A knot in your stomach for an important appointment?
That annoying feeling of a rumbling stomach but not hungry?
Bloating just before an exam or a job interview?
Aim of this article: In this article we look at why stress can have such a bad effect on your gastrointestinal system. You will also learn what the signs are of stomach pain due to stress.
At the end of the article I will give you tips on what you can do about this and what you can do to manage abdominal pain due to stress.
Can you get stomachaches from stress?
The short answer is, “yes, stomach upset can be caused by chronic and acute stress.””
I don’t blame you if this scares you. This stress-induced stomachache is not a disease. Rather, it is a symptom of an underlying condition.
It can resemble abdominal bloating and is often accompanied by other symptoms such as cramping.
So your first responsibility is to reduce your stress. You do this by stopping doing things that make you unnecessarily tense.
The older you get, the greater the impact stress has on your health.
Click on the video below for more information:
Signs that your stomach is suffering from stress
Stress has a greater impact on your gastrointestinal tract than you may have initially thought.
Not everyone experiences the same gastrointestinal complaints due to stress. In some people it manifests itself in a somewhat bloated feeling or abdominal pain. Others immediately get vomiting in stressful situations.
Let’s take a closer look at the signs that your stomach is suffering from stress.
If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, you are probably wondering why stress can cause gastrointestinal complaints.
Why do I have a stomachache due to stress?
You have probably experienced that you are not hungry at all when you are under stress. Or that just thinking about a stressful situation makes you feel like you have a brick on your stomach.
If you regularly experience abdominal pain, stomach pain or an unpleasant feeling in the abdominal area, you may be concerned about this.
Yet this is a fairly normal reaction of your body and there are even several scientific explanations for it.
Stress hormones cannot disappear from your body
The problem with chronic stress is that your body ‘thinks’ it is in danger. You take no action to fight or flee because there is no imminent danger at all. The level of stress hormones in your blood therefore remains high and this can have a negative effect on your gastrointestinal system.
Your stomach and intestines are very sensitive to cortisol and noradrenaline slows down digestion. But this is not all.
Your digestion suddenly doesn’t seem so important anymore
When your body thinks it needs to survive an emergency, stress hormones pump more blood to your heart, lungs and muscles.
After all, you need these the most to fight or flee. Your digestion fades into the background. After all, this is not so important for survival. The blood vessels around your stomach and intestines constrict and your digestive muscles contract.
And it is precisely that drop in blood flow that gives you the feeling of butterflies in your stomach as a child and gives you all kinds of stomach and intestinal problems as an adult.
Rumbling bowels due to stress?
How Stress Makes Your Stomach Pain Worse
Did you know that there is a direct relationship between the condition of your gut and your brain? This connection goes both ways. A disturbed gut can send signals to your brain, just like a disturbed brain can send signals to the gut.
The ‘brain-gut axis’, also called the vagus nerve or wandering nerve, connects the brain directly to the stomach and abdominal area.
You can compare it a bit with a fiber optic connection that transmits signals at lightning speed. In less than 100 milliseconds, this nerve sends information to and from the brain and abdominal area.
Has it ever happened to you that just the smell of fresh soup makes your mouth water? Well, when stressed, this nerve elicits a reaction in your gastrointestinal area just as quickly. You feel stress coming on and immediately your stomach turns or you get the feeling that it is contracting.
Now that you know why stress and stomach and intestinal complaints often go together, you probably also want to know how you can avoid them and what you can do about it.
What to do against abdominal pain due to stress? 8 tips
Use the 8 tips below to reduce your current stress level as quickly as possible.
Tip 1: Ensure a good intestinal flora
Because stress has a negative influence on your gastrointestinal system, it is important to keep it in good condition.
This does not take away the cause – stress – of your complaints. However, you can make sure that you are less bothered by it.
Good and bad bacteria live in your gastrointestinal tract. The good bacteria are essential for the proper functioning of your digestive system, the absorption of nutrients and the elimination of waste.
To restore and improve your gastrointestinal system, fermented products – good bacteria – are perfectly suitable. Fermented foods include yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, and buttermilk.
You can naturally find probiotics in fermented dairy products (see above). You can find many probiotics in the supermarket. The best known are undoubtedly Yakult, Actimel and Activia.
However, probiotics also exist as supplements such as capsules or powders. You can get this at the drugstore or pharmacy.
Tip 2: Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol
Caffeine stirs up nervousness, anxiety and stress. Caffeinated drinks also stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, which can increase stomach and stomach discomfort.
In addition, coffee causes an excess production of stomach acid, which makes stomach complaints such as heartburn or belching even worse.
Alcohol is also not a good idea if you have gastrointestinal problems. Alcohol disrupts the balance between good and bad bacteria in the gut.
In addition, alcohol also increases the permeability of the intestinal walls, so that they can ‘leak’, resulting in thinner stools.
If you have a stomachache or stomachache due to stress, replace caffeinated and alcoholic drinks with herbal tea or water.
If you really can’t live without coffee, stick to a maximum of one cup of coffee a day.
Tip 3: Seek relief with herbs
If you often suffer from nausea due to stress , ginger root can help.
Other herbs such as mint, lavender or lemon balm are good for stomach and intestinal cramps.
Many people also find drinking a soothing cup of milk or herbal tea relieving.
Tip 4: Make sure you sleep better
We know from research that a bad night’s sleep leads to a higher cortisol level.
Lack of sleep can cause the body to respond as if it were in distress, releasing more of the stress hormone cortisol.
This can turn sleepless nights into a vicious circle.
Use relaxation techniques to prepare for sleep. Helpful techniques include mindfulness, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.
Tip 5: Move more
If you have a stomachache due to stress, I understand very well that you don’t feel like exercising or exercising intensely. However, a physical outlet can help prevent gastrointestinal complaints.
The best way to get this large amount of stress hormones out of your body is active exercise and/or sports. You really don’t have to sign up right away for a marathon or triathlon event near you.
On the contrary, the more intense and competitive your sport, the more cortisol your body produces. And that’s the last thing you need in times of stress.
Walking for at least 30 minutes and even yoga are activities that, according to research , are perfect for lowering the cortisol level in your body.
Exercise also stimulates the production of endorphins, also known as the happiness hormone.
The more endorphins released, the better you feel. Endorphins also inhibit the power of stress hormones, so that they have less influence on your body.
Tip 6: Be careful with stomach pain stress medication
The treatment of stomach pain and abdominal pain due to stress can be done with different types of medication.
Anti-antacids can be beneficial in some cases, but if you have a lot of stomach pain as a result of stress, you don’t want to be too dependent on them.
Each of these agents has an effect and also different side effects.
That is why it is better to use natural remedies, such as ginger. Ginger can also be drunk as a tea.
Do you take medication for stomach pain due to stress? Then don’t be so excited to throw away your medicines right away because that is not the intention. Always discuss this with your doctor first.
Tip 7: Practice deep breathing and meditation
Relaxation exercises help you focus on your breathing and bring you back to the present moment. This can manage stress and anxiety that cause stomach upset.
Deep breathing can be especially helpful.
Tip 8: The Stress-Free Secret
I hope the above tips help you to relieve your stomach and/or stomach pain due to stress. But of course you are looking for a long-term solution to reduce gastrointestinal complaints due to stress. The good news is that this solution exists.
On the basis of the free Stress Test below you can check whether your gastrointestinal complaints are indeed caused by stress. Take this Stress test as soon as possible to improve your general health.