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.

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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.
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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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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! 👆

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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.
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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 .

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Check out the best of Mental Health Moment

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Mental Health Moment on break

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

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

I’ll return with NEW EPISODES on June 24.

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

 

Episode 2: Sticky note wins the day

 

 

 

Episode 3: Don’t stress exercise

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

in your inbox every day.

 





 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

 

Ep 67: When do you know it’s time to see a therapist?

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We know life can just be challenging and stressful. That’s part of living in today’s modern world.

You may have your stress under control now but you may need some help just keeping it together. Is that serious enough for therapy?

This episode gives you a few things to look for to decide if it’s time to see a therapist.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

 

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Full transcript 👇

Ep 67: When do you know it's time to see a therapist?

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

People ask me all the time how they know it’s time to see a therapist.

Life can be hard sometimes. But how do you know when you need to actually enlist the help of a complete stranger?

Therapy is shrouded in more mystery than it needs to be. It’s easy to think therapy is for just the “seriously troubled.”

  • So if you’re anxious about big changes at work maybe that’s not serious enough.
  • Or your constant worry about those tests your doctor ran last week…you just need to figure out how to deal with that.

Many of the things that stress us out and make us anxious are just everyday things.

We can rely on resilience and try hard to manage our daily challenges as they come.

And most of the time, that works because we already have a few coping skills that we learned early in life.

Some coping skills are healthy, like exercise, meditation or reaching out to connect with good friends.

Other coping skills lean towards the unhealthy, like drinking a glass or two of wine every night after dinner to unwind or using food to calm those anxious emotions.

But at the end of the day, healthy or unhealthy, coping skills do work.

Until they don’t.

  • Going for a run no longer takes the edge off.
  • Killing that entire bag of chips sends you into a serious shame spiral.
  • You isolate yourself from your friends and family and go from one Netflix binge to another.
  • You call in sick to work multiple times rather than face the stress and pressure of your new boss.

It looks like you’ve officially overwhelmed your coping skills.

Here’s how you know: when the things you’ve always done to deal with your problems suddenly don’t work anymore, that’s the time to consider a professional perspective.

This is especially true when your problems begin to affect your functioning, like keeping your job or maintaining important relationships.

And that’s really the key.

When it starts getting hard to show up in your daily life, you need to give some thought to reaching out.

How can a therapist help?

I’ve heard more times than I care to count that talking about your problems won’t solve your problems.

And that’s kind of true. There’s no magic solution in just talking. That talking has to be followed up with real action from you to create the change you need.

But don’t underestimate the power in just telling your story to someone uninterrupted.

How often do you get to do that?

Your therapy session is your time and your space. You can talk about whatever the heck you want.

You can find a lot of insight while you’re rolling out all the details and forming a timeline of events.

And because your therapist isn’t living your life with you, she has no vested interest in how your story turns out. She wants what you want.

So you get to be the hero.

All that talking can lead to some interesting discoveries.

A therapist is an objective third party. It’s a lot easier for them to get an aerial view of your life without all the bias and expectations everyone else has for you.

They will pick up on behavior patterns and ways of responding that may not be that effective for you.

It’s really hard to see all that while you’re in it.

Patterns matter.

You need to understand why you’ve responded to things a certain way. Then you can learn how to create new patterns.

The best part about therapy is that you have a team working with you.

Therapy is supposed to be collaborative. You and your therapist work together to help you determine where you want to be.

What can you work on that will help you feel some control over how you respond to what’s happening to you?

Then you can develop a plan of action to get there.

Your therapist holds you accountable in a nonjudgmental way and helps you measure your progress.

The goal of therapy is that you develop the skills to kind of be your own therapist.

This goes a long way to help you manage the everyday issues in your life.

And it might be a key factor in how you weather tough times in the future.

There are several resources that can help you connect with a therapist in your area. You can search online or ask friends for recommendations.

If you have an Employee Assistance Program benefit at work, you can easily get started there.

It may feel a little weird making that first call. But I promise the therapist on the other end doesn’t think you’re weird because you’re asking for help with regular life stress.

They see this a lot because so many people struggle these days.

And they know you’re not alone.

I’ve said before that resilience to stress is identifying your strengths and taking advantage of the resources available to you.

Therapy can be a valuable resource when you need it most.

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

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

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

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

 

 

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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Ep 59: Are strong emotions bad for you?

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Did you grow up thinking your strong emotions are bad for you? We get the message early on that emotions are either bad or good. This is mostly based on what we do with those emotions.

It’s easy to avoid emotions that make us uncomfortable because we don’t think they have a role to play in our lives.

But emotions, especially powerful emotions, can tell us a lot about ourselves.

