Tag Archives: blogmas 2019

ARC Book Review | Little White Lies by Philippa East.

little white lies

little white lies book cover

Title – Little White Lies.

Author – Philippa East.

Expected date published – 4th February 2020.

Publisher – HQ.

Series status – Standalone.

Add to Goodreads. 


Synopsis

She only looked away for a second…

Anne White only looked away for a second, but that’s all it took to lose sight of her young daughter.

But seven years later, Abigail is found.

And as Anne struggles to connect with her teenage daughter, she begins to question how much Abigail remembers about the day she disappeared…


My thought on the book

*Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book*

An intense web of secrets, a mysterious lie hanging over them. Little White Lies was a riveting read showing how complex trauma is, and how it destroys not only the victim but also their families.

The two different perspectives worked well and the voices were distinct. I found Jess naive and somewhat childlike and I felt sorry for her. I didn’t connect well with Anne but only because I knew she was hiding something and I couldn’t trust her.

It was intriguing to see what could happen when a missing child is returned after so many years. How it can tear families apart and change not only the kidnapped child but also the ones closest to them.

I quickly realised that all was not as it seemed and some of the characters were hiding things. Anne’s reaction to her daughter coming home was somewhat strange and angered me at points. I couldn’t understand why she reacted the way she did, however, it all becomes clear at the end.

Overall, this book was riveting, exciting and kept me engaged. I had so many questions and I couldn’t stop reading because I needed to know the whole truth. A great debut novel and I’m so excited for the author’s future books!


Have you read Little White Lies? If so, what did you think?

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10 Ideas On How To Give Back This Christmas

10 Ideas On How To Give Back This Christmas

In the midst of all the celebrations and stresses, it can be easy to forget about the wider community. If you’re wanting to help out, it can be hard to know what you can do, so today’s post is focused on giving you some ideas. Not all of these things cost money, as I know not everyone is in a financial position where that’s possible. Some are cheap or free ideas you can give back to the community.


Donate to a cause close to your heart.

10 Ideas On How To Give Back This Christmas | Charleigh Writes

Is there a cause near to your heart? Perhaps you have personal experience of mental illness or a loved one who suffers/suffered from cancer. Donating a small (or larger amount) is an easy way to give back. Most donations can be done online and you can give as little or as much as you want.


Volunteer in a soup kitchen.

soup kitchen

Are there any churches or community centres near you that are hosting Christmas dinner? If you have time, volunteering is a way to give back that doesn’t cost any money. So many people use these resources over the festive period and I’m sure they’d be grateful to see a friendly face on what might be a very lonely day for them.


Give out care packages to the homeless.

homeless

Plenty of places organise giving out packs to the homeless. If you don’t have the time to go out yourself, you can also donate items (such as toiletries, blankets etc). For more information, you can visit this site here. 


Donate to a food bank.

10 Ideas On How To Give Back This Christmas | Charleigh Writes

One thing we try to do every year is clear out our cupboards and donate any food we don’t want to a food bank. In the past, I’ve had to use one and I will be forever grateful for the work they do. If you have the funds there are also often food bank donation points in supermarkets.


Donate presents to children.

tree presents

Often, donation stories popping up in the run-up to Christmas. I know our town did one this year where they collected together toys and gifts for children in need. They the donated them so they at least have something to open on Christmas morning. For more information, The Salvation Army is a great place to start.


Keep the smaller, cheaper gifts from Santa.

santa workshop

This is something so simple but can have a huge impact. Instead of having the more expensive gifts from Santa have him bring a smaller, cheaper gift instead. Hopefully, it could be your child that might make another less fortunate child feel less alone.


Buy charity Christmas cards.

christmas cards with polar bear and northern lights with gold tinsel

Every year when I buy a pack of Christmas cards I try to buy a pack where some of the profits go to charity. It’s a small way to give back and something you’ll probably do anyway.


Shop with small businesses.

happy pills, little jar of courage with hanging decorations 'you matter' and 'hope'

This is another easy way to give back. I always try to buy my stocking fillers from sellers on Etsy. Also, if there are any independent shops where you live it’s worth looking in them too. The items are normally good quality and you’d be supporting a small business.


