6 Tips for Mental Health And Self-Care

Hi everyone,

This week I am writing a piece very applicable to the title of my blog (K State of Mind). I wanted to touch upon mental health awareness and why it’s important. This post is recognizing tips I use to maintain a positive state of mind, and you’ll get to know me a little more along the way. ♥

Mental health is just as important as physical health. Let’s get that out of the way. As someone that loves fitness, I can be very happy physically but low mentally.

Mental health is often not a comfortable subject to discuss. It’s often cast aside, to prioritize other parts of one’s life. People have amazing talents of compartmentalizing; putting some obstacles, issues, thoughts into mental boxes to later work on as they tackle the most urgent task at hand. However, just as machines can go into overdrive, so can a person.

I wanted to share my favorite effective ways to aid my mental health. I find them to be really good mood boosters, or ways for me to get out of my own head. And trust me, I am guilty of being an over-thinker.

♥ Writing/journaling

I’ve been writing since I was little. It started out as journal entries, and merged into poetry. Poetry is a huge release for me, not to mention a form of creative expression. I can sometimes find out how I really feel after reciting my own words back to me.  I feel as though my thoughts and emotions are being channeled into something I can utilize and reflect on.

IMG_2065

IMG_2047

I am sure that one day I will write a novel. I have multiple ideas already, one in particular that would be so exposing it makes me a bit nervous to even consider. Writing is something I would highly recommend to anyone, whether it is even jotting down ideas or concepts. Writing is extracting ideas from your mind and putting them somewhere else. If journaling could be your thing (I’ve been in and out of this phase), do that. Get a small journal and carry it with you as a sort of experiment, and you’ll be amazed at the self-reflection.

♥ Organization

I find that my mood is lessened when I’m disorganized. When my room is a mess, I’m either too busy in my schedule to be my tidy self or I’m too moody to clean it properly. Basically, my room is a clear way of knowing how I’m doing. I like to be tidy and know where everything is. A cluttered mind is similar, isn’t it?

Committing to a planner is a good idea. Even if you have a relatively regulated schedule, you’ll find yourself holding yourself accountable more often if you use a planner. Whichever method you choose, electronic or not, keep yourself as organized as you can to avoid things slipping your mind. Forgetfulness is natural, but if you have something written in your planner, you won’t have to experience the stress of that forgetfulness . Stress is not your friend.

IMG_2075

♥ Exercise

Yes, I love to exercise. As you have seen from my social media and bio about my journey as a college athlete, exercise is ingrained in me as a positive thing. Which I am immensely grateful for. Exercise releases endorphins that moderate stress, anxiety, and depression. Exercise also aids better sleep, which, let’s be honest, is commonly associated with mood fluctuation. Cognitive function has also been connected to exercise. The benefits are really endless here.

Whichever form of exercise you like- weights, cycling, running, yoga… make going to a class or hitting the weights a priority in your routine. If you watch one less Stranger Things, you could get a workout in. Over time, your body image positivity will increase and your mind will start to automatically desire exercise. If you don’t know which kind of exercise to start with, write a comment below and I’ll brainstorm with you. xx

IMG_1937

IMG_1992.jpg

IMG_1984

♥ Nature

Getting out into nature is therapy. The fresh air and lack of concrete gets me every time. The limited technology and surplus of wildlife makes me ask myself why I don’t spend more time outdoors. Drive past the highway and take the side roads. Go on a hike or spend time at the lake.

Did you know that urban living increases the occurrence of anxiety and mood disorders? It’s interesting to think how our daily exposure, whether urban or rural, effects our mental health.

I did happen to write a blog post a few months back about hiking and its benefits for mental health. Check it out here.

1042 edit

♥ Music

Music is lovely, plain and simple. Whether you’re into R &B or Country, Rap or Pop, music is a definite mind release. My go-to feel good music (yes I just wrote that) is country music. It’s simple in all the right ways and always lightens my mood. You won’t find country in my workout playlist, though.

IMG_1927

♥ Unplugging

I feel like this is sometimes the hardest thing to do in our current generation. We love to have our phones next to us when we sleep, in our pockets, on the table as we work. We jump to see our notifications, group chats, or hilarious memes. We communicate constantly in person and on social media.

What sometimes really helps? Unplugging completely. I know this is a solution from personal experience. My phone dies on occasions, and I actually feel momentarily relieved. I don’t have the option to check my phone. Who’s messaged me, what someone DM’ed me on Instagram or tagged me in on Facebook. I don’t need to know. I can just unplug. I don’t have to communicate.

Communication is essential, but constant communication? Definitely not. Unplug and draw yourself a bath, or take out your neglected library book. Social media and your emails will be there when you plug back in.

