5 Unique Ways to Manage Stress
You may have read about it or had it suggested to you that reducing stress can assist in managing IBS symptoms but how can you actually put this into practice?
Stress activates your sympathetic nervous system’s response to danger to prepare you for flight or fight. Whereas the parasympathetic nervous system’s rest and digest mode occurs when there is no threat, whether real or perceived. This is the system that needs to be activated to help with reducing IBS symptoms and allowing your body to relax and digest food the way it is designed to.
Apart from the standard beneficial activities like meditation and yoga, exercise, reducing work hours, spending time in nature etc, how else can you practice being mindful and initiate a relaxation response? Well here are five unique ways that have helped me:
I recently tried hula hooping for the first time since I was a child and I found it be relatively easy and surprisingly calming.
Once I got the hang of it, the gentle concentration required and the movement of the hoop around my belly provided a sense of calm and rhythm. I also felt excited at mastering a simple childlike activity.
Now hula hooping may not be for you, but perhaps there is an activity from your childhood that you remember fondly that might provide you with a sense of calm or playfulness if you were to try it again.
It’s not regular yoga with poses and stretching, but it does focus on breathing in a similar way to a standard yoga practice. You know the saying “laughter is the best medicine”, well that’s the theory behind laughter yoga. Laughing, whether real or self generated, can help release tension, help circulate blood through the body, help to connect with others and help find a sense of playfulness and joy.
I find that I can walk out from a laughter yoga session feeling relaxed and rejuvenated and happy! There are many laughter yoga clubs around the world and if you do an online search, you may just find one near you.
Reading a novel
Whether its reading a fiction novel or listening to an audiobook, the ability to be taken away to another world distracts me from any troubles that I may be experiencing. If you don’t see yourself as a reader, perhaps try a short story or a comic book or an audiobook. You might be pleasantly surprised at the enjoyment a good story can bring.
Giving thanks for what is good in your life can help by focusing on the positives, rather than the negatives. Before going to sleep I use an app on my phone to record three things that I am grateful for. It helps take my mind off any stress I may be experiencing, even for just a minute or two. It could be as simple as sunshine on your face, or a perfect cup of tea or a phone call from a friend. It doesn’t matter what it is, it just has to mean something to you.
Taking a bath
Relaxing in water can initiate a sense of calm. If you have a bath in your house, make the most of it. If you don’t, then consider a visit to a local beach or a swimming pool for a swim. Or even just immersing your feet in a bucket of warm water with some Epsom salts and a drop of lavender oil can provide a sense of peace. I find warm water calming and the sense of weightlessness is almost like having that weight of my troubles removed from my shoulders.
Can you come up with a list of 5 things that you might turn to when you are experiencing stress? Having a list of activities posted on the fridge, above a desk or in a calendar can provide a quick reminder of ways that you can offset stress and kick start your rest and digest mode.
Did you start experiencing IBS symptoms before adulthood?