Birthday Blues

Another trip around the sun…

Birthdays. They come every year whether we like it or not.

Do you have elaborate celebrations and enjoy every minute? Or are they full of anxiety or sadness? Share yours with another holiday? Reminded of a person no longer around or regrets? Or maybe you’re apathetic and they come and go like any other day, unacknowledged?

birthday cake and balloon

I turned 39 last week and once again had to fight off my own birthday anxiety and disappointment.

For many, myself included, birthdays are great when you are younger: full of joy and excitement. There are often parties, presents, and lots of attention. We count down the days.

If you ask me what my top 10 favorite childhood memories are, more than half of them would be my birthday parties. My childhood celebrations were epic: homemade themed cakes by my mother, large group gatherings where I soaked up the special attention, and even double the celebrations and gifts as I celebrated with my dad’s side of the family separately (divorced parents).

Fast forward and my adult birthday anxiety likely stems from these memories – my later in life birthdays just can’t compare to those memories.

I married a man who doesn’t care one way or the other about birthdays and whose least appreciated love language is gift giving. (Don’t worry he has other redeeming qualities!) Add on two kids and I became the planner of the family and creator of memories which now means I’m often picking my own restaurant and making my own reservations.

I spend the day anxiously awaiting texts and messages full of birthday wishes. If I let my mind wander, it starts playing the narrative that “no one remembered my special day so I’m not special, not worthy, not enough” – see my previous post on my struggle with “enoughness.”

Not to mention I am now in the phase with a very prominent focus of getting older –oh the fear of aging! Thankfully I don’t really feel any of the pressure to accomplish certain things by a specific age like career goals, marriage, kids – or maybe I’ve just passed that phase. But the panic of new wrinkles or gray hairs is real.

But since I’ve started therapy earlier this year and become more aware of my thoughts and triggers, I was determined to break my bad habits, stop the pity party, and be okay with this year’s event.

Here are some of the ways I challenged my own birthday blues:

Start with mindfulness.

  1. Comparison is the thief of joy, as they say. Don’t let your mind go there – comparing your Facebook messages, or lack thereof, to Amy’s isn’t helpful. Wishing you had the girls trip or surprise dinner Susie’s husband threw her only breeds resentment.
  2. Recognize the negative feelings that come and breathe through them.
  3. Set realistic expectations, about the day itself and how its recognized, as well as about your body, no matter your age.

Practice gratitude.

  1. Appreciate those who do remember to send you wishes with deep thankfulness.
  2. Relive and cherish happy birthday memories from years gone by.
  3. Give grace to those who many not be great at remembering dates, who don’t have an organized calendar system, or who just don’t place as much stock in birthdays. Tell yourself it is not a reflection on your or their feelings about you.
  4. List out all the things you are grateful for in your life and proud of on your unbirthdays.

Choose your own celebration.

  1. Be selfish. Don’t wait around for others to pick the perfect present or plan a celebration. Do what feels right for you – treat yourself to those shoes, book your own massage, or call a friend to go to lunch. Plus, take advantage of all the places that offer birthday freebies (note: this may take some preplanning to sign up in advance). Here are some great ones!
  2. Focus on someone else. This year, I spent the day chasing down resources to help a friend in need. I also love supporting an organization like The Birthday Party Project which sends age appropriate games, activities, party decor and more all wrapped up in a Birthday in a Bag to a child experiencing homelessness. (Pre-Covid, they also threw them birthday parties!)

So make your next birthday fun again – there is nothing more “happy” than remembering to love yourself.

post-dinner birthday pose
This is 39!

Put your Social Media on a Diet

woman smiling at her phone in the sunshine

If you are like me, despite all its faults (yes I’ve seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix), you still want to be connected to the world through social media. I love the benefits of keeping me in community, learning about local events, and keeping in touch with friends and family we’ve never before had such opportunities to do so. But it also negatively impacts my sleep and prevents me from taking time for self-reflection, among other things. So I’ve really worked to make some positive changes in my social media consumption and hope to pass on a few to you!

