Flare Self-Care: 10 Crohn's Disease Advocates Share Their Tips to Feel Better

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You’ve had weeks on end symptom free, but you know it can’t stay this way forever. As people living with Crohn’s disease, we are often waiting for the other shoe to drop. When will Crohn’s rear its ugly head once again?

Flares are a frustrating, unfortunate reality with Crohn’s. To help you the next time you find yourself in a flare-up, we spoke with 10 different patient advocates living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to get their top tips for self-care during a Crohn’s flare.


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Listen to your body

“Listen to your body. Knowing when to slow down and rest is so important,” IBD advocate Jaime Weinstein tells HealthCentral. “Far too often I’ve run on all cylinders firing and ran straight into a wall because I didn’t heed warnings.”

Learning your personal flare signs is important because it can help you minimize your flare severity if you catch it early enough. For example, when I feel my left knee start to ache from joint pain, I recognize a flare could be coming on and try to take it easy.


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Say ‘no’ and delegate

Christy Stone, also known as Crohnie Bologna IBD, recommends delegating tasks so that the important “to dos” on your list are covered and off your plate. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to anything extra outside of what is absolutely necessary to get done.


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Surround yourself with words of support

I have always found quotes that evoke feelings of strength and understanding to be their own special source of comfort. One of my go-to books is Yung Pueblo’s “Inward.” A passage that often gives me great strength during a flare is:

“and so she moves forward,

with a little more wisdom,

a heart that is more open,

to love, and a mind

that welcomes deep healing”


Pump the brakes on social media

Crohn’s advocate Aaron Blocker suggests taking a break from social media while you’re in a flare. Countless studies have shown that social media can have a negative impact on mental health and lead to feelings of social isolation. During a flare, we often need to roll back our social plans to take care of ourselves; scrolling through Instagram only reinforces the feelings that we are “missing out” because we had to cancel outings.


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Avoid stress

Brandon Pomish says that when he is in a flare, he does everything he can to “cancel out all stress I can control.” Stress is a major trigger for autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s. If there are certain people or situations in your life that cause stress, be sure to prioritize yourself and avoid circumstances that elicit these feelings.


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Stay hydrated

Crohn’s blogger Shawn Bethea says staying hydrated is critical. When in a flare, many IBD patients struggle to properly absorb fluid and nutrients. Check out these tips for staying hydrated.


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Get some shut-eye

Meg Johnson says nap ... but “100 times” the amount you usually do! Sleep is important for everyone, especially Crohn’s patients in a flare. During this time, your body is inflamed, and inflammation is inherently linked to fatigue. So get your favorite blanket out and embrace nap time.


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Binge-watch a new show

IBD patient @GutsyKnots recommends finding a TV show to watch. TV can be a great way for us to distract our mind from the symptoms we’re experiencing and “escape”. It’s also an activity that encourages rest, which is essential during a flare.


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Tweak your diet

What foods and drinks aggravate your Crohn’s? Cut them out immediately until the flare passes. Angela Cohen likes to stick to low-residue foods and broths. But remember, everyone is different, so do what is best for you!


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Do what it takes to get comfortable

Last, but not least, Crohn’s blogger Heather recommends drawing a bubble bath and breaking out the heating pad (or heated/weighted blanket). Joe recommends ginger tea, which helps with his Crohn’s flares. Whatever helps you feel comfortable, make sure to have it on hand at home. Consider pulling together a flare self-care travel kit for when you’re away. You can do this!