New car on showroom floor

How to Start Planning for Your Next Car

Whether you fell out of love for your old car or it’s just falling apart on you, maybe you’re thinking that it’s time to find a younger model. Whatever the reason, replacing it needs some planning involved – how else are you going to make the right decision?   There are just two main considerations before you get to the fun part of choosing the make and model: what your needs are, and how much can you can afford to spend. Begin by asking yourself these three simple questions:   What was wrong with my old car? Let’s be honest, sometimes we just want an upgrade – a shinier coat, new features and mod cons, more speed, and all the nice-to-haves. But the year 2020 is all about being more budget-conscious, so instead, break it down into practical terms and ask yourself:   Is it comfortable for me – Do the seats adjust up and down or forwards and back enough to fit your height? Are all the knobs, buttons, and levers easily accessible?  Does it suit my lifestyle – Your situation may have changed since you bought your existing car. Perhaps you were a single student towing your friends around, but now an adventurous traveller who loves to take long weekend country trips. What’s missing that I wish it had – Do you kick yourself for not taking the sunroof option, or perhaps you just want more storage in the glove box. Maybe your needs are more technical, like more torque or superior suspension and handling. Does it feel safe – Does it start rattling while driving at 120 km/h on the highway? Does it virtually dent if you so much as poke an elbow at it? Safety is the most important consideration, so don’t take it lightly when choosing a vehicle. Do parts take too long to arrive – When the car goes in for a service or repair do you have to wait weeks before you can get it fixed?  Are the parts and repairs more costly than its worth –  Do the parts have to be ordered from overseas which makes them more costly?   Take these answers and bear them in the forefront of your mind when shopping for a new car. This time around, you want to get it as close to the perfect car as possible. Remember, looks are not everything. Suitability and safety are.    Read: Is your car costing more than its worth?    What do I want from my next car? Now that you know what you don’t want, it’s easier to determine what you do want. Begin with taking note of your personal and lifestyle needs, then match these with the features or benefits that should be prioritised in a list.  For example: I need a safer vehicle for regular highway driving – Solid construction I need to cartloads of kids’ sports equipment around often – Bigger boot space I must have cell phone hands-free ability – Bluetooth I don’t want to have keep spending on high maintenance costs – Reliable, low, maintenance This list can be as long as you need. In fact, the longer it is, the clearer the picture in your mind becomes.    Read: Which to buy – petrol or diesel?   What can I reasonably afford on my next car? You may want to start with this step first – calculating your budget. If it feels more comfortable knowing what you can afford before understanding your needs, that’s entirely up to you.   Before hunting down the make and model of your next car, you’ll need to look into your personal finances to determine these basic affordability figures: lump sum, deposit, monthly instalments, and monthly car insurance premiums.  Use this online vehicle calculator to determine your monthly instalments.   Once you know what you want in a car and can afford, you’ll be suitably equipped to make the right decision on what make and model is best suited for your lifestyle and pocket.    Read: Should I pay cash for a car?   It may be hard to say goodbye to your old car. At Auto Pedigree, we make it easy with a choice of over 4,000 makes and models to choose from. All our quality vehicles are late models with low mileage and come with stringent quality assurance for peace of mind. Find your make and model with our easy car search facility.   Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
How vehicle trade-ins work
Trading in the Mommy Wagon
You’ve made enough school runs to earn you honourable mom-stripes, but now that the children have moved out and the mom-mobile has seen better days, what do you trade it in for? First, let’s talk about trade-ins.   What is a vehicle trade-in? When it’s time to replace your existing car, trading it in for a new one is the easiest and most convenient method. Simply put, you are ‘swopping’ one for another at the same dealership.   To illustrate the basic steps for a trade-in: You decide on a replacement vehicle at a dealership Dealer checks the condition and assesses the value of your existing car Dealer provides you with a trade-in offer Should you accept the offer, the trade-in value is deducted from the price of the replacement car. If your car is paid off the paperwork could be done and the deal signed on the same day.   Before going into a dealership to ask for a trade-in offer, get your current car’s book value so that you know what to expect. The better the condition of the car, the more chance of being offered a higher value.   