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How I Relax During Stressful Situations With Crohn's Disease

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As someone who has Crohn’s disease, stress is my number one trigger for setting me back into a flare-up. Over the years, I’ve tried many different ways to help relieve stress: working out, taking naps, watching movies, meditation, playing with my kids and spending time with friends. I love doing all of these and they help considerably. However, it wasn’t until my hospital stay that I truly found the one thing to keep me calm and relaxed – reading.

Spending time in the hospital is stressful enough as it is. You don’t sleep; you can’t sleep. Patients come and go, nurses are constantly coming in to check on you. There’s no TV, no radio and I was left with my computer and phone. Without reliable Wi-Fi to depend on, I decided I would try to read. I stuck my headphones on, playing soft meditation music to drown out the beeping of the machines and noises from other patients, and tried to dive into the story I was reading.


It worked! During my time at the hospital, for two weeks I read four books. Really it was all I had to do and during that time my visitors would also bring me books to read. It was a great distraction from the reality I was facing.

Because of that time, I found a love of reading. During high school we were always forced to read a novel we weren’t necessarily fond of and I found it so hard to read something I had zero interest in. If I don’t connect to the story within the first three chapters, I find it so difficult to continue reading. This time around, I finally found genres I was in love with, characters and stories I could dive into and just forget about the pain I was feeling, forget about the worry I was facing and forgetting about the stress that was surrounding my illness.

My favorite genres would have to be psychological thrillers. There’s something about the mystery of it all, the wondering who killed who, why they did it, who they’re connected to and how they are connected to each other. I also absolutely love historical fiction, specifically anything to do with World War II. And lately it seems I’m starting to read a few more romance novels – “Me Before You,” “After You,” “One Plus One” – I think I have fallen in love with JoJo Myers! Thanks to the book club I created a few months back, it’s allowing me to expand my love of reading and dive into different genres.

I still love spending time with my kids, working out, meditating and most importantly spending time with friends – believe me, I still need all those – but there’s something magical about getting lost in someone else’s world.

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Thinkstock photo via thomas-bethge.

Originally published: June 8, 2017
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