Episode 26 – How to be a good listener

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Being a good listener is important in your relationships in all areas of life.

But being a good listener isn’t just keeping quiet when others are talking. There’s so much more to it.

It’s not that hard to be a good listener. Try these skills to improve your listening game.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Do you consider yourself a good listener?

Part of being in a successful relationship whether it’s at work or home or school is being able to really hear people well and help them feel understood.

Having good listening skills is one of the crown jewels of emotional intelligence.

But sometimes that seems easier said than done.

There are so many different ways that we can miscommunicate with each other even as we are trying to hear each other.

So what does it mean to be a good listener?

You’ve probably heard the saying God gave you two ears and one mouth so you do the math.

Well that’s a great Facebook meme. But listening really isn’t just “not talking” when someone is speaking. Although sometimes that’s pretty hard, too.

There is a whole range of other skills that come in to play that make you a good listener.

One of them is being physically present.

Let’s say someone comes to you and says, “Hey I have a question,” or “I’d like to run something by you.”

Being physically present means you:

  • put your phone down,
  • turn away from your computer,
  • pause the TV,
  • whatever it is you’re doing, and
  • physically show yourself ready and available to hear what they have to say.

This means you’re not multitasking while you’re listening to them but that you are committing to them all of YOUR physiological senses.

I think we all know those people who say, “Oh I’m listening to you,” while they’re doing something else.

The words may be going in their ears but they are not devoting their full cognitive capacity towards you.

Using your physical presence in this way is a huge way to communicate to someone that you’re listening because nonverbals are most of our communication.

So that one thing will go a long way towards making people feel truly heard.

Once you’re physically present with people, then you just use your natural curiosity to ask questions.

Questions that promote natural dialogue.

  • What was that like for you?
  • What ways have you solved that problem in the past?
  • How did you get through that?
  • How’s it going for you now?

Framing your questions like this reflects back to them that you were actually listening to the details of their story and you want more information.

You can’t ask good questions unless you’ve been paying attention.

This is the part that really makes people feel heard because you’re now invested in their story and what’s happened to them.

Notice that so far in being physically present and using your natural curiosity, you haven’t given any advice.

THIS is the most misunderstood part of being a good listener.

Listening doesn’t mean you have to give advice.

As you engage people in conversation they’re going to start finding their own solutions and solving their own problems.

It’s so much fun to watch people see the answer unfold right as the story is coming out of their mouth.

This is the one thing that really keeps people from offering a listening ear to others around them.

They’re afraid they’ll have to give advice or that they’ll give bad advice.

So here’s my advice.

Don’t give advice.

Just show them you’re listening with your physical presence, hear what they have to say and generate questions to help them put the puzzle pieces together.

I promise if you try this, people will brand you as a good listener.

And that will take you very far in work and in life.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Episode 25: Reduce stress in four quick ways right now

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Some days can leave you feeling so stressed out. How can you take some of the heat out of the day so you can reduce stress and keep going?

Here are four quick ideas you can try right now.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Are you having one of those days?

Some days just seem to have a mind of their own, don’t they? It seems like you got behind almost right away.

Now you’re scrambling just hoping to get a few things done before the end of the day.

And you still have the rest of the day to go at home.

What can you do to keep from feeling so stressed out?

Well, without leaving early and just calling it a day, here are a few quick and surgical ideas you can try right now to reduce stress.

Scratch one thing off your list right now.

Just take off that thing you know you’re not getting to but you feel obligated to include. You knew you weren’t getting to it when you put it on your list this morning.

Leaving it on your list just creates anxiety for you because you have to keep processing your internal conflict about it every time you look at it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Stand up, walk away from your desk and go … somewhere.

You have the time because you just took something off your list. 😂 You don’t need to meditate necessarily, and you don’t have to take a buddy if you don’t want to.

If the weather’s nice, just step outside and soak up some sun.  A lot of us are deficient in Vitamin D because we work inside all day and we wear sunscreen the rest of the time.

Nature is a huge mood booster, even if it’s snowy or overcast outside.

Take a minute to connect with the earth you were designed to spend most of your time in.

Take care of something that’s just for you.

Our lists are full of things for other people aren’t they? Is there one small thing you keep putting off doing for yourself that would make your life a smidgen better?

