Getting Out of Your Rut and Into a Groove With IBD
Last updated: May 2023
If there is one thing we can always count on with Crohn's disease, it is its unpredictability. We can be cruising along, doing our thing, enjoying life when BAM! A flare hits and we are left eating barely anything, spending countless hours in the bathroom, and cancelling all social plans.
We also don't know how long this will last. It can be a week or 2, or maybe several months. And the worst part is, while our flare may have subsided, the rut that we fell into while trying to heal remains. It becomes more difficult to become motivated to workout again, and going out feels more like a chore than fun. So, what can you do when you fall into this post-flare rut into order to get back into your groove? Here are a few of my favorite tips:
The post-flare funk is real: tips for getting out of it with Crohn's and UC
Dive into your favorite hobbies
There must be at least 1 thing that you enjoy doing that removes you from the present, takes you out of your head, and brings you joy for at least 30 minutes. Whatever it is – listening to your favorite music, gardening, reading a good book, scrapbooking – do it as much as you can. Preserving your mental health in addition to improving your physical health is critical at this time, and enjoying a hobby is 1 great way to step into that.
If one of your favorite hobbies is working out and you physically cannot do it at this time, staying active can still be possible, albeit with modifications. Do some light stretching or yoga, or even dance it out to your favorite song just to feel your body move and your heart rate increase.
Stay away from social media
Social media can be helpful when living with Crohn's or UC. There are many accounts that share patient experiences and offer tips to help get you through tough times, but a majority of social media is simply a highlight reel of people's lives, which can often make us feel like we are missing out or not living up to the standards of society while being sick.
I, personally, avoid social media especially when I feel like everyone is traveling or wearing the nicest clothes to go to the coolest restaurants. I also avoid social media so I don't have to look at delicious meals that I cannot yet tolerate due to my flare. In this case, ignorance is bliss, and I revisit the sites when I am back to my normal self, or at least mentally strong enough to not let it get to me.
Keep a gratitude journal
Losing yourself in a pool of dismay is common during flares and shortly afterwards. Keeping a gratitude journal helps you focus on what is going well and what wins (big or little count!) happened that day. Staying out of the spiraling drain of negativity is beneficial for both your mental and physical health. We cannot heal if we continue to feel sorry for ourselves and dwell on how bad life is.
So, journaling will help you see some light at the end of the tunnel and realize that while it may be a bad day, it is not a bad life, and there is at least 1 good thing that comes out of every day.
Don't compare your current self to your pre-flare self
In addition to comparing yourself to others on social media, comparing yourself to a previous version of yourself can also be detrimental to your physical and emotional health. Prior to my partial colectomy in April 2014, I had run my first and only half marathon in November. After my surgery, I physically could not walk outside of my 1-bedroom apartment without being in pain and fatigued.
I remember thinking, "How did I run 13 miles just 5 months ago, and now I can't even make it down my hallway?" It frustrated me, and made me feel defeated, making it even more difficult to recover. But, I shouldn't have been comparing myself to the November 2013 version of me, I should have been focusing on improving from who I was a day before, and continue getting stronger from there.
Giving yourself some grace with Crohn's and UC
We may not be where we were pre-flare, but someday we will be. Just take it 1 day at a time and focus on working on improving from your lowest point, rather than thinking about how fall you have fallen from your highest.
Getting out of your post-flare rut is definitely challenging. There are mental and physical hurdles to overcome, but consider practicing some or all of the tips above and you will be right back into your groove, happy and thriving.
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