Life Lately: Candid Happenings

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Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing still on?

I took an extended break from blogging again while I “found myself” *vomits*. Because working full-time PLUS another part-time job PLUS trying to manage my anxiety was too much. The winter was very rough for my mental health and I just now feel like I’m recovered from it. The skies are clearing up for summer and so is my mind. I’m feeling rejuvenated at work, at home, and with life in genreal. And I have tonnnsss of new ideas for posts.

So what has been happening? What’s the 4-1-1? What’s the hot gossip?!

I turned 25 in March! Happy birthday me! Sorry I missed my 25 Things About Turning 25 post, but you can read about 24 and 23 things I’ve also learned from years past. They’re pretty much the same, honestly. Maybe I’ll do a retroactive 25 things once I hit the 25 1/2 mark. I’m assuming I’ll be wiser then, but I really don’t feel much wiser now. I celebrated my birthday by buying myself presents and going to brunch with my friends. It was glorious. There was a boozy milkshake with a giant birthday candle involved, so what more could you want?

I bought a bunch of new make-up! I successfully completed my 2017 no buy make-up ban for January and February, then went HAM in March on account of “Birthday Month.” And by HAM I mean spending a sum of money at Ulta that I am uncomfortable admitting aloud. (But my Ulta Points account looks AH-MAZING!) I’ve been testing the products I purchased and am planning on doing some reviews soon– including some skincare products I got that were suuuper disappointing.

I took a break from make-up to concentrate on my skin! To totally waste all the money I spent on make-up, I have taken a break from it while I explore new skincare. I am currently trying out Curology, a prescription skincare subscription service. I won’t go into full details because I have an entire post planned, but it’s essentially an online dermatologist. You get paired with a medical professional to assess your skin and they cultivate a topical medication to treat your issues. Though my results have been slow and steady (and not without set-backs) I am very happy with how things are going. More soon!

Speaking of skincare, I have taken a serious rededication to my health. Part of busting out of my anxiety hole included busting out of my bad habits hole, and I’m pretty sure my clear head is partly due to that. I am eating much more nutrient dense foods, am back to exercising regularly, and have set new goals for myself. I’ve successfully lost 20lbs (!!!!!!) since April 1st, and am really enjoying getting back into cooking healthy meals and watching my progress. I went to school for health and wellness, but you wouldn’t know it by how I acted. I figured it was time to start living like I valued my life, ya know? You can look forward to more healthy eating posts coming your way. And maybe some exercise posts too?

That sums up my 2017 so far. Aside from raging against the political machine and continuing to let my cat rule my life, things have been good. And I’m excited to get back in touch with my blog.

So tell me, what do you want to see from Candidly Kelsey? Make-up? Skincare? Food? Bad jokes? Let me know! And leave a comment with what you’ve been up to recently!

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21 Self-Care Activities for When the World Feels Like It’s Falling Apart

Self-care activities and ideas. / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

Recently I had a popular tweet– well, popular for me at least. It was a moment of panic and feeling totally helpless that seemed to resonate with other people too.

Self-care activities / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

If you struggle with your mental health– or hell, even if you don’t– what is going on in the United States seems super scary. At the time I tweeted this (and many times after) I felt frozen in my own anxiety thanks to the direction or government is taking. And the only thing that has been able to pull me outta those feelings is a little self-care.

For some, self-care can seem daunting and overcomplicated. But it definitely doesn’t have to be. There are many different ways to self-care so I thought I’d share some easy ones. If you ever feel like the world is falling down, stop and give yourself a little love with some of these self-care activities.

