Breathwork is the body’s “calm down” switch

When life throws us challenges, we experience trauma or a stressful event; our natural response is to go into fight-or-flight mode. This is a normal, automatic response to a perceived danger. But when the threat has passed, it’s essential to learn how to calm your nervous system and release the tension and anxiety that can linger in the aftermath.

One of the most powerful tools for calming the nervous system is breathing. Breathwork has been used in various forms for centuries to help people manage stress, anxiety, and trauma. It’s an effective and natural way to reset your body and mind.

We take shallow, rapid breaths when our bodies are in fight-or-flight mode. This type of breathing is known as sympathetic breathing, and it’s the body’s way of preparing us to fight or run away. But when the danger has passed, this type of breathing can increase anxiety and make it more difficult to relax.

On the other hand, deep, slow breaths can help to activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system. This system is responsible for calming the body and restoring balance. Deep, slow breaths can help to trigger the body’s relaxation response, which is the opposite of the fight-or-flight response.

The key to using breathing to calm the nervous system is to focus on the breath. Focusing on our breath brings us into the present moment and helps us become aware of our body and mind. This awareness helps us relax, as it allows us to recognize what is happening and let go of any tension or fear we may be holding onto.

Breathing can also help to release the emotions that may be stored in our body from the traumatic event. When we take a few deep, slow breaths, we can help to release the tension and stress that may have built up in our bodies. This type of breathing can also help release emotions associated with the trauma, allowing us to move through the experience more quickly.

Breathing can also help to regulate the body’s cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in response to stress. When we take deep, slow breaths, we can help to lower our cortisol levels and restore balance in the body. This can help to reduce anxiety and improve mood.

Try this simple breathing exercise:
Make your exhales longer than your inhales. For example, if you breathe in for 4 seconds, breathe out for a count of 8 seconds. Longer exhales than inhales will turn on the “rest and relaxation” functions in the parasympathetic system. Conversely, longer inhales than exhales energize the system. This is an exercise used by Navy Seals to prepare for or calm down from a battle. Take 3 or 4 long exhales. You should feel your body relax immediately, with shoulders dropping and tension releasing. You might even yawn, which is a good sign too.

Breathing is a powerful tool for calming the nervous system and helping manage trauma’s effects. It can help to reduce stress, release emotions, and regulate cortisol levels. When we focus on our breath and take a few slow, deep breaths, we can help to activate the body’s relaxation response and restore balance.

If you want help calming the body and brain due to worry, fear, stress, or panic, contact Ron Huxley today. Click here to schedule an appointment!

Anxiety should be our primary focus for the New Year

Anxiety is a common and often debilitating mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by feelings of worry, unease, and fear and can manifest in a variety of physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, and muscle tension. While anxiety is something that many experiences at some point in their lives, it can become a chronic problem that interferes with daily functioning and overall well-being.

Given the significant impact of anxiety on individuals and society, we must make it a priority to address this issue in the coming year. In this blog post, we will explore why anxiety should be our primary focus in 2023 and what we can do to support those struggling with this condition.

One of the main reasons anxiety should be a focus in 2023 is that it is highly prevalent. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions globally, affecting an estimated 264 million people. One in every 13 people is likely to experience anxiety at some point.

Anxiety can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. It can interfere with work, relationships, and daily activities and lead to other mental health issues, such as depression. Anxiety can also have physical consequences, such as an increased risk of heart disease and other health problems.

Another reason anxiety should be a focus in 2023 is that it is often overlooked or misunderstood. Despite its prevalence, anxiety is often stigmatized and not taken as seriously as other mental health conditions. This can make it difficult for people to seek help or even recognize that they have a problem.

There is also a lack of awareness about the various forms of anxiety and the different ways it can manifest. For example, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and persistent worry about various topics, while social anxiety disorder is marked by extreme fear of social situations. Understanding the different types of anxiety can help us better identify and support those struggling with this condition.

