7 Ways to De-Stress After a Long Day

Well, another Monday is here, which means it’s the start of another work week. Mondays aren’t often easy or fun, but every week they come and every week we make it through.

Life is stressful. Between our jobs, our friends, our families and everything in between, there’s always something to drive us crazy. And if it happens on a Monday, well that’s just icing on the cake. When do we ever have time to slow down and relax?

As stressful as life can be at times, we can’t let it consume us; we have to give ourselves time to rest and recharge. It’s so important to take time to de-stress after long days at work or school, or even just after a full day of running errands and adulting. That can be pretty tiring and overwhelming sometimes, too. Even if it’s only for 15 or 20 minutes, making that time each day to de-stress is important to our health.

7 ways to de-stress after a long day

Here are 7 ways I love to de-stress after a long day at work!

I may not go through all seven of these every night, but I do try my best to do at least two of them before I go to bed.

Eat a good dinner // I try not to eat anything too heavy at night, but eating a good, healthful dinner is a great way to calm down and de-stress. Eating should not feel rushed; in fact, eating slowly will make you realize how full you are, sooner, so you don’t overeat.

Play with Maggie Kitty // She’s only a year and a half old, so she still has a ton of energy. She’s also super cute when she plays with her mouse toys and she pounces them like she’s on the prowl. Plus, the more I play with her, she’ll get tired and will sleep better at night, which means I sleep better, too.

How do YOU de-stress after a long day? Click To Tweet

Call my parents or a friend // So few people actually call people anymore; phone calls are becoming a lost art! I call my parents a lot, especially if I need to vent about something. It’s always nice to catch up with my friends from college or grad school when I don’t see or talk to them every day anymore.

Read a book // The experts say to turn off your devices and not look at a screen for at least half an hour before going to bed, so reading a book (or a few chapters of a book) is a great way to wind down before sleepy time. I always keep a book on my nightstand and will read a chapter or two to help me fall asleep. Right now I’m reading If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher and I love it so far!

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Drink decaf or herbal tea // I’m really good about drinking tea every night when the weather gets colder, but it’s something I could definitely be better about year-round. I’m a huge fan of green tea, and chamomile is great to drink at night since it’s naturally decaffeinated. Bigelow’s “Sweet Dreams” tea is another good one for right before bedtime.

Bedtime yoga // This is one of my favorite ways to de-stress after work. Yoga or any good stretching routine is awesome to do right before bedtime (or any time of day, really, but especially at bedtime). Find a routine that really helps you focus on your breathing so that you can calm down and get in a “sleepy” state of mind.

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Write in a journal // I’m on and off a good journaler, and I really should write in a journal more often. It’s good for my anxiety. Writing–like with a pen and paper–is also great if you have restless hands and need to release some low-key energy before bed. It’s also great to let out any thoughts that have been worrying you so you don’t toss and turn all night.

With everything we have going on in our lives, it’s so important to take time to yourself to de-stress before bed. Remember that you should turn off your devices and screens at least half an hour before bed so your eyes can adjust and your mind can start de-stressing. That’s something I could really do better.

What are your favorite ways to de-stress after a long day?

11 Things to Do This Fall in Chattanooga + a Giveaway!

As much as I love summer, I’m always super excited when fall comes around. There’s so much to love about this season, from all pumpkin everything to football to sweater weather and beyond. I’ve already had my one obligatory pumpkin spice latte of the season, so now I’m ready for everything else.

This summer in Chattanooga was jam packed with some amazing events, and the fall calendar is no different. There will be things to do almost every weekend now through the holiday season. My calendar is going to fill up quickly with all sorts of special events.

Here are 11 things to do in Chattanooga this fall!

In general, I’m a huge fan of apple picking and going to pumpkin patches. There are plenty of places in Tennessee and North Georgia to pick apples of any and all varieties. I’m a fan of R&A Orchards in Ellijay, Ga. I came back last year with nearly two pecks of apples that I turned into applesauce and apple butter.

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If shows and concerts are more your style, the Tivoli Theater has a fantastic schedule for the 2016-2017 season. If you’re looking for any special events, here’s what’s happening in Chattanooga now through the end of the season:

3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival – Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 // Two whole days of nothing but bluegrass, at Ross’s Landing right down by the Tennessee River. This year marks 10 years of the festival, and the lineup for this year can be found on their website. The best thing about 3 Sisters Bluegrass Festival: it’s completely free.

