When it comes to starting the new year off right, we all know the typical resolutions. They range from losing weight to traveling more, getting more organized or maybe spending less money. But New Year’s resolutions for cancer survivors are a little different. They tend to revolve around things that will make survivorship easier, which makes it very important to see them through. However, having recently been through a battle with cancer, you may find it mentally, physically, and emotionally difficult to maintain that commitment all year long. That’s why we’ve come up with a few things for cancer survivors to consider when deciding on and trying to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.
FOCUS ON TOTAL WELLNESS
Whether it’s eating healthier, exercising more, quitting smoking, or any other health-related goal, it’s not uncommon for a New Year’s resolution to focus on your well-being. However, as a cancer survivor, coming up with a resolution that encompasses your total wellness – physical, mental, even spiritual – can be very beneficial.
Instead of worrying about superficial things like being able to squeeze into those skinny jeans, try resolving to do things that will benefit your overall health. For example, eating more vegetables or cutting down on red meats.
And don’t forget your mental health. You could resolve to be more grateful for the blessings in your life, or perhaps commit to worrying less about the things you can’t control. Another possible resolution is to devote more time to reducing stress and finding peace in your life. We have another blog here that shares some tips to help you do just that.
HAVE REALISTIC RESOLUTIONS
When choosing a New Year’s resolution, it’s important for a cancer survivor to consider how you’re feeling now and set realistic commitments. This will help you avoid feeling overwhelmed or ready to quit on your resolution after just a few weeks.
Depending on whether you just finished treatment or have been in remission for a few years, your strength and fitness levels will vary. However, we know that staying in shape through a nutritional diet and regular exercise can not only help with recovery, but also help prevent cancer recurrence. So, evaluate your current health and set goals accordingly. Try to incorporate hobbies and activities you enjoy. That will give you the best chance at sticking with it.
Speaking of setting goals, an article we found in Psychology Today has some helpful tips for setting SMART goals. Originally designed to help managers in the business world, SMART goals turned out to be helpful for anyone trying to change their behavioral habits. The “SMART” stands for specific, measurable, adaptive, realistic, and timebound. Choosing goals that follow these attributes will help keep you on track.
THINK ABOUT ADVOCACY
Cancer survivors can also use their New Year’s resolution to commit to being an advocate in the cancer community. This includes being a self-advocate and advocating for others. For example, you could resolve to ask more questions and do more research when it comes to your own health care. At this point in your cancer journey, you most likely have trusted physicians, but it never hurts to ask questions and make sure your follow-up care is going as well as possible.
Also, remember that as a cancer survivor, you have a very powerful story to tell. Try making a resolution to help others who are just beginning their cancer journey and use your own experience as an advocacy tool. Try to stay up to date on topics relevant to cancer treatment, like clinical studies and upcoming events. Through these resources, you are empowered to share your knowledge to help educate other cancer patients about the treatment process.