Ep 68: Find your carefree

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What does it mean to live carefree? Is that even possible today with so much grabbing for our attention?

So much of being carefree is in letting go of what’s not serving you. Here’s a little of my experience.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 68: Find your carefree

Hi. I’m Lori Miller and I’m back! This…is your Mental Health Moment.

How’s your summer so far?

I took a little break there because my son just got married. It’s hard to believe that the little toddler who used to stand in his diaper next to the window and laugh and wave at the guys on the back of the trash truck… is now a married man.

That was so fast.

I wanted to drink in all the fun and happiness these past few weeks, and experience every emotion and feeling.

And we surely did that!

I’ve spent the past few days since the wedding quietly reflecting on what it all means.

Because I’ll tell you, watching my son and his wife look at each other and how they can see their future together just in the way they smile, literally nothing else mattered in that moment.

Sitting there watching all this, I wasn’t thinking about how I was going to get through all my emails, or how much paperwork I had to do, or if there was going to be time to fit in all my writing sessions for this week.

That day in my life, watching them start a new life, was simply…carefree.

It wasn’t so much that I didn’t have any care in the world. But it was more about what I chose to focus on in that moment.

All that other stuff just didn’t make the cut that day. Not even close.

And I liked feeling carefree very much.

I don’t know that I’ve given the idea of carefree living too much attention before now.

When I think of carefree I think of someone running through a field of tulips or something, maybe letting your hair run wild and free. I was a teenager in the 80s and there were a lot of hair commercials back then so maybe that’s where that came from.

If you’re a taskmaster like me, being carefree sounds slightly horrifying because it means something else is probably not getting done while you’re running through all those tulips.

It took me a while to even put that word on what I was feeling.

I guess I equate being carefree with fun and they’re really not the same thing, are they?

When I think of fun I think Disney World or a trip to New York or watching the Yankees win (and that is soooo happening this year, my friends, mark my words).

But these fun things are wrapped up in specific events. I can’t do fun things like that very often unless I win the lottery.

But carefree, well, I think I can live like that.

Because being carefree is just focusing on letting go of what’s pulling on me.

Do you ever feel like this? Like everything’s just pulling on you all at the same time?

Wouldn’t it be nice to just not feel that pressure for a nanosecond?

You can actually make that happen for yourself.

Feeling carefree is less about not having any cares at all but caring more about what’s important to you.

There’s no magic formula or mantra for being carefree. When I decide to focus and give my attention to one thing that matters to me, everything else seems to kind of fall away on its own.

I feel room and space around me to breathe a bit.

So carefree is a place I can choose to go anytime I want.

What are some benefits of choosing to live in a carefree state of mind?

Well for starters, it takes you out of that “just existing” mode.

I know you know what I’m talking about.

It’s not hard to fill your life up with so much stuff to do that you feel like you’re just checking the boxes and doing it all again tomorrow.

Same time, same station, same snacks.

Choosing to be more carefree means maybe you leave a few boxes unchecked today.

Stop the hamster wheel for a minute and experience just one different thing, something that’s not on your list.

Sometimes this is enough to help you feel like you can breathe again.

Second, being carefree is a slam dunk when it comes to staying in the present moment.

You can’t be carefree and be thinking about next Tuesday’s meeting or stewing over how your mechanic ripped you off last week.

Most of our stress and anxiety is wrapped up in the moments we’re not currently living in.

I mean, your life is happening right now.

Choosing to give yourself a carefree moment gives you a shot at actually experiencing that.

Last, finding carefree moments helps you let go of your stress.

You’ve probably had that experience on vacation when you finally let go of your to do list and then you’re like, what was I thinking? Why do I let that stuff bother me?

I’m totally gonna stop doing that.

You get clarity in that moment because it’s so obvious what is giving you energy and strength. But honestly you can have that realization on a smaller level every day.

When you stop and make the choice to experience where you are in any given moment, you take your stress down a notch.

I wish I could give you a recipe for carefree but honestly you have to define this one for yourself.

