* If you are experiencing severe depression and feel that you no longer want to live, please call 911 immediately. This tool is not a replacement for depression treatment or psychotherapy. If want to schedule an appointment with Ron Huxley for therapy, please click here!
Depression Screening Tool:
(The following criteria may be noticed by you or observed by others within the same two week period)
Do you feel sad or empty most of the day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Have you been lacking interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Have you noticed a significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain or major change in appetite nearly every day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Do you have trouble going to sleep or sleeping too much nearly every day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Are you feeling agitated or sluggish nearly every day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Do you experience fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Have you been feeling worthless or experiencing an excessive amount of guilt nearly every day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
Are you having trouble thinking, concentrating, or being indecisive, nearly every day? Yes – 1 point/ NO –0 points
*Need five points minimum to qualify as Major Depressive Disorder. This screen should not be confused with an actual diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. If you feel you are having a problem in this area, please consult with a professional, such as your physician.
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 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!
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 beactivein 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 relaxationtechniques, 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
If you need more help with your mood, contact Ron Huxley today to schedule a session!
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.
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.”
If you don’t get the right amount of sleep, your mind cannot be at its best. You won’t function properly and may make some serious mistakes. Unfortunately, stress can cause people to stay awake at night. However, getting the right amount of sleep can help eventually reduce your stress levels.
To get better sleep, start exercising on a regular basis. While exercise may give you energy throughout the day, when you go to bed at night, it will help you to sleep better. You will have a quality sleep as well. Some people find that exercising in the evening causes them to be wired, and they can’t get to sleep. If you fall into this camp of people, consider doing your exercising in the morning. This way, you’ll use that energy burst throughout the day and will give you time to become tired.
Try to avoid using alcohol in excess. Although this seems counterintuitive as alcohol makes you sleepy, it causes you to fall into a deep sleep. You then wake up in the middle of the night and have a difficult time getting back to sleep. Without the alcohol, your sleep will be more even and allow you to sleep throughout the night. If you feel you must have alcohol, don’t have more than one drink.
See a doctor if you have sleeping problems that persist. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a decline in your health. Sleep recharges the body and allows it to function properly, including building up antibodies to fight off diseases. When you are deprived of sleep, a bunch of problems can arise because of it.
Hopefully, if you do resort to seeing a doctor, he will find solutions that are not drug-dependent. This may help your sleep problems in the short term but doesn’t do much to fix the reason why you are not getting sleep. Press your doctor for alternative solutions if drugs are being prescribed.
Consider learning meditation as that can relax the mind. It’s much easier to get good sleep when the mind is relaxed than when it is thinking about all the problems you are facing. Meditation won’t solve those problems. But, getting to sleep can help you to come up with solutions faster.
Eating at the proper times during the day and eating the right kinds of foods, can help you to sleep better at night, as well. If you have a heavy meal right before you are going to bed, you could suffer from indigestion, which will not lead to a good sleep at all.
A lot of people confess that they don’t like the fact that they are people-pleasers. Although pleasing others isn’t all bad, it is the negative qualities of always saying “yes,” taking on others’ problems and feelings, not standing up for themselves, assuming things are always their fault, and wanting others to like them or approve of them to feel valuable. If this describes you, you probably don’t like this side of you either.
People-pleasers let others’ voices be louder than their own. When left alone, they don’t know what they think or how to make the right decision. They are so used to listening to what others think or what other people want that they don’t know their minds. Practicing the art of listening to ourselves will help people-pleasers learn to know their thoughts and risk trusting their intuition.
The voice is the connection between the head and the heart.
Turning it on and up is the key to breaking the codependent pattern of people-pleasing. Start by saying your thoughts and feelings out loud. Speaking things into the space of your room makes thoughts and feelings more real. When they are in your head/heart, they can be easily dismissed or distorted. Practice this alone and build confidence for doing it in public.
When you get a thought, write it down. Words have life when written! Write it on post-it notes, as reminders on your phone, and start journaling. There is ample research on the power of handwriting your inner movements that will bring greater insight and clarity to your life. Don’t worry about grammar, making sense, or writing it perfectly. The point is to learn to recognize your thoughts and voice.
Record your voice and listen to the tone and content. How assured do you sound? Are you making excuses for your needs and wants. Do you have to apologize or qualify what you are communicating? If so, re-record it in a firmer tone and with more command.
Listen to affirmative, inspirational talks and decide what you agree with and what you don’t. Practice making statements about your likes and interests. People-pleasers often defer to others’ interests and feel they are rude or don’t have a right to say what they want. When practicing this with others, don’t expect everyone to agree with you suddenly or ask your forgiveness for controlling everything. They may act surprised that you are speaking up but will have more respect for you doing so.
