Coping in the coronavirus world.

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

Illustrate illness storm.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

The coronavirus is changing the way we live our lives.

In my last post, I wrote about the macro issues, the big things we as a society need to grapple with as the coronavirus storm rages, people die, and our healthcare system strains to the breaking point. Today I wanted to share with you some of the micro issues, the challenges I faced in my own life, home, and relationships, as I try to cope with this changing situation. As you read this, please remember I am an old guy, born shortly after World War II and now in my seventies. Keeping up with new technology, changes in fashion, and an ever-evolving world has been a struggle for me even before the coronavirus. The changes now feel like a merry-go-round that has started to accelerate out of control.

What are my significant personal challenges?

Over the last two months, my life has changed more than I could ever imagine. I suspect it has for every one of you who is reading this blog. Now it a good time to share with all of you some of the changes I’ve been experiencing in my life and some thoughts for what the future holds.

Many counselors and therapists are reluctant to share about themselves. As my students, and probably most of you readers realize, I feel like I need to be more open and honest about my experiences. Here are a few of my experiences and observations on the way the coronavirus has changed my life.

Sheltering in place has changed everything.

I thought I had my schedule all worked out. Each week I have been spending part of one day at a local nonprofit doing clinical supervision. I had it down to a routine. Show up, run the group, sign the forms, and then go home. Because of the shelter in place order, the trainees and interns have had to learn to do therapy via telehealth. I’ve had to learn a whole new technology to do their supervision remotely. What had been a simple routine procedure has had a sharp learning curve.

Beyond the technical parts, every one of those therapists in training is also a person. It’s hard to think about your client when your life is in turmoil. The ever-present thought that by spending time in a small consulting room with the client, you’re putting your life in danger, must be reckoned with. Part of each training session now is devoted to having the therapist check-in and see how they are coping with the ominous threat of the coronavirus looming over them and their families.

Despite all the difficulties in shifting to an online way of life, I think the shelter in place was an enormously wise decision. I live in California, and we implemented the stay at home protocol early on. I also live in the Central Valley, a mostly rural and less densely populated area. Early action and sparse population have resulted in extremely low infection rates and even lower death rates. I have every reason to think the virus will get here eventually, but the slow spread has so far avoided overtaxing our medical system.

Shifting from teaching in-person classes to online classes has been traumatic.

I’ve been teaching classes at two different local colleges for over 12 years now. I had my system in place. I have created PowerPoints, quizzes, and tests; all the materials I need to run a class. Suddenly there were no in-person classes. The classes have all moved online. Fortunately, I’d taken a class and how to teach online courses back in the summer of 2016. My efforts to create videos for the counselorssoapbox YouTube Channel has turned out to be a significant blessing.

While it’s been a frantic pace of the last few weeks, I knew how to convert my lectures to videos and upload them to YouTube so that my students can watch them anytime they want from the relative safety of their home.

If only the transition had been that easy. This semester I’m teaching three separate classes. One is a 16-week long semester class. Another is an eight week, twice a week class. While the third class was a hybrid part in-class part online format, all three have a different start, midterm, and end date. Beyond that, the three classes are being conducted on two separate learning platforms. Over a couple of weeks, I’ve had to become considerably more familiar with both Moodle and Canvas.

Over the years, I’d accumulated quite a test bank of questions. It was easy to assort the questions, print out a copy, and make as many copies as needed for class. The process of turning these into online quizzes and tests turned out to be a whole lot more complicated.

Working from home requires confronting my age.

I’ve been retired from a full-time job for over two years now. Whenever I must enter my birthdate on anything, I am forced to recognize that I’m getting older. Despite having retired, I’ve been doing more part-time work and staying incredibly busy. Keeping busy and active, I suppose, is my way of avoiding admitting I’m not as young as I used to be.

Then, when I got the email from the college saying that anyone over a certain age was not to come on campus and I realized I was quite a few years past that age, I’ve been forced to admit to myself I’m now in that high risk older adult category. Furthermore, whatever I may think about taking risks with my own life, I have had to realize that I can’t take the risk of contracting something and bringing it home to others who are at an even higher risk.

I’ve had to transition my therapy clients to distance counseling.

