Stress Bloat.

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You’ve probably experienced in the last few months. I know I have at least once or twice for an extended period of time. Between work changes, my classes being postponed, scheduled, and rescheduled, finances, car issues, travel plans, and the normal everyday woes, life has been pretty darn stressful lately!

Stress can put a lot of pressure on your stomach and abdomen, and also upset your hormone balance. This stress can also cause digestion issues for food your body normally does not have a problem digesting, leading to discomfort, pain, gas, and bloating. Which gives us that uncomfortably large belly section.

It is first important to determine if your bloating and discomfort is truly from stress or if it is possibly from your diet. If you are aware that your irritable digestive tract and bloating are caused by your diet, then it is important to familiarize yourself and pontentially avoid FODMAPs. If it is not food-related, then it is time to evaluate your daily stress level and what is causing it.

Stress bloating is not as widely discussed and therefore many people have never heard of it. It can be a surprise to some that stress can trigger a physiological reaction. But if you’re under chronic stress, cortisol hormones are constantly dominant and the result is bloating and gas and because the body is not seeing digestion as a priority, the sympathetic system redirects blood flow away from the intestine area and to other parts of the body that seem to “need it more”.

Okay, so now we get it that we’re bloated and gassy. How do we resolve this? Stress management and digestive support.

  1. Stress Analysis
    • First determine what is causing you to stress. Is it work-related, money issues, relationship problems, or is simply just watching the daily news. Once you’ve determined the source, assess if you can change anything to reduce your stress. (i.e. Maybe you’re taking on too much responsibility at work)
  2. Meditation
    • Check out my post on How To Start Meditating. Stress management definitely starts with our mind set and how we’re choosing to show up to each individual situation in our lives.
  3. Probiotic
    • When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of certain bacteria, probiotics can help restore the balance. They’ve been shown to secrete protective substances, which may turn on the immune system and prevent pathogens from taking hold and creating major disease.
  4. Water consumption
    • It might sound counterintuitive to drink more water when retaining water, but drinking water can actually help reduce bloat. Drinking plenty of water helps to naturally flush our systems of excess water and sodium that we might retain
  5. Diet
    • It is important that you are monitoring what you are eating and maintaining a healthy gut.
  6. Movement
    • Physical activity can get the bowels moving more regularly, which can help to release excess gas and stool. Getting the bowels to move is especially important if a person is feeling constipated. A walk around the block can provide fast relief from gas pressure.

Bloat is never fun, but if it is stress bloat start at the source of the stress to reduce the consequences and then add activities and habits into your daily routine to reduce bloating and gas.

Quarantine Pick-Me-Ups.

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As best as we’re trying, we might be feeling down quite often during this “stay-at-home” time. You might not be as productive as you would like or feel you’re getting as much accomplished as you wish. Maybe that workout routine has fallen to the waist side or there are a few too many snack times in the afternoon. And guess what, it might be hard to hear and accept, but it’s actually all alright!

We are going to feel down at points, that is how the body processes situations and emotions and we should learn to embrace them as they come and learn from them. But what’s not alright is wallowing in these down thoughts. They will happen, we’re not meant to be happy all the time and this is a very difficult situation that we’re going through (uncharted waters for literally all of us). It’s great to set goals while we have the free time but if we don’t meet these goals or feel we’ve done our best, life. will. go. on. 

So today I wanted to address some of my practices I embrace if I’m having a hard day or a really emotional week. Like I said before, we shouldn’t shy away from these emotions and attempt to avoid them because that has potential to cause more damage but there are certain healthy things we can do to process through these emotions.

  • Meditation: I recently shared a post for how to create your own meditation practice which is really helpful if you are new to it. This might be scary to attempt to sit with our feelings and emotions when it feels like the last thing we want to do. But addressing these feelings and approaching them with a positive attitude can completeing repaint the way we are handling them. [Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how to work with mantras during meditation]
  • Journaling: Put those thoughts down on paper and let them all out. A journaling practice can feel odd and different if you’re new to it but once you find a stride with writing you can really notice the benefits it provides. Don’t place expectations with your writing either, like ‘you always need to write a full page’ or ‘you always need to write about once certain topic – like what you did that day’. Allow yourself the freedom to just write whatever thoughts are flowing through you at that moment.
  • Setting Routines: You don’t need to map out your enitre day but putting in place a simple daily routine provides your mental health structure – similar to what it is use to when “life is normal”. I just shared a morning routine for a healthy gut and this is a good example of simple daily tasks you can do to provide your life some structure. It can also be as simple as taking a walk outside each day at 3PM or maybe it’s not even daily but every other day you take a really nice bath with all the bells and whistles. Don’t only set a routine of mundane items you need to get done but also things you look forward to do and feel a bit like pampering.
  • Movement: I prefer yoga, barre, and running and I really rotate through these depending on my mood. Find a form of excercise that makes your body feel good that is accessible and you enjoy doing (for the most part because working out isn’t as enjoyable as other things – like eating brownies 😉 I shared my favorite at-home workouts last month so if you’re looking for ideas, check out that post! (Bonus: I also shared my favorite at-home workout equipment and all of it can be found on Amazon)
  • Get Outside: If you have the access and the weather is nice, try to get outside at least once a day. This provides you with a different scenery than inside your home or apartment and gets you body some Vitamin D. I can’t tell you how many times in the last couple weeks I’ve been feeling mentally heavy and how a simple short walk around the block with my dog can completely change my perspective.

If you are truly struggling during these times, no matter what mentally you are battling, I am also here to chat and listen. Feel free to always reach out to me at ashraeeiningyoga@gmail.com. We will get through this together!