21 Simple Self-Care Activities:

  1. Exercise. Stress or anxiety can manifest itself into physical tension that can easily be released through exercise. If you’re a gym buff, then get there and burn off some steam. If you want something more stationary, try yoga videos on Youtube. Anything to help you move your body and momentarily distract your mind. Plus the post workout endorphins aren’t bad.
  2. Listen to a podcast. 
  3. Take a really long shower. Turn your bathroom into your personal music video and go nuts. Plus that hot water feels good.
  4. Laugh. Netflix comedy specials are fantastic, as are old standby sitcoms like Will & Grace, Friends, and Modern Family. Also never underestimate the power of Youtube (can you tell I love Youtube?) for even older shows like Who’s Line is it Anyway? or content creators like Grace Helbig, Caspar Lee, or other comedians.
  5. Meditate.
  6. Deep breathing. If the idea of meditating is too overwhelming then just focus on breathing. Take three deep breaths, inhaling for 5 seconds and exhaling for 8. Feel your lungs fill with air, and then slowly express it. If it feels good then do 3 more.
  7. Read a book.
  8. Wash your sheets and then lay in your bed. Fresh, cozy sheets FTW.
  9. Help someone. Doing an act of good can make you feel good. Donate $5 to an organization that is important to you. Send a loved one a nice message. Write a nice message on a post-it note and stick it in a place others will see it. Let your mind wander with ideas for how to make someone else feel great.
  10. Read a book. Immerse yourself into a book you love and forget about the rest of the world.
  11. Cook something delicious.
  12. Eat something delicious.
  13. Unplug. Turn off all your electronics and step away from the news. Do whatever you want to that isn’t related to social media, the TV, our computer, iPad, or anything else electronic.
  14. Clean your home. 
  15. Write in a journal. Better yet, start a compliment journal by writing down 3 good things about yourself per day. Use this time to focus on your positive attributes and what you think you excel at. This is a double-whammy activity because it’s a great self-esteem booster as well.
  16. Craft, or do a DIY project.
  17. Pamper yourself. Do a face mask, paint your nails, do your hair, play with your make-up or go get a massage. Just do something to make yourself feel good.
  18. Have sex. Or masturbate. (Sorry not sorry, but I had to say it. It’s not just for dudes!)
  19. Dance it out. The Girl Power playlist on Spotify is BOMB.COM.
  20. Have a glass of wine.
  21. Call a friend and just chat. Tell them what’s bothering you or just talk about nothing in particular.

The possibilities for self-care activities are really endless but these are my favorite. The key to self-care is just doing something you enjoy, or that gives you an pleasant feeling. Just make sure you are taking time for yourself.

Got other self-care activities you love? Share them in the comments!

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Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel: the BEST Exfoliating Mask Ever

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel is the MUST-HAVE exfoliator for every skin type / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

I am a face mask junkie. My skin has a myriad of problems, including acne, dry patches, hyper-pigmentation, and the tendency to look just dull and icky. Show me an exfoliating mask that is safe for my acne and I am SOLD. And that is exactly what the Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel is. Y’all. It’s good.

Once again, the U.S. (meaning probably just me) is late to the game. If you’re unfamiliar with Korean skincare, all you need to know is they are miiiiiiiiles ahead of the rest of the world. K-Beauty, as it is affectionately called, is finally starting to get popular in the United States, and for good reason.

Supposedly this mask is a cult favorite in Korea, which I can totally see why. It is the most gentle, yet effective exfoliant that I have ever used. The exfoliating power comes mainly from cellulose, which is listed as the second ingredient. The cellulose helps lift flaky, dead skin from your face and does this completely pain free. It’s a gel, so there is no grains that you have to scrub against your face like other typical exfoliants. In fact, this would be amazing for even the most sensitive-skinned little snowflakes.

In addition to the exfoliating power, it also has Vitamin C and E, both of which are powerhouse ingredients for skin brightening, and a few other skincare goodies to help promote moisturizing your skin.

To use, simply wet your skin, apply about a quarter-size dollop of gel to wet fingertips and massage gently. I would recommend making sure to work it on your jawline, nose, the contours where your nose meets your cheeks, and your temples. Those are areas where you don’t necessarily think to spend time on when you wash your face, so I can almost guarantee there will be a build up there.

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel is the MUST-HAVE exfoliator for every skin type / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

I mean, LOOK AT IT. Those white balls are my skin. It’s so gross and I can’t get enough.

And, for my favorite part. Bam.

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel is the MUST-HAVE exfoliator for every skin type / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

That’s just one use. My skin is so much brighter and has a real glow in the “After” picture. I am a bit red, but my face gets red easily if I touch it, so I doubt that is from the product. The dullness of the first picture has disappeared.

So it’s safe to say the Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel has worked it’s way into my regular routine. If you want to know where I’m at on Sundays around 7pm, chances are I am leaning over my skin giggling like a mad woman while this gel eats away my face*.

Have you ever used the Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel? Do you like it? Are there any other products I should try? Let me know in the comments!

*Just kidding. It doesn’t eat anything. Have you not paid attention to this post at all? This sh*t is gentle as hell.

Dr. G Brightening and Exfoliating Gel is the MUST-HAVE exfoliator for every skin type / www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

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8 On-The-Spot Ways to Get Calm

Feeling overwhelmed is awful, especially when you're in a stressful situation. Sometimes you can't always escape, but you can use techniques to help you get calm in the moment... // CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

I’ve talked a lot about anxiety lately– including Things That Happen When You See a Therapist as well as How to Find A Therapist.  To see all of my anxiety posts, you can scroll through my “Mental Health” posts under the “Health” tab at the top. With all this focus on anxiety, we still haven’t really talked too much about how to combat anxiety and get calm.

So when NewLifeOutlook emailed me asking if they could write about some techniques to help you get calm, obviously I agreed. Eric provided some helpful tips on how to calm down when you’re feeling anxious, some of which I utilize myself when I’m feeling stressed. Hopefully these tips help you if you’re in need.