What’s carefree for me may seem ridiculous to you.

The truth is that we are trying to do too much. And much of what we do on any given day is just not that important, if we’re honest.

Life isn’t just about getting stuff done and achieving goals.

There’s such a rich tapestry of experiences that we’re missing out on because we’re bound up by our task centered existence.

Choose to find a few random carefree moments in your days and see if it doesn’t change your outlook on your stress.

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.

You can find other 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!

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Check out the best of Mental Health Moment

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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! 

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

in your inbox every day.

 





 

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!

 

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!

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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! 👆

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

 

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 55: How to find your power when dealing with change at work

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Change at work has become the new normal. You can fight it, or you can figure out how to find your power right in the midst of change.

Part of being resilient is knowing what you can hang on to to get through change.

As part of my series this week on resilience, in this episode, I share a story from the fifth grade to illustrate how you can find resilience and find your power even as everything is changing.

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! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 55: How to find your power when dealing with change at work

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

One day when I was in the 5th grade, I was riding my bike to school on a small country road.

I was about halfway to school when I heard a vehicle coming up behind me. I turned my head to see a white pickup truck bouncing down the road in my direction.

I was pretty sure he saw me but I made sure I was fully on the right side of the road on the shoulder. I grabbed the handlebars tightly and steadied myself as I braced for the truck to go by, my little legs still pedaling so hard.

This was not the first time a truck had passed me on this road. So I fully expected to feel a breeze from the truck as it went by.

What I didn’t expect was a loud, obnoxious “Woof!” in my left ear as the truck flew by.

Okay, that was my attempt to sound like a very large barking dog.

Turns out, there was a big dog in the back of that truck who decided to say hi to a little girl on her bike right in that moment.

I was so startled I drove straight into the ditch next to the road and flew head first right off my bike and in to wet grass.

Books, lunchbox, glasses and all.

I’m sure it was a YouTube worthy moment. Thank goodness there was no YouTube in those days.

I can promise you the next time I heard a vehicle come up behind me on that road, I had some extra information in my pocket to prepare myself.

I became more keenly aware of the possibilities for what could happen when a truck goes by you on a country road.

And I learned what I need to do to become more resilient to prepare myself to stay out of that ditch.

Does this experience describe how you feel when change happens all around you at work?

We all just want to get on our bikes and get to school, for crying out loud. But you don’t know what you don’t know, and that can be really frustrating.

Constant change is just part of being in the workforce today.

It’s lovely to say that we wish it wouldn’t change so much and remember how it used to be.

But work is now very competitive and companies have to run fast to keep up with changes in your industry.

This means that:

  • leadership teams shuffle around more often,
  • technology gets outdated more quickly and has to change, and
  • markets get more unpredictable and require fast changes for companies to stay afloat.

And all that can add up to uncomfortable changes in how you do your work.

Remember in yesterday’s episode we talked about how resilience isn’t just about what you’ve already been through. You can use your own strengths to help you stay forward focused to weather what’s ahead of you.

The same formula applies here.

The first thing you have to remember here is to not take change at work personally.

It’s rarely about you and almost always about trying to survive to live another day.

Instead of complaining about how all these changes are affecting you, you can take a more offensive approach.

Use this time as things are shuffling and moving around to assess what you would like to see in your job.

  • Are you really feeling SO challenged and engaged in your job?
  • Is there some scenario where you would be okay with seeing some things change so that maybe you can re-engage in your work?

Ask yourself a series of questions to help you come up with some ideas in the middle of all this change happening around you.

  • What’s working for you?
  • What’s not working?
  • What skills would you like to continue to develop or deepen?
  • What other levers could you pull to achieve some larger career goals?
  • What do you want to do? There’s a wild question.

You don’t have to necessarily share your answers with anyone. But knowing what options you might have can help you have a little more power in those times when you feel like you have very little control.

The second thing to remember is to avoid sitting and stewing about all the negative possibilities in your situation.

