The Psychological Reason Your Days Seem To Run Together At The End Of The Year

The last week of the year can feel like a black hole of time, obligations, and waiting. Adults are drifting between two short work weeks and kids are on winter break from school. There may be late holiday celebrations occurring. Some gifts need to be returned while others still need to be exchanged with their recipients. There are holiday trees and decorations that need to be taken down and New Year's Eve parties to plan, and don't forget to set your resolutions.


Meanwhile, the dishes still need to be washed, the laundry still needs to get done, and the dog has to be fed. The houseplants that managed to hold onto life all year long need special winter care if they're going to see the ball drop. What is it about this last week of each trip around the sun that makes everyday tasks feel insurmountable and time seem like more of a suggestion? Here's what psychology has to say. 

Routine disruption

The human brain thrives on routine, as reported by NPR. Before the holiday season struck, you probably had a daily or weekly routine that was at least mostly predictable. Maybe you work from home until 3:00 p.m., then pick the kids up from school, help them with homework, and start cooking dinner before your partner gets home to help with the rest of the evening. Suddenly, you're trying to keep the children entertained all day while putting forth your best work and mentally keeping track of all the loose holiday ends that still need to be tied up.


Before you know it, you're sucked into a vortex of chaos. Time feels like it's flying by but at the same time, you wonder if the new year will ever get here. Not to mention the fact that many parents are still impacted by 2020 when a large portion of American kids left school for spring break and didn't resume for the rest of the year or longer (via Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis). The best thing you can do is embrace the mess and remind yourself that it is truly only temporary. Cancel any obligations that aren't absolutely necessary and enjoy losing track of time for a bit each day. You may not be able to again for another year. 

Money and time scarcity

Over 72% of Americans planned to use credit cards to finance their holiday shopping this year, according to Nerdwallet. The reality of that new debt and the holes in the bank accounts of those who paid upfront can start to sink in once all the joyous festivities come to an end. Remember, what's done is done, and all you can do is plan for the future, which might look like incorporating new financial goals into your plans for the new year.


In addition to financial scarcity, time can feel very limited as the year comes to a close. While the winter solstice took place about a week ago, the days are still incredibly short, which can make it feel like you have less time to work with each day (via The Washington Post). Try to embrace the darkness and recognize that life will have to go on, even in the dark for just a few more weeks.