The scent of peppermint has been shown to increase beta brain waves, indicating heightened awareness. Being more awake and alert leads to feeling more upbeat. Try: peppermint tea or a scented candle made with peppermint essential oil.
Does the smell of mint lift your spirits?
I’m a big fan of naps. I take them whenever I can. Many times I wake from a nap with a new idea or a fresh perspective on something I’ve been working on. I know people who feel guilty for taking naps, because it’s time they could spend doing something “productive.” Well, no one is productive running on empty, and human beings are not robots. We cannot “produce” 24/7 without serious mental and physical consequences. Our bodies and minds need adequate rest, and the occasional bout of time spent doing nothing.
Do you believe in the power of naps?
In a recent yoga class my instructor gently urged us to let go of perfection, and referred to herself as a “recovering perfectionist.” Boy, can I relate. I spent years—decades—beating myself up for not having the perfect body, the perfect job, the perfect life. Perfectionism gets you nowhere except stressed out and depressed. Gradually, in a series of small steps, I learned to treat myself with the same kindness and compassion I show others. When I feel my perfectionist tendencies starting to creep back in, I have the tools to send them packing. Here are a few articles that help me keep my perfectionism in check:
Letting go of perfection, by Bernice Wood of Living the Balanced Life
Quashing the self-improvement urge, by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits
Why you should boycott perfection, by Courtney Carver of Be More with Less
If you’re a perfectionist, what has perfectionism done for you lately?
I’m a freelance writer, which means I no longer get paid vacation. Still, I do try to make sure I take time off now and then to just relax and recharge. When I did have a full-time job with benefits, I always took my vacation days…every single one. Many of my coworkers did not. I know some people who never take vacation. Or if they do, they bring work along, which is really defeating the purpose.
Americans in general don’t take nearly enough time off from work, and many American employers subtly (or overtly) discourage their employees from taking it. The opposite is true in Europe, where vacation is seen as an essential part of life, and employers are required by law to give full-time employees a minimum of four weeks vacation.
Working without time off can lead to burnout, and can have a negative effect on your health. Conversely, vacations promote creativity and well-being, and help keep your relationships strong and healthy.
This year, be kind to yourself and use your vacation days. You deserve it.
I came across a great article called “Releasing the Urge to Push and Being Kind to Yourself Instead,” by Kylie Springman on Tiny Buddha, a website I often visit for inspiration. In it, Springman explains how she gradually learned to stop pushing herself toward an imagined future, and just enjoy the present moment. I particularly love this line:
I become receptive to pleasure, nourishment, connection with other people, and connection with myself. In that moment, I accept my imperfections.
Are you constantly pushing yourself to get somewhere else, and get there sooner? Have you ever paused to consider the personal cost?
You may have noticed there was no post on The Daily Kind yesterday. I had every intention of writing one, but then life threw me a curve ball and all of a sudden the day was gone. I felt terrible for forgetting, but I had to remind myself that life rarely turns out the way we plan, and that everyone makes mistakes.
Do you have trouble forgiving yourself for mistakes?
Dr. Kristin Neff is an expert in self-compassion. You may have seen her blogs at Psychology Today and The Huffington Post. On her website, Self-Compassion, Dr. Neff has a short quiz you can take to discover how self-compassionate you are. Her site also has simple exercises to increase self-compassion, suggested reading, and other helpful information.
My overall score on Dr. Neff’s quiz is 4.45. I can tell you, however, if I had taken the quiz five years ago the results would have been much different. I’m infinitely happier since I started practicing self-compassion, and learned how to cut myself a break.
Did you take the quiz? Did you gain any insight you’d like to share?
Each year, the Environmental Working Group analyzes pesticide residue testing data from the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with rankings for popular fresh produce items. The “dirty dozen” are the 12 items on the list that contain the most pesticides. EWG advises that if you can’t afford to buy organic all the time, at least make these items organic, or avoid them altogether. Listed below are EWG’s “dirty dozen” for 2011.
- Nectarines – imported
- Grapes – imported
- Sweet bell peppers
- Blueberries – domestic
- Kale/collard greens
Do you think concerns about pesticides are overblown or do you think more people should make an effort to buy local/organic produce?