**Stress and Ulcerative Colitis
-Stress and anxiety often lead an exacerbation of ulcerative colitis
-Ulcerative colitis is an autoimmune disease that affects the large intestine (also known as your colon).
-This disease occurs when the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells in the colon.
-This overactive immune system causes inflammation in the colon, leading to ulcerative colitis.
-Stress provokes a similar response.
**Types of Stress
-Acute Stress: Short-term stress that often accompanies fleeting moments of panic or dread. Examples include realizing you’ve missed a deadline for work or school, or nearly being involved in a car accident.
-Episodic Acute Stress: An accumulation of individual moments of acute stress. People who feel burdened by day-to-day struggles may attempt to alleviate their frustrations through unhealthy behaviours like overeating or binge drinking.
-Chronic Stress: Many factors can contribute to chronic stress, including poverty, abuse, and trauma. People tend to internalize these painful experiences, and over time this can wear down the mind and lead to feelings of hopelessness.
**Can Stress Cause Ulcerative Colitis?
-Your body deals with stressful events by launching a fight-or-flight response.
-This is a natural reaction to stress that prepares your body to flee a high-risk situation or tackle a perceived threat.
-During this response, a few things happen: your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol; your blood pressure and heart rate increase; your body increases its production of adrenaline, which gives you energy
-This response also stimulates your immune system.
-This usually isn’t a negative reaction, but it can be a problem if you have ulcerative colitis.
-A stimulated immune system leads to increased inflammation throughout your body, including your colon.
-This increase is usually temporary, but it can still trigger an ulcerative colitis flare-up.
**The Relaxation Response
-The relaxation response is the rest and digest part of the nervous system.
-It basically undoes the work of the stress response after a stressful situation.
-The relaxation response happens when we feel safe, nurtured or taken care of.
-It can block effects from your body’s response to stress.
-This is good for your mental and physical health.
**Effective Relaxation Techniques
-The most effective relaxation technique is one that works for you!
-Different relaxation techniques will help different people at different times.
-What works for you this week, may not work next week.
-But it might work again next month.
-Our needs vary and so it’s important to have a toolbox of relaxation techniques to help you on a regular basis.