Stress & Your Digestive Health
Holidays are notorious for getting us completely stressed out. The end of the year is coming, time is running out, family members are visiting or we are traveling to visit them, we’re cooking more than usual, spending more than planned, and we just can’t seem to fit in that cute black dress we were hoping to for New Year’s Eve…..well – are you feeling stressed out yet? Yes, the holidays have a way of sending us right over the edge.
But why is stress so bad for you anyway? Here are some reasons –
- promotes or increases inflammation in your body
- disrupts your sleep
- contributes to weight gain around your waist
- alters gut flora (contributing to dysbiosis)
- increases intestinal permeability (causing leaky gut)
- contributes to blood-sugar regulation problems
- contributes to adrenal fatigue
Stress can wreck havoc on your digestive system, so it’s so important to find ways to control stress and to deal with it before you begin ‘feeling’ the physical symptoms of stress.
Here are 5 simple tips you can start doing today (and that take less than 10 minutes) to manage your stress and tend your inner garden:
1. PRACTICE BELLY BREATHING
Lie down on your couch, bed, or yoga mat. Close your eyes, place your hands on your lower belly and try to breathe only with your belly by making it inflate and deflate like a balloon as you breathe in and out (your chest should not move too much). As you inhale, count from 1 to 5 or 7 if you can, then hold your breath for 1 count, and then exhale for 2 breaths longer than your inhale (so if you inhaled for a count of 5, then exhale for a count of 7).
2. SPEND TIME WITH NATURE
Nature has a powerful and calming effect on the human psyche. No matter what the weather may be like, take a few minutes to walk outside, ideally where there are a few trees (as trees are very grounding), a beach is just as invigorating though. Just let your thoughts melt away for a few minutes; try not to think too much. Let the wind, sun, or rain kiss your skin and feel your body being supported by the earth beneath you.
3. MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST
Feeling appreciative actually helps your body release the hormone oxytocin, which activates your parasympathetic nervous system – which means it switches your body into rest & digest mode. Whenever you feel stressed, focus on one of the items on your list for a few minutes and feel the stress melt away. “When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” Anthony Robins
4. PRACTICE BODY SCANNING
Sit somewhere comfortable, close your eyes and scan your body, body part by body part. One by one, slowly contract each muscle of your body starting from your face, neck, shoulders, and upper arms, lower arms, hands, and fingers, without moving. Move to your chest, back and abdomen before attending to your glutes, thighs, calves, feet, and toes. Doing the cycle once is enough to feel more relaxed, but you can repeat it as often as you’d like to deepen the relaxation.
Laughing oxygenates your body, stimulates circulation, boosts your immune systems and encourages the release of feel good hormones called endorphins that help calm us and make us feel better quickly.
Try simply laughing for 3-5 minutes straight. You don’t have to be laughing at anything – faking it counts! Even if you feel ridiculous during this exercise, do it at least once to experience the powerful effect of laughter. Whenever you are faced with a stressful situation, try to respond by laughing – this will help you detach yourself from the negative emotions associated with the stressful situation.
We all have to deal with stress, its unavoidable, but you change how you cope with it and how you take care of your body. Other things you can do to take care of your mental and physical health are to: buy yourself flowers, notice your pet that’s always been there for you, treat yourself to a massage, listen to calming music, and participate in seasonal cleanses to improve your digestive system and strengthen your immune system.
Signature Winter Detox Program:
Each season’s detox supports a different organ, emotion, and a different way to cleanse the body. For the winter season, in Chinese medicine we honor the organs within our bodies that give us energy, life, and vitality, which are the kidneys and adrenal glands. The element associated with these organs is water, and by eating seasonally and honoring the seasonal elements, we intuitively bring our bodies back into balance.
“Your mind can only hold one thought at a time. Make it a positive and constructive one.” Jackson Brown Jr.
Refernces: Digestive Health with Real Food. A. Jacob