So what can we do to make anxiety a focus in 2023 and support those dealing with this condition? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Increase awareness and understanding of anxiety: One of the first steps to addressing anxiety is to increase awareness and understanding of the condition. This can involve educating the public about the different forms of anxiety, the signs and symptoms, and the available treatments. It can also involve debunking myths and stereotypes about anxiety and promoting a more compassionate and understanding approach to struggling people.
  • Expand access to treatment: Another important step is ensuring that those struggling with anxiety have access to effective treatment. This can involve making therapy and medications more readily available and affordable and increasing the number of trained mental health professionals. It can also involve supporting alternative treatments such as mindfulness and meditation, which can be effective for some people.
  • Create supportive environments: We can also create more supportive environments for those with anxiety. This can involve providing accommodations in the workplace, such as flexible scheduling or the option to work from home. It can also involve creating safe and supportive spaces in schools, universities, and other community settings.
  • Promote self-care: Finally, it is important to encourage self-care and stress management techniques to help individuals better manage their anxiety. This can involve educating people about healthy habits such as exercise, sleep, and nutrition, as well as techniques such as relaxation and mindfulness.

In conclusion, Anxiety is a growing problem for children and adults. It can be an invisible illness overlooked by society, leading to fear and anxiety in those suffering from it. The good news is that anxiety can be managed, and we can work together to bring change so that more people can recover from it.

Let Ron Huxley help you deal with anxiety by scheduling a session today!

STOP Anxiety and Unwanted Emotions in Four Simple Steps

Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) is a therapeutic approach that has been used to treat a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety. It focuses on helping individuals learn how to regulate their emotions and build healthier relationships. One of the core concepts of DBT is the “stop technique”, which is a tool that can be used to help reduce anxiety.

What is the DBT stop technique?

The DBT stop technique is a way to help individuals recognize and manage their emotions in a healthy way. It is based on the idea that when we experience strong emotions, it can be difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions. The stop technique encourages individuals to pause and take a moment to recognize their feelings and to make a conscious effort to shift their focus to something else.

The stop technique is broken down into four steps:

  1. Stop: This is the first step in the technique and it involves taking a moment to recognize your emotions and to pause. You can do this by saying the word “stop” to yourself or by taking a few deep breaths.
  2. Take a step back: The second step is to take a step back and to observe the situation from a distance. This can help to provide perspective and to give you a better understanding of the situation.
  3. Observe: The third step is to observe your thoughts and feelings without judgement. This can help to provide clarity and to give you a better understanding of yourself and the situation.
  4. Proceed: The fourth step is to proceed with a plan of action. This could involve talking to someone about your feelings, writing down your thoughts, or engaging in a calming activity.

How can the DBT stop technique help with anxiety?

The DBT stop technique can be a helpful tool for individuals who are struggling with anxiety. It can help to provide a sense of control and to give individuals a sense of clarity. It can also help to reduce feelings of overwhelm by allowing individuals to take a step back and to observe their emotions without judgement.

The stop technique can also help to reduce the intensity of anxiety-related symptoms, such as racing thoughts, increased heart rate, and difficulty concentrating. By recognizing and acknowledging your feelings, you can take control of the situation and focus on calming yourself down.

Using the DBT stop technique effectively

Using the DBT stop technique effectively requires practice and dedication. It can be helpful to talk to a therapist about your experience with the technique and to practice it in a safe, comfortable environment. It is also important to be patient with yourself and to remember that it takes time to develop new skills.

It is also important to remember that the stop technique is not a “cure-all” for anxiety. It is a tool that can be used to help manage anxiety in the moment, but it is not a replacement for other forms of therapy or treatment.

Ron Huxley can help you stop anxiety and any other unwanted emotions. Let’s schedule an appointment for you today!

Emotional Regulation Tools for Stressed-Out People

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage and respond to our emotions in a healthy and productive way. It’s a crucial skill to have, especially for those who struggle with stress and anxiety. When we’re overwhelmed by negative emotions, it can be difficult to think clearly and make good decisions. However, with some practice and effort, we can learn to regulate our emotions and feel more in control of our lives.

Here are some strategies for improving emotional regulation in times of stress and anxiety:

1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your attention to the present moment, without judgment. It can help you become more aware of your thoughts and emotions, and allow you to respond to them in a more thoughtful way. Try setting aside a few minutes each day to sit quietly and focus on your breath, or try a guided mindfulness meditation.

2. Use deep breathing: Deep breathing is a simple but effective way to calm the body and mind. When we’re stressed or anxious, our breath tends to become shallow and rapid. By slowing down and deepening our breath, we can help activate the body’s natural relaxation response. Try taking a few slow, deep breaths whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed.

3. Engage in physical activity: Exercise can be a great way to reduce stress and improve emotional regulation. It releases endorphins, which are chemicals that improve mood and reduce feelings of stress. Plus, getting your body moving can be a great distraction from negative thoughts and emotions.

