Mental Health Champions: Why & How Cindy Fung of Nature-Esque Is Helping To Champion Mental Wellness
Limit social media: Social media has many benefits, but can also have impacts on mental health. This is especially true where the difference between real and fake are difficult to distinguish. Limiting my exposure to social media and forming healthy mental guidelines to online content will have an immense impact on most individuals, including myself.
As a part of our series about Mental Health Champions helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Cindy Fung.
Co-Founder of Nature-Esque, Cindy Fung, is a creative individual who enjoys connecting art and mental wellness. She designed Nature-Esque’s visual representation from packaging to creating a fragrance blend and managing social media — the creation of custom blend candles for specific occasions and moods is something she enjoys as she hopes every time you light our candle, you will feel calm, relaxed, and empowered. The majority of her time is spent overseeing projects for one of the largest mental health organizations on social media and most of her evenings are spent designing/testing affirmation candles to motivate and uplift others.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I was raised in Vancouver, Canada, by my loving grandma who puts my brother and I at the center of the family. My parents were in the picture, but were frequently out working odd jobs to pay the bills, given that neither of them had advanced education. We were taught to love each other unconditionally, however, we were not taught to love ourselves, especially when we fell short of expectations. We were not the perfect family, but we were perfectly imperfect for each other.
You are currently leading a business that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
Each day brings its unique pushes and pulls, and while these can challenge us to become better people, some can be more difficult to handle or even negative. Through time, these can impact our overall mental health and bring unnecessary stress to our surroundings. Busy schedules and frequent distractions make it difficult to prioritize your own needs, including time for self-reflection. Nature-Esque aims to bring daily reminders of self-care into the comfort of your own home to remove negative energy that impacts our mental health. We believe daily reminders to slow down, self-reflect, and understand your own thoughts can have therapeutic benefits for you and your loved ones.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
Admittedly, I saw red flags that my own personal mental health was less than optimal as well. I was fortunate enough to recognize it earlier and to notice that I was not alone. I was able to navigate the path of recovery small steps at a time. However, I recognize that many others, regardless of their backgrounds, struggle with mental wellness, many of whom have less education and resources than I. My goal with Nature-Esque is to bring daily reminders to tackle mental wellness with self-care, small steps at a time. We designed our unique candles to be engraved with a constant flow of affirmational words on the woodwicks; serving as daily reminders to prioritize time for themselves to slow down, prioritize themselves, reflect on their successes, and to gain courage to improve.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
The birth of Nature-Esque Studio happened by marrying two “Aha Moments” together:
- My husband has an unprecedented work ethic his entire life, which led him to a demanding 80+ hour work weeks for the past decade. While most individuals would melt under the pressure, he always maintained his happy nature. I asked him whether he struggled with mental wellness and his response was simple and elegant: “Keep your eyes on the goal, prioritize time daily for yourself, and always reflect on how to improve one step at a time.” This was evidence of mind over matter — a lesson that I believe could bring peace and comfort to people of all backgrounds.
- I am proud to say that I am a manager of a YouTube channel that focuses on mental wellness and psychology. The channel is subscribed by over 9 million globally. I interact with individuals struggling with mental wellness on a daily basis, and it is evident to me that the demand for resources to improve mental wellness was unmeasurable, and it brings me happiness to see our videos and content help viewers globally.
Marrying my passion with my husband’s elegantly placed words led to us both co-founding Nature-Esque together so that others may lead healthier lives.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Customer service goes a long way. A disabled lady in an elderly home across the country had stumbled across our candles and had fallen in love with the wood wicks engraved with affirmational words. She had never purchased online before, but was capable enough to send a simple email to us describing what she wanted to purchase and her lack of knowledge on how to do it. I responded immediately by specifically curating her cart for her and attaching all relevant deals to assist with her purchase. All she had to do was a simple checkout via her email. She loved and appreciated our help so much that she reconnected with us via email and purchased a larger set for herself and her grandchildren, stating that the lack of self care was a large reason for many of her regrets in the past and she would like her (grand)children to not turn a blind eye to it. This lady fully understood our mission at Nature-Esque and I was beyond happy to know we could help her and her family on their journey to greater healing.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
My mentor, who is the founder of the psychology-focused YouTube channel I manage was, and is, a strong supporter of my vision: the vision to bring daily reminders of self-care to the comfort of your home. He was not only a mentor in teaching me all about mental health, but has also incorporated our self-care candles into the channel’s merchandise store given that we are aligned in our strategies to bring awareness to mental health.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
I believe the stigma surrounding mental illness can be bucketed into 4 factors:
- Lack of education: — This bucket can be further broken out into three key steps, which include the inability to easily recognize, understand, and tackle mental illness. These are not taught thoroughly in school normally and are often detected when the illness has manifested for far too long.
