5 Ways to Heal after a Hard Year

Updated Jan 03, 2017
5 Ways to Heal after a Hard Year
Was this past year a painful one? Here is how you can walk into the new year on the path to healing and wholeness.

2009 was a year that really put things in perspective for my family. While we know there is no guarantee life will not be that hard again in the future, we look back with wonder at the fact that we survived all of the obstacles and pain those twelve months held. It was, for us, a terrible year. Was this past year hard like that for you, too?

But then, a new year comes —balloons, confetti, a ten-second countdown, and “the” ball drops. We spend a few weeks writing the wrong year, wrestling with resolutions, and breathing in the fresh air of a fresh year. It feels like the restart button has been pressed and we are gifted with another lap around the sun.

There are glimmers of hope that this year will be better as the hardships of the last year make their home in the past. However, just because the day, month, and year all change at the strike of midnight does not mean we magically heal from the ache and heartbreak of the year prior. How, then, do we begin to heal after a hard year?

Lighten Your Load

We are not superheroes, nor do we need to be. After a difficult year, it is particularly important that we allow ourselves to be human-sized. It is good and respectable to take a step back from some added responsibilities as you heal from a draining year, especially if your healing process will keep you from honoring those responsibilities. What commitments can you put to the side for a while as you focus on healing? It is difficult to find relief in the midst of busyness—any place where you can trim away some of your time commitments can open up space for your healing.

Name What Hurts

Be honest about what is difficult and painful in your healing process. Are there anniversaries, places, or songs that resurface your hurt from the difficult year? Rather than holding it in, name it out loud—allow yourself to call out what the wound is so that you may move towards healing the wound. Just as you cannot know where a child is hurting if they do not tell or show you, we may be led to healing more quickly when we identify when something brings us pain. Naming it will not take away the pain, but it may take away some of the pain’s jarring power.

Surround Yourself with Loved Ones

When we’re injured or ill, we want to be surrounded by the very best doctors and nurses. Similarly, when our heart is hurting and we’re recovering from the trauma of a tough year, we want to be surrounded by the people in whom we trust, love, and find comfort. If a particular relationship is draining or adding to your grief, it’s not going to add to your healing. Who are the people who will bring you life, invest in your healing, and honor where you are in the process? Those are your people—your team—who can help move you forward in this year of healing.

Receive Care

After a rough year, we need to be tended to; sometimes, one of the most difficult parts about healing is allowing that care to happen. Say “yes” when someone offers to help—even if your “yes” is strained and whispered. Yes—you may leave a casserole at my door, take my kids to the park, or pray fervently for me. Let others love you; allow them to show up for you when you need it. Receiving such an outpouring of generosity can feel overwhelming, but healing takes a village. Know that there will be a time when you are feeling grounded and healthy, and your people may be in need of healing. You’ll have the opportunity to return the love and favors to them but, for now, try to welcome the acts of kindness extended to you.    

Take a Trip

After a hard year ends and a new year begins, getting out of town helps us to push the restart button even harder. Take a trip—travel 30 minutes from your house for a weekend or 3,000 miles away for a week. Go somewhere by yourself, bring someone who is healing alongside you, or take a friend or two from that community of loved ones surrounding you. Rest, play, and go on new adventures. Let this trip be a reminder that this new year will bring new stories, and they very well may not be quite as terrible as the ones that unfolded in the previous year. Take photos, eat good food, and spend some days away from the normalcy of every day life.

Healing happens—slowly, usually, and not without some long days and painful moments. If you are coming out of a particularly painful year, may you find deep and tangible hope as the ten-second countdown ends and a new year begins.  

Image Credit: Unsplash.com

I am Mallory—a wife, a writer, and a dog mom to Roger. I love dry humor, clean sheets, sunny days, and frequent reminders of grace. These days, I hang out at malloryredmond.com, where I tell my stories with the hope of uncovering places of connection in our humanity. You can also follow me on Facebook and Twitter.