Ways of thinking that can make you stress out

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Ways of thinking that can make you stress out - Tan colored squirrel with his body hair standing up

Ever felt like this?

If you subscribe to my series, Mental Health Moment, then you heard me talk this past week about thinking styles that really make you stress out. In the mental health field, we refer to these as cognitive distortions.

We all have rules and filters that we run our thoughts through as we have new experiences. When we’re kids, we learn how life works by watching others around us. We pick up on what they use to manage their lives.

So that’s what we use to figure out how to respond. It affects us at home and at work.

Overall, there are about 15 cognitive distortions, but these are the main ones that can add to your stress.

See if you recognize any of these in your life.

As always, you can subscribe to Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast and Spotify. And you can always visit here to read or listen to the latest episode.

Ep 37: How do you see your world - young woman standing outside looking through sunglasses

Episode 37: How do you see your world?

 

Ep 38: Two ways thinking goes wrong

Episode 38 – Two ways thinking goes wrong

 

Ep 39: Stop predicting the end of the world - man standing alone on the end of a pier

Episode 39 – Stop predicting the end of the world

 

Ep 40: Don't make it personal - hand holding a clear globe with a picture of the skyline in the background

Episode 40 – Don’t make it personal

 

Ep 41 How labeling keeps you from growth and change - single flower blooming against a fence

Episode 41 – How labeling keeps you from change and growth


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Ep 41: How labeling keeps you from change and growth

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Labeling is the final cognitive distortion we’re looking at this week. This thinking error has a very narrow focus and keeps you from exploring the possibilities that will help you grow.

Learn more about how labeling yourself and others can keep you from progress and cause more stress.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

Check out the other episodes on the Mental Health Moment page!

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 41 How labeling keeps you from growth and change - single flower blooming against a fence

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

This week we looked at five thinking errors that add up to stress:

All of these represent thinking in extremes. None of them provide you with many options to find solutions.

The last one we’ll look at this week is labeling.

Labeling takes one action or characteristic about you and makes THAT your whole thing.

If you struggle to manage your budgets at work because you’re bad at math, labeling brands you as stupid. So anything involving math?

Guess what? You’re stupid.

Basically, it’s name calling.

But it goes a little further than that.

By slapping this negative label on yourself based on one behavior or characteristic, you shut down any possibility for other explanations.

It’s like you tell yourself,

“Nope, don’t want to hear it. See what my little name tag says here? I’m stupid.”

When you use a label, you shut down a working conversation with yourself to look for evidence that just might convince you otherwise.

And not surprisingly, this makes you feel really bad about yourself.

When you feel bad about yourself, you’re not focused on finding healthy ways to manage your stress.

You’re just trying to keep going.

Historically you may have had issues with math. But it doesn’t make you stupid.

What it makes you is skill deficient.

The great thing about skills is how they can be learned.

You can learn the specific math skills you need to manage your budgets.

That explanation gives you a way out. And it sounds a whole lot better than feeling stupid.

I see this a lot with young adults who’ve convinced themselves they have social anxiety. Granted, some of them do meet the criteria.

But for many, what they believe is social anxiety is really a lack of experience and skill in maneuvering social situations. They may not have been exposed to a lot of social experiences to practice the skills.

These young adults go so far as to brand themselves a loser simply because they’re uncomfortable in a social setting.

So they pass up meaningful opportunities to challenge themselves and meet new people because they’ve decided they’re a loser.

I know we want to blame video games and social media for this one.

But the reality is many of them grew up without a lot of good models for successful social skills. If there wasn’t someone in their life for them to observe, then how would they know what to do?

It’s great fun to share the secret with them that they are in fact not a loser but that they just need to build some basic skills.

What’s so dangerous about labeling is it brings with it a fair amount of tunnel vision.

Once you assign a label to something, it’s hard to see it any other way.

The label becomes a brand that’s burned on to you. When you brand something, you own it.

And it’s hard to pass it off as something else.

This is especially true at work.

You can label other people in the same way you label yourself, with pretty similar results.

