Ep 49: How to handle sensory overload at work

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We take in so much at work through our senses. At times it can feel like too much. It definitely feels like sensory overload.

Other times, we don’t notice how these sounds, sights, smells and touch are affecting our stress levels.

Learn a few ways to identify these sensations at work and how to manage them to reduce anxiety and stress.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series a couple of weeks ago on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 49: How to Handle Sensory Overload at Work

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

Do you ever get bothered by the noise and all of the activity that goes on at work?

Many people don’t think they’re too bothered by the sensations going on around them.

Others hear and see every little thing that goes on.

We know that modern office spaces introduce more sensory experiences.

That’s part of being at work now.

But you may be more affected by this extra sensory load than you may think.

What you’re experiencing with your senses all day can definitely contribute to that feeling of just not getting anything done and feeling overwhelmed because of it.

You may have heard of sensory processing disorder.

This is a condition where some combination of visuals, noises, smells, and touch are so overwhelming that it makes life unbearable.

A person with sensory processing disorder is keenly aware of everything going on around them all the time and it interferes with their ability to perform simple tasks.

But the worst part is that all of this sensory overload comes with constant anxiety. Being able to handle those sensory issues or have some relief from it can go a long way to reduce anxiety.

Maybe you don’t have sensory processing disorder.

But, I don’t know, would you agree that the world today is full of non-stop sensory overload?

My new favorite pet peeve is the little news stations at the gas pump. As soon as I start pumping gas, a tiny little TV starts loudly trumpeting news and weather information. You know, the same stuff I can literally get anywhere else.

So I can no longer ponder my life in all its woe and wonder while spending three minutes pumping gas.

I’m already assaulted by noise before I even get to work.

Or how about all of the strong smells in your workplace at lunchtime.

There’s nothing quite like the smell of curry or reheated fish to pull you from your deep thoughts.

For extra bonus points, just throw in some burnt microwave popcorn to really seal the deal.

We laugh about it, but does that sudden curry smell jar you from your critical thinking about that problem in your new project?

And how about your freezing cold office?

People in the workplace just don’t do well in cold temperatures.

A Cornell study showed that typing errors were reduced and productivity increased in an office temperature of 77°. When was the last time you worked in an office that was as warm as 77°?

Maybe this is just part of modern life.

But these constant encroachments on our senses do have some effect on us.

Any sensory input coming in requires that your brain do something with it. Most of the time your brain does a marvelous job of filtering out all kinds of things that you don’t even remember experiencing.

  • But just because you don’t realize it’s going on doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
  • So the more input, the more work your brain has to do.
  • This can keep you from deeper focus and concentration on your tasks.
  • There’s always something pinging your brain with a new request to manage so you really can’t dive in and put your best mental energy in to your work.

What can you do?

First, simply be aware of the noises, visual stimulus and other sensory inputs you may be exposed to.

Sit for a minute.

Listen and look for what’s really happening around you.

Second, track the anxiety you feel.

Jot down those moments in your day when you feel particularly overwhelmed and anxious. See where there might be some correlations.

Maybe you laugh about how your coworker never sits still and always has to be moving around.

But that visual stimulus of constant movement near you just might be distracting you enough to keep you from finishing something.

Is someone near you having a conference call on speakerphone at their desk?

You might blow it off as just a casualty of the modern open-office plan.

But there’s a good chance that it’s adding to your anxiety because you may not be able to do your best work when you’re listening to a whole other conversation.

So document some of that stuff.

Once you know what’s adding to your sensory load, then place a few things in to your day to give you a break from it.

Take regular breaks to give yourself time away.

There are a million reasons to do this anyway.

Going outside for a few minutes can be especially helpful because it can warm you up.

And for whatever reason nature sounds soothe you in a way that people sounds don’t.

Use headphones or earplugs for the noise stimulus that affects you.

This one is an old standby, and it really works.

You would be shocked at how well simple earplugs can diminish those small sounds you don’t think you notice.

A big way to combat sensory overload is to get some more sleep.

Sleep deprivation makes everything seem 1,000 times worse.

Not sleeping well makes you less resilient to the small annoyances that happen every day.

If visual distractions are your thing, see if you can arrange your desk to where you can’t see the visuals as much.

I worked somewhere once where my cubicle was right next to the main hallway.

I was always looking up, and I felt a little like I should acknowledge everyone and say hi. I’m friendly like that.

So I flipped the configuration of my cubicle around to where it wasn’t as easy to make eye contact. This made a really big difference in my ability to focus.

