How healthy is your pie of life?

By David Joel Miller.

A healthy, balanced life is made up of many “slices” they all need to be healthy.

Life pie

Healthy Pie of Life.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Recovery programs, whether they are mental health or substance use programs, frequently have clients fill out a form sometimes called a “pie of life” or a “grapefruit diagram.”

Your life is made up of many separate components. Each of these portions needs to be in balance for you to have a healthy emotional life. Periodically, it is useful to look at each of these life domains and see which require improvement.

Social Relationships support good mental health.

One of the four criteria for diagnosing a problem as a mental illness is when it interferes with your ability to have healthy relationships. These relationships can be primary sexual relationships, or they might be family or friends. The problems involved in getting together and breaking up bring a lot of people to counseling so do conflicts with relatives. Today, in America, more than fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and there are lots of families who are not speaking to each other.

One reason for the high divorce rate is a failure to develop and maintain a good couple’s relationship. In the early stages of a couple’s relationship, loneliness and sexual urges drive people together. Failure to develop deep friendship dooms many couple’s relationships.

Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert, humans need support from other people. Failure to develop social skills can impair your mental health. People in early recovery are encouraged to work on their friend making skills and to develop a support system of at least five friends, where possible family members may meet that need.

Another part of social relationships is your relationship to society in general. Dealing with legal issues, staying inside the law, is a part of recovery. Ask yourself how healthy is your relationship to society in general.

Work and meaning impact your emotional health.

Work provides more than just economic advantages. People who enjoy what they do each day are more mentally healthy. Work Burnout is a major source of emotional distress. People who feel that what they do for a living makes a difference are more emotionally stable.

Beyond simply working for the money, finding meaning and purpose in life will positively affect your mental health.

Your physical world impacts your emotional health.

Part of having a happy, healthy, and successful life is getting your body and physical environment into the best shape possible. Many people face serious physical and environmental challenges. Making the best of the situation you’re in can help to bring your life into emotional balance.

Manage your physical health to maximize your emotional health and your recovery. Good physical health starts with getting adequate sleep. You don’t have to become a healthy diet fanatic to eat a healthier diet. Make small changes and maintain them. Eat more healthy items and reduce the amount of the unhealthy foods you consume.

Get some physical activity each day. Exercise is an important part of keeping your body healthy, and a healthy body has a positive effect on your emotional health. Even people with significant physical disabilities can still find ways to improve physical activity. People who are bedridden can be given physical exercises which they can do in bed. Talk with your medical doctor about ways you can increase your physical activity. Stand if you can, walk more each day when possible. Whatever you do, don’t give up. Each day, strive to take the best care of your body possible and your physical health will help care for your mental health.

Safety and security are also parts of caring for your physical health. If you’re in a dangerous situation, work on making it safer. Whatever you can do to make the place you stay feel comfortable and safe will improve your emotional health.

Intellectual growth encourages emotional growth.

A day where you don’t learn something new is a wasted day. Pursue hobbies, read books and take classes whenever possible. If your mental illness or substance use disorder interfered with your education get back on track. Part of recovery is learning new things. Continue to challenge yourself.

Spiritual and religious practices support recovery.

Part of the process of growing up is deciding what you believe. If you have a religious or spiritual tradition, be sure you are following it. People with strong beliefs and a commitment to follow those beliefs find their faith will support their mental health. Be careful about falling into the need to make everyone else follow your religion. If you’re comfortable in your own faith, you are less likely to need to force others to agree with you.

Emotional and Psychological health, thinking, feeling, behaving.

Make friends with your feelings; they are valuable sources of information. Learn to regulate your emotions rather than letting them control you. If you have recurring thoughts or feelings that are causing your life to stay out of balance get professional help. If your behavior frequently brings you into conflict with others study anger management.

Financial health supports emotional health.

How much money you make, or how much you have, does not determine your financial health. When you are trying to get by on a very small income, it can be a struggle. But having lots of money does not guarantee emotional health. It’s possible to have a happy life despite having a very small income. Some very miserable people live in mansions.

The secret to financial health is to spend less than your income. What makes people unhappy is the gap between what they have and what they want. A large part of the world now owes more than they own. The fastest way to become financially unhealthy is to spend beyond your income and finance that gap on short-term credit card debt.

Part of your recovery may well be getting your financial life in order. Look for ways to increase your income. Invest in yourself by getting more education or job training. Look for ways to reduce your spending. Start a beginners savings account and then begin paying off your debts.

