Young woman unable to sleep

Stop Losing Sleep Over Sleep: 3 Common Myths That Increase Sleep Anxiety

Do you find yourself obsessing over the amount of sleep you get each night? Many of us do. Raising my hand here, I have counted myself among the crowd to worry about this one. We live in a society that constantly bombards us with information about the perfect amount of sleep needed to function well. But how much of that information is actually adding to our stress and sleep anxiety?

Here are a few myths that we can push back on that might put your mind a little more at ease when you’re counting those sheep.

Myth 1: Everyone Needs Eight Hours of Sleep

How many times have you stared at the clock on a sleepless night, calculated the hours before the alarm goes off, and realized you weren’t even going to get close to eight hours of sleep?

One of the biggest myths is that everyone needs eight hours of sleep to be healthy and productive. I’m not sure if this was due to a well-intentioned episode of Schoolhouse Rock, but somehow this number got deeply embedded in our collective knowledge bank.

This magic number eight has become a standard benchmark for sleep, and many of us panic if we don’t hit it, convinced we’re setting ourselves up for a lifetime of poor performance and bad health.

But is this really true?

Research shows that the relationship between sleep duration and health is more nuanced than you might think. A 2002 study titled “Mortality Associated With Sleep Duration and Insomnia” found surprising results:

The best survival was found among those who slept 7 hours per night. Participants who reported sleeping 8 hours or more experienced significantly increased mortality hazard, as did those who slept 6 hours or less. The increased risk exceeded 15% for those reporting more than 8.5 hours sleep or less than 3.5 or 4.5 hours.

This data shows that sleeping too little or too much can increase your risk of dying. Interestingly, the highest risk from too little sleep (15%) starts to improve at 4.5 hours, which still sounds like a terrible night to me. If you’re getting a little more than 4.5 hours, your risk is still lower than if you were sleeping for 8.5 hours.

Because of math, I can tell you that 4.5 hours is actually closer to the ideal seven hours of sleep than eight hours is. From a psychological standpoint, not getting 2.5 hours of sleep is better than not getting 3.5 hours of sleep.

So, just remember, if there’s a magic number for sleep, it’s probably around 7 hours – give or take – not 8.

Your body’s sleep needs can vary. What matters more is the quality of sleep you’re getting. Instead of fixating on a set number of hours, pay attention to how you feel during the day. Are you alert and able to function well? If so, you’re likely getting the rest you need.

Myth 2: You Must Meet 100% of Your Sleep Needs Every Night

Another common belief is that you must meet 100% of your sleep needs every night to be healthy and function well. This all-or-nothing thinking sets an unrealistic expectation. It’s normal to sometimes not get enough sleep. Life happens – stress, work deadlines, and family obligations can interfere with sleep.

What’s important is understanding that occasional sleep deficits are part of life. Just like pain or taxes, some sleepless nights are part of being human. What you lack for a night or two, your body will figure out how to make up. No need to be perfect here.

Many people turn to sleep trackers and wearable tech, believing these “objective” tools will help them achieve that elusive 100% of their sleep needs. However, relying on these devices just serves to create additional stress.

When clients show me their sleep tracker data, it rarely tells a good story, often leaving them frustrated and worried, even if they report actually feeling rested. These trackers aren’t designed for this kind of  scrutiny (too many other variables in play) and can make you feel like you’re constantly falling short. Who needs that?

This obsession with hitting perfect sleep metrics can actually heighten sleep-related anxiety, making you feel more pressure to meet unrealistic standards.

Again, who needs that?

Myth 3: Not Getting Enough Sleep Will Make You Gain Weight

This worry often stems from sensationalized health reports because so many of us struggle with our weight. According to some in the media, lack of sleep is becoming the “new sitting,” which has become the “new smoking.”

While chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to some health problems, the direct link between occasional lack of sleep and significant weight issues is less clear-cut. Research shows that other factors like diet and physical activity play way more significant roles in managing weight than the amount of shut-eye you’re getting.

A 2013 study by the University of Pennsylvania examined the effects of sleep restriction on weight gain, caloric intake, and meal timing in healthy adults. The findings indicated that yes, sleep restriction can indeed lead to weight gain.

Participants who slept only four hours per night for five consecutive nights gained significantly more weight compared to the control group who slept for 10 hours per night.

Here’s why, though: The sleep-restricted subjects consumed more calories, especially during late-night hours, and had more meals and late-night snacks.

Their lack of sleep wasn’t magically causing their weight gain. Because they were awake longer, they simply had more opportunities to nosh.

So instead of freaking out about not getting enough sleep, focus on areas you can control: exercise and nutrition. Regular physical activity has a more significant impact on managing weight and overall health than sleep alone.

