Social Platform Creature: Our Mental Health Impact

Being the social creatures we are- having connections is something we feel makes a profound difference in our lives to establish meaning and fulfilment. It’s super sweet, it makes us do the floss (which I’ve recently discovered the name of as that funny dance with the hands and the hips…) and it allows us to go “Heck yeah, this makes me want to LIVE!” in some way or some form. Thank goodness for technology- I can feel connected straight away when I’m having a hard time.

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Then why do so many of us feel that loss of meaning in a digital world? That niggling desire to perhaps gain a love heart on a photo, buy the latest tech or that pair of trousers you know you don’t need but you want to purchase anyway (Oh, wouldn’t they look great on my feed?!)…


We’re hardwired by all sorts of thaaangs to want more. More of everything. Sure, we can connect quicker and establish relationships faster- making our millennial age, the years of the throw away feelings (Hi, Tinder). But it also means we’re quick to focus on such a microscopic lens of our lives and dissect everything within an online platform. I feel we need to fall back in love with the slower processes- the most meaningful of relationships with ourselves, our loved ones and the world.

And maybe switch off our phones more often…maybe like a lot.

From the Mental Health Foundation, 49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress, which was higher than in any of the older age groups. In 2015, Time Magazine stated “Young adults are now spending more than one full day per week online, according to new survey data from a U.K. communications regulator.”

The online world has given us a great gift and a great…distraction. The idea that we can connect quicker- but we are now constantly entwined with the notion that we need the online connectivity to affirm what we want to affirm. Whether that be fame, attractiveness, money, fame etc. It has given us the instant gratification we actively seek. We are now consumerists of emotion. In a round about term, we’re a bit addicted to quick gratification.

We just need to slow everything dddooowwwwnnn. Sllllloooowwww. Sit back and away from your phone/laptop/electronic device. You got this!! We survived before and we can survive now!

We need to look at using technology in an altruistic way. To give back, to share support- to share love, kindness, gratitude. All the wonderful things that takes you away from the incessant need to just…feel connected. In a wonderful, deep way. Something as simple as seeing your friend share a snapshot of having a day off, enjoying the sunshine- break the mould and start a conversation, ask to meet up face to face next time they’re free. Not just a love heart, nor a facebook ‘reaction’.

Use this digital world to your advantage. Altruism, yes- but surround your digital self with a lot of digital love. Not a platform to subconsciously make your self esteem drop, for your bank account to fall out of your butt and overall lose your sense of self.

You got this. WE GOT THIS. 

Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur: Part Two

If you haven’t seen Part One of this three part blog post- please see it here! I first discussed knowing your market, dealing with difficult situations and a small summary of starting out. This part is asking questions like, ‘What is a social enterprise?’ and ‘Tips from Important Mistakes’.

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So What Is A ‘Social Enterprise’?

A lot of folk will not know what a social enterprise is, so here it is simply; a business with a social purpose. Keep Real is a social enterprise as it uses the profits from the goods sold to fund mental health workshops in Yorkshire. Profit isn’t simply for profit, it is aiming to have a purpose within the community. Really cool, huh?

Business doesn’t have to be a ‘social enterprise’ to have an impact, it can be full blown CIC (Community Interest Company), registered charity, a Limited Company, a Corporation…the list goes on. The WHY of your business should be part of that evaluation. I first wanted Keep Real to be a CIC, but the brand is still figuring out it’s territory for now- after all, Keep Real hasn’t even been a year into launch! I have to think about the long term future for me as a person- and more than anything would I love to do my business full time and make a living. If I can support the community and also pay my bills- that ticks ‘the dream’ off my bucket list.

Tips From My (Important) Mistakes

If you’re not making mistakes along the way, it’s either a miracle or you’re bad at being an entrepreneur. Without mistakes…how will you learn? How will you grow?