Let’s say you have a coworker who isn’t so great with expressing his opinion in a professional way.

You might think he’s a jerk after he interrupted you and shut down your idea in yesterday’s staff meeting. Then he does it again today in a fly-by hallway conversation.

What a jerk, right?

But then he reads an article on LinkedIn about how to present his opinions in a way that doesn’t make him look like a jerk. He thinks maybe he sometimes does come across like a jerk, and he wants to fix it.

He decides to try it out at the next staff meeting, but you’re just not hearing any of it.

You’ve already labeled him a jerk and that’s where it’s going to stay.

He has quite an uphill battle to demonstrate his new skill and change your perception of him.

The problem with labeling others is that it doesn’t allow for any grace or new direction.

Labeling is inflexible.

It locks you into one perspective, and it puts everyone into a box they can’t get out of.

And it offers you no options for improvement.

Labeling just hurls accusations.

The worst part is that when you label yourself or someone else, you’re delivering judgement based solely on past behaviors, not what’s right in front of you.

Labeling keeps you from the humility that lets you acknowledge there’s an issue and you want to make it better.

Take some time to listen to your self talk and write down a few comments that go through your mind. See if you are identifying yourself with just one set of criteria.

Look for ways that you may do this with others, too, and see where you can give them room to change.

Don’t let labeling shut you off to the opportunities around you and the ability to let others grow and improve.

You can catch all the previous episodes about cognitive distortions on my website at LoriMiller.me. You can catch Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 40: Don’t make it personal

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Do you find yourself thinking you are the reason for everyone’s actions? Personalization is an easy thinking error to slip into. We don’t need any help to focus on ourselves and make it personal.

But when you do that first, instead of considering other reasons for how people behave, you might need to make things a little less about you.

In today’s episode we take a closer look at personalization.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 40: Don't make it personal - hand holding a clear globe with a picture of the skyline in the background

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

All this week we’ve been looking at thinking errors that keep us feeling stressed and wrung out.

If you missed any episodes, you can find them on my website at LoriMiller.me.

Like Pokémon, you gotta catch ‘em all. 😆

Today we’re examining personalization and labeling.

Except that when I started writing, personalization kind of took on a life of its own. So we’ll look at labeling tomorrow.

Sorry if you already had your VCR set for that one.

Personalization might be easy to guess.

When you think an event or someone’s response is just a personal reaction to you, you might struggle with this cognitive distortion.

Are people always imploring you not to take things so personally?

Then listen up.

Say for example, you and a friend make plans to go to the beach. At the last minute, she calls to tell you she has to cancel because her kid got the flu.

Immediately you think she’s just ditching you because it was so last minute and her kid seemed fine yesterday at the bus stop.

If you had stopped to consider other scenarios, you might have discovered a few alternate possibilities.

  • She doesn’t want you to get sick so she’s staying home to make sure you stay healthy. That’s a good friend all day long.
  • Her kid was fine yesterday but woke up this morning with a sore throat that became a full-fledged fever by lunch. That’s how the flu works sometimes.
  • She really wants to go but her mother isn’t able to come over and be at the house while the kid sleeps it off.
    Or
  • She’s ditching you because you always take things so personally. Your first reaction is always a possibility but you don’t have to go there first.

When you operate in this mindset, you automatically short change yourself.

Personalization places you at the center of everyone’s world. 🌍

If you’re at the center of everyone’s world, then you’re responsible for their happiness.

So you get to blame yourself when things you don’t even own go wrong.

You sure you want to go there?

Take your micromanaging boss, for example.

  • How many times have you complained about your boss’ complete lack of trust in you?
  • Obviously she doesn’t think you can do the job or she wouldn’t be right over your shoulder literally all the time, right?

If you look at micromanaging more closely, though, you won’t see a lack of trust or villainous thoughts about your skill set.

What you’ll see is fear and anxiety. And lots of it.

Go inside her head for a minute.

  • What if this expensive project falls apart and they hold me responsible?
  • I’m on the hook for this event to go well or I’m probably not working here anymore.
  • No one is giving me clear direction for me and my team, so I don’t know what I don’t know. What if I’m wrong?