Honestly, if you could do one major thing to improve your health, you’d be better served to start exercising than improving your sleep. Exercise is that big of a deal.

This isn’t to say sleep isn’t important – it is. But the level of anxiety we attach to not getting enough sleep often outweighs the actual risks. By obsessing over sleep, we overlook critical aspects of health that we have more control over, like diet and exercise.

The Impact of Worrying About Sleep

Constantly worrying about not getting enough sleep turns sleep into yet another performance metric, like measuring macros and constantly taking your blood pressure. This kind of focus on something you have very little control over creates a vicious cycle of stress and sleeplessness.

Accept that not every night will be perfect and that occasional sleep deficits are a normal part of life. Focus on sleep as just one piece of the health puzzle. An approach that includes good sleep hygiene, regular exercise, and a balanced diet is the key to well-being and staying resilient to stress.

And stay out of the fridge at night!

Originally published at

Solar Eclipse April 8, 2024

Lessons in Resilience from a Solar Eclipse

There’s something kind of magical about knowing exactly when the moon will sneak in front of the sun and cast a brief shadow over the day.

I remember an eclipse when I was in middle school that I witnessed through a pinhole on a sheet of paper. While I didn’t see the eclipse directly because I enjoy having healthy retinas, seeing the shadows interplay on the back of my math homework was still pretty amazing. I knew something big was happening in the sky.

Eclipses are totally predictable but we still get caught off guard by the randomness of celestial bodies lining up perfectly.

Stress is a lot like an eclipse.

We know it’s out there and we’ll experience it, whether we’re looking for it or not. But we have a hard time letting stress just be in our lives and observe it for what it is.

We work hard to find ways to get it to go away, to not feel it or experience it, or — on the opposite end of the spectrum — to prepare for every possibility so as to not be caught off guard and feel the stress of being out of control.

Big work presentation next week? Ready for it.

That yearly family get-together that’s equal parts fun and dysfunctional? As ready as anyone can be.

We see these kinds of stressors coming from a mile away and try to gear up mentally.

But what about the random stuff?

Flat tires, a sudden work crisis, those out-of-the-blue calls from the school principal, the brand new air conditioner that dies in July?

We can spot the big stressors ahead of time just like astronomers predict eclipses, and we’re happy to pull out our best instruments to measure it.

But we have to be just as diligent about being resilient with the small stuff.

In the same way the moon puts itself between you and the sun in an eclipse, stress places itself between you and what you want.

Every. Single. Time.

You can fight it if you want, if you think you can move the moon at will (maybe you could if it was made out of cheese).

Or you can find ways to take a breath and simply notice what’s happening around you, appreciate life for what it is, and wait for that stressor to pass out of your perspective, as it often does.

So, what do we do when life throws us a curveball?

The goal here is to develop psychological flexibility. This isn’t about being ready for a monumental event or crash; it’s more about being able to bend, twist, and keep your life going in spite of what gets hurled at you, big or small.

Every time you bend and twist, you get stronger and more pliable. Like Neo dodging a bullet in The Matrix, it takes bigger and bigger things to knock you down.

Here are a few broad ideas to get you started:

1. Stay Present
An eclipse is a once-in-a-lifetime event (theoretically; I’ve personally seen two, but whatever). You wouldn’t spend that moment scrolling through your phone, right? Of course not! Staying present, fully immersing yourself in right now, can help you appreciate what you do have, even during stressful times.

2. Embrace Your Experiences
Every experience, good or bad, brings with it a lesson. Much like how we marvel at an eclipse, understanding that its beauty is in the fact that it won’t last long, embracing your experiences without judgment can help you develop resilience. Acknowledge your feelings, don’t beat yourself up for having a human response, and move forward.

3. Make Your Values Your Compass
Your values are your North Star, guiding you through your darkest nights and your brightest days. Identifying what truly matters to you—whether it’s family, health, or career—can provide a sense of direction and purpose, especially during times of stress. Now you know what matters to you, and what doesn’t. Let those values guide your choices and decisions.

4. Take Committed Action
Small, consistent actions aligned with your values can lead to significant changes. Whether it’s prioritizing family dinners, making time for a run or walk, or pursuing the first steps of a passion project, these actions take you closer to where you want to be. Stress will feel less disempowering when you are aligning your behaviors with your deepest values.

5. Develop a Growth Mindset
If you let them, your challenges can be an episode of “Watch Me Grow.” Instead of looking at challenges as forces always trying to drag you down, or an indictment of your propensity to fail, learn to embrace the mindset that says, “What can I learn from this?” or “What other opportunities might this lead to?”

View each obstacle as an opportunity to learn something you didn’t know before, and develop a stronger, more resilient version of yourself.

