Fighting Depression Together

In the US alone, about 1 in 10 people experience depression. From the pandemic to social unrest, there are many factors in today’s society that contribute to this rising mental health condition.

Psychology Today states:

“The trigger for depression can be almost any negative experience or hardship. Triggers can be external—losing a parent (especially when young), losing a job or developing a debilitating disease—or they can be internal and invisible, such a brooding over that most common of experiences, a failed relationship. People differ in their susceptibility, both by virtue of the biological heritage, their parenting heritage, their styles of thinking, the coping skills they acquire or deliberately cultivate, and the degree to which situations afford them the ability to control their fate.”

What is Depression?

Webster defines depression as a mood disorder that is marked by varying degrees of sadness, despair, and loneliness and that is typically accompanied by inactivity, guilt, loss of concentration, social withdrawal, sleep disturbances, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.

Signs of Depression

According to the latest edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, depression can be considered an illness when at least five symptoms occur together for at least two weeks. Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of sadness, emptiness, or hopelessness
  • Irritability, angry outbursts, or low frustration tolerance
  • Loss of interest in or ability to enjoy usual activities, from sex to sports
  • Sleep disturbance, whether inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much (hypersomnia)
  • Fatigue and lack of energy; everything feels effortful
  • Appetite disturbance, including loss of interest in eating and weight loss or overeating and weight gain
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness
  • Slowed thinking, moving, or talking
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt, a focus on past failure, self-blame
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, and making decisions
  • Recurring thoughts of death
  • Physical pain such as headaches or back pain that has no clear cause.

How Can Therapy Help?

At SouthEnd Psychiatry, our therapy team first helps patients understand what thoughts, feelings and beliefs are contributing to their depression. We then begin to develop healthy coping skills to combat and prevent depressive episodes. 

Negative thought patterns directly affect our mood. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps us understand these patterns. We learn how to reframe our thoughts through newly developed skills including meditation.

How Can We Help a Loved One With Depression?

Helping someone with depression can come in many forms. Acknowledgment, understanding and empathy are a great place to start! Here are five ways you can help a loved one battling depression:

  • Encourage therapy treatment. Depression is a complex disorder. Talking to someone who is trained and experienced can mean all the difference in the world. SouthEnd Psychiatry has many different therapy plans and means of communication to help make seeing a therapist easy.
  • Get active. People battling depression tend to loose motivation yet physical activity is a great form of behavioral activation. Invite your loved one on a walk. Exercise, sunshine and companionship all have antidepressant qualities.
  • Intentional sleeping habits. Our sleep patterns can be negatively affected by depression. Encourage your loved one to be intentional about getting a good night’s sleep through meditation, a healthy night time wind down routine and consistent bed times.
  • Keep talking. Maintaining regular contact with someone battling depression is key. Take time to listen without judgement or criticism. Social contact helps prevent alienation and seclusion.

Southend Psychiatry is here as you navigate the complexities of today. We can come alongside you or your loved one to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better you.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Suicide Prevention: Know the Warning Signs

Currently in the US, there is not an effective and accessible central crisis response system that will connect people to the treatment and the support they need. This needs to change and The National Alliance of Mental Health (NAMI) is dedicating September’s Suicide Prevention Awareness Month to advocate for better mental health care including support systems and accessible treatment.

Noticing signs of possible mental illness isn’t always easy since there is not a generic test one would take on their own without a professional. Feelings and thoughts of suicide happen in just about every background, race, age and demographic and is often the result of an untreated mental health condition.

NAMI teaches readers about the warning signs listed below of mental health distress.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following: 

  • Excessive worrying or fear 
  • Feeling excessively sad or low 
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning 
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria 
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger 
  • Avoiding friends and social activities 
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people 
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy 
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite 
  • Changes in sex drive 
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality) 
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia) 
  • Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs 
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”) 
  • Thinking about suicide 
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress 
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance 

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, children’s most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following: 

  • Changes in school performance 
  • Excessive worry or anxiety; for instance, fighting to avoid bed or school 
  • Hyperactive behavior 
  • Frequent nightmares 
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression 
  • Frequent temper tantrums 

If you or someone you love is displaying some of the warning signs above, there are proven steps to take when navigating a crisis.

