Chapter 4 : Stress Is A Factor

One of the first things that you and your doctor will talk about in regards to your IBS is that of stress.  Stress if a factor that can do damage to many aspects of your health including irritable bowel syndrome.

First and foremost, don't make the mistake of thinking that stress in and of itself can cause IBS.  This is not the case.  Stress is generally brought into our lives by a troubled lifestyle.  The more stresses that you put onto your body, the less healthy and capable of producing a healthy reaction it is.

Remember that we don't know what actually causes IBS.  In effect, all we can do is to treat the symptoms that can come from it.  But, we do know what makes it worse and stress is one of those factors.

Why Stress Hurts

The facts on why stress hurts your IBS are clear.  For a healthy person in an ideal situation, stress is controlled by the body.  Your body has a pain inhibition system that turns on when it is struggling with pain to help you to cope with it. 

But, what has been found in patients with IBS is that this hypersensitivity doesn't go away.  Your body doesn't turn on the right pain inhibition system and you feel the muscles of your gut hurting. 

For example, it has been a long and stressful day, you are looking forward to a good meal and sleep.  If you are experiencing prolonged or repeated episodes of stress, you'll find it not so easy to relax.  Instead, you go home and eat a meal.  No matter if you eat during your stressful event or after, your will have that awful ache in your abdomen that comes with IBS. 

This would be a normal feeling of being full for some, but for those with IBS it hurts.  Your body doesn't turn off the pain function that a healthy body would which in turn allows you to feel more of the pain associated with eating during or after stress.

It Doesn't Have To Be Food

Don't think that the only reason that the IBS pain is brought on is that of food either.  That's not right.  In fact, there have been studies done to provide this.  For example, your body experiences a normal emotional response to a situation.  In people, the experience of emotional reactions is not something that is strictly emotional.  Your body reacts in many ways.

If you are afraid, nervous or sad, your body reacts physically as well as emotionally.  Your heart starts to race. Your hands are sweaty.  You feel the need to use the restroom.  You may even get the stomach of nerves feeling. 

In IBS patients, those symptoms intensify for the stomach pain.  We know that the body reacts to emotional feelings and stressful situations bring out pronounced pain in the stomach's walls.  Your gut may hurt to the point where it is quite troublesome.

In these examples, you can see that no matter what the stressful situation is to your body, it plays a role in making your symptoms far from ordinary.  In effect, your IBS is made worse by these conditions.

For that reason, the avoiding of stressful situations can be quite helpful at reducing the number of painful episodes that you go through. 

The question is, then, how can you avoid all of the stressful events in your life?

What you need to remember here is that it is not just a matter of avoiding stressful events to stop IBS, but to lower the body's reactions to them.  To make it less severe of a reaction, you need to avoid stress and you need to do things that help to relieve stress that you are already facing.

When you do those two things, you can find relief from some of your worst IBS situations.  The question is now, how can you do this.

Removing Stress

There is no doubt that removing stress from your lifestyle is going to be challenging.  And, there is no doubt that each of us will face stressful situations no matter what we do to avoid them.  But, it isn't all about avoiding those situations.

In many ways, doing things that will relieve your stress will help your IBS to find less of a reason to act up.  You see, it is the piling up of the stress in your body that makes IBS react, not necessarily just one or two stressful situations.  Although, in an extreme case, that is all it will likely take to have a reaction.

Here are some of the best ways for you to work on relieving stress in your life.

Avoidance:  Of course, the best thing to do is to remove yourself from situations that are always stressful to you.  If your job is causing you to lose sleep at night or to worry about it, then this will lead to IBS reactions.  Since your job is an ongoing thing, it builds up and causes reactions all of the time.  In situations like this, the only thing that you can do to find relief with a constant stress causer is to remove it if possible.

Exercise:  Believe it or not, your body can relax and find benefit in exercise.  This is a great way for you to reduce the stress in your body.  Try to get in a walk each day after dinner.  Or, sign up for a membership at the local gym and go up there and do some laps around the pool.  Getting in physical activity does much more than just help you to stay fit.  It also helps to stimulate the brain which in turn helps your body to reduce stress loads.

Meditation:  For some, mediation is a great way to find relief from stress.  Focusing on the good things instead of always worrying about the bad things is the perfect way to find relief from stressful events.  If you don't feel that mediation is right for you, try yoga.  This will combine both meditation and exercise to provide ideal stress relief to your body and to your mind.

Do Something Fun:  Even when things are really looking bad, your mind needs to focus on other things that are beneficial.  If you can get out with your friends for a night of having fun, that will help to take some of the stress away.  Everyone needs to find things to do that take their mind off of the stress they are under.

Get Enough Sleep:  A very important part of fighting stress is taking care of your body's physical needs.  Sleep is not an option but a requirement for good health.  By getting in enough sleep so that you feel rested when you wake up will help your body to cope with stress as it goes throughout your day.

Reducing stress is a great way to help you to avoid irritable bowel syndrome.  There is little doubt that having the right physical and emotional condition will allow you to feel better and to actually get through the day without having the symptoms of IBS.

Use these methods to help you to reduce stress loads.  Keep in mind that there are plenty of other ways that you can reduce the stresses of your body too.  You just need to maintain a healthy living environment.  If you do not take the time to reduce and avoid stress in your daily life, IBS will be a constant factor.

Remember that stress is not the only thing that you need to think about.  Pair stress reduction or removal with other necessary considerations and you will quickly see the rewards.

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