Pastor Carl Frederick Hill

How Millennial Pastor Carl Frederick Hill Addresses Mental Health Through Faith and Therapy

Pastor Carl Federick Hill

When it comes to mental health, Pastor Carl Frederick Hill, who is the author of Cast Your Anxiety on God, has been to some dark spaces, but he knows he’s not alone. The United States is experiencing a mental health crisis, with suicide being the eleventh cause of death overall. When you break that down by demographic, men account for over 75% of suicides, with Black men being heavily impacted, and it continues to rise at an alarming rate. 

For Hill, it took having a panic attack and a mental breakdown to start him on his current path of bridging faith with mental health awareness, for himself, and in his messaging as a pastor. He wants people, especially Black men, to know they don’t have to suffer in silence.  

“My mental health advocacy came as a result of a conflict between my consciousness and the religious landscape,” the Alabama native explains to AURN. “It was a Wednesday night at Church in May 2012. I was teaching Bible study and I had an anxiety attack, but I didn’t know what it was. It just felt like I was about to die.”

Hill subsequently ended up in the hospital for three days. That ironically became the source of more angst because he was conflicted due to his religious views. 

“In this moment I’m like, ‘You’re a preacher, something is wrong with your relationship with God if you’re battling with your mental health. God keeps your mind in perfect peace if your mind stays on him’…I was praying my a– off, and I’m like, nothing is changing.” 

Pastor Carl Federick Hill

It wasn’t until December 2017, during another hospitalization, this time for 11 days, due to a mental breakdown and an anxiety attack, when Hill’s advocacy began after a follow-up appointment with his therapist. 

“I know I heard from God in my therapist’s office, and so it’s hard for me to believe that If we have this omniscient model of God, and this omnipresent model of God, that means God is not limited or constricted to our confines of worshiping God in places that are comfortable for us,” says Hill. “I can hear from God in my psychiatrist’s office. I can hear from God in the hospital so I can take care of my mental health…if we can go to the doctor and pray that God touches the doctor, we can go to the therapist and pray that God touches the therapist as well. That’s the backdrop of my ministry walk, my mental health advocacy.” 

Cast All Your Anxiety on God – a 30 Day Devotional

Hill’s book, Cast All Your Anxiety on God, is a 30 day Christian devotional for journeying through anxiety via journaling. It doesn’t replace therapy, but the purpose of the tome is to provide spiritual centering through prompts that encourage people to think about positive aspects of what’s going on in their lives. 

It was born from a rough patch in Hill’s life. He had just finalized a divorce last year, and was experiencing grief. He was also in a rough place with his mom, and was reminded of that one day while sitting alone in a restaurant on Mother’s Day ‘23. 

“I had a conversation with a pastor friend of mine and the idea of the book came from him,” says Hill. “In that conversation he was like, there is literally a scripture that’s dealing with anxiety contextually, because Paul is in prison. Nobody looks at Paul from the idea of his mental wellness, which he clearly lays out in so many passages. I found those passages and said, ‘How do I feel? What do I need to start my day if I’m battling with my own mental health?’ and that’s how I came up with those 30 days of  different scenarios.” 

Writing Cast All Your Anxiety on God saved Hill’s life, and hopefully it’s a blessing that will be paid forward to anyone who feels alone in their battles.  

“The impact that I would like for my book to have is always in community because anxiety, depression and so many of the different mental health moments cause us to feel isolated, and you’re never by yourself,” says Hill. “Someone feels exactly how you feel. Even in the moments we are considering suicide, there’s someone else that feels the same way. But if we can find a point of connectivity, then we can help glean from one another in trying to make it through it.”  

11 Things to Do This Valentine's Day by Lysious/AURN

11 Things to Do this Valentine’s Day

The most romantic day of the year is right around the corner– Valentine’s Day. The days and weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day can be nerve-wrecking as you try to figure out the perfect gift and plan the perfect date for your partner. While many go the fancy dinner route coupled with flowers and chocolates, it wouldn’t hurt to step outside of the box, especially considering how hard it can be to secure reservations. So check out some of these creative Valentine’s Day date night ideas that are sure to elevate your night.

