How to invite forgiveness to bless your life…
Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. Choose one of the ways listed in this infographic to implement in your life for one week. Assess how it has blessed you and then try a new way until you feel the weight of hurt and bitterness lessen.
Scientists tell us there are certain things we can do to improve our mental wellbeing. These techniques will help you feel more positive about yourself.
They teach you how to ride the lows and wait out the lows. Once you know that, nothing can stop you from getting what you want out of life.
Today, we’re going to share with you five ways to boost your mental health. Keep reading for more.
1. Connect With Others
Good relationships don’t need years to build. They can form in a matter of months, or weeks even. Plus, they don’t have to be an all-in, best-friends-for-life type of relationship.
Just talking to a neighbor or members of your church can have a great impact on your mental health. You learn to listen, empathize, and build a strong sense of self-worth and value.
Have you and a friend not seen each other in a while? Then, reach out and try to arrange a coffee date so you can get together and catch up.
How about your children or other family members? Why not try to set an hour during the day where you talk or play games?
We all know how social media has become an important part of our lives. And it’s made it easier to stay in touch with important people in our lives, especially if they live far away.
It’s good to text and chat on a regular basis. Just make sure technology isn’t replacing your face-to-face communications with people.
2. Learn New Skills
Learning a new skill or hobby can have a significant boost on your mental health. It’s an excellent way to meet new people and improve your self-esteem.
It’s nice to have a sense of purpose, other than your work. It gives you something to look forward to each day.
The problem, however, is many people complain they don’t have enough hours in the day. Luckily, though, technology has made learning more accessible.
Here are some of the ways you can use those high-tech gadgets you have to good use:
• Sign up for an online course, like learning a new language or a practical skill like programming
• Look for free video tutorials online to help you out with a DIY project
• If you enjoy cooking, find healthy recipes and learn how to make them
• Try a new hobby that challenges and entertains you, like painting, writing, or gardening
• Learn to play a new sport or physical activity
3. Pay More Attention
We’re all guilty of not paying attention to people and things going on around us. We’re always busy with work or scrolling through our social media feed.
Learning to focus all your senses on the present moment can improve your mental well-being. It also boosts your mood and lowers stress levels. Experts call this type of focus ‘mindfulness’.
When you practice mindfulness, you enjoy the little things in life. Things like watching a bird soar overhead or taking in the nuances of nature are just two small examples.
When you’re in tune with the small details, you feel more relaxed and at peace. Plus, you start to get a better understanding of what makes you happy or anxious, which is a healthy way to approach life’s challenges.
4. Get Physically Active
When you do any type of physical activity, you boost your physical fitness, as well as your mental wellness. It could be a short 15-minute walk, an hour of cycling each week, or 30 minutes at the gym. You pick the activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good.
Then, once you start noticing the difference, you start to feel good about your looks. That’s when your confidence will soar through the roof.
In addition, your brain signals the nervous central system to release ‘feel-good’ hormones known as endorphins. These wonder chemicals trigger a positive response, which boosts your mood. They also reduce feelings of pain and anxiety.
Check out the following tips on how to get moving to boost your mental health:
• Look online for free activities catered to your fitness level
• Find local centers where you can dance, swim, or cycle
• Try running with a ‘couch to 5K’ app or podcast
• If you have a chronic health condition or a disability, there are many exercise’s and physical activities that can be customized to meet your needs
5. Give to Others
According to research, acts of kindness and giving are great ways to improve your mental well-being. The reason is that when we help others, our brains trigger the release of another ‘feel-good’ hormone called oxytocin.
This chemical promotes feelings of empathy and trust. It also makes us calmer, happier, and more inspired to do more.
Giving to others could be volunteering at a local shelter or helping out someone on a personal level. The point is to offer your time and energy doing something for other people. In return, you’ll feel good about yourself, knowing that you’re valued and appreciated
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you have experienced trauma, anything can cause emotional pain: a word, glance, or reaction. We have all experienced this in life but it can be more intense and overwhelming for people who have been traumatized.
