Ep 37: How do you see your world?

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Our experiences help us form rules about the way life works for us. But it’s easy to get a distorted vision of life that keeps you stressed out.

Over the next few days, I’ll be unpacking some common thinking errors that may be adding to your stress.

Learn what to look for in this episode.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 37: How do you see your world - young woman standing outside looking through sunglasses

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

What is the biggest thing that stresses you out?

  • Is it your boss?
  • Is it crazy traffic?
  • Is it trying to keep up with your busy schedule?
  • Or maybe it’s just constantly feeling like you’re on the run.

All of these external things play a big role in how empowered you feel in managing your day to day.

But the way you think is the biggest predictor of how you well you will actually manage your stress.

When we’re kids, we watch others around us and how they behave. We take mental notes on how to respond to things.

If your mom freaked out on you every time you broke a dish, you may have learned that breaking things is a catastrophic failure.

So guess what happens when you break a dish as an adult?

You hear that voice in your head screaming at you asking why you’re so clumsy.

But you may also freak out over being late to work in the same way as if you broke a dish.

That’s an extreme example. Seriously if you’re still breaking dishes as an adult you may want to consider paper plates.

But this illustrates how we get into unhealthy ways of thinking that just aren’t helpful to us.

You see the world through your very own set of lenses.

Your lenses were formed by the rules you made up about your experiences.

Have you ever played a game with someone where they made up the rules as they went along? Were you frustrated by that? I certainly was.

But this is kind of what we do with our life experiences. We form rules based on what we go through.

For everything that happens to you, big or small, you subconsciously ask yourself a series of questions.

  • What’s happening right now?
  • Have I seen this before?
  • What should I make of this experience?
  • What does it mean for me?
  • And what do I do now?

How you answer those questions creates your specific view of how you think the world works for you.

So if the screaming mom was your experience, then everything you do, big or small, you will want to treat as a very big deal, even if the situation doesn’t call for it.

Everything that happens to you in life passes through that lens you create. Each new encounter adds another layer.

So the next experience will have to get through this filter in order for you to come up with a response.

You tell yourself this is how the world works and this is how I should respond.

But it’s very easy for those experiences to get distorted.

In therapy we call these cognitive distortions. If you’re not trying to be fancy, they’re called thinking errors.

This happens when your lens is so thick that it distorts your view of what’s really going on. You react based on how you’ve reacted before, not based on what’s in front of you.

And this absolutely impedes your vision and keeps you from finding solutions.

Over the next few days I’ll be talking about some of the cognitive distortions that contribute most to your stress.

Maybe you’ll recognize some of these in your own life.

I’ll start with a common one: should statements.

These are internal comments like, “I’ve been eating clean for a month now. I should have lost more weight.”

“I was so cranky at home last night. I should be a better mother.”

Or this one: “I’m almost 50. I should be further along in my career.”

Should statements can also be directed at other people.

“I can’t believe my boss snapped at me. She should know better, she’s supposed to be a leader.”

Should statements set impossible standards for you.

When you don’t reach those standards you feel guilt, shame or anger.

And when you direct them at others, you portray yourself as the victim because others haven’t met your standards. Also a recipe for anger.

Should statements set you up for all kinds of emotional instability and leave you feeling disappointed by yourself or others.

So what do you do if you recognize should statements in yourself?

First, you have to lower your expectations a bit.

You may have set up some ideal situation for yourself that really isn’t realistic for you. Or maybe at least just for right now.

And for others, well you have to remember they are just as human as you are. And as humans we will make mistakes no question.

We’ve got to learn to give each other a little bit of a break.

As Depeche Mode said back in the glorious 80s:

People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?

If you find times this week where you feel overwhelmed, write down the thoughts running through your head. See if you find any should statements floating around in there.

Don’t tell yourself you shouldn’t feel this way.

Just look for ways to give yourself and others room to learn and grow.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s episode where we will look “at all or nothing thinking” and “emotional reasoning.”

You can find articles and videos about stress and mental health on 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 .

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Ep 36: Make peace with the plateau

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A little encouragement as you go into the weekend. Sometimes life seems to level out and it’s hard to see how far you’ve come. You might be on a plateau right now but your curve is getting ready to move up!

Have a great weekend!

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Episode 36 Make peace with the plateau - Man on a long two lane road jumping in the air

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

“Why do you have to be world champion at everything?”

My husband asked me this question just a few years into our marriage. He noticed early on that I set the bar very high for myself in just about everything.