Just like those moments when we use pinhole cameras or special glasses to watch an eclipse, we can observe from a distance and manage our stress.

By staying present, embracing our experiences, aligning our actions with our values, and cultivating a growth mindset, we build resilience—not just to withstand stress, but to thrive right in the middle of it.

Originally posted on


What Do You Want?

Mastering Goals and Values in the New Year

The start of a new year always brings with it an evaluation of where you are now against where you want to be.

As humans with the ability to make a big mess of good intentions, we like the idea of drawing a line in the sand and starting over.

That’s what the month of January represents to most of us.

In my own life, and in my work with others, I’ve noticed one of the most obvious missing components in getting where you want to go is, well, knowing where you want to go.

It sounds overly simplistic, but many of us have, at best, a fuzzy idea of exactly what we’re trying to accomplish here.

We set goals every year and, have mercy, do we love setting goals.

  • We make vision boards and post-it-note collages.
  • We create detailed spreadsheets with metrics and columns that do the calculations automatically (sheer wizardry, in my book).
  • We create the perfect environment that uses the perfect tool to do the thing.
  • We shout out to all things social media that this is the year we are gonna get that thing done.

By January 15, which is right about now, we have already figured out that the goals we spent weeks crafting during the ho-ho-ho season have to now be lived out.

And it’s hard.

  • It’s hard to get up early to do the thing.
  • It’s hard to stay up late to do the thing.
  • It’s hard to stay up late to do the thing, and then have to get up early to do the thing.
  • It’s hard to fight against the cobwebs trying to suffocate and trap the momentum of the thing.
  • It’s hard to pay attention to just one thing for more than eight seconds.
  • It’s hard to say no to people and things when you just wanna hang out and be the fun-in-the-sun person (if you live in Florida, this is totally do-able in January).

Some people get super motivated when things get hard.

But for most of us who don’t chase back-to-back Superbowls or Wimbledon wins, it’s easy to get discouraged when you aren’t seeing any progress.

Now you start to wonder if this was even a goal worth pursuing. Why am I even doing this?

Maybe this isn’t the right year, you tell yourself. As if.

Sometimes it’s a discipline thing, and you should, you know, just do it.

But part of the problem is that we haven’t done the hard work of determining what all these goals are supposed to add up to — our values.

We don’t get a lot of instruction on values as kids.

Often we’re asked what we want to do when we grow up. This usually means some kind of career choice that requires specific goals and actions to get there (astronaut, doctor, secretary — literally just those three choices in my own 4th grade class).

Hardly anyone asks us what kind of person we want to be, or what we want our life to represent or stand for. That won’t get you invited to parties.

Early on, we become conditioned to look at goals as a measure of how well our lives are going.

But understanding what you want your life to mean makes all the difference in actually achieving your goals.

The biggest difference between values and goals is this: you will never accomplish your values.

Values are not limited by time or effort, they are always ongoing.

If you can accomplish something, complete it and move on, then it’s not a value. It’s a goal.

If one of your values is to use your business success to improve the lives of others, then you will never accomplish this value.

You may set a goal this year of donating $1 million to your favorite charity, and you may accomplish that.

But you still have plenty of room to continue investing in others. As long as you’re breathing and making money, this effort can continue.

So, financially investing to support the needs of others is one of your values.

Pledging a certain amount this year is one of your goals to help you express this value in your life. You will either accomplish it, or you won’t.

Why is this distinction important?

Confusing goals and values makes it hard to make good decisions, and doubly hard to persevere through challenges.

How do you even know if this is something you should be pursuing?

When you understand what your values are, the opportunities that come your way will either take you towards your values or away from your values.

Honestly, that’s really the benchmark, it’s that simple. For real.

When you have honed in on your values, then it is so much easier to look at an opportunity and decide if it takes you where you want to go.

Yes, I know there are off-the-wall, amazing, unexpected opportunities that happen in life. But if you try really hard, I’ll bet you will find underneath that spontaneous opportunity, it either takes you where you want to go, or it doesn’t.

One of my values is to be a healthy, fit and active grandmother to my two young grandsons so they don’t mimic my grunting noises when I bend over to pick something up.

There are a variety of goals I can choose from to accomplish that value, everything from walking to weight training to martial arts.

I can engage in any of those activities and set goals, but my goals will reflect the fact that I am doing this for my health.

I’m not trying to be world champion (anymore). I’m not trying to be the best at any particular exercise.

I just need it to take me towards the health and energy I need to mix it up in that toddler life.

This takes a lot of pressure off of me because I know why I have the goal and what I need it to do for me. As I get older, my goals may have to change a bit to make sure I’m continuing to move toward that value.

Understanding this concept makes decision-making so much easier, especially when you have multiple variables in play, or you’re choosing between two good things.

