Occupational Wellness: Don’t Skip on that Cover Letter

I’ve done it – it’s not required in the job application so I’m just going to submit my resume and call it good. But just because a company doesn’t request a cover letter doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to write one. The cover letter is a place where you can set yourself far apart from the rest of your competition for the job you are applying for. It’s the place where you get to say exactly why you are the ideal candidate for the position and why you would be a great fit with the company. It’s the make or break. And as this article by Levo League points out, it also makes sure that you are serious about this job. That it’s actually a job that you want and that is worth putting the effort in to apply. Quality over quantity. 

If getting a new job in 2016 is on your list of Life Things To Do, check out the article and see how you set yourself apart from others.

Mental Wellness: Real Life vs. Virtual Life

Last May I was sitting in the waiting room of my mechanic’s shop waiting for my car to finish with an oil change and I saw this story. I clicked on the link and read through it and fought back tears in the waiting room. I got my car back and got back into the office and read the story again. And read it again. And about a dozen more times. I sent it to my boyfriend. A month later I went to the doctor to get blood work done as I was experiencing extreme fatigue. For the 2nd time in 6 months, I was so completely fatigued that I couldn’t stay awake past 7pm and everything exhausted my body and my mind. My blood work all came back normal and my doctor suggested that I go on anti-depressants because she believed that my fatigue was due to me being stressed out and depressed. I didn’t do it – I’ve always been against medication. I hate taking drugs. Not the point of the story. But the point of this personal story is that what is discussed in that article I linked is so extremely true. We look for so much validation in our life and social media makes it instant. It’s instant feedback and instant validation. For the person posting something. But for others, it’s just a scrolling highlight reel of everyone that you are friends with or follow.

This quote from the article has always resonated with me.

Yes, people filter their photos to make them prettier. People are also often encouraged to put filters on their sadness, to brighten their reality so as not to “drag down” those around them. The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness.

The myth still exists that happiness is a choice, which perpetuates the notion of depression as weakness. That quote forever rolls around in my head. Sometimes getting knocked back to just a memory and other times feeling fresh and right before my eyes. I have sat down in conversations where individuals talk about depression and that “it’s just so sad that people choose that life.” No one chooses to be depressed. No one wants to have those suffocating feelings of worthlessness. No one desires to live that kind of life. But yet, we hear stories like Madison’s and think, “why didn’t she just talk to someone? Why didn’t she just cheer up? How could anyone like that ever be depressed?”

There is no mold to fit for depression. And it’s not just something that you can just “snap out of”.

Many times I get irritated with people (to be fair I get irritated with people on many things) who believe that wellness is just eating healthy and working out. Yes, those are important parts to it. But your mental health…your mental health is so important. And there is never anything wrong with seeking help.

Although to be transparent, here I am a 28 year old educated individual (educated in psychology of all things) embarrassed and frustrated with the fact that a year ago a doctor told me that she thought I was depressed. And I decided to just run out my frustrations because seeking help was too expensive for my health care plan.

I’m not really sure why I’m publishing this – it’s not well written, it’s not anything ground breaking or new…but it’s raw and it’s me and it’s my feelings. The linked article is about Madison Holleran the U or Penn runner who committed suicide. It’s sad, it’s raw, it’s true, and it’s powerful. And if you have to read only one article, read that. Share it. Pass it on.

Financial Wellness: Finding a System that Works for You

A few years ago I wrote that I wanted to get my credit cards paid off and to do that I was going to track my expenses through Excel spreadsheets. I was able to keep up with that for a few months, until I got my credit cards paid off, and then I started utilizing my spreadsheet less and less. Mostly because I rarely open my computer when I’m at home. I sort of try to avoid using my computer seeing as I am in front of a computer day in and day out at work and my phone meets all my other needs. So my budgeting took a back burner. Then E and I moved in together and my expenses were cut down in half and I stopped being as vigilant with my budgeting. But because of that, I’ve lost sight of my goals (I planned on trying to get around $10k of my student loans paid off in this year when my expenses were so low) and haven’t made progress on them.

I’m trying something new this year – in my planner, I’m tracking what I’m spending every week and then adding it up on Sunday. I then put my total that I spent that week on my monthly calendar in my planner. I won’t be able to make up lost ground with my student loans but I’m hopefully that I can still make a bit more of a dent in my loans. It’s important to remember that it about making progress and not about being perfect. With your finances, your fitness, your work, and your life.

Occupational Wellness: Grow, Develop, Change.

I’ll be embarking on my first professional career change this year. E finishes up his PhD this spring and we’ll be moving out of Kansas. Because of this, I’ve started following a few career resources to help me through this process. I’ve been following these for a few weeks now and found them somewhat useful. There are some articles posted that you have to just take with a grain of salt (like an article about how someone paid off $80k of student debt making $30k per year…they got a second job to pay off their debt…so they weren’t making $30k per year). But others give good insight.