In those days, I latched on to something new like a little french bulldog with a bone.

I’ve never been an actual world champion at anything. Well, except maybe in the space between my two ears.

But I really like to try. My favorite place to be is at zero.

No skills, no history and everything to learn.

I love that steep learning curve.

But I’m not crazy about the plateau at the top of that curve.

There’s real work in the plateau.

And responsibility, too.

If you stay in something long enough, you’ll find the plateau.

  • New jobs plateau.
  • Relationships settle in.
  • Exciting new life adventures become regular routines.
  • Soft, fluffy, sweet-smelling puppies become dogs.

When you start something new, the gains are tremendous because you start with nothing. Any effort at all brings a change you can see. You’re moving up

There’s a lot of hope and excitement on the left side of that curve.

But you can’t escape the plateau. Without it there wouldn’t be a curve at all.

Who understands plateaus more than Olympic athletes?

We marvel at their dedication and commitment for the tiniest window of opportunity to achieve greatness.

What we see in their performance on the big day is the result of hard work and deliberate practice for an unbelievably long time.

What we don’t see is how these athletes have weathered those plateaus.

  • We don’t see how lowering a shoulder just a smidge changes the trajectory of a long jump. And how long it took to master that smidge.
  • Or how pushing through weeks of no real progress at all in a floor routine suddenly brings a breakthrough.

That stuff’s not Instagrammable.

The bigger story isn’t the 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

It’s the 9,000 plus hours spent on the plateau.

The plateau is where character is formed.

It’s where you decide how far you go with this thing. And it’s where the gains are realized.

As you enter this weekend, give yourself props for each small gain you made this week.

Nothing is too small to plot on that curve.

Sure, you may look back and not be able to see the line trending up at all from here.

But it will if you keep going.

Have a great weekend! 😀

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 .

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Ep 35: Simple ways to feel less disengaged at work

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It’s easy to start feeling disconnected from your work. There’s so much going on at work that takes our focus and concentration away from what we do best.

All that can add up to real stress. You have the power to re-engage yourself at work.

Here are a few simple ways to reconnect with your work.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Episode 35 - Simple ways to feel less disengaged at work - Cat looking out of a window with bars

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

Are you having trouble feeling personally invested in your work right now?

  • Maybe you have a lot of drama going on at work that’s distracting you.
  • Or maybe you’ve just hit a wall with what you can really do in this particular role.

Regardless of the reason, feeling disconnected from your work can be stressful.

After all, you spend most of your waking hours at work.

There are real costs to your productivity and your confidence when you don’t feel invested in what you’re good at.

There’s no room for that in today’s competitive work environment.

  • Struggling to have some control over the the direction your work is taking can easily turn in to cynicism.
  • Having more and more work put on you with already limited resources can lead to overwhelm and anxiety.
  • All this brings you to a pretty stressful place.

Engaging is hard because you have to fight to stay in the game. It’s even harder if you’re not sure exactly what you’re fighting for.

Sometimes it feels easier to just pull away from the fight.

Companies need to find meaningful ways to help employees feel more challenged, appreciated and forward-focused.

But really, whether or not you engage in your work is your decision.

And it’s a personal decision, not a business decision

When you don’t feel personally invested in your work it’s hard to grasp the purpose and meaning in your work days.

There is no line between personal and business anymore.

What affects you at work affects your livelihood.

And that’s very personal.

So being engaged in your work is ultimately your responsibility.

It is possible to feel more engaged.

You can find a few simple ways to reconnect with your work to help you feel better about the time you spend there.

  • You may discover a new direction for your work right where you are.
  • Or you may buy yourself some time until you can put a more definitive plan together.

Either way, making a decision to re-engage just a little bit can help you feel stronger and a little more in control.

Here are a few things you can consider.

Focus on the small stuff.

While you may have little control over the bigger decisions, you do usually have more mastery over the smaller parts of your job.

Find one strength or enjoyable skill you can hang your hat on right now.

This is something simple you can do just for the sake of enjoyment and that you can look forward to.

For example, if you like to write, maybe you can send a quick round up email to your coworkers where you share your perspective on the week’s industry news. This could be fun for you, and it won’t hurt your visibility.

Or maybe there’s a particular milestone coming up in a project that uses some of your very best skills. Lean into that one deliverable and put those skills on full display.

Find simple tasks or projects that will allow you to feel like you’re making a personal investment, even if it’s a small one.

