Is your life a mess?

By David Joel Miller.

Have you ever felt like you just can’t get it together?

Life can be hard sometimes. Things are going along for you then out of the blue

Bumps on the Road of Life.

Bumps on the Road of Life.
By David Joel Miller

disaster strikes. Lots of things in life can get you off track, knock you down, make you feel like giving up.

Your problem might be a mental or emotional illness, anxiety, or depression were even PTSD. Or you might be struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or behavioral addiction like gambling or compulsive shopping.

For some people, the problem that has knocked them down is one of those challenges of living. You may have lost a job and can’t find another. You started a relationship with high hopes, and now that relationship is over. Maybe it’s a divorce or a breakup. Maybe you’ve lost someone close to you.

Those of you who have this blog in the past, know I believe in recovery. No matter what got you down, knocked in the ditch, it is possible to get back up, and start moving forward.

Some of these life problems happen at predictable points in your life. Others of these challenges in living come about unexpectedly. My goal in writing the counselorssoapbox.com blog is to talk about mental illness, substance use problems and the challenges of living. Learning to have a happy, productive life, requires both skills and knowledge.

In addition to this blog, I’ve been working on some books to provide a fuller picture of the things that can go wrong life and how to recover. The first of those books are available today.

Bumps on the Road of Life is now available in Kindle format. It was released today 11/13/17. The paperback version is also available. Look at the description below. Thank you, to those who have already ordered paperback copies and preordered the Kindle Edition.

Bumps on the Road of Life.

Your cruising along the road of life and then wham, something knocks you in the ditch.

Sometimes you get your life going again quickly. Other times you may stay off track and in the ditch for a considerable time. If you have gone through a divorce, break up or lost a job you may have found your life off track. Professionals call those problems caused by life-altering events “Adjustment Disorders.” Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of Adjustment Disorders, how they get people off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Bumps on the Road of Life

Please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Coming soon

Casino Robbery.

The robbers wanted more than money; they planned to kill Arthur’s fiancé and her boss.

Arthur Mitchell was trying to start his life over with a fiancé and a new job. That all ends

Photo of Casino Robbery book

Casino Robbery.

when the casino robbers shoot Arthur, kill his fiancée, and her boss. Arthur would like to forget that horrible day, but the traumatic nightmares and constant reminders won’t let him, and someone is still out to get him. When he tries to start over by running a rural thrift store, someone knocks him unconscious, vandalize the store, and finally tries to kill him. His only chance to find peace is to figure out what the killers want from him and why.

Casino Robbery is a novel that explores the world of a man with PTSD who has to cope with his symptoms to solve the mystery and create a new life.

Casino Robbery is available now in paperback. The Kindle Edition can be pre-ordered now and will be ready for distribution on 11/20/17.

Thanks.

David Joel Miller

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Memorial Day – What are you remembering?

By David Joel Miller.

Today here in America we are celebrating Memorial Day.

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008 (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

This day, officially called Memorial Day here in the United States of America, is reported to be the descendant of several past holidays where people remembered those who had gone before and had sacrificed to create the life we have.

Established on this the last Monday in May by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, it occurs on this last Monday in May more as a concession to long weekends than any particular remembrance. It appears to be the most closely related to the former “Decoration Day.”

While we now tend to think of Memorial Day as strictly a remembrance of those who died in Military service in earlier times we are told it was a more general remembrance of people who had established our way of life.

Wikipedia reports that this time of year had long been celebrated as the beginning of the spring good weather and families would gather to hold family reunions often at family owned graveyards to celebrate those ancestors who created their lives.

Decoration Day came to be a time to remember those who died and were therefore decorated for their war service. It came to prominence after the American Civil War or The War Between the States as it is sometimes called, largely because that war beyond all other American wars touched everyone in the country. There was almost no family who had not had a member that served in that conflict.

Ancestors and those who gave their lives in the Wars of our country are not the only people who should be remembered on this Memorial Day.

The Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.