Anxiety has effected my life, there’s no denying that. My body reacts to stress and anxiety, so I focus really hard on these tips to keep myself balanced. I’ve had anxiety attacks. There shouldn’t be any shame in acknowledging things like this, and I have zero shame in it. While I’m a confident and strong person, I have the moments where the small voice in my head seems to dominate my confident one. It happens. It’s a journey of getting to know yourself.

IMG_1036 Edit

Self-Compassion and self-care should be on your life’s to-do-list. Imagine they are written in permanent marker.

 

I hope my personal tips were helpful. xx

Have the best week,

-Kelly

 

 

 

 

Hanging Up Your Gear: Life After College Athletics

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is dedicated to the ones that put everything they had into their college talent, and feel a bit disoriented about their identity once they cross that honorary carpet and get the diploma in the mail. A hint: it’s NOT all downhill after the “glory” years. You’re still a boss. Just a different type of boss.

Let’s go over some immediate positives from college athletics retirement:

➳ Those nagging shin splints or your suffering shoulder will finally get some time off. You might actually be able to go on a hike without complaining to your friends to carry you because of that four hour match the day before. Maybe that’s just me though.

➳ You will have free time to do your other hobbies. All of the things you put on the back burner in order to get 45 minutes extra of sleep before that alarm went off, you can now do. Your mind could be blown here.

➳ You have time to have a job and make some income. I’m not condoning rushing into an immediate job post college to fill your time, I’m referring to any part-time position that you’ll have fun with and meet a new crowd. A tip though: maybe try to branch out from talking about your gym routine, what you ate that day, or how you’ve mastered incorporating yoga clothes into daily wear from experience. Sometimes people want to talk about other things.

➳ You can TRAVEL. As someone who is planning trips to Iceland and other destinations on the bucket list with savings I’ve accumulated, I think about how I couldn’t train and also take time off that much due to the fact that my sport was year round.

➳ You have complete control over what you wear (bye team uniform), what you eat (shout-out to Red Robin french fries once a month), and where you go (getting home at 5 AM). I’m not saying go crazy and ruin your good habits, but you can live a little. If you were doing this already in college, well, congratulations.

➳ You can experiment with your time and interests and start to think about your future outside the classroom. I’ve been graduated since summer and haven’t been in the classroom since May, and I’m ok. I appreciate my college education because it was amazing, my mentors were incredible, however, you learn the big stuff when you’re actually out in the world. It doesn’t have to be scary just because it’s more real.

I’m not going to lie to you, I miss the competition. I miss winning an amazing match and feeling so proud of myself after for how hard I worked. I miss the feeling of motivation to do better next time when I lost. I miss the adrenaline. But I gave myself a couple weeks, not months or years, to sulk a bit before I told myself it’s all about perspective. You’re not just good at one thing. You did that sport a major service for four years, and now you can embrace something else.

Tennis isn’t technically meant to be a team sport, yet there I was every day in a team setting. I like to work alone (yes I know that’s not always a good thing to say), but I’d rather be honest about it. I played doubles through college and only really liked it one year with a particular partner (Frankie Katafias!) but I made it work because I loved representing my school. I didn’t have the perkiest school spirit, but one of the best things is being appreciated for hard work. And I worked my a** off.

I haven’t played tennis since May, and I haven’t been keeping up with the Slams because I’m not completely ready to look at tennis without studying it for technique. I’ve put my dedication into other things that I want for myself, things that bring me a similar motivation. Tennis gave me a mental release most of the time, and it got me to college and kept me super focused to achieve my optimal potential in the classroom. It gave me drive and persistence. I won’t ever take that for granted. But it also gave me a major feeling of being burnt out. Towards the end of it all, especially after getting a taste of being abroad fall semester of senior year, I got unfocused. I started to drift to other things, the other interests I’ve always had. It was just time. And it was still hard, but a lot of things have to have an expiration date.

Looking back on it, the little things that made college athletics great wasn’t just my performance. It was my professors and mentors genuinely wanting me to exceed in both settings and watch me grow through the years. It was the development of time management and drive. You develop these skills along the way that truly will benefit you once you’re graduated, and I advise you to focus on those and not the fear of what will happen when your routine changes.

We all make choices. If you’re reading this as a soon to be graduated (or graduated already) college athlete, you will be okay. In fact, you’ll have an advantage if you keep your head on straight. When you go into interviews, mention how you’re different because of college athletics, how it shaped you. Not because of the stats, but because of you.

You’re more than your college talent.

You’re more than the stats on the wall or the end speech at your last performance.

Don’t believe in peaking. Because you never have to.

