Coping Skills for IBS One of the most wearing aspects of IBS is the vicious cycle of stress in which some sufferers can get caught up, Stress causes IBS; the threat of IBS is stressful; increased stress causes more IBS symptoms. There are many techniques and habits you can employ as IBS treatments to help break the cycle and get back to normal life, and many of them are much simpler and more effective than you might think. Exercise Regular exercise will not only help you stay healthy and de-stress, it will also encourage more regular bowel movements. It doesn’t have to be anything too vigorous – yoga may help to ease many of the physical symptoms of IBS: not only does its gentle breathing and meditative exercises help you stay calm, they give a physical benefit too. A problem shared Talking about your IBS with people you trust can really take a weight off your shoulders, not least because much of the stress of IBS is caused by the potential for embarrassment. If people know what you’re going through they can help you manage when IBS strikes. Thinking of your IBS as just another medical condition that needs appropriate treatment, rather than a problem that needs to be hidden, will help keep it in perspective. ‘Me’ time The pace of modern life can leave you with little time to relax and unwind. Schedule time every day to do something you enjoy, like reading by candle-light in the bath, going for a pedicure, or just having a quiet sit down for 20 minutes in an empty meeting room at work, flipping through a magazine or listening to music. If you’ve got kids, organise someone else to look after them for a few hours to give you a little ‘me’ time. Motivate yourself Confidence is key. Give yourself little challenges every day that may take you outside your comfort zone. The feel-good factor you’ll get from achieving your goals will help you relax and build self-confidence. When setting your days ‘to-do list’ don’t be overly ambitious; set two or three goals that are realistic and reward yourself once they’re achieved. Be positive Adopt the habits of an optimist by accentuating the positives in life. A great way to start is to write down three things every day for which you are thankful. Remember that optimism is all about perspective, and how you look at the world can change what you get out of it. Get enough sleep Few things can drag your whole day down as much as waking up tired. Your body doesn’t like it, and neither does your mind, so do your best to get a full recommended eight hours every night. Plan your evenings to allow for early nights occasionally. Cut down on caffeine and alcohol in the hours before bedtime. Eat dinner early so your stomach isn’t still working hard when you go to bed. As an IBS sufferer, you will almost certainly have off days. But try not to dwell on negatives, hard as that may be.