How Emotional Turmoil Affects Your Gut Health

Time to tap into the gut-brain connection.
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Often, you may have found yourself bloated even without having consumed anything specific that hurts your bowels. Did you know that there is a possibility that this might be related to stress and the brain? This is to such an effect that the gut is also known as the “second brain.” 

Emotions are felt in the gut. Feelings such as sadness, anger, nervousness, fear and even joy can be felt in the stomach. The term “feeling sick in the stomach” or “having butterflies” describes a situation that involves mental or emotional anguish that can produce stress in the mind and body. An anxious mind can create stress in the body causing an upset or disharmony in the gut. Similarly, problems in the gut can cause an imbalance in the mind. These two entities are continually in communication with each other. So, the brain and gut are linked. It is important to address not just the physical body when identifying the cause of gut upset, but also to look at the role of stress and emotions.  

Distressing emotions can have a major impact on our gut health. Image Courtesy: Unsplash

The gut also plays an important role in our internal body sensing and intuition. The expression, “trust your gut” doesn’t come out of nowhere, and this speaks of subtle signals we get from the gut in order to avert danger. This internal compass is a constant help and supports us with intuitive decision making while also engaging the mind. A healthy gut can affect energy levels, motivation, clarity of thought, and intuitive decision making. A brain or mind that has adequate stimulation, nutrients and rest can support improved gut functioning. When both are healthy, our intuition or “feeling body” is more alert.  

Tips to manage stress and when to seek help: –  

  1. Breathing – Connecting to your breath consciously can relax the mind and the nervous system. Closing your eyes for 5 minutes and allowing the body to settle and breathe can be calm and simple yet effective. 
  2. Boundaries – Know your limitations and set your bar. Don’t take on extra responsibilities when you cannot handle them. Take 24 hours before taking any important decision. This will give you the headspace to think about it and see how something feels before committing.  
  3. Diet – Ensure you are eating regularly and a proper diet. Certain foods are known to irritate your gut. If your stomach is still irritable, please consult a doctor. 
  4. Exercise – Physical activity of any sort is known to be a great stress reliever. Moving the body can get the heart pumping and oxygenate the blood. It will help you clear your mind as well. Even 15 minutes of exercise can end up making you feel better. 
  5. Yoga – Stretching and meditating can help release the tension and decrease tension. Quietening the mind even for 5 minutes can be a great way to reset. Sitting in silence and bringing focus to your breath can give your mind a chance to stop and reboot. 
  6. Counselling or psychotherapy – Seek professional help if your problem is interfering with your daily life. Sometimes a psychological aspect towards a problem may seem necessary instead of the physiological aspect. 

Now that you know that it’s not just what you eat that affects your stomach but also how you are feeling, you can be more careful of your diet and lifestyle. 

Hope this provides you with a better understanding of taking care of your tummy.

Read more: Irritable Bowel Syndrome And How To Eat Mindfully

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