Setting Resolutions in the New Year as a Cancer Patient
January 04, 2023
For cancer patients, attitudes about New Year’s resolutions may be different than in years past. That is because having cancer can be a catalyst for rethinking priorities – what really matters. It does not mean typical, popular resolutions related to health and fitness or diet are not appropriate or relevant. Indeed, improving overall health and focusing your lifestyle on wellness is beneficial to both cancer patients and those who are well. However, other more personal or meaningful issues may take precedence.
Developing a list of resolutions – a life plan for the coming year – can help cancer patients envision their path forward, especially while undergoing treatment. Despite the physical and emotional challenges of cancer, it is possible to find a sense of renewal in the new year with a fresh outlook, a desire to try new things, or the urge to restart an old hobby.
Be Realistic With Your Resolutions
When it comes to making resolutions, think about what is realistic and attainable. Define success on your terms. Resolutions do not need to be tied to a specific timetable. What can you feasibly control? Your words? Behavior? The choices you make when it comes to spending your time, money, and energy?
Perhaps you want to improve your mood and be more positive or rekindle relationships with family and friends that have gone by the wayside. You can never go wrong with resolutions that positively impact your body and mind such as improving nutrition, staying physically active, or spending more time outdoors.
While you may experience feelings of loss or sadness on your cancer journey, resolutions focused on activities and results that bring joy can help you find balance and optimism.
Do You Have a Hobby?
As you make resolutions, think about your hobbies. Do you currently participate in an activity you enjoy that takes your mind off cancer for just a few minutes?
A study in New Zealand found that engaging in creative activities such as painting, drawing, or writing can lead to an improved sense of well-being that has long lasting effects such as a more positive mood.
During chemotherapy, patients are often in the clinic for an extended period of time during infusion. A New Year’s resolution could be to take up a new hobby which will keep your mind occupied and pass the time. Activities such as reading, crossword puzzles, knitting, journaling, drawing, or meditating can be helpful during treatment.
When it comes to starting a hobby or new ‘good’ habit, you may want to keep it simple, especially at the beginning. For example, studies have shown that spending time outside can lead to an improved mood, focus, and overall well-being. Instead of aiming for conquering mountains, you might consider going on a non-strenuous hike or short walk. Gardening, on a manageable scale, is another fulfilling outdoor activity – a few tomato or herb plants in conveniently placed containers may work better for you than tilling a huge garden plot.
Allow yourself to be flexible. What is of interest to you today can change and may be impacted by your physical wellness during cancer.
Focus on Your Mental Health in the New Year
Emotional and mental health matter when dealing with cancer. Feelings may change by the day, hour, or minute. Thoughts may get stuck in a rut. Actively consider your mental health as you make resolutions. Journaling gratitude is one way to create a habit to improve your mental health. Jot down one or two things you are thankful for each day and review your list when times are tough.
No matter what the new year brings, make it your goal to find peace and a sense of renewal in your body and mind as you continue your cancer journey.