I’m not talking about a spa day or a manicure. Think smaller.

I’ve been out of washer fluid in my car for about a month. I bought a new bottle of fluid, but it’s just been sitting in my trunk sloshing around every time I make a turn. My filthy windshield started making me nuts.

So today, I went outside especially to put that fluid in my car. It made my drive home so much better and probably safer too. It was a little thing that made MY life easier.

Forget dinner.

Not completely. But do something dead simple for dinner. You don’t have to cook a full meal tonight.

Local grocery stores have so many options now for hot foods that are better than fast food. And a lot of them will even deliver it for you.

It may not be completely Keto or clean eating or whatever you do. But for tonight that’s gonna need to be okay.

Putting yourself under pressure on the principle of cooking your own food won’t cut it today. Now you can actually enjoy your evening.

Those are just a few examples. Find a few simple things of your own that will help you take some of the heat out of your day.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Episode 24: What do you think people think about you?

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Why do we worry what people think of us? Do we even know what they’re really thinking?

Here’s a way to let go of getting bothered by what other people think of you.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Do you ever wonder what people think about you? Good grief, I do this all the time! And I’m guessing you probably do too.

We live in a time where much of what we do and say is sooo visible. And with social media, people we don’t even know can comment on what we’re doing.

And someone always seems to have an opinion on what you’re doing.

If you’re trying to do something new and different, wondering what others might think can make you a little nuts. And It can also keep you from doing what you love or stretching yourself a bit.

Here’s a little mantra to free you from that:

It’s not what people think about you, it’s what you think they think about you.

Think about that for a minute. In fact, I’ll just say it again.

It’s not what people think about you, it’s what you think they think about you.

You’re worrying so much about what others are thinking about you but you don’t really know what they’re thinking. You might be convinced that people are laughing at you or think you’re not good at your job. But they might just think you’re amazing.

Either way, if you think they THINK you’re terrible, then that’s how you feel. It’s a really weird way to let others influence your feelings. And it’s a big ‘ol waste of time.

Have you ever met someone who thought they were amazing at something and they kind of weren’t?

Think about the early days of the TV show American Idol. They used to show the auditions of the really awful terrible singers who were so convinced that singing was their gift.

I remember shaking my head and cringing at how convinced they were that their voice was a sure fire ticket to fame and stardom. Were they wrong? Definitely.

But they had convinced themselves that they were amazing, and that others around them thought they were too. And they were pretty happy about that. Until the judges gave them real feedback.

But even after the judges harshly crushed their dreams and told them how terrible they were, some of them still refused to believe it.

Now that’s an extreme example.

But here’s the real enchilada for most of us not pursuing international fame and stardom.

No one is thinking about you. They’re just not.

They’re too busy thinking about themselves to think about you.

  • You spend good energy worrying what people might say if you step out into the spotlight a bit.
  • You wear yourself out making everything perfect so people will marvel at how you never seem to mess up.
  • You get worked up about people you believe are working against you.

But guess what? No one but you is thinking about that right now.

How much are you thinking about other people in this very moment?

Yep. You’re thinking about yourself.

And that’s okay. So is everyone else.

We’re all worried about doing a good job at work and trying to manage everything on our plates without freaking out on those around us.

And maybe we’re trying to look like we have it all together.

All of us.

So stop wasting your time — which is your most valuable commodity — wondering what others think about you.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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How to go beyond positive thinking

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Stuffed toy sitting next to a coffee cup that reads "Today is gonna be a good day."

It’s no mystery that positive thinking is a valuable part of good mental health. You don’t have to be a genius to know that negative thinking will get you nowhere. So why should you go beyond positive thinking?

There’s nothing wrong with having optimism for the future.

It’s important to be able to believe that somehow everything will turn out okay. I believe we refer to that as hope.

But how do you make that hope tangible?

How can you feel invested in how things turn out instead of just hoping for the best?

I can remember when I was first exposed to the power of positive thinking. It was in my early married years when my husband and I became part of what was then known as Amway.

Amway was a multilevel marketing company that sold everything from toilet paper to vitamins. Not only could you buy products you used every day, but you could also make a little money and grow a business.

Well, we didn’t make a lot of money. But what we did do in Amway was make excellent friends.

