Is chocolate a universal currency?

Do you think that chocolate has become a universal currency?

chocolate box variety of chocolates jpg in blog post Is chocolate a universal currency? March 2015Chocolate comes in so many shapes, tastes and forms, even chocolate sculpture.

We buy it as gifts for someone we care about, know well or don’t know well.

As a way of saying: “Thank You”,  “Get well soon”, “Goodbye”, “I love you”, “Happy Birthday/Christmas/Easter/Valentine”. And even, “I can’t think what else to get you so here are some chocolates”.

There are definite chocolate seasons . . . Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Easter.

chocolate easter eggs jpg blog post Is chocolate a universal currency? www.keystepscoaching.comAnd all year round, we snack on it, replace meals, eat it without thinking while watching TV. It gives us an emotional language too, to comfort ourselves when we feel stressed, miserable, depressed, bored or angry, and to tell others that we care about them, or feel romantic.

Chocolate was precious as gold

Back in the olden days, chocolate, in the form of cocoa beans, was so precious it was used for trading with, like gold. It was considered to be the food of the gods or of kings, and a treasured and valuable commodity.

Raw cocao beans jpg in blog post Is chocolate a universal currency? March 2015These cocoa beans don’t look as appealing as the finished chocolate creations that we find in the shops today do they?

Chocolate and inflation

In 1981, Nico Colchester noted in the Financial Times that a Mars Bar is a useful measure of monetary inflation.

Modern chocolate itself shows definite signs of inflation. Instead of that valuable commodity of Inca times, the % of cocoa solids can be low, and the product is padded out with sugar and additional ingredients. I have even seen “chocolate flavoured” products. And white chocolate? Isn’t that the best oxymoron you ever heard?

Good news for chocoholics

You may be surprised to learn that chocolate has some important health benefits, like calming your mood, helping you to relax, feel happier, and improve your memory.

There is always a BUT!

Only the dark chocolate offers these benefits, at least 70% cocoa solids.

AND you will need to supplement your chocolate with other sources of magnesium, such as leafy green veges!

dark chocolate jpg in blog post Is chocolate a universal currency? March 2015Save money too….

You only need a couple of squares a day of good dark chocolate to be satisfied and enjoy the health benefits.

You will avoid the health risks from eating large quantities of other chocolate products – such as dental problems, weight gain which can depress you, and possibly down the line, serious health conditions such as diabetes. It is the sugar that is addictive, making you want to eat more and more.

Stress and chocolate

It may be disappointing that a potential source of stress relief such as chocolate can have unwelcome effects. It can also be a challenge to change your preferences to the dark healthy chocolate.

It is possible though, and I have been working closely with Jenny Davison, of Active-Eat, on how we can modify the foods we eat to reduce our stress levels and feel better.

We have just put together a quick guide to get you started:

“Why do you reach for the chocolate when you feel anxious, upset, stressed, hungry or bored?”

It includes tips and helpful information, and Jenny D has created some delicious recipes for you, using the rich dark healthy chocolate.

To get your copy just click here

Enjoy your chocolate!

Jenny Cooper ©2015







Do you put off doing things?

Do you put off doing things?

Speaking as someone who could get a PhD in procrastination (if I ever got round to it), the whole issue is really fascinating.

Deadlines are a must for me to get things done, so making a To Do list really helps. But curiously, some things seem to keep falling off the end of the list. Does that happen to you?

It could be something simple that you dislike doing – fixing something or the ironing – and when you get around to it, it doesn’t take long and was easier than you expected.

Or it could be something that feels overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin. So you don’t or can’t.

Creativity and procrastination

Recently I came across an article or a comment about how taking five minutes a day doing something creative can help to break through that block of getting started and getting things done. I know that creativity has many benefits, but had not come across this specific one before.

The Five Minutes a Day Creativity Challenge

This was a chance to test out the theory. The idea is to do something creative – write, draw, sing, paint, dance, whatever you decide, for five minutes each day for a week.

5 minute continuous doodle jpg image by Jenny Cooper blog post Do You put off doing things? Key steps Coaching 29.11.14

5 minute continuous doodle Nov.2014

What happened?

I started out feeling as if five minutes was for ever, then once I got started, the time flew.

Doing something different each day got me looking around for ideas. Singing, drawing with my left hand, tearing strips of an old catalogue and weaving them together. When you have a time limit, you have to act quickly, be spontaneous and experimental. And the deadline of completing it in time to post on facebook before going to bed helped.

The results

It was a lot of fun! Not just creating things, but seeing what other people were doing and posting.

Most surprising: Some of those obstinate items on my To Do lists mysteriously got done!

The most overwhelming item has been lurking around in my To Do lists for several months, and felt like it was going to be in the Too Hard Basket for ever. It was important, but felt so impossible and confusing that everything else always seemed more urgent.

I can’t explain why it suddenly felt possible to sit at the computer and start tackling this particular task, nor why all sorts of pennies started dropping so that I could understand what to do, and do it.

Woven strips of paper jpg image Jenny Cooper blog post Do you put off doing things?

Woven strips of paper

There was no apparent connection between the creative activities and this computer work. The block seemed to just melt away during this week.

Somehow the mountains of failing will-power, guilt, anxiety and feeling incompetent were all by-passed. Magic!

I’m hooked now… and going to continue with these little bursts of daily creativity.

And it isn’t just me. One friend who completed the whole week experienced similar powerful effects. You can check it out here Key Steps Coaching Facebook page.

Are you inspired to try a new way to get things done?

Just for a week, spend five minutes a day doing something creative.

Enjoy yourself, see what happens, then share below to inspire others.

Looking forward to hearing what you discover!


©Jenny Cooper 2014. All rights reserved.



What do mushrooms have to do with anything?

Mushrooms grow successfully in all sorts of unlikely places. What is your association with them?

Dark cellars? half way up a tree? lurking in the undergrowth? Some are safe to eat, some are poisonous.

If you don’t look in the right place, you might miss them, like these… Continue reading

“We’re not striving for perfection here . . . !”

Have you ever heard of exploding books?

The book

The book

The crafty among you will have done, but they were new to me.

What are they, and why are they?

In the Healing Arts group, as we folded, measured, cut and glued, our tutor added the most important  part of the instructions:

“We’re not striving for perfection here . . . !” Continue reading

How Do You Deal With “Stuff”?

How do you deal with “stuff”?

At this time of year, the sun comes out and shows up all the clutter accumulated over the winter, and we may even indulge in a spot of spring cleaning.

But today, I am referring to that internal “stuff” – the clutter of habitual thoughts, feelings, attitudes and beliefs. Continue reading

Are you in or out of your mind?

Are you in or out of your mind? Yes, it’s a secret isn’t it!

Have you been watching the Channel 4 tv programmes this week on work and mental illness?

The legal aspects of employment and mental illness are beyond my remit, but other questions remain.

Why do people with mental health problems feel they need to keep it a secret? Continue reading