6 Tips To Make Fear Your Friend

What makes you afraid? Is it losing someone you love? Or is it having to see your dentist? Maybe you fear thunderstorms or heights or elevators.

Whatever it is, fear is normal. It’s how our body warns us of dangerous situations and that we should be careful.

Yet, sometimes, our fears can become so great that they hold us back from living up to our full potential. They fill us with dread and uncertainty that we soon become constantly stressed and anxious over the smallest things.

Although surprisingly, fear, in its positive form, can actually be good for us. It can inspire innovative ideas and motivate us to reach new heights.

So, we’re here today to help you make fear your friend. Follow the six tips below, and you’ll know how to turn what was once your foe into an ally.

Let’s get started.

  1. Identify the Source

This is probably the hardest step, but it’s absolutely worth it. But first, you need to come to terms with the source of your fear in order to overcome it.

Being aware of the root cause will be difficult in the beginning, but it’ll make you stronger. You’ll no longer live in the shadow of that big, insurmountable fear.

  1. Embrace It

You’ve come face-to-face with your fear. Now, it’s time to embrace it.

But before you do that, you have to actually admit that such-and-such scares you. There are several ways to do this. First, you can either say it aloud, preferably to someone else in a natural setting.

You can also write it down in a journal or diary. The point is to get it out of your head and into real life. That’s when your fear loses its control over you.

It also feels better to get it off your chest and share it with the world. You’ll be surprised to know just how many people are just as afraid as you are.

  1. Think Rationally

Fear makes us panic, and panic makes us do stupid things. In fact, studies show that when we panic, our prefrontal cortex shuts down. This is the region of our brain responsible for rational thinking.

So, case in point, learn how to think rationally despite your worries and panic. Make fear your friend, and you’ll be able to go a lot farther in life.

  1. Take Stock

People deal with fear, stress, and anxiety in different ways. Some people like to be challenged and are great under pressure. Others find it better to work at their own pace without any tight deadlines looming overhead.

Whichever way you prefer, the important thing is not to let fear get the better of you. For example, say you’re afraid to speak in public. But then a colleague suddenly got sick and asked you to take over the presentation you’ve been preparing for weeks.

In this scenario, you have to pick whether you’ll let your fear overpower you or whether you’ll rise to the challenge.

The latter won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it in the long run. Be objective and tell yourself that others have held presentations before and have lived to tell about it. So, what’s the big deal?

Remember, your mind tends to blow things out of proportion. So, find a way to deal with the stress and take stock. It’s the only way you’ll be able to harness your fear and get the job done.

  1. Find Support

No one ever failed by having a strong support system. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to do better. These are the people who listen to you when you’re venting about your fears and anxiety, and they still choose to love you unconditionally.

A lot of research has been carried out on the benefits of having a support system. It empowers you with good coping skills while boosting your self-esteem and overall well-being.

Moreover, a sound support system can lower stress, anxiety, and depression rates. 

  1. Be Positive

Whenever you’re afraid, you’ll tend to focus on negative thoughts and emotions. But then, they fester in your mind and transform into this big, ugly thing that you can no longer control.

Why not try some positivity for a change? Remember, the mind is quite powerful; it just needs a small push in the right direction.

By thinking positively, you can overcome your fears and actually live to tell the tale! All you have to do is believe it, and everything else will fall into place.

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! 

Had any assumptions shattered lately?

The last two years have been one of daily uncertainty and fear, but a crisis is also a great revealer of the myths and idols we hold. It “knocks us off our thrones” and breaks our “assumptive worlds.” Our assumptions are the beliefs we hold about who we are and the world we live in…at times, like these, they don’t hold up. In fact, they can shatter into thousands of meaningless thoughts.

In social psychology, shattered assumptions theory proposes that traumatic events can change how victims and survivors view themselves and the world. We all have three inherent assumptions including “overall benevolence, the meaningfulness of the world, and self-worth.” They are the bedrock of our conceptual system, and as such, they are the ones we are least aware of and least likely to challenge. We become confident in our beliefs and use them to plan and act in daily living. If nothing challenges them they allow our lives to move along smoothly.

