The Link Between Ulcerative Colitis and Stress


1. Do Downward Dog to Boost Your Quality of Life

Yoga, a mind-body practice that combines breathing and stretching to induce relaxation, can also help relieve symptoms of UC. A small study, published in March 2020 in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, found that people who did yoga for 12 weeks saw an improvement in their quality of life and experienced less UC activity.

Yoga classes are offered at many local gyms and recreation centers, as well as on YouTube and in Apple and Android apps.

Mindfulness — in which you focus on your present emotions, thoughts, and sensations — can also relieve stress levels for people with IBD, according to the Frontiers in Immunology review.

2. Take Some Deep Breaths to Calm Your Gut

Breathing deeply can help reduce UC gut pain and cramping, says Sarah Kinsinger, PhD, director of behavioral medicine for the digestive health program at Loyola University Health System in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.

“Deep breathing elicits a parasympathetic relaxation response that physiologically helps the body relax by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the gut,” she says.

Experiment with different deep breathing techniques, including diaphragmatic breathing and alternate nostril breathing, to learn what helps you relax.

3. Try Hypnotherapy to Prolong Clinical Remission

Hypnotherapy uses guided meditation and concentration to achieve a heightened state of awareness. “Gut-directed hypnotherapy can influence gut secretions, reduce pain, and prolong remission in those with UC,” says Dr. Kinsinger.

A review published in June 2020 in The American Journal of Gastroenterology notes that while hypnotherapy may not relieve symptoms of UC, it might help improve your quality of life by reducing stress.

“Go to a trained professional to receive hypnotherapy,” says Lilani Perera, MD, a gastroenterologist and director of the Inflammatory Bowel Disease Center at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.


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