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Anxiety

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New year anxiety: What it is and tips for managing it

Written by Brittney Bertagna

Published: Dec 30, 2023

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Geralyn Dexter

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As the new year approaches, many of us find ourselves grappling with a unique form of anxiety known as new year anxiety. Social expectations, self-reflection, and the anticipation of the future may fuel this heightened sense of stress and uneasiness. It can be overwhelming.

Anxiety about the new year is a shared experience, and you’re not alone. By understanding the nature of this anxiety and using effective strategies, you can take control of your anxiety and approach the new year with confidence and resilience.

What is new year’s anxiety?

New year’s anxiety, the heightened feelings of stress, worry, and unease experienced as the new year approaches, is a specific type of anxiety that many people experience.

Anxiety, in general, is a common emotional response to stress that can impact individuals mentally and physically. It’s characterized by feelings of fear, unease, and apprehension. Some people with anxiety may also experience panic attacks.

While anxiety can happen any time throughout the year, new year’s anxiety specifically occurs during the transitional period from one year to the next. The pressure to set resolutions, achieve personal goals, and make positive changes can intensify feelings of anxiety and self-doubt. Reflecting on the past year and anticipating the future can also contribute to a sense of uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

It’s important to recognize that anxiety is a valid experience, and there are strategies and coping mechanisms that can help manage and alleviate these feelings.

Why people have anxiety about the new year

The new year often brings with it a potent mixture of reflection and anticipation, which can be a breeding ground for anxiety for many individuals. As the calendar resets, it prompts a natural point of introspection, leading people to evaluate their lives over the past year and scrutinize the goals they set versus what they accomplished. This period of self-assessment can bring up feelings of disappointment or regret for missed opportunities or unmet aspirations.

The cultural emphasis on New Year’s resolutions also adds pressure to set ambitious goals for the year ahead, which can feel overwhelming, particularly if one’s past goals remain unfulfilled. The stark reminder of the passage of time, symbolized by the new year, also increases fears of aging and the finite nature of life, contributing to a sense of urgency that can be anxiety-inducing.

What are the signs and symptoms of new year’s anxiety?

New year anxiety can manifest in several ways. It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with anxiety about the new year may be different. If you notice your symptoms persisting and interfering with your daily life, it’s helpful to seek support from healthcare professionals or explore coping strategies to reduce anxiety effectively.

If you experience any of the following as the new year approaches or kicks off, you may have new year’s anxiety.

Persistent worry and fear about the future: An overwhelming concern about what lies ahead in the new year can dominate your thoughts, leading to a sense of unease and apprehension.

Difficulty sleeping or insomnia: The anxiety and racing thoughts can make it challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep, resulting in disrupted sleep patterns, fatigue, and, worse, sleep disorders.

Increased irritability or restlessness: Heightened anxiety can lead to heightened irritability, making you more easily agitated or on edge. Restlessness and the inability to relax are also common indicators.

Physical symptoms like rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath: Anxiety can have physical symptoms, such as a racing heart, increased breathing, or tightness in the chest. These symptoms can be distressing but are a normal response to heightened anxiety.

Difficulty concentrating or making decisions: Anxiety surrounding the new year can make it challenging to focus on tasks and make decisions, as your mind may be preoccupied with worries and uncertainties.

What causes new year’s anxiety?

Understanding the underlying causes of your anxiety offers insight into why these feelings come up and help you develop effective strategies to manage and alleviate its symptoms.

Triggers for anxiety with the new year include the following.

Fear of change and uncertainty: The new year represents a period of transition and unknowns. The fear of stepping into the unknown and facing change can lead to anxiety as individuals deal with uncertainty about the future.

Comparison to others’ achievements or expectations: Social comparison plays a significant role in new year anxiety. Seeing others’ accomplishments or hearing about their goals and resolutions can lead to feelings of inadequacy or pressure to measure up, intensifying anxiety levels.