With all that swimming around in her head, do you think it would be easy to not triple check everything your team is doing to make sure you guys pull it off? Her job may depend on it.

Do any of these thoughts have anything to do with you personally?

Is she even thinking about you? Nope.

Like all of us, she’s focused on herself.

Obviously micromanaging is not the answer to help calm her anxiety.

She needs to do her own work to manage her anxiety in a way that allows everyone to have autonomy and feel successful.

But if you look closely at her thoughts, you may see she’s dealing with a couple of thinking errors of her own.

Hit me up on Facebook or LinkedIn if you think you know what they are.

Personalization gets you so focused on how others’ behaviors are affecting you that you fail to see how much they may be carrying.

Opening yourself up to other possibilities for why people do things helps you give some grace to yourself and others, too.

Like all of these thinking errors, personalization puts you in a pretty extreme place.

Take yourself out of the equation a bit and look for all the possibilities.

If you’re still listening, wow, thank you! I’ll see you tomorrow for labeling!

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 39: Stop predicting the end of the world

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Catastrophizing is a common thinking error. It’s easier to predict the end of the world than find a workable solution.

But catastrophizing leaves you hanging out there with nowhere to go.

In this episode, learn some ways to counter catastrophic thinking.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 39: Stop predicting the end of the world - man standing alone on the end of a pier

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

In yesterday’s episode we looked at a couple of thinking errors that keep you at extremes: all or nothing thinking and emotional reasoning. You can check out that episode on my website at LoriMiller.me.

The reality is that many thinking errors, or cognitive distortions, keep you at extremes.

Catastrophizing is no different.

This is the one we’ll look at today.

This thinking style makes you the very worst predictor of disaster because everything is a disaster.

When something challenging enters your life, catastrophizing will tell you that the worst case scenario is the only possible scenario.

Having a tough time finishing your big project?

Catastrophizing will tell you that you will never finish and you’ll look bad in front of your peers, too.

Are you having a hard time sleeping?

“I’ll never fall asleep. And I won’t be able to function at all tomorrow.”

Thoughts like this leave you completely paralyzed for action. If devastation is just on the horizon, why even bother to try?

So it’s pointless for you to even challenge what’s going on because all your efforts lead to one devastating place that shuts everything down. That’s typically how catastrophes work.

This is one of the more destructive cognitive distortions because it keeps you completely locked out of options.

By placing catastrophe as your only outcome, you take yourself off the hook for any responsibility in finding more workable options that will actually help you.

One place you can always find catastrophizing is during organizational change at work.

Change at work is about as stressful as it gets.

When a company restructures or pursues a new direction, it can feel like the floor is literally moving under you all the time.

You almost never know what’s really going on and you don’t know what or who to grab onto for support.

So there’s legitimate fear.

The knee jerk response for many people in this situation is predicting doom. You’ll hear comments like:

  • “They probably just want to get rid of us anyway.”
  • “Everything’s going to change now.”
  • “There goes my pension.”
  • “I’ll never be able to retire.”
  • “They’ll probably bring in a bunch of younger employees and we’ll be out.”
  • “Nobody really cares about us. They’ll just overload us until we quit so they don’t have to pay unemployment.”

Yikes. But you know I’m not making this up.

Every single one of these statements ends up with you, the employee, having no choices amidst all this change.

You’re the one standing among the rubble with just your red stapler left to keep you company. Queue up the victim mentality.

If you can back off the end of the world scenario just a bit, you can find some options for yourself.

Often change brings enormous opportunities. But not if you’re predicting the apocalypse in your head right before your next staff meeting.

Catastrophizing is the easiest cognitive distortion to challenge because almost anything you challenge it with will seem plausible.

Anything is better than destruction.

Think you’ll never get to sleep?

Science says you will. It’s a natural function built in to your body. At some point you absolutely will sleep.

Maybe not when it’s convenient for you, but it will happen.

You won’t be able to function at all tomorrow?

