By November 14, 2012 0 Comments Read More →

How Does Anxiety or Stress Affect Your IBS – And What Can You Do About It?

As someone who strives to overcome the discomfort, pain and embarrassment of IBS, you already know that worries, anxiety or stress are one of the most common IBS triggers.

But how to get rid of the stress, so you can set off those triggers less often?

We all have stress in our lives – it’s just a fact of modern times. But we also all have options to manage stress. This doesn’t mean keeping a tight lid on it – it is more about strengthening our spirits to withstand stress while, at the same time, recognizing that having a digestion system that is very sensitive to stress needs to be protected.

This post is about five methods you could try that have helped many people handle their stress with some success.

IBS – And Your Two ‘Brains’

Something a lot of people don’t realize is that we have, essentially, two brains – the main one and a second ‘gut brain’ composed of bundles of neurons in the digestive system. These two brains are constantly communicating with each other. However, only recently has it been proven that most of the messages are travelling from gut to brain, and not the other way around as was previously believed. Worries, stress and anxiety will trigger IBS. Those ‘butterflies’ in your stomach are real, the sensation happening in an over-sensitised gut.

While you can’t change the digestive system you’ve got, and there is no known cure for IBS, it is true there’s a lot you can do to reduce attacks, minimize their severity, and cope better with your IBS.

Five Natural Ways To Manage Anxiety & Stress To Avoid IBS Attacks

1. Yoga Is Not Just For Flexibility And Fitness

While most people associate yoga with fitness and flexibility, it’s also a great way to reduce anxiety. A general yoga class teaches you how to control your breathing and muscles. This brings about a calming and relaxed state of mind.

Traditional yoga also soothes the brain by incorporating meditation into the sessions. Not only is yoga excellent for reducing anxiety and stress, there are also specific postures and poses for IBS.

Diarrhea can be controlled with “Breath of Fire,” spinal twists, and Seated Forward Bend.

There are special poses that can be used as treatment for bloating. Gentle inversion poses and Seated Wide Angle Pose will bring relief.

Yoga is a popular art, and there are plenty of studios that provide regular classes, along with community centres or colleges. There are also many books and videos on yoga if you are not able to go to an actual class, or feel more comfortable doing your fitness at home.

2. Tai Chi Works For Stress Relief

Tai Chi is a traditional Chinese martial art that is also known as a healing art.

While you might think of it as a ‘fighting’ skill, and perhaps have considered it useful for helping children with self-esteem, but possibly not for you…possibly, it could be.

Tai Chi is a form of moving meditation. It is based on the principal of keeping the energy within the body balanced and in harmony. It increases fitness by developing muscle tone, bone strength, and balance. By reducing stress and increasing fitness, Tai Chi can also improve IBS.

This ancient art can also help give you a better night’s sleep.

3. Meditation Soothes The Worried Mind

Meditation is perhaps one of the most highly-recommended ways of reducing general anxiety.

Meditation is often mystified, or generally lumped in with New-Age forms of ancient Eastern religions, but it is actually very simple. All you need are a few minutes each day to experience some benefits. Find a peaceful and quiet place you can be by yourself and undisturbed by your phone, family, pets or any other distractions.

Dim the lights and cut out as many distractions as possible. For example, do not try to meditate next to a basket of laundry or any reminder of tasks that need to be done.

Some people like having something to focus on, such as a candle (making this a scented candle, particularly if you use a soothing scent such as lavender, adds another anti-anxiety element).

Clear your mind by focusing on your breathing. Inhale steadily for a count of five, and exhale for a count of five. At first, you may need to count, but once you find your rhythm it won’t be necessary.

Try not to have any internal talking. If you do find your mind wandering to the shopping list or what you have to do later, just reset yourself and clear your head again.

Meditate as often as is possible to get a quiet few minutes alone and away from your phone (computer, etc.), especially if you are under stress and pressure during the day.

4. Are You Getting Enough Sleep Most Nights?

We all need enough quality sleep. For adults to be healthy, that is at least 6 hours a night (to a maximum of 8 hours or so). Make sure your bedroom is stress free by keeping it clean, uncluttered and comfortable. Reduce caffeine consumption as much as you can.

Coffee and other caffeinated beverages should not be consumed after lunch (it takes about 8 hours for caffeine’s effects to begin to wear off). The scent of lavender has also been found to help people relax and drift to sleep.

5. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Many people find cognitive behavioral therapy to be highly effective. This is when a professional counsels you in a structured way with a limited number of sessions. He or she will help point out tendencies in negative and inaccurate thinking, as well as provide you with mental tools for dealing with tough situations.

By learning how to identify and work through problems that cause anxiety, your IBS can be better controlled.
IBS and anxiety go hand in hand, so by managing stress you can reduce the number of attacks.


Jackie Johnson writes about natural ways to reduce stress and anxiety at and natural ways to get to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed at

Posted in: Anxiety Treatment

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