Wine Over Water – Oct. 1 // It’s exactly what it sounds like: a wine festival set overlooking the Tennessee River in downtown Chattanooga. This is one of the best things to do this fall in Chattanooga. Sample wines from over 100 wineries and taste food from some of the best local chefs. Are you a red or a white person?

Rock City’s Rocktoberfest – October 1-30 // One of Chattanooga’s iconic landmarks and attractions transforms into an autumnal paradise with fall foliage and all things German. There will be German food, beer, music, dancing, characters in costume and more to bring the true Oktoberfest spirit.

Autumn Children’s Festival – Oct. 1-2 // Want to get the kids out for a day of pony rides, face painting, carnival games and more fun? Get the family together for the Autumn Children’s Festival at the Tennessee Riverpark.

11 things to do in #Chattanooga this fall + a GIVEAWAY! Click To Tweet

Handcrafted Wishes – Oct. 7 // Here I am with my food and drink benefit events again! Spend an evening at the Hunter Museum of American Art tasting great local food and craft beer, playing some games, listening to live music, and best of all, giving back to the community. All proceeds from the event’s ticket sales and silent auction go toward the local Make a Wish Foundation chapter. Check out their website for more information about restaurants and breweries that will be there. Did I mention it’s on the rooftop of the Hunter Museum, overlooking the river and the bluff? Talk about a view. *This event is 21+ only.

Best Town (For)Ever – Oct. 14 // Did you know that Chattanooga was voted Outdoor Magazine’s Best Town Ever two years in a row? Well, it was. And it’s still awesome. We’re celebrating that again with live local music, delicious food, an outdoor expo and everything else that makes Chattanooga such a wonderful place. The festivities take place on the 700 block of Cherry Street on Oct. 14.

Cleveland Apple Festival – Oct. 15-16 // Speaking of apple picking, check out the Cleveland Apple Festival up in downtown Cleveland, Tenn., the weekend of October 15-16. Aside from apples galore, there will be an arts and crafts show, live music, food booths, hay rides, activities for the kids and more. All net proceeds from the festival will go toward other non-profit organizations in the Cleveland area.

Chattanooga Oktoberfest – Oct. 15-16 // Not to be confused with Rocktoberfest, of course. Who doesn’t love a good German celebration? This is Chattanooga’s premier Oktoberfest event, held at the First Tennessee Pavilion (where the Sunday farmer’s market is). It’s filled with German food, lots of beer (or bier, as the Germans say), music, dancing and good times. Prost!

Chattajack – Oct. 22 // Paddling up the Tennessee River for more than 30 miles? Sounds amazing. Or crazy, depends on your perspective. Whether you’re paddling or watching, this is one of Chattanooga’s biggest outdoor events of the year. I kind of really want to train for it for 2017. Maybe.

Head of the Hooch – Nov. 5-6 // Watch from one of Chattanooga’s bridges or along the banks of the river as hundreds of rowers race in the second largest regatta in the country. I’m a fan of just standing on the walking bridge and watching from above.

What are you excited for in #Chattanooga this fall? Click To Tweet

Main x 24 – Dec. 3-4 // Okay, so this is a bit past the fall, but it’s still one of the biggest events and most exciting things to do in Chattanooga. Mainx24 is a 24-hour festival that includes everything from food, to live music, to parades, to people in the streets and everything in between. There will be more than 100 events in the 24 hours, so there’s plenty of things to check out and experience. Plus, this year is the festival’s 10th anniversary, so if it’s not on your calendar already, it should be.

And that’s not all! I’m super excited for this giveaway: enter below for your chance to win two general admission tickets to Handcrafted Wishes on October 7 at the Hunter Art Museum! All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment on this post and you’re entered.

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Enter TODAY and stay tuned – the giveaway closes October 1 and a winner will be announced October 3!

There are tons of exciting and awesome things to do in Chattanooga this fall. Which events are you most excited for this fall?

10 Things That Bring Me Joy

This post was inspired by a topic from the Blogtember Challenge. I didn’t have a chance to link up on that day, so I’m writing about it now. Woo!

If you’re new around my blog, you may not know that my blog started as “On a Lighter Note,” and I wrote about the little things that brought me joy in my days. That was my sole purpose in blogging. It got old after a while, so I shifted my purpose toward something else.

Even though I’m not blogging about it specifically, I always look for joy in each and every day. There are so many things in each day worth smiling for, no matter how large or small. It’s so important–for our sanity, for our mental and emotional health–to find things that bring us joy in every day and reflect on them and the joy they bring us.

