Mindful Journeys: One month down, 11 to go

I was sitting in the teleprompter room of my winter job at KELOLAND Media Group, waiting to come back from commercial break. While advertisement jingles played in the background, I was working on my new year’s resolutions for 2023. Usually, I wouldn’t have written out goals for myself. After seeing one too many Instagram posts talking about how writing goals down makes them more achievable, I thought ‘why not?’ I wrote four down and saved them in a safe place, reminding myself to come back to them at the start of 2024 to see how well I’d done. 

A month ago, I came back to my list and realized I’d only seen two of them all the way through. Most people would write it off as laziness or losing motivation. In reality, my mental health threw me for a loop instead. At the end of April, my mental health took a toll on me along with my physical health. After going to the doctor and getting a diagnosis, it would still be two and a half months before I would get on medication or see my therapist for the first time.

I have quite a few memories at this time, some not as pleasant as I’d like, while others are pretty blurry. During this time, I was so focused on keeping my symptoms at bay that I couldn’t focus on things I used to enjoy. My mind would be worried about events that never came into fruition, but at the moment, they seemed very real. Living in a state of constant fear is exhausting. By the end of the day, all I wanted to do was sleep, even though I’d laid around most of the day because of my depression. 

Once I had my resources, I was able to slowly start focusing my attention back to my writing, reading and being fully present with my friends when we would hang out. There were tons of life changes coming my way and the stress of trying to take it on all at once only heightened my mental demons. All of Thanksgiving and Christmas break were an absolute blessing. During that month and a half (even the one week before finals), I felt like I had finally returned back to myself. I can’t tell you how much joy and peace it brought me. 

The first few weeks of spring semester went great as well. Syllabus week and the second week of school have never given me much stress because there’s not a lot going on. Then my health anxiety (which I wrote about last week) kicked in and threw me into a spiral I had not felt for quite some time and it scared the crap out of me. With school picking up the pace for how a normal semester would go, it only threw a wrench in the plans, but ones that I knew would show up. Despite knowing homework and illnesses abound during the winter, I still didn’t enjoy how I was feeling and I knew there was no way I wanted to get back to how bad I felt before. My anxiety comes and goes occasionally, but I’m trying to work on it. 

I wasn’t disappointed at the start of the year when I saw I hadn’t completed my full list of goals from 2023. I took my wins where I could get them. Eventually, I realized my goal of getting through the year despite my hard days was the best resolution I hadn’t initially put on my list. So this year, I decided to write my top five goals down again. This time, I believe I can do it, especially number one: improve my mental health to the best it can be. 

Photo caption: Writing down my goals at the beginning of 2023 meant a new start. By the end of the year, I learned a lot about my mental health, but instead of moping about the goals I didn’t achieve because of it, I’ve now added it to my 2024 goals. (Courtesy Emma Johnson)

Write to Emma Johnson at

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