Thank the emergency services.

police car

Whilst people are enjoying their Christmas Day, many people who work in emergency services will be keeping us safe and healthy this Christmas. Just a simple thank you is a free way to give back. You can also drop in cards or chocolate if you want to go that extra step.


Visit a lonely neighbour.

Elderly man's hands resting on a walking stick

So many people will be spending Christmas alone and just popping in on someone can make all the difference. If you’d like more ideas on how to help someone who’s lonely you can check out my post here.


What other ways could someone give back this Christmas?

pintrest

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Harry Potter Christmas Tag (Part 2!)

Harry Potter Christmas tag | Charleigh writes

Last year I created a Harry Potter Christmas tag and I had so much fun doing it (you can check that out here). This year I decided to create another one, except instead of not being able to choose Harry Potter books, this one is based completely around it!

I hope you have as much fun doing this as I had creating it!


Rules.

  • Link back to me so I can read your answers!
  • Tag as many as people as you wish.

niftier

Where in Hogwarts would you spend the most time?

Definitely the library. I’d be so at home with all the books.

The family you’d love to spend Christmas with.

The Weasley’s 100%. They are my favourite ever fictional family and I would love to be a part of their festivities.

Characters you’d have a snowball fight with.

Fred and George. I can imagine them bombarding me with snowballs as I walk into Hogsmeade.


Harry Potter goodies

A magical gift you’d love to find under the Christmas tree.

Invisibility cloak. I would love to stalk around Hogwarts and explore after hours (especially the restricted section!). Even better, I wouldn’t get caught!

A fantastic beast that would make the perfect reindeer.

Buckbeak the Hippogriff. I can imagine him flying around with Santa delivering presents to everyone in the castle.

Fictional character you’d think would make a perfect Santa.

I don’t think it could be anyone other than Hagrid. He’s just a big, cuddly giant who’d love nothing more than making everyone happy on Christmas morning.


Harry Potter Christmas

The character most likely to eat Santa’s treats left for him on Christmas Eve.

Ron Weasley. If eating all the chocolates laced with love potion is anything to go by, I’m sure he would have no trouble gobbling Santa’s treats.

What would your favourite character find in their stocking on Christmas Day?

My favourite character is Hermione, and I definitely think she would find new quills and books in her stocking.

The character most likely to drink too much.

Winky. I was going to say Professor Slughorn, but then I remembered about poor old Winky getting drunk in the kitchens so she seemed more likely.


Harry Potter lego

The character most likely to embarrass themselves at the Christmas party?

Neville. The poor old guy always seems to get himself into trouble in some way.

3 characters you’d bring back from the dead to share Christmas dinner with.

Dobby, Sirius and Dumbledore.

Character who’d go all out on their Christmas outfit.

Luna Lovegood. Remember what she was wearing when she attended Slughorn’s party with Harry?


I tag.


Harry Potter pinterest graphic

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How To Deal With Anxious Thoughts Around Christmas

For many people, Christmas is a time for happiness and being together, but for others, it can be so terrifying it can cause an increase in symptoms. The anxiety around money, the thought of having to go to family gatherings or parties, the pressure to be happy, the thought of being alone, having people tell you ‘pull yourself together, it’s Christmas!’ can be very unhelpful and make symptoms worse.

I used to hate Christmas and everything to do with it. I would avoid even thinking about Christmas but when it’s everywhere you look it can be hard to do that. The pressure of knowing I had to see people when all I wanted to do was hide, knowing I had to seem happy and put together was almost too much to bear at times. But unfortunately, Mental illness doesn’t take days off – no matter what time of year it is, and having the right tools to get you through is so important. Below are some of my top tips to make things more bearable.


Be honest about your feelings.

This one can be hard if you have people who don’t understand or who are not supportive of your struggles, but if you do have family who understands then be honest. If something feels too difficult or scary, let people know, they might surprise you and you might be able to come up with something that feels easier so you don’t miss out.


Have a plan.

If you have to attend Christmas gatherings or parties, have a plan. Decide what time you’re leaving so you have something to aim towards. For example – ‘I can get through this, there are only x amounts of hours left and it’ll be over’. If you’re responsible for hosting parties or cooking Christmas dinner, have a step by step list or plan so you know exactly what you have to do, so you’ll less likely to become overwhelmed.


