2009-11-27 / Columnists

Rockaway Walks Fitness Column

Form A Support Team
Commentary By Steven McCartney, IPO, HSW, MS

If you are presently trying to reinvent yourself in this ever-changing world (because of a life changing event like a chronic disease such as arthritis) or just trying to find a job, take the following steps: start where you are and evaluate the support you presently have; then begin to build character/ personality into your support team that promotes solutions or activities that help keep you motivated. Every one is in command (at least to some degree) of her/his vessel (mind and body). To keep your vessel floating steady threw life's seasons you need to develop ideas and activities that add spark to your vessel.

Throughout a human lifespan our physical needs are constantly changing for balance within our environments while our ideas may expand or decay. To prevent decay we need to rehydrate, eat healthy foods, exercise environmental control (ergonomics), exercise (to improve flexibility, stren - gth and endurance) and relax, rest and sleep well.

Make life changing events, like arthritis or any chronic disease, your starting point. Learn techniques and strategies learned from others. Re - member you are not alone and everyday someone next to you is expanding: acting on a positive life changing decision. Like a newborn child, today begins your life (not yesterday).

Start transferring new ideas (keep it simple) that improve your personality. The key is to allow time (4-8 weeks for new ideas so that you can gain knowledge from experience) keep a journal or calendar on what you have learned (reflect). Keeping notes makes it easy to reference or communicate to others. Having a support team is your moral fiber (link) to your success. This will help keep your vessel steady and afloat through life's many seasons.

The holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on your success and confrontations (life-changing events). Remember we are all working on our present condition; don't be self serving, however, act with empathy (vicarious learning) to cultivate your community with harmony (this begins with you).

Best practices for finding a resource is creative thinking and discovery learning with goals and objectives on what you are capable of doing now. Common clues are found in local hospitals, schools, university, religious groups, recreation centers, libraries, a local newspaper (The Wave). Some - times you can find clues in the classified section or create one as well. Look for announcements, health items, or other headings that seem promising. Simply calling 311 or contacting your local councilperson's office can provide you with listings of government social services and non-profit organizations like Arthritis Foundation. As a general rule of thumb, when using the Internet look at the last part of the main part of a website's URL (example: .edu, .org, and .gov are pretty trust worthy sites; www.arthritis.org or www.cdc.gov).

The following is a guide to judging websites, based on the site name's ending: • .com (a commercial site that may be

selling something) • .org (an organization, such as the

Arthritis Foundation) • .gov (a government website) • .edu (a site at an educational institution)

Other sources for support may be your doctor, possibly your pharmacist, other health professionals such as nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, and, of course, new family and friends found in a support group.

The kind of things that happen in support and education groups is mutual aid and support. People getting together to share experiences, giving mutual support, exchanging information and resources, planning other activities, making new friends and finding new ways of handling problems.

Like any group, support groups need some organizing and some structure. Usually these are kept very simple. A successful group needs people who: • Can personal identify with others

(similar feelings and experiences), • Care about and are accepting of other

people, • Want to help and be helped, • Have a hopeful attitude, • Like fun and friendship and informality,

• Are willing to take a chance and try

something new • Pitch in and share the duties of

organizing and getting things done,

and • A person to be the spark plug to get

started to be a part of a shared project.

In a support and education group the feeling of isolation and the need to minimize or suppress one's difficulties vanishes. People like you can share practical problems in an open, nonthreatening and confidential atmosphere and receive support and ideas. You'll also find that you are not alone in your feelings and experiences and that these are normal reactions. Mutual support enhances the feeling of acceptance and belonging, and with the developing bonds of friendship comes a sense of being needed and of increased self-actualization sStart building on what you can do).

I will be presenting an eight-session Arthritis Workshop at Young Israel of Wavecrest and Bayswater Senior League (2716 Healy Avenue) every Tuesday at 11 a.m. until December 15. The workshop is being co-sponsored by Modell's Sporting Goods on Rockaway Turnpike. For questions or concerns, email me at: steven_mccartney@walk - programs.com. Happy Holidays.

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