Achieving A Balance With Technology Use

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Hi everyone,

Our society is thriving through technology, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Everything is great in doses. Honestly, it becomes an issue when you can’t sit through a movie without checking your phone or constantly scrolling through news feeds.

I am 22 years old, and I am admitting that there is a balance that needs to exist with social media and online content. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love sharing my creativity via the internet, whether it is on this blog or on my Instagram.

I also love using my computer. I’m not as much into television, so that’s never been an issue for me. Fun fact: I went two out of the four years of college without a television in my living space. Part of the reason is I can’t stand commercials or surfing channels. My days were also planned by the hour so I didn’t stay awake long enough to log into Netflix. Sue me.

I’ve put together some tips to not remain completely engrossed in technology 24/7:

  • Don’t be a checker. If you post something, don’t remain on that platform awaiting the responses, likes, follows etc. A couple hours later, after you’ve done other activities, going back and seeing what you’ve missed is totally fine.
  • Being on your phone constantly when someone is trying to have a conversation with you is the reason why our generation gets complaints regarding attention spans.  Put your phone down when someone asks you a question.
  • Live your life, don’t spend all of your energy trying to prove that you’re living it. It’s great that you want to share pieces of your life with others, but obtain boundaries from the rest of the world and have undocumented moments.
  • Plan more activities that don’t require technology use. If you’re hiking up a steep mountain, I doubt you need to be on the Facebook home page. To avoid injury and missing local wildlife, put your phone in your bag and wait to take the predictable photo at the top of the climb. I’m sure whoever is in your ‘recents’ will understand.
  • Don’t completely transfer over to technology from seemingly outdated methods. In other words, take a page out of a writer’s book. Writers still use notebooks to jot down ideas. There is a reason why handwriting feels so strange these days, because even standardized testing is done through computers now. I personally keep a sketchbook and a journal to maintain my own handwriting, and sometimes it’s nice to switch out the keyboard with how the pen feels on paper.
  • Don’t sleep with your phone and/or your laptop. I know it can be difficult, but a bright screen in front of your face late at night actually slows melatonin release, making you stay up longer. The National sleep Foundation reported that 90% of Americans in their study used some form of technology before they sleep. Technology therefore has been directly linked to negative sleep patterns.

If you try to improve even one of these points made above, you’re doing yourself a service. Technology has become a comfort zone. It’s a little worrisome if people lose ideas of what to talk about without including technology, or completely ditch the idea of a phone call over texting.

This all comes down to priorities, and intentions behind our use of social media and technology. I only use Facebook to keep in contact with international friends, and occasionally upload content. I’m not a supporter of mentioning my location to the public at every opportunity. Besides, zero mystery makes for a very boring plot line.

It is also very clear from news headlines that technology is a constant distraction to safety.

I need to get this off my chest: I do not, nor will I ever play Pokemon Go. People are playing this game in public and searching for invisible creatures to “catch”? I can’t bring myself to fact check this information, because, regardless of the game rules, people are now trying to play it while operating vehicles.

The Guardian has recently released an article regarding the hundreds of fines towards drivers for playing this game instead of focusing on the road. Seriously? We have to improve our generation’s image, and I’m sorry to say, people running around catching air has definitely featured on my snapchat stories. With colorful details.

Sharing content and networking with people that inspire you is a great thing, and is made easier with all of the current online platforms to choose from.

A really helpful practice for me is to focus on just two or so platforms for my content, to avoid micromanaging so many accounts. I don’t need to be present on 10 online platforms, for I feel this would breach creativity and begin a case of technology addiction.

When your phone dies, everything will be okay. When you plug it back in and you actually didn’t get any new notifications since the 4 minutes have passed, maybe this is an important realization to make: you are allowed to go off the grid.

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

Minimalist Ideas for a Decluttered Mind

Hi everyone,

Today, I want to explain the amazing benefits of being a minimalist. I think it may be becoming a lost art. I personally plan to make steps towards becoming a better one, however, it is not a competition of who can have less for more. Everyone does this at their own pace.

You know when you’re going through a closet full of items and wonder why you still move them from house to house? That may be what the inside of your head looks like.

If you had 30 seconds to grab everything you find most important in your living space, what would these things be? If you have a pet, I would hope they would be your first priority. Apart from animals, which things do you have the most love for? A charm necklace with a memory of every trip you’ve been on? A piece of art? Whatever the keepsakes are, they hold parts of you. Those possessions do matter.

Being minimal does not mean you can’t have nice things. It refers to selectivity of what you accumulate. There is minimalistic art or music, architecture or fashion. You may find that when you condense what you have in terms of possessions, you will breathe easier.

Clutter accumulates over time and we often make excuses as to why we have it all. The best question to ask yourself is “do I need this?” If there is hesitation, the answer is most likely no.

