There are plenty of reasons why New Year's Eve can elicit feelings of depression, wistfulness, and even regret about the past year. In our society there is immense pressure to make New Year's Eve the ultimate celebration, watch the ball drop, share a New Year’s kiss at midnight, and set resolutions. But what if you don’t have anyone to share a kiss with, a party to go to, or feel like the past year was a wash? It can be difficult to get motivated to go out and celebrate. It is important to keep in mind that these traditions were brought about by the commercialization of New Year's Eve and it is okay if you don’t feel up for buying into it this year.
Certain people are definitely at higher risk of feeling bad during New Year's Eve such as those who recently experienced a loss or breakup, people who are newly sober, or anyone who is coming out of a particularly tough holiday season. In terms of those who are more susceptible to feeling bad about staying home, NYE at home is the ultimate FOMO. The “shoulds” are endless. Then, to make it worse, you are home alone instead of having all the distractions that being out with others would bring. If you are extroverted and get energized by being around others, it can be especially difficult to feel like you are forced to stay home alone because you don’t have plans with anyone. Lastly, New Year's Eve is the prime opportunity to reflect on your past year. Reflecting on the past can be very difficult for someone who has had a hard year or someone who struggles with feelings of worthlessness or never being good enough.
5 Ways to Reclaim New Year's Eve
1. As an alternative to the usual, you may try attaching personal meaning to New Year's Eve, and reclaiming it with new traditions. Do some research on traditions in other cultures for fresh starts of the new year; start a gratitude journal or just start a journal in general; clean your home; or get a new look. The easiest way to flip the script on New Year's Eve is to think about your values and come up with plans to live more in line with them. You also can reflect on the past year in a different way by writing down all the things you are grateful for, or you can make New Year's Eve the night of fresh starts and purging the old.
2. A life led in line with your personal values is the best way to truly find your authentic self and learn to appreciate it. It is important to give thought to your values and then break them down into achievable and measurable tasks that are in line with them. If you value knowledge but haven’t been in school in years, take a free class or read a new book. Then, give yourself credit for it as such. Far too often, people do things that may be right in line with what they value but because they do not frame it that way, they miss an opportunity to feel a sense of accomplishment.
3. Give yourself permission to spend New Year's Eve however you please. If you want to stay home and watch the ball drop on tv and have your own party with yourself, that would be great. If you do not want to watch any of the news coverage, that is great too. Find something enjoyable to do like watch your favorite movie, indulge in a bubble bath, and/or have your favorite food to eat. Dress up if that will make you feel better or revel in an opportunity to get cozy in PJs.
4. Allow yourself to feel whatever emotions come up. If you are feeling sad or lonely, understand that emotions are not dangerous and they come and go naturally. If you try to push away an emotion, that is when you will actually perpetuate it.
5. Instead of a New Year’s Resolution, most of which end up getting broken anyway, do something to feel better about yourself that is not oriented around this tradition. If you feel the last year was a disaster or just a wash, try to give yourself permission to let that go and move on from it. Make a list of things that you are letting go of as you move into the new year. Aim for a fresh start. Maybe you have been wanting a new hair style or just want to schedule time to pamper yourself. Alternatively (or in addition), you can do a deep cleaning of your home to start the New Year fresh.
The main idea is to have a solid plan in advance for yourself, give yourself permission to feel and do what YOU please, and find your own way of symbolically moving forward. Let 2019 be about you!
When people think about symptoms of anxiety, their minds typically go to worrying, panic/anxiety attacks, and fear or phobias. They might imagine that if they were struggling with anxiety then they would feel their heart racing and feel restless for much of the time. However, there are several lesser-known symptoms of anxiety, which are not necessarily less common, but can more easily be overlooked or discounted as something else. If you notice yourself or someone you care about exhibiting these symptoms, check in with them as they may be struggling with undiagnosed anxiety.
1. Inability to let a thought go. If you just cannot seem to get off of a topic or let it go, it may be because you are anxious. A key component of executive functioning is set-shifting which involves being able to move onto the next idea or task. Anxiety decreases your ability to do this and makes it more likely that you will find yourself perseverating on small details or the same issue for days/weeks/months on end.
2. An increase in symptoms of another psychiatric disorder such as an eating disorder or depression. It may be the case that you struggle with depression or an eating disorder and those symptoms have decreased. If you have a history of an eating disorder and suddenly experience a surge in concerns about body image and eating, you may also be struggling with anxiety and it is manifesting this way. Additionally, depression and worry often go together and anxiety can trigger depression.
3. An increase in relationship problems such as becoming more controlling or nit-picky with your partner. Suddenly everything your partner does becomes really annoying and every little thing is affecting you like nails on a chalkboard. You may find yourself correcting your partner over minor things like word choice or what they are eating or doing. Often this type of critical and controlling behavior comes from a need to focus on something aside from what you are actually anxious about or you may want to feel like you have control over *something,* the latter of which is a more commonly observed and known symptom of anxiety. Another reason for this could be that you are feeling very edgy and are taking it out on the person closest to you.
4. Indecisiveness. If you find you cannot make simple decisions like what you want to eat or which pair of shoes you like, it is highly possible that you are really struggling with anxiety. It is important to ask yourself where the indecisiveness is coming from and if you are, for example, worrying about making the wrong decision and second or triple guessing yourself.
5. Procrastination. Not only might you want to avoid doing work or facing a bill in the mail, which is more common, but if you are putting off or avoiding other things like reaching out to friends or cleaning your home, you may be experiencing anxiety.
