Mind & Body

Yes, anxiety poo is a thing, here’s what you can do about it

We’re pretty aware of how stress can physically manifest, like poor sleep, heightened heart rate, etc. But did you know it can also affect your gut? 

The last 12 months have been stressful; with the pandemic, job insecurity, social isolation, and so on. Obviously, these sorts of things take a toll on your mental wellbeing, but the mind and body are undeniably interconnected on a very deep level. Have you noticed your tummy feeling not quite itself lately? Enter: stress pooing.

A study back in 2014 showed the strong link between your health and psychological stress, presenting in strong gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like “nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and alteration in bowel habits.”

Indeed, an article published by Healthline says it’s fairly common to experience diarrhea during stressful or anxiety-producing situations due to the gut-brain axis.

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“When you’re distressed, chemical messengers carry signals from your brain to your gut. Your gut sometimes responds to these signals with physical symptoms, including diarrhea, nausea, or constipation,” the article says.

“This link works both ways. If you have digestive issues or other GI problems, you might experience psychological symptoms,” which explains why those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are at higher risk of anxiety.

What can I do about it?

It’s important to chat with your doctor when you notice significant changes in your bowel movements.

“It is very interesting to know that, oftentimes, we can trace back the origins of these GI symptoms to traumatic life events or the culmination of someone’s psychology into who they are now,” Jill Deutsch, director of the Yale Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Program, told HelloGiggles.

“And for some people, these are once-in-a-while symptoms, but for others, GI manifestations of pain and altered bowel habits are a regular occurrence.”

Incredibly, cognitive behavioural therapy and hypnotherapy have shown to drastically improve life for people with IBS and other GI issues, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, but it can also be as simple as breathing exercises, yoga, and meditation.

As always, ensure you’re eating lots of gut-loving wholegrains, proteins, and veggies, and staying hydrated with a good amount of water every day, too.