a man writing down ideas

New Year, Same Body

What do I want to make sure to get out of 2023?

Some common New Year's resolutions have to do with body management, such as exercising and eating a certain way. We know as chronic illness patients that these resolutions will be much more complicated for us.

It isn’t just taking up running. It's considering if we are flaring and if we can handle a run in various weather conditions with how it affects our illness.

It isn’t just going vegan. It’s considering how veganism would impact our already sensitive gastrointestinal system and if giving veganism a shot is worth how it could impact us.

These seemingly healthy choices can become complex quickly with an illness as temperamental as ours.

So when our friends share these healthy decisions they’re making at the turn of the new year, we might end up feeling like it’s another thing we will miss out on due to illness.

Before we all get caught up in this, before sinking into that very specific type of grief, I'm suggesting something.

Let’s consider the idea that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t all they’re talked up to be

Dr. John Norcross, Professor of Psychology at University of Scranton has spent years studying New Year's resolutions, what they mean, their outcomes, and thoughts behind them.

He has found that the most influential aspect of new year’s resolutions and positive outcomes are a person’s belief in their ability to reach their goals.1

An estimated 40% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions and less than half of them will be successful six months into the year. But if the person believes in their ability to achieve their goals – they are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals compared to those who don't believe they can.1

All of this leads me to the conclusion that we should only set goals we believe in. Things we believe are both worthwhile and achievable.

Our friends aiming for next August’s 5K cannot do so unless they believe in that 5K as well as themselves

Therefore we cannot set goals we do not have genuine hopes for. The first step to achieving what we feel we are not capable of is to address why we don’t believe we are capable.

Life with chronic illness is tough. It is exhausting and it is painful, point blank. But we are capable of whatever is truly worthwhile, and sometimes we have to cope with that looking differently than it did before.

You may not take up running in 2023, but maybe you’ll take up painting. Maybe you’ll plan more movie nights with friends, adopt a furry friend, or whatever else you believe is worthwhile and believe in yourself to achieve. It is just a matter of accessing what both of these things look like.

It is known that changes in health status has significant impacts on mental health and wellbeing. This includes diagnoses with illnesses like axial spondyloarthritis. Coping with both illness itself and the impacts illness has on our self perception and how we believe in ourselves will have significant impacts. 2

It is seen that even if our disease is managed, we will often still have a weight to bear with our self perception coinciding with chronic illness. We have to cope with painting instead of running. This is not a worse life, but is certainly a different one.

Keep this in mind when your friends mention 5K’s and diets. Remember that you can still set meaningful, worthwhile goals even if they look different. Be kind to yourself and your shifting perspective.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The AxialSpondyloarthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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