But before you dive into this list, it’s important to have a clear concept of what you and your partner’s expectations are going into the day. Does your partner want something low key? Or to bask in luxury? These things are important to know when deciding what to do for Valentine’s Day. Here we go:

1. Couples Spa Day

Valentine’s Day is often seen as a day to shower each other with gifts and grand gestures. However, showing your love can also extend to caring for each other’s well-being. A spa day prioritizes both your physical and mental health, demonstrating your commitment to each other’s happiness and relaxation. A spa day provides a much-needed escape from the pressures of daily life, allowing you to wholly focus on each other. You can put away your phones, forget about deadlines, and simply unwind and recharge in each other’s company. Many spa treatments involve side-by-side massages, facials, or other hands-on therapies. This physical contact can be incredibly intimate and relaxing, increasing oxytocin levels and creating feelings of trust and connection, according to Green Toes.

2. Picnic

Young couple having a picnic in the park on a sunny day

The informality of a picnic allows for spontaneous moments of closeness and affection. Sharing bites of food, playing silly games, or simply laying side-by-side and talking can be incredibly romantic without the need for grand gestures or extravagant displays, according to MomJunction. Preparing a picnic basket together gives you the opportunity to put personalized touches into your date. Choosing your partner’s favorite foods, packing a special bottle of wine, or bringing along a bouquet of wildflowers can show how much you care and add a thoughtful element to the experience. Parks offer a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Spreading out a blanket under a shady tree creates a secluded haven for you and your partner, away from prying eyes and intrusive noises. This allows you to truly focus on each other and enjoy uninterrupted quality time.

3. Comedy Club

Stand-up comedy stage illuminated by a spotlight with the word COMEDY in red neon lamp. 3d render

When looking for a unique and unconventional Valentine’s Day experience, a comedy club can be a refreshing alternative to the traditional dinner and flowers routine. It shows you’re creative, adventurous, and willing to try something new with your partner. According to Mayo Clinic, studies show that shared laughter releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain, which increase feelings of connection and intimacy. Laughing together strengthens your bond and creates positive memories, leaving you both feeling happier and closer.

4. Boat Ride

Whether you’re gliding across a calm lake, sailing along a windswept coast, or cruising down a tranquil canal, the surrounding scenery provides a breathtaking backdrop for your romantic evening. Sunsets over water, twinkling city lights reflected in the ripples, or the serene peacefulness of nature can all add to the special ambiance. And unlike a crowded restaurant or a bustling bar, a boat ride offers a secluded and intimate setting just for the two of you. You’re away from the noise and distractions of everyday life, allowing you to truly connect and focus on each other.

5. Helicopter Ride

Happy couple having fun on the field near aircraft, making plane with arms

Imagine setting off at sunset, bathed in the golden light as you fly over twinkling city lights or stunning natural landscapes. Soaring above the city or breathtaking landscapes offers a bird’s-eye view of the world, creating a truly unforgettable and unique experience you’ll both cherish. It’s a chance to escape the ordinary and share a thrilling adventure together. Helicopters usually carry small groups, leaving you and your partner to truly focus on each other and soak in the breathtaking views without distractions. The enclosed space can foster a sense of intimacy and exclusivity, especially if you choose a private tour, according to Minnesota Helicopters Inc.

6. Take a Class Together

Portrait of smiling credit by 123rf

Learning something new together fosters a sense of shared accomplishment and teamwork. You’ll laugh, make mistakes, and ultimately create something together, strengthening your bond through the experience. Classes create a natural flow of conversation as you discuss and compare techniques, flavors, or moves. These shared discoveries can lead to deeper conversations and a better understanding of each other’s interests and preferences. Some potential classes that you and your partner could participate in include: candle-making, cocktail-making, cooking class, or dance class. A dance class, for example, “is a great way to let loose on date night, especially if you’re nervous. Dancing releases endorphins–happy chemicals in the brain–that will reduce your stress and bring on a positive mood,” according to Salsa Kings.

