Stop Thinking About Your IBS
When your IBS is at its worst, it’s always on your mind. The pain is distracting and often overpowering. And you’re always thinking about the toilet. You’re either wishing desperately that you could actually go or you’re afraid to go anywhere if there isn’t a toilet nearby. You spend time wondering how you’ll get through your day and what you’ll have to give up because of your symptoms. So it’s no wonder that IBS is always front and center in your thoughts. It’s perfectly normal.
But once your IBS settles down, you end up with a problem… you can’t stop thinking about your IBS. Now though you’re worried about when the next flare up is going to happen and whether you’ll get through the day without any problems. And you’re probably still worried about where the nearest toilet is. It’s a hard cycle to break. Fear does that to you, which again, is perfectly normal.
But thinking about IBS all the time is a problem
When you spend a lot of time focusing on something because you fear it, it keeps you in a stressed and anxious state. All that worrying, all that fear… it provokes your sympathetic nervous system and makes you even more stressed. And stress isn’t good for IBS. In fact, stress is one of the most common triggers of IBS symptoms.
Breaking the stress cycle is hard to do. But one of the things that you can do is to stop thinking about your IBS. Easier said than done, I know. Especially when you need to keep your IBS under control so that you can get on with life. But getting your IBS out of your main line of thought will help you more than you might realize.
So how do you stop thinking about IBS?
The first thing you need to do is get your IBS as well under control as you can. This is because you can’t stop thinking about your IBS while you’re in the middle of a flare up – it’s just not practical. So do some work to calm your symptoms and remove your triggers as best you can.
Next, work out the most critical strategies that you can use each day to minimize your chance of another flare up. For instance:
- Plan safe meals that remove your personal food triggers
- Get enough sleep each night
- Add a de-stressing activity, such as meditation
- Get some gentle exercise
Then get these into a routine as much as possible so that they start to become second nature. But until you reach that point, make yourself a list and tick them off each day so that you don’t forget.
Lastly, when you can see that your IBS is doing okay, try to go for slightly longer periods each day without worrying about it. You will of course think about it, which is okay. But when you do, take a deep, calming breath and tell yourself “Everything is okay. I’m doing all that I can, so I don’t need to think about this now.” Then gently push the thought out of your head and focus on something else that brings you joy.
This won't fix things overnight, but gradually you'll find yourself worrying about your IBS less. Your stress and anxiety about your IBS will decrease and that will in turn help your IBS. But if you can persist, it will make a difference.
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