Stress is a major trigger for IBS symptoms in many people. In fact, stress can sometimes be such a powerful trigger that it can override all the other management strategies that you have in place. Because of that, it’s important to have some simple techniques that can bring your stress down quickly to prevent your IBS symptoms getting completely out of control.
My favorite technique for settling stress
This is a technique that I personally use and one that I recommend to clients. I like it because it’s easy to do, can be done anywhere, doesn’t require any special tools, takes less than a minute to do, and everyone can do it. Here’s what you do…
Breathe in and out 10 times, focusing on your breath the entire time, and trying to slow down the breaths as much as you can. That’s it. Just take 10 breaths.
When you first start doing this, it’s best to stop what you’re doing and sit on a chair or on the ground, so the only thing you’re focusing on is your breathing. Then close your eyes and start breathing. Every time you take a breath, count in your head the number that you’re up to and keep going until you reach 10. Then slowly open your eyes and see how you feel. Hopefully you will feel less tension in your body and be a bit calmer.
This simple technique may not be enough to get rid of all of your stress, but it will help. If you’re still feeling really stressed, do it again, allowing your body to become heavy and sink into the floor or the chair. And you can do it as often as you need to. For people with lots of ongoing stress, I suggest doing it every hour or two at first. But if your stress is related to a particular event, rather than being a constant thing, just do it when you need to.
If you’ve never done a breathing exercise before, you may be a little skeptical at first. That’s okay. I was too. But give it a go anyway and see what happens. You’ll be surprised by how fast it works. Just remember to concentrate on the breaths and try to breathe a little slower with each one.
Why 10 breaths?
10 isn’t a magic number. If you do 8 breaths or 12 breaths, that’s fine too. But when you’re first starting out, focusing on a decent number of breaths will help you to get the hang of it. That’s because you’re likely to be distracted on the first couple of breaths so you need to have enough breaths to allow your mind and body to settle.
But once you get more practiced at doing this simple technique, you’ll find that you don’t always need 10 breaths. You may need only 5 breaths (or less) to get the same effect. And if you’re not overly stressed but just feeling a bit irritated, you may find that 1 or 2 good deep breaths will be enough to calm you down so you can get back on with things.
It’s also not essential to sit down while you’re doing it. As it becomes a habit, you’ll find it easy to switch into a focused breathing exercise while you’re standing and/or when you have your eyes open. Which is even better because then you can literally do it anywhere and no one else will even know you’re doing it.
So how about trying this right now. Sit down, close your eyes and focus on 10 breaths. Didn’t that make you feel better?