Tips for taking care of my mental health as an IBD patient during COVID-19
By Amanda - Gali Ambassador
As an IBD patient, I’ve experienced “self-quarantine” or “self-isolation” many times before when my disease has been flaring, when I haven’t felt good enough to go anywhere or do anything, and when I’ve been recovering from hospitalizations or surgeries. When the COVID-19 shelter in place began, I thought I’d be well prepared for what everyone else was experiencing for the first time.
I’ve noticed a few key differences between choosing to stay home for weeks on end in the past, and being mandated to do so now. To start, there are no visitors allowed. Nobody can come over and sit on the couch with me, help me in my house, with my daughter, or with my health. Next, getting groceries, personal healthcare items and other things have become much harder. It’s taken serious online searching, being open to substitutions and cancellations, increased prices, etc. And finally, there’s no break. There’s no feeling well enough to walk around Target or go to Starbucks for a treat.
These differences have challenged my mental health during this period of global social isolating. I’ve been realizing that I have to work harder than usual to manage my thoughts and feelings because stress, anxiety, and depression directly impact my IBD symptoms. I want to share what’s been helping my mental health over the last 6 weeks, and I’d love for you to share any other tips you’ve used!
1) Getting outside. Fresh air is paramount to my thought clarity. If the weather isn’t conducive, I try to at least open the windows and take a few deep breaths.
2) Structuring my days. I do better when there are not huge gaping holes of time I have to fill without being able to leave my house.
3) Having a can-do list. Less pressure than a to-do list, but a list nonetheless of things I can turn to for creativity, inspiration or comfort when I’m feeling bored, restless, lonely or upset.
4) Gathering my “for fun” items in one spot of my house – this way I don’t have to go searching when I have the physical energy/mental space to do something fun.
5) Facetime! I find that video chat, scheduled or impromptu (unless I’m in the bathroom!) has helped me to feel connected with others during this time when we can’t have any visitors.
Have you tried any of these? Tell me more!