P.R.A.Y. and Create More Peace

What does it feel like when you notice your feet on the ground? What about your butt in the chair or the sunlight on your skin, or the wind on your face? Most likely, you weren’t noticing any of those things before I asked, right?

You are not alone. We seldom pause to get grounded and notice what sensory input is coming into our brains and bodies. We are detached walkers in the world, always focused on what is next. It is no wonder anxiety, and panic attacks are increasing at an alarming rate in the world.

Let’s take a moment and pause… Breath deeply in and out. Take stock of your five senses. Adjust your body to be more comfortable and Breath in and out again. Once more…

That might have been enough to settle you down a bit and allow you to feel more relaxed. The wonder is that it only took a minute out of your busy day…and you thought you didn’t have time for meditation!

Not having enough time is just one excuse for not pausing and breathing (what I call meditation). Another excuse is our uncontrollable mind. Our anxious thoughts want to wander constantly. It’s like a hyper toddler getting into everything and being totally unaware of the danger it keeps putting itself in. The reality is that everyone’s mind wanders. All of our thoughts move quickly and uncontrollably. Just like the parent who has to watch the busy toddler, you can parent your own thoughts and redirect them back to…the pause, the ponder the breath. Return to noticing the body. Notice even your thoughts and then go back to pause. Hopefully, you get the idea by now.

It is not the wandering thoughts we should be concerned about. Instead focus on the pause. The more you practice this, the more you will feel at peace. It literally retrains the nervous system and makes you more resilient.

>> Build a stronger nervous system with my “What the Hack? Learning to build a resilient nervous system” course at http://familyhealer.tv

Recently, I started using an acronym to help my clients manage anxious thoughts and emotions. It is P.R.A.Y, and it stands for…

P = Pause with a simple, deep breath. Close your eyes, rest your shoulders, stretch, and force your awareness to be still for the span of just one breath…and then another. Repeat as needed.

R = Reflect on what is happening in the now. Return to the now each time you wander to the past or future. What do I notice inside and outside of me now? Write it down if that helps, and it will. The training of the mind is hidden in this simple act of returning and reflecting. The more you have to do this, the more resilient you become as new neural networks are laid down. The nervous system loves habit, which is why it will resist breaking a habit.

A = Accept and Affirm what you reflected on. Accept what is happening without judgment, expectations, or resentments. I don’t have to like it. Say to yourself, I accept this “thought”, “feeling”, or “sensation.” Next, create an affirmation about what you want to believe or experience instead. It won’t feel true to say “I am confident and joyful” at the moment, but the more your repeat this affirmation, the more your emotions will go along with it. You are creating space for new thoughts and feelings that your nervous system was filtering. This shift from acceptance to affirmation will start to transform our mental states.

Y = Yield to the freedom of surrendering expectations, resentment, fears, and forgive yourself or others. This is actually the most challenging part. You have to walk out what you just affirmed over your life. Live an “unoffendable” life by continually for-giving back all the negativity life hands you. You have to forgive yourself for not being perfect, making mistakes, being discouraged, or hating yourself. One definition of yielding is relinquishing possession of something. That means that negative something you have been gripping so tight. It might also mean saying “no.” It could be simplifying your schedule. You know what it is…and it is time to let it go.

>> Get more help learning to P.R.A.Y. and find peace in your day by allowing Ron Huxley to help. Schedule a session today. <<

6 Benefits of Starting Self-Care In Your Life

Self-care refers to any attitude or activity we participate in to keep up and support our wellbeing, including mental, physical and spirit. Although everyone agrees with the importance of it, self-care frequently gets thrown away for the demands like work, family and the other pressing factors of life. The time to start self-care is today. Yes, right now!

Self-care doesn’t interrupts your life or take time away from your busy schedule. It benefits it and re-energies you. Here are a six simple reasons you should start benefiting form self-care:

  1. Improves state of mind

Putting time in your own consideration can significantly affect your state of mind, prompting more noteworthy hopefulness and inspiration. It will assist you with feeling more joyful, more fulfilled and better ready to adapt to the difficulties that life tosses you way. In any event, taking a limited quantity of time each week to sustain your physical, passionate and psychological wellness can be tremendously advantageous on your state of mind.

  1. Creates connections

Self-care assists you with being the best individual you can be, which has a positive effect on your connections. Setting aside standard effort to put resources into your own wellbeing permits you to be more joyful and more steady as a person. This permits you to be more persistent and obliging with others and along these lines have better connections.