A little over two months ago, I had never even considered using the technologies that today I use every day. I’ve had to learn to use Zoom, FaceTime, and several other online tools. Not only do I have to learn new technology, but I’ve also had to develop some new skills to do remote distance counseling. I remind myself that little over two years ago; I had to have one of my interns teach me how to answer a text message. And today I’m making videos and discussing them with people via Zoom, the process of technological change looks less like a gradual uphill climb and more like scaling a sheer vertical cliff.

Working from home has been exhausting.

When I first considered teaching an online class, I thought it would make my life so much easier. The amount of work that it has taken to prepare the curriculum and upload it to the various platforms has left me exhausted. Stress can be very tiring, even when it motivates you to produce something positive.

Sheltering in place increases isolation.

One of the things I loved about my busy mix of part-time jobs was that it got me out of the house and kept me socializing with a wide variety of friends, students, interns, and clients. I’ve come to feel that the coronavirus has made me a prisoner in my own home office.

One of my colleagues and I were in the graduate program together all those years ago and have made it a habit to keep in touch. We try to get together every month or two for lunch just to check in with each other. With the coronavirus lurking outside, and the restaurants we would generally eat at closed, that monthly lunch together isn’t likely to happen again for a long time.

This last week we had to improvise our monthly get together. We sat talking together over FaceTime while I ate my lunch. I suppose that, for me, is one of the visible aspects of this anxiety-producing situation. One after another, I have found ways to adapt. I continue to teach, albeit online. I still see clients via distance counseling technology. And while my physical contact with other humans has been extremely limited, we’ve created ways to stay in touch with those people who are most important to us.

That’s my story of adapting to the coronavirus threat.

While my life is different now, I’m slowly adapting to this new form of existence. Gradually I’m getting back to my writing. I’ve developed a whole new set of skills. Somehow, no matter what happens, we humans find a way to adapt.

How are you dealing with the changes the coronavirus forced upon you?

Please share a comment below or send me one through the contact me page. If you use the contact me form, please let me know if it’s okay for me to share your comment here on the blog. Take care of yourself and do everything you can to protect yourself and those who are close to you.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six 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.

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.

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

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.

How has the coronavirus affected you?

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

Illustrate illness storm.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Has the coronavirus changed your life?

When I think about the coronavirus, the picture that comes to my mind is a giant storm, like a hurricane, moving slowly towards us all. I sat down yesterday to write a post about how the coronavirus had altered my life. I live in California, and because of our early sheltering in place orders, many of us got into our safe places before the storm hit. When you’re in that safe place, it’s easy to forget the magnitude of the hurricane that is still coming your way.

It was easy for me to rattle off a list of ways in which the winds of change have altered my life. It’s been stressful, but somehow, I’ve been coping. It would be easy to feel overwhelmed by all that’s happened.

And then I turned on the news.

I watched what’s happening around the world. We could see pictures of the coronavirus storm coming ashore in New York City. The casualties are mounting. It would be reassuring if we could find something different about those people who have died. When the news told us that it was only very old people, people with underlying health problems, people locked away in nursing homes, I could fool myself, believe that I’m healthy and active, I’m at low risk. But now we see that healthy people, strong people, first responders, doctors, and nurses – the coronavirus is getting them now.

Just because the hurricane came ashore a few miles down the road doesn’t mean you’re safe. Sometimes infections, like hurricanes, pass by and leave people unscathed. But this storm doesn’t appear to be losing strength. It seems to be standing in place, growing in intensity.

You can’t start recovery when the storm is still raging.

I don’t think that at this point, anyone can tell us with any accuracy how long the coronavirus will ravage our country. We know for a certainty that more people are going to die. But what we don’t know yet is whether our safe places, our hospitals, and homes can withstand the epidemic. Our medical system has been seriously overloaded, and the strain is showing. There are not enough doctors and nurses for those people with insurance coverage, and certainly not enough capacity for those who are uninsured.

For a long time, we have blamed those people who were homeless or unemployed, and as a result, didn’t have medical coverage, for their own suffering. For the last 50 years or better, we had a common myth that if you wanted a job, you could find one. The popular belief was that if the government threw enough money into the storm, businesses would thrive, and anyone who wanted to work would be safe. There aren’t many people alive now who lived through the Great Depression when able-bodied people couldn’t find work. The coronavirus storm calls into question many of our fundamental beliefs.

So, what do I think is ahead?