This gives you kind of an intrinsic boost.

Seek out learning and training opportunities.

Maybe your company offers online training through an employee portal or a third-party learning platform. If they do, that’s amazing!

Carve out some time in your schedule to take advantage of this benefit to boost your skills.

Or find an introductory course online in a new area of focus that you have your eye on. This will put your focus on the future and take it off of what’s not working for you right now.

Learning is a great antidote to disengagement.

Offer to help someone else with their work.

I know you probably have more work than you can say grace over right now.

But offering to help a coworker with a simple task can help you feel needed and appreciated. You need to feel this way right now.

There’s nothing like knowing someone else is counting on you to make you feel energized.

Sacrificing a little of your time for someone else will go a long way to help you feel more connected.

And besides giving to others always makes you feel better.

Take regular breaks.

I’m a broken record on this one, I know. But when you’re struggling with stress, overwhelm and disengagement, you need to take time away to release that stress.

Feeling burned out for sure won’t help you feel more engaged.

Sitting for long periods at your desk is not just unhealthy for you physically. It also locks up your creativity and jacks with your focus and concentration.

Go do something else for a minute.

Then do that again in about an hour.

Regular breaks will help your days feel a little less intense and give them some rhythm.

There’s no one solution to employee engagement.

But you have a lot of power in your hands right now to reconnect with your work in simple and strategic ways.

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 .

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Ep 34: How to get going when you’re not feeling it

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Some days just make you feel kind of done. You may have low energy and your mood is tanked. So you just sit still. That’s okay.

But when it stretches into longer days, it might be time to try to activate yourself. Learn how behavioral activation can help you get going.

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.

One of the hardest things to combat with stress is the amount of energy it depletes from you.

If you end your day yearning for that moment that you can get in your PJs well before dark, then you know what I’m talking about.

It takes real energy to do what you do every day.

  • Trying to be your best positive self at work in spite of the challenges.
  • Getting your kids to all their practices and tournaments.
  • Helping your kids stay on top of homework after all that practice so they can finish the year strong.
  • Worrying about how much more money you seem to be spending.
  • Remembering to pull together the rest of the information for your taxes from that pile of papers on the kitchen table. That one’s coming, isn’t it?

Life today is so extra.

All of this activity and task management can be a drain on your energy reserves.

These are the days when you just don’t want to do anything.

And that’s okay. You may need some time to recharge and refresh your battery today.

But what if it extends beyond just today?

It’s hard to find that mojo to get moving again when you’re kind of done. All of your best energy just went into THIS day.

It’s easier to just keep sitting still. And after a while it can start to affect your mood.

How do you get going again?

The behaviors we run to when we’re stressed feel really good at the time and we give in to them.

  • Watching endless hours of TV feels like an escape without responsibility.
  • Sleeping too much gives us a break from reality.
  • Closing ourselves off from the rest of the world means we don’t have to answer how we feel.

But these behaviors are the very things that maintain our negative mood and loss of motivation.

We know they’re not good for us, but we can’t seem to find motivation to stop. And so we continue to have low mood and low energy.

It’s a loopy double edged sword.

Here’s how to break that loop.

Activate yourself.

Behavioral activation is a mental health treatment method that uses simple commitments to basic behaviors to help you start feeling a little better now.

Behavioral activation won’t solve all your problems. It’s designed to simply get you moving.

No judgment.

No master plan.

No epiphanies about a brand new you.

Just movement you can live with.

Here is a quick way to activate yourself and get going.

Make a list of activities you know how to do and already enjoy.

Not a long list. Just a couple of things that you know hands-down you enjoy doing.

Today’s not the day to do that energy zapping work out if it’s not something you love.

Once you make a list, pick the easiest activity for you.

What we want to do is quickly bring you a reward for your activity so you’ll feel good about that. So you want to stick with something you already have skills for and is easy for you to implement.

If a 10-mile run is not easy for you, please don’t include it on your list. We’re not trying to be a hero here.

Take just the first step of that easiest and most enjoyable activity.

So for example, maybe you really enjoy walking and it’s relatively easy for you. Great!

But let’s not even commit to walking.

Your very first step is to put on your shoes. There’s no commitment past that.

But here’s the dealio.

Once you get your shoes on, it will probably be doable for you to go ahead and walk out the door for your enjoyable and easy walk. I mean, you did just put your shoes on.

Still, you’re not walking yet.

Now, just commit to walk out the door and close it. Awesome!