4. Practice gratitude: Focusing on the things we’re grateful for can help shift our perspective and improve our mood. Try keeping a gratitude journal where you write down three things you’re grateful for each day. Or, share your gratitude with a friend or family member.

5. Seek support: It’s important to remember that you don’t have to face stress and anxiety alone. Talk to a trusted friend or family member about how you’re feeling, or consider seeking support from a mental health professional.

6. Use positive self-talk: Our thoughts have a powerful impact on our emotions. When we’re struggling with stress and anxiety, it’s common to have negative thoughts about ourselves or the situation. By practicing positive self-talk, we can reframe these negative thoughts and improve our emotional well-being. For example, instead of telling yourself “I can’t handle this,” try saying “I’m doing the best I can and I will get through this.”

7. Take breaks: It’s important to give yourself time to relax and recharge. Make sure to schedule breaks into your day and take time to do things you enjoy. This could be something as simple as going for a walk or reading a book.

8. Use relaxation techniques: There are a variety of relaxation techniques that can be helpful for managing stress and anxiety. These might include progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or guided imagery. Experiment with different techniques to see what works best for you.

9. Set boundaries: It’s important to set boundaries and make sure you’re not taking on more than you can handle. Learn to say no to things that don’t align with your values or that are overwhelming for you.

10. Seek professional help: If you’re struggling to manage your stress and anxiety on your own, it may be helpful to seek the support of a mental health professional. They can provide you with tools and strategies to help you cope with difficult emotions and improve your overall well-being.

Emotional regulation is a skill that can be developed with practice. It’s not always easy, but it’s worth the effort. By using the strategies outlined above, you can learn to manage your emotions in a healthy and productive way, even in times of stress and anxiety.

Helpful Healing Strategies from Trauma, Difficult Situations & Hard Moments of Grief or Loss (a Holy Mess Podcast)

I am so excited to guess again on the Holy Mess Podcast (see the link below). The show creator, Dani Sumner, has the #1 Christian Mental Health podcast on Spotify. This episode talks about healing from a body, mind, and spirit perspective. At the end of the podcast, I will lead you through a short meditation on how to “resource” safety from each perspective. You don’t want to mess with this podcast: Click here now!

10 Ways to Manage Your Panic Attacks

“In my experience, the words “now just calm down” almost inevitably have the opposite effect on the person you are speaking to.” – Elyn Saks

A panic attack is a sudden and intense feeling of fear or anxiety that can be overwhelming and debilitating. It is often accompanied by physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, dizziness, sweating, trembling, and a feeling of impending doom. Some people may also experience chest pain, nausea, and a fear of losing control or going crazy.

During a panic attack, the body’s fight or flight response is activated, even though there is no real danger. This response causes the physical symptoms of a panic attack and a heightened state of alertness and arousal.

Many things trigger panic attacks, social events, public speaking, conflict with family or coworkers, and situations reminiscent of past traumas. Sometimes, an accumulation of stress builds up over time and then pops up unexpectedly in a panic. 

Most people believe they have a heart attack when experiencing a panic attack. They often go to the emergency room or their doctor for a checkup. When the doctor cannot find anything physically wrong with them, they suggest that the individual might have had a panic attack and recommend talking to a mental health professional. 

Family and friends feel helpless around individuals who struggle with panic attacks. They can suggest useless advice or tell them to “calm down,” which never works. 

Mental health professionals might offer several strategies to cope with a panic attack:

  1. Focus on your breathing: Take slow, deep breaths through your nose and out through your mouth. This can help to calm your body and mind.
  2. Use positive self-talk: Remind yourself that you are safe and that the panic attack will pass.
  3. Find a peaceful place to relax: Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down and relax.
  4. Use relaxation techniques: Try progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or mindfulness meditation to help you relax.
  5. Find a focus object: Redirect your attention to something in clear sight and consciously notice all the details about that object, engaging all of your senses if possible.
  6. Picture a safe place, face, or space: Visualizing a place or location that holds a positive memory can be helpful to calm the nervous system. Additionally, you can picture someone safe or an activity that gives you joy. 
  7. Engage in light exercise: Taking a walk, stretching, or playing an outdoor game with someone can alleviate the stressful energy in your body.
  8. Use a mantra or affirmation: A positive statement, verse, song, or quote can redirect fear or worry about your condition and reset negative thoughts. 
  9. Change your life situation: If panic results from stress, consider distancing yourself from people, changing jobs, setting boundaries, or reorganizing living situations for your future health.
  10. Reach out to someone: Talk to a friend or loved one, or consider seeking support from a mental health professional.