Also read: How vehicle trade-ins-work   Cars for 3 Types of Modern Women Once you’ve decided to trade-in your mom-mobile, you’ll need to assess your personal and lifestyle needs. Will you be using it mostly for work, commuting, weekend trips, or very rarely? Take all these factors into account before choosing the make and model solely on aesthetic appeal. We’ve selected a few cars that we think would suit three different types of modern women: Cars for the career woman Managing a demanding career and driving from meeting to meeting means you need a car that meets a modern woman’s communication needs. BMW new 3-Series with on-board digital assistant Hyundai Accent offers user-friendly tech features Audi A3 offers great multimedia installations Cars for the work-from-home woman You’re a woman who has a lot on her plate and needs a reliable car that can multitask as well as her. Mercedes Benz A-Class makes running from meetings to errands less of a chore Honda Civic is economical and easy to drive Toyota Hilux is a hard-working vehicle with decent fuel efficiency Cars for the single woman You’re an independent woman who has fewer family responsibilities now but still leads a full and busy life. Hyundai i30 designed for the discerning driver Volkswagen Jetta offers up enough individuality for the independent single woman Honda Civic offers a good sound system and USB/Bluetooth connection for driving enjoyment. Also read: Start planning for your next car   At Auto Pedigree, we have a choice of over 4,000 makes and models for you to choose from. All our quality vehicles are late models with low mileage and come with a stringent quality assurance for peace of mind every woman wants. Find your make and model with our easy car search facility.     Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
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New car on showroom floor
How to Start Planning for Your Next Car
Whether you fell out of love for your old car or it’s just falling apart on you, maybe you’re thinking that it’s time to find a younger model. Whatever the reason, replacing it needs some planning involved – how else are you going to make the right decision?   There are just two main considerations before you get to the fun part of choosing the make and model: what your needs are, and how much can you can afford to spend. Begin by asking yourself these three simple questions:   What was wrong with my old car? Let’s be honest, sometimes we just want an upgrade – a shinier coat, new features and mod cons, more speed, and all the nice-to-haves. But the year 2020 is all about being more budget-conscious, so instead, break it down into practical terms and ask yourself:   Is it comfortable for me – Do the seats adjust up and down or forwards and back enough to fit your height? Are all the knobs, buttons, and levers easily accessible?  Does it suit my lifestyle – Your situation may have changed since you bought your existing car. Perhaps you were a single student towing your friends around, but now an adventurous traveller who loves to take long weekend country trips. What’s missing that I wish it had – Do you kick yourself for not taking the sunroof option, or perhaps you just want more storage in the glove box. Maybe your needs are more technical, like more torque or superior suspension and handling. Does it feel safe – Does it start rattling while driving at 120 km/h on the highway? Does it virtually dent if you so much as poke an elbow at it? Safety is the most important consideration, so don’t take it lightly when choosing a vehicle. Do parts take too long to arrive – When the car goes in for a service or repair do you have to wait weeks before you can get it fixed?  Are the parts and repairs more costly than its worth –  Do the parts have to be ordered from overseas which makes them more costly?   Take these answers and bear them in the forefront of your mind when shopping for a new car. This time around, you want to get it as close to the perfect car as possible. Remember, looks are not everything. Suitability and safety are.    Read: Is your car costing more than its worth?    What do I want from my next car? Now that you know what you don’t want, it’s easier to determine what you do want. Begin with taking note of your personal and lifestyle needs, then match these with the features or benefits that should be prioritised in a list.  For example: I need a safer vehicle for regular highway driving – Solid construction I need to cartloads of kids’ sports equipment around often – Bigger boot space I must have cell phone hands-free ability – Bluetooth I don’t want to have keep spending on high maintenance costs – Reliable, low, maintenance This list can be as long as you need. In fact, the longer it is, the clearer the picture in your mind becomes.    Read: Which to buy – petrol or diesel?   What can I reasonably afford on my next car? You may want to start with this step first – calculating your budget. If it feels more comfortable knowing what you can afford before understanding your needs, that’s entirely up to you.   Before hunting down the make and model of your next car, you’ll need to look into your personal finances to determine these basic affordability figures: lump sum, deposit, monthly instalments, and monthly car insurance premiums.  Use this online vehicle calculator to determine your monthly instalments.   Once you know what you want in a car and can afford, you’ll be suitably equipped to make the right decision on what make and model is best suited for your lifestyle and pocket.    Read: Should I pay cash for a car?   It may be hard to say goodbye to your old car. At Auto Pedigree, we make it easy with a choice of over 4,000 makes and models to choose from. All our quality vehicles are late models with low mileage and come with stringent quality assurance for peace of mind. Find your make and model with our easy car search facility.   Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. The views and opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Auto Pedigree.
