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For Easier Pooping: Is Squatting Really Better Than Sitting?

For Easier Pooping: Is Squatting Really Better Than Sitting?

Does posture really matter when going to the bathroom?

It is an unfortunate fact that many adults living in Western countries have experienced problems when passing stools and with their gastrointestinal health in general. Among the most common of the digestion-related conditions are hemorrhoids, with around half of the American population suffering from symptoms of this ailment which include soreness and bleeding from the rectum. Constipation is another problem that afflicts many people living in economically well-developed countries. In short, people with access to modern bathroom facilities often appear afflicted with complaints that were not so often seen in the past and are not often widespread in less developed areas of the world. This has led some experts to speculate that the widespread adoption of the modern Western toilet has contributed to the prevalence of digestive disorders in affluent countries.

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Is squatting a more natural and healthy position compared with sitting?

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squatting vs sitting
    Image credit: Vincent Ho/Western Sydney University via The Conversation. CC BY-ND 4.0

    The most widely-used argument in favor of squatting rather than sitting to pass bowel movements focuses on the angle of the rectum in each position. When a person sits on a toilet, their rectum is folded over, which means that some straining is usually required in order to successfully pass stools. However, squatting allows this angle to straighten out. This means that gravity can play a useful role in aiding with bowel evacuation. Daniel Lametti, a neuroscientist who wrote an article on the debate for Slate, believes that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that squatting is preferable to sitting on the basis that it may well reduce the risk of developing hemorrhoids. He personally tested the theory for a period of one week and reported that he spent much less time on the toilet each morning in a squatting rather than a seated position.

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    The diagram above shows why squatting may work to your advantage when passing stools. Seating in the posture modeled by the figure on the left allows the puborectalis muscle to contract around the external sphincter, which means that more straining is required to pass bowel movements. However, squatting as the figure on the right is doing loosens the puborectalis, allowing the descent of the pelvic floor and the easier passing of feces.

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    How to convert your toilet to facilitate squatting

    If you would like to experiment with a change in posture when it comes to using the toilet, there are a few options open to you. If you are flexible and able to hold your balance, you can try a perching squatted position. You may wish to hold onto something sturdy the first couple of times to make sure that you don’t fall off! Alternatively, you could place a chair in front of the toilet and rest your feet on it so that your posture is closer to a squat-like pose.

    If you have less faith in your balance and want a convenient solution, you could invest in a specially-designed device to help you adopt a squatting position. The Squatty Potty was designed by the Edwards family from Utah, who wanted an easy-to-use solution that would allow anyone to turn their toilet into an easy place upon which to squat. It requires no complex fitting and is simply placed around the bottom of any standard toilet. The makers have worked with many prototypes to ensure that their product is the “perfect height, shape and design to work with any toilet.”

    Why squatting isn’t a cure-all

    The extent to which our bathroom posture is linked to various diseases is still open to debate. However, we do know that no change in position will compensate for a poor diet and other unhealthy lifestyle choices. In order to stand the best chance of passing stools comfortably, you need to eat a diet rich in fiber. Include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains on a regular basis. This will ensure that your bowel movements are of the right consistency, which will help reduce the need to strain when you go to the toilet. Another important factor is hydration. Make sure that you drink plenty of fluids, as this also works in reducing the time it takes for stools to pass through the rectum.

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    Jay Hill

    Jay writes about communication and happiness on Lifehack.

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    Last Updated on September 16, 2019

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

    We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

    The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

    Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

    1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

    Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

    For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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    • (1) Research
    • (2) Deciding the topic
    • (3) Creating the outline
    • (4) Drafting the content
    • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
    • (6) Revision
    • (7) etc.

    Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

    2. Change Your Environment

    Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

    One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

    3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

    Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

    Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

    My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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    Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

    4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

    If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

    Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

    I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

    5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

    I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

    Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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    As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

    6. Get a Buddy

    Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

    I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

    7. Tell Others About Your Goals

    This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

    For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

    8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

    What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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    9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

    If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

    Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

    10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

    Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

    Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

    11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

    At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

    Reality check:

    I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

    More About Procrastination

    Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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