  • Don’t Run Before You Can Walk – When I first started out, I was looking for that ‘quick fix’ of business that I’m sure when you’re an eager beaver like I was (and still am) about your idea- then you’ll jump a lot of checkpoints to get to the final product. I’ve learned that patience and taking risks go hand in hand. Even if that’s as simple as choosing to paying extra for a small part of your packaging because it’s sustainably sourced although longer for delivery, compared a company that will do it cheaper and faster for you. Quicker never means better. Make sure you cover all options before making your move. A mistake I made when being a naive start up- was selecting a supplier who would do the job quicker and because my budget was low, it was all I could afford. I’m glad I made the t-shirt I did, as it’s a foundation for growth. I now know what suppliers I choose, and how good the quality it is. Read How To Start A Creative Business for a jargon free insight.
  • Your Hobby is a BUSINESS…Don’t Forget About You!! – I’ve read a lot of books regarding creative entrepreneurs, and I can say for myself that I still struggle with this one. Hey, I know. I know. When you’ve got a wonderful idea, it’s a hobby. You love doing it, you love doing it so much you don’t care about the money. My business advisor even told me once…‘Kim… have you thought about the money side of things?’ which is just something as a social entrepreneur I didn’t think about at all. I cared about the change it would made, not necessarily the profit margins. Don’t forget where you fit into the business. 20180319164711_IMG_0951-02
  • Don’t Underestimate Yourself – Confidence is something that comes with time. Did I think I’d be public speaking, having meetings and going to conferences 3 or 4 years ago? Did I hell! As some of you know my story, I suffered with anxiety during my college and some of my university years. Underestimating yourself, means you’re underestimating your business. It’s a lot on your shoulders, but the business depends on you. Because the business is youI didn’t take a lot of opportunities because I didn’t believe in myself. There’s that conflict of wanting to make your business work- but there’s only so much talking you can do. You need to DO something. That requires a leap of faith, which you need to be willing to take. Don’t underestimate your abilities.
  • Learn To Say ‘No’ – Oh man, this oneeeee! Ok, so I’ve said yes to a lot of things because I was afraid of saying no- and definitely payed for it in the end…literally. I gave a lot of products away for free and not really seeing the downside to it…until I realised I was minus money and no way of funding the next idea. It’s ok to say no to opportunities that don’t sit well with you, or compromise yourself as a person. I nearly took a commission from a record store in the UK that wanted bright colour cartoon drawings because it paid well. But I said no because it just wasn’t right for me. You’ll soon realise what you hold dear and what your values are once you have a sweet biz-baby to take care of. Learn to take a step back and realise who you are and what you value the most.

Have you made any important mistakes if you are freelance, starting a business or setting up a creative side hustle?

 

 

Experiences of a Social Entrepreneur: Part One

It’s difficult to sum up all the wonderful tribulations of starting a business. The very first statement I will say, is that the hardest part is starting at all. So here’s 3 inside notes on my experiences so far for Part One!


Personal Challenges:

When I first had the idea of ‘Keep Real‘ – it was around 4 to 5 years ago. A lot has changed in those years, and a lot is changing now. Not knowing what the right step is, will never evolve into an actual step in any direction. You just have to dive right in. Whether that’s saving up to make your first prints, going to local art exhibitions/shows to get a feel for the market, or knowing how to split up your time. I look back at what I first made and holy moly it’s embarrassing! But at the time, I loved the fact I made my very first t-shirt design- I spent hours on Paint (yes….PAINT) to edit out the pencil marks and errors. I asked my friend Darren to walk down to town with our housemates so I could take some pictures on my digital camera.

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Much has changed since then (definitely in technology too…) and reflecting on those parts of business makes you realise how far you’ve come. If you’re truly determined to make your idea work, you will. Don’t be afraid of unsuccessful stalls, sales or ideas (I know… I’ve had plenty!) At the end of the day, you are learning and no one ever gets it right the first time. It’s your idea…and your idea evolves!

 

Not knowing what the right step is, will never evolve into an actual step in any direction.

Know Your Market, Know Your Business!

