Barbara Tako is a breast cancer survivor (2010), melanoma survivor (2014) and author of Cancer Survivorship Coping Tools—We'll Get You Through This. She is a cancer coping advocate, speaker and published writer for television, radio and other venues across the country. She lives, survives, and thrives in Minnesota with her husband, children and dog. See more at www.cancersurvivorshipcopingtools.com,or www.clutterclearingchoices.com.
As cancer survivors, we know what we should do to help ourselves stay as healthy as possible, but how do we keep up our motivation to do it?
New Year's resolutions? How about the resolution to try to stay alive? Though it sounds morbid, that is what cancer survivors, with the help of their loved ones, are trying to do.
"Your job is to kick cancer's butt" is what my husband's cousin told me at the holiday gathering the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. You would think the desire to live would motivate many good New Year's resolutions, and it does … for a while. As we get further out from the initial diagnosis, it can become easier to let go of resolutions and slip back into old habits. I am talking about the usual New Year's resolution suspects of exercise and weight loss. Still, there are ways to kick up the motivation to keep those lofty New Year's resolution goals. Here are some that help me:
Baby steps. Sometimes I get lost in my head and overthink things. I usually am better off if I just keep it simple and start. For example, I turned on the tunes the other day and started moving my body to the music. I just did simple things to the music including walking in place, side steps, kicks and knee lifts. These are the basic steps used by Leslie Sansone in her videos and website (www.walkathome.com). A little bit of movement can do wonders physically and mentally.
Company. I suggest telling people around you what your goals are. Living out-loud kicks up the accountability factor. Better yet, work on the resolutions together with someone. If you meet someone to have a healthy meal or exercise, you can help keep each other motivated and committed to achieving your healthy resolutions.
Monitor your habits. When it comes to clearing clutter, I teach my students that staying on top of household clutter is actually a lot of tiny little habits: recycling the newspapers and magazines, processing the mail right away every day, doing a sweep to tidy the lived-in room before bed. What are your habits? Do you find yourself reaching mindlessly for junk food out of habit? Have you incorporated exercise into your most-days-of-the-week routine?
Read, read, read. This is what my journalist father would say to an audience. I do know that it helps me to hear other people's success stories and techniques. The motivation doesn't always come from cancer-related sites either. I get motivated by success stories at weight-loss website locations like the community at www.Sparkpeople.com, and I recently found some more ways to keep up the motivation at Self (https://www.self.com/story/new-year-resolution-handbook?rel=0" ?rel=0" ) and Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2018/01/01/done-with-new-year-resolutions-seven-steps-to-stay-motivated-for-the-long-haul/#32d1c3fc1f0c?rel=0" ?rel=0" ). If it worked for others, it might very well work for you too!
Write it down. Reading other people's stories is great but write down your story (goals) too, and put reminders in your calendar. Writing helps you make specific resolutions that are easier to achieve than vague general resolutions. Calendar reminders can help keep you on track.
Finally, keep in mind that your mood and mental health count too, so don't beat yourself up if you do not achieve your goals. You will have learned from your experience, and it is okay if you did not achieve your goal this time. Fighting and beating your cancer is the top priority. Learning is a process. I wish you a peaceful and joyous New Year and enhanced motivation to achieve your New Year's resolutions, whatever they may be.