Stress and Crohn's Disease: 7 Techniques to Avoid Flare-ups
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Letting Go of the Stress That Leads to Flare-ups

Overview

Highlights

  1. Stress doesn’t specifically cause Crohn’s disease but it can lead to flare-ups.
  2. Some people with Crohn’s can obsess about getting stressed out, creating a vicious cycle of stress.
  3. Managing stress can help you control a flare-up and Crohn’s in general.

Crohn’s disease is a painful inflammatory bowel disorder. It causes inflammation in your digestive tract and can occur anywhere from your mouth to your anus. The inflammation comes and goes in cycles. People experience periods of remission and relapse, for weeks or months.

Treatment aims to manage pain and symptoms. But even if you’re receiving treatment, you’re likely to experience flare-ups. Causes of flare-ups can be hard to pinpoint, but some studies show that stress is a common cause.

Major life-altering events or day-to-day matters can cause stress and lead to flare-ups. For people with Crohn’s, stress can have even more of an impact on mental, emotional, and physical health.

Some people may even obsess about getting stressed or worrying about when symptoms may recur. This can amplify a Crohn’s flare-up. Inevitably, it leads to more stress, creating a vicious cycle that puts you in a constant state of anxiety.

Stress is a part of everyone’s life, but learning to manage it will help you keep Crohn’s and its flare-ups under control.

Read More: Crohn’s Disease »

Managing Stress

Flare-ups can happen at any time. Adopting relaxation strategies will help you keep them under control. Here are some methods for managing stress:

Breath Deeply

Concentrate on breathing in and breathing out. Your deliberate pace will gradually help you slow down and be calm. Buddhist meditation involves breathing slowly while being mindful of your breath as it enters and exits through your nostrils. You can use this technique anytime and anywhere.

Biofeedback

A biofeedback machine can help you learn how to slow down your heartbeat and how to release muscle tension. Before long, you’ll be able to accomplish these feats without the machine. Biofeedback therapy is available at physical therapy and medical centers and some hospitals. There are even some devices you can purchase online.

Read More: What Is Biofeedback? »

Get Moving

Go on a hike or take a stroll around the block. A brisk walk will clear your mind while toning your muscles. Your lungs will appreciate the fresh air and your outlook will improve when the endorphins kick in.

Strike a Pose

Practice yoga to develop flexibility in your body and your mind. It can help boost your immune system, elevate your mood, and regulate your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels.

Say Om

From our Healthline community
Stress is a huge trigger for me. I try to just remember the big picture. Sometimes the stress isn't really that bad and I need to just chill my mind.

Meditation is a great way to alleviate stress and increase mindfulness. Meditate to quiet the endless chatter of your mind and to detach from your worries. Your quest for the sound of silence will decrease your stress levels and increase your overall functionality. Your body will thank you for the opportunity to recharge. There are many apps available to help guide you during meditation.

Write It Down

Keep a journal to alleviate stress by writing down and sorting out your thoughts. This is especially helpful when you’re trying to make a decision. Writing stressors down also turns them into tangible objects as words on a page. This can take some of the ambiguity and fear out of the unknown. 

Visualization Techniques

Visualize situations and settings that evoke tranquility. Picture yourself in a boat on a river, or lying in an open field of grass. Vacationing in your head can lower your stress levels.

One common image to visualize is a reed in a brisk wind. If the reed were stiff and brittle to the wind, it would break. Instead, the reed survives because it’s flexible and adapts to change. Aim to be the reed in stressful situations.

Outlook

Managing stress is especially important if you have Crohn’s. Although stress doesn’t specifically cause Crohn’s, it can lead to flare-ups and relapse. Controlling stress is one way for you to minimize the effect Crohn’s has on your life.

By getting the correct treatment and managing your stress levels, you can continue living a healthy, fulfilling life.

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