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?

Intellectual Wellness: Changing the Culture of College

When I was in grad school, I was a grad assistant for a wellness program on campus. We did a number of events but by far our most popular events were alcohol education events, so I have a bit of an interest in this. I have recently noticed a number of universities suspending Greek organizations on the basis of alcohol related deaths or sexual assault allegations. While I am someone who admittedly has some biases against Greek orgs, I have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Even at universities where Greek life isn’t big, there are still alcohol related deaths and sexual assault. It’s not just about punishing the Greek organizations. It’s about taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture. Getting wasted and drinking games that promote binge drinking are popular on college campus. So popular that it is almost expected of college students to go out and get wasted. And when you are drunk, your decision making skills are impaired as well as the fact that in most states, you are not legally able to give consent if you are intoxicated.

What needs to change isn’t that more frats and sororities need to be punished and suspended. What needs to change are the cultures of college campuses. Which, someone who studied org change in grad school, is not an easy feat at all. However, colleges are a unique setting, because unlike a typical organization that retains staff members for years, decades, and even longer…a new college class comes in every year and in 4-6 years ish, that class is gone and moved on. We need to start with incoming students and start working on changing the culture of universities. Right now, we have universities that have parties going on where students are soaking tampons in alcohol to get drunk. Students are playing binge drinking games to get hammered because it’s the “cool” thing to do. How is any of this an accepted behavior? We throw phrases around like, “there is a time and place for everything and that is in college” and while that is true for some things, there is never a time and place to soak a tampon in vodka and insert it into your body just to get more drunk.

Financial Wellness: Money Saving Apps

Holiday season is upon us, like it or not (I like it) and with that comes the inevitable cost of buying gifts, travel, the food…fear not though, I may have an article that could prove to be a bit valuable…8 different apps that you can actually use year round but this article is marketing it towards the holiday season. I was most excited to try Santa’s Bag but unfortunately it’s not available for Window’s phones (truly the only negative of Window’s phones has to be the lack of apps made available). It has a countdown until Christmas, it’s password protected, and lets you create budgets and lists of gifts. If you use the app appropriately, it will even save all the gifts that you have gotten for people so no more cruising through Eddie Bauer trying to remember if you have already given your stepdad that exact same fleece 4 years in a row…

There are apps that range from hotel, to food, to clothes, to toys…check out the article and if you download any of the apps, let me know in the comments below. And damn you iPhone users and having a better store…but I will just have to live with having a superior phone 🙂

Mental Wellness: The Should and the Push

I recently stumbled on a blog from a guy who runs in the fast group at run club. I never talk to him and rarely talk to anyone in the fast group (or any group outside of my friend and I) mainly because I don’t feel “good” enough to converse with people in the fast group. These guys are like royalty to me. They run high mileage, big races, fast times…and I just sort of…well run, occasionally. Times that I put up aren’t impressive, just a bit above average and it’s to be expected. I don’t put a lot of work or effort into my fitness. Yet I expect to excel at races.

I keep finishing races feeling like I should feel happy and accomplished but I actually feel disappointed. I’m disappointed with my marathon. I should have trained harder, I should have ran faster, and I should have finished within my time frame. I had it in me. I’m disappointed with my half marathon. I should have ran faster out of the gates, I should have put some extra training miles in last week, and I should have been able to break 1:50 which would have allowed me to place.

And I should remember all of this every single day when I’m being lazy reading blogs and watching tv instead of running and cross training. If I want to be even considered a smidge of a runner, I should be busting my ass and run as often as possible.

Getting to see a glimpse into someone’s mind who is a far superior athlete than you is fascinating. Slightly motivating. Definitely overwhelming.

I should stop reading his blog and wash my dishes and prep for tomorrow which should include laying clothes out to get an early morning run in.

Physical Wellness: Kansas Half Marathon

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PR-ed by 7 1/2 minutes which I think is not too shabby for being exactly 2 weeks post marathon.