Sadly, traumatic life events shatter core assumptions, and coping with them requires a new effort to construct more realistic and viable assumptions. We have to rebuild our belief systems to fit the new world we live in.

Core Beliefs:

The world is benevolent

The world is meaningful

The self is worthy

This can be painful for people of faith who end up questioning their faith. When our assumptive worlds shatter, it causes believers to questions the goodness of God. They might “assume” that God is silent or uncaring. The promises they believed must be wrong since things didn’t work out the way they “believed.” Trying to reconcile a good God to their adverse life situations may turn some to question themselves, wondering if they ever heard God speak into their lives or if some sin or trauma from the past has made them unworthy of mercy.

I mean, if God never changes, then the problem must be ourselves, right? Christians believe that when they become followers they are “new creations.” New creations have to have renewed minds to find new beliefs about God’s goodness and nature in their lives. Renewal is exactly what we need when our assumptions become shattered. Neurologists called this neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself through training and practice, thereby creating new neuropathways in the human nervous system. Neuroplasticity, renewed minds, and rebuilt belief systems are about personal growth that is sometimes only possible after trauma.

The reason that believers feel peace after giving their lives to follow the Christian faith is that new neuropathways are being created. Transformation or growth is occurring. From a more secular viewpoint, life has a way of creating maturity in our thinking. The trick is how to not become bitter and negative afterwords.

There is a favorite verse of mine that goes: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  –Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)” Prayer and meditation increase brain neuroplasticity and makes renewal possible. Allowing our minds to let go of distractions and slow down helps us focus on what we control and let go of what we cannot. In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is the path to serenity.

After a shattering event, people are able to discover strength they didn’t know that had in them. They also find new purposes and seek out deeper connections than before. Faith also grows in people after difficulty. They start to see deeper meaning and value in their life. This is called Post-Traumatic Growth in contrast to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Would you like assistance recovering from a shattering event or trauma? Need new tools for your organization or group? Contact Ron Huxley today!

Prayer and Meditation Calms Anxiety

If you feel anxious from time to time, that’s completely normal. When anxiety becomes overwhelming, you may be tempted to seek some peace using prescription medication, alcohol, or drugs. These methods, though, inherently bring problems of their own.

The good news is you can get through anxious moments on your own without mind-altering drugs. Your worries can be transformed into peace with simple, natural strategies. One of these techniques is using prayer and meditation.

Prayer and meditation calm anxiety!

What are Prayer and Meditation?

Prayer is “a spiritual communion with God or an object of worship, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.” It is the heart of practices in all major religions. When we struggle, we call out to God for strength, direction, peace, and healing. 

Mediation is a form of prayer. It is a practice of training the mind by focusing on an object, thought, or activity, enabling the busy mind to be still and the stressed body to find rest. 

Inherent in both prayer and mediation is the act of letting go of control or accepting that control is an illusion. The practitioners of Alcoholics Anonymous called this “acceptance” that they are powerless over their addiction and in need of a higher power. 

Prayer and meditation differ because prayer is a form of communication, asking for help. Meditation concentrates on quietness and focus, without any criticism or judgment of others or self. 

Calming Anxiety

Research supports the idea that prayer and reduces the effects of anxiety and depression. In a 2009 report, researchers reviewed 26 studies that identified the active involvement of medical patients in private or personal prayer. The focus was not on the effect of being prayed for or on the usefulness of attending religious meetings. 

The authors of the research review stated: “There is no evidence that praying is likely to be beneficial in the absence of any kind of faith and some evidence that certain types of prayer based on desperate pleas for help in the absence of faith are associated with poorer wellbeing and function.” 

While both prayer and meditation can calm anxiety, it appears that prayer is more beneficial when connected to faith. 

Meditation has been widely researched and it has been demonstrated to reduce anxiety, chronic pain, heart disease, and high blood pressure. It is considered to be a mind-body intervention that “eliminates the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.”