It also makes for a more SuperBowl-style steely resolve when things get challenging because you know why you’re doing this in the first place.

Think about it

  • What values are most important to you right now?
  • How do your current goals take you toward these values?
  • Think of a time when your goals didn’t align with your values. What impact did this have on you?
  • What one step can you take today that will move you toward your values? Start there to create meaningful goals for this year!

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Old dog laying in the grass.

What an Old Dog Taught Me About Fear

A few years ago, my husband and son were away on a summer trip with our church youth group. I love my family, but I am still very much an only child.

I love having uninterrupted time at my behest so I relished having a few days alone in the house. There’s a lot of coffee drinking and reading. It’s a raucous time, I can assure you.

Typically I don’t get too concerned about intruders. The neighborhood we were living in at the time was safe, and the fear of someone on my property really didn’t occur to me too much.

My first night alone I couldn’t wait to settle in and get some sleep. That particular day at work had been a busy one, and I had a lot on my mind as I was trying to drift off to sleep…

BLAM! BLAM! A loud banging noise at the back of the house had me sitting straight up in bed.

I thought maybe it was one of those weird dream-like states, where you hear a loud, banging noise and then wake up.


Nope, I thought to myself. That was definitely real.

Cue the fight or flight syndrome.

My palms got all sweaty, my ears got all whistle-y, and my heart started thumping right out of my chest like a Pepé Le Pew cartoon.

Somebody’s definitely trying to break in, I thought.  I fumbled around for my glasses on the nightstand, grabbed my cell phone and dialed 911.

I tried to stay calm as I explained to the dispatcher that I heard a noise at the back of my house a couple of different times. I’ve never heard any noises there before, I told her, certainly not one so loud.

BLAM! BLAM! There it was again, oh crap!

She assured me someone was on their way and stayed on the phone with me until I heard a knock at the door.

I opened the door to see one of our local sheriff’s deputies, looking very relaxed and chill. He got some information from me and went around to the back of the house to check things out.

In what couldn’t have been more than two minutes later, he emerged right back to the front door with the perpetrator in tow… an old dog who had apparently settled in for the night next to my back door.

I guess he was having trouble sleeping, too, because his tail wagged every time something got his attention in my backyard.

Hence, the BLAM! BLAM!

Cue the embarrassing face palm.

While my story turned out not to be this week’s true-crime thriller, my physiological response was unmistakably real.

I felt fear, and my body knew it.

In this case, my reaction was appropriate because I thought I was in real danger. From an old dog.

But what about the fears that don’t come from a predator or a true feeling of danger, things like a tricky conversation with your boss, or a leap into a new life chapter?

What Is Fear, Really?

Fear is our body’s natural response to a perceived threat. It’s a survival mechanism that protects us from danger. When we sense a threat, our brain sends signals to our body to prepare us to either fight, flee, or freeze.

When I felt my heart racing, and my palms getting clammy that was my body trying to give my muscles the oxygen and nourishment they needed to take action. You know, because picking up a cell phone is really taxing lol.

But you get the idea.

Our bodies are wired for those kinds of responses to keep us safe.

But we also run into other fears through things like negative associations, conditioning or trauma. These are responses that we learn as we participate in our families of origin, or have experiences that we’re not equipped to handle.

If you’ve ever been bitten by a dog, you might develop a fear of dogs. Or if you’ve had a bad experience while flying, you might develop a fear of flying.

These fears are not innate but we learn them through negative associations. The brain is excellent at making connections, and once it links a specific situation or object with danger, it’s hard to break that association.

The modern workplace can sometimes feel like a minefield of stress triggers.

An email marked “urgent,” a last-minute meeting request from your boss, or even a colleague’s offhand comment can send your heart racing.

But are these situations truly life-threatening? Hardly.

Yet, your body can react as if they are, kicking into high gear with a fight or flight response that feels as real as if you’re facing a wild animal.

So, how do you tell the difference between legitimate danger and a false alarm?

Understand the Signals

First, let’s get in tune with what your body is telling you. When you’re in true danger, the fight or flight response is invaluable.

But in the office? Not so much.

If you notice your heart racing, palms sweating, or a knot forming in your stomach during work stressors, acknowledge these signals for what they are: false alarms.

Your body is trying to tell you that something is bothering you.

Take a Step Back

I can’t stress this one enough: Before responding to the stressor, give yourself a moment to step back for a minute.

Excuse yourself from the situation for a few minutes (ladies rooms are great for this).

Take a few deep breaths and assess the situation.

Ask yourself, “Is this threat real, or is it a learned response?”

Just like my late-night canine visitor, is the threat really just an old, harmless dog rather than a criminal perpetrator?

