January 1st, welcome to 2018! This is the year of health! I will lose weight….eat better...get more sleep...use the gym membership I paid for last year…(insert your own unique resolution)! If on December 31 you resolved to improve your health in 2018, you are not alone. According to a Google search provided by iQuanti, “Get Healthy” prompted 62,776,640 searches, a 13.77 percent increase over last year (2016) during the same time period.
And now, it is the last day of January, how has the resolution been going? Maybe you have really hit your stride and are making positive changes in your life, health, and happiness. Or maybe you have found it necessary to redefine and refocus your goals, possibly breaking it down into smaller more digestible (weight loss pun intended) segments in order to keep momentum going. And maybe you have not started making those changes that you had such ambitions for at the beginning of the year...and of course you could be somewhere between all of these on the broad spectrum of intention and commitment, honoring both your desires but also your reality around what is feasible for your life.
While being balanced in diet and exercise are often important to living and creating the best versions of ourselves, I find myself wondering when, how, and why the idea of “Getting Healthy” so often gets narrowed into these two categories. I believe we can take begin to take charge of our health without ever setting foot in a gym or counting calories! This include the decidedly less sexy path of checking off annual doctor visits or making appointments with doctors to address specific concerns or thoughts. In fact, January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, sponsored by The National Cervical Cancer Coalition.
Before I lose you to an eye roll, shrug, or a return to Instagram scrolling, take a moment to reflect on how you can take control of your health in the month of January by simply making an appointment for a cervical exam, or wellness check with your doctor. Here come statistics:
While cervical health is at the forefront of this post, the same sentiment applies to any area of your health. Get that mole checked out, visit a chiropractor, check your vision, get your teeth cleaned. These appointments, though often annoying to make and keep, provide clarity around the anxiety and stress many of us carry around our physical health which is so often maintained by inaction! Interrupt this cycle and resolve to call your doctor and set up an appointment. Early intervention is important in all areas of health, take advantage of the long cold days and nights where you will not be missing out on anything by visiting your health care professionals.
One of the fascinating things about health is that it can be fleeting and while we are healthy it is easy to take it for granted. We often believe we have some sort of control over our bodies and can be surprised when they do not act the way we expect. One way to mitigate the possibility of surprises is to visit your doctor and control the controllables.
Therefore, I challenge you to take control of your health in 2018, start by making an appointment with a doctor and start the year with the comforting knowledge that your health is being managed and you are taking control of what you can. And if you set this tangible and quantifiable goal, maybe you will be part of the 8% of people who actually achieve their New Year’s goals!
Here’s to redefining a healthy 2018!
The Holidays are Coming! The Holidays are Coming…Thoughts from a Marriage and Family Therapist on Managing the Stress of the Season
All Loss Is Not The Same: Working with Couples Coping with Infertility, Pregnancy Loss, and the Unexpected Results of Genetic Testing
While our responses to loss have common features, not all loss is the same nor is all loss recognized in the same way. For those who struggle with infertility, pregnancy loss, and the unexpected results of genetic testing, grief is layered and complex. It is often unseen or marginalized by others, making the grieving process all the more difficult. Couples who experience these types of losses are mourning multiple events. And clinicians need to be aware of these losses in order to help clients mourn and move toward healing.
The disappointments caused by these losses are often overlooked. When we encounter infertility, for example, we tend to think of the couple’s inability to conceive and do not see other hidden pain they experience. Few people recognize the full impact of the sadness that the infertile couple is going through. The loss of a hoped-for future is one of the complex layers felt by the couple experiencing infertility. It can be very difficult to allow oneself to grieve over something that has not come into full existence, as is the case with the dream of having a life with children.
Couples who have gone through a pregnancy loss or the unexpected results of genetic testing, suffer the loss of the future in a way that is different from the struggle of those experiencing infertility. Every couple has a vision of their baby and the life they are going to have with him or her. And when that is lost, the pain is crushing while the loss is often mourned in silence. Grief then turns invisible, unacknowledged even by well-meaning others who respond with such comments as “you can have another” or “it’s not your fault.” Or in such cases as multiples where one twin is lost, people might attempt to console with, “at least you have one baby.”
The number of these experiences is not negligibly small; of course, even if it was, sufferings that are rare are harrowing or isolating in a special way. But most of the invisible losses we have in mind here are common. To take just one type of loss, today as many as 20% of clinically diagnosed pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. Despite this high number, these experiences are not widely announced or shared. Even the tendency of today's social media to share, and even overshare, life events and updates does not usually extend to these kinds of hardships
What does this mean for our clients who experience invisible losses and are suffering in silence? We need to remember that these clients walk into our office carrying the heartache of days, months and sometimes years of cumulative loss. They are mourning—over and over. It is our task to witness and help them express the roller coaster of emotions that they are experiencing. Our clients need to feel their way through the losses and over time, fold them into their lives—finding a “new normal” and creating an expanded life narrative.
We need to ask ourselves, how comfortable are we giving a name, a story, and a voice to their pain? If we, ourselves, can get comfortable with and take seriously the losses of our clients, we can then make the gentle inquiries into the invisible and unspoken worlds of infertility, pregnancy loss, and unexpected genetic diagnosis. Through sharing their heartache with us, with their partners, and with trusted loved ones, our clients will eventually heal and move forward with a “new normal” in place. When we help our clients bring loss out of invisibility and silence, we help them live their lives out of the shadows feeling loved, accepted and supported by those around them. While the human lens toward the world is forever reshaped by a loss, the experience of joy can be recovered and even increased. Their stories have been validated and honored, and they can once again live meaningfully and fully.