People-pleasers are kind people. They want to keep the peace. The world could use more kind and peaceful people in it but don’t forget to show up. The world also needs people who are confident and can stand up for themselves too.
Get more tools for better mental health and relationships at FamilyHealer.tv
Self-care refers to any attitude or activity we participate in to keep up and support our wellbeing, including mental, physical and spirit. Although everyone agrees with the importance of it, self-care frequently gets thrown away for the demands like work, family and the other pressing factors of life. The time to start self-care is today. Yes, right now!
Self-care doesn’t interrupts your life or take time away from your busy schedule. It benefits it and re-energies you. Here are a six simple reasons you should start benefiting form self-care:
Improves state of mind
Putting time in your own consideration can significantly affect your state of mind, prompting more noteworthy hopefulness and inspiration. It will assist you with feeling more joyful, more fulfilled and better ready to adapt to the difficulties that life tosses you way. In any event, taking a limited quantity of time each week to sustain your physical, passionate and psychological wellness can be tremendously advantageous on your state of mind.
Self-care assists you with being the best individual you can be, which has a positive effect on your connections. Setting aside standard effort to put resources into your own wellbeing permits you to be more joyful and more steady as a person. This permits you to be more persistent and obliging with others and along these lines have better connections.
Diminishes hazard of burnout
Most Americans are over-worked and so self-care is important to keep away from burnout. Discover a type of self-care that works for you, regardless of whether that be going for a stroll, investing energy with family or getting a back rub, and focus on participating in it consistently. It will assist with dealing with your pressure and prevent burnout.
Causes you to be more present
Investing energy overseeing yourself permits you to turn out to be more present and drawn in with your environmental factors. You are probably going to have a superior comprehension of the stuff to keep up your psychological, physical and passionate wellbeing, in this way bringing about you having a more prominent spotlight on your present mind-set and trigger that can possibly affect your wellbeing.
Better execution on your goals
Self-care is frequently seen as an afterthought or luxury. The truth is that it is a requirement for better health and wellness. Taking care of yourself increases your capacity in every area of life: work, family, and sport. If you don’t get enough sleep, you are going to drag at work and miss deadlines. If you don’t meditate each day you will be grumpy and react more to others. Good diet, exercise, and time to yourself will help you focus more, stay more motivated, and finish tasks.
Builds personal happiness/satisfaction
The general advantage of self-care is that it builds the quality of your life. That is probably obvious by now but it not only improves things around you, it improves your identity. Wouldn’t you like to be happier? You can be on the journey for this if you keep this as your focus and your develop habits that promote happiness. Hey, you could read on happiness research for just 5 minutes per day. Try it and see happens in just one week. Why not start now?
Let Ron Huxley help you by scheduling an appointment today to change the negative patterns of your life and transform you relationships into greater satisfaction and joy.
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.
No one, in my generation, has every experienced a global crisis like the pandemic that kicked off in 2020. The unfortunate consequence of this medical crisis will be a new global crisis that affects our mental health.
As a therapist that specializes in anxiety and trauma I have seen a dramatic increase of both in the lives of children and adults. Individuals who already struggled with these issues have increased in personal distress, substance abuse, and suicidal ideations. Even people, who never had problems with depression, anxiety, or panic are now showing symptoms that damage their jobs, health, and relationships.
Government agencies and mental health clearinghouses have ramped up funding to meet this challenge that is likely to continue for the next fear years. The cost is greater than the monies supplied to treat it. We all pay emotionally and spiritually.
Now is the time to address these issues with information, advocacy, and proven methods that help prevent and stop mental health concerns.
When it is chronic and untreated, adverse events can become toxic stress and severely impact individual health, social and cultural structure, and economic stability.
Trauma affects everyone and has known no boundaries. It affects children and adults from all socioeconomic and ethnic backgrounds. It is one of the common denominators for individuals receiving services from social services organizations, and its structural disorganization shows up in correctional institutions, jails, schools, hospitals, and the workplace.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “individual trauma results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life-threatening with lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being.” [https://www.integration.samhsa.gov/clinical-practice/trauma-informed]
The upside of recognizing the commonality of adversity and toxic stress causes us to respond compassionately to ourselves and others!
This continual horror, triggered by events in the individual’s world, leads to a nervous system shutdown that has repercussions in the ability to read and express social cues, access executive brain skills, and find motivation or purpose in life. For researchers like van der Kolk, the body is key to understanding trauma treatment. This insight into toxic stress opens the doors of hope to helpers burdened by the cold cognitive concepts consisting of thought processes alone.
Recognizing the body’s role on the mind and the mind on the body has opened the door to new therapies that allow for deeper healing!
Get more healing for you and your family with Ron Huxley’s online courses at FamilyHealer.tv or schedule a session with Ron today.