Published On: Fri, Apr 6th, 2012

IBS, Stress, and Mind Control

Bad stress occurs when our bodies live in a continuous state of stress.

IBS, Stress, and Mind Control

-by Wendi Vaughn

The letters “I” “B” and “S” are virtually harmless when separated. However when they are put together to form the acronym “IBS”, millions of people around the world have a problem.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a functional bowel disorder characterized by abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, and alternating bowel habits. The condition affects 35 million Americans alone; both the cause and cure are unknown.

The majority of diagnoses are made through a process of elimination. Doctors use their patients’ medical histories of symptoms to rule out other possible diseases.

On the bright side, IBS is not a progressive disease and usually rears its head for finite periods of time, then settles down.

On the flip side, going through the motions of IBS can be a real pain in the butt (no pun intended).

There are many ways to deal with the symptoms: antibiotics, antispasmodic drugs, holistic remedies, and food choices. But the connection I found to be most common and the most pervasive trigger for IBS, is our all time favorite trouble maker- STRESS!

Reducing the stress in our lives seems like the first place to start in fighting IBS.  It is sometimes hard to determine when we are  “stressed out” because stress can be both good and bad!

What is stress?

Stress is defined as the importance or significance attached to a thing.

Holy Moley! This could potentially demark anything in life a stressor.

Getting a new job, moving to a new city, or even planning a birthday party. Pretty much, if you care about it, it has the potential to bring stress to your life!

Good stress is categorized as the heightened senses we attain when we need to turn up the heat. For instance, our fight or flight response comes in handy when jumping out of harms way (like to avoid a speeding car barreling down a road).

We become stronger and more alert when in stressful situations; this energy is really good for cranking out things we need to do in that single instance.

Bad stress occurs when our bodies live in a continuous state of stress. The hormones unleashed throughout the body when the brain perceives stress can be debilitating if left unchecked.

Living within a constant space of stress will inevitably manifest itself into health issues. This is why IBS patients often experience more symptoms during stressful periods.

The brain sends stimulants to the gut that exacerbate the speed of colonic contractions, delays stomach emptying, and relaxes the bladder muscles.

How to cope with stress

Depending on what is stressing you out, there are a number of ways to de-stress.

1.  I find that talking to others you trust makes a huge difference.

2. Writing the feelings down in a journal helps to relieve stress.

3.  Talking to a professional counselor can help people understand themselves better and the situations that bring them stress.

4.  Sometimes going for a nature walk can really calm a busy mind.

Most valuable takeaway

Many people are unaware of the mind, body, and spirit connection.

The emotional contributors to good health cannot be ignored.

As someone who deals with digestive disease, I can tell you first hand that a big component to controlling symptoms is mind control. I am learning how to control my mind from stressing myself out!

Spiraling down a tunnel of worry doesn’t do any good at all.

Life is an ever-evolving experience that brings changes beyond our control. Trusting the process is the best way to reduce stress. We cannot control it all, just ourselves. Mind your health and love yourself; your gut will thank you for it!

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