Reframe Your Thoughts

The stories you tell yourself about your experiences is often what makes a situation seem scarier than it really is.

To reframe your thoughts, start by acknowledging your initial reaction without judgment. Recognize that while your emotions are valid, they are not always accurate reflections of reality.

Then, consciously choose a new narrative to work from.

  • Identify the Negative Thought: Become aware of the specific thoughts that are contributing to your fear response. Is it a general sense of doom, a worry about personal inadequacy, or a prediction of a worst-case scenario? Get to know exactly what kind of negative thought you’re dealing with.
  • Challenge Its Validity: Ask yourself, “Is this thought based on facts or on my interpretation of the situation? Is there evidence to support this thought, or is it an assumption?” In many cases, you’ll find you are quite the master at making assumptions.
  • Look for Alternative Explanations: Could there be another way to view this situation? It doesn’t even have to be an explanation grounded in reality, literally anything will do. Aliens, gremlins, or other unexplainable phenomena are better than assuming the worst.
  • Focus on What You Can Control: Shift your attention to actions and aspects within your control. What steps can you take right now to manage the situation? By focusing on action, you move from feeling victimized by the situation to being the one in charge of it.
  • Adopt an Attitude of Growth: View the stressor as an opportunity for learning or personal development. Think, “What can this situation teach me?” Look at the situation in terms of a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.
  • Visualize Success: Instead of imagining the worst, picture yourself navigating the conversation with your boss with ease, or managing the project efficiently. This positive visualization can change your mindset and reduce anxiety. Studies show that when you visualize something in your mind, your brain doesn’t know the difference. It actually thinks you’re there on the podium getting that Olympic gold medal in talking to your boss.
  • Affirm Your Abilities: Remind yourself of your strengths and past successes. Think about times when you’ve handled similar situations well. No doubt there are many to draw from. Affirmations such as, “I am resilient and can adapt to challenges,” can reinforce a positive self-concept.

By reshaping your narrative, you not only change your perception of the stressor but also empower yourself to respond in a healthier, more effective way.

And every time you do that, it gets a little easier to do it next time.

And if you keep doing that, you might just develop a new habit.

Great job!

Now just keep doing that!

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Woman holding two lipsticks

Avoid the Overthinking Trap and Make Faster Decisions

Remember the last time you stood in the makeup aisle, just staring at those hundred shades and brands of lipstick, wondering which one to buy?

And then, after a gazillion minutes, you walked out of the store without buying any because you couldn’t decide between two slightly different shades of red?

Welcome to the world of analysis paralysis

You know, it’s that point where you’re so tangled up in all the variables and consequences of a particular decision that you can’t even remember what you were looking for in the first place.

To be fair, there are way too many lip color options now: highly pigmented colors, sheer options, long-wearing options, moisturizing ones, shimmers, high-gloss ones … sheesh. There goes the afternoon.

If the decision isn’t super clear and obvious, it’s easy to just shut down and kick the lipstick tube down the road for another day.

So how do you make decisions (cosmetic and non-cosmetic) without getting trapped in overthinking?

Why Do We Get Stuck?

So, why does this happen? Why do our once-decisive selves now find it daunting to choose a dress for the party, or decide on a vacation spot, or even pick a new hobby?

Well, with age (and hey, a lot of wisdom 😉), comes the understanding of consequences. We’ve seen the highs and lows life can bring, and that experience can sometimes make us overly cautious.

We end up seeking perfection in our choices, and trying to avoid any potential pitfalls.

The Beauty of Tiny Steps

Here’s the deali-o: No decision is ever going to be 100% perfect.

And while considering possible outcomes is always prudent and wise, over-analyzing can stop you in your tracks.


I’ve found that in many cases analysis paralysis sets in because you are trying to solve the whole thing all at one time.

I believe math people call it “solving for x.” A website called “Math is Fun” (it most certainly is not 😀 )  describes it this way:

A Solution is a value we can put in place of a variable (such as x) that makes the equation true.”

So you’re walking around trying to solve big problems by finding one big solution that will just make it a one and done.

And when that big solution doesn’t materialize in your time frame, you start second guessing your ability to solve your own problems.

What if, instead of trying to solve the whole enchilada, you took baby steps?

When you take small, experimental steps, you gather real-time data. It’s no longer about all the things that might happen; it’s about what’s actually happening.

This feedback, whether it turns out to be positive or negative, provides a clearer direction for your next move.

It’s like trying out a fitness class before committing to a membership.

Break Free from the Analysis Paralysis Cycle

So, how can you start taking these steps, especially when your mind is swirling with a million “what ifs”?

