How In The World Does Self Care Heal Your Gut?
I've been seeing, hearing and reading a lot about self care. Self care is about doing something that makes you happy, content or mindful about you or your surroundings. It may be an activity you treat yourself to such as a massage or facial. It could be taking a yoga class or going for a hike in the woods. It could mean you take a bubble bath and spend some time alone. Whatever the activity of self care means to you, is the self care you need to participate in.
But did you know self care helps heal your gut? That's right. If you are suffering from bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, brain fog, headaches or abdominal pain, your gut needs help. Suffering with the negative effects of an unhealthy gut makes your life miserable. You are afraid to go on social outings for fear of having to find a public bathroom or worse, being so backed up it is hard to eat, drink or be merry.
Now, if you think my definition of self care is a little suspect (I can't help it if I enjoy taking a yoga class for self care), then here is what Forbes Magazine defines as self care. In the article, 10 Easy Habits To Get You Started Practicing Self Care, the following are part of self care:
Eating something green every day
Going for a light jog or run
Laughing heartily once a day
Learn to say No
Start a journal
Avoid emotional eating
Choose who you spend time with
Take a break when you need it
Meditate or do deep breathing for 5 minutes
The list in Forbes may be overwhelming or make you feel like you don't know where to start. I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist teaching others how to stop suffering from an unhealthy gut so they can get back to living.
I offer a 30 minute FREE consultation, where we can talk about how you are feeling and if the Simply Great Gut Health plan can work for you.
Simply Great Gut Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your gut and fits your busy lifestyle. You will learn strategies to heal your gut, including self care.
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Below are the ways that self care can heal your gut:
When your stressed, your gut health suffers. Have you ever had that tightness in your stomach or feel like you are going to throw up if you have to give a presentation in front of a large audience? That is stress that is affecting your digestive health.
The gut has a direct communication pathway to the mind. So when we get stressed, it results in physical symptoms in your gut. Stress affects movement and contractions of the GI tract, make inflammation worse, or perhaps make you more susceptible to infection. (Source: Harvard Health Publishing)
When you practice self care, you are relieving stress. The relaxation response helps to reduce and even reverse the physical, mental, and emotional effects of stress. Activating the relaxation response helps to facilitate the experience of that all-important, but often elusive, quality: serenity/inner peace/peace of mind. (Source: Psychology Today)
MAKES YOU EAT/DRINK BETTER
Self care includes how and what we eat. When we aren't taking care of ourselves, we tend to eat foods that are processed, not clean and drink unhealthy drinks like soda or alcohol. But when we are focused on taking care of our self, we eat healing foods such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains. We also drink for our health such as healing smoothies or drinks like Kombucha.
Focusing on eating healing foods helps to relieve inflammation in the digestive tract and the negative symptoms we feel when we aren't eating well. I am not recommending that you start to follow a specific diet for self care. Instead, find the foods that make you feel good and avoid the ones that give you troubles.
HELPS YOU SLEEP BETTER
Meditation and deep breathing helps relieve stress, allowing you to sleep better. Most of us know the terrible side effects of not sleeping well. The tossing, turning and waking up feeling tired does not help our digestive system work well. Sleep deprivation causes irritability, poor cognition, impaired reflexes and response time (think: car accidents!), and chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to depression and anxiety. (Source: Harvard Health Publishing) Given what we learned earlier about how our gut and brain communicate with each other, it is easy to see why sleep deprivation impacts our gut health.
Meditation and deep breathing helps relieve stress and restore calm to our body, helping our gut to work properly. It doesn't take long either. Meditation has the ability to increase pain tolerance while also decreasing anxiety, depression, and the use of pain medication. Meditation has been used successfully as a pain management technique for people who suffer from a variety of conditions, including headaches, lower back pain, chest pain, and gastrointestinal discomfort. (Source: FoodMatters)
There are a ton of free meditations on YouTube for digestive health support. One of my favorites is this 7 minute meditation for improved digestion. Click here to access it.
I hope you learned about how self care can help heal your gut. By taking time for yourself, you will reduce stress, eat and drink better and sleep better. Self care is just one aspect of how you can heal your gut, stop the suffering and get back to living.
Do you already have a self care routine or has this post inspired you to try self care? Let me know by leaving me a comment below.