Unless you slip into a coma, that’s not a true statement. You probably won’t be at your best, but you’ll be able to do some stuff.

So the less catastrophic statement here is:

“I’m having some trouble getting to sleep right now but my body will sleep when it’s ready. I won’t be 100% tomorrow but I’ll be able to have what I need to get through the day.”

That’s miles away from the drama-inducing “I’ll never sleep again.”

At work, when you’re tempted to frame your job as an Avengers-movie parody, consider some other options that give you a bit of power among all this change.

So, for example, the statement, “Everything’s going to change now” becomes:

“Some things will definitely change but not everything. Maybe I can uncover some new opportunities in all this that will help me stand out.”

On the surface all this may sound a little like denial.

But I think you have to ask yourself, do you really want to walk around feeling like you’re carrying the weight of the end of the world?

Or do you want to feel some hope that you still have the ability to influence the things that happen to you?

Just a thought.

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at two more cognitive distortions: personalization and labeling.

You can catch all the previous episodes in this series on my website at LoriMiller.me.

You can catch new episodes of Mental Health Moment on Amazon Alexa, Apple podcast, Google podcast and Spotify. Visit LoriMiller.me for info on how to subscribe.

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 38: Two ways thinking goes wrong

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In this episode we continue to look at cognitive distortions, thinking errors that keep us from getting where we want to go. When thinking goes wrong, you have to be able to identify what errors you’re making.

Today we look at “All or Nothing Thinking” and “Emotional Reasoning.”

Learn how to reign in your thinking so you can get to creating solutions.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 38: Two ways thinking goes wrong

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

This week I’m doing a series on cognitive distortions. You may have heard them also called thinking errors. In yesterday’s episode I gave a brief overview of how we get to these distortions. If you want to hear that episode, you can visit my website at LoriMiller.me.

Now, overall there are about 15 cognitive distortions. But there are a handful that seem to really kick into high gear when you’re stressed. These are the ones I want to focus on.

“All or nothing thinking” is one of those.

This thinking style keeps you at either end of two extremes. Things are very black and white with “all or nothing thinking.”

You see this style a lot in trying to live a healthy lifestyle. How many times have you sworn you were going to work out five times this week?

What happened when you bugged out of the second workout?

You felt defeated.

“If I can’t even work out two times this week then I guess I won’t work out at all. So THIS week is gone. I can’t even work out for a week!”

You only gave yourself two options, and only one of those options meant you were successful. There was no wiggle room for a different outcome that still allowed you to feel successful.

This is why “go big or go home” isn’t always a great strategy.

It sells lots of books and seminars, but it’s very limiting.

It only gives you two options. And one of those options can feel devastating.

We like to avoid devastating if at all possible.

Most of your best solutions lie in having a few different options to choose from.

As we all know, real life is lived inside the gray areas.

There’s very little grace for mistakes with “all or nothing” thinking and a fair amount of shame.

Who has time for that?

Apply this to the things in your life that really challenge you.

Where are you giving yourself only one option for success?

Does being passed over for that promotion mean you’re not successful at your job?

There are so many factors that go into being a success at what you do. Advancing is one sign of success but certainly not the only one.

Are you stressing about putting the perfect Easter dinner together with all your family’s traditional foods?

Is there any room for taking credit for just getting everyone at the same table together, regardless of what you’re eating?

Take inventory of “all or nothing” thinking in those hot areas and see where you can find some grace for yourself.

Another thinking style that trips you up is “emotional reasoning.”

This is where you use all the overwhelming emotions you feel to decide how things are or should be. Never mind any actual evidence to the contrary.

If you’ve ever seen a Hallmark movie, you know what I’m talking about:

Unhappy hometown girl returns home, sees high school boyfriend, feels a flutter in her soul when she runs into him at the hardware store, reminisces about what they had together, follows her heart and gives up her successful law practice in Manhattan to return home and help her true love run the hardware store.

What?

We know it’s campy but honestly we sometimes do the same thing in our own lives, minus the hardware store scenario.

When we’re overwhelmed and stressed, all we know is what we feel.

