4 Ways To Reduce Stress for a Happier Gut
Too much stress can wreak havoc on your digestive system. Anxiety and stress are known to affect several GI conditions. This includes Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which is the 2nd most common cause of absence from work. Only the common cold causes more absences.
Reducing stress has many other benefits, too – like better sleep and more energy. With these benefits in mind, here are four ways to reduce stress:
Even mild physical activity can help reduce stress and depression. As an added bonus, body movement can help digestion and bowel function – including relief from constipation. Your doctor can recommend what exercise is most appropriate for you. A daily, 30-minute walk is a good start for most people.
2. Reduce Caffeine
In high doses, caffeine can increase your anxiety level. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even chocolate. You should probably cut back on caffeine if you experience a ‘jittery’ feeling after drinking or eating. Reducing caffeine can also reduce your chances of an upset stomach, acid reflux, and aggravating certain GI disorders.
3. Breathing Exercises
Deep breathing exercises can have a significant impact on your state of mind. Intentional breathing can activate a relaxation response. This can help relieve stress and anxiety. Here is a simple, 1-minute breathing exercise technique:
4. Mindfulness Exercises
Mindfulness and meditation have been studied in many clinical trials. In general, evidence suggests meditation can help with stress, anxiety, pain, depression, and insomnia. Here are two types of meditation you can try:
- Sitting Meditation – Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the ground and your back straight. Place your hands in your lap. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe, focus on the rising and falling of your body. Continue for at least 5 minutes.
- Body Scan Meditation – Lie on your back in a comfortable place with your arms at your sides. Starting at your head, slowly scan down your body. Pausing and concentrating on each part of the body. Work your way down to your toes, then restart the process from the opposite direction – scan from toe to head.