Getting problems in perspective rather than trying to ‘solve’ them

Self care
15 Nov 2022

During a bad period of stress and anxiety around 30 years ago, I had an extremely bad case of stomach and bowel issues. After seeing three useless GPs who didn’t take my problems seriously and sent me away with a pack of laxatives or similar, I finally registered with a good GP.

The first thing he did was give my problem a name - irritable bowel syndrome. He then explained the limits of a pills-based approach to this issues, encouraging me to learn about means of de-stressing, including considering a less stressful job (“there’s no shame in it”, he wisely said.) I bought a self-help book, I think it was called “Stress and Your Stomach” or something similar.

The book was a revelation. To cite one example, the author wrote about how many people suffer from IBS after getting stressed while driving, and usually for the most trivial of reasons. This was me! I used to fume while stuck behind a tractor on a long bendy road where I lived – but this book made me ask the question “what’s the worst thing that can happen to me in this situation if I just accept it”. My answer: I’d drive at 20mph rather than 40 for 5 minutes or so. So I’d get to my destination five minutes late. So what? Often, the worst thing, even a 20 minute delay would be pretty unimportant. Within a few months I changed from being Mr Angry behind the wheel to Mr Zen.

Another example: how people stress themselves by self-imposed, unnecessary, targets. At the start of the year, I’d set my self targets for the year like getting two promotions in the squash leagues I played in, and getting to a decent level of fluency in Spanish. I junked both of these – and some others – without a moment’s regret. I accepted that I’m no better than moderately good at sports and have no great facility in learning languages.. No shame in either of these.

I continued to suffer from IBS periodically, and relieve it with some medicinal drugs, but never again have I felt like it was an insurmountable problem, I know I’ll never cure my IBS , but I can manage it.

Does this resonate with anyone?”

Oldie but Goldie

A Moodscope member

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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