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…

Restart Your Life (Free Course)

Learn how to reboot and restart your life with a new course from Ron Huxley, LMFT, and FamilyHealer.tv. Here’s what you will learn:

6 ways to deal with upheaval at work

Worry only 30 minutes a day

Be more supportive of your friends

Don’t let disagreements ruin your relationships

Defeat perfectionism!

How avoidance actually creates more stress

5 ways to get out of your own way

Create a plan for your family life

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Oppositional Defiance in Teens

How do you deal with defiance in teenagers? All teens can be defiant some of the time. It can be a sign of healthy development as teens work to assert their own identity, but what happens when it is the daily pattern?

For oppositional behavior to be a true mental health diagnosis, a child must show a pattern of symptoms of angry/irritable, argumentative/defiant behavior, or vindictiveness for at least six months. Children and adolescents with ODD may have trouble controlling their temper and are disobedient and defy authority figures. Teenagers who present with these symptoms often have a history of depression or anxiety that coincides with this disorder. Treatment and medication that addresses these issues can reduce disruptive behavior as well.

As you can imagine, individuals with oppositional defiance also have problems making or keeping friends, performing in school, and can’t hold on to a job. Big problems with their own emotional regulation create chaos in relationships inside and outside the home.

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

Parents can learn new skills to manage their child’s disruptive moods and behaviors. Modeling how to collaboratively solve problems and using natural consequences decreases arguments and fights.

Using harsh discipline or aggressive behavior toward teenagers causes the situation to be worse. Authoritarian styles of parenting make get some control of teen behavior in the short term but create more problems over the long term and may ruin relationships with teens as they grow into adulthood. It may push teens into social conduct problems that result in them having trouble with law enforcement and being removed by social services.

Professionals use a “Child Behavior Checklist” to screen for criteria that meet the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders definition of Oppositional Defiance Disorder. Other comorbid disorders may include ADHD, Conduct Disorder, Depressive or Bipolar Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, Language and Expressive Disorders, Social Phobia, and Anxiety.

Individual and group therapy for teenagers can be helpful. Parents can also learn new skills for managing oppositional behaviors. Learning about attachment styles and generational patterns of trauma can also be beneficial. Reading books on normal teen development is also recommended.

If you need more help with your teen or want to learn how to better parent, contact Ron Huxley today and schedule a session.

Have a Power-FULL Morning!

Did you wake up in a mood today? We often wake up thinking about the problems we have to face today. We rehearse the past memories and circumstances that create a hyper state of arousal, using the natural cortisol levels of the morning to increase anxiety, fear, irritability, and anger.

Before your feet hit the floor, use gratitudes to change how you think and feel. Use the natural energy of cortisol to direct your thoughts and behaviors in the morning. Engage in meditation and focus for the day and be more productive and creative with using that cortisol. Make today better than yesterday. Make your inspiration greater than your suffering!

Use your cortisol to have a power-full morning!

Let Ron Huxley help you find more power in your life by scheduling a session today or using the power-full tools at FamilyHealer.tv

5 Beliefs That Keep You from Attacking Your Goals

Everyone has dreams, but not everyone makes their dreams into goals. You may have a few of these too. What are the reasons you tell yourself late at night to put the shutdown on making them a reality? These reasons are beliefs that you have, but that doesn’t mean they are valid reasons.

  1. Not Enough Time

Everyone is busy these days. When someone asks how you are doing, you probably respond with “Busy.” But that might not be the truth. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in the day. For a week or maybe two, keep a time ladder of how you spent your time. This includes sleeping, preparing and eating meals, social media, getting ready for work, cleaning your house. Take a good look at how your time is spent, and you might realize you have more time than you realize.

  1. I Don’t Have ‘X’ Talent

It doesn’t matter if you want to write a book or paint a picture, you have as much talent as you are willing to work for. You may not have been born with the natural ability to paint, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn and practice. 

