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The Crohn's Disease and Stress E-Zine, Issue #005
June 02, 2005

News, articles, resources and more for the person with Crohn’s Disease.

The Crohn’s Disease and Stress newsletter brings you information you can use to help you, or someone you know, cope with Crohn’s Disease.

I want you to know that I appreciate your interest in receiving this information, and I promise you that I will endeavor to make it worth your time, both now and in the future.

If you enjoy this month’s edition and find it valuable, then I would appreciate it if you would forward it to other people you know who have Crohn’s Disease or are the family or friends of someone with the disease. If they would like to subscribe, have them send an email to

Many thanks!

In This Issue.....

1. Is there something you can do to help your digestive tract deal with Crohn‘s Disease? Yes. And learning about the “Gut-Brain Connection” points you in the direction to do exactly that.
2. Here’s how a simple 200 year old technique can help you reduce the stress in your life.
3. The importance of humor in our lives

1. Is there something you can do to help your digestive tract deal with Crohn‘s Disease? Yes. And learning about the “Gut-Brain Connection” points you in the direction to do exactly that.

Your doctor, through medications and sometimes surgery, helps you control the course of your disease. When that isn’t enough, we sometimes feel helpless. I came across an article by Harvard Health Reports that says more can be done.

I’m going to link you in a moment to that article. But first, I want to talk a little bit about what some of the ideas in that article mean to me, a person with Crohn’s Disease.

The first sentence that had impact for me is when the authors say, “Emotions often find their outlet in the gut. Nerves, stresses, emotional upsets, mental problems, and other factors can wreak havoc with the GI tract. That’s because the brain and the gastrointestinal system are intimately connected.” We all know that you say. So what’s the big deal?

First, the article has some interesting scientific studies that vivid picture about what happens when emotions have an effect on our digestive tract. (Imagine if you were able to watch how the stomach reacts when powerful emotions come into being. Well that’s exactly what has been done and you will read about it in the Harvard article.)

Secondly, if what this article says is true (and I believe it is), what are we as patients doing to take advantage of this fact?

On my website I have a survey that has as one of the questions, “What are you doing to deal with the stress in your life.” Some people have answered ‘nothing.’ What if they had done something? And what if many of us do not fully realize that there are additional simple ways to handle our stress better (That’s what the second part of this newsletter is about).

While most of us try to handle our stress in at least a few ways, there are many more ways we can help ourselves with our situation.

Finally, for this part of the newsletter, the article quotes Dr. Douglas Drossman, who published an article in Gut (Yes that is the name of the publication) that says, “Psychosocial factors influence the actual physiology of the gut, as well as the modulation of symptoms, the course of the illness, the outcomes, and the choice of therapy. Psychology combines with physical factors to cause pain and other bowel symptoms.”

I find this exciting information. I say exciting because if we can reduce the stress in our lives, it will affect the intensity of the symptoms of our disease.

So in the next section of this newsletter, you will read about a simple technique to help you deal with the psychosocial aspect of dealing with the stress in your life.

First though, I will give you the link to the Harvard Health Report article. The article will open in a new window. So after reading it, click the close button and you will be back to this newsletter to read the second part. Here’s the link: Click here.

If you can’t click on the link above copy it and paste it into your browser.

2. Here’s how a simple 200 year old technique can help you reduce the stress in your life.

Above I talked about how there is a connection between our gut and our brain. And how stress can affect our gut through our emotions. What’s a person to do?

What if there was a simple technique that has been around for a long time that would help us reduce the stress in our life? Would you use it? I hope so.

The technique has been called the Benjamin Franklin Technique because he invented it. He used this technique in his attempt to acquire moral perfection. Thankfully we will be using it to reduce stress. I think you would probably agree with me... ours is the easier task.

What you will do is pick one way to reduce the stress in your life and then apply the technique to turn your solution into a habitual way of acting. That’s what Benjamin Franklin did.

He picked for instance as his first virtue - "Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation." Here’s how Franklin described the procedure:

“My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judg'd it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen.”