10 things that bring me joy

Here are 10 thing that bring me joy every single day.

No matter how bad my day is, I know each of these ten things can make me smile when I need a pick-me-up.

Morning coffee // I drink a cup (or two, or sometimes three…) of coffee every morning while I’m making breakfast, packing my lunch and getting ready for work. It’s part of my routine and when I don’t have my coffee, I feel like my whole morning is thrown off. There’s something about the smell of a hot cup of coffee that makes me ready to take on my day. And there’s something really comforting about waking up on a Saturday or Sunday and having a cup of coffee in bed.

Maggie Kitty // I might be stepping into cat lady territory here, but I love my cat dearly. Adopting her was one of the best things I did for myself when I moved to Chattanooga last year. She’s so loving and good-natured and always wakes me up with purring head rubs. She can be a handful but her energy keeps me on my toes. And kitty snuggles are the best snuggles, especially after a hard day.

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Going to work // Everyone has bad days or difficult weeks at work, but I can honestly say I can only count a very few days when I’ve woken up not excited to go to my job. That alone brings me more joy than I can properly express.

What brings you joy each and every day? Click To Tweet

Running and working out // My friend from college Joel opened his own gym in Richmond, Va. He’s usually my go-to when I have questions about fitness or nutrition. One of the pillars of his business is that movement is a gift and we’re given our bodies for free, and they deserve to be treated well. I keep that in mind when I’m at the gym or doing any physical activity. I’ve started running again and I became very fond of stand-up paddle boarding this summer. Remember what Elle Woods said: “Exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Classic.

Listening to music // I have music playing at almost any given time during my day: in my car on my drive to and from work, on my computer during the day, at the gym and usually on my iPad when I’m at home. I can’t stand silence, so background music is essential. Yes, I sing and dance along. Am I a good singer? No. Does it matter? Not when no one else can hear me.

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Playing my violin // I played for 12 years, quit cold turkey in college, and started playing again late last year. I had forgotten how much I loved playing the violin and how calming it is for me. I’ll take my instrument out a couple days a week and play for a little bit. It takes me back to my “prime time” and I get all nostalgic.

Cooking dinner // Or any meal, for that matter, but I mostly cook dinner during the week and on the weekends. I like cooking for myself because I know what I’m putting in the food that I’m putting in my body. Can’t always say that about store-bought meals! And when you eat good things, you feel good about yourself.

Find something, anything in your day that brings you joy, no matter how big or small. Click To Tweet

Football season // Few things make me happier than knowing I can spend my entire Saturdays and Sundays watching one of America’s greatest sports from now until February. I’m also doing fantasy football for the first time in several years, so now I actually have to pay attention to what’s happening around the league. It’ll make for good friendly competition at work.

The city I live in // Call me crazy obsessed, but I really do love Chattanooga. Maybe I was a little bitter at times, but those times were short and very few and far between. There is so much going on in Chattanooga and there’s only more to come.

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My blog // I’ve been at it for five years; if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have kept at it for so long! This space kept me sane in grad school and still does a pretty good job of that.

Even on the roughest, toughest days, I can always find joy in something. I’m lucky that I have so many things to be happy and thankful for, and I hope you can find as many things in your days to make you smile, too.

What brings you joy each and every day? 

Summer 2016 Highlights

I moved to Chattanooga halfway through last summer, so I didn’t get to experience a full Chattanooga summer. This year, though, I got to do that. With the summer winding down and fall right around the corner, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about just how awesome the last several months have been, and how lucky I am to have had the opportunities I had.

It’s safe to say that the summer of 2016 has been one of the best yet.

Here are my top summer highlights, from my first full summer as an official Chattanoogan!

Really, it was the best.

I started the summer–well, the “unofficial” start of summer–at my parents’ lake house in North Carolina for Memorial Day Weekend. The weather was great and I spent lots of time down by the water. I went back to the lake back in August for a long weekend and took advantage of my parents’ new set of stand-up paddle boards.

kate at lake summer highlight

Then in June, there was Riverbend, the 10-day music festival down on the riverfront that I had the awesome opportunity to cover. It was my first music festival, and my first time covering an event as “official media.” With acts like Thomas Rhett, Brett Eldgredge, Heart, .38 Special, REO Speedwagon, Kane Brown, ZZ Ward, Blackberry Smoke, Chris Young and many more, the 35th annual Riverbend Music Festival was definitely a summer highlight. Y’all can check out my recap for PrettySouthern here!

riverbend 2016

I also covered the Southern Brewers Festival in August. This is Tennessee’s premier beer festival, held at Ross’s Landing down by the river (a popular event spot in town, if you’ve noticed). The festival featured more than 50 breweries from around the Southeast (and one from Ohio) with oodles of brews for everyone to sample and sip on throughout the day. My favorite beer of the day was far and away the Watermelon Wheat from Straight to Ale (Huntsville, Ala.), and I was also a huge fan of Paw Paw’s Peach from Back Forty Beer Company.

