Stress is an issue for many IBS sufferers, often exacerbating symptoms and triggering flare-ups. Although there may be no magic wand to totally beat stress, YOU CAN reduce the effects stress has on you by using this IBS stress hack. It’s free but surprisingly powerful!
When my IBS was really bad, in desperation I tried the odd cigarette to calm my nerves, and my stomach – and it worked. I found that going outside and drawing on a cigarette did me a certain amount of good. But I didn’t want to become a smoker and be ruining my health with cigarette smoke, so I didn’t continue.
It took me a long time to realize why smoking helped.
It wasn’t the cigarette itself that was doing me good – it was the act of smoking.
Let’s look at the “ciggy break” in more detail
People who smoke:
Regularly stop what they are doing and take a real break
Get up from what they are doing and go outside
Take a long, deep inhale
Take the time to fully exhale
Do this several times over
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.
And this is where I found I WAS WRONG. I was great at shallow breathing,
But I NEVER did any DEEP breathing.
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.
You can do this 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.
- Hold the breath for 4 seconds, then breath 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 forget to.
I found that over time I have developed the habit of short deep breathing. I have noticed athletes doing this too. If I have a stressful situation I do a 2 second breath in, followed by a 2 second breath out. It’s discrete, stops the tension before it mounts and keeps me concentrated.
I found this simple habit helped improve my digestion and reduce bloating.
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…