Chronic Illness and the New Year

Chronic Illness and the New Year

Shireen Hand Endometriosis My Life With You

New Year’s Eve is typically spent with a glass of bubbly in one hand while you have a boogie and a fabulous night of socializing with friends. It’s not quite the same for those of us with a chronic illness.

Some of us might be struggling to keep up appearances, fighting through the pain to see out the year as we are expected to do. But the rest of us will be at home, maybe having a very normal evening of television before an early night, feeling like we are missing out on all the fun.

Some people can also find the new year a particularly difficult time mentally. A new year usually brings about a reflection on events that have happened during that year and resolutions for change for the coming year. New year, new start. A time to start afresh, make amends for past events, turn the page and become a new you. But what happens if your health holds you back from making those changes in your life?

As a chronically ill person, the resolutions that everyone else makes don’t mean quite so much. Get to the gym more? Hmmm. Travel more? Maybe not. Sadly, those with chronic illness will still carry the same health setbacks, pain, and sickness through to the new year, making it a challenge before it even begins.

If you really want to make (and keep) some New Year’s resolutions, why not try thinking of them in a different way?

Let go of expectations

Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean you must start afresh. Carry on the best you can and let go of any expectations you or others have put upon yourself. Think about what you have achieved this year. You might have been a busy bee all year and achieved lots. But there is no shame in having done less. You might feel some days like all you’ve done is get out of bed to go and rest on the couch. But hey, you got out of bed! Celebrate those small victories. And remember, expectations equal pressure, and we could all do with a little less of that!

Focus on the can, not the can’t

Think of all the things you can do. It might not be much, and because of the way chronic illness works, it will most certainly be different every day. But what can you do? Can you breathe? Yes. Can you get dressed? Some days. Can you get out of the house? Maybe tomorrow. Don’t fixate on the negatives because you can do so much. Even if they don’t seem important, you are still doing something.

Be gentle with yourself and practice some self-love

You are not lazy if you don’t start going to the gym. You are not weak if you need to rest. You are not selfish if you need to put yourself and your health first. We are so hard on ourselves sometimes, especially as people who suffer day in and day out with illness. We want so much for ourselves and it’s not always feasible. But we are not failures in any way, shape, or form because of our illnesses.

Let go of the negative

Whether it is our own self-loathing, or maybe someone in our lives bringing us down, let go. You don’t have to answer to anyone else. Think positively and take steps to banish that negativity.

Take baby steps

We might want to get somewhere quickly, but that’s not always possible in the world of chronic illness. We have to pace ourselves and rest in between. Take baby steps toward each goal and then look back and see how far you’ve come. It’s similar to thinking about the year. You might think the year has been a waste of time, but you’ve made it through all 365 days of that year even when you thought you couldn’t. Keep going. Take it slow and easy. Eventually, you’ll get there.

Look forward, not back

Keep your goals in sight and look forward to them. Don’t keep looking back at what could have been or what has been.

Whatever you do this New Year’s Eve, and whatever the new year brings your way, I wish you all good health, happiness, and love.

You can follow more of my journey over at


Note: Endometriosis 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 Endometriosis News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to endometriosis.