I couldn’t talk about summer in Chattanooga without mentioning Chattanooga Football Club. My Saturdays from mid-May until the end of July were devoted to the boys in blue in Finley Stadium. I wasn’t a soccer fan when I moved to Chattanooga–heck, I hardly knew how the game was played beyond “put the ball into the net” (and watch us all go mental)–but after this summer of soccer, I’m already counting the days until the 2017 season kicks off. The people I spent those Saturdays with quickly became some of the best friends I’ve made in the last year.

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I spent lots of time outside this summer. Chattanooga has a fantastic outdoors culture and community and the city itself is surrounded with plenty of opportunities to get outside. I fell in love with hiking last summer and wanted to explore some new spots this summer. Edward’s Point is one of my favorites, and I can’t wait to check out Lula Lake and Cloudland Canyon before the summer is truly over. Stand-up paddle boarding on the river was my “zen time” of choice after work this summer. As relaxing as it is, it’s also a great (and underrated) workout. Maybe I’ll be paddling in the Chattajack next year?

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And yes, I finally broke down and purchased a pair of Chacos. Now all I need is a Nalgene bottle and a hammock, and I’ll be a true Chattanoogan.

But the ultimate summer highlight was getting to spend a whole 10 days with my dear childhood friend, Josh from England! We went to school together when I lived in Georgia, and then his family moved back to England when my family moved up to Pennsylvania. I saw him when I studied abroad several years ago, but only for a couple of days. This summer, I got to show him around my city for over a week and it was the best time ever. We went hiking and paddle boarding, visited the Tennessee Stillhouse, aquarium and several of my other favorite in-town attractions, made the trip out to Lynchburg for the Jack Daniels Distillery, went to a CFC match, and of course ate lots of delicious Southern food. It was his first trip back to the States in a decade, so we had to do it right!

kate and josh at tennessee stillhouse

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And of course, summer in Chattanooga wouldn’t be complete without expanding my foodie horizons. From brunch to ice cream to Happy Hour, I found all of my favorite spots and became a repeat offender at many of them (if I wasn’t already).

I’m sad that the summer has to end, but there are just as many exciting things coming up this fall. And who says I can’t go ahead and get excited for next summer already?

What are some of your summer highlights? 

My Workday Playlist // Blogtember Challenge

I’m late to the game on the Blogtember Challenge this year, but hey, better late than never, right?

Today it’s all about music and our favorite playlists. I’m hardly ever anywhere without some source of music and a good playlist. I keep several playlists loaded on my work computer to keep me focused throughout the day. Oddly enough, I don’t work well in the quiet–I really prefer to work with background noise–so my workday playlist is perfect for long days.

So for today’s Blogtember post, here’s an excerpt from my workday playlists! It’s pretty eclectic, but I like to keep it varied so I don’t listen to the same things over and over again. Although to be fair, I do have my favorite songs that tend to get more playing time over the others.

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My Workday Playlist

And yes, I am known to sing to myself at my desk. It’s a shame I’m not a better singer than I am, but at least it’s entertaining.

  1. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) // The Proclaimers
  2. Sell Out // Reel Big Fish
  3. One More Round // New Found Glory
  4. Ready, Aim, Fire! // New Found Glory
  5. Dressed to Kill // New Found Glory
  6. Ocean Avenue // Yellowcard (obviously)
  7. Southern Air // Yellowcard
  8. Breathing // Yellowcard
  9. Shut Up and Dance // Walk the Moon
  10. How Do You Like Me Now? // Toby Keith
  11. Days Go By // Keith Urban
  12. Somewhere in my Car // Keith Urban
  13. Ride // Twenty One Pilots
  14. Escape // Enrique Iglesias (surprisingly effective for my productivity)
  15. Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah) // Andy Grammer
  16. You Can’t Stop the Beat // from Hairspray
  17. This is How a Heart Breaks // Rob Thomas
  18. All For You // Sister Hazel
  19. Our Song // Matchbox 20
  20. Unwell // Matchbox 20 (I got on a 90s soft rock kick a few months ago)
  21. Confident // Demi Lovato (also a fabulous song for running)
  22. Cake by the Ocean // DNCE (favorite song of the summer, also a bit of a guilty pleasure)
  23. Don’t Let Me Down // Chainsmokers & Daya
  24. Cheap Thrills // Sia & Sean Paul
  25. Glad You Came // The Wanted
  26. Tangled // Thomas Rhett
  27. Something More // Sugarland
  28. Yeah! // Usher
  29. Weightless // All Time Low
  30. I Feel Like Dancin’ // All Time Low
  31. Welcome to the Black Parade // My Chemical Romance (hi 2005)
  32. Rock & Roll // Led Zeppelin
  33. Fool in the Rain // Led Zeppelin
  34. Once in a While // Timeflies
  35. House Party // Sam Hunt (man crush forever)