By no means should someone give up a routine or tradition that makes them feel centered, or one that brings them consistent happiness. If you get your hair done at the same place with the same person and it’s something you always look forward to, despite the cost, it might not be wise to eliminate. If you love to see bands live in concert and go to multiple concerts and festivals annually, and you practically mark your calendar for them, don’t eliminate them. These would quality as exceptions.

Spending is difficult to control for many people. I would say I would have more trouble with the clutter as opposed to spending, because I’m more of a saver and pack rat as opposed to a spontaneous spender. Some ways to reduce spending and begin to immerse into the minimalist lifestyle:

Spending:

  1. Always ask yourself if you need it. If you don’t, practice telling yourself the money is better spent elsewhere.
  2. Start to separate “errands” and “shopping”
  3. Try to avoid buying a different version or brand of something you already have.
  4. Go for quality over quantity. For instance, wardrobe. Some people have a lot of clothes of lesser quality to choose from, and some have a more limited wardrobe of higher quality that required more investment. Quality clothing lasts longer and maintains shape, and a more limited wardrobe would mean less “stuff.”
  5. Set aside money for something in the future. Whether this is plane tickets to a summer in Europe or Coachella tickets (yes, they are very expensive), saving for something specific will give you the motivation to limit spending and give yourself practice as a saver.

If you focus on your spending and question all of your purchases, you are already making strides towards a more minimalistic lifestyle.

The next thing to tackle is clutter.

I still have all of my yearbooks, birthday cards dated back to 2004, and Harry Potter Premiere tickets from my hometown’s cinema. The Goblet of Fire ticket was honestly a work of art. So, to be frank, I have to de-clutter. I have moved from the Seattle area to Portland, then to San Francisco, and back to Seattle. Moving is tiring and makes me want to become someone who can live off of two duffels. Unfortunately, this isn’t as realistic.

The more realistic option is to eliminate junk. My list of ideas:

  1. Get rid of any duplicates. You don’t need two toasters unless you have the habit of destroying kitchen appliances.
  2. Have a clutter-free zone in your apartment or house that you can always rely on. When I live with my family, I always have a desk area that I keep perfectly tidy and de-cluttered. I use this space to write these posts!
  3. Practice traveling lightly. You don’t need three lotions with different scents for different moods. A particular skill I have yet to master is putting together more outfits than just stuffing options in until the bag explodes.
  4. In general, making a list of reasons why you simplify your lifestyle could prove as solid motivation to actually make it happen.
  5. Start small. If you’re not ready to start with your closet, you can start with a drawer or a small space. It’s more about making the effort to start and the task itself, rather than what you decide to start with.

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Minimalism is countercultural. In a society that feeds into advertisements and consistent marketing strategies, people often pride themselves in what possessions they obtain. Let’s go back to the idea that a de-cluttered surrounding makes a de-cluttered mind. Clutter induces distractions and often stress. Having so many possessions that you somewhat like as opposed to having less but just things you love, it could be clear which one is more appealing. Will you make the distinction?

I’m not saying that everyone is the Gollum character from Lord of the Rings, desperately holding onto our flat screen televisions and various end tables, but we could all do better for ourselves.

Placing a higher value on what we have in terms of possessions brings more internal satisfaction. Think of it in reference to your life or your career. You want a quality life with a job you value and are passionate about. Why not hold everything to a higher standard, down to the miscellaneous cabinet?

As Nido Qubein once said : “change brings opportunity.”

Thanks for reading and happy organizing! xx

-Kelly

 

Reasoning to Ditch the Weight Scale

Hi everyone,

I’ve been very into posting about mental health topics and self-esteem lately due to the volume of literature I’ve been consumed in! I do believe that a healthy state of mind brings better  productivity and overall happiness.

Self-esteem is often connected to weight. Weight is often measured through the scale. Today I am going to share why I never look at the scale to determine my progress to meet my body goals.

Every year we go to the doctor’s office for a check-up (or maybe more often), and they often weigh patients. This makes sense completely, and this is the only time I step on the scale throughout the entire year. Why? Because it’s known to be an obsessive tool to measure your contentment with your body.

When I used to step on the scale in the gym or following my sister and mother I would always be surprised with my weight. I always fluctuated, and I often weighed more than I thought I would. I am an athlete, and muscle weighs heavier, but in a world of scrutinizing behavior and tragic self-loathing in terms of weight loss, even I had brief negative thoughts.

Muscle composition is healthy, and height also plays a major role in weight. I stand tall at about 5 foot eleven inches. Coupled with muscle from weight training, I have technically gained weight. Despite the number that reads off the piece of metal, I love my body more than ever. If that sounds off, you need to step off the scale and stop using it to determine your body image happiness.

I go off the mirror and how I look and feel to determine my happiness with my fitness results. After four years of being monitored with weight training and occasional nutrition plans I never felt completely satisfied throughout my college career. Now that I have complete control, I just use visuals.

Using the number on a scale is basically comparing yourself to others. I’m an athletic girl who is fit skinny, not fashion skinny or rail thin. I do freelance modeling in clothes that I feel comfortable in. I follow my own style and I practice a well-balanced fitness routine to cater to my whole body and mind.

