Take a deep breath. The most hectic holidays of the year are almost behind us. There’s another one to come: New Year’s Eve.
For some of us, it’s a potential party night full of social anxiety and maybe some triggers around alcohol or substance abuse. For others, it can be a lonely night. And for some, it’s a time to take stock and plan for the year ahead, which in itself can provoke anxiety.
In the words of the late folksinger Jim Croce, “it doesn’t have to be this way.”
Trust me, it’s OK to skip the loud and crowded party. Being alone doesn’t have to feel lonely. And New Year’s Resolutions aren’t ironclad contracts of impossible, standards. While the rest of the holiday season is full of sharing and giving (both very good things), you can make New Year’s Eve and/or New Year’s Day all about you, your strength, your peace, and approach the start of a new year with grace, patience, and optimism.
Here are some things to consider for December 31 or January 1:
Plan Your Perfect Day
Whatever it is that you love, find the time and way to do it. Take a walk. Read a book. Organize a messy closet. Even if you do something you love for 10 minutes, carve out that time for you.
If you’re invited to a party, weigh your options. Do you really want to go? Will there be people there you enjoy? Will there be triggers that tempt your recovery or well-being? Gather the strength to say no if the gathering isn’t in your best interests. Your true friends/loved ones will understand.
Resolve to Make Reasonable Resolutions (if you want)
If you want to make resolutions, keep them reasonable and meaningful to your life goals. A small change now can lead to better feelings of accomplishment which can lead to another small change. Resolutions are tools for growth, not punishments for not being (ugh) perfect.
Do Something for Someone Else and Let That Feed Your Soul
It’s true: your gift of time and talent to someone, anyone in need is good for you, too. I have a friend who spent Christmas morning volunteering for an agency that delivers food to homebound people. He has plenty of friends and family who would have welcomed his company and he has plenty of means to write a check to any number of charities. He felt his time was spent in service had higher value than just being ‘one in a crowd.’
Give Yourself Grace
Show yourself kindness and respect for being human.
Remember that change doesn’t have a calendar. January 1 is not a mandate to change your life for the better. Setting a goal or trying something new for yourself can happen on any day you decide is a good day.
Need a nudge? That’s OK, too. Find support from like-minded groups or friends. Turn to professional help when it’s needed, too.
Hey, it’s a whole new year with 366 (it’s a leap year!) days of opportunity. Some will be great, some may not be as good, and there is always hope and possibility.