It’s the time of year where colder days, Christmas pressure and busy weekends are on the rise. The added stress from this lead up can be tough while living with a Chronic illness. With 14 years of Crohn’s disease I have always found this time of year to be the most tricky. Most flare ups have either started or been at it’s worst around Christmas. I’ve collated some tips and ways on how to live comfortably though a flare up.
Day to Day with Chronic Illness
Every Crohnic illness is different but day to day living can be a struggle. The way I have been dealing with it recently has been more than a struggle than ever before. I feel the distance from my family and time of year makes it hard to stay positive. Each day I remind myself to always put my body and health first and minimise the feelings of guilt that can creep in. This has meant cancelling plans last minute which isn’t fun t do but means valuable time to rest and heal. It’s so important to learn that it’s not our fault and if our illness means letting people down sometimes, then thats the way it is. If that person is a good friend they will completely understand. It’s perfectly normal to feel bad, I always feel sad about it but then when I am better I try make it up to them.
Other day to day things I have found to help me is gentle exercise, hot water bottles, naps, staying warm and focusing on fun hobbies. The most important of all though is having a great support system around you. Text or write letters to friends and engage online with others who also have Chronic illness as they truly understand your situation. It can help get a sympathetic ear to talk to, who can give genuine good feedback and advice.
Managing expectations is one of the hardest things to do with an illness. We all live such a fast paced lifestyle and have high standard of things we want to achieve, or at least I do. When my illness holds me back from my work, friendships and other things I enjoy I really resent it. Learning to manage expectations is a daily occurrence and an important one for mental wellbeing. I now really appreciate the small things and often invite friends to mine, watch a film or make things to keep busy. If in pain then popping on my favourite films and understanding that my life will be slower than other peoples. Just because the rate in which I achieve is lower, it doesn’t mean I won’t ever get there. Always remember that, it’s tough sometimes I know but managing your expectations will mean your mental wellbeing and health is better for it.
Learning ways of prioritising is an amazing thing to do when you still have deadlines at work. I find writing everything down and highlighting in colours to suggest urgent, important, and can wait is a great place to start. If some of the tasks seem huge, break each one down again, listing smaller easier chunks to worn on.
On bad days put any energy you do have into self love. It’s only recently I realised when I am ill I still put other first and then realise my skin, hair and everything else suffers. Having a day or evening to pamper yourself is the ideal treat to feeling good. Start with a nice bath, paint your nails, do a mask on your hair and use a face mask. The little things like this may not seem like much but honestly can make the world of difference. Complete with some freshly washed pyjamas and a good book in bed.
Well we all know how this time of year can be crippling with fatigue. If you are going through a flareup, you’re not alone! Fatigue is one of my daily battles and luckily I am freelance, meaning I can get up a bit later if needed. Sadly we don’t all have that luxury which I know I am very lucky to have achieved. Some tips for this is to drink plenty of water each day it may seem basic but 3 litres works wonders. It may seem like the last thing you want to do but gentle exercise can stimulate healing, make you sleep better at night and keeps your muscles from waisting making your more tired in the long run. Simple things like a brisk walk, uphill walk on a treadmill or ten minutes on a bike is good low intensity stuff.
If all else fails make sure you get 8 hours of sleep each nights. Oversleeping can actually make symptoms of fatigue worse, try a gentle walk to the park or shop each day. Another simple and obvious one is eating plenty of greens like spinach, kale and avocado. They are full of vitamins and nutrients and what you put in your body is crucial to gut health and immune health.
Lastly, still make time for having fun. I’m the worst for this as start to feel sorry for myself and think friends wont want to hand with me. Just ask them to come round and keep you company. Good friends will rush round with mince pies in hand and good chat. Enjoy the small things in life and learn to accept bad times can be tough. Appreciating the simple moments of good health, good friends and comfort is so important.
I really hoped this blog post helped or at least shined a light on Chronic Illness. Understanding your body, mind and also the environment around you is key so start with them first. You can get through this just like I am right now. Bad days don’t mean failure, they mean strength and learn from each one of them to bounce back and fight harder when you can.