New Year (Mentally Healthy) Me
February 10, 2020
Many view a new year as a fresh start, and a chance to break away from unhealthy habits. However, while most people think “starting fresh” is a visit to the gym to shed some pounds or a trip to the grocery store for some fruits and veggies, the new year can be an incredible time to cleanse our minds, dealing with leaving the negative in the old year. Use this guide to help you figure out where to start.
Ways to Recognize Mental Health Issues
Although they may not be as severe as needing treatment or therapy, there are some warning signs that you or a loved one may be suffering mentally. These include lacking energy, suffering from mood swings, eating too much or too little, and sleeping too much or too little. It is entirely normal in early stages of mental health issues to feel confused, sad, on edge, angry, or hopeless.
Ways to Treat Mental Health without Diagnosis
There are plenty of ways to improve your mental health beyond dealing with a diagnosed disorder that requires professional support and treatment. Here are some simple ways to boost your mood and put a focus on your mental wellness in 2020.
1. Start a Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journaling can become a habitual way to center yourself, and gratitude has been linked by researchers for years to improved mental well-being, as well as happiness. Keeping a daily gratitude journal can help you to look back over the year and realize how much you have to be thankful for in everyday life.
2. Set Life Goals
Mapping out goals and life plans for the next one, five, ten, and twenty years can help a person remain optimistic in even the toughest of times. It is important to know that as bleak as the current situation can feel, there is always something brighter and greater down the line. Having goals to work for provides purpose for a person’s life and can contribute to self-worth. Try creating a list of attainable goals and far-reaching goals for yourself, and see how much you can accomplish. These can be on a smaller or a bigger timetable, and can even just be goals for a week.
3. Take it One Thing at a Time
Taking it one day and one step at a time, and attempting to keep ourselves in the present moment, is an incredibly useful tool for releasing negative emotions or negative past experiences. Start by taking the time to notice every part of your daily routine, no matter how big or small. Is there something you do daily that you particularly love? Take notice of sensory details in your routine, and learn to appreciate their presence.
4. Maintain Healthy Relationships
Researchers have found that loneliness can shorten a person’s lifespan by up to fifteen years, so it is more vital than ever to improve your mental health by improving your relationships. Strong relationships add purpose, value, and support to our lives, and provide an outlet for venting stress, anger, and uncertainty. Asking for help is often the hardest part of accepting our mental health struggles, so even though it may be hard in times of struggle, it is important to reach out to our loved ones to let them know that they are loved and we may not be okay.
5. Eat Well
What you eat directly affects your mood, as different foods can both positively (and negatively) affect your neurotransmitter levels. Good carbohydrates, like whole wheat breads and pastas, can increase serotonin levels in your brain and leave a long-lasting positive effect on your mood. Foods rich in protein, like meats and beans, increase your norepinephrine and dopamine levels to help keep you awake. Vegetables and fruits also help to nourish your body with proper vitamins and minerals, and foods with omega-3 fatty acids like fish and nuts are important for improving and stabilizing your mood.
Although it may seem unrelated, moving your body can be one of the best things for your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins that are stress-relieving and mood boosting both before and after you workout, keeping you feeling positive and healthy all day. If you don’t have time for traditional exercise in your day, try anything to keep exercising, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to get lunch on your lunch breaks, and walking to work if possible.
7. Get Full Sleep, Regularly
Sleep is so vital to restoring and recharging your brain and your mind. Lacking quality sleep can have a severe negative effect on your mood and your mental health. It is important to establish a routine to ensure you are getting the REM sleep necessary for restoring your neural connections and boosting mood. Try going to bed at the same time every night, shutting down electronics at least an hour before bedtime, and ending your night with a nice cup of warm herbal tea.
If you believe you suffer from depression, it is incredibly important to receive a diagnosis from a licensed medical professional so you can best decide how to proceed. Major Depressive Disorder affects around seven percent of the population, and so it is very likely that getting your depression diagnosed is an important first step in improving your mental health for the new year. Doctors may recommend multiple avenues to help you treat your depression, including antidepressants or therapy. However, as many as 30 percent of major depressive disorder patients do not respond to treatment, so while diagnosis is an important first step, it is even more important that treatment plans follow as soon as possible. This is where the company My Transformations comes in, changing lives with their groundbreaking technology that may be right for you, known as Transcranial-Magnetic Stimulation (TMS).
What is TMS?
If you have tried traditional antidepressants and they simply haven’t worked for you, it may be time to explore transcranial-magnetic stimulation. TMS was approved in 2008 by the FDA as a dynamic new treatment for Major Depressive Disorder. TMS therapy is non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical, providing an alternative for antidepressants that may come with major side effects. Typically, the order of treatment goes psychotherapy, followed by medication, but TMS can help naturally. TMS is also known to help treat depression that has been resistant to other methods of treatment. TMS is similar to electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in that it stimulates the brain and can help to relieve symptoms of depression, but differs in the fact that TMS is much safer. TMS does not require anesthesia.
TMS uses electromagnetic pulses to penetrate through the skull and into the brain to activate brain cells. The brain uses electrical currents to communicate inside of itself, and send signals to the rest of the body. The magnetic waves emitted by TMS interact with the brain’s natural chemistry to change the way it physically functions. It is widely believed that TMS works because it helps areas of the brain that were functioning at lower-than-normal levels due to depression to become active again, releasing a large number of neurotransmitters and therefore boosting a person’s mood.
Although fairly newer technology for treating other types of mental health disorders, TMS was approved in 2018 to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). it is also believed that TMS may be able to treat Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and potentially, Autism spectrum disorder.
How does the TMS Therapy Process work?
After a consultation, patients will complete a mapping session so TMS technicians can determine where the electromagnetic coil should be placed on the brain, and how often the pulses should be released. The psychiatrist on staff and the TMS technician work to attempt to stimulate the motor strip, the part of the brain near the prefrontal cortex (the target area). Movement in the patient’s hand is an indicator that they are stimulating the right part of the brain. When the magnetic pulses are released, it feels like a tapping against the skull, and length of treatment usually lasts around thirty minutes per session.
Where do I go from here?
Today, it is possible to put into practice the smaller goals of improving your mental wellness, starting with exercising, eating well, sleeping well, and mindfulness. Start a gratitude journal, schedule breaks from working to take care of yourself, download apps onto your phone for mediation. But down the road, you may need a medical diagnosis in order to give your mental health the proper care and attention it needs.
Talk to your doctor, schedule an appointment with a therapist or a psychiatrist, and reach out to family members and friends about your struggles. Being vulnerable is the most important way to receive the help you need, and an important first step to changing your life in 2020. A new year is an incredible opportunity for a whole new you, and recognizing that is paramount to change.