IBS and Anxiety

Here’s something you wouldn’t know unless you were sifting through my filing cabinet…

Every one of my IBS clients has seen a Gastroenterologist.

Every client has a final diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

A few clients started out with a parasite or gastritis, but after a course of treatment, the symptoms were never eliminated.

How do you figure that? A formal diagnosis but no successful treatment? Often those words “Well, it looks like you have IBS” are final.

I’m here to tell you they aren’t.

Doctors and Gastroenterologists still separate the body from the mind. I had one client whose general anxiety was so extreme that no doctor working on her physical body would be able to fix…unless they worked on her mind first. And in fact, she still has severe symptoms and always will because she would not commit to managing her anxiety. You can only save yourself if you want to.

The brain is connected to the gut. It’s cleverly called the brain-gut axis. Most people know it from feeling nerves or butterflies before an exam, job interview, date or speech for example. Some people’s stomach churns a little, some so much that it creates instant diarrhea or even vomiting. Yes, your mind is that powerful.

The other common theme in the clinic is the symptoms are no longer based on the original cause, but are now secondary stress and anxiety about them. The severity of original symptoms was so distressing and often interfered with client’s personal, work and social lives. They began to worry about their symptoms because of the unpredictability and then there’s the matter of bathroom availability and near misses. These concerns quickly created high anxiety and stress, which in turn exacerbated symptoms. It is now this pattern that is maintaining the symptoms, and not the original cause. This is where the masses of IBS diagnosis is appearing, as if it’s a fashion statement.

You can overcome your symptoms. Your mind is your greatest tool in doing so. I’m going to give you one of my techniques that I give to all clients to practice. I’d like you to value yourself and commit to doing it. It’s a distraction technique that I call “colours”. Use it when you find yourself either thinking about symptoms, or when you feel symptoms arising. The technique is very simple and breaks the cycle of thoughts in your mind, therefore minimising symptoms in your body.

Here’s how it goes:

Wherever you are, choose a colour, any colour. Lets say green for example.

Now out loud, count the number of objects around you that are green, every shade of green you can see. Look closely and really try hard to find as many green objects as you can.

I want you to do this distraction technique right now. It may sound simple or silly but until you do it for yourself you wont know how powerful it is.

Pick a colour.

Stand up wherever you are

Start counting out loud until you cant find any more of that colour around you.

Go.

It’s impossible to think of anything else while you are counting the colours. Did you notice that? This directs your mind to be focused on something else, something that you are required to engage in and therefore distracts your mind from the very thing that it was thinking about previously.

You can use the same colour or different colours each time you use this technique. You can also start off with one colour and when you have counted all of those, go on to a second colour if you would like a longer distraction.

The brain-gut axis exists and you can choose how you would like yours to function. You deserve to feel better.

Mind Matters – What the mind agrees with, the body responds to.

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