At first, I toyed around with the idea that Keep Real would give certain amounts of profit to already existing mental health organisations. However, with my degree I wanted to be part of the change and see where the profits go- as well as funding my own life alongside it. A business at the end of the day, is a business. It needs to fund itself…and fund you too!

Knowing WHO your business is aimed at and the big WHY of what your business is, is VITAL. Where does your business slot into the current market? What change are you trying to create? What makes your business different to the others? Read DO/PURPOSE, or any part of the Do Book Co series for tips! Remember that your idea of what your business is, may be different in someone else’s view. Focus groups are a great way to know your market, and can completely change the game! Feedback is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

With Keep Real, I knew I wanted to support better mental health in young people. I didn’t know when I first started making those paint-edited-tshirts that I’d be funding workshops, working with various inspirational creatives and designing supportive tools for wellbeing. Your idea develops over time, do not be afraid of change in direction. For example, I never knew public speaking would be part of Keep Real, but it is!

Overcoming Difficult Situations

The first part of the business that was important for me to lay out, was the process of making a solid foundation. This for me, was registering as self-employed (you can do this also if you are employed…be prepared to start tax returns though!) and the most important for me was trademarking the name ‘Keep Real’ in the UK under certain classifications. Get all the legal stuff out of the way first. Intellectual Property is a HUGE part of your business (especially if you are a creative one) and it needs to be protected. Trademarking in the UK lasts 10 years if approved. So once its yours, its yours for a long time- even if the business changes!

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One situation I had to overcome- was a trademark battle. An existing company in the UK already had a similar name under the very same classifications I was applying for. This felt all too serious, and something that I was unable to handle myself. I was ready to launch the website…then bam!! I had to file a report stating that my ‘mark’ would not disrupt the preexisting business, how my name was different etc, I was given advice from lawyers and freaked out at the prospect of losing the name. It was absolutely terrifying. What if they opposed my application? What if I had to change the name completely? What else would I call the business, when it means so much?!

With a delay that couldn’t be avoided and with much anticipation, the trademark was finally approved, with the other party deciding not to proceed with the next stage of opposing. Thank goodness! So here we are today, with the 10 year stamp (®) that means that my business name cannot be used by anyone under my categories. Phew!

Taking risks or having someone throw an absolute curveball into the mix- is part of the business game. No matter how much research you do, there will be something that completely blows your mind. Taking a step back and reevaluating is part of the job.

Kimmy’s Top Tips:

  • Describe your business in 3 words. Ask others to do the same. Is it the same? This is a great way to evaluate your idea compared to potential customers!
  • Do not be afraid of change! We all started with an idea- it evolves all the time!
  • Curveballs come with business. How you deal with that determines whether or not you’re passionate about your idea.
  • Feedback and research is VITAL. Knowledge is power…

 

Part Two to come!

 

3 Lil’ Tips for Staying Well

Staying well this March, here’s 3 lil’ tips to keep you going. You got this! You can do it!

Connect with other folk. Whether this be online or having a conversation. I know myself how hard it can be to tell your friends or family about how you feel. But let’s be honest here, doesn’t it feel good to tell people what’s on your mind now and then? Have a cup of coffee (wpid-img_20151022_220531.jpgor a virtual mug of tumblr tea), sit yourself down and ask those around you how they feel. Sharing things that are troubling you- is solving the problem little by little. Sometimes we over share, but do what feels comfortable. Sharing is caring, as they say!

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens.” – Carl Jung

Read a kick ass quote. We aaalllll love a good quote. They’re a catch, reminding us of all the good stuff we sometimes forget to think about. It also allows us to see things differently, or with a completely new perspective that may, fingers crossed, give us hope or provide a sense of relief. But the wonderful thing is, these quotes are the fundamental tools to staying well. We lose ourselves in the daily grind, in the busy lives we lead and in the tasks at hand. Who has time to read a quote? Well, you know what, you do.