7. Wine Tasting

Close Up of Couple Toasting, Hands and Wineglass only credit by 123rf

Trying different wines together allows you to embark on a shared journey of discovery. Discussing your preferences, learning about winemaking, and finding new favorites can spark conversation and deepen your connection. Wine tasting offers a sensory escape from the everyday world. The hushed atmosphere, the delicate glasses, and the focus on taste and smell create a unique and intimate setting perfect for celebrating your love, according to Bucks County Wine Trail. Additionally, there’s an undeniable element of luxury associated with wine tasting. The elegant setting, the knowledgeable sommelier, and the exquisite glassware all contribute to a romantic and special experience.

8. Have a Photoshoot

Couple smiling while lying forward in the park

A professional photoshoot can preserve the joy, love, and intimacy of your Valentine’s Day celebration, creating cherished keepsakes to revisit and treasure for years to come. The process of getting ready, choosing outfits, and posing for the camera can be filled with laughter and lighthearted moments. These shared experiences will further strengthen your bond and create happy memories to cherish. The photos you create during your photoshoot can be framed, used for personalized gifts, or shared on social media. They become a lasting reminder of your love and a unique Valentine’s Day gift that continues to bring joy long after the day is over.

9. Take a Day Trip

Couple Day Trip credit by Adventures from Scratch

Even a short distance can make a big difference. Immersing yourselves in a new landscape, whether it’s a charming coastal town, a scenic mountain vista, or a vibrant city district, can rejuvenate your spirits and spark conversations about new experiences. Leaving the familiar behind helps you disconnect from distractions and prioritize your connection. Whether you’re exploring new sights, enjoying a scenic drive, or sharing a delicious lunch, you’ll have ample opportunity to focus solely on each other and deepen your relationship. Day trips remove the planning and logistical challenges of longer trips as well as offer a more budget-friendly option for celebrating Valentine’s Day. You can pack a light bag, hop in the car, and enjoy the journey without the pressure of extensive planning or tight schedules.

10. Go on a Brewery, Winery or Distillery Tour

Whether it’s exploring a charming craft brewery, a picturesque vineyard, or a rustic distillery, stepping into a new world with its distinct smells, sights, and atmosphere can provide a welcome escape from the everyday routine. Tours often include lighthearted anecdotes, playful interactions with the producers, and opportunities to taste and compare different varieties. Discovering a new favorite beer, wine, or spirit during the tour can spark future outings to try different varieties or even inspire homemade brewing or cooking experiments together.

11. Staycation

Sometimes, the most romantic sights and experiences are right beneath your noses. A staycation encourages you to rediscover your local city or town through fresh eyes, exploring hidden gems, and appreciating familiar places in a new light. Explore local activities you’ve always meant to try: a museum you haven’t visited, a quirky local festival, or a scenic outdoor adventure. Embarking on new experiences together in your own city can spark excitement and create lasting memories.

Ultimately, remember that Valentine’s Day is about celebrating your love. Choose an activity that allows you to spend quality time together, have fun, and create lasting memories. Whether it’s a spa day or a playful cocktail-making session, the key is to choose something that expresses your love and strengthens your bond.

portrait of young attractive and happy black African American woman touching afro man ripped abdomen showing nude torso and six pack abdominals in fit sexy body worship

When I Get That Feeling: Hormones, Your Health, and Your Sex Life

When you think of ‘hormones’, pregnancy or the menstrual cycle probably crosses your mind. The word has become nearly synonymous with moodiness, but contrary to popular belief, our hormones affect every part of our being according to Randi Hutter Epstein, MD, the author of Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything. When our hormones are imbalanced, it can throw off our everyday lives, impacting things such as sex life, sleep cycle, stress levels and much more. 

In this article we’ll dive into how imbalanced hormones can disrupt our health and what can be done to help regulate them.

First things first: What exactly are hormones, you might ask? They are the chemicals that travel to different parts of the body to communicate different functions. According to the Cleveland Clinic, scientists have found “over 50 hormones in the human body.” Some of those being cortisol, testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, and oxytocin. “Think of a hormone as a key, “added the clinic, “and the cells of its target tissue, such as an organ or fat tissue, as specially shaped locks. If the hormone fits the lock (receptor) on the cell wall, then it’ll work; the hormone will deliver a message that causes the target site to take a specific action.” 

