Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What do YOU think Wedenadays 5 - Does mind control work?

Ohayou gozaimasu! Buenos Dias! Good morning!
The sun is bright and shining this morning = good mood Julia = time for chocolate later? :)

Let's move right on along shall we?

What do you think Wednesdays part 5 - Mind Control?

You know... can you telepathically control other people during your races and make them all fall flat on their asses so you can win an AG?

(image source)

The real topic today is; Can you use your brain/mind to control/manipulate bodily symptoms?

I recently came across this interesting article in an issue of More Magazine lying around the office, titled "Mind Over Tummy Turmoil" by Judy Jones.

First a little background on me: I suffer from a highly sensitive stomach. I think it's genetic though: my aunt has exactly the same symptoms as me. My tummy is so sensitive that, with the first sign of a schedule/routine change, or the first signs of PMS, my tummy will basically revolt. You know, all the fun stuff like bloating, not being able to fart or.... you know...and end up looking um...preggers. I literally blow up like a balloon at least once a week. Every week. Since about the second grade. I have memories from my childhood having to sit out PE class cause my tummy hurt so much cause I couldn't fart. I'm serious! My mom taught me a few "dances" and massages I can do to let the air pass... but let's not get into that. (image source)

Also, whenever I am feeling anxious, scared, nervous, angry, sad... I hold a lot of tension in my stomach. It's subconscious, but I clench my abs so tight I may as well be doing sit ups. And I hold this tension non-stop all day long. Clearly, no bueno. Some people hold tension in their neck/jaws/head/etc. Mine all goes to the gut. So basically, I'm saying my tummy is total whack. Ask James. I complain about it non stop.

Anyways back to the article.

It's telling me that I have a second, "enteric nervous system, which is located in [my] gut and controls digestion." Apparently, this system is called "Little Brain." (now everyone, please take a moment to wave and greet your little brain (LB). "Hi Little Brain!" You must respect the LB)

Well, LB communicates with Big Brain in your skull, and depending on how they get along, it can "speed up or slow down the passage of food through the digestive system, prompt an amplified pain response to normal bowel contractions or trigger the release of stress hormones." Yup. Sounds like me.

So what can Big Brain do to help his little brother LB?

The author suggest Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to help with tummy problems. CBT "holds that what we think about an event is even more important than the event itself in determining our physical and emotional reactions."


So it goes something like this: When I'm scared about a presentation at work, I start holding tension in my tummy. Then I start worrying about how this tension is going to give me tummy troubles later on, so I get more stressed out, and clench my abs even tighter. And cause I'm anxious, the pain feels exaggerated, and the tension slows down the passage of food, causing me to bloat even more. That, my friend is called Akujunkan in Japanese, and called "horrendous, awful, and nightmarish cycle" in English.

So what can I do?

Use Big Brain and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy instead of drugs to manage physical pain.
The article suggests three steps:
  1. Track symptoms: learn what triggers your bowel problems and try to avoid/find alternatives to those triggers
  2. Pay attention to your thoughts: Do you think in Doomsday scenarios? Try to focus your energy into positive/constructive thinking
  3. Write it down: write down the issue, why you feel stressed, what you can do about it, are there any alternatives? Then pick a solution that may work and get to work!
Ok, cool. I haven't tried all three of these steps together yet, but I have found that when I'm in a lot of pain, the best thing I can do is to lie down, and deliberately tell my Big Brain to relax the stomach. I have to consciously make an effort to breath and relax the stomach area.
I've tried Step 1, and it has helped me notice the types of situations that make my tummy worse. So when I know I have a nervous situation coming up, I make a concentrated effort NOT to told tension in my abs. I try to take deep breaths and think positive.
I have yet to try Step 3, but I already kind of do it to an extent.

I've heard of managing pain through mind control before, but I had never heard of anything specific to my tummy turmoil, so this article was interesting to me. I am definitely going to keep trying CBT in the future to deal with my issues.

So sorry you had to listen to all my embarrassing gut issues!
But I would like to know:
  • Do you get GI/tummy issues?
  • Have you ever used your mind to successfully manage tummy issues?
  • Have you ever used your mind to successfully manage any sort of physical pain/injury?
  • What sort of mind techniques do you use to keep things under control?
I would be extremely interested to know; maybe you all have some great tricks I can learn from. I've never been formally diagnosed with IBS or anything, but it puts a huge damper on my day, so any sort to tip or advise will most likely save my day!

Thanks :)

PS I just realized I was clenching my stomach again. Crap! Oops


  1. I had HUGE GI issues (diagnosed as IBS) that mind control and relaxation did nothing to ease and ended up on Dicitel to relieve them. Same as you, lots of work sick days for the same reasons you weren't in gym class. Then after I got preggers the first time they vanished. Not a recommended route - especialliy if you're not in a rush to have kids!

  2. Interesting stuff. I hit the second trimester last week and started feeling better. Not sure if it was nature or my awesome mind control willing it to happen.

  3. You should try the process. If it works for you, then I would call it successful. Personally, I would become best friends with Pepto and call it a day.

  4. Love it! You are too funny! I have never had GI issues on a regular basis. It made for some interesting reading though :-)

  5. Omg! That sounds awful! Poor Thing!!! I have stomach pains every few weeks. Like awful pains. I dont know if its gas or what but i can relate. Not totally becuase your pains sound awful, but i'm sure my boyfriend could tell you my 5 main complains... #1 would be stomach.

  6. I've had occasional stomach pains since junior high. I don't know the source. I have two ways of eliminating them. (1) take a dump... I can be gross too. :) (2) lie on my stomach for a few minutes. Each completely relieves the symptoms. I'd be really curious if this works for you so let me know if so.

  7. I dealt with IBS for almost a year before it disappeared suddenly. Also missed a lot of running days because of it. Of course, a lot of it has to do with stress, so yes you're right, it helps to control that aspect. My problems would ease slightly when I didn't focus on it as much. I also had to revamp my diet. I still don't drink coffee. Also hydrating well helps.

  8. All of a sudden, I feel grateful that all I do is clench my teeth. Yikes! I hope you can train your brain to relax!



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