Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness training are good for everybody, but they are especially great for IBD patients. IBD can be extremely stressful at times, especially for students and those with full-time careers. Meditation and mindfulness help people to find peace and calmness. I have used meditation and other forms of mindfulness training to help me deal with the stress of IBD, and I found that the best part of mindfulness is that it only takes a few minutes a day to calm down and release your stress.

According to a study conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health, mindfulness can bring long-lasting improvements in mental health and quality of life for patients with IBD. The researchers tested patients after eight weekly group sessions and an additional day-long intensive session. The sessions included guided meditation, mindfulness exercises, and group discussions of challenges and experiences. Patients were also encouraged to perform daily meditation at home. Those who completed the program experienced lower anxiety and depression scores and improved physical and psychological quality of life. They also had more awareness of inner and outer experiences. Six months later, they continued to experience a significant reduction in depression and improvement in quality of life.

While mindfulness training clearly helps to improve the mental health of IBD patients, it could also improve their physical health. Sometimes, stress can cause one to relapse into a flare up; if patients can reduce stress through mindfulness training, they may be able to prevent flare ups.

Obviously, not everyone has the time to go through as intense a program as the subjects in the study did. However, you can still practice mindfulness at home. I find meditation to be the most helpful for me. I use the Calm app to meditate, and I’ve heard Headspace is another great app for meditation.

Remember that small habits can lead to big changes in your life. See if daily acts of mindfulness can change your life.

 

 


Flying with IBD

 

If you have IBD, you may be concerned about traveling long distances by plane. Even though you may be worried and feel that it’s impossible for you to travel, there are ways for you to prepare for long journeys.  

 

Medication

  • Make sure to bring an adequate amount of medication to last for the entire trip, as you don’t want to end up without any medication.  
  • Bring your prescription forms just in case you do run out of your medication, so you can get it refilled as soon as possible.  
  • Keep your medication close by, preferably in whatever bag you may be holding. Do not keep it in a checked bag if you are traveling- your luggage may get lost. 
  • Take over-the-counter medications with you to help manage milder symptoms. 

 

Documents

  • Keep some form of your medical history with you while traveling. 
  • Keep your doctor’s phone number saved in your phone for emergencies. 
  • Keep your insurance card with you at all times. 

 

 

Booking and Preparing  

  • When booking your flight, try and find a seat available in the aisle and close to a bathroom. 
  • Book a specific meal plan for your flight ahead of time, so you can eat on the plane. 
  • Bring snacks that are appropriate for your specific diet needs. It’s better to bring them from home than it is to buy them at the airport. 
  • Buy a water as soon as you arrive at the airport, so you don’t become dehydrated on the flight.  

 

 

Asking Questions  

  • See if you can find a map of the airport or ask an employee where all of the bathrooms are located. 
  • There are cards available that allow you to skip the line in the bathroom if you let the airport know ahead of time. 
  • Ask if you can upgrade your seat to a more comfortable area if possible. 

 

Being Safe 

  • Get all of your vaccinations ahead of time, especially if you are leaving the country. 
  • Don’t travel if you feel like you are getting sick. It could make your symptoms worse. 
  • Be careful with eating. Airport food is not always the freshest or the healthiest, and it could potentially harm your digestive system.  
  • Get travel insurance to cover your IBD problems if possible. Make sure that you are fully covered before flying.  

 

It is fairly easy to fly with IBD after you do it a few times.  Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask the employees’ questions if necessary. Don’t let yourself suffer in silence. Traveling is meant to be fun not to feel like torture.  

 


Talking to Your Teachers about IBD

Being a student with IBD can be ridiculously difficult sometimes.  I know, first hand, that schools and teachers just don’t get it.  However, you have to work with your parents to make school a little bit easier. 

 

The first thing that you should definitely do if you have been diagnosed with IBD is send out an email at the beginning of the year, explaining what your disease is and how it affects you.  If you’re in a flare, it isn’t going to help if your teachers and the school don’t understand what is happening.  They might just think that you have a stomach bug when you actually suffer from a debilitating disease.  

 

You might even want to set up a meeting with all of your teachers and your parents, so they fully understand everything that you go through.  Do not be shy about telling them what’s wrong because they will help you out more if they understand.  

 

Make it clear to your teachers that you don’t want them to treat strangely, especially in front of your peers.  This way, you won’t stick out to your classmates.  They won’t even know if you don’t want them to. 

 

One of the most important things is to try and get accommodations for your disease.  If you attend a public school, the school is required to follow these accommodations by law.  Even if you attend a private school, you can still talk to the staff and ask for accommodations.  These are especially helpful if you are in a flare, and you are finding it difficult to go to school or stay in school.  

 

The best thing to do is to just simply be open with your teachers and the school in general.  They won’t judge you for your disease.  If you reach out to them, they will most likely be accepting and helpful.  Don’t stay quiet if you are sick.  It isn’t your fault that you are having trouble in school, and if you tell them, they will know this.  

 

I hope that this post helped some students, who have a difficult time talking about their IBD.  I will have a more in-depth post up later about accommodations and the 504 Plan specifically.  

 


Dealing with Depression and Anxiety

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a painful and upsetting disease that can change how you live your life. The pain, bleeding, and other severe symptoms associated with IBD often lead to depression and anxiety. IBD can isolate you from the rest of the world, causing you to feel lonely and unheard. 

Recognizing the signs of depression and anxiety that may accompany IBD is essential for dealing with these feelings. Severe sadness, suicidal thoughts or actions, tiredness, loneliness, and a lack of desire to do anything at all usually indicate you are suffering from depression. If you feel you are nervous all the time, shaky, guilty, or suffer from panic or anxiety attacks, you are most likely suffering from anxiety. Since IBD and mental disorders go hand in hand, they need to be taken more seriously, especially among teenagers. 

Although it may sound difficult, one of the best ways of dealing with feelings of depression and anxiety is to talk to your parent(s) or guardian(s) about how you are feeling. Talking to a parent or guardian can help you work through the emotional pain, and they may be able to find professional help for you. If you don’t feel comfortable approaching your parent(s) or guardian(s), then you can try to get help on your own. The internet offers many forums for people with IBD where people ask for advice. These forums create a community among IBD patients, and it lets them feel less alone. Other people suffering from the same disease completely understand what you may be going through. For people in need of support, communicating with people who have had or are having the same experiences can be comforting. You might also consider talking to your close friends about your disease, letting them know how it makes you feel. In addition to your family, your friends provide a system of support for you. They will help ensure you never feel alone as you battle this illness. 

When dealing with anxiety, it is crucial that you find ways to calm yourself down.  I have found that simply drinking cold water and lying down for a few minutes to catch my breath can be highly effective at calming me down. Reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music can also help. Talking to others is another great option. You might also consider engaging in hobbies, which tend to preoccupy the mind and help you not feel as on edge about everything. Becoming happier is easier said than done, but finding happiness is possible. Find something to look forward to every single day, even if it’s as simple as drinking your favorite coffee in the morning. Always look for the good that happens in a day, and remember to keep fighting no matter how hard it may be. 

The most critical thing to remember is that if you really think something is wrong and you could potentially be a danger to yourself or to someone else, please seek professional help. You are not alone, and there are people out there who would love to help you. Do not wait to get help if you feel you are suffering from depression or anxiety as a result of your IBD. 

This article that I found is very helpful for individuals suffering from depression and IBD as it gives some simple tips on how to manage both your mental health and physical health. I also found some research on the prevalence of anxiety and depression in IBD patients, which gave me a lot of insight into just how common it is to suffer from mental health problems along with IBD.