Something for every self-soother.
Disconnect from work. Connect with yourself. Unplug from social media. Plug into nature.
Current wellness vernacular appears to be all about what, how and to whom we should be connecting with for better mental health. The general consensus is that taking time away from our screens and fighting the impulse to doomscroll our way through another day and night will open up windows (not to be confused with tabs) for more grounding practices, such as being outdoors and spending quality time with those whose energy does the opposite of deplete us.
Of course, social networks (the online ones) can be immensely useful to those seeking connection and understanding from individuals going through similar challenges. There are online safe spaces and communities where one can share, hope, grieve, and learn in a way that’s accessible to them. Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have also democratised therapy, facilitating the sharing of practical tools for managing our anxiety and other symptoms of mental illness, and in untold amounts, pushing patients in the direction of real-life therapists and healthcare providers.
Maybe you are someone who has been saved by an infographic. Maybe you belong to an online community that is holding space for you in a way that your real-life loved ones, for whatever reason, cannot. Or, maybe you have found the most success in going off the grid, old-school, and reached catharsis in a cabin in the woods with zero signal.
This is not a one size fits all situation. But we hope from the following four options, you will be assured that the type of connection you seek is out there.
Unyoked – Immerse in (just enough) nature
The nitty-gritty of heading on holiday – even in the most sincere pursuits of restoration – can be counterproductive. In fact, some would argue that just thinking about going away is the most enjoyable part of the break. That thing to look forward to; the impetus to persevere through your last big project and pop on your Out of Office reply. Once you hit your desti, you can’t resist the temptation to unmute the work group chat and suddenly you’re not on a lounger in Fiji, you’re back in Boardroom 5, overcome by the aroma of Nespresso and whiteboard markers.
Not on Unyoked’s watch. They’re all about heading into nature to switch off. But with much more respect for your personal autonomy than an expensive wellness resort that demands you hand your phone over, jam your schedg’ with yoga and become temporarily vegan.
A worldwide startup that began in Australia in 2017, Unyoked has spent years investigating the scientific relationship between nature and health and the result is multiple cabins near Raglan, New Zealand, as well as a number in Australia and the UK, each situated off the beaten track in beautifully, sometimes wild settings, in order to make dipping one’s toes in nature a breeze – even for the least outdoorsy of us.
Wake up in your chic, architecturally-designed and perfectly appointed cabin (a full list of accoutrements can be found here – just bring your walking gear, some food supplies and your pyjamas). Embark on an easy hike across native farmland or explore the wild coast at your doorstep. When you return, wrap yourself in a wool blanket and snuggle up in your bed with a book and a front row seat to a golden sunset, or a storm lashing the floor-to-ceiling windows.
A beautiful experience whatever the weather, the team at Unyoked say the cabins were designed to be accessible and available “regularly and easily, so you can use nature like you do the gym.”
For the record, answering emails is not illegal, although most spots have little-to-no coverage, so most importantly, let your family know where you’re going and when to expect you back. Then, for the love of leaning into the whole experience, put your phone on flight mode and use it only for taking beautiful sunset photos and playing your most peaceful playlists.
IAMMI – a skincare and wellness app superduo
The world of wellness can seem awash with rituals that overwhelmingly add to your plate. Thankfully, this is absolutely not the case with IAMMI, a new skincare-app hybrid experience by Kiwi hospo entrepreneur, Mimi Gilmour-Buckley (which FYI, is popping up in Newmarket at the moment).
Launched in August, Mimi explains that the simple, repetitive act of washing her face and applying her skincare became at essential exercise as she navigated the frightening, complicated, uncertain first weeks and months of her first-born Olympia’s life, who was diagnosed at birth with quadriplegic spastic cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The idea behind the IAMMI app is that these existing pockets of time, like one’s precious morning and evening skincare rituals, are the perfect opportunity for us to supercharge our mental fortitude, or laser-in on an intention – an exercise that saw Mimi through some of her darkest days.
A mere 2-4 minutes is all the time you need to commit to IAMMI everyday. Open the app and you’ll be prompted to choose a ‘Life Bite’ from a selection, based on how you are feeling that day. Press play, and you’ll receive 2-4 minutes of pre-recorded wisdom from an expert (esteemed resilience guru Dr Lucy Hone makes several appearances) designed to soundtrack your skincare (or teeth brushing, or makeup application, or hanging out washing) experience.
Which is to say, purchasing a bottle of IAMMI skincare isn’t essential to the ritual. However, if you’re feeling generous, we highly recommend hero product Olympia – a nourishing glow serum beautifully bottled in Olympia’s favourite colour, yellow – of which $1 from ever sale is donated to the Starship Foundation.
Everyday Solitude – Deepening offline conversations
You’d be forgiven for mistaking a box of Everyday Conversation cards for an eyeshadow palette you spotted somewhere on the shelf at Superette. Or possibly a makeshift jewellery box housing a dainty silver chain, repurposed from a matchbox you picked up at a boutique Manhattan hotel.
Each containing thought-starters for the titular Everyday Conversations, these cards will send your serotonin as high as the aforementioned trinkets, in a much more sustainable hit.
Created by Everyday Solitude, Everyday Conversations are about creating connections through bite-size prompts to share details about the layers of life that too often exist beneath the surface. Questions like ‘Is there anything that you should be doing that you’re avoiding?’ sit alongside wholesome prompts to recall one’s childhood best friend. On the outside, it deepens our connections with the people we are playing with, while internally, it allows us to take inventory of our lives, what’s important to us, and gently nudge us to face fears and get to the source of bad habits.
Cards Against Humanity‘s older, much more evolved big sister who just got back from a year at an Ashram in Peru (but totally picked up a duty free Bottega bag on her way home), pop onto everydaysolitude.com, and you’ll see that they provide just as soothing an online experience as off.
We’re not just talking pretty colour palettes and harmonious web design (though there’s that), but plenty of musings from qualified practitioners (including practical tips for building mental strength) and a list of professional destinations and mental health providers should you need to take your care up a notch.
And with 10% of your Everyday Conversations card pack going towards mental health support in New Zealand, your purchase is already doing good before you’ve got it home and invited the girls over.
Diem – the internet’s answer to GirlExplain
“It’s like if Reddit, your girl group chat and ChatGPT had a baby” says Amy Fraser, a Kiwi digital consultant in the wellness space who played a critical role in getting NYC-based startup Diem off the ground.
One swipe though Diem’s Instagram, and you’ll agree. There are conversational snippets that you’d actually want to stay and listen to (none of the beige platitudes we’re used to scrolling past on IG), a truly diverse representation of people and voices (at lit dinners and get-togethers in what look like some of the coolest hidden venues in NYC), and an unashamed focus on asking the most taboo questions about womanhood (and saying the answers out loud) such that the empowerment can ripple out beyond the room.
The AskDiem app itself is essentially a very pretty social search engine, built to answer women’s questions. It’s inspired by the way women have exchanged knowledge for centuries – by talking and sharing our experiences.
Got something so niche you can’t Google it – even on private mode? Or if you put it to Reddit, the multiple-levels of mansplaining between the question and the most helpful answer would make you want to throw your phone out the window? Pop it on Diem and between the app’s nifty AI model and fellow (read, real life) users, youll be flooded with friendly, constructive, chat-like answers and insights.
Make yourself at home before you do – there’s plenty of relatable Q+A threads to pore over if you aren’t ready to put yourself out there. And if you prefer your wellness advice the old-fashioned way, sign up to receive the essay The Things We Don’t Talk about, delivered to your inbox once a week.