Stress may be a fact of life, but it can be a pain for those who suffer from acid reflux. By making your esophagus more sensitive to acid backwash, stress can cause heartburn symptoms to worsen, sparking a cycle of acid reflux and anxiety that makes every day more difficult.
Though reflux surgery can provide a permanent solution to acid reflux, reducing stress before your procedure can be an asset in keeping symptoms under control. Even after reflux surgery, stress management techniques can help you quell anxieties and face each day with greater calm.
Progressive muscle relaxation is one useful activity, but fleshing out your stress management system with a variety of relaxing strategies will be even more beneficial. Tai chi is an ancient practice that can help you reduce stress with meditative movements and a focus on your breathing.
Meditation in Motion
Tai chi originated in ancient China and has since developed worldwide popularity largely due to its accessible nature. Tai chi is unlikely to spark acid reflux and is known as an activity that nearly anyone can do—it is often recommended for the elderly, patients recovering from surgery and even those confined to wheelchairs.
The movements of tai chi are slow and deliberate, flowing together without ever fully extending the joints or tensing the muscles. Focus is placed on breathing deeply, giving the practice a meditative and calming effect that can be powerful in reducing stress. As an added bonus, these gentle movements can help you build strength, balance and flexibility.
Getting Started with Tai Chi
Because tai chi is so low-impact, it is generally a safe choice both before and after reflux surgery. Still, it will be wise to speak with Dr. Ihde before trying tai chi to ensure that it is a healthy activity for you.
Once your GERD surgeon gives you the go-ahead, your first step should be taking a class. Though tai chi is highly accessible to beginners, its language and concepts can be intimidating to the uninitiated. A good instructor can help you get the basics down and answer any questions you have about the activity. You should also give tai chi a chance to prove its value—you may not notice any dramatic benefits until you’ve practiced the activity for several weeks, so give yourself some time to master it.
Has tai chi helped you control stress before or after reflux surgery? Tell us about your experiences with tai chi in the comments below!