Ep 98: Running to intention

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It’s easy to make plans and draw lines in the sand with our intentions. But our world doesn’t change until we start running. To move forward, we have to take action.

I was confronted with that reality last week while waiting for a storm that, thankfully, never came to South Florida. But it gave me the time and space to reconsider my intentions – and resolve to run with intention.

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 98: Running to intention

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

I ran across this quote from John Maxwell just this morning;

“The world is not made better by our intentions; it is made better by our intentional actions.”

Much of what we aspire to do and what we want our life to be revolves around our actions. We can read awesome, inspirational books and come up with really tight plans.

But until we start running, we won’t actually get anywhere.

When I struggle with inaction, I sometimes think of that scene in the movie Forrest Gump when Forrest decides to start running. After the devastating departure of his precious Jenny in the middle of the night, Forrest decides to fall back on the one thing he had been known for most of his life: running.

He didn’t give it much thought, he just started running, and kept going. Across the country, for several years.

On his journey, when someone asked him how he kept going, he simply said,”When I got tired, I slept. When I got hungry, I ate. When I had to go, you know, I went.”

Just go. It’s really just that easy, but also that hard.

We live in a world of constant distraction that seeks to get us to stop running for a minute, or wants to take us down a different road. If we’re going to be able to handle our stress more effectively, we have to get a grip on our ability to focus.

We’ve allowed the power of technological advancement to steal that from us.

We have to take the time to perform intentional actions.

There’s just no getting around it.

Over the past week I’ve been challenged in a few areas while waiting for the possibility of a powerful hurricane at my doorstep. It kind of stopped my wheel from spinning for a few days and totally upended my schedule. I had the mental space to ask myself a few questions:

  • What am I really trying to accomplish?
  • What specific actions am I willing to take move forward?
  • What will I commit to regardless of how I feel?

There’s so much that buzzes around our heads today. Some of it is good. Much of it is pointless.

Most of our stress comes from our unwillingness to shift our attention to what’s important.

To focus on what will truly make change in our lives. Many of us are simply unwilling to make that tradeoff, to ensure that we use our precious attention to accomplish what we value most.

This past week I leaned into my own struggles with busyness and focus, and made a few decisions. So that quote from John Maxwell this morning was like a little spark to challenge me.

Decisions are great, but now what are you going to do?

I’m going to start running toward intentional actions. I’m excited and terrified all at the same time.

It will mean a few changes for sure. But isn’t that the point? To create the value you want to see in your life, you have to do something different than what you’ve done before.

How will you run toward your intentional actions this week?

You can catch other episodes of Mental Health Moment at mymentalhealthmoment.com. You can subscribe to get each episode delivered to you via email, podcast or Amazon Alexa.

Visit my website at lorimiller.me for videos and articles about stress and mental health.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Ep 97: Wait for it…

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Still waiting for Hurricane Dorian. 😬 It’s been quite a test for us here in South Florida. Waiting is a test on a few levels.

Here are a couple of things you can gain from a season of waiting.

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 97: Wait for it...

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

Well, we are still waiting on Hurricane Dorian. I’ve spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast of Texas and the Atlantic Coast of Florida so I know how to hurricane.

  • You learn how to wait in long lines at Walmart.
  • You learn how to wait for gas.
  • You wait a little longer for a sub sandwich because everybody had the same easy idea you did for dinner.
  • You refresh your devices like a mad dog just waiting for the next official hurricane update.

This is all part of the waiting boot camp of hurricane season.

But this storm is pushing everyone’s buttons.

The waiting is intense.

And it’s even worse now that we see some reports out of the Bahamas because we have something tangible to go by now.

It looks bad there, and every report coming out of our neighboring islands breaks our hearts.

But we have no choice but to continue to wait.

Have you been through a period like this in your life?

When all you can do is just sit still and see where it goes?

You’re prepared and you’ve covered all your bases. You’re confident in your plan.

But there’s no gate to walk through. No clear way forward.

I think this is one of the more frustrating parts about being intentional and purposeful.

You can only make things happen so much.

At some point you can’t make anything happen, no matter how good your plan or how skilled you are with your stuff.

You just have to wait and see how it goes. You may have to see what the winds bring you to work with.

An intense waiting period is about as stressful as it gets.

How can you weather it with some grace?

First, a waiting period gives you time to consider other things you may normally miss.

I guarantee you more families in South Florida have spent more time together over the past few days than they have in months.

A waiting period gives you time to assess what matters to you and what you want to keep around you.

In a business, a slow time might be the opportunity to consider your marketing strategy instead of just moving your widgets.

In your personal goals, a waiting period might be the time you need to make sure you’ve considered every angle.

This is a blessing you don’t always get when things heat up.

Second, waiting gives you an opportunity to consider the present moments.

I’ve been talking a lot about that lately because most of us spend our time way out in the future, worrying about things that aren’t even on the radar yet.

Waiting can give you the time to look around and focus on where you are right now. What can you do with what you have right now?

What if the thing you’re waiting for doesn’t come? What then?

Can you engage the moment you’re in right now? You’ll kick yourself later if you don’t.

