Doctors, counselors say you can learn from ‘terrible’ 2016

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Doctors and counselors say they're not surprised to hear so many people call 2016 a terrible year, and they hope lessons can be learned despite it all.

Carrie Fisher's death on Tuesday pushed many people to call 2016 one of the worst years in recent memory, a sentiment that has spread across social media in particular.

"I wouldn’t be too surprised if people are looking forward to 2017," mental health counselor Kimble Richardson, of Community Health Network, said.

High-profile deaths, devastating terror attacks, and health scares like Zika marred the year in stressors for many people. Plus, Richardson said we're still feeling the effects of a long and polarizing election cycle, regardless of which side you were on.

"Unfortunately I think there’s been a lot more struggle, conflict, (and) arguments that have happened in the past few months," Kimble said.

Fisher was 60, and other celebrities who have passed in their 50's and 60's have added to the stress as well.

"That gets people who are also that age to start thinking about their own mortality," Richardson said.

So what do you do? Doctors say we can learn from it.

Dr. Julie Clary, a cardiologist at IU Health and Assistant Professor for the IU School of Medicine, specializes in prevention. She said Fisher's death, as well as the death of George Michael and Alan Thicke, can prompt us to think about our own heart health.

"Heart disease doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity, it’s going to affect you just like it affects all the rest of us," Clary said.

Clary said it's common for people to ignore warning signs, or put off check-ups on their heart.

"Sometimes people know, or have a suspicion that they might have a problem with their heart, and they try to ignore it," Clary said.

She's hoping more people will take 2017 as an opportunity to adopt healthier habits, manage stress, and stop smoking: all risk factors that can cause heart disease.

Richardson, too, says you can do something about the stress you're feeling at the end of this year. He suggests unplugging, particularly from social media, and asking for help if you feel overwhelmed and not yourself.

"That’s the tough thing to do. It sounds super easy, but it’s tough," Richardson said.

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