Severe stress and anxiety not only takes away mental peace but can affect our stomach as well. Here are few signs that may be indicating of too much stress.
Stress is the body’s natural response to a fight or flight situation. Sometimes stress and anxiety can create discomfort not just with our mental peace but affect our stomach as well. Ever feel nauseating or cramped amidst a stressful situation? Well, there is the answer. Anxiety and stress can significantly impact the digestive system, causing a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
The gut-brain connection, a complex bidirectional communication pathway between the gut microbiome and the brain, plays a crucial role in this phenomenon. When the body experiences anxiety or stress, it triggers the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to various digestive issues.
Digestive Problems Caused By Stress and Anxiety
- Abdominal pain and cramping: Anxiety and stress can cause muscles in the digestive tract to tighten and spasm, leading to abdominal pain and cramping. This pain can be located in the upper or lower abdomen and may be accompanied by bloating or gas.
- Changes in bowel movements: Stress can affect the motility of the intestines, causing either constipation or diarrhoea. Constipation occurs when the muscles in the intestines contract too slowly, while diarrhoea occurs when the contractions are too fast.
- Nausea and vomiting: Anxiety and stress can trigger the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation and digestion. Excess serotonin can stimulate the gut, leading to nausea and vomiting.
- Loss of appetite or increased appetite: Stress can suppress the production of ghrelin, the appetite-stimulating hormone, leading to a loss of appetite. Conversely, some people experience increased appetite under stress as a coping mechanism.
- Acid reflux and heartburn: Anxiety and stress can increase stomach acid production, leading to acid reflux and heartburn. These symptoms are often worse after eating or lying down.
Tips Manage Stress at Home
- Regular physical activity helps reduce stress hormones and promotes overall well-being. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Practices such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can effectively reduce stress and promote relaxation, both physically and mentally.
- Sleep deprivation can worsen stress levels and exacerbate digestive issues. Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.
- A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains provides essential nutrients that support gut health and stress resilience.