Stress is a natural part of life, something we all experience daily. A little stress in our life can even be helpful or motivating. Problems arise, however, when the balance shifts and the stress becomes too much.

Stress is different for everyone. The triggers and response to stress depends on the individual, their life experiences and what is going on in their life. The symptoms can vary from person to person, but can affect how you feel physically and mentally. It can also cause changes in behaviour.

According to NHS guidelines, the physical symptoms of stress include:

  • headaches or dizziness;
  • muscle tension or pain;
  • stomach problems;
  • chest pain or a faster heartbeat; and
  • sexual problems.

Mental symptoms include:

  • difficulty concentrating;
  • struggling to make decisions;
  • feeling overwhelmed;
  • constantly worrying; and
  • being forgetful.

And the changes in behaviour can include:

  • being irritable and snappy;
  • sleeping too much or too little;
  • eating too much or too little;
  • avoiding certain places or people; and
  • drinking or smoking more.

One of the main challenges in dealing with stress is that it is difficult to recognise when stress is causing the symptoms.

We get so many calls from people who are struggling with their IBS. Many are trying hard to work out their food triggers, but don’t realise that IBS is not just about diet.

Stress and anxiety can trigger a flare up or exacerbate existing IBS symptoms. And what’s more, the stress and anxiety people living with IBS face, like worrying about not having access to a toilet when they need one, or managing IBS at work, can make the condition significantly worse.

So, what happens when the body experiences stress?

When we experience a stress response, our heart rate, the level of stress hormones in our bloodstream and blood pressure all increase.

If the stress remains high and a person is consistently in a heightened state of stress, this can, over time, lead to other health problems.

If you are feeling stressed, it is important to take steps to reduce the negative effects of stress on your body.

Throughout IBS Awareness Month, we are sharing strategies to help you better manage your IBS and stress. We’re starting tomorrow with our webinar on IBS and stress management.

If you can’t make the live event, we will share the recording afterwards. The webinar will also be made available to purchase after the event.

Buy the webinar here.