It’s important to note that even the most minor changes in hormone levels can result in drastic shifts to your bodily functions and may even require medical treatment.

For example, when your pancreas isn’t producing insulin properly, it can result in Type 1 Diabetes, a life-long disease that requires those diagnosed to monitor their blood-sugar levels and routinely inject themselves with insulin. While there is no discovered prevention for Type 1, as it is commonly found to run in families, Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented with nutritious eating habits, regular exercise and healthy weight management. 

Female and male infertility can both be attributed to hormonal imbalances. For women, conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) cause the ovaries to overproduce the hormone androgen, which can lead to infertility. Those diagnosed with PCOS may also experience irregular menstrual cycles, abnormal hair growth, adult acne, obesity, skin tags and hair loss. Healthcare professionals recommend a healthy and nutritious diet coupled with routine exercise to manage symptoms, similar to that recommended for Type 2 Diabetes. 

For men, disorders like hypothalamic dysfunction can cause infertility. This condition impacts the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, preventing them from communicating properly. Some common causes of hypothalamic dysfunction include: head trauma, excessive iron, genetic disorders, and over-exposure to radiation. Treatment for this condition is based on the exact cause. So if caused by a “hormone deficiency, hormone therapy may be recommended,” according to the Fertility Center of San Antonio.

Hormonal imbalances can also lead to loss of interest in sex for both men and women. According to Dr. Randolph, fluctuating estrogen levels and low levels of testosterone can kill libido (sexual desires), and declining dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) levels affect sex drive overall. For men, low testosterone levels can lead to conditions like erectile dysfunction; for women, low estrogen may cause thinning in the lining of the vagina, dryness, and atrophy. 

According to Ovation Wellness, there are several ways to help balance your hormones and get your sex drive back. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, testosterone replacement therapy, MonaLisa Touch procedure, or the O-Shot are just a few options.

Another significant hormone in our bodies is cortisol. While it is widely known as the
“stress hormone,” cortisol is a glucocorticoid hormone that impacts nearly every organ and tissue in the body. It is responsible for regulating the body’s response to stress, sleep-wake cycles, suppressing inflammation, regulating blood pressure and sugar, and controlling metabolism. Having extremely high or extremely low cortisol levels negatively affects our health.

High levels of cortisol can cause irritability, difficulty concentrating, weight gain, severe fatigue and muscle weakness—among other symptoms. Left unmanaged, it can result in serious health conditions like diabetes, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease, according to Healthline.

A deficiency in cortisol might result in dizziness, weight loss, mood changes, and adrenal insufficiency—which can lead to adrenal crisis and, if not treated, can cause death. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, “The severe lack of cortisol at these times can cause life-threatening low blood pressure, low blood glucose, low blood sodium, and high blood potassium.” 

While some conditions regarding cortisol levels may require medical treatment (like Cushing’s syndrome), there are some things that you can prioritize and incorporate into your everyday routine to regulate your cortisol levels. Things like getting quality sleep, regularly working out, monitoring and/or limiting stress, and most importantly enjoying life—laugh a little. While that last one may seem insignificant, laughing “promotes the release of endorphins and suppresses cortisol,” according to Cleveland Clinic.

Our hormones play such an important and complex role in our everyday lives. So it’s important to understand how our day-to-day habits can either positively or negatively affect them and, as a result, impact our overall health. While this article only touched on a few hormones and how they impact the human body, we urge you to reach out to a trusted healthcare provider if you are experiencing any new and persistent symptoms.

Hiring Career Employment Human Resources Concept

9 Ways to Boost Your Career in 2024

2024 is here. The beginning of a new year is a time of reflection and introspection, a time to set your intentions on what you want to achieve throughout this new season. But, what better intention to set our sight on than accelerating your career?

On average, most Americans spend the majority of their time at work, according to Gettysburg College, “the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work over a lifetime.” With that in  mind, it only makes sense that you seek all that you want out of your career since it plays such a huge part in your life. This is why AURN is bringing you nine ways that you can boost your career in 2024. Whether you’re making a career change or seeking to climb the ladder at your current company, you’re going to want to keep reading.