  1. After ‘X’ I Will Do It

“Once I get through this (insert tough project at work), I will start training for that marathon.” “After I lose twenty pounds, I will take a salsa dancing class.” Why are you waiting? Maybe that marathon training will help you work through the stress of that project at work. Perhaps salsa dancing lessons will allow you realize that no matter your weight, your body is worthy of fun and sexy movement. If you have a goal, go for it now.

  1. I’m Not Good Enough

What ruler are you using to measure your “good enough”? You are always good enough to go after your own dreams and goals. If this is an internal dialogue, then you need to work on liking and loving yourself first. If this belief is coming from external sources, then consider those sources and if they are holding you back.

  1. ‘X’ Person Has it Easier

The grass is greener where you water it. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. There are many sayings that sum up that you really don’t know what someone else is going through. So do not assume that someone has it easier, and therefore can achieve their goals while you cannot. That person may think you have it easier or better.

Self-limiting beliefs can be a slippery slope. They can also keep you from even trying to reach your goals. Take time to examine your reasoning and come up with better beliefs to counter the negative ones.

Let Ron Huxley help you today. Schedule a session or take a free course at FamilyHealer.tv

Start Each Day with Positive Intentions

If you struggle in the mornings, there is one thing you can add to your daily routine that will help, and that’s positive intention. Helping to set the tone for your day, starting with positive intentions can deliver a lot of great benefits.

Below, we’ll look at the benefits positive intentions provide. You will also learn exactly how to create and use positive intentions to your advantage.

What Positive Intentions Are

A positive intention is much like a map. It tells your mind where you want to go in life and what you want to achieve. When you are adding a positive intention into your day, you are basically telling your mind what it is you want to accomplish in the next 24 hours. 

We all set intentions at the start of our day, whether we realize it or not. Even bad habits can stem from positive intentions. For example, your intention may subconsciously be to feel good, so you indulge in your favorite junk foods. By taking control consciously of your positive intentions, it can deliver a lot of great benefits.

Benefits Positive Intentions Provide

Positive intentions provide a lot of awesome benefits. Some of the biggest advantages include:

  • They help you to get out of your head
  • They improve your focus
  • They can help you to develop a more positive mindset
  • You will be more likely to achieve your goals

Positive intentions give the mind a clear focus. They help you to become more present in the moment and focus on what it is you need to do today to achieve your goals. Helping you to get out of your head and provide a clear path to where you want to be, you will notice you are much more productive, less stressed, and happier overall.

The thing is the mind is going to set its own intentions for the day if you don’t intervene. Unfortunately, the mind finds it easier to focus on the negative. With positive intentions, it can help you to train the mind to be more positive.

How to Start With Daily Positive Intentions

Now you know some of the benefits of starting each day with a positive intention, what types of intentions can you set? Knowing where to start can be tough, but it’s much easier than you might think. Some examples of positive intentions include:

  • “Today my intention is to accept love and joy into my life”
  • “Today, I will remain silent for 15 minutes and listen to my inner guide”
  • “Today, I will remain focused on my to-do list and not give in to distractions”

These are just some basic examples you can follow. Think of what it is you want to achieve or feel by the end of the day. Then, set that as your intention and remember to keep it positive.

When you start each day with a positive intention, it can add real meaning into your life. You may just be surprised by how beneficial this simple act can make you more successful. 

To create a powerful day, create a daily routine. Follow your routine to structure your life more efficiently and receive many powerful benefits.

1. Develop good habits.

One of the best reasons to create a daily routine is that it can help you to combat bad habits. By replacing bad habits with good ones, you can gradually improve all aspects of your life. It can be tough to overcome bad habits, but a routine can help massively.

2. Boost your efficiency.

Do you ever wish you could get more done and make the most of your time? With a daily routine you can. Adding structure into your life, a good daily routine will make you much more efficient. You won’t waste as much time as you once did, helping you to achieve much more during your day.

3. Improve your health. 

One of the most powerful reasons to create a daily routine is that it can help you improve your health. Whether you need to improve your physical or your mental health, a good routine can prove invaluable. By using it to introduce healthier habits, you’ll start to notice fast changes in your mood and general wellbeing.

