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Guest Blog - Kim McKee

I f

eel honored to write a blog article for Band2Gthr and am loving their focus on mental health and personal growth! I have always had a passion for working with people, which ultimately led to me becoming a Mental Health Therapist. Prior to graduating from graduate school, I coached the snowboard teams at both Snowbird and Park City Ski Resorts. When I became a therapist, I was lucky to be able to combine my love for the adolescent population, the outdoors, sports, and mental health. For 10 years, I worked at a Residential Treatment Center for adolescents where so many of their life changes came as they improved their coping skills and self-worth. I have found that pushing myself to the hard work of personal growth often parallels the challenges faced during snowboarding, surfing, running, or mountain biking. I loved helping the kiddos find these same connections as they went hiking, rock climbing, learning to ski or snowboard, paddleboarding, traveling to new places, etc.

What a perfect time for Band2Gther to be spreading their positive words to the world! Daily living has become so much more complicated for many of us and if you find yourself struggling, know you are not alone. My first recommendation is to get to know yourself really well right now. Own your strengths and your struggles, without judgment. There is nothing wrong with feeling anxious, sad, or overwhelmed. All emotions make sense and have a place! They will come and go as they need to as long as we don’t make them stick around longer than they need to. Here are some keys for allowing negative emotions to pass without acting on them in unhelpful ways…

1. Identify thoughts that are both helpful and not helpful. Challenge the unhelpful thoughts by making them more productive. Are your thoughts rational? Are you being kind to yourself? Are you being realistic about your abilities and in your expectations for yourself and others?

2. Stay present. Identify ways you can help yourself right now. The future may feel completely out of control and in many ways it is. If you are able to find a way to be effective NOW, you will be more successful in the future.

3. Identify a few strengths. You have LOTS and identifying some positives will often change our emotions.

4. Turn to coping skills that have worked in the past. Some options are to splash cold water on your face, go for a run, call a friend, drink a cup of tea, eat a sour candy, light a candle or fill a diffuser with your favorite smells, or stand outside and identify all the beautiful things you see around you.

5. Ask for help. Sometimes we feel alone in our emotions, but the people around us often feel the exact same way. Please don’t feel like you ever have to do it alone!

As we are all learning to navigate this new normal, we need to give ourselves as much grace as possible. When we got the “stay at home” orders here in California, I felt a lot of pressure to the be perfect homeschooling teacher, to make perfect meals, to keep my kiddos stimulated with extra art projects and science experiments, to follow through with their soccer training plans and at-home gymnastics practices, to keep up on my own exercise routine, to manage my moods perfectly and to be positive so that the fear of the virus didn’t take over… well, guess what, I crumbled pretty quickly. After a couple of weeks, I needed to redefine my expectations for myself, which required using all of the keys noted above. Give yourself space to not be perfect, to have bad days, to let it be messy AND keep pushing forward, keep fighting for yourself and those you love. Life is beautiful!

Kim

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