Those excellent friends encouraged us to listen to cassette tapes each week. These cassette tapes had inspiring stories from people who had gone before us in business. They also contained positive messages from the big guns of positive thinking: Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, you name it.

The idea was that if you listened to these positive messages enough, you would just start to believe them. Your brain would naturally absorb these messages.

If you listened to them in place of negative feedback — for example the daily news — you would really start to see growth and progress in your business and your life.

Garbage in, garbage out. 🗑️

Makes total sense.

This was an earth shattering concept for me at the time. If I’m honest, negative thinking is kind of my default mode.

I’ll look at what’s not working before I try to figure out how to make things work. (Hmmm…..this might actually make me a good therapist. 🤔)

I’ve often been accused of always finding ways to shoot holes through things right off the bat.

I understand now that it’s part of my personality, but I know there is much power in trying to be positive first. So this was a real challenge for me to apply these principles to my everyday life.

I’m grateful for this time in Amway because I learned that I had the power to map out and visualize a life that I wanted with positive thinking.

I could choose to keep that picture in front of me. Using the power of my own thinking, I could march towards that picture.

But the hardest part about this for me was that every time I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “This is going to be the best day ever,” and “I am awesome,” I didn’t believe it.

In my perspective, there was too much evidence that said otherwise. It felt like I was lying to myself.

All I could see was that I had several issues I needed to resolve that day and being awesome didn’t really give me a roadmap for how to solve my problems.

I was just giving myself a whole lot of thumbs-ups. 👍

What I was missing was adaptive thinking.

Adaptive thinking goes beyond positive thinking.

You have to do more than just believe things will be okay.

  • What happens if they’re not okay?
  • What do I do then?
  • Am I still awesome even though I dropped the ball?

This is where anxiety can so easily enter the picture because you don’t feel like you have any control over the outcome.

In order to solve problems, you have to know what role you play and which of your strengths you will use to come up with a solution.

Adaptive thinking allows you to keep a positive attitude as your foundation and lets you build on that to actually generate solutions to your problems.

Adaptive thinking helps you form contingencies.

Being able to plan around unexpected stuff without losing your stuff is the biggest key in remaining flexible. Anymore, being flexible is everything, especially at work.

Positive thinking would tell you to hope for the best when something you didn’t expect flies in to your day. You got this!

Adaptive thinking would tell you to consider all the possible scenarios in front of you and come up with solutions based on how you’ve handled these things before.

Of course you should stay positive that you can handle whatever comes your way.

But adaptive thinking gives you some real data in the moment so you can see how this might actually turn out. This is how you calm yourself.

Adaptive thinking helps you create observable and measurable plans instead of going off of some vague feeling of trying to feel better about the situation.

Adaptive thinking focuses on your strengths.

We all have things we are really good at. Those strengths give us the confidence to solve the problems that may pop up in the day.

When you are faced with a difficult situation, using positive thinking to hope for a positive outcome can help you persevere.

Adaptive thinking, however, lets you focus on your specific skills that will help you power through this situation.

  • Are you good at bringing some order to chaos? Focus on using that skill to make a step-by-step list of the things you will take care of today.
  • Are you the person who can find solutions under a rock? Bring that strength to the equation to help you and your team see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Are you the empathetic one who can help keep the peace in tense situations? Please, yes, your strength is superhuman and can help your team survive some tough times. (Why is there no Superman emoji?)

Focusing on the strengths you’ve already developed builds tremendous confidence for the next challenge that comes along. You have results you can point back to. 👈

“I’ve got this because I’ve done this before.”

Feeling inspired or hopeful is a great place to start. But you will really succeed when you go beyond positive thinking to focus on applying your strengths and skills to a challenge.

Use adaptive thinking to paint yourself a track record of what you’ve already done really well.

Adaptive thinking allows you to be curious and forward focused.

Positive thinking is forward focused all by itself. It always points you to believing you can succeed in some future moment. This is great.

Adaptive thinking takes you to the next level by letting you create that specific future moment for yourself. It allows you to explore your own natural curiosity.

  • What questions can you ask to look at this problem from all angles?
  • What strategies can you look at now that will set you up for that next level?
  • What have I done before that didn’t work?
  • What did work?

Interacting with your strengths, skills, and investigative prowess helps you keep moving toward your goal.

