According to the charity Mind, approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, and in England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem such as anxiety and depression in any given week.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, but of course, every single day should be this and thus, there is much work to be done in the world, to help the numerous people experiencing mental health and wellness.
I believe that erasing the stigma of mental health in our culture begins with sharing our stories and realising that many of us are suffering. So, therefore, I wanted to take some time this week to sit down with beautiful Sophie who writes her blog ‘Sophie Laetitia’ to discuss some of her self-care tips and I hope they encourage and give you the strength to find your own self-care resources for rest and light and healing.
Most importantly, I also hope this series serves as a reminder that you are never ever alone as dark and lonely as it sometimes seems.
A huge thank you to Sophie for her heart and courage in sharing her story. So without further ado, let’s meet Sophie:
Hi Sophie! Please can you give my readers a quick introduction to you, where you live and what you do?
I own the blog Sophie Laetitia and I’m also a violin teacher! Interestingly I used to be a trainee accountant but decided to change career paths as it never fulfilled me. As Marie Kondo would say, it just didn’t “spark joy”.
I then did some digital marketing internships (including one at the lovely Bloom & Wild) and other volunteering work but I had always taught violin alongside so it just kept coming back to me. I feel now I have a great balance between violin teaching and working on my blog (and I love both).
I got into blogging when I did an internship at Biscuiteers back in 2015. Yes, the amazing biscuit company! I had never heard of blogging before but absolutely loved working on their blog there. I decided to start my own (originally on food) and then I branched out to beauty, fashion and lifestyle.
I’ve always suffered from anxiety, but it has got worse over the years. I think big life changes like changing careers, moving from quiet Dorset to busy London and growing up as an adult contributed towards this. It got so bad that I had to try things like CBT and coping mechanisms. I found simple tasks like going shopping and meeting my friends for coffee impossible. Some days I just couldn’t leave my home without having a panic attack.
How have you learnt to juggle running your teaching business alongside a blog and looking after your anxiety, all at the same time?
I set myself goals for my anxiety and I think this is really important as this gives me things to work towards.
Anxiety can be extremely overwhelming and so breaking it up into manageable tasks is the best way. In terms of juggling my violin teaching, blog and anxiety all together, I tend to define my days as much as possible. I have to work with the time I have and so in the time I’m not teaching I have to plan my teaching preparation, blog work and “me time” carefully.
I tend to like routine and so I find making sure I do things on set days helps. For instance, I’ll do scheduling tweets every Tuesday, Blog writing every Wednesday and other admin / teaching preparation on Tuesdays.
I also build in time to take my blog photos and edit them. Sometimes this means doing this at the weekends, but it makes me feel less stressed being organised.
What does a typical day look like to you?
If I’m at home, a typical day always starts with violin practice. Then, I post on Instagram and get the bitty tasks out the way before lunch. I tend to find the afternoons best for focusing on bigger tasks like editing blog photos and writing blog posts.
My day can involve anything from violin practice, emails, taking photos, editing photos, blog writing, teaching planning, scheduling tweets, posting live tweets, posting Instagram photos and stories…. The list is endless!
A typical day for me starts at 9am and then I normally try and finish by 5.30 / 6 to start dinner. Sometimes I do additional work in the evening if I’m feeling extra busy.
When I am teaching, a typical day often means working across lunchtime and either having a meal replacement shake or a really early lunch (at 10am)… the glamorous life ha-ha!
There is also a lot of work involved in teaching that people don’t see: the emails, reports, planning, practising, preparing teaching material etc. so I spend time doing this in addition to the hours giving lessons.
What are your top 3 self-care tips?
1) Make time for yourself. I work on Saturdays, so I take Mondays off. I love this time to myself and it really helps me as an introvert to regroup and reset.
2) Eat a healthy diet. I RELY on food to fuel my mind, soul and body. I just feel so much more energised and grounded when I eat yummy nutritious food. It makes me equipped for the day ahead.
3) Sleep is SO important. If we don’t have enough sleep we just can’t be our best selves.
How do you find nutrition and exercise helps your anxiety? Do you follow any other natural remedies you would recommend?
Nutrition and exercise massively affect anxiety. I wouldn’t say I’m that “sporty” but I do go to Pilates each week and do lots of walking. Pilates is essential to me for strengthening my muscles.
