If so, how do you use it? As the ultimate time suck, spending whole evenings pinning first birthday party décor schemes (even though you don’t have children) and searching for inspirational quotes (because that’s easier than actually getting on with the task you’re dreading)?
Or in a professional capacity, driving traffic to your blog and sales to your funnel?
As you may be able to guess, I don’t use Pinterest for the latter. But some folks, such as Sarah Von Bargen of the Yes and Yes blog, do so with huge success.
I don’t use Pinterest for the former either. Well, not much. I did once end up down a rabbit hole about Turkey Cake (even though I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving).
However, I do use Pinterest a lot – pretty much daily, in fact.
I use it as a pin-board.
It’s hardly revolutionary, I know. The name of the platform suggests that’s what it’s there for.
However I don’t pin a huge amount of content from within Pinterest. The majority of what I add to my boards comes from other websites. In the same way that back in the day, you might have torn an article out of a magazine and literally tacked it to a cork-board, I electronically stick all of the stuff I read and find interesting into Pinterest.
I’m telling you this because It. Has. Changed. My. Life.
No more searching through my browser history trying to find the article I mention to a friend and they are really interested in (I’m sure it was the New York Times. Hmm, may be it was the New Yorker…).
No more unwieldly Internet browser bookmark folders with lists so long that I can’t find anything and filing systems that I forget I’ve introduced.
No more giving up and accepting that the amazing content I find online is then destined to disappear into the ether, never to be seen again.
Maybe you also don’t drink – or are thinking about not drinking
Maybe you also take an interest in mental health advice and experiences
If your work in anyway involves online material, I honestly can’t recommend starting some dedicated Pinterest boards enough.
They’re also a great way to curate content linked to random interests, hobbies or fandom that you have.
For example, I’ve long been obsessed with names and naming practices. As a tween and teen, I’d check baby name dictionaries out of the library and read them cover-to-cover. Now I have a special Pinterest board so rather than just being some random part of my brain, I have a little Names collection going on!
Looking back at December last year, I clearly was going through some kind of jedi like phase of great wisdom because there are several blog posts from then that I’ve felt moved to share again this year.
(An alternative reading is that I’ve not been able to dedicate the same time and thought to the blog this year because I’ve been busy writing commissions).
This particular posts spoke to me today as I’m definitely feeling the pressure of the Christmas shoulds. I should have done so many things for Christmas, from make a cake to put up decorations to craft my own wreath from pom-poms (okay, so the latter is somethin
g that I really *want* to do).
I haven’t done these things and more and while deep down I know this isn’t a problem,
I’m still getting stressed about it.
So here’s a reminder as much for myself as anyone else that use of the word ‘should’ is not a good sign. If you enjoy the post or find it useful, please do let me know! You can share it on social media using the buttons below too.
When this post is published, I shall be holed up with my partner is a cottage on the beach on the south coast.
Back in August, we decided to have a getaway from Christmas Day until New Year’s Eve. We found the right accommodation on the same day and booked up immediately.
It’s only as Christmas has drawn closer that I’ve begun to question our decision. I’ve never regretted our choice – on the contrary, I think it’s a brilliant idea, all the fun of the festive build up but none of the hassle and anti-climax – but it has raised big questions about my sense of obligation.
Should a good daughter not see her parents on at least one of these days?
Should a good auntie miss Christmas with the fast growing children?
Should a good daughter-in-law whisk her partner away from his family at this time of year?
Should I be allowed to do what I want rather than what others expect of me?
The cunning among you may have spotted that all these questions are united by that most dreaded of compulsions, ‘should’.
As any pop-psychology book will tell you, use of the word should (and its close cousin, ought) is a sure sign that you don’t actually want to do something but feel somehow compelled to by pressure, be it societal, familial or even internal.
Christmas is a classic time when should based decisions come to the fore.
You may want to stop at home with your young children but feel obliged to drag them round all the grandparents instead.
