We’re increasingly becoming aware that our gut is far more complex than we once understood.
Who would have thought that two organs seemingly operating different functions metres apart from each other in our body would be so intrinsically linked? But science now proves that our gut and brain are connected physically through millions of nerves. This is a revelation for fellow IBS sufferers.
What we feel in our brain impacts our gut bacteria whilst the balance of our gut bacteria impacts our brain.
So what can Self Compassion possibly have to do with our gut health?
Self compassion feeds our guts and makes our minds happy.
Having compassion for ourselves increases motivation, reduces anxiety, depression and stress and ultimately helps us feel happy.
Sounds simple, but how do we learn Self Compassion?
It takes time and practice – but I know from experience that just a few tweaks to my daily schedule has been a game changer for my IBS.
I’m sharing with you my top three ways I practice self compassion to feed my gut and make my mind happy. Some require five minutes, some a little longer. I’m the first to admit how hard it is to carve out time for you in amongst our already jam packed lives, but trust me, emptying your mind from daily to do lists and worries will keep your gut health balanced – with the added bonus of giving you that extra space to be free of so much more than just time.
I’ll be honest, when I began journalling I thought it was a useless exercise. I couldn’t understand why I’d want to waste my time writing pointless thoughts out on paper that I’d never want to look at again. What a waste of time – and what a waste of paper! Then the penny dropped.
Journaling is the art of chucking all our unhealthy, often negative thoughts straight into the bin.
It helps us challenge self sabotage and negative thoughts by turning them into positive statements called affirmations. The more often we repeat these, the more we believe them and reprogram our thinking pattern – feeding our gut microbiome happy.
There are two ways to journal – one is to grab a lovely notebook and pen, the other is to use a specific journal with ready made prompts. No one way is better than the other, it’s simply down to preference. I’d recommend starting with a specific journal, the prompts are really helpful, then once you get the hang of things, a notebook and your own guidance will do.
This is something I have always struggled to squeeze in to my week – I was so hooked on the speed of a HITT class, but it turns out that what I was missing out on is truly connecting with my body.
Slow to intermediate exercise has been proven to improve gut health. In fact research shows that targeted gut flow yoga is as effective, if not more effective than the FODMAP diet for IBS sufferers. Back to the lovely gut-brain axis!
Each yoga practice allows us to reconnect with our body and be present in that moment.
A mix of movement for our body and meditation for our mind and soul, IS the ultimate workout.
There are many different yoga practices, my recommendation is to try a few see what suits you. Try different teachers, they all offer something completely unique.
Yoga has the potential to make a massive difference to both your digestion and mind. It has for me!
Spending Time Outside in Nature
A lot of us have understood the benefit of connecting with nature over this last year. I have had countless conversations with people in the last week about how their appreciation of seasons has changed since COVID hit. How they have embraced the outdoors this winter and just how life changing this has been. I count myself as this person too!
But what has exposure to nature got to do with good gut health?
It is well documented that spending time outside can heavily reduce our stress levels.
Chronic levels of stress are hard on our body, including our gut bacteria. Regular bouts of stress will play heavily on the balance of our good gut bacteria making it just as important as eating a healthy diet. It’s connection with nature that allows us to think beyond ourselves, enabling a narrative to be built outside of our own world, in a peaceful setting surrounded by picture perfect views.
Recommended daily, its a great excuse to sit outside in the garden with a cup of coffee, even if just for five minutes. Using all senses to hear, see and smell what’s going on around you – the rustling of leaves in the gentle breeze, the buzzing of a bee flying past, feeling the warm sunshine on your face or the rain bouncing off the hood of your coat.
So now I’ve shared my top three ways to self compassion for better gut health, how can you incorporate small changes into your daily routine?
Practice, practice, practice.
I suggest taking small steps to add an element from each of my self compassion practices. Add it to your diary and stick to it. Repeat and before you know it it will become a habit that your gut and mind will thank you for.
I’d love to hear more about the ways you practice mindfulness and the difference it’s made to you. Please do get in touch with me [email protected] and share your stories, I love hearing from you.