How to handle stressful situations that may impact healthy elimination
by N J Howell
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This is part of a series on causes of constipation and the most common triggers that may allow a congested bowel to develop. If you under a lot of stress or if you do not handle the stressors in your life effectively, this may well be the source of any issues you are having being regular. That having been said, this series is for people who have no diagnosed mental health conditions but simply have problems with healthy elimination and not represented as replacement for mental health evaluation if needed.
Stress as a killer
Excess stress or poor management of stress is the biggest trigger for constipation, as well as all other types of chronic illness, in my experience and in my opinion. Every system of the body is impacted by the fight or flight response. If you are about to be eaten by a bear, this response may be life-saving but if you spend any signficant portion of any day in a strong relationship with stress, you are setting yourself up for constipation to result. Stress is probably the single-most common factor in chronic constipation because stress effects every process of the body, including digestion and elimination. Stress-related constipation can lead to insomnia and other stress-related conditions too, if not addressed.
When I know I'm under a lot of stress, I try to remember not to compound the damage by eating badly. Some things I have found helpful when under excess stress:
* Take a natural stress formula like Calms Forte
* Listen to soothing and relaxing music or meditate
* Listen subliminal programming or hypnosis tapes to entrain new nighttime thought patterns * Use movement - go for a walk in nature or even just up and down the hall
* Get around some carefree children and listen to their laughter
* Get around some puppies or kittens and play with them or watch them play
* Practice mindfulness
Diahrrea can also be induced by stress: While stress causes constipation in my own experience, others report the opposite but equally bothersome effect on their bowel movements....in other words, when stress stays around too long, they develop diarrhea. Whichever way over-acting to stress effects your eliminatory health, it is important to reduce stress reactions when colon problems result.
Breathing slowly and deeply, while deliberately releasing worry thoughts and stressful reactions in the body, is one of the best ways to bring balance to the system which has been compromised by stress. What we unconsciously do instead is to begin taking short, shallow breaths or even holding our breath longer than we need to hold it. These reactions just trap and build stressful energy in the body.
Exercise is always helpful though it may seem like the last thing in the world that you want to do. I find dance to be one of the least demanding forms of exercise. You can put on a cd of music that you love and dance all alone, with no one watching or judging. So, I'd definitely suggest dance as a stress reduction tool, though I'd be careful to choose music that uplifts rather than music that might mire you more deeply in the funk.
Meditative tapes, repeating a positive affirmation or prayer, dancing, walking outside in nature and laughing are all great natural stress-reducers. I personally love the paraliminal tapes put out by Learning Strategies for this very purpose. Deep, rhythmic breathing helps me destress as well.
Eliminatory Health Disclaimer: The stress reduction tips and suggestions on this page are not presented as replacement for any needed medical attention, testing or treatment. If you experience stress responses that are strong enough to interfere with your quality of life and function, please seek emotional, mental and spiritual support in addition to addressing physical factors.