On May 30, 1937, police opened fire on a demonstration Of Union Members and their families. In the aftermath, 50 were wounded and ten died. Dorothy Day, an eye-witness, reported that 100 demonstrators were clubbed.

Today union strikes are less likely to be met with violence and death but in those days you risked your life as well as your livelihood to become a union member.

Today as we celebrate Memorial Day it is fitting to remember those who made sacrifices so that we could have the lives that we are able to enjoy.

Whether those you remember are Military members who gave their lives, family members who endured hardships to give their descendants a better life or union and political activists who sacrificed for those to come, we all should take time, in between the barbecues,  to remember that those blessings we enjoy were won by the sacrifices of those who went before.

Hope you are having a good Memorial Day.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – 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 the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Why counselorssoapbox by David Joel Miller

By David Joel Miller.

Who is this David Joel Miller and why is he writing a blog called counselorssoapbox?

Amazing Happy Places Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Amazing Happy Places
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Counselorssoapbox is a blog about recovery, wellness and having a happy life. Yes, you guessed it, I am David Joel Miller and I write this blog. It occurs to me though that I have not explained why I write this blog and why I called it counselorssoapbox.

Someone is snickering under their breath the words “for the money” If you were thinking that then you would be more delusional than I was when I started writing this blog. Not delusional in the psychiatric sense, but delusional in that I had no idea how much work writing a blog on a regular basis would be. As for this blog making money, I definitely will not be quitting my day job, or my night job for that matter, anytime soon.

My first exposure to all things psychological was, like many of you, a few classes in psychology. It was the sixties after all. I have since learned that psychology, the kind we study in high school or most colleges is only a distant relative of counseling and recovery. Clinical Psychology, that takes 6 years of college for a Ph.D. and then you can start looking for the answers to why life is the way it is.

My first exposure to counseling and therapy was as a client. I discovered school counselors could tell me what classes to take if I wanted to make the big bucks but none of them seemed to know how to be happy along the way. Eventually, I ended up seeing some therapists. I discovered that there were helpful therapists and unhelpful therapists.

Becoming a therapist was not in my original plan. I took the classes and became a Drug and alcohol counselor. Along the way, I learned a few things. One was that there was a lot of wisdom in those 12 step programs. The other was that my AOD (Alcohol and Other Drugs) clients all had families. If I wanted to be helpful to those families, especially the children and the significant others, then I needed more training.

Next stop was the classes in how to be a Marriage and Family Therapist. Originally here in California, this was called a Marriage, Family and Child Counselor. Marriage in this context means any two or more people who have a close, primary, usually sexual, relationship.

Over the years of trying to figure out who I was and what I wanted to be when I grow up, I discovered that having a job or at least a purpose in life was an immense part of being happy. The answer to the who and what question I am still working on, but at least now I know something about the how of being happy.

To help people with their job issues and substance use issues took me in the direction of Professional Clinician Counseling and today I have that license also. From there I drifted, more like jumped, into teaching and supervising other counselors and therapists. So now you know a little bit about me. More is on my “about me” page.

But I still haven’t told you “Why a blog named counselorssoapbox?”

Throughout my process of becoming a professional in this field I kept thinking about those times I had sat on the other side of the desk and what I had experienced. I decided I did not ever want to forget what it was like to be on the client side of the room.

In graduate school, they explained a lot of stuff to us but honestly, I did not feel like some of these professionals I had seen had explained things to me in the way they were supposed to be explained. I asked about confidentiality and never seemed to get a straight answer.

Therapists were often good listeners but if they knew the answers to the “how to have a happy life question” they wanted me to suffer through the process of finding them myself and they flat resisted giving me any answers to these questions.

Counselorssoapbox started off as a way for me to express my opinions about what worked and what didn’t in the therapy world. I wanted to demystify the therapy process and explain what I had learned. Those times I got a reader question and didn’t have the answer took me back to reading the research and looking for more ideas. Writing a blog meant I needed to keep reading, studying and living wellness and recovery. So I just took it one post at a time.

