People who are generally not happy with where they are in their lives often find that annual holidays like New Year’s Eve tend to trigger negative feelings like sadness, depression, grief, frustration, anger, etc. These feelings may be the result of the grief due to the loss of a close friend or relative, feelings of lonliness because they don’t have a signifiant other to share the holiday with, unhappiness with where they are in their lives from a health, fitness, or career perspective, or any other number of things. For those of us with Depression, the number of things that we are unhappy about may or may not be much greater, but we all know that the depth of the feelings will almost certainly be much greater and out of proportion to the thoughts that we entertain. In either case, whether you are a person with Depression or not there are things that you can do to lesson or eliminate these lowered feelings.
Do not take stock of where you are in your life because New Year’s Eve is no special date. The amount of hype about holidays in this country has become obscene. It primarily stems from greed. For many restaurants, liquor stores, hotels, and destinations this can be one of their biggest nights/stays of the year, and their job is to make you feel like if you don’t attend then you’re missing out on something amazing, when in actuality it may be quite a crappy culinary or celebratory experience. Advertisers create huge campaigns showing lots of joyous people, surrounded by great friends and family popping bottles of Champagne and ringing in the new year. It’s generally a fantasy. Few people have many real friends. If a person has one good true friend that would be there for them when they needed them then that is a blessing that not everyone has. And family? Do I really need to get into that at all. Most families are a mess. There is no such thing as a normal family. They all have secrets and dysfunction to one degree or another. New Year’s Eve is a marketing and advertising company’s dream come true, and government’s do whatever they can to assist in the hype because it’s all about bringing in the dollars. So do as Flavor Flave says “Don’t believe the hype”. It’s mostly bullshit.
Using any arbitrary day to review your last year’s performance as a means to checking up on your development is meaningless. If you started making progress in breaking depression starting a few weeks ago, and if you’re not currently in a good frame of mind then you very well may not see the tremendous strides that you have made and you will wind up discounting everything that you can be proud of and basically dump all over it, belittling it, not appreciating it, and destroying it. Or you might still appreciate what you’ve accomplished but still give it little importance because you may be thinking something like “The last two weeks have been great, but the rest of the year sucked, and since I don’t have plans tonight, tonight’s going to suck, and this new year is going to be another year of misery”. I know that that’s what I often do.
Here are some of the self-distructive things that people engage in on New Year’s Eve. I suggest that you consciously choose not to engage in any of them:
Taking stock of the areas of your life and judging yourself if any or many of them are no different than the prior year, especially in the areas of physical health, mental health, finance, work and career, etc.
Feeling badly because you don’t have someone special to share New Year’s Eve with.
Feeling badly because you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a fancy dinner celebration.
Looking back on the pain of 2014 and projecting that pain into 2015.
Wishing a deceased loved one were here to celebrate.
Another extremely important thing to remember is not to drink too much or any alcoholic beverages. Last year I blogged about the dangers of alcohol for people with Depression, especially those who are on antidepressants, moods stabilizers, tranquilizers, etc. The articles are called “Alcohol and Depression” and “Thoughts About New Year’s Eve” which you can click on these links to read.
Don’t make foolish New Year’s Resolutions.
Don’t look back and judge the foolish New Year’s Resolutions from prior years.
So what can you do this New Year’s Eve?
If you have made significant progress over the last few days, weeks, months, or year and are capable of feeling genuinely grateful for these gains then take some time to quietly reflect on them with an attitude of gratitude and lovingkindness towards yourself and the person, people, or resources that helped you along the way. Endorse yourself and bask in the glory of what you have created in your life.
If you want to do something to celebrate the New Year do something that you think you will enjoy. Don’t overextend yourself if you haven’t been trying to broaden your sphere of the world already. When we are Depressed we generally make our worlds smaller and smaller through avoidance behaviors. In my case, I went from traveling the country and to a few other countries as an executive to traveling from my bedroom to the bathroom as a depressed person on disability insurance. So tonight is not the night for me to look up my old colleagues and party with them. Tonight I might take a step by spending the evening with a close friend or relative and spend some time consciously and mindfully experiencing our time together and being grateful for this person in my life. Don’t let your ego move you out of the present and into the past or future. The past is over. It no longer exists. What you may have learned from it exists, but it no longer exists.
Spend time doing that you enjoy like playing a musical instrument, painting, writing, listening to inspirational talks, playing video games, watching TV, etc. New Year’s Eve is not a time where you are supposed to be productive so give yourself permission to enjoy yourself no matter what you choose to do or not do. There is nothing wrong with being a couch potato on New Year’s Eve. In fact, most people spend at least some time on New Year’s Eve sitting on the couch and watching the ball drop.
Find people less fortunate than you and give them a surprise visit. Perhaps you can bring them some food and wish them a Happy New Year. Although I might be feeling quite depressed, I do find that I can sometimes create the energy necessary to overcome the lethargy of Depression when it comes to helping others. There are things that I can do for others that I cannot seem to do for myself. So why not utilize this. In the action that I take, I can help someone else to feel happy and at the same time take a step toward my liberation for this disease.
By the way, New Year’s Eve is not even real in terms of your sense of time. Look up what time it is in various countries around the world and see when New Year’s Eve was or will be in other countries around the world. In the East, New Year’s is already over and it is already January 01, 2015!
As for the future, there are times to dream and times to make plans. New Year’s Eve is probably not one of those times, but you’ll have to determine that for yourself.