The way we feel influences our digestive health, just as our digestive health can affect the way we feel.
When we experience stress or anxiety, it can disrupt the movement of our GI tract, causing discomfort and inflammation, which in turn can make us feel more anxiety.
There’s a definitive link between stress and irritable bowel syndrome, and stress can exacerbate other digestive troubles such as indigestion, ulcers and heartburn.
But there are ways you can alleviate stress in your life, and thus settle your stomach. Try these tips on how to relax when your tummy is in trouble.
- Exercise – A regular workout means at least 30 minutes of exercise, three to five times a week and is a superb way to calm your mind, relax your body and improve your mood.
- Relaxing your muscles – Stress makes muscles tense, but you can ease your tension by stretching, enjoying a long bath or shower, and making sure you get enough sleep.
- Get a massage – This can not only help alleviate stress, it will also help you reduce pain and improve your self-image.
- Eat well – A well-balanced diet can improve your mood. Try to eat meals with a lot of whole grains, vegetables and fruits, and lean proteins. And don’t skip meals, which can worsen your mood and make you feel more stressed.
- Make some tea – There are many types of natural, relaxing teas to choose from. We listed a few of them in a recent blog post. This is something you should discuss with your doctor, as some teas can negatively interact with certain medications.
- Take a deep breath – Deep breathing exercises can go a long way toward lessening stress. Sit in a comfortable position (or lie down), close your eyes, and picture yourself in a relaxing place. Take deep, deliberate breaths, in and out, for five to 10 minutes.
- Indulge in your hobbies – Try to do something you enjoy each day, whether it’s reading, doing an art project, watching a movie, or playing games.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself – Remember that you can’t control everything in your life, nor can you do things perfectly.
Beyond these steps, you can try therapeutic options:
1. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Also known as CBT, this helps patients learn new skills to manage stress and anxiety. According to the Harvard Mental Health Letter, there is research that “suggests that CBT may be most useful in helping patients to cope with persistent gastrointestinal distress, rather than reducing pain. Preliminary research suggests that CBT can be modified for children with such disorders.”
2. Relaxation therapy
This can include several different techniques to deal with stress, including visualization, muscle relaxation, and soothing music. As the Harvard publication points out, it is typically effective when paired with CBT.
Again, from the Harvard Mental Health Letter: “Gut-directed hypnotherapy — which combines deep relaxation with positive suggestions focused on gastrointestinal function — may be helpful for people whose symptoms occur even without obvious stress.”
They describe one study where patients with severe IBS did three months of hypnotherapy that involved putting their hands on their abdomens while being asked to imagine they had control over their gastrointestinal systems.
After the three months were up, the patients who had gone through hypnotherapy showed considerable improvements when compared to a control group that had undergone psychotherapy.
If you still need help managing your digestive issues, turn to Proper Nutrition.
Visit our product page to find a supplement that can help ease your digestive troubles, and hopefully make your life less stressful.