Levo is the first one. I’ve explained this as a more in depth LinkedIn. You can follow me here. Levo provides a strong social media presence (I can’t recommend following them on Instagram and Facebook enough) that marries career focused and personal articles very well. They provide tips, lists, and inspirational quotes.

Classy Career Girl is the second one. A co-worker of mine introduced me to this site but I didn’t start using it more until around the holidays. This site is similar to Levo but provides more resources for women navigating their career.

Do you have any resources that you recommend?

Physical Wellness: Harvest Half Series Recap

Before moving to Kansas, I had never heard of 39.3 challenges and before this year, there was just one in the local area in the Spring. I personally am not a fan of racing in the Spring but when I found out that there was going to be a 39.3 challenge in the Fall, I signed up immediately.

The Harvest Half is 3 half-marathons in 3 weeks (15 days from the first half to the last). You start off with the Kansas Half Marathon in Lawrence, Kansas, then move to the Gobbler Grind in Overland Park, Kansas, and finish with the Pilgrim Pacer in Shawnee, Kansas. I thought I would share my experience in case they do this series again.

If I were staying in the Kansas area, I would probably sign up for this series again because it was actually pretty fun. I finished the series with a total time 5:37:34. Overall, my stats… (based on the spreadsheet and based only on individuals that completed the entire series)

  • 57/301 overall
  • 9/173 female
  • 2/23 age group

I PR-ed during this series and actually could have set a second PR but fell short.

Kansas Half-Marathon (1:53:57)

Dear god this race. I ran the most magnificent race up until 8 miles. I was in front of the 1:50 pace group and I was just absolutely cruising. I kept having this overwhelming feeling of … not good enough. I hadn’t trained at all for this series. I had a few long runs, I did some hill repeats, but honestly my training was a joke. I kept being amazed that I was ahead of the 1:50 group when I had thought I would be struggling to keep up with the 2:00 group. Between beating myself up mentally and then hitting the levee (the absolute worst part of this race) and then having my shoulder act up, I had to peel off and work out my shoulder. I ended up having to walk a bit as well. So I was pretty surprised that I was able to finish under 1:54.

Kansas Half-Marathon wins for best crowd participation and loses for worst course. Sorry, I hate the levee.

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Gobbler Grind (1:51:28)

Well, spoiler alert, this is the race that I PR-ed. This race had a huuuuuge line for the bathrooms and I got to the finish line for just moments to spare. I quickly started the race and then impatiently stared at it as it couldn’t find location. The race was starting and my watch still hadn’t found location so I said fuck it and just decided to run blind. There is a girl that I know and I spotted her early on in the race. I thought, ok, I’m going to just try and stick with her as long as possible. She’s a far superior runner than I am so I thought if I could keep her in my sights for 5 miles or so, that would be awesome. We were a couple miles in and I was feeling pretty good so I decided to put my blinders on and just run. I knew that the course was go around a big circle, then go straight, go around a big circle, then go straight to the finish line. So I kept that in mind while I was running (I’m a “chunk it up” type of runner). At one point in time I started getting worried that I took a wrong turn and ended up running with the marathoners and not the half-marathoners. But I didn’t. I also didn’t see the girl I know (turns out she was tapering for a marathon) or any pacers. Around mile 11, I saw the 1:50 pacer pass me and I fought like hell to keep up with him. But I wasn’t able to. So I fell back a bit. Then around mile 12 I saw the 2nd 1:50 pacer and I tried keeping up with her. I was able to keep them in my sights but they were too unattainable for me. I sprinted to the finish line and glanced up at the clock…I thought…maybe just maybe I PR-ed. I walked around and found the results booth and found out that indeed I did PR!

Gobbler Grind wins for best course and loses for shirt. A brown long sleeve shirt that was sized very small and immediately ended up in my donation pile.

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Pilgrim Pacer (1:52:09)

This race. Oh this race. They had a shuttles picking up everyone. I ended up in the wrong parking lot and figured it out eventually, got parked, waited in line, got to the packet pick-up and learned that they weren’t going to have enough medals for everyone and some were going to have to have theirs mailed, the “secured drop bag” area was just bags thrown in a corner, and it was windy. And cold. There were no pacers for this race so I got where I thought I should be and waited. And waited. And waited. They ended up delaying the start of the race since the shuttles weren’t running as quickly as expected. The race finally started. I knew that it was an out and back so what I was seeing now, I would be seeing on my way back. Unfortunately, that meant 2 miles of hills, going up, on the way back. I tried to ignore it and concentrate on chunk 1 – which was seeing my sister. My sister lives in the area and came out to support me. I saw her and ran up to her and gave her dog, Molly, some pets. Spent about 10-15 seconds doing that. Didn’t regret it. Molly loved it. Then took off to get to the turn around point. I got there and took off – this was the place to make up time because it was all downhill. I got back to the park where my sister and Molly were at and didn’t stop this time. I felt it in me, I was going to get that PR. But yet again, after I hit mile 10, I fell apart. This time my calves were on fire and my mental game was thinking about those 2 uphill miles. I ended up peeling off to massage my calves and walk for a bit. And with it I said so long to my new PR.

