Five Misconceptions about People with Social Anxiety

Hey Sweeties,

“Social anxiety is the fear of social situations that involve interaction with other people. You could say social anxiety is the fear and anxiety of being negatively judged and evaluated by other people. It is a pervasive disorder and causes anxiety and fear in most all areas of a person’s life.” –Social Anxiety Association.  

5 misconceptions about social anxiety

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Being Your Own Best Friend & Learning to Value Your Own Company

Hey Sweeties,

One thing I learned I’d say fairly early on in life, was how to enjoy and be in my own company, be my own best friend as it were. That’s not because I was an only child, or had a lack of friends, but I simply learnt that I haven’t always got to be with people to go somewhere, do something etc. Of course there are many times when there’s nothing nicer than having a day out with your best friend or your Mum/partner etc. but in equal measure knowing to be comfortable with yourself is important, particularly when they’re not available or around.

Being your own best friend

Five Schools, Moving Out, and Uni Life

As a child, I went to five different schools owing to my Dad’s career taking us to different areas of the country to live before settling in Devon (where they still are). Then when I was 19, I moved by myself to London to pursue dental nursing for a couple of years, and in 2009 I took myself to University in Bath. While I lived in a shared house for the first year or so, for the latter half of my degree I moved into my own little annex where I lived until moving in with Ian after graduating. It’s fair to say from this, that I had to not only be okay in my own company, but it also took a level of confidence to be able to continually move to new locations, and immerse myself within new groups of people. It has thus since been a shame that in the last few years, social anxiety has taken hold, so I now find new groups of people very intimidating. Just one of those things really that I think comes with being older but I do what I can.

Having Me Time

One of my very favourite things to do is to take myself to a coffee shop, and enjoy a cappuccino and a book; it’s my perfect me time. Every now and again, I also have the excuse to properly take myself out for the day and I don’t just mean out shopping (while that may be an element), I mean like to somewhere that gives me the opportunity and the excuse to do a number of things in my own company. Most recently this was a couple of weekends ago when I took myself into London, met Ella Woodward (of Deliciously Ella) at a book signing, and explored a part of the city I am fairly unfamiliar with; I had a blast!

Learn who You Are

I think being okay just with yourself is important, I think it’s also one of the quickest and most fulfilling ways to really learn about yourself, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and how to find situations and opportunities to challenge yourself. Some people thrive in groups and others –like me- actually prefer more intimate friendships and relationships with people but it all depends on what you’re used to and like doing. One of my most recent challenges was my holiday with Trek America last October and as a result, it has become one of the best things I have ever done for myself and forced me to tackle my social anxiety head on.

Tell me about you guys, are you people that enjoy your own company or do you prefer hanging out with friends and family? What are some of your favourite things to do?

Until next time x

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National Stress Awareness Day | Coping with Social Anxiety

Hey Guys,

Today is National Stress Awareness Day and while I thought I would list for you my top five tips to tackle stress, I actually feel that it would be of more benefit, particularly for me, to tell you about my stress: Social anxiety.

LA Venice Beach

A couple of years ago, I wrote about an incident that revealed I suffer with anxiety (The Unfortunate Incident of Mr Whippy) which to be fair, the revelation was new to me too. Specifically I suffer with social anxiety, which I was only able to put a name to a couple of months ago through self-diagnosis on the internet in a bid to try and work out what the hell was going on with me.

Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, is an anxiety disorder in which a person has an excessive and unreasonable fear of social situations. Anxiety (intense nervousness) and self-consciousness arise from a fear of being closely watched, judged, and criticized by others”.

As above.

I am not really totally sure why social anxiety has hit me so hard now? Some of the contributors such as the fear of speaking on the phone, I can pinpoint back to my childhood but I would never have associated that with anxiety until I Googled the condition and it suddenly all makes sense. But while I am disappointed I have this disorder, it’s such a relief to know what I suffer with has a name. It affects me most at work, as while I feel secure here, I am exposed at the same time. I am still getting to know everyone but yet I avoid social nights out unless I can be sure of exactly who is going and if I know them enough to feel ok in their presence outside of the office. We have the Christmas party on the horizon and already this is making me nervous (so silly). In the office I don’t always make conversation, such as in the kitchen when I am getting a coffee, and I always eat lunch at my desk rather than with others. It only bothers me because take away the anxiety and I am actually a really friendly person that loves the company of others, but I feel my colleagues don’t see that, not yet. In a group of people I know I would actually say that I can be one of the dominant figures, which is random, right?

