Some things happened recently in my life that made me realize– medications alone won’t help improve your quality of life. You have to want a better quality of life for yourself!! More importantly, you have to be willing to advocate for yourself and make your health a priority! I haven’t seen anyone really talk about this and I think it is desperately needed!
Guys, Lifestyle has a impact on your inflammatory bowel disease. How you live your life does make a difference to your symptoms. How so?
Take a look at your life in all these areas– sleep, eating, work, stress & anxiety levels. These are some basic areas of my life that I have had to correct since being diagnosed and I have noticed a difference in my symptoms. Was I cured? No, absolutely not! There is no cure for this disease. But I do find my days more manageable and my mental health has improved SO MUCH since paying attention to my lifestyle.
Take a look at some of these questions and see if they resonate with you—
Are you getting the correct amount of sleep that your body needs?
Are you eating meals around the same time every day? Are you eating consistently throughout the day? Are you skipping meals?
Is your work interfering with proper sleep and eating habits?
Is your work extremely physical on your body?
Do you work more than one job to pay the bills and find that it is stressing you out?
Do you find yourself constantly worrying about every little thing?
Are you constantly trying to juggle way too many things at once?
If any of these questions ring a bell for you, then I suggest you talk with your healthcare team about your lifestyle and see if they believe you would benefit from some changes. A lot of people don’t even consider that part of their problem could actually be the way they are living their life day in and day out. Adjusting some things here and there, may help improve your symptoms. Chat with your doctors!
Before I started making changes in my life, I spoke with all my different doctors and nurses. I asked their opinion what they thought about my lifestyle and if it would be sustainable. The consensus I got from multiple different medical professionals was that it was in my best interest to make a change.
What changes have I made in my own life?
I had to quit my job. It was extremely physical and taking a toll on me worse than ever. Everyday I would come home feeling completely burnt out and I didn’t know why. My job prevented me from keeping a normal eating and sleeping schedule, which I didn’t realize at the time was super important. My job interfered A LOT with my sleeping patterns which would upset my system dramatically. It would take almost a week for my system to fully recover. It also made treatments a little more difficult, since I would have to take off work and not get paid. Having IBD with my particular job was actually starting to cost me money as opposed to making me money. So, I needed to move on. Sad as it was, my job was just not conducive to my health improvement. Now, It took me a WHILE to come to this conclusion. I loved my job and it was exactly what I went to school for. It was an extremely tough decision to make, but the right one. Now does everyone need to make a change that drastic? No, I doubt it. You have to decide what is right for you and consult your healthcare team. This disease has a different impact on each individual. Everyone’s situation is a different equation of lifestyle factors.
I got on a regular sleeping schedule. I get up around the same time every day and go to bed about the same time as well. This routine has improved my fatigue symptoms. Honestly, if I don’t get a enough sleep every single night I feel it the next day, and then it’s worse the next day and so on. The longer I go without proper sleep the longer it takes for me to recover & my fatigue worsens. I’ve noticed things can snowball pretty quickly.
I committed to an eating routine. I make sure to eat 2 or 3 meals each day around the same time. I usually do a smoothie packed with nutrients around lunchtime. This is the only way I can get in the fruits & veggies my body needs, since I can’t eat most of them on a normal low residue, low fiber diet. If I’m not feeling as well–I will do small snacks consistently throughout the day, so my symptoms don’t worsen.
I also do my best to limit stress. This is the hardest one! You don’t have too much control over stress. Life is stressful. There is just no getting around that in this day and age. BUT you can train yourself you react differently to stress… over time. I am in the middle of that process right now. I use mindfulness and breathing techniques to help with stress and anxiety! And it does work for me. I notice a pretty significant improvement since I was first diagnosed. When those tools don’t work for me, I just do the best I can. Sometimes that means distracting my brain in whatever way I can come up with at the time! No one is perfect–remember that and go easy on yourself.
I hope sharing these things with you has made you really stop and think about a different component to improving your quality of life. Medication or medical treatment is one component. But if you are juggling 3 jobs to pay the bills and stressing over every little thing that jumps on your plate during the week, do you think that medication is going to make a lick of difference? That can’t be healthy for your body! The body isn’t meant to live in a constant state of stress and anxiety. And honestly, no one should have to live like that, right?
Talk with your healthcare team about your concerns if you think something in your lifestyle may be contributing to your symptoms! You shouldn’t have to live with it! Make a commitment to yourself. YOU should be the priority and everything else will fall into place.
How have you noticed that your lifestyle impacts your IBD? Does sleep effect you as bad as it does me? I’m curious if it is the same factors that upset your disease! Have you noticed any other factors that play a part into your disease activity?