Stress
and lifestyle

There are some great, positive lifestyle changes that can really help you manage your abdominal pain and IBS symptoms. Try and build them into your daily routine as they will benefit your overall health as well as your symptoms.

Stress

If you find that stress makes your IBS worse, you’re not alone - 62% of IBS sufferers say that stress can be a trigger for their symptoms, and there’s evidence to suggest that stress and anxiety may trigger chemical changes in the digestive system in many people, not just those with IBS.

Many people find exams or job interviews ‘go straight to their stomach,’ and you don’t have to be an abdominal pain or IBS sufferer to notice that stressful situations can upset your digestive system.

The painful abdominal cramps and other symptoms can stress you out too, so finding a way to get out of the cycle of becoming stressed, which makes your symptoms worse and causes even more stress, will really help.

Reducing the amount of stress in your life, or learning how to manage it, will have a positive impact on your quality of life.

  • Wind down and make time for you – read a good book or a magazine, have a relaxing bath, listen to music or find your own personal way to chill out, just make the time.
  • Don’t bottle things up; speak to a work colleague or manager if work stress is your problem. Confide in a partner, friends or family if you’re worried about something.
  • Take control! Whether it’s your abdominal pain, IBS symptoms or another issue in your life there are usually solutions – it’s important to find a solution that’s right for you and not someone else.
  • Try something new – setting yourself a new goal or challenge, like visiting a place you’ve always wanted to visit or learning a new skill, is a positive step and helps build your confidence which in turn helps with stress.
  • Avoid unhealthy habits. It’s very easy when you’re stressed to rely on stimulants like caffeine, alcohol or smoking to help you cope, but they won’t help your IBS and may create new health issues.

Keeping Fit

  • Try a relaxation therapy like T’ai Chi, Pilates, meditation or yoga. Yoga is thought to calm your digestive system as well as your mind, so we’ve put together some simple exercises you can try specially designed to help relieve your symptoms. Yoga Exercises.
  • If you find something you really enjoy doing, you’re more likely to stick with it. Swimming, cycling or even a fun dance fitness class might appeal to you and increasing your activity levels will benefit your digestive system and overall health at the same time. Getting energetic has a positive effect on your mood and a knock-on effect on your symptoms.
  • Ideally try to build yourself up to 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week if you can. Any exercise that you do should be strenuous enough to increase your heart and breathing rates. If you like walking, a brisk walk or walking uphill are both strenuous enough to count.
  • If time is an issue try to be more active in your daily routine. Maybe you can walk or cycle with your children to school rather than drive? Are you able to go for a short 15 minute walk in your lunch hour – it would be a great way to relax before eating your lunch! Try using the stairs when out and about instead of lifts.

Everyone's different and it's all about finding something that works for you...

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