You probably are filtering out more sensory things than you realize in a day.

Just because these things bother you doesn’t mean you have sensory processing disorder.

What it means is that our modern life has ramped up our sensory experience by just giving us more to deal with.

So it’s on us to put more boundaries around our workspaces.

You do have some power to find pockets of quiet and peace in your day.

This goes a long way to help you reduce some of the anxiety you feel during the workday.

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 .

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Ep 48: Play the long game to manage your energy

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Earlier this week I experienced a stressful day that kind of drained me. When I worked backwards, I saw a few places where I could have intervened to help myself.

Hear some of my own solutions for being intentional with stress at work. It’s the best way to manage your energy.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series a couple of weeks ago on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 48: Play the long game to manage your energy

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

I’m always amazed at how wiped out I can get from just sitting in a chair all day.

I don’t lift heavy things.

I don’t move at breakneck speed anymore.

I don’t manage anyone.

How is it that some days I feel like I’ve been hanging on for dear life to one of those old school, brightly colored metal merry go rounds for eight hours?

One day earlier this week, I came home and took a short nap at 6:00.

I was beyond tired and I couldn’t imagine any kind of evening without taking the edge off a bit.

When I feel like this, it’s usually because I haven’t managed my energy.

I’m very task driven and it’s hard for me to stop until I’ve completed something. So it’s easy for me to work for hours on end.

If I’m not seeing clients, I’m doing paperwork. Paperwork is the evil side of mental health. It never gives you a break and if the paperwork is how you get paid, then there is always great incentive to get it done.

So I went all day without a real break.

I managed to swallow some healthy food I brought from home but other than that I was on task all day.

This was no bueno.

I didn’t give my body and brain a chance to replenish for almost seven straight hours.

Sometimes we forget that knowledge work requires a lot of us physically.

Critical thinking is just as much physical as cognitive. In fact, research shows that our brains use about 20% of our day’s calories.

Thinking is work.

We have to plan ahead of time to ensure that we have energy for the work in front of us.

I guess it’s like that age old debate: should you put gas in the car when it’s almost empty, or when the tank is at 1/2 full?

Neither one is wrong. But one of them will cause you a whole lot more anxiety.

So how would I replay this day if I could?

First, I would have set some timers for me to get up and go outside.

We are having amazing weather right now in south Florida and I missed all of that. Just stepping outside in the sun a few times would have given me little spurts of energy throughout the day.

Second, I would have made sure to take some time with my food.

I had brought some pretty terrific chipotle steak I had made for dinner the night before. Everyone in the vicinity of the microwave said it smelled great.

But I didn’t really enjoy it.

I worked in one pressure cooker environment once where we would joke around that we didn’t eat anymore. We just swallowed food so we wouldn’t die at work. That’s not okay.

Third, I would have taken several times throughout the day to stop what I was doing and re-assess my priorities.

Am I going down any rabbit trails here? Outside of seeing clients, which are time-anchored into my schedule, I have autonomy over my day to decide what is really important for me to work on right now.

But it’s too easy for me to get underwater in the tasks and just focus on crossing things off.

This is one of my biggest challenges in both my previous marketing field and now in mental health. I don’t always submit myself to work on those important things.

The urgent is sexy and will always catch my eye.

If I had taken that time, I might have identified some things I could’ve pushed off to today when my schedule is not as intense.

I’ll pat myself on the back a bit and say that I stayed hydrated and I did lots of deep breathing.

Learning to breathe from my diaphragm has been a game changer for my stress. I can calm myself right on down now in any situation.

But even though I’m putting those measures in place, the long game is in giving myself more time during the day. And to plan for all those breaks on days that I know will be intense.

By doing this, I’m showing kindness to myself.

If I was managing someone working like this, I would want to help them find their way through this. I wouldn’t want someone else to work so intently.

It’s always easier to see it in someone else, isn’t it?

As you can see, I’m still learning how to manage myself.

Our 21st century life requires us to be super intentional in how we manage our energy. There are just too many things in our lives looking to drain our energy from us.

I wish I had done that earlier this week but I have the opportunity to do that today.

And so do you.

Decide today how you will manage your energy.

Make good decisions ahead of time about how you will walk through this day. You have more control over this than you think.

It just might keep you off the merry go round today.

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 .

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Ep 47: How to Feel Better About Speaking up for Yourself

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Speaking up for yourself helps you get what you need. But that can be scary if you’re not sure how to go about it.

