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The Mystery Shopping Club

(Operated by's sister site)

Are you a student over 18? Part-time teacher? Parent? Just someone that needs some extra income? Some free food and drinks perhaps? Would you like to pick your own hours? - Casual work is available to you now...

The following is an article taken from Choices Magazine after a visit to the Mystery Shopping Club.

"Wanted: Shopaholic nosey parker with excellent observational skills, a good ear and flexible attitude to part-time work. Anyone can apply. Work available in all areas. Must be prepared to eat free meals, enjoy shopping discounts and visit pubs - and be paid for it."

Believe it or not, the above job advertisement is not as far fetched as it sounds. If you love shopping, you'll be pleased to hear that it's possible to shop for a living. In fact, it's a multi-million pound industry for market research companies who employ "mystery shoppers" to shop up and down the country - all in the name of customer service and research.

There are a number of mystery shopping companies who organise whole armies of professional shoppers on behalf of retailers, pubs, restaurants, banks and other service industries. Their mission? To mingle in, look inconspicuous and file a report on anything from customer service to cleanliness in the restrooms.

If you visit one or two pubs in a night, you'll get your food and drink paid for, travel expenses and you'll be paid anything from £6.00 to £8.00 up for each visit.

But there is one problem with mystery shopping: truly dedicated shoppers never switch off from their work. You'll find yourself compulsively evaluating service and checking ceilings for cobwebs even when you're not on duty. It eventually becomes a part of your life.

To find out more about casual employment opportunities in the "Secret Shopper" industry, please visit's sister site:

Click here for the Mystery Shopping Club UK


  • Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.

    Lily Tomlin

  • There is great beauty in going through life without anxiety or fear. Half our fears our baseless and the other half discreditable.


  • Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.

    Charles Dickens

  • Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It is already tomorrow in Australia. (Ed. note: Those reading this in Australia keep worrying!)

    Charles Schultz

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    Stressed out? Take a deep breath and read on...

    There is no real way of avoiding stress. It is part of every day life. Indeed, stress is a natural part of the body's functioning which helps in times where you need extra energy, such as in an emergency situation. However, too much stress and at the wrong time can be damaging. Often, the situation "spirals" out of control - You get stressed, do not sleep well, become even more tired and then more stressed, and so on!

    Teaching and Stress.

    Teaching is a very rewarding profession. It is a job where you can get a feeling of helping people. However, it must be said that it also has its stressful elements to it. Inspection, assessments, reports, classroom management, etc. are all potentially stressful areas.

    This guide is a list of pointers that could help you move towards being more relaxed, enabling you to make your own decisions about dealing with stress. We are here to try to help as much as possible and there are links to other sources of stress related information on this page.

    Coping with Stress.

  • Identify exactly what the cause of the stress is
  • Try and establish a solution to the stress
  • If appropriate, accept that there may be nothing that can be done about the stress (at least by recognising this it should reduce the stress level).

    Adopt new ways of dealing with stress.

    This might mean adopting a new approach to life. For example, if you are always very stressed and last-minute in the mornings whilst getting to work, it may be appropriate to get-up earlier so that you have more time. This way the stress levels may be reduced.

    If necessary and appropriate, ask for help from others. This may be help from a professional or even a friend or colleague.

    Widen your interests. Where it is not possible to change the stress-causing problem, a diversion such as a leisure or sports activity may help you to forget the stress. Even if this only gives temporary relief from the stress, it is at least a help.

    Pets. Research has suggested that keeping a pet can help to relieve stress. There is evidence to support this but it is important to remember that this is not always the case. A new young puppy that makes noises at night and chews the furniture would not be very helpful at all!

    Religious Activities. Some people argue that having religious beliefs helps when dealing with stress. Certainly, some people have been able to cope with very stressful situations by turning to religion. However, some religions can be restrictive and this in turn could become stressful. Click here to see's World Religion pages for more information on different types of faiths.

    Food and Drink. What we eat and drink can have an influence on stress levels. Certain foods and drinks have different properties in them, which can not only lead to a healthier diet (which in itself can reduce stress levels) but actually helps the body deal with stress naturally.

    Have a Laugh! Laughing can reduce stress. Watching TV comedy shows, reading funny books or maybe meeting with friends and laughing with them can all help to lift your spirits and help you to deal with stress.

    Have Fun in Class. Arranging fun classroom activities can help to reduce stress and also encourage learning.

    Personality Traits.

    Personality and Stress. Your personality does affect how you deal with stress. Out-going, confident people often tend to suffer less from stress than quieter people who think more and reflect on problems.

    Your own individual personality traits will also have an influence on whom, if anyone, you consult in order to try and solve any stress problems that you may have. Also, if you are a good communicator then you will be more likely to be able to tell others how you feel. This in turn will help in finding a solution.

    There are lots of personality traits that will influence how you deal with stress and also how you help others deal with it. Every person is a mixture of different traits and it is not enough just to identify them as a cure to stress. However, if you can at least identify aspects of the traits then you may be able to understand yourself and others better and in turn be able to work to conquer stress.

