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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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!

  • Leave a note below or ask me a question in the comment section below.
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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.
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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! 👆

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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.
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Help spread the message about good mental health!

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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!

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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! 

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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! 

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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!

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Ep 83: Forecasting fear

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Do you get caught up in the worry and fear of “what if” and “what could happen?”

To be ready for a storm, worry and fear won’t cut it. Just like how your anxiety and worry don’t help you live your best life now.

What red flags should you really pay attention to? I found a few larger life parallels from South Florida meteorology.

Check out the Mental Health Moment on Alexa!

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit www.lorimiller.me.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 83: Forecasting fear

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

Here in South Florida we are right smack dab in the middle of hurricane season.

This is the time of year that we “keep an eye on the tropics,” as our fine meteorologists say.

It becomes a constant refrain.

The minute a puff of air pops off the coast of Africa, the weather folks start tracking its every movement.

  • Where will it go?
  • How bad will it get?
  • Will it even survive the journey across two oceans?
  • When should we get BOTH eyes on the tropics?

And it ramps up in August because it’s the peak month of the season. The waters that fuel the storms start really heating up.

The reality is that most of these little disturbances won’t even turn into hurricanes.

And most of those who do won’t even hit land at all. They become what we call “fish storms.”

Granted, when a hurricane does hit, they can cause complete devastation.

So the threat is very, very real.

But when you’ve lived here a while, you can start to tell the exact point when the fear of a big storm becomes a real threat you should pay attention to and prepare for.

It’s like playing a great big game of chicken.

For many people, especially those new to the area, it can be very anxiety producing.

You worry about a threat that technically COULD happen, but hasn’t happened yet, and possibly may not ever happen.

But very well could.

How’s that supposed to work?

Doesn’t that sound like your anxiety?

Do you worry about all the possible things that could wreak devastation on your life?

  • Tomorrow?
  • Ten days from now?
  • A year from now?

Everyone tells you to live in the present and to let go of your worry. That you’re living so far ahead that you can’t enjoy what you have right now.

But if you let go of that worry, how can you make sure you’re prepared for a possible hit?

I’ll tell you what I tell new Florida residents who come from the landlocked areas of the world.

First of all, worry isn’t preparation.

Worry is not an action you can take that actually does anything.

When you worry, you’re not focused on taking specific steps that will protect the things closest to you.

You just want to keep all bad things from happening. That’s not a reasonable strategy.

But when you prepare for a threat, you consider what’s most important and put your energies into real actions that answer to that actual threat.

You wouldn’t put your important documents in a waterproof box if the threat is from wildfire. To be effective, the preparation should be appropriate to the threat.

Worry is not an actionable strategy to help you prepare for the things that can truly rock your world.

Ask yourself how effective your worry is in being prepared for something that could actually happen.

Use a little if/then logic on yourself.

IF I worry about this right now, THEN exactly how does it set me up to handle this possible situation later?

The second thing to remember is that every storm is different.

As much as you prepare, you can’t plan for every possible scenario.

There are too many variables in a storm to even come close to that.

Some storms have destructive winds that tear through homes and businesses and leave a mountain of rubble in their wake.

Other storms have more rain than wind. These are called “wet storms” because they contain so much precipitation that the devastation comes more from flooding than wind.

So if you boarded up your windows for strong winds, but didn’t consider that your home is in a low-lying area, you can still suffer from the event.

Being prepared doesn’t necessarily save you from what you don’t know.

So all your obsessive worry about your job, your family and your health, with the idea of being prepared, still won’t shield you from possible devastation.

Something completely unexpected can still happen but you just spent all that time worrying about that other thing.

You could have used that energy more effectively.

The third thing to know is to not let others get you worked up about the storm.

My phone blows up every time the weather folks start losing their minds over a new storm.

Well-meaning family and friends from other parts of the country have seen the news and they want you to evacuate right now. Even if there’s no threat.

Thanks to our 24/7 media cycle and social media, we can follow these storms down to every painstaking detail, most of it completely outside our expertise.

“The millibars are going down. We’re watching that very closely.”

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with that information. Is there a dial somewhere where we can turn the millibars UP?

Can we just do that?

Some people will paint every doomsday scenario for you if you let them.

Part of handling your anxiety is being a gatekeeper for what you allow into your world.

There are some horrible things happening in our world, no question. It’s a lot to take in sometimes.

But worrying about all the things that could happen to you on your way to somewhere very normal just serves to feed your anxiety.

  • And you feed that worry by listening to all the gory details over and over.
  • By commiserating with others just as worried as you are.
  • By obsessing over all the minute details of a situation just so you can play them back in your mind and keep the cycle going.