You don’t want to seem like you’re always the one with an ax to grind, right?

You can use “I statements” to help you find the courage to speak up.

Learn a little formula for speaking up for yourself in this episode.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series a couple of weeks ago on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 47: How to Feel Better About Speaking up for Yourself

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

Are you one of those people who has a hard time speaking up for yourself?

If you think back on your school days, you may remember that one kid who always had something to say.

Even if the teacher wasn’t opening the floor for discussion, his hand would go right up anyway, taking extra class time for his stuff. And we would all have to sit and politely listen to his opinion on this or that.

That’s kind of how many of us conceptualize speaking up for yourself. If you’re good at speaking up, you have to be a bit showy and have an ax to grind, right?

If you’re not comfortable with that, well, it feels safer to just not say anything at all.

But not speaking up for yourself is one sure fire way to live under a lot of stress.

You don’t get what you need because you’re not asking for it.

This is one area I’ve really struggled with all of my life. I’m pretty tuned in to what I need, but until a few years ago, I thought I had to be combative to point out to others what I’m not getting.

I’m not particularly combative by nature, unless I feel like I’ve been really wronged. Then I have to work hard to get back to a productive place.

So most of the time I just sat on my hands instead of finding healthy ways to say, “This isn’t working for me. I’m feeling frustrated with this situation. Help me understand how we can work together to try to make sense of this.”

I wish I had learned sooner how to give voice to what I need. I missed a lot of opportunities because of it.

So maybe, for example, you feel like you’re not getting enough feedback on your projects, even though you’ve asked several times.

It might be tempting to chew on it and think about all the reasons why your company is trying to hamstring your work.

Instead you could have a small discussion with the powers-that-be to simply share your experience and hear what they might have to say.

I know, that still sounds super scary.

What would help you in that situation are “I statements.”

I’ve talked about these before.

Using “I statements” is simply sharing what you’re experiencing by stating your emotions and how the situation is making you feel. You don’t establish a motive for why this is happening or try to influence anyone.

It’s kind of a reporting exercise.

You simply say, “This is what’s happening. Here’s how I’m feeling about it. Here’s what I’d like to see. How can we work on this together?”

The focus is on YOUR feelings and YOUR beliefs.

This can give you courage to speak up in a couple of ways.

First, “I statements” keep others off the defensive.

You’re just describing your own stuff without assigning responsibility for what’s happening to anyone else.

Because you’re not coming to that person with accusations, you’re more likely to create a collaborative interaction.

Do you have an easier time speaking up when you feel comfortable collaborating with someone?

You can create this environment for yourself by focusing on what you’ve experienced and simply ask for help trying to figure it out.

Second, “I statements” allow you to speak from a place of authority.

They’re your experiences. Even if people don’t understand them it doesn’t mean they’re not valid.

No one can tell you that your feelings are wrong, though they will definitely try.

You own your feelings and they are important data in this situation. You can stand on that.

Third, “I statements” give you a formula to work with instead of just spouting off.

You can process your feelings ahead of time using a simple process you can plug some variables into.

  • First, describe what’s going on.
    When this event happened (state the event), I felt…frustrated, disappointed, angry, whatever.
    State the actual emotion you felt, not how THEY [that person] made you feel.
  • Then, simply state your needs.
    “It’s really important to me that I feel good about the work I do and that my contributions are important to the company.”
    At this point, you state what you need, not what you want the other person to do.
  • The last part is…Would you….
    And here’s where you make a request. What do you want them to do?
    “I would love to hear from you more often about what you think is working and how I can find ways to continue to improve my work.”

This is an actionable formula that allows you to be heard, yes, but also allows you to share in the solution.

Because ultimately speaking up for yourself isn’t just about being heard.

It’s pretty cool to be able to share your voice.

But ultimately, speaking up for yourself helps you generate solutions to the problems that may be holding you back.

And it allows others to participate in those solutions, too.

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 45: The best way to change others

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You know full well you can’t change others and what they do. But it’s hard to live this out in real life.

Instead of worrying about whether or not others are changing, you’ll feel less stress and anxiety if you focus on what you can change about you. Learn a few ways this might show up in your life.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

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

Full transcript 👇

 Ep 45: The best way to change others

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

“The only person you can change is you.”

How many times have you heard that, or read it in a self-help book? We know this.

It even sounded super cliche to me when I said it just now.

It’s kind of a big duh. But it’s super hard to put this one into practice, isn’t it?

Deep down we like to think we can actually have some hand in others changing themselves for the better.

