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

Signs you are overwhelmed and stressed out.

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

Overwhelmed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Is this normal, or are you overwhelmed and stressed out?

Stress is a normal part of life. During the night, when you sleep, the body produces stress hormones which is one reason that with adequate sleep, you can jump out of bed in the morning. Throughout the day, those stress hormones should be used up and by the end of the day, you should feel tired and ready to rest again. When you become overwhelmed and stressed out through the day, this can lead to damaged physical and mental health, mental illness and job burnout. Here are some of the symptoms that should become overwhelmed and stressed out.

If you chronically feel anxious, you’re getting stressed out.

Anxiety should be restricted to those times when you are in a dangerous or difficult situation. If you feel anxious all the time and the smallest thing startles you, your anxiety is getting excessive and you may be developing a mental illness called generalized anxiety disorder.

If your nerves are shot, you’re being overwhelmed.

Your body should reset to a normal non-anxious state when the anxiety-producing situation ends. If you’re starting to feel like things are getting on your last nerve, that’s not normal. Once you start feeling like your nerves are shot, you’re headed for difficulty and should seek professional assistance before you completely burnout.

If you constantly feel burdened and heavy, the stress is getting to you.

One of the early signs of burnout, excessive stress, is when you feel physically and emotionally exhausted, and you are no longer able to rest during your time off. Occasionally going through a stressful period and being exhausted is normal. But if you’re not able to recover during your downtimes, you’re seriously overwhelmed.

When it is hard to breathe, the cause may be stress.

With any physical symptoms, you should always check with a doctor first. But if you discover that you’re finding it hard to breathe when you’re anxious, possibly even having panic attacks, your body may be telling you you’ve reached the limit of your ability to manage stress.

If you are always stressed and tense, you may be emotionally overwhelmed.

Your body reacts to emotional stress in the same way it reacts to physical stress. If you are developing aches and pains and there doesn’t seem to be a physical cause your body may be telling you, you’re under too much emotional stress.

When you are constantly irritable, it may be a sign of too much stress.

When a small child is sick, they become irritable and push people away. Adults who are under a lot of stress and become overwhelmed become irritable. Irritability and even anger is a way of pushing people away and creating the space you need to rest up from excessive stress.

If there is no fun in your life, the cause may be stress.

The inability to feel pleasure is one of the symptoms of depression. There’s a lot of overlap between major depressive disorder a diagnosable mental illness, and excessive levels of anxiety. Too much stress in your life can leave you overwhelmed, burned out, and can lead to depression and anxiety.

Changes in your sleep and appetite can be the result of stress.

Having difficulty sleeping, or sleeping longer than usual and still not feeling rested our both signs of depression. Milder brief episodes of these sleep changes may be simply the result of too much stress. But if you change in sleeping habits goes on for very long, you should see a mental health professional before it turns into debilitating major depressive disorder.

Changes in appetite can also be a sign of difficulty adjusting to stress or the beginning of mental illness. When depressed, some people find it difficult to eat, while other people cope with their stress by emotional eating. If you develop sudden cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, it may be the result of depression or another mental illness.

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 to stop overwhelming yourself.

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

Overwhelmed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Being overwhelmed can damage your mental and physical health.

Life these days can be hectic. Feeling overwhelmed is one of those stressors that can lead to poor mental health or the development of a mental illness. People often have responsibilities at work, challenges in their relationships, kids to raise, and bills to pay. All these conflicting obligations can cause you to feel overwhelmed.

People who come to see therapists because of depression often have a long history of being under stress and feeling overwhelmed. Some people have a positive stress mindset and interpret life’s challenges as opportunities rather than problems. But if you’re one of those people who is chronically overwhelmed by stress, there are things you can do to reduce the effects of stress on your life.

Your schedule needs to include some downtime.

Over scheduling yourself increases that overwhelmed feeling. If you don’t maintain your automobile, it’s likely to break down. You can’t run your car at full speed for very long before you start developing problems. Machinery needs some downtime for adjustments and repairs. It should be no surprise that humans need that downtime for rest and relaxation if they’re going to avoid both mental and physical problems.

Knowing when to stop reduces feeling overwhelmed.

If you’re chronically overwhelmed, the first step is to simply stop doing anything that doesn’t have to be done. It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race and forget that your human, not a rat. People who are overwhelmed often keep doing things out of habit rather than because they need to do them. If you feel overwhelmed, stop as soon as possible, take a break, and ask yourself, do I need to do this, and do I need to do it right now?

Take a deep breath and say goodbye to feeling overwhelmed.

As the level of stress hormones rise, one of the first things that it affects is your breathing. If you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, examine your breathing. People who were stressing out often are holding their breath. Tell yourself to remember to breathe. Breathing like a little puppy, short, shallow breaths, will increase your anxiety and may even make you dizzy and lightheaded. Take a deep breath from the diaphragm, not a shallow breath from up near your throat. Hold that breath for a moment and then exhale. Pause briefly before taking another breath. As you breathe more deeply, and more slowly, you will feel your anxiety level declining.

Reduce the overwhelm by saying no.