What quickly happened was you readers prodded me in a few directions. Counselorssoapbox received a lot of questions about the safety of counseling, confidentiality and what gets reported. I was surprised at the number of search terms that involved counselors having sex with clients. So I put up a link to the publication “Professional Counseling Never Includes Sex.”  That post and the link keep getting hits so there remains an interest in this topic.

There has also been some interest in particular diagnoses and their treatment. While I can’t do therapy by blog post I have tried to provide general information on mental health and illness. All sorts of how to have a happy, productive, successful life posts find their way onto the blog also. Whatever tips on having the best life possible I come across I try to share.

There you have it. The answers to the questions who is this David Joel Miller and why a blog called counselorssoapbox.

What’s next? I continue to work on some books, both fiction and nonfiction and I write more blog posts looking for all the things that seem worthy of sharing with you. So if there are questions or comments related to the fields of substance use disorders, mental health, and wellness or living a happy life, send them along. I will do my best to answer questions or send you to someone who can. Comments and information from you or others gets shared here also.

If you read this far an extra thanks. Talk with you again soon.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – 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 the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Why people become addicted – deltaFosB

By David Joel Miller.

Is there really something different in the brains of addicted people?

Yes, there really does seem to be a physical change in the brain that accounts for why some people become addicted to chemicals, drugs in particular, and behaviors also. These brain changes may explain why and how people move from just experimenting, trying new novel exciting things, to the point of being addicted. Once addicted, the brain begins to demand more of the chemical or the behavior it has become dependent on.

One possible explanation for this brain change is deltaFosB.

It was quite by accident that I came across a description of deltaFosB and how it was causing a behavioral addiction. That instance had nothing to do with drugs, alcohol or chemical dependency but came from the field of research on erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction was once considered purely a problem among older men and presumably their partners. Recently we have discovered there is a group of men who are developing erectile dysfunction at an amazingly young age.

The common denominator in this early onset of erectile dysfunction? Watching pornography. A few views appear to be no problem but those who watch a lot gradually develop a dependency on the watching of porn and become unable to be aroused by a real physical partner. The brain has rewired itself to become dependent on or addicted to porn to achieve sexual arousal.

For more on this see: Your Brain on Porn.

For those of you who like to watch – there is a YouTube TEDx Talks video on this research titled The Great Porn Experiment.

These brain changes do not happen suddenly but a little at a time.

Research on cocaine, morphine, nicotine, ethanol (drinkable alcohol) and Delta (9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta (9)-THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, found they all produce specific changes in the brain. These changes do not happen suddenly from one dose but gradually over time the levels of deltaFosB increase and at some point, different for different people or different for different mice, and the brain begins to rewire itself to depend on the drug.  Interestingly enough each drug changes the brain in a different characteristic way.

Patterns of addiction for different drugs involve different changes in the brain. For more on this see: Distinct Patterns of ΔFosB Induction in Brain by Drugs of Abuse by Perrotti LI, Et. Al. Department of Psychiatry, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas.

A full explanation of the chemistry involved is beyond my expertise or the scope of this blog but I have included a few links to some resources on the topic for those of you who are so inclined.

Wikipedia describes the role of deltaFosB this way.

“The ΔFosB splice variant has been identified as playing a central, crucial (necessary and sufficient) role in the development of many forms of behavioral plasticity and neuroplasticity involved in both behavioral addictions (associated with natural rewards) and drug addictions.”

How many doses does it take to become addicted – Gene Expression.

Genes are a lot more complicated than we used to think. When I went to school back in the post dark-ages era, we thought genes were yes or no things. You inherit your gene for eye color, hair color, height and so on from your parents in a predictable, dominant-recessive way. Right?

Not really.

There is a thing called gene expression.

My gene for hair color dictated dark black hair. At least in my teens, it did. Those of you who have seen my blog bio picture realize that most of my hair is now gray, Ok maybe we should call it white. How did the gene for my hair color change?

