Ep 67: When do you know it’s time to see a therapist?

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We know life can just be challenging and stressful. That’s part of living in today’s modern world.

You may have your stress under control now but you may need some help just keeping it together. Is that serious enough for therapy?

This episode gives you a few things to look for to decide if it’s time to see a therapist.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 67: When do you know it's time to see a therapist?

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

People ask me all the time how they know it’s time to see a therapist.

Life can be hard sometimes. But how do you know when you need to actually enlist the help of a complete stranger?

Therapy is shrouded in more mystery than it needs to be. It’s easy to think therapy is for just the “seriously troubled.”

  • So if you’re anxious about big changes at work maybe that’s not serious enough.
  • Or your constant worry about those tests your doctor ran last week…you just need to figure out how to deal with that.

Many of the things that stress us out and make us anxious are just everyday things.

We can rely on resilience and try hard to manage our daily challenges as they come.

And most of the time, that works because we already have a few coping skills that we learned early in life.

Some coping skills are healthy, like exercise, meditation or reaching out to connect with good friends.

Other coping skills lean towards the unhealthy, like drinking a glass or two of wine every night after dinner to unwind or using food to calm those anxious emotions.

But at the end of the day, healthy or unhealthy, coping skills do work.

Until they don’t.

  • Going for a run no longer takes the edge off.
  • Killing that entire bag of chips sends you into a serious shame spiral.
  • You isolate yourself from your friends and family and go from one Netflix binge to another.
  • You call in sick to work multiple times rather than face the stress and pressure of your new boss.

It looks like you’ve officially overwhelmed your coping skills.

Here’s how you know: when the things you’ve always done to deal with your problems suddenly don’t work anymore, that’s the time to consider a professional perspective.

This is especially true when your problems begin to affect your functioning, like keeping your job or maintaining important relationships.

And that’s really the key.

When it starts getting hard to show up in your daily life, you need to give some thought to reaching out.

How can a therapist help?

I’ve heard more times than I care to count that talking about your problems won’t solve your problems.

And that’s kind of true. There’s no magic solution in just talking. That talking has to be followed up with real action from you to create the change you need.

But don’t underestimate the power in just telling your story to someone uninterrupted.

How often do you get to do that?

Your therapy session is your time and your space. You can talk about whatever the heck you want.

You can find a lot of insight while you’re rolling out all the details and forming a timeline of events.

And because your therapist isn’t living your life with you, she has no vested interest in how your story turns out. She wants what you want.

So you get to be the hero.

All that talking can lead to some interesting discoveries.

A therapist is an objective third party. It’s a lot easier for them to get an aerial view of your life without all the bias and expectations everyone else has for you.

They will pick up on behavior patterns and ways of responding that may not be that effective for you.

It’s really hard to see all that while you’re in it.

Patterns matter.

You need to understand why you’ve responded to things a certain way. Then you can learn how to create new patterns.

The best part about therapy is that you have a team working with you.

Therapy is supposed to be collaborative. You and your therapist work together to help you determine where you want to be.

What can you work on that will help you feel some control over how you respond to what’s happening to you?

Then you can develop a plan of action to get there.

Your therapist holds you accountable in a nonjudgmental way and helps you measure your progress.

The goal of therapy is that you develop the skills to kind of be your own therapist.

This goes a long way to help you manage the everyday issues in your life.

And it might be a key factor in how you weather tough times in the future.

There are several resources that can help you connect with a therapist in your area. You can search online or ask friends for recommendations.

If you have an Employee Assistance Program benefit at work, you can easily get started there.

It may feel a little weird making that first call. But I promise the therapist on the other end doesn’t think you’re weird because you’re asking for help with regular life stress.

They see this a lot because so many people struggle these days.

And they know you’re not alone.

I’ve said before that resilience to stress is identifying your strengths and taking advantage of the resources available to you.

Therapy can be a valuable resource when you need it most.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment at mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Here’s what else I’m saying about this topic

 

 

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.
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Ep 66: You can change your brain to reduce your stress

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Did you know you can change your brain? We tend to think we are stuck with the brain we’re born with. But apparently brains love to change, grow and regenerate.

There is so much you can do to set your brain up to help you respond to your challenges.

Learn about a couple of ways to do that in today’s episode.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 66: You Can Change Your Brain to Reduce Your Stress

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

If you were like me you grew up believing that you were born with only so many brain cells.

If you destroy them, through drugs or alcohol, for example, you don’t ever get them back.

I’m not sure exactly how many brain cells I was born with, but I’m not keen on losing any more than I have to.

Thanks to some diligent science people, however, we now know that idea was wrong.

Your brain can change and compensate for many things life throws at it.

It turns out, your brain is highly flexible and constantly works to adapt to the new requirements placed on it.

The clinical term for this is neuroplasticity, and you see it all the time in real life.

  • Recovery after a stroke is the brain adapting and making new connections to relearn some basic functions.
  • Sudden loss of hearing in one ear may strengthen hearing in the other ear to compensate for the loss.
  • Phantom limb sensation experienced by amputees is plasticity at work.

Apparently your brain learns how to rewire itself, change directions and find alternate pathways all the time.

But plasticity isn’t just limited to injuries or damage. There’s a very practical side to this that can help you in your daily life.

Your brain can also adapt to new ways of thinking and behaving.

