Do you want to be a drug counselor?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

The need for qualified drug counselors continues to grow.

Pill for that?

Drug Counseling?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The growing opioid epidemic has highlighted the need for more drug treatment. So has the use of other drugs, methamphetamine, the so-called bath salts, and a whole host of new substances which continue to grow. The need for treatment among the older generation is at an all-time high as many baby boomers have continued to use their drug of choice into their retirement years. While the increasing problem with hard drugs gets a lot of media attention, we can’t forget that the two legal drugs, nicotine and alcohol remain huge killers. In medical settings, most of the patients have illnesses caused by or made worse by the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs.

There are several reasons why you might want to become a drug and alcohol counselor. For over ten years now I’ve taught classes in counseling those with substance use disorders. This week another class is starting. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to talk to you about some of the things drug counselors learn. Let’s begin today with reasons you might want to become a drug counselor and why your reason might help or hinder you in becoming a good drug counselor.

The field of drug counseling continues to evolve. The laws and regulations vary from place to place, and so do the names given to drug counselors. Counselors in this field are sometimes called substance abuse counselors, substance use disorder counselors, drug and alcohol counselors, or AOD counselors which stands for alcohol and other drug counselors.

This field used to separate alcoholics from drug addicts and provide two different kinds of treatment. Today it’s rare to find treatment programs where the two issues are disconnected. People with alcohol only problems usually end up in a drunk driver program or self-help groups such as AA. People with drug problems go to drug programs even though they often also have alcohol problems.

If you are in recovery, you may want to become a drug counselor.

Today’s substance abuse counseling programs mainly grew out of the alumni from drug programs and people who had attended 12 step groups. If you’re in recovery yourself, you may want to give back. The good part about this is that you probably have a lot of knowledge about the process of addiction. Many of my students are former alcoholics or addicts now in recovery. I tell the class, only half-joking, that many of you have done “extensive field research” on drugs and alcohol.

If you’re a recovering person, you probably know a lot about the 12 steps. While a lot of research is being done about what works and doesn’t work in the substance use disorder field, working the 12 steps and attending self-help groups continues to be a significant component of most recovery programs.

The downside to being a recovering person is that you may struggle with the academic, professional part of the curriculum. People in recovery who rushed too rapidly into becoming drug counselors put themselves at risk for relapse. For recovering person to work in the treatment field, they need to not only know the disease of addiction, but they also need to understand the process of recovery. If you’re in early recovery give yourself plenty of time to get used to your new sobriety before beginning to work in the field, otherwise you can put yourself at risk of relapse.

You may have had a family member or friend with an addiction problem.

Many people come into the field because they lost a family member or close friend to the diseases of addiction. I’ve seen some very effective counselors who have not themselves been addicts but have grown up in a home with an addicted parent or partner. If you’ve lost a child to addiction, death, or incarceration, that can be an exceptionally strong motivation to work in the field.

The caution for family members is like the one for recovering people. Make sure you are fully recovered from your experiences of living with an addicted person. Don’t expect to work out your own problems by working with addicts. Living with an addicted person can cause severe emotional trauma. You need to be fully recovered from that trauma if you plan to do this kind of work. A number of my drug counseling students were family members of addicts. They pretty much all told me they benefited by taking the classes. Many however decided they needed to work on themselves rather than trying to fix themselves by fixing addicts.

You have discovered a lot of the people you work with have drug problems.

No matter where you work there’s a strong possibility that many of the people you see each day have a drug problem. One survey estimated that 80% of the people in prison were drunk or high in the 24 hours before the committed the crime that led to their incarceration. VA Hospital estimated half of their hospital beds on the results of patients whose condition was caused by or made worse by alcohol. People who work in the criminal justice system or the medical field need to know about addiction and recovery.

People who work in the welfare system need to be knowledgeable about drugs, alcohol, addiction, and recovery. Many people who are unemployed have substance use issues. Among the homeless population, one drug is almost universal. It’s probably not the drug you are thinking of, the drug of choice among the homeless – is tobacco.

