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2020 Vision

Dear Reader,

Welcome to Lentz Letters! I just want to start by saying, “Hip Hip Hooray!” We were able to put 2020 behind us! It is certain that 2020 had its fair share of dark times. It robbed many of us of our joy as the year that will go down in history. We experienced holiday traditions put on hold, masks became the new bling, and fear gripped a nation in a wide variety of ways. Bad moods were being handed out abundantly. For some the bad mood continued to ruminate focusing on all that had gone wrong, impassable problems at each downturn, a surplus of aches and pains, and overall lack of satisfaction in life. It is no wonder why mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, have been the rise. Does this sound like your vision of 2020? But by focusing on all that was wrong with 2020 we miss what could be defined as positive about it. It gave us an opportunity to get acquainted with ourselves and grow. In addition, we had more opportunities to reach out to others in need. When we focus on the negative, we lose sight of the big picture.

Whether you are talking about perspective or eyesight it is a fact that perfect 20/20 vision can bring clarity to any situation. I will never forget putting on a new prescription lens and being amazed at seeing things with so much more detail. Prior to my eye- opening experience my field of vision had certainly narrowed but I had no idea how much. Similarly, depression narrows the field of vision. At the risk of getting technical our negative moods are stored in the neural networks in the brain. The more we focus on the negative memories, the more the network is enhanced. These neural networks are tapping into similar emotions and patterns of negative thinking. Getting out of depression requires changing what we focus on in order to change the network. As we ring in the New Year, we can start to look at life from a new lens. This prescription will help you focus on seeing life from a new perspective.

Granted there are many more causes of depression other than our shared pandemic situation. Start by knowing that you are not alone in your despair. This is a good time to reconnect to close friends or family or reach out to a therapist to help you navigate through compromising emotions, such as feelings of helplessness. Learning to manage your depression is particularly important if you have had adverse experiences early in life or traumatic stress.

Check out this list of ways to start 2021 with a new lens:

1. Write a list of 25 things that you appreciate about yourself. Carry this list with you and review it through the day.

2. Develop a value list: Reflect on what part of your life activities would you do even if you were not paid for the activity?

3. Make a list of your strengths and how you would use these strengths. Track when you used these strengths this week.

4. Track whether you accomplished something pleasurable during your week. For example, my coffee was too strong, so I made it with less grounds the next day.

5. Journal about the resources that you use to take care of body, mind, and soul. Practice meditation.

6. Set good boundaries with other by only being responsible for your own choices.

7. Say to yourself “I won’t” instead of” I can’t” and avoid saying” I have to”. Instead say “I choose to”. For example,” I choose to go here even though I do not want to go”.

8. If you are not motivated to do something create an image of how it makes you feel to accomplish something after doing what you do not want to do.

9. Lack motivated to get started? Reward yourself for doing something, even if it is for only 15-20 minutes, then do another step

10. Do a task that you need to complete at the commercial break while watching TV.

11. Exercise is a brain changer! Start with small increments. Get up off the sofa and get out of the house even if it is just for 5 minutes.

12. Get creative. Practice drawing, adult coloring, painting etc.

13. Practice sleep hygiene and proper nutrition

14. Do something positive for another person but do not sacrifice your own needs in the process.

15. Build upon positive experiences

16. Do not fight change. Look at change and an opportunity to grow and learn from

17. Practice mindfulness. Be curious about your situation. Be open to what to learn from it, practice acceptance and self- compassion.

18. Remember that not everything that happens is your fault or a reaction to you personally

19. Ask yourself what is the evidence that this negative belief is true? What is the evidence that it is not true? What would be a more realistic explanation? Will this really ruin my life? What would be a more positive expectation?

20. Say to yourself” It could be worse” or “this will pass”

21. Start a gratitude journal: Write 3 blessings a week and daily write what went well and why.

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