In addition, the emotional benefits of meditation can include:

  • Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
  • Building skills to manage your stress
  • Increasing self-awareness
  • Focusing on the present
  • Reducing negative emotions
  • Increasing imagination and creativity
  • Increasing patience and tolerance

There are various forms of meditation that involve guided meditation, mindfulness-based stress meditation, walking meditation, visualizations, and more. Technology is a big aid with various apps and online programs that can assist in meditative practices.

How to Get Started

You can start on your path to an anxiety-free life right away, and it all begins with a deep breath. Pull the air deep down into your diaphragm, and let it out slowly. Do this several times, and you’ll start to feel calmer.

Are you breathing effectively? When you take in air, if only the top part of your lungs expands, your chest rises and falls. When you live the right way – the calming way – your belly rises and falls, not your upper chest, because your entire lungs are filled with fresh air. 

Avoid breathing from your upper chest only, and you’ll already be on the road to feeling calmer and less anxious. It’s a simple thing to do and a great way to get started. The more you do it, the more it’ll become automatic. Soon, you’ll feel calmer without even thinking about your breathing anymore. 

Here are some other tips to help you feel calm while praying or meditating:

1. Use your breathing like a mantra. Inhale while you give yourself positive thoughts and feelings. Exhale anything negative you’re thinking or feeling. Breathing is the rhythm of life. Use it to your advantage. Use affirmative words or phrases, quoting scriptures or songs. 

2. Pray or meditate at the same time each day. Spend a few minutes – it doesn’t have to be a long time – in quiet reflection. Say good things to yourself. You can focus on your health, finances, family, or anything you want to make stronger. Avoid negative thinking during this time. 

3. Laugh. Try saying “ho, ho, ho, he, he, he, ha, ha, ha” and other silly phrases. When you do, you’ll start to smile, then grin, and then laugh for real! And when you’re laughing, you can’t frown or feel anxious! Laughter reduces the stress chemicals in your brain and increases the amount of oxygen flowing through your brain and body. 

4. Find community. Join a church, take up yoga, or find a support group for anxiety. Many others share your struggle, and you can feel better about yourself and more in-tune with others when you share your feelings. 

5. Savor positive experiences. You wouldn’t gobble up an expensive piece of chocolate you bought. You would savor it slowly, trying to get as much flavor and joy from it as possible before it is gone. When we do this with our positive experiences, no matter how small, our nervous system registers it and remembers it allowing greater capacity for calmness. 

Next Steps

When you start your journey toward personal peace through prayer or meditation, don’t expect to conquer your anxiety in a day. It took time to get where you are, and it’ll take time to get back to where you want to be.

Every journey begins with that first step, and once you make it, you’ll be well on your way. Breathe. Laugh. Meditate or pray. Find time to think about and interact with others rather than concentrate on your worries. Rewire your nervous system through consistent practices of wellbeing. 

Sources: 

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/meditation/in-depth/meditation/art-20045858

https://www.nursingtimes.net/archive/prayer-can-reduce-levels-of-depression-and-anxiety-in-patients-according-to-research-12-02-2009/

Do you have burnout? Learn the signs and symptoms!

Are You Burned Out?

Burnout feels just like it sounds. You are exhausted and tired more days than not. You can’t get motivated or interested in doing what you usually enjoy and start to withdraw from your family, friends, and work.

Burnout is a common problem for modern families

Burnout is something that you likely have experienced or will at some point. It is common to feel burnt out. It is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”

Take this simple quiz * to see if you are suffering burnout: 

  1. I feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy.
  2. I have negative thoughts about my job.
  3. I am harder and less sympathetic with people than perhaps they deserve.
  4. I am easily irritated by minor problems or my co-workers and team.
  5. I feel misunderstood or unappreciated by my co-workers.
  6. I feel that I have no one to talk to.
  7. I feel that I am achieving less than I should.
  8. I feel under an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed.
  9. I am not getting what I want out of my job.
  10. I feel that I am in the wrong organization or the wrong profession.
  11. I am frustrated with parts of my career.
  12. I feel that organizational politics or bureaucracy hinder my ability to do a good job.
  13. I feel that there is more work to do than I practically can do.
  14. I do not have time to do many of the essential things to do a good quality job.
  15. I do not have time to plan as much as I would like to.

