Diarrhoea & Mood Advice
Stress & Diarrhoea
The stress and pressure of modern day life can often affect us physically
as well as mentally, upsetting the delicate balance of our digestive systems.
Diarrhoea caused by stress related to work or social occasions affects
some people. Stressful events such as interviews, examinations or having
to talk in public are key culprits. And in some cases, just being very
busy, which can in itself be stressful, will bring on a bout of diarrhoea.
Stress & Diarrhoea: the causes
In our intestines, we have muscles, which tighten and relax in rhythmic waves, pushing the contents of the bowel along – literally your bowel movements. This movement is known as ‘peristalsis’, which is controlled by the ‘enteric nervous system’, connected to the central nervous system. When you are nervous, your body produces adrenaline, as well as other powerful chemicals; which can affect your central nervous system, speeding everything up in your body, including your intestines. This upsets the natural balance of your digestive system, causing your body to absorb less fluid than normal, making your stools become more frequent and watery.
Just a small reduction in the amount of fluid absorbed by the intestines can be enough to lead to an attack of diarrhoea. And if you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you are even more likely to experience stress-related diarrhoea.
Luckily there are lots of things you can do to reduce stress levels and the likelihood of suffering a bout of diarrhoea.
Make ‘me’ time
The pressures and demands on you can easily become overwhelming, so it’s good to create time for yourself to relax and unwind. It’s important to take proper breaks at work or if you’re looking after the kids, to make sure you have time when someone else looks after them.
Give yourself time to read a magazine, listen to music or light a candle and have a bath. It’s also important to get enough sleep, as you will always perform better if you’ve rested properly.
Sharing your problems
Diarrhoea can be embarrassing to talk about but you’d be surprised how many people suffer from the condition. If you let people around you know what you’re going through, they will be able to help you better. It will help you manage the condition and make you feel more human about it all.
Keep a sense of humour
Laughter is a great stress reducer and boosts the immune system, which is often weakened by stress, so try to see the funny side of a situation.
Exercise is a great way to help keep your digestive system healthy. It’s also a very effective way to help you de-stress and feel more confident about yourself. Stretching your body can be good for your digestive health. Yoga has a great reputation for reducing the occurrence of diarrhoea, and it’s gentle breathing techniques and meditative techniques will help you stay calm.
Snacking on sugary foods – a sugar rush won’t help your system or your stress levels. Try to eat fruit, vegetables and oaty snacks instead and avoid too much alcohol and milk, which can irritate your gut.