Ep: 14: Don’t hate on anger

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Could your anger be telling you something? We tend to think of anger as a bad emotion and something to be avoided.

But anger can be an indicator of what’s not working for you.

You can learn from your anger and use it to discover what you need to work on.

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Ep 14: Don't hate on anger

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

Anger gets a bad rap.

Most of us are taught early on that anger is a bad emotion and should be avoided.

So we learn to feel guilty about being angry or we look at it as some kind of character flaw.

First of all, please understand that anger isn’t a bad emotion.

There are no bad emotions, just healthy or unhealthy ones.

Thinking about it like this removes some of the character shaming that comes from labeling things as good or bad.

Because if we think of our emotions as good or bad, we might be tempted to think of ourselves, the owners of those emotions, as good or bad.

If we listen to our anger, we may find valuable data to discover what we need to work on.

Anger is known as a hard emotion.

It covers and protects softer emotions. Softer emotions are things like fear, vulnerability, hurt, and disappointment.

It’s easier to be ticked off and angry than to admit you’re hurt and scared, right? Because that means you’re out there with no protection and you can be hurt even more.

And then what do you do with that hurt?

Anger is simply an indicator of what we’re not getting.

Think about the last time you got angry at someone who cut you off in traffic. Did you get really upset?

Why did you get so enraged at a perfect stranger, someone you’ll never see again and who has nothing invested in your life?

Think about it.

What would have happened if they’d hit your car and caused you to spin out? And what if you suffered a traumatic injury because of it?

That total stranger’s actions would have kept you from your goal — arriving safely at your destination.

We get angry at people because their actions are blocking us from our goal.

  • We get angry at a spouse who cheats because they’re blocking us from our goal of a healthy marriage and a strong family.
  • We get angry at an abusive parent because they’re blocking us from the unconditional love and acceptance we thought we were supposed to get.
  • We get angry at our boss because their actions may very well keep us from advancing in our careers.

So breaking free from all that anger really isn’t the goal. Without anger it would be hard to know what’s bothering us.

Instead, we can use anger as a measuring stick for our pain and ask ourselves some real questions.

  • Should I leave?
  • Should I forgive?
  • Should I set some boundaries?
  • What’s really going on here?

Anger isn’t a character flaw.

It can be a diagnostic tool to help you discover a way forward in some very difficult situations.

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!

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Ep 13: Create Your Own Smell O’ Vision to Manage Stress

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Our sense of smell doesn’t get a fair shake when it comes to managing stress. Smells are all around us and can trigger some very interesting responses.

Here’s how to use smells to purposefully manage your stress.

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Ep 13: Create your own smell o'vision to reduce stress

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

Have you ever gotten a whiff of some wonderful food cooking? Did it take you back to that relaxing vacation where it seemed like all you did was eat one delicious meal after another?

Or maybe the scent of a beautiful flower reminds you of how your grandmother loved flowers, and it makes you smile.

It’s no mystery that our smells and memories are connected.

But our sense of smell and our emotions are also linked together. They’re even found in the same part of the brain — in the limbic system.

The limbic system is responsible for all of our feeling and reacting and the responses that come with it.

This means that you can use smell to manage how you feel in a very intentional way.

There are a thousand and one scents today that are known for their ability to calm you down, energize you or help you sleep.

Lavender, lemon, you name it. 🍋

But using smell to reduce stress doesn’t just have to mean plugging in an essential oil diffuser and filling your space with fragrance. Although that does work pretty well.

You can use scents that you enjoy along with a pleasant visual to deliberately create a relaxing response.

One of my go-to ways to relax and stay calm during the work day has always been the smell of suntan lotion. You know the kind of lotion I’m talking about.

It’s that old-school coconut smell that I think only Coppertone could produce in the 70s and 80s.

I think we even referred to it as “that Coppertone smell.”