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Cheers in the sunset
Drinking and Driving – What the Law Says
Driving when drunk is a criminal offence in South Africa. Studies show that those arrested for this often suffer severely in terms of health, finances, job, and career prospects.  Driving under the influence means having a high level of concentration of alcohol in your blood or breath while operating a vehicle.  The legal limit is one unit of alcohol per hour, which equates to 10ml of pure alcohol, based on an adult weighing 68kg. Therefore, if you weigh less than this, your body will need more time to process the same amount of alcohol. How Do I Know If I Am Over The Limit? The following is an approximate breakdown of alcohol units per drink type: 1 x 75ml glass of wine = 1 unit 1 x 25ml tot of spirits = 1 unit 1 x shot/shooter = ½ unit in most instances 1 x spirit cooler = about 1.25 units 1 x beer = 1.5 units or possibly more 1 x cider = 2 units 1 x 250ml glass of wine = 3.3 units 1 x cocktail = Between 2 and 4 units   What Should I Do If I Am Over The Limit? There are no quick fixes to being over the limit because your liver needs time to process the alcohol. Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, eating fatty foods or drinking a litre of water won’t counteract the effects of alcohol on your body.  So it’s best to restrict your intake so you remain sober in the eyes of the law.    If you are over the limit, don’t try and drive – rather call an e-hailing service like Uber or Bolt, or phone a friend or family member for assistance.     What Happens If I Am Caught Driving Under The Influence? If you are caught in an official roadblock and identified as being over the limit following a breathalyser test, the possible consequences may be that you are :  Arrested and charged for being under the influence. Detained for further evaluation and alcohol testing at an alcohol testing centre. Obliged to provide blood samples. Here you may request your medical practitioner to be present and that a sealed syringe and needle is used to take blood. This sample will be sent to a state laboratory for scientific analysis to estimate the quantity of alcohol in your blood.  Held in custody until you are released on bail or make your first appearance in court, which could mean spending 48 to 72 hours in a holding cell.  Informed of your right to institute bail proceedings at a police station before your court appearance.  Sentenced in court varying from imprisonment of up to six years, receiving a fine between R2,000 and R120,000, or the suspension of your driver’s licence.  Given a criminal record for drunk driving up to ten years.    You may also incur additional charges including those for reckless, negligent, or inconsiderate driving on a public road.   Other Negative Effects of Drunk Driving In addition to the legal ramifications associated with driving under the influence, you could also face severe physical consequences.  Alcohol significantly slows reaction time, distorts vision, and the effects of a heavy night of drinking can affect your driving ability the next morning because you may still be over the legal limit. After only one unit of alcohol, your chances of being in an accident are doubled. When at the legal limit you are four times more likely to be in an accident. If you are tempted to drive under influence during the festive season, think again ensuring you enter 2020 safely – on the right side of the law.     Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.
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Most dangerous times to travel in December in South Africa
The Best and Worst Times to Drive in December
The festive season is almost upon us with South Africa’s roads set to become even busier and more congested. Ongoing research regarding travel and December road trends shows which are the best and worst days and times to travel as well as the most dangerous roads during this busy time.    Which Are The Worst Dates To Drive? As you make your travel plans, try to avoid the roads on the following dates or make a mental note to drive even more carefully should you need to travel on them: 13 December – Many people will try to make their festive season getaway ahead of the long weekend, setting off on their travels on the Friday to give themselves an extra day’s holiday.  20 to 24 December - A busy drive time period beginning on the Friday afternoon, extending over the weekend and into Christmas Eve as motorists take to the road for the festive season holidays.  28 to 31 December – A frustrating time for road users as fellow South Africans leave their holiday destinations, or head out to celebrate the New Year. 10 to 12 January – This is the last weekend peak-travel period when holiday-makers make their way home.   Which Are The Best Dates To Drive? Both of these days provide light, congestion-free travelling when many businesses are closed and people spend time at home with family and friends. 25 December – Christmas Day  26 December – Boxing Day   Which Are The Most Dangerous Times To Drive? Over December, most crashes occur between the following two time slots: 19:00 and 20:00 22:00 and 23:00 Throughout December, the majority of crashes occur on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday.   