A positive outlook on life with IBD

We have all had bad days. You know, those ones where you just want to stay inside with the doona pulled over your head? We bet that most people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) would list the day they were diagnosed as one of those low points in their life.

Unfortunately, the digestive system is partly controlled by the nervous system and we all know how the nervous system responds to stress and anxiety. This connection has even prompted researchers to look into the link between IBD and mental illnesses.

It is only natural, especially immediately after diagnosis, to get a little down in the dumps about your condition. Sure, IBD will have a ripple effect in your life, but not to the degree that you won’t be able to have fun, feel good, be sexy and laugh off the embarrassing moments.

So, to help you build up your armour against those ‘doona days’, we recommend these everyday strategies for fighting off the IBD blues.

Journaling

Just because you feel miserable on Monday, doesn’t mean Tuesday’s going to be the same. Keeping a journal can really ram this point home. Many people have days that are full of emotional ups and downs, peaks and plateaus. By writing down your journey, you’re essentially mapping out all the times you’ve recovered from feeling low or wound up. By regularly reflecting on these tough times, you’re reinforcing your belief that no matter how bad things are today, there’s always a better tomorrow on the horizon.

Practice gratitude

A shift in perspective can be a powerful thing. Even during those moments when you wish you could run away from it all, there are always things you can be grateful for, such as the people in your life, the generosity of others, or even just your favourite coffee made by your local barista. By taking a moment to be grateful for these things, you’re channelling pure positivity, and sometimes that can be enough to weather a stormy mood.

Don’t just look to others for positive affirmation. Give yourself a self-esteem boost by reflecting on your own best qualities. Think about the achievements, skills and qualities you possess that fill you with pride. Everyone has a unique talent!

Practice patience

This one isn’t just about finding the positivity in life, but also about bettering yourself as a person. Developing and practicing patience as a skill will help you immensely through your IBD journey.

When you find yourself becoming impatient or frustrated, take a breath and take a step back to view the problem objectively, and decide for yourself whether or not it is actually worth getting worked up about. Soon you may find yourself better equipped to tackle traffic jams, lunchtime queues or annoying reality TV shows. Bit by bit, the act of focusing and practicing this virtue will help you deal with the craziness of everyday life – making those dark days a little brighter.

Staying positive throughout your IBD journey is the key to finding happiness, even in the most testing of times. Once you’re aware of your condition, you can take the necessary steps to stay in the best possible health. What may at first look like a lose-lose scenario may actually be your opportunity to live the healthiest life for your body and mind – so get out there and ‘carpe’ that ‘diem’.