Facing the New Year When You’re Struggling With Depression

The coming of a new year brings hope for self-improvement. Despite their struggles, people who’ve been diagnosed with depression can gain a better perspective on their problems if they’re ready to embrace the opportunities that the new year can provide. Depression can be overcome with patience and a consistent effort, and the changing of the calendar could be the motivating event that facilitates a true and lasting commitment to recovery.

People with depression may feel worse than ever as the new year approaches. They may mourn missed opportunities while feeling no sense of hope that better days are to come. The new year could be seen as a doorway where wonderful possibilities lay on the other side. But instead, it reminds the depressed person of just how helpless they feel and how difficult it is to dream of a brighter future.

This is an understandable reaction. However, it is one that can be avoided if you refuse to surrender to despair. Facing the new year with depression can be daunting, but if you’ve survived your depression for this long, it proves you possess the inner resources to face up to—and ultimately overcome—even the most significant challenges. Anything.

Channeling Your Energy, One Moment at a Time

For most people, the arrival of the new year signals an opportunity for a new beginning. While men and women who’ve been dealing with depression wish for a fresh start more than anything, their feelings of sadness or emptiness can leave them low on the energy they need to make sensible and constructive changes.

Rather than being hopeful, they are instead filled with regret, and their view of the future is clouded by pessimism. This saps their emotional strength and seemingly leaves them trapped, unable to imagine that good things are possible.

But people with depression underestimate the potential they still possess. The good news is that low energy is better than no energy, and if they can summon enough initiative to make even one small positive step toward wellness, it could represent a significant step in the right direction.

That first step may involve as little as recognizing the opportunity that the arrival of a new year can offer. The December 31-January 1 dividing line is somewhat of an artificial creation. But that creation has become deeply embedded in the culture, to the point that it shapes everyone’s thinking—and that is something you can work with.

Ways to Use the New Year to Your Advantage

The New Year’s resolution is a familiar vehicle for those who want to make constructive transformations. Unfortunately, the failed New Year’s resolution is just as familiar. Most people who make them probably don’t believe they will actually work.

A person who is struggling with depression can’t afford to take their New Year’s resolutions lightly. Letting a resolution lapsed unfulfilled will only discourage the depressed person more, offering sad proof that the situation really is hopeless.

Besides the lack of authentic commitment, the other reason resolutions fail is because they are too vague, difficult, or ambitious. More modest resolutions are more likely to be completed, and this is absolutely where you should start if you’ve been struggling with depression.

As long as you start small, it won’t take that much energy to take constructive action or build more productive habits.

For example, you could resolve to improve your health by eliminating two or three nutritionally empty or unhealthy foods from your diet. This shouldn’t be too challenging since you can replace those foods with healthier options that you enjoy.

If your efforts to improve your physical and mental health are to include exercise (as they should), you can start out with something that is achievable with moderate effort. You could resolve to walk a mile a day for the next six months, with plans to increase that distance at that point. You could do it during the sunniest hours of the day to make sure you gain the mood-lifting benefits that exposure to the fresh air and sunlight can bring.

To become more social and less isolated, you could decide to reconnect with one family member or friend. That shouldn’t be too stressful or difficult, even if you often aren �t in the mood for socializing or interacting with loved ones. The idea would be to make regular contact, to keep the relationship strong and fruitful.

While you may not be up to anything new (or even old) that requires a high level of exertion, that shouldn’t prevent you from seeking small pleasures that can bring you at least some moments of joy or fulfillment. These could involve renewing your interest in past hobbies you haven’t been pursuing lately, or exploring new pastimes that you can learn quickly and start enjoying right away.

One easy thing that could help is daily scheduling. Write down what you want to or need to do for each day of the week and push yourself to stick to that schedule as closely as possible. This is a trick that can make it easier for you to get things done, even when your motivation and energy levels are still low.

None of these suggestions are immediately life-transforming. But they will get you going in the right direction, and you can build on them and increase your activity as the year progresses. Ideally, these achievable resolutions will be your starting point and not your ending point.

Begin Your Recovery Journey.


Counteracting the Forces that Cause Depression

There are many factors that might be likely to increase the intensity of your depression as the new year approaches. These may include problematic relationships with family members, who you know you’ll be seeing again soon. You may be haunted by memories of past holidays when you were happier. You may be especially depressed by the limited sunlight, or by being trapped inside by the cold weather. You may worry about your ability to handle lively family gatherings or parties, which will make you feel lonely, rejected, or despondent if you choose to go (and you may feel like you have no choice).

All of this is good reason why you should seriously think about the changes you’d like to make, as you strive to turn your attitude about the new year around. The negative emotions generated can be at least partially offset by the positivity associated with your resolutions, which should be realistic and accompanied by the vow not to break them.

You may still feel bad, as your struggle with depression continues. But you will feel the load lightening, beginning even before the new year officially arrives.

Planning for a Lasting Recovery

While resolutions and related self-help strategies can push you forward, it is your engagement with trained mental health experts that will do the most to prepare you for a lasting recovery.

When you’re truly ready to heal and willing to work to make it happen, treatment can make all the difference in the world. Mental health care professionals know how to put you back on the path to wellness and supply you with the guidance, insights, and strategies you need to convert your great intentions into fantastic results. Medications that can have a dramatic impact on your depression symptoms will likely be offered as a part of your recovery regimen, and once you find the right medication, it can add an extra healing element to your comprehensive recovery program.

If you resolve to get the best care you can for your depression, that could be the best and most impactful New Year’s resolution you’ve ever made.