That’s how we know we’re stressed.

Our emotions put themselves front and center. Instead of pulling back a bit to logically study everything going on around us, we draw on what we feel to form conclusions about things.

We make our feelings into facts.

And we ignore any other possible explanations.

So we say things like, “I feel ignored and disrespected at work. I must not be a valued employee.”

Or, “I’m so nervous about attending that new group at my church. I’m such a weirdo.”

We let our emotions take us to the very place we don’t want to be.

Emotional reasoning can easily become a self fulfilling prophecy because we start to behave in ways that support the very outcomes we don’t want.

Now we feel even more overwhelmed because we’re still not getting what we want.

This is why it’s so important to develop a habit of capturing your thoughts in some way. When you write this stuff out, it starts to look ridiculous. But you can’t see that when it’s bouncing around in your head.

Don’t be afraid to run interference on your emotions.

They have their role in your playbook, but sometimes they just have to let the other players have their moment.

In tomorrow’s episode we’ll look at another cognitive distortion called catastrophizing.

Make sure you subscribe to the podcast or Amazon Alexa version so you don’t miss it!

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 37: How do you see your world?

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Our experiences help us form rules about the way life works for us. But it’s easy to get a distorted vision of life that keeps you stressed out.

Over the next few days, I’ll be unpacking some common thinking errors that may be adding to your stress.

Learn what to look for in this episode.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 37: How do you see your world - young woman standing outside looking through sunglasses

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

What is the biggest thing that stresses you out?

  • Is it your boss?
  • Is it crazy traffic?
  • Is it trying to keep up with your busy schedule?
  • Or maybe it’s just constantly feeling like you’re on the run.

All of these external things play a big role in how empowered you feel in managing your day to day.

But the way you think is the biggest predictor of how you well you will actually manage your stress.

When we’re kids, we watch others around us and how they behave. We take mental notes on how to respond to things.

If your mom freaked out on you every time you broke a dish, you may have learned that breaking things is a catastrophic failure.

So guess what happens when you break a dish as an adult?

You hear that voice in your head screaming at you asking why you’re so clumsy.

But you may also freak out over being late to work in the same way as if you broke a dish.

That’s an extreme example. Seriously if you’re still breaking dishes as an adult you may want to consider paper plates.

But this illustrates how we get into unhealthy ways of thinking that just aren’t helpful to us.

You see the world through your very own set of lenses.

Your lenses were formed by the rules you made up about your experiences.

Have you ever played a game with someone where they made up the rules as they went along? Were you frustrated by that? I certainly was.

But this is kind of what we do with our life experiences. We form rules based on what we go through.

For everything that happens to you, big or small, you subconsciously ask yourself a series of questions.

  • What’s happening right now?
  • Have I seen this before?
  • What should I make of this experience?
  • What does it mean for me?
  • And what do I do now?

How you answer those questions creates your specific view of how you think the world works for you.

So if the screaming mom was your experience, then everything you do, big or small, you will want to treat as a very big deal, even if the situation doesn’t call for it.

Everything that happens to you in life passes through that lens you create. Each new encounter adds another layer.

So the next experience will have to get through this filter in order for you to come up with a response.

You tell yourself this is how the world works and this is how I should respond.

But it’s very easy for those experiences to get distorted.

In therapy we call these cognitive distortions. If you’re not trying to be fancy, they’re called thinking errors.

This happens when your lens is so thick that it distorts your view of what’s really going on. You react based on how you’ve reacted before, not based on what’s in front of you.

And this absolutely impedes your vision and keeps you from finding solutions.

Over the next few days I’ll be talking about some of the cognitive distortions that contribute most to your stress.

Maybe you’ll recognize some of these in your own life.

I’ll start with a common one: should statements.

These are internal comments like, “I’ve been eating clean for a month now. I should have lost more weight.”

“I was so cranky at home last night. I should be a better mother.”

Or this one: “I’m almost 50. I should be further along in my career.”

Should statements can also be directed at other people.

“I can’t believe my boss snapped at me. She should know better, she’s supposed to be a leader.”