Make time for yourself.

Self-care is important – especially if you find this time of year more difficult. It’s important to make time for yourself and your needs, away from anything that stresses you out. It can be something as simple having a bath, feeding yourself and drinking water – anything that doesn’t feel like a chore to do.


Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

There’s already enough pressure from society and other people, so there’s no good piling on more. It’s ok if you can’t do something, it’s ok if you have to leave early or not go somewhere at all, no good comes from putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s okay to say no if you can’t manage something. I know one of the hardest things for me is saying no, but it’s important to have healthy boundaries and realistic expectations for yourself.


Distraction, distraction, distraction.

With Christmas everywhere, it’s hard to escape. However, whilst you always have some degree of control, in the comfort of your own space, you are in the most control. If watching Christmas films or adverts makes your anxious thoughts worse, turn Netflix on and watch something not related to Christmas, listen to music, read books, anything not related to Christmas. It can help to have that space where you can pretend it isn’t Christmas and just relax.


Know where to turn for support.

Sometimes, no matter how much you prepare or try out different ways to cope, you can become overwhelmed. Below, I have listed various organizations you can contact if you need extra support:

UK support.

  • Samaritans (Call 116 123, open 24 hours, 365 days a year, Email, jo@samaritans.org, response time within 24 hours a day). For more information visit their website here.
  • Shout (Text Shout to 85258, open 24/7). For more information visit their website here.
  • SANEline (Call 0300 304 7000, 4.30pm to 10.30pm every day). For more information visit their website here.

International support.


Other posts you might find helpful.


Do you have any more tips on dealing with anxiety at Christmas?

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Bargain Christmas Decorations Haul 2019

One of my favourite things to do every Christmas is look for new decorations. In 2018, we had recently moved into our new bungalow so we didn’t have a Christmas tree. This year we haven’t had to buy anything huge, so we had so much fun looking around for things to add to our collection (we are very enthusiastic about Christmas in this house!).

Our town has quite a few charity shops which we had fun looking around, and that’s where we got most of our new decorations. It’s great to find bargains but also give to charity too. I will obviously link to anything we didn’t get from charity shops in case anyone is interested!


This year we decided to theme our Christmas tree around Harry Potter. I’m a Ravenclaw and my best friend is Hufflepuff and we are huge Harry Potter fans so it only seems right we should do this theme. We couldn’t find Hufflepuff yellow, so we went with gold which has a similar effect, it was an absolute nightmare trying to find green and blue tinsel which I was very surprised about (especially green, like hello its Christmas!). Eventually, we found some in an independent shop in our town as surprisingly we couldn’t find it in any of the major retail shops.

We also found this set of 4 Harry Potter baubles in Primark. They have brilliant Harry Potter themed items all year round but especially at Christmas!


We found this in a charity shop for £3.99. I love how you can adjust the words to have it displayed in any way you like. The colours are perfect for Christmas.


This was another charity shop find (£2.50). We don’t burn tealights because we have 2 cats and a labrador with the waggiest tail! However, we have some electric tealights we put in and I think they look just as good.


Another tealight holder found in the same charity shop (also £2.50). I love the mice around the Christmas tree, they’re so cute!


This Santa ornament was another charity shop find. It cost around £2.99 and has been featuring in my opening Blogmas graphic.


I found this little fellow for £3 in Primark. I think he’s so cute so we had to add him to our Christmas decorations. There’s also a larger version (linked here) for £6.


Finally, we found this tree decoration in Asda (and it was only 50p too so even better!) I love this quote and I think you’re never too old to believe in the magic.


Do you add new decorations every Christmas or do you stick to what you already have?

bargain Christmas decorations haul 2019 | Charleigh writes

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Make Your Own TBR Jar (Fantastic Gift)

Today I’m going to be showing you how to make two different TBR jars. They make fantastic gifts for Christmas. They’re super simple and hardly take any time at all, and you can decorate/personalise them however you like! If you’re on a real budget you can even use old washed out jars or ice lolly sticks.


Starry night sky TBR jar.

