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New Year's Eve Tips for Anyone Struggling With Their Mental Health

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It is the end of 2020… and ya… what a year it’s been. But now people are looking forward to 2021 expecting it to be a better year as soon as that clock hits midnight, signaling that 2020 is now history and 2021 has arrived. Everyone is optimistic about that “fresh start” and making “big plans” for 2021.

But how about you, the person whose mental illness will not magically disappear at midnight, or the person who is at home struggling with their mental illness and can not face the social aspect of New Year? I know this time of year is difficult for you, so let me share my top New Year’s tips with you as we transition into another year.

1. Turn. Off. Social. Media!

If you did not see my first tip… let me say it again.

Turn off your social media.

Yes… you will see everyone wishing each other a happy new year on their media feeds, along with those set up shots of a glass of wine perfectly positioned so you can see the stunning view in the background, or maybe a plate of perfectly looking food in a fancy restaurant… while you watch on at home in your pajamas… via a screen.

Seeing those photos just might make you feel sad and even lower, so the best way to combat that is to put your phone down and out of sight. This is not being anti-social… this is you giving yourself some headspace, and that’s a good thing to do. Personally, I shut out the world. That’s just my way of dealing with it, but if you do want to stay up until midnight in the comforts of home like I do, then jump right into tip number two.

2. Keep yourself busy.

If you don’t sleep through News Year’s, but want to stay up until midnight, plan a few things to keep yourself busy. You can virtually hang out with one or two close friends if they have no plans and do some activities at home while you welcome in the new year. Hold a movie night, or even a games night. Wherever your interests lay… make an evening of it. You could even do a themed fancy dress night for family or close friends if you decide on that.

3. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Be kind.

I know if you opt to make the decision to stay at home during New Year’s, you may feel like you have potentially let people down, or you feel left out and excluded from the celebrations… and ya know what?… who cares! Look at this situation from another perspective. You have decided to stay inside because you know yourself best, and you know that this is the best decision for you and your current situation. You are taking care of yourself and that’s perfectly fine. That’s how you should view this. Above all, be kind to yourself!

4. Respond to phone calls and texts.

If people decide to contact you directly during New Year’s… respond. As mentioned in tip one, stay away from social media, but do answer that call or respond to that direct text. Someone took the time to think of you, so do show your appreciation in your response. Those people know that you are going through a lot right now, but also understand that you need your headspace, yet they still want you to know that they are thinking of you, which is really awesome if you think about it and how busy this time of year can be, so do respond with gratitude to those special people.

5. Treat yourself.

This year has been a nightmare for many people all around the world, but for some people struggling with a mental health condition, it’s been twice as hard. But here you are at the end of the year — you made it! And that deserves celebrating. Get yourself a huge bar of chocolate, or buy yourself something as a New Year’s gift… maybe I would even suggest a cheeky bottle of your favorite beverage! But do treat yourself and celebrate the strength and effort you have put in to be here right now. Celebrate you!

6. Music… (and loud!)

There are two things that every human on this planet has in common — the weather… and music! So select your favorite artist and turn it up! I am currently studying to be a counselor, and one of the things I have found is that music most definitely helps you cope with your mental illness. I am talking from both a clinical and personal point of view (and it’s backed by science!). A UK Study has found some of the most popular songs to use for music therapy include songs by the artists, Queen, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley and also a few others, but it is very dependent on what genre of music you are into and what works best to cater for individual tastes. So music… crank it to 11!

7. Cry if you have to!

However you are feeling on New Year’s Eve, sometimes emotions can be very strong with certain mental illnesses, and if you need too, then release those emotions in a safe way. If you feel sad that you are home and others are out celebrating, then cry. Let it out and don’t be ashamed of yourself about doing it. Humans were designed to cry, as it’s a safe release, and crying ensures that safe transition of built up emotion from the inside to the outside of the body. You will feel a bit better afterwards, just enough to go and make yourself a cup of tea or coffee… or sneak a bit of chocolate! (Yes… chocolate helps!)

8. Practice gratitude.

Let’s not lie here…. 2020 has been a pretty crap year, but there have been faint glimmers of hope from time to time throughout the year for all of us at some point. Those faint glimmers could be as simple memories of things you have done during the year that personally meant something to you. It could be a simple activity such as a time when you were gardening in the backyard, or a really nice coffee you had in the park. sometimes it’s the simple things that are the most rewarding, so come up with a few things that you were grateful for during 2020. Don’t forget to also dig into your deepest and darkest feelings during the year and be grateful for the strength you had to push yourself through those dark times. Don’t just be grateful for that, but also be proud of yourself for that!

9. Do get some sleep!

Sleep is important every night, including New Year’s! So if you are tired, go get some sleep. Simple. The sun will rise on a new day, and you will wake up in a new year. View that morning as a reset. No, your mental health issue will not magically disappear, but you are here right now, and ready to get through another year. I personally prefer to wake up and face that first day of a new year with a clear head rather then nursing a hangover! Put yourself and your health first, and a good start to that is to get some sleep. You can stay up past midnight of course, but leave time for some sleep as well.

Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

Originally published: December 22, 2020
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