Whether it's your to-do list at work or a few financial worries at home, there are plenty of reasons that your stress levels can start to skyrocket.
And while stress might seem more like a mental issue, the American Stress Institute has reported that 77 percent of people have admitted that their stress levels regularly lead to feeling physical symptoms.
One place in particular they might be experiencing that discomfort? In their guts.
The strong established connection between stress and digestion—or the "brain-gut axis"—can lead to gastrointestinal issues, which can include pain, bloating, and other inconvenient problems.
That's because having high stress and anxiety levels can both reduce and affect the amount of good bacteria that lives in your gut. Stress can also affect the diversity of the bacteria in your gut.
Those disruptions are bad news. Our good bacteria is essential to digestion, regulating our immune systems, and fending off "bad" bacteria. A high diversity of bacteria, too, is important for our health.
But don't worry: There's no need to, well, stress. There are plenty of simple changes that you can make to your diet and daily routine to fight back against any stomach issues caused by stress.
1. Fit Fibre Into Your Regular Diet
Up to 70 percent of people experience a gastrointestinal disorder during their life. One way to avoid being part of that statistic and work toward maintaining a healthy gut is by adding fibre to your diet.
Fibre is an essential part of improving gut health as it feeds good gut bacteria and helps that bacteria to thrive. It can also improve your overall digestion.
Adding fibre to your diet can be as easy as substituting a high-fibre snack for whatever you'd usually reach for in the afternoon. Eating your fruits and vegetables, which are foods that are naturally rich in fibre, is another great option.
Not convinced yet? Along with giving your gut health a boost, certain types of fibre can help promote weight loss. Fibre can also help control blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol levels.
2. Add a Daily Probiotic Supplement to Your Routine
One step to relieving stomach issues from stress that doesn't take much extra effort? Adding a probiotic to your daily routine.
Taking a daily probiotic supplement can help replenish your body's good gut bacteria and boost the amount of that beneficial bacteria.
Because every person's microbiome—the collection of bacteria in their body—is unique, there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to probiotics or gut health as a whole. Our individual microbiomes are affected by everything from genetics to our diet to our environment.
That's why it's important to take the time to research which probiotic is right for you.
Some daily probiotic supplements might be intended to help with gut issues like constipation, while others might be aimed more at decreasing bloating or feelings of nausea.
By focusing on one geared toward your unique gut, you're more likely to reap the benefits that come from this change in your routine.
3. Move Your Way to Improved Stress and Digestion
Because it can help increase the bacterial diversity in your gut, exercise is essential when it comes to maintaining a healthy gut. That diversity in your microbiome ultimately corresponds with overall health—more diversity means better overall health.
So, what sort of exercise is the most beneficial? Research has found that cardiorespiratory fitness can help support a better-balanced gut. That means opting for things like running on the treadmill, or grabbing your bicycle and going for a ride—anything that's getting your heart rate up.
As an added bonus, regular exercise can help your quality of sleep and help you get to sleep faster. As you're about to see, that is another crucial component when it comes to helping out your stressed gut.
4. Don't Forget to Sleep In
Experts recommend grabbing between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, which isn't always easy to do when it comes to our fast-paced lives. But it's hard to overstate the importance of getting enough shut-eye for our overall health, and when it comes to improving digestive issues, it's essential for several reasons.
For one, a good night of shut-eye can help lower your stress and anxiety levels, which, in turn, will help your gut health. Getting enough sleep can also lessen any mental and physical effects you might be feeling when you're not well-rested.
But beyond that, when you don't get a solid night of sleep, you can be disrupting your microbiome, which is regulated by our circadian rhythms.
These disruptions can affect the diversity of our microbiome as well as its overall health; it's also been shown that disruptions to our circadian rhythms can lead to an overall decrease in the amount of beneficial bacteria in our guts.
5. Be More Mindful
Along with making changes to your diet and exercise routine, you can also take steps to lower your overall stress and anxiety levels.
One easy way to do this is by adopting activities that are proven avenues to stress relief and to managing anxiety.
By adding something like yoga—which can also lower your blood pressure and heart rate—you can reduce your stress levels and, in turn, get better gut health.
Meditation, too, is another activity that can help you control your anxiety—and it won't even take long to fit it into your schedule. Even adding 10 minutes of meditation a day can help improve your stress and your well-being.
So, What Does That Mean for You?
Now that you know about the link between stress and digestion, you can start making simple adjustments to your everyday routine that can help relieve your stressed gut and get you feeling better.
From getting more sleep to making an effort to exercise more regularly, you can be on the road to a happier gut in no time.