Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety; Combating stress when you have a chronic illness is difficult. While small amounts of stress and anxiety are helpful in increasing your concentration and performance, too much is damaging to your health. So where does that leave IBD patients who must cope daily with the stress of a chronic illness? Our physical symptoms, emotions and behavior signal our bodies when we are stressed. A few of these indicators are headaches, irritability and change in sleeping habits. You can learn to manage your stress by recognizing these signals and taking steps to reduce your anxiety. There is no one way to combat stress and anxiety. Everyone has a different way of coping with stress. It is especially difficult for the IBD patient, who has limits to what he or she can do. While some patients find it helpful to exercise, others are unable to get out of bed.
Following are techniques to help you manage your stress and reduce your anxiety.
Don’t Isolate Yourself – Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Discussing your problems with a friend or family member relieves stress and may help you find a solution. If you can’t find someone to talk to, write in a journal or seek professional help.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet – Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Eating a well-balanced diet is difficult for an IBD patient. However, skipping meals or eating your “trigger foods” can also cause stress. Even if all you can eat is a bowl of homemade chicken broth, the nutrients should help you get through the day.
Try Deep Breathing Exercises – Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Join a tai-chi or yoga class or buy a book or video on one of these forms of breathing exercise. Relaxing your entire body and learning to concentrate on your breathing will help calm you and relieve stress. Many books and tapes also teach relaxation techniques that you can do at your desk while you work.
Exercise – Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Take a brisk walk or a jog. If you can’t get out of bed, stretch your whole body. Throughout the day try tightening then releasing tense muscles.
Start a Hobby – Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Read a good book. Paint a birdhouse. Draw pictures. Find something you enjoy doing and do it! Take a few minutes each day or each weekend to work on this project and you will find that your stress reduces when you are involved in your hobby.
Take Breaks – Manage Stress & Reduce Anxiety
Reserve a minute or two each house to breathe deeply, clear you mind of all negative thoughts and think only positive thoughts.