Hang there for a second and appreciate the fact that you’re up and moving around.

Now start walking.

The rest is up to you.

Above all, don’t forget to congratulate yourself.

You get credit for taking a small action to help you feel a little bit better about today. Give yourself that checkmark.

Tomorrow, maybe try the next most enjoyable and easiest activity on your list.

Activating yourself is a quick and easy way to pull yourself out of that loop and just get going.

With each activity you can start to rebuild your energy, and your motivation won’t be far behind.

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 33: Make sleep the most important stop of your day

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Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Your brain starts its real work of the day when you finally give it up and go to sleep.

Your brain functions a bit like a pit crew in a race. It knows exactly what to do and gets started the minute you pull off the road.

Learn why sleep should be the most important pit stop you make today.

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.

We’re all pretty keenly aware that we need sleep. Good, restorative restful sleep.

And we know that most of us need seven to nine hours.

But we have a hard time making that a priority, don’t we?

Sleep is one of those areas where we think we have the most wiggle room in our day.

It’s a constant bucket that we steal from to accommodate other stuff.

Important stuff like watching TV and scrolling through our Instagram. 😲

I guess because we’re not conscious when we’re asleep, we feel like we can get away with it. It’s almost like sleep doesn’t seem like a real thing.

I mean, other than dreaming about flying tacos, how do I know what really goes on when I sleep? 🌮🌮

For all I know, nothing happens at all.

So why is sleep so important?

Sleep isn’t an unconscious state. It is, but not like you think.

Even though you’re not moving, it’s an active state where real stuff happens.

Have you ever seen a NASCAR race?

Those cars definitely move. And they move with such great speed and power.

These are pristine, high performing vehicles, for sure. They run hard on the race track.

But not for long.

At some point, they have to pull over for a pit stop.

The pit stop is where the pit crew, some of the most well-trained technicians in the world, literally jump into action to get the car ready to perform the next leg of the race.

They do an alarming number of critical tasks in less than five minutes. It takes me 10 minutes just to put windshield washer fluid in my car.

It’s a very intentional and engaging process.

To neglect that stop in some way could be dangerous because the team will be running the race on burned out tires and overheated engines. It puts the driver at real risk for a crash.

Your need for sleep is no different.

You are a pristine creation. Your physical, mental and spiritual selves combine to form this top of the line, cherished work of art that amazes crowds with its performance.

But you need intentional pit stops to keep this machine running in its best shape.

So what does your neurological pit crew do for you while you sleep?

One of the biggest things that happens is that your brain aggressively catalogues memories from the day. This helps you process what you need to have handy and frees up space for the next day.

All the things you learned today get processed, organized and moved around so you can get where you need to go tomorrow.

While you sleep, your brain flushes away the day’s toxins with a cerebrospinal fluid wash.

It’s like a pressure wash to carry away harmful waste like old molecules and proteins. I never know what to do with those.

This little bath goes a long to way keep from gunking up the most important part of your engine.

Some research is finding this particular cleansing process may even help protect against Alzheimer’s. 👍

Sleep also keeps some of your important systems in check and functioning well.

For example, while you’re sleeping your blood pressure goes down, giving your cardiovascular system a bit of a break.

Your brain helps your body keep insulin levels in check, which can help with the risk of diabetes.

And sleep also balances levels of a hormone called ghrelin that helps regulate your appetite. Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone. Sleep deprivation increases levels of ghrelin and makes it harder to turn down that chocolate frosted doughnut at 3:00 in the afternoon.

This is how lack of sleep is linked to obesity. Sleeping less makes you want to eat more. That’s not okay.

For bonus points, your brain can also add some new accessories while you sleep.

You can actually learn a new skill while dreaming of flying tacos!

In a study conducted at the University of Bern, researchers found that the brain can learn new vocabulary words while sleeping. Study participants could recall words that were played to them during a deep sleep phase once they woke up.

This is an exciting development that shows just how active our brains really are when we sleep.

See, your brain apparently does things you don’t even need it to do while you’re asleep!

Researchers are just beginning to understand that our brains just  do not shut down when we sleep.

Your brain is especially awake after you turn in for the night. It performs like a boss all night to keep you feeling physically and mentally ready for your race track ahead.

Find ways in this week to make sleep your most intentional pitstop of the day.

You already have a well-functioning neurological pit crew waiting for you.

