If you missed the first FSR “Social,” the following is a summary of some of the highlights and strategies that were discussed. Our topic, “A Fresh Start,” was a lively discussion where patients shared their personal inspirations going into the new year and personal ideas for building the best quality of life possible.
Everyone in the group seemed to be happy to leave 2020 behind and look toward a fresh start in 2021.
Your Theme for the Year: We discussed the idea of having a personal “Theme” for the year. FSR’s theme for the year for example, is: “Adventure.” Mine was “Gotta Get Better.” Thus when the inevitable question: “How are you doing?” comes up, my 2021 response will be along the lines of “I’m getting better.” Or a variation used by another patient was: “I’m doing much better, thank you.” And if we want to turn the tables, we can add: “…and how are you doing?”
Making Adjustments: We talked about the fact that regardless of our condition, we can all make adjustments or improvements that in some way, will have a positive impact on our quality of life. This could include activities and actions in any of the following areas:
- Relationships (with family and friends)
- Mental well-being
- Physical well-being
- And, Fun!
…And we can tie any or all of these into our personal theme for the year. In my case, I know there are a lot of opportunities to put my theme of “Gotta Get Better” to work. Sometimes, we can get caught going through the motions of each day and feeling unfulfilled at the end. Being aware of the opportunities to improve our quality of life in one or more of these areas can be very rewarding.
Sense of Accomplishment: Several members of the group talked about the importance of doing things that result in a personal sense of accomplishment. Depending on how we feel on any given day, or what we are capable of doing, this could be something as mundane as a household chore or just getting out to go shopping. One of our group said she put her pains aside and recently went zip lining for her birthday. Mark a big check in the Fun category for that one! You could hear the excitement in her voice as she relived the experience for us. We could all use a shot of excitement and enjoyment to boost the mood and have a good story to tell.
Resolutions, Goals, Expectations and Dreams: A “Fresh Start” means different things to different people and is worth thinking about. Whether you are a person who makes resolutions, sets goals, has expectations or has dreams of what could be, – those activities, thoughts and feelings all play a role in our well-being.
I’ll share that I’m not doing Resolutions this year. Instead, I’m setting expectations. One of my personal expectations is:…To wake up every day. There is no “and” to connect more to this sentence, just wake up. If I don’t do that one basic thing, everything else is mute. Next expectation is to get up and do something.
Movement is essential: We live in a time where we are quarantined, confined, separated and limited. We’re spending more time sitting in front of screens and may not be eating as well. Years ago, I was in my bed after one of my procedures and my electrophysiologist walked in the room. The first thing he said was: “What are you doing in that bed? The bed is your enemy. You can’t heal there. Get up.” That voice has been in my head ever since.
Whether it’s exercise, stretching, walking, or doing chores around the house, movement is essential to our metabolism, our musculature, blood flow and general well being. One of the patients told us about her new Apple watch that reminds her to get up and move around after a period of time. Whatever it takes!
Being Realistic: One of our fellow patients shared that sometimes we are limited by how we feel, or what we are capable of doing on any given day. On “those” days, it’s about finding satisfaction or joy with the little things. He shared that he and his wife take a different route each time they go to see their doctor just to get a different experience. It sparks conversation and is just more interesting. So maybe this year, we find ways to make each day less mundane and more interesting.
Keep your mind active: Our minds need to exercise as well. Puzzles, games, books, online courses and conversation are just some of the ways we can keep mentally active. My son, the cross-fit trainer, tells me to put my face in a bowl of ice water every morning. As he explains it, the vagus nerve, which runs through your face, is interconnected with the nerves throughout your body. Exposing the nerves in your face to the cold can ramp up your metabolism and stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. (Think I’ll pass on that suggestion for now).
FUN! Throughout our discussion, we brought up the idea of having more fun in 2021. Whatever it is that we can do to brighten the day (or night) and make it more enjoyable. This will be different for everyone.
Remember Your Purpose: Finally, one of our group finished off saying: “I need to remember my purpose. I want to use my knowledge to help people.” That’s a great sentiment. What is your greater purpose? What are your gifts or talents that you could share to help someone or something.
While “A Fresh Start” had a different definition for each of us in the session, the ideas, themes, activities and actions all traced back to improving quality of life.
- What’s your Theme for 2021?
- What are the things that give you a sense of accomplishment?
- What are your Resolutions, Goals, Expectations or Dreams?
- How will you fit more movement into your day?
- What things will you do to keep your mind active?
- What fun things do you want to do, or do more of, in this new year.
- Do you have a purpose that serves the greater good?
If you can answer even just one of those questions and take even small actions to follow through on your idea as often as you can, you’ll be well on your way to A Fresh Start in 2021.
This session was facilitated by Mark Landiak
Mark is a patient and active advocate for others living with Sarcoidosis and other serious illnesses.
If you’re looking for some light, relevant and at times, humorous reading material, Mark authored “Getting Better: Healing Prescriptions for Patients, Family and Friends” which details his experiences with sarcoidosis and the strategies he learned to help patients (and families) cope with, and recover from sickness or injury. Stories and strategies from the book, as well as other info to help patients have the best possible quality of life can be found at GettingBetterWithMark.com. Net proceeds from sales will be donated to FSR.
Mark can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.