Do you suffer from an inflated abdomen? An inflated belly is characterized by the fact that your belly feels hard(er) and rounder and is literally like that. It feels as if you have eaten too much. It looks like you are overweight, while this does not have to be the cause. You squeeze your chunks, which made the bloated belly worse, and soon you loosen your belt.
It can be difficult and downright annoying when you walk around with a bloated feeling in your belly. Some people have to deal with it on a daily basis. Did you know that a bloated feeling in your stomach can be a sign of stress? In this blog I’ll tell you more about stress, how it can make you feel bloated and how to deal with stress.
This does not seem a logical statement at first sight. Still, you can say that stress is a biological and helping function of your body. It is a natural reaction of your body with which it wants to deal with a challenge or a threatening situation (the stressor).
Your body is getting ready to fight or flee. In way it was very helpful for our ancestors and they could react to danger in a very natural way. When the threatening situation was over, the body returned to its original resting position.
The relationship bloating and stress
So how does the body prepare for a fight reaction or a flight reaction? When there is a threat, our autonomic nervous system takes the lead and creates a certain physical reaction pattern. This is what we call general adaptive syndrome. It works the same for everyone. The blood supply to the heart, brain and muscles increases, allowing you to react and think faster.
The blood supply to the digestive system, on the other hand, is decreasing. In this way, the body ensures that no energy is lost to bodily functions, which are not used immediately in case of an emergency. And here’s the catch. The intestinal functions are slowed down so that constipation, which is a delayed bowel movement, can occur. This is often accompanied by the annoying bloating.
Chronic stress and frequent gastrointestinal complaints
Whereas our ancestors used to have to deal with short-term threats that they literally had to deal with, nowadays we have more to deal with all kinds of challenges that can cause constant stress, especially as a challenge to our minds. All those things that demand our attention at the same time and that we feel we should be able to do at the same time, create stress. At the same time we ignore small signals from our body, sometimes swallowing a pill more, until we really get something to bother us.
So nowadays we have more to do with chronic stress. It also happens that the body remains in a stress mode, while the threatening situation is no longer there. Even then you speak of chronic and therefore unhealthy stress. The body and mind no longer recover by themselves. Your body can become exhausted.
The parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system that normally returns to the resting state of your body, is stopped when you worry and have to focus for too long in a row. This branch of the nervous system plays an important role in digestion. Once again the link can be made with your bloated feeling. Research has also shown that if you suffer from an irritable bowel, the symptoms of this condition worsen with stress. Finally, our immune system is also affected by chronic stress.
Stress is personal
Stress can be caused by traumas, loss of a loved one, unemployment, too much work pressure, but also by a day full of small annoyances. In fact, such a day can cause as much damage as one strong and intense challenge or threatening situation.
How you react to stress depends very much on your personal characteristics. Every person reacts differently to a threatening situation. This depends very much on the way you interpret this situation as threatening and to what extent you feel you can still influence the difficult situation.
What can you do about feeling bloated by stress?
It is important to ensure that the stress in your body is reduced. But how do you do that? In the first instance, exercise is the main point of attention for you. Exercise is good for your overall functioning, both physically and mentally.
In addition, relaxation exercises can help you learn how to recognize signals of tension in your abdominal area and how to relax the tense muscles in the abdominal area.
We have an extensive article ready for you about the symptoms of burnout. In this article we go into all the symptoms and associated complaints.
Reducing stress from within
In addition, increasing your psychological resilience is very important when it comes to reducing stress-related complaints. You can influence yourself to strengthen your resilience. It can be necessary and helpful to make use of a coach. It’s about learning how to deal with situations that are exciting or threatening to you.
What do you feel and think? Can you look at it differently? Sometimes a reassessment of an unpleasant situation is necessary to get a more realistic view of the situation that is frightening for you. Give space to your thoughts and understand more what is bothering you. Also try to acknowledge your feelings and give space to them. It can also help to see how other people deal with stress.
Maybe you can benefit from the way they have found a way to deal with challenging situations.
Humor as a medicine
One last tip. If you succeed in discovering something laughable in every challenging or threatening situation, you have found a strong cure for stress. Not only does it improve your mood, but your body relaxes as well.
And that’s what it takes to make your bloating go away. If you may be a little less positive, you can always try to detect positive moments in your daily life. Look for the meaningful meaning that events have for you and stick to what you find important in everything that comes your way.
(Source: Zimbardo, P.G et al.(2009). Psychology an introduction. 6th edition. Pearson Benelux B.V.)
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