Why it is So Important to Take Care of Your Mental Health

Kiki 

As we are heading for a third wave of rising infections and there seemingly is no end to this pandemic, I want to take the time to share with you my experience throughout the past year and what I have found to help me take care of my mental health. Corona can be incredibly overwhelming. All the uncertainty and restrictions take a heavy toll on our mental health, the numbers of people feeling anxious and depressed are rising as we continue to battle this pandemic. My own mental health has suffered immensely in the past year. While in the beginning I found it quite fun to not have to go to classes, the longer this takes, the more difficult it is to stay optimistic. I think we’ve all experienced those “COVID lows” where there just doesn’t seem to be a purpose of getting out of bed and the motivation drops to an all-time low. Some, including myself, may struggle with anxiety and depression and general hopelessness. I had reached a point where the smallest things would give me a panic attack, like whether I was going to wash my laundry now or in an hour, so trust me, I get it. 

Not only does poor mental health have negative affects on us, but also on those around us. Relationships can suffer when we are not doing well, and people will start to worry about us. The stigma around mental health is another huge issue, which is why ‘KAY and I want to make an effort to raise awareness. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a mental issue, nobody would shame you for having cancer now, would they? It is never your fault when you are not doing well mentally. And the good thing is, you have the power to change it! Just like we take care of ourselves physically, by moving and training our bodies and fueling it with healthy foods, we can take care of our mental state by training which thoughts we let enter our mind, by changing our attitudes and by committing to actions we know will help us. You got this!

The person you will spend most of your time with is you. While your body gives you a home, your mind is responsible for everything that goes on inside of you and how you act towards the outside. When you are unwell, you will not be able to live out your full potential. When we break a bone, we take time to rest and heal, don’t we? Then why has it become so little of a topic to rest and heal when your soul is in pain? Society has developed this attitude that we always need to function, we always need to be on top of our game and hustle, hustle, hustle. Sleep must be earned, and relaxing is lazy. It is no wonder the number of burnouts is increasing steadily, and people are experiencing them at younger and younger ages. We are so caught up in our work and life that we forget to truly live. And trust me when I say that has a huge influence on our mental health. Human beings are not made to work 24/7 and sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. 

Think about it, if your phone battery is low, you charge it. If your car runs out of gas, you fill it up. So, wouldn’t it make sense to recharge ourselves when we can no longer keep going? It is so important to take care of yourself, being happy is not something you can attain by chasing it through getting the job you want, buying the things you want or having a large amount of money. Happiness comes from within; it is a choice. It is the choice to stop, to take a break, to take care of yourself before anyone else. You will be a much bigger asset to everyone when you are at a place where life gives you energy, rather than takes it from you. Everything in life becomes so much easier when you are in a good mental place, and so much more fun. And the coolest thing, it all starts and ends with yourself. You, and you alone, have the power to wake up every day excited for whatever the day will bring, to take on whatever challenge life throws at you and to love every aspect of life. This dialogue you have with yourself throughout the day, it is your choice to fill it with positive or negative words. Your thoughts are where it all starts, and you control your thoughts! 

Take out your agenda right now (or if you don’t have one, plan it in your head) and free one night that you will spend with yourself. Do whatever makes you happy, watch a nice movie, put on some candles and enjoy the solitude. You come first, always. 







Mental Health
during Corona

Kiki 

Corona can be incredibly overwhelming. All the uncertainty and restrictions take a heavy toll on our mental health, the numbers of people feeling anxious and depressed are rising as we continue to battle this pandemic. My own mental health has suffered immensely in the past year. While in the beginning I found it quite fun to not have to go to classes, the longer this takes, the more difficult it is to stay optimistic. I think we’ve all experienced those “COVID lows” where there just doesn’t seem to be a purpose of getting out of bed and the motivation drops to an all-time low. Some, including myself, may struggle with anxiety and depression and general hopelessness. I had reached a point where the smallest things would give me a panic attack, like whether I was going to wash my laundry now or in an hour, so trust me, I get it. 