This hurt causes an inner wound that alters how we process information from people and the world around us. In the field of Attachment Research, John Bowlby, the father of Attachment Theory, states that our experiences in life become an “Internal Working Model.”
The model is “internal” because it is in the thoughts, emotions, and memories. It is “working” because, while profound and resistant to change, it can change through new life experiences that result in further “models” of the self, others, and the world.
Sometimes new experiences hit blockages in our minds. Our minds are habit machines that like familiarity, even if it is unhealthy or chaotic. The mind equates familiar with safe!
We can become aware that we are in the way of our healing, stuck to know how to move past our own blocking beliefs or models of how life is…we want to trust others but just can’t. We want to love ourselves more and engage in self-care, but we continue to stay busy and put ourselves down. We need to set boundaries in relationships but continue to say yes when we should say no.
To facilitate healing in our lives, we have to remove the blocking beliefs. Several healing practices let go or release blocking beliefs. Examples include EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping), and Forgiveness Work are evidence-based practices designed to help people work through anxiety, trauma, and stuck emotions.
Ron Huxley, a trauma trainer and therapist uses three healing strategies to help people form new Internal Working Models and get “unstuck.” The first healing strategy is to calm down the brain and nervous system. This strategy allows the autonomic nervous system to balance the parasympathetic (rest and digest) and sympathetic (energizing stress) systems. There is a time for both, but most of us overuse the sympathetic system in our modern stressed-ruled society. Our bodies and minds are not designed for long-term stress responses. It will break down the immune system, create dissociative thinking, and dysregulate emotional circuits. The results on relationships can be devastating.
The second healing strategy is to build new skills and competencies. Couples in conflict want to learn communication skills to improve their relationship. Although essential, if they have not worked on the first healing strategy and created a safe space for themselves and their partner, new skills won’t make a lasting difference.
Once a sense of safety is created, new skills that enhance the brain’s executive functioning come forward. Executive functioning skills include self-control, impulse control, sense of self, reading social cues, planning, organization, follow-through, focused attention, and time management. Often, security is all relationships need to see self, others, and the world differently. The skills might already be in place but weren’t expressed due to overriding survival needs.
The third healing strategy is deepening relationships. Once security is in place and new skills practices, we have to sustain this progress. We can rest on the fact that we have made a shift in our internal working model. We have to live it and face new challenges that might require new elements of the model. Old blocking beliefs might pop up, or triggers threaten to return us to old patterns of behavior. All three strategies may have to be revisited to stay unstuck and live in emotional freedom.
Get more tools for healing at FamilyHealer.tv or sign up for a session with Ron Huxley today.
This past year presented so many different challenges and obstacles that tested our strength and resiliency. The global pandemic forced us to cope with situations we never even imagined, and a lot of us struggled with our mental health as a result. The good news is that there are tools and resources available that can support the well-being of individuals and communities.
Now, more than ever, we need to combat the stigma surrounding mental health concerns. That’s why this Mental Health Month Ron Huxley is highlighting the TraumaToolbox.com- what individuals can do throughout their daily lives to prioritize mental health, build resiliency, and continue to cope with the obstacles of COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, many people who had never experienced mental health challenges found themselves struggling for the first time. During the month of May, we are focusing on different topics that can help process the events of the past year and the feelings that surround them, while also building up skills and supports that extend beyond COVID-19.
We know that the past year forced many to accept tough situations that they had little to no control over. If you found that it impacted your mental health, you aren’t alone. In fact, of the almost half a million individuals that took the anxiety screening at MHAscreening.org, 79% showed symptoms of moderate to severe anxiety. However, there are practical tools that can help improve your mental health. We are focused on managing anger and frustration, recognizing when trauma may be affecting your mental health, challenging negative thinking patterns, and making time to take care of yourself.
It’s important to remember that working on your mental health and finding tools that help you thrive takes time. Change won’t happen overnight. Instead, by focusing on small changes, you can move through the stressors of the past year and develop long-term strategies to support yourself on an ongoing basis.
