Hello! Welcome back 🙂
Today I’m going to be sharing with you how I’m learning to handle the days when I don’t feel myself. This post is mainly inspired by how I’m currently trying to cope with my IBS symptoms while preparing for exams and trying to not let my upset tummy hold me back, but it can be applied to any day when you need to get things done but aren’t feeling like your usual self for whatever reason.
A bit of the backstory to this blog post:
As if the first year of university isn’t enough to get your head around, I was also introduced to IBS at this time It confused and befuddled me. I didn’t understand what was going on with my body. I was scared and verging on becoming rather depressed about the ill-functioning of my insides. However another year on of dealing with these tummy issues, I no longer get myself so worked about it all and feel determined not to let it get in the way of my happiness or goals. I’ve learnt that my main (maybe even my only) IBS trigger is stress which is good in that I get to feel well for a spell about twice a year when I’m more relaxed (Christmas and summer) but the rest of the year, especially exam time can feel like a bit of a battle with my body (I know I really need to get a grip on my stress, I’m working on it!)
Even though my exams are online this year and are therefore open-book it hasn’t stopped me from getting my stomach in knots over them and so I’ve been having a bit of a rough time trying to keep ploughing on when I feel like my insides hate me.
However, time keeps marching on. I am therefore having to try to keep up with my revision in order to be prepared for my exams. There have been many ups and downs along this IBS-plagued road to exams but I’m still going! (just about)
So today I thought I’d compile a list of ways to help yourself keep progressing in your desired direction when the only direction your stomach (or your mind) is trying to drag you in is that of your bed! These tips, although written with IBS in mind, can be applied to anything that makes getting on with things that bit more difficult such as anxiousness or even just for those days when we’re not ourselves for reasons unknown.
1) Dress comfortable, let your stomach breathe
I’m definitely one of those people who has night pyjamas and day pyjamas. I can’t be dealing with anything pressing on my stomach so comfy loose clothing it is! This was a difficult transition to have to make as I used to wear Topshop’s high-waisted skinny jeans everyday (even in the house!) but they just don’t work so well when pressing on an upset tummy. I’d recommend cosy loungewear at home and if you’re forced to go out, e.g to uni/work, I swear by pinafores/loose dresses or leggings! Although I do sometimes worry that people think I’m pregnant with this recent wardrobe transition haha!
Enjoy this snippet of my extensive cosy pyjama bottom collection! (emphasis on the word “snippet” haha) Also I’m aware that one of my bunny rabbit slippers has lost its nose! 😦 Me and Mum were joking the other day about how the slipper missing a nose has it’s ears more pricked up than the other! It’s making up for it’s loss of one of the senses!
2) Anyone for a hot drink?
I live for my cups of tea! I find heat is the greatest soother for any discomfort and as I live in the UK natural heat isn’t often readily available. Therefore, you’ll often find me with a blanket over me and a mug of tea by my side (well away from the laptop mind!)
3) Try to not focus on it and just accept it
It can be really difficult to not obsess over it. I can spend hours googling ways to resolve IBS symptoms and overanalysing what I’ve eaten in the past week, but having done these things many times I’ve learnt that they never get me much further on (most probably because stress is my issue so unless the stress leaves the IBS won’t leave, and for a pro-stresser like myself it’s not something that can be unlearned overnight, it’ll take me a while). So now I try to just accept it and focus on other things. I used to hate being told this by my Mum but I’m starting to understand it (look at me becoming an adult haha!), “mind over matter”. It basically means you should focus on the task at hand rather than whatever is distracting you. Obviously that’s easier said than done but it’s a good thing to work on.
4) Be sympathetic to yourself!
If you’re having a bad day don’t beat yourself up about it as it’ll only bring your mood down further. Instead, acknowledge that you’re not feeling your best and know that even small progress on a task (like just spending an hour on something) is still putting you in the right direction and you should feel proud of yourself for any little achievement you can make when you’re not feeling yourself. Slow progress is still progress.
5) Try to change your mindset from “This is so unfair. This is going to make me fail my exams etc” to “I’m going to do my best despite this! It’s not going to stop me.”
I still get days where I feel like throwing in the towel but I’m trying more and more to tell myself, “I’m not going to let this beat me”. Having a go-to motivation playlist can be very helpful for this. My top recommendations of songs to make you feel like you can conquer anything are Unstoppable and Angel by the Wings by Sia (I’m a big Sia fan!)
6) Know that it will pass
It may not completely disappear but it will lessen. When I’m feeling low I try to remind myself of all the other times I’ve felt like this and how they didn’t last. In fact many of my worst days have been closely followed by some of the happiest days of my life so far. Often you don’t know how near you are to one of those really good days which will make you forget the bad ones 🙂
I hope you enjoyed this chatty blog post. IBS and mental health issues such as anxiety can feel really debilitating but it’s important to try to not let them stop you from living your life. And for the days when you just don’t feel your usual self, remember to be kind to yourself and that even a little bit of a progress is something to be proud of (even if that’s just getting out of bed!)
Hope yous are all well 🙂