For everyone who is feeling the same way or similar, I want you to know that it is okay. It’s completely fine to not feel like your normal self, to struggle with your motivation and to feel stuck. How could you expect yourself to be at 100% if the world around us isn’t? What is important now is that we are kind to ourselves. We need to learn to not be so hard on ourselves and to be okay with bad days. This has been incredibly difficult for me, I am a perfectionist and if something would go a little different than how I wanted, you could count on an incoming mental breakdown. But I am learning to be kind to myself. To allow myself to get up later than planned because I was just too tired. To skip a workout because my body can’t do it today. To take a day off and watch Netflix because everything seems to be going wrong. 

What has helped me is to structure my day a little bit. Get out of bed early, mediate, do yoga, go for a walk, do a little workout, anything that makes you happy. Give yourself a little bit of you-time first thing in the morning. And then make a to-do list so you don’t have to get anxious about all the things you need to do and so you can experience that little moment of joy when ticking the box after you finished a task. Teach yourself to be disciplined and to get through what you have to and celebrate the small wins. Get in a workout, your body will thank you, I promise. And when it gets a little tough, cry it all out, scream at COVID, talk to your friends about it. Then breathe and remind yourself of all the things you have, that you are healthy and that you are alive. And remember, whatever percent of your normal self you are at, you’re doing great! 30% is better than 10% and 10% is better than 1%. 

I know this seems like it will never end but difficult times pass. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and life will get better. So hang in there, practice gratitude, move your body, do things that you like and be kind to yourself.

I want you to close your eyes and to breathe deeply. Tell yourself, out loud or in your head: “I am proud of myself. I am proud of getting out of bed and for making it through the day. I will get through this and I will allow myself to struggle along the way. But I will keep moving forward because I am strong, I am brave, I am wonderful.” YOU GOT THIS!












The Law of Attraction

Kiki 

“As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clearheaded science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about the atoms this much: There is no matter as such! All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particles of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter." This quote comes from Max Planck, who is considered one of the founding fathers of quantum physics and won a Nobel Prize. Now, I don’t know too much about quantum physics or natural sciences in general, but what I do understand is the Law of Attraction.

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There are twelve universal laws that have existed for centuries, including the Law of Cause and Effect, the Law of Relativity – and the Law of Attraction.

The Law of Attraction states that we ourselves are in control of what comes into our life. The energy we send out through our actions, emotions and thoughts is the energy that will come back to us through the workings of the universe. This law can be applied to you as an individual and what you attract into your life and to those around you, who you attract with your energy.

Positive energy will always find positive energy. If you walk through life sending out positive vibrations (relating back to Max Planck’s quote), positive vibrations will align with you and will find you. The Law of Attraction will always bring people with similar energy as you to you. This means, that if you are a negative Nancy, your friend circle will sooner or later be a negative-Nancy club! But if you walk through life with a smile on your face, positive people will find you.

The same goes for the events in your life. If your mind is clouded with negative thoughts, you are sending negative vibrations out to the universe, and only that will be returned. On the other hand, if you send out positive vibrations, things will happen to you that you never thought were possible. And since this is a law we are talking about, this will always and forever be true.

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I would like to introduce to you a couple of ways you can invite abundant positivity into your life by following this law:

1.  Be clear. Think of exactly what you want and manifest it.

2. Practice gratitude. Gratitude will amplify your energy and when you practice gratitude, you will always send out positive vibrations.

3. Visualize. Imagine the outcome, what it looks like, what it smells and sounds like, what it feels like. And then live your life as if you already had it.

4. Trust the process. Things may happen that let you doubt, that make your manifestations unreachable. Have patience and have faith, the universe will always have greater things planned for you. And one day you will understand.
  

There is so much more to this than what I can describe in a short text. If you are interested in finding out more, I recommend the movie “The Secret” or the book with the same title by Rhonda Byrne. The movie is on Netflix and while it may not have received and Oscar, the content is unbeatable. Twice already has being aware of the secret changed my life, I truly wish you would comprehend the strength of the law. So if you are ready to change your life, you are only a couple of hours away from it.


