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.

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Things You Need to Know About Stress.

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

Stress person

Stress.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Stress can be normal.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time, but some people experience more stress than they’re able to handle.

Stress is the bodies efforts to prepare for needed effort. Two things will determine how stress affects you. How you initially handle stress is critical. Some people may be able to handle physical stress easily, but not mental stress. You may not be able to manage financial stress equally to the way you handle emotional stress.

Not everyone recovers from stress at the same rate.

Athletes who train every day may recover from physical stress relatively quickly. If you’re one of those people who rarely exercise, doing something physically strenuous on the weekend may require several days for you to recover.

Stressful events can be temporary, or they may last a long time.

Moving from one house to another may be stressful until you have settled into the new home. Starting a new job can also be stressful. Being unemployed and homeless can remain stressful for a very long time.

Some stress is routine, and some are extraordinary.

Everyday stresses could be things such as getting ready and going to work every morning or getting the kids off to school. Most jobs involve routine stress. Extraordinary types of stress include such things as a death in the family, losing a job or working at a job that has frequent episodes of high pressure.

Sometimes stress can be traumatic.

Experiencing a traumatic stressor can result in several types of mental illness. After experiencing a sudden traumatic stressor, some people experience a short bout of Acute Stress Disorder. If the impairment from the stressor does not remit, it may become Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.

Long-term constant stress can result in burnout.

Job burnout is the result of high levels of stress over a long period, which results in a person feeling both physically and emotionally exhausted and not being able to recover during their time of duty.

Stress isn’t always bad.

Physically stressing your muscles can increase your strength and abilities. Mental stress can lead to learning and creativity. Happy events can sometimes be extremely stressful. Interviewing for a job, starting a new job, getting married, or the birth of a child can all be stressful events. What’s important is to give yourself time to rest after the stressful events. Stress only becomes bad when it exceeds your abilities, continues to long, or is traumatic.

Chronic stress can overwhelm you.

Your automobile should be capable of rapid acceleration or high speeds on occasion. Run your car too many miles at high speed, and eventually something will break. While humans are not machines, the same principle applies. Living life with too much stress can eventually overwhelm you.

Self-care can help reduce stress.

Good self-care can reduce the impact of the stresses you experience. Good self-care does not necessarily mean doing nothing or vegetating on the couch all weekend. Varying your activities can reduce the impact of chronic stress.

Excess stress harms your health.

High levels of long-term stress are unhealthy. Continuing to mentally hold onto stress after the event will also damage your physical health. Excess stress can impair your sleep and appetite. Difficulty falling asleep, called sleep latency, is the result of ruminating about the thing that is stressing you. Chronic or excessive stress can also impair your immune system making you more susceptible to illness and infections.

High levels of stress cause physical and emotional symptoms.

You may experience excess stress in your body. Headaches, nausea, insomnia, and changes in appetite can all be symptoms of excess stress. Too much stress may also lead to irritability, anger, and sadness. Ultimately stress can lead to developing a mental illness such as an anxiety disorder or depression.

Can stress be managed?

Many people feel that stress is just a part of modern life, and they try to tough it out for as long as possible. Failing to manage stress can lead to physical and emotional illnesses, job burnout, and even permanent disabilities. There are things you can do to reduce the impact of stress on your life. In my next post in this series, I want to tell you about ways that you can manage stress and reduce its impact on your life.

Here are some resources for more about stress and stress management.

The National Institute of Mental Health has a handy brochure on stress and managing it.

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.

Life lessons you need to learn.

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

Learning lifes lessons

Life lessons you need to learn.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

What life lessons do you need to learn?

You probably went to school for a while or you wouldn’t be reading this. You learned your alphabet, reading and some math. Maybe a little history, very little history if you are typical. What most of us missed out on were the lessons about the required emotional skills. How you get through this life in one piece.

By life lessons, I am not necessarily talking about how to cook a meal or wash some clothes, though those are useful skills. What I am talking about is how to go about really “living” this thing we call a life. What do you do to create a happy life out of the raw material that will be thrown at you?