Because then we can take some credit for the change. Okay, we like that!

I hear this perspective every single day.

  • Marriages that are going off the rails because one person has zero insight into how badly they’re screwing this up.
    “If only they would just change how they talk to me I would be happier.”
  • Bosses that have blinders on to how their micromanaging work style is driving you nuts.
    “Why can’t they understand that if they would stop treating me like a child I would feel better about my work and do a better job?”
  • Kids that make unhealthy decisions no matter how much you try to help them.
    “I’ve been there already. How can they not see that what I’m trying to tell them will actually help?”

This is all a quick way to stress and anxiety.

  • First of all, you’re placing your happiness in other people’s hands, where you have no control.
  • Second, you’ve decided that you alone have the answer to the problem, even though you may not have all the facts. Are you a wizard or something? Most likely you aren’t even privy to all the variables that might help you understand what’s really going on.
  • Third, expecting others to change puts you slam dunk into that victim role. You get to throw darts willy nilly but you aren’t accountable for your own change simply because you’ve been so wronged.

You’re making a big, unnecessary mess of it if you’re in this place.

The offenses of someone else can so easily blind you to your own options. And that has nothing to do with anyone else.

That’s all you.

The answer is like making a good hollandaise sauce — simple but not easy.

Mind your own stuff.

The only way to feel less anxious about all the ways people are messing up your life is to simply decide what you will change about you.

That’s really all you have here.

Your ability to be thoughtful in your own responses or look for ways to improve yourself are the only things you own and have complete control over.

Your spouse may still talk to you in that tone even though you’ve already said you don’t like it.

They’re clearly not changing.

What is the healthiest way for you to respond so you have the best chance of feeling heard, not just so you can feel like you’re in the right?

There’s a good chance your micromanaging boss isn’t going to change.

I’ve never seen it happen, and I’m guessing you haven’t either. I don’t even think that’s a thing.

So why are you so focused on them making that change?

  • I’ve said before that micromanaging isn’t about controlling you, it’s about your boss’ own fear and anxiety.
  • So your boss has to wade through their own stuff to make that change — just for you. That doesn’t seem likely or fair.
  • Can you try to meet them halfway by providing a more frequent status update on your work to help them feel a little bit calmer?

I know, making them feel better isn’t your job but if you make this change to accommodate them, would it help you a little too?

If you look back on your own young adulthood, do you remember taking much advice from your parents?

Did you have any epiphanies about their great wisdom? Probably not and your kids aren’t any different.

So wasting time wringing your hands and fretting over what epiphanies you think they should be having is a big ol’ waste of time.

Epiphanies are highly overrated anyway. You know as well as I do that the best wisdom comes through small revelations over time.

Spend your time instead focusing on how you can find the healthiest ways to be supportive for those times when they do fail. They will need you to come alongside them in those moments and who knows, they might ask for your advice.

Be ready for that moment by learning how to change the way you show up for your kids.

All of this requires humility and some faith that the things you change about you will make a difference.

This is the hard part because there are no guarantees.

You might make some wonderful strides and still be left doing all the work. Was there value in improving yourself, though?

Please know I’m not saying to change for somebody else, or to overlook an abusive situation.

I’m speaking to those everyday annoyances that:

  • eat away at you,
  • occupy your valuable brain space, and
  • leave you feeling stressed, helpless and worn out.

Changing things about yourself may not make a difference in the behaviors you see from others.

It will absolutely change how you think and how you view what happens to you.

Minding your own change will change 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 44: Get unstuck and focus on what’s ahead

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These are the very questions I pull out of my own stress toolbox on the days when I feel overwhelmed. It helps me right the ship a bit and figure out where the heck I’m going. 😀

I’ve found that for me, this is the best way to get unstuck because it forces me in to action.

I hope they’re helpful for you!

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 44: Get unstuck and focus on what's ahead

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

Do you ever have those days when you feel just a little stuck?

The whole thing isn’t going off the rails necessarily.

You’re getting some stuff done.

But you’ve lost sight of where you really wanted to be for today.

It’s hard to know exactly where to start so you can get back on track.

I feel like that sometimes.

It can leave you overwhelmed and pretty frustrated, especially when your to-do list is a mile long and the end of the day is coming fast.

Here’s a little formula and a few questions I pull out of my stress toolbox when I need a little bit of redirection.

And you know I’m going to tell you to write this down, right?

Yes I am! Here we go.

First, what do I KNOW?

