At the end of each year, many people set aside some time to reflect and think about the joys, sorrows, triumphs, and tragedies of the past year. This can be a great way to move on from a difficult experience and to plan for better days ahead. At Holistic Pain, we tend to look back at what we did well and plan for what we can do better in the coming year. We take this reflective time to become even better at what we do.
In 2016, we are excited to really begin to focus on patient care. While we have always offered our patients the same care we would want for our own families, this year we are committing even more deeply to caring for the whole patient. Many in medicine tend to focus on the symptoms or the injured area alone, not considering the person behind the aches, pains, and muscle strains. This year, we are looking deeply into the ways in which our patients live in the world: how their pain impacts everyday life, how they cope with it, and what sacrifices they have made.
We look forward to telling your stories through this blog, videos, and other patient testimonials. We want to hear your voice, to put a face to chronic pain for the thousands of people looking for support online. We are excited to have you tell your story of everyday victories in spite of living with pain.
Many of these reflections come about as we discuss the direction we would like to go throughout the year. Always, we keep our patients at the center of our conversation, looking for ways to make what we offer more tailored to what they need.
If you would like to take some time at the close of 2015 to reflect and plan for the coming year, there are many ways to do that. Here are five that we suggest (and have used in our own reflections) to celebrate the beginning of 2016.
1. Schedule a special family dinner
Some families take time on New Year’s Eve to talk about the best (and worst) parts of their year. They think about things they would like to do better in the coming year, and they discuss (and forgive themselves and others) for mistakes that were made before. The latter activity can be very powerful for chronic pain patients who can feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not being able to participate fully in every activity. This is a good way to let it go and plan for better days ahead in 2016.
Reflecting on the year in writing not only serves as a great way to see triumphs in black and white, but it also serves as a reminder throughout the year. If there is something you want to focus on in the upcoming year, you can re-visit this commitment in a very concrete way whenever you lose your resolve or just need a gentle reminder.
3. Write yourself a letter, to be opened on the 2016 New Year’s Eve
Along the same lines as keeping a journal, writing yourself a letter can be a powerful way to keep track of your hopes, dreams, and plans. The only difference here is that you won’t open this letter again until the following New Year’s Eve. This can serve as a great starting point of reflection for the following year, but it only works if you are focused on what you did really well and would like to continue, as well as what could use some improvement. It’s like writing a letter to your future self about what you want to be when you grow up.
4. Make a list
For those who are not inclined to write extensively, list making is a great way to reflect and plan. A list can be things that you would like to accomplish in the coming year, or it can feature one or two words to help remind you of what is important. Lists can be posted in places you visit every day as a way to remind you of the plans you made for the year.
While sitting quietly alone may not seem like a logical way to plan for the new year, think of it as cultivating an inner reserve of quiet mindfulness and peace. When you meditate, you dedicate yourself to the practice of being fully present in the moment. This clear presence can help you to enjoy (or get through) every moment in the coming year. Especially if your holiday season was crazy busy, meditation may be just the thing you need to focus and build purpose for the coming year.
While this doesn’t have much to do with making plans for the coming year, we also like the idea of starting a gratitude jar. Every day for a full year, write one thing you are grateful for, along with the date, and put it in the jar. On the following New Year’s Eve in 2016, open the jar and count your blessings. This can be a tremendous gift to yourself and your family at the end of the year.
What are you looking forward to in 2016?
Photo by Christian Schnettelker via Flickr