Got any tips of your own, or agree with anything listed below? Leave them at the end in the comments! And without further ado, I’ll kick it over to Eric to talk about how to get calm.

8 On-The-Spot Ways to Get Calm

The ability to relax and calm yourself during a stressful situation is an ability that seems to come naturally to some. They always seem to have a plan and never let worry get the best of them, while you feverishly work to find anything that works for you.

Since you do not have the innate ability to get calm quickly, you must work to build coping skills that break the pattern of stress and tension in order to let in feelings of peacefulness and control.

Here are the eight best on-the-spot relaxation skills to leave you calm.

Deep Breathing

Before you cringe or bemoan the fact that this list includes deep breathing, understand that this is just one of the natural ways to relieve anxiety that works wonders for many people.

When you hear “deep breathing,” you may think about people who have tried to convince you of its powers before, or how you already tried it with no success. The truth is that deep breathing is highly effective, but most people perform it incorrectly.

To begin your mastery, work to take a deep breath in while leaving your shoulders still. Let your stomach protrude as you suck in the air. After a brief pause, let the air escape slowly for a long exhale.

Exercise

Exercise works wonders for many physical and mental health complaints, and as it turns out, it is even effective in calming your body and mind.

You do not even need to lace up your sneakers or go to the gym. If you are feeling tense or restless, try some dynamic stretches to burn off some energy.

Touch your toes or roll your arms forward to reduce some tightness in your chest. Doing jumping jacks or pushups shouldn’t be out of the question either — sure, you may look odd exercising in your work clothes, but it is better than feeling anxious.

Experiment with different types of exercise in different situations to find what works best for you.

Change Your Thinking

All day every day, thoughts are swirling through your head, making you anxious. Take control of your thoughts by inserting some positivity, or challenging whatever messages are contributing to your stress.

Some people develop mantras to improve their thought patterns. Mantras are simple phrases or sentences that you can repeat out loud or to yourself when their influence is needed.

Saying “I feel relaxed, calm, and in control” can work to modify your thoughts and change the resulting behaviors. Whichever version you choose, be sure to say it often to get the desired impact.

Listen to Music

A four-minute song can completely change your point of view, even when you’re stressed or anxious. Keep a positive playlist on your phone so the songs will be there whenever you need them.

Perhaps heavy metal is just what you need to find calm, or maybe you peace in a concerto. The important thing is you find music that reverses — rather than reinforces — your tension.

Again, experimentation will be necessary here. Some tunes will work better in certain situations than others.

Play a Game

Since your phone is already out after listening to music, you might as well open up your favorite app and play a few games.

People generally spend too much time on their phones, which equates to too much wasted time and distraction. In this case, a small amount of escape is acceptable.

Diving into the game will consume all of your attention and provide your brain with a needed break. During this time, you can find enough separation from your stressor to have a new, fresh approach.

Be sure to limit your time, though. There is a thin line between short-term escape and long-term avoidance.

Call a Friend

Your phone can play music and can help you play games as well. Another thing your phone can do is actually make a phone call!

So many people are just a call away, and even though they might not be able to erase your stress, they can be a friendly voice on the other end of the line. Start with people you trust and respect, and feel free to guide the conversation in any direction.

Talking about your anxiety isn’t a must since you can find calm by discussing last night’s game or the show on this evening. Once you hang up, you might find yourself with a new level of relaxation.

Avoid texting; the lack of immediacy can trigger increased anxiety as you wait for a response.

Physical Contact

When you were a child, there was nothing more calming or soothing than being held by your mother. It seems unlikely that your mother can still pick you up and rock you to sleep, but physical contact will assist in your goal of relaxation.

Find a loved one to hug. If no one is available, give yourself a squeeze to replicate the experience. Otherwise, you can find a comforting piece of clothing or a pillow to hug or rub against your face. This physical contact can add feelings of calm and safety no matter where you are.

Have a Taste

Stimulating your senses is a great way to help you get calm. Music and hugs soothe your hearing and touch, while eating or drinking can target your taste and smell.

Having a glass of ice water can be calming. A piece of dark chocolate or your favorite fruit can accomplish the goal with a bit more flavor.

My having something to taste and smell, you begin to focus more on these and less on your tension. Of course, you must be careful to keep this under control — a large milkshake may reduce some stress in the moment but lead to other problems later.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol as well. Three espressos may seem like a good idea, but that much caffeine will only trigger more anxiety.

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Eric Patterson, LPC is a professional counselor in western Pennsylvania working for the last 10 years to help children, teens and adults achieve their goals and live happier lives. You can find more of his writing on NewLifeOutlook.

