stress and IBS

Is Stress Causing My Diarrhoea?

What is stress?

Well, stress is not necessarily bad, although over a long period of time it can be. It’s our response to something we see as difficult or is a threat. Our “fight or flight” mode kicks in.

stressed and upset

Why or how can stress effect my IBS?

Stress can make us more aware of our symptoms, and our symptoms can totally stress us out! Catch 22.

I like how Professor Whorwell describes stress in his book – pretend getting symptoms is on a scoring system out of 100 … if your diet totals up 70 points (- points not meaning prizes here, though) and stress adds 40 points, then you’re going to be in for a rough ride 🙁 however, on another day, your diet gives you 30 points and about the same again for stress, then this day won’t be as bad. But if only it was as simple as that though!!

By the way, Professor Whorwell is a specialist in Medicine and Gastroenterology (so he knows a thing or two about the gut!). His book is Take Control of Your IBS: The Complete Guide to Managing Your Symptoms. Check it out. It’s not full of pictures but it is full of useful info!

From speaking with sufferers myself, and research does also show that psychological support can be helpful for some people. These are things like counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

What can I do about my stress?

Stress. Tackle it. Talk about it. Seek help. Take action.

A lil bit of stress is okay – it can give us the kick up the bum we need to get our butts in gear, like if we have a deadline to meet, but chronic stress, stress over a long time is not healthy and we need to nip it in the bud.

Some sources of support:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. Your GP
  4. The IBS Network
  5. MIND
  6. Local services near you

Take-home Messages

  1. Practice relaxation techniques – try some yoga or Pilates, walking or sitting outdoors where there’s plenty of greenery. Also check out MIND, NHS Inform
  2. To unwind, do some reading, listen to music, have a laugh with family and friends, or go for a walk
  3. Be active everyday, whatever your level of fitness – housework, gardening, walking, slow or brisk, going to the gym, running, sports, swimming, whatever you enjoy – you’ve got to enjoy it to be consistent and consistency is key!
  4. It can take a lot of courage to get outdoors, for fear of symptoms, but be prepared
  5. Keep a journal; reflect – write about your day, what happened, what went well, what didn’t go so well, how you felt, what you could’ve done to improve things
  6. Write a list of what is stressing you out, why it’s stressing you and what you could do to reduce/get rid of the stress – do you need someone’s help, who could help you
  7. You could also write a list of all the positive things in your life and all the things that make you happy – when you’re feeling miserable or stressed, just look at your “happy list” and remind yourself of all these positive things

If you’re having a lot of loose, runny poohs, make sure you’re drinking enough to avoid dehydration.


Need some help? Get in touch

These are my own opinions that I wish to share. I want to raise awareness of this issue and prompt peeps like you that may be suffering with stress/anxiety to seek help. So please do seek help from your doctor if you are concerned about stress or anxiety in yourself or a loved one.

*This post contains an affiliate link because I want to share a good book with you, and hope you may benefit from it. If you click on these links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission, but please note that this is at no extra cost to you and doesn’t influence any of my recommendations.

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