- Living with Crohn’s disease can be stressful. Stress can make symptoms worse.
- Practicing self-care can help you manage your condition and relieve stress.
- Nutrition, exercise, social support, and staying on your treatment plan are all part of a Crohn’s self-care routine.
The most obvious effects of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease, are physical symptoms like belly pain, diarrhea, fatigue, and weight loss.
This chronic inflammatory condition can also leave a mark on your mental health. Your gut and mind are more closely connected than you might think.
Crohn’s symptoms can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression. And when you’re stressed, anxious, or depressed, your symptoms are more likely to flare up, according to
You can take steps to manage how you feel. Many wellness habits help both your body and mind.
Diet and exercise, along with relaxation techniques such as deep breathing and meditation, can keep both your Crohn’s symptoms and stress levels in check.
Self-care is how you manage your condition and handle challenges or stresses that Crohn’s causes. This includes taking medications as well as following healthy lifestyle habits.
Self-care starts with learning about Crohn’s disease and how it affects you. Once you start paying attention to your symptoms, you can learn what makes them worse or better and how they affect your daily life.
With this knowledge, you can make changes to slow Crohn’s disease and manage its symptoms. These modifications help minimize the condition’s effect on your overall health and well-being.
Your self-care routine might include:
- setting a timer each day to take your medication
- cutting out dairy foods when you’re in a flare
- planning bathroom visits during the day
- scheduling exercise into your routine
- going to bed early to make sure you get enough sleep
- practicing meditation
Caring for yourself can help you better manage Crohn’s disease.
A 2019 review of 9 studies looked at the different self-care techniques used by children and teens with Crohn’s disease. The researchers found that young people tried a variety of strategies to manage their condition, from diet changes to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
The study authors noted that previous studies found that strategies including nutritional changes and improving psychological well-being appeared to be helpful in self-managing Crohn’s disease.
It was hard for the researchers to tell which strategies worked best, because there weren’t enough studies on any self-care technique.
Different techniques may work better for some people than for others. You might have to try a few approaches to find the ones that work best for managing your Crohn’s symptoms.
Here are a few self-care tips you can try to manage Crohn’s disease:
Spot the symptoms
Tracking your symptoms helps you start to see patterns. You’ll learn which activities worsen your symptoms and when a flare is about to hit. You can use this information to have more productive conversations with your doctor and adjust your routines.
Common Crohn’s symptoms to track include:
- bloody stools
- belly pain
Tweak your diet
Some foods are known for triggering Crohn’s symptoms. Common trigger foods include:
- fruits with the skin on
- cruciferous vegetables like broccoli
- dairy products
- sugar alcohols, found in sugar-free gum and sweets
- sugary, high fat, and spicy foods
- caffeinated beverages
Keeping a symptom diary can help you connect your dietary choices with symptom flares. Experimenting with different foods can help you find a diet that offers the right balance of nutrients and keeps your symptoms at bay.
Take your medication
Medication helps control inflammation. They can put Crohn’s disease into remission and keep it there. Forgetting to take doses or going off your medication could lead to more severe symptoms and an increased risk for relapse.
It’s important to keep taking your medication, even if you feel better. If you have side effects that bother you, ask your doctor for advice.
Living with a chronic health condition can be stressful. Mindfulness practices help calm your mind and relax your body. These may include:
- deep breathing exercises
These practices help with depression, anxiety, and quality of life. They could have direct effects on your disease, too. A small
Exercise may be the last thing you want to do during a flare. But once you feel better, light exercise such as walking or riding your bike is a great way to reduce stress, and it may help control inflammation.
Staying physically fit is good for your overall health and for managing IBD. A small 2021 study of people with Crohn’s disease found that more physically active people had less severe symptoms.
Before you start exercising, ask your doctor what program is safest for you. And remember to stay hydrated when you work out.
When you’re living with a chronic condition, it helps to know that someone has your back. Support can come from friends, family, or your partner. Surround yourself with people you trust and let them know when you need them to step in and help.
If you need more support than the people around you can offer, join a Crohn’s disease support group or talk to a therapist or counselor.
Self-care is an important part of managing Crohn’s disease, along with medication and surgery. Eating a nutritious diet, exercising, getting support, and staying on your treatment plan can help make this condition less stressful and easier for you to manage.