  1. Diminishes hazard of burnout

Most Americans are over-worked and so self-care is important to keep away from burnout. Discover a type of self-care that works for you, regardless of whether that be going for a stroll, investing energy with family or getting a back rub, and focus on participating in it consistently. It will assist with dealing with your pressure and prevent burnout.

  1. Causes you to be more present

Investing energy overseeing yourself permits you to turn out to be more present and drawn in with your environmental factors. You are probably going to have a superior comprehension of the stuff to keep up your psychological, physical and passionate wellbeing, in this way bringing about you having a more prominent spotlight on your present mind-set and trigger that can possibly affect your wellbeing.

  1. Better execution on your goals

Self-care is frequently seen as an afterthought or luxury. The truth is that it is a requirement for better health and wellness. Taking care of yourself increases your capacity in every area of life: work, family, and sport. If you don’t get enough sleep, you are going to drag at work and miss deadlines. If you don’t meditate each day you will be grumpy and react more to others. Good diet, exercise, and time to yourself will help you focus more, stay more motivated, and finish tasks.

  1. Builds personal happiness/satisfaction

The general advantage of self-care is that it builds the quality of your life. That is probably obvious by now but it not only improves things around you, it improves your identity. Wouldn’t you like to be happier? You can be on the journey for this if you keep this as your focus and your develop habits that promote happiness. Hey, you could read on happiness research for just 5 minutes per day. Try it and see happens in just one week. Why not start now?

Let Ron Huxley help you by scheduling an appointment today to change the negative patterns of your life and transform you relationships into greater satisfaction and joy.

You can get more help on parenting, trauma, and anxiety with online courses at http://familyhealer.tv

Trouble with Anxious Thoughts?

Do you have racing thoughts and anxiety attacks? It’s hard to focus on anything else when anxiety takes control of your mind. It can ruin sleep, relationships, and your health. All you want to do is calm down and rest. 

Fortunately, there are ways to control anxious thoughts. And it just takes practice to master the techniques. 

Try these tips to control your anxiety: 

  1. Distance yourself from the worrisome thoughts. Learn to look at your anxious thoughts differently.
  • The key is to reshape how you think about things.
  • When you get an anxious thought, immediately identify it as a sign of your worry and not reality. 
  • Labeling your thoughts raises self-awareness and makes it easier to control them. It also gives you something else to focus on instead of a constant worry.
  1. Ask yourself questions. When you get an anxious thought, stop and ask yourself these questions:
  • What is the real reason for this anxious thought? What am I terrified about?
  • Is there a real danger, or is my mind merely playing games with me?
  • Is the negative outcome I imagine likely to happen?
  • How can I stop or change these negative thoughts into something positive? 
  1. View your thoughts as data. Sometimes it’s helpful to view your thoughtss as data and your mind as a data processing center. 
  • You’ll get a lot of data coming in throughout the day. Some of this data can be incorrect and confusing. This is an example of anxious thoughts. 
  • You may also misunderstand the data. This means you allow the anxious thoughts to take over and control you. You let them grow and fester. 
  • As the data processing center, you get to decide how to handle all the information. Remember, you’re in control. This means you can choose to toss out or ignore the incorrect data. 
  • Also, keep in mind that the brain is designed to detect danger and is hypersensitive to it. You may pick up on things that aren’t even real. 
  1. Focus on the present. Many anxious thoughts are focused on either the future or the past. You can break free by focusing on the present.
  • Avoid overthinking about the past or future by interrupting these thoughts. Notice when you’re thinking about the past or future and guide your thoughts back to the present moment. 
  • Sometimes thoughts from the past can make you afraid of the future. Remember that the past doesn’t have to repeat itself. You have the power to change how your future will look. 
  1. Take action. Anxious thoughts often prevent you from taking action. They keep you stuck in fear and worry. Learn to take action even when you’re afraid.
  • Find one thing you can influence positively at that moment and take action.
  • Action can decrease the number of anxious thoughts you have daily. It can show you that there’s nothing to be afraid of, that you’re powerful, and that you can make a positive difference.
  1. Get rid of unhelpful thoughts. Some thoughts may be real, but they aren’t helpful. 
  • Learn to tell helpful and unhelpful thoughts apart. 
  • Then, start to filter out the unhelpful ones. For example, if you know that the odds of making a perfect presentation at work are low, but you still have to do it, this is an unhelpful thought. It doesn’t encourage you to do your best. 