Should statements set impossible standards for you.

When you don’t reach those standards you feel guilt, shame or anger.

And when you direct them at others, you portray yourself as the victim because others haven’t met your standards. Also a recipe for anger.

Should statements set you up for all kinds of emotional instability and leave you feeling disappointed by yourself or others.

So what do you do if you recognize should statements in yourself?

First, you have to lower your expectations a bit.

You may have set up some ideal situation for yourself that really isn’t realistic for you. Or maybe at least just for right now.

And for others, well you have to remember they are just as human as you are. And as humans we will make mistakes no question.

We’ve got to learn to give each other a little bit of a break.

As Depeche Mode said back in the glorious 80s:

People are people so why should it be, you and I should get along so awfully?

If you find times this week where you feel overwhelmed, write down the thoughts running through your head. See if you find any should statements floating around in there.

Don’t tell yourself you shouldn’t feel this way.

Just look for ways to give yourself and others room to learn and grow.

Don’t miss tomorrow’s episode where we will look “at all or nothing thinking” and “emotional reasoning.”

You can find articles and videos about stress and mental health on 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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Info and tips each week to help you improve and change your life!

Ep 35: Simple ways to feel less disengaged at work

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It’s easy to start feeling disconnected from your work. There’s so much going on at work that takes our focus and concentration away from what we do best.

All that can add up to real stress. You have the power to re-engage yourself at work.

Here are a few simple ways to reconnect with your work.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

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

Full transcript 👇

Episode 35 - Simple ways to feel less disengaged at work - Cat looking out of a window with bars

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

Are you having trouble feeling personally invested in your work right now?

  • Maybe you have a lot of drama going on at work that’s distracting you.
  • Or maybe you’ve just hit a wall with what you can really do in this particular role.

Regardless of the reason, feeling disconnected from your work can be stressful.

After all, you spend most of your waking hours at work.

There are real costs to your productivity and your confidence when you don’t feel invested in what you’re good at.

There’s no room for that in today’s competitive work environment.

  • Struggling to have some control over the the direction your work is taking can easily turn in to cynicism.
  • Having more and more work put on you with already limited resources can lead to overwhelm and anxiety.
  • All this brings you to a pretty stressful place.

Engaging is hard because you have to fight to stay in the game. It’s even harder if you’re not sure exactly what you’re fighting for.

Sometimes it feels easier to just pull away from the fight.

Companies need to find meaningful ways to help employees feel more challenged, appreciated and forward-focused.

But really, whether or not you engage in your work is your decision.

And it’s a personal decision, not a business decision

When you don’t feel personally invested in your work it’s hard to grasp the purpose and meaning in your work days.

There is no line between personal and business anymore.

What affects you at work affects your livelihood.

And that’s very personal.

So being engaged in your work is ultimately your responsibility.

It is possible to feel more engaged.

You can find a few simple ways to reconnect with your work to help you feel better about the time you spend there.

  • You may discover a new direction for your work right where you are.
  • Or you may buy yourself some time until you can put a more definitive plan together.

Either way, making a decision to re-engage just a little bit can help you feel stronger and a little more in control.

Here are a few things you can consider.

Focus on the small stuff.

While you may have little control over the bigger decisions, you do usually have more mastery over the smaller parts of your job.

Find one strength or enjoyable skill you can hang your hat on right now.

This is something simple you can do just for the sake of enjoyment and that you can look forward to.

For example, if you like to write, maybe you can send a quick round up email to your coworkers where you share your perspective on the week’s industry news. This could be fun for you, and it won’t hurt your visibility.

Or maybe there’s a particular milestone coming up in a project that uses some of your very best skills. Lean into that one deliverable and put those skills on full display.

Find simple tasks or projects that will allow you to feel like you’re making a personal investment, even if it’s a small one.

This gives you kind of an intrinsic boost.

Seek out learning and training opportunities.

Maybe your company offers online training through an employee portal or a third-party learning platform. If they do, that’s amazing!

Carve out some time in your schedule to take advantage of this benefit to boost your skills.

