Stress doesn't cause Crohn's. But for a lot of people, it can make symptoms worse and it may also trigger flare-ups.
It's not always easy to control stress, but some relaxation techniques might help.
There are different ways to ease stress. No one way is better than another, but some work better for certain people than for others. Experiment until you find something you like and that works for you. If one technique doesn't work, don't worry, try something else. Here are some examples.
1. Meditation: studies have found that people with Crohn's who learn how to do it and then meditate on their own have less anxiety. Their symptoms get better, too. If you're thinking about giving it a try, go to a class. Then practice at home. You'll learn how to relax whenever you need to.
2. Breathing exercises: practice deep, slow breathing for when you need to relax. Try to set aside 15 minutes each day to sit comfortably. Turn off your phone and go to a quiet place. Take low, slow breaths, using your diaphragm. Close your eyes and breathe as if you are pulling air in and out of your belly button.
3. Exercise: it may seem odd, but working out can ease symptoms and stress. A short walk -- even as little as a few minutes each day -- might make a big difference in how you feel. Talk to your doctor before you start. He can help you find a plan that's right for you. Then, add movement to your daily treatment plan.
4. Biofeedback: this technique uses a machine to give you feedback about things your body does. The goal is to help you slow your heart rate and ease your muscle tension by paying attention to your body. Overtime, you may notice your body’s “stress clues” more easily and work on relaxation techniques earlier. Ask your doctor about it.
5. Yoga or tai chi: these techniques can teach you how to slowly move and stretch your body in ways that will help you relax. When you take that breather, you may be able to ease the stress that starts your flare-ups and makes your symptoms worse. Your doctor can help you find a place to start.
6. Guided imagery: when you visualize certain images or imagine certain smells or sounds, they can put you in a calm place. Like meditation, guided imagery can help some people relax and ease the anxiety that can make Crohn's worse. You can take a class or find a CD or online program that can show you how to do it.
What about you? Has stress got any impact on your symptoms or not at all?
How do you cope with it? Which of the abovementioned techniques have you tried?