How do you build adaptive thinking into your day?

Let’s say it’s time for your annual evaluation at work. Nobody really enjoys these, including and especially your boss.

But you have a bit more of a disadvantage of being judged by someone who doesn’t sit in your seat every day. Performance evaluations are ripe ground for positive thinking because you really have no idea how this may go. You want to feel as good as you can when you walk in the door.

If you’ve had a bit of a tough year in meeting your goals, you may already be a little worried.

So you tell yourself that things will be good. You’re a valued employee, you know that, and you can handle whatever your boss may bring up.

FAN-tastic.

But take that positive attitude a step further.

  1. Before the meeting with your boss, make a list for yourself of specific areas where you already know you missed completing some things.
  2. Ask yourself some questions about how and why you missed the mark. Don’t beat yourself up, but do come up with some data on what you could have missed.
  3. Generate some ideas for how you can come up with a plan to address those issues. What will you do differently next time? Who can you collaborate with in the future that might help complement your skills?

If those ideas come up in the meeting, you have some actionable and forward-focused stuff to bring up if you need it. Now you have a better chance of contributing good information to the meeting and being a little less on the defense.

This takes you much further down the road than just telling yourself things will be fine.

I wish I had done more of this when I was in the corporate arena.

When I did finally understand the importance of adaptive thinking, I came to the conclusion it was time to leave that arena.

So that prompted a whole new round of adaptive thinking.

But I was confident I could take the next step because I started a new chapter of my career based on the track record I had already built.

I was positive about my career change, but adaptive thinking helped me to be pragmatic about what I needed to succeed.

Think about it

What are some areas where you could apply adaptive thinking?

Drop me some comments below! 👇👇👇

 


Check out my new Alexa Skill – Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller

You’re busy at work and at home, and you take care of everyone else. You’re allowed to have a few minutes in each day to set your focus, regroup and feel a little more in control.

Join me every day as I bring you simple and practical tips you can use right now to gain a little more control over your life.

Visit my Amazon page for more information.

Amazon Alexa skill - Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller


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Episode 23: Pay attention to what you pay attention to

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Do you know what influences you? Everything you pay attention to today — at work, at home, on your commute — influences how you feel about yourself and your role in your world.

Here’s an easy way to have more control over those influences.

You can listen to this episode of Mental Health Moment right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Have you heard the news?

Today one group of people is beside themselves seething with anger. Another group is gloating with victory and vindication.

No doubt you’re already seeing vicious comments on your Facebook feed about it. Your more spirited friends are posting links to articles about what must be done to make real change.

How does this make you feel?

  • Anxious for the future?
  • Overwhelmed and helpless at what our society has become?
  • Fearful at what kind of world we’re leaving for the generations coming up behind us?

This is the legacy of our Internet age.

We don’t wait for a grandfatherly presence on the evening news like we used to.

We don’t reserve a certain time of day in our robe and slippers to catch up on yesterday‘s events like famous TV fathers did in the 1950s.

We’re living it. As it happens. Right now. Today.

In excruciating detail.

Our newsfeeds pull us into stories that don’t belong to us. Stories that we most likely don’t play a role in.

But we feel like we ARE part of the story. We readily take on the pain, the confusion, the anger and the sorrow.

We can regurgitate and share the salacious details of any story as if we actually witnessed it.

What do we do with all that?

We’re left with anxiety and a feeling of helplessness with no way to respond, except to say, “What is the world coming to?”

And we wonder why anxiety and depression are trending.

Our online experience has now evolved into a kind of sensory chemical bath that follows us everywhere we go.

We have to set boundaries on what we take in and how much we take in.

Garbage in is still very much garbage out.

Challenge yourself this week to build a wall around your media consumption.

You don’t necessarily have to go a whole day without social media.

You don’t have to completely give up your favorite cable news show.

Just challenge yourself to turn it off a few times this week.

Use that time for something intentional that will build you up. Things that will give you hope and remind you of what’s still good in the world.

  • Maybe on Wednesday night instead of watching that heated opinion show, you can spend a few minutes catching up on your spouse’s day.
  • Instead of making your way through 356 comments on a Facebook post about that out-of-control politician, maybe you can read a short chapter from that book you haven’t picked up in a while.
  • Or spend a few minutes texting a friend using only silly GIF images. Sometimes that seems to take on a life of its own and it can simply make you laugh.

