What IBD Self-Care looks like for me
Self-care is a bit of a buzz word at the moment. It's often talked about in relation to fancy candles or expensive skincare-but for those of us with IBD, self-care is actually a crucial part of our treatment plan. It doesn't cost anything, and it doesn't have to be complicated, but taking time out for yourself is vital when living with any chronic illness. Here's what self-care looks like for me.
NOT Talking about my illness
One of the biggest problems with technology is that it amplifies everything. As someone who spends part of her working day writing about Crohn's Disease, I'm deeply conscious that I could spend the whole of my day talking about it-whether through my words, online forums and social media. It's amazing that technology allows us to find like-minded souls but sometimes it can be a bit much.
My facebook feed is full of IBD groups, my Twitter feed is full of articles from fellow Crohn's bloggers. Sometimes, if we don't step away from it, it can feel as if it has consumed us. So finding time to talk about other things-whether that is what I watched on television last night, my two dogs or even the weather (well, I am British) is actually therapeutic for me. So it's perfectly ok to say 'can we talk about something else? anything else?'
...BUT Talking about it if I want to
I'm not trying to contradict myself- but life with IBD seems a bit of a contradiction at times, so let's go with it. So, yep I give myself full permission to log-off and talk about everything but the state of my colon. However, I also acknowledge the power of support from my online friends (through this site and various facebook groups) and that it's ok to post 'Hi, today is not a good day...' and reach out to others if I just want to feel that someone else gets it.
Staying in my Pyjamas
Learning to know the difference between days when I need to accept defeat and days when I can push forward is really important. Before I'd beat myself up, but now PJ days are a good thing: I'm acknowledging I need time and rest, and the next day I will often feel much better for doing so.
Yep, another contradiction but exercise can be really great when I am feeling up to it. I have two dogs and daily walks with them is one of the most important steps for my self-care. It gives me a sense of purpose, gets me outside and makes me feel as if I've achieved something. Yoga stretches are also great for helping me feel as if my body can try to take care of myself.
I'm 32 years old, but I don't care- I love my adult colouring books and it is one on my favourite ways to unwind! There's something incredibly soothing about focusing your brain one thing and just simply colouring in the lines; your only goal to make something beautiful.
Putting me first
Is it always possible? As I'm not yet a mother, it might appear naive but sometimes we need to do it. Over the years, I have put myself under unnecessary stress by going along to events just to show my face, eating something just to be polite or not wanting to cancel (does anyone else think get incredibly excited when their friend/family member cancels as that gives you a free pass to do so next time-or is that just me?).
But eventually, you just have to make peace with the fact that the only person who is really going to stick up for you IS YOU. The only person who can say 'I can't handle this' or 'I can't eat this' is you, and it might seem a little selfish but putting yourself first is one of the best types of self-care you can offer yourself.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?