With a new year comes a laundry list of resolutions and intentions we want to set for ourselves. Often, these goals look like losing a few of those added holiday pounds or saving money by cutting back on Starbucks runs. But for many people this year, resolutions will include improving mental wellness.
What exactly is mental wellness? And why is it more important now more than ever? According to the World Health Organization, mental wellness is “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”
In short, it’s our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. We are living in treacherous times, and there’s no doubt that sometimes, we just wanna yell, cry, or blast an angry Taylor Swift song. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to keep your zen, and we have compiled some of our favorite mental wellness activities that you’ll be sure to want to implement just in time for 2021!
Some of our fondest memories of journaling include writing in a diary about our middle school crushes, but there are plenty of adult-approved ways to journal. Some of the biggest trends in mental wellness include bullet journaling. Bullet journaling is a fun and creative way to log your emotions, fitness, fertility, etc. All you need is a notebook with gridded pages and some colorful pens. For some bullet journaling inspiration, check out Pinterest!
Ohmmmm. Meditation can look a little bit different for everyone, but for most, it looks like focusing the mind on a particular thought or object as a way to achieve a clear mind and more stable mental state. Thanks to the internet, there are plenty of guided meditation videos on YouTube that will make your a mediation expert in no time. All you’ll need is a quiet space and calm atmosphere!
Surround Yourself With Positivity
Surrounding yourself with positive influences can make all the difference in your mental states. This doesn’t just mean the people in your physical social circle. This could mean unfollowing social media accounts that post content that frustrates or upsets you or accounts that promote unhealthy behaviors. For others this means shutting off the news from the TV for a little bit. Instead, try reading a self-help book or recite some positive affirmations!
Cut Back on Screen Time
We all spend more time fixated on our phones than we’d like to admit. For most of us, the screen is the first thing we see in the morning and the last we see before we go to bed each night. Screen time before bed is known to disrupt sleep patterns due to blue light emissions. Disrupted sleep means less sleep, which means you’ll likely be feeling tired and cranky. For a better night’s sleep and a clear state of mind, put the phone away 1-2 hours prior to getting some shut-eye!
How To Boss Up Your “Work From Home” Space
Anyone else totally not missing the days of water cooler small talk? Oh, and the feeling of stiff legs after not leaving your desk chair for literally hours? Yeah, us either. Though we totally could use the sense of normalcy associated with going into work, we have been trying to make the most of working from the comfort of our own home. It’s all about finding the silver lining, people!
For most of us, March marks one year since offices and schools shut down. In the past year, we’ve had to adapt and adjust to hours of Zoom meetings, eye strain, and social isolation. Dare we say we have it mastered? But really, we’ve got it down to a science over here, and want to share with you some of the best “work from home” hacks in the game.
If you need a quick fix…
Be honest, how many times have you taken an online class or meeting from the comfort of your bed or couch? We’d be lying if we said we haven’t. Not gonna lie, it’s what the cool kids these days would call unprofessional “AF.”
Many of us don’t have the luxury of an aesthetically pleasing at-home office. If you’re on call from your dining room or couch, there are ways to make your background look clean and fun with a few simple clicks.
If you simply do an image search for “Zoom backgrounds” there will be links to hundreds of downloadable pictures that you can use as a green screen while you’re on call. Our personal favorites are the ones that look like you’re in an HGTV designed home office or a beach bungalow.
If you’re in the mood to decorate…
We will find any excuse to make a run to our local TJ Maxx or Homegoods. If you’re looking to level up your Zoom background and put your interior design skills to the test, here is the perfect justification!
Some of our favorite ways to spice up our office decor is to find wall decorations. We personally love the minimalist aesthetic. For us, this looks like lots of greens: think, succulents and vines. These hanging vines from Amazon add such a whimsical touch, especially when paired with dangling fairly lights.
For a boho look, use Command hooks to hang up some macrame.
Set the mood by lighting a candle. For focus, we recommend opting for a rosemary eucalyptus scent!
Personalize your space by hanging up your favorite pictures in the background. We love this wired photo grid because it’s also great to embellish with flowers and baskets for convenient storage of office goods!
Look Good Feel Good
Nothing is worse than having bad lighting. Unflattering shadows? No thank you! Ring lights are the best way to ensure optimal lighting on camera. These bad boys ensure that you are well lit from all angles. If you don’t have the storage space, there are also battery powered miniature versions that clip right onto your phone or laptop.
Angles are Everything!
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your laptop is resting on a surface that makes the camera hit your face from a downward angle, it can get pretty unflattering. We know from experience! Laptop stands are the perfect way to ensure your colleagues see you at the best angles every time you meet. Double chin who?! No, but seriously, these are also great for improving posture and keeping your overworked laptops cool (some of them come with built-in fans)! We can’t say enough good things.
What’s your favorite work-from-home hack?
Self Care Products You Need Right Now
Every February, we patiently await (or dread) Valentine’s Day. This day gives us the excuse to shower our loved ones with a little extra love, whether this is by showing affection, showering them with gifts, or spending quality time with them. Though the day has passed, why not continue celebrating the month of love by showing ourselves some much-deserved care.