If you’re working in education, you need to know about drugs, alcohol and the problems they’re creating for your students. Surveys tell us that at the college level F students consume twice as much alcohol as A students. Many elementary school students begin experimenting with drugs and drinking around the third or fourth grade. They start by smoking their parent’s cigarettes or drinking their alcohol. With the shift towards legalized marijuana more and more elementary and middle school students are using marijuana. If you work with kids in any capacity part of what you should be doing will be drug prevention and early interventions.

You work in mental health and clients want to talk to you about drug problems.

There’s a substantial overlap between mental health issues and substance use disorders. If you work in a program or facility that treats mental health problems you’re seeing people with substance use disorders whether you know it or not. Please don’t say “I don’t want to work with those people.” You are. If you give off the attitude you don’t want to talk to them about their drug problems, their sex problems, or their gambling problems; they just won’t tell you the truth about those issues.

Roughly half the people with a diagnosed mental illness, abuse substances and many go on to develop substance use disorders. About 60% of the people with substance use disorders also have a mental illness. The area of working with clients with both problems, now called “dual diagnosis” used to be called “co-occurring disorders.” The most effective treatment for people with both disorders is to get them both treated at the same time and either at the same place or with two different providers who work together to coordinate care.

You would like to help “those people.”

If your motivation to become a drug counselor is because you feel sorry for people with a history of substance use disorder, I’m going to suggest, please don’t become a drug counselor. You’re likely to come across as feeling superior and looking down on them. If you want to be helpful, work with them on their other needs, housing, meals, job training, or basic literacy. Leave the drug counseling to people who will put in the time to develop the needed skills.

Stay tuned for more posts on what drug counselors do on the job and how someone would go about becoming a drug counselor. If you have questions as I move through this series of posts, please leave a comment or use the “contact me” form. I will get back to you just as quickly as my schedule allows.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

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Thoughtful.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Thoughtful

Thoughtful.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Thoughtful.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

― Aristotle, Metaphysics

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

― Albert Einstein

“You need to learn how to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate. If you want to control things in your life so bad, work on the mind. That’s the only thing you should be trying to control.”

― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

Do’s and don’ts for moving into your new blog.

By David Joel Miller.

What should you do after you have your blog name and your theme?

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

In previous posts we talked about selecting a blog name, using a free web name or registering that name to yourself and selecting a theme. If you elected to self-host, you had to learn a lot of technical stuff or hire someone to help you. So what steps you need to take next? A will base this on the steps I took using the wordpress.com site to host my blog.

Hang out a welcome sign.

Most blog themes provide a place for a picture at the top of your site. This picture can be changed, but I discovered it’s worth the effort to select a good picture. For my picture, I used some scenery with the words counselorssoapbox.com overlaid. Some bloggers include a picture of themselves or other artwork. Readers will see this picture over and over, and if you link to social media, this can end up being part of your “brand” another way that readers will identify you.

Create some pages.

For most bloggers the page people will first go to, often called a landing page, will be the page you will use for posting. It’s possible in some themes to use a different page as your landing page.

Other pages you might want to create would be an “about me” or an “about the author” page. On my blog, I also have a “contact me” page for readers to contact me directly rather than leaving a comment. If you have other static content, you can create a page for this. On my private practice website, which runs the same theme as my WordPress.com blog, I also have pages for frequently asked questions and local resources. Remember the more pages you create, the more work you are creating for yourself to maintain those pages.

I wouldn’t recommend creating too many pages for various topics. It’s much easier to sort posts by categories which allows readers to see all the posts you’ve written about a topic in one place.

Enable sharing on your blog.

If you have social media profiles, you can enable sharing so that your post, or at least the headline from it, will automatically be posted to your social media. On my blog, I find that in the menu on the left by clicking on settings, followed by clicking on sharing.

My posts are automatically shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and several other sites. I don’t find that these shares automatically result in people viewing my blog, but every little bit helps. Enabling sharing dramatically reduces the time it takes to get the word out about your blog on social media.

Create good headlines for your posts.

Good headlines encourage people to click on your post. Avoid getting too cute. The headline should include a word or words that tell the potential reader what the post is about. Writing headlines is an art. Look at the posts you read for ideas. What made you click on that post? What I found was no one formula for writing headlines works all the time. Don’t automatically use the first headline you think of. I keep a file folder for posts in progress. I start with a title, but by the time I am ready to post this article a better title often suggests itself. Up until you click post you can change the headline.

