IBS - How Mindfulness Can Help
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
The current bandaid health term given to people suffering from uncomfortable abdominal symptoms - bloating, constipation, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and generally not feeling 100%.
There are many hypothesised triggers for it - stress/anxiety, bacterial infection, diet, changes in life circumstances. One thing we know is that most IBS patients have a much lower tolerance to the foods that trigger their symptoms when they are stressed or run down.
Putting mindfulness to the test in a clinical trial, 75 adult women with IBS took part in an 8-week study with the results published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. Each woman was randomly assigned to either weekly mindfulness training sessions or a support group for IBS sufferers (which served as the control group).
The mindfulness training included lessons on meditation, gentle yoga postures, and ‘body scanning’ in which people focus their attention on a specific body area to detect muscle tension and other sensations.
By the end of the study, women in the mindfulness group showed marked reductions in reported IBS severity by 24% compared to just 6% reduction in women in the support group. This improvement persisted up to 3 months after the study ended.
So how can we be more mindful in our daily lives?
- Listen to a meditation podcast, download or Youtube video
- Get outside, put your feet on the grass, feel the ground and get back to nature
- If you can't get outside,stare at a beautiful landscape screensaver or picture for a while - think ocean waves, lush mountain side, waterfalls, a beautiful park etc
- Spend a few moments at your desk deep breathing. Nothing heavy or forceful - no need to creep out your co-workers. Just breathing in more air than you normally would, pausing a little, then exhaling longer than you would. No-one need know!
- If you're lucky to work in an active office do some yoga poses. There's plenty of relaxing poses to google. Childs pose is always great to start with. If not - stretch at your desk. Open your arms wide, raise them above your head. Or twist your torso to the right and left. Just get the blood gently flowing, and release some of that tension from your muscles.
- Introduce a 2 minute break at work where you all take turns to give each other a little shoulder massage. Laughs encouraged.
- Focus your attention on one body part at a time. Really focus. How it feels, how it looks, what it's touching, the breeze on it. No judgement, just focus.
- Take a short nap
- Take notice of what you're eating. If you know it's not any good for you - don't eat it. Make the effort to look after your body the best you can each and every day.
- Go to a pilates or yoga class
- Download and use Smiling Mind App - free guided mindfulness meditation sessions on the go
- From Monash Uni:
- Notice changes in your posture. Be aware of how your body and mind feel when you move from lying down to sitting, to standing, to walking. Notice each time you make a transition from one posture to the next.
- Throughout the day, take a few moments to bring your attention to your breathing. Observe five mindful breaths.
- Focus attention on your daily activities such as brushing your teeth, washing up, brushing your hair, putting on your shoes, doing your job. Bring mindfulness to each activity.
Enjoy being you,