Photo: Dmytro Shevdinov/Shutterstock

4 Things to Do on New Year’s Day That Are Actually Fun

by Eben Diskin Dec 30, 2019

Throughout November and December, life is a bleary dash through hefty meals, gingerbread-induced sugar highs, presents, family traditions, and irresponsible alcohol consumption that culminates on December 31. But if New Year’s Eve is the decadent peak of the holiday season, New Year’s Day is the beginning of the doldrums. On January 1, you’re suddenly expected to embark upon a self-improvement regimen that would make basic training look easy. Drop all the weight you gained over the holidays. Learn piano. Reconnect with your estranged half-brother. When you wake up on New Year’s Day, everything is closed, all your friends are hungover, and it’s tough not to feel crushed under the weight of a list of resolutions — January 1 sucks. But it doesn’t have to. On the most boring day of the year, here’s what you can do to stay positive.

Break your resolutions.

There’s nothing wrong with self-improvement, but change doesn’t happen overnight, and New Year’s resolutions have a way of creating more anxiety than necessary. The number of “New Year, New Me” Facebook posts is probably enough to make you feel like you need to immediately go out and hire a dietician. The solution to the new year anxiety is simple: Take your list of resolutions and break them. There are 365 days in a year — plenty of time to start a new cardio regimen or learn an instrument. Today, take some of the pressure off by eating a pint of ice cream and marathoning The Lord of the Rings for the 16th time. Don’t go to the gym, and don’t balance your checkbook. If an ill-advised “dry January” is in your future, have a mimosa. It’s “New Year, New Me,” not “New Year’s Day, New Me.” So just chill out and remember that January 1 isn’t the first day of the rest of your life. It’s just the first day of a calendar year.

Plan a trip.

There’s one exception to the “break your resolutions” advice above, and that’s if one of your resolutions is to take a vacation. Planning an epic trip will not only pass the lazy hours of New Year’s Day, but also get you excited for the months ahead. In a season with few holidays to look forward to, a vacation will give you a reason to cross the days off your calendar. Whether you’re brainstorming destination ideas, checking out Airbnbs, perusing excursions, or actually booking flights, diving into vacation planning is the perfect way to both keep you busy on New Year’s Day and remind yourself that the holidays might be over, but there are still exciting things on the horizon.

Go for a solo hike.

No, this doesn’t mean go hike Denali. If you’re trying to push yourself to be more active this year, great, but don’t burst out of the gate with a 20,000-foot hike while still nursing a New Year’s Eve hangover. Whether there’s a nearby state or national park, a trail through the woods, or even just a leisurely walk around the neighborhood, get out of the house for an hour and clear your head. People’s lofty expectations for the start of a new year might be unreasonable, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time for self-reflection. Use the day off to get some fresh air, decompress from the hecticness of the holiday season, reflect on the past year, and remind yourself what you’re looking forward to in the year ahead. It’s better than dragging yourself to a 6:00 AM Soul Cycle class, and will hopefully leave you feeling less stressed about returning to normalcy the next day.

Find the only bar that’s open.

If New Year’s Eve is the climax of a movie, New Year’s Day is the black screen with scrolling credits, when everyone stretches, yawns, and shields their eyes as they open the door to get out. Indeed, the party’s over and it’s time to go home. But for many, the movie scenes are still racing through their head, and turning off the projector entirely just feels anticlimactic. No one’s telling you to wake up on January 1, paint your face, and go to a warehouse rave, but for some, the best way to ease into the new year is by keeping the good times rolling. Most bars in your area are probably closed, but with some research you can probably find at least one that’s open. And the best part is — everyone else at the bar is doing the exact same thing, desperately looking for a way to pass the most boring day of the year. So pull up a barstool and commiserate (or celebrate) with the stranger next to you about how it’s not even three in the afternoon, and you’ve both already managed to break at least one resolution.

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