Past negative experiences during the new year: Previous negative experiences during the new year, such as unmet goals or disappointments, can create a sense of apprehension and anxiety over repeating past mistakes or not achieving desired outcomes.

Pressure to meet personal or societal expectations: The pressure to set resolutions, achieve personal milestones, or meet societal expectations can contribute to anxiety levels. The weight of these expectations can lead to feelings of stress and self-doubt, as individuals strive to meet goals within specific timeframes.

How to cope with new year anxiety

There are many ways you can manage anxiety. Going to therapy or counseling can provide guidance and support while engaging in activities that bring joy and comfort. Here are a few tips to get started.

Practice self-care

  • Prioritize stress-reducing activities or “stress busters that nurture your physical and mental well-being.
  • Engage in regular exercise, such as walking or yoga, to boost endorphins and reduce stress.
  • Explore relaxation techniques like deep breathing exercises or meditation to calm your mind and body.
  • Ensure you get adequate and quality sleep to support your overall well-being. It’s generally recommended to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night whenever possible.

Set realistic goals

  • Focus on setting achievable and meaningful goals. Avoid setting overwhelming or unrealistic resolutions.
  • Break down large goals into smaller, manageable steps and celebrate your progress along the way.
  • Prioritize goals that align with your values and aspirations rather than succumbing to goals based on social pressure.

Seek support

  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted friends, family members, or a therapist to discuss your concerns and seek guidance.
  • Share your worries, which can provide much-needed support and perspective.
  • Consider professional help from a therapist or counselor who specializes in anxiety therapy and stress management and can offer valuable strategies and techniques tailored to your needs.

Challenge negative thoughts

  • Be mindful of negative thoughts that intensify your anxiety.
  • Challenge negative thoughts by questioning their validity and exploring alternative explanations or a more balanced perspective.
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations and self-compassion.
  • Focus on your strengths and past successes to foster a more optimistic mindset.

Mindfulness and stress reduction

  • Incorporate mindfulness practices into your daily routine.
  • Engage in mindfulness exercises, such as meditation, deep breathing, or guided imagery techniques, to cultivate a sense of calm and self-awareness.
  • Explore stress reduction techniques that resonate with you, such as engaging in hobbies, listening to calming music, or spending time in nature.

Get help with anxiety – find a therapist with Klarity and get started today

Seeking professional help can make a world of difference in managing general or new year anxiety and finding the support you need. Get started and connect with a licensed therapist who can provide guidance and tools to navigate these challenges on Klarity. And start your journey towards a happier, healthier you.

FAQs about anxiety and the new year

Why does new year’s give me anxiety?

New Year is anxiety-inducing for many, with various factors contributing to these feelings. The pressure to set resolutions, fear of change, and reflection on the past year all play a role. The pressure to make significant life changes can create feelings of inadequacy, while the uncertainty of a fresh start can be intimidating. Reflecting on the past year can also contribute to anxiety about the future.

How do I overcome new year’s anxiety?

Overcoming anxiety involves taking a proactive approach and prioritizing self-care. Engaging in activities that promote well-being, setting realistic goals, and seeking support from trusted individuals are effective coping strategies.

Remember to celebrate your progress along the way. However, if your anxiety persists or becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide personalized guidance, counseling, and support tailored to your specific needs.

There are many factors that contribute to feeling overwhelmed by the new year. These factors include the pressure to make resolutions, worries about not being productive enough, or the pressure of living up to expectations you haven’t met.

Is new year anxiety normal?

Feeling anxious during the new year period is completely normal and experienced by many individuals. The pressure to set resolutions, fear of change, and reflections on the past year can all contribute to this anxiety.

However, if your anxiety becomes overwhelming or starts interfering with your daily life, it’s important to seek a mental health professional for help. A therapist or counselor can provide personalized guidance and support to help you manage anxiety effectively. Remember, reaching out for help is a courageous step towards taking care of your mental well-being.

 

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