Navigating a Mental Health Crisis (cited from NAMI.org)

  • Talk openly and honestly. Don’t be afraid to ask questions like: “Do you have a plan for how you would kill yourself?” 
  • Remove means such as guns, knives or stockpiled pills 
  • Calmly ask simple and direct questions, like “Can I help you call your psychiatrist?” 
  • If there are multiple people around, have one person speak at a time
  • Express support and concern 
  • Don’t argue, threaten or raise your voice 
  • Don’t debate whether suicide is right or wrong 
  • If you’re nervous, try not to fidget or pace 
  • Be patient 

Southend Psych is here as you navigate the complexities of today. We can come alongside you or your loved one to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better you.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Featured Provider: Meet Justina A Momah, DNP-S, PMHNP-BC, CRNP-BC

This month’s featured provider is Justina A Momah is a board-certified family nurse practitioner and is currently enrolled at Wilkes University’s board certified Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner and Doctoral Nursing degree. She attained a Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the College of New Rochelle. 

Justina Momah, as a nurse practitioner, is well experienced in both chronic and medical and surgical disease management. She has numerous clinical experiences with diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric mental disease including Depression, Anxiety Disorders, and ADHD.

In her 10 years of practice as a nurse practitioner, Justina has developed a mindset of holistic approach to render care to her patients. She believes that mental health care and awareness that is presented in mainstream media should focus on improving access and quality of care to the economically underserved patient population.

Her primary goal during each patient encounter is to develop a trusting therapeutic relationship hence allowing both patient and provider to create a functional treatment and recovery plan.

In her spare time Justina is a personal lifestyle health and wellness fitness coach. She enjoys teaching high intensity cardio and strength fitness exercises as well as restorative yoga and meditation. She enjoys shopping at local organic farms and finds new paleo recipes to cook for her husband and kids.

What podcast or book are you currently reading/listening to?

“Currently, I am actively enjoying: The Mindset Mentor by Rob Dial and Kast Media. Also, I started on my 5th book of the year which is titled: The 7 habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.”

What is currently on your bucket list?

“To complete an online interior design certification with a focus on a modern-country style of design.”

What do you love to do when you aren’t seeing patients: 

“You will definitely find me coaching an online full body strength and HITT workout program.”

Best advice for navigating 2022:  

“Remember that your path is a journey that shapes your destination and only you can guide the pace as to when you arrive. So enjoy every step of the way and build memories that will propel you beyond your imagination.”

Most memorable moment of 2021:

“Making a decision to further my educational goal of becoming a Board Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and pursuing completion of my Doctorate in Nursing.”

Lesser known facts about you:

“(1) I am fluent in Spanish. (2) I am a Lord of the Rings Super Fan!!!!! (3) My favorite TV show is Friends.”

What would you like to say to potential patients: 

“My goal of patient care is grounded on establishing a healthy therapeutic relationship with my patients which will enable them to become actively involved in their treatment plan. Therefore, allowing both patient and provider to create a functional treatment and recovery plan that is guided by the most relevant and up-to-date clinical modalities.”

Mental Health Services
Your Way,

Learn about Ruby and her journey towards freedom in her relationships and childhood wounds through SouthEnd Psychiatry.

Millennial mental health. From 9/11 to Parkland, politics to pandemics, social media to telemedicine – this generation is set to positively disrupt the world.  We purposely built SouthEnd for a mental health revolution.

Is it Anxiety or Something More?

One positive outcome of the increased awareness surrounding mental health is that people are talking more about anxiety and how to address its impact on our lives. Anxiety and worry are often confused with more panic attacks, and people suffering from anxiety often wonder when anxiety crosses the line to panic. Panic attacks are often more intense and can occur with or without a trigger, while anxiety attacks are a response to a perceived threat.

The following checklist can help you discern if you or someone else is having a panic attack. When several of these conditions exist together, it’s advised to see a medical professional.

–       Irregular racing heartbeat (may simply feel like it)

–       Sweating

–       Sense of impending doom

–       Fear of loss of control or death

–       Trembling or shaking

–       Shortness of breath

–       Tightness in your throat

–       Chills

Southend Psych is here as you navigate the complexities of today. Whether you have moderate to severe anxiety or are experiencing panic attacks and are under the advice of medical professionals, we can come alongside to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better understanding of your anxiety.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Wear Your Green Ribbon in July for Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, a designation developed to bring awareness to minority mental health disparities that exist in our communities. We at SouthEnd Psych hope that you increase your own awareness about this important group of Americans and find ways to spread the love, care, and concern that we can provide to those of diverse backgrounds who may face mental health challenges.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, disparities in mental health services for our minority groups were exacerbated. Interventions that help aid in addressing these disparities include the work being done by many groups to achieve behavioral health equity. According to the U.S Health Department, Behavioral Health Equity is the right to access quality health care for all populations regardless of the individual’s race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, or geographical location. This includes access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services for mental and substance use disorders.