Learn to use the different heading styles.

I write my posts using Microsoft word. It’s tempting to try to make the piece look attractive by changing fonts and type size. Don’t do that. When you go to copy and paste the article you have written into your blog things can change. Learn to use the headings at the top of the page in word. When you go to paste it, type styles can change but the level of heading, H1, H2, etc. will be preserved.

Headings are used by search engines to help find content that matches what the reader is looking for. Using subheadings correctly makes your post more searchable and may improve its performance on search engines.

Create your post.

Since I create most posts ahead of time, I copy and paste them from my Word document into the blog editor. You can type directly, but that increases the risk of making a mistake. Writing posts is a topic for another day.

Don’t use H1 in the body of your post.

The title of your post will automatically be rendered in the top, H1, setting. Unless your post is exceptionally long having too many H1 will be penalized by search engines. You can’t get more attention by putting everything in bold and caps. That comes across as shouting at your reader, use bold and caps sparingly. This is especially true of marking too many things with an H1 heading style. If you say too many things are important, the search engine will ignore you and rank your post lower or not at all.

Experiment with inserting pictures.

You will probably find this under media. Using one or a few pictures makes your post more interesting. Using too many or too large a picture can interfere with loading on some mobile devices. Increasingly readers are viewing blog posts on their cell phones rather than on computers with large screens.

One way to do your experimenting is to set the post you are working on to publish at a future date. The dashboard on my site is set to publish immediately. To the right of that is the word edit. When I click on that, I can set a post to publish at future date. Once I set that date, I don’t have to worry about accidentally publishing a post for the world to see that is not ready.

Search for pictures you would like to use on sites that offer images for free, licensed under a Creative Commons license. That will avoid copyright issues. Some sites will show you a few free pictures and then also show you pictures you need to pay to use. Most of the pictures I use come from Pixabay.com, and I have been pleased with the pictures. If I can’t find what I’m looking for there, especially for technical pictures, my second go-to site’s Wikimedia Commons.

I discovered pictures can take up a lot of space on my computer. For a while, I was storing them on a flash drive, but that got full. Recently I purchased an external hard drive which allows a lot more space for both pictures and backup files of the things I write.

Besides the blog and books, I write I also create PowerPoint presentations and videos to use in the classes I teach. By saving pictures licensed under Creative Commons, I can reuse those pictures.

When you go to “add media,” you will have the option to upload files or use your media library. Initially, you’ll have to upload everything. Some pictures, like the one I use for my writing posts or the one I use for some of the technical “what is” posts, I reuse repeatedly. Most of the posts need fresh pictures each time. Your media library allows you to find and reuse your pictures.

Once you have selected a picture make sure you go to the right, scroll down, and fill in all the boxes. You will need to insert a caption which will appear on your post. I always put the credit for where I got the picture directly after my title. You can also tell it to place the picture at the left of the text, to the right of the text, or in the middle. Once you click insert into post, it will automatically be placed into your post wherever you left your cursor.

Mark your post for categories and tags.

Categories allow you to lump a group of posts together. I have categories for various mental illnesses, substance abuse, writing and so on. If you know which categories, you will be using, create them ahead of time. You can add new categories at any time.

Tags help search engines find your post. A brief tag like writing probably won’t rank very well and will not bring you many readers. A longer tag like “writing your first blog post” could potentially rank better and bring you more views.

Save your post.

Two possibilities here. You can click “save draft” with a plan to come back and work on this post more. If you feel reasonably happy with the post, you can click publish. If you set a future date, you can now go to your list of posts, click view, and see what it will look like when it finally publishes. If you’re not happy with the appearance, go back to your list of posts and click edit. This will allow you to make changes before the post finally appears.

Excuse the length of this post. Creating blog posts is a skill. There’s a lot more I could have said about this topic. But the important thing is to create your first blog post and learn from the experience. Best wishes on your blogging or other writing, wherever you are in the process. Be sure to leave comments or use the “contact me” form to send me questions. Likes and follows are always appreciated. See you next time as we continue our discussion about the journey of becoming a writer.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch.

Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Which pill should you take for that?

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Trying to solve life’s problems with a pill comes at a cost.

Pill for that?