Lastly, waiting is a gift.

We move so hard so fast that we just glance by the opportunity to sit still and just be in the life you’re in right now. Anything unexpected can be a gift if you reframe your perspective.

This is hard to do when you’re anxious to just get this thing going already. But there is so much available to you, to work out things in you, if you’ll submit to it.

No one can give you that gift except you. You can choose to get frustrated with all the waiting or you can choose to be grateful for the opportunity to be a little more engaged in your life.

That one’s up to you.

Waiting doesn’t have to be idle time. Use the time when nothing seems to be happening to assess what’s in front of you to make sure you have what you need to face what’s ahead.

You can catch episodes of Mental Health Moment by visiting mymentalhealthmoment.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, podcast or email.

You’ll also find videos and articles at mymentalhealthmoment.com.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Ep 96: Silent anger at work

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Most of us don’t want to show our anger at work too much. You can get a reputation for being difficult. But you can show anger in less visible ways and still put yourself under a lot of stress.

Here are a few things to know about anger and how to handle it at work.

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 96: Silent anger at work

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

Have you ever gotten really angry at work?

Maybe you got upset when a coworker said something to you that rubbed you the wrong way. Or maybe your boss sent you an email you didn’t like.

How did you handle it? Did you sit at your desk and fume out loud about it? Did you hide your anger with a forced smile so no one would know?

Silent anger is a pretty common response. We don’t want to lose it at work but sometimes that anger can really build up inside us.

Suddenly you’re saying and doing things that are out of character for you.

Anger usually presents itself when something or someone is standing in your way and keeping you from something you want.

  • You might be angry because you didn’t get the promotion you thought you deserved.
  • You may be angry because a coworker didn’t finish their part of the project and now the whole thing is in jeopardy.
  • You may be angry because you feel disrespected in spite of the value you bring to your team.
  • You may feel angry because you don’t have the resources to be successful.

No one may even have a clue you’re angry about these things. You’re good at hiding it because you don’t want to be the one making a lot of noise.

Instead you may resort to passive aggressive behaviors. Meaning, you’re angry, but you act like you aren’t and use unrelated actions to communicate that.

Like when your spouse slams the dishes around while cleaning the kitchen YOU were supposed to clean. There’s a message there, but she’s not being terribly clear about it. But she is being loud. 😂

Staying angry about what you’re not getting isn’t going to get you anywhere.

At some point, you have to take action or nothing will change. In fact, your anger could give way to things like anxiety and depression.

So what can you do?

First determine to stop letting anger block you.

Anger is an excellent indicator that something is wrong. It lays over the top of softer emotions like fear, vulnerability and hurt.

So if you’re willing to listen, anger can give you useful data to find out what you really need to work on.

Take an honest assessment about what’s making you angry. Write down each thing that you get upset about.

Look for patterns. What common elements do they share?

What is it you’re wanting and not getting?

Now that you have some idea of what’s making you angry, be brave and communicate it to others in an honest and direct way.

In a work environment, this can be tricky. Most organizations have ways to deal with visibly angry people who take unhealthy actions.

But many companies aren’t that skilled with the finer emotional experiences that can make work so challenging.

You will have to be the one to take the initiative. This will be good for you because initiative is the anti-passive-aggressive.

One way to do this is to communicate your concerns using “I” statements.

“I” statements allow you to speak from your own experience. You describe the specific emotions you feel and how they’re affecting you.

And you do this without casting blame or trying to assess the other person’s motives.

So for example, NOT this:

“I noticed my accomplishments weren’t mentioned in last month’s report. How could you disrespect me like that? I sacrificed a lot of personal time to get it done. I can’t believe how little you care about me and my work.”

Try this instead:

“I noticed my accomplishments weren’t mentioned in last month’s report. That made me feel angry because I worked extra time to make sure we met our goals. Our team’s goals are really important to me. Can you help me understand better what I might be missing?”

In the last scenario, you speak to your anger, but not in a way that puts the other person on the defensive. Instead, it’s a call for more information to improve the process, and ultimately, it’s more collaborative.

Lastly, you may have to let it go.

It’s easy to look for others to be the cause of why we’re struggling at work, but we forget that we hold so much power over our emotions.

Even if you communicate your feelings in a healthy way, you still may not get your justice. You may just have to be okay with that.

Letting go of anger is a decision and a commitment. It’s an act of humility that says the greater good is bigger than my feelings in this moment.

Letting it go serves to start with a clean slate, for everyone.

Anger is tricky because it seems like it’s mostly caused by something or someone else.

But the decision on how to deal with anger is largely left up to us.

We may not be able to choose what happens to us and makes us angry.

But we can decide what role we might play in a solution

Who knows how that might change your stress today?

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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Help spread the message about good mental health!

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Ep 95: Find your own little breeze

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So yesterday I was talking about how it’s okay to quit sometimes. Now today, I want you to find ways to give yourself a break and keep going. Life sure is confusing sometimes! 😂

I find inspiration everywhere, and a few years ago I found it in a simple song that helped me refocus on a bad day. Here are a few things to remember when “one of them days” blows in.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 95: Find your own little breeze

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

A few years ago I remember having a really tough morning getting ready for work.