Challenge your sweet self! Now this one isn’t as tough as it sounds. You gotta be kind to yourself, and real gentle. But howwpid-img_20150923_165211.jpg about picking up a book that is completely out of your normal reading habits and
see how it goes? I was given a book recommendation by a dear friend which I am now reading called ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘. It’s not any of those things by the way, but it’s a motivational book. Never would have picked it up in a million years by my own choice! I’m persevering, and reaping the benefits. Or perhaps you could listen to music you’ve never really thought about giving a go. You may just enjoy it, and surprise yourself! I suggest Spotify. Type in a genre or an artist you already like, and it will recommend artists or bands that or perhaps something you’d wanna check out. Go give it a go! Challenge your interests!

Stay well folks, and keep real xx

10 Ways Back To The Light

Hey folks, I wanted to share with you an article I found on Psychologies by Jamie Rhodes author of ‘Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music’ (purchase here)4e39e58e38bdf17dbffc00a175afaa34, and Matt Haig, author of ‘Reasons to Stay Alive’ (purchase here) about the top ten strategies that helped them through the more difficult times. These are wonderful, and I hope they help you too! (read it down below, or in the original article here) ❤

10 Ways Back To The Light

James Rhodes says:

Breathe – 10 minutes of meditation a day works wonderrs.

Make a cuppa “I’d somehow got enough clarity and self-awareness to know that I was able now to do all I could to get well… It was terrifying and exciting all at once. Time maybe to have a cup of tea and listen to Chopin’s greatest nocturne – the one in C minor Op. 48/1.

Talk to anyone friendly. “I like talking to strangers. I read a book about depression once where the protagonist was so lonely she used to join queues simply for the human interaction. And while things weren’t quite that bad yet, I did at times strike up conversations with people.

Do something creative (piano/writing for me, but there is an almost infinite choice for everyone) “Forgiveness and meditation, reading and writing, talking and sharing all help, creativity is, for me, one of the most profound ways through trauma.”

Find some perspective. Remember you’re a microscopic dot hurtling around the universe on a tiny planet in the middle of an unfathomable amount of space.

Matt Haig says:

Slow down. “Anxiety runs your mind at fastforward rather than normal ‘play’ speed, so addressing that issue of mental ‘pace’ might not be easy. But it works.”

Go for a run and then do yoga (the golden bullet for my anxiety) “I was a yogaphobe, but am now a convert. It’s great, because unlike other therapies, it treats the mind and the body as part of the same whole.”

Get off the internet. “I might – if I am going through a neurotic patch – do a quick ego search, or check out any new Goodreads or Amazon reviews of my books or go on Google and type in a list of real or imaginary ailments to see which terminal disease I am currently suffering from.

Talk to people you love. “Words. Comfort. Support. It took me more than a decade to be able to talk openly, properly, to everyone, about my experience. I soon discovered the act of talking is in itself a therapy. Where talk exists, so does hope.

Stare at the sky. “Look at the sky. Remind yourself of the cosmos. Seek vastness at every opportunity, in order to see the smallness of yourself.”

Cattitude & CO.

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Copyright © Cattitude&Co., 2016.

Y’all need to check out the ever wonderful Cattitude & CO. Otherwise known as the lovely London based lady Tara, who set up the feminist lifestyle blog in August 2015. The blog covers a whhoollee range of topics from feminism and sexuality to lifestyle and wellbeing. It’s so wonderful to see a blog, as well as the start of the Cattitude & CO Youtube (get yo booty over there and subscribe…now!) inspiring and encouraging women in the 21st Century. Us ladies need that frank content to really live life authentically. We are surrounded by media and content that portrays women in a certain light that isn’t true. (Check out the latest post about the media on Cattitude & CO. here) We need more people like Tara to show us and now tell us with her YouTube, how we can support each other, as well have the discussions we wished we could actively get involved with in our teenage years. Having only just launched the YouTube channel 7 days ago…she is amassing followers already.
To top off the empowering, informative blog and YouTube channel, Tara co-founded a successful women’s lifestyle website Zusterschap in 2015. ZC is a fearlessly feminist blog where no topics are off-limit. As we confront stereotypes, social norms and just about everything we’re expected to swallow without questioning, Zusterschap aims to give an array of women a voice. In November 2015, Zusterschap was shortlisted for ‘Best Sex and Relationship Blog’ at the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards.

