The holiday season; time to kick back, relax, see family and friends, and eat good food. The holidays can be stressful for even the healthiest of people; unfortunately for those suffering from an IBD, stress can trigger a flare.
Holiday stress can come in many forms. Travel, food, lack of sleep can all bring on stress; stressing about stressing can cause stress. Even though Christmas is over, here are some tips for taking on not only the holidays but any time of year:
Stressing about Travel
Traveling with an IBD can be a challenge but it’s not impossible. I travel by air a lot (over 100,000k per year), so I’ve learned that being super prepared can make flying less stressful. I stick to my safe foods the night before, I pack my own snacks, I drink lots of water to keep my system running properly, and I always make sure my seat is close to the bathroom – and preferably on the aisle.
Driving long distance stresses me out way less than air travel. At least I’m in control of bathroom breaks, food choices, etc. I still choose wisely and avoid fast food when I can, but if I do need to stop and eat I always pick a safe food.
Stressing about Food
I have such a love/hate relationship with food even when I’m the one cooking it. What was fine one week sometimes isn’t the next. It stresses me out even more when going to other people’s homes as I know there will be food offered that I may or may not be able to eat.
My friends and family are great; they know I have an IBD and typically ask me if I need something specially made. If that’s not your family (or you’re attending a function with people you don’t know well) there is no shame in reaching out and asking what’s on the menu. I’ve been also known to bring my own food on occasion, just to be safe.
Stressing without Sleep
For me, lack of sleep can really cause havoc on my body. Try to get proper rest when you’re traveling or visiting others. It’s not always easy and I’ve been guilty of being up way past my bedtime to hang out, BUT I know that if I do that several nights in a row I will be down for the count.
Stressing about Stress
Stress can cause you to not feel well, which then causes stress because you’re not feeling well, and round and round it goes. It is a hard skill to master not stressing, but once you find the right strategies I promise you’ll feel better.
My top 4 are exercise, reading, piano, and talking things out.
A Pack Health Health Health Advisor is a great partner to have. They can recommend exercises that work for your interests and ability level. They may suggest other calming activities that help you get away from it all. Perhaps most importantly, having someone to talk to that understands what you’re going through can help you learn other ways to lower your stress level.
Sometimes, just having someone to talk or text that gets it is all you need.