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From Florida to the National Hockey League: Boston Bruins’ Kyle Keyser
Episode 349th September 2022 • The High Functioning Hotspot • Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD
00:00:00 00:40:24

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My next guest and I actually connected through Instagram when he posted about my book!

Kyle Keyser is a National Hockey League player, specifically for the Boston Bruins. In this episode of the High Functioning Hotspot, we talk about his struggles with anxiety, mental control, and even the difference between confidence and humility. So join me as we explore the thoughts of this great hockey player and an all-around amazing person!

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The High Functioning Podcast is hosted and produced by Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD.  For more information, visit


Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Hi, I'm Dr. Chloe Carmichael, clinical psychologist, author of Nervous Energy, and your host of the High Functioning Hotspot. Today's guest is very special. His name is Kyle Keyser. He is a 23 year old NHL (National Hockey League) player. He's in his fourth season I think at this point. So he's actually been a pro for quite a while.

We had a really interesting conversation about mental control, the difference between confidence and humility, how he manages all those things, because he's not only an amazing hockey player, he's also a really amazing person. I think you'll see that as you watch this interview. Thanks so much for joining me.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Thank you so much for joining me, Kyle!

Kyle Keyser [:

Well, thank you for having me. I really appreciate it!

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yes. Just to provide a little context for how this all came about. I actually got a notification on Instagram that this NHL player was posting about my book, which I thought was interesting because I don't know if people always think of NHL players as reading these types of books. So if you don't mind sharing, I would love to know how you came across it and what prompted you to read it?

Kyle Keyser [:

Sure. I was in Wisconsin visiting my brother. He goes to the University of Madison. He's getting his PhD right now. He was off at work. My dad and I were looking for things to do so we went by Barnes and Nobles. And we were taking a peek around the books and you know, something I have struggled with for a little bit is my anxiety. So I wanted to find a new book that I could use to maybe learn some new tools, especially with my season coming around the corner.

So we were at Barnes and Noble and I was taking a look at the different books and I happened to come across your book. Did a little reading of, you know, just a few pages and looking at some of the techniques that you had mentioned. And I loved it. I was like, Okay, this is something that I can feel that would be beneficial to me.

So I picked it up, like I said, I started reading a little bit and it was a pretty easy decision from there. I knew that I wanted that book and I grabbed it and I’ve been reading it ever since. And I've loved, you know, the techniques and the experiences that you've shared in the book about different people. And it's a lot of the things that I can relate to as a high functioning individual. I thought it was great, great material. And some of the stuff and techniques I've already applied to my everyday life.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Well, that is so amazing. Thank you very much for sharing that. I'm curious, it's such a kind of a new thing. You're obviously a young person, but I think you may be old enough to know that it's kind of a new thing for professional athletes to just say what you just said. To say like, Yeah. I've had struggles with anxiety. I'm just curious, how has that been for you or how does it feel to share about it? Because as a psychologist, of course, I think it's wonderful that somebody like you, that a lot of people see as a role model, can share about that. But what's that been like for you?

Kyle Keyser [:

It's been a really, I think at first, when I finally started to understand my anxiety, it was difficult at first to kind of, you know, be open and express it because I didn't feel like people were going to understand what I was going through or what I was feeling. So it was difficult at first, but at the same time, like you said, trying to be a role model for younger kids or, you know, people that aren't comfortable being vulnerable about it. I think from my perspective, I feel that if I can share and be courageous enough to talk about what I'm feeling with, and I've already had experiences where people have been able and felt comfortable to reach out to me about what they're feeling based on what I've talked about, about how I have gone through different things and what I've handled.

You know, it's pretty enlightening in that sense to be able to talk with other people. And when people reach out to me with their experiences, although we're talking about what they're going through, a lot of this stuff actually ends up helping me as well, because I get to hear about other people's experiences, what they're going through and how it relates back to what you know I've been through. And what I've found has helped me might be able to help these people as well and vice versa. What they have found that might help them can also help me as well. So being able to express those feelings and be open about the conversation, I think has been really important for me.

