My New Year’s Goals Focus on Living Well With IPF
An alternative to making resolutions for those with chronic illnesses
What a busy but blessed year 2022 was for me! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and are enjoying the first few days of the new year. When I was in college, someone told me that the older you get, the faster time passes. I didn’t believe them because time was already passing by so quickly, but they were right. I’m now in my 30s, and it’s hard to believe it’s 2023.
The beginning of the year is often a time when I reflect. I enjoy sitting with a coffee, looking at all the photos I took the previous year, and thinking about the fun memories I made. This has become my annual practice since I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) in 2016.
IPF is a life-threatening and progressive lung disease that eventually steals away your ability to breathe. Since my diagnosis, I’ve lost many friends to IPF. Scrolling through the photos on my phone and reflecting on the year are my ways of expressing gratitude for surviving another year with this disease.
I also enjoy setting intentions or goals for the year ahead. I’ve stopped making New Year’s resolutions because they suggest a firmness, where I have to commit to stopping or starting a practice. Life with IPF is unpredictable, and how I feel from day to day is fluid, so I can’t fully commit to a resolution. Instead, I set goals — something I can strive toward throughout the year.
This year, I aim to live well with IPF, physically and mentally. My goal isn’t to stop or start doing something, but rather to make adjustments to what I’m already doing.
When setting goals, it’s important to clearly state the goal and break it down into chunks. To do this, I like to make SMART goals, or goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. It’s also necessary to understand why you’re creating a goal, to ensure it aligns with something important to you. This will drastically improve your chances of achieving it.
Following are some of my goals for 2023 and how they’ll help me live well with IPF:
While many people eat healthier to lose weight, I’m choosing this goal to ensure I give my body adequate nutrition through whole foods every day. This will help me stay as healthy as possible and better manage IPF. Certain foods also make it easier to digest Ofev (nintedanib), my antifibrotic medication. I will prioritize these foods in each meal throughout 2023.
Drink more water
This goal is probably common, as hydration benefits our skin, physical health, and mental clarity. Unfortunately, IPF causes brain fog, so I’m hopeful that adequate hydration will help ease this. It should also help me digest all the medications I’m taking. For IPF patients who suffer with mucus buildup in the lungs, consuming enough fluids can help break it up.
Moving every day
This goal isn’t about working out, as that has become too difficult with my declining lung function and reduced oxygen levels. Instead, I want to be intentional about moving my body, even if that simply means gentle stretching or walking on the treadmill. Neither activity is too strenuous for me, and both are good for my overall health.
Match others’ efforts
Since my diagnosis, I’ve been forced to slow down in all aspects of my life, including socialization. I enjoy spending time with friends when I feel up to it, but I’m often the one initiating. This doesn’t always bother me, but I do get frustrated when others don’t put the same amount of effort into our relationship, especially since my energy is already drained due to IPF. This year, I’ve decided to match others’ efforts, meaning I’ll only put as much effort into spending time together as they do.
What are some of your goals for the upcoming year? I’d love to hear from you!
Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.