It starts when we're kids. "I had a bad day at school and my tummy hurts." Something happens. It hurts, confuses, angers, frightens us. We begin to feel anxious or upset. We don't want to eat. Or we want to eat and eat and eat.
Either way, stress is hard on our guts.
Foundational stress management techniques includes making time for adequate sleep, meditation, and exercise. Another skill that I would like to add is detaching mental stress from physical gut reactions.
Detaching - or disconnecting - starts with awareness:
- What just happened?
- How do I feel about it?
- Where do I feel this in my body?
First, scan your body from head to toe to see where you can physically feel the stress.
Second, acknowledge the reality your body is reacting to a stressful moment. This may seem ridiculous, but often times we are resistant towards any impact a stressful event is happening. Resistance can look like "there's nothing wrong with me," or "stop it, there are worse things," or "I can't deal with this right now."
Third, utilize calming techniques to focus on disconnecting the stress from your body. This can occur even if the stressor is not yet resolved. Calming techniques that I like to use include deep diaphragmatic breathing with a progressive muscle relaxation exercise. (There are a ton of free apps that can walk you through a relaxation exercise!) As I am calming my body, I am envisioning that my stress and my physical reactions are detaching and moving away from my body.