You might think you can’t change some of your behaviors related to depression or anxiety, but you can set up your brain to help you be more successful in your efforts.

The patterns and thinking habits that have been with you since you started using reason and logic as a wee youngster are ingrained as pathways in your brain. It’s what you learned from your earły environmental influences.

It’s just how you’ve “always been.”

You can play a role in getting your brain to change those pathways in a few simple ways.

What do you pay attention to?

What you focus on is a stimulus to your brain.

Think about that for a second.

Every time you give your attention to something, you are stimulating your brain toward some action.

You can’t choose the thoughts that pop in your head. But you can choose how long you focus on those thoughts and how you decide to handle them.

  • If you are struggling with depression, and you focus on a negative thought or situation, your brain just keeps going down the path you take it.
  • If you’ve been struggling for a while, your brain doesn’t have to work that hard to take you down the familiar path.
  • It’s been in this part of the labyrinth before.

Your brain likes this path of least resistance because it can conserve energy for something else.

But when you choose to focus on an adaptive thought, or a positive thought, your brain lights up.

It now has to fire differently and make new neural connections to accommodate the new activity.

It’s like when you suddenly realize Google Maps is taking you on a detour and you don’t know where the next rest stop might be…and you just finished a Big Gulp.

In order to meet the new demand, your brain has to entertain the thought of a different path and determine what resources it needs to get there.

If you manage to keep your focus on more helpful, adaptive thoughts, your brain gets comfortable with that path and it’s easier to override the negative, now less used, paths.

And you just mastered a new thinking skill that will help improve your mood.

Move your body

I know I bring this up a lot, but you have to move your body every day to even have a shot at feeling better. You have to disturb your homeostasis. Here’s another compelling reason why.

Exercise prevents shrinkage. 😳 Okay, what?

  • If you’re still alive, then your brain is aging
  • If you’re not exercising, then your brain is shrinking.
  • The gray matter, the part we laymen call “brain,” is reducing in volume.
  • Exercise increases the volume of gray matter in your brain and reverses that shrinkage.
  • Apparently size does matter. 😜

This gray matter growth also can contribute to the formation of new blood vessels.

And the best part: exercise can help your brain regenerate new cells, a process called neurogenesos.

All this adds up to improved cognitive function.

Studies show one of the best ways to prevent age related cognitive decline is to exercise.

Higher intensity is best but anything will help.

So there you go. Time to take your shrinking brain to the gym. 🏃‍♀️

The research is still a little back and forth on this one, but meditation appears to have significant changes on the brain.

Apparently just one session can improve blood flow into the prefrontal cortex, which is where all your thinking and planning lives.

But over the long term, meditation may provoke some structural changes in the areas that regulate emotions and assist in learning and memory.

Doesn’t that sound nice?

Meditation doesn’t necessarily mean a long, drawn out session. You can find a space somewhere in your day and meditate for just a few minutes.

This can lower your fight or flight responses, which can help you manage anxiety and depression.

There are a gazillion meditation apps for your phone. Try one and see if it doesn’t improve your focus and increase your ability to handle the stuff in your day.

And remember, over time, your highly plastic brain will come to consider this more calm, relaxed state as the norm.

Your brain is a marvelous machine.

You get to carry it around in your head all the time. Only you know what’s truly going on in there.

Please know that at the end of the day, you can change and control what you do with your marvelous brain. It can be shaped and molded to help you be at your best every day.

Make an intentional and purposeful effort to change your brain and see what happens!

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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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Ep 65: What is self-care, really?

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Healthy self-care is a key part of good mental health. But what does self-care look like for you? Is it an event you schedule when life overwhelms you?

Or is it a daily practice that lets you invest in and care for yourself?

Here are a few ways to understand how self-care can fit into your crazy, busy life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 65: What is self-care really?

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

Self-care is definitely one of the most important things you can do to feel healthy and strong, physically and mentally.

But when I say self-care, what images come up in your mind?

  • Maybe you see a lady with cucumbers on her eyes getting a facial while holding a mimosa.
  • Or maybe you see someone sitting Crisscross applesauce on a yoga mat meditating next to the beach.
  • Or maybe you see a group of women out having Sunday brunch and laughing together.

Self-care is indeed all of those things. But it’s not limited to the things that you set aside special time for.

The whole point of self-care is to replenish and recharge. That means self-care has to happen on a regular basis.

So while a spa day or a Sunday brunch with your besties is a terrific way to let your hair down and connect, that kind of self-care can get expensive if you do it a lot.

And I’m guessing it’s pretty hard for everybody to schedule too.

Here’s the thing to know.

Self-care isn’t about indulging yourself.

Self-care is about giving back to yourself and filling your own cup.

Every day.

I’m guessing you’re pouring from that cup a lot every day.

As a therapist I have to be very intentional about self-care to make sure I have what I need to help others every day.

So for me that means things like exercise, good sleep, and eating healthy food. Those three are gold standard ways to care for yourself every day.

If you have a stressful job with a lot of responsibility or you’re a caregiver for an aging parent, you absolutely should be doing these three things every day.

That’s you caring for yourself in the same way that you’re caring for others.

Self-care can take on some other forms, though.

I’ve said many times before that reading is my self-care. This has been the case since I was old enough to pick up a book or newspaper.

