By November 18, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

Relaxation for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

You may be asking yourself if relaxation is effective in helping relieve IBS symptoms. Until you understand the bodies response to stress it is hard to see how being relaxed can be really beneficial if you have irritable bowel syndrome.

Your Bodies Response to Stress

When you are feeling stressed or anxious your body starts to prepare for danger well known as the fight or flight response. Basically your body gets ready to give you a huge burst of energy in case you need to fight or run like mad to escape this danger. This is great when you need it – my postman was only telling me last week that he had been chased by a vicious dog and had managed to jump over a really high fence to get away from it. After calming down he looked back at the fence and couldn’t believe he had actually jumped over it! It isn’t often that we need such a drastic response but when you are exposed to stress for prolonged periods your body can get into a heightened state of stress response and this is when it becomes a problem particularly for people with IBS.

In order to provide a burst of energy your body your heart starts beating faster to pump blood around the body and get more oxygen to your muscles. The flow of blood actually gets targeted to your major organs and your digestive system isn’t considered major.

It has been shown that stress can cause the muscles of the bowel wall to start contracting irregularly and produce painful spasms. In addition an overload of stress can cause the digective system to switch off and dump whatever is in there – in other words cause diarrhea. So if you already have an irritated gut it is extremely likely that stress is going to trigger a worsening of symptoms.

Why Relaxation Helps

When you relax your body and calm your mind the stress response gets switched off so your blood starts flowing effectively to the digestive system and causes an improvement in how the gut functions. Therefore if you can learn to relax even during stressful periods you help maintain healthy gut function and in effect control your bowels.

Forms of Relaxation

The basic relaxation techniques are:
* yoga
* exercise
* massage
* creative visualisation
* heat
* autogenic training and
* biofeedback.

All of these techniques can help reduce tension and stress. Finding the one that works for you is the key – we are all different and our bodies respond differently so it is important to test out which techiniques works for you. I would recommend trying each one and once you find the one that works stick with that.

Posted in: Relaxation

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