As dreary weather and seasonal depression creep in, affecting many Vancouverites, conversations around mental health return, too.
Though investing in your mental health can start with purchasing a daily journal from any big box store, one small Vancouver-based business is making mental self-care more personal.
And while they are planning to launch a new "feeling exploration" journal (a step beyond your typical daily journal), Kasih Kit's main focus is their individual mental health care kit.
Backed by science and research, the self-described therapist and husband-of-the-therapist duo, Yusa Masud and Jonathan Deitcher started their business as a result of their own mental self-care struggles.
"We found ourselves caught in a cycle of enthusiastically trying something new, feeling good, failing to be consistent, becoming frustrated, and finally giving up in a few weeks," they shared in an email to Vancouver Is Awesome.
"It's hard to find the time to do helpful things like meditate for 20 minutes or exercising," the duo continues. "Self-care for mental health is often portrayed as things like candlelit baths, long meditation or yoga sessions, and daily journalling. But these time-intensive activities might be unrealistic for many."
After some time, the couple realized that self-care methods should be individualistic and fit into a person's lifestyle rather than finding one single method and forcefully making it stick.
What is in a Kasih Kit?
Masud is a registered clinical counsellor, so creating the first Kasih Kit (initially for herself and her husband) came from her own training and experience, plus principles of trauma-informed therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and mindfulness.
The name "kasih" (pronounced "KAH-seeh") means "care" in Indonesian, Masud's mother tongue.
The original kit contained "multiple sensory items to calm us down, cards with affirmations and activities to engage our minds and bodies, and a 'feeling wheel' with a notebook to help us get into the practice of noticing, identifying, and understanding our emotions and thoughts," the duo describes.
Since the pandemic, Kasih Kit has grown from a lighthearted gift to friends and family to a growing Vancouver business. "We realized that there wasn't anything like our kit on the market," says the couple. That realization inspired the business.
The coming new year will be an exciting time for the duo. Alongside the new journal, Kasih Kit plans to crowdfund a revamped wellness kit. They will also be working to launch workplace wellness initiatives, after learning that many businesses and nonprofit organizations have been gifting their products to staff, customers, and clients.
How to tackle seasonal depression
But, as winter approaches, many Vancouverites, like Deitcher, are facing seasonal depression.
Deitcher found three things that help him most in combating seasonal depression: "Taking vitamin D supplements, sitting in front of a therapy lamp for 30 minutes when getting up and 30 minutes after dusk, and going outside as much as possible, even if it's just to walk around the block."
Finding time to practice mental self-care can be challenging in a fast-paced, busy world. It can even be overwhelming at times. That's what Kasih Kit aims to help with.
"We really want to make caring for your mental health easy and maybe even kind of fun," add Masud and Deitcher.