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The new year is here and my anxiety is not happy about it.
At this point it’s like clockwork: come the end of December I’m feeling rejuvenated and exciting for a new year and what I perceive will be a new, exciting chapter. Then January comes and I’m looking to the first week back to work and I’m paralyzed by what I’ve now learned is called ‘new year anxiety’.
One thing I’ve learned about my anxiety is that it has predictable patterns. A flare-up of anxiety in the new year is one of them.
Suddenly, all the projects and goals I was looking forward to working on in 2020 have suddenly morphed into terrifying monsters on the road up ahead and I’m not feeling so sure of myself.
Two of the characters in my mind, ‘Self-Doubt’ and ‘Not-Enoughness’, are in a word battle with each other over who has the strongest evidence against my success. And anxiety takes a seat at the table to listen in so it can dive into the sea of panic (the place it’s most comfortable).
On the outside here I am, lying awake at night, dreading the morning.
Here’s the thing, though, anxiety is not actually the enemy; it’s those mind gremlins Self-Doubt and Not-Enoughness who are the real monsters.
Anxiety is just a bystander listening in, looking for a reason to freak out because it doesn’t have anything else to do. It is Anxiety after all.
And the monsters I see on the road ahead? They are actually Self-Doubt and Not-Enoughness. They chased my goals and dreams into the bushes long ago.
The question I faced was: what do you do when new year anxiety.
Well, based on the popularity of a recent tweet, I realize I am not alone in this experience. The good news: my anxiety is already doing much better.
Anxiety at the start of a new year is normal. Just keep reminding yourself that January 1st doesn't need to signify anything and that "New Year; Same You" is more realistic than expecting overnight change. #mentalhealth #anxietyrecovery #tuesdaythoughts
— Lauren Bersaglio (@laurenbsag) January 7, 2020
So I thought I would share with you some things that are helping me chase the true monsters away so my anxiety can settle down and my goals and dreams can emerge onto the path before me as friends, not threats.
Things that Help My New Year Anxiety:
1. Listening to what my anxiety has to say
Anxiety is not the enemy. More than that: sometimes my anxiety actually has some pretty important things to say.
My anxiety has steered me in the wrong direction at times, but more often it steers me in the right direction.
At the beginning of the year, I was putting so much pressure on myself to launch a big new project because “I should be able to”. What I was ignoring, however, was all of the unexpected life circumstances that would be happening simultaneously.
The pressure I was putting on myself was not only unnecessary and demotivating but also not smart. Forcing a project launch prematurely when I don’t have the necessary time or capacity to fully dedicate myself to it is not just a bad life decision, but a bad business decision as well.
This is something my anxiety was trying to tell me. So I listened and I postponed the project to a timeline that makes more sense on all fronts.
2. Keeping my cup full (aka self-care)
I went into greater detail about this in my post over the holidays; I recommend checking it out because it’s relevant all year round.
Keeping my cup full and doing things that help fill it has been a huge help when it comes to reducing my new year anxiety.
Some specific things that have been helping this month are:
- Exercise (walking, running, whatever I feel like)
- Listening to podcasts (especially empowering ones)
- Relaxing Spotify playlists (Infinite Acoustic is a good one)
- Playing Animal Crossing (so relaxing; no bosses or dying)
3. Slowing down (figuratively and literally)
When my anxiety spikes, things move faster. My thoughts race and my mind won’t shut off. Meditation and breathing exercises help with this.
In addition, my general movements tend to speed up and be more frantic (it’s hard to explain, but if you’ve experienced it, you know what I mean).
One thing that helps with this is is to focus on slowing down my physical movements.
This includes menial tasks like getting dressed, putting away dishes, making the bed, etc… Reminding myself to simply slow down the motions brings me back into my body and, in turn, helps slow things down internally, too.
Give it a try!
4. Solve a problem by taking action
One of the things I was struggling with was feeling that I’d fallen behind in ability and knowledge in my field and to a certain extent I had.
Life gets in the way sometimes, and it’s hard to stay on top of my to-do list, let alone the ever-changing world of social media and the online business sphere.
My little “Not-Enoughness” monster took advantage of this and kept telling me I no longer know enough and, therefore, will not be “good enough” to accomplish my goals.
I decided rather than be defeated by it, to take action.
I caught up on all of the educational emails and blogs I’d been hoarding over the past 6 months and basically put myself through a mini crash course on what I’d missed. Guess what? It helped a lot.
Now, not only do I feel prepared to start working towards my goals, but I also have a better understanding of how to achieve them and a newfound excitement for the challenge.
5. Reflecting on what I’ve done, not what I still need to do
In response to the tweet I shared above, a dear friend sent me this:
“Or new year, look how far you’ve come! It may not be what you planned or expected, but give yourself a pat on the back.”
Reflecting on what I’ve done over the last year rather than what I didn’t do or what is still left to be done has been a huge help.
2019 came with a lot of good and a lot of hard. And looking back even further, the last 5 years and even the last 10 years have been filled with challenges (health, work, life) but throughout it all, I’m still here. And I’ve done some pretty cool stuff.
Sometimes it was hard to keep my head above water, but with help, I made it through and still managed to grow. That is worth celebrating and is definitely worth all of my attention.
So, friend, I hope you can take comfort in knowing that if you are experiencing new year anxiety, you’re not alone and it does get better.
Give yourself grace and remember: you are enough.
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