  • What skills and abilities do I have right now that I can use to get myself going?
  • What things have I done before in this situation that have worked well for me?
  • What are the things I may be a little afraid to do but would make the biggest difference for me in this moment?

Second, what do I HAVE?

  • What resources can I put my hands on right now that can help me get moving?
  • Is there any low hanging fruit that I can act on just to build some motivation?
  • What are all the options I can generate from these resources?
  • What resources have I overlooked?
  • Which of my very best strengths can I call on in this moment to get some results?

Third, what can I DO?

  • What one thing can I do right now that will make a difference in my situation?
  • Who can I reach out to that will hold me accountable to move on from this stuck place?
  • What is one thing I can do today to better position myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically?

You don’t always need to create a whole new plan to get unstuck.

Don’t put that pressure on yourself.

Take some time to answer some of these questions and see if you can’t find a good starting point to help you wiggle out of the mud.

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 43: Why you should be okay with scraping some paint off

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Today’s episode is inspired by a quote from the unmatchable Bob Ross. There are so many good words to live by in his show, “The Joy of Painting.”

Learn why scraping off some paint isn’t such a bad idea. It just might help you get where you need to go.

You can listen to this episode right here! 👆

If you missed my series last week on how thinking errors can stress you out, check them out all in one place.

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

Full transcript 👇

Ep 43 Don't be afraid to just scrape off some paint

Bob Ross and his Happy Tree at our church’s fall festival a couple of years ago.

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

This is one of my favorite quotes:

“Don’t be afraid to scrape the paint off and do it again. This is the way you learn, trial and error, over and over, repetition. It pays you great dividends, great, great dividends.”

That was my very best Bob Ross impression. I know. I’ll keep working on it. 😜

Before motivational speakers became an industry, there was a happy artist named Bob Ross.

After a long career in the Air Force, he became a public television star in the 1980s and 90s with a serene and mesmerizing how-to painting show called “The Joy of Painting.”

Each week we watched him paint a simple nature scene.

At least that’s what we thought he was doing.

Bob was in fact dropping some serious wisdom on us while he moved his brush over that canvas.

Quietly and patiently he would show us how to use the simple tools available to all of us — line, shadow and color — to create something beautiful.

  • Something happy.
  • Like a happy little tree or a cloud.

But he wasn’t afraid to show the mistakes, too. Because the mistakes led to what he called “happy little accidents.”

How did Bob know we needed these reminders?

  • To embrace the happy little accidents for the gifts they bring us?
  • To appreciate the value of scraping it all off and doing it again with a new direction?

I don’t know anyone who enjoys scraping off the work they thought was going to be the real deal.

  • Have you ever been disappointed by a job that you realized just wasn’t for you?
  • What about a relationship you could see was going nowhere?
  • Maybe this was the year you decided to focus on your personal goals and you keep ending up right back where you started.

To scrape it all off and start over seems like a waste, right?

Am I supposed to just be okay seeing all that effort I put into this now piling up in colored dust around my feet?

What about my beautiful picture?

Why can’t I get what I see in my head to connect with the effort coming from my hands?

I know, it feels like you keep seeing the same dull picture over and over.

But there is some hope in all that scraping.

The scraping is a necessary part of discovery.

Scraping requires that you put your first idea aside, no matter how inspired you thought it was.

That’s an act of humility.

You have to go through what’s not working to find what does work.

So what if your job isn’t what you thought?

What matters is what you take with you from the experience that you can use somewhere else.

Now you know.

Every experience matters and nothing is ever wasted.

All that scraping will be messy, yes.

That’s your hard work piled up on the floor around you.

But that pile gives you the chance to prove that you have yet another idea up your sleeve.

That carnage shows that the learning process is at work in you.

You’re not afraid to engage it, even if it means your whole picture has to change.

So leaving that toxic relationship lets you create the space in your life to learn what a healthy relationship looks like for you.

You’ll leave some good stuff behind for sure, but you won’t need it because you’ll be working on a much better picture.

Scraping gives you the space you need to get it right.

What did you miss the first time that you can add in now?

Do you realize you need more “happy tree people” around you to support you in your goals?

Go ahead and add them here.

You have room now because you took away what wasn’t working.

You can just put those trees everywhere now.

Scraping isn’t a destructive act.

It uses material from the past to create room for what’s to come.

It’s the territory where the war between your past and your future is fought.

What will you scrape off and just leave behind?

How much will you leave on the canvas to create something a little different?

Will you be brave enough to start scraping?

