One holiday down, one more to go—and this time, it’s not just about gift-giving and indulgent feasts. After a week of holiday revelry, we wake up on January 1st with the urge to take stock of where we want our life to go. It’s a new year after all, and we have every opportunity to redefine where the remaining 365 days will take us.
Many of you are probably thinking that making New Year’s resolutions is a tired old tradition—especially considering that statistics say resolutions made as the year winds down don’t even make it past January.
As trite as it is however, no occasion is more symbolic of our desire to improve ourselves and drive positive change than New Year. So in the spirit of bucking statistics and making a long-term, lasting impact in our life, we’ve compiled a list of resolutions our own team members who suffer from chronic pain are making as they go into 2020. Hopefully, they inspire you to start your own.
Be more open about living with chronic pain
I recently spoke about what it was like to live with chronic pain—and it made me realize just how helpful it is for chronic pain sufferers to open up about what we’re going through. We often keep things bottled up. Usually so we don’t have to bother others about how hard it is to live with our illness and function normally, or because we don’t like other people feeling sorry for us. We keep it to ourselves at the risk of being thought of as weak. We fear being misunderstood, or worse, being considered lazy or whiny. I’ve learned though that this is never usually the case. Opening up to people around us—family, friends, colleagues—it actually helps. You might even be surprised at how supportive people around you can be. So this year, I want to make a more conscious effort to be more open about what I’m going through—to not keep everything inside.
Incorporate more exercise into my lifestyle
We all complain about exercising. But working with chronic pain sufferers with varying degrees of severity, I realized I shouldn’t take my ability to still be able to work out for granted. Exercise is a great way to manage arthritis symptoms and often, arthritis sufferers would love to get more exercise but their illness and severe symptoms prevents them from doing so. So this year, I want to make a bigger push to incorporate activity in my life.
I live a fairly active lifestyle but I’ve noticed that my symptoms seem to get more persistent as I get older. I’ve come to realize that it’s because no matter how religiously I exercise, a lot of my flares are triggered by diet. I love junk food but the fact is, I should really make more of an effort to include greens and whole foods and cut back on sugar and fast food.
Get more sleep
Being in this industry, I’m used to working a lot of late nights. But the truth is, if you’re tired and not feeling well-rested, it will snowball into a lot of other aspects of your life. Because you’re more tired, you tend to rush through eating and pick up something quick and easy (fast food!); you’re more tired so you skip exercise; you’re lethargic so you’re more withdrawn. And when you feel run down and beat, it also amplifies your arthritis symptoms. I want to make an effort to maintain better sleeping patterns and see how it will create positive changes in my routine.
I work a lot with with patients who suffer from chronic pain and across the board, the idea of seeking help and finding support isn’t a popular one. To that end, most chronic pain sufferers tend to feel isolated and alone—when they don’t have to be. So as part of my resolution, I want to practice what I preach and be more open to support—from friends and family, even from arthritis communities online.
Cut back on stress
Stress is hard to avoid and it’s an inherent part of our lives. But I want to truly make a conscious effort to learn how to deal with it better, simply because we usually gloss over how it negatively affects our lives. There are a lot of things we can do, for example, exercising, meditation, talking to family and friends, being more social, getting more rest. The important thing is being more self aware about what factors are causing your stress so you can recognize it and do something about it.
What’s on your resolution list as we welcome 2020? Feel free to share it below and leave a comment!