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Managing stress with Short Bowel Syndrome

Everyone experiences stress, including people living with a chronic condition like Short Bowel Syndrome (SBS). If you're having increased feelings of anxiety, talk with your doctor about ways to cope. Here are some strategies that may help minimize routine stress:

Understand your stress

It may help to recognize that feelings of stress can increase with life-changing situations. When this happens, your heart may beat faster, blood pressure may rise and muscles may tense up. These physiological changes can make you feel more anxious or uncertain. Ongoing stress can lead to emotional and physical changes, including difficulty sleeping, muscle aches, chest pain, fatigue, irritability and depression. A large part of influencing stress is realizing you have the power over most of the areas that cause stress in your life.

Set healthy limits

Avoid taking on more activities than you can handle, especially when adapting to changes or unfamiliar situations in your life. Give yourself permission to say "no" when you feel overburdened, or at least take a moment to prioritize "must do" tasks over "should do" activities.

Advocate for yourself

You may experience stress as you adjust to a new medical routine, which may involve multiple appointments with different health care professionals on your team. Make sure you have access to the information you need to make informed decisions about your health. Understand the role each person on your care team plays so you can have more productive conversations. Write down your questions and don’t be afraid to follow up or seek out additional resources if an answer isn’t clear.

Accept situations you can’t change

Work toward changing the things you can and letting go of what you cannot. Even if you have no control over a situation, you can control your response. Try to see challenges as opportunities for growth and resilience.

Be good to yourself

Relaxing and recharging can make a tremendous difference during times of stress. Try these ideas next time you feel stressed, or make them part of your routine to avoid stress.

  • Take a walk or sit outside to appreciate your surroundings.
  • Pamper yourself with a home manicure or pedicure.
  • Tend your garden, play with a child or pet, or spend time with family and friends.
  • Write down your feelings in a journal.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Stay active with safe and enjoyable exercise.

Connect with the SBS community

You’re not alone. The SBS community is full of people and resources you can draw upon. When you discover that other people share similar experiences and can provide support, you will likely feel less stress.