Life in lockdown has been somewhat difficult for everyone.
For those with Crohn’s and Colitis, there have been further challenges such as confusion over conflicting advice, locked public toilets, long periods of shielding and getting used to virtual consultations with IBD teams.
The recent Life in Lockdown survey by our partners, Crohn’s & Colitis UK, found that over half of people with IBD said that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. In the height of the lockdown, we also asked our My IBD Care community how they were feeling. Notably, 71% of our users felt moderately or highly anxious about the situation.
As government guidance is updated, there are questions around whether we will remain in lockdown, and so we have gathered some words of advice from our medical representatives behind My IBD Care.
A message from Ana Ibarra, IBD Specialist Nurse…
“Looking at Covid-19 admissions this past week, we are seeing a change. More patients are testing positive, this as per latest news might mean we are heading into a second wave. However we have reasons to be more confident, we understand more about the virus and the treatment possibilities. We have more data on how patients with IBD get affected by Covid-19 and what to do in different circumstances.
Communication between the IBD service and you is fundamental, we will continue to see service changes like the implementation of telemedicine, video appointments, self-administered therapies, home testing biomarkers and mobile applications to maintain our care delivery and safe IBD management. Continue to follow the government advice on new measures to come in the next few weeks and do not forget that your IBD team is still working hard and available for you to answer queries and help you with any problems in relation to your IBD.”
Dr Gareth Parkes, Consultant Gastroenterologist and Co-founder of My IBD Care…
A message from Lifestyle and Wellbeing experts at My IBD Care…
We can see that stress and anxiety around lockdown and the pandemic are heightened for those living with IBD. Many people find that managing stress and anxiety with Crohn’s and Colitis is important to keep flare-ups at bay. There are many things you can try to keep on top of your wellbeing. Here’s an example for you to try today…
Sophie Bostock, Sleep Expert on My IBD Care, explains the use of Ratio Breathing for relaxation…
Ratio Breathing focuses you to take a longer out-breath than in-breath. This helps you to switch the body’s nervous system from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic – thus having a relaxation effect.
Your breath is always with you and it is a really effective tool to use when you feel you need to re-balance, relax and de-stress. A small study of 29 people with IBD found that meditative techniques, including breathing, body postures, movement, and elements of mindfulness, were associated with reducing an inflammatory biomarker (CRP). Although we cannot be clear which intervention component was responsible for the effects, research has shown that the use of the breath is effective for relaxation and stress reduction in the general population.
5 Tips for Ratio Breathing
- Find a quiet place so you can focus on the sensations and sounds of the breath itself.
- Shallow, upper chest breathing is related to the typical stress response. Whereas, deeper, longer, abdominal breathing helps to control the nervous system and induces relaxation.
- You may like to place a hand on your chest and one in the abdominal area to help you distinguish where you are breathing from.
- Your upper chest and stomach should remain somewhat still. Allow your abdomen to work with the breath rather than your chest.
- Practice this regularly. Perhaps at the same time, each day (such as before bedtime or to take a break in your day) and you will begin to see the benefits for your wellbeing.
Subscribing to the My IBD Care free trial gives you access to all of our expert-led courses and activities. These can help you to look after your wellbeing and health outside of consultations.
We recommend our Life in Lockdown courses, Relaxation and Meditation course and Sleep and Anxiety course as useful places to start when looking at reducing stress and anxiety during lockdown.
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The app is free for patients and includes tools to help you self-manage your symptoms and offers advice on living with IBD.