Does looking at people’s “picture perfect” lives on Facebook and Instagram leave you feeling depressed, bad about yourself, or even lonelier? Do cousin Jimmy’s political posts leaving you angry? Does your grade school BFF constantly post frustrating conspiracy theories without fact checking?

You may already be having a bad day, anxiety about whats going on in the world, or feeling like you’ve got too much on your plate. No need to feed that negative energy with more negative feelings: jealousy, sadness, loneliness, and the dreaded FOMO (fear of missing out). It’s time to clean up your feeds and replace the negative with some positive, encouraging vibes!

While social media can support healthy relationships and our connectivity to our communities, let’s put it on a diet and make what we’re consuming helpful for building us up instead of tearing us down.

Favor just one.
First, cut down the number of social platforms you use. Pick the one or two that you enjoy the most. If you love real-time updates, Tweet and Snapchat. If you love beautiful imagery, Instagram is your happy place. If you like both news and personal updates, Facebook is a good spot. You can also remove the apps from your phone so you can only check your social media sites on a tablet or computer.

Turn off alerts.
Turning off notifications can help you regain control of your time and focus. Pick select times during the day to check in and get updates and then turn it off again. There are apps that can automatically limit when you’re able to access your phone.

Clean up the negative.
Focus on quality, not quantity. While it may seem great to stay in touch with all your grade school classmates, high school teammates, and college exes, if you are likely only to see these people at your 25 year reunions, there is no need to see the details of their lives day in and day out…


  • Unfollow personal or group accounts that you don’t need to see on a regular basis. You can still check in on the personal accounts when needed and the group pages will still show on your group tabs.
  • Prioritize the accounts you don’t want to miss. Whether it’s a best friend, cousin, or a crush, or a favorite inspirational account, you might just want to put them to the top of your News Feed. You can do this by going into your News Feed Preferences, tapping Prioritize Who To See First, and then tapping accounts you want to add to this setting.
  • Hide ads, individual posts or all posts from someone (that maybe you aren’t friends with but commonly shows up in your feed based on your friend’s interactions with).
  • My favorite feature is Snooze…You can choose to hide someone’s posts for 30 days at at time. Need a break during political season or while you are dealing with grief? Give yourself a temporary pause from a specific account.
  • Don’t forget your stories! To mute a story, just tap a story from the person, page or group you’d like to mute, tap more in the top right of their story, and tap Mute [Username], then tap Mute to confirm.

Rest assured, Facebook users don’t get notified that they’ve been muted, unfollowed or snoozed and you can always “reconnect” if needed. If you aren’t familiar how to execute these functions, here is a great tutorial.


Instagram also has some great built-in tools to help put your feed and stories on a diet too!

  • A built in timer and reminder. Check out Your Activity page in the menu of your Profile. You’ll se the average time you’ve spent on Instagram over the past week. You can also set a daily reminder function to cut back on your usage.
  • Unfollow accounts you don’t interact with. Tap the Profile icon in the bottom-right then, tap Following to see a list of everyone you follow. You’ll see Least Interacted With and Most Shown in Feed. Take action!
  • Mute stories OR posts! To mute content from an account, visit their profile. Tap the Following box and select Mute from the list that comes up. Use the sliders to mute Posts and/or Stories.

Here is a practical guide with tips on how to clean up your IG account.

Act on the positive.

After a good tidying, start to comment, interact with, and like those you want to see more of in your feed. Like, comment and share stories you like. It seems obvious, but most people don’t take action on content they do want to see more of. But that’s exactly how social sites know what to serve you more of.

Instead, there are plenty of encouraging, uplifting and funny accounts to follow including people you actually want to get updates on. Have you ever heard the quote: you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time around so choose wisely? Same applies here.

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. - Jim Rohn

What are the people you “surround” yourself with on social media doing, how are they behaving, how do they treat and talk about others, what are their goals and ambitions? When we’re done with today’s tidying, make sure those you see and interact with regularly on your feed are: inspired, motivating, grateful, passionate, and open minded.

