Hi all, my name is Grace and I’ve recently joined the team at Emerge Advocacy working for the Epsom Emerge Project. As eager as I think most of us are to leave the year 2020 behind us, in light of the new year, I thought that it would be nice to look at some of the positive reflections of last year and also think about the importance of holding on to hope in the year 2021.

I’m not sure how your 2020 went, but I do know that the word ‘unprecedented’ has been highly over-used. You may have had to spend long periods of time without seeing your friends and families, you may have binged through a LOT of Netflix, you may have had hard school exams to take, or you may have even experienced loss or grief. Personally, this year I graduated from University during a pandemic, became a runner and not so inspirationally, significantly increased my weekly screen time reports. However, 2021 is upon us, a vaccine is in sight, and let’s not forget that we made it to the end of the year! 

It has been a hard, challenging and frightening year, and our mental wellbeing has been more at risk than ever, so I think it’s important to hold on to the small things we achieved. Did you learn something new last year? Did you continue with your schoolwork despite awkward online teaching and socially distanced lessons? Did you virtually reach out to a friend you hadn’t spoken to in a while? 

Sometimes I feel that I can’t use the word ‘achievement’ unless I have accomplished something really amazing (like a marathon). But that’s not true. We may not always wow people with our own personal achievements because what might be a ‘small’ achievement for one person may be a mountainous achievement for someone else. So do not downplay the things that you have accomplished this year.

No matter how it felt sometimes, 2020 was still a year of ‘doing’ and life went on. I guarantee, that if you really think about it, you could list at least 5 things that you achieved last year no matter how small or insignificant they may have felt. 

At the risk of sounding too optimistic like Boris himself, who on the 1st of January 2020 tweeted “This is going to be a fantastic year for Britain,” I really do believe that 2021 will be a good year. Let’s look after each other, look after ourselves and go into 2021 remembering all that we have achieved.

Looking towards this new year I hope that you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and welcome 2021 as a year of new beginnings and recovery. Among the difficult and frustrating Christmas lockdown announcements and our restricted new year celebrations let’s not lose sight of the good things to come and to strive for in this upcoming year.

Last year I made the half-hearted goal of giving up chocolate and sweets for Lent, and in true non-committed style by the time the first lockdown was announced mid-Lent-period, I’d stress eaten my way through a tub of Ben and Jerry’s caramel choo choo ice cream. Granted, that is a terrible example of a personal goal in 2020, but let’s not forget that sometimes just aiming for something can be a great first step.

No matter how small or insignificant you may feel your hopes and goals are for 2021, remember that your thoughts and aspirations are valid and important. Striving for the little things might just help us see all that we can achieve and show us how we can create positive changes in our own personal mental wellbeing in this new year. 

One of my new year’s resolutions this year is to make sure I’m getting out in nature every day for a walk or run because this makes me happy! I challenge you to think about what makes you happy or what gives you hope and to set a new year’s resolution around these things. What are you hoping for this new year?