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The scale is a negative thought that rests in your mind. You may never reach the goal you want from a number because your body proportions don’t match. You will soon focus on the number and possibly alter your lifestyle and diet, and become more and more unhappy. If you do reach the number, you may continue lowering it as your negative obsession spirals out of control.

Don’t let a machine run your life. A scale is an object. There are countless times I have been in a  locker room where there is a line to step on the scale, and I can practically feel the sense of hope and anxiety of people in that line as they await their number.

When is the last time you felt great about your body? Was it on a run outside, or a particular outfit you put on and loved? These small details and activities matter, and matter more than a number.

If you want the facts about scales:

  • They will be slightly different in reads, making the number inconsistent
  • They are very sensitive to clothes, accessories, shoes, etc
  • It matters what type of surface they stand on
  • They don’t give you any distinction of fat versus muscle composition

Does the above sound appealing?

Labeling yourself to a narrow vision of beauty by using a scale is just selling yourself short. You will not be the same as the person behind you with different proportions and varying genetic gifts from mom and dad.

I see body image and weight management this way: I workout and find ways to enhance my natural features as opposed to losing overall weight. Work with what you have and you might be pleasantly surprised with the result. Focus on what is positive and what you do like about your body, not what you wish you would change if you could.

Focus on how you feel and what your body visually looks like instead of trying to achieve a label or number. Using the scale to achieve the “perfect body” is so opinion based. What is even the perfect body? This is simply a comparison you would be happier without.

Consistent obsessions with weight scales has caused:

  • Development of eating disorders
  • Depression
  • Poor body image issues
  • Obsession of diet and calorie counting
  • Blindness to real results due to the number

There are ways to boost your self-image while going through your progress to the body you want. Wear a wardrobe that you feel confident in, eat to fuel your body and do not limit your food intake to reach an unhealthy goal. Eat regularly, and if you need to make changes in your current diet start with one or two foods to gradually eliminate and go from there. It’s all progression, not an immediate result.

Weight does not determine beauty.

The scale does not aid you in a healthy lifestyle. It should not run your life, nor should it bring you your primary validation to achieve your personal goals. If it helps more, have tunnel vision at the gym and focus on you, don’t focus on others around you that are at different stages and obtain varying physique.

I hope this message found you all well, and you will put yourself first before a self-deprecating path of weight measurement. Embrace what you have to offer, and love your body. Thanks for reading! ❤

-Kelly

 

 

Pet Ownership for Health

Hi everyone,

For all of the animal lovers, your pet addictions may be really benefitting your long-term health! Regardless of this association, pets are too cute to pass up anyway.

The feature image above is my cat Mowgli. He’s a very independent animal but has so much character. I adopted him when he was under a year old and he was found in an abandoned barn with his sister and mother. In other words, he was feral. It took quite a bit of effort to acclimate him to living with people and having him trust me. ❤

I recently read the newest addition of Shape Magazine and was so surprised that pet ownership saves 11.8 billion dollars in healthcare spending in the U.S. For example, people who own dogs and walk them on a regular basis are less likely to be obese than those who dot not own pets.

If you don’t own pets and have solid reasoning for not taking the plunge, such as finances or travel habits, you can always borrow a friend’s or volunteer!

Overall, there are proven physical, mental, and emotional benefits of owning pets. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) exclaims that owning a pet can lower your:

  • Blood pressure
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Triglyceride levels
  • Feelings of loneliness

In addition, pet ownership increases your outdoor activities and exercise in order to care of your pet. Personally, I often bring my sister’s dog on runs with me and he actually pushes me to run in larger strides!

Owning a pet also increases your socialization, thus improving your social skills overall. Have you ever noticed your dog being a consistent conversation piece, or another person’s big Siberian husky or little corgi being adored at the park? People are often calmed by the presence of animals, and even put in a happier mood.

The American Heart Association has stated a linkage between owning pets and a reduced rate of heart disease as well as an improvement of life expectancy.

Caring for pets has been known to also reduce depression, due to the emotional bond of humans and pets. Cats and dogs, for instance, can develop an understanding of tone of voice, body language, and gestures, as well as certain words. Humans gain a sense of loyalty and comfort to have this presence in their routines. The simple act of touch that your pet brings is the overall therapeutic effect that makes pet ownership a lifestyle health solution.

Playing with a dog or cat can increase levels of dopamine and serotonin, which cause you to relax. It has been a recent discovery that bringing puppies to college campuses during exam week drastically changes the study behaviors and emotional state of students, giving them a mental release from studying.

It is known that isolation and loneliness trigger depression, and a pet brings companionship to counteract that. Caring for an animal makes you feel needed or wanted, which takes the focus off of your own problems and placing more priority onto your pet.