That sweet scent immediately takes me back to my early days as a teenager in Florida, enjoying the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean. 🥥🏖 🌴

The focus in those days was getting a deep, beautiful tan and my friends and I slathered on Coppertone like butter on sweet corn.

Actually, I think a few of my friends DID use butter as a suntan lotion. (Yikes, we sure have come a long way in skin care haven’t we?)

Those were wonderful relaxing times when everything was in front of us and we had very few responsibilities.

I have a specific picture in my mind of that time.

It makes me happy to see myself relaxed, with sand between my toes and enjoying the majesty of the water on a bright sunny day.

Even right now I can feel the warmth of the tropical Florida sun on my skin.

Okay you’re going to think I’m a little weird here. 😜

In my corporate days I always kept a small bottle of suntan lotion in my desk at work.

When things got really crazy, I would pull out that bottle and place just the tiniest amount right above my top lip, just under my nose.

There it was, that Coppertone smell!

If I closed my eyes for a second, I could see myself on the beach enjoying my friends and relaxing without a care in the world.

I would breathe and try to feel that warm sun.

I had paired that specific memory with that Coppertone smell, and I used it to create a little oceanfront peace and calm for myself right there at my desk.

I didn’t even need one of those desktop beach zen gardens.

You don’t necessarily need a specific visual or memory to make this work for you.

And you certainly don’t need Coppertone.

In those moments when you feel stressed or anxious:

  • Pick a scent that you love.
  • Enjoy it while you do some deep breathing or meditation.
  • As you bring your body out of that fight or flight mode that we all experience when we’re anxious, your brain will start to form new connections.
  • It will now associate your favorite scent with the physiological calming sensation from your deep breathing and meditation.

The more you do it the stronger those connections get.

It’s kind of like you make your own smell o’vision memory that you can call up anytime you need it.

Over time, just the smell itself may calm you.

Use your powerful sense of smell to intentionally bring those calm and peaceful moments into your day.

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!

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What spoons can teach you about stress

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Happy spoons lined up together

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Sometimes we just have too much on our plates. There’s constant tension between what we need to do and what we have the energy for.

Learn how an approach for chronic illness can help you manage your energy and stress.

Listen to this episode right up here. 👆

Read the full article 👇

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

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

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

It’s the scourge of our modern life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really, Lori?

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

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

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

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

I even labeled it “Releasing the Kraken.”

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

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

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

Was it poor time management?

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

Was it unrealistic expectations from my boss?

Uh, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow me to explain.

The Spoon Theory 🥄

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This happened to me just last week.

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

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

But it was not to be.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy spoons image by congerdesign on Pixabay.

 


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Ep 11: The miracle question

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Have you ever thought about your life with no problems? Do you even know what that might look like?

Ask yourself this simple question to start figuring out what you really want.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 11: The Miracle Question

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

If you woke up tomorrow and your biggest problem in life was miraculously solved, and everything was exactly how you wanted it, what would that look like?

Can you even answer that?

Most likely it’s kind of difficult, right?

Part of the problems we run into in achieving our goals and dreams is that sometimes we really don’t know what the heck we want. Not in a specific sense, anyway.

We know we want to be healthy, and successful, and witty and fun, well, at least I do. And hopefully we want to have a positive impact on others.

But when we try to focus on those things, our resolve seems to evaporate into a bunch of short-term stuff that’s easy to give up on.

And we don’t always see how those short-term goals play into our larger efforts, the things we really want from life.

So we just stop. Or worse, we get distracted by stuff that doesn’t matter but makes us feel like we’re still moving.

The question I asked at the beginning here is called the Miracle Question.

The miracle question can help you try to picture your life and your future without your problems.

So you can come up with useful and actionable goals to start marching towards.

Easy enough.

Not really.

We talk about how great it would be to have all our problems go away, but then we have a hard time imagining just what our life might look like without our problems.

We get so fixated on what’s not working that we don’t really know what our life could look like when it’s actually working.

The best part is that you know what you want (you really do), and you know what works for you.