Self-care is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” Regardless of whether or not you are under stress, showing yourself love is known to improve both physical and mental health.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered with these self care essentials. Ladies, run…don’t walk!
Adult Coloring Books
Sometimes, the best form of self-care is to just slow down, and tune out the world around you. One of our favorite ways to do this is by cracking open an “adult” coloring book. These books are more intricate than those you used during your childhood, and hypnotize you into a deep focus. Before you know it, the page is filled and time has allowed you to calm down. These have become increasingly popular over the last few years, so you can find them just about anywhere. Our personal favorite is this hilariously vulgar one from Target.
“Big Night In” Kit
Remember the days when a cozy night in was a luxury? Nowadays a night at home is typical. For many of us, our nightly routines look the same, and honestly, have become mundane. Luckily, the Calm Club has created a five-piece kit to bring your night at home to the next level. Complete with a pair of cabin sox, a mug, candle, sleep mask, and mindfulness puzzle, this set is the perfect gift to yourself or a friend who needs to take some time to themself. Though this set has a higher price point, use it as inspiration to create your own “night in kit,” and tailor it to your own desires.
How many times have you bought a cute journal, used it for maybe three days and completely forgotten about it? For us, too many times to count. To be candid, journaling on blank pages can get repetitive. That’s why we love guided journals. These colorful and interactive books come full of prompts and activities that allow for in depth self reflection and evaluation. There are plenty of these sold on Amazon and in book stores, and they even come in many varieties for different goals.
Sometimes, feeling good mentally has everything to do with how you feel physically. Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and is the barrier between our insides and the outside world. Too often, we forget to show it the tender lovin’ care it deserves. Though having a killer skin care routine is a huge part of having healthy skin, one of the latest trends in self care and wellness has been jade rollers. These skin care tools are small but mighty (and may we add, fun to use!). Some of the benefits of jade rolling include, a brighter complexion, reduced wrinkles, and stimulation of the lymphatic system, which helps rid the body of toxins. Call us crazy, but we recommend storing in a skin care refrigerator or freezer between uses!
Moving your body is also an integral part of caring for yourself. These days, it isn’t as easy to get to the gym, and winter weather makes it dreadful to go for a walk or run outside. That’s why we recommend yoga as a way to get your body moving and practice mindfulness! YouTube has plenty of yoga videos at no cost, for any level of experience. To ensure safety and comfort, we recommend a yoga mat (duh!). They are also a great surface to practice meditation on. Namaste!
Self Care Checklist
For many of us, self-care is a luxury, when in reality, it should be a part of our everyday routine. Want to hold yourself accountable? There are plenty of daily self-care checklists available for download on sites like Etsy (nothing like supporting a small business owner!), or you can implement your self-care goals by writing them down in your planner. Need some inspiration? We love this one by BrownParcelBooks.
What’s your favorite way of practicing self care?
Businesses Owned by African American Women
February is not just the month of the Super Bowl, Chinese New Year and Valentines Day! Each year, Black History Month is celebrated during the month of February to honor all African Americans who have faced adversity within American society. The annual celebration stems from Carter G. Woodson’s “Negro History Week,” and has since evolved into a beautiful commemoration of African Americans past and present.
This year’s celebration of Black History Month is more important than ever, after tragic losses within the community through the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. That being said, this month, be sure to honor and support African American entrepreneurs by shopping small. Here are some of our favorite businesses owned by African American women. You’ll be sure to love them as much as we do!
Butter and Lye
Butter and Lye were founded by Monique Garraud Kofsky in 2020 and is based out of Brooklyn, New York. The company sells high quality and natural soap products that are perfect for bath time. The goal of Butter and Lye is to reduce their carbon footprint, so with that in mind everything they do is 100% environmentally friendly: from ingredients to the packaging, it comes in. Their soap products also have some amazing benefits like anti-aging, moisturizing and exfoliating.
Ladies, it’s almost bikini season- you’re not gonna wanna miss out on the minimal swimsuits designed by Brittany Kozerski, the founder of Jade Swim. These bathing suits are HOT! No really, you probably have seen your favorite Instagram influencers rocking them while posed up on a beach. But really, the ribbed material on these swimsuits are oh so flattering, you’ll need to get your hands on a pair for the summer!
Brother Vellies was founded in 2013 by Aurora James, and has been thriving ever since! James’ goal was to incorporate African design practices and techniques while also creating artisanal jobs around the world. Her background in art and fashion have served her well clearly, as the shoes she designs are so cute.
Oma the Label
Neumi Anekhe founded OMA the label in 2018. The young entrepreneur was working as a fashion stylist at the time, and wanted to challenge the “homogenous industry standards” while also creating timeless and affordable jewelry for women. She also wanted to diversify the market and build a brand that wanted to represent people of color. OMA goes beyond jewelry and sells staple fashion pieces as well.
Nothing completes a woman’s outfit of the day like a spritz of their favorite perfume. Maya Njie was born in Sweeden, but moved to London as a teenager, where she studied art and photography. She began to experiment with the element of smell in her photos (sounds crazy but she was on to something), by incorporating mediums in her photographs that are often associated with their scent (i.e. flowers). She went on to self teach herself the art of perfumery and founded her fragrance company in 2016. Something about this story is so elegant!