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When You’re Exhausted in the New Year

For many people January 1st is a day to relax and veg out. Maybe you went out for New Year’s Eve. Maybe you stayed home but stayed up well past your bedtime. And, understandably, you needed some rest.

But come January 2nd, suddenly you’re supposed to get serious. Suddenly, you’re supposed to roll out your ambitious (but realistic, relevant, measurable, and specific) plan for 2020. And you’re supposed to start working on it, because if you’re going to make progress, you have to begin right away.

There’s no time to waste.

But here’s the thing: You’re still tired. And you’re certainly not alone.

Whether the holiday season was wonderful for you or not, it can leave you feeling physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.

After all, we shop, wrap, prep, cook, clean, and do all sorts of additional tasks in November and December, which, of course, is on top of our regular professional and personal responsibilities. So, instead of starting 2020 feeling energized and refreshed, we feel worn-out and weary.

And, naturally, when you feel this way, you also get upset and frustrated with yourself. You start to get angry. You start to call yourself names and assume you’re lazy and a loser because you’re supposed to be a go-getter striving for your goals and killin’ it.


Not really.

As psychologist Jenn Hardy, Ph.D, told me, “Just because the year starts on January 1st doesn’t mean that you must start your changes on that day.”

In other words, you can choose any day of any month to begin. Yes, it is nice to have a kind of “official” start date, a blank slate. And yet, it’s very hard to begin anything when you’re barely getting by.

So, here’s your official permission to spend all of January (or any other month) resting.

Take it easy. Slow down. Clear your calendar. Spend some time alone or one-on-one with close friends. Focus on your favorite activities. Take walks. Practice genuinely restorative yoga.

Think about what relaxes and recharges you. And do that.

If you’re pressed for time and January is packed with tasks and activities, try short bursts of self-care. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Before bed, light a candle and meditate for a few minutes. Read for 10 minutes in the morning. Savor a hot bowl of soup at lunch. Take a long, steaming-hot shower.

Or, try to go to bed earlier. Or, sleep in.

Or, think of ways you can create comfort on a daily basis: Wear soft, comfortable fabrics and fuzzy socks. Use flannel sheets. Try a sleep mask. Keep a warm scarf (or even a blanket!) at your office.

What does comfort look like to you? What does comfort smell, sound, taste, and feel like?

It’s hard to let yourself slow down when it seems like the whole world is ramping up and focusing on shiny new goals. It’s hard when it feels like you’re standing still and everyone else is sprinting past you. It’s hard when everyone is sharing all the impressive changes they’re making in the new year, and you’re stumbling through your day.

But try to zero in on your own needs. Try to focus on what’s best for you in this moment.

After all, 2020 has just started. There’s still plenty of time to act on your big dreams and exciting intentions. There’s still plenty of time to create ambitious plans.

The more you rest up right now, the more energized, inspired, and dedicated you’ll be to pursue them.

Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash

When You’re Exhausted in the New Year

Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

Margarita is an associate editor at She writes about everything from taking compassionate care of yourself at any weight, shape, and size, to coping healthfully with difficult emotions. Her goal is to give readers practical, empowering tips to better their lives, and to remind you that whatever you're struggling with, you're never, ever alone.

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APA Reference
Tartakovsky, M. (2020). When You’re Exhausted in the New Year. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 11, 2020, from


Last updated: 2 Jan 2020
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