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Managing ulcerative colitis (UC) can feel like a full-time job. It takes time and energy to keep up with appointments, make lifestyle adjustments, and otherwise adjust to living with a chronic illness. Sometimes it’s exhausting.
I was diagnosed with UC at 21 years old. It took a long time to figure out what works best in terms of managing the condition.
The following tools have helped me immensely on my health journey, but it’s important to remember that we’re all unique. What works for one person may not work for another, and that is so OK.
I call this the “medical cocktail” — the ingredients that go in your cocktail make it taste good to you, but that doesn’t mean I’ll have the same experience and vice versa. Considering more options can help you find what mix is your perfect match!
It’s easy to focus on your physical body and forget that UC impacts your mental health, too. Managing a chronic condition can be overwhelming. At times you might feel heightened anxiety or depression.
Finding a therapist or certified mindset coach who specializes in chronic illness can help you navigate the nonphysical side of having UC.
Therapy will arm you with tools to manage stress and reframe negative thoughts. It’s also a safe space to grieve
Having trouble finding a therapist? Mental Health Match is a great, free resource that can help.
Community is everything when you’re living with a chronic condition. UC can be isolating, and it might feel like nobody understands what you’re going through.
Finding a community where you feel seen and heard is helpful in difficult times and also in good times. Community members will cheer you on for wins that others may see as insignificant. Community is a priceless tool when it comes to managing your mental health.
Where do you find community? Try following hashtags on Instagram like #ulcerativecolitiswarrior or #spooniefamily. Start following accounts of fellow chronically ill folks who inspire you, lift you up, or have similar conditions and stories.
I’ve made many of my closest friends and connections on Instagram. I know our parents taught us to not talk to strangers on the internet, but in this case, it pays off in a very positive way!
Stress can be a big trigger when it comes to living with UC. In fact, it’s one of my biggest triggers. Any major move or life change has come with increased symptoms, no matter how diligent I am with my medication regime and diet.
Healthy coping tools for stress management that have worked for me include:
- creating a morning routine
- practicing sleep hygiene
- spending time alone every day
- starting a gratitude journal
Some free resources I’d recommend to get started are:
I truly believe Western and Eastern medicines pair beautifully together. It doesn’t always have to be one or the other.
I love my traditional gastroenterologist (and it’s so important to have one on your care team). But I couldn’t navigate this journey without a naturopathic doctor on my side as well.
In my experience, I’ve found naturopathic doctors spend more time searching for answers for me and finding solutions to treat my UC.
A quick Google search can typically find naturopathic doctors in your area. If a naturopathic doctor isn’t accessible to you, no worries!
Managing UC can feel overwhelming. But there are tools to help.
Between all of these resources, tools, and points of focus, managing my UC has become a bit easier, even on the hardest of days.
Natalie Kelley, the founder of Plenty and Well, is a chronic illness mindset and lifestyle coach, and the host of the Plenty and Well Podcast based near Seattle, Washington. After years of symptoms, she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 2017 at 21 years old. She started her blog and brand a few years prior to share about health and wellness. After her diagnosis, she changed paths to discuss life with a chronic illness and provide support for others. After a life-altering flare-up in 2018 and a hospital stay, Natalie realized her purpose ran deeper than just sharing wisdom on social media. She obtained her holistic health coaching certification which led her to where she is now. She offers women with chronic illnesses personal coaching as well as her group program, The Path to Empowered Acceptance, which helps individuals find acceptance, confidence, and joy on their health journeys.