WEEK 10: MAINTAINING THE MOMENTUM
In this programme we have provided a broad medical background to IBD, offering general advice about commonly arising questions, through our series of interviews with Dr Jane Andrews. Please go to Home to listen and watch the interview.
We would like to reiterate of course that Jane's comments were of a general nature and not specifically directed at any individual’s medical presentation. People are requested to discuss their specific concerns with their own medical team and in fact the interviews may serve as a prompt for questions that you may not have previously thought of or felt comfortable to raise with your medical team.
A Note From The Authors
We have also had the privilege of interviewing Dr Sue Shepherd and of course the same cautions apply. Dr Shepherd’s comment, in the foreword to one of her recipe books, that, when diagnosed with coeliac disease, she was given a list of what she couldn’t eat, and made something of a goal to develop resources for people with conditions like IBD emphasising what they COULD eat. Our hope is that the same spirit of coping with the difficulties, and seeking out opportunities to enhance quality of life will be evident through the material in this program. You can access this interview here:
Working in collaboration with your medical advisers to collaboratively manage your condition is a key objective. Evidence on chronic health conditions, including IBD, clearly points to the role of anxiety and stress as both a precipitant of relapses, and a consequence of the chronic health condition. Left unmanaged, this can result in a downward spiral of illness, inactivity, mood disorder, and social and psychological withdrawal.
In addition to the medical information content, this program aims to intervene in this cycle by providing some helpful models of how we function psychologically, and some suggestions and skills in self-management.
I expect we have all had the experience of setting goals with enthusiasm and commitment, and then having these commitments gradually fade as the busyness of life intervenes. A tennis coach doesn’t explain the techniques of the game on one occasion and leave the player to get on with it, coaching and development is a lifelong process. Many of the techniques advised by the coach will have seemed clumsy and alien to the player when first presented, but with much practice, those techniques can become a comfortable and usual part of the player’s repertoire, and will help the player move to a higher level of performance.
Just so we hope it will be with the materials that we have presented during this course. Like the tennis player, some of the techniques will seem strange, alien, artificial, and possibly mystifying at first glance, but with practice and adaption to your own personal style, they can increase your effectiveness at self-management and in managing your relationship with others.
Difficult times and distressed mood can be helped by scheduling pleasant events during the week, month and year. Become adept at noticing opportunities for pleasant events. These can be as simple as making time to watch the sunset or appreciating a cool breeze on a warm evening. Pleasant events can be enjoying a conversation with a friend or family member, trying out a new recipe, or making a regular habit of attending the cinema on the cheap day. Some people enjoy exploring the local library, museum or art gallery. Some take up a recreational course. Some buy cheap bed and breakfast weekends on television auctions, others save up for a cruise or other holiday.
There are two major processes in maintaining changes made through interventions such as these.
The first is having booster sessions, returning every 3, 6, or 12 months for a further reminder to prompt us to continue with our practice and development of the skills as a part of our personal style, and to bring us back on track where necessary. Spend some time every few months to think back on the program and your use of the material.
The second, and most important, is successfully using the material in your daily life. After all, we don’t go back for booster sessions for adult literacy and numerous, we use it all the time as it works for us. In this programme we have had the opportunity to only touch the surface of many of the issues, most sessions could be (and are) a course of their own. Take the opportunity to read further and develop a more detailed understanding of the concepts behind the skills and to practice the skills themselves. Do not hesitate to seek out further and more detailed programs for any areas in which you have a particular interest or need. But primarily, seek out opportunities to practise the skills.
Actively seek them out, not just wait for them to come along. If you are wary of public speaking, don’t let your next experience of it be at a wedding in front of 200 people, or at a Board meeting. If you need to modify your personal communication skills within an intimate relationship, don’t let the next experience be in resolving a difficult situation in a time of stress. Seek out opportunities to get experience in situations which are less daunting and where your performance is less critical. Keep a diary of your challenges and outcomes.
Make a point of noticing your progress, being aware of the benefits that behaving and communicating differently produces, and of rewarding yourself and others for your progress.
Reward yourself for your progress by creating pleasurable events for yourself and those close to you.
For the final tasks of this 10 week course, take a look at the review we provide below as well as a goal-setting sheet for you to fill out to plan your journey from here. We hope you enjoyed the program!