As we age, or under the influence of environment and substances our genes can “Flip.” That switch in our genes moves and now that gene for black hair becomes the gene for white. The same thing happens for behaviors and for drugs.

That chemical that used to be just an extra add-on for your pleasure becomes something you must have just to feel passable.

Here is a specific study on the process for those who take cocaine.

Expression of the transcription factor deltaFosB in the brain controls sensitivity to cocaine.

Now we have an explanation, of sorts, for how someone can use a substance or do a behavior for a while with no problem and then at some point the switch flips and they are now addicted to that drug or behavior. Presumably, this would also allow us to determine which behaviors fit the model as true behavioral addictions and which are just bad habits.

Can we flip that switch back? So far we have not found a way to turn an addict or an alcoholic back into a non-addicted person. You can dye your hair or you can let it go but once you turn gray you are stuck.

Be careful with the behaviors you practice and the chemical you use. They may be changing your brain.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – 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 the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

Useful information about Alcohol Use and Abuse

Looking for information about Alcohol Use and Abuse?

By David Joel Miller

Alcohol

Alcohol
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Ever hear of the Alcoholism Awareness Council? I hadn’t. Recently I found this site, or more precisely they found me. Looks like a good source for information on alcohol use, alcohol use disorders and what we used to refer to as alcohol abuse and dependence. They publish information, both statistics, and the latest research, in the field of alcohol use and abuse. Lots of links on this site to other sources, both researchers and government publications.

So if you are researching the state of alcohol use in America or working on a paper for a substance use class this site might be helpful.

Oh yes – sure, you can read counselorssoapbox.com also. I will do my best to keep you posted on the latest information in the fields of substance use disorders, mental health, and co-occurring disorders. But when you are not here at counselorssoapbox.com reading this blog, you might also want to check out the resources at Alcoholism Awareness Council           http://www.alcohol.org/

If you do check out the Alcoholism Awareness Council, please let me know what you think.

David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC.

 

Are you at risk for Postpartum or Peripartum Depression?

David Joel Miller.

7 risk factors for Postpartum Depression.

What factors might put you at risk of Peripartum Depression?

Sad Doll

Sad Doll
Photo courtesy of Flickr (Elena Gatti)

When it comes to mental health, why one person gets a disorder and another person does not, is just not all that clear. A life event, something we call a stressor, could push one person into depression and a similar event could leave another person unscathed. Risk factors do not equal getting the disorder. But if you have these factors in your life then you are at more risk of Peripartum Depression than most.

For those not familiar with the term Peripartum depression, it is like Postpartum Depression only it allows for depression that starts in pregnancy rather than restricting the concept to those who become depressed after the birth of a child.

Here are 7 factors that put you at risk.

1. Past Episodes of Depression.

Women who have had episodes of depression in the past are at increased risk to develop Peripartum Depression. The more times someone has been depressed and the long those episodes, presumably the higher that risk.

If you have had depression and received treatment, think back to what was helpful to you in reducing or controlling that episode of depression and do more of that. If you did not get help for those past episodes of depression or sadness, now is the time.

2. Stress in your life adds risk.

The more stress the woman is under the more the risk. What is stressful to one woman may not be to another. It is far more complicated than just financial stress.

Look for ways to reduce the stress. Learn stress reduction and stress management techniques. Also, work on relaxing and being patient. Give your lifetime to develop rather than pushing to have everything be done right now.

3. Poor relationship with your partner.

New couples need some time to adjust to each other. Some couples were never meant to be despite getting together and making that baby. Many other couples get off to a rocky start but with work, they develop a good long-term relationship.

Having a second person to share the duties, joys and trials of child rearing can be a beneficial thing for all involved. If there are problems in the relationship the sooner you work through those problems the better.

4. Having little social support increases your risks.

One person, your partner, no matter how supportive that person is, will probably not be enough support for the tasks of creating a family and raising children. Being a parent is hard work. Some people make parenting and relationships look easy but for most of us, it takes work.