So what will we work on? After looking at what is happening in your life, you could pick on item out, come up with actions that would help reduce the stress caused by that item, and apply Franklin’s method to acquire the habit.

Personally, I bought a book that lists 300 tips to help a person reduce their stress. It was downloadable so I could start using it right away. I will give you a link to it in just a minute.

One of the first tips I applied Franklin’s method to was to wake up every morning and find things to be thankful for. I know, I know, it sounds simplistic. It is. But let me ask you this, how often do you think about what you are thankful for? Isn’t it more common to think about those things you worry about? Like for instance what Crohn’s Disease has done to your life.

How you start your day can set a direction to the rest of your day. This simple little habit I’ve created has given me a different feeling about my days. It helps to put things (positives and negatives) into perspective.

That’s just one of the 300 tips. I can hardly wait to develop the habits that will help me incorporate the rest of the tips into my life. Can you imagine how different my life will be as I succeed one after another?

To use the technique, I bought a little notebook I could keep in my shirt pocket so I could keep track of each action each day. I did just like Benjamin Franklin did. I set one page up for the item I was working on. I put the name of the item at the top of the page and then set up each line after that for each day of the week.

I also put why the item I was working on was important to me and what accomplishing it might do to reduce the stress in my life.

Then every time I did what I was suppose to, I put a little hash mark showing I had done it. Actually, this is different from what Franklin did. It’s different because I am trying to add positives to my life and he was trying to reduce negatives.

He was working to reduce to zero the number of times he active poorly. I am looking to increase my action by recording the number of times I do something I should do, but haven’t been doing.

Actually, if you try to accomplish a lot of the 300 stress tips, you will both add positives and reduce negatives in your life.

So in some cases you would put a hash mark when you did something positive and feel good about the hash marks. At other times, when you put a hash mark, it means you did something you shouldn’t have and you’ll be trying to reduce the number of hash marks.

The bottom line is to make good actions happen more often so you can develop better habits. Or reduce the number of times you are taking actions that are detrimental to your life and the way you are handling your situations with Crohns Disease.

In case you want to look more into the book I’ve talked about so you can reduce the stress in your life, here’s a link to “Why Make Yourself Crazy.”

Click Here!

3. The importance of humor in our lives

Humor does so much for the body. Did you know that laughter reduces pain by releasing endorphins in the body. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkiller. It also reduces your level of stress by lowering the level of Cortisol, a hormone that has a lot to do with stress levels and the immune system.

So here is something to help reduce pain and lower your stress level. A friend of mine faxed me something I think is quite funny. I hope you like it.

Here it is:

A sixteen year old boy goes to his father and says he thinks he should get a car.

The father thinks for a second and says, "I will get you a car if you do three things. First, get your grades up. Second, don't stay out so late on weekend nights. And third, get your hair cut."

Three months later, the boy comes to his father and says, "I got my grades up. I don't stay out as late on weekend nights. But, dad, I just can't cut my hair."

The son smiles and says, "Think about this, dad. Moses was a good man. Everybody knows that. He had long hair. Why can't I be like Moses?"

The dad thinks for a second and says, "Yes, Moses was a good man. A very good man. But you're forgetting one thing."

"What's that?" the boy asks.

The father smiles and says, "Moses walked everywhere he went."

I hope you got a good laugh. I know I did. That joke was told to me by a waiter at a resturant my 86 year old father likes to go to.


If you haven’t gotten the free diet journal I offer from the website, click here

If you’d like to tell your Crohn’s story and have it on my website, click here

I want to include the quote you will find on many of the pages on my website. I believe if you will develop the skill of putting this quote into practice, it will help you immensely in reducing the stress you feel from life and the disease. Here’s the quote:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
Wisdom to know the difference.

I wish you all the best.

Till next time,

Ed Kalski

Health Disclaimer: The information on this site is provided for information only and supplied “as is.” It is NOT intended to substitute for the services of a licensed health care provider in the diagnosis or treatment of Crohn’s Disease or any other disease, condition, or injury.

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