Which pill should you take for that?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Modern medical science has been a great boon to people. Medications can treat diseases and have extended the human lifespan. Unfortunately, many people in our society have come to expect that taking a chemical will solve all their problems. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no matter what your challenge there was a pill for that?

Regrettably, many of the problems people face today can’t be solved with medication. Freud, Jung, and a great many others discovered that the “talking cure” was more effective for treating emotional problems and relationship problems than meditation.

Martin Seligman, Ph.D., in his book, What You Can Change … and What You Can’t, reports that as of 2007 no medication had been found which cured any mental illness but that several varieties of talk therapy have been effective in curing certain mental and emotional disorders. While medication can help you manage some of the symptoms of your illness, symptoms can return as soon as you stop taking that medication.

A word of caution here, if you’re currently taking a prescribed medication don’t suddenly stop taking it without a discussion with your physician. Abruptly discontinuing medication can cause some severe medical issues. The symptoms people experience from stopping antidepressant medication can be so intense, that there is a recognized mental illness in the DSM-5 called “antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.”

The medicalization of life’s problems.

Many of the problems of living have increasingly been construed as medical problems. A significant number of people who completed suicide have been to see their medical doctor in the month before their attempt, only to be told that there was nothing medically wrong with them.

Taking medication for depression can be helpful, but it typically takes a long time, a month or more before you begin to feel the effects. If you don’t face your problems, learn to change what you can and to accept the things you can’t change. No medication will make your life happier all by itself.

Don’t confuse physical and emotional pains.

The belief that when you feel bad, there must be a medication that will stop the pain has led a lot of people to seek a chemical solution to the problems of living. If you’re sad because of a loss in your life, medication can temporarily numb that pain, but when the medication wears off, you still must face life’s problems.

Some problems respond better to life skills than to medication.

There’s an immense connection between sleep and physical and emotional health. Some sleep issues are medical, sleep apnea for example. Temporarily you can increase the amount of sleep by taking sleeping pills, but once you become dependent on the sleeping pills, you won’t be able to sleep without them. Rebound insomnia can happen when you discontinue the sleeping pills and results in nights where you don’t sleep at all.

Using alcohol to help you sleep is even worse. Alcohol is a depressant drug, drink enough, and you will pass out, unconscious. Being unconscious is not the same thing as sleeping.

Far more effective than using chemicals to increase sleep are things called “sleep hygiene.” Decrease or eliminate caffeine use during the eight hours or so before bedtime. Avoid blue light from TVs and computer screens during the last hour before bedtime. If anxiety and worries are keeping you awake at night try journaling about them, make up lists of things to do the next day, and seek long-term solutions to those problems. If you feel stuck in this area, consider going for counseling.

Don’t fall for the myth of “happy pills.”

I’m inclined to think that our societies belief that there must be a pill to cure everything that ails you has been fueling the drug overdose crisis. For someone with chronic physical pain medications can help them have a better life. But many people miss the connection between emotional pain and physical pain. Your emotions are regulated in your nervous system, and your nervous system connects to every other part of your body. Being under stress or experiencing mental and emotional problems leads to chemical changes in the body. Untreated emotional issues can result in genuine physical pain.

Taking medication does not solve the nonmedical problems of living and “numbing out” with drugs whether they are prescribed, or street drugs, allow your problems to grow worse and gives you the additional problem of addiction to deal with.

Don’t use drugs as a shortcut to things you can do without them.

I’ve noticed recently students who don’t put in the time to study for class but instead take “smart drugs” or load up on stimulants and try to learn everything the night before the final they should’ve been learning all semester.

Stimulant ADHD medication can be helpful to someone with severe attention deficit disorder. But taking these medications won’t make up for learning good study habits and putting in the time on your homework. ADHD is an excellent example of “concept creep” in which the number of people with a diagnosis continues to expand as milder and milder cases get the diagnosis. Learning to focus your attention is a skill that can be developed.

Mental and emotional problems respond to physical exercise.

Walking can be as useful for treating depression as medication. There is no known medication to treat the negative symptoms of schizophrenia, but a recent study reported that aerobic exercise reduces those negative symptoms. I’m currently reviewing the research reports on exercise to treat mental illness. I found thousands of studies on this subject. As I have the time to read the studies, I plan to write another blog post on what conditions exercise has been proven to help.