You partner will be going thorough things also. Sometimes you feel and think things your partner is not up to hearing. Work on strengthening your support system to reduce this risk of Peripartum Depression.

There are posts elsewhere on this blog about support systems and how to develop one. Some of those posts can be found here:

How supportive is your support system?

Can one person be a support system?

How do you develop a support system?

5. Your mother’s depression puts you at risk.

A family history of depression, any depression, increases the risk for you developing Depression. Having a mother had Peripartum or postpartum depression adds to the risk that a woman will have an episode of depression during pregnancy and the first year after the delivery of the child.

As with so many other “risk factors,great-grand-mother” a risk factor does not mean that absolutely positively this woman will be depressed, it just means it is one other thing to think about.

We have also seen research that suggests that the life experiences of great-grandmother and beyond may be affecting your emotions. See the post – Pick your grandmas wisely – their life affects your feelings. 

6. Being poor – low SES.

Along with all the other burdens that comes with being poor, living in bad neighborhoods or being of low socioeconomic status there is the extra risk of developing postpartum depression.

Absolutely there are poor families that are happy and where there is little or no depression. Having money does not deter depression. But all things being equal having some money, at least enough to get by on sure relieves a lot of the stress of being a new parent.

Couples who are able to delay that first child until they have a job or career path do better. It helps if you have stable housing and something saved up. Many young parents have to rely on family, friends or government programs to make ends meet.

Not having the money to get by on can strip the joy of a new child right out of your grasp.

7. Having a difficult infant.

There are those babies who from day one just are crankier than others. That child may have an illness or just an irritating disposition. Hard to care for children make their parent’s life more difficult. This is an extra burden on young or inexperienced parents.

These are the most commonly recognized risk factors for Postpartum or Peripartum Depression. I suspect there are other factors that up this risk, especially personal life experience factors. When you have come through difficult times or are still going through them life’s challenges can be more difficult to manage.

If you or someone you know has a lot of these risk factors, look for ways to manage the stress of going through the pregnancy or being a new parent. Support systems can help so can professionals. And if you are feeling overwhelmed just now consider a help hot-line or reaching out for professional help.

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – 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 the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.

17 Ways to de-stress

How do you manage stress?

By David Joel Miller.

Stress can overwhelm you at any time or anywhere – Here are some suggested ways to turn down the stress volume.

1. Breath.

Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Stress

Pain, Anxiety, Depression, Stress
Photo courtesy of Flickr (marsmet481)

Under stress, most of us forget to breathe. The result is fewer shorter breathes and the overwhelming sense of panic that can follow a lack of air in your lungs.

Slow your breathing down. Take deep breaths from the diaphragm. You should feel your stomach moving in and out. Short fast breaths from high up in your chest can increase the feelings of stress.

Breathe slowly and deeply, pause between breaths. Watch your stress move out each time you breathe out and pause before taking in that next deep breath.

2. Make friends with silence.

There is noise everywhere. We have our radios and our televisions, our iPad’s and other electronics all screaming away at once. Add on people talking at you all day long and a few people screaming for whatever reason and you are bound to feel the stress meter rise.

Think back to that last time you felt really relaxed and distressed. Maybe a vacation in the mountains or at the beach. One thing you are likely to remember about that time is how quiet it was.

Those voices in your head can get awfully loud some days. Learn to quiet your mind down and embrace the silence. I keep a set of headphones at my desk to minimize the noise. Soft nature sounds help, sometimes no sound at all helps even more to reduce my stress.

3. Say a positive affirmation.

Affirmations are those little saying you tell yourself that help you to cope. Don’t lie to yourself or the whole affirmation will backfire. Tell yourself that this may be stressful but you can handle it. This too shall pass or whatever other saying works for you to put this current stress in perspective.

4. Make a list of the good things in your life.

If you keep thinking about all the problems your life story gets soaked through with problems. Most of us have lots of positive things going on. Take those little sparkling moments and hold on to them.

