stimulating.

3. Tea helps you fight off illness
Tea is supposed to be a very strong immune booster. Those people who drink tea on a regular basis are supposed to be more immune to the cold or flu that is going around at work as well a some other minor health problems such as infections.

4. Tea beats stress
If you are reading this post at work then chances are you are pretty stressed. The good news is that a cup of tea helps you fight the physical signs of stress by reducing the stress hormone in your body. For more ways to beat stress at work head over to our stress section.

5. Tea can help you lose weight
Many studies have confirmed what the Chinese doctors have been telling us for centuries - tea boosts your metabolism and helps you lose weight. Drinking a few cups of green tea at work (without the sugar) can have a really good effect on your waistline.

The health problems associated with tea

Now that we have look at all the nice things tea can do it is a good idea to take a look at whether tea will cause your body any harm. Before making any decision about your health it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of the argument and then make a decision based upon good information. To rant on about the magical qualities of tea without talking about the potential drawbacks would be irresponsible.

1. Sleep problems
Many people (myself included) are very sensitive to the effects of caffeine. If I have a tea or a coffee within four or five hours of my bed time I will have a lot of trouble getting to sleep.

If you are having sleep problems already it might be a good idea to take a look at how many teas you are drinking. Many people do not realize that tea is quite high in caffeine and too much tea can affect how well you sleep. However, your sleeplessness might be caused by other things. Take a look at this post about stressed sleep.

2. Kidney damage
Some scientific studies have shown that the oxalates in tea can cause some kidney damage. However, this has only been shown in people who drink a lot of tea - a lot more than most of us drink.

Although there other drawbacks associated with tea none of them have been definitively proven by science. The main message is that excess is not a good idea. If you are drinking more than about four cups of tea a day you are more likely to have some negative effects.

Other tips for drinking healthier tea
Here are some other tips I have picked up about how to make sure your tea works well for your health.

1. Don’t add milk
Scientists have found that adding milk to your tea actually detracts from the health benefits. The article in New Scientist is here.

2. Get your tea from a clean area
One of the best things you can do if you are serious about your health is research where your tea comes from. I learned this trick in India and I think it makes a lot of sense. Pollution in the air and soil has a massive effect on how healthy your tea is - places like China and India have a lot of air pollution. Try to source your tea from remote provinces in China and India - places higher in altitude. As a general rule Chinese Green Tea’s grow in higher areas.

3. Don’t add sugar
Sugar is like a leech. It has so many negative effects on the body and you should avoid it at all costs. If you can cut out or reduce the amount of sugar that you put in your tea you will be doing your body a big favor.

My favorite tea
I thought I would show you my favorite tea. If you haven’t ever tried it I encourage you to give it a go.

Dilmah Green Tea for ethics
I always buy Dilmah if I can because they are one of the most ethical companies on the planet. I heard a lot of good things about Dilmah when I was in India and then again when I was in business school. Dilmah is a family owned company and is run very strictly by five pillars - Quality, Tradition, Ethics, the Customer and Integrity. They never put profit making before these pillars. And… the tea tastes excellent! They also put a lot of money into the local community, their workers and the medical community.

You can buy some Dilmah green tea here.

They make all types including fusions. My favorite is the Jasmine Infused Green Tea.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Song Xinyi, the 3-years-old toddler that survived the 5.12 Sichuan Earthquake is now in a Nanjing hospital awaiting her new artificial limb. Yes! Her badly damaged right leg had to be severed off, it was really painful to know that this had to happen. I was hoping that her leg could be saved but it was not meant to be. The operation was carried out in Mianyang and she was later transferred to the Nanjing hospital for her recuperation and rehabilitation. From what I gathered from related blogs, the hospital is using a sample artificial limb daily for her to get used to while she awaits her custom-made one to be ready.
At the top of my blog there is a slideshow of many of her latest photos as well as her infant photos, photos before the tragic event and photos taken in the course of her rescue.
She appears to be coming to terms with what had happened. Her grandmother and uncle are with her in Nanjing and there are many people who came to see her and continue to keep her company. They have brought her many toys and gifts as well. You could also see how much the nurses dotes on her, there is so much love!
There were many people who wanted to adopt her but her family is waiting for her to fully recover before making any major decision.
She is such a lovely kid that I think anyone who eventually adopt her will feel very blessed!
Just looking at her photos I was already feeling overwhelmed........
Knowing that she is OK makes me feel very very relieved and seeing the joy that she radiates truly LIGHT UP MY LIFE!

Friday, June 20, 2008

MUSIC BLOG - Coldplay, Aimee Mann & Loreena McKennitt

Viva La Vida - Coldplay

The problem with Coldplay is that with their immense popularity, expectations become higher and higher for each new release. So how does Viva La Vida measure up?
They made Violet Hill a time-limited free download, the publicity generated was great but I wonder if many liked that track at all (personally I didn't like it one bit). I was rather apprehensive what the album as a whole will be like if Violet Hill sets the tone for the entire album. I think that was why a second track (Viva La Vida) was made available online prior to the album's release. Viva La Vida was much better than Violet Hill that's for sure, it was something quite a departure from the usual Coldplay-fare, however the novelty seems to wear off rather too quickly on repeat play. With the differential nature of these two "preview" tracks (two extremes if I may say), it provided further intrique as to what the whole album may sound like and this marketing "weapon" of sorts with the ensuing uncertainties creating an air of 50-50 expectancy provided the pulling effect to draw in the fans to the album's release. That is my take on things.
The jewel in this album for me is the opening track, "Life In Technicolor" which ironically is mostly an instrumental piece with some humming vocals crashing in towards the end to plateau out the track. It was a great opener, however what follows was a mix bag of hits and misses that on the whole breaks no discernible new grounds for the band. In truth, not much separate this from the previous "X & Y". Disappointed? Absolutely! "Parachutes" remains their best album to date although they did deliver terrific individual tracks in each subsequent releases.
This is my initial take on "Viva La Vida" but like all their previous albums, it may or may not grow on you as time progresses. I hope it does but it will not be the whole album, possibly only a couple of tracks.