Below are some of the life lessons you may not have gotten enough training in. There are things counselors work on with their clients all the time. If you see any of these life lessons you feel you need to work on, consider some therapy or a good book on self-improvement that covers the part you still need to learn.

Stress reduction will keep you from stressing out.

Life is stressful. There is good stress and bad stress. Much of this thing we call stress is the result of our anticipating what will happen, not the actual happening. In another post about stress, I wrote about how people who are going through a really difficult time can be less stressed out than those who are afraid they will have to have that experience.  Accept that stress is a required part of living.  Learn to reduce the impact of that stress on your life.

Emotional Regulation is a skill that will keep you out of trouble.

It comes as a surprise to many people that they can regulate their emotions.  Most of us started out having feelings and then either getting in trouble for those feelings or being told we shouldn’t feel the way we were feeling.  Turns out that learning to regulate your emotions is an important life skill.

Many people end up having to take anger management classes where they learned that it is not other people who are “making them angry” but it is the way they view the situation that creates their anger.  Anger is not the only emotion you need to learn to regulate.  You will feel sadness and emotional pain. People who are good and regulating these emotions feel them but don’t get carried away.

Interpersonal communication is a make or break life skill.

Interpersonal communication is a skill that many people need to work on.  Some people get this skill wrong and develop the belief that interpersonal communication means learning how to tell other people things.  The biggest part of the interpersonal communications consists of learning how to accurately listen to others.  When you get a clear picture of what other people are saying you will discover that there are far fewer things you need to argue with.

Developing a support system isn’t always an easy skill to develop.

Having the support of people in your life makes life a whole lot easier.  For most people, friends were something that just happened.  In the early school grades, anyone that you spend time with could easily become your friend.  As we get older it becomes harder and harder to make real lasting friends.

When you are too close to things you miss the big picture.

One important life skill that an adult may still need to develop is the ability to look at things from different perspectives.  Often when people are caught up in the moment things look a very set way.  Learning to step back and analyze situations from other perspectives can help you solve life’s problems.

You can’t be objective about you.

People often work with coaches. counselors and therapists, because they can’t see their own behavior.  Even when it’s painful, it can be really helpful to have someone who will give you an honest version of what they see about you and your behavior.

Encouragement helps you change.

To really grow and progress people need positive reinforcement.  Many people grew up experiencing mostly negative feedback.  The belief in the past was that in order to get people to do better it was necessary to point out every single one of their flaws.  We’ve since learned that if you never hear anything positive it is easy to become discouraged and give up trying.

You need to learn being real can be scary.

Really young kids find it easy to be real.  Young people find it easy to spot people who are being fake.  As we get older, more and more we are likely to hide our real selves.  Often it’s easier to present a false image to others in the hope of being liked.  People who are able to be real have to take risks.  While being real involves taking some scary risks it also results in people being a lot happier.

Are any of these life lessons that you still need to learn?

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.

Could you have a Mental Illness?

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

Could you be mentally ill?

What Causes Mental Illness?

You think you might have a mental illness, what should you do?

Have you ever thought that you were someone close to you might have a mental illness?  Being faced with mental illness doesn’t mean you’re crazy or have lost your mind.  Many people go through episodes of depression, or you may have excess anxiety.  Sometimes the stress of life just is overwhelming.  Or you may be having conflicts with your family, your spouse, or your children.  If you are having difficulties with your thinking, feeling, or behavior you may be at risk of developing a mental illness.  If so what should you do in this situation?  Below are some do’s and do not’s for people who are at risk for emotional problems.

Don’t ignore it, get help.

Just like physical illnesses, mental, emotional, or behavioral problems don’t get better without attention.  Pretending you don’t have an illness doesn’t keep you healthy.  There’s no great virtue in toughing it out and suffering.  Seeking help when under stress can help prevent more serious emotional problems from developing.

Discuss your problem with someone who feels safe.

If you are thinking your problems have gotten out of control, now is the time to find someone safe you can talk to about it.  Sometimes that trusted person will be your friend or family member.

Talk about your symptoms with your medical doctor.

