Turn down the volume on IBD-related discomfortMay 24, 2021
It is easy to accept discomfort simply as a part of having inflammatory bowel disease. Discomfort can come in the form of urgency to use the bathroom, abdominal cramping, pain, nausea or fatigue. But understanding why and how the body creates and processes discomfort can actually change one’s experience of it.
One of my clients recently described to me an episode where she awoke in the night with abdominal pain. Although the pain was not initially very severe, she kept thinking that something serious might be going on and was worried that this could represent the start of a flare. She began to focus in on the pain, trying to see whether it would stay or resolve. She noticed that when she would focus in on the pain, she could feel her body tensing and the pain increased. This also raised her anxiety level and created a cycle that kept her up for the majority of the night.
Another client told me that she was having anxiety about resuming her commute to work post-pandemic. She recalled an episode where she had been in a traffic jam. Although she had been feeling fine when she left her house, she began to panic at the thought that she might be stuck in the car for a prolonged time without access to the bathroom. She experienced a physical response with abdominal cramping and urgency. But interestingly, as soon as the traffic let up and she knew that she could pull over at any time, her physical symptoms also dissipated.
These examples show how thoughts and feelings can intensify the discomfort associated with IBD. The second example also demonstrates the power of the mind to resolve discomfort. Just the thought that my client was no longer stuck allowed her to relax and her physical symptoms went away.
The fact that our thoughts and feelings impact the way that we experience discomfort is amazing news, because it means that we are capable of turning down the volume on our discomfort.
Learning how to harness the power of the mind to reduce pain and discomfort can require some experimentation and practice. For some of my clients who have lived with discomfort for many years, it can also require an identity shift. The first step is coming into awareness of the thought patterns and feelings you are experiencing around your discomfort. Then, we can use techniques that work to diffuse the fear and resistance, reprograming the brain’s response to discomfort.
Of course, it is always important not to ignore pain or a new symptom in IBD, because it could be your body’s way of telling you that something has changed or is wrong. You should tell your doctor about your symptoms and to have a full evaluation so that the appropriate medical or surgical treatment can keep you well.
To find out more about my exclusive coaching program for women with IBD, contact me.
Stay connected with news and updates!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.
We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.