IBS – Tips to combat stress

Stress can aggravate IBS symptoms…check out these tips by Aoife Ryan BA (Hons) Psychology

As stress is thought to be one of the contributors to the inflammation of IBS symptoms, it is very important that those who suffer from IBS learn to manage and ease stress. Exercise, diet, and sleep are crucial when it comes to managing stress. Finding some time to both relax and escape from the stresses of everyday life are also extremely important when managing stress levels.

Do something enjoyable: In order to keep a clear head it is a good idea to take some time to do something you enjoy. Listen to some music, go shopping, take a class, read, or meet up with friends.

Relaxation: When stressed, your muscles tense up and breathing becomes shallower/rate increases as the body attempts to get more oxygen. Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or visualisation help to ease stress responses, and in turn, reduce tension that may inflame IBS symptoms.

Deep breathing:

1. Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Make yourself comfortable.

2. Close mouth and breathe in naturally through the nose.

3. When comfortable, begin to breathe in deeply and slowly (inhale slowly – count to 3 – exhale slowly).

4. Continue until you feel that your muscles have relaxed and your breathing has slowed down to a natural rate.

Visualisation:

1. Find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

2. Create an image in your head of a happy/worry-free place (eg. Imagine you are on a beach in a hot country/sailing down a river).

3. Imagine as many details as you can think of (smell/touch/ can you feel the warmth of the sun?/ can you hear the sounds of the river? Etc.).

4. Practice this image often. If stress strikes, you will be able to bring the scene alive with minimal effort.

5. It may be helpful to listen to soothing sounds as you visualise.