Mental health resources provide assistance to both younger and older adults. Minority young adults who battle mental health challenges will find resources at Southend Psych to help them with challenges like bullying, abuse, trauma, and substance use. Equitable access to these resources is provided so that minority teens and children can receive the support they need. Parental resources are also provided because parents are often the first line of defense as they work to help their children navigate the complexities of mental health challenges.

Older adults have access to helpful resources as well. The disparities in care that minority older adults face are often multifaceted, and Southend Psych has a wealth of resources ready to share as we come alongside families and caregivers to ensure minority older adults have the mental health care they need.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month sheds a light on this population rich with culture, beauty, and history, and as we strengthen our services to ensure that BIPOC persons are cared for, we strengthen us all. Wear a green ribbon to spread awareness about this important month, and call us if someone in your life is in need of mental health services. 

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

LGBTQ Pride Month – Becoming the Best YOU!

Fittingly, and to no surprise, Southend Psychiatry is shouting out loud and proud for June LGBTQ Pride month! At this practice, we move with the heartbeat of Inclusion and Equality in everything we do and nothing is more core to our beliefs, so times such as this are a joy to celebrate and bring a real and healthy dialogue, at large. 

PRIDE

If any of us look up the definition of the word “pride” no doubt we could come back with any number of meanings and variations. For purposes of this article, we do not mean it to refer to a sense of arrogance or over-inflated self worth. This definition below fits perfectly with what we want to share today:

  • pride – a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one’s position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

You know exactly what Pride Month means to you and everyone has their own connection and enjoys it their own way. One client recalls Pride Month feeling uncomfortable before she was out; she didn’t know what to do with the conflict, the tension inside. But now, it’s a chance to celebrate and be open with issues which are often stigmatized, especially in this current social/political environment. In her own words, “Let’s make it fun! And make everything sparkl-ey! This isn’t a fight for justice or equality here or anything super heavy. It’s lighter, it’s fun.” Maybe you resonate with something in there too. 

CHALLENGES

While great gains have been made in awareness and societal acceptance for the LGBTQ community, it’s no secret there is a current movement in the U.S. attacking LGBTQ rights in legislation, education, and athletics. It is scary and takes a massive toll on the mental and emotional well-being of those being targeted. Or perhaps you’re still deconstructing a big bag of religious issues/trauma from earlier years which still haunt your sense of self. The fact is, the world is a tumultuous and sometimes frightening place, and for this reason we want to promote with all our Southend heart and soul – SELF CARE!! 

SELF-CARE

To get right to the point we simply want you to take care of your body and your mind in whatever beautiful ways are best for you. This is supposed to be intentional on your part but certainly not meant to be a chore. The result will be refreshing and recharging, allowing you to help love yourself all the way! Think about it this way… picture stress as water on a wet dog. That dog needs to shake it out, vigorously, from head to tail, to feel right again. So do we! While actually shaking like a wet dog may not be your thing, we have a few other suggestions to help get you started. 

  • Sleep : can we just say nothing good happens without sleep?! Our bodies level out physiologically during sleep and it’s a huge part of keeping a healthy mind + body.
  • Seek Joy : Light will chase away darkness so find the things which bring joy to your heart. Music. Nature. Old photos. Disney movies…! Give yourself time and space to find joy!
  • Seek Guidance : Don’t do it alone! Community is HUGE for LGBTQ individuals and we encourage you to find support, somewhere. Perhaps its spiritual support, perhaps it’s therapy, perhaps it’s mimosas with friends on Sunday morning. 
  • Creativity : It’s well known in psychology arenas the benefits creative outlets have on mental health. So go get colorful and paint something, get noisy with a new instrument, or build the coffee table you’ve been putting off for six months.
  • And most importantly be the best YOU possible!! Keep a sight on who you truly are, which is a bright, beautiful, shining star of a person and let that expression show itself. 

We are hopeful this article helps you be a balanced, healthy you in some pretty challenging times. And if June Pride month is where you begin your Self Care plan then even better! 

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

On a side note, there are now data and trends we can see which indicate higher numbers of individuals who came out during the recent lockdowns. Much of this is attributed to simply a huge increase in time we have spent isolated, and thus more time for self-reflection and a chance for many to really have the time and space to identify who they really are. Interestingly but to no surprise, social media was also significant in this trend as the isolation and alone time allowed people to do more exploring on platforms versus the physical world. Of course, the internet has long been the home of LGBTQ exploration but the current trends and impacts are interesting. This article provides some great expert commentary and data – https://mashable.com/article/covid-coming-out-queer-lgbtq-pandemic.