Count the number of times you said “yes” to these questions. The more times, the greater the chance you are experiencing burnout. Now, let’s look more closely at the signs and symptoms.

Physical Signs

Physical signs to look out for are “Feeling tired and drained all the time, frequent illnesses, headaches, or muscle pain, and change in appetite, sleep, or habits.” 

Maybe you are usually a person who rarely gets sick, but recently, you constantly feel run down or ill. When burnt out, your body has low energy, and you don’t feel 100%. Perhaps you complain that you are tired all the time!

This can make it hard for your body to fight off illnesses and keep you healthy. Changes in everyday healthy habits or appetite can be a good indicator of burnout. Keep an eye out for a change that might indicate an underlying problem. 

Emotional Symptoms

Some of the emotional symptoms are “Sense of failure, feeling helpless, detachment, loss of motivations, increasingly cynical, and decreased sense of accomplishment.” Even though you are feeling your emotions constantly, it can be hard to recognize when changes occur. 

You might not notice as you slip into a more negative state of mind or as you start to detach from the world. The best way to catch these changes is to involve the people around you. Make sure that you are talking with your close friends and family. 

They will likely notice emotional changes in you before you catch them in yourself. If you start to feel or notice the difference, check in with them and see if they have noticed it as well. They will likely feel relieved that you noticed and want to discuss it with you.

Behavioral Signs Are Also Indicative Of Burnout

A few of those are “Withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself, procrastinating, using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope, taking out your frustrations on others, or skipping work.” 

Behavioral symptoms should be the easiest to notice. You start doing things that aren’t like you. Maybe you take extra-long lunch breaks or begin to leave work early when you were always on time before. 

You could start a new habit of drinking multiple beers or glasses of wine every night. Maybe you stop hanging out with your friends, or you never start on your projects until they need to be finished. While your friends and family might be a little hesitant to tell you about emotional changes they see in you, they are more likely to talk about the behavioral ones. 

This might be them constantly asking when you will come over or picking on you for avoiding them. They may not notice an underlying problem, but they will most likely see the change in your everyday behavior.

Final Thoughts

Overall, many of these symptoms could mean other things or point to other illnesses and problems. Make sure to always stay in tune with your body to help determine what the signs are pointing towards. 

Be sure to listen to the people around you when they notice things. They aren’t dealing with burnout, but they will see the changes in you as you deal with it. It can be hard to detect these changes in yourself, but the sooner you do, the sooner you can do something about being burnt out and getting back to your usual self. 

What to do about burnout?

If you resonate with the signs and symptoms in this blog article, get a medical check-up, start implementing a self-care routine, and find a good therapist. You can schedule a time now with Ron Huxley, LMFT, by clicking here. Get more helpful tools and courses to find healing at FamilyHealer.tv

  • Quiz adapted from Mindtools.com

Considering a Life Coach?

Have you ever thought about working with a coach before? If you are serious about achieving your biggest goals, you should seriously consider it. Working with a coach is a great way to boost your results in almost any area of life. Having someone to teach you the ropes, or build more accountability into your life, is a beautiful way to ensure you achieve more. If you wonder if working with a coach could help you, please consider these nine benefits.

