10 New Years Resolutions to Transform 2019

by Jane Ashley

The end of the year is a time of reflection for both cancer patients and cancer survivors. We reflect on what we’ve experienced and begin to think of the New Year and how we might make the coming year better. 

New Year's Resolutions

Many of us believe that life is sweeter after cancer. We’ve learned that we are stronger than we believed. We’ve also realized how fragile our hold on life can be. And so, under these circumstances, we begin to contemplate our New Year’s resolutions.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. We have realized how precious every hour of every day is. Yet, we sometimes allow small annoyances to rob us of today’s joy. Resolve to not sweat the small stuff. That means being patient in the checkout line at the grocery store. It means having understanding if our chemo center is running late – maybe they are working in a newly-diagnosed patient. Ask yourself before you stress, “Will this change the course of my life a year from now?”

Eat Healthier

Eat well. We’re not talking about major dietary changes. We don’t have to go vegan or even go vegetarian. We’re talking about making small adjustments to eat healthy. I didn’t do it overnight, and neither will you. Eventually, we learn to do without hot dogs, except as a treat. We don’t keep store bought cookies in the house. We substitute pretzels for potato chips. Little changes bring big results. Related Eat Healthy Articles

Exercise. Whatever excuse we have (no time, no energy, don’t know how), we have to stop making excuses. Study after study shows that 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly reduces the chance of recurrence, sometimes by 40 to 50 percent. That is powerful evidence. I’ve been participating in a cancer wellness program for 2 1/2 years, and I feel so much stronger and more energetic. It doesn’t matter where we start, just so we start. Walk to the mailbox. Do chair yoga. Walk a block every day. Practice balance by standing on one foot while holding on the back of a chair. Reducing your risk of recurrence is a powerful reason to exercise. Related Fitness and Exercise Articles

Plan a monthly adventure. Even if our resources are modest, we can do something special. It might be a trip to our favorite pizza place. What about that botanical garden in the city that is only 50 miles away? What about a midweek picnic to a state park? We don’t have to have a HUGE bucket list trip (often financially and physically impossible) to have regular adventures. The very act of planning an adventure for next month is an affirmation that we expect to still be doing well enough to do something special.

Embrace Nature

Embrace nature. We don’t have to go to a museum to see a beautiful painting. Mother Nature paints her sky every day with amazing colors and cloud formations. When spring comes, learn to identify trees by the shape of their leaves. Learn about how the local weather affects your area. Whether it’s mountains, coastal area or the high plains, we can find beauty on the greyest days. 

Volunteer – Give back. It’s true. The more we give; the more we receive. Find your sweet spot. Maybe it’s delivering Meals on Wheels, a weekly soup kitchen, teaching knitting at a senior center, helping build a ramp for a disabled senior or veteran – we can find immense satisfaction and inner peace when we help others.

Renew friendships/make new friends. Cancer treatment is exhausting and time-consuming. We may have lost contact with some of our friends. We may not realize that we have unconsciously isolated ourselves. Call some old friends and met for coffee or lunch and get reacquainted. Perhaps those old friendships can’t be rekindled. Sometimes that happens, but we can make new friends through a shared hobby or an exercise class.

Live in the now. This is difficult for many of us. What does it mean? Simply explained, we let go of the past and the future. We don’t worry about the “what ifs” that we can’t change. We embrace the day we have and are grateful. We push aside Scanxiety as best we can – if we eat healthy and exercise, there is little else that we can do. If we’re doing all the above resolutions, what else can we do? Nothing … so live today in peace. Related Article - How to Live Your Life, Not Your Cancer

Learn Something New

Learn something new. Chemo brain is real. We all lose words, can’t remember a name or go to the refrigerator and forget why. When we learn something new, the learning process builds new neuropathways. Is there something that you’ve always wanted to learn how to do? Let this be the year.

Let go of hatred. A Chinese proverb says, “Hatred corrodes the vessel it is held in.” Old grudges can destroy our heart and soul. We just have to let go if we feel that we have been wronged. Whether family or friends or employer, just let it go. We’ll be happier and able to move on with our life.

The truth is that little changes done over a period of a year are life-altering. Start small and build on each success. One less cookie, one more walk and one more good deed all add up to a life well lived. Best wishes in the New Year from everyone at WhatNext!

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