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 .

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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 31: Make your weekend count with a vacation mindset

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It’s easy to let the weekend become another couple of days to get more accomplished. How can you make those two precious days truly help you recharge and refresh your outlook?

Here’s some research that found an interesting practice that can boost your weekend.

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.

The weekend is finally here. If you’re like me you have a long list of things you need to get to this weekend.

Sleep is always on my list. I know you’re not supposed to catch up on sleep on the weekend because it’s not a good sleep habit. But I can’t help myself.

Sleeping in on Saturday feels like a little vacation day to me. I wake up when I’m ready. And I enjoy not one but two delicious cups of coffee brewed with love by my husband, so I don’t even have to make the coffee.

I get to enjoy reading without looking at the clock. I finally have time to fold and put away the clean towels sitting in the laundry room since last Monday.

And I finally have time to do some odd and end things around the house.

It all seems a little sweeter on the weekend.

Apparently my weekend approach is a real thing. Researchers call this the vacation mindset.

Recent research out of UCLA made an interesting discovery when studying vacation habits among working Americans.

You’ve probably heard this before.

Americans kind of suck at taking the vacation time they’ve already earned at their jobs.

Some studies show that we take just half of our vacation days.

Even though those same studies show going on vacation boosts happiness and makes you more productive at work. I’m not sure why you need a study to prove that, but there it is.

In this UCLA study, the researchers found that some of the folks in the study treated the weekend as if it was a little vacation.

It wasn’t necessarily that they just kicked back and didn’t take care of chores or ignored their kids.

They simply chose to focus on their present experiences and savored the moments in their weekend days.

  • When you’re on vacation, doesn’t the food taste a little richer?
  • Do you stop for a minute to think about how blessed you are while you watch your kids play Marco Polo in the pool?
  • Do you enjoy long conversations with your spouse, without worrying about all the activities you still have to check off your list today?

For this group in the study, the weekend wasn’t just another couple of days to focus on things you didn’t get to during the week. It was a break from the usual and a respite from the intense focus and forward thinking we get caught up in during the week.

Big surprise.

When the study was over, the control group who used their weekends as little vacations reported higher happiness scores on Monday morning than those who just treated it as the same old weekend.

I don’t know about you but I’m game to try anything that will make Monday seem brighter.

So here’s your charge.

This weekend, find ways to be present with yourself and with your family.

  • Look for opportunities to enjoy where you are.
  • Turn off that urge to get things done.
  • Save that for work.

Here are a few ideas to get you started this weekend.

  • Do something physical outside: take a walk, ride your bike, chase the dog, let the dog chase you. For some of you, after a long winter, spring is finally showing itself. Let nature cleanse the palate of this past week while you do something good for your body.
  • Text a friend a smiley face, or a heart, or a fist bump, or that salsa lady dancing. Your friend probably had a long week, too.
  • Cook something simple and delicious. Lose your #keto, #paleo, #howmanypoints voice in your head for a minute and just enjoy.
  • Remove some physical clutter. Clean out the linen closet of those hotel shampoos you’ve been saving for 8 years but never use. I always have a bunch of those. Donate them to a local homeless shelter. Even better…
  • Put some of the stuff you’re not using on eBay, Craigslist, Offerup, Facebook, whatever. You get the benefits of less clutter and also extra $$. Don’t underestimate how much people love buying your old stuff.
  • Write an outline for a book about a skill people are always complimenting you on. Once you see it take shape, next weekend you’ll want to start actually writing it.
  • Give a lot of hugs. This includes side hugs, bro hugs or full-on embraces (be selective with this one, though). Hugs release a chemical in your body called oxytocin that gives you a feeling of well-being. That feeling is what we’re shooting for here.

Use your weekend to recharge your focus and help you connect with what you love most about your life.

Give yourself a little vacation this weekend.

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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Episode 25: Reduce stress in four quick ways right now

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Some days can leave you feeling so stressed out. How can you take some of the heat out of the day so you can reduce stress and keep going?

Here are four quick ideas you can try right now.

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.

Are you having one of those days?

Some days just seem to have a mind of their own, don’t they? It seems like you got behind almost right away.

Now you’re scrambling just hoping to get a few things done before the end of the day.

And you still have the rest of the day to go at home.

What can you do to keep from feeling so stressed out?

Well, without leaving early and just calling it a day, here are a few quick and surgical ideas you can try right now to reduce stress.

Scratch one thing off your list right now.