  1. Embrace the Power of Now: Instead of pondering and wondering endlessly, give yourself a set amount of time. For example, if you’re deciding on a new hobby, research for two days and then take a trial class by day three. Limiting decision time pushes you into action.
  2. Acknowledge That Mistakes are Okay: Look, we’ve all been there. Worn a disastrous hair color, chosen a less-than-stellar vacation spot. But didn’t we also laugh about it later? Life’s too short for perfection. Embrace the missteps as they come; they often lead to the most delightful stories!
  3. List It Out: When in doubt, write it out. Jot down the pros and cons. But take it to another level: also write down the worst-case scenario for each choice. Most of the time, you’ll realize the worst isn’t that bad, or if it does happen, you have the ability to get through it.
  4. Talk to a Friend: Sometimes, all you need is a chat with somebody else outside your head. They can provide a fresh perspective or simply be the sounding board you need.
  5. Remember, Not Deciding is Also a Decision: And often, it’s a decision that leaves you in a standstill. So, while you’re waiting for the “perfect” moment, you might be missing out on several pretty awesome ones. So just, you know, do it.

Kickstart Your Decision-Making Mojo

Here are some of those baby steps to get you moving when you’re skating through the peanut butter of indecision:

  1. Start Small: Have a minor decision to make? Practice with that. Maybe it’s trying a new recipe or picking out a book. The point? Get used to what it feels like to decide and act quickly.
  2. Set Decision Deadlines: Set aside specific times for reflection and decision-making. Once the deadline is up, make your choice, take a deep breath and roll with it.
  3. Celebrate Your Decisions: Yes, even the not-so-great ones. Every choice is a learning experience. Cherish it!
  4. Journal Your Journey: Documenting your decisions and their outcomes can be enlightening. Over time, you’ll notice patterns, helping you make better-informed choices in the future. Trust me, this is really powerful!
  5. Stay Curious: Adopt a learner’s mindset. Be open to outcomes, whatever they might be. Cliche, I know, but sometimes the journey is more enlightening than the destination.

Each decision, whether big or small, is a stepping stone towards growth, experience, and understanding.

So, the next time you find yourself stuck between two shades of lipstick or a more profound life choice, take a deep breath, gather your thoughts, and then just take a small leap.

It’s not about the outcome but your commitment to take action, any action, that counts.

You’ve got the wisdom and experience to face whatever comes next. Embrace it!

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Person stepping from one side of a creek to another

Finding Your Footing: Navigating the Complexities of Young Adulthood

The transition from teenage years to adulthood is often romanticized in movies, songs, and literature. Yet, those who are living it know all too well that this period can be as challenging as it is exhilarating.

There’s an underlying pressure to “figure things out” — from choosing career paths and forming meaningful relationships to defining personal identities outside of familial expectations.

So, how does one navigate the unlimited choices and challenges of young adulthood?

The Unique Landscape of Young Adulthood

Today’s young adults face a landscape vastly different from previous generations. The digital age brings unparalleled opportunities and challenges — from the gig economy and remote work to social media’s impact on mental health. Within this backdrop:

  • Identity and Self-Expression: Young adults are continuously redefining their sense of self, often experimenting with different roles, styles, and ideologies.
  • Career Exploration: With the evolution of job markets and the rise of freelancing, there’s both the freedom and pressure to find not just a job, but a meaningful career.
  • Relationship Dynamics: The landscape of relationships — whether it’s platonic, familial, or romantic — undergoes a significant shift as one steps into adulthood.

Anchoring Techniques for Young Adults

In the middle of this whirlwind, here are some strategies to stay grounded:

  • Self-Reflection: Regularly check in with yourself. Understand what drives you, what challenges you, and where your passions lie.
  • Networking: Build relationships within your chosen field. Not only for job opportunities but also to gain mentors and peers who can guide and support you.
  • Continued Learning: The world is rapidly evolving. Committing to lifelong learning, whether formal or informal, can help you adapt and thrive.
  • Seek Counseling: If feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, or low self-worth persist, consider seeking professional help. A counselor can provide tools and perspectives to help navigate these formative years.

Carving Out Your Path

The beauty of young adulthood is that it’s a time of immense potential. Every challenge faced is an opportunity for growth:

  • Define Success On Your Terms: Recognize that success is subjective. What works for one person may not for another. Understand what happiness and fulfillment look like for you.
  • Cultivate Resilience: Mistakes and setbacks are inevitable. Instead of viewing them as failures, see them as learning opportunities.
  • Maintain Work-Life Balance: While ambition is commendable, remember to carve out time for relaxation, hobbies, and loved ones.

Navigating young adulthood is like setting out on an open sea. While the waves and winds might be unpredictable, having a clear sense of direction and the right tools can ensure a fulfilling journey.

At MillerMHS, we understand the unique challenges and opportunities of young adulthood.

