5 Ways MSK Can Help with Your New Year’s Resolutions

MSK Volunteer

Patient-to-patient volunteers offer their time and expertise to people going through cancer treatment.

You don’t have to tackle your New Year’s resolutions alone. Your care team at Memorial Sloan Kettering can help you feel your best in the coming year. Here are some recommendations from MSK experts.

1. If Your Resolution Is to Eat More Healthy Foods

Try setting short-term goals that are flexible, advises MSK registered dietitian Michelle Myers. For example, you could resolve to sample one new vegetable, bring your lunch to work, or avoid packaged snacks for a week. “It can be so much easier to make one small change to your diet at a time,” Ms. Myers says. Need recipe ideas? The nutrition experts at MSK have suggestions.

2. If Your Resolution Is to Quit Smoking

“Most smokers, particularly those diagnosed with cancer, are aware of the risks of persistent smoking and frequently consider quitting,” says Jamie Ostroff, Director of MSK’s Tobacco Treatment Program. “But to be successful, smokers need more than good intentions. They typically underestimate the challenges of quitting smoking and assume that they can quit on their own.” MSK’s Tobacco Treatment Program offers guidance on cessation medications as well as behavioral coaching specifically for people with cancer.

3. If Your Resolution Is to Work Out More

Exercise doesn’t have to be a slog. “Find something active you enjoy,” says exercise physiologist Sarah Lehman, a member of MSK’s Exercise Oncology Service. You’re much more likely to stick with it that way. Also, try to start your day on the right foot. “Scheduling workouts for first thing in the morning makes them less likely to get bumped by an impromptu meeting or something else,” Ms. Lehman adds.

Exercise Oncology
Learn about MSK's Exercise Oncology Service, which brings together scientists and physiologists to study the effect of physical activity on cancer treatment and prognosis.

4. If Your Resolution Is to Start Meditating

If setting aside a few minutes a day to focus on your breath is daunting, ease into meditation with a more informal practice of mindfulness. Quite simply, says MSK mind-body therapist Beth Sandweiss, this means noticing what’s already happening around you. “The next time you have downtime, consider not checking your email or Facebook feed,” she says. “Instead, pause and take a breath or two. Pausing gives us time and room to take in our surroundings and to listen to ourselves.” If you’re ready for more practice, check out guided meditations from MSK’s Integrative Medicine Service, or consider signing up for a mind-body group course.

5. If Your Resolution Is to Volunteer More

People who have completed active treatment at MSK can help someone currently going through treatment as a patient-to-patient volunteer. These generous individuals share their experiences with other MSK patients either just once or on a regular basis. But that’s not all they provide. “Volunteers impart hope, courage, and a unique type of understanding that only they have,” says Jane Hedal-Siegel, who manages MSK’s Department of Volunteer Resources. “Our patients find a special comfort from this support, which directly impacts their experience.”