Did you know that when you are feeling stressed, your gut could also be suffering? Our entire body is connected and even if we think that the stressors of daily life aren’t affecting us, our stomachs could be telling us quite a different story. Here at Tea & Tonic, we focus on creating products to help us beat those feelings of overwhelm and stress, specifically looking at how stress affects our body, skin, and mind. In this article, we will be touching on the science behind how our brain sends messages to our gut, how external stressors can affect our digestive system internally and how we can ensure our brain and stomach are on the same page.
Let's Talk Science
Before we get into how anxiety and other daily stressors can affect your mind and in turn, affect your stomach, let’s talk about the science behind how the brain is connected to your gut.
The brain is directly connected to both your stomach and your intestines. To sum it up, the very thought of eating or drinking can release the gut’s juices way before the food even enters your body – and this connection goes both ways. If your intestines are in trouble, then they will send signals to your brain, just the same as a troubled brain can send signals to your gut.
Can you see where we are going with this? If you’re emotionally or in mental distress, it can really play havoc on your gut, upsetting your digestive system, affecting how much you eat in a day, and even, making your stomach feel bloated or in pain. Many of us can relate to this, we perhaps just take it as an unavoidable consequence of life’s stresses which it needn’t be.
Stress & How It Affects Your Gut
Stress impacts everyone differently and the same goes for how it affects your body. In some people, stress slows down our digestion, which can cause bloating and overall a painful gut. Whilst in others, it can speed it up or even, cause them to lose their appetite altogether. Those dealing with IBS find stress a key trigger and sometimes people’s stress levels can actually cause them to have IBS in the first place.
Try to think about a time when you felt overwhelmed, stressed or panicked, did you ever notice an internal feeling of unease in your stomach? This is completely normal, our digestion systems are delicate and require a fine balance of healthy food, regular exercise, and the avoidance of stressful situations to work to the best of our ability.
How To Get Your Brain & Stomach On The Same Side
To help beat those feelings of unease, it’s vital that we learn how to get both our stomach and brain on the same side. One of the best ways to do this is to eat properly and ensure that we are giving our stomach what it needs for a happy and healthy functioning gut.
In our day-to-day lives, we are becoming increasingly busier and busier. We spend a lot of time on the move or quite literally the opposite, we’re sedentary perhaps eating dinner at our desks between meetings or in front of the TV. Whilst this isn’t ideal, sometimes it simply cannot be avoided. Here are some golden rules to follow about how you can avoid any digestive problems during periods of high stress. Firstly, do not rush your food. Your stomach needs time to digest and process what food you are eating. Even if you are on the move, trying to slow down your mealtime, possibly putting your fork down between bites, or even focusing on how much you are chewing.
Next, try some gut-friendly alternatives. Specifically made for people who experience gut problems on a regular basis, gut-friendly foods or sauces are typically softer on your digestive system and also make great alternatives to other, heavier options. On top of trying to amend what you are eating, ensure you are also drinking during meal times.
Finally, try to keep mealtimes stress-free. The dinner table can be a great place to sit around with your family or friends and look back on the day. Usually, a lot of interesting conversations and stories are swapped around this time, which is essential when it comes to communication and happiness. Of course, we equally know that this can be a time that brings rise to the occasional argument too! Negative energy at mealtime or getting angry can actually put you off your food and make eating harder, which in turn will mean that your brain and gut will be having a more difficult time. So we recommend keeping mealtimes lighter and more fun in mood to help you towards a happier gut and more relaxed mind too!