A woman wearing headphones sits in the center of the image crocheting a blanket covered in musical notes which wraps around her and off frame to the left, three spools of yarn and a couple extra crochet hooks lay next to her on the ground to the right

Music and Art to Cope with IBS and Stress

Anxiety and depression are 2 words I tried not to say or think about for years. I felt if I was depressed or had anxiety, I was doing something wrong, and it was my fault. Anyone with IBS knows that sometimes you just don't have control over your body no matter what you try to do. I guess I just didn't realize sometimes anxiety and depression can be the same way.

The power of music and art for anxiety and stress

For me, it just wasn't something that was talked about. I can't remember ever hearing the words used to describe someone or symptoms until I was an adult. It was just something you dealt with privately behind closed doors. No one needs to know you are depressed, right? Maybe that's okay for some people. For me, it felt like I was living a lie. I was hiding from everyone. Hiding the anxiety and depression I felt was causing my IBS to flare like never before. I would find myself just crying for no reason and couldn't find the words to express how I felt because that was just something I had never done. But then I found the power of music and art.

I've always loved music. My whole family has always surrounded ourselves with music or art. Music and art (of any kind) have been my saving grace. With anxiety being my biggest trigger for IBS, music has become a huge part of my life. If I wake up and feel off, more times than not, I know what to expect for the day, mentally, and physically.

I go to music first to help stop or slow down my mind. I throw my headphones on and find some of my favorite music and just let the world fall away. It slows my mind down. It stops me from overthinking and makes me relax a little. It's not a cure or fix, but it does help a lot. When music doesn't seem to be enough, I add to it. I, still listening to my music, but I will incorporate art into it.

My favorite form of art is crochet. It's just challenging enough to make me focus. It keeps my hands busy and gives me a way to put all of that anxiety into something. For good days I will work on just a simple stitched afghan. On bad days, I will find or make a graph and work that design up in an afghan.

Art and music helps my IBS

Sitting down, focusing on working out the details of a graph, then watching my hands take that graph and turn it into a beautiful afghan for someone makes my heart happy and greatly decreases any anxiety I am feeling, in turn helping calm my IBS.

It's funny to me how things like this work for me. 15-year-old me would have laughed if you told her I spent my days listening to music and crocheting at 35, but this is my reality, and I wouldn't change it. You see, without the anxiety, depression, and IBS, I wouldn't be me. I wouldn't have found my talent for turning fiber into art. I wouldn't know the feeling of joy on others' faces when receiving gifts. I quite literally put my own emotions into it.

Have you found music or art a good option for helping you battle your stress or anxiety?

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