What is your stress mindset?

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

Stressed

Feeling stressed out?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How stress affects you depends on your stress mindset.

When we say something is stressful, most people think of this as a bad thing. Some stress is harmful. But sometimes stress can be helpful. Research tells us that without stress hormones, you might have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. Stress hormones can divert blood flow to muscles making you run faster. A little bit of stress can also improve your alertness and attention. How your stress affects you depends on your stress mindset.

We experience stress in two different situations. There’s the ongoing kind of stress that comes from a demanding job or challenging home situation. If you’re unemployed, that’s stressful. Stress can also be the result of a sudden need to perform well. Going for that big job interview, that can be significantly stressful also. Having an unexpected significant challenge, making a speech, finishing a project, or taking a big test can all be stressful.

What will happen to you when you’re faced with a challenge? Are you one of those people who fall apart under stress? Or are you the type of person that can rise to the occasion, for whom stress brings out the best in you? How stress will affect you is likely to be the result of the thing some psychologists describe as your stress mindset.

Do you have a negative stress mindset?

If you face stress with the belief that this is awful, harmful, and debilitating, you have a negative stress mindset. People with a negative stress mindset repeatedly experience stressful events as unpleasant, or debilitating. They worry about things in advance. A negative stress mindset makes it more difficult to cope with a challenging task.

People with a negative stress mindset often believe they do not have the resources necessary to cope with the stressor and experience the challenge as exhausting. If you expect things to be stressful, you will try to avoid them rather than trying something new which may be beneficial.

What’s a positive stress mindset?

People who see stress positively believe that it can improve their focus. They see challenges as opportunities to up their game. For them, stress increases their motivation. The challenging activity provides them a chance to learn and grow as well as to display their talents to others. As the pressure rises, their performance improves.

People who have a positive stress mindset, when faced with a difficult task, look for ways to cope with the challenge. They view this challenge as an opportunity for learning and growth. They are likely to come out of the experience energized regardless of the outcome.

People who believe in the potential positive outcomes from stress are less likely to be overwhelmed by difficult life circumstances.

How can you cope with pressure?

Developing a positive stress mindset can improve your ability to cope with pressure. Think of pressure as another form of exercise. Avoiding exercise results in you becoming weaker. Avoiding anything stressful reduces your ability to cope. Look for small things that you can do to challenge herself to develop better coping-skills when under stress.

Learn to interpret those butterflies in your stomach as excitement rather than thinking of them as a warning of danger. Preparing in advance for the possible stressful event can reduce that feeling of stress. A big test will be more stressful if you haven’t studied for the exam. Practicing needed skills until they are automatic will make you more confident in performance situations. But all that preparation will not help you if you interpret challenges with a negative stress mindset.

Look for the positive benefits of challenging situations.

Developing a positive stress mindset includes learning to view each new challenge as an opportunity to grow and improve. When faced with the unexpected situation, look for the potential positive outcomes. Ruminating about what could go wrong will make the event more stressful. Focusing on opportunities will reduce the feeling of stress.

To reduce stress, don’t listen to your inner critic.

Putting yourself down doesn’t improve your performance. Most of us have an inner critic telling us we are not good enough. Critics criticize. Those who accomplish things in life ignore their inner critic and move forward. If you expect to do poorly, your performance will sink to the level your brain expects.

For more on this topic see:     Stress or Productivity

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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.

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

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.

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How to stop procrastination.

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

Time running out

Procrastination.

To avoid procrastination do the hardest thing first.

Having an unpleasant chore hanging over your head creates a lot of stress. Doing things that are unpleasant now for a future benefit tends to get put off. Putting off that unpleasant chore and dealing with what is hanging over your head uses up a lot of energy. You’re only going to have so much willpower and when it’s gone nothing gets accomplished. By doing the hard thing first, you make the rest of your day that much easier. Completing a task you didn’t want to do, can give you a feeling of accomplishment and make you feel extra productive. With that one big thing off your list, you can breeze through several smaller chores.

Increase your productivity by creating a second morning.

