Tips for Staying Mentally Strong After a Crohn’s Diagnosis
Last updated: September 2022
When you are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, your life turns upside down. Not only is your body in disarray and struggling to deal with symptoms but your mind, thoughts, and feelings are hit just as hard.
Unfortunately, there is not enough support for mental health when dealing with chronic illness. I do hope things will change in the near future, in which mental health becomes just as much as a priority as gastro health. In the meantime, however, we all need to lift each other up and share tips that have worked for us in keeping our minds strong for the challenging journey of an inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis. So here are some of my tips, as a fellow Crohn's patient:
Manging mental health with Crohn's
See a therapist
I believe seeing a therapist should be strongly encouraged by our GI doctors as part of basic treatment for IBD. Seeing a therapist/counselor/psychologist – whichever – is so important! I see a therapist once a month via Zoom and honestly, I think twice a month would be even better. It is so important to talk to a professional about the challenges one faces with chronic illness. It is a hard, hard journey and we need all the support we can get.
A mental health expert will offer you tools to deal with the hardship and empower you to move through the hard moments with grace and courage. Just after one session, I felt so empowered and encouraged. I had no idea how badly I needed to talk to someone about my diagnosis and all the hardship that comes with it.
Just a side note, you have to truly shop around for your therapist to find the right fit. It took me 3 tries until I found my therapist, who I adore. She has been amazing with me and I always benefit from our sessions. But don’t be discouraged if your first meeting with a mental health professional goes badly. It probably will, just keep searching until you click with someone.
Practice meditation or prayer
Spend time in prayer/meditation every single day. Boy, will you see an improvement in your mental health this way. Take at least 10 minutes for quiet time. Reflect, be grateful, honor your deity, sing, hum. Just spend the time and watch how your mind will relax, be soothed, and grow strong.
Speak out affirmations
Words are powerful If you speak something out loud and repeatedly, you soon will believe it. During hard flares, I would put a Post-it on my wall that would say things like: "I will heal. I am strong. My body is for me, not against me." Let me tell you, don’t underestimate affirmations and speaking positivity out into the atmosphere. It is incredibly powerful and will strengthen your will to fight this hard fight.
The sun is so powerful. Not only does it offer vitamin D, but it can also literally change your mood. If you are feeling down and having a tough day with symptoms, get outside and just sit in the sun. Breathe the fresh air and allow the rays to penetrate your skin for a little. You only need about 10 minutes to feel the positive effects.
Crohn's impacts more than physical health
Those are some tips I have learned along my Crohn’s journey to help improve mental health and strengthen the mind. How about you? Any tips you’d like to share with the community concerning mental health? Share below, we love to hear from you.
What has been the most helpful for managing IBD symptoms?