Just take off that thing you know you’re not getting to but you feel obligated to include. You knew you weren’t getting to it when you put it on your list this morning.

Leaving it on your list just creates anxiety for you because you have to keep processing your internal conflict about it every time you look at it. Out of sight, out of mind.

Stand up, walk away from your desk and go … somewhere.

You have the time because you just took something off your list. 😂 You don’t need to meditate necessarily, and you don’t have to take a buddy if you don’t want to.

If the weather’s nice, just step outside and soak up some sun.  A lot of us are deficient in Vitamin D because we work inside all day and we wear sunscreen the rest of the time.

Nature is a huge mood booster, even if it’s snowy or overcast outside.

Take a minute to connect with the earth you were designed to spend most of your time in.

Take care of something that’s just for you.

Our lists are full of things for other people aren’t they? Is there one small thing you keep putting off doing for yourself that would make your life a smidgen better?

I’m not talking about a spa day or a manicure. Think smaller.

I’ve been out of washer fluid in my car for about a month. I bought a new bottle of fluid, but it’s just been sitting in my trunk sloshing around every time I make a turn. My filthy windshield started making me nuts.

So today, I went outside especially to put that fluid in my car. It made my drive home so much better and probably safer too. It was a little thing that made MY life easier.

Forget dinner.

Not completely. But do something dead simple for dinner. You don’t have to cook a full meal tonight.

Local grocery stores have so many options now for hot foods that are better than fast food. And a lot of them will even deliver it for you.

It may not be completely Keto or clean eating or whatever you do. But for tonight that’s gonna need to be okay.

Putting yourself under pressure on the principle of cooking your own food won’t cut it today. Now you can actually enjoy your evening.

Those are just a few examples. Find a few simple things of your own that will help you take some of the heat out of your day.

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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How to go beyond positive thinking

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Stuffed toy sitting next to a coffee cup that reads "Today is gonna be a good day."

It’s no mystery that positive thinking is a valuable part of good mental health. You don’t have to be a genius to know that negative thinking will get you nowhere. So why should you go beyond positive thinking?

There’s nothing wrong with having optimism for the future.

It’s important to be able to believe that somehow everything will turn out okay. I believe we refer to that as hope.

But how do you make that hope tangible?

How can you feel invested in how things turn out instead of just hoping for the best?

I can remember when I was first exposed to the power of positive thinking. It was in my early married years when my husband and I became part of what was then known as Amway.

Amway was a multilevel marketing company that sold everything from toilet paper to vitamins. Not only could you buy products you used every day, but you could also make a little money and grow a business.

Well, we didn’t make a lot of money. But what we did do in Amway was make excellent friends.

Those excellent friends encouraged us to listen to cassette tapes each week. These cassette tapes had inspiring stories from people who had gone before us in business. They also contained positive messages from the big guns of positive thinking: Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, you name it.

The idea was that if you listened to these positive messages enough, you would just start to believe them. Your brain would naturally absorb these messages.

If you listened to them in place of negative feedback — for example the daily news — you would really start to see growth and progress in your business and your life.

Garbage in, garbage out. 🗑️

Makes total sense.

This was an earth shattering concept for me at the time. If I’m honest, negative thinking is kind of my default mode.

I’ll look at what’s not working before I try to figure out how to make things work. (Hmmm…..this might actually make me a good therapist. 🤔)

I’ve often been accused of always finding ways to shoot holes through things right off the bat.

I understand now that it’s part of my personality, but I know there is much power in trying to be positive first. So this was a real challenge for me to apply these principles to my everyday life.

I’m grateful for this time in Amway because I learned that I had the power to map out and visualize a life that I wanted with positive thinking.

I could choose to keep that picture in front of me. Using the power of my own thinking, I could march towards that picture.

But the hardest part about this for me was that every time I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “This is going to be the best day ever,” and “I am awesome,” I didn’t believe it.

In my perspective, there was too much evidence that said otherwise. It felt like I was lying to myself.

All I could see was that I had several issues I needed to resolve that day and being awesome didn’t really give me a roadmap for how to solve my problems.

I was just giving myself a whole lot of thumbs-ups. 👍

What I was missing was adaptive thinking.

Adaptive thinking goes beyond positive thinking.

You have to do more than just believe things will be okay.

  • What happens if they’re not okay?
  • What do I do then?
  • Am I still awesome even though I dropped the ball?

This is where anxiety can so easily enter the picture because you don’t feel like you have any control over the outcome.

In order to solve problems, you have to know what role you play and which of your strengths you will use to come up with a solution.