For a while I found that I was kind of holding some things in and I didn't feel comfortable expressing those things. And it became a matter of time and conversation with different people that I'm very close to and that I trust a lot, that I've also gone through the same things and have kind of helped me to make that next step in expressing myself was really important for me. And I feel like it's made a world of a difference from my mental health in that state.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Well, that's awesome. Yeah. In a way, of course, I'm not surprised at all because part of the whole premise of the book is that anxiety is actually a healthy thing that's present in a lot of people that have an edge. It doesn't even have to always be about a mental illness or a disorder. Not to stigmatize that. And I think it's great for people who are, you know, de-stigmatizing that, but I just think it's also important to understand that just like not all body fat is about obesity. Not all anxiety is necessarily in the context of any health challenges either, that there's actually a really positive healthy function to anxiety, which is to stimulate preparation behaviors.

Now you as an athlete, obviously know a lot about how to channel that anxiety into constructive action. And so a question I have for you is everybody says, if you make a mistake on the field, everybody says to just put it behind you and keep looking ahead just thinking about the next move. I'm wondering when is that true for you? And if it is, how exactly do you do that? When you're in this super high stake situation?

Kyle Keyser [:

Yeah. I mean, that's a great question. So for me personally, I'm a goalie. So, you know, there's a high emphasis on our position. We're the last line of defense in hockey as it is. So one mistake as a goalie and it's in the back of your net or it's a goal for the other team. So you really have to be sharp mentally in that sense of being able to let things go. Being able to reset your mind. And as you were talking about, if you make a mistake on the field or ice or wherever it may be, being able to drop that for me personally, there's a few techniques that I really have loved to use.

I was actually listening to a podcast, The Huberman Lab, and so I was really, really into that for a while. I was listening to it actually on the way to one of my games one time, because I was feeling anxious about my game. You know, I was nervous, obviously I get pre-game butterflies or whatever, but for today of all days, I was really anxious about the game. I knew we were playing a good team. I knew it was going to be a tough game. We're in a high stake situation. And one of the things that I learned on that podcast I use every day, today still, is I take two short breaths in through my nose and then just a little four second exhale, kind of gets me back to a neutral base and keeps me in the present of where I am.

Because it is hard, like you said, when you make a mistake in your job, whether it be on the field and for sports, it relates to me it's easy to get caught up in that. Because you're thinking about that, Ooh, I made a mistake. I let my team down. I know I could have done better there, but at the same time, you have to keep moving forward. Life keeps moving forward and you have to make sure that you're right there with it and you're not lagging behind in that sense. So those little cues, you know, for me, I'm just going to relate it back to my position and what I do. So, a good cue for me is that whenever I give up a goal, I just say out loud to myself, “next shot”. So I'm keeping myself in the present of, Okay. That went in. I obviously made a mistake, but the next one's coming and I don't want that to happen again. So let's stay in the present in this sense and focus on the next shot. So it would be as simple as, like I said, those two quick inhales, a nice four second exhale, and then next shot.

So that way I'm staying and keeping my brain in the present at that moment, rather than letting what happened in the past kind of linger on.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yeah. I really like both of those. And I have to check out The Huberman Lab podcast. I’ve heard absolutely so many great things about it. And the breathing one, obviously I like that too because it's behavioral. Same thing with the next shot one. I'm just curious. Did you come up with the next shot thing yourself or did someone tell you that?

Kyle Keyser [:

So I worked with a sports psychologist. His name is Dr. Saul Miller. He lives out in Vancouver and was actually someone that was recommended to me by my agent. And I had a couple people that had used him before. So we started talking about different things and I was telling him, You know sometimes I just feel like I don't have it. I'm lagging behind. I just know that something's off or I just know that my brain's running wild. And we came up with a technique that I think has worked well for me. I've used it for the past five or six years. and it was that next shot.

And all it was, was focusing on keeping me in my present state of mind of where I was at during the game and even in the sense of not just looking in the past, but looking in the future as well. You know what I mean? When you're playing a hockey game, you're like, Okay, what's going to happen in the next five minutes? It's kind of in your book, the Zone of Control. I don't know what's going to happen in the next five minutes. That's nothing I can control. So I'm not going to worry about that. I'm going to worry about what's in front of me right now.

