Blogging has brought me some amazing opportunities in the five and a half years I’ve been running this site. From attending the BAFTA’s, to appearing in my very own TV advert, to hosting events and meeting over 200 like-minded people. It’s certainly been an incredible spectacle, granting me the freedom to get creative and really push myself out of my comfort zone.
So when online fashion brand, Brand Attic, of whom I regularly work with (their clothes are amazing!) got in touch and enquired as to whether I’d like to be a part of their new Bloggers Collection and design my very own top to sell on their website, I leapt at the chance. It’s not every day you’re granted such an exciting opportunity and I couldn’t wait to start with the design process!
Fast forward a few months and five other bloggers and I head to Manchester to visit Brand Attic HQ. Despite still being in it’s infancy, the offices are huge – with a rapid expansion and rooms upon rooms full of the most beautiful bomber jackets, dresses and shoes. It’s pretty much any fashion lovers heaven.
After being given the guided tour, we then sit down with two top graphic designers (who work with Topshop!) to put pen to paper and make our designs a reality.
We’d been guided to create something that truly reflected us and our styles. Something that captured our personalities and allowed readers to be able to wear a little part of us. The gorgeous Sophie, with her bright hair and incredible make-up, opted for a pretty mermaid shell pattern, while the other girls were sketching elements I could see within their own personal style. I sat slightly stumped for awhile. For as much as I love fashion, I don’t have a ‘unique Scarlett style’. I wear what I like and what I think looks ‘pretty’, rather than what’s on trend at the moment. And for the most part, it’s all pretty safe and rather average.
So instead of making it quirkier than I’ll ever be, I decided to add a little piece of me to the t-shirt in a different way.
As many of you know, I suffer quite badly with IBS and anxiety. It’s not something I’ve ever made a secret on my blog and I’ll always be open to talking about it, because I believe the stigma surrounding it can often hold sufferers back. In recent months, despite finishing University and thinking that I’d be free of a large portion of that worry, for some reason – the anxiety has increased. Ten fold. I’ve found myself worrying myself to sleep on numerous occasions and at some points, the anxiousness becomes so overwhelming that I’ve spent days in tears.
In a bid to help, I’ve started a course of CBT and I’m also practising Mindfulness. It sounds like a bit of a farfetched, airy-fairy concept but really, it’s just a number of practical exercises to calm your mind. It teaches you not to constantly seek control of situations, others and work experiences (because hey, life is uncertain) and instead focus on controlling your own reactions. Because those are realistically, the only things you can control. It teaches you to live in the moment, focus on the present and not hold onto the past. It teaches you to forgive your own mistakes, learn to love the journey (not only striving for the end) and become a happier, more mindful you.
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One aspect of the process really stuck out to me quite early on – and this was the act of kindness. Of compliment giving, being thankful and performing spontaneous acts of compassion.
“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – John Bunyan
“Compliment people. Magnify their strengths, not their weaknesses.” – Unknown
Acts of kindness are selfless acts that ‘lift both the spirits of someone else and yourself’. There doesn’t need to be any other reason to be kind than to make people smile, or be happier.
In many ways, we can relate this to the blogosphere – or indeed perhaps women in a more general, broad sense. We often bring one another down without realising. We bring ourselves down with that. When I see bloggers do well, I feel excited about what these girls have achieved, using only the tools granted to them by the internet. They have made something out of nothing essentially. In a world where unemployment is rife, they have built their businesses from the ground. Yet whenever these things do happen, we see a barrage of both support and criticism.
Of course, this is life.
But in a broader sense, we compare ourselves to other women. We may feel jealous of what another has. We may be stressed already and so feel like venting.
However kindness not only mindful, but it takes you out of yourself. Seeking opportunities in the present moment to be kind distracts you from this feeling that you might not be achieving what you want to. Or that you might not have what another does.
Giving a gift of kindness is totally free and it can brighten another person’s day in more ways than you know. Hey, it might even turn a person’s life around.
Praise, compassion, compliments and appreciation is often underestimated. But they make the world a better place. And I think in times of stress (just remember, everything changes – it won’t always be like this), it often helps to remind ourselves of kindness.
And so (apologies for going slightly off-track here), I decided I wanted my t-shirt to act as a little reminder to practice mindful acts of kindness.
As much as I wanted it to be something gorgeous people want to wear tucked into jeans, or under a bomber jacket, or hey – even slumped on the sofa watching Netflix. I also wanted it to serve as a suggestion to ‘add a little confetti to each day’. Whether you throw it around openly with a smile – or dish it out gently, little acts of kindness (or confetti – which I suppose reflects happiness and appreciation) can make both you and the recipients days ten times better.
Magnifying others strengths, instead of being judgemental and focusing on their weaknesses can help both yourself and friends, family, strangers.
It could be anything…
- Acknowledging personal qualities or efforts in your colleague or friend. “Your organisation has made this holiday so enjoyable and special” or “Your patience really helped massively with this project.”
- Specific compliments to the situation. “Your speech was so inspiring” or “You handled yourself so well in that meeting, you’re so calm and composed.”
- Why someone has made a difference to you. “Your reassurance has really helped calm me down, I really appreciate that.”
- Put in a positive blog comment. Lots of us dip in and out of blog posts, enjoying them thoroughly but the speed and pace of the digital world we live in means we rarely acknowledge or let the author know how we feel. If something has interested, inspired or touched you – let them know. You never know, it might even strike up a friendship!
- Put it in writing. Maybe rather than sending out generic emails, brighten both your day and the other person’s with a little personal touch! Obviously only if you’ve met the person personally or know them. “You’re looking great today” alongside “How are you” might come across a little creepy if you’ve never clapped eyes on the person and they’re sitting over the other side of the world.
- Compliment a person’s appearance or what they’re wearing. You might admire the way they look so effortlessly put together, or the fact they can make an outfit out of anything. You might love their style, their hair or their make-up that day.
- Appreciation for the work people do. Often days go by meeting hundreds of people (okay, maybe not hundreds but you know – a taxi driver, the lady at the checkout in Asda, the train ticket officer, the man making your coffee or the waitress. People pass without appreciation. Sometimes it’s nice to let them know (non condescendingly of course) that they’re doing a great job!
Obviously don’t feign compliments or force them when you don’t truly feel them. But often we go days without actively seeking to be kind – and in all honesty, having tried it myself – it truly does brighten your day. The reason it helps with anxiety is because you are living more in the moment. You are being aware of others, acknowledging things going on around you and pulling yourself into the present rather than worrying about things you cannot control.
You can’t control other people’s rudeness, you can’t control delayed trains, you can’t control the dress you’ve had your eye on selling out. You can’t control others succeeding, you can’t control change and you can’t control the ever changing digital advancements. But, you can control your actions.
“Add a little confetti to each day”
If you’d like to buy my t-shirt and support my little pledge of kindness, please visit Brand Attic. It’s limited edition (so there’s only a select few available) and for every bit of commission I earn, I’m donating £1 to Mental Health Charity ‘Mind’. Whether my tee raises awareness for combating anxiety with mindfulness or simply serves as a reminder to be kind, I hope you’ll enjoy wearing it as much as I do!
Or maybe not quite as much as I do (she says wearing it while typing, having slept in it and worn it for the past two days)…
This post was written in collaboration with Brand Attic, as part of their Fashion Blogger Collaboration Collection. Of course, as always all views are my own. Mindfulness help was provided by the ‘Mindfulness Pocketbook by Gill Hasson’ – something I’d recommend if you’re feeling bogged down by worry, anxiousness or general unease.