Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and anxiety symptoms are often a two-way street. That is, you can become nervous about your experience of GI symptoms, and, conversely, stress and anxiety can create and worsen GI symptoms. THIS COMBINATION OF IBS AND ANXIETY CAN HIJACK LIVES.
You become afraid of experiencing GI discomfort and how it may affect your day, so you do all kinds of things to prevent it. For example, having a rigid morning routine, avoiding (likely lots) of foods, turning down invitations, canceling plans, avoiding the subway or declining to ride with others, always knowing where the bathroom is, and always carrying Imodium, to name a few.
But … our bodies in general, and our GI and bowel function specifically, are unpredictable. And, as much as you try to control all of the moving parts of a full life, all you really do with these patterns of behavior is create stress and anxiety for yourself (which ironically can make your GI symptoms worse! the exact thing you’re trying to prevent!) … and a small, risk-free, unsatisfying life.
That’s where Gut Feelings comes in …
Dr. Julia King is a psychologist and yoga teacher who sees clients throughout New York and New Jersey remotely for telehealth sessions.
Julia takes an integrated, mind-body approach to treatment. She specializes in working with people whose lives have been hijacked and limited by anxiety. When her clients come to her, they are flat out fed up with being afraid of their own future, with doubting themselves, and with acting out of fear rather than from a place of curiosity and excitement. So, her clients come to her motivated for action and ready to work.
And, Julia does not disappoint. She is an action-oriented, practical, skills-based therapist. She provides education. She wants her clients to understand why they feel the way they do, what is contributing to their distress, and what is happening in their brains when they feel anxious. Julia uses that information to empower; her clients feel less afraid — and more equipped to tackle what she’s suggested they do to feel better — when they understand what is going.
Often, Julia’s clients get better and no longer need regularly scheduled sessions. How do they get there? Julia provides strategies for them to practice, which address the unique triggers and landscape of their experience of anxiety. And, they do their homework between sessions and they work really hard. Overcoming anxiety is very much about learning how to handle discomfort and to confronting the things that are scary and uncomfortable. And how do they learn to handle discomfort? By voluntarily choosing to be uncomfortable and then practicing new skills to navigate it better… over and over and over again, with loads of support, guidance, and encouragement.
Julia’s clients who feel better continue to experience anxiety-provoking situations. It’s not that they don’t experience challenging situations in the future. And it’s not that they’ve ‘cured’ their anxiety. But, they learn and develop the skills necessary to effectively navigate future challenges in order to reclaim their lives.