 Now this is a lady worth following.

What really struck a chord with me, is that Tara said that her main motivation is to be the woman she needed as a little girl. I think she’s definitely achieved that and beyond. We need more people in this world like Tara, who are showing girls and guys what feminism is and the discussion we need to be having as individuals in this day and age. She’s empowering, strong and really knows her stuff.

You can follow her here on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

You can also Subscribe to Cattitude & Co’s  Blog and YouTube!

 

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Copyright © Cattitude&Co., 2016.

 

My Top 5: Ways of Coping with the Bad Days

Now, a lot of people have a wonderful variety of coping strategies with the days that are just that little bit harder to get through. When I did some research for my degree- there’s a lot of different healthy ways we find that suits us due to our personality traits and personal preferences. For example, folk who are naturally creative love to use art in different mediums to feel better and in others they use music, physical exercise or experiencing the outdoors. Screen Shot 2016-05-17 at 14.31.50

As long as your coping strategy is not harmful to you or others, and you can feel better by exploring your coping strategies in a safe and healthy way- then there is no wrong way of doing it. You’re doing what is best for you my lovely!  Mind have a wonderful section on their site about self-care which I extremely recommend on checking out.

Here are my personal Top 5 that I feel help me the most, and perhaps they can help you too! Be gentle with yourself ❤

  1. Ecotherapy – otherwise known as the great green outdoors. Spending time away from distractions, the city life or just by getting out of the house into a natural environment can be so helpful. It is quite a mindful experience, and for me it clears my head. I’m very thankful to live in Yorkshire, and living right next to the woods. Find your place and go there as often as you can. Be one with nature and enjoy it.
  2. Reading – now this doesn’t have to be books on self-help or mindfulness, but a genre or type of book you really enjoy. Love a bit of adventure? Get your Tolkien game on! Like a bit of a classic? Flick through a good Jane Austen! Whatever floats your boat, give it a read. But I will say, be gentle with yourself. You’re doing this for you, remember! Some books with graphic content may be triggering to your wellbeing. My favourite book for the past year has been ‘Just Kids’ by Patti Smith. As a naturally creative person, and I feel I’m having a block/ bad day- I read her book and her prose.
  3. Playing an instrument – I know some folk don’t have musical instruments, but this is one of my personal favourites. I was fortunate enough to be given a classical guitar by my Mum’s friends years and yeaaarrss ago that I still have. You somehow get lost in it, and its just the combination of making sound and feeling the movements. If you don’t have access to anything like that, my next coping strategy is…
  4. Listening to music – Boy can music change your soul. Whatever clicks with you and makes you feel good give it a listen. Pop your headphones on, lay back and shut off the world. You can listen to your favourites/most played or go for super funny songs like ‘I’ve Got A Pocket Full of Sunshine’ by Natasha Bedingfield or the Flashdance Soundtrack (soooooo groovy)
  5. Art- This encompasses everything to scribbles, writing, doodles and full blown commissions for me. It gets me in a nice groove that I can focus on. Controlling the way the pencil moves, or shading in something can be a very mindful experience. Allowing yourself to get lost in it, and only think of what you are creating really helps me get in a good headspace. Also, I write a hell of a lot  when I feel down. I’ve kept a diary for years that I always tend to look back on. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel, so I write whatever is going on in my lil brain down. It’s very cathartic, even if its just in bullet points of things that are bothering me. It also allows me to check in with myself and see what’s affecting me, or what I could highlight as something that needs to change.

 

I hope my Top 5 may help, or perhaps gently give you the smallest ideas of ways to cope. From knitting to running or reading and playing monopoly, there’s so many healthy ways of coping with the bad days.

