By Donna Gregory Burch
I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. The high-achiever, gotta-get-it-done-no-matter-what side of my personality absolutely loves the idea of setting goals for the coming year and mapping out a plan to achieve them. I’m one of those people who gets a little buzz every time I cross something off my to-do list.
Then there’s another part of me who thinks the whole idea of taking on new projects in January – one of the coldest, most miserable months of the year (at least on the East Coast of the U.S.) – is just absurd. After all, who feels like slogging to the gym through a foot of snow? (That is, IF you were even physically able to do that, which many of us with chronic pain and fatigue are not.) Who wants to eat more fruits and veggies when most everything is tasteless and out-of-season during the winter? Who wants to pack up their clutter and haul it to the Goodwill when it’s freezing outside? This definitely isn’t the ideal time of the year to take on big projects, like losing 40 pounds or decluttering our homes.
Despite the folly of New Year’s resolutions, I somehow get the itch every year to write out a list of things I’d like to accomplish during the coming months. But this year, I’ve decided to do something different. Instead of stressing myself out with a long list of overly ambitious to-dos, I’ve been inspired by this video to pick a theme word for the year. 2017’s word is HEALING.
I decided to choose healing as my word-of-the-year after my latest appointment with my Lyme specialists. Before each appointment, my doctors have me fill out a questionnaire, which lists various symptoms and asks me to rank them as mild, moderate or severe. When I started Lyme treatment in May, my score was 37. December’s score was 19. Needless to say, after so many years of feeling like crud, I am thrilled with the progress I’m making. I still have a long way to go, and my life is far from normal, but my doctors have told me that my fibromyalgia symptoms may improve once the Lyme has gone into remission. For the first time since becoming sick, I feel like it might actually be possible for me to get my life back or at least have some semblance of normalcy.
So, I’ve decided to devote 2017 to healing in all of its forms with the goal of being in remission by the end of the year. Obviously, I can’t do this all the time, but I’d like to frame as many of my thoughts and activities around healing as possible. What does that look like for me? I know that eating the wrong foods can really aggravate my fibromyalgia symptoms. I’ve already given up gluten and most processed foods, but my doctors have suggested giving up dairy, too, because I’ve tested positive for an allergy. It’s time to take their advice and see if it helps.
It means being more diligent about self-care. It means minimizing negative self-talk and conflict in my life. It means reducing stress and finally resuming an everyday meditation practice again. When I’m physically ready, it means adding in some gentle exercise, like walking or yoga. It means learning to rest when I need to instead of continuing to push ahead. It means asking others for help, even though I hate depending on anyone for anything. It means doing more research and figuring out if there are other treatments that might help in my recovery.
Choosing a theme word for the year instead of setting specific resolutions feels like a more relaxed way to approach self-growth. I don’t have a rigid set of things to do. As opportunities arise, I will ask myself, “Does this support my healing?” and let the answer guide my decision making. No pressure. No stress.
So, what do you think? If you were to choose a theme word for 2017, what would it be? Did you set resolutions this year? If so, what are they? Please share in comments below!
Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.