A great starting point for anyone who is ready to start prioritizing their mental health is to take a mental health screening at MHAscreening.org. It’s a quick, free, and confidential way for someone to assess their mental health and begin finding hope and healing.
Ultimately, during this month of May, Ron Huxley wants to remind everyone that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is possible.
Check out the many mental health tools create free at the TraumaToolbox.com.
A common struggle for modern people is a disconnection between the head and heart. We know one thing to be true, in our head, but we don’t feel or experience that truth, in our hearts or lives. We might have “Know-ledge” that someone love us (a partner, family, friend) but we don’t feel or experience the “know-ing.”
The result of this disconnection is a wide rage of negative emotions and physiological reactions. This lack, of knowing in our hearts, is rapidly creating anxiety in the world. The manifestation is broken relationships, depression and suicidal ideations, and addiction to handle pain. A simple remedy is to reconnect the head and heart.
Neuroscience provides the key to reconnecting head and heart through the new science of neuroplasticity. This refers to the brains ability to reorganize into new networks and mental patterns. It used to be believed that the brain and nervous system only grew during childhood and then stopped. All our learned patterns were fixed once we were adults or at least drastically slowed down. We know know that this is not true.
Learning can occur across the lifespan and the brain can reroute circuits, repattern networks, and even create new brain matter in response to new social emotional inputs, environmental influences, repeated practices, and even small amounts of psychological stress (yes, stress). The brain can also relearn skills, like speaking and motor movement, following brain damage.
Because the brain can be redesigned it is called “plastic” or moldable. Children are an example of neuroplasticity. Developmentally, they are “experience-dependent” coming into the world with neuro-hardware possessing basic operating instructions but needing software or experiences from loving caregivers to program the brain and its resulting behaviors or actions.
The infant brain is primed for social contact and seeks healthy attachments. If those attachments are missed or the attachment bond is frightening, as in case of abused and neglected children, the result is a child with severe emotional and behavioral disturbances.
Fortunatley, if a chlid did not “inherit” a healthy attachment, an adult, through deep inner work and repairing with healthy adult partners, can “earn” their lost security.
NOTE: You can learn more about attachment in our free online course at Traumatoolbox.com
Here is a simple two-step practice that has been proven to change the brain in a positive way and connect the head to the heart:
1. Activate your head. What is you WANT to believe but don’t currently feel is true? Write this statement out on a piece of paper and say it outloud. Of course, it will not FEEL true because it is your head that is saying it, not your heart.
2. Activate your heart. Picture this statement “as if” it were true. Hold that image in your heart while you take slow, deep breaths. The breathing will keep the body from overriding the statements as not true. It just wants to protect you from hurt or disappoinment. Ignore it, or better yet, thank it for trying to protect you and continue to picture it.
This is not “whoo-whoo” philosphy. This is science. Research has proven that daily expressions of gratitude create literal changes in brain structure and mental functions. This is measureable change! The brain looks for reasons to validate what it believes. If you believe that you people are rude to you, your reticular activating system (a group of neural connectsion in your brain stem that play a crucial role in maintaining behavioral arousl, direct focus, and conciousness) will filter sensor input to be congruent with the thoughts you think about yourself and your world. The brain validates what you believe! If you think people are rude, you will see rude people everwhere. They are not hard to find…
If you think that people are kind and generous toward you, the reticular activating system will filter out the rude people and notice only kind and generous people. In turn, this will reinforce your knowledge of kind and generous people, and increase your knowing additional kind and generous people, developing new neural pathways in the physical brain so you have new mental capacity and memories, and new moods and behaviors will develop.
If this doesn’t convince you, listen to this interesting fact:
The heart is a more power, electrical object than your brain! The heart is about 100,000 times stronger electrically and up to 5000 ties stronger magnetically than the brain. Although imperceptible to us, the heart give off an electromagnetic (EEG) field that can be measured up to three feet away from our bodies. It you are depressed, angry, bitter…can others experience it whether they mentally understand it or not? Of course, they can. Ask any highly sensitive person and they will tell you how challenging it is to be in a room with another sad or angry person. The emotional field will shift their emotional state as well unless they mentally (head and hearts connection again) rehearse this this feeling is not their but belongs to others.