What you’ll need.

  • A plain glass jar (I got mine from Wilko).
  • White Acrylic Gesso.
  • Paintbrushes/water pot/palette.
  • Dark blue paint (I used Docrafts Artiste Acrylic Paint Night Blue) but you can use any sort of paint as long as it paints over glass.
  • Ultra-Fine pin tip Posca paint pens (White and Gold).
  • Mod Podge (or any kind of water-based sealer).
  • Plain paper.

Step one.

First, give the jar a few coats of the gesso. I ended up giving it 3 coats – to be sure I couldn’t see any glass left through it. This gives the jar a good base for the paint to go over. I chose not to paint the rim where the lid covers so it wouldn’t cause the lid to stick, but it’s up to you if you want to paint it or not. I would recommend leaving it overnight to make sure the gesso is completely dry.

Step two.

Next, it’s time to put the paint on! I used a midnight navy blue colour and a flat paintbrush. Make sure you cover the entire jar. Wait for it to dry (this will vary depending on what paint you use) before giving it another coat to make sure there’s no patches or streaks. Now, depending on what brand/type of paint you’re using you may need to give it another coat. The paint tends to look different when it’s wet, so it’s best to wait for it to completely dry before judging if it needs another coat or not.

Step three.

Next, it’s time to decorate! I used the ultra-fine gold Posca pen to draw some dots and stars onto the jar. I then went back and added some white dots using a white ultra-fine Posca pen to break up the gold.

Step four.

Once the paint has dried (again I would it leave overnight before completing this step), give the painted jar a coat of Mod Podge (or any water-based sealer). This will seal everything in and make the jar last longer! You can use gloss, matte or whatever you prefer your finish to look like.

Step five.

The last step is to add in your TBR books! I cut up plain paper but you can use post-it notes or anything to write them on! Now, whenever you don’t know what to read just pop out a slip of paper and there you go! (obviously, if you’re gifting this to someone else you won’t be able to complete this step (unless you have access to their TBR books), but you can always add in some of your favourite reads to get them started!.


Simple polka dot TBR jar.

What you’ll need.

  • Plain glass jar (I used this one from Wilko).
  • Coloured lollipop sticks (I used these from Amazon).
  • Colours of choice Posca pens (any tip size you want!).
  • Post-it note/paper.
  • Pens to match your lollipop stick colours
  • Shredded coloured paper (optional).

Step one.

Choose a genre/category for each coloured lollipop stick (I used red for Fantasy, orange for Mental Health, green for Sci-fi, blue for Contemporary and yellow for a surprise).  Write on your TBR books with a black Posca pen (or any other pen that will write and not smudge on wood) and leave to dry.  I added simple sentences to my surprise sticks such as ‘a book you love the cover of’ or ‘the book you’ve been meaning to read for ages’ for when I don’d mind what to read. Don’t forget to create the coloured key so you know what each colour means!

Step two.

Next, add your different coloured polka dots to the outside of the jar. You can use whatever colours you like. I mainly used PC-5M thickness Posca pens, but you can use thinner tips if you prefer.

Step three.

When everything is dry, pop your lollipop sticks into the jar and you’re done (it’s that simple!) I also added some shredded paper into the bottom to add more colour and to make the sticks easier to grab out.


Remember these are only two designs, let your imagination run wild!

Let me know if you create any designs, I’d love to see your creations 🙂

Book Review | The Rain Belongs Here by Julie Rogers

book review

Title – The Rain Belongs Here.

Author – Julie Rogers.

Publication Date – 1st November 2019.

Add to Goodreads. 


Synopsis

If she succeeds in finding him, he’ll be charged with murder. If she fails, he won’t likely survive on his own.

It’s 2064. Ana lives in the City, an experimental community that has had little contact with outsiders in decades. When her older brother Finn disappears on her 22nd birthday, a seemingly impossible event given the City’s extensive monitoring, she quits school, moves into her station wagon and embarks on an obsessive manhunt. Unable to find him on her own, she’s forced to partner with Aaron, a detective with his own complicated history and agenda.

