Feeling frustrated as we head into 2022? How to deal with your disappointment.

·4 min read

New Year’s Eve is just around the corner. For some, the impending holiday evokes excitement, anticipation, and hope. For others, it comes with a healthy dose of dread and disappointment. Although ­– let’s be honest ­– New Year’s Eve rarely ever lives up to its hype, most of us enjoy the promise of a fun gathering or activity sending us off into the new year.

Covid has changed or, dare I say, ruined many plans in 2021 – New Year’s Eve is no exception. There is something disappointing about spending the very last day of the year tainted by the reality of the pandemic. Many had high hopes that life would go back to “normal” after 2020, and yet, here we are with 2022 just a few days away having to cancel, alter or delay our plans because of Omicron.

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If you are struggling to end this year on a high note (or even a medium note), here are a couple things to think about:

It’s OK to feel disappointed. Regardless why we may feel disappointed about New Year’s Eve – worldwide pandemic, friends bailing on plans or being single – it’s OK to validate the feelings that come up for you. It’s OK to feel let down about how this year has turned out or feel apprehensive about what’s yet to come. It’s OK to spend New Year’s Eve just reflecting and feeling. It may not be something you “want," but it could be something you need.

Don’t force gratitude; it doesn’t work. Social media has promoted various gratitude practices. Although I am the first to admit that they can be really helpful in some contexts, you shouldn’t force yourself to be grateful. Forced thankfulness actually makes us feel worse. Such practices often dismiss our experiences and shame us for having "negative" feelings. It’s OK not to see the "silver lining" in your ruined plans or in the fact you will start 2022 by yourself.

In the same breath, it’s OK to identify gratitude for things that you are actually grateful for, even while being disappointed: 2021 being finally over, starting therapy, setting those boundaries, sleeping enough or getting that work promotion. Ask yourself, “what do I want to thank myself for?” Don’t force or fake gratitude, allow yourself to feel it when you're ready.

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It's OK to adjust your expectations. Disappointment occurs when our expectations don’t match our reality. If we are feeling disappointed about NYE, maybe it’s time to adjust our expectations and accommodate the pandemic. Movies and TV have placed a lot of pressure on this one “magical night,” which is part of the reason why it frequently leads to disappointment. Given the reality of Omicron, what expectations can you set to ensure not being let down? What can bring you joy, hope or even just some rest?

Set intention for 2022. New Year’s Eve can be a wonderful time to say goodbye to things, people, habits or beliefs that no longer serve you. Remember, you get to decide what you want to bring into 2022. Spending some time reflecting on your intentions and goals can be a productive use of NYE. It can feel empowering to identifying the changes, accomplishments and growth you want to experience.

More: Re-think your resolutions for the new year by making intentions instead

I personally like to pick a theme word for each year. This practice helps me when I am making decisions or plans. Let’s say my word for 2022 is “authenticity.” When I am faced with decisions and actions, I can stop and ask myself: “Is what I am about to do in line with my intention of being authentic?”

Ultimately, remember that New Year's Eve is just one day. It’s OK to go to bed early; it’s OK not to have a countdown; it’s OK to not dress up. Take care of yourself!

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Sara Kuburic is a therapist who specializes in identity, relationships and moral trauma. Every week she shares her advice with our readers. Find her on Instagram @millennial.therapist. She can be reached at SKuburic@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New Year's Eve plans disrupted by COVID? Here's how to cope.