A woman is doing breathing exercises with her eyes closed, while lying on her back. Her brain and gut are illuminated.

Why Practicing Mindfulness is Important When Living with IBD

We can practice mindfulness in many ways in our lives.  We can practice mindfulness before replying to an angry email as to not escalate the situation.  We can also use mindfulness throughout the day to pause and breathe, meditate, or just soak in everything around us.  Practicing mindfulness can also benefit those living with IBD, and is important when living a mentally and physically healthy life.

This or That

IBD has had more of an impact on my life...

Mindfulness and IBD

Stress reduction

I have found that mindfulness techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) help reduce feeling stressed.  I know that feeling anxious exacerbates my symptoms, so practicing mindfulness regularly calms my mind and body. Taking a few deep breaths before replying to an email or just pausing to take a 5 minute walk around the block when you feel overwhelmed can help calm the mind and body.

Improved symptom management

Mindfulness practices can enhance your ability to cope with physical discomfort and pain, especially if you are in a situation where a bathroom isn't available.  By developing a mindful awareness of your body, you may become more attuned to subtle changes in symptoms, allowing you time to find a bathroom, or to practice deep breathing while driving to the nearest rest stop so that you do not have an accident.  It's amazing what channeling  your breathing and not letting your mind go to the worst case scenarios can do for your body.

Enhanced emotional wellbeing

Living with Crohn's or ulcerative colitis (UC) can take a toll on mental health. Mindfulness promotes emotional resilience, helping individuals navigate the emotional ups and downs that come with managing a chronic condition. It encourages acceptance of the present moment and fosters a compassionate attitude towards oneself. This is especially helpful if you have been suffering through repeated flares or feel like you are stuck in a rut of being sick, sad, and stressed (as I had lived from 2011-2014).  Shifting your mindset is especially powerful from getting you out of a rut and into a groove.

Better decision making

Mindfulness cultivates clarity of mind and the ability to make conscious choices. When facing decisions related to treatment options, dietary changes, or lifestyle adjustments, practicing mindfulness can help you approach these decisions with a clear and focused mindset, leading to more informed and beneficial outcomes.  It can be overwhelming going to a doctor's appointment, unsure of what treatment options he/she will suggest and what is best for you, but by pausing and thinking through your options, pros and cons of each, as well as the risks and benefits, you can make a decision with a clear head that is best for you.

Healthy eating habits

Mindful eating practices can support digestive health, which is something we all want when living with IBD. Being present and attentive while eating allows you to savor and enjoy your food, promotes mindful portion control, and encourages eating more slowly which could help prevent upset stomachs. Who doesn't want that?

As you can see, incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine can contribute to a holistic approach to managing IBD by promoting both physical and mental well-being.

Does anyone practice mindfulness to manage their IBD? Share with us below!

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