How To Cope When New Year Is Just Too Much For You

Crappy new year, amirite?

I’m eight years old, I’m often in my own world but today, the outside world feels far too big, too expectant, too tense to ignore. It’s the 31st of December and I don’t know why but I’m so overwhelmed that I can feel a familiar tightness in my chest.

The countdown begins, the fireworks go off, and I cry. I don’t know why.

I’m 10 years old. I’m fortunate enough to see a new millennium coming in. This is a big deal. Everybody has been saying so. There’s word of a ‘Millennium Bug’ but I don’t care about that because it sounds bigger than anything I can begin to comprehend.

The bells ring out, we’re in a new millennium and I feel sick to my stomach. I hug my family, I hug my neighbours, I go to the bathroom and I cry. That all-too-familiar feeling in my chest has returned and I feel sick to my stomach.

I cry. I still don’t understand why.

This continued long into my 20s.

It’s not always a ‘happy’ new year

I have always been one for big feelings. I’m neurodivergent and one of the intricacies of this for me is that I’m incredibly sensitive. It’s something I’m learning to love about myself but when the whole world seems so joyous, so excited, it’s hard to not feel a little broken because all of this celebration just makes me feel overwhelmed.

The countdown to midnight gets my heart racing but it’s not anticipation, it’s dread. It’s almost as if everybody is feeling too much at once and I’m feeling all of it at the same time.

I don’t know entirely what causes this, and maybe I will learn one day but for now, I make room for the feelings and for myself. I no longer force myself into situations I can’t handle like big gatherings. I don’t tell myself that I ‘should’ be feeling or doing any one thing on December 31st because what I really don’t need is pressure.

Instead, I take it easy. I usually stay at home, in comfortable clothes and cosy up to watch films or play video games. I send the messages at midnight, I accept the phone calls, and I go back to doing the chilled things that I was doing.

I still cry.

Some years are harder than others, as they are for everyone. Last year, my partner and I hugged one another and said, “2022 will never happen again” after a particularly difficult year.

In the easier years, it’s still too much. So I give myself grace. I don’t enjoy celebrating the new year and that’s more than okay.

Of course, I’m not alone

Speaking to Stylist, Catherine Hallissey, a chartered psychologist said, “if you’re struggling with anxiety at this time of year, the first step is to acknowledge what you’re feeling.

“Even if you feel like you’re surrounded by people who are full of joy and optimism, know that not everyone feels that way and you’re not alone.”

It is, after all, just a day.

Help and support:

  • Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).
  • CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.
  • The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email
  • Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0808 801 0525 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on