What do you need to set aside to make this pitstop work for 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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Ep 32: Write yourself a nature prescription for stress

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Nature can be a key part of your stress toolkit. It turns out that being in nature has some quantifiable effects on your body.

Learn how nature can help ease the effects of stress and anxiety.

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 thought how odd it is that we spend so much time indoors?

We are creatures that were designed to cultivate our own vegetables and fruits, raise animals for food and connect with the actual earth on a daily basis. You know, like the dirt part of the earth.

That’s how it’s been for most of human life until the past 100 years or so. That’s when we got fancy with our electricity, running water, and memory foam mattresses.

So here we are in 2019 scurrying from air conditioned place to air conditioned place. We gaze out the window of our offices (if you’re lucky enough to have a window) and comment about how beautiful it is outside.

Some of us can’t remember the last time we even spent any real time in any kind of nature.

But science is showing how much we need nature to feel good.

And it’s not just about getting outside to get a little vitamin D.

It turns out that being in nature is a key part of managing stress.

A recent study showed that just 20 minutes of being in nature significantly reduced levels of cortisol. Cortisol, as you may know, is the hormone your body secretes when you’re under stress.

Some of that stress is good, like getting up and moving for the day. Cortisol helps get you going, so you can get the coffee going.

But when you live your life all amped up and anxious, your adrenal glands are working overtime to keep the cortisol going just to help you deal with stuff. That’s not good for your body so it’s important to find ways to reduce levels of cortisol.

Exercise, for sure, will do that for you.

And apparently so does being outside in nature.

The cool thing is that once you come in from outside, you can continue to see reductions in cortisol for a few hours. So the effect lasts even when you come home.

You don’t have to live near a lush preserve or a beach to get the benefits of being in nature.

Any place that gives you that sense of being in nature will do.

  • Maybe it’s a small park in the middle of your busy city.
  • Or a botanical garden nearby.
  • Or a spot near a pond that you love.

This why I’m always recommending a short walk outside at lunchtime.

You absolutely get the benefits of stress reduction from the walk itself. But you get bonus points for walking outside.

If you can be in all that nature and not wear shoes, even better.

More studies are showing the benefits of what’s called “earthing,” or “grounding.”

Our bodies have an electromagnetic field. And, not surprisingly, so does the earth. Those two electromagnetic fields can complement each other.

But you have to actually touch the earth to get this connection going.

You can connect with the earth’s energy and ground yourself by simply going barefoot.

Research shows grounding can promote a sense of well being, reduce inflammation, affect the immune system and even improve sleep.

You may have noticed this if you’ve walked barefoot in the sand at the beach. Don’t you just feel completely relaxed and calm?

That’s your body being electrically grounded by the earth.

Hopefully where you live spring is finally starting to show itself. This is a great time to get outside, wiggle your toes in some plush, moist grass and maybe even find some beautiful flowers blooming.

Find pockets of time this week to connect with nature in your own way.

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 31: Make your weekend count with a vacation mindset

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It’s easy to let the weekend become another couple of days to get more accomplished. How can you make those two precious days truly help you recharge and refresh your outlook?

Here’s some research that found an interesting practice that can boost your weekend.

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.

The weekend is finally here. If you’re like me you have a long list of things you need to get to this weekend.

Sleep is always on my list. I know you’re not supposed to catch up on sleep on the weekend because it’s not a good sleep habit. But I can’t help myself.

Sleeping in on Saturday feels like a little vacation day to me. I wake up when I’m ready. And I enjoy not one but two delicious cups of coffee brewed with love by my husband, so I don’t even have to make the coffee.

I get to enjoy reading without looking at the clock. I finally have time to fold and put away the clean towels sitting in the laundry room since last Monday.

And I finally have time to do some odd and end things around the house.

It all seems a little sweeter on the weekend.

Apparently my weekend approach is a real thing. Researchers call this the vacation mindset.

Recent research out of UCLA made an interesting discovery when studying vacation habits among working Americans.

You’ve probably heard this before.

Americans kind of suck at taking the vacation time they’ve already earned at their jobs.

Some studies show that we take just half of our vacation days.

Even though those same studies show going on vacation boosts happiness and makes you more productive at work. I’m not sure why you need a study to prove that, but there it is.

In this UCLA study, the researchers found that some of the folks in the study treated the weekend as if it was a little vacation.

It wasn’t necessarily that they just kicked back and didn’t take care of chores or ignored their kids.

They simply chose to focus on their present experiences and savored the moments in their weekend days.

