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Time To Take Care Of Your Stress Level If You Want A Healthier Digestion

Time To Take Care Of Your Stress Level If You Want A Healthier Digestion

So, have you reduced the number of small meals? Please do so, it really is for the best of you!

I’m here to accompany you through this challenging journey!

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Let’s look at what you SHOULD do this time–enjoy your meals in a relaxed mode.

Emotions and Your Gut

The digestive system walls are linked to health, mood, and even thoughts. This link is known as the ENS (Enteric Nervous System) and has earned the term ‘the second brain’.[1] Thin layers of over one hundred million nerve cells line the gastrointestinal tract. Unlike the main brain in your skull, the ENS cannot think. Its main role is keeping digestion on track, from the initial swallowing to the releasing of enzymes and breakdown of the food, while controlling the flow of blood to help with absorbing nutrients.

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According to John Hopkins Center for Neurogastroenterology director, Jay Pasricha, M.D., the Enteric Nervous System sends signals to the main brain and suggests that the digestive system may affect cognition too.[2] It can actually trigger off emotional shifts (i.e. anxiety and depression) that are thought to link to conditions like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.

How To Cope With Stress

If you’re experiencing high levels of mental stress, here are a few quick fixes to calm you down:

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  • Traditional Siesta: Many traditions follow a siesta. A nap after a big meal. Metabolic forces are highest at midday during lunch. A midday break will flow with the natural body rhythm. A siesta does not have to be a nap. Relaxing and resting suffices after a good midday meal helping with digestion and leaving you flowing with energy and vitality for the rest of the day.
  • Breathe and eat: A calm sense of deep relaxed breathing rather than a shallow and infrequent stress linked breaths that bring out an anxious state is recommended. When stressed, adopt a breathing pattern to relax. Conscious breathing techniques relate the rhythmic breathing flow to the brain. This will facilitate a smooth flow of the digestion journey. And here’s a video showing you how to deep breathe to relieve stress in 1 minute:
  • Body posture: If you tend to eat hunched when stressed, take note that the digestion process needs gravity. Be seated upright for meals with relaxed shoulders and feet flat down on the ground. When the spine is erect, it gives way for the lungs to be operational at the best level. Breathing will help digest the food. By sitting up straight, while eating you have a raised consciousness and are more aware of what is on the plate you are devouring. This, in turn, will make digestion easier.

For longer-term emotional support, however, try making these activities below a daily habit:

1. Track your emotions by writing them down

To deal with stress take the time to keep a daily journal. Write down your emotions and keep track of them. Writing heals emotionally, psychologically and physically. In Writing to Heal, author Dr. James Pennebaker describes how writing leads to improved immune functioning.[3]

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Journaling and keeping track of your mood swings is a great way to increase self-awareness and to express your emotions. This familiarity of yourself is crucial for understanding your life experiences.

2. Record your achievements

Note down every achievement ever though it might be minor, as noting down all achievements boost confidence [4]. Journalling achievements may help you relive them in your mind. This reaffirms your abilities even when self-doubt intervenes. With a boost of self-esteem, journaled reflections become personal achievements that will keep you moving forward.

3. Color!

Get a coloring book. Coloring helps to minimize stress. Coloring was reserved as an activity for children and occasionally adults when babysitting. Recently, it has become an international trend for adults to buy coloring books making them bestsellers worldwide. Coloring has been proven to be very therapeutic and has been referenced as almost a type of meditation.[5]

Reference

[1] https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/gut-second-brain/
[2] http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/results/directory/profile/8897935/pankaj-pasricha
[3] https://www.utexas.edu/features/2005/writing/
[4] http://www.lifehack.org/398112/science-explains-how-writing-down-tiny-achievements-every-day-changes-our-brains?ref=fbp&n=1
[5] http://www.lifehack.org/303032/heres-why-colouring-book-the-best-gift-for-stressed-adult

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Nena Tenacity

Nena is passionate about writing. She shares her everyday health and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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