Reclaiming parts of your day, learning to trust yourself, protecting your energy, and making sure you know what’s in your food can go a long way toward helping you feel more in control.
Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, appointments, and tests galore — living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) comes with a lot of moving parts, sometimes making it feel like you’re a piece in a chess game instead of the mastermind player.
Even when it feels like you’ve had to surrender all control in your life, there’s always something you can manage. In times like these, claiming autonomy over what is in your control can provide some stability in your life. Consider these 5 approaches.
Morning routines can help prepare you for what lies ahead in your day, and nighttime routines can replenish you after a long day. Whether you have 5 extra minutes or 30, dedicate some time to just focus on you.
Here are some morning routine ideas to start your day off on the right track:
Here are some nighttime routine ideas to wrap up an eventful day:
Morning and night routines can be productive ways to ensure that you’re making the time to nurture your body and mind when your time and energy feel out of your control. Taking care of yourself is a must!
You’ve likely been in contact with someone who didn’t keep commitments very well. Maybe they gave up on their goals quickly or canceled plans often. You’ve also probably come to the conclusion that you don’t trust them very much to follow through on what they say.
Take this perspective and apply it to yourself. Are there things (wellness-related or not) that you’ve said you want to do but haven’t? With the unpredictability many of us experience with IBD, it can be challenging to feel safe in your body. You may feel a lack of trust that your body will perform in the way it’s supposed to. That’s why keeping commitments to yourself (even small ones) can help reinforce the idea that you can trust yourself.
In my IBD nutrition practice, I recommend that my clients start with one or two small goals to establish safety and trust in themselves — no need to make these commitments over-the-top and unachievable. Consider committing to a goal such as:
While these commitments may feel surface-level compared to what’s going on deeper in your body, trust has to start somewhere, and these small daily commitments are a great way to begin.
Having healthy food on hand is one way to support your health with IBD, and doing food prep and planning at home gives you total autonomy over the quality and types of ingredients in each meal, so you know exactly what’s going into your body.
This may sound intimidating if you haven’t tried meal planning or prepping before, so take an approach that works for you, such as:
To keep meal prep simple but still have variety, choose 2–3 proteins, fruits/veggies, and grains/starches. Having control over your food means you know you’re eating nourishing, safe meals that will best support your energy and manage your symptoms. Plus, planning removes the need to always wonder what you need to eat next!
I personally love keeping to-do lists because it allows me to transfer the many thoughts in my head onto paper, which relieves the stress of needing to remember them all.
If you’re in a season where most of your focus is on your health, other tasks may seem trivial in comparison, and it may feel overwhelming to think about fitting them into your day.
I like to use a method I call the “big three”: During days when you’re strapped for time or (especially) energy, choose the three things you most want to accomplish. Anything else is a bonus!
A “big three” to-do list could look like:
By creating to-do lists with the three most important things you want to achieve, you can remove the pressure of finishing a laundry list of tasks but still feel productive.
Just as a flight attendant tells you to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others in case of an emergency, you need to ensure that your energy is stable before giving it out to others. IBD can take a lot of energy (mentally, physically, and emotionally), especially during flare-ups, so be sure to make choices that support your overall well-being.
This can look like:
It’s important to remember that your productivity or ability to show up for others when you’re working on your health does not determine your worth.
It can feel like your energy is given away to all things IBD, but by taking the reins in these other areas of your life, you can reinstate some control. You may just have more control than you realize!
Medically reviewed on August 05, 2023
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