Stress and Constipation

You have constipation when you fail to have a bowel movement for more than three times a week. Considering the symptoms, such as straining, bloating, pain, and cramps, most people think constipation is only a physical problem. The truth is that your emotions have a role to play here. 

Can Stress Cause Constipation?

Yes, there is a link between stress and constipation, and that is mainly because of the connection between your digestive system and your brain. Being under stress, or having an episode of depression will have an impact on the duration and regularity of your bowel movements. Here is more about why stress may cause constipation.

  • Prioritized responses: Your body starts prioritizing functions when you are under stress, and it thinks you are under stress because you are facing some sort of danger. In this case, digestion is not the priority, while some functions that can help fight danger become priorities. Therefore your digestive system is slowed down, which will eventually cause constipation.
  • Bacteria: The good bacteria in your gut become stressed as well when you are feeling anxious, and this gives bad intestinal bacteria opportunities to take charge of things. This causes indigestion and you end up developing constipation.
  • General behaviors: Being constantly under stress will force you to change your lifestyle. You will exercise less, drink fewer glasses of water, and eat unhealthy foods. All these changes will negatively affect your digestive system and cause constipation over time.

How to Reduce Stress

Constipation can be very uncomfortable and when left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. Since stress and constipation are interlinked, it is important to take steps to manage stress to treat constipation. Here are some ways to help you manage stress better.

1. Know the Causes of Your Stress

Knowing what makes you feel stressed is important to determine the best treatment. Take your time and think about things that make you feel anxious. Take a notepad if possible and write everything that leads to stress. This will put you in a better position to decide exactly how to keep your stress under control.

2. Start Meditation

Daily meditation helps ease anxiety by altering the brain's neural pathways. This also helps you become more resilient to stress, which in turn will help resolve the problem of constipation. Simply start by sitting in an upright position with your feet on the floor. With your eyes closed, pay attention to reciting something like "I love myself" or something that motivates you. Breathe slowly while keeping it coordinated with your recitation. Let negative thoughts go out of your system naturally during meditating.

3. Take Deep Breaths

Whatever you are doing, simply taking a 5 minutes break and focusing on your breathing will work wonders to relieve stress. Sit up in a relaxed position with your eyes closed and a hand on your belly. Inhale through your nose and let your abdomen expand, feeling as if your breath is making its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process after breathing out through your mouth.

4. Try a Massage

Take a warm heat wrap and place it around your shoulders and neck. Focus on relaxing your neck, face, back, and upper chest muscles. Stop after ten minutes and remove the wrap. Now, take a tennis ball and place it between your back and the wall. Slowly lean into the ball and apply gentle pressure on your back for 15 seconds. Then, move the ball and repeat the same to decompress and massage away your tension.

5. Enjoy Your Favorite Music

Cranking up your favorite music will help lower heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety. Alternatively, you can create a playlist of nature sounds, like birds chirping, the ocean sound, etc., and focus on the different melodies. Listening to your favorite music and signing it aloud may also help blow off steam and relax your mind.

5. Stay Active

Staying active helps release negative energy and triggers the production of feel-good chemicals in the brain. Anything like yoga or a short 10 minutes' walk will do the trick. Doing some stretching exercises may also make you feel better.

6. Enjoy Herbal Teas

You can try some herbal teas or simply incorporate stress-relieving herbs to reduce stress as well as anger, insomnia, and anxiety. Some herbal teas work great for both stress and constipation, but you should still talk to your doctor before drinking herbal teas, especially if you have a pre-existing health condition. Some of the best herbs to release stress include the following:

  • Chamomile: It has healing properties and helps reduce stress when consumed as a tea. You may also include it in your routine to deal with common stress-induced symptoms, such as upset stomachs and insomnia.
  • Passionflower: You can make a tea by using passionflower. It can help with anxiety, sleep disorders, and gastrointestinal problems. Experts believe that passionflower tea works like a prescriptive drug to treat anxiety.
  • Lavender: Research has confirmed that lavender can produce soothing, calming and sedative effects. You can enjoy the scent of lavender from teas and aromatherapy oils.
  • Valerian root: You can include valerian root in your routine to reduce stress and treat insomnia. Just avoid using it for more than a month.

How to Treat Constipation Caused by Stress

The link between stress and constipation makes it possible to cure constipation by reducing stress. However, if reducing stress can't work efficiently, here are a few more suggestions to treat constipation:

  • Drink plenty of water. You should drink at least 8 glasses of water or other non-caffeinated beverages. Avoid caffeinated drinks and alcohol.
  • Consume fresh veggies and fruits. You need to increase your fiber intake to improve your digestive system. Enjoy a bran cereal or bran muffin for breakfast and eat fruits for a mid-afternoon snack.
  • Use a stool to support your feet when sitting on the toilet. You can use a small step stool of 6 inches height for this purpose. This helps keep your pelvis in a better position to help you have a bowel movement.
  • Try laxatives. You can try osmotic laxatives such a Miralax, or you can opt for non-absorbable sugars such as sorbitol to improve the levels of fluid in your intestine, which makes the stool softer and relieves constipation. They are effective but should be used sparingly, because they can have certain side effects.

If you do not experience any relief after trying the above methods, you should seek your doctor's help. Alternatively, you can also try some other home remedies that help treat constipation.

 
 
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