Which Will Be The Busiest Roads In South Africa? Here are the busiest roads in South Africa and its borders during the festive season, which present some of the worst road conditions. N1 to Beit Bridge – Those crossing the Limpopo River and travelling to Beit Bridge, in the south of Zimbabwe should factor in extra times for delays. It is the busiest border post in the region and has become an accident zone with over 500 trucks crossing daily through the year and even more vehicles over the festive season. The inspection of passports and travel documents add to delays.   N3 to Durban – The N3 begins in Durban’s Central Business District at Pine Street and Commercial Road as a dual-carriageway freeway and heads west, passing through Berea and Mayville before intersecting with the N2 at the EB Cloete Interchange. Then it heads through Westville before bypassing the south of Pinetown.  It is an important route for those travelling between Durban to Johannesburg making it one of South Africa’s busiest highways throughout the year and particularly over December when accidents occur all too often.  N4 to Maputo – The N4 between Pretoria and Maputo can be considered to be the eastern part of a much longer east-west corridor which includes the N4 west of Pretoria (Magalies toll route) and which continues up to the Lobatse border between South Africa and Botswana (about 330km). It stretches from North West province, through to Gauteng, into Mpumalanga and beyond. This road, connecting South Africa with Mozambique, is a popular one for holidaymakers, but expect delays due to border posts and frequent road works.   N2 to North Coast, KZN – Those who travel this road frequently experience never-ending maintenance, a myriad of toll plazas and may have seen many fatal head-on collisions.     Plan your holiday travels safely and return healthy, refreshed, and ready to take on the challenges 2020 has in store!    Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.
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Road Safety Tips
Road Travel Safety Tips this December
Just as we heed robots telling us when to stop, go, or remain cautious, so do we also need to apply similar principles when driving, especially during the festive season when roads become more treacherous. Follow these important hints to stop poor driving habits, instil positive ones, and remain cautious when necessary.   Stop Don’t speed. Don’t overload your car. Resist texting or talking on mobile devices while driving and install a hands-free kit in your car. Do not drink and drive as statistics indicate that 50% of road deaths in South Africa are alcohol-related. Never overtake on a blind rise or a solid white line. Don’t drive tired, fatigue affects your concentration and slows down your reactions. Pullover to a safe place and rest every 2 hours or 200km.  Avoid driving when visibility is poor due to the weather, or at night, and re-schedule your journey if possible.    Never disobey road signs and pay attention to flag and law enforcement officer signals. Do not leave your valuables such as cellphones and wallets in plain sight, but rather carry them with you, or lock them in your boot after you’ve parked. When driving, it is safer to keep valuable items out of sight to avoid smash-and-grab theft. Don’t retaliate if someone provokes you but remain courteous and obey the rules of the road. Avoid driving after dark if possible.   Caution Remain alert while driving, keep an eye on what's happening around you and don’t eat, drink or talk to people on the back seat.  Stop every two hours or every 200km for a rest to stretch your legs and regain your focus. Keep a safe following distance so you have enough time to react in an emergency. Remember to increase your following distance when visibility is poor and the road wet.  Drive defensively so you can prevent collisions caused by bad drivers, drunk drivers, and poor weather conditions – never assume other drivers will do what they are supposed to. Be prepared for emergencies by carrying an emergency kit with items that will come in handy if you're stranded or involved in a vehicle crash. Keep a lookout for obstructions like potholes or animals that may stray into the road, especially in rural areas. Be cautious when driving alone and avoid stopping in remote areas. Remain alert when you are in an area where there is a risk of criminal activities such as hijacking or smash-and-grab theft.   Go Ensure you and your passengers wear seatbelts and that any children under the age of three are secured in proper child restraint seats. Always keep your driver's licence with you.  Dip your headlights when you see an approaching vehicle.  Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy before going on a long journey. Examine all lights, indicators, windscreens, windscreen wipers, brakes, steering, shock absorbers, wheel alignment, exhaust system and tyres for faults.  Key in emergency numbers into your cellphone so you know who to call should you need assistance. Be courteous to fellow road users.   By following these tips, you should be good to go this festive season and remain safe whether you travel the roads locally or while on holiday.    Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.
