So often I see clients in the hypnotherapy clinic that present with a myriad of health problems but when they’re asked about the stress in their lives they reply, “oh yeah I’m pushed so hard at work and don’t have a second to myself but yeah I’m handling my stress really well!”
Although they seem to think that they are on top of it, as hypnotherapists we see that their body is not handling it very well at all.
Why is my gut health not improving?
There seems to be a misunderstanding when it comes to the meaning of stress. If you’re talking to a physics professor they will mean that stress refers to the interaction between a force and the resistance to counter that force. When talking to your average person it’s the tension that comes from too much pressure in their day.
When your healthcare professional talks about stress, we are talking about “Biological Stress” and the affects of the physiological processes of responding to a threat are having on your mind and body.
The father of stress research Dr Hans Selye incorporated the term “stress” in to the medical lexicon to describe the “nonspecific response of the body to any demand”. So, when a therapist suggests that you need to address your stress, we are saying that you need to make changes to your life to limit your environment and yourself from causing damage and creating illness in your body.
Stress can cause a range of gastrointestinal problems including:
- Loss of appetite
The brain and gut are intimately connected and in constant communication. In fact there are more neurons in the gut than are in the spinal column leaving many professionals considering the gut as a second brain.
Have you ever had to make a “gut wrenching” decision or seen something that made you “sick to your stomach” or been so anxious you had “butterflies in your stomach” or had a “gut feeling” about something?
If so then you know first-hand how stress can affect your digestive system.
Stress can affect every part of the digestive system:
The gut is controlled in part by the central nervous system by the brain and spinal column. It is considered that the gut is the second brain. This nervous system regulates digestive processes like, swallowing, release of enzymes to break down food and the categorisation of food as nutrients or waste products. Stress can significantly affect these processes.
When we are presented with a potentially threatening situation, the sympathetic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions such as heart beat and blood pressure, responds by releasing cortisol to mobilise energy to deal with the threat. Stress also causes physiological changes such as a rise in cholesterol, increase in blood pressure and changes to the digestive system including:
- Causes your oesophagus to go in to spasm
- Increase or decrease the amount of acid in your stomach
- Initiates a nauseous feeling
- Gives you diarrhoea or constipation
In more serious cases it can decrease blood flow and oxygen to the stomach leading to cramps, Inflammation and an imbalance of gut bacteria. It can also exacerbate gastrointestinal disorders such as:
- Irritable bowels syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Peptic ulcers
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (Gerd)
So, what is a threatening situation that puts our body in a state of stress response?
Of course, we all can recognise if something is directly threatening you such as a snake or an abusive colleague though some are not aware that even if our needs are not being met, we can produce the same barrage of stress chemicals that are potentially causing damage to our gut.
Even thoughts of the past that give rise to grief and resentment can initiate the stress response. A person you pass in the street just has to look similar to the person that abused or threatened you in the past and you will get a surge of stress chemicals to deal with the threat.
Even those fleeting anxious thoughts and fear of the future initiate the same process and get the stress chemicals flowing.
The affect the stress response has on your gut can be instant and get worse with time, though it doesn’t stop there. Overworking the glands and organs involved can lead to adrenal burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart attack and stroke to name a few.
As you can see addressing your stress isn’t as easy as taking that yoga or meditation class although it is a start and is why I am a certified meditation teacher to add to my tool box. In the words of Zorba the Greek, we all have lived the full catastrophe and have built up many associations positive and negative. We are all so unique and all require a very personal approach to addressing the stressors in society, in your interpersonal relationships and created by your own mind.
So, having said all that, I sincerely hope that I have given you a deeper understanding of what we mean when we try to convey how important it is to “address your stress, to live more and die less”. Catchy rhyme hey?!
Take the first step toward improving your gut health with behaviour changing hypnosis: BOOK A HYPNOTHERAPY APPOINTMENT
Clinical Hypnotherapist, Qualified NLP Practitioner, Mindfulness Stress Reduction Teacher, and holds Certificate 4 in Fatigue Management.
I believe that we have all the resources within us that are needed to heal ourselves, although having someone that has walked the walk and undertaken the training needed to facilitate you in effecting the change is essential. Find out how you can work with me here.
BY: Scott Allerton
Holistic Health and Wellbeing, Overcoming Anxiety, Stress Management