Ask yourself this question:

If I take in all this information, what, then, is my role in this situation? How can I use this information to improve the circumstances?

In most cases, you don’t even have a role.

And that’s the real takeaway during hurricane season.

You have no role in any event that happens other than being prepared for what you know and being available to help others who haven’t yet learned.

That’s all you’re responsible for.

Playing this role requires you to focus on what you know today and to plan for what you can.

That’s all you really have in front of you.

The rest comes down to your faith and trust to use what you have to weather the storm.

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. I

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 80: Focus on the nuts in front of you

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The effects of stress are what can sneak up on us and cause us the most grief. Research is showing just how important it is to engage in something for the sake of being in that moment.

Hear about that research, and also how I found some stress relief with an assortment of nuts.

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 80: Focus on the nuts in front of you

Check out my mindful handiwork! 😂

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

Have you ever been so wrapped up in something fun or different that you kind of forgot for a minute that you were stressed or upset?

That’s kind of the goal of mindfulness.

I know we think of mindfulness as meditation or yoga or other activities that we can channel our minds into.

But mindfulness is even easier than that. It’s really more about finding ways to access the present moment, however you do it.

So for example, one day last week I was chopping nuts by hand for a homemade granola recipe.

I know, I could’ve used a food processor, but I was trying to be quiet in the kitchen.

I had put all of the different nuts on the cutting board at the same time — almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans.

These nuts all have different textures and respond in different ways to chopping motions.

Once I really got started, I realized I was making lots of different shapes depending on how I turned the knife.

  • Since the almonds are harder, some of them scooted across the room when the knife hit them.
  • The walnuts stayed right where they were and made very distinct shapes.
  • The softer cashews just folded without a fight.

I realized after about 10 minutes that I’d been chopping for a good little while. In fact, I might have reached the point of mincing them.

But I was so focused on what I was doing in that moment and seeing all the colors and shapes take place that I kind of lost track of time.

This kind of thing is why it takes me forever to cook, which is why I don’t do so much of it anymore.

But it illustrates mindfulness really well, I think.

I honestly wasn’t thinking about what I was going to do with all those nuts once they were chopped, and I really wasn’t thinking about where they had come from or how much they cost.

And I definitely wasn’t so meditative that I was emptying my mind or overly focused on my breathing. I wasn’t trying to make this a thing.

I was just completely engaged in that activity, creating my little stash of nuts there on the kitchen counter. Maybe I missed my calling as a squirrel.

I would’ve missed all that if I would’ve just thrown them all into the food processor and whacked them all in less than 10 seconds.

Research is now showing that this kind of mindfulness is a critical part of handling stress.

A recent study from the University of Washington showed that teenage girls who reported stress induced headaches showed a reduced number of those headaches — 40 percent in fact — after practicing mindful art therapy techniques.

Their art therapy included working with oil paints, trying different mediums and immersing themselves in that experience for 50 minutes.

And they found this result in just two sessions a week.

What’s interesting is that the teens didn’t report that their overall stress levels had improved. Just that their headaches had been reduced.

If you’ve ever had a stress induced headache than you know how that can really impact your performance and how well you feel on any given day.

Any kind of relief can go a long way.

As a side note, teens report higher levels of stress than adults, most of it related to school. That’s a recipe for work-related stress in just a few years so it’s worth all of us getting some understanding about handling stress.

In order to handle our stress more effectively, we have to find ways to immerse ourselves in present moments.

Our modern life is turning up the dial all the time and we have to be the ones to slow it down, to ground ourselves for at least a few minutes and just notice where we are.

Being engaged in our current moments gives us the best shot to walk through our difficult emotions with purpose and understanding.

Here’s what’s cool.

If you can’t still long enough to meditate or develop a breathing practice, then this kind of mindfulness is for you.

Because you don’t have to sit still. You just have to pay attention to one thing right in front of you for a wee bit of time.

You should probably pick something more interesting than chopping nuts to bring you back to your present moment.

It can be anything that can engage all your senses and places you in the middle of something that captures your attention but doesn’t require anything of you.

When you feel the weight of your responsibilities today, take a minute to notice where you are.

What can you slow down and just observe?

What’s around you that you can experience without needing it to turn out a certain way?

Find those opportunities, they are all around you.

It’s the first step to handling your stress and feeling 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.
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Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 77: What are you running from?

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We find all kinds of ways to avoid discomfort, don’t we? We’re kind of wired to find ways to run away from pain and uncomfortable feelings.