Pilgrim Pacer wins for best shirt and loses for organization of race.

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Mile 90 photographed the Kansas Half and Pilgrim Pacer. They do amazing work and let you download the photos for free.

It was a great experience – 7/10 would recommend for a good challenge but also some fairly irritating aspects to the series (logistical stuff). If I did this series again, I would need to train better. All 3 races I felt great and was ahead of the 1:50 pace but fell apart at the end. I imagine that me falling apart is mostly due to the fact that I just didn’t put the miles in for training. It also makes me wonder…if I actually trained, is a 1:45 half in reach???

Occupational Wellness: The Sick Day

Whoa. Blog post from me? I made a decision to keep my domain even through I hadn’t blogged in a long time because I had a feeling this day would come.

Also, spoiler alert – this blog is probably going to turn very heavily into posting on occupational wellness type thangs because to be quite frank, it’s what I love.

What spurred me on this morning was reading this story in the Daily Skimm about how  80 students from Boston College are sick after a Chipotle employee came to work ill.

Now this is something that I also really struggle with – taking the sick day. On one hand, I’m all for it – take the sick day, get yourself better, don’t spread your illness to co-workers and others.

But on the other hand…the judgment that comes from taking a sick day…and are you really sick enough to take a sick day? Have you taken too many sick days? Can’t you just push through it?

But if you get sick days as part of your benefits…why not use them? Why is it a badge of honor to rack up all your sick days and have more sick days than others? But what if something major happens and then you start to regret taking that sick day when you were feeling under the weather?

I have no answers here. Only thoughts and questions. I don’t understand the negative stigma that comes from taking a sick day. Is it a point of pride to say you came to work and worked through the flu? Or hooked up to an IV and you still worked? Is work really that important that nothing will stop you from working? Is that actually a bad thing though? Because you are so dedicated to your job or you found something you love so much that nothing will stop you from doing your job?

So many questions and thoughts.

Physical Wellness: Garmin Vivofit Review

It’s been awhile. Between being busy and just being unmotivated to blog, this blog has taken a backseat to my life. I don’t know what regular blogging schedule I will be on, but here is a post.

For my birthday, I received a gift card and with it, I purchased a Garmin Vivofit (the original one). I’ve had for about 3 weeks now and wanted to provide a review of it.

Pros:

I do love that it keeps me motivated to be active. I will sometimes get home and just want to sit down (remember, I have a standing desk so pretty much from 5 am – 7 pm I am standing M-F) and relax. But then I will look down and see that I have 3000 more steps to hit my goal for the day and realize that it’s only a little more than a mile and I could just go and do a really quick run or go for a walk and get my steps in for the day.

I love that it tracks your sleep. Not that I can’t tell you on my own when I didn’t get a good night of sleep, but I really enjoy seeing the data from that

I love seeing the data and how many steps I actually accumulate throughout the day. Like I mentioned above, I have a standing desk. Beyond that, 3 days a week I walk to work and most days I walk for 30 minutes with a friend at work.

Cons:

It only tracks if you move your arm while walking. So while I’m at my desk taking a few steps or whatnot, it never tracks because my hands are up at my shelf/desk on my keyboard. Or if I am carrying stuff with my left hand and not moving it enough, the step don’t count. On the flip side of that, when I’m washing my dishes and moving my hands around, steps are being counted even though they aren’t really being taken. I figure they probably even out with the steps that I have taken versus the steps that I haven’t taken but annoying.

I definitely feel guilty when I don’t hit my number. And that irritates me that I feel guilty. There have been a couple of nights where I have stayed up and just paced in my apartment to finish getting my steps. It also annoys me that I’m so fixated on getting these steps.

It sometimes takes forever to sync and when it does sync, it doesn’t sync correctly.

Overall

I really enjoy my Garmin Vivofit. I also really want to give a shout out to Garmin’s social media team because they have always responded to my tweets and seem to be very active and involved with their customers. Which I think is great. For me, the pros out weigh the cons and I’m enjoying having goals set by something other than my insane brain which seems to think that I should be running 10 miles every weekend even though the longest run I have done all year long was a 6 mile run at the beginning of March…

Do you have any of these step trackers? How do you like them? How do you utilize them?