Many IBD patients have found themselves in a flare over the past year due to the stress and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. So far, I have been able to maintain my symptomatic remission during this time, but that does not remove the constant fear I have of possibly developing a flare. Let’s be honest, there is a lot going on in the world right now that is stress and anxiety-inducing. It is okay to feel overwhelmed. This just means we need to take a step back and reevaluate what we are doing to put ourselves first. Today, I would like to share with you some of my tips on managing a flare.
1. Create a consistent routine.
As our days get busier, it is easy to set aside the routine we used to have and skip things. I find that when I am busy, I don’t get to do the things I love and that in itself stresses me out. When in a flare, it is so important to create a consistent routine that removes any uncertainty about your day. Uncertainty can only make your stomach do flips and cause more anxiety. If you stick to a solid sleeping, light exercise and eating routine during a flare, then you are training your body to rest and recharge.
2. Clear your plate.
By this, I don’t mean clearing your plate after dinner. I mean clearing your plate of responsibilities that no longer serve you. As soon as my schedule started filling up again after the lockdowns, I had to reevaluate where I was dedicating my time and see if it was still a priority. Clearing your schedule during a flare can be important in allowing you to make time for yourself and put your health first. Of course, you can still do all those things you love to do, but if you truly cannot devote your time to something, then remove it.
3. Take it one day at a time.
It has always been hard for me to not look to the days ahead and worry about the future. I am a natural planner and a chronic worrier. By focusing on today and the tasks you have at hand, it forces you to be present in the moment. I find that I am much happier and worry less when I am present. Examples of this could mean reducing your screen time on social media and replacing it with reading a book. Something to get your mind off the flare and keep you occupied.
4. Write it out.
A great tool I have recently discovered is writing out how I am feeling when my mind is swirling with negative thoughts. It is so easy to be down and negative when in a flare because you feel like all hope is lost. I suggest keeping a journal next to your bed and if you find your mind racing, pick up a pen and write it out. You will find that you feel better after getting your thoughts out on paper. Writing has definitely become a form of therapy for me and something that I truly enjoy.
These are just a few tips of mine for managing a flare. A lot of these are easier said than done, but once you get into good habits it will set you up for future success and give you the tools needed to fight off your next flare (if you ever get one!). I think the most important thing to remember during a flare is to think positive. There is light at the end of the tunnel, which you know if you have been in remission before. It takes a lot of self-reflection and time devoted to yourself to understand what you need to do to get healthy again. I hope these tips are helpful and I wish you all good health and peace!
What tips do you have for managing a flare?