Although when you're high, when you're thinking, you're in a game, there's a lot of pressure. You want to kind of dictate the situation as it is, because that way you have the most control out over it. However, that's not possible. And especially in my position as a goalie, the play comes to me. I can't force anything. I'm more or less reading and reacting on what is happening in front of me and taking those visual cues. So for me to try to control what's going to happen is impossible. So using my brain and my mental power to focus on what's going to happen is just not, it's not productive in that sense.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

That makes so much sense. Yes. Now, I mean, hearing you talk about your agent and obviously you're very successful already, but again you're so young and I do think that there's an interesting thing when it comes to looking at high functioning people and successful people and looking at their path. So if you don't mind sharing, I have a few questions. One is, how old are you? And do you think that there was anything in your childhood that kind of primed you for this? And then one more to just kind of roll in there is, when did you start to realize that you really did have what it takes to go pro because a lot of little kids, you know, like it's a dream but when and how do you think that you separated yourself from the herd?

Kyle Keyser [:

So, yeah, I'm 23 years old. I grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which is not very popular for hockey. If anyone knows much about, you know, big down there is football, baseball, the outdoor sports. So hockey was not a popular sport down there. So making it pro from Florida is not generally a normal thing in hockey. I'll put it that way.

I think early on in my childhood, it was kind of very more or less the way I was raised with the family that I have. My mom and my dad are extremely hard working people, extremely disciplined. My brother's the same way, as I mentioned before, he's getting his PhD at Wisconsin right now. So I think it's more or less the standard that I kind of held myself to since an early age.

And I loved hockey, it's something I knew I wanted to do. I knew that from an early age, it was, you know, I loved doing it. I knew I was good, but I knew it also, it was going to require a lot of discipline and this was something that I guess instilled in me at a young age that I knew what I needed to do. Following the footsteps of my parents and my brother, and seeing how they went about their business in everyday life. Whether it be my brother in school, you know, my dad owns his own company. So basically being around that environment and realizing that it takes a lot of work to get to a certain spot was pretty eye opening for me.

But going back to your question, when did I know that I would turn pro. You never know, honestly, even from an early age. The thing with me is I think this relates back to what I was telling you about staying in the present. When you start to think about the future too much, you start to get caught up in that. But when I'm staying in the present and working on those things on an everyday basis, I know I have a good foundation of what I know I can play professional hockey from an early age. I knew that I had the work ethic, the tools that drive the commitment and the discipline to do those things. Now it was just more or less following a path of that sense.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Okay. Now I like to dig into specifics because there's a lot of people listening who are parents or who want to be parents, including me. I am a parent. You talk about how your parents gave you that discipline or taught you that discipline or modeled it for you. I think that the tension that a lot of parents feel is that we want to do that, we want to have high expectations for our kids and everything, at the same time, we don't want to overdo it.

But to be honest, my belief is that in general, like if anything, parents today are probably skewing on the side of maybe needing to provide a little bit more structure, a little bit more discipline and have higher expectations for their kids. I'm a big fan of that, just personally. But can you share any examples of anything from your childhood where you learned or saw really what discipline is?

Kyle Keyser [:

Yeah. So, I mean, my dad for instance, his business, he runs an air ambulance business, and that is a 24-hour business, seven days a week for anyone that needs medically equipped transportation. So for him, like, just seeing him working maybe at three in the morning, he's getting a phone call and seeing what he's doing 24 hours a day to provide my brother and I with what we need to be successful. I guess from an early age, whether it was just me recognizing that my parents are doing all this to give me the best opportunity to succeed and that I need to also help out in that sense and capitalize on that opportunity of getting to show them that I wanted to be following in their footsteps. I knew that that's what I wanted.

And to go back to your point, I know that parents sometimes find it maybe, you know, they don't want to push their kids too hard or they don't want to be the overbearing parent where your child is, you know, Oh, leave me alone, leave me alone. And I think the big thing with my parents is they had a very good balance of that. What they expected, if you're in school, you're going to give a hundred percent and there's no less than that, we expect that. If you try your hardest and you fail, that's okay. At least we know that you gave your all and that you're doing the right things.

That was the same thing for hockey as well. If you're giving all your effort and your time and you're doing it to the best of your ability, we will be there to support you every step of the way. We'll never force you to do anything that you don't want to do, or if you're not enjoying it, but if you're into something we want to support you as much as we possibly can. And then the rest is on you to make that decision, whether you want to pursue that or not.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yeah, that's such a great balance. I really like that. So it kind of leads into my next question, but I'm going to ask it anyway because it's maybe a little different. So how do you find the difference between staying humble and really pumping yourself up and getting yourself up into that think-big type of a head space, but at the same time, like you manage to stay very, very grounded. So how do you do that?

