Title: Does Stress Play A Role In IBS For Busy Professionals?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome has plagued me since I was in my 30’s. I don’t have symptoms any longer. Getting to the gut of the problem can be hard if you think about only food.  A big part of digestion is how much stress do you have in your life? This is where taking time to meditate can alleviate IBS

Getting to the Gut Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Going Primal or Paleo really helped. Do I miss certain foods? It’s complicated. Once you’re addicted to sugar, for instance, it takes a while to get over the desire for a piece of cake for instance. This is when willpower comes in.

Through practicing meditation and mindfulness I have developed more confidence in my self-talk. Many clients tell me the same. We can talk ourselves into anything or out of something. Taking a mindful walk can reduce stress and it gives you time to listen to your own inner wisdom about food. For instance, I found my brain can talk me into that cinnamon roll but if I stop, go for a walk, get a drink of water I realize I feel full and the Green Smoothie with strawberries and banana really met my desire for a tasty snack.

The cinnamon roll with all its gluten and sugar would indeed give most people some swelling and bloating. Will it do that to you?

I like that double whammy of mindfulness. It helps you reduce stress and it allows you time to listen to your gut. Important with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is often called a spastic colon. Over 25 years ago I was told I had this. Meditating or practicing some sort of mindfulness daily along with a change in my diet took away my symptoms.

Most people complain about:

  • Cramping
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating and gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea

There are days I experience a little bloating and gas. What I discovered was on days I didn’t take time to ground myself and let stress get to me it was more likely! It didn’t matter about the food I ate as much as my stress level! While I’m a pretty strict Paleo or Primal eater at home, I enjoy what our friends prepare or local restaurants about once weekly. An active social life is part of the unwind of the soul. Laughter is bound to take place and that can be only good for your heart and your digestion.

How Did Irritable Bowel Syndrome Make Me Feel?

Back when I had no idea what was happening, doctors didn’t either. IBS was not well researched. Also, the idea of stress leading to physical problems was silly by medical standards – really. I fell into the problem patient category at many physician offices. I didn’t give a shit and I still don’t. It led me to change careers from western medicine to Functional Medicine. This was a gift for me.

I hurt every time I ate. Soon I hated food but my kids needed to eat and well I was hungry. Then the cramps would start followed by bloating and gas that would win a prize against the best truck driver. [No offense] The rush to the toilet was the worst. Would I make it?

What I did about Irritable Bowel Syndrome

While western medicine failed me other than to offer drugs which made me worse natural or functional medicine and learning to relax helped me. First, I took a look at my life. What was making me have stomach pain when I didn’t have it before? No, I hadn’t changed my diet. The pain was associated with stress and food. I ate in a rush. I ate things that bother most people. I ate food that was fast food. No one should ever do this even if it comes from the local grocer’s deli area. Make your food fresh and organic the night for instance.

Other Things That Helped IBS

Here is my quick IBS mindful list.

  1. Set aside 5-15 minutes in the morning when you wake to relax. Do this by stretching [good for your body], reading something easy [nice way to awake], or deep breathing [keeps you young].
  2. If you have more energy or time, do a quick mindfulness walk or sit and meditate for a short time.
  3. At lunch, yes you need to take one, get outside if you can for at least 10 minutes and move! Your tummy needs movement if you’ve been sitting all morning. If you run around to meetings at your job then this is super important. ‘Running around’, implies lots of rushing and stress.
  4. On your way home – sing! Yes, sing. If you commute by public transportation this might not work but it will as soon as you walk in the door. Exercise your lungs. They sit on top of your digestive tract. Don’t sit, move.
  5. Eat slowly. At each meal make sure you have a full 15-20 minutes to eat. This implies you’ll be chewing food longer. Drinking water, nothing else between bites. If you can eat with others away from your desk or the TV. Laugh because you’re having a good conversation.
  6. Share your 3 best things about today with someone and hear about their day. Maybe your best thing was when your zipper broke and your work-friend had to find you 2 safety pins to fix the problem until you go home!

Sounds bad if you think of it that way. You though are in control of your life. Look for the funniness or opportunity to grow or learn in all things. This is living mindfully.

IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome researchers believe is influenced by your mindset and the stress in your life up to 65%. There are other benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and slowing down – just a little too. Try it and let me know your experiences in the comments below!



Dr. Debra Arko Novotny
Dr. Debra Arko Novotny
OUR HEALTH is important to our success as entrepreneurs and business professionals. Dr. Debra Arko Novotny L.Ac, D.Hom. NMP, CHC specializes in helping women not let health, aging, and menopause get in the way of life. As a professional herself, she understands the need for easy ways to cook and stay fit as we age. She’s an expert in weight loss and menopause. She helps women navigate their busy work and family lives. Her simple approach to changing our behaviors and beliefs has helped women for over two decades regain control of their health and life. Dr. Deb is one of the leaders in Body-Mind-Lifestyle Design. She is a Natural Health Practitioner and coach. Debra is an author and speaker in health and business. Deb practices what she teaches. Natural health, Primal eating, and designing your life. In her office, she provides Functional Medicine, Easy Primal Eating, Acupuncture, and acupoint injections [rejuvenative medicine]. Work with her in-person or virtually by via her Websites: Enhanced Living Today, or Denver Acupuncture Health. OR reach out to her by EMAIL or Phone | Office (720) 515-4602. She resides in Colorado with her husband and family.

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