Close your eyes right now and visualize something you want. This could be anything, getting your dream job, buying your dream car, finding your soulmate, whatever you want. Really picture it. Where are you? What is happening around you? What are you wearing? How do you feel? Internalize that feeling and go back to it whenever you can. And watch your dreams become reality.

One Step Closer To Happiness: Practicing Gratitude

Kiki 

To this day, the most valuable lesson I have learned on my journey to finding happiness is to practice gratitude. Always and everywhere. We tend to get so hung up on the things that we don’t have, that we lose sight of all the amazing things we do have. It starts with the small things. How amazing is it to have eyes that let us see the beautiful colors of this world? Ears to hear the birds chirp as spring approaches and the ability to feel the sun shine on our skin. It is all these small things we take for granted. Have you ever had a stuffed nose and realize that all this time when you could breathe properly, you took it for granted? It is our normality to be able to breathe but in the moments we can’t, we realize how precious it is. And that is what practicing gratitude is about.

Slowing down, looking around, and finding all the small things that we take for granted every day. Finding comfort in what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t. I can’t explain to you what exactly happens, but once we start focusing more on all the gifts life presents to us, the energy within us and around us changes. It feels warm, safe, happy. Sometimes this feeling brings me to the brink of tears because I realize how lucky I am and that all the complaining is not worth it when there is so much to be appreciated.

Actively practicing gratitude changed my life. It may sound extreme, but it truly did. When we start reminding ourselves to give thanks for all the small things, there is not enough room for the negative thoughts to enter our head anymore. And when they do try to sneak in, we have the power to change that. Every time something doesn’t go the way you would like it to, think of something that you are grateful for. Failed a test? Be thankful you get to have an education. Lost a friend? Be thankful for your ability to love. Feel insecure about your body? Be thankful for everything your body does for you, for giving you a home and carrying you through all of life’s adventures.

An easy way to get into the habit is what we call ‘gratitude rocks’. Find a special rock, somewhere, at a special place, anywhere, and make it your gratitude rock. Carry it with you everywhere you go. And every time you touch it, think of three things you are grateful for in that exact moment. Over the day, your mind will be so occupied with positivity that there is no room for negativity. And watch everything change. Your attitude, your mood, your relationships, even the things you feel you can’t control. They say life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. And when you react with gratitude, I promise you that happiness is just around the corner. So give it a go, and let me know how you feel! May you always have something to be grateful for.

Right here, right now, what are three things you usually take for granted that you are so thankful for?

Close your eyes and breathe. Internalize everything you just read and allow it to reach you. Even if you are not convinced, promise me to try. I promise your life will change

My Personal Journey from Seeing No Purpose to Finding Happiness

Kiki 

Hey ‘KAY family, I’m back! You’re probably wondering, who is this chick that keeps popping up on my timeline, and what does she have to do with mental health? Well, let me tell you: My name is Kiki and I have dedicated a lot of time in the last years to finding out what makes me happy and what can help other people reach happiness. .

It all started when I was 15 years old, I was living in the United States at that time, and being a teenager in high school is just difficult, for anyone really. It’s the first time you become conscious of yourself and others around you, you start comparing yourself and some people are just really mean. I remember crying to my dad about not understanding why I’d have to get up every morning to go to school, go to practice, do my homework, eat, sleep and repeat everything the next morning without finding joy in any of this. So when the year 2015 was just around the corner, I said to myself: “This is it. I am done being sad. I have no other option but to continue my life and I don’t want to do it this way. I don’t want to just exist, I want to truly live.” To this day, this remains one of my prime motivators in life: “We all have a choice – to live or to exist.” And with the new year, I started to look for happiness. I started eating healthier, moving more, complaining less, and changed my attitude about a lot of things. That homework I didn’t want to do was my gateway to one day study something I do enjoy, that person being mean to me had an issue with themselves and portrayed that onto me. I learned to stand above and started teaching myself to love myself. There was a time where I would stand in front of the mirror and give myself a pep-talk: “You are strong. You are smart. You are worthy. You are beautiful the way you are.” Boy did I feel ridiculous but boy did it make a difference!!  