Much love,

–  Kelly

What It’s Like to be an Outgoing Introvert

 

fix-coffee

What’s on my mind:

The distinction between extroverts and introverts. There is something to be said for categorizing someone into one of these categories, when mixtures definitely exist. I would know because I am one.

I’m what is known as an outgoing introvert. I like to be around people and have that social component in my life, but I prefer to recharge by myself. I have put together some indicators that you might be similar, and these could help you learn about yourself. Knowing your own personality helps when interacting with contrasting personality types.

Observations:

You have a high level of self-awareness, and you are not shy, just simply naturally introverted. Shyness and introversion differ because shyness is considered a behavior, versus introversion is more of a choice as well as a preference. In other words, you choose when you wish to interact and when you’d rather observe. This really doesn’t have a correlation with being shy.

You find yourself actually penciling in (or making a mental note) to set aside time for yourself. You mental well-being requires this alone time, in order to have the energy and desire to then go forward with social interaction.

Do you love to go to coffee shops alone to work? Me too. I love to be surrounded by people in a coffee shop but left alone to do my work or write my posts. I like having the energy around me and complete control to either engage or not. (insert the “but first, coffee” ongoing trending phrase)

You can confuse others about this mixture of social identities. Sometimes people just assume you’re very extroverted given your approachable nature when you choose to be. When you switch back and forth from your more introverted self, people can be confused by the variation.

You are a fan of inner monologue. Or maybe you are not a fan, but you do this constantly anyway. Outgoing introverts tend to re-play conversations and even lay out future ones, which can lead to over-thinking. Being very thoughtful in this sense is important, but sometimes can be perceived as overdoing it.

You do (maybe not often) experience loneliness. This one I’ll chip in on. I personally like to be independent a good majority of the time. I played a college sport that was 90% mental, and is known as an individual sport. I like to blog, write, and even sketch, all activities being solo activities. I often find it hard relating to people in terms of how we prefer to spend our time, so this narrows down that interaction even more. Then again, I’m working two jobs that I constantly interact and have fun with my coworkers. I make sure to have this balance.

Now onto relationships. Again, personally, people I have been interested in the past all say something very similar: they have a hard time reading me. I apologize for not being predictable, it’s just not in my nature (although I never apologized for being hard to read). If a person takes more time to discover the layers, is this really a bad thing? I think not. There’s a reason why people love the mystery behind movie plotlines. 

As for social engagements, outgoing introverts can be very personable and talkative in these settings, but also be completely drained afterwards. This speaks to me, for I really need to be alone after a lot of social energy, just to have the silence for a while. Word of advice: don’t break this silence, it’s crucial.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I believe extraversion and “teamwork” are somewhat overplayed in the workplace. We are taught in school to put up with group projects to prepare ourselves for our careers, which makes sense, but there is a reason why we dread them. I completely agree that collaboration is essential for a functioning organization or company, but some personalities gain their creativity and innovative ideas when working independently.

I wish I knew this about myself in high school, but outgoing introverts tend to somewhat dislike rights of passages. A really good example would be the senior prom. I remember there was so much buildup it actually made the event less fun, and it was this huge right of passage that everyone needed to take part in. I’m not saying my prom experience wasn’t good, but it was the principle of it being the “right” way to go out with a bang.

Outgoing introverts pick and choose pretty specifically. I’m specific about friends as well as social events. If I don’t want to hang out with someone I won’t. If all of my friends tell me an event is a must, I won’t attend if I know I’d be dissatisfied. I know myself in that sense. The negative reaction I often get from this is people taking it personally, that I’m withdrawing too much and put myself on a higher wavelength. This is definitely not the case, and the sad thing is if someone were to ask me instead of assume, there would be no hard feelings.

Us individuals also tend to thrive on improvement and progression. Getting “stuck” is not appealing, and the perfectionist behavior comes out in order to move forward. Seeking inner growth is also common, along with the occasional overanalyzing.

Lastly, the work and social life of an outgoing introvert may portray different personalities. By this I mean that these individuals, including myself, are outgoing and good at networking in the work life, and even enjoy being in control and communicating, but the social life may be a lot quieter. For me, I don’t like doing things in big groups. I like to hang out with one or two people, maybe three. If it’s a large group I feel less and less inclined to talk. Again, if someone you know tends to skip larger group hangouts, they might just not prefer them.

I hope this cleared up some explanations for those who have tried to understand the outgoing introverts, and for those that fall in this category. In truth, there’s nothing wrong with categorizing someone in order to better understand and interact with them.

Do these traits seem to match you? Let me know what you all think about my take on this, or your opinion of personality types. Do you find it useful to know someone’s personality type in the everyday? Feel free to comment below.

Thanks for reading! xx

-Kelly