What you pay attention to is what influences you.

Pay attention to what you pay attention to because it matters to your mental health more than ever.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Episode 22: How to Survive the Winter Season at the Zoo

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You can always be sure that seasons will be part of life. But what do you do in a season you didn’t expect? Hear a couple of lessons I picked up from a trip to the Bronx Zoo.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Have you ever had one of those days when it just seems like everything that you tried to do kind of came back empty-handed? No matter how hard you planned or prepared you still ended up feeling like you came up short?

What can you do in times like this?

Sometimes we enter a time where it feels like this is kind of the norm. It feels like a long dry winter and it can be very frustrating.

But that is the nature of seasons.

I remember the very first time me and my family visited the Bronx Zoo in New York City. The Bronx Zoo is One of the world’s most respected zoos and one of the must see places when you visit the Big Apple. 🍎

I was so excited to add this to our itinerary on one of our trips to New York. My son was about ten years old at the time, and I just knew he would enjoy seeing such a diverse group of animals right there in the heart of this huge city.

We carved out a specific day to go, and I couldn’t wait! When we got there though, the place looked like a ghost town.

The front entrance was spooky and barren. There were literally no people milling around.

I live in Florida, home of Walt Disney World, so this made no sense to me at all. How could we be in the heart of a big touristy place like New York City with no people at the zoo?

Well, here’s a clue.

We went to the magnificent Bronx zoo in January, on a day that averaged about 19°. ❄

My first clue should’ve probably been the incredible discount on the tickets for that day. 

As you can imagine, at 19°, there were very few animals who felt like even venturing outside their habitat, much less giving US something entertaining to look at.

The few who did wander out looked at us in our giant parkas and our “I ❤ NYC” sock hats as if like we had lost…our… minds.

We had come to the zoo expecting to see a show in a season when the facility just isn’t designed to be on its best display.

  • Winter is a season for the animals to pull back from the demands of the big crowds in the busy season when the weather is warmer.
  • Winter also allows the staff to come up with new, innovative exhibits for later in the year when they know they will have tons of tourists with high expectations.

We had all the right ingredients: enthusiasm, time to kill because we were on vacation, and a plan for how to navigate this huge place.

But it just wasn’t the right time for our expectations. It wasn’t the zoo’s fault.

This just wasn’t their time of year to shine.

So we, standing there in our fluffy winter wardrobes, had a couple of options available to us:

  1. First, we could chalk it up to a ridiculous goof by our travel planner (see also: me), call it a day and come back later in the year when the season is ready.
  2. Or we could find ways to glean something fun and meaningful out of the day we were already having, in the season we were already in.

Neither one of those options is wrong.

But only one of them allowed us to enjoy the moment we were in and build a memory we would laugh about later.

Sometimes life feels like winter at the zoo.

Not every season in your life is meant to show your best performance. Some seasons are designed to prepare you for what’s to come.

Some seasons allow you to train hard for a season that will require your very best.

And some seasons are designed for rest and hibernation.

To expect each season to be like the big show all the time isn’t reasonable.

What is reasonable is to look at each day and determine what do you have in front of you now that will prepare you for that fuller season ahead.

  • Your job may be stressing you out and you don’t see an end in sight.
    What are you absolutely, 100% great at in your job right now that you can use as a platform to try one new thing? A small step to start creating a new season in your career?
  • Maybe you feel like you’re going to be parenting forever.
    Guess what? Parenting eventually becomes coaching. What is one parenting skill that you’re proud of that you can take to the next level for your kids? When they enter their season of young adulthood, they will absolutely need that coaching from you.
  • Maybe you’re anxious about moving in on middle-age.
    Or maybe middle age is moving in on you. 😁 Think of an earlier season in your life? What is one thing, one small thing that you always wanted to do?

Middle-age is going to give you a pretty sweet canvas to paint an even brighter season for yourself. You’re a little older, you’re wiser and you care a little less about what people think in this season.

So what season are you in today? 

Are you in that cold, sharp, and cloudy season at the zoo?