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Gift box
Top 10 Car Accessories for the Festive Season
As the festive season begins, so does the search for the perfect gifts to show those valued people in your life some appreciation. These suggestions are for car owners who love their cars, who drive a lot or simply enjoy convenient or handy motorcar devices and gadgets.    1. Coffee Maker – Cuts out the need for daily trips to a coffee shop, saving time and money, and with the best models delivering a perfect barista-quality espresso in 2-3 minutes. Coffee makers are easy to use, plugging into the cigarette lighter and fitting into the cup holder working with Easy Serving Espresso (ESE) pods, or ground coffee.   2. Bluetooth Receiver – Cleverly designed to make a car’s audio system compatible with Bluetooth technology if not already installed in a car. This versatile device plugs into the auxiliary port in a car’s stereo and switches on a phone or tablet’s Bluetooth, allowing the driver to play music or make calls through the stereo system without compromising battery life. Newest models on the market connect two Bluetooth devices to a transmitter so the driver and passengers can take turns using the stereo.   3. Tile Mate – a tiny Bluetooth-enabled tracker and companion app that allows you to locate your items, fast. It loops into important items like key chains so you can use your smartphone to locate them even when on silent mode.  If you lose your phone, you can track it by pressing a button on your tile mate.  4. Portable cooler and warmer – Becomes an ideal companion for road trips, camping, and other adventures. Some of the best models plug into a cigarette lighter and fit on top of the armrest on the backseat while having enough power to keep snacks and beverages chilled (or warm) to journey’s end.    5. First Aid Kit – Critical in an emergency, comprehensive first aid kits for cars are considered mandatory from a safety perspective whether drivers make long or short journeys. The best first aid kits provide medical supplies and survival gear in a compact, durable lightweight carrying case which includes antiseptic cleansing wipes, an emergency blanket, and a variety of bandages.   6. USB Charger with two ports – Simultaneously charges two devices like cellphones and tablets at full speed, Choose a quality charger with a 12-month manufacturer warranty to ensure longevity.      7. Car vacuum cleaner- Keeping car interiors clean on a long road trip is possible with a lightweight, compact, and easy to use vacuum cleaner. Some of the best models plug into a car’s 12-volt outlet, pick up wet and dry debris, have an LED torch for night use, and are designed with a built-in crevice tool for hard-to-reach corners.   8. Air Purifier – Cleans the air inside a vehicle removing bacteria, gases, smoke, and odours making it healthy and more pleasant for passengers.    9. Magnetic Car Phone Mount – Holds cellphones securely in place allowing drivers to perform various tasks from playing music to navigating while also driving safely and legally. Magnetic car phone mounts are much more effective than older cradle-and-clamp mounts as they offer greater flexibility.    10. Dash Cam – Exceed your budget for that special person by giving them a dashboard camera. These increasingly popular, versatile devices can be coupled with various onboard technologies including recorders and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices. Dash cams are secured to a dashboard using a magnetic pad and are able to track speed and GPS information thereby providing the strongest most accurate evidence in the event of a car crash.   Buy Yourself a Gift   While you are buying gifts, treat yourself to a personal alcohol tester so you always know you’re legally capable of getting behind the wheel. Although it’s best not to drink and drive at all, the festive season comes around once a year when you should be allowed to enjoy a glass of alcohol over a festive meal.    Use this list to get your creative juices flowing this festive season as you choose the perfect motor vehicle accessory gifts for those special car-lovers in your life. Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. It must not be construed as advice, legal, financial, or otherwise. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.
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Handover keys
Should I Pay Cash for a Car?
Just as each of us is unique, so are our finances. This makes it impossible to give a uniform answer to the question: “Is it better to pay cash when buying a vehicle or not?”   High Cost of Credit Borrowing money for a car can be one of the most expensive household items for South Africans owning vehicles. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) tracks the average interest rate charged on instalment sale agreements (the loan agreement used to buy assets such as cars) and reported an average of 11.38% in March 2019.   Recent research shows that the average used car loan is around R234,000. If you took out a vehicle loan for this amount and have a good credit history, you could assume that you may repay the loan at around 12% per annum as follows over three, four, and five years (based on a R234,000 vehicle):    Number of Years Number of Months Monthly  Instalment Monthly Admin Fees Once Off Initiation Fees  Total Interest  Total Repaid 3 Years 36 Months R7881.25 R69 R1,207.50 R46,033.67 R283,725.17 4 Years 48 Months R6262.92 R69 R1,207.50 R62,100.45 R300,619.95 5 Years 60 Months R5301.05 R69 R1,207.50 R78,716.16 R318,063.66 When you investigate vehicle finance options, for example, using various online bank calculators, it’s easy to see that it is cheaper to buy a car for cash than using a loan. However, do not assume it is always better to buy a car for cash even if you have the lump sum available. Consider the following: How much savings should you keep for emergencies, such as possible unemployment or unforeseen medical costs. How much sufficient cash flow you require, for example, if you have your own business. Your credit history and consequently how much you will be charged in interest on a loan. Employment-related factors, such as whether you are self-employed, salaried, have a car allowance or are writing off vehicle loan costs for tax purposes. The necessity of having a car for work. Professional Financial Advice These complex matters pertaining to your personal finances as well as your taxes. Before buying any car, get advice from a specialist accredited in terms of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS); an act protecting consumers by regulating financial service providers (FSPs). These professionals include your: Personal Banker – Skilled in helping clients manage their money by balancing risk and return, and who is knowledgeable about savings, investment and credit products.   Financial Advisor – A professional who provides financial guidance to clients based on their needs and goals especially related to investments, retirement, insurance, home loans, estate planning and taxes. Tax Consultant – A financial expert with advanced training and knowledge of tax law, who advises clients about their tax forms and remaining compliant regarding tax matters, including vehicle purchases. After finishing your financial research, the best part begins as you choose your new car, confident that you can afford it. Start by visiting your nearest Auto Pedigree dealership who can assist you in selecting the car that best suits your needs and pocket.   Disclaimer: This information is for educational, or entertainment purposes only. We do not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information.