Together they comb the dregs of the outside world, encountering both the horrors of lawless survivor communities and the unclaimed beauty of the old world. As Ana comes closer to understanding her brother’s disappearance, she’s forced to confront the truth about herself and her place in the City.


My thought on the book

4 star book review

* I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a honest review*

The Rain Belongs Here follows Ana as she desperately tries to find her older brother Finn. The book is set in 2064 in an isolated city with no access to the outside world.

The author has built this incredible, addictive world. Firstly, we have the city where people have been made to fear the outside world. It was so interesting to read about this new city that had been created to protect people from the horrors of the outside. When we head out into the old world, it was just as compelling. The different factions we read about are fascinating and I only wanted to find out more about them.

Ana was a great protagonist. Her dedication and obsession with finding her brother drew me into the story. I found myself just as invested as she was in finding her brother. I also found it interesting following her journey into the outside, and how she reacts to this strange, new world she had feared her entire life.

I was constantly guessing about what happened to Finn and what his goal was on the outside. I found myself not believing he would leave his sister, not for anything small, it had to be something big or important.

The writing was incredible – it kept me engaged and reading when I probably should’ve been doing other things. The only disappointment is that this isn’t going to be a series, as I’m not ready to let go of these characters and world. (I have since found out the author is writing a sequel which I’m so excited for!)


Have you read The Rain Belongs Here? If so, what did you think?

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6 Christmas Stocking Fillers When You Have No Ideas

black board with words '6 stocking fillers when you have no ideas' with blue tinsel and santa ornament

I always used to struggle to buy stocking fillers, but the last few years I finally have it all figured out. I know that stocking fillers mean different things but I see them as anything that fits into a Christmas stocking. Part of our Christmas tradition is that me and my best friend both get each other a stocking full of small (and cheap!) gifts. I personally think it’s so fun to open little gifts and when you get to the bottom you have to feel around to make sure there’s nothing left. One year I missed a gift that was shoved right into the bottom and didn’t open it until the following year! If you’re stuck for ideas I got you covered. Here are 6 perfect ideas for just about anybody!


Fridge magnets.

You can never go wrong with a good old fridge magnet. I know our fridge is full of magnets that we’ve accumulated over the years: from days out, holidays, and gifts to one another. There are so many places to get them from and you can get just about anything on them (even personalised with photos or quotes). My favoruite places to find them are Etsy (Katie Abey has some wonderful ones), independent shops in my town, and card shops usually have some nice ones.


Badges/pins.

Again, you can get just about anything on a badge now. They are so fun to collect too. Some of my favoutire places to find them are Punky Pins and Ink and Wonder.


Socks.

Who doesn’t love socks? It’s one of my favourite gifts to recieve and buy for people. I always end up buying way too many socks for people because there are so many cute ones out there. Primark is my favorutie place to get them from, but again you can find them most places.


Pocket mirrors.

This is always a handy thing to carry around so why not make it a stocking filler? I know I always wish I had one if I’ve left mine at home.


Lush lip scrub/perfume/body spray.

I love Lush and everything they sell. I especially love their lip scrubs because they work so well on dry lips and taste really good! My favourite one is the Sugar Plum Fairy  lip scrub, but they also have many other flavours including Bubblegum. 

Also, Lush also sell perfume. Although, a little more on the expensive side but perfect to fit in a stocking. They also sell solid perfume which is cheaper than the liquid perfume and works in a similar way.


Stickers/washi tape.

Do you have a friend/family member who loves planning? Or perhaps they just love stickers, then this is the perfect stocking filler for them. There are plenty of places to find them – The Works, Etsy and Whsmith.


Do you struggle to buy stocking fillers? Do you have any more ideas?

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How I Adapted To Needing A Wheelchair (+ Tips)

Realising you need to use a wheelchair – either occasionally or full time – can be daunting realisation, and it can feel a lot like losing your freedom.

I haven’t always been dependent on a wheelchair. Although I’ve had health problems for years, it wasn’t until my early adulthood that things escalated. In the beginning I would only use my wheelchair if I absolutely had to, but 4 years ago my legs completely gave out and I haven’t been able to walk since.