Whenever you’re feeling out of sorts, the first thing you need to do is talk to a medical doctor. Physical problems can often look like mental health symptoms.  It is important to make sure that your feelings of sadness or depression are not a physical illness.  Sometimes prescription medications can create symptoms that look like emotional disorders.

See a counselor or therapist.

Going to see a counselor or therapist does not mean that you have given in to a mental illness.  Professional athletes have coaches because they can help them improve their performance.  In the emotional area, it helps to see a counselor to work on your stress and issues before they turn into something more serious.  Counselors are specially trained to listen to what’s going on in your life, evaluate your symptoms, and decide whether what you’re experiencing is normal or qualifies for a mental illness diagnosis.

Reduce your stress.

A little bit of stress is good for you.  We exercise to keep our bodies in top condition.  But holding onto too much stress over too long a period of time can overwhelm our emotional system.  Often it is not a huge overwhelming stress the causes people difficulty, it’s the accumulations of lots of little stress day after day.  Work on ways to reduce those little stressors and learn to stop stressing over the things that don’t really matter.

Increase your self-care.

Failing to take care of yourself is not a value.  Learn to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally.  Get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat as healthy a diet as possible.

Work on solving those other life problems.

Often emotional crises are the result of failure to deal with other real-life problems.  Work on career problems.  Get some help with financial issues.  Tackle those legal problems you’ve been putting off.

Consider taking medication for your problems.

Taking medication to help you live a healthy life is a reasonable thing to do.  It doesn’t matter whether those problems are physical or emotional, medications can sometimes help.  Have that talk with your doctor, and see if there’s some medication which might help you deal with your depression, anxiety or other emotional issues.

Taking inventory of where you are at.

After looking at all the possibilities listed above if you’re thinking that you might be experiencing a mental, emotional, or behavioral issues, something we might call a mental illness, now is the time to take action.  I hope some of the suggestions in this blog post are helpful.

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.

The hidden cause of stress.

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

Stressed

Feeling stressed out?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Why are you stressed out if things are going so well?

Stress is epidemic in our modern world. Everyone has heard about stress management classes and tools. Everywhere you go these days people are talking about their stress levels and how hard their life is. We live in a world with more material comforts and technology than ever before. Why is everyone so stressed?

What comes as a surprise many times is that the people who are reporting the most stress are not the people who are going through the roughest times. Now we know that hard times are not always apparent. Some people have really difficult things going on in their lives and they never mention it. But what is so amazing is how people who for all apparent evidence are doing well, have so much stress.

Being unemployed is stressful but working can be even more stressful. Someone has a good job, one that pays well, and they work every day but the work is stressing them out. They have a relatively new car and the payments on that car are stressful. Frankly, the biggest stressors in life are often not the things that are the most harmful or the most painful. Why when so many people in the western industrial world have so very many things that look like advantages do we also have the corner on the world’s inventory of stress?

You can end up stressed out even if nothing bad ever happens.

What has largely gone unnoticed is that you can be so stressed out even when nothing bad ever happens. See it is not the actual event that is stressful. The fear you will lose your job can be more stressful than the actual loss. People live for years worrying that the place they work at will close or downsize and they will lose their job. That is stressful. Then the closure happens and life changes.

People can go through life always on edge, always stressed even when none of the bad things that should be the cause of their stress ever happen. Sometimes when it happens it is even a relief. At least once the shoe drops you can start making plans for the rest of your life.

The threat is more stressful than the event.

Stress is not about the actual event, at least most of the time it isn’t. Once the bad event happens people go through the grieving and adjusting process and then they get to work fixing things and rebuilding things. People who are out of work and unemployed may even go about the process of reinventing themselves.

Worry about the end of a relationship can be stressful, the thoughts about why and how come and what will you do next. But once you are convinced the relationship is in fact over and gone you can let go of the stress and start moving forward finding out who you are outside of that relationship.

Even good things can be very stressful.

The first week at a new job many people get sick. Trying to learn that new role can be stressful. You want to do well. Weddings and the birth of a child can all be extremely stressful. So can falling in love. Happy things can cause lots of stress.