I wasn’t sure if I was going to do this race – since it was so soon after my full but I had in my mind that I wanted to if I was feeling good. The company putting the race on used our Thursday night run club to get promo pictures for the event so I felt a little more “obligation” to do the race since I was part of the promo. I learned in this race that I’m not good at running with a pace group. I went into the race thinking, “Alright, I’m going to try and stick with the 1:55 group and if I can’t keep up, then I can back off a bit and hopefully finish in a sub-2.” Plus the winds were supposed to be 15-20 mph (thanks Kansas) so I wasn’t expecting to PR. So that’s what I tried doing but I just got so irritated with everyone. People kept trying to block me out, a guy almost spit on me (which really pissed me off – we were right beside a wooded area, if you need to spit, fine but don’t do it towards people when you have the option to do away from people), and I just generally really was irritated by being around a lot of people. See, I love the silence and solitude of running not necessarily the social aspect of running. I generally train by myself, do runs early in the morning when people in general are not out, and get to relish in silence. Being around lots of people is not my, well, jam.

I stuck with my pace group for Miles 1 (8:51) and 2 (8:32) and by Mile 3 (8:16) I had pulled away from the group and was running my own race. The miles were clicking by 4 (8:20), 5 (8:23), 6 (8:18), 7 (8:17). I was feeling good and the strong winds were really not getting me that much. Until I hit around Mile 8 (8:37). Man that was strong wind and it was reflected in my times. There was a section of the race that we ran on the levee and I could tell running to the turn around point that I was running with the wind so I tried as much as I could to pick up my pace and try to gain as much time as I could because I knew as soon as I got to the turn around point I would be running into the wind. (Mile 9, 8:49, Mile 10, 8:38, Mile 11 9:06). Getting off the levee I knew I just had some weaving through residential area and then I was done. But the wind and me being unprepared didn’t help me out and I could feel myself fading (Mile 12 8:45). I saw the last mile and tried to kick but we were weaving through a playground and an underground tunnel and random steep (but short hills) and I just couldn’t find my kick (Mile 13 9:08) but once I saw the finish line I just started going. I pulled my headphones out (something I have found I like to do when crossing the finish line) and heard someone say “Wow she looks like she is running a 100 meter dash!” and I assume this person was talking about me because I wasn’t in a group/cluster of people. That was pretty cool to hear.

I crossed the finish line and saw a 1:52:45 (official time 1:52:43) and felt pleased. I wish I would have gone out a bit harder at the beginning and I wish I had more left in me to have a strong sub 8 minute finish for my last mile. But I can say that as I finished I did feel like I put everything I had on that race course and I’m really glad that I didn’t try to stick with my pace group. I don’t think I will be using pacers for future races besides knowing where to line up.

So what’s next? I’m going to take some time off and start looking at spring races to do. I’ve had in my mind that I’d like to hit a 1:45 half marathon. I would also like to complete the 39.3 challenge that is 3 half marathons in about 5 weeks – all local races. My only drawback from doing this is that I hate running races in Kansas with the crazy wind. But for the immediate future, I am going to get back into hitting my workouts hard and keep running and working towards that 1:45 half!

Spiritual Wellness: Death

I tend to be the type of person that needs to listen to something to fall asleep. For the past few months, I put on an episode of Freaks and Geeks and fall asleep within the first 15 minutes of the show. I struggled sleeping last night as it was insanely hot in my apartment from it being almost 90 degrees outside yesterday. So as I was tossing and turning, I was listening to Freaks and Geeks and listening to Lindsey and Sam’s dad use the good old scare tactic approach to parenting. He kept telling them that he knew someone who had done a devious behavior and that person died “because” of it and it got me thinking…

Is death really a scare tactic? We don’t know anything is certain in life except death. Father time is unbeaten. You can go your entire life and live as healthy as possible and you will still die. Sure you can make arguments about your quality of life but to me that is a different discussion. When people say smoking will kill you and that’s why you shouldn’t smoke, is that really the best scare tactic to use? Because I could be sitting here typing up this blog post and could die at any moment or I could go out and sky dive and die. Sure there are things that can increase your chance of dying sooner but regardless of what you do in your life and how you live your life, you are still going to die.

It seems a bit morbid, doesn’t it, to talk about death? The one thing that every single human being experiences – all humans experience life and death and you could argue that those two things are our only true shared experiences in life. From a baby dying a moments after birth to an elderly person passing away peacefully and every single death in between. Once we are born, we are just passing time until we die. What you do with that time makes your life special and unique and I don’t want to make it seem like it doesn’t matter – it does. But death is inevitable. So why does Lindsey and Sam’s dad use it as a scare tactic? Why do we keep trying to outrun it? Why do we feel so scared by it? Why does talking about it seem so taboo?