I think there are going to be some dark, rainy nights ahead. More people will get sick, and more will die. The worst of the coronavirus storm has not reached us. Our medical system will be battered, and in some places, will break. We may repair the system, or we may leave it the way it used to be where some people get treatment, and others don’t. That means accepting that the homeless and unemployed will continue to be health risks to those with jobs.

I don’t expect to live long enough to see our system return to the way it was before this storm. Some businesses, many small businesses, even some large corporations, won’t weather the storm no matter how much bailout money they get. But other businesses and jobs will spring up to take their place.

We will recover. Granted, there will be scars from the trauma and the people we have lost. Somehow humans go on. As a result of our experiences, people will develop some new skills. I think there will be a major expansion in online education and working from home, as people adapt to this new way of being.

I’m also quite confident that as a result of the stay at home orders, nine months or a year from now, there are going to be a lot of babies born who will only know about the coronavirus from what their parents tell them. The question in my mind is, will the world those children inherit be a better one as a result of the lessons we’ve learned, or will they have to repeat the same experiences this generation has?

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Six 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.

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.

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

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.

Coronavirus storm.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you break a bad habit?

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

Breaking Bad Habits.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you have some bad habits you’d like to stop?

Many people have behaviors they would call a “bad habit,” they say they would like to stop. Habits by their very nature are things we do automatically, without thought, which makes them extra challenging to stop. Psychologists have studied habits, how to create them and how to break them. There are some things you need to consider if you want to change a habit.

You have been doing the things that have become a habit for a long time. In the early stages of habit formation, it may not take long for something to become a new habit. If a fast-food restaurant gets you to come in for three visits in a row you will probably be a regular customer. Breaking that habit will probably take a lot longer. Highly reinforcing habits such as drugs and alcohol will require even more effort to end.

Is this habit something you can really stop?

There’s a difference between changing a habit that you need and want you don’t need. Many people would like to stop overeating or reduce the amount of food they eat. Humans must eat some food so the techniques you would use to reduce the amount of food you’re eating, would be very different from the methods you would use to end a bad habit such as drug use, that needs to be stopped completely.

Do you really want to stop this “bad habit?”

I’ve mentioned more than once that my purchasing of books has become a bad habit. I buy a lot of books. Sometimes more than I can read. I also download quite a few free Kindle e-books. While I say I need to stop accumulating books faster than I can read them, this is not a habit I especially want to break. It’s easy for me to excuse this habit on the grounds that I’m an author with at least six publish books, and if I’m going to write books, I need to read a great many also. I don’t actually want to stop this habit.

Many of the clients I work with, in my therapy practice, have bad habits such as drug use, which they want to stop completely. The techniques you use for ending a bad habit altogether, are different from the methods you use if you’re only trying to keep your habit from getting out of control.

What techniques can be used to end a bad habit?

First, let’s look at the ways to end a bad habit you want to eliminate entirely. Second, we will look at some techniques for modifying “bad habits” you want to reduce or control. Lastly, let’s look at some methods that might be useful regardless of whether you want to stop altogether or want to reduce the time and money you spend on the “bad habit.”

Eliminate cues that remind you to engage in this bad habit.

Most habits have cues that automatically trigger a response. Your phone rings and you reach and answer it. It’s hard to ignore that ringing phone even when you want to do something else. Turning off the ringing sound may help you avoid answering it when you need to focus on something else. Reducing or eliminating cues is an essential step in ending a bad habit.

People in substance abuse recovery are encouraged to get rid of drugs, alcohol, and any paraphernalia they might use. For recovering alcoholic, that means getting rid of your collection of beer-themed decorations or your collection of shot glasses. People use other drugs should get rid of things like pipes.

Avoid places you used to go to engage in this bad habit.

For an alcoholic stopping at the liquor store, even to pick up a gallon of milk, or some bread is a risky behavior. Hanging out in the bar, even if it’s only to play pool is likely to trigger urges to drink. Hanging out with people who drink or use drugs is also a risky behavior. Seeing them engage in the action you’re trying to stop is likely to cue intense cravings.

How might you alter a habit you don’t want to end completely?

Here are some suggestions for modifying a habit when you don’t want to end completely. Psychologists have suggested these for things such as eating less or not drinking as much.

To eat less, reduce the amount available.

Serving food on smaller plates can help you cut down on how much you consume. Using smaller size glasses can reduce the volume of fluids you drink. Purchasing things like chocolate in smaller container sizes can reduce your consumption. Limiting the amount of food or beverages you consume by using smaller containers will only work if you don’t make repeated trips back to refill.