Anxious thoughts don’t have to control your life. You can use these tricks to effectively take control of your mind when you find yourself worrying. If these tips aren’t enough, consider talking to a therapist for additional help.

The Five Big Ideas of Real Change (New Years Resolutions that WORK!)

The Five Big Ideas of Real Change

  1. Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
  2. If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.
  3. The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.
  4. The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.
  5. Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.

It is tradition, at the beginning of each year, to set New Year Resolutions. We have great intentions for lasting change but soon lose motivation and drive to complete them. Consequently, most people will stop trying to set habits to avoid the disappointment of failure. There has to be a better way to see real change that actually work, isn’t there?

Enter the book “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. As the byline states, this book will help you “build good habits and break bad ones.” Sounds simple!

The key to making changes in your life that are successful is to take a new perspective of change from the one’s we are used to. The problem isn’t us. It is the systems we surround ourselves with that fail us and result in feelings of failure. See big idea #2 above.

The book lists 5 Big Ideas about how to create effective habits. You will have to read the entire book to get all the details for each big idea or you can read this summary here (Link) or watch a YouTube video here (Link). I have affiliate connections to there resources…

My focus for this blog article is on big idea #3: The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become. Repeats this big idea to yourself a couple of times. Let it soak in. It is possible that everything you have tried to do to change your life has been wrong. You might have blamed others for the way you are or blame your bad luck or situation. These could be serious issues that make your habit difficult but it is not the final reason. Or, as I like to say, “it is a reason but isn’t a good excuse.”

Real change occurs from the inside out. This is true of parenting, marital relationships, business endeavors, or anything you attempt to do in your life. A habit, by definition, is a the tendency to behave or act in a regular manner. Habits require very little energy because it has become an automatic way of reacting. Initially, they take a lot of energy and practice but soon become reflexes that take little to now thought to initiate. It is their strength and their weaknesses when we try to break them.

Many habits start out of a reaction to traumatic situations. They start off as ways of coping with stress and pain, splitting off parts of ourselves to manage or protect from further pain. This may be a very “normal way to react in a very abnormal situation.” Unfortunately, traumatic habits can end up being “abnormal behaviors” in a new, more “normal situation.” The ways you had to behavior in an alcoholic home, for example, may not serve you will now, in a healthier relationship and home.

Find a way to change or develop new habits can become extremely urgent to maintain a healthy relationship and avoid new forms of pain in our lives.

One place to start is with you. Work on your character issues instead of waiting for others to change. The only thing you have 100% guarantee of change is through your own growth. You can change other people. You can coerce them, threaten them, or manipulate them but that will always backfire on you. Stick with you and the big idea working on who you want to become.

Start with a vision of what character traits you wish for yourself and picture how these traits will bear positive fruit in your life. It is just imagination so you run no risk of disappointment at this stage. Be sure to write this vision down. It may change from day to day but continue to modify it till you have something that truly inspires you. People have motivation for things they really want and desire. Make this idea of a new you very attractive!

Problem are destined to get in the way of this new habit of being you. That is a good thing. What is predictable is preventable. Predict what will get in the way, how you will look your motivation, who will try to stop you, what limitations might pop up…Set a plan for how you will encounter them before they show up so you are ready.

Small changes every day will reap big results in the end. Focus on a 1% change every day. That’s not a lot, right? You can do one thing to be a new, better version of you each day. Taking on too much, too soon, will choke out your efforts.

Use the power of gratitude for positive things in your life every day. Science has demonstrated that gratitude changes the very structure of our brain and enhances motivation to healthy, positive behaviors.

If traumas are making you stuck and all of this feels impossible, work with a professional to help you through it. If you would like to set up an appointment with me, to deal with trauma and anxiety, click on the Link here to set a time to work on some real life change!

Conflictual coparenting is under an illusion

conflictual divorce and coparenting

Conflictual coparenting acts like it is a form of competition but that is an illusion. High levels of conflict has no winners, only losers! Parents fight to one up each other or get revenge for past hurts and this includes the children.

Most mediators, myself included, want parents to put the “best interests of the child” first but this is difficult for parents to do when consumed by anger and resentments. The costs are high, and not just financially with on-going court costs. The emotional costs are high for everyone. Research is clear that children who go through long-term, conflictual divorce, are negatively impacted. There is the risk that children will have severe mental health issues into adulthood.

The legal definition of the “best interests of the child” is about who the child belongs to…the psychological definition of the “best interests of the child” is who belongs to the child. There is a big difference between these two definitions but they don’t have to be mutually exclusive of each other. Setting boundaries, using strength-based language, and keeping the needs of the child paramount will help a true cooperative parenting process.