The downturn in 2008 resulted in a lot of people having to do some drastic belt-tightening. One lesson many learned was that when forced to do so they could live on a lot less income than they previously thought possible. For maximum financial health get your finances in order as soon as possible and don’t wait for a crisis to begin paying off bills and saving for a rainy day.

Some of these categories could be split or combined, but they are a starting point for taking an inventory of your life and deciding what most needs improvement. Getting your life in balance is an important part of recovery from whatever you may call your challenges.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

David Joel Miller MS is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC.)  Mr. Miller provides supervision for beginning counselors and therapists and teaches at the local college in the Substance Abuse Counseling program.

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Balance.

Sunday Inspiration.   Post by David Joel Miller.

Balance.

stay in balance

Balance.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

“what is joy without sorrow? what is success without failure? what is a win without a loss? what is health without illness? you have to experience each if you are to appreciate the other. there is always going to be suffering. it’s how you look at your suffering, how you deal with it, that will define you.”

― Mark Twain

“The major work of the world is not done by geniuses. It is done by ordinary people, with balance in their lives, who have learned to work in an extraordinary manner.”

― Gordon B. Hinckley

“Focusing on what went wrong robs you of all that went right.”

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

What is self-care?

By David Joel Miller.

Do you take care of yourself?

In recovery and resilience literature we talk a lot about self-care, how you do it, what you do and most importantly why it is important. In a previous blog post, we talked about the connection between PTSD and sleep. There is a lot more to self-care than just lying in bed enough hours or eating the right food. Let’s look at some of the areas of self-care that are important for mental and emotional health.

For people in recovery from substance abuse or from mental illness, sometimes from both, self-care is of vital importance. We talk about it but rarely get specific about just what that means. Recovering people often make excuses for a lack of self-care. Good self-care does not have to be expensive. I wrote in a previous post about ways to find help and counseling if you have little income and no health insurance. But let’s be honest here. I see people who have money for their addiction, money for their hobbies or entertainment but say they have no money for self-care. Make self-care a priority. It is extremely important for your recovery.

Keeping your life in balance is the first rule of self-care. An excess of emphasis in any one area is likely to throw your emotional balance and your recovery off. Too much nicotine is a problem. Emotional problems can result in a sharp increase in smoking. I think any smoking is too much, but if you have not yet reached the point of quitting, monitor your consumption and keep it to a minimum.

Physical health.

Your insides are important. Make time to see a doctor and address your physical health concerns.  Sometimes things we worry about turn out to be unimportant. I have never seen a serious illness that got better without treatment. Putting off finding out if you have a disease or condition does not prevent it. Not treating an illness allows it to become more serious.

Physical health is also about having your vision and hearing checked. Children who need glasses and don’t get them are at high risk to fall behind in school and not achieve their full potential. Adults who can’t see or hear don’t succeed as well in jobs or life.

Besides wearing glasses makes you look smarter and cooler!

Outward appearance.

One way recovering people can judge their progress is by their appearance. When you are depressed fixing yourself up does not matter. It may even require more effort than you can muster. A lack of attention to your appearance is an indicator of your low mental state; it can also affect that state. Spending more time on grooming and shopping for new clothes can also make you feel better about yourself.

Nutrition.

Poor nutrition can make your mental condition worse. There is lots of material out there on the internet and in books about diet. Spending some time reading about better health and working to improve that health can improve your outlook on life. Don’t neglect the most vital of all nutrients. Lack of adequate water can make you fuzzy headed. A large number of people think they are hungry when in fact they are thirsty. This leads to weight gain and poor mental health. Diet experts suggest drinking a glass of water and then waiting a few minutes to see if your hunger goes away on its own.

Exercise.

Taking care of your body is more than just maintaining your weight. As we age the percentage of the body that is fat increases and the muscle mass declines. Even if your diet and don’t gain weight, you are becoming less fit. Make sure you get enough physical exercise to keep your muscles working. Feeling healthy will improve your mood.

If you are in early recovery, don’t overdo the exercise either, you can’t undo a long period of neglect by running a marathon on the first day. The key to exercising as with all other recovery activities is to keep your life in balance and build up to doing more gradually. Do a little each day and slowly increase the amount and intensity of exercise.

Improvements in mood and self-esteem come from the trying and appear long before any changes in the body become noticeable.

Time off –vacations and pleasure.

Make sure you plan for some enjoyable events in your life. People in early recovery often try to make up for lost time by working several jobs, going back to school and paying off old debts. If recovery becomes unpleasant it will be harder to sustain. Remember that your illness also has resulted in a deficit of fun and enjoyment. Recovery should be an adventure. Anything that is enjoyable is more likely to be maintained.

Reward yourself.

