7 Ways to Cope with the Ups and Downs of Crohn's Disease
Having Crohn’s disease is not only physically exhausting but mentally exhausting as well. The mental fight of living with Crohn’s is one that takes intense focus and strength from the patient. The ups and downs that go with having this illness can be so severe that giving up sometimes seems like the only option. I mean how many medications are we going to try? How many times am I going to try something new, get amazing results, then suddenly find myself in the worst flare of my life overnight? The ups and downs can truly seem unbearable.
Unfortunately, over my experience of having this disease, the pattern that seems to remain steady is that the journey is in fact, full of ups and downs. Lots of highs and low lows, and you just have to take things moment by moment to survive.
Well, I think we all know this as we live it day in and day out. But what are some tips to help get through those highs and lows? Here are some things I have come up with over the years and would like to share with you:
Tips to get through the highs and lows of Crohn's:
1. Don’t isolate yourself
I will be the first to raise my hand and say that I am most guilty of this. When the Crohn’s hits me hard, and I am not well, I turn into a hermit. I won’t even answer phone calls. Why? Because yes I am physically hurting and exhausted 24/7, but I am also mentally hurting. I am emotionally tired of dealing with symptoms and constant pain, and I just want to be left alone.
Alone, however, is the problem. The more time I am alone, the worse I get mentally. Humans are not meant to be alone. We need each other, no matter how much of an introvert you are, don’t isolate yourself. Stay connected with those that are positive and supportive. Let them know that you need help and every once and a while, try your best to physically see people. It is always healing to speak with others and get your mind off things. So remember, stay connected with others!
2. Stay physically active
You have to release endorphins so try your best to stay active somehow. The more you stop moving, the easier it is to let depression and negative thoughts creep in. Now yes, when I’m flaring going out for a run is not happening. I can barely do a brisk walk, I am just so depleted. But I can do a light stretch or a simple arm strengthening video on Youtube.
Somehow, move your body for 10-20 minutes so you can release those endorphins and feel better. It makes a world's difference.
3. Get sunlight
This is so important. I read a meme online saying something in the likes of: “Humans are just more complicated plants.” It’s so true! We need water and sunlight. So drink tons of water and make sure you get time outside, it can be just 10 minutes a day so that you get your fix of Vitamin D. This helps boost your mood and you truly feel better breathing in the fresh air.
Prayer/mediation is so powerful. Practicing prayer every single day, even for just 15 minutes can truly change your entire day. I highly suggest implementing this into your morning routine, and you will see how much better you will feel.
5. Get into a routine
Whenever I am feeling horrible and in a flare, I can fall into the worst habit of just moping around. Yea, I’ll admit it. Sometimes for weeks, I can just turn into a couch potato and be frustrated with how my body is acting.
Don’t let this happen! Rest is so important, so I’m not talking about creating a routine that feels like you have a 9-5 job. I’m talking about having an intention for your day. So perhaps instead of watching Netflix the entire day, break up your day with activities that benefit your mind and spirit.
For example, have a time of day where you listen to an uplifting podcast. Have another moment where you do something creative like color. Or another time to research a topic you love. Make sure you don’t get lost in the frustration. Stay intentional.
Self-care is always a good idea. When you are feeling down, do something for you. That may mean a warm bubble bath with calming music or just applying a soothing face mask. Don’t forget to take care of you. A little pampering can go a long way in lifting up the spirits.
7. Say positive affirmations
Speaking positive words and phrases out loud consistently is proven to change the atmosphere around you. So get to it. With all the ups and downs that come with chronic illness, speaking positivity into your atmosphere will help you remain mentally strong. If you need ideas for positive affirmations, just head to Pinterest and you will be bombarded with endless ideas.
What else do you do to help keep you positive during the highs and lows of dealing with chronic illness? Share below!
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