Anyone with Irritable Bowel Syndrome knows that IBS causes anxiety. Not knowing when bowel symptoms will strike is enough to make the calmest person feel stress and anxiety.
Apart from being unpredictable, IBS symptoms may cause you anxiety in a couple of other ways:
– Chronic diarrhea is dehydrating, and your body reacts to dehydration as a threat to your survival because humans need water. Not having enough is a stress that makes you anxious, depressed and tired. It’s not a psychological problem; it’s a signal from your brain and body that you’re in danger.
– Chronic constipation is another stress that can make you anxious because of the build-up of toxins in the intestines. When your body is holding onto toxins, it can also react with headaches and nausea.
– In my experience, people with digestive disorders are often sensitive to chemicals and scents in common household and personal care products. Some chemicals are neurotoxins which means they disrupt the way signals are sent between your brain and your body. This is another cause of anxiety.
– When you are awake at night because of pain or several trips to the bathroom, you’re not getting the sleep you need. Sleep deprivation is a source of stress and anxiety for people with IBS and for millions of others.
– When you’re stressed by symptoms, anxiety can cause your mind to go blank. This can cause problems with work, school, or in any part of your life where you need mental concentration, which brings on yet more anxiety. It’s a vicious circle.
So what can you do about it?
When you’re feeling anxious because IBS is ruining your day yet again, here are some tips for natural anxiety relief:
1. A study at the University of Miami School of Nursing showed that taking an essence solution for anxiety had a comparable effect to pharmaceutical drugs but with no side effects.
What’s an “essence solution”? It’s a plant- or gemstone-based liquid that rebalances your nervous system for a calming effect. Two good ones are ETS+ by Perelandra Ltd and Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Essences.
2. With two fingers, firmly hold these acupressure points for one to two minutes:
– Heart 7: Find the crease of your wrist at the base of your palm. Imagine drawing a line straight down your palm from your little finger to that wrist crease. Hold the point where that line would meet the crease. Good for fear, nervousness and anxiety.
– Circ 6: On the inside of your forearm, hold the point that is two and a half finger-widths up from the wrist crease. This point is in the middle of the forearm, not to either side. Good for nausea, anxiety and palpitations.
3. Use EFT tapping. EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique, works for both short- and long-term anxiety relief. You can also use it to relieve the physical symptoms and pain of IBS. If you don’t know how to tap, visit YouTube and look for Instant Anxiety Relief for Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
4. Eat soluble fiber foods or take soluble fiber supplements to help with both diarrhea and constipation. Relieving these two digestive stresses will help to relieve the anxiety that comes with them.
5. Clear the chemical and chemically-scented products out of your life, and especially from your bedroom, to stop them from stressing your digestive system, your immune system and your nervous system, and keeping you awake at night. This will help to relieve physical symptoms as well as insomnia and anxiety.
6. Once you’re feeling calmer, drink some good, filtered water to get re-hydrated. Water can be calming all by itself.
7. Breathe deeply and slowly, while you walk slowly through your house, thinking calming thoughts. Your heart races when you are anxious. You can slow it down by taking a deep breath then exhaling more slowly than you inhale. Deep breathing is probably the oldest form of anxiety relief on the planet. And it’s free!
8. When your mind goes blank, breathe deeply and slowly. Now, using your fingers, gently feel your forehead moving from your eyebrows up towards your hairline. Do you feel those slight bumps that curve out about half-way up your forehead above your eyebrows? Hold those bumps with your fingertips or by placing your whole hand across your forehead, and keep breathing with long, slow exhales. Hold for at least one minute.
Holding these points will bring the blood back into the front part of your brain, which is responsible for language and analytical thinking, and will help to calm you down. This technique is especially helpful when you are in a test, exam or other stressful situation and need to be able to think more clearly.