The trouble with chronic illness is that it goes on and on. When we see little, if any, improvement it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and let motivation dwindle. In the past I’ve rejected the idea of New Year’s resolutions with the idea that I should approach every day with fresh motivation but this year I feel as though I could do with them. I know I’ve become a little less motivated over the last few months and now is the time to get myself going again. So here are my New Year’s self-help resolutions: 1. Believe I can get better
Believing I can get better isn’t about putting life off until I can do all the things I used to be able to do again. It isn’t about being in denial of that fact that I have a chronic illness that only a small proportion of people recover from completely. I accept that my life now has to be lived in a different way but that acceptance doesn’t exclude my hope. I still want to maximise my quality of my life and I want to give myself every chance to be one of those who do get better. I also believe that my body knows how to be healthy and is doing its best to get there. If I can help it by removing as many obstacles as possible then one day it might just find its way. This belief motivates me to look after myself and want to do the best for myself. I realise though, that during my long autumn of below baseline health I got stuck in a rut of resignation. I resolve to remind myself that I am a believer!
2. Keep expectations open and positive
Another rut I’ve become stuck in again is that of expecting my body to respond in certain ways, for example when I had that naughty Christmas drink I expected the headache that alcohol always brings me. There was no room in my expectations for me not to have that headache. I resolve to keep my expectations open and positive, and invite my body to respond better to the things it normally doesn’t respond well to.
3. Have a short walk/spend some time outside every day
Another health habit that has slipped recently is that of getting outside in the daylight every day. The weather has been so miserable that I’ve become a bit of a hermit. However when I do venture out the experience is always far more rewarding than I seem able to anticipate. I can also tie in my recent sleep disturbance with about a week of not going outside during daylight. I’ve been back on track for a few days now and my sleep pattern has settled down again. I resolve to keep up this habit!
I think these last few months I’ve become a little passive in terms of waiting for enjoyment to happen to me but that approach is severely limiting. Joy is often a subtle experience easily missed if we’re not looking out for it. We need to be willing to seek it out and expect to find it. When I finally got myself out for a walk this week it was with an attitude that it was a chore, a necessary evil, what pleasure would be available from walking around the block at this time of year? But then I remembered to look out for it and was rewarded with the beauty of the deep red of tree laden with berries. Then I looked up and saw an electric blue hue to the sky accentuated by the silhouette of a leafless treeline. I find appreciation of natural beauty a very accessible source of joy, but other kinds of joy are also always nearby if I choose to look out for them! I resolve to keep looking!
5. Invest a little more energy in a social life
As discussed in my last post, I realise I’ve gotten into the habit of not bothering too much with my social life because it’s such a difficult balance to find. But I do need some kind of social life and I resolve to find a way of getting one!
Do you have any New Year’s self-help resolutions?