6. Sluggishness or feeling very tired can indicate that you are experiencing less restful sleep than usual or are not getting enough sleep. Difficulty sleeping is a commonly known symptom of anxiety. Also, while some get keyed up and agitated when they get anxious, some find themselves slowing down and getting sluggish. Think fight or flight.
7. Frequently getting sick. If you’re under stress, your immune system will certainly take a hit. If you find that you keep getting sick, consider whether you are experiencing anxiety.
8. Weight gain, especially in your midsection. Having heightened cortisol levels for extended periods of time can lead to weight gain and bloating in your stomach. High levels of cortisol can lead to blood sugar drops which leads to craving sweets. Even without “stress eating” or changing your eating habits, you may find that anxiety leads to weight gain. Other symptoms of anxiety like decreased sleep can also lead to weight gain.
Recognizing these lesser-known symptoms of anxiety can of course lead to getting treatment faster, but it is also very important because simply understanding your own behavior and having those close to you understand it can be hugely helpful.
Uncertainty is one of the most certain aspects of life, and yet it is one of the most intolerable emotional states. It is human nature to look for patterns and predictability, to figure out the future, and prepare. Therefore when we are faced with uncertainty, we try to get around it and figure it out ourselves. We immediately get going with the “what ifs,” the “what did that really means,” and wondering if this is it and the person you are dating is “the one.” We also to try to prepare and avoid getting hurt. However, it is really not possible to establish a healthy relationship by bypassing the uncertainty phase. It is important to take your time to figure out if this is “the one,” and discover together over time if you are compatible. Sure, you can try to get around this by jumping into things too intensely and too quickly, but that probably has not worked out so well for you in the past.
So how do you tolerate uncertainty?
1. Embrace it. Practice acceptance that this is a necessary and important phase of dating and your relationship. Enjoy the excitement and butterflies and try to frame it that way instead of seeing your emotional response to uncertainty as uneasiness and intolerable anxiety that must end! You will survive this.
2. Flip the script and use your uncertainty and wondering to figure out how you actually feel. It is easy to get so caught up in trying to figure out the other person’s experience of us that we lose out on the important opportunity to determine the answer for yourself to your own questions. “Are they interested?” can become “Am I interested?” Take your time to figure this out without getting sucked into the trap of just focusing on the other person.
3. Don’t play games. Sometimes people try to avoid the discomfort of uncertainty by exercising control over the situation and deliberately doing things to keep the other person wondering and on their toes. This is not going to do your relationship any good. And if you notice the person you are dating doing this, take a closer look at what is going on and if you want to participate in it.
4. Do NOT become beholden to technology. If you find yourself attached to your phone and constantly checking at it, as if you are willing a text to pop up, that is a warning sign. If you are tracking the other person on social media or looking up their history, just try to stop. The less you start with these things, the better off you will be.
5. Ask for reassurance in a measured way. It is natural to want to know where you stand with someone and how they feel about you. If you notice yourself constantly asking for reassurance, you are going to do your relationship in.
6. Look at the evidence. If you are prone to worrying about whether your partner is interested in you, try making a list of things they say and do that indicate that they are interested. Review the list especially when you might be having a hard time sitting with the anxiety of uncertainty.
7. Continue to tend to your relationship with yourself. You had a life before this person was part of it, and you need to maintain it now. Continue to see your friends, go to the gym, go to work, and do the things you enjoy.
But what happens if you are still lingering in the uncertainty phase after your first anniversary? Sure, there is a normal amount of uncertainty in life and there are no guarantees, so it is normal to not know for sure about some things. However, by your first anniversary, you should know whether or not you enjoy spending time with this person, if you have chemistry, how the other person communicates their feelings, how your partner feels about you, what your long-term plans are, and whether you have shared values. You absolutely should feel comfortable being yourself with this person. It also would be helpful to have a sense of and be on the same page about career goals, where you want to live, how you feel about living together, whether you want kids, and what your priorities are. You should also be certain that there are no deal breakers present in the relationship.
All healthy relationships involve compromise and sacrifice, and some people are more inclined to put their own needs aside in order to please others. Especially if you have a bent toward people-pleasing and being conscientious, it is important for you to know where to draw the line.
5 Things You Should Never Give Up in a Relationship
1. Your family and friends. If your partner is urging you to give up your relationships with your family and friends and trying to isolate you, this is a definite red flag.
2. Your identity. This seems like a no-brainer, but all too often, I see clients who have completely abandoned their identity and sense of self in the service of pleasing their partner and making their relationship work. Usually this is something that does not happen overnight, but once it does happen, it can be extremely damaging for people.
3. Your career. Let’s say your career is important to you but your partner is fed up with how demanding it is. Or, let’s say your partner gets a job elsewhere and expects you to up and leave. You may very well make an informed decision to move with them and get a different job, but that needs to come from you. If you are pressured to give up your career because your partner is threatened by it, wants you available to them at all times, or is repeatedly undermining it and your successes, this is a big problem.
4. Your well-being. Let’s say you regularly engage in self-care that involves exercise, therapy, time alone to decompress, or time with your friends to pursue hobbies. If your partner pushes you to give up these things, especially while knowing that they are important to your health and well-being, run far, far away.
5. Being “you.” If you do not feel comfortable being yourself, and 100% yourself, with your partner, whether this is by request or your own decision, this person is not “The One.” It is essential that you feel comfortable expressing all of your wants, needs, desires, and can be honest with your partner. If you cannot do these things because you don’t feel comfortable and are wanting to be the person you think your partner wants rather than yourself, this is a problem. Similarly, if your partner is subtly pushing you to be someone else by putting you down or telling you what you should like, this is also dangerous territory to step into.
The bottom line is that you should never have to give up or lose who you are, at your core, in order to make your relationship with someone work.