2022 Life Coaching on parenting, anxiety, trauma, divorce, reconciliation…
  1. Helps You Define Your Goals
    Many of us have goals, but often they are loosely (or not at all) defined. A coach can help take the hopes and dreams out of your head to create concrete goals. Instead of just wanting something, you start taking tangible steps towards it.
  2. Adds More Accountability to Your Life
    It’s funny, but we have a much easier time letting ourselves down than we do letting others down. Having a coach means one more person in your life you don’t want to let down. You will feel more accountable and be more likely to achieve your goals when you know someone will ask you about your progress.
  3. Encourages You to Define Your Values
    Do you know what you stand for? Maybe a better question is, do you know your core values? Regardless of the question, if you struggle with the answer, a coach can help you. A coach can’t tell you your values, but they can ask you questions that will help you define them yourself.
  4. Helps You See Yourself More Clearly
    A good coach will help you become more self-aware. This self-awareness will allow you to be more honest with yourself. You will know what you are good at and what you aren’t so good at doing. Self-awareness will enable you to double down on your strengths while figuring out how to deal with your weaknesses.
  5. Assists Skill Building and Development
    The most obvious benefit of a coach is their ability to help us build specific skills. For example, if you are interested in becoming a better business person, it makes sense to work with a business coach who has been there and done that. You get to learn from both their experiences and their mistakes.
  6. Offers a Safe Space to Talk About Sensitive Issues
    Whether you find the current world too sensitive or not, it’s a fact that we need to watch the things we say. Having a coach gives you a safe space to talk about more sensitive issues. This doesn’t mean you have a place to barf out all your emotions, but you can at least vent a bit more freely.
  7. Encourages You To Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
    The comfort zone got its name from being comfortable. Once you are in it, you don’t want to get out. A good coach will coax and challenge you to step out of it. Stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while will make it easier to create positive change in your life.
  8. Offers a Different Viewpoint
    When you have a coach, you have someone else to bounce ideas off. It is so easy to get caught up in your tunnel vision that you might not even consider differing opinions. A coach forces you to consider different viewpoints and opinions. It will help you become a more well-rounded individual.
  9. Helps You Make Tough Decisions
    Sometimes it feels like life is nothing but a series of difficult decisions. While this isn’t always true, it has a basis in reality. How much would you like to have someone else talk to about these decisions? A good coach provides that kind of assistance.

Coaching Action Steps:

  1. Take some time to think about different areas of your life that could use a boost. Write these down in a list.
  2. Carefully consider the list from the last step to figure out if a coach, mentor, or teacher could help you in any of these areas.
  3. Choose the area of your life that could most use a coach, and start researching coaching options. If you find a fit right for you, take a chance and reach out.

Let Ron Huxley coach you on parenting, anxiety, and trauma-informed care. With 30 years of experience, Ron can guide you to a more stable, productive life…Click here now to schedule an appointment.

Yes, you can! Build up your confidence

Why Self-Confidence Matters

It often seems that confidence is elusive, like a smoky mirage. Sometimes, it feels magical and wonderful; other times it can be frustrating.

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can build up your self-confidence without having to resort to any crystal. ‘How?’ you ask.

It’s simple.

Start by recognizing that confidence is a skill you can learn. You set a goal and take small steps each day to work towards it.

Keep reading to find out more about self-confidence and why it matters.

What Is Self-Confidence?

Self-confidence isn’t tangible. You can’t touch it and say, “This is confidence.”

It’s something we get a feeling for when we, or others, have it.

Likewise, we can recognize when someone lacks it. Even when they try to attempt to compensate for it, we sense it and feel bad for them.

The good news is that self-confidence is a soft skill, which means you can learn it and apply it to your daily life. It’s not fixed, like your height for example. It’s mainly based on your mindset and the actions you do to follow through.

You can boost your confidence and self-esteem by trusting your abilities. Seeing yourself succeed in your mind is the first step in making better decisions. Then, when your decisions make your life better, your confidence gets a nice little boost. And round and round it goes.

Bear in mind that confidence is infectious. Even though we can’t see it, we still sense other people’s confidence levels in the way they behave and speak.

When someone is confident, they exude excitement and energy. You’re motivated to work hard and feel that same energy.

The downside is it goes both ways. When one person lacks confidence, it can deflate everyone around them. They just get the sense that there’s no point in trying.

Why Does Self-Confidence Matter?

There are different reasons why being confident can improve your life. Below, you’ll find a few examples of how it can make you a happier, more fulfilled individual.

