Can daily stresses affect your gut?
Let’s talk all things gut
First off, what is stress?
Everyday stress is common but that doesn’t mean you should just brush it off. Stress is the body’s response to pressures and can cause physical changes in your body such as a pounding heart, tense muscles and sweating. It can also affect you mentally and emotionally. You might feel stress in all three of those of ways or maybe just one – but we’re here to talk to you about how everyday stress can affect you physically, mainly in relation to your gut, so let’s get going.
They call the gut your second brain for a reason...
And not just because of the phrase “go with your gut”. Scientists have started referring to your gut as the enteric nervous system (ENS), as it communicates with the brain that’s in our head – neat huh? This is one of the reasons that anxiety and stress may upset the balance of your digestion.
So what can stress do to your gut?
It can cause your gut to slow down
What does this mean though? Essentially, a slow gut can cause constipation which can make it difficult to poo.
It can cause bloating
Not only annoying when you want to squeeze into your favourite outfit but it can also make you feel really uncomfortable. But check out how to beat the bloat for handy tips on easing bloating.
It can speed up your gut
If your gut slowing down causes constipation then, you guessed it, your gut speeding up can cause diarrhoea.
You can even lose your appetite
Too long without your favourite food isn’t fun, so make sure you eat little and often – think bananas, little nibbles, rice and plenty of water.
If you have IBS, everyday stress can make it worse
So we’ve gathered some tips below to help…
How to help manage everyday stress
Give yourself some TLC in the form of self-care
If the term “self-care” causes you panic, just take a step back and consider taking a bath, reading your favourite book, popping on a face mask or binge on your go-to TV show. Self-care comes in many forms so however you relax, just keep doing that.
Saying no to plans
Especially if you’re super busy and feel like you have no time for self-care, saying no to a few plans or changing them to something more relaxing – like, instead of going out for cocktails with your pals, have them round for a cheese and wine night instead.
Try regular exercise
Exercise can help reduce your risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease and stroke. It’s free and it’s easy, once you get into it. It’s also great for your mental health – it can boost self-esteem, mood and help lower your stress levels.
Get plenty of sleep
Lack of shut eye can leave you feeling irritable and can stop you from being your best self. So take a look at our slumber saviours to help you get off to sleep in no time.
How can you help your gut chill out?
Don’t rush your food
Take the time to eat, this can also make your food taste better, and try sitting up straight whilst eating as this can help with digestion.
Try not to overeat
Reducing your portion sizes can help your gut to feel better – remember you can always go back for seconds if you’re still hungry. Or try eating four to five smaller meals instead of three larger ones.
Avoid a big meal right before bed
As well as sitting on your stomach and being uncomfortable, eating a larger meal late in the evening has also been linked with having more body fat because you don’t get chance to burn it off.
Drink plenty of water
This helps flush anything bad out of your system. If you aren’t great at this, try getting a water bottle that cheers you on when you reach different water targets.
So essentially, everyday stress can affect your gut but hopefully you’ll now have plenty of tips on how to help it. If you’re concerned about how stressed you’re feeling or concerned about your gut, then speak to your GP.