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4 Tips for When the New Year Is Difficult

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New Years is often thought of as a time of new beginnings where we leave the past year and all its pitfalls behind us and strive to live our best lives possible. For many, though, this time of year doesn’t inspire hope but rather fear and anxiety.

Everyone who had rough year last year might wonder how they’ll cope if the new year is worse than the last one. If the last few years have been tough, people might wonder how they’ll make it through another tough year if the pattern continues. People with anxiety might be anxious because they are trying to predict the future and all the different possibilities, both good and bad, for this upcoming year. All of these emotions can be overwhelming and disheartening, and there is nothing wrong or unusual about that! For those struggling as we transition into a new year, here are four tips for making the transition a little bit easier.

1. Write down your fears. You might not be able to entirely get them out of your head, but getting them out on paper can elucidate them and help your mind settle a bit as it’s able to let go of being the sole bearer of your anxieties. When you write them out, you can sometimes also come up with reasons for your fears or plans to help combat them. If they are irrational, as anxiety often is, you can also work on recognizing that. Knowing anxiety isn’t rational doesn’t make the anxiety stop, but knowing its source and repeatedly acknowledging its irrationality can help put it in its place and take away a bit of the power it holds over you.

2. Create a strong support group to surround yourself with, especially for the first portion of the year when things often seem most uncertain. For everyone living in wintery climates at the moment, the dreary weather can make despair and hopelessness that much worse. Having a support group to turn to takes away some of the isolation and internalization of fears and depression that are always damaging but are especially so during this time of year. Your group(s) could include friends, family members or health care professionals like therapists; under the best circumstances, you might receive support from all three! In most of these groups, you won’t only get help in your own struggles, though, but also be able to support others through their hardships, which can help you feel more purposeful and connected to others.

3. Don’t pressure yourself to come up with bold New Year’s resolutions or any resolutions at all! Sometimes, you have to live life on a more day-to-day basis. Your abilities might change daily or your circumstances might suddenly, drastically change (for the better or the worse). You are working so hard each and every day fighting your individual battles and doing the best you can in all you do. A lot of common resolutions are unreasonable for someone under the best circumstances, so don’t pressure yourself to live up to unattainable expectations! If you do create resolutions, start with small ones that are attainable, will help you feel accomplished when you achieve them, and will make a positive impact on your life and/or the life of others. Maybe you want to start complimenting strangers when you like their outfits because you’ve always been too nervous to speak up and do so. Maybe you want to unsubscribe to a bunch of spam mail so your email isn’t as chaotic. Maybe you want to recognize one positive thing you did each day; you might work to find a better balance between work and/or school, the needs and wants of others and your own needs and wants. Do what’s best for you and your health!

4. Come up with exciting events throughout the year to look forward to. Some of the events might be larger, like a concert or a weekend trip. Others might be fun activities you enjoy but don’t do often, like exploring a new part of your city or going to the midnight premiere of a highly anticipated movie with friends or family. The goal is to space the events out far enough that you’re eagerly awaiting them but not leaving so much time between events that it seems like they’ll never happen. When you’re having a difficult day, it can work wonders to think of all the things coming up that you’re looking forward to!

Nothing can completely remove the stress, anxiety and worry that are often present around the start of a new year, but I hope you can work to find coping skills that help alleviate the stress of a changing time.

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Getty image by phaustov

Originally published: January 13, 2018
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