How to Focus on Yourself on New Year’s Eve

BIPOC woman on bed with chocolates and a journal

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If you are going to be on your own for New Year's Eve, it can be a great opportunity to spend time celebrating yourself. In addition to looking back on the things you've accomplished in the prior year, give yourself attention for a change. That means allowing yourself to indulge in a night of luxurious “me-time,” especially if you’re someone who often puts everyone else’s needs before your own.

This New Year’s Eve, consider caring for yourself as you would for others. Here are some ideas on how to leave behind what doesn’t serve you and give yourself credit for the hard work you’ve done. Let’s toast to being present now and discovering tips on how to move forward and start the new year off fresh and positive.

Create a DIY Spa Night

Treat yourself to an hour of relaxation, which means no interruptions, even by well-meaning others. Start with the physical aspect of your self-care by pampering yourself.

Use your favorite face mask and bubble bath. You can also pour yourself fresh water spiked with cucumber or a glass of wine. To enhance your special time and escape from stressors, play your favorite ocean music, a soothing playlist, or a bath meditation.

Set Up a Cozy Environment

Get ready for the evening by setting up a calming, inviting room. Dim the lights, turn on the fireplace, or light candles. You will be incorporating elements from hygge, a Danish concept that focuses on living in a warm atmosphere of comfort and cozy contentment.

Get comfy with your favorite soft blanket, prop up the pillows, and brew some green tea in your favorite mug. Your pets can join you, as they will relax you further in this wonderful environment. You might also consider adapting a New Year’s Eve custom from Brazil: Wear white clothes or a white robe to welcome peace and harmony.

Call Your Loved Ones

While being alone on New Year's Even can feel lonely, technology can be a great way to stay connected. To feel less isolated, calling is more satisfying than emailing or texting, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Interestingly, many participants undervalued intimate voice-based communication, as they thought it might be awkward or uncomfortable. The study notes that this way of thinking can lead to people choosing suboptimal communication methods like texting.

Afterwards, callers viewed the social interactions as being better and said that they felt closer to the other person and formed stronger bonds through this medium. Even when participants conversed with strangers, they felt significantly more connected by talking rather than typing. 

So, instead of sending a text with emojis, pick up your phone and call your favorite sibling and your bestie to wish them a Happy New Year. These voice-to-voice conversations help increase happiness and empathy.

Let Go of a Negative Mindset

If hardships have left you feeling stuck in a negative mindset, there are steps you can take to ring in the new year with greater positivity. According to Martin Seligman, who founded the positive psychology movement, you can learn optimism. 

It boils down to how you perceive and explain bad events. Optimists consider difficult times as temporary, don’t blame themselves, and view failure in one area as not pervasive or affecting other areas of their lives.

This matters greatly because optimists end up with better physical and mental health, have higher resilience and motivation, and live longer.

Revisit a Hobby

Finding time for hobbies can be difficult when you're juggling a busy schedule. You may not have had much time to indulge in old hobbies or activities that brought you happiness and joy.

Why not get back to something creative and inspiring on the eve of the new year? On this special New Year’s Eve night, you might:

  • Strum your guitar or play the piano
  • Go through your baseball card collection
  • Knit a scarf
  • Color in an adult coloring book
  • Do woodworking and build a small shelf
  • Buy a knickknack to add to your butterfly-themed collection

Reawaken Your Spirit

The Cleveland Clinic suggests that you include one of the many forms of meditation (e.g., mindfulness, mantra meditation, or guided meditation for imagery) in your daily schedule. This can help you relax, reduce depression, develop awareness, and enhance your spiritual practice. 

If prayer is important to you but you've neglected it, consider returning to this religious observance on the eve of the new year. Additionally, if spiritual readings inspire you to take steps towards the future and find meaning, it’s time to listen to audiobooks or read to get in touch with the longings of your soul.

Embrace Gratitude 

One way to incorporate gratitude into daily life is to start a gratitude journal. You may find that you are often so busy rushing that you don’t stop to savor or immerse yourself in those precious moments.

By being cognizant of what you are thankful for, you effectively steer yourself to a positive perspective, even in the middle of dark times.  Many benefits result from writing daily in a gratitude journal. Two byproducts of taking this action include strengthening your emotional resilience and reducing stress.

Another way to embrace gratitude is to write yourself a gratitude letter. Yes—write one to yourself! You’ve accomplished so much just to get through this rough year. 

Laurel Healy, LCSW, a therapist who spent a year in a psychiatric fellowship at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, explains, “When we feel overwhelmed, we are usually looking at what still has to be done rather than what we've accomplished. Often the feeling is one of just treading water and hopelessness."

Laurel Healy, LCSW


When we reflect on what we did and the strength it took, we appreciate ourselves. One way to do this is to write a letter of gratitude to ourselves where we detail what we’ve done and the qualities we have that made it possible.

— Laurel Healy, LCSW

Healy also notes that, "We may be surprised by the tenacity, the organization, and the creativity that we pulled from inside ourselves. This gives us energy to move forward."

How to Write a Letter of Gratitude

Set aside some time and gather a pen and paper (you can use fancy paper if you'd like) and take a few moments to reflect on the past year. Use these questions to help guide you:

  1. What did I accomplish this year?
  2. What things, people, and events am I grateful for?
  3. What are some positive things that I learned about myself this year?
  4. What do I love about myself?

After you've finished writing your letter, you can seal it up as if you were going to mail it to yourself, or you can stash it somewhere private and read it whenever you need some positivity.

Give Back

Giving is good for your physical and mental health, according to research. You might volunteer or donate money by writing a check to a charity of your choice. You might bake some chocolate chip cookies on New Year’s Eve and donate them to a nurse or first responder, or you can deliver them to an older neighbor.

Instead of Resolutions, Make a Bucket List

Rather than recycle the same old resolutions yet again (lose weight, exercise more, etc.) and set lofty goals which require more work on your part, why not dig back into your dreams to create a custom bucket list?

Research from Booking.com shows that over two-thirds of travelers (69%) seek simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on vacation. Over half (56%) are searching for rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences, also outside.

But maybe you’re ready for that grand trip of a lifetime to Italy to see the art and experience the excellent cuisine. Or maybe you want to book a local trip and learn to water ski at a beach resort. Or perhaps you want to finally write that novel you started years ago.

You can put anything on your bucket list and work to make those dreams a reality when you're able to do so.

Develop Your Own Self-Care Plan

When creating your self-care plan, be sure to start with the basics and your foundational needs. You can do that by ensuring that in the next year you get enough restorative sleep, you nourish yourself with nutritious and healthy meals, and by making sure you move and get plenty of exercise to boost your endorphins.

For example, you can make plans to go outside into green spaces and explore nature. In a 2019 International Journal of Environmental Health Research study of people who went to an urban park for a short visit, participants reported significantly higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction after the visit.

By creating your own plan to address your social, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, you give value to your own self-care, demonstrating self-love, self-respect, and your understanding of the importance of setting boundaries.

Pop the champagne, toast to the new you, and watch the ball drop from the flagpole atop One Times Square on television. You are on your way to reaping the benefits of continued health and well-being in the new year.

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