Giving thanks and appreciating the small things

During the chaotic times that we are living in, it is more important than ever to reflect on the things we are appreciative of. It can be easy to forget to be thankful for the things we find normal in our everyday lives, such as our families, our homes, our education, our jobs, and more. So many of our neighbors may have lost some of those things during the pandemic that we forget to be thankful for. 

As an IBD patient, there are so many reasons to be thankful amidst the hard times and traumatic experiences. The greatest thing that I am thankful for in my IBD life is the community of IBD warriors I have built over the past nine years. I have met many great friends from my area through Camp Oasis and Take Steps. I have a wonderful girl gang that I can go to at any time with any questions about IBD or other things completely unrelated. They have become my best friends, and I am so thankful for them. I have also made so many new friends from around the country that have IBD since joining the National Council of College Leaders

I hope you take the time to think about the things that matter most on you and reflect how thankful you are for them. Living with IBD has its challenges, but it also has its benefits, such as meeting my community of best friends. Last year, I spent my Thanksgiving in New York City for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year, I am thankful to be spending my holidays back home with my family relaxing and playing games. 

A few other IBD related things I am always thankful for having:

  • Warm hospital blankets
  • Freeze spray or numbing cream before IVs
  • Phlebotomists who get it on the first try
  • Nurses who let us have a sip of water when we are NPO
  • The blue Gatorade when they allow it
  • Dinner after a colonoscopy
  • Hospital gift shop
  • Flowers

I am also always thankful for having:

  • My friends
  • Coloring
  • My water bottle that keeps my water cold all day
  • Fuzzy socks and blankets
  • XL hoodies
  • Changes in seasons
  • Christmas lights
  • Board games
  • Relaxing music

As it can be easy to forget the things that we find normal in our lives, it is important to reflect on them and be thankful for what we have. A great exercise for appreciating the small things in life is to think of one thing you are thankful for and write it down each night before you go to bed. As time goes on, it will require deeper thinking to find things to be grateful for, but there are so many more if you keep digging!

Rachel Stackiewicz is an IBD patient and a member of the Foundation's National Council of College Leaders.