Use your nondominant hand for eating or drinking.

Using your nondominant hand slows down the eating or drinking process. People who ate popcorn with their nondominant hand ate smaller amounts, especially when the popcorn was stale. Changing how you do something, slows the process down, and may result in doing less of it.

Driving the “mindbus” can help you ignore automatic thoughts.

Sometimes it feels as if they’re a bunch of voices in your head urging you to do things you don’t want to do. I’m not talking about the voices that people with a serious mental illness experience. When you have those automatic thoughts telling you to do things you know, they are thoughts coming from your own brain. But when your mind is telling you that you need some more chocolate or another drink, it’s hard to ignore those automatic thoughts.

In the mindbus technique, you picture yourself as the driver of a bus taking yourself somewhere you want to go. All those loud voices in your head that are trying to distract you are the passengers on your bus. Ignore the noisy urges clamoring for you to turn the bus and take it in a different direction and stick to the route you have selected.

Substitute a positive behavior for a negative one.

If you have urges to eat some more chocolate, select a carrot or other fruit instead. Instead of heading to the bar go to an AA meeting or religious service. Rather than eat mindlessly go for a walk or do another exercise. By substituting positive behaviors for negative behaviors, you reduce your bad habits and improve the quality of your life.

What bad habits do you want to modify or end altogether?

For more on this topic, you might want to check out the British Psychological Society podcast on Breaking Bad Habits.

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.

Grow Your Power.

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

No Power?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Empowerment – growing your power.

Ever wish you had more power? Would you like to be more in control of your own life? Do you feel helpless to change your life? There are ways to increase your power, be more effective and have more of the things you want in life.

No matter how much or how little power you feel you have today, you can begin to grow that sense of personal power, step by step, starting today.

You may have learned to be helpless, been in a situation where no matter what you did, you were told you were wrong. Your efforts may have been invalidated and unrewarded. People may have taught you to be helpless. If you learned to be helpless you can unlearn that way of thinking.

Right now, what are you doing to enlarge your feelings of personal power? If not today, when will you begin to take control of your life?  Here are some ways to grow that personal power.

Look for areas in your life where you can take control.

If you focus only on the areas that are out of your control, you become debilitated and paralyzed. Focus on your choices.

When you think you have no control, you make it so. You may be in a situation where you are dependent on others. You have more control than you think. You may not be able to control your situation or surroundings, but you can control your attitude. You can think like a victim, or you can think like a survivor and be a participant in your life.

Look for help or a mentor to develop your skills.

If you are in a low power situation, an abusive relationship or poverty, look for resources that can help you. Teachers, counselors, or mentors can help you to grow your power.

Can’t find a person to help you? Look for books on changing your life.

Begin making your own decisions.

Look for areas in your life where you can decide for yourself. Large or small, it does not matter, begin the process of thinking about how you feel about things and what you want. Cultivate the habit of making as many decisions about your life as possible. Especially pay attention to how you feel about things. If you feel helpless you may be giving up your power to someone else without even noticing you are giving your control away.

Try new things to grow your self-esteem.

Are you going for ice cream? Look for a new flavor to try. You may like it. You may not. Check off that one from your to-do list. The more experiences you have in life, the more you can adapt to change. Like it or not change is a part of life. Doing a wider variety of activities increases your sense of competency.

Volunteering to help others make you more confident.

This is a great way to try on new behaviors. In 12 step groups, people will become secretaries of meetings or chair a meeting. The experience of trying on a new behavior can increase your self-confidence. You may surprise yourself with how well you can do something.

Practice leadership to improve your confidence.

In many residential treatment facilities, the group selects client officials. Each week as clients come and go, these officials change. Clients frequently tell me this was the first time in their lives they have been in a leadership role. They discover talents they never knew they had.

Do something for yourself to feel more confident.

Taking good care of you is not being selfish. You can’t be of service to others if you don’t have it to give. Self-care is important. Making yourself a priority tells you that you are worth being cared for. Feeling good about yourself, knowing you mater will enlarge your sense of personal power and control of your life.

Make something “your own.”

Find something that brings joy to your life. Do you have a favorite author? Which sports team is “your” team? Do you crochet? Do you cook Italian? What interest or activity says, “you?” What is your religion or spiritual connection?  Feeling that there is something you connect to makes you feel more anchored, more a part of the community.

