We all know that stress does not cause IBD, but that stress, along with anxiety and depression, can make symptoms worse. It is really important to find a way to cope with the psychological aspects associated with IBD. One way is to use relaxation techniques to calm your mind and body. So, next time you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed try one of these...they really can help:
1. Slow breathing: This is probably the simplest thing you can do, but it really does work and the best part…you can do it anywhere. If you are by yourself, close your eyes. Then, relax your body. Take a deep inhale in, slowly counting to four or five. Hold the breath for a second, and then slowly exhale over four or five seconds. Rest for a second, and then repeat. While you are breathing, concentrate either on counting the seconds while you are inhaling and exhaling, or think of something peaceful, like the ocean. This works great if you are by yourself and can lay down and close your eyes, but it also works if you are out in public and start feeling some anxiety because it will make you concentrate on something other than what you are anxious about.
2. Progressive Relaxation: This is a great technique that works best if when you are alone. Start by either lying down or sitting in a comfortable chair and closing your eyes. Take a couple deep breaths. Then, tense the muscles in your feet. Hold the tension for a few seconds and then let it out. Move to your calf muscles. Tense the muscles and hold for a few seconds. Then release. Move to your quadriceps muscles. Tense your quadriceps muscles and hold for a few seconds before you release. You are going to repeat this procedure, moving all the way up your body including your buttocks, hands, lower arms, upper arms, whole arms, abdomen, chest, and facial muscles. After you have finished, tense your whole body, hold for a few seconds and release. Then take a few deep breaths.
3. Guided Imagery: Start by either laying down or sitting in a comfortable chair. Close your eyes and picture yourself in a peaceful, relaxing place. This could be either at the beach, lying in a hammock…anywhere you like. Look at your surroundings. Notice the colors and textures around you. Hear the sounds, smell the ocean or the flowers, feel the sun. Notice any other sensations. Relax and enjoy. The more you do this, the easier it becomes.
There are many other relaxation techniques, but these are the three I like the best. Remember, the less stressed, anxious and depressed you are, the better you will feel. Enjoy and remember they all take practice. I hope these help!