ban.do is a brand known for it’s upbeat, colorful, feel-good vibes. To shop their website is to shop a fever dream of seemingly happy accidents. Technicolor pajamas meet adorable mushroom earrings. Rainbow corkboards sit alongside pearlescent pencil pouches. But make no mistake. Everything here is extremely intentional.
That intention? Simply put, ban.do founder Jen Gotch wants you to feel better. The color, fun, and whimsy is, in fact, a very thoughtful expression of that. In Jen’s new memoir, The Upside of Being Down, she shares all about her personal journey with mental health. Plus, we learn how she became an empathetic entrepreneur behind one of the world’s most positive lifestyle brands.
For actionable takeaways from an expert, here is Jen Gotch to share five ways she prioritizes mental health in her routine.
5 Mental Health Practices from Jen Gotch
1. Observing thoughts without judgment
I pay attention to my thoughts without reacting to them.
This was a huge shift for me after being a victim of my own mind and the stories it told me for most of my life. The decision to shift to this approach relieved 90% of the anxiety that I had suffered with for most of my life.
Now more than ever, this is a simple gift you can give to yourself. Think of your thoughts as clouds that you can watch float by without having to have an immediate reaction. Our minds often tell us tales that aren’t true, but we are trained from a young age to take every thought as fact. Now is the time to create that distance and find some peace.
In the same vein, when my thoughts get to be too overwhelming, the voice in my head gets too loud, or I just want a new perspective on them, I journal.
It doesn’t have to be anything formal or even consistent. I just find it best to write down how I am feeling, and it allows me to approach my thoughts with perspective rather than an immediate reaction.
Journaling can mean jotting something in your notes app, writing in a notebook, keeping a digital journal, or if you are really brave, using your social media as a journal. It is amazing to find out how many people are thinking the same thoughts as you and are also looking for a solution.
3. Look for the upside
I regularly, sometimes hourly (lately even more than that), try to find an upside to any situation. That is not always easy, but I have found that dedicating myself to optimism has changed my relationship with my own mental health and my relationship to the world at large.
We actually have very little control over outcomes, yet we spend a lot of time fretting over them anyways. I actively try to let go and challenge myself to find something positive in even the most discouraging situations. Sometimes it is not easy to find, but I do my best and it is rare that an upside does not present itself—even if it takes a while.
4. Making the bed
This one seems really inconsequential, but it has made a big difference in my mental health. About three years ago, my friend suggested that I make my bed every morning as a way to feel better. I thought it was kind of a strange suggestion, especially as someone who is not fond of making the bed, but this is a wise friend so I gave it a shot.
She was right! It is so easy to do and you immediately have a sense of accomplishment at the beginning of each day. Then, at night, you have the luxury of getting into a beautifully made bed.
5. Dance it out
I dance! I dance when I’m feeling bad, I dance when I’m feeling good. Even if only for a minute or two. I’m usually by myself in my house or in front of a giant dumpster at work. It’s a long story, but you can see more on my Instagram. I’m not a scientist or a doctor but I’ve heard that when you dance you release a [bunch] of endorphins.
Plus, it connects with the emotional centers of the brain and can actually prompt an emotional reaction that often comes in the form of joy. It’s also really fun.