  • 1. Identify your career goals

While this may seem insignificant to some, depending on where you’re at in your career journey, now could be the perfect time to reevaluate and identify what your true goals are. Maybe you’ve been an accountant for over five years but realized you’re not as much of an analytical person as you thought, maybe you’ve shifted into your creative side and want to seek out a career that allows your creativity to soar. Now is the time to be honest with yourself and look into an industry change. According to Indeed, you could start by researching potential careers that peak your interest, identify your transferable skills and highlight them as you update your resume, seek training related to the field and most importantly, be prepared to explain why you decided to transition fields.

But, maybe you’re someone looking to stay in the same industry or with the same company, identify your short and long term goals while also developing a roadmap on how to achieve it. Start identifying skills that correspond with your industry and will make you an asset to any company within it.

  • 2. Stay atop of trends in your industry

Piggy-backing off the end of tip number one, identifying new skills that correspond with your industry is key and staying on top of new trends in your industry is a necessary skill to have. In an article posted to LinkedIn, “one of the key reasons why staying up-to-date with industry trends and technological advancements is so important is that it can help you to stay ahead of the curve. By being aware of the latest developments in your industry, you can anticipate changes and take proactive steps to adapt to them. This can help you to stay competitive and position yourself for success in the long run,” which again, would make you an asset to any company you work for.

A great way to do this is by joining industry associations like the American Advertising Federation or Public Relations Society of America. In 2009, out of 1.9 million U.S. organizations, 90,908 were classified as 501(c)(6) trade or professional associations, meaning that there are plenty to join. Aside from the knowledge to be learned this is also a great means for networking which is also a key tip that will be presented later down this article.

  • 3. Reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses

In The Art of War for Women, Chin-Ning Chu wrote “Our troubles start with the way we define liabilities and assets. Liabilities are established by the majority in any given culture; but the same liability in one culture would be considered an asset in another.” As she continues, she asks readers to imagine they work a creative job but have a more analytical mind. While they may lack in the sense of creativity, they would be perfect in ensuring their team finishes projects in a timely manner. But on the other hand, she adds that your strengths also hold your weaknesses, for example, “if you are very confident, you can come across as arrogant.”

So when we say, “reevaluate your strengths and weaknesses,” it means two things: one, be proud of your strengths but have enough self-awareness to see how your strengths can get the best of you, and two, dive deeper into your weakness to see how you can flip them upside down.

  • 4. Focus on your branding

When employers and other industry professionals look at you, what do they see? How you present yourself both online and offline are important. Do you have a LinkedIn profile? Is it up to date? Do you have a website that outlines all that you have accomplished in your respective industry? These are all things to consider when working on your brand as a professional. According to Forbes, branding “is an essential part of building your professional identity, and it can help you establish a strong personal reputation.”

  • 5. Study your company 

Identify where your company can improve and figure out ways that you can assist. By understanding your company’s inner workings, you become better equipped to identify and solve problems independently, contributing more effectively to team efforts. Studying your company’s industry, products, and processes expands your knowledge base and skillset, making you a more valuable asset. This can lead to career advancement opportunities within the company or open doors for future jobs in the same field.

In addition, study with your colleagues. Pay attention to those who are getting the promotions and the ones who aren’t, you may learn a thing or two.

  • 6. Seek Feedback

Feedback often shines a light on areas where you’re excelling and areas where you need growth. This self-awareness allows you to prioritize skill development and target specific areas for improvement, according to LinkedIn. It can highlight blind spots you might miss on your own, revealing weaknesses or habits that hinder your performance. With focused feedback, you can work on specific skills to fill knowledge gaps and strengthen your overall performance. This could involve seeking training, coaching, or simply adjusting your approach based on the feedback received. 

Actively seeking feedback demonstrates your willingness to learn and grow, showcasing your proactive and forward-thinking attitude. This can build trust and rapport with colleagues and superiors, opening doors to mentorship opportunities and career advancement. Some tips you can use are to be specific when seeking feedback, go into it with a particular project or skill in mind, be open-minded and know that at the end of the day, the feedback can only make you better, and ask clarifying questions to gauge a deeper understanding if anything is unclear.

