Knowing When to Press Pause on Life With IBD
Take a moment. Slow down for a second. If you think of your energy level as a gas tank, where’s the gauge? Do you constantly feel as though you’re on “E”? Do you find you push yourself to accomplish tasks to get through the day-to-day in utter exhaustion?
For those of us in the IBD community, fatigue is extremely common. It’s an all-encompassing feeling of trying to give something your all, with the understanding that you are pushing yourself when you have nothing to give.
Life is busy.
It’s hard to press pause and take a moment to breathe. But, as a mom with Crohn’s disease who has a one-year-old, I’ve been experiencing fatigue on a whole new level. There’s IBD fatigue. Then, there’s IBD fatigue, plus parenthood. It’s a lot. Nothing prepares you for it. And when we’re responsible for the life of another human being, we often leave no time or energy for ourselves. It’s a difficult balance, but one that needs to be discussed.
When you consistently push yourself to the brink of exhaustion you are opening yourself up to the possibility of a flare. Stress coupled with fatigue is a recipe for disaster. It’s your body. It’s your disease. You know it better than anyone else. Look for the warning signs. Catch it before it’s too late.
It’s ok to spend a day on the couch with your kids. It’s ok to cancel plans if you’re not feeling up to it. It’s ok to verbalize that you need help. Don’t feel like you are less than because sometimes you need a day to re-group and fill up your energy tank. It will do wonders for your physically, mentally and emotionally. Recharging gives your body a break and allows you take on each day with IBD to your fullest potential.
The power of self-care needs to be discussed. It needs to be priority. Think of self-care as a combination therapy, just as important as your medication. You need to target and take care of this disease from all angles.
Easier said than done...
I know it’s easier said than done. I’m guilty of this, too. We have our ever-growing to-do lists, chores and social engagements. It can be overwhelming, but we all need to recognize the power of not sweating the small stuff and learning to say “no” when we need time to focus on ourselves.
It doesn’t have to be some large, grand gesture. A simple walk in the park. Sitting at Starbucks. Taking a bath. Going to bed super early. Ordering in take out rather than cooking for your family. Do the little things so you can be present for the big things. You’ll be a better parent because of it.
The first step is to be mindful of when you’re pushing yourself too hard. The second step is doing something about it. Voice your concerns before your fatigue becomes debilitating. Turn the negative, to positive. Address your need for rest before it's too late. Your body will thank you and you won’t be disappointed.
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