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The Benefits of Trying Something New

Sunday chat: doing something new

Hey Sweeties,

In light of the two previous posts Losing Myself and Seeing the Positives, I thought today I would discuss doing something new.

Depression and anxiety aside, there are so many benefits to trying something you’ve never done before, even better if it involves meeting and getting involved with a new group of people.

If you have recently moved house to a new area or maybe you have left home for the first time to go to University, there is nothing worse than feeling alone and isolated so you need to find something that gets you out and meeting people. This isn’t easy, in fact it is really hard and takes a bit of guts and some confidence to give yourself that push. So the first thing you need to do is make a list of all the things you enjoy such as your existing hobbies and interests, and maybe also a list of things you really want to try out. A quick Google of your local area will let you know what clubs, classes and social groups exist. If you’re at Uni, the Freshers Fair and your Student Union will have all this information for you and although it is nerve wracking introducing yourself to new people, there will be several hundred new students in exactly the same position. It all starts with “hi”.

For those (like me) that haven’t got a hundred people in the same boat, you need to be braver. You need to just go for it.

When I finished University (bearing in mind I had gone later than those in my year so I graduated when I was nearly 25), I upped sticks for the eleventh time in my life and moved to Hampshire to be with Ian. It took me a while before I realised I needed to find a new group of people, a group outside of work and those that weren’t Ian’s friends. I needed a group completely unique to me… this is how I ignited my love for playing hockey.

The last time I played hockey was in secondary school (about 10 years ago at the time) but I remember really enjoying it so I figured it made sense to see if this was something I could get back in my life by joining a local club. It didn’t take me long to find somewhere which is how I started playing for Yateley, I had enquired with another club but Yateley came across so much friendlier and more welcoming. Since moving  earlier this year I also now play for Windsor but I still play for Yateley when I can as they are such a great club to be a part of.

Hockey for me works on two levels 1. fitness 2. social. I don’t hate gyms, I just don’t find them particularly inspiring and it is a real effort to get myself there. This is the same for hockey training some nights as when it’s cold, dark and clearly raining who wants to leave the house? Not me but you do because you’re going to run around for an hour or so and have a laugh with some people. If I go to the gym I go to classes as a) you’ve probably booked so you’re expected to be there and B) there is a set structure to your workout C) You’re probably with some familiar faces you’re getting to know. Hockey for me is exactly the same which is why it works. It’s also outdoors which I also prefer. Hockey or anything physically active and competitive also releases me of my stresses which does me the world of good.

Hockey here is only mentioned for the sake of an example but see what is unlocked once you have that bit of confidence to go out and join a new club and meet new people! It also doesn’t just need to be sport, it can be anything! Maybe you love being crafty -perhaps there is a local arts club or maybe a theatre group that always need help with sets and costumes? Maybe you like singing -there are local choir groups everywhere! Or perhaps you just want to meet some new people to go out for dinner and/or drinks once in a while? There are groups for this too! When there is a planned activity joining new groups I think is much easier as you haven’t got to worry about thinking up new conversation, it’ll just happen and you’re all there because you enjoy the same thing!

I apologise if I make it sound easy but I think it’s important to remember I have done this all my life. I have moved house twelve times; I went to five schools (four Primary, one Secondary) and the last six moves have been my own doing (as in, not family controlled) so I have had to take the plunge and introduce myself to new people and put myself in new environments time and time again. But that doesn’t make it easier, I’m certainly not used to it. Every time I am presented with this scenario I am just the same as anyone else, I am nervous and if I didn’t have to do it I probably wouldn’t. But what does that achieve? It achieves nothing. Once the ice is broken between people it’s actually fun getting to know some new faces. Life long friendships don’t need to be made from it but at least you know that you have something in common and that for me, is the most important thing.

