I Am Not Social Anxiety (And Neither Are You) ⁣

I am not social anxiety, but I accept it as part of my life.

I’m still working in the direction of “recovery,” but I’ve made space for a lot of nuance in what I think that looks like. ⁣

I think I used to equate recovery with “cure,” and I used to think “cured” meant no longer socially anxious or held back by “shyness” or “introversion” at all. ⁣

But that mindset came from a place of unnecessary and hurtful self-rejection. ⁣

Self-acceptance

I had to shift to a place of self-acceptance before any recovery could really take place. ⁣And there have been some other changes, too:

  • I stopped viewing shyness or introversion negatively once I realized they weren’t the same thing as social anxiety (or as one another).
  • I’ve started to see social anxiety disorder as the thing that makes me censor myself from the world. ⁣Even from myself sometimes. Recovery has meant learning to turn down the censor and let the real me emerge. ⁣
  • Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that self-shame is just not a useful tool for recovery.

Not broken

I’m learning to accept that who I am inside is 𝘯𝘰𝘵 the problem. And that recovery doesn’t mean “fixing” the real me within.

I’m not broken.

Please don’t beat yourself up if you experience social anxiety. You’re not bad or weak or broken.

You are not social anxiety.

xoxo

Weekly Update 8: I’m So Excited, and I Just Can’t Hide It… (BLOG NEWS!)

Here’s this week’s installment in my Weekly Update series!


  1. This update is overdue and no longer qualifies as “weekly,” but I’m going to be more consistent now.
  2. I’m able to write this today because my amazing husband announced last night, “Why don’t you take the whole day for yourself tomorrow? You’ve been in kid mode 24/7 since this thing (isolation) started.
  3. This feels like a spa day. I slept in. I drank hot coffee. I came down to my computer desk (which I haven’t sat at in 5 weeks), and I’ve been writing, and planning blog and Instagram content, and making graphics, and eating chocolate. After I hit publish, I’m going to do a face mask and take a bath. GASP.
  4. I could cry. Happy cry.
  5. This also gives me a chance to tell you about the changes I have made and will be making to the blog!!! You may have noticed the new blog header, and the new tagline: Mental Health & Motherhood.
  6. I’ve decided to, not really shift focus, but give myself the freedom to expand beyond social anxiety into mental health in general and as it connects with motherhood (still with a focus on social anxiety and perfectionism, since that is what impacts my life most in terms of mental health). So I’m envisioning this as a “mental health mom blog” of sorts.
  7. I’m really feeling good about this. My goal is to do a “topic post” weekly, probably on Mondays, and then also do a casual (read: non-obsessively edited and designed) weekly update post on the weekend.
  8. Throughout the week, I’ll be sharing excerpts and quotes from my posts on Instagram. I posted a little slideshow on Instagram this morning to introduce/reintroduce myself. (Instagram is something I’ve enjoyed using but been very unsure about what to post. I don’t really like posting photos of myself looking “candid” every day… I don’t see myself as an influencer. I see myself as a blogger/writer. So that’s the content I’m going to focus on sharing on Instagram.)
  9. I’ve decided to be more methodical/strategic about my blog/Instagram because: a) I think it will let me be more consistent, and, crucially, b) it will give me time to engage more with other bloggers’ and Instagrammers’ content because I won’t be spending all my time wondering “What to post?! When to post?! Where to post?! What photos to use???” Engagement with the communities is something I really value.
  10. My next blog post will be out on Monday morning! It’s called 6 Things Parents Probably Won’t Be Worrying About 20 Years After Quarantine. I can’t wait for you to read it! 🙂

Thanks for being here!!!

If you had to pick 3 words to describe how your weekend is going, what would they be?


P.S. This is the slideshow I posted on Instagram. The content comes from my newly revised About page:

Weekly Update 6: Word Vomit. Thought Train. Grumpy Pony.

Hello, lovely readers!

This week’s update will be rather short, because it is late and my shoulder is sore and I just ate half an apple so that my medication would not be on an empty stomach but I’m still not feeling so great in my tummy.

Wow. That word vomit just happened.

Here’s how this week went in Red-Cheeked Redheadtown! (That sounds so much like the setting of a very questionable, very niche erotic film. Probably Western.)