Writing out a list of things that are good, things you are grateful for, can put the rest of your life in perspective. This list, sometimes called a gratitude list, can be a reference guide when things get tough.

The very act of writing down positive things in your life reinforces those things. Thinking saves the thought briefly in one part of the brain. Writing stores these blessings in a second part of the brain. Sharing them out loud with a friend stores them in a third part of the brain. The more of your brain that is full of happiness the less room there is for stress.

5. Stand more.

Stand and get the body moving. Stretch and relax those tense muscles. Tight muscles can be a result of stress but they can also be the cause of your body thinking that the stress is worse than it really is.

People who stand burn more calories than those who sit. Standing is a quick easy ways to relax and reduce the stress of the moment.

6. Walk more.

Walking can be very effective in reducing depression. When the body shares the load the mind can get a rest. A quick walk to the end of the hall, the water cooler or the bathroom can refocus the mind and move the stress off the front burner.

7. Make prioritized lists.

The human brain has a limit on the number of things you can keep in conscious memory at any one time. The more you try to keep in the front of the mind the less space is available to work on the current task.

Writing down a “to do list” can free up space in your brain to get this task done. It also reduces the anxiety you may be feeling that you might forget something.

Once the list is down on paper, prioritize those things. Do one big hard thing first and leave the long list of quick things for later when you may only have a few minutes left.

Check those items off your list as you do them and by the end of the day you may find that you are far more productive and less stressed than when you were spending all that time trying to remember all those things you needed to get done today.

8. Feel what you’re feeling.

Feelings are not the enemy. They can convey needed information. Feelings like human friends are not always right. Because something scares you does not mean it is dangerous. Listen to the feelings but then make informed decisions on how you will handle those feelings.

See the post Making Friends with Feelings

9. Look at things that make you happy.

If you run from place to place with no time to take in the joys of life you will only accumulate more stress. Slow down sometimes and notice the pleasant things. Take an extra second or two and taste the thing you are eating. Pause to notice those flowers growing outside your office.

Accumulating those brief doses of pleasure can make the rest of the day less stressful.

Ever stop to really look at the pictures your workplace put up in the hall?

10. Carry a worry stone

A worry stone, religious symbol or other personal object carried in your pocket can absorb a lot of that stress you are holding onto.

11. Make time for family and friends.

When you don’t have friends and family around you, then you are all alone. Seek out positive people for a role in your stress reduction plan.

12. A pet can help you reduce stress.

When no one else listens, when you feel all alone, that pet, a dog or cat, is waiting at the door when you come home. A pet is a great example of unconditional love.

13. Be an indoor explorer – look for new experiences.

Check out a new deli or other places to eat. Visit a new store or library. Keep an eye peeled for things you might try that you have never done. A local adult education or college class may offer all kinds of opportunities for new experiences.

There are lots of resources on the internet these days to allow you to take a class at a far off university or learn about something that interests you.

14. Develop a skill.

Is there a new skill you might develop? Something you always wanted to do but never got around to? Take the time to develop that skill and see where it takes you. Those breaks while you practice that skill reduce stress and challenge you to keep working on your self-improvement.

15. Do self-care.

The more stressed-out people get the less time they take for self-care. Do something nice for yourself. Look for ways to treat yourself well.

16. Practice your spirituality.

If you have a faith practice it. Religion or spirituality are comforting when times are tough. If you have a belief make sure that your actions are consistent with that belief. Pray, meditate or engage in other spiritual practices. Those moments of faith can get that stress volume down to a realistic size.

17. Express Yourself.

Write not because you have to but because you chose to. Draw if that interests you. Do this for yourself, not for the approval of others. Dance, pantomime or practice any other expressive skill.

There are my suggestions of 17 ways to reduce stress. Do you have other ways you have found to help you manage your stress?

Want to sign up for my mailing list?

Get the latest updates on my books, due out later this year by signing up for my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers will also be notified about live training opportunities and free or discounted books. Sign up here – 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 the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended books.