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How Relationships are Fundamental to Healing from Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease

What do I mean by relationships?

Relationships are not confined to sexual relationships; they include all of the people who you know intimately; friends, family, or otherwise.

Relationships are, in my opinion, the most important of the key areas that I mentioned in my previous post on how stress impacts ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.

In fact, relationships are arguably the most important area of your life to focus on for healing almost ALL disease. We’ve all heard stories about couples who pass away within a few days of each other, or people who become terminally ill after a break-up. This is quite often not a coincidence.

This Harvard article mentions in some detail the impact that quality relationships have on our health:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/strengthen-relationships-for-longer-healthier-life

Quoting from it “one study found that midlife women who were in highly satisfying marriages and marital-type relationships had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared with those in less satisfying marriages.”

And another; “a large Swedish study of people ages 75 and over concluded that dementia risk was lowest in those with a variety of satisfying contacts with friends and relatives.”

Neither of these mention ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, but poor quality (or lack of) relationships is inextricably linked with disease. I did find a study which states the following:

“The perceived impact of UC on the lives of patients is greater in those who are not married or living in common-law relationships. Youth, single status and lower social support commonly coexist, and exert additive effects on the functional impact of UC. Resources to improve social support should be directed toward this group of patients.”

You can see that study here:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2658585/

The fact is this; stress leads to inflammation, and close relationships being toxic (or non-existent) leads to stress.

So what can you do about it?

Cut toxic people out of your life.
This is difficult. Perhaps the people who bring you down are family members? Perhaps it’s your current partner? Perhaps it’s a close family friend, or someone in your close circle of friends? Cutting these people out is difficult, and how to do it really comes down to you; there’s no formula.

What I can tell you, is that being in any form of toxic relationship is detrimental to your health and healing from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease requires that you remove or at least reduce this toxicity.

If you manage to do this, you may even notice that other areas of your life like work, social life, sleep, and joy start to flourish. Just saying.

Spend more time on enriching relationships.
Identify those people who support you becoming the person you want to be. The people who don’t hold you down or make you feel like crap. These are the people who you should be focusing on spending your time with.

Once you’ve identified these people, reach out to them. Schedule some time in your diary, perhaps once a week, to reach out to someone. Perhaps just for a chat, or to arrange to get together that week for food, a walk, a movie etc.

Spending time with people who enrich your life and put you at ease activates your parasympathetic nervous system; your ‘rest and digest’ system. All sorts of soothing, healing, positive hormones flood your body and aid in your healing from ulcerative colitis and/or Crohn’s Disease.

Add new relationships to your life.
Once you’ve cut the toxic relationships out of your life, you may find that this leaves you with more time. You can spend this time on yourself, exercising self-care, for example. Or, you could spend this time seeking out some enriching, positive relationships.

Think about where you can find the type of people that you want to spend your time with.. the people who encourage you to be the person you want to be. The people who share your values and dreams. Where do these people hang out? What do they do?

Meetup.com is a great place to get started, but I’m sure you can come up with some great ideas of your own too.

Why don’t have you a think about this and try to put some of these into place this week? There’s no time like the present.

Healing from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease is a large undertaking that requires great strength and fortitude. I commend you on your efforts and wish you the very best of luck on the journey that you’re on.

Drop any questions or comments below!


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