It’s hard to admit the doctor’s prescription pad won’t solve all your problems.

Recently something happened that drove home how ingrained our society’s belief is that medical doctors have all the answers to life’s problems. Google is now moving post written by medical doctors or approved by them to the top of the search results while writers from nonmedical fields find their posts dropping down the search results.

I get why Google may have had to do this. I’ve seen some articles and blog posts with information I considered totally erroneous. You should be careful to separate the views of someone with knowledge in the field from those who may be handing out inaccurate information. I hope that society won’t ignore information about study habits from educators in favor of posts encouraging you to take the newest smart drug or preference for information about diet drugs and surgery while disregarding sound information about exercise and physical fitness from specialists in that area who don’t necessarily have a prescription pad.

If you read this far thanks for considering my suggestions for solving life’s problems without reaching for a drug that could make your problems worse.

David Joel Miller, MS, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program. He also writes both articles and books about overcoming life’s challenges.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Timid.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

Timid

Timid.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Timid.

“Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals of Ralph Waldo Emerson, with Annotations – 1841-1844

“It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

― Theodore Roosevelt

“I could tell you my adventures—beginning from this morning,” said Alice a little timidly; “but it’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. If any of these quotes strike a chord with you, please share them.

Look at these related posts for more on this topic and other feelings.

Emotions and Feelings.

Inspiration

The mechanics of creating a blog.

By David Joel Miller.

Creating your blog can be simple or complicated.

Man writing.

Writing.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

I’ll try to describe briefly the process of setting up a blog now that you have an idea of your topic, your intended audience, and the kind of content you’ll be creating. Some people get really into this you can have a lot of fun creating their blog. But it’s not necessary for you to be tech savvy. Remember if this 70-year-old man can create a blog almost anyone can.

Not being a tech type person, I’m going to use analogies here, so I don’t get the details wrong and mislead you.

So, what are some things you’ll need to do to get this blog moving?

Decide where your blog is going to live.

Your blog will reside somewhere. If you already have a website, you can put your blog there. But if you’re new to this, you will probably want to house your blog on a site that specializes in blogs. I have two websites/blogs. One lives in a small house I built. And the other is housed in a condominium development called WordPress. I believe WordPress is by far the largest housing developments for new blogs. I noticed some bloggers use a site called blogger.

Since I use WordPress, let me try to explain how I use this site. This will be an extremely simple description. I recommend you spend some time exploring the neighborhood before you decide where you want to move into. They have lots of information available and even some humans who can help you.

You create an account. You give your blog a name. They will check to make sure that that name is not already being used by someone. This name becomes your mailing address for information coming to your blog and going from your blog to readers. My blog’s name is counselorssoapbox. The free version of that site would use the web address counselorssoapbox.wordpress.com.

You can elect to buy a web address. I purchased the web address counselorssoapbox.com which is set up to send traffic to my location at counselorssoapbox.wordpress.com. I chose to buy the web address because I expected to use it over a long time and wanted to be sure it was mine. If you buy a blog name, you will pay a small annual fee kind of like homeowner’s association dues.  Since I bought counselorssoapbox.com, I can move to a different web neighborhood, called a “host” If I ever wanted to.

My other site counselorfresno.com resides in a planned community developed by a web hosting company. If you plan on becoming a large enterprise, with multiple sites, and doing e-commerce you probably want your blog along with your other web pages on your own site.

Let me tell you a little secret. I discovered it was a whole lot easier using the site hosted on WordPress.com that it was managing the self-hosted one.

You need to pick a “theme” for your blog.

I think of theme as the floor plan for my house. Do I need a large brightly lit room to display my photographs or do I need a room with lots of bookshelves in file cabinets from my papers? If you go with WordPress.com, they have a number of free “themes.” The nice thing about having my blog live in the WordPress.com housing complex is that if I change my mind about the floor plan I need, they let me move to a different “theme.” Not only did they let me move, but they move all my stuff into the new theme for me, for free.

There are also a lot of premium floor plans (themes) that are available for a small one-time charge.

Themes can be customized.