Exercising and feeding a pet can bring great structure and routine to a day. Routines make people more productive and motivated to get out into the world and be able to manage their time effectively. Taking care of an animal is a responsibility that engages you into a consistent schedule, to fulfill the pet’s needs and your own.

It is also important to recognize the health benefits and positive development of pet ownership for age groups specifically. When examining the elderly population and children, these benefits become very evident.

The elderly population:

As people age, owning a pet can be very helpful in finding meaning and joy in everyday things. As people get older they adjust to new lifestyles, often taking out previous activities that used to take up significant amounts of time. Animal care can bring a boost in morale, optimism, and even a sense of self-worth to the elderly. There is also a major sense of fulfillment that older people gain from adopting a pet from a shelter and providing them with a safe and loving home, given they could have been euthanized.

Owning a pet can maintain a social network, and the elderly population often feels disconnected as they age and possibly move and live away from friends and family.

The elderly also deal with loss, especially from spouses. My grandmother adopted a dog after her husband passed away and it brought her so much comfort and joy to have him every day. She was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s which brought on a lot of stress and anxiety, and this was significantly reduced from her bond with her dog.

Children:

Children that grow up with animals actually develop less asthma and allergies due to the close proximity. Children also learn to be compassionate as they play with animals, and practicing what it means to show empathy.

The love and loyalty of animals gives children a sense of security they can rely on in their early years of development. In addition, children often feel a sense of importance from having a family pet, and feel the responsibility of returning the care their pet gives them. This leads to a better self-image, which is crucial for a child to grow up developing healthy relationships with more confidence.

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Despite all of this information, of course there is time and dedication that goes into having a pet. One should be sure they can provide the love and affection a pet needs prior to making the decision, however, the decision will definitely bring a lot of positivity to one’s life with the right attitude.

I hope this pet-friendly article was insightful as to why your pet is benefitting your life! Have a great week and thanks for reading. xx

-Kelly

 

 

 

Mental Health and Creative Expression

Hi everyone,

I wanted to emphasize today the benefit of expression, in whichever form of expression you favor. Everyone has heard the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” There is another piece of this to note: there can be a lot of power behind ways we communicate or present ourselves simply through our creative outlets.

Another way I think to describe this is abstract art. One can go to an art gallery and be staring at a piece without a title. There is no concept to ponder when staring at the art piece to find out what it means, what it stands for. There are no words to assist the viewer in telling what the artist was thinking when they created the piece. This situation leaves room for creative expression, and things in life that are abstract can be a real gift in the sense that they challenge a person to go deeper. Additionally, that artist wanted to tell a story or share a visual without the addition of words; they wanted to express themselves completely without words.

What is your creative outlet? When you’re finishing a pile of paperwork or cramming for an exam, what would you rather be doing? If you had that free time to clear your mind, how would you accomplish this?

Here are some ways people often experience creative expression:

  • Photography
  • Graphic arts (drawing, painting, sculpture)
  • Music
  • Movement/Dance
  • Writing (novels, poetry, short stories, blog posts)
  • Sports
  • Theatre

Everyone has their favorites; the mode that takes them into a zone that narrows their vision of focus to optimal levels of expression. This is a beautiful thing.

The actual benefits of creative expression?

  1. Happiness. I put this first because we all strive to be happy, however, the task is often much easier to daydream about rather than act on. Expressing ourselves makes us more genuinely happy with ourselves and with our lives. Expression can also increase our personality and behavioral development.
  2. A form of release. Expression allows us to release stress and anxiety, and even take us out of reality and into a more positive mindset and vision. In other words, we take our foot off the gas pedal. Even a couple minutes will slow us down and bring us a sense of calm.
  3. Your chosen forms of expression can be contagious. Those around you may find themselves inspired or heavily influenced by your expression. Whether it is your artwork that is being viewed in the gallery or your photo that pops up on the explore feed, you can make another person want to discover their own creativity.
  4. Connecting with others. Through your creativity you can connect with others on a more personal level, beyond common dialogue. People that share interests in creative expression can learn from one another or even enjoy doing it together.

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A study done in New Zealand revealed that expressive writing has ways of healing. Another prestigious journal, Advances of Psychiatric Treatment, stated that this form of writing can improve one’s mood, reduce depression, and lower blood pressure.

Literature is a language that authors have expressed themselves through their personal biographies, short stories, poetry, or even novels on topics of love and loss. Tragedy combined with literature can give the mind that sense of release, by channeling the events into ways to learn and reflect on them, and maybe even turn them into something beautiful.

The American Journal of Public Health presented a review in 2010 that targeted the association between art and health. More than 100 studies were done to explore this association; many patients studied included those with cancer or other chronic illnesses. The engagement with music was found to decrease anxiety in these patients, and improve a more positive emotional balance.

I love classical music in certain settings. I had much more anxiety in high school as opposed to college before exams, and I would actually play Frank Sinatra in the background to calm my nerves and get me to focus. The softness of the tune became a routine for me.