How to Establish Healthy Boundaries

Who wouldn’t like to say that they have perfect relational boundaries?

While perfection might seem pie-in-the-sky, working on boundaries truly does strengthen them. The effort definitely pays off. Many times, the most difficult part of boundary work occurs when the boundary is established. Calmly and directly stating the boundary to your friend, colleague, or family member can seem intimidating; however, this step sets up the boundary to truly have a positive impact on your own mental health.

We all need healthy boundaries in our lives.

A boundary is where one person ends and you begin. If you feel yourself succumbing to agreeing to events you would rather not attend or people-pleasing your way through life, you need to take the first step and set a boundary.

Boundaries are not mean.

They help you grow and care for yourself. Many people and families have dysfunctional ways of relating, and in the beginning it can feel mean or generate guilt to establish firm boundaries. But, boundaries serve to strengthen the individual setting them and allow others to make decisions about their own lives, leading to more contentment and lower anxiety and depression.

An example of a simple boundary might be, “I am unable to attend the event this weekend.” Terri Cole, author of Boundary Boss lists in her “Boundary Boss Bill of Rights” that “you have the right to say no (or yes) to others without feeling guilty.” Taking the first step and deciding for yourself the best use of your time is boundary work that can reap dividends in peace of mind. 

Whether you are dealing with a co-worker who relies on your advice too often or a family member who is disrespectful, boundaries can make an impact on the quality of not only how you feel about your interactions with others and relationships in general, but also help your confidence increase as you begin to set healthy boundaries with those around you. 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Achieving an Optimal State of Mind

Worry and anxiety are on the rise in our homes. We have been living in a state of seemingly insurmountable odds with the pandemic, a charged political arena, as well as everyday bumps along the road of life. While overcoming worry and anxiety may seem impossible, tried and true practical steps can be taken in order to live a life centered on contentment and growth. 

Get Quality Sleep

One such practical step is simply to document your sleep schedule. While we all have internal rhythms that may vary, many of us fail to realize the importance of adequate sleep. Sleep provides our bodies with essential time for maintenance and repair of many of our life-giving organs, including our brains. When we miss sleep, our minds are not able to function at the highest levels, and that off-kilter feeling can give way to both worry and anxiety. 

Make Easy Changes to Diet

Another practical habit to help you battle worry and anxiety is eating well. Anxiety induced by any number of toxins can take away a sense of balance and stability in your life. Take our addiction to caffeine for example. As a worried people, should we really be consuming vast quantities of products that increase our on-edge feelings? Sugar is also known to affect both our mood and our sleep patterns. Taking a close look at how your diet could be contributing to your feelings of worry and anxiety may uncover ways you can calm your mind and live a steadier life. 

Release Endorphins Daily

And the third in the practical ideas line-up is, of course, exercise. Spending time working out can help reduce worry and anxiety as well. Humans burn energy, and it seems we can either burn it through the exercise our bodies need or through worrying endlessly in the middle of the night about things often beyond our control. So get outside, get active, and release those endorphins- you will be amazed at how this one change can help you sleep better and have less anxiety! 

Again, these simple reminders – adequate sleep, diet, and exercise – may help you reduce worry and anxiety in your own life. A steady, prepared mind is something that we all strive for, and working on these three areas of your life will perhaps enable you to achieve that optimal state of mind.

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

Understanding Codependency: What, Why, & How COVID-19 Has Made it Worse

Unless you have gone to therapy or been close to someone seeking help for codependent tendencies, your perception of codependency is likely inaccurate in some ways. Aside from popular belief, the term does not refer to the behavior of people who “can’t do anything on their own” or “had parents who did everything for them growing up.” In fact, it often means quite the opposite.

And, believe it or not, codependency doesn’t just affect a small portion of the population! Some estimates suggest that close to 90% of people demonstrate codependent behavior in relationships, with many having realized they struggle with codependency only during and after COVID-19.

So, what is codependency, why do so many of us experience it, and how has COVID-19 made it worse? Keep reading for the answer to these questions and more.

What is Codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of behavior characterized by a mental, emotional, physical, and/or spiritual reliance on another person in a close relationship (e.g. spouse-spouse, friend-friend, coworker-boss, sibling-sibling, etc.). It can also be thought of as an imbalanced relationship in which one person (“the giver”) assumes the responsibility of meeting the needs of the other person (“the taker”) and, in doing so, cannot acknowledge their own feelings and needs to the point of personal detriment. 