- Negative Perception: — The perception that mental illness is a disease or is associated with failures has placed a cloud over the term “mental illness.” The truth is, mental illness strikes individuals across ethnicities, cultures, financial status, life success, gender, and age, and none are immune to it.
- Lack of support: — Given the stigma surrounding mental illness, it is often difficult to find individuals that we can speak comfortably with without being judged.
- “I can’t be helped;” — Following on the fact that there is a lack of support, individuals with mental illness also suffer from the belief that they cannot be helped. The loneliness of suffering alone further fosters the illness.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
- Individuals should be better educated to recognize early signs of mental wellness in their loved ones. You know your loved ones the best, and are best equipped to recognize changes in their daily lives. Tackling mental illness when it has lingered too long can be a daunting challenge, and taking a “bit-by-bit” approach through small wins on a daily basis can pave the path to healing.
- Society can aid in removing the stigma surrounding mental illness by providing more education and support for those that need it. In turn, individuals are less reluctant to speak up about their struggles with mental illness and the healing process can begin.
- Governments include people of power and status who only speak about their successes and strengths, not their weaknesses. I believe that if individuals in government (including other people with power) spoke up about their own struggles with mental illness, suffering individuals will feel less lonely and more inclined to seek assistance.
What are your 5 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Practice daily reflection: I take 15 minutes every evening in silence to reflect on the ups and downs of the day. This helps me digest my feelings and to establish a plan moving forward in an incremental fashion.
- Recognize my success: Similarly, the reflection time allows me to identify all the small successes each day. Though individually they are small wins, but accumulated through time, become big successes.
- No screens at the table: Taking time to communicate thoughts and speak openly to my family is a helpful way to reflect and receive feedback. This also helps my loved ones, help me, and vice versa. I also believe this applies to coffee chats with friends. The more attention two people can give to one another, the better they know how to help.
- Limit social media: Social media has many benefits, but can also have impacts on mental health. This is especially true where the difference between real and fake are difficult to distinguish. Limiting my exposure to social media and forming healthy mental guidelines to online content will have an immense impact on most individuals, including myself.
- Identify the Controllables, and Let go of the Uncontrollables: I am sometimes too hard on myself when things don’t go as well as I’d hope, however, knowing the difference between what was controllable and what was uncontrollable has helped me find comfort that I have done my part.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
The Lavendaire Lifestyle, run by Aileen, is one of my favorite resources that has inspired me to be a mental health champion. Aileen runs both a podcast and YouTube channel that covers a range of mental health topics — from self-acceptance to burnout. Specifically, in her YouTube channel, she posts self-care and healing videos to uplift and inspire others to feel love and to let go. In my opinion, her ability to spread awareness in relation to her personal journey to healing from experiences of anxiety and a sense of never being good enough in her father’s eyes is a powerful story. Through sharing this, she was able to let go of negative voices that have held her back from a path of healing. Mental health and self-care work hand-in-hand, which is why our candles were designed to be more than just candles, they are daily reminders to slow down, reflect, and self-care.
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
Pay closer attention to others around you that might be suffering from mental health and begin walking a daily path to recovery together. Starting a conversation with a non-judgemental approach and sharing your own personal struggles will break down the stigma and loneliness surrounding mental health. Importantly, this serves as the foundation for daily activities to tackle mental health with acts of self-care.
How can our readers follow you online?
IG handle: Nature.Esque.Studio
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Mental Health Champions: Why & How Cindy Fung of Nature-Esque Is Helping To Champion Mental… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.