IBD (General)

How to Deal with IBD and Body Image

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Living with IBD can be a journey not just physically, but mentally. The impact that IBD can have on one’s self-esteem and body image is often underestimated. In this article, we will explore the connection between IBD and body image and offer some practical strategies to help those who may be struggling with how they view themselves as they cope with their condition. 

The Body Image Challenge

Because IBD is unpredictable, and one can go into a flare suddenly, some people experience fluctuations in their weight, changes in appearance and altered body functions. These all can add to body image concerns, and lead to feelings of frustration, shame, anxiety, and unhappiness. It’s important to remember that one’s feelings are always valid. 

Here are some strategies to help improve your body image if you are living with IBD and are struggling.

  1. Shift your focus on achievable goals

Setting realistic and achievable goals related to overall well-being can help shift the focus from physical appearance to your health as a whole. Goals such as maintaining a balanced diet, staying active within your individual comfort level, and managing your stress all contribute positively to both your physical and mental well-being.

2. Practice Mindfulness 

When we are stressed, everything in our lives can feel a lot worse and we can find ourselves feeling quite negative because of this. Incorporating mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, can help manage stress. Also, reducing your stress will help your IBD symptoms as stress is a major trigger for symptoms for many with IBD. 

3. Celebrate small victories

Recognize and celebrate the small achievements in your IBD journey. Whether it’s a day without symptoms, successfully trying a new treatment, or simply getting through a challenging week, acknowledging these victories can boost self-esteem and foster a more positive body image.

4. Connect with others in the IBD community 

Joining support groups or online communities specific to IBD can foster a sense of belonging. Sharing experiences with others facing similar challenges can alleviate feelings of isolation and provide a platform to exchange coping strategies. Some ways that Ampersand helps you to do this is by providing regular community events (that are virtual), sharing stories on our social media (click here for Instagram and Facebook) and by connecting people in the community with one another through these platforms so that you feel less alone in your journey. 

IBD can have a profound impact on one’s body image. By trying out the strategies suggested above, you can navigate your feelings more effectively and make your experience with IBD a bit easier. It’s important to remember that managing IBD is a journey, and cultivating a positive body image is an ongoing process that requires patience, self-love, and a holistic approach to health and well-being. 

If you haven’t already, download the My IBD Care app to get invitations to upcoming virtual events straight to your email inbox and benefit from the tools offered in the app to better self-manage your condition with confidence. 

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