Ruminating about all the things that are going wrong or could go wrong with all this change leads to a feeling of hopelessness.

And it certainly removes your power from the situation. Resilience is all about keeping your power so you can access it when you need it.

Because you answered those questions I mentioned earlier, AND you made a list of your strengths from yesterday‘s episode, you already know what you bring to the table. 😉

Now you can walk through a different perspective.

Not a paranoid one that thinks all of these changes are about making me miserable.

But a perspective that helps you learn how you might contribute to some of this change in a positive way.

Instead of replaying your scary movie in your head over and over again, challenge yourself to look for all of the possibilities and sniff out your opportunities.

Which leads me to this.

One of the most important things you can do to stay flexible and resilient through change at work is to stay away from gossip and rumors.

This is your kryptonite.

Sorry I just mixed a barking dog in a pickup truck analogy with Superman. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

Gossip is the one thing that sinks many good people. When things change at work, we can be filled with fear.

Every little snackable morsel of information that comes your way is like kindling on a fire that stokes your fear.

To be fair, sometimes poor communication during times of change makes you desperate for any communication at all.

But the more you poke at gossip and entertain it, the more oxygen it gets and the brighter it burns.

Gossip takes away your ability to ask meaningful questions and find out where you have real power.

Instead it wants you to position yourself as the victim.

Now you’re more concerned about what’s happening to you and how you can protect yourself instead of focusing on your strengths and what you’re grateful for.

And for what might still be ahead.

You can’t avoid change at work.

And you can’t avoid all the ways it might affect you.

But you definitely have the power to use what you know about yourself and challenge your thoughts about what you see happening around you.

You have this power all day long.

Knowing what strengths you bring to this equation will help you keep your hands firmly on the handlebars, and hopefully, keep you out of the ditch looking for your glasses.

Tomorrow we’ll look at how stress can lead us to feel entitled and how we can find ways to live in a different mindset.

You can catch all the previous episodes of mental health moment at its new web address at mymentalhealthmoment.com.

As always you can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify.

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 54: Building resilience to fight stress and find opportunity

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Building resilience isn’t just something that happens after you go through something challenging. You can build resilience every day. It’s a skill, a habit that will help you weather whatever comes your way.

In the first episode of this series, learn how you can focus on building resilience for creating a buffer against the stress of change and find opportunities to feel more powerful.

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! 

Full transcript 👇

Ep 54: Practice building resilience to fight stress and find opportunity

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

This week I want to look at some areas related to resilience.

We really don’t think about resilience a lot, do we? It’s hard to define.

You can put a number on how depressed or anxious you are, but how do you measure resilience?

Resilience is like that Jell-O salad at Thanksgiving. No one can define it, really, and everybody makes it a different way.

And it almost never looks sexy.

But thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without it, right?

The Google box defines resilience as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.” Another definition is “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.”

Those are pretty good definitions, but they focus more on resilience as a result of something we’ve already been through.

How can you leverage what you have right now, in the middle of what you’re dealing with right now, to become more resistant to the effects of change and challenge?

Resilience is simply this: how can you identify the resources available to you today and take action to help yourself when stuff gets real?

To find your resilience you have to look beyond your situation and figure out what YOU can bring to the table.

  • What strengths can you activate to deal with your situation?
  • When should you use those strengths?
  • How can you set yourself up for the next situation that rolls around?

Resilience, then, is actually a skill that you can build with intention and purpose.

The choices and decisions you make can empower you right in the middle of all your drama.

And with the right focus, you can make resilience a habit, and a powerful one.

How can you focus on building resilience?

First, identify your strengths

What strengths describe how you move through your life when you’re successful?

These are more like positive character traits.

  • Do you have courage?
  • Are you positive-minded?
  • Are you a rational thinker?
  • Are you enthusiastic?
  • Are you known for your integrity?
  • Do you like to show kindness to others?

You need to identify and develop a foundation of strengths to build on. This is what you can draw from on a dime when things get hot.