Kyle Keyser [:

Yeah, I think that there's so much, especially in the life of pro hockey, there's so much change. There's so much variability. Things are always, you know, there's so many highs, there's so many lows, you're playing really good hockey for a month and you're on top of the world. Wow. I'm the best right now. This is as good as I can do. And then you go through a slump where you're struggling, nothing seems to be going right. Nothing seems to be going right. I'm trying everything. I'm doing the same thing I was doing a month ago. It's just not happening for me right now.

And I think keeping your head in a space of more of like a flat line rather than a too-high too-low is so important for me, especially as a goalie, because the emotional part of goaltending, honestly, can make or break a person in that sense, because it is such a high pressure position. It's like a pitcher in baseball, everyone's eyes are on you, you have the control, you are the last line of defense. So I think just keeping that more or less calm, steady mental state through everything, you're going to have highs and lows, but making sure it's not this way. And it's more or less just little highs and lows, you know what I mean? And more or less on that straight line of logistic calm, kind of cool collected. That's the biggest thing for goaltending as well. They say, for us as professional athletes, the best professional athletes are calm, cool, and collected. Right? You see Tom Brady or any of these athletes in two minutes left in the fourth quarter with a Super Bowl on the line and they feel like you look at their face and they look like their calm as can be, and that's all about keeping it right here and the emotion, and I think that can apply to everyday life as well.

You know what I mean? Keeping your emotions in check, not getting too high, too low, whether it be in a relationship, financial life, it doesn't matter, just staying even keeled and just more or less. I think when I found that I could keep it even keeled, I found more success overall.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yeah, definitely. Thank you. That's such an insightful answer. I was also curious, we've talked about a few topics that in a certain way may relate on this. Do you mind sharing if you were raised with or have now, any type of religious or spiritual perspective that helps you?

Kyle Keyser [:

Yeah, so I personally was not raised with or raised with any religious or spiritual you know, in that sense. So for me, my parents basically, as much as religion and spirit and all that stuff is a part of my life, it wasn't the emphasis of what I grew up on, I would say. So for me, I think I just found that I figured things out kind of as life went along. I moved away from home when I was 15 years old. So I moved up to Michigan. I played here in Michigan with my, or I lived here in Michigan with my mom for a year. I moved from South Florida, so I met completely new friends.

And then at 16 years old, I moved to Canada to play hockey in a completely different country. I wasn't living with my parents anymore at 16 years old. So I think, although, I didn't have those anchors to kind of help me out through life. I had other things that kind of helped me mature in that sense and kind of understand how things work.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Very interesting. Okay. So you're touching on a couple of things. Now, as you know, I'm a psychologist, so I tend to ask personal questions. And if I ask anything you don't want to answer, that's fine. We can just cut it out. It's no big deal.

So with what you just shared, it makes me have two questions. Because I've read that before about you where you talked a little bit about going to Michigan or, you know, different times with your and it made me curious, like, did your parents divorce? Because some people, and I thought that might be the case, and some people whose parents divorce it's like they can be 30 years old and they're still talking about how their parents divorce wrecked them. They're kind of sometimes blaming adult behavior even like on this thing that happened.

So one question is, how do you think that you obviously dealt with that in a way that didn't hold you back in life? And then the second question, since you also mentioned being on your own as a teenage athlete I can only imagine, alcohol, party hard. A lot of high functioning people have a work-hard play-hard mentality, and there's nothing wrong with that. So I'm just curious if you can also share how you find or found the sweet spot of how to have fun with alcohol, but also, still not let it get in the way of being a professional athlete?

Kyle Keyser [:

Sure. Well, I'll answer your first question. So yeah, my parents, they separated when I was about five years old. Although my parents separated, I'm very fortunate in the sense that my parents were great together. They worked fantastic, even though they were divorced, for my brother and I you know, anything that my brother and I wanted to do, they were both there supporting us. They had no issues. So I was very fortunate in that sense. I know not everyone can attest to that, but I was fortunate in the sense that my parents put the goals of my brother and I ahead of their, you know, whatever they were dealing with at the time and made it the emphasis of, Okay, maybe we're not going to be together, but we're not going to let that impact Spencer and Kyle's lives in that sense, we're going to work together to make sure that they feel comfortable around us together. And that there's no issues.

