New Year

How to take care of your mental health this season

It is, unquestionably, that time of year again. As soon as the pumpkins and cobwebs are removed from shop windows, they’re almost instantly replaced with baubles and tinsel. Christmas really isn’t that far away, and needless to say, the team here at Angelfish are super-excited for the festive season, and getting people who need extra money for their Christmas shopping on board with our variety of paid market research opportunities!

However, we know that there are those who find this time of year particularly hard, and for a great many reasons. For a start, the evenings are getting darker quicker, and the weather is increasingly drizzly and cold. This is unpleasant at the best of times, but for those with conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder, late autumn and winter can be a real downer. In fact, whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or not, this time of year can put a lot of strain on a lot of people’s wellbeing; so we’ve put our heads together and come up with some ways you can look after your mental health this season!

Eat, drink, and be… well!

A healthy body equals a healthy mind, and there’s a lot you can do to stay on top this autumn/winter!

As a result of the cold, we all tend to eat quite a lot more this time of year – and we know all too well the kinds of indulgent treats we can find ourselves digging into during the festive season! So make sure you balance out the chocolates, cheeses and Christmas puds with some wholesome and hearty meals. All those vegetables will be a great boost for your immune system, too! And while you’re out shopping, bring along any in-date food that you don’t want to eat for the food bank; knowing that you’re making a contribution to those who might be less fortunate than you is a sure-fire way to lift your spirits, as well as somebody else’s!

The festivities also bring a lot of opportunities for celebratory drinks, whether with friends, family, or at your work’s Christmas party. Annoyingly, alcohol has actually been found to increase anxiety and stress rather than reduce them. Alcohol is also not great on the immune system, so make sure you stay well within your units to keep your mind happy and your body healthy. We have a fab blog on mocktails here to help you get through!

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Get plenty of exercise

Exercise has been found to have amazing positive effects on people’s moods, so ensure you take the time to brave the cold and go to the gym whenever you can. If you need the extra money though, go for a quick jog or take a leisurely winter stroll instead – it’s free, and just as good for you! Just make sure you wear a high-vis jacket and take a torch if it’s dark.

Catch all the ZZZs

We all love a good party or night out, and they’re certainly in abundance at this time of year! The downside, however, is that you might not get home until late at night and miss out on sleep which – surprise surprise – is super-important for positive mental wellbeing! So perhaps trade in a party or two with a quieter daytime catch-up with friends and colleagues.

Relax and do the things you love

Research has found over and over again that people who engage in their hobbies and get creative have better or improved mental health, so when you have some time for yourself, fill it with doing the things you love! And if you don’t have a hobby? Find one! There are usually plenty of group activities, such as crafting, walking, book clubs and more that you can take part in. It’s a great way to meet new people too – and it doesn’t have to be expensive! Alternatively, if you prefer your own company, there are lots of things you can do by yourself.

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Stay in touch with people

For many, this time of year is especially tough as they might not have family members to spend it with. Loneliness can have a hugely negative impact on people’s mental health; however, there are lots of different ways you can keep in contact with people over the season; for example, finding group hobbies as we talked about above, or arranging meet-ups. Perhaps you could even organise some nice things to do at lunchtime with your colleagues!

And never be afraid to reach out to people when you’re in need. You never know, someone else may be in the same boat as you!

Don’t feel the need to spend a fortune – and find ways to make extra money!

There’s an enormous amount of pressure on people to spend as much money as possible this time of year. Money worries can have a significant impact on your mental wellbeing – but you really don’t have to spend a fortune to have a good time! The ideas of things to do we mentioned above aren’t exhaustive – we have plenty more in the blogs on our website! On the flip side, if you do need extra money to cater for your needs at this time of year, taking part in paid market research is a great way to do it. It’s also a great way to meet new people, and contribute your thoughts on the brands you like shopping during the festive season! We have a number of different projects going on at the moment with cash and vouchers on offer as a thank you for taking part, so make sure you take a look!

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want to make extra money

What would a “cashless” society be like?

Money.* From its earliest form circa 9000BC – i.e. cows and wheat – all the way through to the modern-day bitcoin, money and monetary transactions have taken on a variety of different forms throughout the ages (here’s a really cool infographic for the history buffs in the crowd!). It appears that now, however, it might just be taking one of it’s most society-altering turns yet – by becoming entirely cashless! 

