If you’re living with digestive symptoms, it’s natural to find yourself ruminating on how they affected you yesterday — or wondering if a distressing GI situation might occur in the future.
But thoughts like “Will I feel well enough to go to work tomorrow?” “What if I can’t find a bathroom when I need one?” or “Is that stomach pain just something I ate, or the beginning of a disease flare?” can actually create a vicious cycle of stress and symptoms that can make it very difficult to focus on present moments.
The good news? With practice, you can develop the necessary mindfulness skills to improve your brain-gut connection, and help find symptom relief.
Benefits of mindfulness
Mindfulness encourages you to focus your awareness on the here and now, and accept your thoughts, emotions, and experiences without judgment.
By doing so, you’re training your mind and body to remain present, even when faced with challenging GI symptoms. You’re also learning how to distinguish your bodily sensations from your thoughts about your symptoms — to regulate your emotions and your digestive tract.
Studies have shown that mindfulness is particularly effective at relieving the discomfort of irritable bowel syndrome, upset stomach, diarrhea, and constipation, in addition to relieving the worry and anxiety that may accompany GI symptoms.1 Mindfulness can:
- Reduce abdominal pain
- Lower your body’s stress response
- Improve gut motility and functioning
Getting started and practicing at home
- Choose a time of day to practice mindfulness that works for you.
- Find a quiet space where you can focus without disruption.
- Position your body comfortably: sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, or lie down on a bed or other flat surface.
- Start to bring awareness to your body and your breathing
- Notice when your mind wanders, and gently redirect your focus to your breath
- Repeat for 5-10 minutes. Try to do this several times throughout the day.
During your session, you will become aware of what you are thinking, sensing, and feeling, and, over time, learn to embrace your thoughts without judgment. Through practice, you will find it easier to focus your thoughts and attention, which will help you access the many benefits of the brain-gut connection.
Talk to your Oshi Health Provider to personalize your mindfulness skills practice and schedule to your specific needs and GI concerns.