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How This New Year's Eve Visualization Helps My Mental Health

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Picture New Year’s Eve. The ball drop, a million balloons, big hats and funny glasses. Imagine the taste of all the snacks you’ll get to eat. Hear the laughter and maybe even see the tears. Now, feel the hope. Even in my darkest of times, I could feel the hope of this night.

We all know resolutions are something that will be talked about on social media, with friends and family, at work, you name it. I gave them up years ago, but somebody helped me come up with an idea for this year.

Come back to that image of a million balloons. Now, just pick one. Usually if I wanted to let the balloon go, I would let go of the string. Instead I’m going to notice the tiny knot that is connecting the balloon to the string. That string represents all of the ways I have learned to protect myself from harm, good and not so good ways. It’s the voice in my head saying I’m too much so I need to get and stay small. The string is the fear of losing people. The string is all the symptoms of an eating disorder, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) … and more.

This balloon of mine is my authentic self. The person I know that is somewhere inside of me who has confidence. This balloon represents more freedom, more light, more flexibility. This balloon is all of my hopes.

Now, I’m going to untie that tiny knot and keep hold of the string while the balloon floats away. This balloon doesn’t lose all of its air when the knot is untied. (This is a visualization living in our brains, so anything goes.) The string is still here, if I need it. I still have those fears and coping strategies to protect me. I have all of my old patterns to fall back on if I need to. Those aren’t going anywhere. They are hard to forget.

Now this balloon is outside of me gathering hope. It’s gathering warmth and stars and healing while it’s floating. It’s helping me find new ways to guard my heart. It’s finding new ways to exist in this world to help me be content.

This balloon can’t just fly away and never come back though. I want the knowledge it’s learning along the way. I know I’ll see a balloon again after New Years Eve. I don’t know when. I don’t know where, but another will show up and when it does, maybe a little more light will sneak into me when I untie the knot.

Forget resolutions. Notice the balloons. Find some peace in knowing something out there is helping you, find you.

Getty image by Eugenio Marongiu

Originally published: December 13, 2021
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