It's been that way my entire life since they divorced. They've always been very good together, working together, and it's really made it a lot easier for me and my brother, I can say. It's not something that we've ever had to worry about. We know we both have two supportive, loving parents that can be around each other and that makes the world of a difference in the support sense. I want both my parents to be at my hockey games. I don't want one to come to one game and then the other one come to another game, and like I said, I'm fortunate in that sense because I also realize that that's not the same for everyone.

So I think that's been, that actually helped quite a bit through my childhood of being able to just focus on what I needed to focus on, whether it be school or hockey and not having to worry about maybe those family issues, outside of those things. So for me, that was honestly amazing in that sense of being able to just more or less, keep a tunnel focus on what I needed to worry about and not having those external factors kind of play a role in it.

Going back to your second question, yeah, you're 17 or I was 16 years old when I moved to Canada and the drinking age is 19 years old and you're starting you're a junior hockey player in Canada, which in Canada at that age is a big deal. Like you know, it's fun. But I think, like you said, there needs to be a balance of playing, working hard but also having fun as well. I found that early on. When I was younger, I was only work, work, work, work, work, and it got to be exhausting. It got to be tiring. And I was kind of getting into that almost like a burnout phase of that sense.

But I think also when you do go have fun, you realize that you can have fun to a certain extent, but there are goals that you are trying to reach at the end of the day. And the goals that I'm trying to reach aren't drinking and partying and all that stuff. They're playing in the NHL.

So, as good as, and it's great to have that mental, physical release, you know, you go out, you have a few drinks with your friends and you're able to kind of decompress and relax and, because so much of our lives are just work and family and there's stress from every different a avenue of your life and to be able to kind of manage that was a learning experience.

You have to maybe have one night where you're like, Oh, nope, that was pushed a little too hard there, and then you start to kind of understand where and when you can't do things and how much you can and can't, and what works and what doesn't with what you're trying to, you know, it's all about seeing what fits into your plan and your vision of your goals and how you can incorporate that to a moderate and respectful amount without overdoing it.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

That's great. I really like what you said there about how you gave yourself room to have certain occasions where you said, Oh, whoops, I pushed a little bit too hard there. Because that's one of the things that really helps people to grow is when they can be honest with themselves about areas that they want to improve, but then also have enough compassion and not like, nail themselves to the wall about it to the point where it becomes hard to even recognize or admit that there was something to improve. So that sounds like such a good balance.

Also for you going there and being a teenager, but yet also, as you said, very high profile in Canada, especially with hockey, a couple of questions about that because I've seen your interviews and you're so great and so natural on camera. So, I was curious. A couple questions, when did you have media training and at what age? And then number two, when the media asks you if you feel ready for something, because that's one of the things that they ask you. I've seen in your interviews, like, Oh, do you feel ready? I'm like, does he feel he can even tell the truth? What's he going to say like, No, I don't feel ready? What's that like?

Kyle Keyser [:

So I've never had media training personally, but I think just watching older guys that I've been around that maybe I've played with and seeing how they handle situations and how they handle the media, you kind of pick up on cues of like, Okay, this is what you can and can't say, this is what you should stay along these lines of, you know?

And I think to the sense of, there's some guys that are very by the book, This is what your answer should be. And, you know, as much as I try to stay on those lines, I also want to be able to kind of express my personality a little bit and be open about things and not just almost be reading off of a media paper in that sense of like, Hey, this is what you're supposed to say. Yes. I know what I'm supposed to say, but at the same time, I also have opinions and feelings of my own too, that I would like to express because it shows who I am. And I think that's a big thing for me.

And yeah, like if they ask me for instance, like the question you brought up, Do you feel ready for this situation? Well, maybe I don't, but at the time I have to put out that persona, but also at the same time, going back to kind of how your brain tricks yourself as you're saying these things, Yeah. I feel ready for it. I put in the work, I've done the things I need to do. You know, you start kind of thinking, Yeah, I have, I am ready for this. This is something I am ready to do. You start to say it out loud and you start to actually genuinely gain that belief inside yourself that, Yeah, I'm ready for this. I can do this. You know, maybe you in the deep down, you really don't feel ready for it but at the same time, if you know that you've put in the work and the right steps to do the right things, then you know that you're giving yourself the best chance to succeed. And if it doesn't work out after that, then it doesn't. But at least you know that you're putting yourself in the right position to do the best that you possibly can.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yeah. Like at the very least you know that you're ready to go train and that's what needs to happen. So high functioning people, I know we have just a few minutes left, so I'm starting to kind of think about what's next. High functioning people tend to think ahead and have goals. So a couple of questions kind of around that front.

