Living well with the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis consists of a lot of trial and error.
Finding your perfect treatment and lifestyle combination is like putting together a puzzle. Finding a piece that fits is exciting, but sometimes it feels like you try piece after piece that does not fit.
A few of these “puzzle pieces” are:
Sometimes, you might feel like you want to give up when all your energy is going into figuring out this puzzle. If you’re at that point, these practices may help.
If you find yourself saying you’re “fine” when you’re not and never addressing the mental or physical toll your condition has on you, you might be suppressing your emotions.
This is common for anyone living with a chronic illness, since we learn to live through the hard days while trying to go through life normally.
Instead of ignoring these emotional cues, try:
Expressing emotions is different from dwelling or complaining and is a normal, healthy part of being human. Check in with yourself: Are you bottling emotions and feelings or allowing yourself time and space to let them out?
Whether you love making lists for every little thing in life or you’re a bit more spontaneous, lists are helpful when you feel like you’ve exhausted all options when it comes to your health.
Try making lists of:
Keep these on your fridge or tacked on a bulletin board. These reminders of tangible tips can be grounding when you feel lost and overwhelmed.
It’s true that the little things can mean so much. If you can find these small moments (hint: they are everywhere) and enjoy them, the hard-hitting days that IBD brings will hurt a little less.
Here are some ways to create moments of joy:
Even when it feels like you’ve exhausted all options, there are always some things in your power.
Focusing on what you can change to improve how you feel — while loosening your grip on what you can’t change — takes a lot of stress and pressure off of you.
Here are some ways to take back control:
Whether it’s changing where you live, switching up your workspace, or going for a walk, a new physical location can help clear your mind and help you think in new ways.
Sure, everyone needs to pay bills, but are there things you are committed to or people that you see that are not adding to your life?
Chicken soup might not fix everything, but there’s a reason we turn to it when we’re not feeling well.
In times of stress you might let your food choices fall to the wayside. Staying hydrated and well fed is a basic need that will support you mentally and physically.
Talking with other people who live with IBD can feel validating when you feel like you are going out of your mind.
Some ways to find connection include:
Sometimes it’s also great to just talk to a friend who doesn’t have IBD who is good at listening and being there for you.
Living with an autoimmune disease like IBD is like running a marathon, not a sprint.
Bad days will come and go, and taking on these practices and tools can help you be a more resilient IBD warrior.
Article originally appeared on November 30, 2020 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last medically reviewed on December 1, 2020.
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