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Guiding you through New Year’s stress

Photograph: iStock

Text: Aina Masood

The time before and after New Year’s Eve is like waves of stress that keep coming. While you can’t change that, you can learn to surf these waves and come out stronger.

In general, New Year’s Day or just January is a time filled with beaming faces, hustling towards achieving every goal listed in their New Year’s Resolution list. If you look closely, these faces might look more stressed than motivated. It seems that in the excitement of fireworks, we inflate the expectation balloon and put tons of unnecessary pressure on ourselves.

If you are an international, December might have been challenging in more ways than one. Not only because of the pressure of resolutions but also, because we can’t be with our loved ones during this holiday season. Entering January with that stress weighing us done can be even more tiresome. Take a moment, breath, and hug yourself. Let’s try and reflect on why the time around the new year can be challenging.

Follow through with New Year resolutions?

As the new year day approaches, you see your friends, colleagues, and all social media platforms reminding you to make the new year, ‘your year’. How many times have you come across ‘New Year, New You’? Well, guess what? You are not alone.

I have always felt like December and January are stressful because subconsciously, we feel coerced into making that list of resolutions and sharing it on social media because we don’t want to be left out of the race.

When we make a list of resolutions, we end up writing things like, ‘I will lose weight this year’, ‘I will exercise more’, ‘I will travel more’ etc. None of these goals leave any room for failure. They demand us to be perfect, which is too much to live up to. Hence, a lack of a proper plan for these anxiety-provoking goals increases the risk of failure.

"The year 2020 has taught us the uncertainty of time and plans. It has led us to be flexible and make-do with the resources we have while being safe."

The year 2020 has taught us the uncertainty of time and plans. It has led us to be flexible and make-do with the resources we have while being safe. When we make resolutions, we tend to forget to consider the impact of external factors, and we don’t have ‘wiggle room’. If we fail, we tend to give up rather than continue.

What can we do instead?

#1 Start with reflection

Reflect on the ups and downs of 2020. What did you set out to do? What were the hurdles (I am sure it wasn’t only COVID-19)? What did you learn about yourself? How can you use what you’ve been taught? Moving forward with knowledge will help immensely.

#2 Practice gratitude

Try practising gratitude. Research suggests that it helps reduce stress and generate feelings of happiness. You can keep a gratitude journal to jot down three things you are grateful for every day. Hence, training the brain to have positive neural connections.

#3 Revisit your goals

You might share a long list with your friends but then pack it away and put it in a corner like unfolded laundry. To stay on track, it is essential to set out a time every month to revisit what you wanted to achieve, how much progress you have made, and the next steps.

#4 Be flexible and creative

This will help you come up with alternate plans if something unavoidable happens. The ability to be flexible will help you bounce back after setbacks in your progress.

Remember - you are not alone. Reach out, connect, communicate.

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