It doesn’t matter what’s happening around you.

If you can use your courage, for example, to make a simple decision to change something about your life today, then you can feel like you still have some power in the middle of your situation.

Your strengths are like health in a video game.

The more you have, the longer you can last. And you always want to pick up as much as you can, even if you don’t feel like you need them right now.

So, figure out what you’re really good at when things hit the fan.

Second, building resilience means you need to stay forward focused.

Your past plays a big role in building resilience because you can learn from what you’ve been through. I mean, hopefully at least you can learn from what you’ve been through, right? But that’s where it ends.

If you’re constantly replaying what happened to you over and over again, it’s easy to get stuck. You can take yourself right back to those same hurtful emotions and re-injure yourself.

Create the habit of being curious about what’s ahead.

Take a look at that list of strengths that you just built and figure out how you can leverage those strengths to impact something, or create a future opportunity for yourself right now.

Make a list of all of your possible options, even the weird or less-likely ones.

Sometimes this kind of brainstorming can generate solutions you hadn’t thought of yet.

Third, practice a gratitude mindset.

This is the special sauce you can come back to every time because gratitude reminds you of what you’ve already come through.

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

Maybe you can encourage someone with a text or a written note, or buy someone’s lunch today just because you’re grateful you’ve always had enough to eat.

So gratitude is more than a feeling.

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

A gratitude mindset is the cornerstone of building resilience because it helps you appreciate the contributions that other people are making in your life and in the lives of others.

Much of the stress we experience is reacting to stuff that happens to us.

Part of weathering that stress is making sure we have enough resources we can draw on to withstand what comes our way.

But you can take this a step further by asking yourself, what can I do to set myself up better for the next challenge that comes around?

That’s how you practice resilience.

Over the next few days we’ll look at how building resilience can help you in a few ways.

  • How can resilience help you create a buffer against the stress of change, especially at work?
  • How can you feel less entitled when you’re most stressed and really want to feel entitled?
  • How can resilience help you create your own opportunities to feel powerful and confident, and finally,
  • How can it help you find purpose and meaning in spite of your struggles?

Make sure you don’t miss any episodes this week by subscribing to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify.

I would just be over the moon if you could leave me a review in any of those places.

For even more articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 51: Stop howling and start moving

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I love the story of the old dog on the front porch. I think it illustrates the place most of us are familiar with at some point in our journey.

What changes will you make to stop your pain and start moving in a new direction?

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 51: Stop howling and start moving - Beagle dog staring at the camera

This was a good excuse to put a cute dog in this post. You’re welcome! 😊

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

Today I have one simple thought for you.

Have you heard the story about the old dog?

There are a few versions of it, so here’s mine.

A man was taking a walk in a country town on an old dirt road.

He could see an old farmhouse in the distance.

As he got closer, he thought he heard a strange and sad sound. He stopped for a minute and listened, thinking it could be coming from the same direction as the house.

Sure enough, as the house became larger in the distance, the sound turned into the most God-awful wailing he’d ever heard.

On and on it went, one horrible gut-wrenching howl after another.

With the house right in front of him now, the man saw an old, floppy-eared dog sitting on the front porch.

It was super clear now where the sound was coming from.

Man, he thought, who knew all that weeping and wailing could come from one little dog?

The man saw an old farmer sitting in a rocking chair just next to the dog.

The man couldn’t help himself.

“Sir, your dog sure is making a lot of noise.“

“Yep,” the farmer replied as he rocked slowly in his chair.

“What’s wrong with him,“ asked the man.

“Why, he’s sittin’ on a nail,” he said.

The man smirked a little.

“Well that’s easy enough. Why doesn’t he just move off the nail?“

The farmer shrugged.

“Doesn’t hurt bad enough.”

What nail have you been sitting on?

If you’ve been hollering for a while and it’s not changing anything, maybe you’re missing the simple solution.

How much longer are you going to howl about your unsatisfying job?

Could you move off that nail to put yourself out there and find something better?