Codependent people are typically empathetic, highly capable, and independent in that they take care of everyone, including themselves, without asking for help. The problem with this ultra-independence is that it is impractical; we all have needs, and they can only go unmet for so long. And while codependents can maintain complacency for extended periods of time (months, years, sometimes decades), they do eventually become resentful of the lack of reciprocation from others and explode—either internally or externally.

At their core, codependents want to feel secure and wanted for their true selves, but in pursuit of this safe connection, they self-sacrifice so much that they end up losing all sense of themselves. In other words, by making others “need”/depend on them, they make the very thing they crave, authentic connection, impossible. 

What Causes Codependency?

Codependency is not a personality disorder or clinical diagnosis but rather a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. Those who struggle with codependency usually developed the condition by watching and imitating other family members who managed situations of abuse, neglect, illness, addiction and other traumatic situations (usually within the family) the same way—by “fawning” (repressing one’s own needs in order to be loved and accepted, i.e. people-pleasing).
But it goes deeper than that. At its root, the compulsion to self-deny is the result of a complex form of attachment disorder and PTSD developed in childhood. As children, codependents received inconsistent attention, affection, and emotional support from their parents—a sort of hot and cold dynamic interpreted by children as a reflection of their own inadequacy. To cope and thus reduce these feelings of abandonment, they learned to attain more consistent love through people-pleasing, a softer form of manipulation and control.

Unfortunately, as these children become adults, the fear never goes away (PTSD), driving them to continue fawning in hopes of never being abandoned again. What they don’t realize, though, is they are still being abandoned—only now by themselves. For these reasons, codependency can be considered a symptom or defense against PTSD.

…AKA relationship addiction

When we think of addiction, alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling are the first words that come to mind, but a less commonly known form of addiction is the addiction to people, which is codependency in of itself. As codependents begin to only think of the thoughts, needs, and desires of the one they are pleasing (“the taker”), they are no longer able to identify their own. This enmeshment means that their only sense of worth derives from the praise, recognition, or affection they receive from the other person. Over time, this creates an addiction to the highs of validation and affirmation, much like the highs you would see in any other addiction. The codependent looks for ways to help, and they are rewarded with praise in return. On the flip side, when their help goes unnoticed and the other person withdraws, the codependent fears the relationship will end and falls in a state of severe emotional distress until they feel valued again. With time, the caretaking becomes compulsive, and the codependent experiences feelings of helplessness in the relationship, unable to break free.

Signs of Codependency

  • A tendency to do more than your share all the time.
  • Never asking for help; overwhelming yourself with tasks that others could do.
  • Fear of losing relationships/abandonment.
  • Fear of rejection.
  • Doing way more than the other person to hold onto your relationship.
  • An overwhelming need to be reassured and recognized.
  • A compelling desire to control others.
  • Lack of trust in yourself and/or others.
  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others.
  • A tendency to love people you can rescue.
  • Excessive concern with loved ones’ behaviors.
  • Constant feelings of hurt when people overlook your efforts.
  • Guilt after asserting yourself.
  • A tendency to apologize to keep the peace.
  • Difficulty naming your feelings or fully feeling them.
  • Minimizing your feelings when you do feel them.
  • Worrying about what others think of you.
  • Problem with creating and keeping boundaries.
  • Difficulty making decisions.
  • Dishonesty.
  • Doing things you don’t want to do to make others happy.
  • Poor communication in relationships.
  • Idealizing loved ones to the point of maintaining relationships that don’t fulfill you.

The Link Between Codependent Tendencies & COVID-19

COVID-19 has taken its toll on couples with underlying, previously unnoticable or manageable codependent tendencies. Without breaks from one another and access to other sources of fulfillment and support (such as exercise classes, lunch with friends, in-office work, etc.), many report feeding off of each other’s emotions more than ever and relying heavily on the relationship for every emotional need. Couples who don’t live together have also experienced strains on their relationship but for the opposite reason: not being able to spend enough time together due to shutdowns, quarantine, and limited date nights.

Amidst traumatic circumstances, slipping back into old ways—natural instincts—is normal. Just like with PTSD from childhood, PTSD from the accumulation of stresses caused by COVID-19 can cause codependent habits to resurface, worsen, or appear for the first time. If that is you, rest assured that there is hope. As mentioned above, codependency is a learned behavior, meaning it is possible to unlearn the compulsions causing you distress and negatively affecting your relationships. The best course of action is to seek help. A therapist can show you how to form healthy attachments in your relationships, establish your own identity, and assist you in healing from the triggering experiences you have had, whether in childhood or more recently.