Reading gives me knowledge, increases my vocabulary, and helps me find meaning and insight in my own experiences.

When I feel like I need to recharge, reading is the first place I go.

Of course, I grab my iPad to read now. 🤓💻

Reading allows me to give back to myself and invest in what I might need tomorrow to show up for others.

But it means that when I’m reading I’m not taking care of some other things that are on my list. Maybe even some kind of important things.

This isn’t selfish. Taking time to read is an act of empathy and compassion towards myself.

It’s my way of saying to myself that I care about you and want you to be well.

As a society we really suck at this kind of self-care.

We just go from thing, to thing, to thing with no break in between.

Unfortunately we have taught this to our youngest generations. Already, Generations Y, Z, and whoever is coming after that is already struggling with anxiety from being overscheduled and worried about the future.

Back in the day, we kind of had some natural buffers for our stress.

  • We walked more because we only had one car.
  • Before TV really took hold, people went outside to enjoy nature and talk to their neighbors after the day’s work was done.
  • There was kind of a natural rhythm of self-care built in to the day.

Only we didn’t call it self-care. We just called it… Wednesday. 😜

Now we keep pushing so hard until we kind of melt down and feel like we need a large block of time to recuperate from everything.

So we schedule a spa day, and we enjoy it.

But how do you keep from getting to this point where you feel like you have to set an entire day aside to recover from your life?

You need a better strategy.

You need to have a plan to make sure you have what you need every day to stay resilient to all the random stuff that happens to you.

How do you find time for self-care in your busy day?

Well, you can schedule it in your calendar just like anything else.

I know that sounds kind of like a duh, but it can be challenging to pull off because it may not feel as important as your son’s soccer practice.

And maybe the practice does run late or you run into some other scheduling conflict.

But when you see that entry on the calendar, then you have to do something with it. Scheduling it at least puts self-care on your radar.

Create a recurring entry on your calendar for whatever will help you hit the pause button in your push to get stuff done.

Try making it the first thing you put in your schedule when you do your planning.

Another way to find more time for self-care is to simply tag it on to something else.

I used to work really close to the beach so I commuted home on the road that ran right next to the beach instead of taking the busy highway.

I made a point of stopping by the beach most days when I started back home.

It wasn’t an extra trip because I had to go by there to get home anyway. I didn’t bring a whole bunch of beach paraphernalia with me so I couldn’t make the trip a thing.

I just got out of the car and sat in the sand, business casual wardrobe and all.

That time became a buffer to help purge some of the day’s stress before I went home. My family learned to appreciate it too because it meant I brought a little less stress home with me.

What are some things you can do to recharge your battery in the middle of other stuff you’re already doing?

  • Can you enjoy a quick browse through your favorite bookstore while you’re waiting for your son’s soccer practice to be over (do we even still have bookstores?)
  • Maybe you can you sit in your car and enjoy your favorite smoothie for a few minutes while you’re out running errands.

You’re the master here.

Get creative and find ways to inject self-care in your day in small ways.

If you feel like life is running you over and you’re having trouble dealing with everyday stuff, getting a handle on your self-care is a good place to start.

Because when life gets real, self-care is sometimes the first thing to go.

Good self-care will be the deciding factor in you feeling less overwhelmed about your life.

Find ways to care for yourself every day and see if you don’t feel more empowered to make better decisions in your life.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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!

Here’s what else I’m saying about this topic!

 

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Ep 64: How to stay focused during the summer season

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The summer season brings fun and relaxation. We welcome the change in routine and can’t wait to kick it in low gear.

But we feel pressure to perform at high levels in spite of the change the summer season brings.

Here are some ways to have a productive summer while keeping your expectations manageable.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 64: Ep 64: How to stay focused during the summer season

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

This past weekend was Memorial Day weekend.

That means school is ending soon.

Schedules are changing and hopefully that means a little vacation time for you and your family somewhere.

Whether it’s a planned vacation or an impromptu long weekend to the next town, the summer season is full of stops and starts.

This can make it tough to keep any momentum with projects or your work. If you’re not at the beach, you’re thinking about being at the beach.

Instead of planning for that big project you’re starting in the fall, you find yourself daydreaming about your first day in the Poconos.

And to be honest, you really do need some time to take your foot off the gas and coast a little bit.

Just a side fun-fact here, did you know that planning a vacation makes you happier than actually taking the vacation itself?

Studies have shown that planning and anticipating a vacation raises your dopamine levels higher than actually being on the vacation you’re planning.

It’s okay that your head is in the middle of planning your next time off. This is good for your sense of well-being.

So how can you function well during the summer season and feel empowered and engaged?

Here are a few ways to enjoy the summer season and still feel like you’re getting a few things done.

First, drop the idea of getting it all done.

Except for projects that have a definite completion date, accept that you will not get to a place where you slap your hands together in delight and marvel at how you got it ALL done.

That’s just not how it works anymore, and especially this time of year.

You simply have too much on your plate all the time, on all of your important fronts. And you don’t know what might still drop out of the sky, so there’s that just waiting for you.

I know sometimes I enter the week all excited about all the things I’m going to get done. And when I look back over the week, I see there were quite a few things I just was not able to complete.

I make myself feel okay with that.

Because if I’m focused on my most important things, then the rest will be what it is.

This gives me an opportunity to practice some acceptance.