You just have to sit still long enough to let your mind wander and think it through.

This weekend, carve out some time to answer this question:
If you could have what you want tomorrow, with no roadblocks and no limitations on your potential, what would that look like?

What would you do then that you’re not doing now?

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.
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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.

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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.
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Ep 9: What’s your story?

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Do you know your story?

You may not realize it but you’re narrating your story every day with your thoughts and perceptions. So how important is it to have the right thoughts? How can you create the story where you’re the hero?

How can you know your story if you haven’t left yourself any clues? Learn how childhood supersleuth Encyclopedia Brown can help you create a powerful narrative for yourself.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 9: What's your story?

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your mental health moment.

Any Game of Thrones fan will tell you that today’s stories are powerful and shape attitudes.

We root for, or in some cases vilify, our favorite characters. We talk about their decisions and actions as if they were our own neighbors.

We love our stories so much that we binge on them now like Doritos at the end of a tough week.

So what about your story?

What’s the story you tell yourself that moves your life forward?

Life is sometimes like an Encyclopedia Brown book. Do you remember this delightful series of children’s books?

Encyclopedia Brown was a super smart kid who operated his own detective agency out of his parents’ garage. He charged a whopping 25 cent fee for his super sleuthing services.

In every story, after interviewing wacky characters and gathering intelligence on a case, young Encyclopedia Brown always arrived at a critical decision point.

At the end of the story, you, the reader, were presented with Brown’s last clue. And you, the reader, had to figure out the end of the story on your own.

How you interpreted all the clues Encyclopedia Brown uncovered determined where you might take the story.

If the only clues you leave for yourself in your story are negative or unhealthy thoughts and perceptions, then how will you advance your story in any meaningful way?

How do you expect that you’ll get to the end and go, “Ah-ha, yes, I knew it!”

I get it. Most of the time we want to focus on what’s not going right because it’s so tangible. You can feel the bad stuff pretty easily and with very little training.

Maybe those negative clues also remove some of our responsibility as the author of our own story. My story was so bad because I got bad clues, so yeah….

It’s true that you have no control over the series of events that enter your story and ultimately, change your plot.

You don’t.

But you can determine what decisions to make to keep your story going in a direction that benefits you. You always, always have that power.

If your story has some really painful and hurtful events, this is harder to do, for sure. You have some work to do on your back story to get to a place where you can make healthier decisions.

But you still have the power to use the clues you’ve been given to keep going to the end of the story.

And with the help of compassionate characters in your story, those events can find their rightful place in your narrative.

So, what will be your story?

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.
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Ep 8: It is what it is

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Where you are now is where you are now. You know that.

Now how do you deal with it?

One of the most powerful ways you can gain real control over your mental health is to practice radical acceptance. We really don’t own much, but we do have the power to decide what to let go of.

In this episode, I share a bit about this radical acceptance and why it’s so important to add this tool to your toolbox.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 8: It is what it is

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

It is what it is.

Have you ever said this? Boy I sure have!

If something doesn’t go my way, I take that deep breath and say, reluctantly. “Yep, it is what it is.”

It sounds like I’m giving up, but there’s a way to make “it is what it is” work for you.

There’s a specific type of therapy called dialectical behavior therapy, or DBT.

In DBT, “it is what it is” has a more clinical name.

It’s called radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance means accepting your circumstances. It doesn’t mean you approve of those circumstances or even expect them to never change.

But you help yourself understand that where you are now is where you are now.

DBT was mainly developed for people with borderline personality disorder.

Clients with this disorder struggle with extreme emotional dysregulation. It’s really hard for them to simply manage their emotions when things happen that they just don’t understand.

They can’t even think of moving forward because they’re completely ruled by their past and their emotional response to their past. It’s a very difficult place to be and hard to change.

Radical acceptance helps people with borderline personality disorder to better manage their emotional selves.

Because you can’t control what you can’t control, right?

