Raise your hands if you get “AIR BABIES” (a.k.a. a bloated bellies)! For some people, stress translates in dry skin, an itchy scalp, breakouts, or even migraines, but for many, stress seems to reflect in the deep caves of our gut. Is that you? Inspired by our recent interview and WALK n’ TALK with Creative Director and character artist, Anwar Bey-Taylor, we created this psychedelic visual that will demonstrate HOW your body works when stress gives you your next stomachache.
Ah, the power of stress. Does this sound familiar?
Whether it’s good stress or bad stress, when we are anxious about something, or simply overwhelmed with lots on our plates, you might immediately feel it in your gut. Your belly may bloat, you might get a slight cramp in your side, your appetite will drop (or increase), and without being too descriptive, your food just might not digest the way that it’s supposed to. And now, in addition to whatever else you are dealing with, you get to enjoy a full-on stomachache. Perfect!
Your stress and your stomach. They ARE related.
If you haven’t heard of the “fight-or-flight response,” it’s simply a physiological, automatic, natural “survival-mode” response that prepares our bodies to fight or flee in moments of threat (i.e. scary bear in the forest, or urgent deadlines, or money problems). This response sets off a series of chemical releases to help you “stay safe” and deal with the threat. The challenging part is, we (as busy people) overexpose ourselves to DAILY threats, work in high-stress petri dishes, and overwork our system. To paint a clearer picture, here is a simplified illustration of what you need to know about your body and how stress can trigger an upset stomach:
I think that’s the fastest, most oversimplified way of saying that when YOU stress the f* out, your body is smart enough to conserve energy for vital organs to function so you can either fight or flight. At the same time, your body is smart enough to turn OFF certain parts of our body that are not necessary at the moment. The sad reality is: 1) your digestive system is not a high priority function in times of need; and 2) your reproductive system is second in line to shut down. If you’ve lost your period or experienced sporadic periods (ladies), this has been known to be related to stress. If you’ve lost your sex drive (ladies or gents), this too could be related to stress. We’ll save that topic for another day.
(PLEASE NOTE: this post is not to prescribe, or replace your doctor’s advice.)
On top of all of that, your hormones are raging – so pay attention to an increase in cravings for sweets, simple carbs, or salty comfort foods. It’s usually a sign that you are under stress and your adrenal glands are releasing cortisol for “safety.”
It’s no surprise why a large percentage of the “always-on” workforce complains of gastrointestinal and reproductive issues! When it’s 11pm and you are stressing the f* out, with a bloated, crampy “air baby,” and you are reaching for a warm cookie or salty pretzels, it’s time to reassess how to manage your stressors.
Take a deep breath with me now.
You get the idea, right? Ultimately, you respond to these stressors throughout your day ALL THE TIME and various bodily functions increase and decrease based off of need.
Now there are tons of different stress relieving solutions, but to focus on the belly, here are my top 3 natural, soothing food (and drink) suggestions that I reach for when I feel a stomachache a comin’!
- Warm water. Whether it’s a cup of boiled water that you can sip on, or a warm water pouch that you place over the belly, the comfort of the heated temperature will calm your racing nerves.
- Kombucha Tea. It’s a fermented tea drink with natural effervescence (bubbles) that is loaded with healthy bacteria, vitamins, and minerals – all great for your gut. You can find this in various stores nowadays (i.e. natural grocery stores, Whole Foods, some corner stores, and even restaurants). If you don’t know what this is, or if you want to learn more about how it’s made, read here.
- Walk it out. Physical movement, whether it be a walk or a few stretches on the floor, will help you to break the physical environment you are currently in, while helping to bring the raging adrenal gland down to a normal pulse.
Kale. All Day. Err Day.