It was one of those days when you wake up with kind of a cloud over your head.

Have you ever felt like that?

I tried all my usual stuff to get past it but I still felt like my brain was moving through peanut butter.

I had about an hour commute in those days so while I was driving I decided to try a couple of podcasts I liked.

But it just wasn’t taking, you know? It felt forced and my cynicism had me shooting down all the positive stuff I was hearing.

That peanut butter cloud and I flew right down I-95 together that morning. I couldn’t shake it.

There was a lot going on at my job that was pretty tough, and I knew it was going to be hard to be the positive one today if I didn’t figure this out.

I finally gave up and just turned on my 80s station, which is my go-to place because I like to think I was cool in the 80s. I wasn’t, but if I think I was, then I was, right?

That moment allowed the work of a great American philosopher to change my perspective.

Billy Joel’s hit from 1985 called “You’re Only Human” began to play.

Now I had heard that song a million times before, but I guess I’d never really stopped to hear the lyrics.

Parts of the song spoke to where I was sitting in that moment.

I won’t be singing the lyrics to you here. In fact, my solemn vow to you in Mental Health Moment is that you’ll never have to hear me sing. But I can recite with some skill so here’s what I first heard:

It’s not always easy to be living in this world of pain
You’re gonna be crashing into stone walls again and again
It’s alright
It’s alright
Though you feel your heart break
You’re only human
You’re gonna have to deal with heartache

I felt like he was singing directly to me right from 1985. It was a legitimate “Back to the Future moment,” only I was in a Mustang not a Delorean. 😂

I remember thinking as I pulled off the highway exit, you know what, he’s right. Billy Joel’s right!

I AM only human! These feelings are part of the experience even though it’s not fun.

In fact, these feelings are the things that make me human.

Philosopher Joel continued on:

But I survived all those long lonely days
When it seemed I did not have a friend
‘Cause all I needed was a little faith
So I could catch my breath and face the world again
Don’t forget your second wind
Sooner or later you’ll feel that momentum kick in.

You’re totally singing this song in your head now aren’t you?

As I pulled in the parking lot I was reminded that I had been here before and I had been able to deal with these feelings.

I would catch my breath again, maybe even in the next few minutes if I chose it. I had faith in my ability to to wrestle with these feelings and win.

I sat in the car for a couple of minutes after the song was over and reflected for a second (I call this taking a mental health moment, by the way).

Here’s what I told myself.

You don’t always get to know why.

We want answers for everything these days, don’t we? We’re just not satisfied with some things remaining a mystery in our Google-centric world. I don’t typically wake up feeling like this, and it was frustrating to not understand this state of mind I found myself in.

But you can’t always draw a direct line back to the source of difficult feelings. Sometimes they just are because they are.

Welcome to the human experience, I guess.

This too, shall pass.

That sounds cliche, I know, but honestly it’s so true. If you hang on long enough, something else will get in your field of vision and take those feelings down a notch if you allow them to.

That means simply accepting that you’re having the feelings and feel them. We’re kind of afraid to feel our feelings. We want them to go away so we can just get on with it.

But we have to pass through this particular forest if we want to get to the open meadow.

Accepting your feelings doesn’t mean you’re okay with them. But you can’t move through them until you acknowledge their existence.

Billy Joel was right. That breeze did blow in later. The cloud eventually lifted once I got busy with my work.

Take the time to care for yourself.

Those feelings clued me in to how I was feeling about my work. It was like a little flag telling me to pay attention here.

It was a tough environment, and I was getting weary of the struggle. My strong feelings that morning reminded me that I have to be proactive about managing myself. I was the only one who could choose how to respond in that environment even if I wasn’t responsible for things being difficult.

This experience prompted me to be kind to myself that day. I made sure to schedule regular breaks and I made sure I took care of myself emotionally as I navigated a tough environment.

I had my selfcare radar up all day.

What makes this song so great is how uptempo it is. It’s a pretty happy sounding song with a serious message.

I guess I heard that message when I needed to hear it.

I won’t say I went skipping in to work that day, but the song reminded me that powerful emotions are part of this human game.

Sometimes the little things can give you what you need to get through the day. While it may be a little silly that a 35-year-old song helped me through the day, I used what was available to me to help me refocus my attention.

That’s about as hard as it needs to get.

Here’s hoping you find inspiration and courage in small ways today!

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

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Ep 94: When is it okay to quit?

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We all know that saying, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” Is that true? There are plenty of folks in history who stopped doing one thing that wasn’t working for them so they could pull a lever on something that does. But how do you know?

We can get a few clues from this weekend’s kerfuffle over NFL quarterback Andrew Luck. He’s a quitter. For all the right reasons. Here are a few things to take away from his story.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 94: When is it okay to quit?

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

This past weekend all of sports was aTwitter over the sudden retirement of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Literally days before the start of the regular season, Luck decided to pull the plug on a pretty great NFL football career.

In spite of some injury challenges in the past couple of years, he’s been able to soldier on to remain one of the top quarterbacks in the league.

