7 Stress Busting, Gut Soothing Strategies

We all know by now that being under stress day after day ain’t good for us. Our bodies are built for short, sudden bursts of stress like running away from sabre-tooth tigers, not for the near-constant, low-level stress that is modern life in the 21st century: work deadlines, office politics, school exams, extended families, the list goes on.

But how does stress effect the gut in particular? If you’re struggling with gut-related health issues, should stress-relief be on your radar? And is it even possible to be less stressed in this day and age, or is it just an unavoidable fact of life?

The Gut-Brain Connection

On some level, we all realize a link between our emotions and how our gut feels. Common phrases reflect that link: ‘I had a feeling in my gut.’ ‘It was a gnawing sensation in my stomach…’

These instinctive feelings come from a place of deep, inner intelligence and help us to avoid nasty situations.

The gut is an integral part of the nervous system, connected to the brain by intricate nerve pathways and neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.

Scientific studies are now providing firm evidence that problems in our gut are linked to psychiatric issues like autism, anxiety, depression and schizophrenia.

For more info check out Brain Health Begins In the Gut and Hack Your Gut Brain Connection To Beat The Blues

The Stress Effect

When we live with constant stress, it begins to eat away at the lining of our gut – quite literally. Living with stress or letting stress get to us can lead to a multitude of gut-related problems, such as:

• Increased food intolerances
• constipation or diarrhea
• acid reflux, also known as gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)
leaky gut, where undigested proteins and other bacterial toxins make their way through the intestinal wall into the body.
• peptic ulcer disease
• irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
• bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO)

The gut appears to be particularly sensitive to the damaging effects of stress, perhaps because it is so closely connected to our mental and emotional state via the gut-brain connection.

For more info check out How Stress Wreaks Havoc On Your Microbiome

Coping with Stress

LIFE is stressful, right? We often have to deal with a high-stress job while managing complicated personal finances and strained family relationships.

Maybe you’re raising a family while trying to start your own business, or your boss is nightmare and you’re constantly living from paycheck to paycheck, unsure if you can make the next mortgage payment. Or perhaps you’re dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder after a horrible event.

Whatever your personal combination of stressors, learning to handle the stress skilfully is key to improving your gut health. Once your gut is in better shape, your whole body will be fitter and stronger, and you’ll be more resilient against stress.

Stress CAN be managed and handled in a positive way. The first step is to acknowledge that it plays a crucial role in your health and wellbeing. The next step is actively give some thought to the best stress-busting strategies for you.

Stress-Busting Strategies

Taking Care of Our Microbiome

While it’s true that stress damages our microbiome, it also works in reverse. When our microbiome is in good shape it actually makes us more resilient to stress. We go into this in more detail here.

Stress-Busting Supplements

People who have high levels of:

• vitamin A
• vitamin D
probiotics

in their systems have been shown to have less problems with mood disorders and better overall health. They can actually make you more resilient to stress.

A probiotic is a supplement containing friendly bacteria to boost your gut health. You can also get these friendly bacteria from fermented foods like yoghurt and sauerkraut. Take a look at Two Superfoods To Heal Your Gut That You Can Make Yourself

Exercise

Getting up and getting moving is a proven stress reducer. Aiming for at least 30 minutes of movement five times a week is a good goal.

Even mild exercise like walking the dog is very effective, and a vigorous workout is great too. Exercise pumps endorphins through the body and lowers cortisol levels, enabling the body to cope with stress better.

Body-work

We carry stress and trauma in our body, and it can actually be stored up for years, leading to insidious depression or explosive anger.

Practices like yoga and tai chi enable us to work into the body in a systematic way, releasing pent-up energy. They also include deep-breathing techniques to help us let go of chronic tension that we may not even know we’re carrying.

Mindfulness and meditation

These are all about learning how to be free from compulsive, stressful thinking.

Sometimes people misunderstand meditation, believing they’re being told ‘not to think’ but really it’s about creating space in the mind, and learning not to believe every negative thought that pops into our head.

