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  • Writer's pictureElaine Skoulas

New Year’s Depression - What Causes It And How You Can Help Yourself

For many people, new year’s isn’t really a ‘happy time’ to be in. Looking around watching the people celebrating the end of the year, greeting each other in celebrations, and looking forward to a better year, it can all be pretty exhausting. Why? Because we’re not all in the same boat.

The past years have been pretty harsh.

More and more people had to go through isolation during the pandemic.

More and more people have lost loved ones and still haven’t found time for grief and loss.

Adapting to a newer environment, many relationships couldn’t last and the world hasn’t really given you any time to mourn and move on.

Trying to manage the unknown, many coped with alcohol and other substances, finding that it often worsened problems.

It is also common that old wounds and past traumas resurfaced during these times of uncertainty and unpredictability.

With all things considered, it is perfectly okay that you’re not feeling exactly happy for this new year, but remember, there is hope for change.

Why Do I Feel Sad On New Year’s?

There are many factors that lead to a majority of people feeling the new year blues.

The most helpful thing you can do in the case you feel sad about the New Year is self-reflection: to understand what the root cause is. With deepened awareness, there are steps you can take toward positive change.

Winter depression, also known as seasonal depression, is one of the leading causes of people feeling worse on new year’s. The winds are cold, sunlight hours are minimum, and it is common to experience sadness and disconnect.

Another reason why the end of a year can bring upon feelings of depression includes comparing yourself to others. We are often socialized to believe life is a race or competition. Individuals compare themselves with people who seemed to have a better year when the most important reflection is of your own life.

Scrolling through social media and watching people’s stories of the year where they traveled a lot, achieved career success, or did great at school, can bring about decreased confidence because in comparison, you might not have done as much, or simply couldn’t.

For adults mainly, new year’s can be hectic. The holiday season does require a lot of effort relating to gifting, get-togethers, working on families, earning extra, etc. This leaves you little to no room to relax and get enough sleep even to wrap a day up.

And for some people, ending a year is an analogy to hurtful endings that they’ve experienced in their life. The end of a year can ignite past trauma where things didn’t end in a good way for you. Relationships that had destructive endings. This can resurface the feelings of grief and loss. And your mental health suffers.

No matter which description fits you the best, remember we’re not all in the same boat. And no matter how hard and hopeless it may seem, things can get better. There are helpful strategies which can bring improved happiness and better health.

How To Deal With New Year’s Depression

Everyone finds a different route to better health. What works well for one person isn't going to be the solution for all. It can be a part of the process to find what you need and works best for you.

One healthy and helpful way to deal with New Year’s Depression would be to visit a good therapist. Making time just for you to be able to process your experience with a non-judgmental professional can help you feel less alone.

Even if you don’t feel like there’s a big need for therapy, and it seems scary to start, it is important to remember that you deserve to take care of yourself in this way.

In the company of a trusted therapist, you can develop a better understanding of yourself and your needs. This helps to then allow you to find ways of getting those needs met with self-care and improved communication in relationships.

When dealing with New Year’s Depression, it's important to remind yourself:

There’s no reason to be so hard on yourself.

It can be easy and natural to compare yourself to others. It takes practice to be in acceptance of self and remember that you are trying to survive. It is okay to just be as you are right now.

Burdening yourself with pressure will only make it harder for your confidence to get back up. Remember, there are other ways to tackle problems than blaming yourself. Taking it slowly and doing the next best thing for you is a solid path toward change.

Dealing with the panic - healthy distractions

In the journey of helping your mental health with feelings of depression, there may be many times when the environment around you causes worsened anxiety or distress. Observing what your triggers are and finding healthy distractions can be a good place to start.

For people struggling with addictions, feelings of anxiety and depression can increase the substance use which creates bigger problems.

It’s important you create a comfort zone for yourself, where you find people, activities, or places that can help you in those heightened states of distress.

A Healthy New Year’s Resolution

And finally, spend some time on yourself and make a mind map of what you want for the next year. Forget the people around you and the element of comparison. Have a good look at yourself and list out things that you want to change.

Make it practical. Include baby steps. There’s nothing wrong with taking things slow.

If you’re feeling depressed, make sure that list involves stepping out to try counseling.

It is also common that old wounds and past traumas resurfaced during these times of uncertainty and unpredictability, and it can be most helpful to move through your experiences with a therapist you can talk with.

There will be ups and downs. There will be times that cause you to derail. But there is always impermanence in every challenging situation. With the right tools to help your mental health, you can always get back up and work towards the life you want to be living.

Here’s to a Healthy New Year!


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