Feeling overwhelmed is awful, especially when you're in a stressful situation. Sometimes you can't always escape, but you can use techniques to help you get calm in the moment... // CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

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How to Find a Therapist

Finding a therapist or counselor to speak with can be incredibly overwhelming. Let's talk about how to make the process easier // www.CandidlyKelseyBlog.com

At beginning of the month I wrote about the unexpected benefits of therapy. Now, let’s talk now about how to find a therapist. Though the process can seem SUPER overwhelming, don’t get discouraged. It was definitely easier than finding a boyfriend, if that makes anyone feel better!

I took two approaches to find a therapist, but only really found success with the second one. As the first approach was suggested to me by my doctor, I thought I’d include it anyway for good measure.

BUT, before you go a-searchin’, there are some things you need to do:

Decide what are important qualifications for you.  For example, my qualifications were pretty simple. As I don’t have a car, location was a major key for me.  I wanted someone close to where I lived so it didn’t make going to see them that much harder.  I also knew I wanted a woman, someone who specialized in anxiety, and who was relatively young. Another important factor was needing them to be able to work with a sliding pay scale, as the fate of my insurance coverage would be fluctuating in the future.

When looking for someone, here are a few helpful things to keep in mind:

  • Location
  • Specialty/Experience in specific mental ailments (ie: depression, anxiety, sexuality, trauma, etc.)
  • Gender
  • Insurance/pay schedule
  • Age
  • Appointment availability
  • Style or theory of counseling, ie- Are you a big jokester? Do you want someone with a sense of humor? An optimist? Do you want someone to take you very seriously? These types of styles are important, as they’ll affect your comfort level and ability to open up to them.
  • TYPE of therapist– there are many types of counselors, and many different certifications of what we probably all lump together as “psychologists”.  Though most will help with the average talk-therapy, you may want someone who has a different specialty. Don’t hesitate to do a little research if you are unsure of exactly what you are looking for.

Check your insurance.  I checked mine online, but you can also just call your provider and ask about your coverage. Thankfully, my current health insurance covers mental health very well, so that was a huge load off my mind.  If you are without insurance, or don’t have insurance that covers mental health, make sure you take that into account when looking for someone.  I knew that I will be switching jobs in August/September, or possibly even going without a job for a short period of time this fall, so having someone who accepted many insurances, or worked on a sliding pay scale (relative to your income!) if I lost insurance was a huge bonus. Your insurance may have certain restrictions, or not cover mental health care at all, so be sure to know this before looking for people!

Approach #1: Referral from my Primary Care Physician

My general doctor issued me a referral, and gave me a list of therapists that were in-network with my primary care office.  I sorted them by location, then by gender, and started calling places that were recommended.  Honestly, I got a lot of not-so-nice responses from some places, some crazy long wait times for my first appointment, and some really staggering prices for sessions that scared me off immediately.  I think I made about six calls before I gave up and decided the process was hopeless. This was not exactly the most encouraging way to do it, in my opinion.

Plus, making me CALL THEM was not an ideal situation— anyone else out there with anxiety can probably agree with me on that one.

Approach #2: Using Psychology Today.Com

A friend who is in the mental health field suggested I use the “Find A Therapist” feature on  PsychgologyToday.com. Not only could I plug in exactly what my specifications were, like creating a search filter, but it had an EMAIL option. I picked four counselors that met my specifications, and sent them all an email:

Hello, my name is Kelsey and I am looking for a therapist to help with anxiety.  Are you accepting new patients? I have a referral from my primary care physician if you need it, and Cigna health insurance. I’d love to book a preliminary appointment if you have any openings. Thanks!

I received 2 responses from therapists with open availability, and two that were not accepting patients at that time. I booked a free consultation the same week with one, and told the other I would get back to her if I wanted to book an appointment.

Why I Chose My Therapist:

Now that I found someone to talk to, I had to decide if I thought she was the right person for me.

After our 1-hour consultation, I knew I wanted to keep seeing her because I immediately felt very comfortable and welcomed by her. It was a gut-feeling thing more than anything else. She made me feel as relaxed as I possibly could in that situation, but did it without making me feel pressured to feel relaxed.

After two more sessions, I knew I had made the right choice and wanted to keep seeing her. She was very good at taking the lead of a conversation when I needed her too, or letting me control the session when I wanted to. The conversation never lulled, and every single moment felt productive– which was huge to me. It also helped greatly that she laughed at my stupid jokes, which happened a lot because I make bad jokes when I’m uncomfortable.

Finding the right fit will feel different for everyone, so my biggest piece of advice is simple: just go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, then try someone else. And there is no shame in telling someone you try out that it doesn’t feel like a good fit– if they are a professional, they will completely understand! It may take time, but it is soooo worth it in the end to have someone you can speak candidly.

Any questions? Do you see a therapist yourself and have other tips to offer about finding one? Put your recommendations in the comments!

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