A Conversation with Amanda Perrault, LIMHP, Mental Health Therapist
Think Behavioral Health therapist, Amanda Perrault, a licensed mental health practitioner, shares her seasoned advice on how to tailor a January fresh start to your own individual interests and priorities.
Get more exercise. Eat better. Lose weight. Drink less. Improve finances. Close to 40% of Americans set New Year’s resolutions every year. But, if you’re like many people, the suggestion of resolutions and self-improvement goals are passé and almost laughable since several surveys find only about 9% of people accomplish their list of resolutions.
Transitioning from the Holidays
How does the end-of-year holidays affect people’s view of starting a new year?
The holidays in general can bring up a lot of grief for people and a lot of joy. Grief can be we’re missing our loved ones who passed away or who live far away and we can’t see them. Or we might feel sad about complicated relationships. Grief during the holidays can also be over people can’t give as much as they want to or they struggle to meet expectations. Some people feel lost in terms of not having certain family traditions or not feeling connected with friends and family.
So as we go into the new year, many people are coming off the dynamic of emotional highs and lows of the holidays. They are thinking about the future and what’s coming ahead, but maybe with a bit of apprehension. What I’ve been talking to people about is that the new year doesn’t have to be a time where we try to fix ourselves and make big changes.
Instead, the new year could be an opportunity to reflect on the great things that we’ve already done and that we already have. We can practice gratitude and look forward to what path we want to continue on. We can reconnect to our values and revisit our existing strengths and the things that we enjoy. To me, the new year is an opportunity to come back to the things that we already know are good about ourselves.
How do we practically apply this reconnecting and revisiting?
During the holidays there’s a lot of chaotic things happening. We’re traveling, we’re seeing family. After the new year, people start to get back into their routines and reality sets back in. So, I suggest you remind yourself of the things that you already know help you feel good, and build those back into your routines.
Gratitude and Accepting Yourself
How does staying grateful help in a new year?
Practicing appreciation and kindness can help you be more emotionally centered. You can practice coming up with two or three things you’re grateful for each day. Some people like to write in a gratitude journal and others prefer to consider mindful moments of being thankful for what’s around them.
What is your perspective on accepting ourselves and appreciating our self-image in the new year?
I am more of a child and adolescent therapist, but I see individuals from 5 years to 65 years. People of all ages can struggle with wanting to fix things about themselves. Practicing self-compassion is important in a time when our culture sends a lot of messages that you shouldn’t be the way you are or that you would be better if you were different. Extending compassion to yourself and being kind to yourself is not just about more self-care or the things that bring you joy, but also honoring that you might just be great the way you already are.
So should we just skip making annual resolutions in January?
Not necessarily. I think setting goals for people is also important to reconnect to ourselves and get back to the routines and habits that boost our health and make us feel good. Setting goals at the start of a new year may be coming back to the goals you already have and recommitting to those goals instead of feeling you need to make all new goals. It may be time to revisit your goals in terms of setting small, manageable, reasonable goals and staying consistent.
Choosing the Support You Need
How can the Think Whole Person Healthcare team help if someone is emotionally struggling with the new year?
From a behavioral health approach, if people are struggling, they can come and talk. We can set goals together and we can reconnect to those values and strengths and routines and find support. I think the pressure to do everything on your own can be hard. Knowing that you have support available is powerful. If people are wanting to reexamine their health goals, it’s helpful to know there are great resources with the think doctors and healthcare providers here in one building.
As 2023 unfolds, what other thoughts would you share about a new year, a new you?
I’ve seen a negative impact on people in general because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the losses. There’s just the struggle to readjust. We’ve seen higher depression rates, higher anxiety and more people being isolated. Another part of starting fresh in the new year is related to reconnecting with people — your loved ones, your support system. You get to choose the people that are around you. You can reconnect with the people who bring you joy and help you feel supported. I encourage that you remember that you’re not alone. There’s always somebody who wants to hear from you.
Think Mental Health Resources
At Think, we understand the interconnection of physical and emotional health. The Think Whole Person Healthcare’s Behavioral Health services are here for you when life’s challenges feel too much to handle alone. Our insightful and caring therapists and psychiatrist know just how to guide you through a variety of mental health concerns, including anxiety, depression, grief, obsessive/compulsive disorder, substance abuse, addiction, acute mental health issues and more.
Our licensed mental health professionals will discuss with your Primary Care physician how to best attend to your individual physical and mental health. We can arrange sessions with individuals as well as with couples and families. All of you — including your thoughts and emotions — matter significantly to us.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH BY SPEAKING WITH YOUR THINK PROVIDER
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Our walk-in clinic treats anyone, even those who are not a think patient or do not have a primary care provider currently. To learn more about our comprehensive healthcare services, visit our Services page online and choose your own think medical professionals by visiting our Meet Your Doctor page.