How to make results last after doing a program based on CBT for IBS
Everyone’s journey with IBS is different. Some have mild symptoms, some experience enormous digestive discomfort, and so it naturally affects how one learns to deal with it. If you have tried CBT for IBS, you know how certain exercises can help in different ways and you probably have a few go-to tools up your sleeve.
If you just finished your journey with Zemedy and completed your cognitive behavioural therapy program for IBS, massive congratulations are in order! This is a huge achievement and you definitely deserve to treat yourself for taking such huge steps to better gut health. Not only you might have learnt something new about IBS, but you also practised some amazing techniques on managing your symptoms, which, hopefully, you found really helpful. Now, you just need to maintain these results. Sometimes this can be the hardest part, as real life comes in the way and starts to make it difficult to stay on track with your goals. But you made it!
But your journey doesn’t end here. In fact, you have just changed the gear and can finally enjoy some cruise control. An important thing to remember here is that your newly-acquired routine should stay with you from here on out. And whatever comes your way, remember to reflect on how far you’ve come and give yourself a break.
A few things to note post-Zemedy journey:
Appreciate your progress
Remember that lapses are normal and they are not a relapse. You can always come back to use one of the Zemedy tools to prevent automatic negative thoughts creeping in and making things worse. The cognitive restructuring tool will keep you on track by nipping things in the bud. Feeling guilty or anxious about these lapses can make things worse - that’s why practising the CBT skills is important to keep these demons at bay and help you control how you react to the situation.
Create a daily maintenance program
Build your own maintenance program by assessing your own needs. You can use the symptom tracker and the results from behavioural experiments to guide you. Identify when you may be most likely to have some bothersome symptoms and get planning now to prevent it from causing chaos. You will probably identify some time both in the morning and evening when a maintenance program will suit you. That’s why creating a morning and evening routine may be a good idea. Starting and ending the day in a structured way can be a great way to manage your IBS.
Perfect your routine, morning and night
Building a morning and evening routine to improve gut health is crucial. In particular, one method you could use is habit-chaining. This involves looking at how you already do things in a certain order in the morning: for example, you may brush your teeth, get dressed and then eat breakfast. You probably do these actions on autopilot and in the same order every day. Habit-chaining hacks this autopilot and allows you to add other habits into your morning routine. For example, you could add in some guided imagery in between brushing your teeth and getting dressed. At first, this will take some getting used to, but eventually, it will become part of your brain’s autopilot. Slow and steady is the best approach when it comes to making habits last - so you can use this method to slowly add in more useful habits (perhaps some morning yoga poses or a peppermint tea), but it’s best to introduce them in slowly so that the changes last. To find out more about creating a morning routine for your gut and how to kick start digestion in the morning, check out our blog on the best morning routine for gut health.
In the evening, it’s important to once again have a structured personalised routine. This may be when you have your scheduled “worry time” and you actively address the worries which have been affecting you. But to ensure this doesn’t run into your sleep, have a structured relaxation routine for both the body and mind. Having a warm bath or during some progressive muscle relaxation can be a great way to unwind. If you do want some more tips to help the digestive system during sleep though, see our top tips on evening routine for better digestive health.
Reflect on your gut health regularly
Aside from your daily routines, it is also important to reflect regularly on your thoughts, behaviours and actions and address these with a little help from Zemedy tools. You can still continue goal setting and using different practices to boost your gut health. Setting goals every week or month and then reflecting on progress is a great way to stay on track. It is also a good idea to continue tracking symptoms and using that to plan for the week and month. You can quickly identify possible problems and quickly act to prevent them from taking over.
Use flare mode for fast IBS relief
Flare mode is that friend who’s always going to be there, day or night, so if you are ever feeling overwhelmed or experiencing difficult symptoms, reach for your phone and make use of it. It’s absolutely OK to use the flare tools as often as you need to. They are there to allow you to manage your symptoms and live the best life possible. Never be afraid to take a few minutes to use the tools so you can regain control over your day.
It’s important to also feel confident in yourself. When the program finishes, you may feel a little more alone, but you are not. There is always Zemedy community, waiting and ready for you, and naturally, our team is also at a tap of a button. You can always find someone in the community to talk to and share the ups and downs with. There is also nothing stopping you from doing the program again! You will probably pick up things you didn’t learn the first time, and sometimes our symptoms change - luckily, the program will be tailored to your new worries, thoughts or behaviours related to your gut health to provide needed support at any time.
What has your journey been like? Share your story with us by dropping a few lines at firstname.lastname@example.org - we love hearing about our users’ experience. Once again, well done on completing the program - we will always be here to cheer you on throughout your continuous journey!