  • Jesse and I are going to a full-day workshop tomorrow on mental health crisis intervention. I think it will focus on suicide prevention and response within the context of military families. It’s free to military family members and it seemed like a great opportunity to learn skills for dealing with such an important issue. (I’m nervous about going, but so far it’s mild nerves only.)
  • I’ve been feeling like I don’t have my blogging mojo this week. (I just looked up mojo in the online thesaurus because I don’t feel like using that word. Apparently it is a synonym for cocaine and heroin? I did not know this.)
  • Lost my train of thought there.
  • Okay, got it. Choo Choo.
  • I feel a little disconnected from blogging. It started when I began doing daily videos in my Instagram Stories — it’s been a real confidence-boosting experience, and that’s great. It’s helping me connect with wonderful kindred spirits, and that’s also great.
  • But I feel like I’ve neglected my bloggy blog. I’ve definitely fallen behind on reading and commenting on posts by fellow bloggers that I enjoy. Maybe I’m spreading myself too thin.
  • It’s just that I like all of it. I like blogging. Reading blogs. Chatting with bloggers and readers. Connecting with this very supportive community. And I also like Instagram, and doing little videos, and connecting with that very supportive community too.
  • I feel kind of like I’m cheating on my blog if I post content on Instagram that I don’t incorporate into posts here. (Does that make me a social media non-monogamist? Isn’t variety the spice of [social media] life?)
  • Like, in my Stories on Instagram, I talked about self-care reluctance, perfectionism, and body anxiety/shame.
  • And I shared the story of a cashier who LOUDLY compared my name to her deceased dog and a “saloon whoore” (her words, SO NOT MINE).
  • I didn’t talk about any of that on here.
  • It’s entirely possible that I am overthinking things and need to just go with the flow. (The former is my strong suit; the latter is not.)
  • Maybe you can share how you balance blogging and other platforms? (If you’re a blogger and/or other platformer.)
  • Platformer games are the only video games I like.
  • That was irrelevant.
  • I hope you have a great weekend, and I’m sorry if I’ve been slow with comments and emails! Trying to find a balance. Balance is not my strong suit either.
  • What IS my strong suit? Empathy? Chocolate consumption?
  • Also. Stupid shoulder and neck. Stupid scalp psoriasis creating scalp inferno. Stupid cuticles that demand picking.
  • I don’t know why this is devolving into apparent self-pity. I’m not even that sad right now. Just a little anxious.
  • And maybe a bit grumpy but that’s not your fault.
  • Grumpy pony needs bed.
  • Okay byyyyyyye!!!!!!!!

14 Ways To Love Your Socially Anxious Self

14 Simple Ways To Love Your Socially Anxious Self

There’s a time and place for working on overcoming anxiety, and there’s a time and place for going easy on yourself. Let this post be your gentle reminder to practice the latter when you need it.

On that note, here are 14 ways to practice a little self-love if you struggle with anxiety. (And even if you don’t. You deserve self-love too, you functional adult, you.)

These ideas do not involve extensive interaction with other humans or lofty goals like going for a walk through your neighborhood–because that’s where the people are, and I don’t know about you, but if I am having a social anxiety flare-up, I need solutions that are low-stress.

I’m excited to hear what you think of the list.

Note: None of the links are affiliates or sponsors — just things I like.

#14: Read a book that soothes your trigger areas

Three areas I have experienced a lot of anxiety are perfectionism, pregnancy, and parenting. These books have made a world of difference to me:

Whatever you struggle with (body image? self-esteem? hair pulling?), there’s almost certainly a book that can help.

#13: Get super silly

My kids and I always get a ridiculous laugh out of the filters on Messenger. I highly recommend them.

We sent this to a friend to say, “Have a good niiiiiiiight!” And we laughed our wee heads off.

Remember: You don’t have to actually send the video to anyone if you don’t want to.

#12: Remember your awesomeness

This only works if you’re not feeling like a total self-care rebel (à la “No, I will NOT do anything constructive for myself *foot stomp*). (It happens to the best of us…)

Try listing 3 things that you are quite sure are not-shit about yourself. For example, mine would be:

  1. I make people laugh sometimes.
  2. I have the power to create other human beings.
  3. My hot chocolate is my husband’s favourite.

#11: Reach out

If you’re not feeling TOO far gone into hermit mode, it can be nice to connect lightly, gently, quietly with another human, even if all you can manage is a heart emoji by text message. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling.

Actually, with one friend, we use the heart emoji as my code for “I see your message and I’m thinking of you, but I’m too caught up in anxiety right now to engage.” (A friend who will do that for you is GOLD.)

Related reading: 💜 To the Friends of Those With Social Anxiety 💜

#10: Reach in

Basically this comes down to self-compassion.

Just give yourself an inner pat on the back.

Sometimes I (silently) tell myself things like, “You’ll get through this.” or “You feel anxious, and that’s okay.”

