17/12/2014 11:49 GMT | Updated 16/02/2015 05:59 GMT

12 Life Lessons I've Learned in 2014

I'm sure I'm not the only one for whom 2014 has been something of an annus horribilis - an awful lot of people I know have had more than their fair share of challenges thrown at them with considerable force and frequency this year.

As we wave the dregs of the last 12 months down the plughole and prepare to celebrate Christmas however, I've realised that a huge amount of positives have come out of the negatives that I've endured (for the full lowdown and whatnot click here if you're a total masochist).

So I thought I'd write them down and share them - if nothing else, because I can refer back and chivvy myself up if things start going wonky again in 2015...

1. Think positive

It doesn't matter what you're going through, things could always be worse and there are plenty of people better than you going through an even more horrendous time. Be grateful, be mindful, try and be happy. Nothing is helped by negative thoughts. Similarly, anger is an energy and you don't want to waste it.

2. Friends are amazing

But you have to let them know when you need them. People have their own lives and you need to tell them when you need help. Don't expect anyone to second guess how you feel. You're important but you're not all that. But shout out loudly when you need them and they will be there.

3. Try not to get bent out of shape by a man (or whichever flavour of crush is your choice)

You are the only person who can make you happy. If someone doesn't want to join you on that journey, then more fool them. You don't need negativity and you are worth more than trying to sort out someone else's problems to your detriment, no matter how much you love them.

4. Trust your instincts

Damn I wish I'd put a bet on Conchita Wurst to win the Eurovision like I planned to before she'd qualified for the finals. But more importantly, esprit d'escalier is one of the most annoying feelings. Just do and say what you feel when you do. Don't doubt yourself - be yourself. Gut feelings are always the best and right feelings.

5. Eat your five a day

The stresses of modern life mean it's easy to skip meals, not look after yourself or resort to fast food crap. Duh. You will get ill (take it from me - bullous impetigo is deeply unpleasant). Vitamin pills and juicing don't cut it either. Eat properly. Seven a day preferably. Whole fruit and veg FTW.

6. Don't stress about things you have no control over

It's easy to get to panic attack status over problems. You do NOT want to have a panic attack. They go from Chicken Licken 'The sky is falling!' style to full-on 'I think I'm having a heart attack'-tastic. If you are not in charge of the outcome in any capacity, let it ride. Choose your battles and where you direct your focus.

7. Don't drink too much

As well as my physical friends, my other best friend is pinot grigio/verdejo/viognier/chardonnay/sav blanc/delete as appropriate. Thing is, a bottle of wine might feel great that night and help you forget everything, but it will solve nada and if you are prone to depression, can just make you feel a whole lot worse the next day. (Yeah, like I'll really pay attention to my own advice here...)

8. Try not to let work be your raison d'etre

This is also a bit do as I say, not as a do, I'll confess. I am pretty defined by my occupation as a journalist as I love it so much, and it informs so much of who I am. But try and remember a job *is* just a job, however much you love it, and you must have a life outside of it. Most importantly, don't sacrifice your health through overwork.

9. Sleep more

Sleep is essential to well being. Mentally and physically, your body cannot repair itself if you don't get enough. Snooze. Sleep in. Don't feel guilty about your lie ins. And if you struggle to sleep like I do, look into how you can sleep better. There are some great tips here.

10. Talk about it

Problems in life, whether with relationships, money or work, never, ever get solved if you remain silent. Bottling things up, letting things fester, making assumptions/presumptions and not telling people how you feel or your worries is the best way to ruin something. If someone doesn't know what the problem is they can't try and fix it.

11. Look after your health

Turns out, spines really are rather important and I might not have been looking after mine properly with all the running on roads, horseriding and sitting badly at a desk rattling out copy for 20 odd years. Silly me. Then again, it may well just be bad luck. But if you can prevent yourself getting ill in any way, do it. Being ill sucks.

12. Smile

It's a cliche but only because it's true. Seeing the funny side in situations can be the best way through hard times. I've done my best to view my life this year as a bad sitcom. All that was missing was a vicar with his trousers round his ankles being chased by a dog with a string of sausages in his mouth.

So with that in mind, I hope you all have a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year. Come on 2015, I'm coming to getcha...