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Sitting on a quiet park bench
30 Tips to Beat Everyday Stress in 5 Minutes
Stress is part and parcel of modern-day living, but you can take conscious measures to reduce it. Indulge your five senses by choosing and trying a few five-minute stress beaters, which if integrated into your life can provide long-lasting stress relief.     1. Visit, phone, hug, or kiss someone – Studies prove that strong support networks help people better handle stress and navigate rough times. Students with strong friend and family ties cope better with stress, while those receiving frequent hugs from loved ones have lower blood pressure and a deeper sense of happiness because hugging releases the pleasure hormone dopamine.    2. Take a bath with Epsom salts – Sulphate and manganese are the two main ingredients of Epsom salts and together stimulate detoxification pathways. As Epsom salts increases water’s gravity, those bathing in it feel lighter and more buoyant while also benefitting from its muscle-relaxing properties.   3. Go outside and feel the sun on your face – The sun acts as a powerful weapon against stress and positively affects the body’s levels of serotonin (the feel-good neurotransmitter). This explains why people who get very little sun in winter feel depressed and why walking, hiking, and biking outside is particularly good exercise.   4. Dance – Dance acts as a vibrant stress reliever as the mind feels good when the body does too. Any type of physical activity releases neurotransmitter endorphins which alleviate stress. Although dancing for only five minutes provides benefits, researchers recommend a single 40-minute exercise session to effectively dispel stress.     5. Meditate – Start meditation for five to ten minutes daily to reduce stress. Further benefits include higher energy levels and diminished fatigue, increased energy, better health, improved sleep and greater disease resistance. Meditation also promotes a greater sense of calm and self-awareness, spiritual growth, a positive outlook. and a deeper sense of meaning.   6. Pet an animal – Research on the benefits of human-animal interaction is well-documented and endorses spending time with animals. When petting animals, people experience the benefits associated with increased levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decreased production of the stress hormone cortisol. Interacting with animals helps nervous children feel more relaxed about reading aloud, lowers high blood pressure, and can increase the life expectancy of heart attack survivors.    7. Try out aromatherapy – Scents, most importantly, lavender, lemon, bergamot, ylang-ylang, clary sage and jasmine are proven stress relievers.  Benefit from their soothing, stress-relieving properties by using a few drops of aromatherapy oil in the tub, place in a diffuser, light aromatherapy incense, add to your body lotion before applying or allow to evaporate off a nearby cotton wool ball.   8. Drink soothing teas– Herbal teas like chamomile are superb stress relievers due to their calming properties which promote muscle relaxation, help you unwind, and relieve pain and cramping.   9. Get a massage – Massage releases hormones like serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin, your body’s natural defence against stress and elevated cortisol levels. Massage therapy also alleviates or lessens pain. Even after only a five-minute touch massage, heart rates decrease significantly. Experience the benefits of massage by taking a trip to the spa, ask your partner to rub your back or give yourself a foot massage.   10. Enjoy yoga moves – Yoga is an excellent stress beater which helps ease physical discomfort caused by anxiety, lessens panic disorders, reduces pain, and alleviates anxious thoughts.   11. Listen to relaxing music –Music can slow down your heart rate and breathing, lowers your blood pressure, and triggers your muscles to relax and produces responses similar to those you experience while sleeping. Music is the perfect preparation to promote restorative slumber.   12. Eat a piece of dark chocolate – Evidence proves that eating a piece of dark chocolate every day reduces stress.     13. Talk it out – Talk positively to yourself and call a friend or family member to talk about your problems. Good relationships are essential for a healthy lifestyle and even more critical when you’re stressed as a reassuring voice can help put everything into perspective.   14. Skip the junk food –Junk foods, alcohol, sugar-laden drinks, and food with high sodium and fat promote rather than reduce stress. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables help reduce stress by inducing the brain to increase serotonin production and stabilise blood pressure.   