You may want to cut down on your spending but feel it would cause uproar if you stopped buying gifts for all the extended family.
You may want to opt out of Secret Santa at work but fear you’ll look like killjoy if you do.
I could list fifty more examples off the top of my head.
Alas the Christmas shoulds are compounded by the New Year ones.
It is a rare person who hasn’t at some point in their lives made a resolution at the end of December based on something they feel they should do.
The perennial favourite is weight; many of us know that feeling that we should lose a stone – or three.
My personal bete noir has been growing my nails. I’ve felt obliged to quit picking my nails since at least age six. Every year I’d vow that was it with my disgusting habit. For the start of 1999, I even vowed that I would ‘Grow my nails like Jenni’s’, Jenni being a friend at college whose hands I greatly admired.
It took me sixteen years, yes sixteen years, to fully acknowledge how ridiculous that particular variant of the resolution was. My own sheer willpower is not enough to overcome genetics.
My own vision of ‘how things should be’ will not override the reality of how my nails look.
I finally realised this and accepted the truth of my hands when using the bathroom on a research trip to UC Davis in July 2015.
It was a very precise moment, like a thunderbolt. This is how my hands are, I thought, and how much more mental energy do I want to expend fighting that? Not a lot, it turns out, and I’ve had a more harmonious relationship with the bits on the ends of my arms since.
If only it were so easy with every other ‘should’ that crosses my mind!
That said, there is one useful lesson I have learnt from overcoming my belief that I should grow my nails like Jenni’s:
Naming the sense of obligation can help to dispel it.
Externalising it, rather than keeping it in our heads and our hearts like a dirty secret that we are betraying, can seriously undermine its power.
I don’t just believe that this applies to me; I feel that anyone could benefit from talking about their most controlling sense of should with another person or even journalling about it.
Therefore ahead of this New Year’s Eve, I encourage you to make a list of the 12 Great Shoulds in your life – one for each month of the year.
What dozen shoulds or oughts make you feel obliged and trapped?
As my example of ‘growing my nails like Jenni’s’ suggests, the more ludicrous the better!
Here are the 12 Great Shoulds that continue to taunt me:
I should be 7.5 stone because that’s the weight I was at some point in 1997 (aged 15)
I should always have a tidy basket of spare towels, perfectly folded and stacked
My car footwells should always look like they’ve just been vacuumed
I should never ever miss the birthday of a friend or family member because this makes me an evil and uncaring person (this has been an especially tough one in 2016 as my mental health struggles have made remembering birthdays and getting to send cards difficult)
I should maintain every aspect of my house to an exacting standard of cleanliness and taste. Every. Single. Thing.
I should be better at yoga than I am. In fact, I should be considering yogi training.
I should always have a completely full tank of petrol. Even when I’ve just returned from a long journey, I ought to have filled to the very top again en route.
I should never ever need to use an ATM but ought to have a reasonable quantity of cash upon my at all times.
I should always have six months of savings put to one side
I should not display any pictures of myself or of me and my partner together anywhere in our home
I should pack away all the garden furniture and plant tubs at the onset of autumn and not leave them out over winter (can you tell that’s a current nagging guilt?)
I should not experience or display any sign of human nature but rather maintain an aura of complete perfection at all times and on every occasion. To reveal even the slightest weakness or flaw amounts to total failure.
I was commissioned to write a piece for it but unfortunately was unable to due to struggling with my own mental health issues throughout last week.
I’m not sure if this is actually ironic or Alanis Morisette kind of ironic.
Despite being thwarted in producing a new contribution to this important awareness day, I wanted to proffer something. As all writers know, a round up is always a useful fallback when there’s no time or inspiration for anything else. That is what I’ve turned to: my previous work about mental health collected together with helpful clickable links.
A year ago, maybe even six months, I’d have felt like a failure for doing this so my willingness to accept that this is where I am perhaps to speak to some kind of improvement. I hope so.
Life’s pretty tough going at the minute, isn’t it?
