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Mental Health Moment on break

It’s summer, and my son is getting married this month! 💞❤

So I’m taking a short break from new episodes of Mental Health Moment.

I’ll return with NEW EPISODES on June 24.

Until then, here’s a few early episodes you may have missed!

 

Episode 2: Sticky note wins the day

 

 

 

Episode 3: Don’t stress exercise

 

 

 

Episode 4: Deep breathing isn’t just “take a deep breath”

 

 

 

Episode 5: Five things (and also 20 things) to reduce stress

 

 

 

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

 

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Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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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! 

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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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.
  • Share this episode on Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn .

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 10: This is gratitude

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Gratitude is a big part of a healthy, happy life. But gratitude is more than just feeling good about what you have.

Learn how you can use gratitude to help others, and help yourself in return.

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! 

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

in your inbox every day.

 





Full transcript 👇

Ep 10: This is gratitude

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

When I was a kid my mom used to tell me that I should be grateful for what I have because so many others around the world were doing without.

No doubt someone important in your life may have said the exact same thing to you.

But gratitude is more than just being grateful that you have more than others.

It’s appreciation for what you’ve been given and you want to share with others out of that gratitude.

Gratitude is more than a feeling.

It’s a practice that takes your focus off of your own needs and places it squarely on what you can do for others.

It helps you appreciate the contributions that other people are making in your life. This goes a long way in building your own resilience to stress.

So, how do you practice gratitude?

Quite a few years ago Oprah Winfrey made the gratitude journal quite popular. Then again, Oprah makes everything quite popular.

Gratitude journals are a way to capture daily reminders of the goodness in our lives. They’re effective, and I do recommend them to my clients.

But the practice of gratitude really takes off when you go beyond capturing good things on paper. You can take specific actions to show your gratitude to others who have helped you.

  • Like writing a thank you note to a coworker who helped you solve a problem that came up right before you left on Friday.
  • Or sending an encouraging text to a friend who helped you through some really tough stuff. You never know when OTHERS need that little notification to pop up on a tough day.
  • Maybe you buy someone’s lunch just because you’re grateful you’ve always had enough food on your table most of your life.

Those are just a couple of ideas.

This kind of actionable gratitude has some science on its side.

In a recent study out of Berkeley, researchers studied three groups of 300 college students who were seeking counseling for depression and anxiety.

All the groups received counseling.

But one group, in addition to counseling, wrote one gratitude letter each week to another person. (Gratitude letters describe what someone did for you and how it affected your life.)

The group kept up this practice for three weeks.

The second group wrote about their negative thoughts, feelings and experiences.

The third group just received the counseling.

More than four weeks after the writing exercise ended, the first group reported the most improved mental health of all three groups.

Here’s the interesting thing: only 23% of the participants in this group actually sent the letter.

And this positive effect lasted an additional eight weeks after the study was over.

The writers felt less depressed and anxious long after the exercise was over. They also probably improved someone else’s life with their kind and grateful words.

Take a moment and come up with a few practical ways you can show your gratitude to others this week, big or small, it doesn’t matter.

It will make you feel better and help you not just be grateful, but create a gratitude mindset.

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Give yourself a Mental Health Moment every day!

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Amazon Alexa skill - Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller

Sometimes you need some encouragement right at the top of the day so you can stay focused on what will keep you energized and productive. 🌝

I’m excited to debut my Alexa skill, Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller.

It’s a little shot in the arm to start your day.

Every day I’ll talk about small ways you can inject a bit of sanity in your day.

If you have an Amazon Echo you can enable Mental Health Moment in the Alexa store. You can also download the Alexa app on your phone or tablet and enable the skill there.

Check out all the details on my Amazon skill page.

Feel free to leave me a review. I’d love to know what you think! 🤔

What Martin Luther King, Jr. taught me about faith

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.Today we will read words honoring a great man here in the United States, Martin Luther King, Jr. His life changed our perspective and society in ways few have since, and probably ever will.

Since his death more than 50 years ago, his story has become part of our American narrative, a grand picture of destiny and purpose. We extol him as a man of vision who dreams of a better world, in spite of the evil swirling around him.

