Making a Mental Shift to Make IBS Easier
Even though IBS is a physical condition, I find that the best way to cope with the challenges of IBS is to make changes to your mindset or your mental approach. While this may at first be difficult to do, persisting until your mindset changes will make your life much easier. Also, since IBS can be triggered by stress and anxiety, shifting your mindset about the ongoing pressures of IBS can release some of that stress and make it less likely that your symptoms will be triggered.
These are the 4 mental shifts that I find to be most important…
1. Accept that IBS is here to stay, as unfair as that may seem
This is the most critical mental shift to make, because it stops you from fighting against the very core of your being. IBS represents a physical change in your body, where your nervous system has become hypersensitive and causes your body to react differently to what’s happening in your gut. While you can do things to tame the reactions, for now there isn’t anything you can do to completely reverse it or even stop it. I know that you didn’t ask for this change to happen, but for now, it’s here to stay. Once IBS sets in, the only way forward is management. Maybe one day there will be a cure, but for now, you’re stuck with it. So the sooner you stop fighting your IBS, the sooner you can put your efforts into managing it.
2. Accept that you will need to make changes to manage your IBS
Once you’ve decided that management is your focus, it’s time to accept that you’re going to have to make some changes. First you need to spend some time working out what triggers your IBS, then after that you can make changes to keep yourself away from those things. Some of your triggers might be fairly obvious, but it’s likely that you’ll need professional guidance to work out most of your triggers. For instance, a nutrition professional can help you to discover and manage dietary triggers, while a psychologist can help with mental triggers.
3. Accept that other people won’t always be prepared to adjust for your changes
The next thing to accept is that while you have to make changes and give some things up, other people in your life who don’t have IBS won’t have to make similar changes. It’s frustrating watching your friends and family eating your favorite foods that you now need to avoid, or living life in a carefree manner that you can no longer maintain, but think about this… if the situation was reversed, would you honestly be willing to completely give up your favorite things just because someone close to you couldn’t have them anymore? Maybe you might ease up on some things while they were around you, but there’s no way you’d give them up for good. So please remember this if it feels like the people close to you aren’t sympathetic to your needs.
4. Accept that some IBS symptoms will continue to occur even with change
The last, and probably most annoying, thing that you need to accept is that even with the best efforts to avoid your IBS triggers, there will still be times when your IBS gets triggered and you’ll get sick. That’s because IBS can be triggered by many different things and you can’t control everything. So at some point, you will slip up and make a mistake, someone else will slip up and make a mistake that affects you, or your body will simply become overwhelmed by too much all at once. It’s not because you haven’t been diligent enough in your efforts, it’s because life happens. So don’t give up. Keep going with your changes and most of the time things will be better.
Is gluten a trigger for you?