The best way for parents to reduce conflict is to learn to manage themselves. Keeping the focus on personal healing and not on how the other parent should act or be. Managing ourselves is the only guarantee that we can have of making the coparenting relationship healthy.

Get more support and help with your coparenting conflict with a session with Ron Huxley today.

Treating Trauma in a “Zoom” World: Is it even possible?

You might wonder if it is possible to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) during a COVID-19 pandemic crisis, but this is the situation that therapists and clients find themselves. Can we find a way to maintain effective treatment through the use of modern technology? Is it possible to treat trauma with this “new world” approach to mental health?

Since the beginning of this year (2020), countries worldwide have worked to protect vulnerable populations from the virus COVID-19. The primary strategies used to prevent the spread of the virus is social distancing and self-imposed quarantine. While this has been effective in reducing the pandemic’s physical effects, it hasn’t protected us from the psychological effects of this unprecedented life-situation. We see an increase in fear, anger, anxiety, panic, helplessness, and burnout in both children and adults. As a therapist working remotely with people dealing with stress and trauma, I have seen several extreme reactions of hallucinations and delusions due to the isolation and continual digestion of negative news media. 

A Healthline.com survey of what COVID-19 is doing to our mental health gives a somber picture: increased worry and insecurity over finances, higher than normal depression and anxiety, prevalent feelings of sadness, and being “on edge,” and an alarming rise in suicides. In America, Federal dollars are being released to increase mental health services nationwide to stem this rising tide of trauma without fully knowing the long-term effects of trauma. 

Therapists, just like the general population, use social distancing and remote work to keep themselves, their families, and their clients safe. Therapists are “front-line responders” and considered “essential workers,” but not all therapists choose to be exposed to 30-40 people a week who might have the COVID virus. Many of them, like myself, have family members who have compromised immune systems and considered to be at-risk. Working from an office and seeing individuals, face-to-face is not an option. Therefore, therapists and clients have to seek alternatives that can be equally beneficial to both. 

The European Journal of Psychotraumatology studied the Telehealth models for post-traumatic stress disorder using cognitive therapy and found that clients rated it as very successful in managing their symptoms. High patient satisfaction ratings were given for both video conferencing and phone call sessions. In the later technology, the only nonverbal communication was the tone of voice, and yet it still benefited clients. 

The journal defines Post-traumatic stress disorder by “a sense of serious current threat, which has two sources: the nature of the trauma memory and excessive negative appraisals.” Traumatized individuals frequently have intrusive, negative thoughts about traumatic experiences and continue to see the world with a negative lens. They have a feeling of hopelessness about their future and easily triggered by daily events. 

Professional organizations are rising to the challenge and providing education and support to remote mental health workers on the unique delivery of mental health through technology. Guidelines have been created by the American Psychological Society, International Society of Traumatic Stress Studies, and the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence, specifically targeting PTSD. Governing boards for various mental health professionals are also outlining specific legal and ethical requirements for safe, trustworthy online therapy. 

According to the Psychotraumatology journal article, Telehealth’s use led to “improvements in PTSD symptoms, disability, depression, anxiety, and quality of life, and over 70% of patients recovered from PTSD (meaning they no longer met diagnostic criteria). The Journal of Family Process has reported several articles on the effectiveness of Telehealth with children, adults, couples, and families.

Therapists, offline and online, can provide education and support to (1) reduce negative reactivity in thoughts and emotions, (2) build more effective coping skills, and (3) deepen the quality of life and relationships.

These three areas are healing strategies outlined in my trauma-informed training and therapy. 

The foundation for PTSD work, in face-to-face or video conferencing, is to establish a sense of safety from which to utilize these healing strategies. The client has to trust the therapist, believing he can offer some hope, create an atmosphere of security, and witness the traumatic hurt for PTSD individuals. Empathy isn’t confined to the physical space of the therapist’s office. It can exist in the relational space online as well. Facial expressions on video, tone of voice, empathic responses, and supportive comments assist the connection despite distances.

Finding a private place to have a conversation is one real-world challenge of online work. Privacy can be increased by changing locations (some of my clients go inside cars, relocating to other rooms in the house, or going outside), using headphones, and letting family members know that they can’t be disturbed hour or so. Additionally, therapists can also learn about resources in the client’s living area if referrals are needed. Homework assignments can also be used between sessions and discussed online for adolescents and adults. Parents can participate online with young children, and family members can “zoom” in from different locations at an agreed-upon time. And lastly, follow up with secure emails and text messaging can further increase the outcome of this digital therapeutic medium for PTSD. 

