There is no right or easy way to live with a chronic disease such as Crohn’s disease. It is an ongoing journey; it can take a lot out of you and make you feel as if only bad days lie ahead. Yet, the truth is that everyone experiences difficulties in life and it is up to each and every one of us to decide how we are going to cope with them. We wake up often times wondering whether the day will bring us joy or misery. So today, put some things aside and start living your life the way that you want to.
Do what you love
Don’t let your disease keep you from doing the things you love. Ask yourself what it is that you are passionate about – art, music, dance, cooking – and surround yourself in the activity that makes you happy. Take it one step at a time, but take the step every day. Just as we are influenced by talks with family and friends, we are also influenced by our own mentalities. If you continue to believe that you can do something, go ahead and pursue it.
Appreciate the little moments
As the saying goes, sometimes you just have to “stop and smell the roses”. We all have our good and bad days, yet one thing that we all have in common is the joy of appreciating the little moments in life. Falling in love, getting married, your child’s first baby steps, your first home, your first volunteer job, and success of loved ones…all of these are moments that capture our attention and make life wonderful. Having a positive outlook on life can greatly impact your attitude. Even if you fall down, what is to stop you from getting back up again?
Surround yourself with loved ones
Do not dwell on what you cannot change and do not waste your time feeling sorry for yourself. If you are having a bad day, take some time to relax and clear your mind. Yet remember not to close yourself off from the outside world – most important, from your family and friends. They are the ones who have your best interest at heart and want nothing more than to be there for you – so let them. Be strong enough to let go of any anger or self-doubt that you may be feeling and make the choice to spend time with those who support you every single day.
Do not be afraid to take risks
Crohn’s disease involves many risks such as trying out new medication, eating new foods in hope that they do not trigger symptoms, changing doctors or hospitals, and more. Do not be afraid to take a leap of faith. Step out of your comfort zone and even if you make a mistake, move on and learn from it. Start every day as you would turn a page in a book – remember the previous moments but look forward to the new experiences ahead.
Believe and know that better days lie ahead
There will be days when all you will want to do is just stay in bed. Symptoms of Crohn’s disease such as spasms, abdominal pain, and cramping, can take a toll on anyone. While it is much easier for someone to say “hey you can get through this” than actually going through the experience you are, remember that they are right – you will get through it. If you believe that things will get better, they will. Life is a roller-coaster that has its ups and downs, but once you conquer the “downs”, the “ups” or better days lie ahead.
Spend some quality “me time”
Having Crohn’s disease can sometimes make you feel as if you are in a rout. Do not let your disease get you down – it is not your fault so do not put that kind of pressure on yourself. Take some time for yourself and set your goals, whether they are spiritual, emotional, or physical. Strive to achieve them and every now and then, take a moment to realize how far you have come. Life goes by so quickly so take it upon yourself to make the most of it.
Consider volunteering or joining a support group
There are over 1.6 million individuals in the United States with Crohn’s disease – so you are not alone. Sometimes the best way to relate to this illness is to inspire change and join a volunteer organization or support group. The opportunities to join such organizations and groups are endless and they offer guidance and support that you may be seeking. Speak up and share your stories. Knowing that someone is going through the same situation that you are and how they cope with it, may be exactly what you need to let your guard down and create a sense of emotional healing.
Strive for more
Find your purpose and move on towards creating a bright future for yourself. Some of you may believe that living with a chronic disease means that you can’t push through struggles in life and aim for something higher. Why shouldn’t you build on your achievements? Why shouldn’t you set goals for yourself? Find the things that make you happy and continue to strive for more – strive for contentment.
Remember that most individuals, such as you, can lead normal lives even with Crohn’s disease. You can still go to school, have a career, raise a family, and tend to chores and personal activities. Your doctor and a team of healthcare professionals will always be available to you should you have any questions or concerns and they can help you to get the most out of your treatment plan. Moreover, consider practicing a few ways in which you can make a difference to your health and overall well-being:
- Practice relaxation techniques (yoga, pilates, meditation, and more)
- Communicate your feelings to family members and close friends
- Form happy and healthy relationships
- Freshen up your surroundings
- Work with a dietitian or nutritionist
- Avoid harmful habits such as smoking or excessive drinking
- Practice good nutrition by maintaining a healthy diet
- Start a journal and write down your feelings, touching moments, achievements, and more
- Increase resilience
- Take good care of yourself
- Trust yourself to remain positive
Living with Crohn’s disease is definitely not easy and sometimes, it may even be difficult to remain positive in the face of a severe disease. Changes and challenges may lie ahead, but so do good moments and better days. You would be surprised as to how relaxing your state of mind – both physically and mentally – can help you push past the negativity and accept what you cannot change. Live in the moment and continue to pursue your goals and desires. Do what you love, appreciate the little moments, surround yourself with loved ones, do not be afraid to take risks, believe and know that better days lie ahead, Spend some quality “me time”, consider volunteering or joining a support group, and strive for more. With considerate planning and a positive attitude, you can learn to better manage your symptoms and live well with Crohn’s disease.