For me, there’s no more depressing and anxiety-inducing time of year than the time between Christmas and New Year’s Day. I’m a highly sensitive and empathic person, and for years I have struggled with how to ease into the New Year as well as set fresh, achievable goals when I’m feeling so out of place and unsettled.
How do I rectify my feelings of anxiety, sadness, and fear when all I see on social media is positive, uplifting posts about how wonderful this past year was, how great the next year will be, and fabulous party selfies interspersed between “Best Nine” collages? If you’re like me, maybe you feel more like hibernating for New Year’s Eve instead of going out.
There is an abundance of information and feelings to process during the transition from Christmas to the New Year.
I’m here to tell you that is perfectly okay. Because the fact is there is an abundance of information and feelings to process during the transition from Christmas to the New Year:
Everything seems to be suspended in limbo.
The holiday decorations are still out, but instead of bringing the warmth, joy, and comfort they did before Christmas, they now seem odd, out of place, and the inevitability of them going back into storage is looming.
We must go back to work, but we don’t feel quite committed to anything, knowing that in just a few days there will be another holiday and another day off.
Personally, I begin making a mental list of ways I want to better myself in the New Year (get back to working out, begin tracking my food again), things I want to do more of (read, write, self-care), and intentions I want to set (cultivate creativity, learn new things, focus on long-term goals) and yet, there are 5 days left where I allow myself to indulge in, rest, and quite frankly – avoid – as much as possible.
There is so much change that happens in such a short period of time.
New items – gifts from the holiday – are brought en masse, often sitting around with no proper place for days until room can be made for them.
Decorations are eventually taken down, creating a sudden, stark, and entirely different feel in a matter of hours. Stores, neighbors, and towns do the same. Even holiday television commercials stop and are replaced with promotions for tax services and Valentine’s Day. In only a few days everything gets reset and Christmas is gone.
There’s pressure seemingly coming from all directions.
The pressure to find something to do on New Year’s Eve. Where will you go? What will you wear? The pressure to become this better version of yourself overnight, because #NewYearNewYou. The pressure to be okay with saying goodbye to the holidays and the current year. The pressure to feel excited about what’s to come even if you’re not.
These things combine to create a perfect storm of emotions and heightened anxiety, made worse by the fact that we all feel an obligation to be celebratory and happy.
The key in moments like these is not to begrudge yourself for having feelings. Over the years, I’ve become more aware of how heavily affected I can be by even the slightest change in my life or my surroundings. I fought for so long to eliminate that part of myself, attempting to just “get over it” and making myself accept change before I was ready. Now, instead of fighting against that wave of emotions, I try to dive through it, let it wash over me, accept the state I’m in, and eventually – inevitably – come out on the other side. By validating and making space for this part of me that fears change, I’m able to welcome the New Year more readily.
By validating and making space for this part of me that fears change, I’m able to welcome the New Year more readily.
So, my challenge for myself and to you this New Year’s Eve is to try and make peace with your New Year anxiety – whatever form it has taken the last few days. Maybe even honor it tonight with whatever brings you peace and joy.
For me that means cuddling with my dogs, making steak with Mitch, and feeling 100% content with the fact that I am not dressing up, going out, and ringing in the New Year at an Instagrammable party.
Somewhere between my dinner, a few glasses of wine, and a great night’s sleep, the New Year will arrive. I will have grieved the feelings of loss that seasons of change bring with them, said my goodbyes to the holiday season and the year prior, and awoken to a fresh start with renewed a spirit.