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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.


7 Tips to Naturally De-Stress Your Life

Written by Lisa Jillanza

naturally de-stress Today's world is more stressful than ever. We're all overbooked, unrested, super stressed and underpaid. The busy lives of American men, women and even children are causing stress and stress-related illness to run rampant. When it comes down to it we all need to take a big breath and chill out. Below are some natural and healthy ways to do just that.

The everyday stresses of work, children, commutes, money, family (and the list goes on and on) that we're forced to face head on can wreak havoc on our bodies. Feelings of being overwhelmed by all of the demands placed on us can result in stress-related illnesses. According to naturemade.com 75%-90% of all doctor's office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Chronic levels of stress or tension can reduce the body's ability to cope well under stress and can cause illness. Below are 7 natural stress busters that you may want to integrate into your daily life to keep stress and tension at bay.

1. Proper Fueling- If you reach for a quick sugar or caffeine boost when you feel your energy start to wane, you're not alone. Coffee and/or candy can offer a quick energy boost but often leads to that inevitable energy crash that can further compound your body's physical stress. It's important to make sure that you're regularly fueling your body and with the right type of fuel. Instead of that third cup of coffee or leftover doughnut try snacking on a slice of whole-grain bread topped with peanut butter and raisins or some yogurt. Health experts recommend refueling the body every 3 to 4 hours in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep stress in check.

2. A Good Night's Sleep- By not getting adequate or regular amounts of sleep your body becomes sleep deprived leading to poor concentration, memory and daily performance. These negative effects can quickly become physical stressors. To ensure that your sleep is effective try going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday. Create a healthy schedule for your body. It's also a good idea to avoid eating a big meal before bed or drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages before bed. These will stimulate your body and keep you from catching your precious zzz's. Before going to bed try a relaxing activity like a warm bath, reading or listening to soft music to make you more drowsy.

Certain dietary supplements can play an important role in promoting sleep according to naturemade.com. L-theanine (an amino acid found in green tea) has been shown in human studies to promote a relaxed mental state and to increase the production of alpha waves in the brain. The result is that L-theanine helps to reduce anxiety and promotes a state of relaxation without drowsiness.

Vitamins B6 and B12 are needed for the production of serotonin - the “feel good” brain messenger, and the important mineral magnesium promotes healthy muscle relaxation. Herbs that can help with sleep include chamomile, which exerts a mild sedative-like effect, and lavender oil, which has relaxing properties and can be added to a bath or directly to the skin.

3. Take a deep breath- When somebody is stressed or scared their breathing often becomes shallow and rapid. When this happens, the diaphragm is not used properly and the breathing is solely from the chest and does not incorporate the abdomen. Less oxygen is then available to the body, including your brain. This results in a lack of clear thinking and inevitably more stress. When you find yourself breathing quickly and shallowly in a stressful situation take a few deep breaths- center and calm yourself and try to exhale the stress.

4. Movement and Exercise- A workout or a brisk 30-minute walk can help you de-stress after a busy day. Regular and moderate exercise can help promote physical and mental well-being. Exercise stimulates positive brain chemicals that often leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. Try taking a walk outside, getting fresh air and being in the sunshine can stimulate your senses after a stressful day. And by the way, movement and exercise will also result in looking and feeling better which can also help stress levels.

5. Read a Good Book or Go to the Movies- Books and movies are a great escape and instant de-stressors. Let the characters and situations distract you from your own worries and stresses. Disengaging your mind for a while can give you a different perspective and clearer insight once you're ready to again face reality.

6. Adjust your Mindset- Going through life confident of the fact that you're doing your best every day can often take the stress out of specific outcomes. Staying positive in your mind is that best way to channel positivity into the rest of your life, which transitions into Tip #7 perfectly,.

7. Smile- Try holding a big smile (you know, the kind that makes your mouth hurt?) for 5 minutes and see what happens. It's hard to feel stressed while you're smiling. It makes you more approachable and might just change your whole day.

Whether you choose to read that book that you've been meaning to get to, head outside to walk the dog, or plaster a smile on your face, by selecting a couple of these de-stressing strategies you'll be able to naturally settle your nerves and deal with the stresses that are inevitable in our lives.


Mood Help: Quick and Natural Mood Boosters

Written by Lisa Jillanza

We all feel down from time to time but if your case of the crankies has overstayed its welcome it might be time to take control of your mood,naturally. Here are a few tips for simply and organically lifting your spirits. Because after all life is too short to waste it being in a bad mood.