The only way I can describe Sunday is as emotionally intense, topped and tailed by news from London Bridge and the One Love Manchester concert. This was at the end of an already tough week. Trump, well, being Trump. If I gave an example it would probably be surpassed by another one between drafting and publishing. The awful bombing in Kabul; you know things must be really bad when the Afghans say it’s the worst attack they’ve seen. Plus in the UK we’re enduring the scaremongering, lies and bad mouthing that come with a parliamentary election campaign. I’d say roll on polling day but that will just mark the beginning of the next phase of anxiety-inducing awfulness.
Most of us find it tough to not let macro events influence the micro ones of our lives. Mental health issues aside, world news is definitely making me more edgy and irritable. I only have a certain amount of resilience and right now it’s stretched pretty thinly.
Scheduling a smear test for this afternoon was probably not the greatest idea I’ve ever had given these circumstances.
Yet there is relief to be found. As I write I’m burning a gorgeous Pink Grapefruit scented candle from Join and staring at the newly blossomed roses outside the window between sentences. I’ve also just eaten a lovely mini bar of Green & Black’s Sea Salt milk chocolate (#sorrynotsorry, Mark, for eating your birthday goodies while you’re at work).
Small actions though these may be, they help to encourage positive emotions. Anecdotally we may feel that tiny gestures can give us a boost but psychological research proves this too. This week in my Dialetical Behavioural Therapy group, we explored reducing vulnerability to overwhelming emotions by building a life worth living. A crucial step in this process is to ‘accumulate positive emotions’.* In the short term, this involves doing pleasant things right now.
I have a handout telling me to ‘BUILD POSITIVE EXPERIENCES NOW. INCREASE PLEASANT EVENTS that lead to positive emotions.’
In practice, this means keeping a Pleasant Events Diary ahead of next Monday’s session. I even have a Pleasant Events List with 225 suggestions to try should I struggle to come up with ideas.
Some of the suggestions are pretty funny. I’m not sure I’ll get chance during the next seven days to attend a school reunion (#60), go hunting (#71), go sledding in a snowfall (#186) or ride a dune buggy (#217). However I can eat (#29), go to a party (#43), go to the beauty parlour (#91), think about sex (#100 – just think. Sexual activity itself doesn’t make the list) and get a haircut (#187).
How about you?
Would you like to join me in keeping a pleasant event diary this week? Science says it’ll help you manage difficult emotions.
Simply pick a pleasant activity to do each day, however small, and observe how it makes you feel. I’ll be recording mine on social media.
I’d love to know how you get on with this. Does it support you in managing the crazy world we’re living in? You can comment below or on social media, tag me or respond to my posts. Plus if you enjoyed reading this, please do tell others about it – it really helps! Sharing buttons are also below.
Thank you for reading, and have a pleasant week in spite of it all.
* All quotations and images taken from handouts from DBT Skills Training and Worksheets, Second Edition, by Marsha M. Linehan (2015).
Hello all! An especially warm welcome to the new readers who’ve come over from Midlands Minimalist. Good to have you here!
How’s your long weekend going? Been up to much? It seems that pretty much everyone I know is having a quiet one; aside from a few friends who’ve gone on holiday, there’s lots of talk of gardens and family meals and switching off alarm clocks.
This has certainly been the rhythm of my weekend so far. It’s now 4pm on Sunday afternoon and I’ve been mainly occupied with eating and sleeping. In that order.
I’ve also been doing some gentle reading. While flicking through the pages of a couple of magazines, I’ve been thrilled to spot some good recommendations for the conscious consumer. There’s definitely a movement towards greater mindfulness around what we buy – something that we’ve seen for a few years in food but is spreading into other areas too.
If the recent good weather has got you searching for some new outdoor furniture, I spied some FSC certified eucalyptus deckchair frames in the John Lewis Edition summer issue. They are £34 each and you can select a fabric sling for an additional £9.
Initially I was drawn to the gorgeous old school style: ethics don’t have to mean compromising aesthetics.