You’re going to spend your whole life with you. Invest some time in getting to know you.

Learning a new skill will make you feel more competent.

Expanding your skills is a great way to make you feel more competent and useful. Is there something you always wanted to try? If not now, when will you do this? Look for someone in your life who has this skill and ask them to teach you. Go to places where people who have this skill hang out and learn from them. Clubs, online blogs, and short-term classes are all great sources of information. Stores sometimes teach courses on how to use the products they sell.

Get more education or training, and you will feel more confident.

Opportunities for education and training are more available than at any time in history.  There are plenty of adults of all ages back in school, learning a new skill. Check out some of the online tutorials which show you how to do something. Staying current on your skills makes you feel better about yourself.

There are some suggestions for creating empowerment and growing your personal power. Have you found any other ways to feel more competent and in charge of your life?

Leave a comment and share with the rest of us the things you have done to empower yourself and grow that personal power.

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.

How to stay mentally well.

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

Mental Health or Mental Illness

Mental Health or Mental Illness?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Being mentally well involves a lot more than not having a mental illness.

I learned this lesson from an old car I used to drive. The car was battered, and it had a lot of miles on it, but it ran, and it got me where I need to go. Periodically I took it to a mechanic to get it serviced. There wasn’t anything broken on the car, but it didn’t always run as well as I would have liked. On the freeway, if I got up to a certain speed, the car would start to shake and become hard to control, so I had to slow it back down. But when I tried to accelerate it took forever to get up to speed, and the things that the mechanic fixed didn’t seem to make any difference. This car had an air conditioner, but it never seemed to be able to keep up once the air temperature outside got above eighty degrees.

Finally, that old car did break down, and there was no fixing her this time. I bought a much newer car and was quite surprised at how much easier it was to drive my new vehicle. It accelerated rapidly, and it didn’t shake when I got up to freeway speeds. Not only did the new cars air conditioner cool on high, but it could also make the car feel downright cold.

Just as there was a long-distance between a car that ran poorly and a car that didn’t run. There can be an equally large distance between a condition that is so severe it’s diagnosed as a mental illness and you’re being fully mentally well.

Here are some tips on how to improve your mental health and be mentally well.

Try some of these tips to improve your mental wellness.

Don’t let your thoughts control you.

There is a difference between your thoughts and the truth. Not everything you think is accurate. What you need to do is separate helpful from unhelpful thoughts. Just because something scares you doesn’t mean it is dangerous. Don’t fall into the perfectionist trap of believing that if you’re not perfect, you’re a failure.

Get honest with yourself.

Many people have these little stories they tell themselves. It’s easy to blame other people for what’s wrong in your life. Many people self-handicap. They tell themselves they can’t do something which then becomes their excuse for not trying. When I work with people, who were in recovery from substance use disorders, I discovered many of them had told other people lies so often they come to believe their own stories. You’re going to spend your whole life with you make it an honest relationship.

Being real is essential for good mental health.

Be true to yourself. Don’t go through life being a fake and living for other people’s opinion. Don’t fall victim to the “impostor syndrome.” Do what you can do the best of your abilities but don’t ever doubt that you do have some abilities.

Be true to yourself; avoid dissonance.

Living your life by someone else’s values will not be satisfying for you unless those are also your values. Many people have three separate selves, who they think they should be, who they believe they are, and who they wish they were. The farther apart these three selves are the more dissonance. Accept yourself the way you are rather than trying to become some ideal perfect person. Work on improving the who you are and consider living the life of the person you want to be.

Knowing yourself is part of being mentally well.

Self-knowledge will help avoid fuzzy boundaries. Avoid being enmeshed or codependent. Your thoughts and feelings are your own. You must live your own life. You can share part of your life with others, but you can’t live their lives.

Don’t dump your stuff on others.

Psychoanalysts spend a lot of time looking at things called transference and countertransference. Don’t assume because you’re angry that everyone else is. If you had a problem with your father, don’t treat all men as if they were your father. Try to see each person as a unique individual who may not feel or think the same way you do.

Double-check the blueprints you developed in childhood.

A lot of the problems adults have are things they learned between the ages of eight and eighteen, which turned out to not work as adults or to not to be true. Crying may have worked well to get grandma to give you candy but falling down on the floor, and crying won’t get you a raise, and it may get you fired. No one learns everything a hundred percent, and your parents could only teach you what they knew. Reexamine those old templates you stored in your brain about how you should be and how you should interact with others.

