It’s Just One Day…

At this time of year, we’re surrounded by festive cheer, laughter and talk of spending time with friends and family, but sadly, that’s just not the case for everyone.

For lots of reasons, Christmas can be a difficult time for lots of people, so it’s important to be kind to yourself over the Christmas period.

The prospect of attending gatherings or parties can be daunting, and even the fact that our usual daily routine is disturbed at this time of year, can cause additional anxiety.

Try not to put pressure on yourself to please everyone else – remember it’s your holiday time too…don’t spend it feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

If you’re feeling anxious and need to step away for a moment, do it, find a quiet area, simply breathing in and exhaling, slowly and deeply, can help your body settle down to a more natural, resting state, and ease feelings of anxiety.

If you can, keep doing the activities or hobbies that you enjoy during the rest of the year, so you don’t notice the change of daily routine too much, and remember, it is just one day…

 

Karen x

Animal Therapy!

Good Morning…it’s Friday again, Whoop!

It’s time we had another positive mental health tip, and to start off the weekend, this one is all about ‘animal therapy’.

I think lots of people would agree that when they’re feeling down, or just not quite 100%, spending even a short amount of time in the company of animals or pets, makes them feel better.

It is well known that animals can make great companions and be a perfect antidote to anxiety and loneliness. Animals of many types can help reduce stress and create a feeling of calmness in children, the elderly and everyone else in between.

Therapy dogs have been used for many years and they offer support and comfort by visiting people in hospital, those in nursing and residential homes, and children at special needs schools.

Sadly, not everyone who would like a pet, is able to have one due to the practicality, not having suitable accommodation, or not being at home enough to take care of them properly.

Fortunately, there are lots of other ways we can interact with animals, by visiting a friend’s pet, volunteering to work with, or help look after, animals in a local shelter or rescue centre, or even getting out into the countryside and seeing farm animals.

So, next time you are in need of a pick-me-up, find a 4-legged friend…

Karen x

January 2018 – Parcel Contents

Good Morning!

Right, as promised (at the beginning of the year, shh) I’m going to get back on track with this blog and get in a routine of showing you parcel contents at the end of each month. I’ve just got January and February to catch up on, and then I’ll show you this month’s contents at the end of March (I almost sound organised!).

There’s no time like the present – as they say, so I’m going to start now and tell you all about our January 2018 contents. Each month there is a different theme, and for our first parcel of the year, it was ‘New Year, New Beginning’.

The contents for January were chosen to be bright and colourful, to help sweep away the January blues, and give you a little inspiration to kick start your brand-new year!

At the bottom of the list, you’ll read ‘Smile Cards’ which we include in all our monthly parcels, and ‘Parcel Assistant’ – these are cool, but slightly cheeky, little pompoms, also included in our monthly parcels only, who help (or hindrance) us with our parcel packing duties!

January Contents:

Positive Thoughts & Things Jar –

The first item in your first Smile Parcel of 2018 is a colourful ‘Positive Thoughts & Things’ jar. There are separate instructions enclosed in the parcel for your jar, so you can keep them with it if you wish. As you go along, we’d love to see photos of your jar and the good things you add to it – as it’s inspirational to us and to others. If you’d like to share them, you can post your photos to our Facebook page.

2018 Quote Calendar –

This gorgeous calendar was created and made by Suzy over at ‘The Leaf Press’. As soon as we saw them, we knew they were a perfect fit for this parcel. We loved the bright design and each month there is a different inspirational quote. You can find Suzy and their business on Facebook and eBay.

Phoenix Wings Frame –

A Phoenix is a mythical bird which regenerates, or is reborn, from the ashes of its predecessor. It stands for new life, a new beginning. The Phoenix is also believed to be colourful and vibrant (like this month’s parcel!). We love the quote next to the wings, sometimes we can feel it’s too late, or we’ve waited too long to pursue a dream – so we need a reminder, it’s never too late!

Kinder Surprise –

As you know by now, the theme this month is ‘New Year, New Beginning’, and everything inside this parcel is connected to this theme. Some people like to set themselves goals at the start of a new year, but sometimes, that puts too much pressure on us, and we can feel we’ve let ourselves down, if we haven’t achieved everything we set out to.

So, instead of goals, just turn to a blank page, and see what is to come next, forget what came before – it is in the past, make a note of the positives (they’ll be more than you think), and continue writing your story…starting with a surprise in a Kinder Egg!!

 ‘One Day or Day One’ –

This quote is short and simple, but means a lot, is today just another day?

Smile Cards

As always, there should be a couple of these little cards in your parcel, I’ve written one for you, and the blank one, is for you to write a short inspirational or positive message, and give to someone you know, or leave somewhere for a complete stranger to find – but this is of course optional, there’s absolutely no pressure to do this if you don’t want to*.

