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Barbara Bradley Bolen, Ph.D.

Thoughts on Stress

By November 30, 2012

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When I looked at my daybook and saw that it was the end of November, I got a little jolt. For me, most of the month was spent dealing with a succession of stressful events. Although I was blessfully spared the devastation that Hurricane Sandy wreaked on the shore towns nearby, the lack of electricity, refrigeration, and gasoline certainly made everyday life just a bit more difficult. Driving was hazardous, with non-functioning traffic signals, downed trees and wires blocking every other street, and snarled traffic due to those four-hour gas lines that I am sure you read about. A snowstorm the following week didn't help matters either. Then, just as life was beginning to return to normal, a close family member was rushed to the hospital with a serious heart condition. Juggling the demands of my regular life, spending time at bedside, and scrambling to find coverage for the seriously disabled family member now left alone, was quite a daunting experience.

Through it all, I was very aware of the physical toll that this unusually high level of stress was having on my body. All of you know all too well the effect that stress has on your IBS. Several close friends said to me, "Thank goodness you have your meditation and your yoga." They were absolutely right. Although I will be quite honest that I was unable to summon up the discipline to meditate (or to stay away from Halloween candy, for that matter), I was able to attend my twice weekly yoga classes. As acutely as I was aware of the effect of stress on my body, I was also aware of an increased emotional resiliency from my past efforts and practice.

For years I never quite understood the term "stress management." You may think that funny coming from a psychologist, but I always wondered if maybe they covered the topic on a day that I was out sick. I have finally come to an understanding about the term. Everyone faces stress in their life. Stress management has to do with the things that we do to help our selves, and our bodies, deal with the challenges we face. Most relevant for IBS, is that notion that anything that you can do to reduce the effects of stress on your body is going to be good for your IBS. Also, IBS is in itself stressful. For that reason alone, stress management may be of great help to you.

If you have not yet wandered over to Elizabeth Scott's Stress Management site here at About.com, I highly recommend that you do so. I have had the great pleasure of meeting Elizabeth in person and she is one of those individuals from whom positivity just seems to radiate. As you spend time reading her articles, you will be exposed to that same wonderful energy. Here are some examples of her fine work:

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