Breathing Exercises to Reduce IBS

Breathing Exercises to Reduce IBS
(Last Updated On: July 6, 2020)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is triggered by multiple factors. A disturbance in the gut, stress, food sensitivities, and just bad luck are all players that contribute to a flare-up of IBS symptoms.
Today I’d like to talk to you about stress reduction in IBS through breathing exercises.

Stress and IBS

In IBS, it has been shown that the gut is extra sensitive, they call this visceral hypersensitivity. The extra sensitive gut will react to triggers in a more extreme way than the gut of someone without IBS.

Chronic stress can change the movement (motility) of the intestine and change the permeability (the number of particles that are being let through the gut lining). This means that stress can worsen the reaction of an IBS gut. And on top of that, research has shown that stress can reduce the diversity of your gut bacteria. This can lead to dysbiosis and a worsening of IBS symptoms.

Breathing IBS

What Causes Stress?

Stress can be different for everyone. And stress triggers are most definitely different for everyone. The reaction to stress, however, is the same. No matter how big or small the stress factor, your body will react to it in a set way.

Stress will cause your heart to race, breathing to go faster, muscles to tighten, and will raise blood pressure. You’re ready to either fight or flight.
This can be very useful, it’s just not when it’s about something you won’t have to fight or flight for. Or if it’s there for days (or weeks) on end. For example work stress, social stress, worries about the future, pain (or worries about an IBS flare-up….) and many more. This state of stress is bad for your health, and sudden spikes of stress can even cause your IBS to flare up.

So, we have established that stress is not good for you in the long run. Stress can even lead to weight gain, if you want to learn more about that, check out the article I wrote about that.
But what to do about the stress? Your body will react to stress, but you can decide how to act on the stress! And breathing is a great way to tell your body to calm down.

Do you want to work on stress reduction and a gut-healthy food pattern at the same time? I’ve got your back!

Breathing Exercises to Reduce IBS

There are many ways to use breathing to calm down your nervous system. In general, paying attention to your breathing and being mindful about it can already do the trick.
Breathing exercises can even be more effective than just mindful breathing. And I’ll tell you exactly which exercises to do.

A breathing exercise consists of a certain pattern to follow while breathing in, out or having a breathing ‘break’. All of the breathing exercises below are pretty straightforward. This is a good thing since you want to be able to do them whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just a quick way to calm your body down.

1. Calm Breathing

This isn’t as much a breathing exercise, but just being aware of how you’re breathing. Ideally, your breath should go all the way down in to your stomach. And not high in your chest.

You can also see this. If you breathe your stomach should move, not your chest. When you’re feeling stressed, try to consciously breathe to your stomach.

Keep breathing calmly to your stomach anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. This will get your stress levels down.

2. Breathing 4-7-8

Make sure you’re sitting or lying comfortably. Check that there is no stress in your jaw, and your tongue is relaxed in your mouth.

Breathe out through your mouth.
Breathe in 4 seconds through your nose.
Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
Breathe out 8 seconds through your mouth.

Repeat for at least 4 times and a maximum of 8 times.

3. Breathing 3-3-4

Get yourself in a comfortable position.
Breathe in calmly through your nose for 3 seconds.
Breathe out calmly through your nose for 3 seconds.
Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
Repeat as many times as you like.

4. Breathing 3-6

Get yourself in a comfortable position.
Breathe in through your nose for 3 seconds.
Breathe out through your mouth for 6 seconds.
Have a short break, and repeat

5. Breathing 4-4-4

Get yourself in a comfortable position.
Breathe in 4 seconds.
Hold 4 seconds.
Breathe out 4 seconds.
Repeat for 5 – 10 minutes.

Have you ever done breathing exercises to calm yourself and your IBS down? Which are the ones you have been doing? Let me know in a comment below!

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