The link between stress and IBD is well established. While stress doesn’t actually cause IBD, high stress levels can certainly aggravate flare-ups of symptoms and contribute to their severity. Just as watching your diet and overall health is part of your IBD management plan, stress reduction should be high on your list of priorities in order to keep your symptoms in check and cultivate a lifestyle that supports healing.
We’ve discussed the benefits of mindfulness and meditation before, but as far as stress management goes, incorporating mindfulness and meditation into your day can act as both a preventative and triage for stress. Start your day out with a calm mind from a morning mediation sesh and you’ll be surprised how much this carries forward into your day. And if the stress does creep in, take a meditative moment to relax your mind and quiet your thoughts before you react so you nip the stress in the bud before it blooms. For some tips on getting started with meditation, check this article out.
Exercise is of course essential to your health and wellbeing, but the increase in oxygen and release of endorphins that accompanies a workout also has a great impact on your stress levels and general mood. Try to work at least 30 minutes of exercise into your day, preferably in the morning so you start your day in a zen state. Exercise can also be in your box of tricks for stress first aid, an easy emergency option when the going gets tough. When you feel the tension start to rise try and take a ten-minute timeout for a brisk walk around the block. It might not eliminate your stress entirely but it will refresh your body and mind when you’re all wound up.
Be organised but also flexible
Organisation can help you manage the day-to-day without your schedule descending into frantic chaos. But being too organised or uptight about your plans can tip you over into the stress zone when things don’t go as you’d hoped. You need to find a happy balance between the two – organised enough so that you don’t feel like an unhinged will-o’-the-wisp, but flexible enough to go with the flow when the flow…erm..goes.