If you’re one of those people who is most productive first thing in the day, but your productivity drops off as the day progresses, consider breaking your day into two segments. When you come back from lunch or shortly after that, revise your to-do list. Crossing off the things you’ve already completed will give you a sense of accomplishment. Begin the second part of your day by tackling the remaining “hardest to do” task.

If a new challenging project has cropped up, you can get it out of the way while you still have some energy rather than carrying it over until a tomorrow which may never arrive. This two-part day will leave you with primarily smaller, easier to do things to tackle at the end of your day when your energy is running low.

To defeat procrastination, break difficult projects into chunks.

When we are faced with large projects, they seem overwhelming. It’s natural to procrastinate when you’re overwhelmed. Breaking a large project into smaller parts allows you to whittle that project down to a manageable size. Tackle the overwhelming the same way you would eat an elephant, one bite at a time.

Do a time challenge to reduce procrastination.

Your day can slip by in those short 10-minute intervals between other things. When you have 10 or 15 minutes left before the next thing you need to do, or place you need to go, set a time challenge. Don’t tell yourself you don’t have enough time. Ask yourself how much of this project can I get done in these 10 or 15 minutes, I have available to work on my project.

Increase your focus by reducing your distractions.

Close your email browser. Turn off your cell phone. Close the door to your office if you can. When I’m writing, I wear a pair of headphones playing relaxing background music. This keeps me from being distracted by conversations and sounds in the environment. If you’re only going to have 10 minutes to work on something, give it your full attention.

Perfection is the enemy of productivity.

Trying to do everything perfectly can result in you getting nothing accomplished. The illusion that you need to write a perfect book has kept many a would-be writer from ever finishing their book. Some things only need to be good enough. Productive writers know that you must start by producing a messy, imperfect, first draft before they have something to revise and edit. Ask yourself just how perfect this project needs to be. Invest your time and energy into the important things rather than trying to do less critical tasks perfectly.

Don’t wait until you can make time to do something.

The idea that you can “make time” to do something you have been putting off is a mirage. There’s no way to make any more time. Each week consists of 168 hours. If you want to be financially stable, you need a money budget. If you’re going to be productive, you need to budget your time. You may be able to borrow money, but you can’t borrow time and pay it back next week. Create a time budget. Invest a little of your time each day into getting something accomplished, and at the end of the week, you can see how small investments of time compound.

Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.

Focusing on how much you must do and how hard it will be to do it uses up a lot of time that could be better spent working on the tasks at hand. Narrow your vision to the one thing on your to-do list. Get as much done on that thing as you can, using the time and resources you have. If you tell yourself, you can’t do something you won’t be able to do it. Tell yourself you can do it and watch what can happen.

Avoid procrastination by making a public commitment.

Announce your projects to the world. Tell a friend. Tell your family. Tell someone at work. Once you’ve announced that you are going to do something positive, peer pressure will increase your motivation to get it done. When we tell ourselves what we are going to do, it’s easy to lie to yourself. When you have told someone else what you plan to do, there’s an extra incentive to get it done.

Plan a project-marathon.

If you’re the type of person who works best in chunks, block off an afternoon, or a day, and challenge yourself to see how much you can get done when you work on one thing and only that one thing for a set period. I sign up each year for NaNoWriMo (the national novel writing month contest.) I commit to trying to write a 50,000-word novel during the 30 days of November. Having that self-imposed deadline has resulted in my finishing novels three years in a row. These novels are first drafts and need a lot of revision but participating in these writing marathons gets something accomplished.

Why do you procrastinate?

Most people procrastinate because they have too many things on their to-do list. Why you procrastinate is not as important as learning how to put an end to the procrastination monster. Learn to say no. Scratch some things off that to-do list. Make it a point to decide what’s important and do that first. Once you’ve simplified your to-do list, apply some of the anti-procrastination tips in this blog post, and watch your productivity sore.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller.

Six David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Dark Family Secrets: Some family secrets can be deadly.

What if your family secrets put you in danger?

Letters from the Dead The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive?

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.

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

Books are now available on Amazon.

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

For videos see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

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.

