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!