Or would moving the nail simply mean finding ways to re-engage your work right where you are?

Do you keep returning to the same place over and over again in your relationships?

Maybe your nail involves getting some therapy to figure out your unhealthy patterns that bring you right back to the same place every time.

Doing real work on your issues just might keep you from all that wailing on the front porch.

One thing is for sure, there will come a point when the pain will finally just be too much.

When that happens, you will have to face fear and discomfort to feel better. Somehow, that will seem like a more viable option than where you are right now.

This is where you will finally feel like you’re making progress.

The ironic thing is that you probably only need to move six inches in one direction to change your whole outlook.

And once you move off that nail and see how it wasn’t as hard as you thought, you’ll wish that farmer would’ve pointed it out to you long before.

What do you have to do to move off your nail?

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 50: How to worry less and figure out what to let go of

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Worry always seems to be with us. I hear from people every day who ask me how they can simply worry less.

There’s no magic technique, I’m afraid.

Worry is a hard habit to break, and you might wish you could just let go of it like a red balloon at the fair.

But part of working to figure out what to let go of is to know what healthy things can replace your worry.

I have a little exercise here that might help you. It includes a Worry Less Action Plan downloadable exercise you can work through over the next few days. This episode will take you through the exercise.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 50: How to worry less and figure out what to let go of - person sitting against a wall with a red cardboard frown face placed over their face

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

Worry creates a mess inside your head.

You can take a perfectly nice day, with vibrant sunshine, birds singing their very first songs of the day, the beautiful glisten of morning dew on the grass, and you can mess all of that up with your worries.

Give yourself five minutes to start thinking about what’s not working in your life and:

  • those birds will sound warbled and annoying,
  • the sun will get too hot, and
  • the dew will have now attracted mosquitos who can’t seem to stop feasting on you.

How did you get here so fast?

I mean, haven’t you heard all the quotes about worry?

  • “You’re borrowing from tomorrow.”
  • “Robbing yourself of joy.”
  • “Worry is like letting birds build a nest in your hair.” I don’t know what that means but I kinda get the visual.

We know worry isn’t helpful. We don’t need to learn that.

But how do you let go of worry each day?

How does that work in real life?

How do you face the day knowing there are a million possible scenarios out there that could take you down any road?

Worry is a decision you make.

And if worry is a real problem for you, then it’s probably the FIRST decision you’re making each day.

  • Before you get out of bed, you’re already wondering what your boss is going to throw on you today.
  • You’re worried that if you don’t leave home on time you’ll get caught up in the crazy traffic.
  • You’re worried that your kid’s teacher will call you AGAIN today because Johnny just won’t sit still in class.
  • This week you’re already feeling overwhelmed and you’re worried that you won’t get it all done.

None of these worries are things you control.

But making the decision to give those things space in your head before you brush your teeth?

That’s all you.

And what follows this first decision to worry is the feeling of dread about the day.

Not about any one thing in particular. Just an overall sense of dread that you can’t shake.

Does that feel real to you?

You can change this, but you have to make a deliberate effort to believe you can change it.

And YOU have to be the one to make the change. No one can take this one for you.

If it’s Monday, maybe you heard in church over the weekend about how God doesn’t want you to worry, that you can just give your worry and anxiety to Him.

Or maybe you read a great book from one of your favorite influencers about how your thinking shapes everything. Change your thinking, change your life.

Sounds easy enough, right?

You can interpret either of those as some magic formula where one grand effort gets you where you want to go.

  • If you give God your worries on Sunday, then Monday will magically be worry-free.
  • Or you close that influencer’s book and feel pretty amped up about seeing all that great success just from changing your thinking.

But by the next day, you’re right back to hot sun and mosquitoes.

Both God and that influencer would tell you that you need to do daily work to free yourself from that worry habit.

You won’t nail it on day one or maybe even day 12. In fact, you may very well still be worrying on day 12.

Because worry is a habit that you have to change, not a condition that you can improve.