And all at the age of 29, which seems very young when you haven’t been 29 for a while. 😂

One of his reasons for retiring was the mental game that came with the physical game. Battling back from injury is just as hard emotionally as it is physically, because of all that injury can represent.

  • Will it end my season?
  • Will it have long term repercussions?
  • Is this all worth the wear and tear on my body?

That narrative is always running in the background for athletes at his level.

It seems Andrew Luck got weary of that battle.

Most of the responses I heard to his announcement were similar to my own when I heard the news: Hey, you’re 29, you’re wealthy, live it up!

But I wonder how hard it is to quit your life long dream.

I’ve never done that. I’ve quit some jobs, sure, but none of them were representative of my entire work history since I was a kid.

What is it like to intentionally remove yourself from all you’ve ever known, while things still seem to be going well?

Quitting something big and important SHOULD be hard because quitting shouldn’t be taken lightly. But it should be something you’re willing to do.

As much as we’re encouraged to never give up, sometimes giving up what we’ve been working towards is what might actually move us forward.

There’s no easy way to know what’s not working for you anymore but we can draw a few clues from Andrew Luck’s story.

One thing that keeps us distracted is all the resources our race to the dream may be giving us.

As you keep moving up and hitting new goals, there are benefits and perks. It’s exciting to see what extra stuff your hard work can bring.

But sometimes the chase becomes more about those resources than the dream itself.

Who has more resources than an NFL quarterback? Imagine that your week starts with everyone focusing on what YOU need to be successful.

  • Here’s your training schedule, just show up and a trainer will tell you what to do.
  • Here’s some films to look at. You don’t have to watch all of last week’s game. We already curated the most important parts for you to watch.
  • Your nutritionist has coordinated with your personal chef to make sure your nutritional needs can be met.
  • Make sure you get your nap in before today’s practice so you can be fresh.
  • And everywhere you go people applaud you for your performance at work last week.

Is that how your job goes? I’m guessing most likely not. But there’s probably really good stuff about your goals and pursuits that makes it hard to walk away.

It’s easy to lose sight of yourself in a place like this. This is why it’s so important to interact with your values and internalize them. It helps keep the seductive extras in their proper perspective so you don’t get stuck.

Another measuring stick for quitting is what that dream is costing you.

Is your health at risk? Does your goal or dream keep you from a healthy state of mind? It seems this is where Andrew Luck hit a wall.

No one expects that playing football at such a high level is going to be easy on your body and mind. That’s the trade off and that’s part of the negotiation for their crazy expensive contracts. Even the best dreams have a cost.

But when that cost starts affecting your ability to function well or keeps you from what you value most, that’s a problem.

We tend to glorify this intense approach today. If we look at our business heroes, many of them encourage this extreme version of hustle and grind.

Now, you definitely can’t move forward with anything unless you apply some pressure.

But hustle at any cost can leave you empty, angry and alone. I’m pretty sure that’s on no one’s bucket list.

The mental game can wear you out because you’re so deep in your head you can’t see what others see. So it’s hard to take any constructive feedback, and it’s really hard to know when you’re getting to an unhealthy place.

Taking a step back can sometimes reveal what you can’t see when you’re in the middle of it all trying to move everything forward.

This is why it’s so important to make time for reflection. When you’re on the field all the time you just can’t see what others see from a higher view. So it’s harder for you to know when it’s time to move on to the sideline for a bit.

Here’s a less compelling reason for quitting something hard: it may be time for you to let others take the field.

This is especially true when you’re in leadership. If you’re effective as a leader, you will have someone coming up behind you who is preparing to be the next one with the ball.

This sounds good on paper but it’s hard to reconcile in real life. Chances are you have made your mark in your own way in your pursuit of this goal. Others have noticed.

Why would you give this up so someone else can get the recognition?

Andrew Luck knows that his team has been working with his backup to be ready for any situation. No doubt he has played some role in that preparation, too.

It takes a lot of humility to understand that the team may be better off with this fresh approach than if Luck stayed in his current disengaged state.

Moving out of that spotlight allows someone else to shine, sure. But it also lets you find a new light for yourself.

You can’t explore that if you’re not willing to let others move forward in their journey, too.

Andrew Luck made a decision that most of us are unwilling to make even without as much at stake. In today’s world of material success, people just don’t walk away from that kind of future.

I’m certainly not saying you should quit something because it’s getting hard. There’s a part of the pursuit where the difficulty builds endurance and resilience in you.

But I think you also have to be willing to quit sometimes to go to the next level.

Part of our stress today comes from directing our efforts at things that just don’t matter to us. Or that we’ve simply outgrown. Or that we’re doing because that’s what we’ve always done.

There are no absolute clues for when to step back. That’s why knowing your values is so important.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the very pursuits that used to bring you joy, or you’re emotionally exhausted from the hunt for your goal, it may be time to assess your game plan.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself good questions about where you are and where you want to be.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 93: Does social media stress you out?

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After a little more than a decade on social media, the luster has rubbed off a bit. It’s become as much of a stressor as a stress reliever. Yet, we still feel obligated to keep up with it for some weird reason.

