Thursday, April 10, 2014

20 Tips for Coping With Interstitial Cystitis

You know those days - not only do you feel physically uncomfortable, but your mind soon follows suit. The anxiety, worry, and stress creeps in and not only makes you feel worse mentally, but exacerbates the physical symptoms. It's a vicious cycle and one of the hardest to stop. But there are little things you can do to help. Even 5 minutes of distraction from the pain or worries of IC can feel like Heaven. And the more you practice those things, the easier it will become to cope. A healthy mind leads to a healthy body - or at the very least can't hurt. Below I've comprised some of my favorite IC coping strategies that I like to do when "flaring." They don't always take the physical discomfort away, but can help with the mental part. 

* FYI - These are not techniques to make you physically feel better, but rather coping skills and distractions to try while you wait for those meds, etc. to kick in. Sometimes the best thing to do is the thing you don't want to do - to try and ignore how you feel and distract your mind from stressing, worrying, and catastrophizing things. Those moments will come anyway, but you don't have to feed into them or invite them to stay. Do what you need to do to take care of your physical pain/discomfort and then try one of the below tips to cope in the interim. It might be useful to make a list of your most helpful coping strategies and hang them up somewhere and go through them, if needed, on a rough day.

 20 Tips For Coping With IC: 

1) Get in your skivvies (the buff or whatever else you need to be comfortable) and paint your nails. I say skivvies because it's a lot easier to get them down if you need to use the loo stat. Or better yet, try nail polish stickers like these: No dry time and super easy to do.

2) Take a hot shower. The hotter the better. 

3) Give yourself a facial or other beauty treatment. Combine this with a shower to rinse off and really pamper yourself. 

4) Read a book or magazine. These can easily go anywhere with you, if you know what I'm saying.

5) Call or text a friend. You don't even have to let them know you're "flaring" and can talk about anything you want to get your mind off of things. 

6) Pray. Simple. Effective. Real. He's listening. 

7) Watch a movie. This is a lot easier to do if you're not running to the bathroom every 5 minutes, but worth trying if you have a bathroom close by or it's an old favorite where you know the story already. 

8) Bake or cook something. Whether it be a tried and true favorite treat or hop online and find something new to whip up. There are lots of IC friendly recipes. I share some here on my blog and you can also tweak almost any recipe to be IC safe. Google "IC safe recipes" or look here to start:

9) Clean the bathroom or other nearby room if you're stuck in the there. May as well be productive if you can't do anything else. 

10) Journal or start a blog. My current coping technique. :)

11) Gentle stretching or walking. Even if it's just around the house. 

12) A heating pad or hand warmers on your belly. Ahhhh. So relaxing and helps to keep you warm on those chilly nights. 

13) Snuggle with a furball of love. 

14) If you're able to, take a nap. 

15) Listen to music. Download new music. Make an "IC Day" playlist with songs that comfort and encourage you. Current favorite: Mandisa, "Overcomer." 

16) This one is not my favorite, but surf social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest can be good distractions. Pinterest is my favorite and less likely to make you feel bad by comparison. 

17) Get your craft on. I'm not crafty, but I know sewing, scrapbooking, and whatever else people do can be very therapeutic and a great distraction. 

18) Draft a healing plan. Look up treatments and techniques you want to try on your healing journey and write down a plan. But do not look up what else could be wrong. Unless you want to think you're dying in 3... 2... 1...

19) Try aromatherapy. Whether in the shower or just lighting a candle in a quiet dimly lit room. 

20) Cry/vent and move on. Get a hug from someone who loves you and let it out. Let yourself be okay with not feeling or being okay right now. Then be good to yourself and promise to take care of yourself whether it be through better diet, trying a new treatment, calling your doctor, etc.

And most importantly, keep moving forward. Moments of emotional weakness are not setbacks. They're just that - emotions and moments. They let you know you're human - full of life and love. A life worth fighting for. So rage on and keep living despite IC!

Anyone else have tips to share that help you get through rough IC days?

XX, A! 

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