Coping | Daily Life | IBD
Hiking, days at the lake, and camping trips – these are the parts of summer I look forward to the most. After getting through the dark and cold winter months, there seems to be nothing better than getting outdoors in the sun; however, this can be challenging when suffering from IBD.
When you struggle with chronic pain or unpredictable symptoms, leaving the safety of home for a bike ride or backpacking trip can be daunting. What if my IBD flares while I am gone? What if physical activity exacerbates my symptoms? What if I am out running and suddenly feel symptoms coming on? These questions and more commonly run through the head of IBD warriors.
The summer after my Crohn’s diagnosis, I was initially hesitant to partake in certain activities due to fear of my condition. At the same time, I did not want to miss out on enjoying the world around me and living life to the fullest.
I worked with my physician to gain better control of my Crohn’s; however, I still struggled to engage in activities in the same way as before my diagnosis. Mentally and physically, I placed roadblocks on myself out of fear of worsening my condition.
Through Crohn’s, I have come to better understand and respect my body. When you respect your body, you can still engage in your favorite hobbies but also recognize when it is time to listen to and accept signs from your body. You can still participate and find joy in your previous activities, while also recognizing when your body needs rest.
Needing to slow down or take a break to prioritize your health is not equivalent to quitting or giving up on yourself. In fact, acknowledging physical, mental, and emotional limitations (whether induced by IBD or not) is one of the most significant ways we show respect and love to our bodies.
This can look like taking it easier on a hike or run because your IBD has been worsening. It could also be taking a quick 15-30 minute break while outside to allow your body a moment of rest. Or, it can be spending a day relaxing on the patio and not engaging in strenuous activity at all because you realize your body needs a day off.
Learning to listen to my body with Crohn’s has been a challenge but also incredibly rewarding. By learning to recognize and respect signals from my body, I can approach my health and life in a much more balanced and sustainable manner.
This summer, as we approach the outdoors and our favorite activities, let’s also keep in mind what it means to respect and love our bodies. We can engage with the world just like anyone else while also understanding when we need a break or need to modify activities to better promote our health.