Cancer patients have been benefitted by visual arts, such as pottery and painting. These practices help them to focus on positive experiences and maintain their sense of social identity. Various studies have also shown that visual arts tend to lead to shorter stays in hospitals and less reliance on pain medication.

If you are surprised with the above content, do not feel at fault. Our society does not often advertise the benefits of art and expression for our mental health. I just urge you to experiment and see if anything (if not all) interests you, because it could mean long-term health and less emphasis on things like pills. In no way am I disregarding modern medicine, just don’t forget the natural medicine that is all around you.

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Reading in the park is one of my favorites (all photography on the blog is my own)

Creative expression I practice:

Poetry 

Photography

Drawing & Ceramics

Blogging

Yes, I do enjoy all four of those categories. I don’t limit myself to one, and they all bring me happiness. Blogging is the newest addition, one that I am so happy I started.

Poetry: 

Poetry is a condensed way of writing and can be so incredibly raw. You can be abstract or specific, playful or serious. Poetry is known as the language of love, but not always between people. You can write about the love you have for a place, a concept, or a feeling you have yet to feel but think about it in your most idealistic dreams.

I’ve written poetry about the hardest experiences in my life where I felt most betrayed and vulnerable, and I read these poems still to reflect. Sometimes I smile that I’ve grown so much since then, and sometimes they make me cry. And that’s okay. This is a healthy release.

Photography:

This is a somewhat new hobby and expression for me. I’m so excited to join millions of people that love to adjust the lenses of cameras and find the perfect (or imperfect) shot. It’s a whole new perspective, seeing things behind an object like that. I recently invested into a legitimate DSLR camera for myself; a very much desired graduation present.

I love looking at pictures of landscapes and art, and the little things.

Drawing and Ceramics:

Both visual arts, I love both of these forms of expression. Sketching can be done everywhere, you just need the notepad and pencil. Sketching takes a while to do, so it forces you to stay put and enjoy the present moment of your desired image. Ceramics is working with your hands; a very therapeutic activity. I’ve taken three years of it now and I would highly recommend it as a course. You can also do this type of work in studios if you are no longer in school. Starting from scratch up until the final product is an amazing process.

Blogging:

Blogging is the newest expression for me. I’ve always wanted to start a blog, however, in college I didn’t believe I could dedicate the time and energy in my schedule to plan thoughtful posts. The words are flowing out of me now, and I hope you enjoy them and find them insightful!

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Remember that those around you don’t necessarily need to see your forms of expression. The main point is that you are internally satisfied. It’s not about followers or likes in a world of increasing social media, it’s much more organic than that when examined at the source. You don’t need validation for your expression. Do it because you love it, and if others love it too, that’s just an added bonus.

Some of the most talented and original people I have met are so engrossed in their forms of expression. They have made them their everyday, their professions, their passions. Some have chosen to forgo college education all together because they trusted their expression to lead them a different route. Everyone is different, and all forms of expression should be valued.

I just got lost in this blog post and my coffee got cold. I hope you find your own way to get lost. Thanks for reading. xx

-Kelly ❤

 

 

 

 

Health Impacts of Undeserved Authority

Hi everyone,

Like it or not, it’s my comedy post for the week (I hope you actually like it). I’m gonna turn a somewhat unfortunate ongoing situation into an inside joke now made public.

Have you ever felt unimpressed with authority? I’m not talking about local law enforcement, I’m talking about those individuals in your everyday life that have some sort of ability to have authority over you, and you don’t really like it.

Whether you feel used, disrespected, or unappreciated, this is a welcome sign to how to cope and make the situation comical. People that have a management position that really shouldn’t often have their own insecurities and they tend to reveal them in their work. I had to deal with these people every day in my college career in athletics.

Corrupt management in any way can harm the mental health of a worker in an organization or a player in a program. It’s a hard situation  where it seems like there is no winning (ironic if you’re a college competitor).

I am absolutely not saying college athletics is something I regret; quite the opposite. But even though I was playing the sport I love, I still had to put up with the people that secured my feelings of being unimpressed by authority. I’m keeping this super anonymous, because it’s always good to have a little bit of imagination…

I worked so hard for four years, at two different universities for tennis. I loved the game, and this very poor authority kept creeping into my daily thoughts unless I found this comedic edge. I would say I successfully found it during junior year, where I would actually laugh to myself and it made me feel so much better.

Just because someone is above you on the job ladder or social agenda, or any system you’re a part of, does NOT mean they necessarily have earned that place. They also have not earned the right to practice poor management. They have not earned the right to interfere with your daily tasks, goals, or emotional mindset.

So much of everything is about politics, and everyone can’t stand politicians, right? Right.

Laugh at them. Maybe not outwardly laugh, because you might not want to deal with confrontation, but make these people small in your head. They are a stepping stone to your life, and when you’re gone, they will still be there trying to sweep away their failed attempts at ‘management’ and ‘leadership.’