Allows You to Take Positive Risks

We all need the confidence to bring balance and a sense of direction in our lives. Making a conscious decision to develop your confidence will allow you to take positive risks. It gets you out of your comfort zone and puts you on the path to success.

The trick is understanding your own strength. You have to believe that you can master whatever skill you’re striving towards. Yes, it’ll be weird and difficult in the beginning. Yes, you’ll make mistakes along the way. So what?

That’s what life is about. This is what boosts your self-esteem and makes you better at everything you do.

Empowers You to Embrace Your Failures

We all make mistakes. We all fail and meet obstacles in our lives.

The key is to understand that failures are a necessary part of progress. Read that again and really take it in.

Often, we feel that when we fail, it’s the end of the journey. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

To fully embrace your failures, you have to think of them as detours. When you’re forced to change lanes or take a detour that doesn’t mean the entire journey is over. It just means you’re taking a different path, but you’ll get there eventually.

Now, why do some people succeed after failing and others don’t? Those who manage to learn from their mistakes. They go over what went wrong and find a way to fix it.

In other words, they use their failures to their advantage. They use them to prop them up and give them the push they need to keep going on their path.

Let’s take a second to think about Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of these two names? Success? Fame? Glory? All of the above?

How about failure? You’re probably saying to yourself, ‘These are two of the most prominent members of society. They haven’t failed.’

Well, sorry to burst your bubble, but they have—many times, in fact. Yet, they’re smart enough to use their failures as stepping stones to aim higher and work harder. Imagine our much our lives would have been impacted if these two men had given up every time they failed!

One of Edison’s quotes about refining the light bulb is, “I haven’t failed. I’ve found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Enables You To Trust Yourself

Many times, we can be our own worst enemies. We critique every move, every word, and every thought over and over again.

In moderation, it can be a great incentive to do better. Although, this only works if we treat ourselves with the same kindness and empathy, we show others. Sadly, it doesn’t happen very often.

The best way to break out of that negative self-talk is to have faith in yourself. Have faith in your decisions. Even if you made mistakes in the past, that doesn’t necessitate future failures.

Own up to your bad decision, embrace it, and move on. That’s now part of your DNA; it’s helping shape a stronger, more resilient person.

Imagine it being part of your arsenal or a superpower. Now, you’ve turned your mistake into something that can make you more resilient and less anxious.

A Final Note

Self-confidence is an integral part of who you are. Understanding why it matters can mean the difference being happy and being miserable.

Having that self-assurance can help boost your relationships and career. You’ll also be able to inspire others to become happier, more fulfilled individuals.

Need a Mood Boost?

As we enter the holiday season, in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, we could all use a little boost in our mood. For some, this is not a time of good cheer. It is a time for increased depression and anxiety.

How do we improve our mood?

How To Actively Improve Your Mood

There are many ways to actively improve your mood. The most obvious is to feel good about yourself.

Other reasons are probably not as obvious to you. Although, they’re pretty obvious to your mental and physical health.

Let’s talk about some of these reasons and how they can influence everything that goes on in our lives.

Improve Your Mental Health

Your mental wellness affects your thoughts, feelings, and behavior. It helps reduce stress, as well as help you cope with challenges and setbacks.

Having strong mental health doesn’t mean the absence of anxiety, fears, and worries. Going through difficult times is a natural part of living.

Yet, when you’re in good shape mentally and emotionally, you bounce back faster. You have the tools needed to face all these things head-on with confidence and resilience.

Being resilient means you stay flexible and focused when life throws you a curveball. You have confidence in your abilities to deal with whatever the future has in store.

Here are some extra perks that come when you boost your mental wellbeing and improve your mood.

  • You have a sense of contentment with life in general
  • You maintain a hearty dose of confidence and self-esteem
  • You see opportunities where others see none
  • You enjoy living and can laugh at yourself
  • You balance work and play
  • You build healthy relationships

Polish Up on Your Social Skills

We’re social creatures. We thrive when we feel connected to others.

This doesn’t mean we have to be surrounded by people all the time every day. It just means that our brains crave companionship in varying degrees.