  • Find people who share your interests. For example, if you like reading, you could join a book club. If you’re a runner, find yourself a running club. If your child has a certain allergy or learning challenge, find others in the same situation. Because you’ll already have something in common, it will be easier to form an initial connection.
  • Join or promote worthwhile causes; raise awareness on important issues.
  • Discover (with care) sources of valuable information and learning.

Here are some of my favorite accounts on Facebook and Instagram that encourage my physical, mental, and social wellness. Feel free to leave some of your favs in the comments below!

Fitness & Body Image

1. Advice on Fitness

Bio: Health & Wellness Website
🏋️‍♀️ Daily Health and Fitness Advice
🔥 Helping you to achieve your goals
Instagram Handle: @adviceonfitness
Instagram Followers: 100k

2. Body Image Therapist

Bio: Ashlee Bennett, AThR she/her
Art therapist & counsellor
Author of The Art of Body Acceptance
Weight inclusive workshops & online group programs
Art therapy acc: @makeartaboutit
Instagram Handle: bodyimage_therapist
Instagram Followers: 128k

3. Get Mom Strong

Bio: Ashley|Postpartum Core Trainer
Helping moms regain strength & confidence! ⁣
𝗦𝘁𝗿𝗼𝗻𝗴 𝗟𝗶𝗸𝗲 𝗮 𝗠𝗼𝘁𝗵𝗲𝗿 (𝗦𝗟𝗔𝗠)™️
✨Kick-butt fitness program
✨Pre & Postpartum, Diastasis Recti, Prolapse
Instagram Handle: @getmomstrong
Instagram Followers: 221k

4. Revelation Wellness

Bio: Redeeming Fitness w/a Radical Savior. | Love God. Get Healthy. Be Whole. Love Others.| Instructor
Instagram Handle: @revelationwellness
Instagram Followers: 34.7k

Mental Health & Motivation

1. Mel Robbins

Bio: Author
MY NEW BOOK is here on 9/28/21!
@high5habit 🙌
⬇️ Preorder for FREE gifts from me⬇️
Instagram Handle: @melrobbins
Instagram Followers: 1.4m

2. Holistically Grace

Bio: Maria Sosa, MS, MFT, Therapist she/her
💡Tips + tools for your mind, body + relationships
📌Writer, educator, speaker
host @mindmeetsbodypodcast
👇Free ebook 👇
Instagram Handle: @holisticallygrace
Instagram Followers: 271k

3. Wisdom of Anxiety

Bio: Sheryl Paul Counselor
Anxiety is a messenger / MA in Jungian Counseling / She/Her / Oprah guest / Raising two sensitive sons with my devoted husband ❤️ Books and Courses👇🏼
Instagram Handle: @wisdomofanxiety
Instagram Followers: 88.7k


1. Big Life Journal

Bio: Shopping & Retail👍Recommended by psychologists & therapists
🧠 Mindset is everything. Teach it early.
👇 Get our FREE Friday printables for ages 4+
Instagram Handle: @biglifejournal
Instagram Followers: 491k

2. The Mom Psychologist

Bio: Dr. Jazmine | Parenting
Psychologist🤎Real + practical parenting info + inspo
👑Founder: @themomsisterhood
👧🏽👧🏽 Mom of 2
Instagram Handle: @themompsychologist
Instagram Followers: 282k

3. Seed and Sew

Bio: Community
🧠How to build emotional intelligence from infancy
🤝The Village Membership: shame-free parenting community
🧑‍🏫S.E.E.D. Certified®️Childcare
Instagram Handle:
Instagram Followers: 140k

Relationships & Sex

1. Dr. Tracy D

Bio: Dr. Tracy Dalgleish  she/her
EducationRelationship Expert | Author | Speaker
Podcaster | Mom of 2
Contributor to @ctvottawamorninglive
Instagram Handle: @dr.tracyd
Instagram Followers: 75.2k

