Sometimes a flare-up can come on unexpectedly and when it does, it can leave us feeling unwell, drained, and exhausted. They can come on at any time. Sometimes I can feel a flare-up coming on and other times it just hits me! It’s so important that during a flare-up, you take care of yourself and allow yourself time to do the things that help to ease any pain and discomfort that you are experiencing, and to allow your body to take some time to rest. A flare-up can be very overwhelming.
I have Crohn’s Disease, PoTS Syndrome (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) and Interstitial Cystitis, and when a flare-up happens, my body definitely knows about it! Below I have listed a few of the things that I do during a chronic illness flare-up. Each day can be different and It’s about getting to know what is right for you during a flare-up and discovering what things work best for you. I would love to know in the comments what things you like to do and what helps you during a chronic illness flare-up? I really hope that you find this post helpful. I am not a doctor or trained to give any medical advice, the intent of this post is to share my own personal experiences, and tips that I myself have found to help when I am having a flare-up. Also during a flare and you are experiencing symptoms and have any worries or concerns, it’s important to contact your GP or specialist so they can help you and give you some advice.
Taking care of yourself during a flare-up
Allow time to rest.
I always find one of the best ways to help my body during a flare-up is to have some rest and to slow down. Even if it’s just for 10 or 30 minutes. It helps me to wind down, feel calmer, and more refreshed and helps my body to relax. To make myself comfier, I like to pop on some loose-fitting clothes or my comfy PJs, grab my blanket and a hot water bottle to place over my stomach. The warmth really helps the pain and helps to warm my body up if I’m feeling a little cold. Sometimes I will also play calming music or pop on Netflix to help myself to relax. I also find that doing breathing exercises can really help a lot too. I also like to have a drink next to me, so I can keep myself hydrated. Especially during a Crohn’s flare-up, I can end up getting quite dehydrated.
There have been many times where I have pushed myself too far doing a certain activity and for a few days after my body lets me know about it! Once fatigue sets in, I just have to rest. And sometimes I just have to have an afternoon nap! Especially with PoTS Syndrome, it can feel like I have just run a marathon, when in fact all I have done is walk a very short distance!
Self-care is something that I always try to add to my daily routine. It’s a great way to relax and helps me mentally and physically. Even if it’s for 5 minutes here or 10 minutes there, practicing self-care can really help a lot. One self-care activity that I love to do is to have a pamper evening. I love to make myself a bubble bath. I use some lovely smelling bubble bath or a bath bomb and pop on my favourite music. It’s so relaxing. Or I like to use a face mask and then relax while the mask is doing it’s thing and then finish with some of my favourite face products. It helps me to take my mind off of any discomfort that I have got. It’s doing little things that make your mind and body feel better.
A few other self-care activities that I like to do which I find helps during a flare, is to have a sit outside in the sunshine, have a social media/digital detox. Also if I feel that I am able to, I like to do some gentle exercising such as going for a slow walk. Other ways that I practice self-care is to make sure that I stay hydrated, eat as healthy as I can, get some fresh air, and get to bed earlier. All of these things can really help when my body is in a flare-up.
Do things that you love and make you feel happy.
Doing a few of the things I love always helps to cheer me up. Whether it’s reading, painting, watching a show or film, playing a game, or working on my blog, all of these things help a lot and distract me from any pain that I have got. Sometimes getting stuck into a good book is just what I need. When I’m resting I like to try and do some fun and gentle activities that I love to do and that doesn’t take up too much energy.
As each day can be different during a flare, some days I am able to do more than others. But doing the things I love definitely helps me to feel more productive and motivated when I’m in a flare and makes it much more bearable.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Never feel afraid or guilty for asking for help. There are so many people who want to help you and are ready and waiting to listen. Whether it’s a family member, a friend or a neighbour or your work colleagues, it’s good to ask for help, especially if you are struggling.
When I’m at work and my body starts flaring up, it can sometimes get quite unbearable. After being diagnosed with Crohn’s in 2017 and when I returned to work after a few weeks off, my work have been so great, and if I feel that I need to take a quick break or I need some help with something, they are always willing to help and to help make my shift and tasks more easier. At first I was a little nervous about asking for extra help, but I definitely had nothing to worry about. Never feel afraid or guilty for asking your colleagues for help. And as I have been really open to them about how it affects me and they have seen how uncomfortable I can get during a flare-up, they always check up on me and to make sure that I’m ok.
Asking for help is definitely nothing to be ashamed of. It’s okay to need and ask for help and to accept help too.
Break down any tasks into more manageable smaller steps.
When in a flare our bodies can feel so tired and exhausted, I know mine does. Breaking down tasks into more manageable steps still allows us to get the task done, but in a way where we are gentle with ourselves and we don’t overdo it. Pacing yourself and breaking those tasks into more manageable chunks and doing it in your own time, helps to preserve more energy and it helps us to avoid making our bodies feel worse.
If I have a few tasks that I want to get done throughout the day, I do them as I feel my body is able to. I may spend about 10 or 15 minutes on a task and then rest for a while and then go back to it again. It’s listening to your body and doing what feels right for you.
What things do you like to do during a chronic illness flare-up? What do you find really helps?