What do we mean by a “cashless” society?

Quite simply, a cashless society is one where we no longer make purchases using tangible coins and notes. Instead, all transactions are carried out electronically, from the more traditional bank transfer through to debit and credit card transactions (including chip and pin and contactless), apps such as ApplePay, and so on.

Is the UK a cashless society?

Almost! In fact, we’re currently the third most cashless society in the world, following Canada in second place, and Sweden, who are currently topping the leaderboard. 

And it’s not been a slow process; just a decade ago, 63% transactions in the UK were made with cash, but today, we only use cash for 34%  transactions. So probably won’t come as a surprise to hear that the UK is predicted to no longer be using coins and banknotes within the next 15 years.

So if we were to fast forward to our anticipated cashless society of 2034-ish, what could we expect to find?

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The good stuff

Less chance of theft

With people no longer carrying cash around with them and shop/restaurant tills/safes and banks no longer containing physical cash, the chances of physical robberies taking place will be significantly lower. Of course, you could argue that people will still be carrying their debit and credit cards around, but with banks now having websites and apps close to hand, cards can be cancelled in mere seconds. 

Reduction in cash-based criminal activity

Most criminal transactions – such as the buying and selling of illegal drugs – are completed using cash, as this means there’s no electronic trail that can be traced back. So with physical cash-in-hand opportunities unavailable and the increased monitoring of online transactional activity, these kinds of crimes are less likely to take place in the future as they’ll be significantly more difficult to carry out undetected.

More time-efficient processes

Handling paper money, as well as storing and depositing it, is a lot more time consuming than many people realise. As with many of the other increasingly digital processes going on in the world, handling money electronically is a significant time-saver. For example, cashless transactions in shops will eventually mean we have less queues to deal with, as shoppers won’t have to spend time counting out cash and coins to make their purchases. 

Easier to monitor your income and spending 

With the multitude of banking apps now available – and most of them incorporating budgeting tools – it’s already easier than ever to monitor your incomings and outgoings. And the more cashless we become as a society, the easier this will be (though of course it’s worth bearing in mind that it might end up being too easy to just keep spending when we’re not seeing cash physically leave our hands)!

Physical health

As strange as this may sound, living in a cashless society may make us physically healthier, too! Think about it; how many different pairs of hands will your cash and coins have been held in before they reached yours? Probably thousands! One study found that there can be as many as 19 different kinds of bacteria living on cash, among other nasties. So with no cash being passed around, it’s likely that our cashless society of the future is likely to be a healthier one as well!

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The potential downsides…

Lack of privacy

Although the monitoring of electronic transactions is helpful for avoiding criminal activity, it’s not so great when you think that your payment information could turn up in unpredictable ways. Just a couple of years ago, Google planned to track billions of credit and debit card sales to compare online ad clicks with money spent offline!  It also puts us at greater risk of identity theft and information loss. Being able to use physical cash grants you much greater anonymity, so this opportunity will be lost in a cashless society.

Beware the hackers

Remember when we were talking about physical robberies earlier? Although this may not be such a problem anymore in our cashless society of the future, one smart hacker gaining access to your online bank account could leave you entirely penniless in mere seconds. And with no physical cash to hand to use as back-up, this could leave you in a debilitating situation. 

Loss of control

A lot of people currently use cash as a means of having control over their finances, and some receive it as payment for odd jobs when they want to make extra money. A cashless society would mean relinquishing that control to technology – which, for those unfamiliar with technology, would be potentially distressing. These people may also find themselves at greater risk of financial abuse, for example if  family members take control of their accounts.

Technical problems

Picture the scenario: You want to make extra money by taking part in a market research study, and when it comes to getting paid, the researcher’s banking app fails on them. Frustrating or what? Despite technology making new advancements by the day, there are always going to be times when it fails us. It hasn’t happened to us yet – fingers crossed! But power cuts, slow load speeds and timeouts, and other technical failures can leave us temporarily penniless or unable to complete transactions, which could lead to all sorts of problems.

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Will we be ready?

Despite the many advantages of living in a cashless society, it looks like we probably won’t be ready for it in fifteen years’ time. According to one report, nearly half of Britain – that is, 25 million people – would struggle without access to cash, and for some, they feel it would be impossible to function. 

