4 Relaxation Practices to Ease IBS

May 7th 2016

Consult with your primary care physician to discover recommendations for treating IBS that go beyond altering your diet or medications. Your doctor can recommend a mental health professional for your needs, and these types of appointments may fall under the auspices of your health insurance policy to help ease the burden of any costs associated with these treatments.

Diaphragmatic or Abdominal Breathing

Place your hand above your belly button, and focus on how your hand moves up and down with each deep breath. Become aware of your breathing as air inhales and exhales out of your lungs. Notice how your hand moves outward when you take a deep breath of air into your lungs. Pause as your lungs reach their maximum capacity, and then slowly exhale with the same pressure as your inhale step. Take five to 10 slow, complete breaths. Try inhaling through your nose and out your mouth to concentrate further.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation takes approximately 20 to 25 minutes to complete, and it involves gradually tensing and relaxing muscles in every group of your body. Lay down or sit comfortably, and take five to 10 abdominal breaths. Begin by tensing the muscles in your forehead by making a frown, hold this for three to four seconds, and then relax those muscles.

Do the same thing by squeezing your eyelids shut and then opening them. Wrinkle your nose, move your jaw and then relax every muscle in your face. Take a few deep breaths, and then continue to your neck, shoulders, arms, hands and abdomen before proceeding to the lower body. The idea is to slowly focus on every part of your body from top to bottom while breathing deeply in and out.

Visualization

Visualization, or positive therapy, uses your mind to imagine yourself in a calming, relaxing place away from your present surroundings. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in an idyllic place, such as a mountain top, sandy beach, green meadow or quiet cabin. Visualize every detail of the place, including the light level, plants, animals, wind and temperature. Do this while taking relaxing abdominal breaths throughout the mental exercise. Imagine yourself free of pain associated with IBS by releasing any tension in the abdominal area as you breathe.

Traditional Psychotherapy

A licensed therapist or counselor can help you relieve stress by talking about your feelings, the origins of your stress and how you can relax. Therapists can teach you viable techniques such as cognitive behavioral therapy and self-hypnosis. Trained psychologists can also use hypnotherapy and biofeedback to help you enter a more relaxed state.

Conclusion

Normal treatment for irritable bowel syndrome revolves around dietary changes, nutritional supplements, stress avoidance and medications. Doctors and dietitians can help you if you have symptoms of this disorder, which include abdominal pain, gas, constipation and diarrhea. Four relaxation techniques that reduce general anxiety and stress may help alleviate IBS symptoms and make your life easier.

Sources

AboutIBS.org "Relaxation techniques to manage IBS symptoms" http://www.aboutibs.org/site/treatment/psychological-treatments/relaxation
WebMD.com "Behavioral therapy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)" http://www.webmd.com/ibs/guide/behavioral-therapy
NIH.gov "Functional relaxation as complementary therapy in irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized, controlled clinical trial" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20064018
MayoClinic.org "Irritable bowel syndrome treatments and drugs" http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/irritable-bowel-syndrome/basics/treatment/con-20024578

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