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The Link Between Stress and Your Stomach

Written by Lisa Jillanza

stress and stomach pic Does the thought of speaking in public tie your stomach in knots? Does a stressful work meeting leave you without an appetite? Or does the idea of spending the approaching holidays with your in-laws leave you feeling a bit woosey? If so you're not alone. Having a physical response to emotional concerns is natural. Your gut is extremely sensitive to stress and emotions. Stress is a trigger that can cause stomachaches, diarrhea, and other digestive problems however, the stress management techniques listed below can keep these unpleasant physical responses under control.

There is an actual physical link between your gut and your emotion. High stress and emotions can lead to stomach aches and other digestive problems due to the fact that the gut is highly sensitive and full of nerves. Francisco J. Marrero, MD, a gastroenterologist with the Digestive Disease Institute at the Cleveland Clinic explains on everydayhealth.com, “There is definitely a connection between the brain and the gut. The gut is called the little brain- it's the largest area of nerves outside the brain.”

Stress and nerves often have very noticeable physical symptoms that focus on the digestive tract. “Anytime you're in a stressful situation, people will get butterflies in their stomach or they may even get diarrhea,” says Dr. Marrero.

Big events in addition to small daily stressors can affect your digestive health so it's important to regulate your stress levels. By identifying the cause of stress, understanding the gut's natural reaction to it, and keeping stress under control you will more effectively be able to manage stress-related stomach aches and other digestive problems. Try implementing these stress management tips to reduce your own stressors and manage your digestive health:

Consider counseling to deal with what's bothering you. Try cognitive therapy. Keep a journal of what's stressing you, how you feel, and what you did to feel better. Don't take on more than you can handle — say no when you need to. Prioritize your responsibilities. Put problems in perspective, and stay positive about the good things in your life.

Butterflies in your tummy are just one way that stress and other emotions can affect your overall health and demonstrates how closely related your physical and emotional health really are. But by learning how to tame your stress you will not only maintain your emotional health but you may also just calm an upset stomach.