Oh, New Year’s Eve. That one night a year when our expectations run exceedingly high. We dream of glitzy gowns, chic parties and kissing the love of our life at the stroke of midnight. However, most of the time, New Year’s Eve is anything but idyllic. We end up at too-crowded clubs with drunk people, and the countdown is almost always a little meh. Let’s be honest; There’s little return on investment when it comes to New Year’s Eve, which is why it’s totally normal and acceptable to want to stay home for New Year’s Eve. In fact, it could be the healthiest decision you could make for yourself.
“New Year’s can be triggering for many different reasons, and there are a lot of different people that are affected by the expectations that New Year’s brings,” Melissa Coats, a licensed professional counselor, tells SheKnows. “Most of the expectations I hear are that people should go out for New Year’s Eve, have someone to kiss at midnight, drink heavily and set resolutions for a clean slate in the coming year. These expectations can put undue pressure on us and can contribute to negative self-talk, anxiety and feelings of inadequacy.”
Additionally, Dr. Nicole Issa, a psychologist, points out that the fear of missing out is extremely real and palpable on New Year’s Eve for almost everyone, but especially for those who recently experienced a loss or breakup, people who are newly sober, those struggling with seasonal depression or anyone who is coming out of a particularly tough holiday season who might feel even more defeated from staying in on the 31st.
“New Year’s Eve at home is the ultimate FOMO,” she tells SheKnows. “The ‘shoulds’ are endless. Then, to make it worse, you are home alone instead of having all the distractions that being out with others would bring. If you are extroverted and get energized by being around others, it can be especially difficult to feel like you are forced to stay home alone because you don’t have plans with anyone.”
So, what should one do if you find yourself staying home for New Year’s and feeling guilty?
For starters, Coats says it’s key to reexamine the “traditions” you participate in each year.
“If some of them feel more like rules to be followed instead of an actual tradition that you enjoy, alter the rule or get rid of it altogether,” she says. “Assess what your values are and what gives you the most energy. Then devote your time to those things.”
For example, Coats says if you are single and feeling pressure to find someone to kiss at midnight, maybe you decide this year you will celebrate something about yourself instead. Are you more on the introverted side and value one-on-one time with people? Coats recommends inviting someone you like to connect with over for a nice dinner. If you have experienced a loss this year or New Year’s triggers feelings related to an older loss, give yourself permission to do whatever feels most authentic for you.
“Maybe you distract with a funny, uplifting movie. Or take a bath, visit old photo albums or read your favorite book.” Most important, says Coats, “You are not required to pretend to be OK.”
And if you do find yourself feeling feels? Issa says to acknowledge them. “Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions come up. If you are feeling sad or lonely, understand that emotions are not dangerous and they come and go naturally,” she says. “If you try to push away an emotion, that is when you will actually perpetuate it. If you feel the last year was a disaster or just a wash, try to give yourself permission to let that go and move on from it.”
Issa suggests making a list of things you are letting go of as you move into the new year. Similarly, you may try attaching personal meaning to New Year’s Eve, she says, and embracing it with new traditions.
“Do some research on traditions in other cultures for fresh starts or the new year, start a gratitude journal or just start a journal in general, clean your home or get a new look,” she says. “The easiest way to flip the script on New Year’s Eve is to think about your values and come up with plans to live more in line with them. You also can reflect on the past year in a different way by writing down all the things you are grateful for, or you can make New Year’s Eve the night of fresh starts and purging the old.”
No matter what, Issa says that when it comes to staying at home for New Year’s Eve, the main idea is to have a solid advanced plan for yourself that best reflects who you are and what truly feels good for you.
“Give yourself permission to feel and do what you please, and find your own way of symbolically moving forward, one that does not involve the traditional Champagne-filled, expensive evening that might just be full of pressure and aggravation for you,” she adds.