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4 Things I Do to Manage My Anxiety During an IBS Flare

My IBS and anxiety go hand in hand. They’re best friends if you will, egging each other on to perform. Especially if I’m out in public and haven’t noted where the nearest toilet might be. That’s when they like to strike, to catch me off guard.

Tips to manage anxiety during an IBS flare-up

Here are four ways I try to ease my anxiety symptoms during an IBS-D flare. And I should note that a lot of these tips I learned during my cognitive behavioral therapy to help with my anxiety.

1. Practice deep breathing

If I get an IBS flare and I’m not in the comfort of my own home, I will immediately begin to feel my chest tighten and my heart rate step up a gear. In a bid to take back control I practice deep breathing. There are many different techniques but for me, I choose box breathing. It’s where you breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four, then breathe out for four before holding again for four. It regulates my heart rate, slows everything down and leaves me feeling calm. Having to mentally count to four with each step also gives me focus and trains my attention, away from how I'm feeling.

2. Talk to a loved one

Sometimes if I can feel the anxiety bubbling but am not sure how to handle it, or deep breathing isn’t quite cutting it, I text my mum or my best friend and ask them to help talk me out of it. They’ll remind me that what I’m experiencing won’t last, that it’ll be over soon. That it’s not the end of the world. That I’ve been here before and will get through it. Sharing the fact that I’m feeling this way with them makes the panic and the shame of having an attack ease up.

3. Get in 5 minutes of meditation

I’ll take 5, close my eyes, let my breath flow at a pace it likes and try to clear all thoughts from my mind. I like to check in with myself by running a scan of my body, starting from the top of my head, moving down to my toes. Noting any places that feel off or where there’s pain. I find meditation great for relaxation and easing stress.

4. Distract myself with post-flare plans

To combat the horrible feeling of a flare, I distract myself by mentally listing all the nice things I’ll indulge in post flare. I’ve got to have something to think about to get me through. For me this will always involve a long soak in a bubble bath, preferably while binge-watching a series or a rom com, to cheer me up.

What are your tips for dealing with the anxiety that IBS brings?

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