One is, if you could write your own ticket, what would be your five year plan in your life? And then the second one, again, this is personal, but I can't help it because my other book was about dating, and I really am interested in, you know, just what I think is such an important part of life oftentimes for high functioning people is to have a good relationship.

So I'm curious if you tend to date, I'm presuming women but if that's not true, let me know. Do you tend to date women who are very athletic as well? And since you are so focused and mature for your age, what kinds of things do you look for when you're dating? And then again, just in general, what's kind of in your five years, if you could write the ticket?

Kyle Keyser [:

Yeah. So I'll start with the dating aspect. I think as an athlete, yes, I think you're drawn towards other athletes naturally because you see almost a side of yourself in them as well, because they understand kind of the competitive nature, the discipline that it takes to get to a certain spot or whatnot.

But I wouldn't say that I completely only go for athletes in that sense. I think more or less what I'm looking for is just someone that's smart, intelligent, compassionate, open-minded but also has goals. I think that's really important for me is that the person that I'm with, I want them to have goals. I want them to be chasing something like I am as well, because then I think that's important, you know? You're pushing each other. You're helping each other out, Okay, she's trying to do this, I'm trying to do this, and we're going to both use our abilities to help each other and push each other to the goal. So I would say when it comes to dating, in that sense, I look more in that kind of area of, I want someone to be, like I said, driven. I want them to be disciplined as well and kind of share the same values that I do, in that sense.

And then for my five year plan, I would like to sign a nice, big deal where I'm making lots of millions of dollars. I don't think that sounds too bad. So yeah, I mean, I think for me in a five year plan, like I said, that is amazing obviously I would love to have that. But in a realistic sense, I just want to, you know, one of the things that I've tried to always focus on, and I know this kind of sounds cornier cliche is I just want to keep improving every year, whether it be from a professional standpoint or from a personal standpoint. As long as I'm getting better every single year and in both of those categories, professionally and personally, then I'm pretty happy with where I'm at in my life. In that sense, for sure.

I know I have a ton of growing to do. I can say from when I was 20 years old to 23, I can tell you I've grown a ton. When I was 20 years old, I had no idea what anxiety was or even if it had any impact. I thought at first when I heard about anxiety, I was like, Oh, this is just something people can figure it out or whatever like that. You know, you're kind of naive at that young age. And then you start to go through some of these things and you start to gain an understanding of what people are actually going through and under and feeling, and it changes your perspective on things. That's something that I had to understand and I had to learn. And that's why I try to really be more compassionate with other people in the sense of being more patient and understanding that, you know, let's not be so quick to jump to conclusions.

I think in today's day and age, a lot of people are quick to jump on other people for things. And you know, like we really don't understand what other people are going through behind the scenes. And I have had that happen to me firsthand where I, you know, my first year, and I know we only have a couple minutes, but I'll just touch on this for a second. My first year of professional hockey, I had a really bad concussion and I didn't play hockey for about nine months. I saw a bunch of different specialists. It was something that I was really struggling with. I was waking up every day, very lightheaded. I'm very anxious. I was literally, I would go to bed thinking like, How are my symptoms today? Like whatever, and then waking up the next morning and immediately thinking like, Oh, do I feel better today?

Because concussions are one of those things where it's over time, there's no medication there's no, Hey, this is a 6-8 week process. It really varies depending on the person and how long their recovery time is. So for me, I get in the first week and I'm like, Okay, it's only been a week, it'll take some time. You know, now we're getting into five, six months of me waking up every day. And the only thing on my mind is, When am I going to get better? Am I going to ever feel better again? And now you're starting to overthink things, you know? And now it's becoming a spiral effect. And that's really when I started after that year of handling that is really when I started to get into reading about anxiety, doing meditation, focusing on things like that, in that sense. It was also a situation where, like I said, this is only my personal experience, so I don't, you know, other people I know are completely different.

