10 October 2015

Small Things

For Mental Health Awareness Day, the charity Time To Change have launched their #SmallThings campaign. The premise is quite simple; think of those small things that can have a big impact. 

Perhaps it isn't 'typical' of a 21-year-old to always have flowers in her room - I have received a stare or six on Exeter high street before, as I march along with a bunch of M&S roses. Nonetheless, waking up to those flowers each morning helps me. Having my alarm music set to Thomas Newman's Westerly Weather (Saving Mr Banks) starts my day better than a sudden ring that makes me jump out of my skin. 

However, possibly the small things that mean the most are ones that come from outside. Simply put, I really struggle with self-care. It is not something that comes naturally and, more often than not, can make my anxiety worse rather than better. So I am indebted to the people around me for the small things they do, which never fail to put a smile on my face.


Okay, so admittedly I'm more of a sunflowers and lilies girl, although I do currently have roses in my bedroom! Often when I return home from University, even if it's just for a short weekend, I will find a bunch of flowers in my bedroom. I also have the most gorgeous vase - courtesy of Anthropologie - which was a little gift for my 2nd year exams. This little gesture always brightens my day.


In London,  I was so appreciative that my mum took the time of work to spend some quality time with just her and I; she then insisted that we do really "Sophie things", which included Portobello market and Matilda, and I managed to suppress my "underserving thoughts" to fully embrace it! Although she loved both, they were little bucket list wishes of mine and I was so grateful. We had such a magical weekend. 
The selfie from my recent Florence post makes a reappearance - for a reason! Obviously my trips to Florence and London over summer were far from a small things, but it was the little gestures by my family made that created some special moments. My dad is the last person to go #letmetakeaselfie, yet he indulged us all in the name of a complete family photo in the Uffizi. Usually one of us is the photographer, so it was a happy rarity. 

Nonetheless, possibly the best #technoparent moment came two weeks ago. Mum and Dad went on a (very-belated anniversary trip) to Boston for a week. They checked in with me regularly via text and, each time,  signed off with a little emoji next to their names. Apparently dad personally picked his own emoji, which made me literally laugh out loud. We definitely need a whole family set of emojis, including Millie!

*Alas, no moose was spotted but they still had an incredible trip - Boston is now on my bucket list! 


Few things make me happier than countryside walks with Millie, so over Summer mum tried to ensure we went out every weekend. This ranged from Prior Park Gardens to the Newton Campus lake on our doorstep (if you are looking for pretty campuses Bath Spa is up there!) Fresh air and a change of scene can do wonders for wellbeing, especially when accompanied by a four-legged friend. 


Until you own a dog, I don't think you can ever truly appreciate the incredible bond that forms, nor how intelligent they are. They have amazing intuition and seem to sense the emotions of those around them. From car journeys to evenings on the sofa, in times when I've felt down and she is there for a cuddle. Even writing this I am a bit teary as I miss her so much! One week more… 


When I was struggling quite a lot last term, I openly admit that my communication skills weren't good. Even after all this time, I am scared of judgement/exposure/hurting others, so I did - regretfully - shut myself off. Nonetheless, halfway through the term my two amazing flatmates surprised me with this… Olaf! I was really quite speechless (okay I confess I cried). It was just the most thoughtful thing and he still sits happily on my University bed. Come rain or shine, you can never have enough warm Olaf hugs.
Warm hugs also extend to humans, and few things cheer me up more than hugs from my family. My sister is my rock in so mangy circumstances, right down to little motivational quote texts. Aargh I'm getting teary again - homesickness has officially hit today! 


First my family took me for early-Birthday macarons at none other than Fortnum & Mason! Then mum surprised me with M&S macaroons a week later. Finally, mum attempted to make her own! We went with raspberry and lemon - for a first attempt, I was thoroughly impressed. As I still struggle a bit with eating home-bakes, she was really supportive and my love for Macarons meant I couldn't possibly say no. 

Okay now homesickness is coupled with a macaron craving. Does this calls for an M&S self-care trip?


Given a love for coffee pretty much defines 50% of my social media presence, I felt this was an obligatory inclusion! Never underestimate the power of a coffee shop. a recent mindfulness exercise  I was set involved finding a 'safe place'. I was initially alarmed that I found it as challenging as I did, yet eventually settled on a coffee shop. 

While I expected to visualise Artigiano in my head, the image that it actually emerged was of Coffee .  I think the quotes above give an indication why, not to mention the armchair and bookshelf! The overall feel of the place is comforting and a perfect escape. Moreover, the baristas there are lovely and have chatted away to me in the past - something I also find at Artigiano. That in itself is a small thing that can make a really positive difference to your day. The cappuccino milky heart is the sprinkle on top. 


Okay so I've potentially given away my Dissertation title here! I have always enjoyed burying my head in words, but sometimes Magazines are the perfect blanket for a rainy day. Especially ones called The Simple Things (my love for this publication is no secret!) and any cover with Emma Watson. My mum sometimes surprises me to my favourite magazines, while my dad recently posted a book to Exeter. I truly have one of the world's best families. 


For all my struggles with self-care - including a sense of unworthiness when I receive care from others - I love providing it to other people. Christmas is my favourite time of year for this reason, with present selection commencing months in advance! I like treating my mum to flowers, following a stressful week at work, or sending hand-written letters to friends who also struggle with mental health.

One of my current aims is to realise that I am not an exception to this. The letters I receive back are not "out of pity". The flowers in my room are not placed there under obligation. I hope that, in time, I will be able to accept care more readily and provide it to myself in equal measure.


I shared a short summary of my "Small Things" on the Time To Change website and encourage others to do the same. Reading other responses was heart-warming and gave me hope. We don't always need great victories to seize the day. All we may need is a small sign we are not fighting this battle alone. 

What are your small things? 


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