The New Year is meant to be a period of rejuvenation, celebration, and hope as we look toward the future for new opportunities. It’s also a time to reflect on the last twelve months, taking the good with the bad. However, for many people, it’s the bad that tends to stick out the most. Sometimes, New Year’s becomes a time for melancholy.
While it’s important to reflect and think back on the past as we transition into 2024, it’s crucial to leverage the benefits of retrospection, rather than ruminate on the bad days. The capacity to learn from our individual mistakes is one of our strongest traits – as is the ability to forgive and make amends. Let’s use this period to celebrate our victories, learn from our losses, and always seek the silver lining.
Why Retrospection is Important
Your mental health is the reflection of countless interpersonal, biological, and even environmental factors. There are a million variables that can change the way you think and feel, many of which are completely uncontrollable. But there are also factors that we can affect. One of them is our attitude towards the past.
The past can evoke a strong reaction in us – good memories can bring us joy even decades after they’ve happened, and bad memories can leave us with a pit in our stomach for just as long. Learning to cope with negative experiences, and drawing more strength from the positive ones are key aspects of developing a resilience towards future stressors.
We can always turn to the past to help us deal with the present, provided we take the right approach.
Retrospection plays an important role in psychiatry, spirituality, mindfulness, and even some forms of meditation. It also plays an important role in our approach here at Amend Treatment. While we do hear how vital it is “be in the moment”, there is value in appreciating what has already happened. If you usually feel down around this time of year, then incorporating some exercises to practice mindful retrospection can be a good idea. Here are a few things you might want to try out:
Gratitude, Forgiveness, and Hope
How do we forgive ourselves for our mistakes, take solace in the good days, and express hope for the future? One moment at a time.
Start with pictures, videos, and even social media posts. One of the benefits of the information age is that our lives are chronicled online. Scroll through the camera reel, browse your gallery, or make a night of it and spend some time with your family going back over pictures, clips, and moments you might have recorded and forgotten from last January all the way until last week.
Take note of the special events. The highlights and the accomplishments. Think back on personal moments of joy this year. Little things that were special to you. Even in a bad year, there’s bound to be more than just a handful of good days – and those are the days to celebrate.
On the sour note, forgiveness also plays a large role in moving on and returning to the present. Retrospective activities such as journaling, group therapy, or even looking at old photobooks can be a good time to revisit some of your darker hours last year and make a point of forgiving yourself. You’re still here, you’re still standing, and you have every opportunity to make things better in the here and now. If there are people out there who might struggle to forgive you, think about connecting with them this year, reaching out, and making amends. Giving yourself the strength to try is a big part of the healing journey, and something we help people achieve through our residential care at Amend Treatment.
Tackling Treatment This Year
If you’re dealing with mental health issues, the prospect of seeking treatment can be scary. Mental health treatment is a large commitment. However, it’s important to take a leap of faith this year and get the help you deserve.
Despite making strides towards a better understanding of mental health issues and how they affect our communities, there are still many people who are less compassionate towards those who struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders, or don’t take them seriously. Don’t let that stigma hold you back from getting treatment.
Even if you don’t feel like you’re exhibiting “symptoms” or have never been diagnosed for a mental health condition, it’s important to be aware of the fact that everyone is susceptible to stress, and can experience bouts of sadness, prolonged anxiety, or even serious mental anguish – whether in times of acute loss, or as a result of chronic stressors, such as the pandemic. You don’t need to wait until things get “bad” before talking to a professional.
Therapists and counselors offer their services to everyone, regardless of your medical history or current mental state. If you’re feeling stressed, it’s always good to talk to someone, and mental health professionals can offer guidance on how to better manage your stressors, deal with strong emotions at work or at home, and improve your relationships – whether with friends and family, or even the relationship you have with yourself.
Let’s Start Goalsetting in 2024
Looking back as the year starts is a good idea, and a way to make peace with what’s happened, and draw strength from our victories and successes. But when it’s time to return to the present and look to the future, it helps to have a plan.
Actionable goalsetting is a skill and can take some practice.
So, get started this year. Consider:
Picking different tiers of goals
Set short-term goals that are achievable in a month or two. Create a weekly plan of action to contribute to your regular milestones. Determine what you want your short-term goals to culminate in over the course of a season, or a semester.
Self-development and personal growth are great sources of mental resilience and self-esteem, which can be a major protective factor against stress. By seeking to improve your abilities and expand your horizons, you’re preparing yourself for whatever hardships you might face someday.
Don’t go at it alone
Formulate your goals and wishes on your own but share updates with friends and family. Encourage others around you to pick up a few goals of their own and pursue them together. Regularly talk about the progress you’ve made – or pick each other up when the motivation starts to fade.
Understand that motivation has its limits
There’s a reason people go to the gym in January and end up dropping their membership by Easter. You can’t keep the fire alive all the time, so it’s important to tie your goals to deep personal interests or create internal incentives. If you’ve never been one to hit the gym, for example, explore alternative exercise ideas and forms of physical fitness. There’s plenty of things to do and try. If you tend to fall asleep on the fifth page of every new book, learn new things every day via an app or pick up audiobooks to listen to on the train or during chores.
This year can be your year. Let’s get after it together. Get in touch with us at Amend Treatment to learn more about our residential care programs, mental health modalities, and treatment plans.