As well as certain food and drinks, two of the biggest triggers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) are stress and anxiety.
With symptoms including bloating, cramps, constipation and diarrhoea, for the one in five Brits affected by IBS, finding a way to deal with the crippling problems they suffer is top of their list – but it’s not always easy.
Meditation and mindfulness expert Emma Mills, on behalf of IBS Relief and Prevention capsule maker Senocalm, says: “Stress can be detrimental to your mental and physical wellbeing and for many IBS sufferers it can be a key trigger of their symptoms.”
Whether your stress is caused by issues at home, at work or while you’re on the go, Emma has come up with a range of coping mechanisms to help alleviate the stress and help minimise debilitating digestive flare-ups – and they’re pretty simple.
“Taking time out for a few minutes a day for meditation and mindfulness helps ease the emotional tension that hinders our everyday routines and can help to re-balance the digestive system.”
Emma shares her top stress-busting gutfulness tips:
1. Create a mindfulness toolkit
Have items with you that you know will help you feel good and relaxed while on-the-go, such as a favourite book, essential oils or herbal teas.
2. Breathe like a balloon
When daily pressures begin to pile up, take five minutes to focus on your breathing. Lying down, place both hands on your tummy, covering your belly button. When you breathe in, imagine there is a little balloon inside your tummy. As it expands, lift your hands as you breathe in, lower as you breathe out.
3. Visualise serenity
Picture your digestive tract as a long, calm river that flows gently, passing through the throat and into the tummy. Feel the ‘river’ gently cooling the soft walls of your tummy and system, cleansing, healing and helping your body to feel full of energy and life.
4. Hum your stress away
Sit comfortably and on your next out breath, close your mouth and make a little humming sound. This can be very relaxing on the digestive system and restore a sense of harmony. Don’t over breathe, as the aim is nice, gentle easy relaxation.
5. Focus in
Take three minutes to focus on a flower. Put all your attention on this; its petals, its fragrance, its shape. Notice how it feels to be engaged and ask yourself what starts to feel different.
6. Tap to relax
Gently tap using your knuckles around the rib cage, across the back of the ribs and around the hips, use 20% of your effort while you say, “I can trust my body, I can feel relaxed”.
7. Sound the AUM (om)
First breathe in gently and on your next out breath, let out a little ‘AUM’ sound. Do this three or four times a day.
8. Play with opposites in self-talk
In your mind play with opposites to reduce the negative thoughts which can have an impact on your stress levels and could trigger your IBS. For example: “I feel anxious vs what if I don't have to feel anxious”, “I’m stressed vs I’m at peace”, “I’m all uptight vs but I can be relaxed”.