Our team of counselors is dedicated to supporting you through this transformative phase, helping you harness your potential and build a future that resonates with your true self.

Ready to embark on this journey of self-discovery and growth? Dive deep into understanding your aspirations, fears, and potential.

Chart a confident course through young adulthood. Schedule a counseling session with us today.

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Blurred bridge in background with polaroid of same bridge in foreground

Embracing the Next Chapter: Setting Goals for Midlife and Beyond

Life is a journey, punctuated by milestones, turning points, and crossroads.

And all this time you thought life was a highway. 🙂

When we reach midlife, it can sometimes feel like we’re teeter-tottering between the stories of our past and the endless possibilities of our future.

One day you feel like your experiences have prepared you for an amazing new chapter, and the next day, you wonder how you even survived this long. It’s empowering and humbling all at the same time.

One of the primary challenges we face during this period is the pull of nostalgia.

I’m sure all previous generations have felt a sense of being the caretakers of times gone by, but I think we Gen X’ers are masterful at it. We truly were the last generation who experienced how life “used to be,”and we are smart enough to know that we can really never go back to that kind of simple life.

But if we’re not careful, we can get tethered to these totally awesome memories, past achievements, and the “used to bes.” While there’s inherent beauty in reminiscing and honoring our journeys, being too anchored to the past can hinder our ability to chart fresh courses.

The Power of Letting Go

Letting go isn’t about erasing memories or discarding the value of our past experiences. It’s about granting ourselves permission to grow, to evolve, and to step confidently into new territories.

By freeing ourselves from the grip of nostalgia, we open up a space where new dreams can germinate.

This season of life, with all its reflection and a search for renewed purpose, provides a golden opportunity to set intentional goals for our next chapters, if we choose to look at it that way.

Here are some strategies to help foster this liberating mindset and get  your next chapter rolling:

  • Reframe the Narrative: Instead of viewing midlife as an endpoint or a look back at what once was, consider it a launchpad. Every experience up to this point has equipped you with wisdom and resilience. These are assets, not anchors.
  • Inventory of Achievements: Write down your past achievements and the dreams you’ve realized. Recognize them, celebrate them, but also realize that your story isn’t over. This exercise can often reveal dormant dreams and aspirations you might have set aside.
  • Visualize Your Future: Use tools like vision boards or journaling to craft a vibrant picture of what you want your next chapter to look like. Allow yourself to dream without limits.

Setting Goals for the Next Chapter

With a renewed mindset, goal-setting becomes not just a task, but an exciting undertaking. Here’s how to approach it:

  • Assess Your Values: The goals that resonate the most are those aligned with our core values. Take some time to list out what truly matters to you now. It might be different from two decades ago, and that’s perfectly okay.
  • Stay Curious: One of the joys of this stage in life is that you can pursue interests and passions purely for the love of it. Always wanted to learn an instrument? Fancy writing a book? Now might be the perfect time.
  • Embrace Flexibility: The goals you set now don’t have to be rigid. The beauty of this phase is the freedom to pivot, adjust, and adapt.
  • Seek Accountability: Share your goals with close friends or family. Better yet, find a group or club that aligns with your new interests. The journey is always richer with company.
  • Focus on the Journey, Not Just the Destination: While it’s exciting to achieve our goals, there’s immeasurable joy and growth to be found in the process. Cherish every step.

Bringing It All Together

In this season of midlife, the world stretches out beyond us with so much promise. By letting go of the weight of nostalgia and boldly setting goals for the next chapter, we create a narrative that’s both fulfilling and exhilarating.

Remember, your past has been a rich tapestry of experiences that have shaped you, but it doesn’t solely define you. You have the pen in hand, ready to script new adventures, tales, and triumphs.

If you ever feel the need for guidance or support as you navigate this transformative period, consider reaching out for a life coaching session with us. Our experienced team is here to empower you, providing tools and strategies to help you soar into your next chapter with confidence and clarity.

Schedule an appointment today and let’s journey together towards your renewed dreams and goals.

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People riding a rollercoaster

Riding Life’s Roller Coaster – We Got You!

Life transitions – whether they’re anticipated or unexpected, positive or negative – can shake us to our very core.

But remember, they’re also opportunities for personal growth, change, and new beginnings. So, how do we navigate these tumultuous times? Here are some strategies that can help you manage life transitions more effectively:

Acknowledge Your Feelings

It’s completely normal to have mixed emotions during transitions. You might feel fear, anxiety, excitement, or sadness – sometimes all at once! Don’t suppress these feelings; instead, allow yourself to experience them fully. Recognize that these emotions are part of the process of change.

Self-Care is Key

During times of transition, make sure to prioritize self-care. This can involve eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, ensuring you have enough sleep, or taking time out for relaxation and hobbies. Taking care of your physical health can have a positive impact on your emotional well-being.