4. Sleep better.

Did you know when you have a routine you sleep better? If you go to bed at the same time each night, and awake at the same time each morning, you’ll feel much more refreshed. You can also implement things into your routine that help you sleep better, such as switching off technology an hour before bed. When you sleep better, you feel better and it improves every aspect of your life.

5. Incorporate more structure.

To achieve your goals, you need willpower and motivation. A daily routine can incorporate both. Exercise is a good example of this. When you add it into your daily routine, it quickly starts to become an automatic habit. You won’t need to force yourself through willpower or motivate yourself with a reward, once it becomes a habit.

6. Reduce and relieve stress. 

A daily routine can help reduce and relieve stress. As you know what your day mostly consists of, and you use it to introduce healthier habits, your stress levels will naturally decrease. You can also schedule in time for relaxation each day to help.

So, there you have it, 6 reasons you should create daily routines. While developing an effective routine can take time, once you have it in place you won’t regret taking the time to create it. To become successful, happy, and healthy, we all need structure and routine in our lives.

Reprogram Your Nervous System

  1. Focus on a safe, comforting image or memory of attachment. It could be your partner, child, or interaction with God. 
  2. Close your eyes, focus on this image or memory, and breathe slowly and deeply.
  3. Let your breath be long, holding it for a second or two at the top of the inhale and bottom of the exhale. 
  4. Allow whatever emotion to come up without judgment or interpretation. 
  5. Open your eyes and do a “body scan” from the top of your head to your feet. Notice what is going on in your body. Place a hand in that area, adjust your position and repeat the steps above. 
  6. Do this as many times as you need or want to…the more you practice this, the stronger your nervous system becomes. I call this NeuroResilience. 

Schedule an appointment today with Ron Huxley and learn this an other important life skills today!

7 Steps in Co-Parenting Negotiation

Co-parenting is a post-divorce parenting arrangement in which both parents agree to participate in their children’s upbringing. The keyword here is “agreement” about what is in the child’s best interest where there are significant hurts, personalities, and values between those parents. Raising children requires a lot, and I mean a lot, of interactions despite getting divorced. 

Because of this challenge, many parents end up parallel parenting vs. co-parenting. Co-parenting is short for cooperative parenting. Sadly, this is often not the case. Parallel parents are both working to raise their children, but they agree that they don’t agree on much. Each home will have its own set of routines, entertainment values, discipline practices, and cultural influences. This agreement to a no agreement lifestyle is a disagreeable way to parent, but parents and children often have no control over it.

Learning how to negotiate becomes an important skill when this is the case. Here are seven steps to better negotiation in co-parenting relationships: 

  1. Name the problem using an “I” statement as in “I feel…when you…and I would like to discuss how…” This format reduces defensiveness and retains a sense of power for the speaker. 
  2. Use reflective listening to convey what is understood. A divorce may involve the decision not to share the intimate connection, but it still requires understanding and validation to maintain mutual respect. Say: “So, what you are saying or asking for is…” 
  3. Brainstorm for solutions that will work for all parties. It may involve creative thinking about alternative solutions. There may be compromise from the original need. 
  4. Choose a solution to try, even if it is not your solution or your first choice.
  5. Review who does what by putting it into writing or communicating before, during, and after the solution. 
  6. Put the solution into action and try it out to see how it works. Stay objective and open-minded. If it doesn’t work, negotiate a new solution. 
  7. Re-evaluate what is working overall, and be honest about what didn’t work and what needs to be changed. Keep the perspective that the other person is not the problem. The problem is the problem. 

To complete these seven steps, parents will have to be self-aware and motivated to keep the children’s needs first. This is hard work and may involve humility that wasn’t present in the relationship before the divorce. Just because people were “terrible” partners in marriage doesn’t mean they cannot grow and be great co-parents after marriage. 

Let Ron Huxley help you negotiate through your difficult situations. Schedule a session today!