Yes, you can always call or text. They certainly have their place and time in our busy, hectic lives.

Still, nothing beats the mood-boosting power of sitting down with family or friends. That quality face-to-face time is priceless.

You sit, you talk, and you listen — pretty basic right? But for your brain, it’s revolutionary!

Here’s why: studies show that our brains are wired for connectivity. Certain areas of our brains light up when we do volunteer work or spend some time with a friend.

Not only that, but the brain rewards us for being socially outgoing. It does so by signaling the release of two happy hormones, oxytocin, and serotonin. So, by being out with your partner, friends, or even colleagues, you’re actively seeking ways to improve your mood.

You should also make the most of those fleeting encounters you have with strangers each day. Make a point of looking your neighbor in the eye as you wish them a good day.

Look up from what you’re doing and take a couple of seconds to thank the barista or the cashier. You can even add a smile to go with it.

Despite taking mere seconds out of your day, those little acts of kindness are terrific mood boosters. They’ll do wonders for your day and theirs!

Stay Active

The link between the mind and body is complementary. When you take care of your physical health, you’re nourishing your mental well-being.

Anytime you exercise for at least 20 minutes, your brain releases endorphins. These are one of the four happy chemicals that help stabilize your mood and boost energy levels.

Regular physical activity also has a big impact on your memory and concentration. Plus, it relieves stress and promotes better sleep.

The trick is to find an activity you like and do it several times a week. Take a walk, cycle, throw a Frisbee with your dog—the point is to enjoy what you’re doing.

Better still, find a group of friends and be active in a group. This will hold you accountable, boost your motivation, and improve your mood.

Regulate Stress Levels

Almost everyone on the planet knows by now that stress is a major problem. It affects our mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

We also know that stress can’t be avoided, especially in this busy day and age. However, certain stress management strategies can help regulate stress in your life.

These tactics allow you to cope with life’s ups and downs. They allow you to improve your mood and feel good about yourself.

Here are some things you can do to reduce your stress:

  • Enhance the quality of your sleep
  • Eat mood-enhancing foods, such as fresh fruits, fatty fish, nuts, avocados, and beans
  • Practice relaxation techniques, like mindful meditation, yoga, and deep breathing
  • Make time for yourself and do something you enjoy
  • Find somewhere to sit at a local park and soak in some sunshine
  • Laugh more

If you need more help with your mood, contact Ron Huxley today to schedule a session!

The NEGATIVE impact of the pandemic on our mental health!

The following is from a recent study on the effects of the pandemic on our mental health, substance use, and suicidality. It is safe to say that those of us who were already experience challenges before the pandemic have seen an increase in our struggles.

Even if we never had issues with mental health or substance use, the pandemic caused us to feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed.

Photo by Alex Green on Pexels.com

Data show COVID’s impact on nation’s mental health, substance use…

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released findings from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). The data suggest that the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on the nation’s well-being. Americans responding to the NSDUH survey reported that the coronavirus outbreak adversely impacted their mental health, including by exacerbating use of alcohol or drugs among people who had used drugs in the past year.

Several changes to the 2020 NSDUH prevent its findings from being directly comparable to recent past-year surveys, as explained below.

Based on data collected nationally from October to December 2020, it is estimated that 25.9 million past-year users of alcohol and 10.9 million past-year users of drugs other than alcohol reported they were using these substances “a little more or much more” than they did before the COVID-19 pandemic began. During that same time period, youths ages 12 to 17 who had a past-year major depressive episode (MDE) reported they were more likely than those without a past-year MDE to feel that the COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.” Adults 18 or older who had any mental illness (AMI) or serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year were more likely than adults without mental illness to report that the pandemic negatively affected their mental health “quite a bit or a lot.”

