Stress bloating is real! Here’s why stress can even lead to stomach ache

Stress bloating happens when stress and anxiety take a toll on your digestive system. Here is how to avoid it.
Stress bloating
Bloating due to stress and anxiety is common. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Anjuri Nayar Singh Published: 10 Jan 2024, 17:00 pm IST
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While digestion issues, periods and ovulation can lead to bloating, it is also true that being worried or anxious about something can have the same effect on your body. Stress bloating, or bloating caused due to anxiety and worry, is possible. You can feel it deep down in your stomach, and it may result in cramping, nausea, and even something that we call ‘butterflies in the tummy’.

So, if you have also been feeling worry in your gut, quite literally, get to know more about stress bloating and how to get rid of it.

What do you mean by stress bloating?

Stress bloating simply means bloating because of worry, stress and anxiety. “Stress-induced bloating is a common occurrence where heightened stress levels can lead to digestive issues. The body’s response to stress may disrupt normal digestion, causing gas and bloating,” explains psychiatrist Dr. Pavana S.

A woman experiencing worry and stomach ache.
Stress can lead to various gastric issues, including acid reflux, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Image courtesy: Freepik

Is anxiety stomach pain real?

Yes, anxiety can cause real stomach pain. “The gut-brain connection is strong, and stress and anxiety can trigger physical symptoms in the stomach, such as pain, cramping, and discomfort. This response is due to the connection between what we call a Gut Brain Axis,” says Dr Pavana. The gut brain axis links the emotional and the cognitive parts of the brain with the intestinal functions.

Hence, anxiety and stomach problems are intertwined. Stress and anxiety can lead to real digestive issues, causing symptoms like stomach pain, bloating, and discomfort. “The brain-gut connection highlights how mental health influences digestive well-being. Managing anxiety through various strategies can positively impact overall stomach health,” says Dr Pavana.

How long can stress bloating last?

The duration of stress-induced bloating varies from person to person. “It can be temporary, lasting a short period, or persist for an extended time depending on stress levels, coping mechanisms, and overall health,” says Dr Pavana. Addressing the root causes of stress and adopting healthy lifestyle habits can help manage and reduce bloating over time.

How to fix stress bloating?

There are some practical ways to keep stress bloating at bay. Following these would help in enhancing overall health and wellness of the body as well.

1. Deep breathing

Practice deep, slow breaths. This is essential to relax the nervous system, thus, easing digestive tension.

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2. Hydration

Water solves everything! Drinking plenty of water helps aid digestion. This, in turn, reduces bloating, making you instantly feel better.

3. Exercise

Engaging in regular physical activity can not only help you lose weight, but keep you happier as well. Exercise, when done regularly, goes a long way in alleviating stress levels and promote healthy digestion.

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4. Dietary changes

It is very important to opt for a balanced and a fiber-rich diet. Also, be careful and avoid trigger foods that may exacerbate bloating.

5. Stress management techniques

Incorporate activities like meditation, yoga, or mindfulness to address the underlying stress contributing to bloating. These methods promote relaxation and overall well-being, positively impacting digestive health.

Also Read: Is stress stopping you from losing your stubborn belly fat?

What are the ways to avoid stress bloating?

There are some strategies to help you prevent stress bloating, shares Dr Pavana.

1. Add probiotics and prebiotics to your diet

Incorporate probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, and fermented vegetables into your diet. These introduce beneficial bacteria to your gut. Prebiotic foods, like garlic, onions, and asparagus, provide nourishment for these good bacteria.

2. Ensure a balanced diet

Consume a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A diverse diet ensures that your gut microbiota gets a variety of nutrients to thrive.

3. Stress management

Stress is a significant disruptor of the gut-brain connection. Engage in relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or yoga to reduce stress and support gut health.

A woman drinking water
Good hydration can help keep stress bloating at bay. Image courtesy: Freepik

4. Indulge in adequate sleep

Prioritise quality sleep, as sleep disturbances can negatively affect gut health and overall mental well-being.

5. Limit antibiotics and medications

When possible, avoid unnecessary antibiotic use and discuss with your healthcare provider alternative treatments that may not disrupt your gut microbiota.

What are the other gastric problems that stress can cause?

Stress can contribute to various gastric issues, including acid reflux, indigestion, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). “Heightened stress levels can disrupt the balance of digestive processes, leading to increased stomach acid production, altered gut motility, and exacerbated symptoms,” says Dr Pavana. Managing stress is crucial for maintaining optimal gastrointestinal health.

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About the Author

Anjuri Nayar Singh has over 12 years of experience in writing for various topics including lifestyle, films, television and OTT. She also writes on art and culture, education and human interest stories. ...Read More

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