(WILMINGTON, NC) — Now that 2020 is officially in our hindsight, many people want to start the new year with a goal or purpose. But how do we stay on track without derailing our 2021 plans? Wilmington psychologist Dr. Erika Geisler talked with WWAY’s Donna Gregory to see how to stay focused and happy as we start the new year. Here’s a portion of their conversation:
Donna: Whew, what a year! what are some of the mental health issues people are dealing with as we end 2020 with the pandemic seemingly stronger than ever?
Erika: The holidays are notoriously challenging for people. family, finances, pressures of work and juggling all of the stresses that come with holiday prep and this year we have the added stress of covid which includes social isolation, kids around 24/7, increased depression and anxiety.
Donna: What are the top takeaways from 2020 that can serve to inspire us to have a better, more satisfying (joyful?!) 2021?
Erika: 2020 has been a challenging year, but it hasn’t been all bad. i think that it has shown us that life was too busy. it has taught us to slow down. i think it is important to spend some quiet time to review this last year. what was the good that came out of 2020 and how can you continue it on into 2021?
Donna: So many people try to self-improve at the start of the year. what are some strategies for setting goals in the new year that won’t be affected by social distancing or another possible quarantine?
Erika: I am not a fan of new year’s resolutions. i think that you are setting yourself up for failure if you think that you are never going to eat carbs again or that you are going to workout 7 days a week. instead i think that you should have something that you focus on. something that you are intentional about. maybe that is a word, maybe it is a concept. for example, maybe your word to focus on would be adventure or maybe the concept is spending more undivided attention with your children.
Donna: What are your top tips for keeping connected, keeping a sense of humor and keeping focused on positive, forward motion in 2021?
Erika: It is important to have something to focus on moving into 2021. i think the fun thing about having something to focus on is that it can become your light your light house. something that is constant to remind you of where to keep your focus. and remember, where ever we put our focus that is what grows. if we focus on the good that will grow. if we focus on the negative that is all we will see. we find what we are looking for.
Donna: For people who lost a loved one or had to alter their holiday celebrations in 2020…what do you recommend for recapturing some of the excitement and hope the new year normally brings?
Erika: Many people have lost loved ones this year. that is hard in any year but it is especially hard this year. unfortunately, 2020 has prevented us from having normal gatherings and in person emotional support. some people were even unable to be by their loved ones when they passed away. i think that it is important to recognize how sad losing a loved one is. let yourself mourn the loss, but honor the person by living your life and focusing on the good. they would want you too! reach out to your friends and family and get the support you need. there are so many changes that 2020 has brought with it. use this year to create new traditions and celebrate and remember those you have lost.
You can reach Dr. Geisler through her web site, https://drerikageisler.com/