Meet Kanika Agarwal
Kanika Agarwal was working on her first company when her struggles with anxiety began. As a first-time founder the pressure and workload were high, and Kanika made sure to put in all the extra hours that were required to get things done. With time, all her accumulated stress and burnout started showing up in the form of episodes of unanticipated anxiety and panic attacks. “I used to neglect the signs of anxiety and the stress that came with overworking until one day I completely lost control of my breath and had to be hospitalized,” she recalls.
After the episode, Kanika began questioning her self-confidence and self-image. While on the outside she seemed comfortable and confident, on the inside she struggled with a sense of purposelessness and debilitating anxiety. She took it upon herself to seek out and help people who were dealing with the same issues as her and started being vocal about her experiences. In the process, more and more people started associating with her and there arose a sense of community and belongingness.
“My family was extremely supportive when I decided to seek therapy. But the process was so tedious and long, it was exhausting half-way through. When I finally did get myself into therapy, I faced a lot of judgment, and my problems were often tagged as “first-world problems” that came with being a first-time founder. While I didn’t continue with therapy, I knew something had to be done about the process of finding a therapist and making mental healthcare more accessible.”
MindPeers and its journey
This is what led to the birth of MindPeers – one of Asia’s leading mental strength platforms that helps you optimize the way you think, feel and act. With MindPeers, Kanika aims to combine technological empathy and human expertise to provide science backed interventions and personalized modules, setting a new industry standard in behavioral health care for businesses. Currently, the Delhi-based mental health start-up provides an array of services ranging from one-on-one online therapy sessions, support groups, training, and self-care tools.
As a brand and wellness community, Amrutam has always emphasized on mental health and wellness. Apart from a dedicated range of mental health recipes, we have also launched a mental health podcast that addresses the daily ramblings of our mind. And we are beyond thrilled to be partnering with MindPeers.
On our collaboration Kanika talks about the supplements we take for our physical health which has, sort of, always been very naturally accepted by society. But on the other hand, psychological or mental immunity hasn’t been really talked about. Which is why we are excited to join hands with MindPeers where we explore the deeper links between psychological and physical immunity and also address it from an Ayurvedic perspective. Register here for free! Also, if you are in search of therapists, you can go through this curated list by Team Amrutam.
On venturing into the unexplored
When I asked Kanika if she had any apprehensions when she decided to jump into unexplored territory, she responded, “I stepped into the mental health landscape without any fears or apprehensions for that matter, but I grew apprehensive as I began to proceed, and things began to take shape.”
In the start-up culture, one is constantly pivoting and re-directing based on the feedback they receive from the customers and that is exactly what happened with Kanika. After creating a structure of MindPeers and all that it could offer, there came the challenge of breaking the stigma that came with mental health and therapy.
“It became crucial to understand how we could make people comfortable with the idea of approaching therapy. Mental health as a term is viewed so negatively but the truth is that every human being on this planet has mental health. We need to normalize it as we do physical health. The mind is as much a part of your body as other organs.”
Another thing Kanika wanted to tackle with MindPeers was catering to people who might not be suffering from a specific mental health condition but need to be made aware that they must proactively start taking care of their minds and mental health. “We don’t necessarily have to build for people who are diagnosed with mental illnesses or disorders because mental health is for everybody,” she adds.
Family and personal life
For Kanika, her family is her biggest source of strength. She shares a close and emotional bond with each of her family member and it was her parents that inspired her to be accountable and take ownership of her actions. “They taught me that to be ambitious, to have a personality is a good thing,” she quips. While she is passionate about her role as an entrepreneur, she is equally enthusiastic about taking time out for family, partying and meeting new people.
Because of her demanding work, she has unfortunately had to let go of some of her hobbies, but she continues to thrive in her boxing classes. Meeting new people and catching up with friends at odd hours fuel her up and get her creative juices running.
“Sundays are for catching up with books and loved ones. I like juggling with two books at a time where one is usually a fiction and the other a non-fiction for varying perspectives. Currently I have picked up Anxious People by Fredrick Backman and The Growth Handbook by Elad Gil. I also finished watching Inventing Anna on Netflix but most times, I prefer going back to the old, classical shows and movies for the sense of comfort and familiarity they give.”
Prioritizing the important things
During her journey as a founder, Kanika has hit many milestones but one special accomplishment of hers that she is proud of is sleeping consistently for 8 hours every day. “This shift happened after I read the book Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker that talks about how the world underestimates the power of a good night’s sleep. I have realized that if I don’t get my full night’s sleep, I become cranky and irritated. Sleeping well has brought such a big change in my life. I wake up fresh and it instantly fills me with a sense of achievement. No matter what, I am satisfied about the fact that I am giving my body enough rest and sleep and that is how I sail through the day”, explains Kanika.
Although there are days where she grapples with performance-related pressure, she has learned that experimenting and taking risks are always going to be part of the entrepreneurial journey. Which has only encouraged her to use her time and energy efficiently instead of pressuring herself to keep hustling and doing more. “I tell myself that if something is not working my way, the best I can do is be patient and try another way the next time around.”
“Two people that inspire me the most are Elon Musk and Ratan Tata. Elon Musk because he has truly made magic. Be it space, driver-less cars, basically anything! He has inspired me to believe that anything is possible if you work hard enough for it. And Ratan Tata for his sheer humility and groundedness. He has a great sense of business acumen that is truly commendable.”
Superpower as a woman
In 2022, she is looking forward to devouring sumptuous food along with helping her family set up a Mexican food joint in Delhi NCR. She is also fond of travelling and hopes to explore the eastern part of the country this year.
As a woman, Kanika believes that being empathetic and emotional is what helps her excel at her work. “They make me a good leader and enable me to step into my teammate’s shoes and extend the kind of support required,” she concludes. She sincerely believes that the future is full of empathetic leaders and she aims to change the mental health landscape in the country with empathy as her biggest tool.
Kanika’s will and determination have moved us, and we are beyond grateful to have her as part of #AmrutamFamily!