In 2017, I made twelve New Year’s resolutions: one for each month of the year. My friends laughed and told me I’d never manage to keep them all, but I was determined to prove them wrong. By December 2017 I’ve completed ten out of twelve – not a bad result for a year when my mental health took a significant turn for the worse.

This year I will…

Most people think resolutions made on January 1st are arbitrary and ridiculous, and statistics suggest that only 8% of us keep the promises we make to ourselves as we celebrate a new year. But I would encourage you to make New Year’s resolutions in 2018, and to consider them a challenge that will help you make the most of the year to come.

There were lots of things I wanted to achieve, and I made ambitious and exciting resolutions. By May 2017, I had learnt basic Spanish, learnt to salsa dance, and visited a new country, and had made new friends, learnt new skills and had a lot of fun along the way. However, in the summer I had a breakdown and was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I was signed off work after having multiple panic attacks, and my year of new things was put on pause. For a little while, my mental health hit rock bottom and I couldn’t see the purpose of living.

Six months on, I’m in a much better place, having started taking medication and seeing a fantastic counsellor who has helped me restore my belief in myself. I’ve also carried on completing my resolutions, which became incredible motivation for getting through a really tough time. I’ve started writing the book I’ve always wanted to write, I’ve dug out a keyboard and started playing the piano music I used to love, and I’ve visited India and climbed the Himalayas.

The power of resolutions

I’m not sharing any of this to show off – I’m telling you because I think that New Year’s resolutions have the power to change lives. In the midst of my darkest times, knowing that I was going to visit India, and reminding myself of my desire to write a novel, kept me going and gave me a reason to live.

Often, our demons can convince us that we’re insignificant in such a big world, or that we have nothing to live for. My list of resolutions encouraged me that I still had a lot I wanted to see, experience and achieve in the world before I lost hope. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to visit the Statue of Liberty? Maybe you want to try stand-up comedy, or start your own business. Whatever your dreams are, however big or however small, they can help you stay positive and excited for the future.

Plans for 2018

Twelve resolutions may be too much for everyone, but I challenge you to make at least one resolution in 2018 that you know will help you have a healthy and happy year. It could be anything, from finding the best burger in Britain to standing on a beach in Bali – what it is doesn’t matter, as long as it is something that will help you through those times when our demons get the better of us and our mental health suffers.

As for me, I’m not going to make another twelve resolutions – I still need to ride a horse on a beach and go dolphin-watching in Wales, as I haven’t got round to those two yet this year. But more importantly, I’m going to make a resolution that whatever life throws at me this year, I’ll let myself react in whatever way I need to. I’m going to be kinder to myself in 2018, and remember that whatever happens, I am strong and brave enough to get through it. And just in case no one has told you recently – you are strong enough too.

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