Whether it’s January 1 or the middle of the year, it’s never too late to start making changes. These 9 changes can help you feel better this year.
While people often pick January 1 as the time to make a “clean” start, with a diet or a cleanse, to start a new health routine, or to take up a new exercise plan, you can make those fresh starts any time you choose.
It was on January 1, 2012 that I made my first steps into a new life. I chose that day as the day that I would start a lifestyle overhaul, cleaning up my diet of many things, and introducing juicing as part of my routine. If you have considered starting the new year with changes that you hope might produce benefits, but are unsure, there are two things to remember:
- The sacrifice is worth the benefit – When it comes to chronic pain and fatigue, the potential benefits of a lifestyle change are many. There is a possibility (of course) that the changes you choose to make will produce no benefits, but the benefits may be many; just to name a few – decreased pain, decreased fatigue, a return to a normal life, the ability to enjoy time with your family and friends. Even if you find that the change you choose to make provides no long-term benefits, it’s likely that the time it will take to discover that is worth the possibility of an improved life.
- Change is terrifying – it’s often easier to stay where you are than make change, because change is scary; change is hard. Don’t fail before you ever begin by getting stuck on how difficult the change will be. Change might be scary, but it’s worthwhile when we see the outcome. The problem is that we’ll never see the outcome if we don’t make the change – a vicious circle. When it hurts to even get out of bed, the idea of actually having to cook meals instead of throw a tv dinner in the microwave or order a pizza can seem like a pretty huge task, but with a little planning it’s not much more effort and in the long-term it may be hugely beneficial.
But what now? So what if it’s worth the benefit and I already knew change was terrifying!
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- Change What you Eat – You might be tired of hearing about this, but even small changes can make a big difference. I’m not saying you have to follow my path and jump straight to clean eating, no gluten, etc. Pick a small change. Cut out the diet sodas, the stop at the vending machine, the Grande Mocha Latte. Pick one small thing and make that change. If you really want to go for the gusto check out my post on Improving chronic pain with food.
- Change what you watch – Walk away from the news shows, the talking heads, crossfire, politics, and anything else that adds stress to your life. When choosing what to watch on tv look for things that lighten your load, that make you laugh, or that just take you away from real life for a bit. The same goes for what you view online, if you have online friends that bombard your feed with stressful content, it might be time to “hide” their posts. It doesn’t mean you love them less.
- Change what you listen to – Friends can “post” stressful content in the real world, too. Unfortunately, you don’t have a hide button when they are standing in front of you, but you can change the channel.If you find that certain people are constantly discussing things that put you in a negative frame, it might be time to spend less time with them. You can even choose music that will help you feel better instead of bringing you down.
- Change who you spend time with – Following from the above, don’t spend time with energy vampires. Surround yourself with people who leave you feeling better than they found you. If you have “friends” who always suck your energy dry, try to spend less time with them. It may be better to only see a positive friend once a month than to spend four lunch dates getting sucked dry by someone with a negative or needy attitude.
- Change your priorities – too often we get hung up on what we think others “need”. We convince ourselves that others can’t do without our attention, our time, our cleaning the kitchen. We put their “needs” above what we really need, when in fact what we need is a NEED, and what they need is likely a want, or something that they can do for themselves, do without, or ask someone else to help with. You don’t have to do it all! But, you do have to take care of you.
- Change your habits – we all have daily habits set in our brain. There are certain things that we know we won’t do at all if we don’t do them at a certain time. It may be time to change those habits. I found that the best way for me to start the day was to go straight to the treadmill (no passing Go, no collecting $200) and walk (whatever I could manage that morning). From there I went to the kitchen and made my juice. I’d clean the juicer then sit down and drink the juice and take my morning meds, while checking my email. Once my juice was done then I could move on to whatever else I had planned; however, I know that if I don’t do those things in that order, I won’t do them later.
- Change your perspective – In early 2014 I had to start seeing a therapist (again) because my perspective had shifted from very positive to VERY negative. I’d done so well in 2012 and 2013, but when I got wiped out by a sudden shoulder/neck issue, it blew me away. I didn’t know how to handle it, and I needed help. I wanted to be a positive happy person again. We do have that choice.
We can choose to look at life either positively or negatively; but, sometimes we do need help making the shift. If you find you dread your days, you can’t breathe, can’t find the “silver lining” in anything it might be time to reach out for help. Learning to breathe goes a very long way to making the shift, but a lot of it is just learning how to handle the life we are given.
- Change your view – We are so hard on ourselves, our own worst critic. We expect much more from ourselves than anyone else ever will, and chronic illness doesn’t help. It seems like with chronic illness we feel we have to do even more, go over and above what even a healthy person would do just to prove ourselves, to prove that we are trying. At some point we have to cut ourselves some slack and stop pushing ourselves into the pain. Take time each day just for you, give yourself a break from it all. Focus inward and think about what it is that your body needs in that moment, for that day.
- Change your direction – When we get focused on the past, on old grudges and guilt, we can’t focus on our future. Stop looking at where you’ve been and think about where you want to do. Let go of the past, forgive those who have hurt you, it’s time to move on, to move forward to a better life.
- 5 Mental Shifts that Improved My Health
- 6 Easy Diet Changes to Help You Feel Better
- How I Reclaimed My Life from Chronic Illness
- 10 questions to help you change your thinking