The Industrial Revolution is over, and there’s no longer an end of the line to shoot for.

Part of conquering stress is losing the idea of feeling like you have to finish that last widget before you go home or finish for the day.

Determine ahead of time where you would like to be at the end of this day. What things would allow you to feel a sense of completion and still walk away at a decent time?

When that time of day comes, stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath and honor your commitment to move on when you said you would.

After a couple of minutes of convulsing, I promise you’ll feel fine.

Second, accept that your inbox will never get to zero, and certainly not during the summer season.

I’m not sure where this idea came from. What exactly is the idea behind completely cleaning out your email inbox? To me, this is kind of like having a super-neat sock drawer.

Does anyone ever notice? Do you ever share a screenshot with others showing them how clean your inbox is?

Please say no. 😜

Email is like the junk drawer in your kitchen. It’s definitely not the most important drawer, and for sure it’s a mess.

Everybody in your family has been throwing random crap in there for several years.

But for whatever reason you CAN actually find the tools that you need sometimes.

You would never take the time to actually clean out that drawer, though.

To do so, you would have to touch all that other useless crap and figure out where to put it. That’s why we never clean out our junk drawer.

It’s easier to just come back to that drawer when you know you might find that 7 millimeter socket wrench to screw on your new license plate.

Trying to keep your email completely clean can be the biggest time suck and a great way to procrastinate from your more important work.

And when you do go on vacation, when you come back, guess what? You may have several hundred new emails waiting for you.

Stop playing the professional version of “Stop Hitting Yourself.”

Instead of trying to get to zero, learn ways to just be a little more intentional with your email practices.

  1. Filter your email inbox by name so you can sort for the important people to respond to first.
  2. Scan the subject lines that ask for a specific action needed from you.
  3. Wait for your email app to flag you that it’s time to delete old emails so you can do it all at one time.

No one ever died because they didn’t answer all their emails.

It’s summer. Don’t die on this hill.

Third, set some boundaries for yourself.

You already know this summer season will include some interruptions and breaks in performance. You simply can’t have the same expectations and still feel in control and content.

Put some boundaries around your time and your expectations.

Pick just a few things you would like to see happen for yourself this summer, squint your eyes and focus.

Then crush on that very small list of priorities.

Maybe the summer season is a good time for planning for this last bit of the year instead of trying to hit some high, productive mark.

In order to keep your stress levels in check, you can’t go 100% all the time.

Putting in extra hours to try and finish the same amount of priorities during the summer season as you do the rest of the year is a recipe for more stress. This is especially true if you DO have vacation time scheduled.

You don’t want to regret taking the time off when you get back.

Find ways to put a little fence around your expectations and remind yourself that any progress is progress.

Then protect that territory.

Don’t allow others to come inside that fence and start messing with your stuff.

You do have this power.

The summer season is the time to break from the normal routine and enjoy time with family and friends.

We kind of naturally want to kick into low gear this time of year. That’s not wrong, and it’s important to help you feel empowered the rest of the year.

Find ways to protect your time and restructure your priorities this summer.This will help you still move forward but also be present to enjoy what’s around you and make memories with those you love.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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!

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 63: Face your problems by taking the next step

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The answer to solving your problems isn’t actually solving your problems. 😳 The answer lies in just focusing on taking the next step.

Your success in therapy or personal development is more about trusting yourself to take a whole bunch of brave little steps on your path.

Learn how to find that path.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on resilience, you can check out all the episodes here.

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 63: Face your problems by taking the next step

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

One thing I hear a lot from people who are jaded by therapy is that therapy doesn’t solve problems.

I’ve heard that more times than I can count.

And you know what?

They are absolutely right!

Therapy doesn’t solve your problems. You solve your problems.

Therapy helps you find the next step to help you do that.

This is true in any kind of self development process, not just therapy.

Where we really miss out on growth is when we think that setting a big, new goal or working through an issue is going to solve our problems.

That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself.

When someone comes to me battling severe depression, there’s no way that we even consider solving their depressive symptoms.

The very first thing we try to find is the most immediate next step the client can take to just feel a little bit better.

A little bit.

If the client hasn’t left the house in a few days, can they simply take a walk to the stop sign at the end of the street today?

That one simple task won’t make them feel less depressed necessarily, and it really doesn’t have terrific health benefits.

But it’s the absolute next step to take the client to the next place in the process. The place where they might find that their next step is to take a right turn to get to that next stop sign.

And so on and so on.

Before you know it, you might look around and find yourself in a new place with possibilities for new direction.

Hey, how did I get here? I mean I’m not exactly where I want to be yet, but I’m hopeful about where I’m headed.

If we can accomplish that, then we have inched that depressed person just the tiniest bit closer towards feeling good.

Any incremental movement forward at all is progress.

If you can acknowledge that progress and celebrate it, then that’s like a bonus next step.

In the Western world we are very caught up with “go big or go home.” We get super stoked about making a big mess and figuring it out along the way.

That’s fine for some. But I find that “go big” can create a lot of unnecessary chaos.

Stirring things up so fast like that creates muddy water that can easily conceal the very stepping stones you need.

That’s when people start searching for help.

Sometimes it takes someone who understands the terrain a little bit to help you find the stepping stones lying just under the surface of the water that will get you where you want to go.

Trying to solve all of your problems in a “go big” way is a quick way to wear yourself out.

