The Power of the Mind - IBS & Overall Health
Last updated: July 2018
We have all heard and know that our mind is a powerful thing, but just how powerful is it? Let’s take a look at how strong our minds can really be when it comes to managing our IBS and our overall health.
I know personally I am stuck in this vicious cycle of saying to myself, “I hate my stomach, I hate my body and what it does to me!” With this type of self-talk, before you know it, you are at war with your own body. You have all of this negative energy trapped in your body that is psychologically damaging, and you are constantly fighting a losing battle. It’s natural to feel like you need to take control when your body gets out of control, but you shouldn’t do this because the more you try to control, the more you lose control. We must be at peace with our bodies, or we will have to live with fighting our bodies. Instead of hating your body for having IBS, love your body for what it does do for you, such as walking, breathing, typing, etc. It’s not an extremely easy thing to do and it will take practice, but it can be life altering.
If you do start to find yourself trying to fight your body, there are a few things you can do about it. Whether you suffer from IBS-C or IBS-D, it’s important to make sure that you are noticing what your body is doing in times of stress, so you can relax, unwind, and unravel all of the tension that you have built up in your body. Don’t obsess over it, but just try to take note of what your body does at certain times. For example, for me personally, I notice that when I’m stressed out, my stomach is clenched and I forget to breathe, which puts a major kink in my digestion. I have started to pay attention to this behavior, and I have been working to retrain my body to not respond to stress in that way.
Mind over matter
I recently read the book “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” by Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley, and there have already been multiple references to healing your body by changing the way we think about ourselves. In his book, he references a report in Psychological Science where researchers stated the findings of an experiment regarding hotel maids. When asked if they lived an active lifestyle and if they exercised, they said no. When they were “told that the work that they do (cleaning hotel rooms) is good exercise and satisfies the Surgeon General’s recommendations for an active lifestyle,” the women perceived themselves as being more active and getting more exercise, and showed a decrease in body weight, blood pressure, body fat, waist-to-hip ratio, and body mass index, compared to those who were not told that their work was good exercise. Another experiment in the book was that of knee pain sufferers by Dr. J. Bruce Moseley. The findings showed that even if the patients thought that they may have gotten knee surgery but weren’t really sure, and they really didn’t have the surgery (placebo effect), they still reported that they had reduced pain six months later. Lakhiani also talks about his personal experience of suffering from severe acne for five years, seeing multiple doctors with no avail, and how he ended up healing his acne with his mind, through visualizing his skin healing, for just five minutes, three times a day.
What if we visualized our body being IBS free? What if we used imagery to think about a life without having to think about every single thing we ate, and having no pain or bloat? Could this practice overtime alleviate our IBS symptoms? Could it even lead us to an IBS free life? Our beliefs about our bodies have a huge impact on our health. IBS is not all in our head in the way that some people believe, but a lot of it is in our head as far as the strength of our minds are concerned. We need to work on loving our bodies and making sure that we are practicing positive self-talk at all times, and not going to war with our bodies. We need to practice using our minds and visualization to heal by meditating on the part of our body that is causing us trouble, similar to how Lakhiani healed his severe acne. Incorporating these things into our daily habits not only can assist in the healing of our IBS, but they also have the potential to heal our anxiety, mind, health, and ultimately change our lives for the better.
Which of the following symptoms of IBS do you experience most frequently?