stress and bowel habits
OK, Motherload, I am a brand new member of PoopReport. My question is: how much can extreme mental stress change a person's bowel habits?
First off, welcome to PoopReport!
Now, for the answer to your question. Extreme stress can have a major effect on one's bowel habits. Here's why.
The brain and the intestine are strongly related and mediated by many of the same hormones and nervous system. Some research even suggests that the gut itself has features of a primitive brain. (IBS sufferers have known for a long time that their digestive system seems to have a mind of its own.)
Prolonged stress can disrupt the digestive system, irritating the large intestine and causing diarrhea, constipation, cramping, and bloating. Excessive production of digestive acids in the stomach can cause all sorts of problems including ulcers.
Stress can be caused by a number of things. A few examples are fear, anxiety, and excessive worrying. One of the best relievers of stress is laughter.
Some of the physical and emotional benefits and stress-relieving qualities of laughter include:
Internal Workout: A good belly laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs and even works out the shoulders, leaving muscles more relaxed afterward. It even provides a good workout for the heart.
Distraction: Laughter brings the focus away from anger, guilt, stress and negative emotions.
Perspective: Sudies show that our response to stressful events can be altered by whether we view something as a 'threat' or a 'challenge'. Humor can give us a more lighthearted perspective and help us view events as 'challenges', thereby making them less threatening and more positive.
Social Benefits of Laughter: Laughter connects us with others. Also, laughter is contagious, so if you bring more laughter into your life, you can most likely help others around you to laugh more, and realize these benefits as well. By elevating the mood of those around you, you can reduce their stress levels, and perhaps improve the quality of social interaction you experience with them, reducing your stress level even more.
Sometimes laughter is, as they say, the best medicine. And here at PoopReport you will find plenty of things to laugh about, and maybe even have stories of your own to share so that we can laugh with you.
Thanks for asking Motherload!
Motherload is a Certified Nurse Assistant as well as an IBS sufferer, which means she knows a lot about poop. Got a question for her? Ask it here.