Editor’s Note: Kristine Cichowski, our Resources Consultant, is one of the wisest healthcare experts we know. Kris has worked in rehabilitation for more than 30 years, and was the founding director of the Life Center at what is now the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. She created this list of 10 resolutions for a happy 2022 for people living with SCI. Resources are listed for each resolution to help you make it part of your life.
- DO SOMETHING…ANYTHING
It’s natural to tell yourself: “I used to do that, but can’t do it now… I’ll start when things settle down.” But you know that life doesn’t really settle; it’s always full of ups and downs. Thanks to the ADA, there are lots of ways to adapt activities, get out and have fun. Pick something. Anything. Commit to one activity each month. If one of the ideas below sounds good to you, try it: https://facingdisability.com/resources/active-lifestyle
- CALL AN OLD FRIEND
Most friendships involve one person reaching out more often than the other. Resist the idea that someone doesn’t care just because you haven’t heard from them. Life gets busy for everyone. When you think of someone, pick up the phone and call, text or email. Let them know you are thinking of them. Your outreach may be just what they need: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/smarter-living/should-you-reach-out-to-a-former-friend-right-now.html
- LOOK GOOD TO YOURSELF
A simple truth: When you look better, you feel better. Get rid of your housebound COVID look. Get a haircut. Change your hairstyle—or color. Buy a new shirt or top. Confidence levels rise when you’re looking good: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/self-esteem/art-20045374
- JOIN OUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP
There are lots of ways to connect with people virtually through online discussion groups. One of the most successful and active groups is called, You Are Not Alone Dealing With SCI. It’s a closed community where you’re surrounded by others who are living in your world. Membership is strictly limited to people with spinal cord injuries and members of their families. You can trust what they say. Their feedback is honest. Their support is realistic. Their comments come from their personal experiences– which may be a lot like yours. They offer real-time support whenever you want it. Members are added to the group only after answering three screening questions specific to spinal cord injury. It is administrated and moderated by FacingDisability.com.
- COOK SOMETHING NEW
Try a new recipe. Take an even bolder step by hosting or participating in a quarterly online dinner party or cooking class. It’s easy to find a theme for the meal: It could be as simple as Taco Tuesday or Meatloaf Monday. Have fun exploring foods you’ve never tasted or known about: https://cooking.nytimes.com/tag/easy
- DANCE IN YOUR KITCHEN
Yes, dance! Turn on your favorite tunes and spin away in your wheelchair! Do it alone or with a friend. Either way, music will reset your energy in a positive way. If you have a larger space indoors or out, get out and let loose! Check out this wheelchair dance class for inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YAkoW-8FHvU
- JOIN AN ONLINE BOOK OR FILM CLUB—OR START ONE
There are lots of great books and films ready to be read, viewed, and discussed. Check out an existing book or film club through your local library, join one online or start your own with a friend. You’ll be surprised at how much fun it is to share points of view about a story or film. ReelAbilities has a list of films and festivals that showcase stories about people with disabilities. https://reelabilities.org/
- STRETCH AND STRETCH AGAIN!
Join a wheelchair yoga class to help you stick with routine stretching. It’s important to maintain flexibility to minimize and avoid contractures. Yoga can increase both flexibility and strength and brings the added benefits of relaxation and peace of mind. Commit to a weekly yoga program. Check out this free class from NCHPAD: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FxIbzvdBzA
- GET OUT AND ENJOY NATURE
Thanks to the ADA, parks and recreational facilities across the country provide a variety of ways to connect and enjoy nature. Five national parks have gone above and beyond to build accessibility features into walking paths and exhibits. https://blog.encompasshealth.com/2019/08/29/five-national-parks-for-peak-disability-accessibility/ Botanical gardens across the country also provide wonderful opportunities to enjoy and learn about nature. https://www.gardendesign.com/botanical-gardens/20-Best-Gardens.html
- BE A ROLE MODEL
You can positively influence the lives of others. Casual conversations with friends, exchanges of ideas with co-workers, children, or family all are opportunities to share your knowledge and attitudes about how you live successfully with your spinal cord injury. You have an array of gifts and talents from which others can learn and benefit. Commit to showing and sharing yourself with others.