Crohn's Disease is a 'crohnic' condition which means at times it can be very difficult to live with.
Crohn's is not caused by stress, but emotional stress can influence the course of the disease and exacerbate the symptoms.
In my experience, stresses relating to family, friends and relationships are the main causes of a flare-up. As Crohn's is so unpredictable, this is not always the trigger, but it certainly helps to give me that extra wee kick in the guts im always so grateful for.
When im worried or upset, it's almost instantaneous the way my stomach echoes my mood. From intense pain to spending more than my fair share of me-time with the toilet, stress is usually the main catalyst. Of course the stresses of the disease itself are bad enough - painful and often embarrasing symptoms can cause worry and discomfort all of their own, leading to a vicious crohnsy-stressy-circle which is hard to break free from. God knows, God knows I want to break free ;)
So, in order to try and minimise stress in my day to day life, i've been researching the apparently most effective means of reducing stress. I now hold the keys to a stress free existence, and if you too would like a slice of this stress-free pie, read on.
1. Spend Time With Friends
Laughter is allegedly the 'best medicine' - although im sure after years of university, medical school and time spent on hospital wards, doctors may disagree. It is however, proven that spending time with people whom we love and enjoy being around makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside (I think thats the medical term), therefore causing relaxation and minimising stress. During stressful situations, our immune system gets depleted and making time to relax with friends can boost this back to full capacity.
2. Avoid Unnecessary Conflict
I am not an argumentative person, in fact I hate arguing. It causes me nothing but grief. I know people who relish a good argument and purposely wind people up in order to get into one. This is not my idea of a good time. Being argumentative, in most cases, causes stress for both parties. It should really be a case of trying to look at the situation objectively to decide if its really worth the stress. Look for a solution rather than continually beat each other over the head with the same points.
3. Realise Your Own Limitations
Lots of stress is caused when we try to take on too much. Work, responsibilities, and making time for family and friends can get on top of everyone. We often end up doing more than we really should, especially if you are a martyr like me who will spend an entire day off washing, cleaning, sweeping, mopping and scrubbing then complain she's not being taken away to the ball at night in a giant pumpkin :(
I've had to learn to just say no - difficult as I hate letting people down, upsetting or offending anyone but a little bit of assertiveness goes a long way.
4. Time Management
Trying to prioritise your day helps reduce stress. Make sure you do the most important jobs first (usually the least pleasant ones), the unimportant jobs will always wait. Try not to put off the un-pleasant tasks - even thinking about these, and your lack of backbone in putting them off will cause stress to creep in.
5. Look At Things Differently
When things are bothering you the most stressful thing you can do is dwell on the problem. Try to see things in a different light where possible. If the problem is light, try using energy savings bulbs or candles. Talking things over with someone impartial helps to get another perspective and can stop things getting blown out of all proportion. People not directly involved in a stressful situation can see things as they are without the emotion clouding their view. Or the smoke from those candles.
Other good relaxation techniques include engaging in physical activity (calm it) - any type of exercise works off the biochemical changes that can occur when you are stressed. Breathing exercises and massage are also good to help your body return to its normal healthy state.
So there you have it, follow these simple rules and stress will be a thing of the past. As long as you dont dwell on the past then you've just added another thing to dwell on. Sorry about that.
In my excitement to help you all lead stress free lives i've neglected to have any dinner, so clearly following my own advice and prioritising my time and putting the most important jobs first there.
You are welcome. And relaaax.