If you are looking for a trauma therapist or someone to help you or a family member with anxiety, contact Ron Huxley today at RonHuxley.com

Be sure to take advantage of our free online resources for families during the COVID-19 Pandemic at FamilyHealer.tv

References: https://www.healthline.com/health-news/what-covid-19-is-doing-to-our-mental-health

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20008198.2020.1785818

https://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/telepsychology

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/txessentials/telemental_health.asp

Telehealth for Trauma: An effective treatment strategy

According to the National Center for Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, Telehealth or TeleMental Health services are an effective treatment strategy for trauma. Telehealth uses information technology, such as email, phone calls, FaceTime video, and Secure Online Video to conduct therapy services. This technology allows a therapist and a client to engage in real-time two-way interaction. Services that can be provided via Telehealth include assessments, individual and group therapy, psychoeducational interventions, and general therapeutic interactions.

Traditionally, mental health services are engaged in face-to-face, office visits. Just because this is traditional, doesn’t mean that is is more effective. There are times when face-to-face visits are preferred due to lack of adequate technology, challenges with privacy at home, or personal limitations of the client in using technology. In all other situations, TeleHealth is a unique service that provides several benefits, including:

  1. Savings in time and money,
  2. Overcome geographic distance for rural populations,
  3. Increased access to care for individuals with mobility issues (lack of transportation),
  4. Flexibility of appointment times (e.g., out of town for work, babysitting concerns, or other restriction on clients availability like a lunch hour, etc.),
  5. Promotion of physical health by avoiding spreading a contagious illness (COVID-19 or general sickness, like a cold).

Telehealth is not new. It has been used for six decades, in the medical field, and is now being adopted by TeleMental Health as a flexible option for individuals. It is not a “lesser” alternative to mental health care. Outcome research has proven it to be very effective in many areas of mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, and trauma. It also offers convenient support for many general concerns, such as parenting education, life transitions, spiritual direction, and more.

A recent article from the Washington Post points out how global pandemics, like the COVID-19 virus, have shifted the landscape of mental health services through the use of technology allowing more people to attend to their mental health needs. Therapists and individuals may be just blocks away from one another geographically, but medical issues isolate and create an insurmountable “distance” between them. The use of Telehealth or TeleMental Health eliminates geographic and social distance.

The reality is that people around the world are suffering and in need of mental health treatment, education, and support. Children and adults who have experienced trauma cannot wait for medical cures or be punished for lack of mental health access. Telehealth/TeleMental Health is a powerful tool to bring immediate hope and healing.

Learn how to use TeleHealth with Ron Huxley by clicking here!

Read about our security measures and informed consent for Telehealth services here!

SOURCES:

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treat/txessentials/telemental_health.asp https://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/ser-a0034963.pdf https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/03/23/coronavirus-is-mental-health-emergency-too-we-must-remove-barriers-care/?fbclid=IwAR3JK9PIihf_5_nbwbPtgtC1coPpflzmWnAPEDE5FL5kgjsvCnUix_N74aY

What is Anxiety and How to Manage Pandemic Uncertainty

In this first video of five total video series on Building Family Resiliency we talk about how to manage anxiety in a time of uncertainty. Learn powerful tools that will help you and your children find freedom from anxious thoughts. Discover bodily-based strategies that don’t require lecture, rationalization, or complex ideas to bring peace to your life.

Get more free tools at FamilyHealer.tv or schedule a time to talk to Ron today!

Building Family Resiliency (Video)

Parent Connection Coach and Educator Ron Huxley, L.M.F.T., is here to help you and your family build resiliency during these stressful times.
Watch the video and learn how to:
1. Gain new perspectives.
2. Teach your children to be problem solversHelp parents become resiliency coaches and avoid power struggles.
3. Eliminate negative game playing to develop loving and cooperative relationships.

Ron Huxley has over 30 years experience helping families heal and serves as a parent coach and educator with Parent Connection of San Luis Obispo County. In his capacity as a parent coach, Ron specializes in working with families who’ve experienced trauma. He believes in taking a strength-based approach that builds on solutions and he creates strategies that fit each family situation in the shortest time necessary.  


Ron Huxley is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist providing trauma-informed therapy for individuals and families. Currently practicing on the Central Coast of California, Ron travels internationally educating parents and professionals on trauma-informed care.