As our mental wellbeing is put to the test across the globe, zines have a vital role to play in connecting communities and reminding how important it is to show ourselves and one another greater empathy in these times.
Today, we feature five mental health mini-zines from Janine Kwoh. Janine is the founder of Kwohtations, a handmade stationery company, and letterpress from Brooklyn, New York, whose work focuses on celebrating the diversity of our identities and life experiences.
Each zine is lovingly constructed from cardstock in soothing pastel colors and is flowing with so much compassion we all need in this time.
1. Ways to Say No, For Those of Us Who Are Bad At Saying No
Hands up if you're bad at saying 'No' [me raising hand sheepishly]
Why is saying no so hard? Is it strong feelings of guilt? That sense of wanting to please others? With saying No such a fundamental part of self-care and boundary-setting, we must learn to do it better and more confidently.
"Saying no is a hard, awkward, anxiety-inducing business. But we have to do it." Janine Kwoh
Ways to Say No helps fine-tune your no-saying-skills by stepping you through ten straight-forward techniques to say 'No'.
Whether you'd like to try being more direct, treading more softly, choose what you feel most comfortable using, or give all options a try and learn how to say no better. And if you're still unsure, this zine offers some gentle reminders of why saying no is vital for our wellbeing.
Ways to Say No, is 16 pages, 4.25" x 2.75"
2. On Belonging, A Tiny Manifesto
If you are struggling and feeling like you don't belong, this powerful little zine will give some actionable steps to find your place, plus make room for someone else too.
This is one of my favorite zines from Janine's mini-zines (although I love them all). It carries so much kindness and love.
"Because no matter who or where you are, everyone has a table—even if it's not the one you expected to find or where you thought you'd find it." Janine Kwoh
On Belonging will inspire you to keep going with courage, to reach outward until you find your community and make authentic connections.
On Belonging is 16 pages, 4.25" x 2.75"
3. How to Care For Your Introvert
Introverted versus extroverted personalities relate to the different environments in which your inner energy gets depleted and how it gets recharged.
Your inner energy is likely to feel depleted for those more introverted after social gatherings and recharged in quieter moments. Being introverted versus extroverted falls along a spectrum, and no two introverts or extroverts are the same.
When I discovered my personality was more introverted, it answered many questions and helped me appreciate my needs better.
How to Care for Your Introvert is a wise zine with great tips to help support friends, family members, or colleagues who are introverts. I found this zine helpful in supporting my son's introversion better—even as an introvert myself!
I like that this zine addresses potential misconceptions about introversion. That introverts don't want to go out is a good example.
But rather, introverts just need a little time to recharge in-between.
How to Care For Your Introvert is 16 pages, 4.25" x 2.75"
4. Things to do When You're in a Depressive Spiral Before you Crawl into Bed, from One Human to Another
The Blurt Foundation refers to a depressive or downward spiral as that moment when you feel your mood starting to slip and mental health decline.
If you've been living with depression, the prospect of a potential setback can bring on a lot of worries. Having some strategies in place that you can turn to early on is a helpful way to interrupt this spiral.
Things to do When Your in A Depressive Spiral give quick ideas of some mindful activities you can use to distract yourself.
"Let go of the idea that you need to be productive," Janine Kwoh
I like that this zine has lots of fun illustrations, making it enjoyable to read through.
This little zine is filled with compassion. The idea is to pick and choose from activities that align with you, and don't forget, always seek additional support if needed.
Things to do When Your in A Depressive Spiral is 8 pages, 4.25" x 2.75"
5. What to Write in a Condolence Card, Some Ideas
We wouldn't need zines like What to Write in a Condolence Card in an ideal world, but unfortunately, that's not quite how things go.
Janine has lots of experience with cardmaking gives some great tips for what to say (and what not to say) in your Condolence card.
I'm grateful that zines like this exist, as in these situations, I tend to feel a little anxious that I might be saying the wrong thing. I feel like the tips in this zine can be extended beyond a condolence card to conversations also.
"Remember: There's no perfect thing to say…. Send the card anyways—it makes a difference."
What to Write in A Condolence Card is 8 pages, 4.25" x 2.75"