His name signifies the promise of the heritage he would ultimately come to embrace.

King’s birth name was originally Michael King, Jr. But his father changed both his and young King’s name after returning from a trip to Germany in the 1930s, just after Hitler took power. The elder King was moved by what was unfolding in the homeland of the father of Protestantism, Martin Luther.

Martin Luther quite literally changed the face of Christianity in the 1500s using his powerful words and his sense of destiny.

No pressure, young King.

Both he and Martin Luther King, Jr. became pivot points in Christian history.

Game changers.

And both men were unashamed in living out their purpose and engaging the world they were born into.

To me, Martin Luther King, Jr. embodies all that we can imagine through simple and persistent hope and faith.

Since his death I think King’s life as a great man of faith has gotten a bit lost.

Before he was an activist and master orator for civic change, he was a man who believed that God’s hand was on his life in the most powerful way.

It all starts there.

Few of us will realize our life’s destiny the way King did. He realized his through the lens of his unmoving faith.

  • This kind of resolute faith is what compels you to take action, regardless of risk to life and freedom.
  • This kind of resolute faith doesn’t always make you feel happy about how things are going in your life.
  • This kind of resolute faith can be full of fear at what may lie ahead because you may just be shaking the foundation of institution.

His faith wasn’t something he decided to try out at a self-help seminar one weekend. This was a conviction and a way of life that went to his core.

His ability to speak the truth so powerfully and without apology was rooted in an unshakeable faith in who he was, who his God was and what he knew his God could do.

  • He must have had some desperate thoughts because he was human.
  • He must have struggled to see the full picture ahead because he couldn’t know exactly what the future held.
  • He must have wondered if he was living up to what he was designed for because it wasn’t as easy as he wanted it to be.

What makes him so special in my eyes is not just his inspiring words for change, but his steadfast obedience to his call.

He didn’t allow setbacks to remove him from his destiny. He didn’t allow the daily challenges of living his destiny to pull him away from his purpose.

Where would we be if he had?

King’s legacy is even more important to us today.

For many of us (certainly not all of us), life has become comfortable and entertaining.

We don’t challenge much.

  • We give away one of our greatest assets — our attention — to the day’s lowest common denominators.
  • We expect fairness in all things and demand that life brings us what we need and want or we won’t play.
  • We allow setbacks to steal our hope in one snap of a finger.
  • We invite the words of others who have nothing invested in us to injure us and pierce our peace.
  • We allow the thoughts inside the space of our very own heads to run unchallenged and roughshod over our purpose and steal our destiny from us.

We give in to a victim mentality that demands our circumstances change before we will engage.

This, even as most of us will never be asked to give our lives for our call.

And we wonder why we struggle to find purpose and meaning in our work and personal lives.

In just 39 short years, King showed what a persistent and obedient life of faith can do for millions of people that he would never meet.

Will we do the same in the much smaller sphere of our own lives?

This is gratitude

Hopefully you live with a sense of gratitude all year round. But at Thanksgiving you’re allowed to include some pie with it. Yesss!

Gratitude may cloak itself in delicious, carb-laden gravies and desserts once a year, but it gets top billing in mental health pretty much all the time.

Because you can’t make real change unless you first acknowledge what you already have.

I’ll go so far as to say that the practice of gratitude should be annexed as a full-fledged member of the anxiety and depression toolkit.

It’s that powerful.

Gratitude is more than being grateful. 

When I was a kid my mom used to tell me that I should be grateful for what I have because so many others are going without right now, even as we speak. 👀

I remember feeling a little guilty enjoying my mom’s delicious banana pudding with the name-brand Nilla Wafers in it because somewhere else in the world someone was wishing they could have some, and I had it just because it was a Wednesday.

No doubt your mom said the exact same thing. She probably heard it from her mom, who most likely went through The Great Depression and knew exactly what she was talking about.

“Well, at least I’m not that guy.” This is typically how we view gratitude.

But gratitude is more than just being grateful that you have more than others. It’s appreciation for what you’ve been given and a desire to share with others out of that gratitude.