15. Take a break from technology, especially your smartphone – Research shows that media overload like television, radio, or social networking causes sleep deprivation and is the sixth top cause of stress in the United States. As your smartphone delivers all media stressors at once, it’s best to switch it off when you’re trying to reduce your stress levels.   16. Make a Worry Box - Find a box, decorate it however you like, and keep it in a handy place. Jot down each worry as it crops up on a piece of paper and drop it into the box. Once your worry is deposited in the box, try to turn your attention to other matters thereby using your worry box to let go of your concerns. Alternatively, make a specific time to open your worry box and rethink your concern as your subconscious may have been working on your difficulty while your mind was clear, presenting you with new solutions to your problem.   17. Smile – Research shows that smiling during brief periods of anxiety helps reduce the body's stress response, regardless of whether the person feels happy or not while smiling, as smiling enables you feel the happy emotions associated with it.   18. Take a nap or go to sleep - Sleep reduces stress levels, lowers blood pressure, and may help reduce cholesterol levels which play a significant role in treating heart disease.   19. Seek out laughter – Laughter is strong medicine drawing people together in ways that trigger healthy physical and emotional changes in the body. It strengthens your immune system, boosts mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the damaging effects of stress. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humour lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner.   20. Play with children – Children have a unique way of viewing the world –interacting with them can help you enjoy their worry-free views.     21. Start a gratitude journal – Gratitude diaries help you take a step towards viewing life optimistically and gathering the courage to face and deal with your stressors. While writing your diary you may also gain a new perspective and realise certain stressors are trivial.   22. Outsource your tasks – Whether at work or home, stress mounts up as your to-do list grows. Reduce your anxiety by asking for help from a colleague, spouse, or family member to diminish the number of tasks you are responsible for.     23. Perform an act of kindness – Acts of kindness help boost confidence, optimism and reduce stress and studies show that people who volunteer to help others are healthier and happier than those who don’t. If you have some spare time, consider volunteering to assist in a community event as a few hours of volunteerism keeps stress at bay.     24. Go swimming – Swimming is an inexpensive, highly effective way to beat stress and depression whether you swim in a pool or the sea. It helps boost your mood, calms the body and stimulates the brain to release the neurochemicals that reduce stress and help the body feel good. Additionally, the added effect of water moving over your body creates a massaging sensation which promotes relaxation.   25. Chew sugar-free gum – Studies show that chewing gum can reduce stress and cortisol in the body and help you feel more alert and less anxious.   26. Let your imagination run wild - Guided imagery techniques help with stress management and provide similar benefits to deep breathing. Sit in a quiet place in a comfortable position and allow your imagination to take you to your happy place.   27. Give a compliment - Sharing compliments with others makes you feel better about yourself and changes the way people treat you, effectively reducing tension at work and home.     28. Treat yourself – People feel special on their birthdays when receiving presents or enjoying a special meal. When you feel stressed, buy yourself a present, go out for something tasty to eat or drink, or do something that makes you feel happy.   29. Try art therapy - Art therapy helps you use self-directed art to give you down-time and the opportunity for self-care. It also provides benefits associated with using your creative side, getting in touch with your feelings, taking your mind off problems, improving performance, and enables you to tap into the state of flow, similar to meditation. When you look at your completed art, even for five minutes, it will trigger a sense of positivity and wellbeing.   30. Go for a walk - Walking, like any other cardiovascular exercise, boosts levels of endorphins which reduces stress, alleviates mild depression, improves your mood and self-esteem. Meditating while walking, even for five minutes at a time, has proven mental benefits.   Whether you are experiencing mild or severe stress, these five-minute stress beaters can help you deal with your problems in the short and long term. Get into the habit of using a few regularly as part of your lifestyle to keep yourself mentally and physically healthy.
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