Time to check your vision – on health


By Karen Kansler, R.N.

Special to the Review

It’s a brand new year! The perfect time for a “vision” check. I’m not talking about your annual eye exam. Rather, I mean it’s time to look yourself in the eye, take stock and assess your self-health vision for a healthier, happier you in 2013.

Checking your self-health vision is about more than making the usual resolutions and then celebrating the days that you exercised or ate less, before reverting to your old habits. This concept is something much broader, and, I like to think, way more empowering. Checking your vision is about making a commitment to yourself for a fuller, healthier, more active life – regardless of the time of year. Yes, it takes courage. But this year, right now, I dare you to envision a more fulfilled you by asking yourself: “What can I be doing for my self-health, to live a better, more complete, full life?” As a vibrant, maturing adult, I offer the following advice to my comrades on their vision quest for better health:

Create your “resolution solution”

Many of us make knee-jerk resolutions: eat less, travel more, you know the drill. But once you’ve declared your intentions, take time to look at them in a broader scope. By identifying the possible barriers – i.e., not enough time to cook healthful meals or enough vacation time to travel – you can plan for practical solutions that will help you from veering past your goal.

Maintain focus

Whether you’re resolved to lose weight, quit smoking or become more active, step back, put the calendar aside, and look at how sticking to these resolutions can improve your quality of life. By keeping your vision planted firmly on how good you’ll feel, look, be – instead of the sacrifices you’re making to get there – you are more likely to stick with it and achieve your vision. I have two examples to illustrate this point.

I was a smoker off and on for more than 20 years. I took a step back and thought about how terrible it made me feel to smoke, and I made the decision to get help and quit. This year, I will celebrate my 19th smoke-free year.

I also enjoy exercising, but my arthritis made it nearly impossible. When my hip pain became so bad that I couldn’t exercise, I had to stop and think about my future. I couldn’t play golf, walk on the beach or spend the quality time with my family that I love. I wasn’t willing to give up staying fit and being healthy. By having hip replacement surgery, I was able to become active again, and return to those things that are so important in my life – and health.

You can do it! It’s about taking your goals, evaluating how they affect your life and creating a plan, just for you. If there are barriers in your way, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk to your doctor, find a free class or support group, or confide in a trusted friend.

Lifelong learning

When evaluating your goals, remember to focus on your mind and spirit, too. Personal development, also known as lifelong learning, is essential. How about that art history class that you’ve always wanted to take? Do you need to call a friend or relative to apologize for a silly spat you had months ago? Forgiveness really feeds the spirit. Is there someplace you’ve always wanted to visit but just haven’t? (Bora Bora, anyone?) Don’t be afraid to ask yourself “Why?” This often helps you get to “Why not?” This year, today, right now, just look inside your soul to find what resolutions will bring you peace.

Whatever engages you in 2013, make it count. By taking ownership for your life, you’ll feel more confident with your decisions and will find that your vision is clearer every step of the way.

Karen Kansler, R.N., is an arthritis outreach nurse at MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital.

Email questions to karen.kansler@medstar.net and visit her blog at medstargoodsam.org/karen

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