Bad Day Coping Mechanisms

Laura Cox, LPC
Ostomy Lifestyle Specialist | Shield HealthCare
06/02/17  11:58 AM PST
Coping Mechanisms

Living with a chronic illness can be extremely challenging. It’s natural to have bad days when you experience pain and setbacks. These experiences are difficult, but they also give us perspective and allow us to see the beauty in simple pleasures. When the simple pleasures are harder to “see,” developing healthy coping mechanisms for when you experience bad days is important.

  • Focus on Self-Improvement – When I was diagnosed with my illness, and later had surgery, I felt so out of control. At first I couldn’t eat the same foods, go to the bathroom the way I used to, or do some of the activities I wanted to do. Not feeling in control of your life can be a difficult emotion to cope with.
    Improving yourself and focusing on personal growth can help make you feel like you’ve gained back some of that control. Here are few suggestions:

    • Write a short list of qualities that you think make up a good person (example: kind, intelligent, adventurous, etc.)
    • Evaluate how you fit into the qualities that you’ve written down (example: “I try to go out of my way to do favors for friends,” etc.)
    • Write two to three things you can do each week to help you become each quality and turn into the person you want to be. They can be simple! (example: do one nice thing for someone else each day, read a book that expands your mind, etc.)
  • Meditation – Meditation helps to encourage relaxation and refocus thoughts. There are many different types of meditation. I encourage you to explore these for yourself so you can find which type fits you best. My personal favorite types of meditation are progressive relaxation and visualization.
  • Quick Turn-Arounds – If you feel you’re slipping into a bad day, do something you enjoy –– I call them “quick turn-arounds.” When I feel myself starting to get sad, or frustrated because I had a difficult bag change or some pain, I do something I’m passionate about. These activities don’t have to take all day. You could color in an adult coloring book (popular because it is so relaxing) read a chapter of your favorite book, walk your dog, call a friend, etc.
  • Ask for Help When You Need It – If you find yourself overwhelmed with a particular difficulty, or even just life that day, have loved ones help you out. Tell them what you need: distraction, comfort, or a sympathetic ear. Sometimes there’s nothing like a good face-licking from my dog, or a pep talk from my friends.
  • Don’t Bottle Things Up – If you need to talk, TALK! Talking can give a cathartic release and make you feel better almost immediately. Sometimes we just need to talk about our fears out loud. This will also lessen the feeling of loneliness.
  • Make Goals – Give yourself things to look forward to. Focusing on exciting things to come can help you get through bad days. I’ve found that the bigger the goal, the more motivated I am to take care of myself and to work to become stronger.
  • If OK’d by Your Doctor, Exercise! – Exercise releases feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain. Exercise is a healthy way to get a good pick-me-up. On top of that, you will start to feel stronger and more energetic when you exercise more often!
  • Self-Affirmations – Tell yourself everything is going to be okay. There will be days when you need to hear it, even if it’s coming from you. Say the following sentence out loud: “I am strong enough to handle anything that comes my way.”

Serving Medicare Ostomates Nationwide
Hey Laura, I’m a new ostomate and just got the clearance from my doctor to resume a regular diet. Any tips for things I should watch out for?
Hi Susan, Excellent question!
I would say there are three important things you can do to reduce your risk of problems when returning to a more normal diet...

Recent OstomyLife


  1. I keep a “Daily Gratitude List” on my computer. I enter something I’m grateful for each day. I wish one of those items could be “Hooray,
    Shield Healthcare now distributes my Coloplast urostomy supplies in Virginia.” I am insured by Medicare, so Shield must have a rep in
    VA in order for Medicare and my supplemental policy to pay for supplies.

  2. Thank ypu! i didnt figure you ever had a bad.bag day!!
    It is so depressing when it leaks!!
    There are no support groups in my area so it is great to read you!

  3. On a bad bag day I prefer a nice shower, clean appliance and clean clothes – then to relax watch tv, read or play with my dog. Then start all over again.
    (I like that song about the little ole ant)

    If that isn’t possible- then clean up and try to forget the incident

  4. I have an Ileostomy since 2-6-2017 and I will never be happy about it, have no friends near me, my brother cannot help and my parents died years ago, I am on a low income so I can barely buy the food that works for me, I have no money to go out for entertainment so I exist. I hate my Ileostomy, it is not reversible and I am 64, short, gained 35 pounds from eating food that thickens my output, my hair looks like the Bride of Frankenstein as my joints are a mess from 5 years of high doses of steroids and I just cannot stand the phantom pain where my rectum used to be. All I do is buy groceries and get a panic attack because I never have enough money to buy all the groceries I need. What is the point. My Ileostomy is disgusting, no videos show 65 year old fat women only women young enough to be my grandchild with long torsos and no fat. This is a joke!

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