There are many articles and strategies geared toward achieving remission when you are in a flare-up, however there is not much information to be found on what we should do when we are currently in remission. How do we take care of ourselves aiming to maximize the length and quality of our remission period, and how to make the most of it. I've been doing some research into this topic and here is my list of suggested tips and strategies.
The number one suggestion is and should always be to talk to your doctor and find out what he or she suggests. Are there maintenance medications you should take? Vitamins you should be taking to augment absorption problems? Ask a professional first and foremost.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco. These substances irritate the intestinal lining and can degrade your overall health.
Try to attain a healthy body weight. If you are thin, it might help to have a few extra 'insurance' pounds. If you're overweight, try to focus on a healthier lifestyle to help your physical and emotional health.
Eat healthy, fresh, and nutritious foods. Remember that restricted diet you were on for so long? You missed out on so much. Go for the nutritious foods and a few of the treats you missed out on. Pack on the vitamins and minerals you may have been lacking. Your doctor may advise the value of taking probiotics as a supplement. You'll feel better and your immune system will thank you.
Tackle large or important projects or goals. Remember all the things you wanted to do when you were in a flare-up and unable to contemplate getting off the couch? Now that you feel well it is too easy to push things that you recognized as important onto the 'later' pile. Don't! Grab those projects and goals and throw yourself into them. Create! You'll regret it if you don't. It will also give you a needed sense of well-being and accomplishment to achieve your goals; even if it's as simple as putting up that bird house that's been in the garage for a year.
Detoxify your life. We don't know the cause of Crohn's Disease or Ulcerative colitis, but the medical community is starting to suspect genetics combined with environmental factors. We can control our environment so it can't hurt to give that some attention. Try to incorporate more wholesome, fresh, organic foods, and natural cleaning products and cosmetics.
Simplify your schedule and your relationships. You don't have to say yes to everything, and due to the cyclical nature of IBD, you need to streamline your life to get rid of any un-needed or un-wanted obligations, tasks, meetings, etc. Do you have friends or family members who are always negative and toxic? Reduce your time spent with them and focus on the people who enrich your life and create happiness around them.
Minimize your stuff. Extra belongings and junk can clutter up our homes and offices and create a burden on us for cleaning, organizing and just living. Begin a thorough sifting of your belongings and get rid of things that you don't need. If your IBD flares up again it can be a blessing to have fewer things to clean and think about. In the future when we pass, it will be a blessing to our families if they don't have to process room upon room of cutter. Simple surroundings help us have time, energy and focus for what's important.
Get some exercise. While there may not be a link between IBD and lack of exercise, exercise does contribute to your overall health. Months or years of being inactive can take a drastic and hidden toll on your body. Now that you are physically feeling well, treat yourself to some movement! Run, dance, kick-box, take the stairs, hike, play a sport, wrestle the kids, walk the dog, anything at all is better than nothing.
Create awareness of IBD. Consider volunteering or donating to support IBD awareness and the search for a cure.
Remember that you're in remission. Let that thought remind you to appreciate this blessing. Squeeze the most out of every moment in life, and don't sweat the small stuff. Make the most of your current situation. Live fully and with enthusiasm.