How to Control IBS Symptoms During Cold and Flu Season, Part 1
Manage the fall flu and winter blues while keeping your IBS under control. Although the cold season is technically a year-round affair, these viruses are most active in the fall and winter, peaking between December and February.1 Check out these helpful tips to kick your IBS symptoms to the curb during the upcoming cold and flu season, and don’t forget to get your flu shot!
Stress management for IBS
Stressed spelled backward is D-E-S-S-E-R-T. But, instead of using food as a coping mechanism, which may worsen unwanted flare-ups, carve out some much needed “me-time.” Do activities that make you happy! Go on a hike or walk. Read a book. Facetime with loved ones. Cook a few delicious meals for the next few days while listening to a new book, your favorite tunes, or movie. Regardless of the activity, find at least 30 minutes for yourself every day to do something you love!
During a time of stress, meditation or mindfulness can improve your headspace and overall well-being. A study found that mindfulness can have therapeutic effects on IBS symptoms, improve health outcomes, and reduce physiological distress.2 Check out these apps to ward off unwanted stress and alleviate IBS symptoms:
- Headspace: Learn the ins and outs of meditation and mindfulness tips from leading experts. Get access to hundreds of guided meditations on topics like managing stress, anxiety, sleep, etc. Check out the post 6 Apps for Productivity and Mental Health for more mindful insights.
- Calm: This app offers guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, stretching exercises, and relaxing music to better sleep and lower feelings of stress.
- Aura: Enjoy thousands of meditations that focus on emotional health and sleep! This app also provides a gratitude journal, stories, nature sounds, life coaching, and soothing music.
Other ways to destress with IBS
For those who want a technology break, there are plenty of other ways to destress. Consider journaling. Each night before bed, spend a few minutes reflecting on your day and jotting down any insights or new helpful habits. Another way to relax is to detach from the world. Try partaking in a 3-day news fast. This may help decrease additional stress and anxiety. Disconnect from your screen by eating meals or going on walks without your beloved technology. This separation will allow your mind to explore other things.
Find an exercise regimen that works for you
Exercise has proven to benefit IBS symptoms and keep one’s immune system strong and healthy. Experts recommend about 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week.3
Join the at-home workout trend and find a routine that works for you! Yoga. Resistance training. Shadowboxing. The choice is yours, and there are endless sites, apps, and programming through your TV subscription services! Stay motivated by blocking off time on your calendar, adding it to your daily to-do-list, or finding an accountability buddy. If it’s helpful, create a sense of routine by consistently working out at the same time. Here are some go-to tips on how to master your workout when space is limited:
- Jumping rope: 60 seconds of jumping with a 60-second break in between. Think it’s easy? You will be shocked by how tough it is to get through 5 of these intervals.
- Chair exercise: grab a chair and get to work! You can do triceps dips, step-ups, incline or decline push-ups, pistol squats into the chair, one-legged lunges, elevated mountain climbers, etc. The exercises are endless!
- Pillow exercises: Pillows are not only for sleeping but also for working out. You can do ab crunches passing the pillow between your hands and feet, glute bridges while squeezing a pillow between your inner thighs, twists passing the pillow side by side while in a boat position, crunches with the pillow resting on the lower back. Who knew that you could get a full-body workout with just a pillow?
Know your limits
While exercise has many benefits, it’s also important to rest up or stick to low-impact movement when feeling tired. You can also give yourself permission to take a couple of days off when you need to especially on busy days where you need to make time to get to bed earlier.
Do you live with any sleep disorders (eg. insomnia, RLS, sleep apnea) in addition to IBS?