Caring For Yourself…Always
Living with IBS presents many challenges. Some are easily overcome and others are not. While the idea of ‘mind, body, spirit’ has been tossed around in popular culture, the idea has to be taken seriously when dealing with IBS and the disruption to our being that inevitably occurs with this condition. A simple way to begin taking steps to feel better about living with IBS is the thought that you should care for yourself ALWAYS. Caring for yourself may seem simplistic, but if you are mindful of your actions as you go through the day, week, month, year, you will find that we often make choices based on habit, impulse, others expectations of us (or perceived expectations) and a variety of other environmental, physiological and psychological factors. Let us be aware of our actions and try to choose the action that is best for us and our condition. Through practice of mindfulness and a reevaluation of our behaviors, we may find a way to the joy and happiness that we may be missing out on right now.
Peace of mind
The fact that we all have different personalities, genetics, tolerances and modes of IBS, it is impossible to lay out a plan that will work for everyone. I can only share my story, as it exists today, as to how I try (key word TRY) to approach every day with this condition. For me it starts with my peace of mind. I make sure to practice meditation and journaling every day. There are more meditation methods and purposes than you can shake a stick at, so do a little research and find the meditation that’s right for you. If meditation is not for you, breathing exercises, yoga, running and a number of other options are available. Do what makes you comfortable, there are no expectations other than the hope that this will make you feel a little better. Journaling, lists, poetry, prose – writing about the way you feel helps you remember how you were feeling on a given day. With our crazy lives and the multiplicity of moods we experience, it is very easy to forget your own story. Your story is important, as it will help you make decisions about your wellness as you go along.
Obviously, I have been taking my diet very seriously since diagnosed with IBS. I’ve been eating ‘clean’. I have discovered that I don’t do well with dairy, which absolutely sucks since I love cheese. I can tolerate yogurt and I tend to eat a lot of little meals (yogurt, fruits, vegetables, rice, chicken, some fish). My snack has become rice cakes. what? they’re GOOD! Really. While the diet is not exciting, it suits my needs and for the most part keeps my body in check. I suppose I should mention my dedication to probiotics at this point, as I’ve seen a noticeable change in IBS’s behavior since I’ve started taking them every day. Last, but not least, WATER. Lots and lots of water. While this might not be good for your variety of IBS, I have found water to be very important and it also keeps me from taking down the 90 ounces of coffee that I consumed in my previous life.
I suppose the last key thing that I have been keeping up on is my relationship with my doctor’s and my medications. I make sure I have the medications prescribed with me at all times. No matter where I go I have what I need, just in case. I have a relationship with my GI doc, my therapist and my psychiatrist. I don’t miss appointments and I am as open as I can be about my current status when I meet with them. If you cannot be open about how you are feeling, you will not get what you need.
So, this is what I’ve been TRYING since the onset of IBS. It has kept me functional and stable. I try to incorporate new things as I move along the path. Stay flexible, stay open. We may not be able to completely remove IBS from our bodies, but we may be able to create a state of equilibrium that we can be comfortable with. Until next time, do what’s best for YOU.
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