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Photo by Green Chameleon on UnsplashSomeone works at a table with a stack of papers and a mug.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

Someone works at a table with a stack of papers and a mug.

“I am just too busy.” This phrase is relatable to many of us.

Between work, school, childcare and all else, many of us likely feel the pressure to squeeze as much as possible into one day. When you add an IBD diagnosis to this equation, it seems unfeasible to fit in time for self-care.

I, like many others, have been guilty of not prioritizing self-care – especially when self-care means listening to my body’s limitations because of Crohn’s Disease. Pushing through abdominal pain to get schoolwork completed or ignoring symptoms because going to the doctor would take “too much” time, I put my Crohn’s disease on the back-burner. Sometimes self-care is just the act of listening to our body.

When I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s in college, I tried to power through rather than recognizing signs that my body needed rest. I never allowed myself a break from school, college athletics or any other activities.

I refused to take the time to assess the impact Crohn’s had on my eating and exercise habits, classwork, and general stress as I navigated a new diagnosis. Due to pain inflicted by my disease, I stopped eating regular meals. Even though I was not eating, I continued competing in collegiate sport. I tried to tell myself I could balance it all. The truth is, I could not.

Photo by Kolleen Gladden on Unsplash The starting line on a track.

Photo by Kolleen Gladden on Unsplash

The starting line on a track.

By neglecting signals from my body, I not only prevented myself from reaching a more controlled disease state, but I also ended up sustaining a high-risk stress fracture as I continued to train through my Crohn’s. This incident forced me to reassess the manner in which I was approaching my health.

I have learned that when we neglect caring for ourselves, symptoms and pain catch up with us. You can only ignore personal care for so long until you hit a point of self-combustion.

Often, when we speak of self-care, we envision a relaxing spa night or a weekend away. And of course, this is self-care; however, these options are not always the most feasible with a busy schedule. Self-care does not have to be some big event – integrating small acts of self-care into our daily schedule is how we best maintain physical and mental health.

Self-care can look different ways for different people. The next time you think about prioritizing self-care, remember to be honest with your own body. Understand the workload you can truly handle, recognize when your body needs a break and find support in family and friends. With that being said, do not forget to add a few relaxing spa days, evenings with a good book or calming morning walks.

 

• About The Author
Catherine is 23 year old Crohn’s patient from Denver, Colorado. She recently graduated from the University of Kansas where she majored in human biology and anthropology. She also ran on the cross country/track and field team while in college and was diagnosed with Crohn’s during this time. She is passionate about sports medicine and finding ways to integrate physical activity into the lives of individuals with IBD. She is pursuing medical school and hopes to become a sports medicine physician or gastroenterologist. She loves trail running, hiking, camping and spending time with family/friends.
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