You are not alone. You are here, and you are enough.

A Reflection on Being Butt-hurt.

Hey folks! I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend so far!

As a lil’ lady who is continuously learning about herself, it’s extremely hard to discuss topics that I’m still, well, learning about! It’s soul- baring, and I feel all vulnerable discussing it. I’d like to think I’m self aware, or at least know my own strengths and weaknesses in every day terms, but in a perspective concerning relationships- it’s still something that is developing all the time.

I pride myself on my independence, and being comfortable in my own skin. Which is very true indeed! As some of you know, I was a bundle of nerves and my anxiety was at it’s highest in college years. In other articles/posts, I have stated that it affected my Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 14.56.11relationships, which it definitely did. I look back at that time now, and think how much of a different person I am now. I’m unashamed of my easy going attitude towards everything, I’m confident and chilled out in a mushy-cool combination (or at least I’d like to think so!), I go with the flow- if a guy comes along that I really like, sweet! If not, that’s cool too- because what will happen, will happen ❤ However it has been a slight downfall in relationships where my kindness/ easy going attitude has been taken for granted, or really taken advantage of. And that’s my reflection. It aint cool. It’s not 100% ‘rejection’, its someone manipulating the good within you for selfish reasons. I was butt hurt, and it succkkkkeedd. It hurt my lil’ soul.

Everyone has a fear of rejection/ feelings not returned, but it’s how you deal with it that determines the overall outcome. Learn from it, grow- but also let yourself feel! This has been on my mind from the experience. When someone betrays your trust, or plays on your personality, it flippin sucks. It sucks big time, no matter the circumstance. It’s alright to rationalise an experience by saying ‘some people are not meant to be in your life’ and ‘hurt people, hurt people’ (which are all very true sayings), you have to let yourself feel hurt. This, in my very personal experience, is something I’ve been working on. It feels uncomfortable and has a weird feeling in your stomach, but it’s so important to experience it (Psychologies has a great article about coming back from rejection here). It’s left me a little guarded as a person lately, but I’m taking it within my stride. We’re not all perfect people, it’s taken me a while to admit this butt-hurt. I’m still rolling with the punches and slaying my way through each week the best I can!

Remember, you’re growing as a human being every day. Every day. Sometimes, things don’t go the way you planned, and you have to be very mindful of your actions and reactions. Be gentle, be kind, be yourself. As much as being butt-hurt sucks, don’t react with anger or hate. Take a step back and remember your self worth, and treat the situation with as much goodness as you can. But also stand up for yourself too! ❤ You will come out of a bad experience with more perspective, ready to go with the flow of the world that awaits!

Anyway sweetpeas, I will leave it there ❤ sending all my love to you all!

 

 

 

 

 

Peace is Every Breath

Here’s a quote from Hans Nhat Thich that I wanted to share with you folks ❤

“If you know how to be happy with the wonders of life that are already there for you to enjoy, you don’t need to stress your mind and your body by striving harder and harder, and you don’t need to stress this planet by purchasing more and more stuff. The Earth belongs to our children. We have already borrowed too much from it, from them; and the way things have been going, we’re not sure we’ll be able to give it back to them in decent shape. And who are our children, actually? They are us, because they are our own continuation. So we’ve been shortchanging our own selves. Much of our modern way of life is permeated by mindless overborrowing. The more we borrow, the more we lose. That’s why it’s critical that we wake up and see we don’t need to do that anymore. What’s already available in the here and now is plenty for us to be nourished, to be happy. Only that kind of insight will get us, each one of us, to stop engaging in the compulsive, self-sabotaging behaviors of our species. We need a collective awakening. One Buddha is not enough. All of us have to become Buddhas in order for our planet to have a chance. Fortunately, we have the power to wake up, to touch enlightenment from moment to moment, in our very own ordinary and, yes, busy lives. So let’s start right now. Peace is your every breath.”