As a psychologist, I often find myself noticing how the behavior of one person can affect the behavior of another. For example, over the past few weeks while driving to work in the morning, I have noticed that if I leave a space open at an intersection, the car in the lane next to me often will do the same. I tested my theory by sometimes blocking the intersection and sometimes leaving an opening and, without fail, the other driver followed suit. This isn’t ground-breaking science, but it got me thinking about how important is can be for each us to model prosocial behavior. I’m not talking about pay-it-forward, random acts of kindness gestures (though those certainly are nice, too) but rather modeling an awareness that there are other people around us to consider. Huffington Post recently published an article about the habits of considerate people which supposedly include, among other things, anticipating the needs of other people, having good manners, and being empathetic. These are not behaviors that necessarily take a lot of time or other resources; these are things we can be mindful of in daily activities. Perhaps letting someone in in traffic won’t solve all the world’s problems, but it does signal respect and may decrease another person’s frustration by a margin. What could be bad about that?
Apparently Americans are just not that into vacation days. This probably comes as no surprise to many people who have looked forward to a vacation only to be bombarded by work e-mails upon arrival (and/or during their time off). Many of us struggle to take a lunch break, let alone an actual vacation. A hardy work ethic is part of the American tradition, right? But have we gone overboard? In the nation of supersizing everything, why have we minimized self-care, and what does it cost us? The chronic stress of overworking can be associated with burnout, heart disease, and decreased productivity. It’s not a great long-term strategy for professional and personal fulfillment. Compare this with other cultures, in which the norm is to take a break for a healthy lunch and a glass of wine, go for a walk, perhaps have an afternoon nap, go on holiday for a few weeks, regularly engage in meaningful social activities- in short, do things that do not revolve around work, and they actually live longer and healthier lives. That sounds heavenly to me. So how do we carve out time for lunches and vacations in a demanding work environment that values results over personal wellness? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that, at least not today. Likely it will take a major cultural shift. But perhaps we can start that shift by communicating to others through our actions the importance of self-care. Block some time in your schedule for lunch and step away from your desk to enjoy it. Make an appointment with yourself for exercise or socializing. Go away for a weekend, maybe even a long weekend if you’re feeling adventurous! Clearly there is more to the formula for longevity than this, involving a lifestyle change. But as one of my favorite sayings goes, you can only start from where you are, not from where you want to be.
Have you made these changes in your life? What did you notice? What have you found that works?
Since Memorial Day Weekend starts off the summer season, I thought I’d make a beach vacation favorite- crab cakes! I found a great recipe for Crab Cakes with Spicy Mayo on Pinterest. (You had me at spicy.) I swapped plain, nonfat Greek yogurt for mayo in salads and dressings a few years ago, mostly for the taste (I like the tanginess of Greek yogurt) and did the same for this recipe. I also added some Dijon mustard to the mixture for a little extra something. Here’s where I really went rogue: I put the spicy mayo in the crab cakes. Mixed it right in with the crab meat and half the Panko crumbs. It was a good decision. Lightly crispy outside, creamy melt-in-your-mouth goodness inside. When I make these again, I’ll probably make a little extra mayo so I can put some on top, too. I’ll be having the leftover crab cakes tomorrow morning for Crab Cakes Benedict.
Photo courtesy of foudefoodmtl.com, as that guy really knows what he’s doing
I’ve given up on good food photography of my own. My dish looked exactly the same, just without the mayo on top.
I’m baaack. And I brought brunch! We’ve had an exceptionally nice Spring, which has motivated me to take my fitness outside (who can stand to spin in a dark, sweaty room when there’s fresh air and sunshine in which to play?!) and has inspired me to cook with fresh ingredients. I love spending Saturday mornings at the farmers’ market, scooping up fresh produce and other goodies. With this weekend’s haul, I made a tasty Sunday brunch: roasted beet and goat cheese salad, sweet potato and kale hash with an egg over-easy, and fresh-baked rosemary bread (to dip in golden, runny egg yolks). Fresh strawberries provided the perfectly sweet complement to the savory fare. If you want to get a little fancy, try your strawberries with a balsamic reduction to really enhance their flavor (I happened to have used up all my balsamic vinegar last weekend on eggplant and tomato stacks- another fresh veggie treat).
This just may have been one of my favorite brunches. Almost as good as the crab cakes Benedict and Bloody Mary made with bacon-infused vodka at Mad Donna’s in Nashville. Build-your-own Bloody Mary bar? Yes, please! I might need to work on that for my next brunch…
Life in the South, courtesy of Huffington Post. Seems like a good place for a health psychologist to work…