Welcome to the third part of this IBS series where we’re discussing the 6 major types of stress in your life that you don’t even realize are behind your frustrating digestive issues! This post is all about some awesome ways you can heal your IBS! The tips below will not only help you heal IBS – but these things will also be overwhelmingly positive in your life overall.
If you missed the first 2 posts, you can catch up here:
Now let’s do this…
STRESS IS THE BREAKTHROUGH TO HEALING IBS
I remember being so frustrated with IBS. I kept thinking, “I changed my diet! I eat healthy! What the heck else can I do??” Well…. thankfully there’s a lot you can do. Now that we’ve come to part 3 of the 4 part series, we can take a good look at the bigger picture surrounding IBS. The thing is, we don’t live our lives in a bubble. We don’t just breathe, eat, sleep, and repeat.
There’s a whole world we live in filled with things constantly fighting for our attention. We have families, friends, careers, social lives, bills to pay, and things we want to see and do that make us happy and give us purpose. Everything costs money, time, attention or all of the above… and this all leads to stress.
IT’S NOT ONLY ABOUT FOOD
You can’t expect to fix everything by only changing your diet. You can’t pretend that what you do outside of your diet doesn’t affect your IBS. As a holistic health coach I’ve learned that the body works as a whole. You can’t do something to the body and have it only affect one isolated part. Even a paper cut affects your finger, circulatory system, and brain – your finger was cut, blood came out to seal the cut, and you felt the pain right? The same thing happens with your digestive system, which is why your IBS symptoms can easily be aggravated by things other than food.
So what’s chronic stress?
Everyone deals with stress… everyone. Some stress is good and necessary, but some stress is just plain, well, stressful. Sure, there are people who manage their stress better than others, but that doesn’t mean they don’t face it every single day. Chronic stress is when you can’t seem to get ahead of it and it overflows into your daily life on a regular basis. Chronic stress becomes unmanageable because it even makes simple tasks a LOT more difficult… like going to the bathroom.
6 BREAKTHROUGH WAYS TO HEAL YOUR IBS
There are tons of non-food triggers that can cause IBS symptoms – and they all go back to chronic stress and inflammation. After all, the digestive system is just like any other system in the body. Does your brain work right when you’re stressed from being sleep deprived, burnt out from work, or dealing with dysfunctional relationships? Of course not. You get overwhelmed and that’s why you feel the stress in the first place. That’s exactly the same idea with your digestive system.
Your body is either stressing or repairing – and that “fight or “flight” mode is normal. BUT we don’t want there to be too much stress, which could be a reason why healing your IBS hasn’t been done with food alone.
It can be tough to stay on top of all these tips I’ve been giving throughout this IBS series, so I made this free workbook for you so you don’t have to do all the hard work by yourself… I did it for you 🙂 Download it here:
Here are the top 6 stressors you can focus on to relieve your IBS:
1. Create Happy Social Relationships
How are the relationships in your life? Relationships are a HUGE stressor because they’re largely out of our control. We can’t make someone behave differently or change. So, if there are toxic friendships, partnerships, and family relationships, how can you handle them? If you can’t remove them from your life – how can you handle yourself emotionally so that you can live without the relationship stressing you out?
Strategies for dealing with stressful relationships:
- Breathe – learn how to avoid giving into the drama. The more you can take control of your reactions, the more you can find peace and carry on without the toxic relationship affecting you.
- Talk it out – be open about your feelings. Sometimes the person might not even be aware of what’s going on. If you can clear the air, you have a better chance of finding common ground.
- Leave the room – create physical distance so that they’re out of sight and out of mind.
- Be involved in other things – Find more activities and relationships that make you happy… and focus on those. It takes two people to make a relationship work, so step back from what’s toxic and make sure you’re doing what you can do to be happy. When you bring those to the table instead of built up frustration there can be a huge relief in how you feel about the situation.
When you stress out over relationships, it causes stress throughout your entire body. When you can stop tightening up and stop holding back emotions, you can actually relax your body… all the way down to your digestive system. This relaxation of the organs that move food through your body can help you “go” when you really have to “go” 😉
2. Avoid Chronic Calorie Restriction
Calorie-restricted diets are stressful in both physical and mental ways. Physically, if you’re restricting calories, your body simply has fewer building blocks to do its job properly. As an example, if you’re doing an intense workout and not fueling your body with enough food to properly recover, then your body is going to have a hard time rebuilding your muscle tissue that was stressed during your workout.
Make sure, if you’re reducing your calorie intake, that it’s not done for too long, too often, or without proper attention to nutrient deficiencies and your relationship with food.
Calorie restriction can also be incredibly stressful on your mind. If calorie restriction is done without careful precautions, then it can easily result in anxiety around food that wreaks havoc on the organs that move food through your body. That’s why paying close attention to your relationship with food is SO important. After my own troubles with taking calorie restriction too far, I began using mindfulness to avoid disordered eating habits. This allowed me to relax in so many ways, and I was able to better create a normal bathroom routine.
3. Heal Your Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are incredibly stressful on your body and mind. There are many different forms of eating disorders, but the most important thing to understand is your relationship with food. If you’re feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed by any aspect of your diet, then it’s time to take a step back and really evaluate your eating habits. After all, like we discussed with calorie restriction, if you’re stressed about food… then you can easily disrupt your digestive system.
4. Watch Out for Over-Exercising
Over exercising puts a ton of added stress on your body. While a baseline level of stress can do amazing things (like make you grow muscle), too much stress can be pretty toxic on your body. You’ll know when you’re over-exercising. Common signs are poor sleep, aches and pains, fatigue, and a lack of motivation to continue your workouts. This chronic stress on the body created by over-exercising can, again, throw everything out of whack – including your digestive system. If your body says it needs rest and sleep – do yourself a favor and just listen to your body!
5. Reduce Your Anxiety
Dealing with anxiety causes mental and physical stress on the body. You have to make sure that you’re dealing with your anxiety so that it doesn’t impact how your body functions. Talk to a professional or work with a health coach 🙂 to make sure you can get your anxiety (and digestive system) under control.
6. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep
If you’re not sleeping well, your body is most likely in a chronic state of stress. Sleep is basically the recovery mode where you can finally recharge your body and heal from all the stress (good and bad) that it’s gone through all day long. You need sleep to recover from workouts, process nutrients into building blocks that keep you healthy, and clean out your brain – seriously! So if you’re not getting the zzzzz’s it might be time you made that a priority 🙂
TAKEAWAY: ARE YOU SUPER STRESSED?
I for sure was! I realized I was doing most of these things – if not all of them at some point in time! No wonder my digestive system was all over the place. If you want to calm your body, you have to calm your mind too 🙂 And don’t worry – this is actually good news. Even though there are so many things to work on, that means there are SOLUTIONS out there that can heal your IBS.
Does that mean I’m perfect?
Heck no! I’m always experimenting and sometimes I still get my symptoms… and that’s okay because I can easily identify what the heck I’m doing wrong – and then work on it!
How am I able to do that? Well, this workbook shows you exactly what I did.
Did you learn something today? You might be interested in finding Food Freedom! Using the 3 strategies in this food freedom ebook to learn how I healed my relationship with food. I’m sharing my best tips for healing your relationship with food (including lessons from my experience with orthorexia, binge eating, over-exercising, body image, weight gain, weight loss, and restrictive dieting). In this super special 30 day program, you’ll learn how to create a sustainable Food Freedom action plan that works for YOU.