Stress vs. Anxiety
I am very aware that a lot of us struggling with IBS experience significant anxiety to one degree or another. All people experience anxiety. It is natural. But, there comes a point when anxiety becomes constant, or at least very often, and becomes a problem. I’ve talked about anxiety a lot in previous articles. I have generalized anxiety disorder and can testify to the debilitating effects it can have on one’s wellbeing and life. Stress can cause anxiety, hell, anxiety can cause stress. What I’d like to talk about today is stress on its own, without bringing the psychology per se.
Understand your anxiety
Understanding and recognizing your threshold for stress can go a very long way towards improving your total wellness. What are your triggers? What really starts that sweat pouring and the old heart pumping. Anxiety may be a sensation in this case, but this time it’s causal. I know that any IBS flare-up (bad, worse, absolutely awful) is a significant source of stress. I don’t want to wait for it to blow over. I don’t want to wait to start living again. I don’t feel like working, but I have to and how am I supposed to do that when I feel like this? Do you see what I mean? This is also just the stress from a flare-up. What about the other health issues, work, family, financial stuff? It’s a wonder we don’t explode.
How I snap back to reality
I use the rubber band trick to bring myself back to reality when I start getting too stressed out (snap a rubber band on your wrist when you start going off into your worried mind). Works for me to a point. May do nothing for you. What might work for you? Mindfulness and meditation are the keys to managing my stress. Again, what works for one, does not work for all. You truly have to find your own way to deal with it, because unless you find something, anything (did I say healthy, yeah healthy :-) ) to relieve this serious health issue, you will find yourself getting sicker than you already may be. And none of us want or need that.
What works for some, does not for others
I can only share what has worked for me. I started by making a list of EVERYTHING that stresses me out. Grocery shopping stresses me out on the weekends. That went on the list. I grocery shop on Wednesday night now. All fixed. It’s just a lot of little things usually, but they add up. The adding up is really most of the problem. Our job is to keep that from happening.
As far as self-care, I enjoy the water (drinking, bathing, showering, swimming). I like candles and incense and anything that smells nice. Aromatherapy is definitely one of my IBS (and stress) management tools. I mentioned the meditation, mindfulness…and prayer. None of these are new concepts, nothing groundbreaking here. It’s simply finding your own path and finding what works for you. But, it’s kind of important that you do. ;-)
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