The Downside of Stress
Stress can help us out sometimes. Even if we don’t face life-or-death experiences on a daily basis, stress can help us tackle other (less dire) challenges, such as helping you meet a big deadline at work. Experiencing stress occasionally is pretty normal. However, stress is only helpful in limited quantities. Too much stress can leave us feeling unhappy, nervous, and overwhelmed.
Research shows that too much stress might have a negative effect on health. Prolonged stress can lead to problems like headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, and insomnia.2 The emotional effects of stress can also be problematic. Some research indicates that experiencing high amounts of stress for a long period of time can be a trigger for depression or anxiety.3 However, it’s important to note that not everyone who has stress in their life will experience these exact effects.
Does Stress Cause Constipation?
Stress and constipation: what’s the link? As you read above, excessive stress can be tough on the body. This includes the digestive system. When we feel stressed, our body releases chemicals and hormones.4 These hormones are helpful if we’re in a dangerous situation, as they help us focus on the task at hand. However, if our goal is to stay “regular,” this bodily response may interfere with digestion. Researchers note a potential relationship between stress and a number of digestive issues, including loss of appetite, cramps, nausea, IBS, diarrhea, and—in some cases—constipation.5
On the other side of things, constipation can result from the lifestyle choices we make when we’re stressed out. We might let things like eating a healthy, fiber-rich diet, exercising regularly, and drinking plenty of water fall to the wayside when we’re overwhelmed. In addition, bad habits can kick in when our stress levels are high. You may be more likely to crave unhealthy snacks high in saturated fat and sugar, like potato chips or ice cream. While the occasional treat is usually okay, consuming too many of these unhealthy foods can cause digestive issues. Be conscious of your alcohol intake as well. Drinking too much alcohol causes dehydration, which in turn might lead to constipation.6
A healthy lifestyle can help support regular bowel movements, and when we’re too busy to take care of ourselves properly, constipation is more common. Constipation can lead to problems like straining and hemorrhoids, so it’s important to take steps to prevent constipation if possible.
How can you help relieve stress and constipation?
To help relieve stress-induced constipation, focus on lowering your stress levels. There are a variety of quick, easy ways to help reduce stress—even on the busiest of day. Some ways to reduce stress include:
- Writing a journal entry
- Getting outside for a walk
- Practicing yoga
- Calling a friend to chat
- Lighting a candle
- Making a cup of tea
- Or, simply taking a few deep breaths
We hope you learned more about stress and constipation. If you find yourself dealing with constipation on a long-term basis, consult your doctor for advice. For help with hemorrhoids caused by constipation, you can find relief today with Preparation H.
1. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037. Accessed 7/8/2020. Referenced text is enclosed in a red box in source PDF.
2. Stress: Signs, Symptoms, Management & Prevention. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/11874-stress#:~:text=Stress%20is%20the%20body's%20reaction,your%20body%2C%20and%20your%20thoughts. Accessed 6/3/2020. Referenced text is enclosed in a red box in source PDF.
4. How to Calm an Anxious Stomach: The Brain-Gut Connection. ADAA. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/how-calm-anxious-stomach-brain-gut-connection. Accessed 7/8/2020. Referenced text is enclosed in a red box in source PDF.
6. Constipation: Causes and Prevention Tips. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/constipation-causes-and-prevention-tips. Accessed 7/8/2020. Referenced text is enclosed in a red box in source PDF.