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?”