And it’s a recipe for anxiety because the answer always seems to be out there just in front of you.

For each problem you face right now that doesn’t have a clear answer, resist the urge to solve it right now.

Instead ask yourself, what is the very next step I can take?

That step may not produce any real results. That’s okay. But those couple of inches you moved will take you to the next step after that.

Take a deep breath and be okay with that.

Then…take the next step.

If you like to journal, document your journey through this problem.

Later you can go back and see a clear picture of the steps you took that got you to that hopeful place.

You just created a little roadmap for how you can handle similar problems in the future.

I think you might find that these small steps do require some courage and bravery.

Because at the end of the day you are probably facing your fear about the problem even as you are taking this small next step.

That’s good. You need courage to take the steps.

Otherwise you’re not giving up anything in this and you won’t learn from this experience.

But it doesn’t have to require Braveheart-style courage.

You don’t have to yell “freedom“ as you race headlong into a crowd of opponents who way outnumber you.

That may not end well, and that may create more problems than it solves.

Find your non-Hollywood style courage and simply trust yourself to find the next step that’s right for you.

Then just keep doing that.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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 .

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Ep 62: How to regulate your emotions when under stress

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How do you regulate your emotions when you feel like everything is bearing down on you? How can you set yourself up to respond to your emotions in a healthy way?

There’s no one answer but here are a few ways that will set you up to regulate your emotions on those stressful days.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on resilience, you can check out all the episodes here.

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 62: How to Regulate your Emotions When Under Stress

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

Keeping your emotions in check can be hard sometimes. Things can come at you very suddenly and you find yourself grappling with strong emotions.

How do you prepare yourself to keep your emotions in check so you can use them in a healthy way?

Well, there’s no one way to do it. But there are a few intentional things you can do to ensure you can use your healthiest emotions to stay resilient to what comes your way.

You can learn to regulate your emotions in a few simple ways.

Part of managing your stress is understanding what keeps you functioning every day.

What are the main drivers for you in your day? These are the things that, if they are missing, will make your day seem a lot harder.

For me, I have three things that are non-negotiable to help me function well in a day. These are the things that I absolutely make sure that I get done every day.

The first one is sleep.

Everything hinges on me getting good sleep. It feels like a different day when I am sleep deprived and I have a hard time managing my emotions on these days.

The next one is downtime.

I am very introverted. Even though I love engaging with people, I know that in order to keep engaging with people I need to spend time alone to recharge my batteries.

I try to get at least an hour every day. That’s the amount of time that works for me.

The third one is food.

I can’t even think straight when I’m hungry. And I’ve noticed that I feel exasperated if I’m trying to handle something and I’m hungry.

So I always have healthy snacks around and I try hard not to go too long feeling hungry.

Exercise is super important, too.

And that one comes in at a very close fourth place.

But honestly if I miss exercise on a day I can still function pretty well. If I go without one of these other three it is noticeable to me and others around me.

Identify two or three things that you know help you function well every day.

Then prioritize them in your day before anything else.

The second way to help regulate your emotions is mindfulness.

Mindfulness is one of those hard to define words.

But mindfulness is basically just staying in the moment and using all of your senses to experience that moment.

Mindful activities take you out of your planning, analyzing and goal setting mode and put you in a moment where you can just experience that moment for what it is.

Meditation is a form of mindfulness. But you don’t just have to stick with meditation.

One of my favorite mindful activities is washing dishes by hand. There’s something about feeling the warm, soapy water on my hands and seeing dishes get clean.

For you that may be feeling the texture of soft dirt in your hand while gardening.

Or sitting in a pretty setting with beautiful, fragrant flowers.

It can even be just enjoying the sound and feel of a paintbrush moving across a canvas.

The sky’s the limit on this one.

Mindfulness is powerful when it uses all of your senses to bring you into the present.

This is important in helping to regulate your emotions because it gives you a break from all of that constant planning and anxiety about the future.

So find a few things in your life that let your senses experience what’s happening around you right now.

Another way to regulate your emotions is just to go ahead and accept that you’re experiencing them.

We spend so much time trying to keep our emotions from overwhelming us.

But sometimes they just do.

So go with it. Even though it’s scary, you will survive it, I promise.

Let the emotion wash over you like a wave. But do this in a nonjudgmental way.

Instead of berating yourself for feeling so emotional, take a deep breath and allow yourself to simply be an observer of how the emotion feels in your body.

  • Do you feel it in your chest?
  • Does it stay there or does it move to another part of your body?

Instead of fighting it, you can observe and follow what that emotion is doing and where it’s going.

You’ll find it’s easier to accept that it’s happening and just ride it out.

Then you get to let it go.

Find the most important things you can do every day to help put in the best position to regulate your emotions.

Start finding opportunities to experience the present through mindfulness and let go of the chase for productivity and results for just a few minutes.

Practice accepting that you have these powerful emotions and know that you can have control over how you feel.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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.
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Ep 61: The difference between thoughts and feelings

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How can you tell the difference between thoughts and feelings? It starts with the way you use the word “feel” when describing what’s happening around you. Reframing your thoughts starts with identifying your emotions.

Learn how pumpkin lattes can help you discover the difference. ☕❤

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on resilience, you can check out all the episodes here.

