If you are feeling pain, constipation, or bloating, you are likely stressed either as a result, cause, or both.
This is not surprising given that today’s volatile climate has everyone experiencing unprecedented stress symptoms. Everyone deals with stress differently.
Regardless of how it affects you, internalising stress may lead to chronic health problems, including depression, heart disease, obesity, hypertension, and more. Learning to change how you respond to stressful events can significantly improve your overall well-being.
What happens when you feel stressed out
- Changes in your gut bacteria are among the main physiological side effects of being stressed out. Harmful bacteria begin to flourish while the good ones die out, ultimately affecting how your meals are digested.
- A leakier gut means some of the molecules from the processed foods in your diet escape the intestine and make their way into immune-processing pathways, leading to increased inflammation and other conditions.
- Mood changes arise because your gut produces more serotonin (the mood-lifting chemical) than the brain. However, stress cuts down on serotonin production, making you feel uneasy and at risk of depression.
- Being constantly in fight or flight mode is abnormal since it is a temporary natural response where all energy is diverted to the muscles when faced with dangerous situations. Chronic stress keeps this emergency on all the time, resulting in your digestion remaining altered, causing cramps, bloating, constipation, and diarrhoea.
How to change your response to stress
Most people respond to stress dysfunctionally. Some hope that the stressor goes away by itself and then treat themselves to sweets, carbs, and other unhealthy foods.
However, sugary foods or foods with choline, lecithin, and carnitine facilitate the change of good bacteria to bad, increasing gut distress and leading to a vicious cycle response.
Others deal with stress by shopping, gambling, drinking, and other means to soothe themselves, which causes a more significant stress response afterwards.
The first step to handling stress starts with being aware that you are under pressure. With that, here are some recommended strategies to deal with it.
1. Address the problem
Regardless of the nature of the stressor or problem, leaving it be will only lead to more stress. Therefore, solving it sooner than later is the only option. If it is a financial issue, setting a tighter budget, selling unused items, or implementing any other wise course of action.
If it is a relationship problem, easing the tension should take priority. Getting counselling, having a heart-to-heart talk, or holding an intervention are only some of the tried-and-true ways to start addressing the issue.
2. Refocus your mind
When faced with an unavoidable stressful situation, like getting cut off in traffic on your way to work, practice deep breathing or meditating through it instead of instantly getting mad.
Other ways to refocus your mind and dispel anger include working out, doing chores, taking a cool bath, and anything else that calms you down.
3. Reframe your perspective
Sometimes, a slight shift in your mindset can make all the difference. Changing how you view stress and stressors and noticing and reframing self-blame helps reduce stress. Recognise the things you can and cannot control and do not take on responsibility for those things that belong to the latter.
An exercise you can try is noting down each encounter you find stressful, explaining why it causes you stress, and describing its effects on your mind and body. This quick journaling practice provides extra insight and a different perspective into how you feel, which may help you make better decisions or realise that such situations do not last forever.
Your stress response can wreak havoc on your guts. However, learning to reframe can significantly impact your health for the better. Encountering hardships is part and parcel of life, but they do not exist to give you a hard time; they keep you engaged, stimulated, and passionate about who you are and your goals in life.
Preventing gut stress does require you to live a stress-free life, only that you change how you respond to stressful situations.
If you need help dealing with gut stress and other stress-induced conditions, consult a doctor online via the MyCLNQ app. As the leading app for telemedicine in Singapore, you can receive all the medical help you need with an online medical consultation and get your prescribed medicine, all in the comforts of your home.