What causes stress is not the reality. What is stressful are the expectations about what will or might happen. Uncertainty is stressful. Not knowing and worry wear you out.

Stress is about anticipation.

Turns out in the end that the major factor that decides if something will cause you stress is what you anticipate happening. Worry works the stress hormones over time. Fear and anticipation take their toll. Holding on to expectations, especially negative, fearful, possible results of things makes even the best of situations stressful.

It is the things we worry about, the things outside our control that are the most stressful. We can’t control the future. The most we may be able to do is to be prepared and work to influence the outcomes.

Are you ready to give up your expectations and let life be what it is? When will you be ready to release the 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.

17 Ways to de-stress

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

Stressed

Feeling stressed out?
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

How do you manage stress?

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

1. Breath.

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 way 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?

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.

Have another helping of stress. Stress can be good for you.

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

Stressed out

Stressed.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

You might need more stress in your diet.

Recently one of my esteemed colleagues wrote a post on the need to avoid stress. I am not sure he is right about that. We have been told so often that we need to avoid stress, that a lot of people are avoiding anything that might be stressful and the result is that they are very low in productivity and lower yet in self-esteem.

More stress in your diet just might be what the doctor ordered.

If your doctor tells you that you are now overweight and you need to lose some weight, he does not prescribe reducing the physical stress in your life. He does not tell you to go home, put your feet up and avoid anything that might put a stress load on your system.

What the doctor does suggest is that your exercise put a manageable level of stress on your muscles. As you become stronger you increase the level of stress you place on your muscles. The key here is not reducing or avoiding stress but learning how to manage your stress so that it is a growth opportunity rather than being at a breaking point level.

Clients have told me that their work “stresses them out.” Their conclusion is that they should avoid working to reduce the stress. What they fail to recognize often, is that not working will result in a substantial reduction in income. Losing your house to foreclosure, being homeless or even the task of living the rest of your life on the small amount of income available to welfare recipients is a lot more stressful than learning to not stress yourself out over your work.

Writers typically get stressed every time they look at a blank page. We call this writer’s block. You don’t overcome that kind of stress by avoiding the stress of writing and giving up on your dream. You reduce the stress by writing, writing anything to fill up that space and then you edit and revise until hopefully a piece worth reading comes to life.

Most things in our life do not “stress us out” though we would all like to blame our level of negative emotions on some outside force that is producing “stress.” Most of the time we stress ourselves out by ruminating on the thing we would like to avoid until it grows to gigantic proportions. Casey Truffo described this in one of her webinars as “gnawing on the thing that is eating you.”

Should we by some accident find ourselves without stress one morning, why there are plenty of things we could choose to worry about. Start by worrying that you have forgotten to worry about something important. Get really into fear, fear of losing something, fear of not getting what you want. Create so much stress over what might happen that you are unable to do anything.

The stress reaction is our body and our minds way of gearing up for a challenging situation. The difficulty here is that so many people can turn up the stress, but don’t know how to turn it back down when the occasion for the stress is over.

Stress hormones are supposed to be temporary events. Some crisis occurs, we need to respond and our body helps out here by pushing out adrenaline and other hormones, we are ready to fight, flee or fight. The problem with humans is that most of us have forgotten how to turn the stress hormones off. Three months later we are still telling anyone who will listen how that incident “stressed us out’ and in the process, we are able to relieve the stress.

Have you ever met someone who was highly productive and seems to thrive on stress? Have you wondered what their secret was?

The thing they have found is how to keep the stress external and maintain their responses internally. They have learned to turn stress to their advantage by using that stress to turn their performance up another notch.

The difference between people who use stress to their advantage and those who are defeated by stress is not in the stress. It is in our attitude to the stress.

The secret is to stop running from the stress monster and to turn towards him and kick his tail.

There are dangers in life that we all should avoid. Most of the things that stress us out every day are not those overwhelming life-threatening kinds of stress. The worst kinds of stress are those times when we upset ourselves over things that are outside our control.

Learn to control your stress, learn mindfulness, breathing control or embrace radical acceptance but don’t try to avoid stress by running from it.

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.