Adaptive thinking allows you to keep a positive attitude as your foundation and lets you build on that to actually generate solutions to your problems.

Adaptive thinking helps you form contingencies.

Being able to plan around unexpected stuff without losing your stuff is the biggest key in remaining flexible. Anymore, being flexible is everything, especially at work.

Positive thinking would tell you to hope for the best when something you didn’t expect flies in to your day. You got this!

Adaptive thinking would tell you to consider all the possible scenarios in front of you and come up with solutions based on how you’ve handled these things before.

Of course you should stay positive that you can handle whatever comes your way.

But adaptive thinking gives you some real data in the moment so you can see how this might actually turn out. This is how you calm yourself.

Adaptive thinking helps you create observable and measurable plans instead of going off of some vague feeling of trying to feel better about the situation.

Adaptive thinking focuses on your strengths.

We all have things we are really good at. Those strengths give us the confidence to solve the problems that may pop up in the day.

When you are faced with a difficult situation, using positive thinking to hope for a positive outcome can help you persevere.

Adaptive thinking, however, lets you focus on your specific skills that will help you power through this situation.

  • Are you good at bringing some order to chaos? Focus on using that skill to make a step-by-step list of the things you will take care of today.
  • Are you the person who can find solutions under a rock? Bring that strength to the equation to help you and your team see the light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Are you the empathetic one who can help keep the peace in tense situations? Please, yes, your strength is superhuman and can help your team survive some tough times. (Why is there no Superman emoji?)

Focusing on the strengths you’ve already developed builds tremendous confidence for the next challenge that comes along. You have results you can point back to. 👈

“I’ve got this because I’ve done this before.”

Feeling inspired or hopeful is a great place to start. But you will really succeed when you go beyond positive thinking to focus on applying your strengths and skills to a challenge.

Use adaptive thinking to paint yourself a track record of what you’ve already done really well.

Adaptive thinking allows you to be curious and forward focused.

Positive thinking is forward focused all by itself. It always points you to believing you can succeed in some future moment. This is great.

Adaptive thinking takes you to the next level by letting you create that specific future moment for yourself. It allows you to explore your own natural curiosity.

  • What questions can you ask to look at this problem from all angles?
  • What strategies can you look at now that will set you up for that next level?
  • What have I done before that didn’t work?
  • What did work?

Interacting with your strengths, skills, and investigative prowess helps you keep moving toward your goal.

How do you build adaptive thinking into your day?

Let’s say it’s time for your annual evaluation at work. Nobody really enjoys these, including and especially your boss.

But you have a bit more of a disadvantage of being judged by someone who doesn’t sit in your seat every day. Performance evaluations are ripe ground for positive thinking because you really have no idea how this may go. You want to feel as good as you can when you walk in the door.

If you’ve had a bit of a tough year in meeting your goals, you may already be a little worried.

So you tell yourself that things will be good. You’re a valued employee, you know that, and you can handle whatever your boss may bring up.

FAN-tastic.

But take that positive attitude a step further.

  1. Before the meeting with your boss, make a list for yourself of specific areas where you already know you missed completing some things.
  2. Ask yourself some questions about how and why you missed the mark. Don’t beat yourself up, but do come up with some data on what you could have missed.
  3. Generate some ideas for how you can come up with a plan to address those issues. What will you do differently next time? Who can you collaborate with in the future that might help complement your skills?

If those ideas come up in the meeting, you have some actionable and forward-focused stuff to bring up if you need it. Now you have a better chance of contributing good information to the meeting and being a little less on the defense.

This takes you much further down the road than just telling yourself things will be fine.

I wish I had done more of this when I was in the corporate arena.

When I did finally understand the importance of adaptive thinking, I came to the conclusion it was time to leave that arena.

So that prompted a whole new round of adaptive thinking.

But I was confident I could take the next step because I started a new chapter of my career based on the track record I had already built.

I was positive about my career change, but adaptive thinking helped me to be pragmatic about what I needed to succeed.

Think about it

What are some areas where you could apply adaptive thinking?

Drop me some comments below! 👇👇👇

 


Check out my new Alexa Skill – Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller

You’re busy at work and at home, and you take care of everyone else. You’re allowed to have a few minutes in each day to set your focus, regroup and feel a little more in control.

Join me every day as I bring you simple and practical tips you can use right now to gain a little more control over your life.

Visit my Amazon page for more information.

Amazon Alexa skill - Mental Health Moment with Lori Miller


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