As you will remember from my last post, I recently felt like my Crohns health had taken a bit of a nose dive. I panicked and began look for reasons and ways to blame myself for it. I recently read a great post from fellow IBD blogger Jenna Farmer, about the self blame game. It’s a common, unhealthy habit, grasping at your potential wrong-doings and reasoning everything, when some things really are sometimes beyond your control.
As the weeks went by and I continued eating well, my fatigue began to let up. I realised that perhaps, instead of losing the faith in my efforts thus far – I should consider that maybe my body was just fighting off something grotty that it previously wouldn’t have had to strength to handle? Instead of knocking me down with a full blown virus, perhaps it was just putting up a good fight, and my flare-like response was actually much milder because of all the positive steps I’d been taking for the last three months.
I realised that reframing this experience made me feel much calmer about it. Ditching the blame and anxiety and replacing them with praise for the efforts I had been making. Because we can never really know for sure where we would be without making those efforts.
In a bid to celebrate my conscious efforts towards staying well, I wanted to share my 7 top tips for helping you feel tip top, when living with a chronic illness. So here we go:
1 Just say no.
If you’re not feeling up to going out, going to that party, traipsing through town to meet someone or even getting dressed in those snazzy waist pinching trousers – just say no. Ta.
Your time is yours, and your healing will thank you for it. Stay at home, stick on your cosy joggers and spend time recuperating, feeling safe and guilt free because it feels nice to be true to what you want sometimes.
2 Get witch-crafty
Making your own natural remedies is not only rewarding for your self care, but super fun. So bubble up your cauldron and get brewing some magic potions. Here’s a few that I’m converted to:
Turmeric milk is a golden drink, is a great anti-inflammatory, and taken regularly can boost skin health, digestion and immune system. If taking it doesn’t appeal – just chuck a few sprinkles of turmeric powder in your smoothie or tea, turmeric is a magic medicine of nature and it’s cheap as chips.
Raw Garlic as an anti-viral. Mash a clove onto a spoon, cover in honey and gulp the whole thing down. Great to treat viruses, sore throats and thrush.
Coconut oil + beeswax mixed with a few drops of your favourite organic essential oil to create a relaxing temple balm. And here’s a round up of some great DIY lip balm ideas if you like to lube up those pucker pieces.
3 Blitz, blend & blast
Investing in a food processor or blender will open up a world of possibilities, and you can get some pretty well priced options now. Using one will help you boost your nutrient intake, and make quick fruit filled breakfasts instantly hassle free. I also love having one so that I can make sweet bites that don’t contain refined sugar, and so I can grind up nuts into tasty dessert bases and protein balls. I get a lot of sweet inspiration from my favourite raw blog ; This Rawsome Vegan Life
4 Share the load
Living with a chronic health condition isn’t easy alone, and if you want to make more mindful health choices – it can be hard to find a community online that’s supportive and not merely trying to sell you some faux cure. When I was diagnosed with Crohns, I couldn’t believe how many forums and message boards were full of despairing people, who accepted no responsibility for their every day choices and the additional impact that those choices may have on their condition. It made be feel hopeless and resigned to my disease and doomed to a future of sickness and surgery. It took a lot of effort to find my place, and my people. But once I found some like-minded thinkers – I’ve never felt so supported and empowered about my say in the matter. This facebook group has been my best discovery and these nutritionistas my good friends. But if what you’re looking for doesn’t exist – why not create it yourself? Something my tech hero Seb Tucknott recently created: IBD relief is an online platform for networking and sharing tips for conscious living and wellness with IBD, and he created it, simply because it didn’t exist before and was so badly needed. Let your chronic woes become your chronic will to change things.
5 Make Time
Wether it’s working a bit more part time, or giving up your Sunday afternoons for meal prep, yoga or meditation – you need to create some time in your schedule to help yourself feel good. It’s easy to say ‘I don’t have time’, especially if you have a family and a hectic work schedule – but finding time is all about prioritising you, at least once a week – see tip number 1 for a key hint to making way for you.
6 Become Interested & Invested
The whole reason I started this blog was because I decided that I had a lot more questions than I did answers about my condition. What better way to combat that helpless feeling than to enjoy the process of asking questions? Learn about your anatomy, about nutrition, seek alternative schools of thought to the mainstream. If you have more knowledge at your fingertips, you’re able to make informed choices and feel empowered to do so. Sadly a lot of our doctors aren’t really as invested in reading up on the latest environmental theories or research around our conditions, so they are rarely going to entertain any such conversations. They only discuss proven scientific research, which is primarily funded by pharmaceutical companies who unsurprisingly negate to explore any studies that consider environmental factors and less-medicated approaches. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do your own research eh?
7 Eliminate & Observe
Consider cutting out some known problem foods, like wheat, dairy, grains and refined sugars, and note the results. A great way to keep track of what you’re eating and the response is this impressive app MySymptoms which helped me easily note what I was eating, and any symptoms I experienced. It then produces a handy report, and graphs which help you notice any correlations. The reason I like it iss because you can easily input your foods and it also remembers your favourites so you needn’t type them in each time. You can even scan barcodes of some pre-packaged foods. You can also create your own symptom sliding scales. So I created one for my eczema severity, one for amount of blood in my stool, and even one for the weird blotch i’ve been getting on my face. It’s an excellent tool, and there’s nothing quite like it as far as i’ve discovered. Well worth the pennies.
These are just my top tips, but i’d love to hear yours. What would you add to this list?