#9: Get warm

I learned this from a podcast episode by The Savvy Psychologist on 4 Surprising Ways Depression Affects Your Body (bold emphasis is my own):

A recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) study gave depressed participants just one session of whole-body heat treatment using infrared heat. The study showed that, even a whole week later, participants  who received the heat treatment experienced less depressive symptoms than those who got a sham treatment without heat.

So, if you struggle with depression, one inexpensive way to give yourself some relief may be to take a hot bath or do some hot yoga.

From 4 Surprising Ways Depression Affects Your Body

Here are four ways I use heat:

  • I like to take a bath after therapy, when I’m most drained.
  • I lie on a heating pad for a few minutes at bedtime every night. It helps me sleep and relax. (Actually, I just bought a replacement pad because the one my mom-in-law gave me finally died. THAT was a sad day.)
  • I have a microwaveable rice bag that my friend made for me years ago.
  • I ingest much tea (more on tea below).

#8: Do an anxiety meditation

I don’t meditate much. (I have this bad habit of resisting things that are “obvious” methods of self-care. I don’t know why… something something self-sabotage, maybe?)

But anyway, when I really need help stopping the thought-vortex, meditation is occasionally what I turn to, whether it’s for morning encouragement, mid-day relief, or sleep help.

I’ve been meaning to try Headspace, but for now I use the Insight Timer app’s free collection. They have a whole collection for anxiety specifically.

My favourite teacher is Aluna Moon because of her soothing voice and the fact that a lot of her content is short and also caters to my mom angst:

Aluna Moon courses in Insight Timer
Some of Aluna Moon’s courses in Insight Timer.

I also like her Peaceful Sleep Meditation.

#7: Listen to a podcast

Podcasts are great for keeping my mind from going to blah and meh places, especially when I’m doing busywork but my mind is not occupied (and therefore free to spiral).

Here are two of my go-tos:

#6: Make it dark

Dark is cozy.
Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

This might just be me, but darkness is like a cocoon when the world feels a little too big.

I love taking a shower in the dark after the kids go to bed (bonus: heat therapy!).

#5: Normalize your body

If you experience body-related anxiety or insecurities like me (I learned that this is fairly common for those of us with social anxiety), one thing to try is to hop on Instagram and see the bad-ass content creators on there who are working to normalize all bodies and encourage healthier relationships with ourselves.

Some of my faves:

View this post on Instagram

Do you have expectations about how your body “should” look? In my past, I used to have ALL the expectations. In fact, not only did I have an idea of what it should look like but I had a weight attached to that as well. An arbitrary number that I wouldn’t be happy until I reached. And yet, every time I achieved that number, I was never truly happy. All the time and effort spent chasing this ideal and this number and yet I couldn’t keep this weight off so I must be a failure right? ⠀ ⠀ Maybe instead of thinking about what our bodies should look like, we could focus on what our bodies can do and work towards achieving wellness within that framework. Meeting our bodies where they are at without arbitrary numbers and body shape expectations. Loving and embracing them and focusing on how they feel and not how we think they should look.⠀ ⠀ I feel that even more when looking at my postpartum body. There is all sorts of pressure to get your “body back” and a huge expectation on how long that should take. But as I lay on a beach chair on my most recent vacation, I knew that my body was exactly where it should be. It’s moved with kindness and respect for its journey that it has been on. It’s been fuelled without being deprived and it’s been embraced where it is without a number attached to the outcome. ⠀ ⠀ #intuitiveeating #intuitiveexercise #embrace #bodypositivity #antidiet #kindness #coachlife #respect #bodylove #sparkthechange

A post shared by Jen Jones-Miller (@thebodypositiveparent) on

There are so many more. I could write a whole post on my favourite accounts and the uplifting work they’re doing.

And if you need a little extra love, check out my post You (Yes, You) Are Beautiful. xoxo

#4: Eat

Hunger + Anxiety = Hanxiety (Hanger 2.0).

I once cried the whole way to my favourite local Mexican restaurant because I was afraid it would be closed and I wouldn’t get my enchilada platter. (I was very pregnant and it was my birthday and we were running late.)

It was not closed. I got my enchiladas.

Moral: Pregnant, anxious, and hungry do NOT mix.

Just eat if your body needs to eat.

#3: Tea

Tea is warm and soothing and smells nice and it is a truth universally acknowledged that a tea-lover in possession of a kettle must be in want of a mug. Or… something.

Here’s your mug.
Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels

My favourites at the moment:

#2: Doodle

Ideally something funny. Like this:

I challenge you to draw a bumblebee ninja.

