By: Dr. Robyn Jennings
As we enter January, this is typically the time that people create New Year’s resolutions – we think about losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising, etc. However, given the unusual year that we just finished, I encourage you to take a different approach to New Year’s resolutions this year- put an emphasis on mental health.
During this pandemic, our nation’s mental health has suffered. We don’t need CDC data to tell us that the prevalence of anxiety and depression has increased this year. Among my patients and family, the number of people with covid pneumonia is far fewer than the number of people with pandemic related anxiety and depression. These mental health symptoms stem from fear of catching the disease, financial hardship from shutdowns, or feeling disconnected socially during this difficult time. So let’s talk about ways to make your mind healthier in 2021.
1) Take an honest assessment of your mental health. We screen patients for anxiety and depression by asking questions such as: Do you have little interest or pleasure in doing things? Do you feel hopeless? Do you feel nervous or irritable? Do you feel like you can’t stop worrying? If you are not acting or feeling like you normally do, make sure you recognize this.
2) Ask for help. Finding someone to talk to about your concerns is important- be it friends, family, your local pastor, a professional counselor, or a physician. If you don’t know where to start, I or one or my colleagues would be happy to see you in clinic or for a telehealth visit.
3) Stay active. Now more than ever, it’s important to exercise. This helps your body and your mind. Bundle up and go for a walk, put on some music and dance, or find your own way to move. My family and I moved to Grant County this summer, and we like that there are so many local places to enjoy nature and exercise.
4) Think of others. Let’s also remember to check in with our family and neighbors. Try to reach out to someone who might be struggling. A small act of kindness can make a difference to someone else.
As we start 2021, let’s address our mental health before we tackle other goals. Wellness is not merely objective measures, it’s holistic and multifaceted. Please keep this in mind as you make health goals for 2021. I’m wishing you a happy and healthy new year.
By: Dr. Robyn Jennings