And just like any other habit, you have to decide you will change it and come up with a plan for what that looks like.

The answer is simple but not easy.

Here’s one way to deal with worry and find ways to let go of some stuff.

Start your day with a Worry Less Action Plan.

Fancy name, I know, right?

Write down and list exactly what you’re worried about today.

In detail.

Give yourself something visible to look at.

One of the hardest things about worry is how it creates confusion and chaos and sends random thoughts bouncing off the inside of your head.

After a while you’re not really sure what you’re worried about. You just know you’re worried.

It’s all jumbled together in one big, giant hairball.

Give that worry some space and a voice so you can actually see it.

So look at that list you created.

  • Where are the areas where you feel responsible?
  • Do you feel like you could be doing more in some area that you’re just not engaged in right now?
  • Can doing that action take away some of that worry?
  • Or are you taking on responsibility that doesn’t belong to you?

This is important to figure out. Many of the things we worry about we may not even have a role in.

It sucks to worry about things we can’t actually do anything about.

After you have a visible idea of what your worry looks like and what you actually own, write down a few statements about who you are.

What do you bring to this situation?

This takes your focus off of what’s not happening and how you can influence what’s actually going on.

Are you a good problem solver?

Then use your capacity to find solutions to generate some possibilities. Start applying your problem-solving skills to those things.

Are you reliable and steady?

Write down specific statements to remind yourself that even though you’re not sure how things will turn out, your ability to show up matters. Write down a few ways how your SHOWING UP could change the situation.

Think of as many things as you can about who you are. This is the best way to defeat worry.

You are countering those worrisome thoughts, which may or may not be true, with what you know to be true about you.

So letting go of worry feels a little less like a faith leap into the unknown, and more like a lever you can pull that’s right in front of you.

Do this every day. Yeah.

Write down what you’re worried about, which of those worries you can actually do something about, and document how you can influence your situation.

Every day.

That’s it. That’s the Worry Less Action Plan.

If you’re really jazzed about doing this, you can download this exercise in a printable format on my website at LoriMiller.me.

Just click on the blog post titled “How to worry less and figure out what to let go of.”

I’ve also thrown in a worry scale at the back of the exercise so you can rate your worry over the next week.

⬇ DOWNLOAD: Worry Less Action Plan

Here’s the deal. This isn’t a plan to address the actual things you’re worried about.

Right now just get in the daily habit of addressing your thoughts about your worry and your ability to handle it.

Do this when you first wake up.

You don’t have to get up at 5 AM. But it may mean you get up 15 minutes earlier.

Do this before you turn on any other input for the day.

In fact, I would suggest while you’re working through creating this new habit, maybe you don’t watch that morning news show while you’re getting ready for work or catch up on the news on your phone while drinking your coffee.

There are a million things the news people will tell you to worry about and almost none of them involve you. This isn’t gonna be helpful.

Try this for a week and chart your level of worry today and every day for the next week. You can use a basic scale of 1 to 10, with 10 meaning worry is off the rails.

Again, you can download from my website a page of seven worry scales to use over the next week.

Worry Less Action Plan - Click to downloadDownload the Worry Less Action Plan

 

Every fiber in your being will tell you that this is stupid.

It won’t work. Worry is worry, and that’s how it goes.

Well, what would you say to a random stranger who walked up to you and told you, completely unsolicited, something you knew wasn’t true?

You would either ignore them because you think they might be crazy or refute their statement with what you knew to be true.

You can do the same here.

Don’t take your unsolicited thoughts at face value.

You get to choose who you will be this day and what you’ll believe about yourself and your world.

No matter what happens to you today, this one is all you.

We’re not generating any grand epiphanies here. Just creating a day-in and day-out habit to learn to trust yourself and believe that who you are can make a difference in how your life turns out.

Don’t forget to download the Worry Less Action Plan on my website at LoriMiller.me and to read more articles on mental health.

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!

 


Subscribe to the Be Well, Do Well newsletter

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Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!