By Suzanne Burnett Stewart
Wow, I cannot believe that 2017 is upon us already! Only a few more days and I will have gone through another year with unrelenting nerve pain from systemic/full body CRPS and several other painful illnesses.
I have a choice to make, this New Year, this month, this week and today. I can choose to get up and start again, to make positive choices and be a “doer”. On the other hand, I can go back to bed, be negative and be a “downer”. That doesn’t mean that some days aren’t going to be “downer” days. But we truly must try our best to make the most of each day.
I have decided that some of us may need help getting started with the New Year and those pesky resolutions that we seem to start and never keep.
These are the kinds of things we can all do to help ourselves and each other to have a better year than the one or one’s prior. Here is my list of resolutions for the New Year, 2017:
- First of all, when you start to think more positively, you will become a more positive person. So first, and foremost start to think more positively.
- When you feel that you are having an especially bad day, take the morning to rest and recuperate. Try to do at least one thing in the afternoon, that will make you feel that you have accomplished a minimum of one activity each day. This activity may be as simple as taking a shower. When you deal with chronic illness, taking a shower can be very draining and therefore, this is an accomplishment!
- If you are a woman and you used to wear make up, try putting on making up once in awhile. If you are a man, then try to shave once in awhile and put on some after-shave, even if you live alone. You’ll be surprised at how different and revived it’ll make you feel.
- When you wake up in the morning, make a choice for yourself that this will be a “good day”. If not a “good day”; then at least try to make it a little bit better. The more we think positively, the better we will feel. This will lower Blood pressure and negative thoughts etc.
- Whether you are with a husband, a partner or living alone, try to be more respectful of the other person or people around you. Remember that they are suffering your illness(es) as well. They are missing out when you cannot go with them to places and/or events as much as you are missing out on going. Just be mindful of how your actions cause reactions in the ones that you love.
- Get up and out of bed each day. Even if it is only to do a small action, such as moving onto your favorite chair instead of lying in bed all day. If you have a pet, sit with them in a different area. Give yourself different sense of scenery. You’ll see that just getting out of bed can make you feel more positive.
- Try each day to either watch a funny movie, read a good book or if you cannot get into this kind of commitment, then find some good articles on the internet to read. These things tend to keep our minds sharp and help with a positive mind set. Don’t read only the “bad stuff” in the News; or articles about your illness(es). Try to get “lost” into a fun or funny book /movie or a drama.
- If your memory is a bit foggy due to illness(es), try making a list. You can make a list of things that you want to accomplish in this New Year if you want to think long term. If you want to look at this in a shorter time frame then make a list each day, of things that you want to accomplish during that 24 hours. Check off things as you do them.
- Try to learn at least one new skill this year. There are so many things to do and many that we can do even if we are not feeling very well. There are things to do that pass the time, which are more positive. Some examples of larger scale activities or skills might be: sewing, making jewelry, cooking, knitting, crocheting or learning a new language.
- Try new activities on a smaller daily scale, such as: the new adult coloring books, go to library or get someone to go to the library for you and sign out some magazines and read through different articles, make a scrap or memory book or organize your photos. You could even do something as small as starting a new board on Pinterest.
- Remember that “junk drawer” or closet that has been cluttered up all year long? Clean those out and organize and you’ll be surprised at how much better you will feel! A weight seems to be lifted when we start to organize or “de-clutter”! If you cannot do it yourself, ask for help! Many people do want to help us if we allow it.
- Join an organization or group that does something good for yourself and others. You could join a support group or start one for a number of different causes.
- Volunteer at your local humane society or animal shelter. You can do tasks as simple as petting cats and /or dogs. Give love to an animal and see how that makes you feel more energetic and positive.
- Volunteer to read stories to children at a day care center or at your local library. That is a “sit-down” activity that will make you feel useful and children always make us feel loved.
If you cannot get out of the house, then try to do something online.
- Volunteer to be a patient leader and do positive activities online such as positive Meme’s on Facebook or tweeting positive affirmations for yourself and others.
- Make your surroundings seem new, different or better by something as big as cleaning, painting (even just a little bit each day), putting up new pictures or rearranging your furniture. Get someone to help you if you need that. On a smaller scale you can do something as simple as changing your haircut, color or paint your nails. If you are a male, you can buff up your nails, clean them and put on some clear polish to feel and be more groomed.
- Lastly, you can find several organizations that need you. There are many church’s, libraries and Senior centers that would love to have you come to visit even just for an hour once per week. If you cannot get out of the house, then try looking into being a Chemo-angel (you write letters or send small gifts weekly to persons going through chemo-therapy). You can start your own “sunshine” type of group and send letters to those who are feeling ill just like you and me. When you do something for others, it helps your own Psychological and physical health.
Above I have given you 17 “New Year’s Activities” for 2017. If you can force yourself to get up each day, get out of bed and cleanse your body and your soul; you will be one step closer to feeling more positive. If at all possible, do something each day that makes that day just a bit brighter. If each day is similar and we do all of the same mundane things, then we will get into a “rut”. Get out of your “rut” and think of someone else. You will be amazed at how good you’ll feel just by giving some of yourself to someone else’s cause.
There are many excuses for not doing, going or getting out of bed. So many of us have chronic daily pain that make it difficult. I understand that because I am one of these people. But I have found that by joining organization(s) in which I have control of how much or how little I have to contribute daily; I can lower my pain if only for a few moments or hours. By giving of myself and helping others who are also in pain, I can do so many things! What I’m trying to explain is that these things pass the time. The days can become so long when we leave ourselves alone and vulnerable to our own thoughts. Keep your thoughts as upbeat as possible. You’ll be surprised at how much more energy you have when you are positive. It takes more energy to be negative and many more muscles to frown than to smile. Make someone else smile and you will be a happier person.
I don’t mean that you have to do something every single hour of every day. Of course we all need some down time. We need our naps & restful periods to regroup, recoup and revive ourselves!
Have a Blessed New Year and I will be praying and hoping that you have a healthier, more positive 2017! When all else fails, put on some headphones, turn down the lights and listen to your favorite music! See you in the New Year!
Suzanne suffers from full body CRPS and has lived in chronic pain since 1999. Before being disabled by chronic pain, she was an Interpreter for the Deaf at University of Michigan Hospitals and for several school districts, working with children. Today she is a patient Health Advocate, guest writer, blogger and fundraiser for RSDSA and an Ambassador for U.S. Pain Foundation and creates Advocacy videos, and writes in her own blog “Tears of Truth” (suzydukettes.wordpress.com).