I don’t care how early you get up in the morning to start your uber-productive day, we all fall victim to avoidant behaviors.

Learn how you can use your scary thoughts and feelings to stop running and keep moving.

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 77: What are you running from?

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

When was the last time you ran toward your problem?

When was the last time you embraced your difficult feelings and just powered through something?

Yeah, if you’re like most of us, you find it easier to run from uncomfortable feelings and see if you can avoid confronting your problems head on.

How’s that working out for you?

When we struggle with our emotions and face difficult decisions, we can find great comfort in just avoiding these experiences altogether.

  • Maybe it’s easier to put off actually starting on that challenging project if you tell yourself you still need to do more research and planning.
  • Maybe it feels better to demolish that pint of ice cream instead of dealing with how you’re not handling the strain and stress of work very well.
  • Maybe it’s just easier to stay home than put yourself out there and get rejected.

We perform these kinds of avoidant behaviors all the time because we think it gives us what we need.

They do give us momentary relief from our pain and fears.

But unfortunately they also keep us from getting to the other side of our pain. And most of our victories are just on the other side of discomfort.

If we’re not careful, we can look up and realize that we’ve spent much of our time just trying to keep from feeling bad.

But not feeling bad isn’t the same as moving toward healthy goals.

And how long do you think not feeling bad will last anyway?

So what’s the alternative?

Well for starters, it’s important to accept that we have uncomfortable feelings at times.

We all do. It’s okay to not feel okay.

And it’s okay that you don’t want to feel that way.

That doesn’t mean you’re not being a positive person or that you lack leadership skills or that you’re emotionally deficient.

It means you’re exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen, like all other humans.

You’re one of us.

Welcome to the show, and please enjoy the complimentary refreshments. 😂

Second, stop playing the psychological version of “stop hitting yourself” with your thoughts.

Your thoughts are not the only thing that make you who you are and you can’t outright control them, not in a significant way.

Your thoughts are the symbols you can point to that help create the mental visual of you. A visual only you can see, by the way.

But guess what? You’ll have something like 80,000 thoughts in a day. Do you seriously think you can make a dent in that kind of traffic?

So why do you impale yourself on the sword of giving your full attention to every single thought that pops in your mind?

No wonder it’s so easy to slide into a Netflix binge instead of journaling your thoughts. That sounds exhausting doesn’t it?

You can find the courage to run toward your problems and embrace your uncomfortable thoughts when you realize that your thoughts are best consumed like fried chicken at a picnic…while the crust is hot and crispy and never after four hours.

You do yourself no favors by chewing on old, negative thoughts until they’re unrecognizable.

  • Accept your thoughts as part of your experience,
  • take from them what you can,
  • then let them wander on by like your rowdy nephews at that picnic.
  • Those little guys are never a problem until you start pointing out how loud they are.
  • All you’ve done is give them energy and the motivation to keep being loud.

Nice going.

If you can do this, if you can start to view your thoughts as less of a judgement about who you are and more as a simple measure of your experiences, you’ll find you may need less to escape from.

Instead of focusing on all that your thoughts are not doing for you, you can focus on doing stuff. Meaningful stuff you really want to do and that takes you closer to your goals.

Last, you can choose to commit to what you believe in, commit to your values.

I talked about this in episode 76. Your values aren’t the things you feel you should do or that you’re expected to do or that everyone else is doing.

Instead, it’s that deep inner voice that keeps dropping you back to the same exact place. If you know how to look for them, there are some common threads in your life that tell you a lot about who you are and where you want to go.

But you can’t hear that voice over the roar of a multi-episode Middle-Earth battle scene and a mouth full of Chunky Monkey ice cream. 😋🍦

This requires some soul searching and a fair amount of imagination.

Once you connect with that vision, though, it becomes less important to find ways to pass all this time and more urgent to just get started.

Running toward your problems won’t necessarily solve them, and you may still have days when you feel like a loopy and wide-eyed emoji. 😵

But at a minimum you’ll be engaging in the very days that make up your life instead of just trying to distract yourself.

And all that engagement and action will empower you to keep moving forward.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

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Ep 68: Find your carefree

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

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

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 68: Find your carefree

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

How’s your summer so far?

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

That was so fast.

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

And we surely did that!

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I liked feeling carefree very much.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can actually make that happen for yourself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know you know what I’m talking about.

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

Same time, same station, same snacks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I mean, your life is happening right now.

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

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

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

I’m totally gonna stop doing that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can find other articles and videos about stress and mental health by visiting my website at LoriMiller.me.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

  • 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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