Thursday, 1 Dec 2022

How to avoid a disappointing New Year’s Eve

Is there any night on the calendar more over-hyped and under-enjoyed than New Year's Eve?

Between the hustle for the perfect spot to view the fireworks, the pressure to find a good group to celebrate with, and the ticking clock to midnight, the entire evening is an exercise in performing "fun", even if what you are experiencing is anything but.

Is there ever a night that is more disappointing?Credit:Stocksy

Dr Melissa Norberg, associate professor and deputy director at Macquarie University's Centre for Emotional Health, says it is very normal for New Year's to not live up to expectations.

New Year's, like Christmas, can be a time when people experience loneliness. The event is a celebration of the past 12 months which, if you have an isolated or otherwise unenjoyable year, can leave you feeling as if there is nothing to celebrate.

"The combination of our expectations for events and our tendencies to ruminate about the past or worry about the future [may] lead us to feel anxiety or sadness [about New Year's]," she says.

The situation is not helped by the nature of the festive season, during which time we are less likely to be engaging in our regular routines, or eating a balanced diet, which are both factors that can affect our mood and mental wellbeing.

"We give up our schedule of being healthy," Norberg says. "A lack of sleep, eating poorly and drinking too much will make us fatigued. Fatigue can contribute to feeling stressed and depressed."

But, as the perfectly filtered social media photos start hitting your feed as the clock counts down to midnight, Dr Norberg says it is important to keep your expectations balanced.

"The holidays are not a perfect time of year," she says. "Everyone is not having more fun. Everyone is not more successful than you."

Dr Norberg's tips for maintaining mental health at New Year's

  • Be OK with saying no to certain events or going late or leaving early. It is OK to take care of your own needs.
  • If you are trying to avoid drinking, find people who will help you. Go to parties with other people abstaining. Bring something else to drink. Schedule something for early the next morning.
  • Don’t abandon healthy habits. Find time to exercise. Bring fruit to a party or eat before you go. Say no to that extra glass of wine. Get sleep.
  • If you are alone, find ways to connect with people. Get involved in community events or volunteer. Volunteering will not only connect you with other people, but it will also make you feel good because you’ve helped out other people.

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