This story originally appeared on LX.com
So, what are you doing New Year's Eve?
This year the answer should be obvious to all. If there was ever a time NOT to stress out about ringing in the new year alone this is it. For once, no worrying about that overcrowded New Year Eve's party or that awkward midnight kiss. This is the year to curl up with a good book and watch the Times Square Ball drop from the comfort of your bed.
According to the CDC the safest way to mark the new year is to celebrate at home with the people who live with you or virtually with friends and family. Travel and gatherings with family and friends who do not live with you can increase your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19 or the flu.
But just because you may be ringing in the new year alone doesn't mean you have to be miserable or dreading it.
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Josh Jonas, a psychotherapist who serves as Clinical Director at the Village Institute in New York, says the silver lining is that most people, whether they want to admit it or not, often feel forced into social gatherings on New Year's Eve out of custom or habit. But this year they're off the hook.
"It's funny that this is the holiday most people in a normal year would rather stay at home and be quieter. But this year they’re going, 'Oh man now I’m going to have to be alone and what do I do?'" he said.
So yes, for many it will be a quieter, more subdued start to the new year. But being alone doesn't have to equate with being lonely. Here are a few tips for your New Year's Eve survival guide.
Plan Your Evening
Even if you’re going to be alone you can still create a special evening for yourself. "Things that we don’t plan kind of end up creating themselves," notes Jonas. "So, if you’re stressed about being alone on New Year’s Eve and do nothing but sit on the couch and sip on whatever you’re sipping on or watch whatever you’re watching until you sort of just fall asleep, it’s a very nonintentional evening that just happens."
Instead, Jonas suggest you prepare a nice meal for yourself. Reach out to the people important to you through Zoom or a simple phone call. Or plan a virtual cocktail hour and ring in the new year with friends and family... just remotely.
Use the Moment to Take Stock
"Being alone presents an opportunity for going deep... for a sense of introspection," says Jonas. "Taking stock of what this year had been and what it felt like. Not in a cheesy way but having some compassion for yourself and what you’ve endured during this year."
When people are lonely they tend to internalize their feelings and that can quickly spiral downward. "We think a lot about the people that we’re not with and what it means and if we’re missing out on things," say Jonas. "It’s a lot of that thinking that tends to lead to the pain of loneliness. Why am I alone? Am I always going to be alone? What is it about me that makes me be alone etc. etc."
But there’s a healthy way of being alone... and of taking stock of your life.
"It’s been such a year of disconnection that it makes sense that certain people would be exasperated on New Year’s Eve... a holiday where typically we get together and try to celebrate and have a good time," Jonas said. "It makes sense that would be going on, but what I think people are really concerned about being lonely as opposed to being alone."
Though you may be disconnected from your loved ones physically, don't disconnect yourself emotionally.
As it did for Christmas, Zoom announced it will lift its 40-minute free call limit, allowing for unlimited call lengths on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
“COVID-19 has changed how we live, work, and celebrate in 2020, and like everything else this year, the holiday season doesn’t look the same,” the video conferencing service said in a statement. “Whether coming together on the final day of Hanukkah, celebrating Christmas, ringing in the New Year, or marking the last days of Kwanzaa, those connecting with friends and family won’t get cut short.”
So, reach out and touch someone (remotely) this New Year's Eve. Ring in the new year by keeping your friends and loved ones safe. Here's to 2021.