In which case, it might be a good idea for us to look to Sweden for guidance. The apparent model for a modern cashless society, it’s not uncommon to see signs that say “No cash accepted” in Swedish shops, with some banks no longer handle cash at all and cash payments making up only 15% of their retail sales. What’s more, 59% of consumer transactions are completed through non-cash methods, and 47% of Swedish citizens are aware of the types of mobile payment services available to them.

Conclusion:

However money turns out in the future, we’re glad to say that there will always be opportunities for you to get involved in our market research projects if you want to make extra money! If you’d like to take part, simply visit the current projects page on our website and get in touch!

*Money money money… must be funny… come on, you were thinking it, too!

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The best travel tour companies for your gap year

This is it. You’ve waved your last goodbye to compulsory education, and you’re ready to embark upon your long-awaited, much-anticipated gap year! Whether you want to spend it in the comfort of your homeland or you’re looking to venture abroad, there’s a multitude of amazing travel tour companies out there just waiting to guide you along what will hopefully become one of the best years of your life. The question is… which company do you choose?

Ultimately, the most important factors this comes down to are:

  • Where you want to go
  • What you want to do when you get there
  • How much you’ve got in your budget

We’ve spent some time picking out some of the most reputable tour travel companies in the business for a variety of gap year dreams, and ways to make extra money to fund it!

To work

  1. Best Gap Year

Location: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North America, South America, UK

From activity instructors to chefs, teaching internships to Au Pair-ing and even ski resort hospitality, Best Gap Year has a plethora of working gap year opportunities on offer, ranging from ten weeks to several months.

      2. Australia Working Holiday

Location: Australia

Australia Inc. offers fantastic ways of making extra money during your gap year, and promises to help you develop essential career skills such as team building, working under pressure and relationship building – on top of getting to explore some of the most amazing places on earth, of course!

      3. BUNAC

Location: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan  

Experiencing totally new cultures whilst having an unforgettable experience with lots of new friends sits right at the heart of BUNAC’s work experience opportunities. If it’s a high wage or high waves your searching for, delicious foods and stunning beaches, or something equally exotic, read on! 

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To volunteer

  1. Pacific Discovery

Location: Central America, South America, Nepal & Tibet, Southeast Asia, New Zealand & Australia

Based on the concept of experiential education, Pacific Discovery’s volunteering programmes are designed to challenge, broaden horizons, and merge cultural insights and environmental sensitivity with fun and adventure. 

2. Frontier

Location: … Well, where not?

“You dream it and we will make it happen” – quite the promise, but as goabroad.com’s Top Volunteer Abroad Organization 2016, Frontier’s marine conservation, environmental science efforts, and medical endeavours do truly bring a whole new meaning to volunteering abroad.

        3. International Volunteer HQ

 Location: All over the globe!

As the world’s most trusted and experienced volunteer travel provider, IVHQ is definitely worth a look-in. With projects ranging from teaching and childcare to arts and music, women’s empowerment and special needs care, there’s something on offer for everyone. What’s more, they’re super budget-conscious!

For adventure

  1. Intrepid Travel

Location: Pretty much everywhere!

If you consider yourself an especially adventurous individual, Intrepid Travel has your name on it. Activities range from cycling to sailing, walking and trekking and much more, with the goal of building human connections, supporting local communities, respecting the environment and drawing everyone just that bit closer together.

       2. Trek America

Location: USA, Canada, Alaska and Central America.

If exploring America is your dream, Trek America has over 50 incredible gap year tours to choose from, ranging from 3-75 days. These guys know where all the great and unusual sites and activities are and how to give you an outstanding gap year travel experience in America that’s really fun – and fair on your budget!

       3. Exodus Travels

Location: Again pretty much everywhere, but their top destinations include Italy, Nepal, France, Africa, and Peru.

45 years of experience gives Exodus Travels the ultimate edge in adventure travel gap years; especially as they now offer an extraordinary 500 itineraries across more than 90 countries! The possibilities for action and adventure are equally as endless, such as walking and cycling tours, wildlife encounters, and more.

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So there you have it! We hope this has given you an appetising taster of the gap year opportunities available out there for you to choose from. We know travelling isn’t particularly cheap though; one of the ways you can make extra money to  bolster for your budget for the adventure ahead is by taking part in paid market research. If this is something you’d be interested in, do get in touch and we’ll help you get started!