In the midst of this pandemic, stress can really take it’s toll on our IBS. Why not try out this IBS stress hack and see what it can do for you.
My best-kept shameful secret (until now!)
When my IBS was really bad, I admit that in desperation I tried the odd cigarette to calm my nerves, and my stomach – and it did give me some relief.
(That’s not the stress hack!!)
BUT I didn’t want to be ruining my health with cigarette smoke (on top of IBS), so I didn’t continue.
However I realised that I could have the benefits, without the negative impact.
This is what I actually was finding beneficial:
(and what smokers amazingly find time to do in the midst of a heavy workload – but we don’t)
Regularly stopping and taking a real break
Getting up and going outside
Taking a long, deep inhale
Taking the time to fully exhale
Doing this several times a day
I had read about “breathing exercises”- They sounded like a joke!
I mean we all breath already, don’t we?
Useless – too complicated – no time!
I just couldn’t see how this could possibly help me. So I didn’t look at this any further.
But this smoking episode showed me that I WAS SO WRONG.
I was great at shallow breathing, and rushing around like a headless chicken.
But I NEVER did any DEEP breathing. I never really filled up my lungs.
Why is deep breathing so beneficial?
Research has shown that when you are stressed the amygdala in your brain sends a “fight or flight” message to your body, and your breathing becomes particularly fast and shallow.
This directs a maximum amount of oxygen to your muscles in your bloodstream so that you are ready to fight or to run.
As the Harvard Medical School points out, other less vital organs and body processes, like digestion, are slowed down, or even stopped.
Breathing in deeply, like drawing on a cigarette, sends a signal to the brain that the threat is over.
It calms the body’s emergency system and brings in the oxygen your body needs to reboot. This is why this IBS stress hack works. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s what to do:
You can use this stress hack anytime you need to, at your desk (though its best to take a break and move), in the bathroom, in the car, even during the commercial break:
Concentrate on taking a slow, comfortable deep breath in to the count of 4. (This should feel comfortable, not forced.) If you want to get extra Brownie points, try breathing into your lower belly.
Hold the breath for 4 seconds, then breathe out for 4 seconds, concentrating on nothing but your breathing.
Do this a few times over and see how you feel. A little less tense?
This is a good exercise to do before meals, though I admit that I always forgot to.
I found this simple habit helped improve my digestion and reduce cramps a little (worth having?)
Even athletes use this technique to calm themselves and focus before performing.
Try to consciously do this every day for a month. If you mess up and forget a few times, don’t worry. Making this a habit will help you towards your goal of beating IBS.
The next time you have a difficult situation or person to face, try this beforehand, and see how you feel…