College and UC: Strategies for Stress Relief continued...
Nedbal credits her friends and family with being extremely supportive and helping her deal with UC. And she always lets her professors know she has UC on the first day of class. So when she had to miss a week of school after a bad flare one semester, her professors were understanding.
"Don't be ashamed of having ulcerative colitis," she says. "People are a lot more understanding than you think. They're not going to judge you or make fun of you. Just be open about it and you'll get a lot more support than you think you will."
Getting the support you need is one way of preventing and relieving stress. Exercising and learning to relax are others.
"When I do get really stressed with school and everything, it's important to take a deep breath and figure everything out," Nedbal says. "I make sure I keep up on my homework and try not to procrastinate because that will just cause more stress in the future."
Last summer, Nedbal didn't have health insurance. So when she felt a flare coming, she tried to keep stress to a minimum by focusing on the big picture. She made it through the summer without any flares.
In fact, she says, UC has actually made her much mellower. “If I start to get stressed, I remember that it's only going to make me sick so it's not worth it,” she says. “I have taught myself to go with the flow and not get worked up about as many things."
Once students learn lessons like these, Zimmermann says, “The sky is the limit. When the disease is well controlled, these kids can do anything because they've already shown they can cope with chronic disease. So coping with a full class load and all these other issues is something they've already proven they can handle."