Get your heart pounding-Get up and get moving! Take a walk, ride a bike or take the dog for a run. Physical activity is great mood booster. It can burn calories and reduce body fat making you feel more accomplished, active and alive. natural mood boosters According to a study by researchers at Dalhousie University, a 30-minute walk is effective at reducing tension, anxiety, and mood disturbances and increasing energy and vigor. Getting out of the house has additional benefits. Natural light stimulates the brain which produces the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which can significantly improve your mood.

Get Plenty of Sleep-Your body and its natural processes depend on you getting enough sleep on a daily basis. Sleep is important for concentration, memory formation and repair of damage to your body's cells during the day. When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body's functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. Time.com estimates that you should get between 6.5 and 7.5 hours of sleep per night. Citing that getting too little as well as too much sleep can be equally unhealthy.

Listen to music-By playing your favorite tunes you can change your mood in an instant. According to Good Housekeeping, listening to music has a powerful effect on people's moods. In one study by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, listening to music reduced stress hormone levels up to 41 percent. Whether you prefer to bust out your favorite records or jam to your I-Pod, it's the music itself that positively affects mood rather than the lyrics. So make sure to listen to something with an upbeat rhythm and melody. Listening to your favorite songs from years past can be nostalgic. By triggering vivid memories and nostalgic feelings you can also improve mood and lower stress. Just make sure that the memories they evoke are pleasant ones.

Chocolate makes everything better-Everybody's favorite sweet indulgence is also proven to be a mood elevator for many people. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine which is a mood-regulating chemical found naturally in the brain. The high levels of sugar found in chocolate, triggers your body's release of serotonin which is a natural antidepressant. Chocolate is a good mood booster in moderation. Since it's loaded with sugar and fat a little self-control is necessary. Try nibbling a little chocolate while you treat yourself to something else you enjoy, like a funny movie or a good book. Go ahead; it's OK, spoil yourself a little!

Lend a Hand-Nothing re-energizes your soul like the feeling of accomplishment and making a difference that you get through volunteerism. When researchers analyzed 37 studies on volunteering, they found that people who offered their time had a better since of well-being, were happier with their lives, and were less likely to feel sad and anxious. Volunteers have also been found to recover more quickly from surgery, sleep better and have healthier immune systems compared to people who do not volunteer. Doing something nice for somebody else can run the gamut from organizing a book drive to helping an elderly neighbor out around the house. Doing good ultimately leads to feeling good so give of yourself and reap the benefits today.

Nourish Mind and Body: The Link between Emotional Health and Overall Well-Being

Written by Lisa Jillanza

Your journey to true health begins and ends with you. Sounds pretty obvious right? But this statement is cornerstone in achieving a level of health and well-being far beyond your highest expectations. First of all, it's important to recognize that living at your fullest and reaching your health goals is in fact a journey, not a destination. Secondly, it's also crucial to understand that your mental and spiritual health- what it really is that makes you who you are- goes hand in hand with your physical well-being. mind and body image For example, I remember often getting so worried and worked up about an upcoming test that I would physically make myself sick. Or how about the time you ate that chocolate macadamia nut cookie the size of your head and more than likely your total allotment of calories for the whole day, only to encounter overwhelming feelings of guilt and self-loathing? Emotions such as anxiety, guilt and self-loathing can easily build and create an emotional downward spiral that is detrimental to your overall spiritual and physical health. Emotions manifest themselves physically and when trying to combat health issues it's important to start with the correct frame of mind.

As reported on The Today Show, oftentimes when you change your mind, you just may just change your body, too. According to Psychologist Gareth Dutton, our ‘self talk' or ‘internal dialogue' can make or break a health regimen.

“The problem is that many people simply aren't aware of how destructive their thoughts are. The thing that precedes your behavior is a thought, and we sometimes aren't good at getting in touch with our thoughts,”

Therefore, the first step in achieving your health goals is to recognize how your thoughts are undermining your plan. Then you need to challenge the negative thinking.

Here are a few foundational tips for improving your mental and therefore physical health:

  • Learn to manage stress so that it doesn't manage you
  • Recognize emotions and attempt to figure out why you're feeling the way that you are
  • Harness negative thoughts- A positive outlook can improve your quality of life and give your health a boost.
  • Utilize the power of auto suggestion- avoid thinking negative thoughts and vocalizing them. Whatever you think, will be.
  • Let go of things in your life that make you feel stressed or overwhelmed and make time for things you enjoy.
  • Express yourself rather than keeping things bottled up- Let others know what you're feeling and if something is bothering you
  • Maintain healthy relationships
  • Calm your mind and body through stretching, exercising or breathing deeply
  • Learn to face and accept change

Only by taking responsibility for your thoughts and your actions and by recognizing the link between mind and body will you uncover the key to feeling healthier, younger and more alive.