Mindfulness

Meditation and mindfulness training are good for everybody, but they are especially great for IBD patients. IBD can be extremely stressful at times, especially for students and those with full-time careers. Meditation and mindfulness help people to find peace and calmness. I have used meditation and other forms of mindfulness training to help me deal with the stress of IBD, and I found that the best part of mindfulness is that it only takes a few minutes a day to calm down and release your stress.

According to a study conducted by Wolters Kluwer Health, mindfulness can bring long-lasting improvements in mental health and quality of life for patients with IBD. The researchers tested patients after eight weekly group sessions and an additional day-long intensive session. The sessions included guided meditation, mindfulness exercises, and group discussions of challenges and experiences. Patients were also encouraged to perform daily meditation at home. Those who completed the program experienced lower anxiety and depression scores and improved physical and psychological quality of life. They also had more awareness of inner and outer experiences. Six months later, they continued to experience a significant reduction in depression and improvement in quality of life.

While mindfulness training clearly helps to improve the mental health of IBD patients, it could also improve their physical health. Sometimes, stress can cause one to relapse into a flare up; if patients can reduce stress through mindfulness training, they may be able to prevent flare ups.

Obviously, not everyone has the time to go through as intense a program as the subjects in the study did. However, you can still practice mindfulness at home. I find meditation to be the most helpful for me. I use the Calm app to meditate, and I’ve heard Headspace is another great app for meditation.

Remember that small habits can lead to big changes in your life. See if daily acts of mindfulness can change your life.

 

 


How Stress Affects IBD

Stress can have a major effect on one’s physical health. While stress is commonly associated with headaches and acne, it also has significant effects on ulcerative colitis. According to the journal Gastroenterology Research, exposure to extreme stress can cause a fivefold increase in one’s risk of relapse. Researchers also found that stress, bad mood, and significant life events are correlated to IBD flare-ups. In a study published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice, researchers found that psychological stress can lead to an increase in the permeability of the intestines, which causes symptoms such as a leaky bowel. They also found that stress affects the immune system, which can disrupt neurotransmitters and hormones. Additionally, IBD can increase stress through constant worry about symptoms and medication management.

Several stress-management techniques can help people with IBD avoid stress-related negative effects on mental and physical health. These are some of the techniques I have found useful:

 

  • Meditation

I use the Calm app, which talks the user through the meditation practice. It has different sets for different types of meditation.

  • Stretching

Stretching helps to relax muscles and promotes calmness.

  • Sleeping

Getting enough sleep is crucial for managing stress levels.

  • Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins, which can increase happiness and lower stress levels.

  • Finding Someone to Talk To

Whether it be a parent, a sibling, a friend, or a teacher, find someone to talk to about your stress. Sometimes, venting can help you realize that you don’t have much to be stressed about.

  • Self-Care

Taking a break to read a book or listen to music can significantly lower stress levels.

 

I hope that these tips help you to handle stress a little bit better. It is important to keep your stress level as low as possible when suffering from IBD. Let me know in the comments what you do to combat stress.