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 61: The Difference Between Thoughts and Feelings

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

If you’ve been hanging around for a little while, you’ve heard me say that your thoughts affect your feelings, which then affect your actions.

One of the most popular forms of therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, is based on this one principle.

How you think about and perceive the events in your life has a direct line to how you ultimately behave.

So your thoughts are the biggest enchilada in this stress-busting party platter we’re making here.

But sometimes we confuse thoughts and emotions.

What we may think is a feeling is actually a thought.

I learned this in my very first class in my master’s program with Dr. Henry Virkler, my advisor at Palm Beach Atlantic University. This was one of the first things he told us, and he mentioned it in every class I took with him for the next 2 1/2 years.

I never forgot it.

A feeling is an emotion. A thought is an evaluation.

So for example if I’m wondering if you’re judging me for liking pumpkin lattes, I might say to you, you know, I FEEL like you’re judging me for liking pumpkin lattes.

We use the word “feel” like this all the time.

But me wondering if you’re judging me isn’t a feeling, like anger or sadness.

In this case I am evaluating whether or not you were judging me for liking pumpkin lattes, maybe based on something you said to me or your behaviors.

I form an opinion or a perception about your actions.

So it’s more accurate to say, I THINK you’re judging me for liking pumpkin lattes.

I considered the evidence and formed an evaluation in my mind that tells me that based on your behavior, you just might be a judgmental foodie.

And now you’re looking down your nose at me for liking delicious, comforting pumpkin lattes.

But because it’s an evaluation from my perspective, I might be completely wrong about this.

For the record, if you were judging me for liking pumpkin lattes that would make me FEEL really sad.

Lori, why does this matter, and why do you like pumpkin lattes so much?

It matters because the way to change and challenge your emotions and feelings is to reframe your thoughts.

Your THOUGHTS get this whole cognitive train moving.

So it’s important to be accurate about the content of those thoughts so you can come up with more adaptive ones BEFORE you get to the train wreck emotions.

If you’re confusing your thoughts with your feelings, that’s going to be a lot harder.

Remember yesterday we talked about learning to identify and label your emotions. This is why it’s important to have a good emotional vocabulary so you know if you are dealing with an emotion or thought.

Continuing the pumpkin lattes analogy here, this is how it might go.

I think you’re judging me for liking pumpkin lattes. I think that’s the case because you just rolled your eyes when I mentioned pumpkin lattes.

What are my options here? What else could be going on?

Well, your face may not even have to do with whether or not I like pumpkin lattes.

  • Maybe you just saw someone behind me throw a cigarette on the ground and you rolled your eyes because you hate littering.
  • Or maybe pumpkin lattes give you heartburn and you rolled your eyes because just thinking about pumpkin lattes is so not enticing.

Neither of those things has you judging me for liking pumpkin lattes.

There is always the possibility that you’re judging me, but I can walk away wishing you good luck with your heartburn and go on feeling good about myself.

Because I decided not to pick the one where you’re judging me.

Try to listen to yourself over the next few days.

See how many times you use the word “feel” in place of “think.”

If you’re paying attention, I guarantee you will find yourself doing this.

When you catch yourself, take some time to restate that evaluation as the thought that it is.

Then be a little detective and list all the possible reasons this thing you think is happening could be happening.

This will take you right down the line to more adaptive emotions and healthier actions.

And maybe while you’re there, you will find a delicious pumpkin latte! If you do, get me one, too!

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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 .

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Ep 60: Why you should identify your feelings

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What does it mean to identify your feelings? Well, have you had those moments when you can’t quite put words to what you’re feeling? You may not have a well developed emotional vocabulary.

Part of handling your emotions is to know what those emotions are to start with. Here are some ways to identify your feelings and improve your emotional language.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on resilience, you can check out all the episodes here.

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 60: Why you should identify your feelings

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

When dealing with emotions, sometimes it’s hard to know exactly what you’re dealing with.

We don’t always have the right words.

We start learning vocabulary words in kindergarten to describe everything from trees to animals.

But we don’t get words to describe how we feel.

Part of being able to manage your emotions is to be able to identify what they are in the first place.

I’ve heard several teenaged clients tell me that they get so frustrated when their parents constantly beg them to tell them how they feel.

How can they tell their parents how they feel, they say, when they can’t even describe it themselves?

Being able to speak from an emotional vocabulary is an important step in understanding what you feel so you know how to address it.

Usually we group emotions into larger categories.

In the later part of the 20th century psychologist Paul Eckman identified five basic emotions that he believed were experienced by all cultures around the world:

  • anger,
  • disgust,
  • fear,
  • happiness,
  • sadness, and
  • surprise.

He and other scientists believed that these were the hardwired emotions that early humans needed for survival.

These five emotions helped early humans know if they needed to defend a territory or respond to danger.

Who knew that we would all one day live in a world where a device in our pocket would allow us to peek in on our friends Facebook page and get angry about their POLITICAL stance?

That’s a long way from feeling angry about the clan leader from the next village stealing the food from your last hunt.

We can get emotional about just about anything now.

Our lives now are lived on a full spectrum of emotions.

  • You may not feel angry but you might be annoyed.
  • Maybe you’re not disgusted per se, but you might feel suspicious.
  • Maybe you’re not necessarily happy but you do feel content.

Part of having good stress management skills is being able to identify and label exactly what emotions you’re feeling.