People are not pawns, they are not pieces to maneuver or micromanage, and it’s wrong. So keep thinking it is, because you’re right. Don’t shrink into the habit of not having a voice. You might not speak up and never know you’re a bada**, or even a really good public speaker. Or both.

Not all authority have the right to obtain that authority. Plain and simple. Managers, leaders, coaches, etc. If you aren’t a leader, why is it on your name tag or LinkedIn profile? Because you shouldn’t be, and those you lead lose respect for you. That’s how it works.

You can still listen and cooperate without respect. 

I completely lost respect for these individuals in those four years, and I’m very fortunate to have tougher skin to be able to stand up for myself. You should too. Because people that push boundaries in authority do so because:

A) They shouldn’t be a leader

B) They don’t know what they’re doing

C) They can’t see anyone saying anything about it

I’m not saying to walk around the place like you’re the #1, but hold yourself up without using others as crutches to hold your ground. Be humble but strong in your opinions and values, and use your voice if something isn’t right.

I was on a scholarship, paid to do a job, which was my athletic commitment to the university. I loved being a contributor and an athlete. I didn’t love the politics associated with it. I didn’t love when people of authority didn’t act morally or correctly when they had a place of power, so I stood against that power. And to this day I am proud of myself for that, and my family consistently tells me that they’re proud of me too.

Anticipate to be alone while standing your ground. Don’t expect people to back you up, but when they do, those are the people to keep. It takes one person to reject an amateur leader. If the system doesn’t change there’s nothing else you can do about that, but you can reject it when you are experiencing it.

I understand that situations differ in what you can and cannot say, and not everyone is a part of the no filter club (it’s a good club though if you’re interested). I’m simply saying that if you are investing time and money into something where you are working so hard, you deserve to question bad authority.

This world is full of judgers and perceivers. Both types can be great people, but filling into the judging position makes you embrace healthy resistance to an unjust power.

Standing out when everyone else is following the same patterns is not a negative thing. Be like this duck:

Fit In

The duck stands out, right? Your eyes go directly to it.

Consider your health and wellbeing of the highest value. You are your own person and be proud of your strength. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly ❤

 

 

 

Body Image Positivity

Hi everyone,

It’s summer time in the states and everyone is seen with way less layers. The “bikini body ready” concept floats around social media as well as sped up routines in the gym. It is great to have goals to improve your body, however, obsessing and comparing is not going to get you to a place of self contentment.

While we are on the topic of social media, these are the various ways people are comparing themselves to others every day:

  • Magazine spreads and covers of celebrities and even professional athletes
  • Social media platforms including Facebook and Instagram
  •  Television
  • Online sources (articles, blog pages, etc)

What needs to be understood: It’s not a competition.

Additionally, we only see what those magazines and pictures want us to see. We don’t see the behind the scenes, or know for sure what routines people really do to obtain those bodies.

Of course, professional athletes work extremely  hard to obtain their physical endurance and muscle composition. But that’s just it: they spend practically all of their time training. Comparing yourself to an elite athlete is not fair due to the fact that your lifestyles are completely different. If you are inspired by them, that is great. Comparing yourself to their body structures isn’t.

As for celebrities: A very common way of thinking of fans is to fantasize about having the life and body of their favorite celebrity. Those celebrities are placed on magazine covers to represent how to prevent aging and how to have the “best body of your life.” The issue here is everyone’s body type is different. They don’t train the same way or build the same muscle in the same places, and have varying metabolisms.

Also, photoshop is a real thing. Back in 2011, for example, Jennifer Lawrence was majorly photoshopped on the cover of Flare Magazine, and this caused a flare in her temper. Jennifer was completely right to question the changes made to her body. These included an overall slimmed figure, more pronounced collarbones, and the sinking of her cheekbones to make her less full. Why? Because the fashion industry sets unrealistic standards.

Perhaps the easiest industry to penetrate for flaws is the modeling industry. It’s harsh and unrealistic, and so many men and women practice unhealthy behavior to obtain the standards to get work in this industry. Many models, especially females, are well below a healthy BMI (body mass index). Being underweight for extended periods of time is harmful in a lot of ways, and prohibits one from functioning properly. Just for a reference, below is a BMI table obtained from the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

BMI Weight Status
Below 18.5 Underweight
18.5 – 24.9 Normal or Healthy Weight
25.0 – 29.9 Overweight
30.0 and Above Obese

The bright side of a better future:

French Legislature proposed a bill last year regarding BMI of models. French agencies that promote models under the BMI of 18 could receive major jail time and a fine (specifically up to 6 months and a fine of 75,000 euros). Models there are now required to have a medical certificate in order to sign with an agency. This effort in France should be considered an amazing opportunity to stop the idealization of dangerously thin body types and curb eating disorders such as anorexia.

Not all models are unhealthy and not all agencies promote overly thin clients, however, it is a very present issue and readers receive a false image of beauty and healthy weight.

