I read somewhere that by the middle of January most people will have given up on their New Year’s resolutions and gone back to pretty much all of their bad habits. This is due to people setting completely unrealistic goals, others not joining in as promised or simply not being bothered.
But, when you’re chronically sick, even the most bog-standard New Year’s resolutions can seem hard to achieve or not applicable to you, so it feels a bit like you’ve had to finish before you’ve started. So here are 20 New Year’s resolutions that are easily adjustable to any health needs.
1 . Ditch unhealthy habits – I’m starting with a stereotypical one, but ditching any unhealthy habits you have can be a huge benefit to your health, particularly if you’ve got long-term health conditions. Giving up smoking will improve any respiratory disorders and your body’s ability to heal, as well as promote good heart health and fertility. Reducing or stopping alcohol consumption will give you better blood sugars and liver health, and help reduce stress, weight and risk of cancer.
2 . Be able to put work in the right priority level – whether you’re employed, self-employed or a volunteer, work should never be the top priority in life. Work-based stress is one the leading causes of sick days in the UK, and there is that old saying that “we work to live not live to work”. And whilst it has taken me some time to get my head around putting myself before work, it has done me loads of good. Being able to not feeling guilty for taking sick days, having to take time off for appointments or asking to adjust your role is a great goal to reach.
3 . Connect with others in the same or similar situation as yourself – social media has loads of platforms where people from around the world can connect and chat, and even have specific groups and pages for health conditions or charities. Being able to have people you can share with who know what you’re going through or what you’re feeling is great. You can find out more here.
4 . Develop healthy eating habits that are appropriate to you – I’m not talking about going on a diet or giving up chocolate (God forbid!), what I mean is making some changes that will benefit you. You can do things like swapping sugary energy snacks for carbohydrates or proteins, increasing your water intake and adding an extra portion of fruit or veg to your meal! If you find you’re a bit like me and your appetite fluctuates, then its important to keep your calorie intake up by grazing throughout the day.
5 . Give yourself more TLC – if there’s one thing we’re pretty rubbish at, it’s looking after and loving ourselves. So, make 2019 the year of you – do the things you enjoy, make sure you have time for relaxing and learn to love yourself
6 . Be able to say “NO” without worrying about it – don’t feel up to going out with your friends? Aren’t feeling well enough for the family gathering? Don’t want to go where everyone else is suggesting? Then be bold and brave enough to simply say “no”! Once you’ve mastered it, it’ll give you a new sense of freedom and power!
7 . Make yourself a priority – similar to the one above with work, the one thing that’s important in life is you. We only get one body so we have to look after it, so if this means you do things for yourself rather than others for a change, then so be it
8 . Stop apologising or feeling guilty about your health – you didn’t cause your illness, you can’t control your illness, so why are you apologising to others when you cancel plans or come down unwell? In the UK, we are notorious for apologising unnecessarily when we’ve actually got nothing to be sorry for.
9 . Break the stigma around talking about your health – unfortunately we live in a world where we aren’t allowed to or are looked down on for talking about our problems, especially things like bladder, bowel or menstrual symptoms. But the conversation has got to start somewhere, right?
10 . Start a new hobby or take up something you enjoy – the New Year is the perfect time to commit to a hobby or activity. Doing something that you enjoy and you’re able to do will not only provide a lot of emotional benefits, but will help keep your mind and body active. It doesn’t even have to be something you do on a regular basis.
11 . Becoming more active in a comfortable way – I know being active or sporty is probably the last thing you want to think about when you’re in pain or unwell, but during the good days, being active has lots of positive benefits. It increases bone density, maintains muscle bulk and tone and provides lots of circulatory benefits.
12 . Fight for better healthcare and/or treatment for yourself – I’ve had first-hand experience at how terrible healthcare can be and I’ve had to fight for answers myself. If you’re just coming out of a year where your healthcare or treatment wasn’t great or you’re still waiting for answers, start 2019 off in a determine way and push for more help. Unfortunately, it’s rare that anyone else will do it for you.
13 . Gain the ability to step out of your comfort zone once in a while – there is a saying that talks about how “doing something that scares you everyday is good for you”, and what you’ll find is that every time you’re faced with something nerve-wracking, you’ll feel that little bit braver each time!
14 . Wear whatever you like – you might look at this one and think it’s a bit silly, but for those who find clothing a bit of a challenge (e.g. dealing with frequent swelling or feeding tubes), it’s important to be confident in whatever it is you feel like wearing.
15 . Worry less about what others think – the only person who you should care about is yourself, so spend 2019 not being bothered about whether others are looking at you or talking about you. You’ll find that when you switch off from being worried about others opinions, your confidence will rise.
16 . Create an outlet to help deal with any emotional stresses of being ill – it’s no secret that being chronically ill has an impact on your mental health, and depression and anxiety are the top mental health conditions those with chronic illness are likely to suffer with. You can read more about mental health and chronic illness here, but by finding a way to cope with any psychological stresses will make you feel better in general.
17 . Enable your social life to fit around you and your needs – maintaining a social life when you’re sick is hard especially if your health is unpredictable, but to help it stay strong, you can be more assertive in organising events that are more suited to yourself – at your house, in a closer location or even a particular activity
18 . Create an “all eventualities” bag or make-up bag to take with you when you’re out – this is something I created a couple of months bag; a small make-up bag containing all my medications and little bits that I can transfer from bag to bag. It means you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything and it might make going out that bit easier.
19 . Make an achievement board – if your illness is particularly playing up at the moment, having something will small achievable tasks on can make it easier to see and make progress. It could be something that is daily or weekly, but by having goals to achieve will boost self-confidence and provide other emotional benefits
20 . Don’t let your health define you in 2019 – it’s important to not let your health take over who you are as a person.