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The start of a new year is a great opportunity to refresh your mindset and let go of past worries. Although our anxieties have a way of sneaking up behind us when we least expect it, I like spending my New Year’s Eve doing a few cathartic rituals that offer closure for the end of the year and provide a new mindset for when the clock strikes twelve. If you want to say goodbye to the year in style, try one of these five rituals and welcome the new year with a smile. 

1. Reverse Bucket List

A new year provides the opportunity to start something new. However, I find New Year’s resolutions put too much pressure on us to complete something we likely will not achieve. To prevent the guilt that comes with not following through with your new year’s resolutions, try making a reverse bucket list. What do I mean by that? Well, instead of making a likely unrealistic list of all the things you want to do next year, make a list of at least five things you accomplished this past year. We forget to celebrate all the hard work the past year brought and having those achievements physically written down in front of you instills a sense of pride in yourself rather than the shame that inevitably comes when you don’t complete your bucket list items.

2. Burn Your Fears

Burn?! Yes, burn. First and foremost, please be careful. Go outside in a safe, fire-friendly place, away from trees and other potentially flammable objects. Now that safety has been handled, let me explain what I mean by burning your fears. A few years back, I wrote down a few anxieties, fears and other nonsense that plagued my mind throughout the year. Then, I lit my favorite candle, brought it outside to my backyard and let the small piece of paper with my scribbled fears burn into the candlelight. It was quite cathartic. I felt an odd sense of freedom watching my fears dissolve into smoke, floating away into the universe. I love that you can visually watch this small piece of paper that represents all your demons physically dissolve into nothingness. It is a ritual I thoroughly enjoy completing. But again — fire safety first, folks!

3. Journaling

As much as I wish I could journal throughout the year, my thoughts do not always make their way from pen to paper. If you wish you could journal more, New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to do some writing! My favorite part of end-of-year journaling is reflecting on the biggest highs and lows of the year. I’ll talk a little bit about each month and make a final reflection about the whole year. Getting all my thoughts and little anecdotes out on paper offers another sense of relief. Seeing my life splayed out on paper reminds me that I’m achieving a lot more than I’m usually giving myself credit for, and recognizing this feels like a form of self-care. I highly recommend this, and it can be adapted to fit your journaling style!

4. Monthly Song Pick

I adore listening to music and I was all too excited to see my Spotify Wrapped slideshow this year. Regardless of how you listen, music has a tendency to bring you back to the moments in time when you first listened to a particular song or album. It is like a nostalgia tour looking through my Spotify Wrapped, since music I listened to in March reminds me of a mindset I left in that month. If you want to reminisce about the highs of the past year or reflect on a month’s challenges by listening to a sad song while staring out a snow-covered window, I recommend making a playlist of the year. Pick a song for each month of the year, particularly songs that when you hear them they remind you of what you were up to during that month. Then, pop some earbuds in and listen to your twelve songs. It is a nice way to reflect on your past year and hopefully relive some positive past memories. 

5. Gratitude Letters

In continuing with the theme of reflecting and celebrating what you have achieved, I recommend writing gratitude letters. Write a letter to a friend or family member reciting a few things that you are grateful for about that person. It gives an opportunity for you to express things that make you happy and will hopefully put a smile on the faces of people you love. I highly recommend handwriting these letters, as it will feel more personal when you give a handwritten note to your friends. And most importantly, don’t be shy in writing yourself a gratitude note! Tell yourself how proud you are for making it through this past year, because you deserve every inch of love this world has to offer. Self-care is necessary and will leave you feeling ready to experience a new year of challenges and celebrations. 

Change can be scary, especially when we live in a world that sees dramatic changes every day. But a new year offers a new opportunity to appreciate all the work you have done and all the things you have to look forward to. Rituals are one of my favorite ways to celebrate the end of the year as they help alleviate some of the anxieties and act as a form of self-care. Reflecting on the past year can be difficult, but appreciating the work you have done and saying goodbye to what has happened offers a cleansing kind of relief that keeps me looking forward to the next New Year’s Eve. 

Jade Poli

Bryn Mawr '25

Jade is a prospective English major from Northern New Jersey. When she isn't writing, she loves playing guitar, singing with her A Capella group, taking long walks, and reading murder mysteries with her mini dachshund.
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