Around the time my anxiety was at it’s worst, I was also suffering (and still am) with nerve irritation in my lower back / leg due to stress. I find Pilates makes this more manageable and helps regain my muscle strength that I have lost over the past few years.
Ideally, I’d like to do more exercise though. I’ve heard Naturally Sassy’s Ballet Blast is amazing so I’m tempted to start that when the school teaching term finishes this summer.
Natural remedies I use for coping with stress also include music (all types from calm to mood boosting), sleep, limiting my caffeine intake during the day, not drinking too much alcohol, breathing, meditation, self-care sessions with facemasks and baths, and finding some time to be by myself and quiet.
What’s the most rewarding change you’ve seen in attitudes towards mental health?
Although I still feel there is quite a bit to do in terms of mental health awareness, it is covered slightly more in the news now. People are supporting amazing charities like Mind a lot too. I think people are more open to talking about anxiety and depression these days in general.
What more needs to be done for mental health in the future?
There’s still a stigma about it affecting you as a person and not being able to complete tasks like other people. People are still afraid to tell their work for example as they feel it would reflect on their working achievements. It can isolate you from friendship groups sometimes too and I feel like people need to take it just as seriously as a physical illness. It can affect people in different ways, such as causing health problems due to tensing the muscles and increased heart rate too.
I think more awareness in schools and across social media is the way forward and surrounding yourself with a supportive network is key.
Who is one of your online inspirations/content creators and why do they inspire you?
Oooh so many but if I had to choose one (in terms of anxiety and wellness), it would have to be Niomi Smart. She just inspires me constantly with her amazing recipes, chats on mental health and fitness routines.
If I’m being sneaky here are two other amazing ladies that you need for inspiration… Venetia Falconer and Naturally Sassy. I think in general I just like to follow entrepreneurs… does this say something about me?
What is one/some of your favourite quote(s) for daily inspiration?
“Never give up on the things that make you smile”
“It’s OK not to be OK, just don’t give up”
“Life is tough but so are you”
“Always find time for the things that make you feel happy to be alive”
“Trust the timing of your life”
What are your favourite things to do in your spare time?
Obviously, I love to play the violin, but I also love to cook, bake, read books, have some pamper days at home drinking tea and eating chocolate! I also love to watch YouTube videos and I cheekily enjoy watching a bit of Neighbours on TV (anyone else still watch this programme?).
What is one of your favourite projects or blog posts to date?
One of my favourite blog posts has to be my Royal Blues Outfit Post as it was the first blog I made using my new camera (I use an Olympus Pen E-PL8 with a 14-42mm lens). Unusually it was probably the best photos taken on the camera which is weird because it was a new set up. The lighting just seemed to work.
I also love the blog posts “Being an introvert”, “The Ups And Downs From Working From Home”, “Turning Your Home Into A Hotel”, “Anxiety Tips”, ‘Chewton Glen Treehouse”, “My Evening Routine” and my “Deluxe Granola Recipe”.
Describe your perfect day:
I would wake up early (before anyone else would get up) and sit sipping a cup of tea whilst I watched a little YouTube. Then I’d have a yummy breakfast (probably an acai bowl or my fave pain au chocolat with lots of berries….). After getting up I’d spend the morning getting outside on a lovely walk with my boyfriend and we’d go to a cute café or vegan restaurant for lunch. My absolute favourite is Tell Your Friends. After that I would meet some friends for a catch up / shopping trip. Then I’d spend the evening having dinner, wine and chocolate with my boyfriend, watching a cosy film.
Describe yourself in 3 words:
Imaginative, quiet, and thoughtful.
A huge thank you to Sophie once more for opening up about parts of her journey with anxiety and sharing such love and light through her methods of management.
Living with a mental health illness is a long road, one with many variables and actionable steps, but we can start by talking and this is what this new series seeks to do so I really hope to add to this soon with stories from other friends and also myself very soon.
Just know once more how special, how unique and how much this world needs you just as you are right now.
Just a quick disclaimer that these posts are solely for inspiring wellness based on my/others I interview experiences; this is not medical advice. I so highly recommend the incredible wealth of information at Mind.