The best time to deal with a panic attack is before you have a panic attack. Trying to deal with one in the middle is highly challenging to control. A daily practice of calming, affirming prayer and meditation, healthier living, and new perspectives can strengthen the body’s defenses, so the panic never comes up again. 

Panic attacks can be very distressing and may interfere with daily activities. It is essential to seek help from a mental health professional if you are experiencing panic attacks, as they can be treated effectively with therapy and medication. Consult Ron Huxley today if you are struggling with panic attacks and want help. 

The Healing Power of Music

Music has a powerful ability to evoke strong emotions, which can be both positive and negative. It can help us to process and express our feelings, allowing us to make sense of them and move on. Music can also be a form of self-care, helping us relax and take a break from our worries.

Music can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that listening to music can have a calming effect on the body, reducing heart rate and blood pressure. It can also help reduce cortisol levels, hormones released in response to stress. 

Research has also found that music can help to relieve pain. By providing a distraction from pain, music can help to reduce the perception of pain. It can also help to reduce the need for pain medication in some cases. 

Music can also be used to help people heal from trauma. Music therapy is effective in helping people cope with traumatic experiences. It can help to provide a safe space for people to process their emotions and find ways to move forward. 

Music can also be used to boost mood. Listening to uplifting music can help to reduce levels of depression and increase feelings of joy and happiness. It can also help reduce fatigue levels, helping people feel more energized. 

The healing power of music is undeniable. It can help to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain. It can also provide a safe space for people to process their emotions and heal from trauma. Finally, it can help boost mood and increase joy and happiness. 

If you’re looking for a way to relax and take a break from your worries, or if you’re struggling with pain or trauma, music may be just the thing to help you heal. So, turn up the volume and let the healing power of music work!

Winter Blues, Go Away!

The winter blues are a real thing. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of depression that occurs at the same time every year. It usually starts in the fall and continues into the winter months. In a given year, about 5 percent of the U.S. population will report symptoms of seasonal depression. Seasonal depression is more common in women than men. The main onset of seasonal depression is between 20 and 30 years of age but it can happen earlier. It is also more common in people who live in northern climates.

Typical symptoms of seasonal depression include loss of self-esteem, hopelessness, diminished interest in activities, low tolerance for stress, extreme mood swings, sleep problems, lethargy, overeating, avoidance of social contact, and loss of libido.

There are several theories about what causes seasonal depression. One theory is that it is caused by a lack of sunlight. Sunlight helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is essential for our mood. Another theory is that changing seasons can disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythms. It’s certainly no surprise that this time of year brings a lot of stressors into our lives, and people can feel lonely and isolated on top of it all.

Even if we don’t know why the winter blues come this time of year, the good news is that you can do things to ease your symptoms and beat seasonal depression.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get outside: Spend time in the sunlight, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This can help improve your mood and boost your energy levels. One option is light therapy, which involves sitting in front of a special light box for 30 minutes daily.
  • Exercise: Exercise releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. A moderate amount of activity is the key to maintaining your mental health.
  • Connect with others: Isolation can worsen seasonal affective disorder symptoms. It can be a vicious cycle where we feel cut off but don’t want to reach out, and the process spins on. Make an effort to talk to friends or professionals.
  • Practice gratitude: Studies have shown that gratitude can have a powerful effect on your well-being. It can improve your physical health, mental health, and overall satisfaction with life. Reflect on the things you’re grateful for, no matter how small.
  • Another option is an antidepressant medication. If you think you might be suffering from seasonal depression, talk to your doctor. I know lots of people don’t want to take medication, and there is certainly no “happy pill” but medication may alleviate a lot of your symptoms.

Survival Tips for the Holiday Season

Did you know that 65% of people with mental health issues report that the holidays worsen them? Even if you are not struggling with significant depression or crippling anxiety, you may feel the stress and overwhelm that come during Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. It is two months of overwhelm and possible re-traumatization. 

This can be due to increased loneliness, financial pressures, memories of past trauma, physical exhaustion, unrealistic expectations, and having to engage with challenging people. All these things turn the time of comfort and joy into the holiday blues.

