Finding Joy Despite IBD Challenges

It's very difficult to process the life we lead as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients. Some days are good, some days are spent never leaving our bed, and other days are filled with tests and drinking nausea-inducing medicinal cocktails.  We don't know from day to day what our disease will bring or if we will feel like we can rule the world, or barely turn on the TV. 

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What's certain is uncertainty

I have found that the one certain thing while living with Crohn's disease is uncertainty, and while I try to control as much as I can, I know that there is only so much I can do.  So, the one thing I focus on is "joy" as I know that it is always in my power whether I experience it daily or not.

Below are some ways that you can find joy despite suffering from IBD challenges.  Whether you are suffering from a flare, enduring your 2nd surgery in a year, or just feeling like "poor me", practicing any (or all!) of the following will surely help bring joy, even if it is for just a few minutes, each day.

Tips for when IBD is challenging

Practice gratitude

Looking for the slivers of light in your otherwise dark cloud will help make you feel more appreciative for the life that you have.  I like to write in a gratitude journal nightly, keeping in mind that while the entire day may not have gone as planned, there were certainly moments to be grateful for, even if it was just getting every green light on my drive to drop my kids off for school.

When we focus on the good, it automatically pushes out the bad, thus improving both our mental and physical health.  Regardless of how small, I promise you that there is something you can be grateful for every day.

Start a hobby

Have you ever thought of getting into photography, or maybe start dabbling in pottery?  Doing something you love (and not turning it into a side hustle!) is a great way to bring joy into your life without pressure.  If you feel anxious about leaving your home, there are plenty of tutorials online for starting DIY projects in your home, or you can even do online courses like learning a second language that will enrich your life and bring you happiness simultaneously.

Engage in joyful activities

I absolutely love doing silly, light-hearted activities that bring joy and happiness to my life such as dancing it out to my favorite songs.  And, although nothing is really "accomplished" by doing this, improving my mental health is enough of a reason to spend 15 minutes jamming out to a pop song of my teenage years having no care in the world.  Maybe your joyful activity is taking a walk in nature, feeling the warm sunshine and listening to the birds chirping. Perhaps you call your best friend and catch up for an hour, forgetting about your problems. 

Doing something that brings true happiness and allows you to check out from reality for a few minutes just be what your mind and body needs.

Recite positive affirmations

We create our own reality.  Thinking positively will help transform your mindset, and help you get through your difficult times.  Saying positive affirmations like, "I am strong." or "It is just a bad day, not a bad life." can help you overcome what is plaguing you.  I like starting my day saying, "Today is going to be a good day." as manifesting good and almost willing it into existence is a great way to start on a positive note. 

Will the entire day be good? Maybe.  But there will be at least one good thing about the day, albeit as small as it may be.

Taking control of your narrative

You will be amazed at how much your life will improve just by adding these little bits of joy throughout your day.  I know that Crohn's can be debilitating at times, but as long as you continue to bring bits of happiness into your life, there is nothing you can't overcome.  I have seen it in my own life and my own journey with Crohn's. As soon as I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started taking control over my narrative, my health improved and good things started falling into my lap.

My overall outlook on life was a lot less bleak and a lot more hopeful which is something we could all use more of in this world.

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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