Turn Your Year-End Blues Into New-Year CheersDecember 22, 2016
The soothing sounds of Michael Bublé fill shopping malls and restaurants. Buildings are beautifully decked out in festive decorations. Bars are suddenly packed to the gills even on Monday nights, with happy faces clinking their glasses and toasting to the holiday season.
Ah, yes, the holiday season. While the end of the year evokes a general celebratory mood for many, it can also fill some with dread. For instance, for those whose schedules are packed – be they with family or work commitments – they may feel the stress of the swell of social engagements during the festive period. And for those who are less socially active, the sights and sounds of year-end festivities may instill in them a certain sense of loneliness.
It’s not just the end-of-year parties that can send a person into a state of doom and gloom, says Ho Shee Wai, director and registered psychologist of The Counselling Place. “The end of the year brings into focus the year that has passed, which translates to us reviewing what we have and have not accomplished,” Ho explains. “Some people may panic when they realise they have not achieved their personal or professional goals; they fret about the time wasted and often beat themselves up for not trying harder or doing better.”
But make no mistake; this post isn’t about what you can do to avoid year-end blues. According to Ho, this phenomenon only becomes an issue of concern if a person “displays symptoms of depression or dysthymia (low mood, low energy, disrupted sleeping or eating patterns, etc.) or excessive and/or continuous ruminating or worrying”. Otherwise, year-end blues should not be regarded as a battle you need to overcome. Instead, think of year-end blues as opportunities – for when something hasn’t yet been achieved, that, right there, is your opportunity to turn things around.
“It is important to learn from the past,” says Ho. “Instead of stewing in regret, actively find out what could have led you to miss your goals, and what steps you can take to rectify that. See the past as a year of learning and finding out about yourself and your needs.”
For example, one of your New Year’s resolutions for 2016 was to finally leave your dead-end job to pursue your passion of working with animals. Just because you are still working in the same job now doesn’t mean you failed. Take a good look at the circumstances that had put you here – perhaps you need to support your family, perhaps you are undecided of your next step, or maybe you are afraid. These are all justifiable reasons to stay and you shouldn’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.
Ask yourself if, moving forward, working with animals is truly what you wish to pursue, and start making plans to achieve whatever decision you make. Even if you cannot afford to quit your job at the moment, you can look into volunteer programmes so you can still do what you love with minimal commitment for now. Remember, you’re stuck in a rut only if you allow yourself to.
In the same vein, another positive way to view things is that our personalities are constantly changing as a result of cumulative experience. Do you remember the goals you set when you were 18 or even two years ago? Chances are, what you had desired in the past may not be what you want today – and that’s okay. As author Mandy Hale once wrote, “Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.” Here’s to 2017!