How can you find a rightful place for social media in your life? Here are a few of my thoughts.

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 93: Does social media stress you out?

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

Have you ever had a time where you’re like, “You know what? I’m just quitting all of social media? I’m done. If you need me, pin a message to a hacky sack and hurl it over my fence. I’ll give you a shout on the walkie talkie if I’m interested in what you have to say!” 😂

Social media has become such a deeply woven part of our days that it now feels like another thing we’re trying to wrangle and put into submission. Like we need any more wrangling in our days.

That’s kind of strange given that it started as a way to connect with others who share your interests or to make new friends, or whatever Tom over at MySpace was telling us at the time. It was all good and fun in those days.

It’s true. Social media can give us so much information, spread awareness of important issues and give us a powerful way to stay in each others lives in spite of where we live.

There are some really good things about social media.

But some days, it feels like an extra drain on our already overwhelmed psyches.

And if you’re prone to distraction, it’s even harder.

Social media feels very much like an either/or proposition. You’re either really into it or really fed up with it. Beyond just shutting it all down, how do you find some balance with it?

Understand that your tug of war with any technology is not about your device or the potential evil aspirations of Facebook.

It’s not even about Russia. 😲😂

It’s about you.

You always hold the power to choose where you place your attention. You are the gatekeeper for what you allow to enter your tired psyche. So it’s not so much about the fact that you own a device that gives you so much access. Or that what’s on it is so addictive.

I know there’s a ton of research on how addictive social media has become for so many. And the developers go out of their way to tap into our reward centers to keep us coming back.

But even with that, it doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility of managing our own attention. We still own that 100 percent of the time.

Your use of social media is still about the boundaries you choose to place on your time.

If you’re consistently evaluating your values and priorities, it’s a lot easier to find a more constructive role for social media. It finds its place in your life just like any other entertainment. You know when it’s time to set it aside.

The biggest problem is that social media has expertly given us a convenient way to avoid what we’re uncomfortable with. Instead of finding healthy ways to deal with your stress, you need only reach in your pocket to kill time and blow off some steam.

It’s just too easy.

That may defer the effects of the stress for a little while, but then you still have to re-enter the world where your life is actually happening. And that seems to be getting harder and harder for us to do because there are so many unique ways for us to escape.

Keep in mind that social media amplifies something that’s already there.

If you suffer from low self-esteem, for example, you have a ready-made product in your pocket to feed that insecurity. Whether it’s seeing others who you think look better than you or seeing others advance ahead of you, that comparison game brings out what you already feel you lack.

That insecurity may have started years ago. You may have formed rules in your own head about the value you bring to the world. That’s something you need to work on for yourself in order to feel good about who you are.

So it’s really less about what social media does to you as much as what it brings out of you.

This is yet another opportunity to draw some boundaries and do good work to improve how you see your world and your role in it.

Is social media adding to our stress?

The short answer is yes but only because we’ve chosen it. Consider that stress has been around long before social media. Imagine living in a time where your ability to hunt food and bring it home was your metric for the day.

How stressful do you think that was?

What we’re experiencing today isn’t the same kind of stress. Our stressors are typically not life-threatening on a daily basis. But we do have a lot of zingers coming our way every day, big and small. Social media has given us an easy way to forget about our stressors.

And that’s okay to a point. But when we prefer to escape over trying to solve our problems, that’s a problem. And we can do that with anything, not just social media.

In order to effectively handle our stress, we have to find the courage to interact with our problems and come up with solutions.

That’s where we start to feel like we have a little bit of control over what happens to us.

So is social media the evil it seems to be? The jury may still be out on that one. But it’s really not about social media.

It’s about knowing what we value and what’s important to us. That’s where we find a sense of purpose and meaning in spite of our stress.

And that is always in our pocket if we choose to engage with it.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 92: How not to change your mind

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Changing your thoughts isn’t really all that easy, is it? It takes a lot of effort to interact with your thoughts and create thinking habits that will get you where you want to go.

Here’s a concept called flexible attention that lets you go straight to the actions that will help you build a healthier 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 92: How not change your mind

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

The basic premise of mental health is that your thoughts lead to your feelings, and ultimately your actions. So changing your thoughts is a pretty big way to impact your mental health, right?

Change your thoughts, change your life.

If you’ve tried this, you know how much intention and commitment it takes to change your thinking habits.

This is definitely a healthy practice. It will put you on the path to more adaptive thinking patterns that help you achieve and grow.

But what if you could kind of bypass that “interact and challenge” process?

If the life you want to have involves moving towards more healthy actions, can you just go ahead and move straight to the actions?

Is that wishful thinking?

In an earlier episode of Mental Health Moment called “Take care of your own ‘at-bat,’” I described a baseball player in the batter’s box and how he controls his destiny by focusing on what’s in that box.

He’s not concerned with what has come before or what might come later.

He’s totally caught up in that present moment. Focusing on his own at-bat can help his team put a win together.

How does he do that?

  • Does he forget what’s come before?
  • Does he choose to spend time changing his thoughts about what might happen later in the game?

He really doesn’t. He doesn’t have that luxury.