  • Find the animals that are okay being out in the cold with you.
  • Use the time today to explore exhibits that normally don’t see the light of day compared to the dancing seals that normally get all the attention.
  • Don’t be afraid to stick around for a bit in the cold and learn something new.

Use this season to enjoy a unique experience, have the zoo all to yourself, and get yourself ready for the big show ahead.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch mental health moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit Lori Miller.me for info on how to subscribe.

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 21: What’s keeping you crazy busy?

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If we’re not careful, we can let “crazy busy” define us. And we can use crazy busy to keep us from making better decisions for our life.

How can you keep it from weighing you down?

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Is your busy life weighing you down?

We love to wear our crazy, busy days as a badge of honor. No one ever says they’re NOT busy.

And there is certainly no shortage of ways to stay “crazy busy” now. ⁣⁣

We get so easily distracted by anything or anyone that pops in our field of vision.

Rabbit trails have become our new normal.

But this busyness mostly serves as a comfortable distraction.

I love this quote from Brene Brown:

“’Crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy, and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.”

Are you guilty of this? I know I am.

I’m very task driven. I have some days where I barely look up. I go from thing to thing without even checking in with myself to see how I’m doing.

I’m capable of accomplishing a lot so I stack my schedule full of all the have tos, the should dos and the nice to dos.

At the end of those days I check off a lot on my list. That leads me to believe I’m productive.

But more often than not, it also means that I ditched exercise that day or worked through lunch in order to do it.

And that usually leaves me emotionally and physically exhausted.

I used crazy busy to become a bit of a victim in my own life.

We’ve allowed ourselves to become slaves and martyrs to our schedules and the expectations of others. ⁣⁣

We make time for things and people we know probably don’t add much value. In doing so, we use up our most valuable commodity: our time.

Trying to do it all and satisfy your to do list may temporarily soothe that knot in your gut.

But later, I’m guessing when you’re trying to sleep, that same gut might also be whispering to you, “This isn’t really cutting it, is it? How do I get off this crazy busy wheel? When does my good life start?”

To get a shot at your good life, you have to lose the crazy busy.

Learn to qualify the things and people that occupy your time.

What are you choosing to hang on to in your life today that is keeping you busy and blocking you from that good life you see in your head?

Today, find one thing you can give up to free yourself up.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 16: An anxiety roadmap to drive your day

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Even though your anxiety may try to run you off the road from the minute you wake up, you can be in the driver’s seat before you get out of bed.

You just need a roadmap to help you get started.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series a couple of weeks ago on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes of Mental Health Moment wherever you are! 

Full transcript 👇

EP 16 An anxiety roadmap to drive your day

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your Mental Health Moment.

Did you wake up this morning already anxious about the rest of the day? Or the rest of this week?

Maybe your first thought right as you hit your alarm is that you have so much in front of you to take care of today. You’re afraid you won’t be able to handle it. You lay there ruminating about all of it as you wait for the next snooze alarm.

Soooo… Did you feel defeated before your feet even hit the floor?

You’re not alone in feeling this way.

I have several clients every week that share this particular struggle with me. They wonder why they can’t just wake up and feel good for a change.

Well you can wake up and feel good, but it’s not by osmosis or magic. The path you decide to take in this day starts with you.

You are the one who plots your course.

And those first few moments in the morning are the key to where the rest of your day goes.

You can hold those precious fresh minutes of the new day in your hands and decide how you will use them.

But you may need to give yourself a bit of guidance.

Think about this.

When you get in your car to go to work, you probably already know where you’re headed. You’ve already decided that.

And in fact, you’ve probably driven there so much now you don’t think about it anymore.

You’re on autopilot. You’ve determined where you want to go and you looked up the directions you need to take to get there.

You just have to hop in and drive the course you planned.

You don’t doubt you’ll get there. Sure you may have to take some detours or you may hit some slow traffic.

But the minute you get in the car you already know where you’ll end up.

And you know that because long ago YOU decided where you were headed. And you practiced taking that route over and over and over again until you just didn’t have to think about it anymore.

If you want your daily mental destination to be about feeling good and empowering yourself you first have to give yourself some turn-by-turn directions.

Here’s one way to do that.

Before you go to bed the night before, make a list of some positive and adaptive thoughts about what’s on your plate the next day.

