Random Things That Help During A Flare-Up
After dealing with IBS for a while, you probably figured out some ways to ease a flare-up. Heat, medication and rest can all make you feel a little bit better.
However, I’ve found a couple of random things over the years that somehow help me during an IBS flare-up. They might sound strange, but maybe they will help you, too?
Whenever I start getting a flare-up, or even just a weird feeling in my stomach, my anxiety level rises. What if I get really bad symptoms? What if my IBS ends up ruining the rest of the day?
One might think that after years of practice, I’d stop panicking every time I feel a flare coming up. But it never gets better. And this stress and fear trigger my IBS even more!
In order to calm my nerves and eliminate the anxiety trigger, conscious breathing works really well. The key is to focus on breathing out for as long as you can and then taking a deep breath into your belly. If you’re able to, try counting to ten for each breath you take.
I don’t know how, but conscious, deep breaths almost instantly calm my nerves. And sometimes, that is enough to prevent a terrible flare.
Taking off your shoes
I could not explain why, but taking off my shoes really helps me keep panic at bay. Maybe it’s because of the grounding I feel when my feet touch the floor. Maybe it’s because my body does not like to be constricted when it’s experiencing IBS symptoms. I honestly don’t know.
For some reason, taking off my shoes does reduce a little of the uneasiness I feel during IBS flares. And if it helps, I’ll take it – even if I don’t understand the reason.
Unbuttoning your jeans
Every time my IBS starts acting up, my stomach gets extremely sensitive. And bloated. I stopped wearing constricting clothing a long time ago for this exact reason!
However, even your favorite jeans can start to become uncomfortable when you get a stomach ache.
If you’re at home, it’s easy to change into something less constricting, but that doesn’t work when you’re out and about. In that case, unbuttoning your pants can really do wonders! Especially when you’re sitting. Just put your sweater or top over the button area so no one can see.
Lying on your stomach
When I was little and complaining about a stomach ache, my mum always told me to lie on my belly. And this really works!
I guess that it’s just a way of putting warmth on your stomach, but there’s also something very comforting about lying on your belly when you’re feeling sick. It works even better when you use a heating pad at the same time. You can either lay on that or put it on your back (is it just me, or does your stomach pain always radiate into your back as well?).
Listening to calming music is another great way to keep anxiety at bay. It gives you something to concentrate on and helps take your mind off your (upcoming) IBS flare.
For me, calming music also makes me feel like I’m in my own little bubble where I can work on feeling better.
Speaking of being in a bubble: does anyone else have a hard time talking whenever IBS is acting up? For me, this happens all the time, but it’s even worse when my IBS is triggered by anxiety.
Whether it’s on the way to an airport, an appointment or else: I can’t count how many times I asked people not to talk to me in the car. I just need to be by myself and concentrate on breathing to keep myself from panicking.
Your favorite show or movie
If I’m at home and having a flare-up that is not triggered by anxiety, watching my favorite shows and movies can really help. However, they have to be shows I’ve seen a million times before since I’m going to miss so much due to all the trips to the bathroom!
Watching something you know very well is about as comforting as listening to calming music, but it does an even better job at keeping your mind off your flare-up.
For me, doing this limits my frustration about not being able to do anything. Instead of worrying about my work deadlines or fun activities I’m missing, I just stare at the screen and wait for things to get better. And it does really work.
Now, most of these things help with anxiety and your mindset, not the actual IBS symptoms. But for me, that’s a big help already. Anxiety is one of my worst IBS triggers, so eliminating it makes me feel so much better!
Do any of these work for you as well?
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?