You will not be able to beat this rendition by a friend who shall remain nameless–unless she chooses to out herself as the bee-ninja artist she is–but your attempts will probably entertain you and anyone you show:

Update: She doesn’t mind being named. Everyone tell Julie how amazing she is and which bee you like best (left, middle, or right). I chose the bee on the right. (This was in her congratulations card to me when I was pregnant with James. We called him Bumblebee at the time. We still exchange many LOOOOLs and BAHAHAHAHs about this drawing to this day.)

#1. And the ultimate way to love your socially anxious self…

Wait for it…

Photo by @thegardenpics // More info in this article // My husband 100% sees the newer version of this on his way to work every day.

Think about it:

No partner = No performance anxiety.

Just sayin’.

(It’s a little more nuanced than that, as you might expect. Anxiety is rarely straight-forward. Read more here.)

There you have it!

Soooo… Would you try any of these ideas? Am I going to get to see some bumblebee ninjas? I will 100% accept bumblebee ninjas in my email inbox (blushygingersadie [at] gmail.com) or on Instagram or Facebook!

Go love your fabulous self in the way you like best!

And I’d be tickled pink if you’d consider sharing this with someone who could use a little pick-me-up today. xoxoxoxo

P.S. Word of loving advice from someone who does this very thing: Try not to let yourself get anxious at the thought of having to try ALL THE THINGS RIGHT NOW. Pick and choose, or come up with your own idea(s). Just go easy on yourself. 🙂

And remember:

2 Surprising Tricks to Reduce Social Anxiety

2 Surprising Tricks to Reduce Social Anxiety (Psst! You Might Get To Hear My Voice!)

I’m all for exposure therapy and reducing anxiety the old-fashioned way, but sometimes it’s fun to (accidentally) think outside the box.

Over the past 2 weeks, I’ve stumbled across 2 tricks for muffling or reducing how much social anxiety I feel in the situation in question.

Trick #1: Take Off My Glasses

Blurry makes it better.
Photo by Designecologist from Pexels

This will admittedly not work if you have good eyesight without glasses.

I need glasses for distance — I wear them all day.

We took the kids to the swimming pool the other weekend, and I decided to leave my glasses in the locker for a change. (I needed a break from getting pool-water spots all over my lenses and I wanted to show the kids how to use their new goggles.)

The unexpected side effect?

I couldn’t read people’s facial expressions!

This was freeing (if a little headache-inducing) because:

People with social anxiety are more likely than their non-anxious counterparts to interpret a neutral or ambiguous facial expression as negative.

Something I learned in therapy.

We tend to be hypervigilant, always scanning our surroundings for threats in the form of negative expressions (or body language).

I didn’t realize how much I was scanning and being hypervigilant until I couldn’t do it anymore. All I could see was whatever was right up close to me, so just my kids and husband.

It was like putting noise-cancelling headphones on my eyes! I had a much less stressful time swimming than I normally do.

I haven’t tested this in a more open space like the mall yet.

And obviously this won’t work for driving anxiety… please wear your glasses behind the wheel.

But maybe try going glasses-free in a safe test environment and let me know!

Trick #2: Leave Voice Notes

Like this, but less intense.
Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

DID YOU KNOW THAT YOU CAN SEND VOICE NOTES IN MESSENGER AND INSTAGRAM?

I did not know this until a wonderful human I recently connected with on Instagram (@mckenzie_valenta) sent me a “hello” message, and I wanted to give it a try and reply.

I thought it was so great! One of my biggest anxiety triggers is the phone. Receiving calls, making calls, listening to voice messages… all of it.

But the key to reducing anxiety is to ease into your fears. Baby steps up the fear ladder.

  • For me, making phone calls and answering the phone is still way up there, anxiety-wise.
  • But sending a voice note? That, I can do. It’s still scary, but it’s manageable-scary.

SURPRISE! HERE’S MY VOICE! I cannot guarantee audio quality as I have never done this before.

Was this awkward? Yes, yes it was. Did I do it anyway? HELL YEAH I DID. That’s how you know you’ve found the “exposure therapy” sweet spot.

I’ve started sending messages to friends and relatives, and I feel so much more connected to them!

The audio message sends as soon as you lift your finger off the microphone icon, so you can’t re-record and “perfect” your message endlessly.

I totally recommend this as a way to keep in touch with people, and not just for those of us who have social anxiety! It’s so intimate and heartwarming to hear your friend’s voice once in a while.

Next step: VIDEO MESSAGES?!

What Do You Think?