  • When you’re on vacation, doesn’t the food taste a little richer?
  • Do you stop for a minute to think about how blessed you are while you watch your kids play Marco Polo in the pool?
  • Do you enjoy long conversations with your spouse, without worrying about all the activities you still have to check off your list today?

For this group in the study, the weekend wasn’t just another couple of days to focus on things you didn’t get to during the week. It was a break from the usual and a respite from the intense focus and forward thinking we get caught up in during the week.

Big surprise.

When the study was over, the control group who used their weekends as little vacations reported higher happiness scores on Monday morning than those who just treated it as the same old weekend.

I don’t know about you but I’m game to try anything that will make Monday seem brighter.

So here’s your charge.

This weekend, find ways to be present with yourself and with your family.

  • Look for opportunities to enjoy where you are.
  • Turn off that urge to get things done.
  • Save that for work.

Here are a few ideas to get you started this weekend.

  • Do something physical outside: take a walk, ride your bike, chase the dog, let the dog chase you. For some of you, after a long winter, spring is finally showing itself. Let nature cleanse the palate of this past week while you do something good for your body.
  • Text a friend a smiley face, or a heart, or a fist bump, or that salsa lady dancing. Your friend probably had a long week, too.
  • Cook something simple and delicious. Lose your #keto, #paleo, #howmanypoints voice in your head for a minute and just enjoy.
  • Remove some physical clutter. Clean out the linen closet of those hotel shampoos you’ve been saving for 8 years but never use. I always have a bunch of those. Donate them to a local homeless shelter. Even better…
  • Put some of the stuff you’re not using on eBay, Craigslist, Offerup, Facebook, whatever. You get the benefits of less clutter and also extra $$. Don’t underestimate how much people love buying your old stuff.
  • Write an outline for a book about a skill people are always complimenting you on. Once you see it take shape, next weekend you’ll want to start actually writing it.
  • Give a lot of hugs. This includes side hugs, bro hugs or full-on embraces (be selective with this one, though). Hugs release a chemical in your body called oxytocin that gives you a feeling of well-being. That feeling is what we’re shooting for here.

Use your weekend to recharge your focus and help you connect with what you love most about your life.

Give yourself a little vacation this weekend.

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 30: Use Discipline to Find Inspiration

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How do you find inspiration on the days when you’re not feeling inspired? Many times we rely on external things to pump us up for our day.

But inspiration comes after the work. Disciplined action always precedes motivation.

Learn where to place your focus so you can inspire yourself.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript

Some days are just uninspiring, aren’t they? If you’re working towards improving your life or meeting a new goal, then you are probably very focused on discipline, change and discovery.

But some days seem to contain exactly zero discipline, change and discovery. 😏

And that’s perfectly okay.

Not every day is supposed to look like a Forbes feature article.

We have access to millions of stories of achievement and motivation. There are some incredible people out there doing some amazing things.

Those stories are inspiring, no doubt.

But they’ve also conditioned us to believe that our own lives are somehow lacking if every day isn’t a grand adventure of some sort.

So we’re disappointed when we don’t feel like we conquered something at the end of the day.

But that’s not how a disciplined life works.

Discipline is about being a principled student (a disciple, if you will) of whatever it is you’re trying to become.

  • Do you want to be a world recognized chef?
    Then you must become a disciple of all of the time tested traditions of a world-class kitchen.
  • Do you want to develop a well-rounded yoga practice?
    Then you must submit yourself to explore multiple forms of yoga and learn from those with experience and wisdom.
  • Do you want to lead a more mindful and centered life?
    Then you must have the courage to acknowledge that there’s a better way than the frenetic, scattered life you’ve been living so far.

In order to master something, you have to find humility to submit yourself to the process.

Regardless of the outcome in every day.

This means still honoring the path you’re on even when you’re just not feeling it.

You become a disciple to the process.

What does it mean to be a disciple?

  • A disciple learns by applying what she’s gleaned from others wiser than her.
  • A disciple applies those principles no matter what the external circumstances may try to dictate.
  • A disciple looks past the raw emotions each day brings and chooses to focus on what she’s already decided for the future.
  • A disciple never loses her keen focus on the destination, even if the path to get there gets a bit crooked and rough.
  • A disciple passes on those same principles to others walking behind her to create more little awesome disciples.

Become a disciple of your own life.

Do the work that pushes back against you every day.

Learn to celebrate the process, not the progress.

Apply your focus and concentration to what’s present and right in front of you.

