For someone struggling with IBS symptoms, there are methods they can try that may regulate their stress levels, with one of these methods being exercise. Dr. Riehl told Everyday Health that exercising releases feel-good endorphins while reducing cortisol levels. Levels of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that alleviates stress, increase during exercise. As a result of these biochemical changes, people with IBS may feel less stressed after exercising. According to WebMD, physical activities like walking, running, and swimming can help keep the bowels from overreacting.
Deep breathing may also alleviate stress related to IBS symptoms. Dr. Riehl suggests diaphragmatic breathing in particular, which has a direct influence on the brain as well as the cardiovascular, respiratory, and gastrointestinal systems. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the diaphragm is a muscle at the base of the lungs that is essential for breathing. Also known as belly breathing, diaphragmatic breathing has a number of health benefits, such as promoting relaxation and lowering blood pressure and heart rate.
The Harvard Gazette adds that meditation can also reduce the severity of IBS symptoms. By triggering the body's relaxation response, meditation can relieve stress and affect the body's physiology, such as heart rate and oxygen consumption. Although you can practice deep breathing and meditation on your own, WebMD shares that there are online and in-person courses. If you would like to meet other individuals living with the condition, you might find it helpful to consider joining an IBS support group.