The good news is, post-pandemic, our environments and circumstances are changing. With that, and professional support, how you are feeling will change too. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

New Year: New Anxieties, Old Regrets

It’s a new year—a time to pause, plan, reflect, look forward, and dream before life picks up and the days and weeks start to blur together again. It’s what many would consider the second most wonderful time of the year—a fresh start, a clean slate, a moment of optimism. For others, though, the New Year isn’t so inspiring. It’s a reminder of setbacks and shortcomings, a reason to feel sorrow over decisions and events of years past. And, for at least 20 percent of the US adult population, it’s also a time of heightened anxiety over the months ahead. 

So, what’s the secret to actually enjoying the start of a new year—to fighting the regret and anxiety so many of us are feeling?

Be more positive! And no, we don’t mean “Cheer up, buttercup.” After all, emotions, whether positive or negative, aren’t bad. They’re just human. We mean finding a balance between the two by mitigating the never-ending flow of negativity in our lives in very intentional ways. This, research suggests, makes our minds more resilient, leading to less anxiety, regret, and an improved quality of life overall.

To help you get started, here are a few resolutions you can make to kick off your New Year right:

  1. Trade two for one. It won’t be easy to reverse your negative thought processes, but that old saying, “Slow and steady wins the race,” really does apply here. When you find yourself ruminating on past failures—the school you didn’t go to, divorce you never wanted, 30 pounds you didn’t lose—remind yourself that the past is the past, and you can only work on today to have a better tomorrow. The same goes for negative thoughts about the future: When expecting the worst, speak truths about the situation to yourself, remembering the positive possibilities and the strength you’ve developed from situations in the past.
  2. Aim to replace every negative thought with two positive affirmations, observations, or gratitudes that counter it. By trading two for one, you’ll be teaching your brain to see situations in a better light.
  3. Similarly, practice thankfulness. If you’re tired of focusing on the past or future, redirect your mind to the present by listing the people and things for which you are thankful today. Be thankful for a good night’s sleep, a steady job, a friend who cares about you, your education, yummy lunch, the task you just completed, etc. It doesn’t matter what it is, just give thanks! Keep a list in your notebook or phone, and glance at it throughout the day. You’ll notice a difference in no time.
  4. Want to get out of a mental rut? Prove it in your posture. It’s old news that the body affects the mind and vice versa, but studies have found that it’s not just healthy eating and exercise that make a difference, but the small habits too—like posture. On the days when you’re in a lull and can’t break out, stand up tall, pull your shoulders back, and stretch your arms out wide. This posture will not only get your blood pumping, but it will cause you to produce endorphins, much like exercise, that boost your positivity.
  5. To take this a step further, try power posing! A social psychologist at Harvard University found that there are “high power” and “low power” posture poses that affect our mood. By holding high power poses for about two minutes, we cause hormonal shifts in our bodies to take place, sparking feelings of self-confidence. The next time you need a coffee break, break into a power pose instead (like the Wonder Woman pose!), and feel more positive and empowered instantaneously.
  6. Set firmer boundaries. Distance yourself from negative people, and surround yourself with more positive ones—ones that are on the same journey towards self-improvement as you. We all know that phrase, “You are the sum of the people closest to you.” That’s because it’s true. Being around negative people for an extended period of time can rewire our neuronal connections. When this happens, the networks in our brains begin to respond negatively to situations that we once considered positive. These “re-wirings” can cause long-term depression and anxiety. It can take time, sometimes years, for our brains to learn to think differently again.
So, who uplifts you? Who pushes you towards your goals? Who is kind, patient, and genuinely concerned for your wellbeing? Choose them, and take measures to limit your time with the rest.
 
Last but not least, seek out a licensed counselor or therapist. Nobody should have to face regret and anxiety alone, and it’s important that one of the people standing next to you through these struggles has a deep understanding of their causes and effects. Friends and family are great for advice, consolement, and encouragement, but when it comes to chronic emotional distress, treatment is necessary. A professional will be able to break patterns of negativity on a more individualized basis—that is, according to your unique situation and needs.
So, begin implementing the habits above. If these feelings of regret and anxiety continue, schedule a time to talk to someone who can navigate these new habits with you, and maybe even help you identify more that will make this year worthwhile.
Here’s to a more positive 2022! Happy New Year to you and yours.