Here’s another fact:
The heart is not just a blood-pumping organ, it is a sensory organ. It acts as a “sophisticated information encoding and processing center that enables it to learn, remember, and make independent functional decisions.”
An emotion is e-motion or energy in motion. It is not just thoughts, in our head, that direct our lives. Our heart is an important area of personal and spiritual growth as well. We need it to have healthy relationships, make successful business decisions, and overcome traumatic events. This latter area is called “neuroresilience” as is a term coined by Ron Huxley in his online course: TraumaToolbox.com
It is really time to stop using our heads without connecting our hearts. Use the two-step practice, allow the principle of neuroplasticity to affect new change, and find more freedom in thoughts and emotions.
Use all the courses available for the head and the heart at http://familyhealer.tv
The phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me” is a childish idea that isn’t really true. It is a saying that is designed to be a reply to an insult or ward off bullying and discrimination. Adoptive families know the pain that comes from social stigma and stereotypes that surround adoption. The reality is that words do hurt but they can also heal.
1. the action or process of affirming something or being affirmed.
2. emotional support or encouragement.
Affirmative Adoption Words: to “affirm” is to state that something is true. It is a “higher truth” that helps us be who we were designed to be; face adversities, and aspire to be the best we can be.
The repetition of affirmative words can change habit patterns and attitudes. It isn’t just positive thinking. That implies there is no work involved or no struggle. Affirmations place ourselves into alignment with the best version of ourselves.
The best affirmations start with “I am…” This makes it real and authentic. It establishes our identity based on what we choose to be versus what others say we are or are not.
Affirmations cause us to take responsibility. It voices the belief that I am aware of something that needs to be changed and that I can and will do something about it. We are not victims. We are agents of change and healing to our families.
Beliefs are habitual patterns of thinking. They are often the result of our past experiences and contain old survival ideas that may no longer be needed. If we learned how to survive, we can unlearn any unhealthy patterns, and re-learn new, more powerful ways to think.
List 5 positive “I am…” affirmations:
Positive Adoption Language
The way we talk — and the words we choose — say a lot about what we think and value. When we use positive adoption language, we say that adoption is a way to build a family — just as birth is. Both are important, and neither is more important than the other.
Choose the following, positive adoption language instead of the negative talk that helps perpetuate the myth that adoption is second best. By using positive adoption language, you will reflect the true nature of adoption, free of innuendo.
Adopted Child; Own Child
Born to Unmarried Parents
Terminate Parental Rights
Make an Adoption Plan
Adoptable Child; Available Child
Birth Father; Biological Father
Making Contact With
Permission to Sign a Release
Track Down Parents
Child Placed for Adoption
An Unwanted Child
Child Taken Away
A child with Special Needs
Child from Abroad
* Source: https://www.adoptivefamilies.com/talking-about- adoption/positive-adoption-language/
A lot of people are looking for a therapist that understands their Christian values and beliefs. I offer online therapy for teens and adults who want to deal with anxiety, trauma, and difficult life situations from a faith based perspective. I have dedicated my career to finding practical solutions that combine 30 years of traditional mental health insights and tools with spiritual interventions that integrate the whole person (Body / Mind / and Spirit).
“Trauma can affect our spirit and our spirit can heal our trauma”Ron Huxley, Faith-Based Family Therapist and Trauma-Informed Trainer
Trauma tells us lies about our identity. It internalizes outer pain into an inner reality. It tells us that we are unsafe, unwanted, unworthy, unloveable. It must be true because we keep getting this message from the world, the universe, from God, right? It must be true because it FEELS so true, right? Fortunately, that is not right.
Faith-Based Trauma Therapy uses trauma-informed, attachment-focused, and faith-based approaches to transform the false narratives written on our hearts.
TRAUMA-INFORMED = BODY
ATTACHMENT-FOCUSED = MIND
FAITH-BASED = SPIRIT
Trauma results in broken-heartedness, people feeling poorly about themselves, being unsafe in the presence of others, and estranged from God.
