Every year, at the beginning of the year, there is a flurry of activity around New Year's Resolutions, and the habits to break or the habits to start on January 1st. Many people vow to lose weight, eat better, stop smoking, or exercise more. Many of these more common resolutions are probably not what is first and foremost in the life of people who have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Instead, I have some other suggestions that people with IBD can use to help themselves live healthier lives.
1. Be Kind To Yourself
It seems strange that we should need reminders to be nice to ourselves, but many of us do. Having IBD is a hard road, and it's not one that anyone would choose. Give yourself a break, and try to do something special for yourself. That could be as simple as taking time for a bath or going to a movie, or even going to bed early once a week to catch up on a little sleep. You deserve to give yourself a little TLC from time to time.
2. Stay On Your Treatment Plan
Your treatment plan is individualized to you. It could include medications, diet, meditation, exercise, or alternative and complementary treatments. Whatever your treatment plan includes, sticking to it is the best way to prevent future flare-ups. Keeping up with your plan and your schedule is not always going to be easy, but it's the best way to stay as healthy as you can. When you're tempted to stray, remember what happened the last time you didn't take your medication or you went off your diet.
3. Keep Your Appointments
It's tempting to skip appointments with your healthcare providers, especially if you are feeling well. You, of course, will want to see your healthcare professionals when you are sick, but seeing them when you are well is also important. In this way, you can discuss what is working for you right now, and your doctors get to see you when you are feeling good, which is important. Having your eye exam, teeth cleaning, or other routine tests at a time when you are not experiencing a flare-up is going to be much easier on you than it is when you are flaring.
4. Stop Denying Your IBD
I'm not saying you have to like your IBD, or all that it brings, or that you should stop looking for better treatments. I'm also not saying that you should accept being sick with flare-ups all the time, or accept being treated as a second-class citizen when it comes to your medical care. You deserve proper medical care, and you deserve to achieve remission. What I am saying is to stop denying that you have IBD. Your IBD brings some realities with it, and while they are not pleasant, it's better to acknowledge this part of your life, and work towards bringing yourself to overall better health.
5. Manage Your Stress
Stress didn't cause your IBD, but it sure doesn't help you feel better, either. We all have stress in our lives -- and stress can be both from good and bad events. The trick is to find an outlet to release your stress. It doesn't matter what you do to tame the stress monster, just that it is effective. There are as many ways to manage stress as there are types of stress, so take your pick of relaxing activities, and resolve to stick to them.