I don’t have to list them here. You can simply Google “list of emotions” and find some great lists out there.

Just like your teacher gave you a vocabulary list to study in the third grade, download one of these lists and take some time to define each of these emotions.

  • How do they play out in your life?
  • How do you typically respond when you feel, say, embarrassed?
  • What does it look like for you when you feel proud?

Become familiar with each of them so that you will know when you’re experiencing them.

Once you have a working emotional vocabulary, then you can use these words to quickly label how you feel in an emotional moment.

You can actually make a verbal statement right in the middle of your emotional experience that describes how you feel.

If you’re annoyed because you’re stuck in traffic, you can simply state to yourself, “I am so annoyed right now.”

The person sitting next to you might be like yeah, no kidding?

This is called affect labeling. And it is a physiological response.

This part is very cool.

Affect labeling slows down a part of your brain that’s responsible for your emotional responses.

That part of your brain is called the amygdala which is part of your limbic system and helps you manage your mood.

Functional MRI’s have shown this area of the brain quite literally cools down after simply putting feelings into words.

That almost sounds too simple, right?

Making a simple statement about the emotions you feel causes your physical body to respond.

It may not make the traffic any better, but it will take the edge off the annoyance you feel in that moment.

But in order to label that emotion, you have to know what you’re dealing with.

That’s why the vocabulary is so important.

This is a great little skill to learn to help you not feel so overwhelmed by the full range of emotions you might feel in a day.

Learning to identify your emotions is the first step to understanding what you’re feeling.

Articulating to yourself what you’re feeling helps you understand better what solutions you might need to look at.

And all of this forms a terrific foundation for better communication skills with others because now you can explain what you’re really feeling.

Take some time to explore your emotional vocabulary and find ways to increase your knowledge of your emotional experiences.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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.
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Ep 59: Are strong emotions bad for you?

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Did you grow up thinking your strong emotions are bad for you? We get the message early on that emotions are either bad or good. This is mostly based on what we do with those emotions.

It’s easy to avoid emotions that make us uncomfortable because we don’t think they have a role to play in our lives.

But emotions, especially powerful emotions, can tell us a lot about ourselves.

Learn how to let all your emotions find their natural place in your life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on resilience, you can check out all the episodes here.

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 59: Are emotions bad for you?

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

How many times have you missed the mark with something because you just couldn’t handle your emotions? And then you chastised yourself for feeling such difficult emotion?

You don’t need a therapist to tell you that emotions are powerful.

Even though this therapist did just tell you that. 😀

Emotions represent some of the most basic needs that we have as humans.

The ability to love, fight for justice, feel joy, and move bravely through sadness is what makes us human.

We are absolutely wired for emotion, even the messy ones that spill out all over everybody around us.

From the minute we enter the grand stage of our life, one of our earliest, most basic needs is to attach to others.

This happens through a profound process of love and physical nurturing from a caregiver.

Attachment is a dealbreaker for every baby human to start healthy development.

And all that happens from powerful emotion going from one person to another.

Since we’re little kids, we are led to believe that some emotions are good and some emotions are bad.

The evidence for this is largely due to the behaviors that we show when we feel certain emotions.

  • If we get angry and we throw something, then anger is bad.
  • If we do something that pleases others and we didn’t get upset about having to do it, then we must be happy.

One fun exercise I like to do with kids is to give them a page full of different emojis. The faces range from happy to angry, and all points in between.

I simply ask the kid to cross out the bad faces and circle the good faces.

They waste no time crossing out the obvious angry face, the frustrated face, the sad face, the worried face, and sometimes the confused face.

It takes them a lot longer to pick out the good faces. Once they get past the obvious smiling face, you can see the philosophical war going on in their head with silly face and rolling eyes face.

They’re fun faces, but are they good?

When they’re done, I ask them to pick out one of the faces they crossed out.

In almost every case they pick the angry face. What makes that face a bad face, I ask.

Because that face was mad and did something wrong, so they got in trouble for it, comes their reply.

I keep probing.

So…it’s bad to feel angry?

They look at me as if I suddenly grew a third eyeball right in the middle of my forehead.

Of course it’s bad to feel angry because when you get angry you get in trouble.

So you shouldn’t feel angry.

And there it is.

Before you even hit puberty, you’re taught to avoid emotions that make you uncomfortable.

Yelling back at your mom or throwing your Xbox game controller on the ground is bad, so anger is bad.

Unfortunately, well-meaning parents focus just on correcting the negative behaviors that stem from unhealthy emotions instead of helping their kids listen to what those powerful feelings are trying to tell them.

And there’s almost no focus on healthy emotions and understanding how to appreciate that for the gift that it is.

Hearing what your emotions are trying to tell you helps you learn what to do to manage them when things get difficult.

Emotions are dashboard indicators that tell us what’s important to us, or to pay attention to something that’s bothering us.

  • Anger may tell you that you were actually hurt by a situation and you need to repair a relationship in order to move forward. You don’t need to run from that.
  • Contentment and joy may tell you that your focus on prioritizing your family is actually making you happier. Keep doing what you’re doing!

Emotions are less good or bad and more healthy or unhealthy.

Unhealthy emotions can lead to unhealthy behaviors, but that doesn’t make YOU bad.

Framing emotions in this way gives you more power to actually feel like you can have some mastery over them.

