Questions for facing a new year with Lupus… In the next 365 days, what will happen to our health?
- What behavior could reduce lupus severity?
- What can we really do that can change our lupus?
Most lupus patients know what they should do to maximize their health. Excellent information about helpful activities, and the factors we should avoid that can trigger lupus flares is readily available at Internet sites like the Lupus Foundation of America’s web site. See, www.lupus.org
Should we stand by passively and let lupus direct the course of our lives, or should we fight it? Should we go to battle and strategize how to change the course of the days and weeks ahead? How can we turn a desire for improved health into a personal daily triumph? What makes the difference between mere wishing and real doing?
How can our lupus resolutions become real solutions for 2011?
Admittedly, for some of us who are hopeless “eternal optimists,” new beginnings are always just around the corner, not just in January of each year. But, since it is January, perhaps its a good time to identify daily choices to improve our health. What is on your list? Here are a few of the obvious things most of us could include on our “should do” list. (Some future posts will focus on each one.)
- Medications – take them regularly, along with all prescribed nutritional supplements
- Rest – get enough sleep, get more rest during flares, avoid overexertion
- Exercise – just the right type and amount for our physical condition, exercise several times each week
- Weight – maintain or get measurably closer to a healthy weight, eat right, avoid empty calories
- Reduce UV Exposure – limit time in the sun, avoid mid day, wear sun screen
- Hydrate – drink plenty of fluids, limit sodium intake, etc.
So, if we figure out what we should do, should these actions be our New Year’s resolutions? Or, should we consider going beyond just making resolutions? What is a resolution, anyway, and why are they so difficult to keep? Should we even bother making resolutions?
Most resolutions, for a lupus patient, are really serious personal business. This is the stuff we should do that no one else can handle for us. This is the business of being a good steward of yourself and your personal strength, health and resources. This makes up the task of taking control of the parts of your life that you have some say about, even if you can’t wish lupus away (and who wouldn’t, if they could!) Business this important is worthy of more than casual attention.
Look at the world of business for some insight. Lupus patients who are able to work must manage their health as well as personal and business responsibilities. This is an essential component of continuing in a career while also having Lupus. Lupus presents many complex business challenges, but that discussion is also for another day.
Everyone who is successful in business knows what it takes to accomplish great plans, and they know how to do that on the job, including working lupus patients. Accomplishing things in business requires real and practical solutions that make the desired outcome a reality. The same is true with accomplishing improved health.
In business, managing work responsibilities includes a great amount of accountability to others in an organization — communication and accomplishment of specific business targets is required. Keeping a job depends on doing what you are hired to do.
Likewise, in lupus we have many accountabilities about how we handle our health: spouses, children, friends, employers, physicians, ourselves and God. Honest communication and accountability to those around us are mature and responsible aspects of quality in our lives. There are needs we should meet and activities that are important in a balanced, fulfilled life, lupus not withstanding!
So, what can we learn from how business looks at a wish list, and how to get it done? How much better if the nagging “should have, could have, would have” list become a reality in 2011? What actions, done day by day and added together over a whole year, could reduce the negative impact of lupus on our daily lives? How can we take our lupus “wish list” and truly “get it done?”
There are three strategic words that business people use when trying to reach a target: resolution, goal and purpose. Looking at the business definitions of these three words, and the differences between them might guide our planning. (These definitions are from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/goal.htm.)
- Resolution: “the formal authorization or expression of an action, decision, intention, opinion, transaction, etc.”
- Goal: “summarizes the phrase ‘dream with a deadline,’ a goal is an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe. … The question, ‘Has the goal been achieved?’ can always be answered with either a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.”
- Purpose: “an intention (internal motivational state) or mission. … A purpose, however, is not ‘achieved’ but instead is pursued everyday.”
Consider these different definitions. Then, move on from mere resolutions to finding some real solutions.
Pray about your resolutions, and ask for wisdom from God. Seek input from loved ones and close friends about what they think you should work on to improve your health (they might really surprise you and know more about your needs than you realize!) Talk to your doctor and other medical people that know you.
This input might really help you, and is great communcation (anytime) that will help involve them in supporting your plans to improve your health.
Then, decide on some real goals that are observable and measureable. That means you can see it, count it, show it, schedule it, time it, and do it. Over time, that means there will be proof that the goal was actually done. Whatever could be described as real “proof” needs to be your goal. What will it look like when it is done? If someone else saw you do it, the observer could say, “yes, she met her goal because she did x, y and z.”
Decide how much you can get realistically get done, one day at a time, and use that as a statement of your personal goal. Then, purpose to daily peform the small activities you decided on. This transforms the resolution into a realistic goal — something you can control — that you decide every day whether or not to do.
Admittedly, making changes to behavior is hard, and sometimes requires a huge dose of the grace of God. Willpower alone is not always sufficient for making tough behavior changes. But, it is worth the effort to set up a tangible target, and then to shoot small arrows at it daily!
At the end of a year of doing the small daily things, even just some or most of the time, adds up to accomplishing resolutions, as completed goals, by the end of one year. Some examples and possible results:
- Medications: Purpose to never miss more than one dose per week (3 doses per day) = 95% of medication will still be taken as prescribed
- More exercise: 15 minutes x 3 days per week = excercise done 166 times = a total of 2,340 minutes (39 hours) of exercise in one year!
- More rest: Going to bed one hour earlier x 5 week days = 260 hours more sleep = the same as 32 nights worth of sleep added to a year’s total sleeping time!
- Weight: Eat healthy meals (like lean meats, fruits & veggies!) but allow yourself to eat 1 high cal or junk food meal per week = 95% healthy eating all year
- Reduce UV Exposure: Remember to wear sun screen 2 more times per week = over 100 more times!
- Hydrate: Drink 1 (16 oz) bottle of water during AM/PM commute to work = 500 more bottles = 125 gallons = well over 2 gallons more every week – that’s a lot of water!
Daily, you can purpose to take the actions that transform your resolutions into a real solutions. Make them doable in your daily life. Decide when, where and how much you will do. Agree with yourself to make reachable daily actions that will add up to progress – making your resolution a reality.
We can succeed in the business of improving our own health, one small step and action at a time — done with purpose and a plan. Our resolutions can become this year’s real solutions!