The secret to getting more done in life is not piling more tasks on yourself. You become more effective and less overwhelmed when you learn to say no to things you don’t have to do. A very useful rule of productivity is that you increase productivity not by doing more but by eliminating items from your schedule, you don’t need to do so that you can focus on the important tasks.

Make sure your schedule includes plenty of time for personal things. Self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. Include time in your schedule for your relationships, family and friends, and the things you really enjoy.

Don’t say yes until you’ve had a chance to think it over.

A huge source of that overwhelmed feeling is saying yes to too many things. Whether it’s at work or in your personal social life, learn to say no to something that will use up your time and leave you feeling stressed out and pressured. It’s easy to get into the habit of saying yes to everyone and everything. Learn to build some boundaries. Otherwise, people will keep dumping their garbage all over you.

Stop adding things to your priority list.

When you have too many priorities, you’re constantly running from one fire to the next and never getting anything accomplished. The fewer items on your priority list, the more progress you’ll make at getting everything done. Take another look at your to-do list and if things have been on there for a long time, either do it immediately or cross it off the list. It’s the things on your to-do list that you can’t do that add to that incredible sense of being overwhelmed.

Increase your self-esteem and reduce feeling overwhelmed.

You’re a human being, not a human doing. Learn to feel good about yourself regardless of what you have or are doing. If your self-esteem is based on what others think of you, it will always be precarious. Learn to like yourself. Become your own best friend. Your self-esteem should rest on being the best person you can be, which includes time for self-improvement rather than having to do a lot of things for others.

Invest some time in self-care.

Get plenty of sleep. Reducing sleep does not make you more efficient or give you more time to be productive. Lack of sleep results in foggy thinking, less energy, and will increase anxiety and depression. Lack of sleep also adds to the overwhelmed feeling because when you’re tired, you have less energy to do anything and become overwhelmed more rapidly.

Make sure you exercise regularly. Walking every day for twenty minutes or more has been shown to decrease symptoms of several mental illnesses. If you don’t have time to at least walk every day, your life is far too busy.

Listen to what your feelings are telling you.

Feelings have gotten a bad reputation. Your feelings shouldn’t control you, but they are a valuable source of information. If something is upsetting, you should stop and think about why, rather than ignoring this uncomfortable feeling. Don’t tell yourself you should enjoy something. Ask yourself if you really are enjoying what you’re doing. If the life you’re living isn’t making you happy, consider changing how your living that life. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that happiness comes from the next jolt of excitement. True happiness also includes periods of calm and relaxation.

Take some time to think about your life goals.

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush of day-to-day living without ever thinking about whether what you’re doing is taking you where you want to go. Do you want to be this frantically busy? If you were to have your ideal perfect life, would it be having more things or having more enjoyable experiences? Make sure that the life you’re living takes you to the goals that really matter to you, not the goals that someone else’s told you to pursue.

Maybe now is the time to say goodbye to that overwhelmed feeling.

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.

Warning signs you’re overtired and stressed out.

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

Stress person

Stress.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Stress can be either physical or emotional.

Some stress is more harmful than others. Physical stress wears out the body, but it also makes it harder to regulate your emotions. Emotional stress makes it difficult for you to think and can also interfere with sleep, appetite, and mood, leading to depression and anxiety. One of the early symptoms of job burnout is feeling both physically and emotionally tired and not being able to rest up during your hours away from work or stress. Below is a list of symptoms that may mean you are overtired, stressed out, and headed for long-term physical and emotional problems.

You have stopped feeling pleasure.

Loss of pleasure, particularly the inability to feel pleasure, is one of the warning signs of depression. If things that used to make you happy no longer do, you’re headed for problems. Life is a mixture of the good and bad, but if you’ve reached a point where you no longer can recognize and enjoy the good things when they happen, something is wrong.

If you can’t sleep, stress may be the cause.

The inability to sleep, or poor sleep quality, can be the result of many things, very few of which are good. Sleeping far too much or inability to sleep is a symptom of depression. Lying awake at night unable to fall asleep because your mind is racing and you’re full of anxiety should tell you that something is wrong. It’s possible to be too physically tried to fall asleep. But more often, the cause of an inability to sleep is stress, anxiety, depression, or an even a more severe mental illness.

Stress can cause weird, upsetting dreams.

Today most therapists spend far less time on dream analysis than we did in the past. What a dream means to one person and what it means to someone else may be very different. But if you’ve noticed a change in your dreams, you need to look at what else is going on in your life. If your dreams are upsetting, you start by examining what is going on in your life. Weird upsetting dreams are one sign that your stress levels are just too high.

Tight, aching muscles can be a sign of stress fatigue.

If your muscles are tight, aching, and you haven’t recently put them under physical strain, probably excess stress is the cause. With any physical symptoms, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor and rule out an organic cause. But if your body is complaining, and you can find a physical reason why stress is the likely culprit.

Falling asleep in the daytime is a sign of fatigue.

Sleeping during the daytime suggests you’re not getting enough rest at night. Emotional stress can be just as exhausting as physical activity. If your spending enough time in bed, but still tired during the daytime, stress, and pressure are likely reasons.

Brain fog can be a sign you are overtired.