2. My Love Thinks

Practical advice for YOU and your RELATIONSHIPS!
Text #question to 📱 (954) 466-7426
Relationship expert + speaker + author
Links 👇🏼
Instagram Handle: @mylovethinks
Instagram Followers: 90.4k

3. The Secure Relationship

Bio: Psychotherapist Julie Menanno MA
Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
Relationship healing, practical skills, scripts
Instagram Handle: @thesecurerelationship
Instagram Followers: 471k

4. The Gottman Institute

Bio: A research-based approach to relationships.
We do not offer individual advice via social media. Find a therapist on the Gottman Referral Network.
Instagram Handle: @gottmaninstitute
Instagram Followers: 630k

General Inspiration & Laughter:

1. Humans of New York

Bio: New York City, one story at a time. Created by Brandon Stanton. Humans of New York is audience supported:
Instagram Handle: @humansofNY
Instagram Followers: 11.4m

2. The Holderness Family

Bio: 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 We make goofy videos and lose phone chargers
🎙 Check out our podcast: Holderness Family Podcast
📖 Order our book: Everybody Fights
Instagram Handle: @theholdernessfamily
Instagram Followers: 643k

3. Stories of a Mediocre Mom

Bio: Amanda Marcotte she/her
BloggerFalmouth, MA 💙
⬇️Watch my Highlight. You won’t be disappointed.
Ramblings seen on @todayparents@huffpost@buzzfeed@buzzfeedparents@scarymommy
Instagram Handle: @storiesofamediocremom
Instagram Followers: 39.9k

Face-to-Face can’t be replaced

And last but not least, put down the device. Social wellness depends on healthy, interpersonal relationships. We all need the face-to-face interaction to improve our social health. At its best, social media is a great tool for facilitating real-life connections. Reach out to an online friend or club and arrange a meet up for coffee, exercise, or a hobby. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do—so be the one to break the ice. Set aside time each week to interact offline with friends and family. Try to make it a regular get-together where you always keep your phones off! Anyone free Thursday?! 🙂


Family Fitness: Workout with your Kids

One of the biggest roadblocks I hear from moms of littles is that they don’t have time to workout or don’t have childcare to workout alone. If joining a gym with childcare isn’t in your budget or your community, it can be hard to know what step to take next. It’s taken me trial and error to figure out what works for my family and overcoming my own expectations of what I think a workout looks like. And sure enough, just like parenting, as soon as you figure out that age or stage, it will change again – so be flexible! Ha!

If you can, I highly recommend working out alone or with a friend for support. It’s a great mental refresh as well as a physical workout. But it also can be doable to include your kids. It has the added bonus that they see what taking care of yourself and your health looks like, setting them up for their own healthier future.

Here are a few ways that I’ve found to include your kids and still hit your fitness goals:


  • Get kid size equipment. While I’m doing some arm reps with my 15-20 lb. dumbbells, my 4 year old mimics me with some 3 lb. weights. My 8 year old got an inflatable punching bag for Christmas – we both have a set of boxing gloves to kickbox together. #ad
  • YouTube exercise videos targeting kids. Search “mommy & me” or “kids fitness.” One of our favorites is Cosmic Kids Yoga – she tailors each episode to tie into a popular kids franchise like Trolls movies or Pokemon and tells the story as each move progresses. It’s a great attention grabber and by the end I’m sweating too!
  • GoNoodle is a series of web-based videos, games, and activities focused on introducing short bursts of physical exercise for ages 5-12. It was introduced to us because it was used in my son’s public school classroom for “brain breaks.” We were super excited when we discovered they also have an app on Roku and we can dance along in front of our TV!


