While the physical aspect of hemorrhoids is painful, the emotional aspects can be even more distressing for some. People living with hemorrhoids describe feelings of embarrassment, isolation and shame as a result of their condition.
You might be feeling frustrated and sad about not being able to participate in activities due to a flare-up; embarrassment for having to suffer in silence; despondent over the loss of control; fear of not knowing when another flare-up will happen or anger that you have to deal with this at all.
However you’re feeling, know that you are not alone. About 75% of all Americans will have hemorrhoids at some point in their lives. Dealing with these negative feelings can help you move on to more positive ones. Do you have a trusted family member, friend or healthcare provider you talk to? You might be happily surprised how understanding they will be. Having someone you can share this with will help to lessen the burden of suffering in silence.
The Stress Factor
We all have a lot of stress in our lives, such as family, work and finances. Unfortunately, stress can have a negative effect on hemorrhoids. Stress can lead to digestive problems—and straining, due to constipation and diarrhea, can cause hemorrhoid flare-ups. When people are stressed, they tighten their sphincter muscle and put pressure on the rectum. This pressure can cause hemorrhoid flare-ups. What's more, stress can lead to poor food choices and, therefore, constipation. Chronic constipation can cause pressure in the anal and rectal area, which can cause hemorrhoids.
For tips on how to manage your stress, see stress relievers.
Stress relievers: Top 10 Picks to Tame Stress
Stress getting to you? Try physical activity, yoga, listening to music or other top stress relievers to help restore peace and calm to your life.
By Mayo Clinic staff
Is stress making you angry, frustrated and irritable? Stress relievers can help restore calm and serenity to your chaotic life. You don't have to invest a lot of time or thought into stress relievers. When your stress is getting out of control and you need quick stress relief, just try one of these top 10 stress relievers.
If one stress reliever doesn't work, try another one. And if you have trouble remembering which stress relievers to try or which ones work for you, jot down notes or print a list and keep it with you. With these top 10 stress relievers, you can tame your stress.
Top 10 Stress Relievers
1. Get active:
Virtually any form of exercise and physical activity can act as a stress reliever. Even if you're not an athlete or you're out of shape, exercise is still a good stress reliever. Physical activity pumps up your feel-good endorphins and refocuses your mind on your body's movements, improving your mood and helping the day's irritations fade away. Consider walking, jogging, gardening, house cleaning, biking, swimming, weightlifting or anything else that gets you active.
During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. Meditation instills a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health. Guided meditation, guided imagery, visualization and other forms of meditation can be practiced anywhere at any time, whether you're out for a walk, riding the bus to work or waiting at the doctor's office.
A good sense of humor can't cure all ailments, but it can help you feel better, even if you have to force a fake laugh through your grumpiness. When you start to laugh, it lightens your mental load and actually causes positive physical changes in your body. Laughter fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure, producing a good, relaxed feeling. So read some jokes, tell some jokes, watch a comedy or hang out with your funny friends.
When you're stressed and irritable, your instinct may be to wrap yourself in a cocoon. Instead, reach out to family and friends and make social connections. Social contact is a good stress reliever because it can distract you, provide support, help you weather life's up and downs, and make you feel good by doing good. So take a coffee break with a friend, email a relative, volunteer for a charitable group, or visit your place of worship.
5. Assert yourself:
You might want to do it all, but you probably can't, at least not without paying a price. Learn to say no to some tasks or to delegate them. Saying yes may seem like an easy way to keep the peace, prevent conflicts and get the job done right. But it may actually cause you internal conflict because your needs and those of your family come second, which can lead to stress, anger, resentment and even the desire to exact revenge. And that's not very calm and peaceful.
6. Do yoga:
With its series of postures and controlled-breathing exercises, yoga is a popular stress reliever. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines to achieve peacefulness of body and mind, helping you relax and manage stress and anxiety. Try yoga on your own or find a class — you can find classes in most communities. Hatha yoga, in particular, is a good stress reliever because of its slower pace and easier movements.
Stress often gives sleep the heave-ho. You have too much to do — and too much to think about — and your sleep suffers. But sleep is the time when your brain and body recharge. And the quality and amount of sleep you get affects your mood, energy level, concentration and overall functioning. If you have sleep troubles, make sure that you have a quiet, relaxing bedtime routine, listen to soothing music, put clocks away, and stick to a consistent schedule.
Writing out thoughts and feelings can be a good release for otherwise pent-up emotions. Don't think about what to write — just let it happen. Write whatever comes to mind. No one else needs to read it, so don't strive for perfection in grammar or spelling. Just let your thoughts flow on paper — or computer screen. Once you're done, you can toss out what your wrote or save it to reflect on later.
9. Get musical:
Listening to or playing music is a good stress reliever because it provides a mental distraction, reduces muscle tension and decreases stress hormones. Crank up the volume and let your mind be absorbed by the music. If music isn't your thing, though, turn your attention to another hobby you enjoy, such as gardening, sewing, sketching — anything that requires you to focus on what you're doing rather than what you think you should be doing.
10. Seek counsel:
If new stressors are challenging your ability to cope or if self-care stress relievers just aren't relieving your stress, you may need to look for reinforcements in the form of professional therapy or counseling. Therapy may be a good idea if stress leaves you feeling overwhelmed or trapped, if you worry excessively, or if you have trouble carrying out daily routines or meeting responsibilities at work, home or school. Professional counselors or therapists can help you identify sources of your stress and learn new coping tools.