Lean on Your Support Network

Whether it’s family, friends, a mentor, or a professional counselor, don’t hesitate to lean on your support network. Share your feelings, seek advice, or simply have someone who listens. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves staying present and fully engaged in the here and now. It can help manage the uncertainty and anxiety that come with change. This might involve meditative practices, journaling, or simple mindful moments throughout the day.

Embrace Change

Change is inevitable. Embracing change rather than resisting it can make the transition process smoother. Keep an open mind, be flexible, and try to see the opportunities that the change might bring.

Set New Goals

Transitions often provide a good opportunity to set new goals. What do you hope to accomplish in this new phase of life? Having a clear vision for the future can guide your actions and give you a sense of purpose during a transition.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a life transition, it can be beneficial to seek the help of a mental health professional. Therapists can provide strategies and tools to help you navigate through the transition.

At Miller Mental Health Services, we are here to support you through your life transitions. Using research-backed methods such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Solution Focused Therapy, we’ll help you cope with changes and equip you with strategies to effectively manage transitions in the future.

You’re not alone in this journey.

We believe in your strength to navigate life’s twists and turns, and we’re here to help every step of the way. Ready to take the next step? Give us a call and let’s start working together towards a more confident and positive you.

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How to deal with uncertainty - Miller Mental Health, Stuart, FL

How to deal with uncertainty

It’s safe to say that we currently live in a world where we don’t know what could happen next.

The last year has certainly challenged our perception of what is safe, true and believable.

And I’m not just talking politics or viruses.

We now live in a world that moves so fast we don’t have time to figure out what’s happened before we’re faced with making monumental decisions for the future.

  • You walk in on Friday and find out your department has been reorganized and you may lose your job.
  • You go in for your regular annual checkup and your doctor orders a slew of immediate tests.
  • Your spouse informs you that the relationship is over and they are moving out…today.

Uncertain times - Wile E. CoyoteSome days can feel like those old Road Runner cartoons.

As soon as Wile E. Coyote thought he had defeated the Road Runner and turned to face the camera with a sly grin, a giant rock dropped on his head and pushed him in the ground.

Like Wile E. Coyote, you can squeeze out from under that rock and keep going for another day, albeit dazed and confused.

But how do you handle uncertainty without losing your peace?

First, take a deep breath and hold off on any decisions right now.

We are most vulnerable when events and circumstances are currently still swirling. You may want to react in several different ways, and I’m guessing they’re all pretty reactive.

Or you may get pressure from others to do something or else you might lose something.

If you make a reactive decision now, you may cut yourself off from a healthier decision from having more information.

It’s a terrible feeling to react to something based on strong emotions and find out later that a better answer was just ahead of you.

Slow yourself down and don’t commit to any decision in this moment.

Spend some time gathering data and facts so you can see all of your options. This has the advantage of cooling off your emotions a bit so you can make a decision that is both logical and from your heart.

Second, resist the urge to complain.

This is hard to do anymore because we are surrounded by so many forums that allow us to “speak our truth.” We can even tell total strangers of the evils that have befallen us and how we’ve been cheated.

Complaining, while having a great ventilation effect, mostly serves to maintain the uncertain feelings. Complaining isn’t about telling your story to find meaning and to investigate what you could have done differently in the situation.

Complaining puts you in the martyr seat, the victim of things you can’t control.

How does that put you on a path from uncertainty to peace?

Talk with a trusted friend (or a therapist, just sayin’) and process your uncertain events and challenges. This is what helps you discover your options.

But when it starts to get whiney, use your best self awareness skills to dial it back so your circumstances don’t steal your peace.

Third, take each day as it comes.

We modern westerners are terrible at just dealing with today. Challenges come and our immediate reaction is to play the movie all the way to its dramatic ending.

This is a great recipe for anxiety.

In all of your worry right now about politics, pandemics, or your own family challenges, are you aware that you are breathing without thinking about it at all?

That’s happening right now in this moment, and that’s amazing!

To find some peace in the most uncertain times, you have to focus on what’s literally right in front of you.

In the midst of a currently waging battle, you won’t find a military force thinking about the implications of this battle on future conflicts. That’s a good way to get your butt kicked.

If you spent time gathering information and doing some healthy processing with someone else, then your next task is to focus on those things you can influence right now.

Not tomorrow, not next week or next month. Those timeframes will get here whether you are thinking about them or not.

You get to make that decision to find peace in your uncertainty.

Peace is an active pursuit, not just something that happens to you.

Ask yourself….

  • What can I do today with what I have right now?
  • Who do I need to pull in to ask for help?
  • What do I need to do to remind myself to make a decision for peace?
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