Listen to your gut

This IBS Awareness Month, give your gut the gift of extra care and attention. The enteric nervous system (aka second brain) is responsible for so much of our mental, physical and emotional health as well as impacting our nervous system

It’s easy to dismiss Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS) as purely physical but improving your self care can offer relief.

Becoming more conscious of your choices as well as managing anxiety and stress can bring about big benefits.

After all, we experience the Rest/Digest Response when the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system is more active than the sympathetic branch which can trigger the Stress Response (aka Fight/Flight.)

As the name suggests, when we’re in Rest/Digest mode, we’re better able to rest (including sleep) and digest – not only our food but all the changes our lives throw up for us. Especially in these very interesting times.

Stress and anxiety can make IBS symptoms worse AND stress and anxiety can be symptoms OF the IBS.

Learning to regulate your nervous system is life changing and, with practice, you can retrain it. Ultimately, any gut imbalances are (like any physical symptoms) trying to get your attention because your body is trying to HELP you.

Physical symptoms can be your Self* attempting to wake you up to something important for your evolution.

You only have the ONE body for your whole life.

Follow your gut

Log everything that even MIGHT relate. You might want a tiny calendar/diary/your phone to log the basics then to journal around the following for additional insights:

How are you feeling?

What did you eat?

How was your sleep?

How is your poop?

What s***tiness are you ready to release in your life?

How are you feeling in your gut?

What might it be trying to tell you (in terms of something or someone in your life)?

What might you do to befriend it?

What might you feed it?

What does it want you to avoid feeding it?

Are you getting enough rest to support your digestive processes?

Is there something in your life you’re finding it especially challenging to (metaphorically) digest?

How is your IBS trying to HELP you?

How might you get some additional support around that?

Spinal Twists can support digestion

I love that there are so many variations on Spinal Twists and that they can help us metaphorically and (when held for 3 minutes or longer on each side) physically improve our digestion of whatever’s going on in our lives.

The videos below is one of the book bonus videos from 365 Ways to Feel Better: Self-care Ideas for Embodied Wellbeing – I hope you find them helpful:

Triangle Pose is brilliant for those times where you can’t lie or sit down – maybe at an airport or at work if you can find somewhere quiet and private enough. It also reminds us to ground more deeply in order to reach for the heavens and open up to all that goodness.

The other twists work on different parts of the torso aiding mindfulness of the body, breath and thoughts AND benefitting these different internal organs:

Can you commit to a gut check at least once a day?

Set a reminder on your phone or in your diary so you spend at least 5 minutes a day listening to your gut.

Whether you have IBS or not, you’ve likely experienced the times where it FORCES you to stop everything and pay closer attention.

Wouldn’t it be great if listening to your symptoms somehow eased them?

While not (remotely) suggesting that this kind of reflection will cure you (please always seek medical advice), it’s astonishing that our bodies, by communicating in these primitive ways with pain, often have much to teach us

From a purely practical perspective, the better you get at understanding your own gut, the better the choices you’ll be making – you’ll KNOW what you can get away with and what makes things extra painful and messy.

What are you going to do differently to support your gut?

Feel free to email to let me know.

And please feel free to share this post so others who may find it helpful can read it.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

*that highest, wisest, truest, wildest, most miraculous part of yourself

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