The Benefits of Moderation
I suppose this article is not for those of you that were born with an ‘even’ temperament. This is for those, like me, that tends to veer between extremes. All or nothing, perfection, and utter failure. Illness, especially something that is changing constantly like IBS, causes a constant uncertainty that becomes very confusing and difficult to manage.
The best approach is moderation
Following the slow and steady course may be the way to go, but a lot of us want relief right now. Unfortunately, this is almost never the case. Trial and error and more trial and error. If you are spending inordinate amounts of time trying to figure it all out, you might find yourself going through periods of ‘relapse’ because you are simply trying too hard and are just simply sick and tired of being sick and tired.
The fact that many doctors, friends, and family members do not seem to understand the pain and discomfort that IBS brings, makes what is normally challenging, seem impossible at times. I have found the best approach is moderation in all things. While this is difficult, it makes life a heck of a lot easier than fighting the stress that the constant push and pull brings.
Make peace with your IBS
My very first article for this site was called "IBS and the Middle Way." I am a Buddhist and one the central tenets, in simple terms, is the idea that in order to live a happy life, extremes should be eliminated. This is hard, for people with IBS, even for those that don’t tend to go to extremes. The pain and frustration, coupled with the ‘there is no cure’ idea is enough to send even the most stable person into a tizzy.
It’s not just about a moderate diet, or exercise or work. It’s a thought process, an acceptance, that if you can do just a little bit towards working on your wellness every day, then you have had success. It’s about not panicking after a particularly bad flare up and deciding that you are going to destroy IBS once and for all that day. We all hate it, but we should try to make peace with it. Fighting forever will only break us down and reduce our strength and ability to fight the illness.
Self-awareness is key
I don’t want this to sound like preaching. It’s just something that has helped me manage. The trick is being self-aware enough to know whether you are working too hard or not hard enough. That takes some practice. I have been trying to practice this approach in my life for years and am sometimes successful for very long periods of time, only to stray from the path due to to...well...life. It’s a good thing to try and if you do a little research, perhaps you find something that will help with this process. I will write more about ways to approach this way of looking at the world in future articles.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?