What’s really happening in that moment is that he’s so focused on the task in front of him that everything else just gets pushed aside.

That baseball player has learned to shift all of his attention to a present action. An action that could change something.

It’s not so much that he tells himself not to think about how he struck out earlier.

It’s more about the way he can impact the game right in front of him. That’s where he chooses to place his focus.

In doing so, he no longer has to grapple with those other thoughts.

He’s not fighting with them or challenging them even. He just sets his sights on the task and the thoughts get displaced.

This is called flexible attention.

And this is the superpower that most elite athletes have mastered.

Once it’s time to focus on the next move, there’s simply no room for any other thoughts.

You can do the same with your own thoughts.

It’s useful to capture your challenging thoughts and interact with them. All of cognitive behavioral therapy is based on this principle.

But it may be even more effective to figure out what you need to engage and shift your focus there.

Isn’t that what’s going to make us feel productive and empowered? Seeing the benefits of our actions?

Instead of fighting your thoughts, you accept the challenging thoughts without judgment, then intentionally engage in an action.

So instead of sitting and ruminating about all of the tasks that could overwhelm you today, you choose to focus solely on one of those tasks.

Now that your attention has moved to the activity, your thoughts move toward what you actually need to complete that task.

Those other worried thoughts just got booted from the front seat so you can focus on what’s in front of you.

You didn’t change your negative thoughts about the task.

You distracted yourself with the actual task.

Which means you completed it, and removed one less task to feel overwhelmed by. 👍

You shifted your attention straight to action.

This can help you in a couple of ways:

One, shifting your attention gets you out of your head and keeps you from ruminating and obsessing.

Rumination can tank your mood. Rehashing the same negative thoughts over and over can put you in a downward spiral.

We’ve all had that experience where we sort of think ourselves into a bad mood.

Having the ability to shift your attention shortcuts this process and gets you back in the moment where you can actually influence stuff.

Developing flexible attention trains you to focus on the present.

Getting into the present requires taking intentional actions that will allow you to simply experience the moment you’re in.

Living with anxiety means living in a future with problems that may or may not ever happen.

One of the best remedies for stress and anxiety is to bring yourself back to the present.

Instead of worrying about the future, you engage in the present to impact your future.

But the more you try to make that happen by just thinking about it, the harder it is, right?

It’s like trying NOT to think about a pink elephant.

You can’t wish the present moment to happen. But you can take actions that allow you to use your senses.

This reminds you where you are.

You’re simply experiencing the moment you’re in, doing the thing you’re doing.

And chances are, the thing you’re doing is moving something along.

Shifting your attention produces the actions that will solve your problems.

This is the best part. Instead of trying to get all that insight about your thoughts and where do they come from and all that, you can instead create actions that help you find solutions.

It’s so easy to get stuck in your own thoughts and find yourself swimming in your emotions. This keeps you focused on how you got here.

Shifting your attention to the next thing that could impact your day gets you out of that pool where you can actually see things happen.

The next time you find yourself way inside your own mind, ask yourself, what’s the next tiniest step I can take?

What can I focus on right now that will produce a measurable result?

Place your focus on that one thing and see if it doesn’t take some of the the sting out of those negative and worried thoughts.

Because now, instead of staying stuck, you moved your game forward a bit.

You’re developing a bias for action.

And that will change 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!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 91: The little beanie that could

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Have you ever looked at a plant growing up through your driveway and thought, “Man, that’s impressive!” It is, but not for the reasons you think. Plants understand how to use the existing structure to get where they want to go.

You can do the same in your own 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 91: The little beanie that could

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

One of the first science lessons most of us get is about plants. Maybe you did the same experiment I did with a styrofoam cup, a bean seed, and a windowsill.

This experiment was more about hope than science.

It didn’t seem possible that a tiny bean seed would contain any kind of material that could overcome the heavy dirt laying over the top of it.

If you were impatient like me, you probably dug it up a few times because nothing was happening.

But about the time you think nothing’s happening, BOOM! A little green shoot pops up through the soil and away it goes.

We’re pretty impressed by that but at the same time we know that seeds do grow in dirt. So it’s in its natural environment.

But when a plant busts through concrete, well that’s a whole other thing. We’re pretty impressed by that.

The idea that a tiny plant can bust through concrete defies logic.

But here’s the thing.

The plant isn’t so much busting through, as much as finding its way through.

Concrete contains microscopic cracks. As our little plant deepens its root system, it uses sensors on the roots to sniff out these little cracks.

Once it finds a good one, it forces its way in. Our little beanie draws power from its growing root system, and over time actually displaces the concrete near this crack, breaking it apart and crumbling it in search of light above.

It doesn’t do this because it’s so tough. It finds sunshine because it found the path of least resistance.

We busy humans associate the path of least resistance with laziness. But it’s a pretty common principle in nature.

  • Water flows downhill pretty much all the time.
  • Predators prey on the weaker ones.
  • Even electricity looks for the easiest way.

There’s no glory for that plant in using all his energy to raise that concrete. It might be more impressive but his goal isn’t to bench press the driveway.