Victoria’s Secret, another example,  is a very well known and beloved company in the States for its display of beautiful women often in very little clothing. There seems to be a universal panic attack of young girls all over the country when the VS annual fashion show rolls around. Again: these women have a very strict diet that they are constantly managed to follow, and their magazine photos are partially photoshopped.

On average, it is said to take approximately 6 hours to photoshop one model. Every detail is observed and examined for flaws. Have you ever seen the accidental photoshop errors in this company? I happened to see them in a class throughout my public health studies, and I love to see professors incorporating these topics to better aid the false depiction of ‘perfection.’

Breaking it down:

  1. Changing the figure of a person on a major magazine cover gives a completely false visual of body image and weight to any reader.
  2. As these unrealistic standards rise, eating disorders, body image issues, and overall self esteem of the youth population especially will continue to worsen.
  3. What is real and what is fake will be harder to differentiate.
  4. Those who do not feel they meet these standards see less of themselves, just due to comparisons.

There is a theory that has accurately described this comparison behavior. It’s called the Social Comparison Theory, originally described by psychologist Leon Festinger in 1954. Essentially, we as individuals tend to measure our self worth by how we measure up to others. This is directly associated to the issue of poor body image, because of the incessant need to self-evaluate.

How self-evaluation can be healthy:

  • We set higher goals to obtain
  • We work for higher standards
  • We analyze what we could be doing better and aim to improve

How self-evaluation can be unhealthy:

  • We degrade ourselves in our current state
  • We leave little to no room for error or mistakes
  • Instead of setting goals we become stagnant and negative

According to the Social Comparison Theory, we are actively comparing ourselves primarily through social interaction and media consumption. There has been an establishment of sociocultural standards of beauty, portraying idealistic bodies that immediately cause readers to then want to become more like those idealized individuals.

It is completely unattainable to have the same body as another person. This is due to genetics. A naturally curvy girl cannot become a girl without curves. A girl cannot lengthen her body to make her legs and torso longer like the girl she sees in photos. And these issues occur in men and boys as well. Men around the country feel the same burden of feeling scrutinized for not looking like their aspired male athletes and professionals in the tabloids.

We are all built differently. Some things we cannot alter, and as a human race that has so much diversity, one would think to find that fact beautiful. If we all looked the same, think of how incredibly boring we would be!

A way to catch yourself in the trap of social comparison is to ask yourself what you are gaining from doing it. Comparing yourself to others, whether tearing yourself down or putting yourself even higher than others in terms of body image, is not going to bring you real contentment.

I took a women and sexuality course my junior year in college that had a very interesting week dedicated to body image. The professor asked every student in the room to say what they would change about their body. As she went around the room we all begrudgingly answered, feeling exposed to what she might say. She said we were all wrong, because we’re all perfect the way we are. Not perfect in the sense of something unrealistic, but more perfectly imperfect.

**Side note: I have really long feet, something I loathed for years as I honestly could not find shoes that fit me in the clearance section (where I often go). I was definitely self-conscious as my feet continued to lengthen as I got taller. The truth of the matter is I’m 5’11, so if I had smaller feet I would probably fall over due to laws of gravity. It took me years to just get over it, and now I joke with people and say I have built in flippers when I go swimming (no joke I didn’t buy flippers while snorkeling in Hawaii). I make jokes of it because I can’t change the size of my feet.**

Exercise and eat healthy because you want to feel better for yourself. Don’t set goals based on another’s person’s unattainable genetic makeup. Work and focus on your body structure and improve what is in your control, and in a healthy way.

The truth is: As you obsess over what you would change in your body, another person may be looking at you and wishing they had your proportions. And it’s all harmful to everyone’s health and interferes with what really matters: pretty much everything else.

I personally workout and eat right to feel content, and actively tell myself that’s all that matters. I don’t care what my friends look like in comparison to me. I don’t lift myself up by tearing them down. I don’t question my desire to gain muscle while in a society that often favors the opposite.

Do what makes you feel good about your body, and everything is a process. The above information is all to create a more black and white scenario of what is real and what is fake. What’s real is you. Be your best self, and do it for you. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly ❤

Healthy Outlets for Stress and Anxiety

Hey everyone,

Given it was just the Fourth of July (if you are in America), stress and anxiety don’t seem to be current worries. However, when you get back into your work or school routine and multi-tasking on a regular basis, you may need to check up on the ways to re-set yourself.

I use the term re-set because many of us seem to run at 100 mph, at maximum efficiency to maintain our productivity.

I have always been known by my peers to be a sort of blur on campus, given my university schedule starting at 5 or 6 am every morning. Being a college-athlete had amazing pros, but the cons were definitely present as well.  My typical college day would be as follows:

  • 5 or 6 am weights
  • 2 hour practice directly afterward (until 9 or 10 am)
  • Full day of classes until late afternoon (maybe 3 or 4 pm or so)

After my classes I had a window of time to do my homework, any errands, laundry, cooking, and prepping for the next day.

