If you have an overactive bladder (OAB), you know that it is a mainly physical issue. Although the problem is physical, some time-tested methods for managing it are psychological (use of the mind).
The mental strategies below may help control the urge to go. They will ease stress and anxiety about the possibility of having an accident. Thinking positive thoughts goes a long way.
Mental strategies are easy to learn, simple to use, and free of harmful side effects. Such strategies are often combined with other OAB treatments, such as pelvic muscle exercises and medication. Ask your doctor how these approaches fit into your personal treatment plan for OAB.
The sphincters muscles naturally hold the bladder closed. During urination, the bladder squeezes and the sphincters relax, letting urine escape the bladder. Normally, the brain sends signals that control when this happens
The National Association for Continence outlines a typical, six-week re-training program on its website. Ask your doctor if this type of program is right for you. It involves urinating on a schedule, gradually lengthening the time between bathroom visits. If you have the urge to go between scheduled times, mental distraction or relaxation (the next two strategies) often can help you ignore the urge.
Distract your mind.
When the urge to go strikes at an inopportune moment, try thinking about something else until the urge passes. Focus on a complex mental task that demands all your attention. For example:
Count backward from 99 by threes
Recite all the words to a song or poem you learned as a child
Recall the first and last names of everyone in a large office
Practice giving directions to your home from various locations
Relax your body.
Focusing on relaxing thoughts is another way to take your mind off the urge to go to the bathroom. Plus, relaxation eases anxiety and stress, which may result from unexpected bathroom breaks or worries about getting to the toilet.
You can use this quick and easy relaxation technique anywhere, anytime:
Take several deep breaths to calm your mind. Then picture yourself on a relaxing vacation. Use all your senses to paint a vivid scene in your mind. If you picture a beach scene, for example, you might imagine the sight of palm trees, the sound of the surf, the feel of a swaying hammock, and the taste of salt in the air.
Live in the moment.
Mindfulness works differently from distraction. Instead of ignoring an urge, you make a conscious choice to notice whatever you’re experiencing from moment to moment. You take note of sensations,
In one smaller study, women who had sudden, strong urges to urinate along with urine leaking were randomly assigned to eight weeks of either mindfulness training or yoga classes.
Women in the mindfulness group had fewer accidents than those in the yoga group. For many, the benefits were still apparent more than a year later. Proving that the use of the mind to combat OAB is very relevant.
Like any skill, mindfulness can be honed through regular practice. Try this exercise:
Take a mindful stroll. As you walk, notice the sensation of your muscles working, your feet pressing against the ground, and your breath moving in and out. Also take note of the sights, sounds and smells around you. If other thoughts come to mind, notice them without judging them. Then let go of those thoughts as you move on to whatever the next moment brings.
To improve your mental ability to improve your health conditions, here is a quick
Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
Increased life span
Lower rates of depression
Lower levels of distress
Greater resistance to the common cold
Better psychological and physical well-being
Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress