Posted by: Patient Advocate Summer Katz, M.A., NCC, LMHC
Starting a new year can seem both exciting and daunting. While each of us has a specific routine that we follow on a daily basis, I find that many of us also follow quite a structure according to the seasons throughout the year.
Right now, we are coming away from the holiday season. For many, the kids are in the middle of the academic school year, some are embarking on a brand new college semester and many may be juggling the continuous home or work life that is full of never-ending chores, required tasks and relationship interactions.
Regardless of where you are, there is no doubt that you and your family can be impacted by transition. And, moving forward in the regular routine of things can often become a difficult adjustment, especially during these changes of season.
Now, add the chronic struggle of life with cystic fibrosis (or any other disorder or illness that is affecting you) and you can certainly be experiencing overwhelming pressure. There’s pressure to keep all of the balls in the air AND stress coming from many different directions. These are based on so many external factors which are ultimately outside of your control.
So, with this very real acknowledgment of all that is on your plate, you are probably asking, “Well, what do we do with this stress? How do we get through it AND keep our sanity in tact?”
Like I’ve said in previous blogs, in actuality, much of the answer lies back on each of us and how we choose to define our life. I believe that “we get to define (the majority of) our lives” and in all actuality, we ARE defining it all of the time. Consider this: we often get caught up in the extreme stress and frustration of things and because we are essentially focusing much of our energy there, we tend to experience more stress and frustration.
What would it be like to challenge your perspective from being frustrated that “things are simply not going your way” to finding peace through trusting that “things are and can work out the way that they need to?” Sure, I am proposing a bit of optimistic thinking and perhaps some existentialism (believing in or pursuing purpose), but genuinely… what would it be like for you to challenge your overwhelming thoughts with that of “it’s OK?”
Here are some tips to help adjust to the New Year with ease:
Eat right. Sticking with, or renewing your efforts to consume a well-balanced diet, light on the junk food, heavy on the fruits and veggies, will help you stay healthy and focused, benefitting attentiveness at work and in class!
Keep moving. The weather does not have to deter your exercise routine. It seems that right now in Florida, it may be the perfect time to go outdoors to get physically active. Go take a walk with the family, watch the kids ride their new bicycles, or even take advantage of that new gym membership. It will help you combat stress.
Establish a routine. For example, if you are transitioning to a new class schedule or returning to a similar pattern from before winter break, the goal is to go into it with an open mind and apply that good ol’ “Little Engine that Could” confidence (I think I can, I think I can) as you start each and every day.
Check the socializing. It’s great to see all of your friends again, but recognize when you have caught up. Be aware of your priorities of staying on task in class or at work, and keep the socializing to breaks.
Wake up early. Start waking up at their normal school/work time several days before it’s time to go back, even if you stayed up late the night before. This will ease the return to a healthy sleep-wake pattern.
Set goals. If you’re a student, you could think about what you would like to accomplish this semester. Maybe you’d like to bump up your GPA, or join a campus group?
As part of your New Year’s resolutions, if you have children or grandchildren, you could encourage them to set some school-related goals, such as raising a math grade by five points, or making one new friend each month, or joining a school club, sport, or extracurricular activity. Set your own goals as well—maybe getting up a few minutes earlier each morning to have lunches packed. You could also encourage the children to have their backpacks ready the night before so that that is not an added stressor when preparing to walk out the door.
Perhaps you’d like to schedule walking to school with the children or giving yourself time to exercise or meditate. You may even want to adjust the daily schedule to include walking the dog or taking a few extra minutes for your personal wake-up/getting ready routine. Other goals could include cutting back to one coffee a day OR exchanging that lunchtime soda for water?
No matter what age, remember to stick as close as you can to the normal wake-up and bedtime routine during breaks, but don’t worry about the times when the holiday keeps you out late – just get back on schedule the next day. Routinely engage in positive conversations about the return to school/work. This will make the transition back as seamless and possibly even as enjoyable as possible. Starting another new year doesn’t have to be as stressful and we can truly welcome the concepts of “Happy and Healthy Wishes” into our experiences and certainly into our efforts.
So, here’s to another “Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!”
Warmest Wishes to You and Yours for 2016!!!
Summer Katz, M.A., NCC, LMHC, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
*Disclaimer: This blog provided for informational purposes only (including brief topic exploration or reflection) and should not be used as a substitute for professional mental health or medical treatment. It does not necessarily represent the views of HHCS Health Group of Companies, Cystic Fibrosis nor Freedom Pharmacies.