When I was at the peak of my SIBO journey, I ate, drank and breathed my SIBO diagnosis. My thoughts were consumed by what I was going to eat next, what health podcasts I was going to listen to at work or debating on whether I should try the new trendy supplement that Barb in the SIBO Forum was talking about.
In some respects, it makes sense that I was consumed by my SIBO diagnosis. It felt as though this condition was consuming me. I was in pain 24/7 and my health prevented my optimal function. It felt like I needed to throw everything that I had at my SIBO because it was preventing me from living my life.
But, looking back, my preoccupation with SIBO actually hindered my recovery. My horse blinder SIBO obsessed brain started to neglect my passions, relationships and aspirations. Everything was put on hold to combat the SIBO beast.
My thought process became “I will only be happy when the SIBO is gone.” I see this same one track mentality with many of my clients. This mentality sabotaged my recovery and I see it causing the same problems with my clients too.
There is no doubt that beating SIBO can allow you to accomplish more and to move through your day better. But, when the pursuit is blinding and all consuming it often prevents pleasure seeking. Life becomes a chore, especially if diet restrictions are overwhelming.
Make Pleasure a Priority
Pleasure is always the first victim when we are stressed. In general, we do not value pleasure as a society. Many view pleasure as a sexual feeling, but this is short sighted. Pleasure is simply defined as “a feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.
You can find pleasure dancing to a song you love, escaping into a book, stopping to smell the roses, hiking through nature, playing with your kids, laughing with an old friend, kissing a special someone or snuggling your dog. What is pleasing will differ from person to person, but the key is that you seek pleasure daily.
Pleasure is what keeps you burning bright. It is what feeds your soul. Moments of pleasure are what we all live for!
Never losing sight of what ignites you is key ingredient to healing and staying healthy. If you do not feel alive and pleased, your health can suffer. Pleasure usually becomes an afterthought during SIBO. Lack of pleasure leads to emptiness, stress and an inability to feel like yourself.
Pleasure needs to be a priority during your SIBO journey. Reminding yourself daily to seek out enjoyment is incredibly healing. You might not be able to dive into your pleasurable activities as you did pre-SIBO, but pleasurable activities should still be sprinkled throughout your day.
They don’t have to be elaborate either. You could listen to your favorite songs, read passages from a book or poem, play with your kids, watch a funny youtube video, mediate etc. A good goal is to try to do 3 pleasurable activities a day.
Pleasure helps to keep our bodies balanced mentally and physically. Pleasure is one of the best cortisol regulators you can have in your arsenal. It keeps you in a state of “stay and play” vs “fight or flight”.
Pleasure reminds us why life is good! With SIBO, you need to remind yourself often.
Having a chronic condition like SIBO can be isolating. You may not be able to connect with others in the ways that you have in the past. Having diet restrictions can make it much harder to meet up with friends or family at that new hip restaurant that doesn’t have great options for you. In my case, I struggled to find ways to hang out with my friends outside of a setting that didn’t involve alcohol (I used to be quite a party gal in my hay day).
As a human being, you need to connect with other to stay healthy. With SIBO, your relationships can easily become an afterthought (just like pleasure). Don’t use SIBO as an excuse to binge on Netflix all the time and avoid going out to connect with your loved ones.
I binged too hard on Netflix in my SIBO days. The Netflix crutch made me feel more disconnected and lonely overtime. Netflix is great, but when you start to plan your life around the new releases you know you have gone too far.
Staying connected with SIBO is hard. A lack of understanding of SIBO by loved ones can make it even harder to connect. It is ok to dial down a bit and not feel obligated to be as connected as you were before the SIBO diagnosis. However, you should still do your best to connect with loved ones.
Even on days when you feel low in energy but still want to connect, ask your loved ones to make it easier for you. Have them come over to your house versus meeting somewhere. Pick an activity that is chill and relaxing. What I have learned through my own experience is that most people are happy to help if you let them know that you are having a “bad day” and just want to hang close to home.
Quiet the Noise and Reframe your thinking
When you are struggling with SIBO, it can be easy to research day and night. In my case, I listened to every SIBO podcast, read for hours on the SIBO forums and I was sucked into Pubmed rabbit holes trying to piece together the latest science. Staying informed helped me feel empowered, but I believe this obsession with curing my SIBO also kept me sick longer.
When all my free time was being consumed with my health problems, I started to develop a sick mentality that was hard to shake. Granted, I definitely was struggling with some intense symptoms that needed some attention, but with ALL my attention on SIBO, my symptoms consumed me.
My obsession started to change my identity. I was sick. This “sick mentality” was ingrained in how I thought about myself and changed how I moved through the world.
As I have discussed in the past, your beliefs become your reality. Because all I thought about was being sick, I stayed sicker longer. It really took reframing my mentality and letting go of my sick mentality to actually get better.
Health anxiety has been linked to higher risk for developing chronic diseases. If you are obsessive and anxious about your symptoms (like I was), you can become and stay ill.
Finding a more positive headspace can be key to getting out of the sick mentality. Here are a few tips:
- Take a break from SIBO researching and forums for a month or two. Instead, use that time to connect with loved ones or do some pleasure seeking.
- Visualization exercises can help you manifest health.
- Journal 3 things that you are grateful for every morning.
- Focus on progress that you have made.
- Daily affirmations of wellness vs sickness can also help you reframe your mentality
Working on my mentality helped accelerate my progress. Taking breaks from actively searching for SIBO cures really helped with my mentality and also helped symptomatically.
SIBO should not consume your life. When it does, your progress may be slower. Don’t forget to find pleasure in your daily life and to connect to your loved ones.