My doctor was talking about, Maybe we will prescribe you medication. For me personally, I did not want that. That was my personal choice. I'm fine. I think it's a great thing. I think it can help other people. I'm all for it. However I wanted to try and do something that I can figure out if I can do this in a natural process without having to rely on something. So that was my opinion. And I started to do that. I started to read, I started to meditate, do yoga and start to understand my body and my mind a little bit more. And it's been, you know, I think I've made really big strides in the past three years in that sense. And I'm still looking to continue to do that.

You know what I mean? There's a lot of days where I do wake up and I feel super anxious, and I'm like, Oh my God, I just can't shake this right now. I'm thinking about my games even from this week, and I know we have tough opponents and I know I didn't play well last weekend. And now you're starting to compile and you have to just take a second and just relax. Okay, let's think about this. What can we control in this situation? Okay. Let's prepare really well all week. That way we give ourselves the best chance to be successful at the end of the weekend.

So just about learning and managing and, you know, it's something that I think I've done at maybe a little bit younger age than most people. I think most people start to understand and learn that at a later age. But I also think that was just more or less a product of how my environment and kind of being on my own at a younger age and kind of maybe figuring things out a little bit quicker.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yeah, that's amazing. I mean, a lot of people are on their own at a younger age and it doesn't necessarily lead them, like figuring things out and being on a good path. So I hope you give yourself credit for that. And I really like the way that you're using anxiety there, constructively, that you found yourself kind of ruminating and saying to yourself, Okay, well, I feel this anxious energy. I'm just ruminating with it. I'm not doing anything constructive. What could this anxiety be stimulating me to do? Maybe doing some meditation, maybe doing some yoga, doing some things that will actually help to assuage the source of my anxiety. So that's a beautiful, beautiful note to end on.

Kyle Keyser [:

Actually, the reason I picked up your Nervous Energy book out of all, was because I saw the cover and it said nervous energy. And that's a lot of the times what I feel before a hockey game is very nervous energy. You're excited, you're anxious, you're ready to go. But at the same time, sometimes you don't know how to put that energy in the right spot. So you end up figuring, you know, you end up letting that kind of control your emotions rather than helping it aid you in that sense. And that's why I really picked up your book because I was like, Oh, this is perfect! This is exactly what I feel before games. I'm nervous, I'm anxious, I'm excited. It's all these emotions and feelings and adrenaline rush coming through my body. How can I get myself to a state where I can use that anxious and nervous energy into a positive? So thank you for that!

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Absolutely. That is the goal of the book. Yeah. So thank you, Kyle. And I'm definitely going to continue following you on Instagram. I enjoy checking out your feed. I'll make sure I'll put links to your social media below, and any other links that you may want to share about Kyle? We'll put them in the links.

Kyle Keyser [:

Awesome! Thank you so much. It was a pleasure. I love, I've never really got to talk about this. So this is honestly very exciting for me in that sense, because it's something I've really been trying over the past two or three years since I've had that concussion to kind of open up about and have more of a conversation about, and I think it's important, especially in sports itself, there's a big stigma around male athletes talking about their mental health and what’s bothering them in that sense. And I don't think that that's fair in that sense, and I'm not saying it's a specific person that's saying that they can or not. I just think that we don't feel exactly comfortable, that we feel it's a sign of weakness in that sense. And I think more or less, me trying to express myself has been more of a, Hey, this isn't a sign of weakness. This is normal for most people, or not most people, but a lot of people and let's work together to fix this rather than letting this compound and become something that it shouldn't.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

Yeah, definitely! So if, as time goes on, if you have any other thoughts or stories you want to share or points you want to make just always feel free to let me know. And we'll have you back on to share anything you want to share on your journey, okay?

Kyle Keyser [:

I would love to, yeah, maybe we'll do something. My season starts here in October. So anytime during the winter, if we want to talk during the season, maybe I can give some personal experiences about what's been going on through the season, different games and how I used your book or the tools to combat myself before certain games and stuff.

Dr. Chloe Carmichael, PhD [:

I would love that! That would be fabulous. Thanks again, Kyle! Take care.

Thank you so much for listening to my interview with Kyle Keyser of the NHL, and as promised there should be some links handy. If you want to catch up with Kyle on social media or with me on social media to learn more about my books or articles or anything like that.

And if you ever do want to suggest a guest, by the way, for the High Functioning Hotspot, please do feel free to go to my website and suggest somebody, there's contact forms on the website. My website is You can also go to Thanks so much again for connecting here through this interview, and I hope we can stay in touch till the next episode.