Motivation.

Motivation.

Motivation.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Motivation.

Sunday Inspiration.     Post by David Joel Miller.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”

― Walt Disney

“You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

― Henry Ford

“All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be.”

― Henry David Thoreau, Walden

“The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance. The wise grows it under his feet.”

― James Oppenheim

Wanted to share some inspirational quotes with you.  Today seemed like a good time to do this. There are an estimated 100,000 words in the English language that are feelings related. Some emotions are pleasant, and some are unpleasant, but all feelings can provide useful information. 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

Why you should plan on being late.

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

Time to change.

Are you on time?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Should you make showing up late a habit?

Are you tired of being on time while others are often late? Wouldn’t you just love to be the one who walks in at the last moment, makes a grand entrance, and commands everyone else’s attention? If you’re one of those people who has wasted countless hours being on time or worse yet are always arriving early, so you are not the one disrupting things by arriving late, wouldn’t you be better off developing a habit of always arriving late? Here are some simple tips to make sure you’re always the last to arrive.

Always leave later than you think you should.

Wait to start getting ready until the last-minute. Don’t include time for getting ready and travel in your plans. Leaving before the last moment is a total waste of time. Your time is absolutely more valuable than anyone else’s. If your appointment in is at three, there is clearly no point in starting to get ready before 3. Why should you have to wait if someone else is late? By always waiting to get ready until the last-minute, you can guarantee that you will not have to wait on anyone else. Your valuable time is better-spent binge-watching TV or posting on social media.

Allow less time to get there then you think it will take.

Punctual people estimate the drive will take 20 minutes, so they leave half an hour before the scheduled appointment. This process wastes valuable time you could use for your purposes. Make the most of every minute, leave 10 minutes before your meeting and drive as fast as possible to try to “make up for lost time.” Plan your schedule for ideal situations. It’s not your fault if you hit red lights or there’s traffic on the road.

Schedule more places to go each day than you can possibly reach.

If most of your appointments take an hour, schedule them 30 minutes apart. You know you can do eight things a day, so schedule 10 or 12. The places you don’t get to must not have been that important anyway. Better other people should wait for you that you should have to wait on anybody. If you don’t get to all the places you scheduled, it’s not your fault. You planned to do it, didn’t you?

Avoid creating schedules or writing anything down.

Creating schedules will just interfere with your spontaneity. Writing things down is restraining. If you make two appointments at the same time, don’t worry about it, show up to the appointment you feel like going to. Go to the other one some other time. You are important, right? As busy as you are, people will need to learn to make time for you when you get there.

Try to do everything in half the time others take.

Allow yourself half the required time for everything. Working at double or even triple speed will ensure that you have high productivity. So, what if you make a few additional mistakes? Accuracy is highly overrated. As busy and important as you are, people will simply have to accept that your way of doing things is the half-hearted fast way. People who don’t understand this need to learn to do it themselves.

Practice your excuses for being late.

Always have someone or something you can blame for your tardiness. It is not your fault. Blame whatever happens on the weather, your spouse, your kids or your dog. Complain loudly about how hard it was to find this place and how you never come to this part of town.

Do your best to make people who have been waiting on you feel sorry for you. Encourage them all to take part of the blame.

Use your late arrival to prove how important you are.

When you come in at the last-minute, preferably after the event has already started, push your way past everyone to get to the front. Try to find a seat in front of others. As much as possible, complain loudly about how tough your day has been. Hold your head and moan about how unlucky you are. Use this late arrival is an opportunity to get people to feel sorry for you and to gather up the attention you deserve.

If after reading all these recommendations for planning on being late you still insist on being punctual and on time you might want to read this post on punctuality.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

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.

Two 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.

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

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.

How to have a highly productive life.

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

Productivity

Get more done.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Highly productive people, how do they do it?

1. Productive People Set Goals.

Life happens whether you are ready for it or not. Knowing where you want to end up charts your course. Productive people think about the end result they want. What will it look like when they have accomplished that goal?

