Experts often talk about the brain and gut being closely linked, but what does this actually mean in practical terms for people suffering with troublesome irritable bowel syndrome?
Well, one thing worth keeping in mind is that stress, along with certain foods and ingredients, is known to be a key ‘trigger’ for IBS (meaning it’s one of the factors that can make symptoms flare up).
This is why Senocalm has teamed up with mindfulness expert Emma Mills to launch their ‘Gutfulness’ campaign.
The aim? To provide ‘quick, unusual and practical advice for busy women’, to help them alleviate stress and therefore better manage their IBS.
Here’s what it’s all about…
What is IBS?
IBS is a very common digestive condition, affecting around one in five Brits to varying degrees, with symptoms including diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and abdominal pain and cramps – and it can cause a lot of distress, wreaking havoc with your work and social life, energy levels and even self-esteem.
The good news is, IBS can be very well managed, and taking steps to manage your stress levels is one important way of helping avoid or reduce IBS symptoms and flare-ups.
“Stress can be detrimental to your mental and physical wellbeing, and for many IBS sufferers it can be a key trigger of their symptoms,” says Emma. “Taking time out for a few minutes a day for meditation and mindfulness helps ease emotional tension, which can help to re-balance the digestive system.”
Here are Emma’s five top ‘gutfulness’ tips:
1. Belly Breathing: Take five minutes to focus on your breathing. Lying down, place both hands on your tummy, covering your belly button. When you breathe in, imagine there is a little balloon inside your tummy. As it expands, lift your hands as you breathe in, lower as you breathe out.
2. Visualisation: Picture your digestive tract as a long, calm river that flows gently, passing through the throat and into the tummy. Feel the ‘river’ gently cooling the soft walls of your tummy, working to cleanse and heal your body.
3. Humming: Sit comfortably and on your next out breath, close your mouth and make a little humming sound. This can be very relaxing on the digestive system and restore a sense of harmony.
4. Focus in: Take three minutes to focus on a flower. Put all your attention on this; its petals, fragrance, shape etc. Notice how it feels to be engaged and ask yourself what starts to feel different.
5. Tapping: Gently tap using your knuckles around the rib cage, across the back of the ribs and around the hips, use 20% of your effort while you say, ‘I can trust my body, I can feel relaxed’.