You can’t really move forward and take meaningful action until you acknowledge that things are the way they are, for whatever reason they are.

The serenity prayer is based on this idea. Having the courage to accept what you can’t change is very powerful.

Because it allows you to leave a lot of junk behind you.

Sounds simple but it’s hard, I know.

Practicing radical acceptance is a deliberate and purposeful action.

You have to commit to accept something regardless of how you feel about it in that moment.

But it allows you to look ahead and really weigh your options. Now that you accept what you can’t control about your life, you can decide what you do have control over.

And more importantly, what you CAN change.

Radical acceptance creates a line in the sand that you can step over.

It engages you in your options instead of looking back and wallowing in things that may never change.

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.
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Ep 7: Churning up change

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Nothing good happens without something changing first. Change, on your own terms, can create new opportunities.

We can look at change as a bad thing, or we can consider it a welcome force to uncover new possibilities lying just under the surface.

You can learn to create your own change and churn up your own opportunities.

Don’t be afraid to be the instigator of your own change.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 7: Churning up change

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

Is it just me or does everything about the world seem to be changing constantly?

If you’re maintaining any vital signs at all you may feel this, too.

Adapting to change and flexing with the times seems like a requirement anymore.

We tend to put change in a negative light.

  • Relationships end badly.
  • We lose our jobs or our company reorganizes.
  • Middle age brings lifestyle changes for suddenly new health issues.
  • Aging eyes now require readers from Walgreens. So great.

But change also can be a wicked catalyst for growth if you know where to look.

Change creates movement and friction that uncovers new possibilities.

I live on Florida’s Treasure Coast. This area on the east side of the state got its name from ships carrying gold and jewels in the Atlantic Ocean in the 1600s and 1700s.

Back then hurricanes barreled through the ocean and sank those ships.

So a gazillion dollars of treasure now lays buried on the ocean floor. Much of it is unrecovered and undisturbed hundreds of years later.

Now during a hurricane, the force of the water hitting the beach eats away at the sand on the shore and out in the water. It’s cleverly called erosion.

Erosion is violent and destructive.

It tears away at foundations, destroys delicate coral reefs, and it can close your favorite beach for a year.

It also moves stuff, like gold coins that have been buried for hundreds of years, for example.

It’s hilarious to watch treasure hunters trip over themselves to be the first one to hit those waters after a storm.

Finding loot worth possibly millions in the newly-stirred up environment motivates these modern-day mateys to keep looking for change.

Churning up your own change is the secret to staying engaged in your life and work.

There’s no moving forward without something changing.

Get comfortable being the instigator of change in your life.

Stir it up and move things around.

But maybe don’t shoot for total erosion. Just change one small thing that’s not working for you.

Then look for the opportunities in the sands of discomfort you created.

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

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

 

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Ep 6: Manage stress by living in the present

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So many of our anxious and depressive thoughts stem from focusing on some ambiguous future moment that will make us happy. The future always seems out there, and we feel anxious about how it’s all going to come together.

What are some practical ways to appreciate the present moment you have right now? Here are a couple of ways to do that.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 6: Manage stress by living in the present

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

We live in the present, but we’re not necessarily always present.

This is where stress gets us.

Our 21st century world is almost exclusively forward focused.

We’re always thinking about what’s to come.

  • Create your own future!
  • Prepare for retirement!
  • Get ahead at work!
  • Develop a life plan!
  • Be happy!
  • Change the world!

No pressure!

We scoot around trying to take advantage of it all. We’re so anxious to “get there.”

But once we get there, how do we appreciate who we are in that moment?

So many of our anxious and depressive thoughts stem from this constant focus on some ambiguous future moment that will make us happy.

Our future feels like it’s always “out there” because it is.

And even if you achieve all that you want, guess what? That future moment will — one day — become your present moment.

So how can you appreciate the present moment?

Here a couple of things that might help.

First, create a done list.