Gratitude is a discipline that can take your focus off of your needs and place it squarely on what you can do for others.

And like any other discipline, gratitude can be practiced, developed, ritualized, taught and shared.

How do you “practice” gratitude? 

A few years ago Oprah Winfrey shared with her ginormous audience her daily practice of writing in a gratitude journal. Like almost everything Oprah endorses, the idea of capturing daily reminders of the goodness in our lives took off like a truant firecracker.

It’s a good thing (I’m now clearly mixing my media tycoons).

Gratitude journals are indeed a tangible way to visualize the things we’re grateful for. And it’s something I recommend to people struggling with depression because it reframes your focus off of so many negative thoughts.

But the practice of gratitude really takes off when you realize that not only can you capture the good things on paper, but you also can take specific actions to thank others who have helped you, or pay it forward in a similar way.

  • You can write a thank you note (with old fashioned pen and paper) to a coworker who helped you solve a thorny problem at 3pm on Friday. There is something special about getting a real card at work.
  • You can text an encouraging message to a friend who has helped you through some stuff. You never know when others may need that little notification to pop up on a tough day.
  • You can write a letter (again, pen & paper) to a loved one who has meant so much to you. I guarantee they will keep that letter until the day they die.
  • You can give a little financial support to a cause or organization that has helped you. You don’t have to give enough to trigger a press release or a naming opportunity; just enough to show that you appreciate the work on your behalf.
  • You can buy someone’s lunch just because you are grateful to have had enough food on your table for most of your life.

Just spitballing a few ideas here. You can DIY your own.

Try this at least once a day, in some way, big or small. Get creative.

Now you’ve taken action to help others, instead of just letting the gratitude serve you and making you feel better about you.

Gratitude is helping you change your behaviors. Good job! 👍

Gratitude has some science on its side. 

A recent study out of Berkeley showed the power of this kind of actionable gratitude.

Researchers studied three groups of 300 adults, who were mostly college students seeking counseling with mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

In addition to counseling, one group wrote one gratitude letter each week to another person. (Gratitude letters describe what someone did for you and how it affected your life.) They kept up this practice for three weeks.

The second group received counseling and wrote about their negative thoughts, feelings and experiences.

The third group just received counseling.

More than four weeks after the writing exercise ended, the first group reported improved and continued mental health, as compared to the other two groups. Interestingly enough, only 23% of the participants in this group actually sent their letter. (Personally, I’ve always been terrible at this part.)

This positive effect lasted an additional eight weeks (this brings us to 12 weeks post-writing exercise, for you math geniuses).

The writers felt better long after the exercise was over, and they most likely improved the life of someone else with their letters.

Writers for the win! 🍾

Gratitude is a brain changer. 

Gratitude appears to be a reward loop. The more you practice it, the more you want to do for others, which makes you feel good, which makes you practice it more, which makes it… you get it.

Inside your head, your brain is registering this loop as a dopamine rush. Dopamine is the reward neurotransmitter in the brain.

When you experience that rush through a pleasurable activity, your brain says, “Yes, that was very good. I would like plenty more of that, please and thank you.”

Your brain then provides a deeper pathway for that dopamine to make sure the next time it comes through it can capture it better. It’s like little neurological high-fives going on in your head.

More importantly, those deeper pathways mean that your brain is adapting to accommodate the pleasurable activity, which means your brain is physically changing.

If you’re doing illegal drugs, this is not good news. But if you’re conditioning your brain to recognize and express gratitude, then this is pretty great news.

Your brain is helping you create a habit, and good habits create good practices.

Now you have a gratitude mindset. 💃🏻

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Source articles:

https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_gratitude_changes_you_and_your_brain

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/prefrontal-nudity/201211/the-grateful-brain

https://www.thecut.com/2016/01/how-expressing-gratitude-change-your-brain.html

https://wakeup-world.com/2017/01/08/how-expressing-gratitude-rewires-your-brain-for-the-better/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288932385_The_effects_of_gratitude_expression_on_neural_activity