What happens in your body when you are stressed? It's important to first understand this and why stress flares up IBS.
When we are stressed, your body’s fight or flight mode, called the sympathetic nervous system, kicks in with our stress hormone, cortisol. Cortisol acts to lower inflammation and suppress the immune system.
When we have high stress, we have an increased release of cortisol (which means a high levels of immune suppression and lowering of inflammation).
Adrenaline is also involved in the fight or flight mode giving that sudden surge of energy and this surge of energy can be good (we call them nerves - like before a test, interview, date etc). But when adrenaline and cortisol are being stimulated longer term than an interview, this is when it isn't fab.
In fight and flight mode (commonly described as "running away from a lion"), we get a decrease of "unnecessary" bodily functions such as digestion, absorption, relaxation etc. These are things that our body shouldn't be expending energy on when trying to fight or flee.
Your adrenal glands (cute little triangles sitting on top of your kidneys) are responsible for the secretion of these hormones.
Biology lesson over!
With leaky gut (which encompasses IBS), digestion is already decreased and the immune system is already lowered. It is important to remember that the gut is like the second brain. Many important body functions originate THERE, so if our gut isn't healthy, it affects the whole body!
Stress also causes tension build up in all muscles - including the muscles of the stomach and intestines! That's why there is extra cramping and pain flaring up with stress.
So how does stress management help?
(Last bit of info before we get to my effect stress management techniques)
Stress management helps to lower stress levels and change our body from being in fight and flight mode to rest and digest mode. As simple as these methods may seem, when we actually have to put them into play, it can get difficult that is why it is so important to have patience when doing them but also to be consistent. After a week of incorporating stress management techniques, you should notice a huge difference!
My effective stress management techniques:
1. DEEP BREATHING: 12-15 deep breaths are enough for your heart rate to slow down, blood pressure to drop and for your body to enter a complete state of rest and digest mode. These are my two favourite ways to do them (and the ones I find easiest) and whichever you choose should be done at least 12 times.
Make sure you breathe into your stomach and not into your chest!
Dosage: in the morning, as you wake up and lying in bed before sleeping. This can help with falling asleep too.
Breathe in for 4 counts; hold your breath for 6 counts; breathe out for 8 counts
Breathe in fully; hold your breath for 7 counts; breathe out for 7 counts
2. GENTLE YOGA: hear me out. I know yoga is not for everyone. It's seen as a "lesser" form of exercise (especially in the gentler forms) but the benefits are astounding.
Gentle yoga will help relax the body (thereby helping to alleviate cramping and bloating). Find a 10 minute yoga sequence on YouTube to start off your day if you're not sure how you feel about yoga. Or try this sequence for better digestion.*
Dosage: a minimum of 10mins of yoga a day.
It is important to realise that exercise can mimic a stress response on the body - especially if it is HIIT, cardio or the likes. And in an already stressed out body (as with leaky gut), adding more stress (in the form of exercise mentioned) will over stimulate the body and cause a flare up of symptoms, perhaps even to a worse degree.
And those are my effective IBS stress management tips!
Let me know what you think 🥰
~It is super important to work through your leaky gut with a naturopath or skilled healthcare practitioner so you get holistic support on your healing journey. I am offering personalised 1:1 sessions where we work through personalised gut health assessments complete with an individualised treatment plan. If you would like to book or know more, please click here~
Yours in health,
~ Love Health & Wellness ~
*I have no affiliation with this channel, nor am I sponsored. I am recommending it because I have personally benefited from the channel.