The 2020 data also estimate that 4.9 percent of adults aged 18 or older had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.3 percent made a suicide plan, and 0.5 percent attempted suicide in the past year. These findings vary by race and ethnicity, with people of mixed ethnicity reporting higher rates of serious thoughts of suicide. Among people of mixed ethnicity 18 or older, 11 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 3.3 percent made a suicide plan and 1.2 percent attempted suicide in the past year. Among Whites 18 or older, 5.3 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.4 percent made a suicide plan, and 0.5 percent attempted suicide in the past year. Among Hispanics or Latinos 18 or older, 4.2 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 1.2 percent made a suicide plan and 0.6 percent attempted suicide in the past year. Among adolescents 12 to 17, 12 percent had serious thoughts of suicide, 5.3 percent made a suicide plan, and 2.5 percent attempted suicide in the past year.

“SAMHSA’s annual NSDUH provides helpful data on the extent of substance use and mental health issues in the United States,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., who leads SAMHSA. “These data help to guide our policy directions in addressing such priorities as addiction, suicide prevention, and the intersection of substance use and mental health issues.”

Read more on this study: CLICK HERE

Releasing Regrets

“Long ago I wished to leave

‘The house where I was born;’

Long ago I used to grieve,

My home seemed so forlorn.

In other years, its silent rooms

Were filled with haunting fears;

Now, their very memory comes

O’ercharged with tender tears…”

A Poem by charlotte bronte

Regret is looking back at our past with distress and sorrowful longing. We grieve over past actions done to us or that we did to others. We WISH it didn’t happen or that we could do it over again. Of course, we can’t, but regret keeps us stuck in the past filled with pain. 

Letting go is the process of getting unstuck and moving on in life. How we metabolize pain, in this process, is different for every person and every situation. However, you can give various forms of releasing regret a try and learn about yourself in the process.

Practice Daily Gratitude

Practicing daily gratitude is a great way to remind yourself of all that you have consistently. Family, friends, a home, food to eat, maybe even a cute puppy to come home to. Whatever your gratitude is toward, reminding yourself of it is a great way to reflect on the good in your life and make the regrets seem less important in the grand scheme of life. 

A practical application of gratitude is to use a scientifically studied exercise called 5-3-1. Every morning spend 5 minutes quieting your mind and getting grounded, write 3 things you are grateful for and do one act of kindness for someone else. 

Trust the Journey

Reminding yourself that even the adverse events in life are part of a more significant journey allows you to see the larger picture. Yes, you regret this one mistake. But, did that one mistake lead you down a different path that had good outcomes? Everything happens for a reason. Trust that in time you will find out why that mistake or loss occurred.

Having an optimistic viewpoint, however ridiculous it might seem at the moment, is helpful to unlock your thoughts and allow hope to enter them. 

Learn to Release Emotions

Emotions in the grand scheme of life (once again; are you seeing the bigger picture yet?) are fleeting. Learning to release your feelings when they are not serving you will aid you now and in the future. Stop beating yourself up for something that happened in the past and learn to move on with a clear mind and focus.

Give voice to your feelings with a good friend or therapist. Learn to journal daily. Stop being afraid of your own feelings states and allow your nervous system to regulate. 

Accept the Lesson Learned

Situations or actions we regret typically offer us a lesson—if we are open to learning it. Accept that you learned a lesson and move on with it. Living through a challenging event means nothing if you don’t continue living and implement what you learned into your future life.

Nelson Mandala is famous for saying: “I never fail. I either win, or I learn.” Keeping this perspective will guard the tender-hearted. 

“What If-ing” the past Doesn’t Change the Future.

You are living in the land of “what ifs” is tempting. However, “what ifs” literally mean nothing in the practice of daily life. You can spend hours or even days guessing at a different outcome, but it doesn’t matter. Those what-ifs will never directly impact your future other than to steal from it. 

Living in the past traumatizes your present all over again. A vicious cycle continues to whirl, adding shame and fear to your life. Staying focused on the now allows you to live healthy again. 

Try this simple present-focused tool called “seeing red.” When you start to slip down the slope or regret, look for something red and focus on its shade, texture, smell, etc. Look for another red object and do the same. Repeat this until you feel more settled in the now. 

If you would like Ron Huxley to help you overcome regret and move past old pain and trauma, contact him today or schedule a session by clicking here.