Patient Perspective: Having IBS Causes Me So Much Anxiety

IBS Gives Me So Much Anxiety

I am 62 years old and have been dealing with symptoms of IBS for close to 15 years.  I’ve had countless accidents in public – at events, friends houses, you name it.  The early days of having the condition were mortifying to me - I got pretty good at coming up with all sorts of excuses for why I need to leave a party or event early. But the isolation I think may be the worst. I just always felt like there was no one I could talk to about it and no one who would understand.

Luckily, my family has been supportive.  They don’t say much about it and just try to help with what they can. I know now to bring back up clothes and cleanup supplies everywhere I go.  I’ve also worked a lot with my doctor to develop an evolving treatment plan and ways to manage my IBS.

This condition has been so embarrassing for me and has caused me a great deal of stress throughout my life.  I’m constantly worried about having an accident, but that just makes me even more anxious and in turn triggers more accidents. It’s a vicious cycle that is so hard to break. 

The biggest things that have helped me are exercise, watching my diet, and taking up meditation. I find that exercising daily is a great stress reliever and also helps to get things moving, if you know what I mean.  It’s been a long road of trial and error to determine a diet that works for me, but cutting out beans, gluten, and sugary foods has seemed to really help.  Keeping a diary of what you eat and drink each day, and how it affects your bowels, can be a huge help in determining triggers and patterns. (Download our free diaries here!)

Finally, meditation has been a complete game changer. I’ve taken some classes, done a lot of self study, and have even found apps that have helped guide me through the process. Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed or anxious, even just a quick 5-minute meditation can be enough to calm my nerves, and seemingly, my bowels. I encourage everyone to give it a try – what do you have to lose?   

I think the most important thing is for people to keep some perspective on life and know that while this condition is a constant struggle, it doesn’t have to be limiting unless you allow it to be. Talk with your doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist – or all three if it helps! Find ways to manage it and cope with the stress. It really makes all the difference.  

Sherri K.,

Baton Rouge, LA

 

 

Practicing Mindfulness To Ease IBS Symptoms

Practicing Mindfulness To Ease IBS Symptoms

In today’s hectic and crazy world, it’s hard to even think about finding the time to just sit and practice mindfulness.  For many, it’s a hard concept to grasp, and as a practice, it can feel intimidating to start. But carving out even 5-10 minutes of each day for some quite time can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels, and may even help with things like IBS symptoms, simply by calming your mind and being objectively aware of how you’re feeling.

BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in Eastern cultures and religions.   Turns out that the ancient practitioners were on to something. Recent research has shown that mindfulness has many benefits, including the following: 

  • Reduced rumination

  • Reduced stress and decreased anxiety

  • Increased working memory capacity

  • Better ability to focus

  • Less emotional reactivity

  • Enhanced self-insight

  • Increased immune functioning

  • Improvements in well-being

WHAT TO EXPECT

Before you start practicing mindfulness, you need to know a bit about what to expect.  The main goal of mindfulness is to be able to pay attention to the present moment you’re in, without judgment. This sounds pretty easy, but once you get started you’ll see it’s much harder than it appears.

Your mind has a mind of it’s own and tends to drift toward all sorts of things except what’s happening to you right at this moment – that big work project coming up, the cupcakes you promised to make for your 3rd grader’s class this week, an upsetting conversation you had with a friend or family member, your growing to-do list, and on and on.

But not to fear – your wandering mind is completely normal and it just takes some practice pulling your thoughts back to the present moment once you realize they’ve drifted off. Once you’re able to this in practice, you’ll find you’re better able to do it in real life too, making you more present in your day-to-day activities.

HOW TO START

  1. Find a comfortable place to practice. This doesn’t have to be a picturesque seat in the middle of a garden or waterfall. It can be a comfortable chair in your kitchen, a quite spot outside, or even your desk chair in your office. The main thing is to find a place that feels good to you. Be sure that your body posture is comfortable too, and that you’re in a position that you can remain in for the length of your practice.

  2. Start with 5-10 minutes. This feels like a small amount of time, but is a great place to start when you’re trying to fit this practice into your day. And when you’re just getting started, trust us when we say that even 5-10 minutes may feel like a long time to just sit still. As you continue with your practice, you can begin to extend your time.

  3. Concentrate on your breathing. No need to count your breaths or hold it for a specific amount of time. Just feel your breath as you inhale and exhale slowly and regularly.

  4. If you feel your mind start to wander (and you will), just acknowledge it and then pull your concentration back to your breath.

  5. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings. This is hard work, and takes practice to be able to continually be present and not focus on the things that are happening in our lives.

  6. Practice makes perfect. Or at least it makes you better. With continued practice of mindfulness meditation, you’ll become much better at staying focused throughout and that will bleed into other areas of your life as well. We know it’s hard to sit still for a set time each day, but stay with it. The benefits are well worth it.