While previous years showed excitement for the new year, many are hesitant about 2021. 2020 has been defined by fear, uncertainty, and tremendous loss, as Carolyn Rubenstein Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in South Florida, stated.
Rubenstein lists five things you can do to prepare yourself for the new year emotionally — no matter what happens.
Focus on the present
Do you find yourself continually thinking about the future and worrying about what might come next? Or do you look to the past and find solace and hurt in the memories you once made?
Not focusing on the present can be a sure-fire way to bring anxiety to the new year.
Kathryn Esquer, PsyD, MBA, a psychologist and founder of the Teletherapist Network, suggests grounding yourself by staying in the present moment.
“I refocus my attention to the good in my present moment, like the hot coffee in front of me or my kids playing in the next room,” Esquer says. “By keeping my focus on the here-and-now, I’m able to maintain hopefulness for tomorrow without getting lost in subjective expectations for the future.”
Stick to routines for a sense of control
In this pandemic, sometimes the days just seem to blur together. If you want some sense of control in this crazy world, Nicole Levine, LMSW, a psychology doctoral student, recommends creating and maintaining regular routines.
“Going into 2021, I’m going to make sure to keep up with both my morning and nightly routines to create a feeling of consistency and calmness,” Levine says.
Use your resources — internal and external
When you think about the new year, are you stressed about what might come? Whitney Goodman, LMFT, a licensed therapist and owner of The Collaborative Counseling Center, suggests keeping track of the resources you may be able to utilize to ground yourself moving forward.
“The more I think about what could happen or what might be, the harder it gets,” Goodman says. “So, I make sure I’m prepared for what I can prepare for and wait for any signs that I need to change course or tap into other resources.”
Goodman also notes that living in the present moment also helps her handle “whatever the world decides to throw my way next.”
Forge Forward; Dive into the Scariness
If you are scared and anxious about the future, one way to tackle it is by charging straight at it like a bull.
Psychologist Gabrielle Avery-Peck, Ph.D., emphasizes the importance of flexibility in reducing emotional turmoil.
“My favorite way of preparing for the uncertainty of the future is to remind myself that no matter what I am faced with, I can handle it,” Avery-Peck says. “It’s not about ignoring the things that are hard or scary, but recognizing that we always have choices in how we respond to those hard and scary things!
Manage (or even lower) Your Expectations
Setting New Year’s Resolutions is a tradition for the new year. However, if you want to set yourself up for success, Psychologist Jaime Zuckerman, PsyD, suggests maintaining your expectations — This means knowing what is ahead and adjusting.
“January 1st, while the start of the New Year, is still an arbitrary date. Just because it is a new year does not mean all the problems of 2020 disappear,” she declares. “Expect to feel the same going into this new year. And know that it’s ok to do so.”