Learn how to let all your emotions find their natural place in your life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on resilience, you can check out all the episodes here.

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

 

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in your inbox every day.

 





Full transcript 👇

Ep 59: Are emotions bad for you?

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

How many times have you missed the mark with something because you just couldn’t handle your emotions? And then you chastised yourself for feeling such difficult emotion?

You don’t need a therapist to tell you that emotions are powerful.

Even though this therapist did just tell you that. 😀

Emotions represent some of the most basic needs that we have as humans.

The ability to love, fight for justice, feel joy, and move bravely through sadness is what makes us human.

We are absolutely wired for emotion, even the messy ones that spill out all over everybody around us.

From the minute we enter the grand stage of our life, one of our earliest, most basic needs is to attach to others.

This happens through a profound process of love and physical nurturing from a caregiver.

Attachment is a dealbreaker for every baby human to start healthy development.

And all that happens from powerful emotion going from one person to another.

Since we’re little kids, we are led to believe that some emotions are good and some emotions are bad.

The evidence for this is largely due to the behaviors that we show when we feel certain emotions.

  • If we get angry and we throw something, then anger is bad.
  • If we do something that pleases others and we didn’t get upset about having to do it, then we must be happy.

One fun exercise I like to do with kids is to give them a page full of different emojis. The faces range from happy to angry, and all points in between.

I simply ask the kid to cross out the bad faces and circle the good faces.

They waste no time crossing out the obvious angry face, the frustrated face, the sad face, the worried face, and sometimes the confused face.

It takes them a lot longer to pick out the good faces. Once they get past the obvious smiling face, you can see the philosophical war going on in their head with silly face and rolling eyes face.

They’re fun faces, but are they good?

When they’re done, I ask them to pick out one of the faces they crossed out.

In almost every case they pick the angry face. What makes that face a bad face, I ask.

Because that face was mad and did something wrong, so they got in trouble for it, comes their reply.

I keep probing.

So…it’s bad to feel angry?

They look at me as if I suddenly grew a third eyeball right in the middle of my forehead.

Of course it’s bad to feel angry because when you get angry you get in trouble.

So you shouldn’t feel angry.

And there it is.

Before you even hit puberty, you’re taught to avoid emotions that make you uncomfortable.

Yelling back at your mom or throwing your Xbox game controller on the ground is bad, so anger is bad.

Unfortunately, well-meaning parents focus just on correcting the negative behaviors that stem from unhealthy emotions instead of helping their kids listen to what those powerful feelings are trying to tell them.

And there’s almost no focus on healthy emotions and understanding how to appreciate that for the gift that it is.

Hearing what your emotions are trying to tell you helps you learn what to do to manage them when things get difficult.

Emotions are dashboard indicators that tell us what’s important to us, or to pay attention to something that’s bothering us.

  • Anger may tell you that you were actually hurt by a situation and you need to repair a relationship in order to move forward. You don’t need to run from that.
  • Contentment and joy may tell you that your focus on prioritizing your family is actually making you happier. Keep doing what you’re doing!

Emotions are less good or bad and more healthy or unhealthy.

Unhealthy emotions can lead to unhealthy behaviors, but that doesn’t make YOU bad.

Framing emotions in this way gives you more power to actually feel like you can have some mastery over them.

When you lose your cool with your kids, instead of beating yourself up for reacting in anger and thinking you’re a bad parent, you can spend some time trying to understand what’s really happening here.

  • Are you overwhelmed with all of your other responsibilities?
  • Have you set up clear boundaries with your kids so that they clearly understand the role they play in the family?

Figure out what’s laying underneath that unhealthy emotion.

Do you feel like you’re going to lose it every day at work? Maybe you feel like you’re swimming in a cesspool of frustration, powerlessness, jealousy and boredom.

That’s a recipe for disengagement for sure. But this isn’t a bad thing. You can tap into each of these emotions and investigate the situations that got you here.

  • Are you jealous of that coworker who got promoted ahead of you? Maybe you’re feeling hurt that you didn’t get chosen and you feel rejected.
  • Fine. It’s okay to feel that way. Now you know that promotion was important to you.
  • What role can you play to make any changes that might set you up for the future?
  • What other options might you have?

In order to do the healthy work to improve yourself, it’s important to lose the idea of good or bad when it comes to emotions.

That’s a super fast way to judge yourself and others.

There are just too many variations on our emotions to think that just one set of emotions is good and the rest are bad.

Learn to be curious about what your emotions are telling you.

Emotions add color and joy to our lives.

They complement logic and reason because sometimes things are not always so black-and-white.

