'Being on social media amplified my triggers': YouTube star Kaushal Modha on how therapy changed her life

The beauty and wellness content creator was recently in Dubai for the Emirates LitFest to talk about her latest guided journal The Greatest Self-Help Book (Is the One Written By You) co-authored by her partner and motivational speaker Vex King

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Somya Mehta

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Published: Mon 13 Feb 2023, 5:30 PM

Born and brought up in the small town of Northampton, England, little did Kaushal Modha know that her life would take the YouTube turn that it did. Describing herself as a ‘girly girl’, Kaushal was always interested in playing dress up and putting on her Mum’s makeup while growing up. From the age of three, she would find herself doing her own hair and trying out creative ways to brush up her looks. “My parents always knew that I would get into hair and makeup and all that kind of stuff,” says the YouTube star, who has now been vlogging and creating digital content for over a decade.

Enjoying global fame through her YouTube and Instagram channel, creating beauty content, Kaushal, originally from Gujarat, India, has been part of notable brand campaigns in the UK and around the world, consistently pushing the boundaries for people of colour in the world of beauty. However, as it’s said, the grass is always greener on the other side. Kaushal’s successful YouTube career came with its own price, being a turbulent journey, in parts, where the noise of it all forced her to pause, reflect and redefine her life path.

While she continues to create beauty content on social media, her inner battles with the downsides of social media have led her to embark on a journey of mindfulness, sharing wellbeing practices online. The YouTuber recently turned into a co-author with the release of her journal, The Greatest Self-Help Book (Is the One Written By You), written alongside her husband Vex King, who enjoys a social media following of his own. Khaleej Times caught up with Kaushal, ahead of her appearance at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in the UAE, to deep-dive into her social media journey and the positive impact of journaling.

How were your formative years? When did your interest in makeup take root?

My love for beauty and makeup started at a very young age. As a child, I used to love painting my face with my Mum’s beauty products. Growing up, I suppose it became like a form of therapy for me. In my teens, my dad had a severe stroke, which left him completely disabled. This was when I was around 15. As a form of distraction, I’d get all my makeup out, put it on the floor and sit in front of my mirror, paint my face, take photos and put it up on social media. With so much stuff going on at home, makeup almost became my escape from all of that. The conversations around mental health weren’t as mainstream as they are today, so I didn’t know any other way to make myself feel better.

How did you venture to YouTube?

My now-husband and then partner sat me down when things in my life were just not going right. I was in a job I hated and felt like I had no control over my life. He sat me to down to figure out how I could help my situation, thinking of other options and career paths. He said to me ‘You love makeup, and you love talking. So why don’t you do YouTube?’ I very much believe in divine timing. At that moment, it all kind of worked out and I told my family that I’d be quitting my day job to give YouTube a go. I had already been doing vlogging on the side and had 40,000 subscribers on YouTube. When I took a leap of faith and gave YouTube my full attention, just by the end of that year, I had 350,000 subscribers.

You’ve been a social media personality for over a decade now. How has your journey shaped up?

It’s been amazing and I have received so much love from all over the world. I have built a lovely community online. But at the same time, it has also been a bit of a roller coaster journey. Being on social media amplified and magnified my triggers. I never thought that would happen. After about five years of doing social media, I realised that there’s a dark side to it as well. When I first started creating content, I was in the zone. I was loving what I was doing and any negative comment that I would read online, I’d just brush it under the carpet. But after years of brushing it off, I felt like social media was starting to break me. It got to a point where I was really struggling with my mental health. It was a very dark period of my life. There were so many days where I didn’t feel like waking up. I felt my self worth was deteriorating because of social media.

You also opened up about going to therapy on social media…

At the time, it was not a good space for me at all but I still really struggled with the idea of going to therapy. I remember being on holiday with my husband in 2019 just before the onset of the pandemic. We had massive arguments because of my constant triggers, which made me feel even worse about myself. I didn’t feel like myself at all. It was at the end of that trip, I said it out loud that I was going to therapy. And just saying that out loud, especially because I felt like it was taboo, felt liberating. So, I also wanted to share it with my community online.

Kaushal with her toy poodle Tupac
Kaushal with her toy poodle Tupac

What sparked the idea of The Greatest Self-Help Book (Is the One Written By You)?

I started therapy in January, 2020. My first few sessions just involved me crying my eyes out. I couldn’t get a word out. There was just so much bottled up inside me. So, my therapist actually suggested that I start journaling my thoughts. She thought it would be very beneficial. She also taught me so many other little practices I could undertake to make myself feel better on a daily basis. But journaling was something I really struggled with. No matter if it was a blank journal or with prompts, I would lose interest because it was usually the same questions it’d ask me every day. About a year ago, in conversations with Vex, the idea of putting together our journal came up. And my social media community would always say I should start something of my own. It just felt like the best next step for me.

How is this journal different from the others available in the market?

It basically allows you to go on a journey of self-exploration, with various different prompts. No two days with the journal will be the same. There are gratitude prompts, like other journals, but a different question will evoke gratitude within you. There’s one thing in there, that’s probably one of my favourite things, is the calm kit. When I was going to therapy, my therapist told me to create a list of things I love doing, which I can go back to whenever I’m having a low day. You just look at the list and pick one thing your heart is drawn to at that moment and it will instantly make you feel better. And there are many other tools and practices in there such as this one. It’s such a personal journal and it really does feel like the user is writing out their own life story.

How does the habit of journaling benefit one’s mental health?

Over the course of my own journey, through therapy and other practices like Ayurveda, I’ve realised that human beings are creatures of habits. Having a routine makes all the difference. If your life seems to be on autopilot mode, that’s how you can take back the control. Let’s say, if you’re having a really stressful day but you wake up and have a beautiful morning routine in place, the time you take out for yourself and have full control over, can actually change your attitude towards your entire day. And journaling fits beautifully into that practice of having an everyday self-care routine, where you take out time for yourself. It can set the tone of the day. One of the books I read called Atomic Habits explains it in such a beautiful way. It’s all about building small habits that will get you to your goals in the long run. So, you’re not reinventing yourself all in one day but you’re taking small steps to aid that transformation.

somya@khaleejtimes.com


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