  • What are all the possible ways that you’ll be able to handle what comes your way the next day?
  • What will you take care of?
  • How will you use your strengths and abilities to solve your problems tomorrow?
  • How will you feel at this same moment tomorrow after you’ve handled the things you’re thinking about right now?

You can write this list on a piece of paper or put it in a note on your phone, whatever you may instinctively grab when you first wake up tomorrow. I’ll be honest, for me it’s my phone and that may be true for you too.

When you wake up tomorrow, as soon as you open your eyes, grab that list. I know all of the self-care literature says not to grab your phone when you first wake up.

Well, the best mental health tool is the one you have with you.

So we’re going to break this rule for this exercise.

Don’t lay there and start to think about the day while you wait for the next snooze alarm.

Right away grab that list and read it. Then read it again.

This is your roadmap for the day.

Your resilience and your strengths will take you where you need to go and that’s your focus before you do anything else.

If you get lost during the day, look at it again so you can get back on track.

Challenge yourself to interact with those very first thoughts of the day so you can be in the driver’s seat with your anxiety.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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What spoons can teach you about stress

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Happy spoons lined up together
Life in the 21st century feels like the state fair. There’s a lot of brightly-lit activities, some cool animals, and a carnival of thrilling and terrifying rides.

But if you don’t have time to stop and enjoy a giant pretzel somewhere, what’s the point, really? 🥨 🤭

I think we all know instinctively that we’re trying to take in too much and do too much.

It’s the scourge of our modern life.

Even on the days where things come together well, we still leave some things on the table.

And that can create anxiety if we don’t frame it well.

When I think about my previous corporate life, one stressor stands out above all the others – the relentless, daily focus on output.

My task then was to get big stuff completed and out the door every single day. (My actual job description involved words like “synergies,” “cross-functional” and “liaison” but this was basically the job.)

The high pressure environment around me at the time demanded this. My inbox was full of emails every day from my boss about where this or that project was and when could they expect to see it.

My day wasn’t successful unless I had delivered all of the things on my list that day. ✔️✔️✔️✔️

Really, Lori?

I’ve spent a couple of years trying to unravel that perspective for myself.

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe in creating output because at the end of the day I really like to make things.

But I know now that I was trading the best of my energy and focus every day for small returns.

I would start each day feeling as if I had limitless energy and focus. I was legendary for it.

I even labeled it “Releasing the Kraken.”

(I’ve never actually seen Clash of the Titans but I surmise from the movie trailer that there is a beast unleashed that is to be feared. For some reason I want to relate to that.)

So it was hard for me to understand how this little Kraken could fall so far behind by lunchtime.

At the end of the day, after scrambling all afternoon, I was exhausted emotionally and physically. I felt like I had very little to show for the effort I had just put out.

Was it poor time management?

Maybe. I’m never dedicated to one specific system for very long, and I think that hinders me.

Was it unrealistic expectations from my boss?

Uh, yeah.

Working in a high pressure environment means that you learn to redefine certain phrases like,

  • “I’m pretty sure there’s no way in H-E- double hockey sticks I can pull that off today” and
  • “I’m leaving for lunch.”

But the reality for me centered mostly around how much I thought I could really do.

I assume I could have pushed back on my boss’ expectations because I was very good at what I did. They needed me to continue to come to work every day.

But I didn’t value my energy enough to negotiate those expectations at the time. I really thought I could pull off those high expectations. My pride didn’t dare let me show that I was vulnerable to this kind of stress. 😰

In a way, much as I hate to admit it, the burden of that stress rested with me.

I didn’t understand how to allocate and spend my daily spoons. 😳

Allow me to explain.

The Spoon Theory 🥄

The spoon theory was first shared by Christine Miserandino in describing what it’s like to live with a chronic illness. In her case, the illness was lupus.

She was trying to describe to a friend what it’s really like to perform daily functions with an unrelenting sickness. In her analogy, people with a chronic illness or disability start the day with a finite amount of energy for tasks the rest of us take for granted.

She illustrated this by presenting her friend with a handful of spoons — 12 to be exact.

She asked her friend to describe tasks she would undertake daily, like showering and getting dressed. If you have struggled with an illness or  disability or know someone who does, you know that just two simple acts to start the day can take hours.

It may feel like the biggest thing you accomplished and yet you still have the rest of the day to go.

