Walking into the New Year

Walking into the New Year by Christy Clark, PhD, Clinical Site Director

Walking into a New Year, try an Acceptance & Commitment Therapy approach—a willingness to notice and name your difficulties, and then harness your values to show up in ways that matter to you!

As another year wraps up, the holidays approach and 2023 looms, many people experience stress, anxiety, and depression. Some think about the year they had and focus on missed opportunities, missteps in relationships, or unmet resolutions. This is a normal human thing to do, to focus on the negative, as a way to protect oneself. Normal and human, yes! The question to ask yourself is, is it helpful? No way—it only makes you feel worse! What can you do instead? 

NAME your STORY: Once you notice that you are ruminating about your past mistakes, name it! For example, you might say “there I go again with my I ALWAYS MESS UP story.” When you notice and name it, it helps you step back from the story come into the present moment. 

CHECK in with the PRESENT: Take a few full breaths, noticing any discomfort that’s there, rather than trying to get rid of it. Discomfort is temporary, just like every other emotion, sensation and thought. So see if you can allow it to be there and also notice when it isn’t as intense. Just take a few minutes with this.

FOCUS on VALUES: How do you want to show up for yourself in your life? What characteristics do you want to manifest? Even when, especially when, you experience discomfort, how do you want to behave? Let these values be like a direction on a compass, pointing you towards what matters.

CREATE a few GOALS (based on those VALUES): make them small, attainable, measurable and time bound. For example, if you value being a good friend, but this year your anxiety got in the way of reaching out socially, you might create a goal like “Reach out to one friend per week to meet outside the house.” 

The holidays and the turning of the calendar can feel like both a reckoning and an opportunity. Try applying these Acceptance and Commitment strategies to embrace all the complexities of not only where you have been and where you are going, but where you are, right here, right now.

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