The goal for our little beanie is to find his way to where he can find sustenance so he can keep growing.

Why would he use all of his best energy to try to break through something ridiculously heavy when he could just find his way through an area that’s already open?

What can we learn from our little beanie?

Just because something is hard doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go.

The right way might be the easier way, and that’s okay. We’ve developed a kind of martyrdom about our modern lives. If it’s not a gladiator-style effort, somehow it’s not worth doing.

Your Herculean effort might give you a great story to tell, but it may very well take energy you could use for something else.

Sometimes it’s okay to push the easy button if it gets you where you want to go.

It’s okay to exploit the cracks.

It’s not cheating, it’s practical. And in some cases, it might be the only way to move at all.

The right crack can lead you to the top where the light shines. That’s where you need to be.

You can’t grow unless you have sustenance.

Stubbornly staying under a heavy rock on principle will only suffocate you. You might be able to say that you didn’t take the easy way out. But no will hear you because they’ll be up top high-fiving and growing with our beanie friend.

Finding your way through to the light is just the first step.

Once you get up to the top you might be tempted to think you’ve made it. Take a break and mark your progress, but just know that now is when the real growth can start.

Because you didn’t spend all your good energy trying to do the hardest thing, now you can focus on taking in all that the world has to offer.

You’ll still have to overcome some challenges up here but you already know you have what it takes.

Don’t be afraid to use what you already have to make your life work better.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 90: How do you want to finish?

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What’s the prize for all that you do? It feels anymore like our days are consumed by the race to achieve and just keep afloat for another day. It’s easy to lose sight of the finish line you envisioned when you started this whole thing.

Here are a couple of ways to get the finish line back in your sights.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 90: How do you want to finish?

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

Some days feel like a qualifying lap at the Daytona Speedway don’t they?

You know there’s a finish here somewhere but you also know you have to make a certain time before you can think about how you finish.

What are you racing towards exactly?

I read an article in The Atlantic this morning that set my mind asking this question. The article is called “How Life Became an Endless, Terrible Competition.” I’ll include a link to it on the web version of this episode at LoriMiller.me if you want to read it.

The author focuses on how work and life have turned into kind of a glorification of achievement and competition. For many, it’s become a frenetic race of nonstop milestones and desperate grabs for status.

And the prize for those who “win” this race is more responsibility, longer hours, and a constantly shifting sense of the wrong priorities.

So the end of the race is not a place to arrive, to kick back and enjoy the spoils. It’s like more of the same…but a lot more.

That doesn’t sound like winning.

The author covers a lot of different territory in the article that’s way outside my expertise, like the fight for economic equality. But his point here got my mind working.

For all of our daily efforts and the stress that we take on to meet our goals, sometimes we have to keep asking ourselves, now WHAT’S the prize exactly?

  • Of course you want to advance and do well and make your mark in your career.
  • You want to know that you’re leaving a powerful legacy at home for those who are coming behind you.

You’re not afraid to dig in and do the things that will make that happen.

But you also want to find some meaning and purpose in each day apart from the constant focus on the next lap coming up.

Why are we okay staying so busy running a race we barely understand and that doesn’t seem to really be getting us to a finish line?

I guess we magically think things will somehow fall into place while we’re busy taking care of stuff. I know I have to challenge myself with that one all the time.

You can find destination and purpose and run your race well. But you may have to make a few intentional tweaks.

The first thing to do is to let go of what’s not working for you.

I say this a lot because it’s true. 😂 It’s the first place to look.

What are you currently doing that is not working for you and not taking you where you want to go? Ask yourself what you are getting from that activity or that relationship.

I think this comes back to your values.

Where do you really want to go?

Values are lifelong pursuits. There’s no finish line with values because they’re ongoing as long as you’re breathing. So it’s really easy for your values to get overwhelmed by your more finite responsibilities.

If every day feels like you’re running up on the down escalator, look at your life and assess exactly where your values are being crowded out.

Make time for reflection and experience.

On those days when you go from thing, to thing, to thing, it’s hard to find time to stop and look back over your day.

  • Where were your wins?
  • What did you miss?
  • What can you give yourself credit for?

This is like watching films after a football game. Successful teams always go back and watch their performance. They look for improvement opportunities they couldn’t see while they were in the middle of it all on the field.

That’s their time to make changes that will help them improve their performance in the next game.

Find even just a few minutes every day to schedule this film time for yourself.

  • What should you be doing more of?
  • What should you reassess?
  • What should you just cut entirely?

Find that small nugget of time to put yourself through these paces. It may change your pace in the race.

Above all, stay in your lane.

A visiting pastor to our church spoke about this just a few weeks ago. If you run a race with your head turned sideways, always looking around to see what others are up to, you’ll lose.

And you might run into something you don’t expect. Your race is ahead of you and it’s your race. You can go as fast or as slow as you want.

It’s tempting to see where others are, but you don’t know what challenges they may be dealing with in their lane. Their position on the track has nothing to do with you.

Because you know your values, you know where you want your race to end up. How someone else runs their race won’t get you where you want to go.

Life doesn’t have to be an endless, terrible competition with no clear destination. You can run your race with vision, purpose and clarity.