When you lose your cool with your kids, instead of beating yourself up for reacting in anger and thinking you’re a bad parent, you can spend some time trying to understand what’s really happening here.

  • Are you overwhelmed with all of your other responsibilities?
  • Have you set up clear boundaries with your kids so that they clearly understand the role they play in the family?

Figure out what’s laying underneath that unhealthy emotion.

Do you feel like you’re going to lose it every day at work? Maybe you feel like you’re swimming in a cesspool of frustration, powerlessness, jealousy and boredom.

That’s a recipe for disengagement for sure. But this isn’t a bad thing. You can tap into each of these emotions and investigate the situations that got you here.

  • Are you jealous of that coworker who got promoted ahead of you? Maybe you’re feeling hurt that you didn’t get chosen and you feel rejected.
  • Fine. It’s okay to feel that way. Now you know that promotion was important to you.
  • What role can you play to make any changes that might set you up for the future?
  • What other options might you have?

In order to do the healthy work to improve yourself, it’s important to lose the idea of good or bad when it comes to emotions.

That’s a super fast way to judge yourself and others.

There are just too many variations on our emotions to think that just one set of emotions is good and the rest are bad.

Learn to be curious about what your emotions are telling you.

Emotions add color and joy to our lives.

They complement logic and reason because sometimes things are not always so black-and-white.

Even difficult emotions add value because they are a testament to what we’ve been through.

And if we’re still standing, our emotions and our ability to use them can show us just what we’re capable of.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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.
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Ep 58: Finding meaning and purpose through resilience

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Meaning and purpose aren’t just a one-stop destination you fulfill at the end of your life. You can find meaning and purpose in every day. And you create it every day with those around you.

Tapping into your strengths and looking forward — the ingredients for resilience — frees you up to settle in to your purpose by doing what you do best.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

Check out the other episodes in my series this week on resilience.

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 58: Finding meaning and purpose through resilience

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

So far this week in this series on resilience we’ve defined resilience as being able to identify resources and taking action to help yourself.

When we start focusing on our strengths and looking to the future, we discover that our purpose starts to reveal itself.

Do you think about your purpose a lot?

I know ever since I was a little girl I thought maybe there was this one thing that I was supposed to do. One way that my life would impact other people.

I was pretty focused on it. I sure didn’t want to miss my purpose because I wanted my life to matter.

I was a very serious little girl wasn’t I? 🤓

My teen years and early adulthood centered around trying to figure out that one thing that would take me to my purpose. Never mind that I wasn’t 100% sure what that purpose was exactly.

This put pressure on me because every new effort required some kind of direct line to this ill defined purpose.

I surely didn’t want to waste any time doing something that wasn’t going to lead me to that ultimate singular purpose.

I remember this time being full of busyness and constant activity. I felt overwhelmed a lot.

But I just thought this was part of having a sense of meaning and purpose in your life.

What I’ve discovered now that I’m a middle aged adult, is that my purpose isn’t measured by one destination.

It’s lived out hundreds of times a day in how I interact with others.

My purpose isn’t about one big thing that I can put on my tombstone one day.

The more I understand that the more I am able to give myself a break when I miss something. And the more I give myself a break the less stressed I feel.

Funny how that works.

I heard Tony Robbins say one time that this relentless search for meaning and purpose that we modern world citizens are looking for is a relatively new thing.

Just a little more than 100 years ago, people did not expect to to live a very long time. And for whatever time you were alive, life was more about survival and taking care of immediate daily needs.

Your meaning and purpose was most likely to put food on your table.

Meaning and purpose didn’t have the same front row seat that it does now in our profoundly abundant world.

This search for so many of us is a relatively new phenomenon in the history of humanity.

So it’s totally okay if you don’t have this figured out yet.

Part of staying resilient to stress is knowing that your efforts are leading to something.

Of course you want to be intentional and make sure you’re doing the best you can to live out your purpose.

You want to know that you can have some kind of control over where your life goes and how you can impact your future.

We all want to know that our time here on earth is well spent.

But sometimes I think we make this purpose thing too hard.

I think one of the greatest contributions to our stress is this constant push to be accomplishing something. Every activity, every effort has to lead to something.

And if you can’t find common themes or draw some lines, then you freak out because you start wondering:

  • Where is all this going?
  • What’s my purpose?
  • And is all this activity leading toward something?

Your purpose is not an event that you’re trying to get to.

It is something that you live out every day with the people you work with, with your family that you love and take care of, and with the parts of yourself that you share with others.

It’s entirely possible that you exist purely for other people to help them and to give them meaning in their life or encouragement that they need.

For me, this is exactly my purpose. The technical skills I bring to my whatever work I’m doing take a very distant backseat to the way that I encourage others and help them find their way to the next step.

I do this without thinking about it and I couldn’t tell you exactly how I do it.

But it is truly my purpose.

For all of the soul searching, the assessing of your skills, the focus on intention and disciplined effort, you may already be living your purpose.

Don’t get so caught up in finding your why that you miss the what that you bring to the world around you every day.

You can catch the previous episodes of this series on resilience by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Just search for “Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.”

If you want Mental Health Moment delivered right to your inbox, visit mymentalhealthmoment.com to sign up to get these delivered to your email every day.

If you’re STILL wanting for more, you can find articles and videos about stress and mental health, by visiting 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.
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Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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