What if this New Year is about doing less, instead of more?
January 1: the birth of another year. For many people, New Year’s Day is their signal to start anew, focus on fresh resolutions, and reevaluate their life goals and plans. It’s common to see people starting new businesses, jumping into exercise programs, and making other grand plans for change.
And don’t get me wrong — personal goals are all well and good. But when you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP) like me, big, sudden New Year’s resolutions are often jarring.
HSPs tend to approach life changes at a slower pace. Being highly sensitive means processing life deeply all the time, so we’re often working on ourselves throughout the year instead of during a set time. And we’re also often overwhelmed by everything that comes with New Year’s festivities and promises.
So, instead, let’s get into some things that HSPs want in the new year.
7 Things HSPs Would Like in the New Year
1. For people to know it has nothing to do with them when an HSP wants to stay home instead of going to all the parties
We can appreciate the beauty of the fireworks, sparkling lights, fun mixed drinks, and Times-Square-level energy, but it’s a lot. (And don’t forget the dreaded small talk!) Many HSPs are especially shaken by the overwhelming amount of noise and other stimuli.
Some of us would rather avoid the parties altogether while others enjoy the festivities but prefer to go home early or spend the next day enjoying lots of alone time (after all, we don’t want an “HSP hangover”!).
We don’t want to offend anyone or be party poopers — we just hope that they understand we’re listening to our own needs if we don’t stay out all night or need to retreat to a quiet room to recharge. It’s really not them; it’s us taking care of ourselves so that we can still enjoy the holiday.
2. To not feel bad about having heightened emotions during 3… 2… 1…
The end of the year can be an emotional time, especially after the craziness of 2020 and beyond. HSPs feel transitions especially hard, so we might feel extra moved during New Year’s sentiments.
We’d like for people to “get it” if we tear up at a touching commercial that comes on TV or we seem extra emotional when that ball drops. HSPs tend to mull over intense emotions alone before expressing them in front of others, but if we’re feeling extra stimulated during social moments, that raw emotion can spill over. If you see us start to tear up, you don’t have to say anything — all we’d love is a tissue or a hug.
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3. Fewer New Year’s resolutions means more self-acceptance and reflection
HSPs are big-picture thinkers, mulling over every option and looking at an issue from all sides before making a decision. Our slower, more intentional pace often means we’re thinking about positive changes all throughout the year, not just when the world slows down before the next 365 days.
Instead of the classic New Year’s resolutions, HSPs crave more time to contemplate and cozy into (physical and metaphorical) places where we feel accepted. Maybe we’re thinking about setting up an HSP sanctuary, looking for HSP groups, or reflecting on ways to better advocate for our needs at work.
4. Permission to focus on doing less in the new year, not more
When you’re an HSP, less is truly more. The thought of ramping up for a new year can feel instantly exhausting instead of invigorating. Often, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to pursue peace instead of “more.”
Rather than make a big deal about a new start, HSPs prioritize the simpler things that bring us joy. For instance, I want to donate more items to reduce clutter in my home and set more concrete work boundaries so that I can read more books and spend more time with my family.
5. More alone time
Always, more alone time.
It’s not that we don’t want to be around other people — we just might need extra time to process everything happening when New Year’s rolls around.
Celebrations and get-togethers bring a lot of extra stimuli, but that’s not all. We’re probably thinking about what this last year meant to us, the wins and losses we experienced, and what we’re expecting in the new year. We also tend to absorb the emotions of others, which can be heightened during this time.
HSP brains need a lot of time to reflect and process, and we do that best when we’re alone.
6. Greater appreciation for sensitivity, from its challenges to its benefits
I have seen society slowly become more accepting of highly sensitive natures, at least in some ways. I’ve noticed more people on social media acknowledging the importance of preserving your emotional energy, and I have experienced a slight increase in respect for sensitive natures in work settings. But we still have a ways to go.
With each new year, HSPs hope to see more recognition of the differences that make us all unique. In workplace settings, relationships, and self-care spaces, we yearn for people to understand that sensitivity isn’t something we can “let go” or change.
HSPs often feel misunderstood because it’s hard for others to “get” what they don’t experience themselves. Unfortunately, we can’t just loan out our brains to that not-as-sensitive coworker or overbearing family member for a day or two.
What we really want for the holidays is more compassion for our struggles and more appreciation for what HSPs uniquely bring to the table, such as incredible empathy, well-thought-out ideas, critical thinking, and creativity.
7. Overall, we want a new year full of less stimulation and more peace
HSPs experience the world on an intense level. We have big emotions and strong reactions to other people, situations, and even our own thoughts. Since it takes a lot of energy to regulate those emotional reactions as we move through life, we’re often seeking out peace more than anything.
This next year, we’d like permission to be ourselves and work through things at our own pace. So if we leave the party early, take a while to answer that text message, or disappear to a quiet room for a bit, it’s nothing personal. We’re just doing what we need to care for ourselves, manage our energy, and hopefully bring our very best selves into the new year.
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