Nothing like a good workday playlist to keep the days at the office upbeat and focused, right?

What’s on your workday playlist? What do you listen to during long workdays? 

Happy 5th Blog Birthday!

Today marks my 5th blog birthday. That’s right, five years ago today, I published my very first post on this little blog, which at the time was called “On a Lighter Note.” My original goal was to share the little things that made me smile each day. I tried to post every day, which got exhausting, and I eventually stopped.

My, how things have changed.

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been at this for five years. Who would have known that a tiny little Google Blogspot site I started in my dorm my sophomore year of college would have turned into my biggest passion project and side hustle? I certainly didn’t, but I am so glad and proud that it did. Maybe it sounds silly, but starting this little blog is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.

blog 5th anniversary

So in honor of my 5th blog birthday, here’s my birthday thank-you letter to my blog.

Dear blog,

Five years have gone by really quickly. It feels like only yesterday, I sat at my uncomfortable dorm desk, fall semester of my sophomore year at Virginia Tech and clicked the “Publish” button on my very first post. That first post was about not having to wait in line at the Chick-fil-a at Hokie Grill at peak lunch time, and how that made my day infinitely better, because it meant I got to eat my sandwich and fries that much sooner. I laugh now thinking about how that was my first post, but I’m sure it was important at the time.

You were there for me through the next three years of college and everything that came with them: classes, academics, boys, friends, football, basketball, graduation, the future. Thanks for sticking with me, even when I maybe-kinda-sorta neglected you at times. Please forgive me.

blogging five years

Thank you for giving me this fantastic space to write about whatever I feel like writing about. Sure, I call myself a Southern lifestyle blogger, because I was always told we need to have a “niche” in our blogging. Turns out I can blog about whatever pleases me. Maybe I have my favorite topics (blogging, Chattanooga, travel and life itself) and I definitely have topics I avoid (looking at you, fashion). But I’m not restricted by a niche. And I like it that way.

Thank you for keeping me sane during grad school. I don’t know how I managed to post two or three times each week, but I did.

Thank you for teaching me about social media before I knew I could have a career in it. I attribute a lot of my love for social media (and basically anything related to digital/online media) to my blogging experience. Four or five years ago, I never would’ve thought I could make a career out of social media and connecting people online. Started from the bottom, now I’m here? #thanksDrake

Thank you for getting me through my move to Chattanooga and starting my first “big girl” job (even though I hate it when people call them “big girl jobs”). Thank you for giving me a place to write about that transition and put my stress into something productive. Some of my best posts came out of that time.

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Thank you for listening when I vented about my quarter-life crisis and the other crazy things that have happened in the last year. Thank you for listening when I talked about why it’s okay to get help, and other more personal posts. You really helped me be more open in the last year, and it made a huge difference in my anxiety management.

Thank you for connecting me with some other fabulous bloggers and people, many of whom I can now call sweet friends. Who says you can’t make friends online? Y’all know who y’all are.

Thank you for every single opportunity you’ve brought my way. From writing for PrettySouthern.com to covering the best events in Chattanooga, you’ve helped me grow as a writer, a blogger, a young professional and more. Five years ago, I would have been terrified pitching myself and my talents to a marketing or events coordinator, just to cover an event. It wasn’t my personality. Now I do it almost like it’s second nature. And I can’t think you enough for that.

I guess it’s true what they say, that time flies when you’re having fun. Thank you for being there for me. Always. You’re the real MVP. Here’s to five more years. And maybe more.

Love you, blog.

Photos taken by the fabulous Desirae of Tennessee Rose Blog (before the balloon broke loose and floated away).