You probably have a to do list for sure. But do you have a list of what you’ve already done?

Don’t just look at the checkmarks on your list or the things you drew a line through. Separate them and give them their own list. They deserve it!

Those are the things you got done!

The present moments that you engaged.

Mark that!

Second, focus on how to master today.

Today is already here, and you’re apparently already awake and moving around. Nice job!

What are the things you can do today that will move you toward those future goals?

Focus on just those things, and shove the rest aside for now.

Direct your energy and focus toward just today’s present moments and see where it goes.

Don’t let the future steps, which don’t really matter right now, encroach on your present.

Third, stop moving.

This may sounds simple, but in order to focus on the present, you may have to stop moving for a minute.

  • Do you have to go right on to that next thing?
  • Or can you take a minute to enjoy a little self-imposed buffer zone?

I like to daydream in these moments. It gives my brain a break from all that analyzing and planning, which is my default mode.

Stop moving when you feel like it’s an inconvenient time and you feel like you just can’t spare the time.

These are probably the moments you need to connect with where you are right now.

Enjoying the present isn’t hard but it does require intention.

There will always, always be something in the future calling you out of it.

Learn to engage the present on your terms to change how you feel about your future.

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!

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

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We try to take on too much, and it keeps us from doing our best. It’s great to live in a time where we have so many options.

But having too many goals can derail you.

This story about Warren Buffet can help you hone in on your most important goals.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 5: Five Things (and also 20 things) to Reduce Stress

Hi I’m Lori Miller and this is your mental health moment.

One way to reduce stress is to simply reduce what we have on our plates.

Easier said than done though, right? Everything begs for attention now.

If you look at your list of to-do’s for this week, no doubt there are some things on that list that you feel like you just can’t do without.

Well, maybe.

There’s an interesting story from Warren Buffet that illustrates how you can easily figure out what to eliminate.

As you know, Warren Buffett is a gazillionaire who has been making good money for a very long time. And he seems like a pretty relaxed guy, too.

That’s not always the case with gazillionaires.

Anyway, the story goes that he was helping his personal airplane pilot develop some career goals.

He asked him to write a list of 25 things that he wanted to do, goals that he had for his life.

Who knows maybe he wrote it on one of those tiny square airplane napkins? That’s how goal setting works in my house. 😜

Well, after he had written that list of 25 goals, Warren asked him to circle five goals on that list.

Warren then had him write those five circled goals on one list, and write the uncircled 20 goals on another list.

This poor Pilot probably thought that Warren was going to have him just prioritize the top five things he was going to work on.

All the while he could just poke the other 20 goals with a stick, and make them like a secondary priority.

Does that sound familiar?

I mean, after all, if you want to accomplish 25 things in your life, you can’t get there by not working on them at all, right?

Yeah, that’s exactly what the gazillionaire asked this pilot to do.

Warren told him to put those 20 goals on a separate list, and then… completely avoid them.

At all costs.

It didn’t mean he was never going to get to those 20 things.

It just meant that his focus and energy would go to those five — and nothing but those five — first.

Why?

Because Warren knew the mere presence of those 20 uncircled goals would continue to steal his precious focus.

Not only that, but seeing 20 goals that he’s not working on but feels like he should be working on wastes precious mental energy.

I hope you don’t have 25 things on your list for today.

If you do, that may be why you’re stressed, just saying.

Maybe you have 10 things on your list. But you know what? Right now, circle just three.

This may not be easy. You may feel like everything on your list for today is super important.

But the reality is you’re going to waste a lot of time worrying about seven of those things.

And you’ll jeopardize the three that could make a real difference for you.

Put the other seven on tomorrow’s list, or even the next day.

Remove them from your line of sight.

And focus on getting those three things done.

In order to reduce your stress and manage your anxiety, you have to find ways to eliminate the noise and mental clutter that fight for your attention every day.

Don’t be afraid to make surgical and brutal decisions about how you will spend your time today.

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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