Stress Awareness Month
Stress Awareness Month It is both Stress Awareness Month and IBS Awareness Month.  These conditions are often linked:  people who suffer stress often suffer IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) too.  And those who suffer IBS will most certainly suffer stress even if stress is not the root cause.  But it often is.

So in this article, I will shed some light on both conditions.  It is no comfort to know that millions suffer worldwide – you want to know what to do about them.  So this article will give you some insight and tips.  They are both complex conditions but hopefully you will find something useful here for you so you can begin to navigate the challenges that they create.

Understanding Stress

Stress is a common experience in today’s fast-paced, changing and often turbulent world affecting people of all ages and backgrounds.  Stress Awareness Month serves as a reminder to recognise the signs of stress and take proactive action to manage it effectively.

What is Stress?

Stress is the sense that the demands we face are greater than our perceived ability to cope.  These may be physical, emotional or psychological and may be related to lifestyle.  While some stress is motivating, prolonged or excessive stress can have detrimental effects on health, wellbeing, relationships and career.

Signs of Stress

  • Physical Symptoms such as headaches, muscle tension, fatigue, IBS, insomnia and more
  • Emotional Symptoms such as irritability, tearfulness, anxiety and depression
  • Behavioural Changes such as comfort eating or lack of appetite, withdrawal from social activities or increased use of substances such as alcohol, tobacco or drugs

Tips for Managing Stress

  1. Know your triggers – what makes your stress worse?
  2. What can you do to manage those triggers?  For example, if you feel overwhelmed by how much you have to do, time management techniques might really help.  This article is not big enough to detail exactly how but there is plenty you can do to achieve more in less time – I love helping people with this and seeing what a huge difference it makes to their stress levels.
  3. Set boundaries – learn to say no to tasks or commitments that add unnecessary stress to your life.  Boundaries are also about how you let people treat you so learn to teach people to treat you with respect.
  4. Prioritise self care – make time for activities you enjoy, get enough sleep, eat a healthful diet (balanced and nutritious), daily mindfulness/meditation or self hypnosis (all useful in different ways) and exercise regularly.
  5. Seek support – I am aware that these suggestions may seem both obvious and difficult.  Sometimes you just need to reach out to a professional who can help you navigate your way through with techniques and strategies that work.  Do contact me on 0345 130 0854 for an informal chat about how this might work for you.

Understanding IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

IBS is a common, distressing, chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterised by a variety of symptoms which vary from person to person.

Signs of IBS

  • Abdominal pain or cramping, often relieved by passing wind and/or stools
  • Bloating and gas
  • Diarrhoea, constipation or alternating between the two
  • Mucus in the stools

Causes of IBS

These too vary from person to person.  Once your doctor has eliminated the possibility of any medical causes for the symptoms (eg Crohns Disease or diverticulitus), it is usually one of the following:

  • Diet:  food intolerances can be key and common ones are gluten, dairy, caffeine and high fat foods.  It is useful to keep a food diary of foods eaten and symptoms experienced to try and find a link
  • Stress:  I have noticed that with all of my IBS clients that stress is a factor, even where food intolerances are also a factor.  It can be a sign that you have struggled with stress for too long and your body is keeping score
  • Gut health:  We all need a healthy gut for mood, brain function and gut health.  Restoring healthy gut microbiome is essential
  • Medication:  Some medication can affect the gut.  Check your medication leaflets for possible side-effects and discuss with your doctor if you feel these are affecting you – there may be a suitable alternative

Tips to Overcome IBS

  1. Identify any links with food and eliminate those specific foods which you suspect are the cause.  Make sure you don’t eliminate whole food groups as this can be detrimental.  Having an assessment is very important – do contact me for more information.
  2. Identify and manage stress triggers.  What makes the symptoms worse?  What can you do about this?
  3. Practice self care:  a healthful (nutritious and varied) diet (try my meal planner for help), exercise, quality sleep
  4. Use my Healthy Mind, Healthy Body recording on a daily basis
  5. Try a good quality pro-biotic

Closing Thoughts

Both stress and IBS are complex issues.  I do hope this brief overview helps you and serve as a reminder to prioritise self care.  If you feel that you need more personalised help, do get in touch.  No need to suffer alone.

Do share this with anyone you think may benefit – it’s good to share.

To your health and happiness.



(C) Tricia Woolfrey