Her friend lost a few spoons just in completing these first tasks of the day.

For every subsequent daily task her friend described, Christine removed more spoons.

At the end of the exercise, her friend was shocked to see that she had almost no spoons left and her imaginary day wasn’t yet over.

She was almost out of spoons. Where would she have the energy to make dinner if she also ran errands on the way home from work?

Christine was trying to get her to understand the kinds of decisions she would have to make throughout the day to ensure she had enough energy to get the important things done.

And to help her know how much tradeoff and planning Christine had to put in to every day to just do the basics.

It’s a powerful analogy. I encourage you to read the full article.

The Spoon Theory can be applied to stress and our daily lives

Even if you don’t have a chronic illness or disability, you really only have so much energy and focus to dedicate to all the things in your life. Sorry, Marvel Superperson but that’s just how it is.

And our modern life is making it harder for us to quantify where our best energy is going.

So make sure you’re devoting your spoons to the things that will give you the best return on the things you value most.

1. Be intentional about who and what you give your energy to.

If you’re giving someone your time, you’re also giving them your energy. I don’t think that’s just my introvert brain talking. I think that’s how it is for most people.

When you offer someone your time, you are giving away a commodity you cannot replace. As far as I know, time travel back to Marty McFly’s 1985 is still off the books.

That 15 minutes you spent helping someone turn off that annoying setting in Outlook is time you can never get back.

This is serious business. Not everyone and everything deserves your energy equally.

I’m not saying don’t help your Outlook-challenged friends. Your goodwill helps establish a stronger bond on your team and makes you a valuable part of a good culture. That’s important.

Just consider the cost for everything that crosses your desk and your to-do list.

This especially applies for those humans who cross your desk to gossip. 😑

Gossip is a ginormous energy sucker, and serves the purpose of also being negative. There are no winners in gossip world and it also keeps you from your work, so that’s not helpful.

Ask yourself how many of your spoons you want to devote to others today and how you will allocate them.

2.  Don’t use all your spoons every day. 

Pace yourself. Just because you started today with 12 spoons doesn’t mean you have to use all 12 spoons today. It’s okay to reserve one in case you need it tomorrow.

Keep one spoon in tow so you can build some margin in your day.

John Maxwell says that as much as 20% of his day is spent in margin time. How is that possible? Do you know how many spoons John Maxwell must have thrown at him every day? (I’m now imagining him with his hands up defensively, deflecting incoming spoons. 😂)

He understands that his energy and time spent in non-productive activity and reflection is key to his success. It must work because in spite of his busy schedule, he has managed to write more than 50 books. Granted, he makes use of a certain spoon named Charley Wetzel, his writing coach and co-author.

But I’m guessing he realized he needed help with his work when he was participating in that margin time he sets aside each day.

Margin is where insight happens because we’re not so focused on making things or getting things done. This is a great way to reserve some of your energy and maybe have a little more for tomorrow.

3. Understand that you simply can’t do everything.

I know you tell yourself this, I do too. Every freakin’ day.

But on those days when you’re completely frazzled, look back over your day. You’ll see you tried to hold on to every spoon at all costs.

In fact, during the day, use your frazzled-ness as a trigger to stop right where you are and start reflecting.

This happened to me just last week.

I was falling back in that old pattern of measuring my energy and success by how many widgets I was going to gaze upon at the end of the day.

I was so excited about being little Kraken-girl again. I may or may not have talked some trash. 🙊

But it was not to be.

The obstacles who stood in my way and blocked my widget production got the full force of my energy.

And it was pointless. It didn’t change anything at all.

My week ended up exactly the same as it would have if I had just let it go.

That day, I guess I just got six spoons. That’s okay. I still had six spoons that I did spend well.

At some point, you have to decide what you are going to let go of.

Identify those things that are most important to you, and use your precious spoons to scoop up those things.

Happy spoons image by congerdesign on Pixabay.

 


Check out my new Alexa Skill – Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller

You’re busy at work and at home, and you take care of everyone else. You’re allowed to have a few minutes in each day to set your focus, regroup and feel a little more in control.

Join me every day as I bring you simple and practical tips you can use right now to gain a little more control over your life.

Visit my Amazon page for more information.

Amazon Alexa skill - Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller


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