The Holiday Blues, Unhealthy People and New Year Planning

How do you plan for the new year when planning leaves you exhausted mentally and emotionally?

I’m typing this a few days after Christmas.

I’m happy. And depleted.

The holidays can be complicated.

We had my husband’s side of family visiting from out of state. Their gentle presence was exactly what my soul needed: good food, conversations, and lots and lots of laughter.

But their healing presence also reminded me of other relationships that have withered, and how embracing dysfunction, excusing the inexcusable, and abandoning ourselves is, sometimes, not only expected but demanded – in the name of “keeping the family together” – during the holidays.

Relationships end because some people prefer to live in fantasy rather than in truth. They want the benefits of close relationships and none of the responsibility. Those who choose to live in truth and reject the merry-go-round of dysfunction are “awarded” the bad-actor medal.

Holding Joy and Grief 

Witnessing the good parts when the not-so-great have ripped at the seams is difficult.

You might have some safe connections..but relaxing into those when other connections have harmed? Difficult. The hard work of rewiring and rebuilding doesn’t erase the scars (triggers, real-world consequences of other people’s free rides in your life, etc.)

Grief can make it difficult to notice the beauty around us. As I type this, I’m reminded that I don’t have to choose. You don’t have to choose. We can hold two truths at the same time. 

Inflexible dynamics with some people and life-giving connection with others. Healing times with one side of the family and no contact with others. Sunshine on your face and tears on your pillow. Both can be acknowledged – without pressure to dress up or down.   

How should one start the new year?

You probably know one or two people who love to plan and implement.

Maybe you always ask, “How do I start new year habits?” or “How do I become more mindful this year?” Or perhaps you don’t like the whole “new year goals” thing. 

I’m a goals kind of person. I enjoy mapping out the different areas of my life, thinking about where I want to be in the next twelve months, and designing connections to intentional growth.

Over the last few years, when healing my physical body and clearing the fog in my brain and life became a priority, robust planning for the new year and setting goals dropped to the bottom of my list of priorities.

So, for the last couple of years, my focus has been peace: Listening to my body, honoring my seasons, and trimming out stress-inducing pursuits.

planning for the new year

2024 will be the first time I’m doing more focused planning. My unhealed parts have said, “You have been a slacker.” But healing-me says, “You’ve done just fine. You’ve listened to your body, honored your limitations and humanness, operated within your window of tolerance,1 That’s how healthy living looks like. That’s what new year planning should be about.”

Planning for the New Year: When it Feels Out of Reach 

We often forget that “new year planning” that does not prioritize who we are and how we are doing on the inside isn’t healthy for us in the long term.

When my soul couldn’t hold more than “do your best today,” I was forced to change how I approach life, including goal setting. 

If you’re in a season of transition or perhaps need to remember that goal setting isn’t really about achievement but about inhabiting our lives in honoring and life-giving ways, allow me to share some tips I gathered along the way:

1. When planning for the new year felt out of reach, I stayed away from New Year-planning-people and resources (social media, blogs, articles about goal setting or intentions, planners, and calendars.) 

Cutting out those voices was like a breath of fresh air in an air-deprived room. I tend to over-plan and would often get stuck in anxiety and overwhelm. I needed to introspect and protect my peace and healing.

Sometimes, a hard reset is precisely what is needed. Your needs might differ, but don’t be afraid to give yourself what you need. 

2. I was discovering that Jesus is gentle and kind versus rushed and angry I was taught He was. The slow realization made it easier to start relaxing into being (inhabiting my life versus numbing out/desperately clinging.)

3. I read healing books. Some of my favorites have been The Lord Is My Courage: Stepping Through the Shadows of Fear Toward the Voice of Love by K J Ramsey and This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley.  

Planning for the new year will look different for everyone.

For some, planning will look like showing up, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the best you can each day, and accepting that it’s okay to do that for as long as necessary. (Especially if you have health issues as well.)

For others, New Year planning will involve building on initial foundations and creating capacity for more or even taking risks and soaring. 

For everyone, New Year planning will involve acknowledging that a healthy life honors who we are on the inside, that we can hold two truths simultaneously, and that life can be complicated and beautiful at the same time. 

Question: Do you have a gentle tool or process that helps you prepare for the new year/seasons? (Gentle being the keyword) Please share in the comments. For 2024, I’m using Sarah McDugal’s One Word resource, a gentle, healing workshop for survivors of traumatic stress. 

If you’re looking for clarity or hope in the new year, my book Courage Reflections and Liberation for the Hurting Soul will help. Check it out on Amazon or PDF.

Courage: Reflections and Liberation for the Hurting Soul

1.”The window of tolerance is a concept originally developed by Dr. Dan Siegel, MD to describe the optimal zone of “arousal” for a person to function in everyday life. When a person is operating within this zone or window, they can effectively manage and cope with their emotions. For clients who have experienced trauma, it is often difficult to regulate emotions and the zone of arousal where they can function effectively becomes quite narrow…” How to Help Your Clients Understand Their Window of Tolerance, National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine (NICABM)

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