Even difficult emotions add value because they are a testament to what we’ve been through.

And if we’re still standing, our emotions and our ability to use them can show us just what we’re capable of.

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 

Get Mental Health Moment 🎧

in your inbox every day.

 




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

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

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

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

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books, lunchbox, glasses and all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This means that:

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

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

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

The same formula applies here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now you can walk through a different perspective.

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

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

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

Which leads me to this.

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

This is your kryptonite.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead it wants you to position yourself as the victim.

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

And for what might still be ahead.

You can’t avoid change at work.

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

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

You have this power all day long.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 54: Building resilience to fight stress and find opportunity

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

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

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

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

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

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

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

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

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

And it almost never looks sexy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How can you focus on building resilience?

First, identify your strengths

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

These are more like positive character traits.

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

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

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

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

Your strengths are like health in a video game.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third, practice a gratitude mindset.

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

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

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

So gratitude is more than a feeling.

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

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

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

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

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

That’s how you practice resilience.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 34: How to get going when you’re not feeling it

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Some days just make you feel kind of done. You may have low energy and your mood is tanked. So you just sit still. That’s okay.

But when it stretches into longer days, it might be time to try to activate yourself. Learn how behavioral activation can help you get going.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

And don’t forget to subscribe to hear future episodes wherever you are! 

Full transcript

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

One of the hardest things to combat with stress is the amount of energy it depletes from you.

If you end your day yearning for that moment that you can get in your PJs well before dark, then you know what I’m talking about.

It takes real energy to do what you do every day.

  • Trying to be your best positive self at work in spite of the challenges.
  • Getting your kids to all their practices and tournaments.
  • Helping your kids stay on top of homework after all that practice so they can finish the year strong.
  • Worrying about how much more money you seem to be spending.
  • Remembering to pull together the rest of the information for your taxes from that pile of papers on the kitchen table. That one’s coming, isn’t it?

Life today is so extra.

All of this activity and task management can be a drain on your energy reserves.

These are the days when you just don’t want to do anything.

And that’s okay. You may need some time to recharge and refresh your battery today.

But what if it extends beyond just today?

It’s hard to find that mojo to get moving again when you’re kind of done. All of your best energy just went into THIS day.

It’s easier to just keep sitting still. And after a while it can start to affect your mood.

How do you get going again?

The behaviors we run to when we’re stressed feel really good at the time and we give in to them.

  • Watching endless hours of TV feels like an escape without responsibility.
  • Sleeping too much gives us a break from reality.
  • Closing ourselves off from the rest of the world means we don’t have to answer how we feel.

But these behaviors are the very things that maintain our negative mood and loss of motivation.

We know they’re not good for us, but we can’t seem to find motivation to stop. And so we continue to have low mood and low energy.

It’s a loopy double edged sword.

Here’s how to break that loop.

Activate yourself.

Behavioral activation is a mental health treatment method that uses simple commitments to basic behaviors to help you start feeling a little better now.

Behavioral activation won’t solve all your problems. It’s designed to simply get you moving.

No judgment.

No master plan.

No epiphanies about a brand new you.

Just movement you can live with.

Here is a quick way to activate yourself and get going.

Make a list of activities you know how to do and already enjoy.

Not a long list. Just a couple of things that you know hands-down you enjoy doing.

Today’s not the day to do that energy zapping work out if it’s not something you love.

Once you make a list, pick the easiest activity for you.

What we want to do is quickly bring you a reward for your activity so you’ll feel good about that. So you want to stick with something you already have skills for and is easy for you to implement.

If a 10-mile run is not easy for you, please don’t include it on your list. We’re not trying to be a hero here.

Take just the first step of that easiest and most enjoyable activity.

So for example, maybe you really enjoy walking and it’s relatively easy for you. Great!

But let’s not even commit to walking.

Your very first step is to put on your shoes. There’s no commitment past that.

But here’s the dealio.

Once you get your shoes on, it will probably be doable for you to go ahead and walk out the door for your enjoyable and easy walk. I mean, you did just put your shoes on.

Still, you’re not walking yet.

Now, just commit to walk out the door and close it. Awesome!

Hang there for a second and appreciate the fact that you’re up and moving around.

Now start walking.

The rest is up to you.

Above all, don’t forget to congratulate yourself.

You get credit for taking a small action to help you feel a little bit better about today. Give yourself that checkmark.

Tomorrow, maybe try the next most enjoyable and easiest activity on your list.

Activating yourself is a quick and easy way to pull yourself out of that loop and just get going.

With each activity you can start to rebuild your energy, and your motivation won’t be far behind.

For articles and videos about stress and mental health, visit my website at Lorimiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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