I dare you to try it right now: go stand in front of your mirror and tell yourself whatever you need to hear. Hype yourself up, you’re amazing, you’re gorgeous, you’re kind, you’re trying your best here and that is and will forever be enough!

Another defining time of my life was my gap year after high school. I had gone through a terrible breakup that left me heartbroken for months and forced me to redefine myself completely. I was lucky to have gotten the opportunity to get far away from my home town, to the beautiful country of Kenya. My life there was so different and such an amazing distraction. I saw so much beauty, so much hope, and so much pain all at once. And it truly changed my perspective. I started actively practicing gratitude for all the small things: being thankful for the legs that would let me dance with the children, my eyes that let me see all the wild animals and endless deserts, my nose that allowed me to smell the delicious food, and all the things you’d usually take for granted. This new approach to life changed everything. I was no longer upset about the things that didn’t go right but found a new appreciation for the countless things I did have.   

This practice of gratitude continued on my next journey. After leaving Kenya earlier than planned, I was back home in November with nothing to do until college would start in September of the following year. So I took all the money I had saved, boarded a plane with two people I had met over the internet, and flew to Singapore. The plan was to go to Bali from there and then fly to Cairns, Australia and see what would happen. Well, life never takes plans into account and so after a volcano erupted in Bali, we needed to cancel our flights. Turns out that flights to Melbourne, Australia were actually cheaper so we thought, hey, let’s go to Melbourne then! I had no idea what I wanted to do there so I looked for short-term au pair jobs. I commented on one post on Facebook and another woman messaged me saying “Hey, you look nice, want to take care of my children for the next three months?” I thought why not, so without ever having more than chatted with the woman, I flew to Melbourne and stayed with her for the next three months. The craziest thing, my best friend from home was staying just 3km away from me! Everything had worked out so well and it was too much for me to believe that this was all a coincidence. So my best friend and I started to dig a little and came across the Law of Attraction – basically, the idea that what you send out is what you get back. If you’re a positive person, positive things will find you. I started actively incorporating these practices into my life and things occurred that I just refuse to believe were coincident. I ran into a friend of mine at 4 am in downtown Sydney of whom I hadn’t even known that he was there as well, I met a girl online who I met up with in Sydney, and on the first night we decided we would spend the next three months living in a car and traveling the country, I got accepted into the only university I had applied to (thanks to which I am now sitting here in Groningen and writing this blog!), and so much more! The time in Australia and the months after when I started studying here was truly the happiest time of my life. I had so much happiness in me that I constantly needed to hug people to let it out because I was just bursting with joy!!  

And then came Corona and took a heavy toll on my mental health. I lost the structure I used to have, missed the lack of social contact every day, felt stuck having to be in one place and not being allowed to explore, and had trouble finding the ‘why’ that would keep me going. But when I look around, I really shouldn’t complain much. Corona has given me so many people I now love dearly, it has forced me to be disciplined, allowed me to be present, and has reminded me once again that it is important to actively take care of your mental health. So here we are. I am regaining control over my thoughts, I am rediscovering all the tricks and tools there are that can make us happier, I am changing my attitude to see the good, I am thankful for the smallest things I come across. It’s the same thing as 7 years ago all over again, only this time, I get to take you along with me. So thank you, truly, for reading this. 

INTRODUCTION

Kiki 

Dear ‘KAY family, welcome to the first blog of many to come. My name is Kiki, I am 22 years old and will have the chance to share with you everything I know, have learned and experienced, and everything I don’t know yet about mental health. This blog will serve as an opportunity to present different approaches to bettering your mental health, showing different mechanisms that can help in different scenarios, introducing scientific evidence behind different practices, giving you food for thought, suggesting tools and resources and so much more.