Be brave my Sweeties!

Until next time x

 

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Overcoming Mental Health – Booking my First Trip with Trek America

Hey Sweeties,

I want to tell you something really exciting that I did this weekend but first I need to provide you with some context to it so please read what I have to say and then hopefully join me in being really excited too!

Here goes.

Without deliberately jumping on the same bandwagon that it seems we’re all on, I have spoken about my experience with anxiety because it’s important you know me beyond what I wear on the outside, and also it’s because sufferers should hold their hands up and reveal how common something like anxiety and mental health is. The Incident of the Mr Whippy told you how certain -completely random- situations spark an overwhelming sense of vulnerability and exposure in me and I panic. I am also an over thinker and stress about things that haven’t even happened yet. I seem to overload myself with worry and this stress which unsurprisingly after a while breaks me and I find myself in tears, sometimes for the most trivial things.

The real thing I suffer with though, is depression. Not all the time and until recently I thought it was very much in the past but it never is only in the past. Mental health doesn’t just go away, instead it lingers under the surface, remaining dormant and poised ready to take hold when you weaken. The trick is to be able to know when you’re slipping and take measures to catch yourself from falling before you hit the ground.

So,

With all of the above in mind, lately I haven’t been feeling myself at all. I have become somewhat nervous in my person, I am having some stresses about work, about aspects of the future and I’ll be honest with you guys, also a battle with loneliness; this isn’t who I used to be. As you get older, once you’ve left school and University, meeting people and making friends is a real challenge, it doesn’t come easy. As I am sure I have mentioned before (?) I have moved twelve times and I attended five schools (4 primary, 1 secondary) therefore I have known no one my whole life. When I make friends I have ended up moving away. Until 2007 that was the fault of my parents, since then it has been my own doing. In finding out who I want to be and what I want to do, I have upped sticks and moved to new locations and jobs to find what it is I am looking for. So it should come as no surprise that my career is everything to me and being and becoming successful is crucial otherwise I would feel as though I sacrificed for nothing.

When I was surrounded by people, I adored my independence and the ability to go off and do things on my own. Now, except for when I am with Ian, I have no choice but to be on my own most of the time. Fortunately I don’t mind my own company and of course I do have several friends that have clung on while I have done my thing and when possible I go and visit them.  But something is missing; in me and in my life.

So I did something quite exciting this weekend.

Trek America

Yes Sweeties, I booked myself a trip with Trek America

I am now broke for the foreseeable future as it’s going to take a real commitment to save for but importantly, it gives me something to look forward to and in doing that, will keep myself afloat if you catch my drift. Next October I am flying out to LA and spending two weeks travelling up and back the west coast taking in places such as Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park and San Francisco to name just a few.

I. Can’t. Wait!

So why Trek America? Because I need to remember the person I used to be. I used to be so willingly independent and fearless. I also feel that I haven’t really had that travelling experience that I think everyone should have. I am also a couple of years away from properly committing myself to Ian and I think before that happens, I need to go and do something like this. Something on my own. Something with a totally new group of people that I have never met and share something totally unforgettable.

So guys, when I post about beauty and skincare a lot of you flock to those posts in your ‘likes’ which is great but you disappear somewhat when I post about other things (like this)… or you’re there, but you don’t let me know you’ve been. The blogging community should be about showing your support when it matters, not only when someone does a little haul purchasing the same things that so many others have. There are products out there that last all day and we applaud them, but what about those things that ingrain on someone a lifetime? No one is quick to applaud then. No one ‘likes’ depression or anxiety and so many I feel keep their blogs happy and fun places which they absolutely should be, but you’ll never truly know the person behind it all.

Some will criticise that I have been too honest with you, some will like that I have. But I am not all about the beauty, I like to talk about what is real, what is happening or things that have happened that I want to tell you guys about such as my trips to New York City. I want to attract those that can relate and allow me to follow and show my support back.

I love you guys!

Until next time x

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