New Year, New Fresh Start

The new year means a fresh new start, filled with opportunities to embrace all the wonderful things that bring us joy. As the year progresses, let’s re-evaluate our priorities. Let’s make time for more fun, more laughter, more of everything that can enrich our lives and uplift us. After all, the 24-hour news cycle can be disheartening. There’s the heightened sense of uncertainty that comes with an election year, as well as the distressing reality of military conflicts overseas.

“What’s going on right now in our world, in this climate, there’s so much intensity, there’s honestly a lot of pain and suffering,” McCall’s President & CEO Maria Coutant Skinner, LCSW, observes. The question becomes, “Are we being intentional about finding joy?” In other words, as Maria puts it, “Do we give ourselves permission to find moments of just being silly, being light, and finding some laughter?”

Actively pursue joy.

The challenges facing humanity – including the lingering shadow of the COVID virus – are making us an anxious culture. “It feels like there’s sort of this pressure,” Maria notes, “and there’s not a lot of space.”

Maria suggests that we can create a healthy space for ourselves by slowing down, noticing, and naming. It’s important to remind ourselves to notice things like the beauty of nature, the sunlight in winter, the snow on treetops. Recognizing these small everyday wonders and even saying them out loud can help reduce anxiety.

Embrace healthy behavior.

“We have to make a plan,” Maria advises, “we have to be active participants in our lives.” For example, to help combat the negative impact of loneliness and social isolation, text a friend and schedule a meal together. It can be that simple. 

Another healthy behavior is to do something kind for someone. Acts of service give us joy and can provide joy for others.

Avoid traps.

The pursuit of joy isn’t always easy. As Maria points out, “We want to avoid the traps. Some things look like peace, contentment, relaxation, joy – but they might be what distracts or numbs us. Things like drugs, alcohol, disappearing into our screens, or binge-eating. You have this temporary feeling of escape, but then you end up feeling worse afterwards.”

If you’re checking in with yourself, if you’re prioritizing your emotional health, yet you still can’t access joy and maybe you can’t even remember the last time you laughed, the McCall Behavioral Health Network can help. We can do a screening for depression or anxiety. You don’t have to stay in a dark, difficult place.

We encourage you to connect with the resources and support provided by the McCall Network. To get started, please call our main office at 860.496.2100. Or chat with us online at In the meantime, we welcome you to get acquainted with our capabilities by visiting our website.