It is so important to talk about mental health and to overcome the taboo of the topic and I am so proud of ‘KAY’s role in this process. We all deserve to be happy and for some this may be harder to achieve than for others and some days are rougher than others. Especially in our fast-pacing and ever-changing world where we get the feeling that we always need to function, it is so important to take care of our mental health. We can’t expect our body and the live around us to work if our mind doesn’t. We have around 6000 thoughts a day and if these are negative and constantly put pressure onto ourselves, it is absolutely understandable that we won’t be able to keep up with everything happening. The good thing though, that can be changed!

Happiness comes from within us. Every expert on mental health has said so, however different their approach may be. And what happens within us can be changed, by us!! I myself have gone through a complete change in mindset from just existing and making it through every day just to go to bed at night to await the next day that I would spent so lacking of purpose and joy to being thankful for every day because I am just that excited about the greatest gift of all times: my life. The change you see within yourself and around you when you start taking care of your mental health is truly immense. I cannot wait to share with you all of the things that have helped me, all the things I have found to be the truth for myself and whatever else we may find on the way. 

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DESIGNING FOR 'KAY

 Jordan Walsh
 


People say, “Don’t judge a book by its cover’, in my field of work there is an exception to this saying, as a graphic designer - visuals are our key to winning someone over. Design is limitless, everyone today is a designer; in my case I bring peoples thoughts to life graphically. I decided to join ‘KAY because I knew it would give me the opportunity to grow as a graphic designer, but too as a method to learn the ins and outs of how companies work internally. Unfortunately, I joined in the middle of March 2020 to where the world was welcomed to one of the biggest pains to date; the coronavirus. For each member of ‘KAY we didn’t see this as a negative, more of an opportunity to turn silver into gold.  

Everyone has their own process of how they go about working, if I could translate mine into a sentence it would be, “Get opinions, use them as inspiration and prototype, stress, then more opinions”. My biggest goal with being the lead designer of this company, was to include everyone’s vision of how they imagined the brand ‘KAY, and where they saw it going. Whether it’s work on the website’s appearance or concepts for sweater designs, my biggest goal is to constantly get feedback. Having a team to evaluate not only allows me to get better at my practice, but to reinforce that everyone feels apart of the design process.

As a designer my main inspiration comes from simplicity, and how others can minimize a large amount of content into something small and abstract. My method of creation starts on paper, where I sketch down everyone’s interests and keywords to help keep me focused, though a large majority of the time I tend to totally overthink idea’s to the point of exhaustion; being a perfectionist is a dangerous game. Even though time is taken away from me because of my mind, I further see that through developing many versions of designs I’m growing more and more as a designer. In all paths of life everyone has moments of being overwhelmed by work, moments like these allow me to reflect on the importance of taking breaks to recover and care about my mental/physical health.


Joining a company was a scary thought to me initially, so many questions filled my insecure head at first like; “How much work will be required?”, “What if the others think my work is at a lower standard?”, “Will the other team members like me?”. On introduction to the full team they were able to break down the past of the company, and whether something goes right or wrong; everything is a learning experience. Having the knowledge that each member had fire under them to simply learn, gave me that extra push to commit and join ‘KAY. Working with everyone collectively and individually, opened my eyes to the organisation that happens within a business and the foundation that’s needed for it to run smoothly. With this I was introduced into an environment where I could feel comfortable to share my thoughts on matters that weren’t necessarily design related. Throughout the past months I’ve picked up useful skills regarding marketing strategies, communications and business models; with that also giving the other members insight to the world of design principles.

Being a designer for this company has opened many pathways for me, the main being I now have 5+ months experience of being a lead designer. This really benefits my CV, showing potential employers that I know design besides freelancing, I have been a part of business decisions; showing maturity. It’s also given me opportunity to grow my network, now I have more reliable sources to contact if I need something important in the business industry. As I mentioned I like to ask my peers for feedback with everything I create, a result of this my skills have improved in knowing how to structure and present information visually. If I never agreed to taking on this role, I would’ve had a lot less going for me. Prior to this experience I wouldn’t organize myself but with taking on this role I was able to categorize the time I should allocate to work, for the importance of my health. My biggest advice is to take everything you can to get more experience not only for work but for yourself personally, if you take these advantages handed to you; you can turn silver into gold.