I am happy to report this is no longer my everyday routine due to the fact that I’m graduated. However, if you find yourself stressed and overwhelmed, I understand that feeling for it somewhat encompassed me for four years straight.

Checklist for reducing stress and anxiety:

  1. Organize yourself. Time management is essential to stay stable in a busy routine. Dry erase boards are great to write weekly due dates and events, I swear by these! Planners are also great and portable. You can keep one in your school or work bag and even used color coding for various events. Color coding makes everything more obvious when you’re skimming through your obligations.
  2. Think ahead, always. If you’re a very busy person, preparing for the next day(s) will only benefit you to avoid forgetting details or scrambling at the last minute. Whether this is putting fresh outfits in the car or meal prepping, taking the time to do these tasks ahead of time will make you feel less rushed.
  3. Don’t shut out friends and family when stressed. Chances are many of your school friends are feeling just as stressed, just maybe not for identical same reasons. It is helpful to be able to release your stresses to a good friend or family member and talk through what is making you feel overwhelmed. The process of releasing bad energy is not necessarily the content, it is actually just the releasing part. Just talking through things helps you feel more centered, which is why we sometimes come to realizations ourselves in a conversation, when the other person technically didn’t help us get there.
  4. Incorporate things that make you happy throughout a long day. If you have break times, bring headphones to listen to music or communicate with someone to take your mind somewhere else for a few minutes. I often drew something on my hand in the same spot whenever I was feeling super down and out of energy, and I would look down at it and trace it with my fingertips to relax me. Whatever these small things are, they can work wonders to keep you focused in a healthy way.
  5. Set aside time to do some activity that relaxes you. This is so important. Just like when you’re on a hike and you know the view or lookout at the end will be insane, you need something to look forward to in a day of obligation. Taking a bath with candles and a book, sketching, writing, whatever creative outlet or activity that pulls you away from obligation. Make this time completely for you, and maybe even turn your phone off if it is blowing up. Some other ideas: yoga, pilates, or meditation. These are slow-moving activities that bring you a lot of self-awareness and care for your body. Below is my provided gear for a yoga and core class at my gym, and a new book on scientific writing that I’m super intrigued by :).

Just like the list above, if you find yourself to be very into making lists, make sure they are prioritized in need of importance. For instance, if your laundry can wait another day it might be better to do your homework or work and get to bed at a more reasonable hour. Often times, errands can be completed on weekends (which sounds awful), but if you’re busy during the week you will be pleasantly surprised how many hours there are in a day when the weekend rolls around.

A very scheduled routine can be your best friend. Routines make you develop a rhythm that you can stick to. I’m not saying you can’t have two cups of coffee in the morning instead of one because I would be a hypocrite, but the overall message is to establish a beneficial relationship with the clock.

Forms of expression: Above I mentioned sketching and reading, but art in general really can increase a relaxing state of mind. I love to look at art pieces because they bring me inspiration, and distract me from reality. Below is my favorite piece of art to date; a graffiti piece on the Bondi Beach boardwalk:

SYD art

“I was once of the world, yet I am not of this world.”

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I stress organization skills in this piece because organization gives us a sense of control. When we feel in control we find motivation a much easier thing to obtain.

Letting stress literally take over your body isn’t healthy. Mismanaged stress causes an imbalance of emotion and a likely result of an energy deficit. This can be the outcome if you do not embrace what is causing you stress. There is another alternative.

To briefly go all scientific on you, stress isn’t all bad. A stress response is created in the brain to tell us that that we need more energy than our current capacity. This evokes a somewhat panicked reaction, however, it can also act as a stimulus for positive change.

The possible benefits of stress:

  • Improvement of memory: Have you ever noticed a sudden clarity of a decision while under stress, or a major boost of recall to answers during an important exam? Stress responses can actually sharpen your memory and help you focus. This is short-term. Extended, long term stress can make your memory foggy. These are totally different.
  • Turning stress into motivation: Think of this as transforming stress into positive energy. This also includes awareness. You know the stress is there, so change it to be positive. Stress as motivation can help you make hard and fast decisions, and be more productive under pressure. This in turn boosts your confidence and mental toughness, two very sought after qualities for any kind of profession. Again, this is a healthy dose of stress.
  • Stress as excitement: We experience stress in exciting situations as well, it is not just a survival tool. When we finally talk to a person we like (for the romantics), or when we conquer a major fear, we feel some sort of stress. This stress can feel like the pre-stage of adrenaline that makes our lives more interesting. Achieving this stress can bring us fulfillment and happiness.

Long-term stress: Stitch is adorable but this is not a good situation.

Stitch GIF.gif

From above, there are positive things to draw from short burst of stress. Long-term stress is not healthy exposure, so practicing how to harness and transform it into a positive outcome is key. Take the time to find what works for you, and incorporate these methods  into your everyday routine. I hope this provided insight to the background of stress and how to find healthy outlets. Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly ❤