New Year Nerves

December 22, 2023
This story took place in Scotland

Pledge to Take Action

Ever since I can remember feeling the years shift, New Year’s eve has given me a tense mind and a racing heartbeat. I couldn’t verbalise it then, but now I recognise the anxiety this night provokes in me each year as it draws closer. The existentialist in me feels panicked over the passing of time, I linger on the negative events of the past 12 months and feel overwhelmed by the pressure of New Year’s resolutions. 

I don’t think this feeling of dread towards New Years is uncommon at all. In fact, most people I’ve spoken to about it have shared my anxiety. It’s hard to feel that way, though, when the night itself is framed as a sparkling, joyous celebration. It’s no fun sitting in the corner of a party dwelling on negativity while everybody else simply has fun. I know this because I’ve done just that. 

It’s not just the night itself, though. January is a hard month. The January blues are incredibly real, and the pressure to refresh your life and make resolutions is tough. People resolve to change their bodies, make drastic life changes, take up new habits and hobbies. It’s not that these are necessarily bad things to do, but it can be easy to set impossibly high standards or goals to reach. Or, it can be an opportunity to criticise yourself and exacerbate insecurities, rather than healthily working on them. Talk of meeting beauty standards is rife during this period, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of instilling these beliefs in yourself.

So, how to manage this difficult night? After a number of extremely unsuccessful New Years celebrations due to my own nerves over the night, I’ve come to realise the importance of some key tips to remedy New Years anxiety.

  1. Before the night: Take some time to reflect. Set aside an hour or so before the 31st to look back on the past year. Consider what went well, and which parts were particular highlights. Also, allow yourself to spend some time in the negative parts of the year. It’s unrealistic to only consider positives, and creating a dedicated time to look back on less good events might help prevent becoming preoccupied with their memories whilst you’re trying to celebrate. I find this really helpful because, generally, juxtaposing any negative memories with positive ones help me realise that the good parts supersede the bad. 
  2. On the night: Create a new tradition to look forward to. I find this to be a fun distraction from feeling fearful. It can be something really simple, like watching a specific movie or listening to a specific song. Or, you could adopt a pre-existing tradition, such as singing Auld Lang Syne or eating grapes. The important part is that it’s something you’ll enjoy, and make the night an opportunity to have fun as a result. Personally, I always have to sing Auld Lang Syne, whether I’m celebrating at home with my family, at a house party or in a pub. I always like to clean my home on New Year’s eve, which helps to distract me during the day. My afternoon is spent baking something lovely, and the next day is always spent relaxing and going for a walk. By creating traditions I’ve been able to give myself a routine which helps to stave away the anxiety. 
  3. After the night: Consider a non-traditional New Year’s resolution. I don’t, personally, like to do away with resolutions completely as it makes me feel a little left out. However, I’ve managed to shift my approach to them in order to prevent myself from putting too much pressure on myself. Instead of traditional resolutions such as going to the gym more often, taking up running, saving a certain amount of money or cutting out a food choice, I opt for resolutions which don’t centre myself. In the past, I’ve resolved to reach out to friends I’d lost touch with, dedicate time to volunteer at a local charity and set up a monthly running date with a family member. By going for these types of resolutions, there is no risk of criticising myself, and I also feel grounded by helping others. I’m also a big fan of the ‘anti- resolution’, where, instead of losing weight, for example, you might instead dedicate time to reading a book, which explains the issues surrounding body standards. Unlearning these social constructs help my self esteem massively. 

Adopting these three practices have allowed me to enjoy New Year’s eve, something I wouldn’t have thought possible a few years ago. No longer am I left spiralling in the corner of a party. It’s become something I look forward to, now, and I enjoy sharing my celebrations with friends.

Pledge to Take Action