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Metaphysics & Psychology

“Changing numbers on the calendar is an artificial reason for positivity”: why the New Year does not bring joy and what to do about it

“Changing numbers on the calendar is an artificial reason for positivity”: why the New Year does not bring joy and what to do about it 1
Photo: 200 cigarettes - Paramount

For most, the New Year holidays are a time to listen to Christmas hits, buy gifts and get ready for noisy parties and family gatherings. At least, this is the ideal picture painted by the media, where there is no place for melancholy and sad feelings during the holidays. In reality, Christmas and New Year do not always bring joy: not everyone manages to meet loved ones or get into a positive mood.

“New Year’s depression” is the common name for the state of sadness, anxiety, irritability and melancholy during the long winter holidays. The trigger for it may be a lack of time and money, the need to meet with relatives and the obligation to give gifts, as well as the very commercial nature of the holiday, which has turned into a season of discounts and sales that “cannot” be missed.

Although the term “New Year’s depression” has appeared in some studies since 1982, it is difficult to say exactly how many people experience it. Only individual studies indicate approximate figures: for example, according to the YouGov analytical center, 2 out of 5 UK residents experience it.

Sometimes, instead of the term “depression,” a more concise version is used— “blues.” However, the “soft” formulation does not diminish the negative consequences of this condition – insomnia, overeating and alcohol abuse. They arise against a background of fatigue after a difficult year, unfulfilled hopes, and general stress before major holidays.

Bored and sad

Adult life is a burden of responsibilities and increased responsibility. This December is especially full of lamentations about how boring it is to celebrate the New Year. It’s not as interesting as it used to be.

We used to watch TV all together, it inspired the mood. And now few people do that, everything is on the Internet. They write about mental anguish, reflective generation.

Age not only gives, but also takes away. Anticipation, excitement, happy chills, fearful heartbeat. Much of what we dreamed of has already been given to us. And we yawn, barely hiding our boredom.

Falling in love again is no longer so fun, buying another car or apartment is no longer so interesting. A promotion is such an expected event that you want to refuse and walk off into the sunset.

And even insults no longer burn the soul so much, lies and hypocrisy no longer drive a knife under the heart. Everything is so familiar to the point of disgrace. Nothing no longer surprise us.

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“We live in a narcissistic age: people are focused on being as productive as possible”

To say that people’s anxiety does not increase during the pre-holiday period would be incorrect. Here it is worth dividing people into two camps: those who are worried about not having time to do something, and those who are worried about what remains to be done.

We live in a narcissistic age: people are focused on being as productive as possible. Raising the bar higher and higher every year, many never achieve these goals, because they initially did not calculate their strength. As a rule, this leads to burnout, procrastination, and a feeling of inadequacy – people from the first camp feel this.

The second camp includes people of a more neurotic nature. These are people who are somewhat dependent on others and face situations that frighten them. 

There are often situations when some of us have not yet completed things this year, but have already made a bunch of plans for the next, and all their thoughts are occupied with how they can achieve this. It is especially worth highlighting those who feel depressed during the holidays due to feelings of loneliness.

This can happen for a variety of reasons. It is assumed that New Year and Christmas are traditionally collective holidays: it is rare to find people who celebrate them alone or not at all. Considering that the mass media actively present the celebration of these dates as a family celebration, this is the image that is invariably imprinted in the consciousness of society. Because of this, a person experiences an even greater sense of isolation.

Can we call this “New Year’s depression”?

The phrase “New Year’s depression,” may be overly loud. Depression is a long-term illness. Yes, indeed, there are people who have depression, which worsens during certain significant events.

But when paying special attention to such people, most likely, such conditions have been observed in them for quite a long time, and on New Year’s Day it is more likely a slight rise in the depressive background than a sharp jump.

What feelings then do people experience at this time of year and why?

Blues, sadness, fear, alienation, loneliness, self-pity – the range of feelings is actually quite wide. To roughly generalize, melancholy is caused by the feeling of a failed year: you set a lot of goals, but achieved few. Factors beyond our control may also influence: loss of business, customer outflow, consequences of illness, which is especially important for the last couple of years.

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The feeling of loneliness arises from thoughts about one’s otherness and lack of acceptance. If a person fails to find company to celebrate the New Year, then he feels rejected and expelled. We all want to be involved in something, and when in moments of feeling a general celebration we have no one to share these moments with, then joy can be replaced by the opposite feelings. These are the people who would like to celebrate the New Year with someone, but due to circumstances they could not. If we’re talking about people who deliberately avoid company during the holidays, then that’s a different story.

How to make sure that New Year’s time does not cause such negative sensations and feelings?

Psychologists advise looking for more sophisticated entertainment: serious literature, arthouse movies. It is perhaps not so important to schedule the whole day minute by minute, or the month by day, but to leave small loopholes for unexpected joy.

The general recommendation for everyone is to accept uncertainty. We cannot control everything in our lives. If you begin to live without keeping your finger on the pulse, without trying to control everyone and everything, then miraculously you will discover the necessary resource to achieve your goals and overcome obstacles on the way to them.

For those who were unable to celebrate the New Year in the company, it is worth understanding why this happened. If these are circumstances beyond your control, then just accept it. Yes, it’s sad, but there’s no point in making your sadness bigger than it already is. Call your loved ones, have a video call, or simply work this time quietly and return home to spend the New Year holidays with the people you care about. Don’t punish yourself any more by shutting down and being offended by circumstances – you won’t make anyone better, especially yourself.

If you were unable to find a company, then try to fit into any one that suits you. Many people wait for a personal invitation to celebrate the New Year, but when these invitations do not arrive, they “draw conclusions” and spend it alone.

You also don’t have to call everyone, but ask yourself the question: “Are you willing to accept the consequences of your inaction?” If the answer is yes, then the responsibility for creating voluntary isolation rests solely with you. If the answer is “no,” then call your loved ones and tell them that you would like to celebrate the New Year with them. If this is not possible, then look further. Move through the hierarchy of your social contacts from the very top to the bottom. The likelihood that you will actually have no one to celebrate the holiday is extremely small.


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