You can realize your goals and dreams and live your values right to the finish line.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Ep 89: How you feel and what you do

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Do feelings matter the most in good mental health? Or is it more about how well we function? Well, it’s both, really. But I think we place so much value on how we feel that we forget how much our behaviors contribute towards our mental health.

Here are a few ways to use behaviors to influence your feelings.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

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Full transcript 👇

 

Ep 89: How you feel and what you do

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

Having good mental health is all about feeling good, right?

If things are going well, we feel happy and grateful that things are going our way.

We may not actively seek out help or support because we have good feelings about where we are.

But it also feels good when you get things done, when you make things happen for yourself. If you’re like me, sometimes you make things happen in spite of feeling cranky or like life isn’t cutting you any breaks at all. You demonstrate healthy behaviors regardless of how you feel.

You wouldn’t necessarily say you feel good but you can see that the train is inching forward, and so that’s good.

So which is it?

Feeling good or demonstrating the behaviors that are working for you?

Welcome to our modern quandary.

I’m not sure we know which one brings us what we want from life. We like to feel like we’re accomplishing something here but we also just want to wake up with happy and content feelings just because.

Fair enough.

Even the psychological community doesn’t settle it. Consider the diagnostic bible called the DSM (or The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).

The diagnosis of a mental disorder is based quite a bit on observable criteria that look a lot like behaviors, because they are.

If you’re demonstrating symptoms of depression, you may:

  • sleep less or more,
  • isolate from others,
  • lose interest in things you used to enjoy,
  • become more tearful or irritable,
  • lose or gain weight,
  • become more forgetful,
  • or abuse substances.

All things I can see without asking you. To be fair, there are some subjective criteria for depression: feeling sad, hopeless, or restless, feelings of worthlessness or thoughts of death.

But the overwhelming focus in a diagnosis is on what behaviors I can observe about you.

In fact, in spite of of how you feel, the diagnosis comes when those behaviors keep you from performing well in some way.

  • Like you call in sick to work a lot because you just can’t get out of bed.
  • Or your productivity at work suffers because you can’t focus.
  • Or you abuse drugs or alcohol. I don’t need to tell you how damaging that can be in all the important domains of your life.

I’m not saying your feelings don’t matter. But your behaviors or lack of behaviors, are what can make your life so hard to manage well.

And that can make you feel unhappy or sad.

So getting some progress going with your behaviors can go a long way to helping you feel better.

That’s why people with severe depression may be encouraged to just do a few small things to get moving, even if they’re not feeling it in the moment.

The reality is that good mental health is somewhere in between feeling good and functioning well.

Most of us understand that life has ups and downs that affect how we feel and how we act.

But one thing I’ve observed is just how powerful behaviors can be on those days when you can’t seem to put it together otherwise.

Focusing on your actions can be an agnostic way to lean in to something that feels more objective until your feelings decide to come along on the ride. Hopefully you can accomplish this without judging the outcome or beating yourself up.

So how can you leverage some healthy behaviors to help you on the feeling side?

First, you can make healthy behaviors a ritual part of your day, a habit.

You commit to the time, and take action because you already decided you would. These behaviors can be things like exercise, reading uplifting materials, or helping others. But honestly, they can be anything that you do every day that helps you.

Keep in mind, it takes time to develop a kind of muscle memory with a healthy behavior. But once you do, you find yourself thinking a little less about the merits of the activity itself, and it’s easier not to talk yourself out of it. You’re just on “go” mode, so you go.

This is very powerful and will carry you on the days when you’re not feeling it.

Second, you need to get some accountability and real connection in your life.

If I can see your behaviors, others can, too. You don’t need to be a therapist to notice that someone is struggling, withdrawn and isolated. You need people in your life who will miss you when you’re not around, notice things about you and who will check in with you. That may mean you have to reach out to others first to get this connection and accountability going.

But it is one action that can improve your life exponentially.

Loneliness is a feeling that much of the world is struggling with right now, in epidemic proportions. That feeling can be lessened by taking more intentional action in how much you interact with others.

Third, have some go-to behaviors in your pocket to counter your difficult feelings.

You know your triggers and many times, you know when you’re likely to feel vulnerable. On the days we struggle, one of the hardest things to do is to sit with those difficult feelings without knowing what to do.

That’s when rumination and obsessive thinking take over.

If you struggle with a certain feeling in a certain situation, have a plan for what you will do when you have that feeling.

If your coffee time this morning had you worrying about how the rest of this week is going to go, take a few minutes now to go for a walk. Exercise is a slam dunk for anxiety. If that works, make that your plan. Then, any time you feel anxious, you go for a walk. That’s just what you do.

Now you don’t have to think about it in the moment when your feelings have already hit the floor.

Feelings and behaviors go hand-in-hand for a life that helps you feel productive and purposeful.

You need both.

It’s nice to feel good but it’s not the only metric of a life that is taking you where you want to go.

Part of good mental health is being resilient to handle the challenges that come your way and being able to take real action to stay on track.

Leverage both your feelings and healthy behaviors to feel good.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

in your inbox every day.