Whether you decide on a free theme or buy a custom one, there are lots of options. You can change the colors, move the doors that lead from one part of your blog to another and so on. Themes also allow for you to create some storage sheds (called widgets) that you can line up along one side or at the bottom of your theme. I use some of these to store things like a list of the topics I write on and links to take readers to those topics.

If you like the idea of building your own house, you’ll love self-hosting.

Some people prefer self-hosting so that their blog is built on their own property. This allows you to do a lot of other things with your website and blog but adds to the labor. A little secret you might want to know. If you decide to self-host, you can still use all the WordPress blueprints. Which are available through WordPress.org. Keep in mind if you self-host there with be more maintenance. If your blog lives in the WordPress.com development, they do most of the maintenance for you for free.

So, at this point, you have the keys to your new blog. Next, you’ll need to make some decisions about the furnishings and where you’re going to put them. In the next post, I want to give you some do’s and don’ts for moving into your new blog. Don’t forget, if you have questions, please ask them. Otherwise, I’ll just keep rambling on with the story of my writing journey.

You’ll find more posts on this topic under – Writing.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time but the Sasquatch wants to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Ways to Prevent Burnout.

By David Joel Miller MS Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Solutions to keep you from being the victim of burnout.

Burning out

Burnout.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The stress of life in this century is increasing the number of people reporting burnout. Several factors are at play here. The time spent in formal education has increased dramatically. Many people today graduate from school ready to begin their work career already buried in student loan debt. The available jobs on planet Earth have shifted from working with plants in agriculture and things in manufacturing to working with people. Life itself has simply become more stressful. Before you experience burnout, here are some things you can do to protect yourself.

Get adequate sleep.

One of the first signs of burnout is feeling physically and emotionally exhausted. It’s tempting to believe you can stay up late and still be productive the next day. Eventually, you will develop a sleep deficit, and your ability to cope with stress will decline.

Avoid alcohol and drugs.

Alcohol and drugs may make you feel better in the short run, but when they wear off, you will be more depleted than before. Using drugs and alcohol to cope is a sure way to accelerate your journey to burnout.

Maintain friendships and social connections.

Having positive friendships and social support buffers you from stress. As life’s demands increase, people are tempted to reduce their social connections. Having a support system will help you get through stressful times. Time spent with friends is not a waste of time which could’ve been productive at work, it’s an investment in maintaining your ability to cope with stress.

Avoid perfectionism.

There are a few things which require perfection or near perfection. If you allow the quest for perfection to spill over into areas where it’s not needed, you increase your stress level possibly to the breaking point.

Scheduled downtime, don’t over schedule yourself.

Machines can’t run and 100 hundred percent of capacity, neither can humans. Cramming your schedule full of work and the rest of your time full of frantic leisure activities can exceed your physical and emotional resources.

Use relaxation tools, meditation, deep breathing, etc.

Don’t wait until after your burnout, to learn stress reduction techniques. Simple relaxation tools can lower your level stress and keep you physically and emotionally well.

Take your breaks.

When times are stressful, it’s tempting to try to keep up your productivity by working through lunch and skipping breaks. Temporarily this may increase what you get done, but over the long haul, your productivity will decline. Ultimately neglecting self-care results in exhaustion which leads to burnout.

Learn to say no.

Avoid taking on projects and responsibilities you don’t have the energy and resources to accomplish. Failure to say no results in becoming overwhelmed. After your burn out someone else will do your job and probably they will say no to excessive demands. Setting proper boundaries can help you continue to function effectively over a much longer period.

Practice disconnecting; you can unplug.

Leaving work at the job is important. Avoid taking work home with you whenever possible. When you’re spending time with family or friends, be fully present with them. Don’t continue to think about work during your leisure time.

Make self-care a priority, eat well, exercise.

Make taking care of yourself your top priority. Believe that you matter. Create a life in which you thrive by eating well, sleeping and getting healthy exercise. Pursue the things that interest you and invest some time in self-improvement.

Improve your job skills, so you have options.

Avoid getting locked into doing the same work over and over. Keep your options open. Continuing to improve your job skills and learning new skills gives you additional options. Being able to move from one position to another or even from one company to another keeps you from getting trapped. Having other options reduces the chance that you will stay on the job past the point of burnout.

More posts about – Burnout.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

Sasquatch. Wandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.