Also beautifully designed is the bamboo lunch pot (£16) that appears a few pages later. Made by food brand Leon, the bamboo is biodegradable, sustainable and naturally anti-microbial.
The red box would look fab at any picnic or, more likely, perk up lunch at your desk when it starts raining again!
There are many other amazing ethical, eco and sustainable brands that you can buy from listed in my blog post last week, where I offer a round up of the companies that I met at a recent trade exhibition.
While the sun shone down gloriously on London this Tuesday, I spent the day in the giant greenhouse that is Kensington Olympia. I was there for a trade show featuring lots (and I mean *lots*) of companies looking for new retail outlets; imagine the Clothes Show or the Ideal Home exhibition without being able to buy any of the goods. This is probably a good thing as I wanted so much, from sea shell earrings to several different kinds of bag to some oversize pink earrings!
Window shopping opportunities aside, I was there on a specific mission.
In my fashion and beauty writing, I’m committed to featuring eco, ethical and sustainable firms as much as I possibly can. In particular, I want to highlight the many innovative and stylish small brands working in this area – brands that don’t have huge publicity budgets but deserve exposure.
At Olympia, I was looking for companies doing good work in terms of conscious consumption so that I could share them with you.
Boy did I find some! Below I’ve detailed my highlights in five categories (beauty, candles, fashion, jewellery and other). I hope that you like their look, and their ethos, as much as I did. Visit their websites, follow them on social media (check out my following lists on Twitter and Instagram if you like) and next time you’re making a purchase, consider buying from one of them.
‘The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step’ Lao Tzu
Do you have any brands that you like to recommend? Tell me about them! You can comment below. Plus if you enjoyed reading this post, please do tell others about it on social media – it really helps! Sharing buttons are also below.
Natural, organic handcrafted and vegan friendly, never animal tested, ethically sourced and eco-friendly handmade products in recyclable packaging. Also free from SLS, parabens, synthetic fragrance, petroleum and mineral oils [That’s quite a list!].
Small batches of handcrafted botanical skincare and essential oils candles made using completely natural and organic ingredients [These aren’t a new discovery – I love their soap, as I mentioned last week – but they definitely warrant a mention].
Each product is created by handicraft charity units or World Fair Trade Organization producer groups in Nepal, giving local people an income in line with fair trade principles along with a continually developing commitment to minimising environmental impact as much as possible.
Focused on fair trading and supporting Columbian artisans, particularly women with no other employment options, while also using suppliers certified by the Administrative Department of the Environment in Columbia.
Just Trade collaborates directly with eight groups of artisans in Peru, Ecuador and India to create handmade jewellery that is fairly traded and crafted from locally-sourced and ethical materials where possible.
The Revival Collection of home accessories is made using off-cuts from the fast fashion t-shirt industry that are saved, sorted, shredded, woven and then reused by Indian families working in good conditions.
Seedballs are designed to encourage bees and butterflies by making it easier for everyone to grow either wildflowers or herbs or salad. They’ve been designed specifically for a north eastern European climate and each one containing of these British made balls contains a mini ecosystem of seeds, clay, peat-free compost and a little chilli powder to deter predators! This is a new concept in the UK but seed balls have been used in ecological restoration projects around the world.
8th to 14th May 2017 is Mental Health Awareness Week, focusing on the theme ‘surviving or thriving?’ Throughout this time, I’ll be collecting links to related material on a dedicated Pinterest board. Please feel free to send me suggestions of items to add, to read what’s posted there and to share the board with others. It’ll by no means be comprehensive (the hashtag #MHAW17 is already trending on Twitter and it’s only Monday afternoon!) but I hope it provides something in the way of a round up.
If you’re interested in what I’ve contributed to this week of awareness, you can read my latest articles for Mental Health Today and Huff Post UK. Again please read and share – it honestly helps every time a link is tweeted, pinned, mentioned in a status update or otherwise given a shout out!