Take one new baby. Add on-and-off crying, tons of dirty diapers, healing from childbirth, and dozens of new responsibilities. Subtract eight hours' sleep. What do you get? Exhaustion.
And there's more to this equation when you have ulcerative colitis. Add UC symptoms such as fatigue, painful stomach cramps, intense diarrhea, and anxiety about having an accident while you're out with your new baby.
That adds up to stress. Though stress doesn't cause UC, it can make the symptoms worse. The more symptoms interfere with your life, the more stressed out you get. The more stressed out you are, the worse you feel.
When you feel overwhelmed by the demands of ulcerative colitis and a new baby, try these three easy stress-busting techniques to calm down and relax.
Breathing is something we do without thinking. That’s why you probably don't give much thought to how you're doing it. But when you stop to focus on breathing and do it with purpose, it can have a positive effect on your health -- reducing stress that affects ulcerative colitis.
Take a slow, deep breath -- filling your lungs with air -- and then let the air out slowly and fully, feeling your muscles loosen up as you do.
Deep breathing not only relaxes the mind, it also sends more blood flowing through the body. According to research, deep breathing techniques are pretty good at relieving disease-related stress.
Practice taking several deep breaths whenever you feel stressed out. Or get double benefits by combining it with another relaxation technique that incorporates deep breathing, like yoga or meditation.
Yoga is an exercise practice that combines deep breathing with stretching and strengthening poses. Not only can yoga help with stress and chronic pain, but it also can help take your mind off your IBD.
One study even showed that yoga might reduce markers of inflammation, which is a key component of ulcerative colitis.
Meditation involves concentrating on a word or image to focus your mind and steer it away from stress. As little as 20 minutes of meditation a day can cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol, research indicates.
Walk It Out
If you have ulcerative colitis, getting regular exercise has many benefits. When you work out, the body releases chemical messengers called endorphins, which make you feel good. Studies show that exercise can also help reduce stress and relieve some IBD symptoms.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may need to limit the amount and intensity of the exercise you do. Only work out within your limits. Even if you just get in a moderate 10-minute walk each day, you're still exercising -- and you'll feel better for it.