I’m all ears. (Ugh, least creative pun.)
Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Would you be up for trying either of these tricks? Or do you have some tricks that I should try? 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Is Anxiety Medication Worth It?

Medication is not a magic cure-all. But it could be what lets you function well enough to do the deeper work (like therapy) and the physical stuff (like exercise). And sleep. And that’s pretty amazing.

Finding the right dosage and perhaps combination of medications can be a painstaking, drawn-out, frustrating process. But when you get the right balance? It can make all the difference in the world to someone who has already suffered enough from their mental health challenges.

And if you have anxiety, haven’t you already suffered enough?

Here are two things to know about when considering medication, based on my own experience:

1. Side effects are real (but they might be worth it)

There’s a lot of fear about side effects, and for good reason. I’m not going to pretend they don’t exist. Over the years, I’ve dealt with:

  • nausea
  • sleepiness
  • hypervigilance
  • sexual side effects
  • agitation
  • irritability
  • brain zaps
  • appetite changes
  • dizziness
  • and more

You have to weigh the side effects of medication against the debilitating effects of leaving the mental health disorder untreated. In my case, I would have suffered from a lot of the above from having severe untreated anxiety anyway.

This was my life before starting medication:

  • I couldn’t drive.
  • I struggled to go out and do things.
  • I would stress-cancel a lot.
  • I couldn’t handle even the idea of therapy.
  • I basically wanted to hibernate all the time.
  • I had a really hard time feeling like I was actually in charge of my own life.
  • My world became small and lonely.

Medication helped free me from my own mind enough to start driving, become a mom, start therapy, pursue my freelance work, and write about my experiences online.

At its best, effective medication can put you back in the driver’s seat (literally, in my case).

2. Medications can be combined to ease side effects

Combining meds can help you get the benefits of both medications, while trying to balance out some of the side effects of each.

For example, SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction, but a medication like Wellbutrin (buproprion) can reduce that effect.

Personally, I’m currently taking Wellbutrin in the morning and Zoloft (sertraline) in the evening. Wellbutrin is an excellent medication for mood-related disorders, so it helps with my depressive symptoms.

But it’s also “activating,” and on its own it can make anxiety worse. I started to feel very squirrelly and agitated. So we added Zoloft, which is an SSRI medication commonly prescribed for social anxiety, among other things. It helps with anxiety-related symptoms and with balancing out the activating effects of Wellbutrin.

Final thoughts

Medication is not magic. But it can be a lifesaver.

We only get one life. Isn’t it worth making that life the best we can with what we know and what we have access to? For many people, medication can do that.

It’s like introducing a leash to this situation:

It’s not for everyone. But it might not hurt to look into it. You deserve to feel better.

I’m not a doctor, though. Listen to your doctor. Obviously. 🙂

Do you have any thoughts on medication? Leave a comment!

Are They Shy, or Is It Social Anxiety Disorder?

… It could be both.

I never used to know about social anxiety. All I knew was “shyness.” It took me a long time to learn that they aren’t synonyms, even though they are similar.

Shyness and social anxiety can be confusing from the inside, so I can imagine they must be even more puzzling and vague for friends and loved ones.

My “in a nutshell” explanation of the difference between the two would be this:

I am a shy person who also has social anxiety.

One is something I am. The other isn’t.

This is the simplest way I can think to express how the difference feels from the inside.

You can have shy people with social anxiety. And shy people without social anxiety. And even people with social anxiety who aren’t shy at all.

Shyness is not a disorder, and social anxiety is not a personality trait.

The reason it’s confusing is that it’s not an either/or situation. Shyness lies on a spectrum, and so does social anxiety, and there are areas that overlap between the two.

Then why does the distinction matter?

Because it’s liberating.

It was so freeing when I finally understood that shyness is part of my personality, but that social anxiety is a disorder.

It reassured me to know that I can work on my anxiety issues, and hopefully resolve them in time, without needing to change who I am as a person.

I’m not sure if any of this is reassuring to someone from the outside looking in. Just know that if you are puzzled by a loved one who may be shy or diagnosably socially anxious or both, you’re not alone, because chances are that person is very confused about it all too.

Understanding all this helped me finally be okay with my shy nature, which in turn freed me to focus on easing the symptoms of social anxiety, which is helping my relationships with others.

I still have moments where I wonder, “Am I even shy at all, or is it ALL social anxiety?” Mostly, though, I’m actually kind of proud to be shy.

But it took a long time to get here.

I hope your shy person finds their way here, too. 🙂

(Maybe you could leave a trail of chocolate along the path.)

HAPPY NEW YEAR!