Do people get more depressed when a New Year starts? If so, why?
While many people look forward to wrapping up the year and setting goals for the next, it’s not uncommon for others to find themselves lamenting missed goals or opportunities both personally and professionally as the current year ends. A new year inevitably comes with expectations for capitalizing on prior successes and making changes to experience more success. For those struggling with symptoms of depression, it may be difficult to identify achievements when they are clouded by a general sense of failure. Depression can lead to rumination over these perceived failures, and if no plan for resolution exists, some people become stuck in this negative cycle, making it even more challenging to find the motivation to create positive change.
What are some healthy ways to kick off 2022 mentally healthy?
One of the first things we can do is acknowledge that our mental health is as equally important as our physical health. While a healthy diet and exercise can be excellent allies in improving mental health, there are additional ways to boost mental well-being. Sharing how you feel with a trusted family member, friend, pastor, or counselor can be a great way to take charge of your mental health. The act of sharing your thoughts and feelings, being heard, and feeling supported can decrease one’s sense of isolation. Engage in activities that bring you a sense of accomplishment or success. Volunteering for a charity, helping a friend, or any form of assisting others can make us feel needed and valued, providing a boost to our own feelings of self-worth.
Is there a connection between physical health and mental health?
There has been quite a bit of research regarding the “gut-brain connection.” Our bodies are sensitive to our emotions–anger, sadness, fear, and joy. Think about the times when you’ve had a deadline looming or a large project to complete. Chances are, you may have been experiencing physical symptoms of that stress, such as headaches, upset stomach, or fatigue. Maintaining a healthy diet of nutrient-rich foods that promote good gut health, staying hydrated, and finding time in your day to move your body are excellent ways to improve your physical state making a direct and positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
What are signs that someone is experiencing depression or anxiety, so they know when to seek professional help?
Symptoms of depression can include fatigue, lethargy, changes in sleep and appetite, persistent sadness, irritability, lack of motivation, or a sense of hopelessness. Anxiety can present in some of the same ways including fatigue, sleep problems, or irritability but can also include difficulty concentrating, feeling restless or on edge, constant worry or fear, or a general sense of dread. When these symptoms become chronic, lasting multiple days or weeks on end, it may be time to reach out for professional help.
What are some habits to practice every day to keep mental health in check?
A quick and easy way to boost mental health can include keeping a gratitude journal. Listing things we are grateful for each day allows time to reflect on what is going well in our lives and reminds us that positive things are happening. Engage in a mindful activity, such as meditation, deep breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation. These activities allow the brain to take a break from the constant stream of information processing. Seek opportunities for laughter by talking to a funny friend, watching a comedy, or thinking about a funny experience as laughter produces endorphins in our brain and lifts our mood. Leave your mobile device, computer, etc. behind. Going off the grid is good for the brain and can lead to improved mood and functioning.
VIANEY REINHARDT is a licensed professional counselor who serves as the divisional director of Business Development for Connections Wellness Group. Reinhardt earned a master’s degree in clinical psychology from The University of North Texas. She has spent much of her career working with children, adolescents, and families struggling with behavioral and emotional disorders. She has worked in a variety of settings, including acute in-patient hospitals, residential treatment facilities, community mental health clinics, and foster care programs. She now uses her clinical skills in her work as a clinical liaison as she educates professionals, community members, and those affected by mental health struggles on the impact of mental illness and the services Connections Wellness Group offers to those seeking to live healthier and more meaningful lives.
Connections Wellness Group is a nationally accredited healthcare practice able to care for any need, from acute depression to the common cold to everything in between.