@#%&*! Smilers - Aimee Mann

Aimee Mann is an enigma to me.
She is a talented songwriter but sometimes a little too elaborate that sort of kills off her own songs both musically and lyrically.
I like her early 'Til Tuesday days, "Welcome Home" was for keeps, her best work to date. It was a pity 'Til Tuesday did not make it big after their early potential.
Aimee went on to a solo career and hit it big with the "Magnolia" movie soundtrack, thereafter she seemed to go off-tangent again.
"Smilers" is a return-to-basics, keeping-things-simple approach that is a perfect showcase of her talents both as a songwriter and singer.

Paul Bryan, the album producer did an amazing job here and he also played bass on the album. It was all done without any electric guitars (for the 1st time in her career), just drums, bass, accoustic guitar, keyboards and Synclavier. Yes! Synclavier, that almost-forgotten machine (some may not qualify it as an instrument!) that have not been heard of for what seems like an eternity. In this particular works it was pure beauty, creating an enviable balance to the whole sound that is almost perfect.
I hope "Freeway" can catch on and be another big hit for her. If it does, I hope the momentum could be more sustainable than before in her somewhat patchy career so far.
"Smilers" ranks side by side with "Welcome Home" in my book, if not better.

Nights from the Alhambra - Loreena McKennitt

I first came across the Alhambra in Shenzhen's Windows of the World and it was a miniature replica of the real thing. It caught my eye when I saw it then. For sure it did not have the grandeur or aura of the actual place in Granada, Spain as seen on the DVD. To be able to play music in such a magical place must be an awe-inspiring experience not only to the musicians but to the audience as well. "Nights from the Alhambra" contains both the music on double audio CD as well as the entire performance on DVD. Loreena McKennitt and her group of musicians turned in a wonderfully inspired performance, giving a whole new perspective to her songs. There were so many different instruments that I have never seen before. This "live" performance elevated songs such as "Penelope's Song", "Dante's Prayer" & "Never-Ending Road" to new heights from the studio version. "Mummer's Dance" did not quite hit the mark though.
It was an amazing performance that should not be missed, possibly the best I have come across in digital format.


Got this thru' e-mail from FuntOOsh.com (http://www.funtoosh.com), it was written as a joke but then again if you give them a little thought, they are as real as it gets!


Commandment 1.
Marriages are made in heaven. But, so again, are thunder and lightning.

Commandment 2.
If you want your wife to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.

Commandment 3.
Marriage is grand -- and divorce is at least 100 grand!

Commandment 4.
Married life is very frustrating. In the first year of marriage, the man speaks and the woman listens. In the second year, the woman speaks and the man listens.In the third year, they both speak and the neighbors listen.

Commandment 5.
When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing: Either the car is new or the wife is.

Commandment 6.
Marriage is when a man and woman become as one. The trouble starts when they try to decide which one.

Commandment 7.
Before marriage, a man will lie awake all night thinking about something you say. After marriage, he will fall asleep before you finish.

Commandment 8.
Every man wants a wife who is beautiful, understanding, economical, and a good cook. But the law allows only one wife.

Commandment 9.
Marriage and love are purely a matter of chemistry.That is why a wife treats her husband like toxic waste.

Commandment 10.
A man is incomplete until he is married. After that, he is finished!

Friday, June 13, 2008


Mao Mao (毛毛)- the last missing panda of Wolong was confirmed dead, buried under the fallen walls of the cubicle which she was kept. It was a tragic sight seeing photos of her badly decomposed body. She had been missing since the earthquake on 12 May 2008 in Sichuan. The first sighting of the decomposed body was on 5 June 2008 and after several days of digging, removal of the debris and also disinfecting the area, the badly decomposed remains were dug out only on 10 June 2008. The Wolong staff used an electronic tag detector to confirm that it was indeed Mao Mao.

At the burial ceremony, the supervisor of Wolong paid tribute to Mao Mao:


roughly translated as below:

"Mao Mao was a heroic mother who gave birth on three occasions. Although she was of a small built but her motherly love was always 100%. She would cared for her new borns meticulously and also breast feed them. She was truly a good mother.

It was tragic that Mao Mao did not survive this earthquake and all the staff of Wolong felt very deeply the loss and pain. We will always remember Mao Mao and we will make extra efforts to take good care of her babies and the other pandas to ensure that they will have a better life growing up. We believe Mao Mao, knowing this will be able to rest peacefully."

Mao Mao was found around 1999/2000 at the forest area of Mianyang, Beichuan County. She was new born then and abandoned by her mother with bruises all over her little body when she was found. On 24 April 2000, Mao Mao was brought to the Wolong Panda Base where she was taken care of, nurtured and led a happy life at the base.
She was lucky to be found eight years ago in the same area where the 5.12 earthquake recently hit but it was ironic that she instead perished under the fallen walls of the place (that was not as badly hit by the 5.12 earthquake as Mianyang where she was first found) which had given her the opportunity to grow up and lead a better life.

Her name was given by a famous singer named Mao Ah Min back in 1999 who adopted her and contributed RMB30,000 towards her 1st year expenses. However she was unable to continue the donation thereafter.

Mao Mao was only about 9 years old (equivalent to 30 to 40 years of human life span), her demise was indeed premature. She left behind 3 baby pandas, the eldest being 3 years old and the youngest barely a year old.
Mao Mao:
ID No: 504
1999 to 12 May 2008