This is where you will find inspiration in your days.

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!

  • 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 29: How writing helps you find solutions in your stress

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Writing is a pretty basic tool to express emotions and discover new insights. But writing can also help you gather the data you need to generate solutions.

Maybe you don’t consider yourself a writer, but you can use this powerful skill in a strategic way to hone in on what you want to see change in your life.

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.

The other day I heard a song from Kelly Clarkson called Piece by Piece. It’s a story about a young mother confronting the father who left her at six years old.

It’s an emotionally charged song. Kelly wrote the song based on her own experience of her father abandoning her at the young age of six.

The song intrigued me.

Many song writers write about painful experiences, that’s certainly nothing new.

But she took it a bit farther than just a cathartic experience to ventilate her emotions.

She turned the song into a declaration of what kind of parent she would be. She would find a father for her children that would be the father he never was.

Kelly made meaning out of the experience by writing about it, sure.

But she went a step further to spell out how she would move her own life forward in a very prescriptive way.

That’s about as therapeutic as it gets.

Writing about your experiences and trying to make sense of events in your life is nothing new. It’s one of the first things many therapists pull out of their toolbox when they work with a new client.

Writing is the best and easiest way to capture data spinning around in your head where only you can see it.

How can I help you if you can’t tell me what you’re thinking and feeling beyond right this minute?

You can’t change your thoughts until you know what those thoughts are.

In order to make progress, you have to interact with the thoughts and feelings that are getting in your way.

Writing is the best way for you to collect meaningful data about your thoughts.

Trying to remember how you felt last week on the fly means that you’re relying on anecdotal information and what you might remember.

Good luck with that.

You’ll have an average of 50,000 thoughts fly through your head just today. How in the world are you going to pull out the important ones you need to work with?

If you were doing a science experiment, you would record your data along the way, right? You wouldn’t wait until you present your findings to try to remember how it all went down.

No, you would have listed all of the possible results and logged the events that led to the outcome.

So at a minimum, writing is a way to capture raw data without judgment so you know what your variables are.

Here’s another great thing about writing.

Recording your progress and your impressions along the way helps you see the patterns in your thoughts.

As you look back on your writings, you’ll start to see similarities in how you perceive certain events. Or you may see that you respond a certain way when confronted with specific stressors.

You may have never noticed these similarities before because it all just floats around in your head with all the other stuff you’re managing today.

Writing helps you pinpoint exactly how your thinking is holding you back.

Once you do that then you can decide what thoughts and patterns will be more helpful for you.

It’s like putting a puzzle together.

Once you’re in the act of writing, your brain starts to make associations that it doesn’t do in any other way.

The words you use when you reflect on something can prompt you to remember something else. So you write about that, which prompts yet another remembrance.

It’s a living, active process.

Writing engages the part of your brain that processes thinking and decision-making.

Leadership expert John Maxwell says that writing marinates your thinking. That’s such a great description, isn’t it?

Those associations you make between words and thoughts take you down a path of discovery and help you find solutions you really can’t find any other way.

So how do you do this?

What if you’re not a “Dear Diary“ kind of person?

Think of it less as a journal or a diary and more of a recording exercise. You don’t have to be Hemingway, here.

Here’s an idea to get you started.

  • Spend a few minutes this evening reflecting back on the day.
  • Think about one thing that was difficult for you or that tripped you up today. Just one thing, please.
  • Write down the emotions you felt when it happened: sadness, frustration, disappointment, embarrassment, whatever you can identify.
  • Try to remember what thoughts went through your mind.
  • What did you tell yourself right in that moment?

Don’t judge it, just transcribe it.

Write down any other things that come to mind.

Now just do that again a few more times this week.

At the end of the week, go back and look at what you wrote.

You should see patterns emerging.

  • What specific behaviors do you see in how you responded to things?
  • What words did you use in what you told yourself in those moments?
  • What were your most common emotions?
  • What interesting observations can you make?

Use that information to figure out what’s not working for you and the behaviors you’d like to see.

This is how you start making real change in your life because you’re making one small change based on evidence you’ve already captured.

Even if you’re not a writer, you can use this powerful skill to help find solutions to the things that keep getting in your way.

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 28: Five Ways Anxiety Shows Up in Your Life

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If you’ve ever had a panic attack then you know what anxiety feels like for sure. But you can experience anxiety in some different ways that are more subtle.

Learn some undercover symptoms of stress and how you can learn to manage them.

