Stress Management for IBS Sufferers

Specific foods and drinks aren’t the only things that can trigger an irritable bowel syndrome flare-up. Irritable bowel symptoms can also be brought on by stress and anxiety. While you can control what you eat to help reduce painful symptoms, it is much harder to control stress. Personal and professional obligations can become overwhelming and leave you struggling to manage your mental and physical health.

Taking charge of your stress levels and your IBS symptoms may seem daunting. However, there are some simple steps that you can take that may help you reclaim your mental and physical wellbeing. The professional gastroenterologists at GastroCare LI want patients who suffer from IBS to understand that medical and mindful practices go hand in hand to reduce IBS flare-ups and symptoms. We want to offer a few tips to help you get your stress levels under control.

How Stress Impacts the Gut

Gastroenterologists at NYU Langone have determined that stress and anxiety can have a negative impact on gut health, especially in those suffering from gastrointestinal conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. Stress can activate certain neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters can then switch on pain signals in the gut. Stress may also trigger the body’s inflammation response. Chronic inflammation can impact gastrointestinal health and lead to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and may trigger IBS symptoms.

Learning techniques to manage stress may result in a reduction in the number of IBS flare-ups you have and help ease IBS symptoms. However, managing stress is often a lot easier said than done.

Start By Getting Physical

Kickstart the creation of “feel-good” brain chemicals like endorphins by starting an exercise regime. Physical activity can be an immense mood booster. Moderate exercise will trigger the brain to produce endorphins, but it also helps increase blood flow, which delivers vital nutrients and oxygen throughout the body, including the digestive tract. Some exercises can even help increase motility in the digestive tract. An increase in motility can help to alleviate IBS symptoms in addition to lowering stress levels.

Before you begin any exercise routine, it is important to talk to your doctor. Your physician can help dictate which types of exercises may be right for you, as well as how frequently you should engage in that exercise. If you’ve never started an exercise routine, that’s okay. Start small with walks around your neighborhood and build up from there. Don’t be stressed that you aren’t doing enough right away. Any form of physical activity is good for the mind and body.

Try Yoga and Be More Mindful

Yoga is more than just stretching routines. At its core, yoga is a discipline that involves physical, mental, and even spiritual elements. While poses can impact physical strength and flexibility, yoga also teaches breathing techniques and mindfulness. These elements combined can promote relaxation, stress relief, anxiety management, as well as physical and mental wellbeing. Studies indicate that yoga and a mindfulness-based stress reduction approach not only ease stress but they can also help alleviate the symptoms of IBS.

Go East

Try going to the east. Eastern medicine, that is. Acupuncture and massage are both prominent in Eastern healing traditions. These therapeutic techniques may contribute to lowering inflammation in the body and promoting a sense of relaxation. Massage can ease tension in the muscles and the body, but it can also ease tension in the mind. As the stress melts away from your muscles, your mind is transported to a more calm and peaceful state.

Acupuncture may also help alleviate stress. Acupuncture is a form of therapy that uses small needles strategically placed in certain parts of the body to enhance blood flow. Some studies have shown that acupuncture can help treat chronic pain, and while the jury is still out on its effectiveness for treating IBS symptoms, it is effective in helping people manage stress.

Hypnotherapy for Happiness

Hypnotherapy is a form of therapy that involves hypnosis. Through hypnosis, a practitioner can help an individual achieve a state of deep peace and relaxation. Some practitioners even focus on what is called gut-directed hypnosis, which not only helps manage and relieve stress but may also calm digestive distress. This form of therapy paired with a low FODMAP diet helped some individuals reduce symptoms like pain, bloating, cramping, and intestinal distress.

Seek Help Through Behavioral Therapy

Sometimes it feels like no matter how hard we try or what we do, negative thoughts and worries still creep into our brains. When these thoughts manifest, it can be hard to let them go. The result is anxiety, stress, and even depression. When it feels like you can’t release these thoughts or you have trouble falling asleep or functioning because of them, it may be time to seek professional help. Coping with an IBS diagnosis isn’t easy. IBS symptoms impact a person both physically and mentally. So can the lifestyle changes that many IBS patients need to adopt to keep their symptoms in check. If you feel like stress has gotten the best of you, consider seeking cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps train individuals to identify and change their perceptions. It may benefit some IBS sufferers by reducing stress, teaching coping techniques, and generally improving an individual’s quality of life. In addition, just talking to a neutral third party about your struggles can feel empowering. A therapist is not there to judge. They are there to give you the support you need to manage your feelings and ease your anxieties.

For More Information

If stress and anxiety are causing your IBS symptoms to flare up, consider contacting a professional with GastroCare LI today. Our team can help diagnose and treat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome while giving you valuable advice on living with this chronic condition.

Irritable bowel syndrome doesn’t have to define who you are. Get your symptoms and your stress levels under control by talking to a medical professional with GastroCare LI today.


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