Doing My Mental Health A Favor

Doing My Mental Health A Favor

by Ben Wheeler

Owning and operating a small health beverage company in Washington, DC, that makes and sells compact two-ounce wellness shots has taught me a lot about how it’s the little things that count. The little things we do every day in life for our bodies, our minds, and even our emotions, all add up.  

I’ve learned that small momentum-based habits that I incorporate into my daily routine – and it’s a constant work in progress – like exercise, eating cleaner, meditating, limiting screen time, and journaling help keep my physical and mental health in check. The mind and body are connected and to do both of mine a favor, I created Favor.  

I’ve had to learn these ideals the hard way. When I was living in New York City in my twenties, I suffered from mild but consistent gut health issues. I also had problems with anxiety and at times, bouts of depression. I was going out partying a lot, not exercising enough, not eating well, and basically overindulging in all the classic not-so-healthy habits. My gut was telling me something. The gut regulates digestion, but also works with the brain to manage emotions and stress. I started to realize that I needed to find some sort of solution if I wanted to feel better – “go with my gut”, so to speak. 

Throughout my childhood, high school, and college I played basketball. I had an athletic scholarship and hoped to play professionally after college, but chronic back issues didn’t allow for that route. Athletics had played a, if not the, significant role in my life up until then. It was my identity. The transition to the real world was rough, and it affected my mental health. Anxiety – that I also experienced throughout my playing career – became more prevalent as I fell into a fun, but consistently unhealthy lifestyle. Yet my body knew what it felt like to be strong and healthy and while I knew I wasn’t going to get back to being in “top athlete-level” shape, I had to make some changes. 

I knew I needed to make more health-conscious decisions, but I also knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of time and effort on drastic diets or elaborate ‘juice cleanses’. I wanted a simple addition that wouldn’t require a ton of work or money. Someone I knew recommended apple cider vinegar for my gut issues, so I tried it. It helped immediately but the taste was shocking. I started adding other things to my concoctions and began doing research, learning about, and feeling the benefits of apple cider vinegar.  I also experimented with other beneficial ingredients like ginger, turmeric, lemon, matcha and cinnamon.   

At that point, a business wasn’t even an idea, but I was eager to learn about the beverage and wellness industry. And as I did, I found it overwhelming and annoying. It came off as a ton of “smoke and mirrors” with overstated benefits and unfulfilled promises. It seemed to me that there was a void in the market. Around the same time, I began to understand the possibilities of making a health beverage that wasn’t overwhelming or overstated – one that could have all natural ingredients but didn’t require a PhD to understand or consume it. Eventually, I consulted a nutritionist and found a food science lab to help with product development and safety.  

I believe in authenticity, simplicity, and being realistic with health and wellness goals. I didn’t want to create a “cure-all” product – not that I could – but I knew I wanted to offer something that would make a small but consistent difference. A straightforward product that can do the body a favor. We don’t claim it saves lives or cures some horrible ailment. Instead, it’s something I and anyone else can add as a healthy addition to a daily routine that will do the body a favor. 

I am partnering with ADAA to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of Favor products. I’m doing this because I want my business to be associated with an organization that has a local DC presence but also reaches a national and international audience and focuses on anxiety and depression. I continue to struggle with anxiety, especially these last couple of years relocating cities and running a small business in uncertain times, and I believe in the power of seeking help. ADAA offers help in the form of resources, evidence-based information on treatments, support groups and platforms to tell stories.  

I believe wellness and strong mental health require small steps. Feeling anxious or depressed is for sure no easy or simple thing, but sometimes it’s those little adjustments you make to be happier, the small things you give yourself credit for, or finding that one thing that provides fulfilment and purpose that can go a long way. I did that for myself by creating Favor and it’s that mindset that I hope helps me progress and get a little better each day – along with drinking at least one Favor every day. 

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