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.

When you think about anxiety, what does it look like? For many people, anxiety looks like a panic attack.

An elevated physical response to some unknown stressor that seems to come out of nowhere.

If you’ve ever had one, you know they can be frightening.

But there’s more to anxiety than just anxiety attacks.

Sometimes the signs of anxiety are more subtle. It can be easy to miss the signs or think that because you aren’t having panic attacks that you’re not dealing with anxiety.

But if you listen closely to some of the things you may be struggling with, you’ll see some interesting patterns.

One sign of anxiety is overthinking.

I talked a bit about this yesterday. I called it playing the tapes. You can find the episode on my website. Rehashing and reviewing your day over and over again serves to keep you out of the present and stuck in the past.

When you stack up all that against your worries about the future, then you experience anxiety.

Overthinking becomes a desperate way to control a world that is already behind you while trying to second-guess what may happen in the future ahead of you.

Another symptom of anxiety is difficulty with short term memory and concentration.

Do you suddenly find yourself forgetting the simplest things and struggling with basic organizational skills?

Or maybe you can’t focus on one task long enough to actually complete it. You know this isn’t normally what you do.

What’s happening?

Memory and focus take a big hit when anxiety is in the picture. Because you’re overthinking and ruminating, the cognitive abilities you would normally be able to bring to simple tasks is just not available.

Your brain has to spend an enormous amount of energy to keep that information close by in your short term memory so you can grab it when you need it.

If it’s busy stewing over something that happened at work, then there’s little room for trying to remember where you put your keys.

Another symptom of anxiety is gastrointestinal issues.

Things like heartburn and irritable bowel syndrome are becoming more common, in the workplace especially.

These kinds of issues are very physical, legitimately painful and can make it difficult to focus on your work.

While the symptoms are physical, in many cases the root lies in anxiety. Recent research is showing that your gut is the key to your mood.

Your gut produces most of the serotonin your body uses. You may know that serotonin is a key player in boosting mood and controlling depression.

The link between the gut and mental health is so strong that many researchers now refer to the gut as the second brain.

Have you ever felt butterflies before giving a presentation at work?

That is your gut absorbing your nervousness and responding with a physical symptom. While that in itself isn’t unpleasant, chronic anxiety can lead to more long term, uncomfortable gastrointestinal distress.

So if you’re struggling with unexplained digestive issues, you may want to ask yourself what else may be going on.

The last symptom that can sneak up on you is anger and frustration.

Anger is a necessary emotion that tells you when something you want is being blocked from you. All that overthinking and worry about what you’re not getting can leave you feeling helpless and powerless.

And that’s a surefire recipe for anger and frustration.

In my work with children I’ve noticed that anxiety can be a huge driver in oppositional behaviors. On the surface, it can look like anger that the child just cannot control.

But if you ask questions about recent events in the family or living situation, you will most likely find transition or major change that creates instability. The child uses those oppositional behaviors to process and express the anxiety they feel about everything changing.

Have you ever felt that way at work? Do you have change and transition at your work?

The anger and frustration you feel may be anxiety lurking under the surface.

So what do you do?

To really get mastery over anxiety you have to interact with it, process it and find practical coping skills that work for you.

This means probably working with a professional who can help you walk through the specific thoughts and feelings that you’ve been experiencing.

But there are a few things you can do right now that will help you calm yourself and take the edge off.

Are you getting enough sleep?

Sleep deprivation looks a lot like intoxication. It messes with your ability to respond and shatters your resilience to basic life events.

I know the common wisdom is to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. That sounds amazing, right?

But that may be really hard for you. That’s too much pressure.

Why not just try to get to bed a half hour earlier than usual tonight? Put your new bedtime on your calendar and work backwards from there.

Just do that again tomorrow.

A really powerful way to manage anxiety is to develop a deep breathing practice.

This is a simple, free and effective way to manage the physiological signs of anxiety. There is a specific method of deep breathing that uses your diaphragm to stimulate a response that affects multiple systems in your body.

This is a very powerful response and it absolutely works.

You can use deep breathing in any situation and over time, with enough practice, you can recondition your body against that anxiety response.

You can find an article on my website on how to do this. Visit Lori Miller.me and type deep breathing in the search bar.

The most important thing to know is that you do have control over your anxiety. I know it doesn’t feel that way when you experience it.

But with some dedication and commitment to simple and effective practices, you can get mastery over your everyday anxiety.

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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