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There are many who believe that New Year's Eve is the worst night of the year. After weeks of holiday celebrations, beginning with Thanksgiving and including the extended Christmas season, the end of the holiday season is in sight. After a night of raucous celebration we will all be returning to the mundane day-to-day routines of our lives, with nothing to look forward to for another year.
There is something about absolutes that can be hard to deal with. Today we party; tomorrow we put parties behind us and move on with our lives. Today we are celebrating the end of a year that might not have been so great, and tomorrow we celebrate the start of a new year that promises greatness. Today we smoke, overeat and don’t exercise, and tomorrow we suddenly acquire the good habits of health and moderation.
If we are able to process all of this and remain optimistic, then the opportunity for a 'do-over' can be appealing. But if our perceptions are clouded by depression, this can all be additional pressure on us.
While we can't ignore the holiday, we can moderate our celebrations to something meaningful. It isn’t necessary to stay up until the ball drops in the company of people we don't know, just to say we did. A nice dinner and early to bed is just fine. Many churches have services this day or night, and participating in one of those might bring more meaning to the holiday for you.
Some cities and towns have walk-about celebrations, with musicians playing in the streets and hot cider on street corners. Spending a little time outdoors smiling at people can be good for the spirit.
The opportunity to listen to music, whether it is at home or in a public venue, can be soothing. So can reading or spending some quiet time with friends or family.
The idea of making resolutions goes back to the ancient Babylonians, who made promises to their gods at the end of each year that they would pay their debts. The annual ritual of seeking self-improvement has continued to this day, as both a religious and a secular tradition.
New Year's Eve is a border crossing, from one year to the next. It allows us, even forces us, to look back at what we did and didn’t accomplish in the year that was, and allows us to plan to do better in the year to come. But that look back can be tough if we are depressed. Acknowledging where we have failed can be painful.
Even resolving to do better next year can exacerbate depression, because the exercise of making resolutions forces us to focus on and acknowledge our shortcomings.
Nowhere is it written that the only time for resolutions is the start of the new year. Maybe now is not the time to undertake that particular exercise. Instead, perhaps we can acknowledge the best parts of the past year and vow to try to repeat them in the new year. Let's cut ourselves a break and focus on the positive instead of the negative.
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