2. Productive People Plan the Steps.

Goals are nice. Someday you want to own your own business or you want to be a professional athlete. What are the steps you would need to take to move that plan into reality?

Break that goal up into the steps you will need to take to get there.

What skills will you need to learn? What will you have to practice? Most importantly, what other pleasures will you need to forgo along the way. Lots of promising, talented people fade between the start and the finish because they get distracted by the pleasures of the moment and forget to do the work needed to get where they said they wanted to go.

3. Spend more time doing than planning.

Planning is needed. So is preparation. But if all you ever do is dream, the dream stays in your head and does not materialize in reality.

Once you have that goal set and know the steps to get their make sure that each and every day you are doing something, no matter how small that thing is, that will move you toward your goal.

4. Evaluate what you are doing.

The best plans do not always anticipate the changes that happen in the world. Circumstances change, plans do not work out or they need to be modified.

People with very productive lives periodically reevaluate their plans. They know what is working and what is not working. They also reevaluate that goal. Is that goal still where you should be headed?

5. Adjust plans as needed.

Be open to modifying plans when it is clear that you need to do so. Do not make frequent changes out of insecurity and doubt.

That career you planned on in high school, those occupations may not exist. Technology changes, demand changes. Your plans may need to change with the circumstances.

6. Get advice from a coach.

When you are out there doing, you can’t see the things you are doing well or the things that need improving. Top athletes work with coaches who can spot flaws in their performance.

Working with a good coach can take your efforts to a whole other level.

7. Have a plan B that flows from your plan A.

If you plan to be a professional athlete what happens if you don’t make the team? You can keep trying, but eventually, the dream meets up with reality. Even those who do reach that goal find that they can’t go on being a professional forever. What happens to you if plan A does not work out exactly the way you planned?

College athletes are well advised to get that degree and develop their other talents. After your career as an athlete, long or short, what will you do? With a degree, you can teach. Maybe coach. Your options remain open.

8. Always be looking for the next step.

Periodically you need to look off into the distance. What is the next step in your development? When you get this goal accomplished what then?

Many people set goals, achieve them and then lapse into a depression. Their one reason to exist is over. Now what?

9. Do not be easily discouraged.

In attempting anything there will be setbacks. Expect setbacks. Plan on having failures. Learn from those obstacles and perfect your skills.

Learn and practice your skills along the way and you will find that you were able to accomplish much more than you expected. Do not quit before the miracle happens and if you continue to work you are bound to experience some miracles.

10. Do not let obstacles stop you.

If one obstacle causes you to give up you will not get much done.  The more you accomplish the more the obstacles. Learn to climb over them. Sometimes you will need to change course and go around them.

An obstacle is a chance to improve what you do and how you do it not a permanent defeat.

11. Learn something new each day.

Add to your knowledge base. You never know when something you learned will turn out to be useful in the future. Do not wait till you are desperate for an idea to go looking for one.

Many innovations have been the result of taking something that a person had learned in one field and applying it to another area. Be that creative person who can synthesize and create new and novel approaches.

12. Build a team by being a team player.

Most highly productive people have a team that they can depend on that backs them up. Develop that team by being a team player. Get along with and value others around you.

13. Maintain your mental health.

Take care of your emotional health. Do not let things discourage you. Do not become overwhelmed with anxiety.

In the area of mental health, prevention is important. Have a support system. Learn ways to manage your stress and when those problems of life overwhelm you get help.

14. Treat your body well.

The mind depends on the body for its fuel and energy. Eat well, sleep well and play frequently. A healthy body is far more productive than an impaired one.

15. Get a support system for you non-work life

Great producers at work have good lives outside of work. Many a work problem originated at home and was brought to work. If you want a productive life do not neglect your non-work life.

16. Know your work type.

Every job has its characteristic work type. If your personality fits the job you will be more productive and happier. Happy people are more creative and productive.

Look for projects that fit your personality and try to avoid taking on projects that will make you unhappy.

Keep these productivity principles in mind and work towards becoming more productive each day. Over time you will be pleased to see how much you have gotten done and how much your life has improved as a result.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two 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.

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

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. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.