It's Crohn's and Colitis Awareness week! We are aligning with our partners, Crohn’s & Colitis UK this week and today's theme is mental health and wellbeing.
Did you know – Those with physical long-term conditions are two to three times more likely to experience mental health problems than the general population. This means it is even more important to look after our mental health alongside having a long-term physical condition such as IBD.
We spoke to one of our users, Fardokht, about how she manages her mental health and why it has been so important.
“Managing Ulcerative Colitis has been a slow learning process and finally realising that it is a balance of understanding myself better and managing a healthier way of life.
This has meant aligning my work to my personal beliefs / passions and goals so I don’t have the same everyday stress that was caused by working in an environment I didn’t want to be in.
Wellbeing doesn’t mean staying away from stress – stress is part of life.. But there are different kinds of stress and the one that my gut didn’t like, was the kind of stress that builds up from being somewhere you don’t want to be – whether its in work, in a relationship or anything else.
To understand this CBT has helped. But anything from talking to family, friends, or writing in a journal to get a much deeper understanding of my aspirations has all been part of helping to reduce the particular type of stress that I could see was my body saying – “you don’t want to be here – take a break.”
I’m now so thankful for having colitis as its served as an alarm bell – telling me that I’m not looking after myself. My gut is so in sync with my wellbeing – at least if I listen carefully I hope I won’t have to suffer in a more major way later down the line.
Some practical tips:
- Sleep well
- Meditate for 10/20 mins if you can
- Drink water throughout the day
- Take a walk
- Draw/ colour in/ make something
- Slow down for an hour in the day and plan the rest of the day so that its manageable.
- Don’t let any kind of stress build up internally – speak out.”
We also asked our wider community about their top tips for managing stress and looking after their psychological wellbeing. These were some of their ideas!
- Music, friends, gym, travels are my natural anti-stress.
- Yoga and meditation. I’m very new to meditation but I’m looking forward to learning more. Taking a deep breath and thinking things through logically also helps me, as that way I can get a plan in place which usually helps reduce my stress a lot.
- Since diagnosis, I’ve changed my mindset…if I cannot control the outcome of a situation (or someone’s behaviour towards me,) it’s not worth worrying about, so I don’t let it get to me. Put your right hand on your heart and say: ‘All is well’. Or ‘This time too shall pass’.
- Try to find a creative outlet, things like drawing or writing will help you visualise your emotions better.
- Talking to someone you feel comfortable with or someone going through similar issues can really help and it can be to easy to lock yourself away, try to give yourself half hour a day doing something you really enjoy, whether it be reading a book, sitting in the garden or a walk around the local park we all need that time for ourselves, living with IBD is so hard we need to do whatever we can at that time to keep us motivated.
Ampersand Health also recommend the volunteer groups that our partners, Crohn’s & Colitis UK, run. Meeting other people that understand your inner struggles can be one of the best ways to look after your psychological wellbeing. We have also linked the Crohn’s & Colitis helpline here – which is there for you to use if you feel you need extra support and signposting at this time. You can also find some of our top tips, such as taking daily Mindful Moments, by visiting our instagram post here.
Find ways to support your physical and mental health
The My IBD Care app is built to support those living with IBD, and that means offering advice and support to help you maintain your physical and mental health.