Between the end of the holidays, seasonal gloom, and trying to meet your New Year’s goals, January can be the most depressing month of the year, experts say.
The number of Americans who consider their mental health to be “good” or “good” is the lowest in more than 20 years, according to a Gallup poll conducted in December 2022. In self-assessments, 31% described their mental health as ‘very good’, with the lowest he scored 3 points.
“How we care for mental health is making it a priority,” says Courtney Saunders, certified mental health counselor and Thriveworks regional clinic director. “His three factors that contribute to our mental health are what feeds our brain, the people we interact with most, and our environment.”
New Year’s resolutions and the accompanying self-criticism can also have an impact. But there are ways to make your 2023 goals more manageable.
“It’s like having a roadmap. For example, you know exactly where your final destination is, but what are the mile markers that let you know you’re on the way to that destination? Well, how do we check in with ourselves to make sure we’re moving forward,” Sanders said.
She said it’s also helpful to keep track of that habit and record things for a sense of accomplishment, as well as having an accountable partner.
Experts say it’s also important to be kind to yourself.
“When you’re criticizing yourself, you’re activating fight, flight, or freeze because your body is telling you, ‘I have to protect myself,'” Sanders said.
If this is in constant motion, it can lead to depression.
“First, tell that voice, in any case, that you’re not good enough, to be quiet,” she said. Rather, it will come from judging and criticizing yourself.”
Another way to help your mental health is to exercise your brain regularly.
“Our brain is a muscle, just like our arms and legs, and we need to train it to perform at our best,” Sanders said.
Ways to get your brain working include journaling, yoga, or other activities that bring you some comfort or peace.
Scripps Only Content 2023