  • Join a program that allows you to bring your kids along. In our area, there are great programs like Fit for Mom where everyone brings their infants in strollers. Some even plan activities to keep your preschoolers busy while you work out. Other programs like Camp Gladiator will also allow you to bring your stroller depending on the instructor/format.
  • Use your backyard! Kids are contained. Grab your jump rope while they run around or setup family obstacle courses to get your heart rate up.
  • Hiking has become a new family favorite of ours. Start out with a good infant carrier or backpack and then tailor hike length and difficulty to the age of your kids. Sometimes we just go to a local city park that’s a little more on the wilderness vibe and we plan them into many of our travels. Our kids were slow going and the little one needed some shoulder rides but we hiked about 3 miles to see the Grand Canyon! Start them young with the hope they’ll develop a love for hiking as individuals as they grow.
hiking as a family at Craters of the Moon, Idaho
Family hike at Craters of the Moon, Idaho
  • Jogging/Walking: Think you can’t get out and run? That’s what jogging strollers are for. Check online marketplace sites for great deals on resale strollers as well. When they are too big for the jogging stroller, get creative. I’ve let my kids play on the neighborhood playground while I run laps around the perimeter keeping an eye out. It didn’t take me as long to hit 2 miles as I thought!

Lastly, don’t underestimate your kiddos! Include them in your passions, help them set goals, and push themselves to the limits. One of my proudest moments was during the 2020 lockdowns. I started entering and completing virtual races completed with mailed participation medal. My kids were so excited for me so I signed them each up for a 1 mile virtual race, theme specifically selected for their interests. I ran along side them, handing them water often, but they both knocked it out of the park and were so proud of themselves. We have their medals on display and still talk about their accomplishment.

Matter, Meet, Mind

Balancing your Health Triangle

Health is the measure of our body’s efficiency and overall well-being. The health triangle is a measure of the different aspects of health and includes physical, social, and mental health. Created in 1997 as a project for an Alaska Middle School, the Health Triangle creators used an equilateral triangle to represent these aspects of health. Because all sides of this types of triangle are equal, it stresses the equal importance of each of these aspects. Devoting more attention to one particular side, while neglecting the others, can lead to health imbalances.

This blog is divided into the 3 sides of the health triangle and all posts will be categorized as such:

mind (mental health), 
matter (physical health) and
meet (social health).

Matter: Physical Health

  • Deals with the body’s ability to function
  • Includes exercise, nutrition, sleep, alcohol & drugs, and weight management
  • Proper balance results in more energy, maintaining a healthy weight, increased confidence & self esteem, and decreases risk of certain chronic diseases
colorful vegetables and salad

Mind: Mental Health

  • Deals with how we think, feel and cope with daily life.
  • Includes learning, stress management, and mental illnesses or disorders.
  • Proper balance increases self-confidence, awareness, and self perception. It also deals with the way our bodies and minds deal with life changes and decrease risk for anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses.

Meet: Social Health

  • Deals with the way react with people within our environment.
  • Includes public health, family relationships, and peer relationships.
  • Supportive, loving relationships help eliminate stress, increase happiness and self-esteem, and help celebrate accomplishments, promoting a safe environment.
friends laughing on a hike


The three components are dependent on one another. For example, someone who stays out late socializing might not be getting enough sleep. Someone strict about exercise might neglect other aspects of life in order to not miss a workout or a meticulous dieter may avoid going out to dinner because of their self-imposed rules.

It’s important to reflect on your own balance. Use the below Health Inventory tool as a means of evaluating and possibly changing your habits. Do you have excellent physical health, but inadequate social health? This can lead to loneliness, which might eventually compromise mental health. Consider joining a gym and fitness class to meet new workout buddies. Connect with a like-minded group on social media. Your support system can help you adhere to healthy habits.

Source: Virginia Department of Education

Now What?

Want to take it a step further? Think of 5 of your favorite activities (hobbies, interests) and then reflect on what impact each one has on each side of your health triangle, positive or negative. For example, yoga: builds core strength and flexibility (physical), relaxes and reduces stress (mental), and you meet friends there (social). Sounds great on all sides…so make that interest a priority in the coming month!

Let’s not beat ourselves up on where we’ve been or where we are on this journey. Let’s stop letting insecurities tell us who we ought to be and let our future shape us into who we were made to be. 

I encourage you to start your journey by setting goals, practicing behaviors that achieve those goals and getting support to do so, and reflecting on what helps or hinders you achieving personal wellbeing. You’re worthy…now let’s get healthy!