Digestive troubles? Could it be linked to stressful studies?

Sep 15 2020Louise

Digestive troubles? Could it be linked to stressful studies?

Although summer is on the horizon, May can often be a stressful time for many of us as it’s exam time, yet again. It’s the last stretch after a year of hard work before you can relax and enjoy some sunshine, but it can easily get the better of us.  

Stress shouldn’t be underrated; it can really have significant impact on the body, both mentally and physically. Here I explore some of the effects stress can have and what can be done to help.

Stressy symptoms  

The exams are looming which you’re no doubt stressed about, but now you’ve got all these weird and wonderful symptoms to contend with which are now only adding to the worry! What could they mean, will they go away and how can you control them in the meantime? Here I discuss what to expect when it comes to the effects of stress on your digestive system:

Butterflies in your tummy – The unsettling sensation of having ‘butterflies in your tummy’ is common if we are stressed or nervous about an upcoming event; this is thought to occur as a result of the connection between our brain and our digestive system. An intricate network of nerves are thought to run between the two and, as you worry or stress, physical symptoms can emerge – including that flutter in your tum!

Going to the loo more often – As with the butterflies, running to the loo more often is another physical symptom of stress. This all links back to some inbuilt survival instincts. See, traditionally in times of stress (which were mainly physical threats), we had to be in tip top physical condition. This means that any extra weight (quite literally) could potentially weigh us down, so we’d need to get rid of this ASAP. And - you guessed it - a quick and easy way to shift some weight quickly is to go the loo!

So, in times of stress, waste tends to move through our system more quickly and the nerves in and around our urinary tract and bowel can become more sensitive which means we may find ourselves nipping to the loo more often. Although this may be disconcerting, not to mention inconvenient if you are trying to study, it is often a short-lived problem.

Feeling extra gassy – As food moves more quickly through the digestive system, problem gas can also crop. Again, much like the more frequent toilet trips, this can be inconvenient but in many cases the symptoms are only as short-lived as the stress you are experiencing. Just make sure that questionable food choices aren’t adding to the problem as we’ll discuss a little later.

Lack of appetite – In times of stress it’s natural not to feel as hungry as normal, but it is important to eat. You need to fuel your body (and your brain!) for what’s to come, so try not to let your nerves get the better of you and stick to your regular meals.

Others – although not so related to the digestive system, other symptoms such as feeling sweaty, a more rapid heartbeat, or having trouble sleeping could all suggest that stress is getting the better of you and it’s time to take some action.

Stress relieving home remedies

If stress is getting you down, there are some simple steps you can take at home to help keep those levels under control:

Don’t let healthy habits slip – if you’re frantically trying to cram in lots of last minute revision, then convenience food may be top of mind, but try not to scrimp on fresh foods. Processed foods will be more likely to be full of fat and sugar which will only leave you feeling worse for wear. Fresh foods are packed full of all the nutrients that you’ll need for optimal brain power over the coming weeks. Taking some time out in the kitchen can also be therapeutic so it could be well worth your time!

Keep hydrated – Water is super important but it’s so easily forgotten, especially when you’re working hard! However, even being very slightly dehydrated canaffect your cognitive functions so have a water bottle or glass of water readily available so you can happily sip away throughout your study time.

Get enough sleep – It can often be tempting to stay up late into the night in a desperate bit to cram some extra work in, but I can assure you that if you’re sleep deprived you’ll only risk limiting your progress. Get a good night’s sleep to help you feel refreshed and raring to go the next day.

Take some time out – Although study break should of course be used for studying, you still need to take some time out now and again. This will help keep stress to a minimum and boost productivity – after so long you’ll only find you get more easily distracted anyway. Do something you enjoy or get outside and have a break in the fresh air.

Managing stress with flower essences

If you’re struggling to balance your studies with some chill time, then adding some flower essences to your regime could help you cope that little bit better:

Bowel Essence – if a nervous tum is proving hard to settle then try some Bowel Essence to help calm erratic bowel movements.

Craving Essence – if you find you can’t help but reach for the sweet treats during study time then Craving Essence can help – highs and lows in blood sugar will only lead to energy slumps and mood swings which are the last thing you need during this spell!

Emergency Essence – if you really struggle with the whole concept of study break then Emergency Essence would be your best option. This can help boost your mood and mind, whilst also helping to keep you calm and comforted during this tricky time.