Trauma dysregulates our body. It impairs the nervous system and alters a child’s development. It hijacks our thinking brains with hyper-vigilance activating the “fight or flight” mechanism God designed within us for protection. But we are not designed for the amount of stress that comes from traumatic events and it overruns our bodies/brain.
Trauma disrupts our minds. Synaptic energy flows through our brains creating thoughts and emotions. Trauma disrupts that flow of energy resulting in modern mental health issues like depression and anxiety. It presents problems in impulse control, emotional management, planning and organizational skills, task completion, memory, motivation, and self-esteem.
Trauma disconnects us from ourselves, others, and God. It brings a dark night over the soul feeling cut off from sources of support. We can’t hear God’s voice, we question his will and we wonder if we ever did know it. Our most basic building block of trust is pulled from our foundations and it feels like we are crashing inward. We isolate, insulate, and avoid others. This wall of isolation makes us feels safe but also prevents others from getting close. Trauma tells us lies about who we are and our purpose in life. It shuts down dreams and destiny.
A powerful practice to engage in each day is to ask ourselves: “How’s my heart today?” This is a common question I ask in the therapy session which makes the inner inquiry of…
How am I feeling about myself?
How are my relationships with family and friends?
What is the level of my relationship with God?
This inquiry of the heart, done daily or maybe hourly, sets the course for healing body, mind, and spirit. We notice the hurts caused by trauma and find ways to engage them instead of avoiding them. The only way out of hurt is through the hurt. On the other side, joy is waiting for us.
This is an inner work frequently neglected in favor of outer behavior management. Outer works are more sanitary and mechanical which makes them easier to manage. Inner work can be messy. Over-focus on outer works causes family members to react versus respond to others trauma/behavior. It views the person as the problem.
The truth is that the person is not the problem. The problem is the problem. Inner work connects with the person against the problem. Together we will think about the problem and work to solve the problems that trauma bring because together there is healing.
The strategy of healing in faith-based trauma therapy includes 1. Calming the body/brain, 2. Elevating the executive functions, 3. Rewrite our life narratives, and 4. Deepen our inner and outer connections. This is a holistic approach to healing that is a “bottom up, top down and spiritual surround” interventions.
In faith-based trauma therapy, traditional interventions blend naturally with spiritual practices to forgive relational wounds, decrease residual trauma from our nervous system, increase attachments, restore emotional balance, reprocess lies, find the new truth, process grief and restart the flow of hope in our lives.
If you would like to more about faith-based trauma therapy for yourself or your family, contact Ron Huxley today at 805-709-2023 or click here to schedule a session (in office and Skype appointments) now.
Previously posted on Parenting Toolbox November 2014 by Ron Huxley, LMFT
There are areas in our parenting where we think like princes or princesses. We are fully confident in our abilities to handle a situation. There are also areas where we think like paupers, poor in attitude and low in confidence. A prince is rich in resources and doesn’t worry about a positive future. They know respect and honor from those around them. A pauper lives by survival skills and manipulation and secrecy is the game of life. A prince feels deserving of worthy and is valued and feels valuable. A pauper feels worthlessness, shame, and guilt.
Are you a consciously parenting a prince or a pauper? Do you feel confident and worthy to the task? Are you controlled by guilt, manipulation, and shame? Do you experience respect or disdain from your family members? Is your household ruled by love or fear?
It is possible to think like a prince in some areas of our lives and like a pauper in others at the same time. It may not be all of our parenting that suffers but there may be some key areas that are creating some big trouble. Take time to honestly evaluate where you are thinking like a prince or a pauper. Allow yourself to find new value and think differently about your family relationships. Create a self-care plan. Read, watch, listen or hang out with people who believe they are a prince and princess. They will model how to have a different mindset for parenting and life.
A parenting pauper has few or no tools to build a family of their dreams. A parenting prince or princess has many tools in their parenting toolbox. Get more parenting tools by using our online parenting ecourses in our Family Healer School!