Or find an introductory course online in a new area of focus that you have your eye on. This will put your focus on the future and take it off of what’s not working for you right now.

Learning is a great antidote to disengagement.

Offer to help someone else with their work.

I know you probably have more work than you can say grace over right now.

But offering to help a coworker with a simple task can help you feel needed and appreciated. You need to feel this way right now.

There’s nothing like knowing someone else is counting on you to make you feel energized.

Sacrificing a little of your time for someone else will go a long way to help you feel more connected.

And besides giving to others always makes you feel better.

Take regular breaks.

I’m a broken record on this one, I know. But when you’re struggling with stress, overwhelm and disengagement, you need to take time away to release that stress.

Feeling burned out for sure won’t help you feel more engaged.

Sitting for long periods at your desk is not just unhealthy for you physically. It also locks up your creativity and jacks with your focus and concentration.

Go do something else for a minute.

Then do that again in about an hour.

Regular breaks will help your days feel a little less intense and give them some rhythm.

There’s no one solution to employee engagement.

But you have a lot of power in your hands right now to reconnect with your work in simple and strategic ways.

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 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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Ep 33: Make sleep the most important stop of your day

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Sleep is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Your brain starts its real work of the day when you finally give it up and go to sleep.

Your brain functions a bit like a pit crew in a race. It knows exactly what to do and gets started the minute you pull off the road.

Learn why sleep should be the most important pit stop you make today.

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.

We’re all pretty keenly aware that we need sleep. Good, restorative restful sleep.

And we know that most of us need seven to nine hours.

But we have a hard time making that a priority, don’t we?

Sleep is one of those areas where we think we have the most wiggle room in our day.

It’s a constant bucket that we steal from to accommodate other stuff.

Important stuff like watching TV and scrolling through our Instagram. 😲

I guess because we’re not conscious when we’re asleep, we feel like we can get away with it. It’s almost like sleep doesn’t seem like a real thing.

I mean, other than dreaming about flying tacos, how do I know what really goes on when I sleep? 🌮🌮

For all I know, nothing happens at all.

So why is sleep so important?

Sleep isn’t an unconscious state. It is, but not like you think.

Even though you’re not moving, it’s an active state where real stuff happens.

Have you ever seen a NASCAR race?

Those cars definitely move. And they move with such great speed and power.

These are pristine, high performing vehicles, for sure. They run hard on the race track.

But not for long.

At some point, they have to pull over for a pit stop.

The pit stop is where the pit crew, some of the most well-trained technicians in the world, literally jump into action to get the car ready to perform the next leg of the race.

They do an alarming number of critical tasks in less than five minutes. It takes me 10 minutes just to put windshield washer fluid in my car.

It’s a very intentional and engaging process.

To neglect that stop in some way could be dangerous because the team will be running the race on burned out tires and overheated engines. It puts the driver at real risk for a crash.

Your need for sleep is no different.

You are a pristine creation. Your physical, mental and spiritual selves combine to form this top of the line, cherished work of art that amazes crowds with its performance.

But you need intentional pit stops to keep this machine running in its best shape.

So what does your neurological pit crew do for you while you sleep?

One of the biggest things that happens is that your brain aggressively catalogues memories from the day. This helps you process what you need to have handy and frees up space for the next day.

All the things you learned today get processed, organized and moved around so you can get where you need to go tomorrow.

While you sleep, your brain flushes away the day’s toxins with a cerebrospinal fluid wash.

It’s like a pressure wash to carry away harmful waste like old molecules and proteins. I never know what to do with those.

This little bath goes a long to way keep from gunking up the most important part of your engine.

Some research is finding this particular cleansing process may even help protect against Alzheimer’s. 👍

Sleep also keeps some of your important systems in check and functioning well.

For example, while you’re sleeping your blood pressure goes down, giving your cardiovascular system a bit of a break.

Your brain helps your body keep insulin levels in check, which can help with the risk of diabetes.