Being overtired and stressed out can result in cognitive challenges. If you find you are walking around in a fog, having difficulty making decisions, stress is a likely culprit. Like a computer that is unable to take in new input until it processes something, your brain can be so overloaded with stress that it is unable to function efficiently.

Irritability is a symptom of excessive stress.

When a baby doesn’t feel well, they become irritable. They may try to push caregivers away. If you find that you are becoming more irritable, more temperamental, or shorter with those around you, it’s essential to pay attention to how much stress you are under and what is causing it. There are lots of techniques you can use to reduce stress, but you must practice stress reduction before you break. Once your irritability has caused problems in your relationships with others, you may not be able to repair the damage your irritability has caused.

Cravings can be the result of being stressed out.

People who are under a lot of stress often find that there eating changes. Rather than craving healthy foods, you may begin to crave carbohydrates and sugar. People with a history of using drugs and alcohol discovered that constant cravings for drugs and alcohol are often the result of stress. Pay attention to your cravings; they’re trying to tell you something beyond just that you want that food or drug.

Stress causes headaches that won’t go away.

Lots of things can cause headaches, and it’s important to rule those physical causes out. But if you suffer from chronic headaches, and your doctor hasn’t found a physical reason, a likely culprit is stress, particularly stress of the emotional kind.

Digestive upset is a sign of stress.

Pressure and stress can also upset your digestive system. Episodes of both diarrhea and constipation can be the direct result of stress. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. It’s important to re-examine your life and find out whether your life is that stressful or if some of your reaction to stress is the result of a negative stress mindset.

Being chronically thirsty may be a sign of excess stress.

If you’re experiencing chronic thirst, and it is not caused by either physical dehydration or medical problems such as diabetes, it may be the result of high levels of stress.

If you recognize several of these symptoms of excess stress and they are interfering with your quality of life, now is the time to re-examine your life and reduce your stress. You may want to learn and practice some stress reduction techniques. For the emotional varieties of stress, consider working with a counselor on shifting your stress mindset.

For more on this topic see:     Stress

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.

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.

Ways to manage your stress.

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

Stress person

Stress.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Stress can be managed.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your life is out of your control. Suffering excess stress without taking action may result in both physical and mental illnesses. Modern life has come with a lot of physical advantages, but it also comes with potentially debilitating levels of stress. Here are some ways to reduce the impact of stress on your life.

Learn to recognize the signs of stress.

Frequent or excessive headaches can be one sign of stress. Excess stress may interfere with sleep. Lying in bed, unable to fall asleep because you are thinking about all the problems in your life should tell you your stress is out of control. Changes in appetite, unexpected weight loss, or excessive cravings for carbohydrates and sugar can also be the result of stress.

Using alcohol or drugs to cope with daily life may not only tell you that you’re under excess stress, but that your coping mechanism may be about to turn into a worse problem called addiction.

Stress can also manifest as emotional issues. If you’re becoming irritable, easily angered, or chronically depressed and anxious, your stress may be taking down the road to mental illness. Lacking energy even after a night’s sleep may be the result of stress. If your day off doesn’t result in the return of energy it may be because stress is wearing you out both physically and emotionally.

Take care of your body to reduce stress.

When we say stress, we often think of emotional or mental stress, but stress can be physical also. Good physical health practices can buffer you from the effects of normal stress. Skimping on sleep will not make you more productive. Not enough sleep will impair your decision-making ability, reduce your ability to handle stress, and can eventually lead to burnout.

Use regular physical activity to manage stress.

Even a small amount of exercise can help reduce the impact of stress. Exercise doesn’t have to mean a strenuous workout in the gym. Getting up and moving around can help reduce the impact of stress. Walking each day for as little as 20 to 30 minutes has been shown to reduce the effects of stress and to improve the mood of people with depression.

Learn how to relax and destress.

Don’t confuse relaxation was switching to another type of stress. Passively consuming electronic media may sound like relaxation but every time you see an exciting scene, your brain may take out more adrenaline.

Consider taking up mindfulness or meditation practices. Do things like reading which stimulate your imagination.

Weed out your to-do list for less stress.

Having too many things on your to-do list doesn’t make you more productive, it will make you more scattered and stressed out. Having too many priorities results in you feeling bad about yourself for not getting everything accomplished. Make self-care the top priority so that you will be around to work on the other to-do items. Learn to say no to things you can’t do or don’t want to do both in your personal and your professional life.

Spend time with others to reduce stress.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Learn to accept help. Make time for positive people in your life. Humans are inherently social animals, and we need connections with others. Becoming lonely will drain you of resources you have to cope with stress. If you don’t have friends in your life, make them. If the people in your life are adding to your stress, either get them out of your life, spend some time working on that relationship. Remember, you are not the Lone Ranger, and even he had a constant friend to help him.

Reach out for help before you reach the breaking point.

If stress is overwhelming you, reach out for help. The Counselor, Therapist, or other helping person can be just the resource you need to help you cope with your stress. Asking for help from a professional does not mean you failed, it means you’re smart enough to know when to reach out for help.

Other counselorssoapbox posts on this topic are at Stress.

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.