One way we humans show our affection to others is to give them gifts. Most of us forget to love ourselves as if taking good care of us is not important. Some people were taught that doing nice things for yourself was selfish. Good self-care is not selfish.

Taking good care of yourself is important. One way you can do that is to reward yourself with positive gifts. The key here is to keep your life in balance. A new piece of clothing is one thing a whole new wardrobe is something else. In disciplining children we find that all punishment means the level of punishment needs to keep increasing. All rewards result in ever more reward until it becomes bribery. Discipline yourself in the same way. Give yourself small rewards for things well done and small consequences for things that you could do better. Remember also that harsh parenting can result in abused children. Don’t abuse yourself.

Mental Health.

Recovery is about staying mentally healthy. Sort out your thoughts. Avoid unhealthy thoughts, ruminations, and self-doubt. Whatever you did to begin your recovery, counseling, self-help groups or religious practice, keep doing the things that started you on the recovery road.

Encouragement – self-affirmation.

Being told that you are worthwhile and that what you are doing is good and appreciated is important for self-esteem and self-efficacy. Some of us didn’t get much praise when we were young. If there is no one in your life who tells you they value you it is hard to feel good about yourself.

Give yourself the affirmation you deserve. If you don’t think you deserve it work on improving yourself and work with a professional on these issues.

Some people find it helpful to make up a list of the positive things about themselves. Get help on making this list if you can. Post the list in a prominent place and read it early each day.

Take time for yourself.

Make time for yourself. You are worth it. We all have responsibilities but self-care is also a responsibility. Family members come to me about how to help their loved one who is in some form of recovery. One of the first questions I ask them is what they are doing to care for themselves.

You can’t help others if you are neglecting yourself. Make self-care a priority not a second thought.

Avoiding excess of nicotine – food – soda and caffeine.

It is easy to trade one addiction for another. Problems often occupy a central place in our lives. What would you do if your problem were suddenly solved? Would you find another issue to take its place? Replace problems with positive activities, not new problems.

Finances and savings.

Getting your finances in order is a part of self-care.  How can you be happy if you are stressed by money problems? Get professional help here if you need to. Read about money management.

The difference between the richest half of all Americans and the poorest half is having even a few dollars in a savings account.

Make paying off credit cards and old bills a priority. Getting out of debt can take a lot of worries off your plate.

There is a lot of emotional pain around financial losses. Losing a job or a home in foreclosure is often heartbreaking. Financial events may force drastic changes in your life. We all resist changes. Sometimes change is also an opportunity. Resolve to be happy with or without money but do your best to get your financial life in recovery also.

Quality relationships.

People who have good quality relationships with other people are more successful in recovery than those who don’t. Nurture the positive relationships. Spend time with family members who are positive. Make new friends. Get a sponsor in recovery.

Just be careful not to be so needy that you let unhealthy people back into your life. Part of self-care is avoiding people who are bad for your recovery and increasing contact with people who help build your recovery.

Make good self-care a priority.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

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

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

L O L T – Life on life’s terms

By David Joel Miller.

Recovery is easy when everything is going well, some days nothing goes right.

Pain can be a powerful motivator. It makes us look at our lives. It makes us consider changing. Sometimes we get stuck in the pain and can’t see a way out. Others may see the need for a change before we do. It takes whatever it takes to start on the road of recovery. Recovery groups describe this as “hitting bottom.”

Many sorts of pain can bring someone to treatment, physical pain, loss of family and friends, feeling miserable constantly. Going for help can be difficult. We hate to admit we need help. When people arrive at the helping place they are often unsure, sometimes resentful if they have been forced to seek help by a partner who says counseling or I go, or a judge who says treatment or jail.

In the beginning, it takes time for the process to work.  There is confusion and anger. The focus is on the pain instead of the recovery. Sometime, somehow the focus shifts. They begin to look at themselves and they begin to change. We learn that we can’t change others, not really. The only things that we can really change are ourselves and our attitudes.

Life may start to get better. The meds may work. The counseling helps them unburden themselves or the group provides a source of healing and support. Life is getting better. They tell me they have never been so happy. They say that their life has changed forever.

I start to worry. We call this the “pink cloud.”  We know it will pass.

Then the storms come. Bad things happen, even when you are in recovery even when you are doing all the right things. This is a real life. Sometimes I like it sometimes I don’t.

The real test of recovery is can we handle life’s challenges, live day by day and still stay in emotional balance?

A person who is truly in recovery, who has moved their life from sickness and symptoms to wellness and recovery is the person who is able to handle life on life’s terms.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

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

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

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

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

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

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.