Learn to calm yourself down.

Small children are dependent on their parents to soothe them when they’re upset. As we grow, we should learn to regulate our own feelings and to self soothe. Don’t believe that other people can control the way you feel. You may not like the things others do, but you don’t have to become angry or hurt. Just because you feel agitated does not mean you have to act out.

Look for improvement opportunities rather than failures.

Making mistakes is a part of life. Everyone does it whether you see their failures or not. Don’t beat yourself up for every mistake. Learn from your experiences. Continue to get better at living life. Life will give you a lot of challenges. Just because you missed the target once don’t stop trying. You will either learn from your mistakes, or you will keep making the same ones over and over. Grow because of your experiences rather than giving up.

Start now working on your mental health and wellness as well as your physical health. Some things may be out of your control but take control of things you can. Just avoiding illness is not enough. You deserve to have the best life possible.

Look here for more information on Mental Health and Wellness.

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.

Ways to improve your mood in minutes.

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

Unhappy emoticon

Unhappy.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes a low mood is a mental illness; sometimes it’s not.

Everyone has days when they’re feeling down. When that down feeling goes on too long, and it interferes with your life, it becomes a thing we know as clinical depression. Treatment for depression can involve three separate approaches, medication, counseling, and changes in thinking and behavior. For that occasional blue moon, medication is not recommended. Using chemicals to change the way you feel can result in a substance use disorder.

Talking to people whether you’re in counseling or have a support system is useful even when your down mood hasn’t reached a diagnosable mental illness. People who incorporate talking and active behavior reduce the risks of developing depression, and these tools can be used to prevent relapse if you have been treated for depression.

Being more active will improve your mood.

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous for you to receive benefit from it. Walking as little as 20 minutes a day can improve your outlook on life. More important than the intensity is the frequency. You can’t sit on the couch every day and then expect to make up for it by exercising all day on Saturday.

Getting into motion has lots of benefits. Many people report that they don’t feel like doing anything, but once they start moving, that sluggish feeling disappears.

Going outdoors makes you feel better.

Brighter light helps your mood, so does fresh air, and being in nature. If you’ve ever been to the mountains or the lake you probably felt better. Researchers believe that there are healing benefits for humans being around nature. The recommended dose of mother nature is at least two hours a week.

Connect with positive people to improve your mood.

Positive outlooks on life are contagious. Humans are social animals, and they tend to copy the people they spend the most time around. Pick your friends wisely. If you hang out with gloomy people, the joy leaves your life.

We all need a support system. It’s terrific if you have one person in your life you’re close with. But a support system needs to be more than one person. Having good Friends keeps you connected and prevents Loneliness.

Improve your self-care.

Get plenty of sleep on a regular basis even if you have to cut some things out of your life to do it. Eat healthy food and drink plenty of water. When you’re tired, hungry, or thirsty, your mood suffers, and you become irritable.

Scratch something hard off your to-do list.

When you have difficult tasks on your to-do list, don’t procrastinate. The longer that hard-to-do project sits on your to-do list, the more anxious or depressed you’re likely to become. Tackle that challenging project first, and as you see progress, towards your goal, you can take pride in your accomplishments.

Taking back your environment will make you feel better.

Straighten the things around you. Do a quick cleaning up project. Eliminate clutter. A little bit of rearranging can make you a lot more comfortable in your surroundings.

Do something for someone else.

Doing for others is a proven way to elevate your mood. Any time you spend doing for others is time you’re not thinking about your challenges.

Learn something new to build a sense of accomplishment.

The process of learning something can elevate your mood. Learn a new skill. Study something you’ve always wanted to know about.

Read a book to spark your imagination.

Lots of people watch TV or online videos. But there’s something about “reading” a book that has a lasting impact on people. Whether you read a physical paper book, read an electronic version, or listen to an audiobook, you will engage your imagination. Videos show you everything. Books suggest things, leaving you to fill in the details. Reading more can increase your creativity and make you feel better.

Acting as if you are happy makes you happier.

One way to break out of a down mood is to smile more. People who smile begin to feel happy. People who laugh more are more fun to be around.

Being happy makes you a better person.

Being happy is not selfish. It makes you an easier person to be around. Happy people are easier to get along with, more productive, and more likable.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Five David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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?

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.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

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

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.