  • 7. Find opportunities to showcase your leadership skills

By stepping up and showcasing your leadership skills, not only will you stand out from the crowd but you will also catch the attention of superiors and can even lead to positive recognition or promotions. When you tackle challenges and spearhead initiatives, you position yourself as a go-to person with the potential to take on larger roles in the future.

  • 8. Find a mentor

Having a mentor can literally be a game changer when it comes to accelerating your career. Having someone to offer invaluable insights and advice based on their experience and knowledge can help you navigate career challenges, make informed decisions, and avoid potential pitfalls, according to LinkedIn.

We talked earlier about identifying career goals and your strengths and weaknesses. Mentors are amazing because they can assist with all of those things, helping you to create a roadmap for achieving them. Their guidance can keep you focused on your long-term career aspirations.

  • 9. Network

Last but certainly not least, I know we’ve all heard it before but networking really is the name of the game. “70 percent of people in 2016 were hired at a company where they had a connection,” according to LinkedIn. Developing a strong professional network can have your name dropped in rooms that you’d never imagine. Having those genuine and authentic relationships with other industry professionals can provide you with a sense of community, support, and help with your job search.

It’s important to note, however, that when networking you focus on building real connections, not just collecting business cards. Show genuine interest in others and offer value to your network. Don’t be one-sided, help others in your network whenever possible. Offer expertise, introductions, or resources, creating a mutually beneficial relationship.

Young woman during workout on a bench (Westend61 / AP Images)

7 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

It’s that time of year, the leaves have fallen, temperatures have dropped and while the sun sets earlier, our emotions fall in the cracks. Known to many as winter blues or seasonal depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects nearly 10 million Americans every year, typically during the late fall and winter months.

As we experience less sunlight we are susceptible to drops in serotonin which regulate our mood and a boost in melatonin which is triggered by the night and results in feeling sleepy earlier than normal. According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, symptoms associated with SAD are feelings of loneliness, fatigue, lack of motivation, sudden and unexplained feelings of sadness, changes in sleeping and eating patterns. We’ve scoured the internet to find a few things you can do to help battle seasonal depression:

1. Surround Yourself with Friends and Family

With the temperature dropping, it’s easy to find yourself staying indoors and isolated from your family and friends, but now more than ever is the time to reach out to those you love and make an effort to spend time with them. 

2. Get Active

Young woman during workout on a bench (Westend61 / AP Images)

Exercise can help to release serotonin along with endorphins, both known as “feel good” chemicals according to Help Guide. Even something as simple as going for a walk can “improve moods and mental functioning,” according to Harvard Medical School.

3. Watch What You Eat

FILE – A plate of roasted turkey and gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots appears in Concord, N.H., on Oct. 2, 2012. The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research looks at the state of the country’s Thanksgiving favorites. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead, File)

According to the Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, “serotonin is synthesized in response to carbohydrates, so low serotonin prompts carbohydrate cravings,” which causes weight gain and in turn can contribute to SAD. Not only will maintaining a balanced and stable diet help alleviate winter weight gain but it will also help boost your mood and energy.

4. Soak Up Some Light

Black Outdoors: Why We’re Spending More Time with and in Nature
Source: photos courtesy of Jason Weintraub, Andia K’Zim and Michelline Hess

Whether it be going out during the day to soak up natural sunlight to help boost serotonin levels or participating in light therapy to combat feeling sleepy as early. Light therapy boxes can be found on Amazon ranging from $19-$60.

5. Take Supplements

With the lack of motivation it may have been easy to fall off of a routine of taking your needed supplements, or, maybe you never took them to begin with. We recommend taking a Vitamin D supplement to make up for the lack of sun and also consulting with your doctor to figure out what vitamins would be the best for your mind and body.

6. Find a Hobby

When you keep yourself focused and moving you have less time to sit idle and fall into the hands of seasonal depression. You could try journaling, fitness classes, or reading, anything to give yourself something to look forward to everyday.

7. Get Help

If none of the self-help practices work for you and you find that your symptoms are crippling, seeking professional help is necessary. Tools like Zocdoc can help you find counselors and therapists near you and in your insurance network.