  • Obsessionals - If you are helping someone overcome stress who is obsessional, then the best approach is to try and prioritise the stressful things in their life because they will tend to regard everything as stressful. In this way a solution can often be found.
  • Anxious people - The main problem here is that anxious people are often reluctant to even talk about stress. If this initial barrier can be overcome then positive reassurance often helps.
  • Introspectives - These people are not generally as obsessive about stress as obsessionals but they do tend to mull things over a great deal. The fact that a listener is prepared to hear their stress-related problems is usually a great help because it means the they are sharing their problem with someone.
  • Withdrawn - Individuals who are withdrawn may find it difficult to talk about stress. Often, they are dealing with stress almost by pretending it is not there. They tend to adopt a note of detachment. This is not always a bad way of dealing with stress, unless by being so detached it leads to other problems
  • Paranoid - These individuals need a lot of patience and help in order to help with their stress. They are often suspicious and so suspect any help as being a threat.
  • Compliant and Passive individuals - Although these people often seem to be happy to accept help when dealing with stress, it is often the case that they lack the drive and determination to sort the problem out. They may also become too reliant on others for help.
  • Aggressive - The major problem here with stress is that they often generate their own stresses. Help and advise from others is often not listened to. Being very calm and patient often helps.
  • Neurotic - Excessive behaviour is the sign of a neurotic. Neurotics are often very susceptible to stress. It is often difficult to identify precisely what the cause of the stress is. Great support and understanding is needed.

    Stressed out? Paid out...

    A UK teacher has been paid a record 300,000 ($200,000) for a "stress-related" illness. The teacher, referred to as Mr. A., suffered a breakdown due primarily to improper care from his head teacher and governors.

    Another investigation has suggested that governors are a cause of stress to head teachers. Good communication and an "open" working environment should help in removing the causes of stress.

    According to a report by Teacherline UK, the teacher telephone helpline, teaching is one of the most stressful of professions. Teachers are being bullied and also have to deal with being told how to, as well as what to, teach. Furthermore, the poorly-understood inspection process creates even more pressure.

    According to Teacherline, more than 200,000 teachers (more than 40 per cent of teachers in England and Wales) have been subject to serious stress, due mainly to a large workload. Teacherline also suggest that the public sector is particularly stressful, and conflicts with managers and colleagues also create problems.

    Archived stress related articles.

    Scientists find stress linked to acne. It is a common experience: You're under stress because of an exam, your job or just juggling your everyday activities -- and you develop acne. Was the outbreak caused by stress? Until now, no scientific evidence has supported that it is. But German researchers say they have found a major indication that stress and acne, as well as other skin conditions ...More from CNN

    Teachers: Stressed or stroppy? Are teachers overworked? Or have they got a cushy deal? BBC education correspondent Mike Baker investigates ...More from the BBC

    Lessons suffer as more teachers take on pupils' problems. Two-thirds of teachers are doubling up as counsellors to pupils, a new survey shows. Half also think that being a shoulder to cry on has a negative impact on their lessons. 56% of those who regularly counselled pupils said it was affecting their teaching and 29% said it ate into their lesson preparation time ...More from Ananova

    Hands on therapy for stressed UK students. Stressed students are to be offered therapeutic massage sessions to help them cope with university life. Huddersfield University is believed to be the first in the country to introduce the service at its health centre. Doctors say stress is a growing problem among students ...More from Ananova

    10 Ways to beat stress! Filling Your Face: Carbohydrates promote the release of serotonin, the mood- regulating hormone. Eat a cake (naughty!) and you will experience instant calm. Alternatively, indulge in bread or servings of pasta ...More from

    Too stressed to go to school. Health experts are calling for primary schools to focus more on dealing with mental health problems. Jenny might be just 10 years old, but she is already carrying the worries of her entire family on her shoulders ...More from the BBC

    Stressed from all sides? Parents add to exam stress: Parents are being warned not to put their children under too much pressure at exam time. An education expert has said some children are suffering not just from the worry of exams, but from the high expectations of their parents. Dr Tony Wright, of the Open University, says that in some cases, it is as if the parents are taking the exams themselves ...More from the BBC

    UK teacher awarded a quarter of a million pounds ($360,000) for stress. A 51-year old woman has been awarded the compensation after suffering two breakdowns... More from the Times

    Lucy In the Sky, With Therapists? LSD, ecstasy and mushrooms as therapeutic tools: Are you hallucinating? Psychotherapists around the country say that such mind-altering drugs can do wonders. If only they weren't illegal... More from Wired News

    New Treatment Could Beat Blues. One million people in the United States are diagnosed with severe depression annually and don't respond to traditional treatments. For these people hope is on the horizon in the form of the Vagal Nerve Stimulator, a pacemaker for the brain. More from Wired News

    Other useful links:

  • Bullying - what can be done? - Internal Link
  • Can you stop worrying, please! - Internal Link
  • Childline for Stressed Out Kids - Freephone 0800 1111 (UK)
  • Debt - Internal Link
  • Exam Stress Forum for Pupils - Your opinions - Internal Link
  • How to Manage Stress
  • How to Survive Stress
  • International Stress Management Association UK
  • Job Interview Stress at's UK Employment Page - Internal Link
  • Job Interview Stress at's US Employment Page - Internal Link
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Center
  • Online Therapy Isn't Shrinking - from Wired News
  • The Problems and Advice Page - Internal Link
  • Recognize Your Potential and Surpass Your Dreams - Internal Link
  • Samaritans UK and Republic of Ireland - Support Line 0845 7909090
  • Self Esteem Coaching
  • Stress Education Center
  • Stress Management & Emotional Wellness Page
  • Tackling exam stress - University of Huddersfield
  • Teacher Stress and Burnout
  • Ten Commandments for Managing Stress

    Please note that the information on this page is provided as a guide only to try and help deal with stress and the problems associated with it. It is not a complete guide and individuals must make their own decisions with regards to any action they take.

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