A woman's hand tearing off a sheet on a calendar. The old and new calendar have the same inflamed bowel on them.

New Year, Same Disease

With every new year comes renewed hope and optimism. A fresh page on the calendar means endless possibilities when it comes to what we can achieve, both personally and professionally.

The one thing, however, that we know we cannot shut out with the old year is our IBD.  A new year, a new decade, a new millennium – we will always be Crohn’s and colitis patients.

So, how do we cope with knowing that our disease follows us through the changes in fashion, hairstyles, fad diets, and the like? By shifting our mindset and trying any of the tips below:

Continue to set personal and professional goals

Don’t stop setting goals for yourself, both professionally and personally. Despite not knowing if you will be hospitalized for a flare or undergoing surgery which will lead to more downtime than originally planned, you can still set realistic goals for yourself.

Rather than making them big, make them bite-sized. Take them month by month and set goals based on what you can control, such as how many times you will virtually visit with friends and family (personal goal) or how many clients you are going to talk to weekly (professional goal).

This will help you stay focused on things in life outside of your disease, and accomplishing them will improve your mental health, as well.

Don’t beat yourself up over setbacks

We all have setbacks. Some are minor, yet some are major and cause us to lose many days or weeks in the year thanks to our disease. But, don’t let a setback stop you from moving forward. 

Address the issue at hand and focus on getting well. Then, reevaluate your priorities and give yourself grace and time to heal as you navigate the little bump in the road. Just because you have a minor setback does not mean it will derail your plans for the rest of the year.

Making simple course corrections will allow you to make the necessary adjustments while also focusing on your health and getting well.

Lean on others for support

The one thing that does not change year after year (in addition to our Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) is the fact that there are always others out there willing to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. You may feel like you are a burden to always share your feelings with others or ask for favors, but that is what loved ones and friends are there for. 

And, when all else fails, there are many communities (like this one) or your local Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation chapter or support groups that can help you get by.

If you feel that your inner circle of friends and family are somewhat unreliable, use each new year as an opportunity to add more pillars of strength to your community who will help you get through the rough patches and lift you up when things get tough.

If you are feeling a sense of helplessness as another year passes and you are suffering from IBD, know that there are ways to cope and resources out there to help get you through. And, while this may be the same disease despite a new year, your outlook and outcome can be different from the last.

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