Does stress affect your gut health?
I never realised until I started to understand gut health more, how stress affects your gut health. When I suffered from Candida Overgrowth, I remember I was constantly thinking about what was wrong with me and stressing myself out. The recurrent UTI’s and the frequent thrush reminded me daily that my body was out of balance. I have always tried to take an approach to my life where balance is important; making sure you have a good balance in all aspects of life. For three years I visited the doctor looking for advice and support about the problems of health I was experiencing, but I found that they were unable to help me. I don’t believe it’s their fault, because I believe that digestive troubles are caused by an unhealthy diet and antibiotics. When I gave up on the doctors back in 2017, I decided to take my health into my own hands and go at it alone; if they wouldn’t help me, then I would have to help myself. I have been lucky enough to spend a lot of time in Australia (my husband and step-children are Australian), and in Australia they take a very natural approach to health. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a natural way to cure me. Diet, probiotics, bone broth and natural supplements all helped me in the end, but also learning to calm myself down and removing myself from stressful situations. During my three years of Candida Overgrowth, I also experienced intense stress from aspects of my life, particularly my family that I had very little control over at the time. The stress I believe was also contributing to my gut health problems, because of the link that we understand is the gut-brain axis; the communication between the gut and the brain. We know this communication exists, because in simple terms when you are hungry, your gut releases a hormone that sends a message to your brain to say, “hey, I’m empty here can you fill me up.” Not quite like that and it’s obviously much more complicated and connected to other hormones in your body, but the point is there is a connection and we need to acknowledge that if we want to improve our gut health, then tackling stress and learning techniques to remain calm is hugely important. We all know that life is not easy and whilst we are all busy posting what we do on social media, very few of us actually share what’s really going on in our lives. Gees! Can you imagine what social media would be like if we all just told the truth about how we are feeling or what is going on in our lives? Reading negative profiles is not inspiring, so many of us hide behind the world in which we want to pretend we are creating for ourselves. Anyway, the point is that we all have “stuff” going on and it’s how we manage it internally. I have deep regret for yelling at my kids or my husband when the going gets tough and I can’t control my emotion, but that’s just it controlling your emotion is important to your overall health.
Here are some of my top stress relief tips:
- Identify what you are stressed about. Sit down and write it out if you have to. Sometimes it’s easier to make sense of something if you write it down. I have found that writing about what I am stress about helps me to release some of my problems onto paper.
- If you have a busy mind, and struggle to sleep at night, write down what’s on your mind before you go to bed. This is particularly important if you have a to-do list to write. Getting it out of your head can help you to sleep better.
- Sit in silence and concentrate on your breathing. This is a form of meditation and can calm you instantly because you are taking your attention away from your thoughts. Thoughts are usually the enemy of us, because most of the time we get stupid repetitive thoughts that aren’t often positive. Learning to quieten your thoughts will help you to become more grounded.
- Do something nice for yourself. This could be taking yourself out for a few hours, having a little retail therapy, relaxing in a bath or having coffee with friends. Whatever you love, you need to do more of it.
- Think about mood food. What are you eating? Have you been eating too much junk? Not feeding your gut bacteria happy foods such as delicious fruits and vegetables can alter your mood. There are some foods that also contain natural serotonin, so check out those foods and eat more of them. This is particularly important during the Winter months when there is a lack of sunlight.
And finally, remember that pain is only short-term. Everything is alright in the end. Worry less about the things that you cannot control and find some sort of acceptance of life. Patience is the key and work on letting go of anything that pains you.