How Stress Affects Digestion
From office deadlines, family pressures and the daily hustle and bustle of life, as much as we try to avoid it, stress is just an inevitable part of life – and it can have a major impact on your health.
While it may be no surprise that stress affects the body negatively, and can even lead toheart attacks and strokes, what you may not realize is that stress has a hugely negative effect on your digestive system, too.
What Happens to Your Body When Stress Hits?
Most of us have heard of a “fight or flight” response that arises when we’re in a stressful situation. Turns out, when your body feels threatened, it will use all of its energy to combat the perceived attack. Depending on the severity of the stress, this reaction may cause your digestion to completely go haywire, leaving your gut feeling less than stellar.
So, what are the symptoms of a stressed-out digestive system?
Since stress activates this flight-or-flight response in the central nervous system, it’s easy for the digestive system to go into a downspin and cause symptoms such as:
- Spasms in the esophagus
- Increased acid in the stomach, often leading to indigestion
- Feelings of nausea
- Bouts of diarrhea
- Feeling sluggish and constipated
3Ways to Manage Stress
While it’s nearly impossible to avoid stress completely, it’s important to take measures to be in control during stressful situations and find ways to keep yourself calm. Here are a few, simple ways to combat stress and avoid wreaking havoc on your digestion.
1.Get Quality Sleep
To prepare for a restful night’s sleep, avoid doing work right before bed, as well as unplugging from devices, to help your mind relax and enter a state of calm.
You can also try taking a warm bath or reading a book for a few minutes to relax your body, tire your eyes and help you forget about the things that make you feel stressed.
2.Choose the Right Foods to Keep Stress at Bay
Although stress can take a toll on your body’s digestion, eating the right foodsmay offer relief. Here are a few easy ways to incorporate stress-busting foods in to your diet.
- Vitamin C-rich foods to your diet such as oranges, red peppers and limes, which studies suggest can help lower blood pressure during stressful times.
- According to research, loading up on omega-3s found in fatty fish such as salmon can help elevate mood and reduce anxiety.
- Not only are cashews a tasty snack on the go, but they’re also a great source ofzinc, which has been linked to help both anxiety and depression.
3.Break a Sweat
Getting in adequate exercise is a great way to combat excessive stress hormones and restore your body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state.
When you start to feel tense, go for a brisk walk in fresh air. Incorporating physical activity into your daily routine on a regular basis, is also important in keeping stress at bay.