Holistic Practices To Improve Your Mental Health In The New Year
When the calendar page turns to January, it impacts us all in different ways. Some people are researching gym memberships, making doctor appointments, emptying closets, flipping mattresses and detailing cars while others are burning sage in their homes and creating long lists of travel plans and goals for the year ahead. Some are even coordinating their underwear color based on what they’d like to manifest in the new year.
The year’s first month can bring a fresh perspective, reinvigorated goals and potential opportunities, or anxiety for what’s ahead. And it can also bring on depression from failures in the past and the uncertainty of missed opportunities.
We all know conceptually that if we want to lose weight, success is more likely if we make slow, gradual changes we enjoy than if we force ourselves to eat and exercise in ways that don’t suit us. But we don’t often practice what we know. Registered therapist Nicholas Diack of Nimadia Holistic Counseling explains why many people still set themselves up for failure—and it is primarily due to setting expectations too high.
Diack quotes Carl Rogers in saying, “You can’t change what you have not fully accepted first.” He explains that when you make goals, you can’t come from a strict and negative place as a means to get away from what you do not like. Especially if you have attempted and failed at goals in the past, Diack recommends approaching them from a place of self-love and rewarding yourself each step of the way. The same is true in all aspects of our lives, including relationships: “You must learn about yourself from it in order to move forward; otherwise, it won’t work,” he says.
Diack provides the following tips to improve mental health in the new year:
- Take time in January to decompress from the hectic holidays and write down what you appreciated about them.
- Make a list of what made the holidays stressful and let it guide you in eliminating or minimizing those components next year.
- Your mental health may be affected by the colder weather and not being able to go outside as much. Make it a point to still get out into the sunshine regularly and consider scheduling a vacation. You also might benefit from using a full-spectrum sunlight therapy lamp.
- The No. 1 predictor of strong mental health is having a support system. Family and friends impact mental health substantially. In the colder months, the temptation is to connect with them online or to put off plans, but it is beneficial to get out of the house and connect with your family and friends in person.
- Unplug from technology, especially when you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed. The norm now is to compare ourselves to others on social media, and the constant notification culture can unnecessarily elevate bad feelings.
- Take inventory of the notifications and turn off those you don’t need.
- Pay attention to gut health. There is a very strong connection between the stomach and the brain, and if one is off balance, it will affect the other.
- Prioritize gratitude over goals. Reflect on all that you accomplished over the past year and be proud of yourself. Resist the temptation to berate yourself for tasks left undone.
Diack’s practice is built around holistic therapy, which he describes as treating the entire person—mind, body, soul and emotions. His practice includes traditional talk therapy, and there’s a massage table in the corner of his office where he practices a modality called Tai Yi to alleviate depression, anxiety and stress. Tai Yi is an ancient form of acupuncture that works with chi and the meridians of the body but does not use needles. One of only 40 Tai Yi practitioners in the world, Diack came to learn this modality and start his own practice after working through his own depression with the help of Tai Yi. He recommends Ayurvedic herbs over medicine when possible and specializes in helping patients find more natural cures.
Diack’s philosophy is that people are like cars: if a part of the car is not working properly, that part should be examined and fixed, resulting in a better vehicle. Let us all use this new start to the year as a time for a tune-up of mind, body and spirit.