You could take a pass for the holiday season, go on your own vacation, or pretend it is just another day but if you do choose to try and carry out the traditional activities, here are a few ideas to help you survive them: 

Manage your time and take on a manageable amount of things. Prioritize your day-to-day schedule so there is a fair amount of to-do’s each day. Plan ahead and try to avoid cramming everything into the day before. If you can do shopping ahead of time or order things online versus fighting crowds in the stores, do it! You can order complete meals from restaurants or grocery stores. If you can afford that luxury, divide the tasks among friends and family members, so you need to do more. 

Set boundaries that you are comfortable with and help you feel safe and secure. If you or someone in your family struggles with alcohol, set a limit that doesn’t allow it at the holiday party or dinner. Start your festivities early enough so people can go home at a decent time to keep up your rest, enabling you to wind down after. 

Be realistic about your time and energy. You may only be able to visit some friends’ and relatives’ homes during the holidays. It is hard to say no, but you may have to spend one holiday function on one side of the family this year and with the other next year, or Thanksgiving at one home and Christmas at the other. You don’t have to spend the actual holiday date with someone. You can pick the weekend prior or after to celebrate. Financially you may have to do a zoom Christmas with some who live far away and can’t travel during the holidays. We all hated this arrangement during COVID, but it has its benefits. It is better than no contact.

Give yourself the gift of self-care. Take time to relax, plan evenings alone, meditate and pray, exercise and eat well, and get as much sleep as possible. Keep a schedule for personal grooming, warm baths, massages, play with your kids, a book, and your favorite treat. 

Stay connected to positive, healthy people. It is tempting to stop attending church or support groups or cancel therapy appointments. Now is the time you need it more than ever. Your positive connections will help you manage the stressors of all the negative encounters and pressures. 

Keep up or create traditions and rituals. Many families already have specific practices during the holidays. We always cook the turkey a particular way, share about things we are thankful for around the table, do a Christmas puzzle, open stockings the night before, read specific devotions and journals, and attend a Christmas eve service or mass. Setting traditions and rituals provides structure, stability, and positive feelings. If you still need one, create one or add a new one to your holiday activities. Let it remind you of the reason for the season (hint, it isn’t about the presents). 

If you want help managing the stress of the holidays or experience challenging feelings of depression, anxiety, or trauma, let Ron Huxley help you. Schedule a session with him today! 

Breaking out of Negative Thoughts and Rumination

Do you ever feel like your mind is racing or your thoughts are stuck in a loop? You might be experiencing what’s called negative thinking or rumination. People who engage in this tend to overthink things, strive for perfection, look at the downside of events and miss the good stuff that happened to them.

Coping with negative thoughts and rumination can be a challenge. But it’s not impossible to overcome, and it’s not something you have to live with forever.

The good news is that you can learn ways to cope with negative thinking and rumination without using medications. Here are some things that might help:

1) Practice mindfulness meditation. This involves focusing on the present moment without judgment, especially when you have negative or repetitive thoughts. You can try this by focusing on your breath, listening to music or nature sounds (like rain or waves), or simply sitting quietly in silence and noticing what’s happening around you (or inside yourself).

2) If you are spiritual, pray! Prayer is a powerful weapon against depression and anxiety. It can be hard to pray when you are overwhelmed by negative thoughts, but if you commit yourself to prayer as a daily routine, it will help keep your mind focused on what matters most.

3) Get some exercise. Exercise releases endorphins into the brain, making us feel better about ourselves and more optimistic about our lives. So if you’ve been feeling down lately, try getting out for a run instead of staying cooped up inside all day!

4) Eat healthy foods! Eating well helps regulate hormones in our bodies that are responsible for mood swings (like serotonin). So if you’re feeling down, try eating something like strawberries or almonds—they contain nutrients that promote happiness and contentment. Ever heard the expression: “Your mental health is at the end of your fork”? It’s true.

5) Try writing down your feelings instead of keeping them bottled up inside where no one else can see them except for yourself (and even then, only if you want to share them with others. Grammer and punctuation aren’t necessary. The point is to let that negative go.

6) Identify the areas where you were hurt or traumatized. Destructive thought patterns can result from betrayal, abandonment, unfair actions, and traumatic events. We can internalize external actions and believe we are the problem or too broken, leaving us in a vicious loop of negative thoughts and feelings.

7) Work with a professional therapist specializing in trauma-informed practices and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Together, you can get to the unhealthy core beliefs causing so much pain and suffering and find alternative perspectives on your life.

Negative thinking and rumination are exhausting. It ruins your sleep, and it interferes with your day. If you want help finding a way out of this destructive pattern, contact Ron Huxley and set up an appointment to start feeling good immediately! Click here now…