Taking a Mental Health Walk With IBS-D
Last updated: September 2021
One of the best things I can do for my mental health is taking a long walk in nature. I find it is so calming and relaxing. There’s something about breathing in the fresh air and hearing the birds sing that is so soothing for the soul.
As a result of having IBS-D for a large part of my life, I now suffer from anxiety. I’ve been to many health professionals and have tried lots of different treatments, but I really have found that a lovely relaxing walk is the best thing I can do for myself to lift and ease my anxiety.
What does a walk look like with IBS?
But how on earth do you do that with IBS-D? It’s just become a habit for me to want to know where the nearest bathroom is, everywhere I go. When you’re worrying about where the closest bathroom is all the time, how can that be good for your mental health? There have been many times where I’ve gone out on a walk and have been quite a distance from home when I have that horrible feeling that I need to find a bathroom immediately!
For me, my IBS bothers me most in the mornings, so I wouldn’t usually opt to go on a walk first thing in the morning. I’ve found that moving my walks to the afternoon or evening time when my IBS symptoms have eased is much more productive for me and puts much less pressure on me. I know that I won’t usually be suffering from the urgency that I struggle with in the mornings.
Distraction is often usually a good method for me too. If I can take a companion on a walk with me and chat away, it really does help me forget about my anxiety and my IBS. If I can’t do that, I focus on what’s around me and taking in all the beautiful wildlife, the colors, the sounds. I previously would have spent time thinking about what could go wrong on a walk and was never enjoying the moment. Another method to take my mind off of my IBS and anxiety is listening to some music or a podcast. It has to be something I enjoy though so that I can get totally engrossed in it.
I really do find after these walks, I feel so much more energized and feel better within myself.
Coping with IBS flares
If I am suffering from a flare-up, and it feels like it would be impossible for me to go out and about without being in close proximity to a bathroom, I just don’t force myself to go. Previously, I would have beaten myself up for not going and I would feel guilty about not getting out and about. But now, I understand that sometimes it’s ok to listen to your body and rest when it needs to. I can still listen to some nice music or a podcast and I can still be grateful for my surroundings when I’m not out on a walk. Nature will always be there for when I’m ready to get out there.
Is there anything you do that helps with your mental health? I’d love to hear!
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?