Even now, it still feels like a grieving process. I grieve for the abilities and the life I had before and for the things I can’t do anymore. It’s frustrating, embarrassing, and upsetting, and often times I find myself getting so angry at the world and myself. However, over time I have largely accepted my situation. I’ve taught myself to remember that as much as it frustrates me, my wheelchair has given me a life outside of my bed.

If you’re in a similar situation or are faced at the prospect of needing to use a wheelchair, below are some tips on what I’ve done/still do to cope with the negatives feelings…


It took me a long time to accept I needed a chair to get around. Even now, I have to focus on remembering that even though there are many things I can’t do, there are still things out there that are still achievable. Developing the ability to realise that your life isn’t over – even after becoming wheelchair bound – can help you to accept your situation and enjoy the things you are still able to do.


Surround yourself with people who don’t see your disability as something that gets in the way. People who help you live to the best of your ability. It isn’t helpful to be pushed beyond your limits but it’s just as detrimental for people to assume you aren’t capable of doing anything. An important step in accepting your disability is having people who treat you like everybody else, people who build you up instead of tearing you down.


It’s okay to grieve. It’s ok to feel like your life has been ripped from beneath you. The important thing to remember is not to let it consume your every waking moment. Feeling upset or frustrated is normal and it’s okay to feel like that. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel before letting it go. Journaling can be a good way to help you make sense of any feelings that arise from becoming dependent on a wheelchair.


No, this is not the same as giving up and it doesn’t mean you have failed. Recently I realised I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the physical/mental demands of the job I wanted. Instead I had to adjust my expectations and decide to focus on other options. Although, at the beginning it did feel like I was giving up and it was just one more thing to add to the long list of failures in my life. I eventually realised I needed to adjust the expectations I had of myself, and to stop beating myself up for things I have no control over.


I’ve received many aids/adaptations from OT I didn’t know existed and they have added to my quality of life. They’re there to help you live to the best of your ability and so you can do as many things independently as you can. Still feeling like you can be independent, at least in some aspects, can help you to feel more positive about needing a wheelchair.


Do you have any tips for people you may be struggling with accepting needing a wheelchair?

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Ultimate Mental Health Gift Guide For Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner. If you’re looking for that perfect, special gift for a loved one having a tough time you’ve come to the right place. The gifts included in this guide are perfect for anyone struggling with their mental health – whether they have a mental illness or not. Anyone can be having a tough time and it can be hard to find ways to help them through it. You don’t have to wait for Christmas, but if you’re loved one doesn’t like being made a fuss of or you don’t want to seem overbearing, Christmas is the ideal time to show someone you care.


Self care items.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. Some ideas include bath bombs, shower gels, body lotions, candles, face masks. Basically anything that makes someone feel good or taken care of. It’s important to take time out for yourself, look after you mental health and feel good in yourself.


Weighted blanket.

Weighted blankets have many benefits, and people suffering from anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses have found them useful. They can improve sleep, help with stress, and help someone feel safe when everything is crumbling around them.


Positive quote necklaces.

I recently purchased one of these for my best friend and she loved it. She even said it helps get her through in times of heightened anxiety or stress. It can give someone something to focus on, a quote to help them through or remind them of how far they’re come. I brought this one from PennyBlackDesigns on Etsy. They are beautifully made and also very affordable.


Positivity items.

One of the hardest things to do when you’re struggling is staying positive. It can be helpful for some people to receive little things to keep them going in times of need. There are so many places that sell positivity quote items in many forms – badges, fridge magnets, original artwork and so much more. One of my favourite places to shop for this kind of thing is Art Is My Therapy – it’s run by my friend Liv, who makes handmade items and sells her original artwork. She also sells pick me up boxes with a range of items to help someone through a tough time. I highly recommend her shop – you won’t be disappointed.


Make them a crisis box.

This is the perfect gift if you’re stuck for ideas. It’s great for letting someone know you care and it’s something they can use all year round. I did a full post on how to create your own here, if you need some ideas and inspiration.


Sensory items.

Sensory items are great because they give someone a way to ground themselves if they are suffering from dissociation/flashbacks, or to help anxiety when they are in stressful situations. Sensory items include but are not limited to squishies, candles, body/room sprays, slime or tangles.


What other things come to mind when you think of mental health gifts?