Parcel Assistant

This month, your first Parcel Assistant of 2018 is, Clive…he may be a little quiet – I think he’s got the new year blues!!

Karen x

Time To Talk Day 2018

Tomorrow (Thursday 1st February 2018) is Time to Talk Day. It’s a chance for all of us to be more open, to talk, to listen, to change lives. The more conversations we have, the better life is for all of us, and the closer we get towards ending the silence surrounding mental health.

It’s easy to think there’s no right place to talk about mental health. That means many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, worthless and ashamed.

You might be at home, at work…up the top of the mountain! Wherever you are on 1st February, it’s the right place to talk about mental health.

The Smile Parcel has signed up to show our support, and will be opening our Facebook page messages inbox, to anyone who’d like to start a conversation 💚

If you’d like to find out more about what you can do to get involved, take a look at the Time to Change website. You can also share where you’re having your conversation using #timetotalk.

If you’d like any tips for getting your conversation started, you can visit: https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/time-talk-day-2018

Karen x

Choose Just One Thing

Hello! For our first blog post of 2018, I thought we’d start off with a positive mental health tip.

It’s the start of a brand new shiny year, and lots of people are discussing their new year’s resolutions, and the goals and targets they are setting themselves.

There’s so many things that we think could make our lives happier, or simpler, and it can be overwhelming and stressful.

So, instead, choose just one of those things you’d like to change, or improve at, and concentrate on that one thing, think about how you could make it better.

Tackling things one at a time is much more manageable, and we often find we can do them more efficiently because we are giving them all our attention.

Then, once you’ve conquered that, move on to the next…

Karen x

 

Last Blog Post Of 2017!

Okay, I have an apology… shockingly my last blog post was on 16th November! I’m not sure how that happened, other than, like everyone else, the lead up to Christmas and getting everything done in time has taken over, and so the blog has taken the hit!

I want to say a huge thank you to every single one of you who has supported us this year, and purchased our parcels. The Smile Parcel began, as a bit of a day dream, less than a year ago, and the response from you has been amazing, so we’re hoping to grow & grow next year, and send out many more Smile Parcels to anyone who could do with receiving a ‘pick-me-up’ and a smile, in the post.

I’m looking forward to gathering further ideas for posts to add on here to, that may help you through tough times, even if just a little, with tips, mindfulness exercises, and techniques that help me through too.

I haven’t decided yet whether to update the blog monthly or fortnightly next year, so I’ll wait and see how it goes. If you have any ideas that you’d like discussed than please do let me know.

Finally, I wish you a very merry and happy Christmas, and if it is a difficult time of year for you, remember it is just a day-and a bit, and 2018 will be a brand-new beginning, a new start, with everything else left behind – if 2017 hasn’t worked out to be the best for you, it’s time to turn the page, and start writing from a fresh.

Karen x

Sing & Dance

This has to be one of my favourite positive mental health tips (and I’m rubbish at them!).

Singing & dancing naturally releases our feel-good chemicals, and, well, makes us feel happy.

Being good is definitely not an important aspect of this tip – so wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, put on the radio, and sing at the top of your voice, and try some dance moves at the same time – but be careful, don’t go causing yourself an injury!

Dancing has even been shown to improve brain function, and singing increases oxygenation in our blood, which is good for our heart, and can reduce stress.

So, give it a go, there’s nothing to lose, and, no one is watching anyway…

Karen x

Visualisation!

Now, I know I’ve added this blog post to the category of ‘Mindfulness Techniques’ but this isn’t actually mindfulness, in fact it is, kind-of, the complete opposite, but I wanted to include it as a post, as I use both mindfulness and visualisation in the same way.

Basically, mindfulness is all about focusing and staying in the present moment, whereas visualisation is about taking your mind somewhere else.

Visualisation involves, firstly, thinking of a place where you feel most relaxed, and at peace. It could be a sandy beach, in a forest surrounded by trees, sitting on your favourite bench in the park, anywhere that is special and calming to you.

It’s best to do this initially when you are feeling relaxed, so you can fully picture yourself there in your mind, without distraction.

It’s important to also add to the mental picture, how you’re feeling in that situation, anything you are physically feeling or touching, if there’s a particular smell belonging to that image, and anything you can hear.

Spend a few moments focusing on it, and thinking about how relaxing and calming it is.
The exercise of visualisation is to keep this image locked away in your mind, ready to come back to whenever and wherever you need it, it does take some practice, but it gets easier over time.

You can use the visualisation technique when you’re in a place or situation which may make you anxious, e.g. standing in a queue or sitting in the doctors waiting room.