And sleep also balances levels of a hormone called ghrelin that helps regulate your appetite. Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone. Sleep deprivation increases levels of ghrelin and makes it harder to turn down that chocolate frosted doughnut at 3:00 in the afternoon.

This is how lack of sleep is linked to obesity. Sleeping less makes you want to eat more. That’s not okay.

For bonus points, your brain can also add some new accessories while you sleep.

You can actually learn a new skill while dreaming of flying tacos!

In a study conducted at the University of Bern, researchers found that the brain can learn new vocabulary words while sleeping. Study participants could recall words that were played to them during a deep sleep phase once they woke up.

This is an exciting development that shows just how active our brains really are when we sleep.

See, your brain apparently does things you don’t even need it to do while you’re asleep!

Researchers are just beginning to understand that our brains just  do not shut down when we sleep.

Your brain is especially awake after you turn in for the night. It performs like a boss all night to keep you feeling physically and mentally ready for your race track ahead.

Find ways in this week to make sleep your most intentional pitstop of the day.

You already have a well-functioning neurological pit crew waiting for you.

What do you need to set aside to make this pitstop work for you?

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

Thanks for listening!

I’d love to hear what you think!

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

Help spread the message about good mental health!

 


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Ep 32: Write yourself a nature prescription for stress

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Nature can be a key part of your stress toolkit. It turns out that being in nature has some quantifiable effects on your body.

Learn how nature can help ease the effects of stress and anxiety.

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.

Have you ever thought how odd it is that we spend so much time indoors?

We are creatures that were designed to cultivate our own vegetables and fruits, raise animals for food and connect with the actual earth on a daily basis. You know, like the dirt part of the earth.

That’s how it’s been for most of human life until the past 100 years or so. That’s when we got fancy with our electricity, running water, and memory foam mattresses.

So here we are in 2019 scurrying from air conditioned place to air conditioned place. We gaze out the window of our offices (if you’re lucky enough to have a window) and comment about how beautiful it is outside.

Some of us can’t remember the last time we even spent any real time in any kind of nature.

But science is showing how much we need nature to feel good.

And it’s not just about getting outside to get a little vitamin D.

It turns out that being in nature is a key part of managing stress.

A recent study showed that just 20 minutes of being in nature significantly reduced levels of cortisol. Cortisol, as you may know, is the hormone your body secretes when you’re under stress.

Some of that stress is good, like getting up and moving for the day. Cortisol helps get you going, so you can get the coffee going.

But when you live your life all amped up and anxious, your adrenal glands are working overtime to keep the cortisol going just to help you deal with stuff. That’s not good for your body so it’s important to find ways to reduce levels of cortisol.

Exercise, for sure, will do that for you.

And apparently so does being outside in nature.

The cool thing is that once you come in from outside, you can continue to see reductions in cortisol for a few hours. So the effect lasts even when you come home.

You don’t have to live near a lush preserve or a beach to get the benefits of being in nature.

Any place that gives you that sense of being in nature will do.

  • Maybe it’s a small park in the middle of your busy city.
  • Or a botanical garden nearby.
  • Or a spot near a pond that you love.

This why I’m always recommending a short walk outside at lunchtime.

You absolutely get the benefits of stress reduction from the walk itself. But you get bonus points for walking outside.

If you can be in all that nature and not wear shoes, even better.

More studies are showing the benefits of what’s called “earthing,” or “grounding.”

Our bodies have an electromagnetic field. And, not surprisingly, so does the earth. Those two electromagnetic fields can complement each other.

But you have to actually touch the earth to get this connection going.

You can connect with the earth’s energy and ground yourself by simply going barefoot.

Research shows grounding can promote a sense of well being, reduce inflammation, affect the immune system and even improve sleep.

You may have noticed this if you’ve walked barefoot in the sand at the beach. Don’t you just feel completely relaxed and calm?

That’s your body being electrically grounded by the earth.

Hopefully where you live spring is finally starting to show itself. This is a great time to get outside, wiggle your toes in some plush, moist grass and maybe even find some beautiful flowers blooming.

Find pockets of time this week to connect with nature in your own way.

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