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Hello Idaho: Psychiatrist explains why you should 'take care of yourself' in the new year

Dr. David Kent says the effects of the pandemic are really taking a toll on people and creating unique challenges as they look to make positive changes in 2021.

New year, new me.

You see that caption - or something similar - every January under pictures of hope, with people trying to make this year better than the last.

After 2020 turned out to be an epic dud, there's as much pessimism as there is optimism about 2021.

So how can you make this your year?

Dr. David Kent, a psychiatrist in the Boise area, told KTVB's Larry Gebert that the effects of the pandemic are really taking a toll on people and creating unique challenges as they look to make positive changes in 2021.

Note: the following interview has been edited for clarity:

Larry Gebert: Is this the more challenging [time of] year, when the holidays are over? There's always a letdown. Is it worse this year?

Dr. David Kent: "People have been more locked down, more careful. They've had family members and friends who have been infected, so I think it's a hard year anyway. But the holidays are challenging because people have so many stressors with the obligations to buy things and rush around. So definitely very challenging."

Gebert: There has got to be a way that we can set goals for ourselves, to take us into this new year. Everybody wanted the old year to end. There's got to be ways to set goals now to really take us forward in a positive way.

Kent: "I think one thing is to be a little bit on the selfish side. You need to take care of yourself because you need to take care of your health and take care of your mental health. And you got to do whatever you got to do. People have been holding back because of COVID, not getting help and not reaching forward. In my field, I'm kind of in an elective area, so people have held off a little bit but I feel like it's a dam ready to break. So it's okay to get help. It's not a weakness or a sign that you have something that you shouldn't have. Mental illness is really considered to be a biological thing these days. So it's a lot less stigma associated with it."

Gebert: There are ways that you can actually reach out and talk to friends but what you're talking about is seeking help from a professional or at least calling and just getting a consultation, is that what you mean?

Kent: "Yeah, if you've been holding back because of the pandemic and because of other reasons, reach out and get help. Take care of yourself. Now you may not need a professional at this time maybe you just need to kind of get a tune-up. Get to the gym, take care of your diet, watch your weight, think positive thoughts, start planning some things with friends and family as this pandemic starts to lift here pretty soon. I think the vaccine rollout is a real positive thing for all of us, it gives us something to hope for."

Gebert: I really like what you just said because so many things got canceled. And you know, during this, I'm thinking now that for those who plan ahead. This is really the time for us to say, alright we're going to start planning ahead. 

Kent: "At least this year. You know it is 2021, it's gotta be a better year than last year. I think, maybe not this week next week but in the near future, I think we're gonna start to see things open up better and we can be more hopeful. You know, that long-awaited vacation we've all been pushing off, put some out there and take care of yourself."

Watch more 'Hello Idaho':

Watch our latest conversations about mental health in our YouTube playlist: