Take care of yourself before taking care of others- sometimes it can be easy to neglect your own needs in order to address the needs of others, but you can’t give energy that you don’t have.
Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Blaylock.
Kelly is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist from San Diego, CA and owns and operates her own private practice. Kelly works with couples and individuals who are experiencing anxiety, life transitions, or relationship issues. She has taken a special interest in working with women in their 20s and 30s who are navigating a recent breakup or dating anxiety.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?
Ofcourse! I knew I wanted to be a therapist when I was 17. I struggled with anxiety in high school, and have been fascinated by human behavior and psychology, so I always knew that this was a path I wanted to take in order to help others. When Tumblr was still a popular website, I started a page where I’d give resources and advice to fellow teens and provide words of encouragement. It gained over 800 followers which was a big deal in those days! I got my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of San Diego in 2016 and then went on to obtain my master’s degree in Marital and Family Therapy from the University of San Diego in 2019. I have been working in the mental health field since 2016 working at various clinics and agencies in San Diego. Through all of this experience, I have always been drawn to helping people through anxiety and relationship distress. I became licensed in November 2022 and immediately opened my own private practice where I get to work with my amazing clients!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
I was working in a residential program at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was one of the most stressful yet influential times in my career thus far! We had to completely reorganize how we ran the program, and there were changes being made almost on a daily basis to adjust to the pandemic. We were often short-staffed and highly stressed but the greatest joy was seeing how much relief and assistance we brought to our clients everyday. They often acknowledged our hard work to help them through their tough times while simultaneously going through a scary and unknown time in the world. My main takeaway is how rewarding my career is, and how lucky I feel to be someone’s support system during a difficult time.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I am sure that every therapist has a story or two about when they were first starting out and had a bit of an awkward start as a therapist. The biggest mistake I had when I was first starting was not having enough trust in myself. I often found myself over preparing and overthinking for sessions, and now some of my best work with clients comes from just showing up as my true authentic self. I have continued to learn to trust my abilities, my training, and the fact that I am a human being and sometimes therapists make mistakes too!
Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?
I have always been a strong advocate for mental health awareness and the de-stigmatization of therapy. Our society often promotes wellness as physical and spiritual health, and only in the past few years has mental health finally had a seat at the table. My work as a therapist has helped to advocate for this cause and normalize that it’s okay to go to therapy, even when there might not be a big issue going on in your life. I hope to continue this voice through my instagram page where I discuss various mental health topics.
Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?
1 . Check in with yourself everyday- So often, I talk to clients about how they suddenly started feeling anxious, frustrated, or overwhelmed and aren’t sure where it came from. When we begin to break down how things have been going in their life, we can sometimes pinpoint a moment or event that was the catalyst. I always encourage people to do daily check-ins with themselves just to gauge how they’re feeling today, what their needs are, and if there are any upcoming stressors they should be mindful of within themselves.
2 . Go for a walk or light exercise for at least 10 minutes every day- not only does this help with physical health, but there are so many emotional benefits to moving your body. When we feel anxious, sad, or depressed, we tend to isolate ourselves which perpetuates these feelings. Getting outside and moving your body can be a helpful way to release some of these thoughts in our heads. Turn on your favorite music or podcast and see how far your body wants to take you. Personally, I have found that my best mental processing happens when I’m walking.
3 . Create regular plans with friends as much as possible- We all lead very busy lives, but finding a regular or semi-regular plan with friends can be a helpful way to always prioritize social support, which is another important area of wellbeing. My friends and I have a tentative plan every week to make dinner on Wednesdays and catch up on The Bachelor. It’s a great way to catch up with one another on how our week has been going, and take a few hours to pause our busy lives and come together to enjoy eachother’s company. We aren’t always able to meet but it has been a great way to connect and get closer to them as we are all beginning to form our own lives and families.
4 . Normalize taking a break to rest- Burnout is a common topic these days, and as a society we often push ourselves to the max at work, or even in our social lives. Once you begin checking in with yourself, it’s important to also notice and plan for moments or days in which you give yourself a bit more permission to just recharge and take a rest. It often feels like you aren’t being productive when you’re taking a day to sit on the couch and watch TV, but your body and mind need rest sometimes!
5 . Go to therapy! Many people think that you only go to therapy when there is a major issue going on in your life. However, therapy is just as important for preventative support as it is for more crisis-level support. Not only will it help you learn helpful tools and skills to use in times of need, but it’s a great space to explore yourself, your values, and your emotions.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I would love to see more policies put in place to bring mental healthcare to people who may not otherwise have access to it. Everyone benefits from having someone to talk to who can provide support and care, and there are so many in this world who don’t have access to someone like that.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- Be patient- the process of building a career of any kind can be daunting and stressful at times, but hard work will pay off in the end!
- Not everyone is going to like you- this is a reminder for myself as a therapist where sometimes I might not be a good fit for a client, but also for myself individually. I’m not going to please everyone and that’s okay
- Take care of yourself before taking care of others- sometimes it can be easy to neglect your own needs in order to address the needs of others, but you can’t give energy that you don’t have.
- Set boundaries for yourself in relationships — It can be easy to give in to the needs of others in a relationship, however you are setting yourself up for feelings of frustration and resentment down the road. It hurts when you realize someone is not adhering to a boundary you have for yourself, but you will be so much happier in the long run when you stick to what your needs are and walk away from relationships that don’t serve you in that way
- Just do it, even if you’re scared — I have often chosen to take the easier route out of fear of the unknown, and have come to realize that taking a risk and doing something challenging yet rewarding can be so beneficial.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental health will always be the cause most dear to my heart, as it is my life’s work! As I’ve stated, taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health and we must end the stigma of mental illness that has plagued our society for years.
What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?
I am on instagram @kellyblaylocklmft and through my website: www.kellyblaylocklmft.com
Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.
About the interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com.