Yesterday was my birthday- my last year in my 20’s- which is WILD to think about. And usually, that would send me down a rabbit hole of anxiety and fear, but this birthday felt so different. After 29 years on this planet, I think I’ve finally figured out how to navigate the emotions that come with a birthday. It’s not about having huge parties or a day with absolutely no plans or responsibilities- actually, I’ve found it to be quite the opposite. And while, no, your day does not need to be full of productivity, I’ve found that having a little tends to help. So does finding a moment to reflect, being intentional and not running away from the tough feelings that arise, and giving yourself a fun thing to look forward to. There are many ways to spend a birthday, but here’s my take on how to beat the birthday blues:
This is great advice to take with you into any day, but especially so on your birthday. This day of the year is naturally a bit more reflective than most, and it’s cool to think about how far you’ve come since the last one. To reflect and set intentions for the next. And to find gratitude for the journey. Sure, getting older can be a little intimidating, but it’s more a blessing than anything else.
Whether it’s your favorite workout class, or just getting out for a quick walk, moving your body can help get you out of a funk fast. If you wake up on your birthday feeling a little off, get outside. Get into your community. Say hi to a stranger, find something to smile or laugh about. Get some sun on your shoulders if possible, and breath in the fresh air of the day. Give yourself the opportunity to take in the day in a way you usually may not have the time for, and to appreciate all that your body has done and still does for you- regardless of age.
SAVE THE DRINKING FOR LATER
I’ve started a few birthdays with a bloody mary and, while it was fun, I’d always have a weird come down in the middle of the day and it would make me feel REALLY off. As if I hadn’t already been feeling off before that. But this year I spent my morning and afternoon in a slower pace, and it changed everything for the better. I got to relax and take in the world around me- like after my morning workout, when I went into a flower shop right next door that I’d passed so many times, but never had the chance to go in- something I probably wouldn’t have done had I been out to brunch already.
DO SOMETHING YOU ARE PROUD OF/THAT FULFILLS YOU
Even if it’s just the smallest ounce of productivity, it feels good to still be a part of the world and to know that you’ve done something that will make the first day of the next year of your life a little less stressful/more fulfilling. For me, this meant sending a few work emails in the afternoon. No, it wasn’t a lot, but it was something. Enough to keep me in flow, but not too much to take me out of the relaxing day I was having. And, after being unemployed on my last birthday, I have a greater sense of gratitude to be working- birthday or not. There’s something about feeling like you’re a part of the world, and enjoying the purpose you serve here, that makes aging feel less scary, and honestly more exciting if anything.
DO SOMETHING THAT BRINGS YOU JOY
For me, that meant going to dinner with my husband, ordering our favorite bottle of wine, and wearing party hats the whole way through. We love our party hats (lol), it’s a fun way to make an otherwise ordinary day a little more special. People get a kick out of it, strangers yell out “happy birthday” and it makes you feel so connected to the world around you. Which is something I, personally, find so much joy in.
LOOK FOR THE GOOD
I used to spend my birthdays thinking about all the things that were different and fearing how they would continue to change, but yesterday I realized it didn’t have to be that way. Instead, you can look for the good. In each moment of your day, there will be something beautiful to take notice of- the way the sun shines through the window, your cat purring nearby, your husband refusing to take the party hat (mentioned above) off for the entire day lol. These are the things you want to remember, and, no matter what birthday it is you’re celebrating, there will always be those things to find.
I haven’t always had to “beat the birthday blues.” I used to wake up and feel so excited that I was another year older- it meant I was closer to all the hopes and dreams I had, and that I was becoming more experienced in this whole “life” thing. And, at 22, that’s all you want. And then 25 rolls around, and you realize just how fast time goes and how you can never get it back. I think that’s the thing that freaks me out the most- that once my 20’s are done, I can never go back. It’s like a house you’ll move out of that you can only revisit through what you remember.
And for me, my 20’s are the last decade my Dad was alive in. The last decade that life as I knew it as a child still felt the same. It’s going to be really hard to welcome in a whole new decade, when I can barely welcome in a new year, but I know that change is inevitable and that it will happen, whether I like it or not. The only way to really enjoy the ride is to decide to do just that… enjoy it.
This birthday has been the best I’ve had since my Dad passed. Not because we went on a big trip, or because we spent the whole day doing only what we enjoyed, it was because I cozied into my everyday and enjoyed it for all that it is. All that it is at the age of 29. I meditated, journaled, worked out, bought myself some cute things at the flower shop, sent some emails for work, spoke with loved ones on the phone, had a beautiful dinner with my husband and then snuggled up with our fur babes and watched a movie at home. And all the while, I looked for the good- saw the beauty in every corner of this little existence I’ve been blessed to experience. Yes, getting older can be a little scary, it is the unknown after all, but putting our focus on the beauty that surrounds us gives us hope, and it’s that hope that makes those birthday blues not feel so bad after all.
Do you experience the birthday blues? What have you found to be helpful?
If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 28 Things I’ve Learned in 28 Years