The Impact Of Stress – A Reminder
Stress triggers IBS. We all know that, but I personally tend to forget sometimes that stress comes in different shapes and forms. In particular, there are two types of stress that I tend to experience. And they both trigger my IBS in a completely different way.
The obvious one: stress related to a specific event
The first type of stress appears when I have a specific event planned, and my anxious brain reminds me of all the different ways in which it could go wrong. What happens if I get a flare-up before and can’t go? What if I’m completely miserable during the entire event? What if people witness my flare-up?
Whenever I plan something in advance, and especially if it requires me to be in a certain place at a certain time, my anxiety takes over and I can’t help but freak out in advance.
Over time, I have gotten better at dealing with these situations. At least to a certain extent.
It helps to remind myself of every past event where I didn’t get a flare-up and think about all the times when everything went fine. And if I have a plan B in case I really don’t feel well, that’s even better.
This is the type of stress that I don’t forget and that I’m slowly learning to cope with.
The sneaky effects of long-term stress
On the contrary, I didn’t use to think that anything could trigger a bad flare-up if I was quietly working from home, eating safe foods and not thinking about any events I have to go to in the near future. Sounds like a perfect environment for IBS sufferers, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not true. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been experiencing the worst IBS flare-ups I’ve had since I started working from home, and it took me far too long to figure out why.
At first, I started blaming it on the food. Don’t you always do this? Whenever I have a flare-up, my first guess is that I ate something wrong. But more often than not that’s only part of the reason. In this case, I was barely eating anything. The actual cause of the flare-ups was my workload.
I’ve been working 12-hour-days for over two weeks, and it started to impact my body. I was constantly feeling stressed. Not the type of stress that causes panic attacks, but the one that makes you grind your teeth at night. The first thing I thought about in the morning was my to-do list. Most nights, I would even wake up in the middle of the night because I remembered other things that had to be done.
The importance of a healthy work-life balance
It turns out that this type of long-term stress has even worse impacts on my IBS than the one associated with a specific event. It takes longer to build up, but when it does, the effects are much harder to get rid of.
I’ll need to cut down on projects and restore a healthier work-life balance in the weeks to come, hoping that my IBS will calm down if I have more time to relax.
This experience reminded me of how important it is not to prioritize work over health. It can be so tempting, and yet it’s not a good idea to cross that line. In the end, you’ll be less productive anyway if you have constant IBS symptoms.
Do you have difficulties with setting boundaries and saying no?