Through meditation we re-train our consciousness so that we become more present in life from moment to moment, instead of constantly fretting about unpaid bills or whether our bum will look fat on the beach this summer!

Journaling

Keeping a daily “stress journal” can help point out causes and triggers of stress in your life. Each evening, write down the stress you had during the day and what caused it (or your best guess if you don’t know for sure).

Then, write down how you felt both emotionally and physically. Write down how you reacted to the stress. Did you perhaps overreact and make things worse? What did you do to make yourself feel better?

As you revies your journal, take note of your current coping techniques. Are they working for you? Are they contributing to your overall well-being? If not, it’s time to figure out new strategies.

Engaging socially

It’s been proven that people with a stronger social life actually live longer. Just don’t cancel out the benefits by going overboard on that social lubricant, alcohol!

Leaning on a friend or family member who is a trustworthy confidant can help to give you perspective with the stress in your life and help you know you aren’t alone, which helps to make stress more manageable.

Making time for fun and relaxation: can really help to cut through stress, whether you’re alone or with friends and family. Having hobbies and interests outside of the things that cause stress in your life can give you a new focus and a positive outlet for your energies.

Stress management is one more reason to make sure you have a high amount of friendly bacteria in your daily diet!

Take Action Today

Look at the root causes of stress in your life and makes some changes, be bold!

Where you aren’t able to change the cause of stress, change your attitude instead. What lessons can you learn from the stress?

Could you become more skillful in how you respond? Does flying off the handle really help? Accept the things you cannot change, like the weather or other people being offensive from time to time!

Adopt a healthy lifestyle with a combination of diet and attitude. A clean diet will nourish your state of mind, and your state of mind will help you stick to the diet.

Stress reduction can make a real difference to your gut and overall health. Whatever your life situation there are meaningful steps you can take. Although stress will always be a part of life, it doesn’t have to rule your life or your gut!

LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
WE LOVE TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS AND QUESTIONS!

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21 thoughts on “7 Stress Busting, Gut Soothing Strategies”

  1. Thanks for this useful information. Could you please advise me what are the best types of fermented foods to add into my diet. I do not want to make it myself yet. Are there any cultured foods I can purchase on-line or in supermarkets. I am a UK resident.

    Thanks
    Karen

  2. SO true! As a nutritionist I always guide my clients to alter so much more than just their food habits to heal the gut. Its all about de-stressing and repairing.

  3. I love love this post on how the gut and body are related… I keep reading more and more about that. Now I am on a good probiotic – but I certainly need more exercise and other vitamins and to take a break and get some fresh air more! I love these healthy and stress reducing tips!

  4. I love taking a bubble bath to de-stress. It helps to have my alone time, with pretty scents, enveloped in warmth 🙂

    xoxo, Sam | thehauntedhousewife.com

    1. by Adrian Corbett

      Yeah hot baths really work. Obviously I have them with macho scents rather than pretty ones! 😉

  5. Stress has a negative impact on so many parts of our health. I’d like to add another piece to bodywork: massage. A skilled therapist can help your body relax, which will help improve function of many of your systems, including the digestive system.

    1. by Adrian Corbett

      Yes of course, how could I overlook massage? You’re so right Aubrey, massage works so well at detoxing, relaxing and improving the body. Have you particularly noticed the effect of massage on digestive system?

  6. Great tips! I have found that a little yoga and a creative project on the side go a long way in keeping my stress levels down. But I had no idea stress could cause all that damage to your gut! Thanks for the great info!

    1. by Adrian Corbett

      Yeah I’ve also found that having a creative project on the side is good for mood and well-being 🙂

  7. Love this post…I do most of the things on your list for stress relief, but I really need to get more yoga and meditation into my life. Thanks for the great suggestions.

  8. Those are all great tips! Exercise seems more effective for my husband while mindfulness is best for me. I’ve pinned and shared this!

    1. by Adrian Corbett

      That’s interesting to hear Elizabeth! The B-vitamins are super important, and like you I use a magnesium supplement

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