It may be worth a try. | 2 min read
When it comes to coping with gut issues like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease, stress becomes one of the trickiest things to change. While changing your diet or beginning to exercise are difficult, being told to decrease your stress, worry or anxiety can feel impossible — especially when dealing with a difficult illness in what may be an already stressful life.
But figuring out how to decrease stress is really important. It’s not that becoming tension-free will make your condition disappear, but since IBS is a stress-sensitive disorder, anything you can do to decrease stress could, in theory, improve how you feel.1
Many people have found mindfulness to be an effective tool for changing their relationship with stress — and it’s convenient in the fact that it doesn’t require you to change your circumstances.
Mindfulness, often called Mindfulness-Based Therapy, “is a form of treatment that uses meditation and relaxation techniques to foster awareness and acceptance of the present moment.”2
Different mindfulness-based practices exist, and they’re not necessarily specific to IBS or IBD. However, studies have shown that these practices can improve quality of life and decrease symptom severity for IBS patients and even potentially decrease inflammation in IBD patients.3 4
One mindfulness exercise that you may want to try is called mindful eating. During mindful eating, the participant chooses a food, holds the food, sees it, touches it, smells it, places it in their mouth, tastes it, and swallows it. Ideally, this observation takes 3–5 minutes and can be practiced whenever you sit down to eat.
If you’ve not practiced this before, it can seem strange — but the point of the exercise is to train the mind to notice and accept whatever is being experienced. While this exercise is meant to be practice, the goal is to eventually apply the skill to a real-world experience, such as a flare up. Ideally, the practice allows you to have a calm, non-reactive response to symptoms that may have once caused physical or emotional distress.
The important thing for you is to determine if this practice really does increase your quality of life and decrease the severity of your symptoms. To figure this out, download the free Phyla app and track your symptoms and record when you practice your mindful eating technique. Overtime, you should be able to see if this mindful eating technique might be helping you to feel better.
Staring at your food might just help you to feel a little calmer and a little better. If you try it, let us know what you think!