Unreasonable deadlines. Getting a flat tire on the way to work. Being stuck in heavy traffic and having too much to do and not enough time to do it. Sound familiar? Most of us are aware of these kinds of daily stresses that get our heart racing and our stomach churning. But, not many of us know how to combat that stress healthily.
It's true that stress can affect your body, thoughts, feelings and your behavior. However, being able to recognize these common signs can give us all a jump on how to proactively handle them.
Stress that's left unchecked can contribute to many health problems, such as, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, according to experts.
So when you think about your stress levels and your gut, there is a correlation. These four tips can help.
1. PRACTICE Yoga
To boost digestion, make sure you’re getting enough physical activity on a consistent schedule. Yoga and pilates are some great low-impact alternatives to other high-intensity stress relievers like walking and running. Yoga exercises focus on alignment and posture, which can aid in soothing gastrointestinal symptoms.
2. MEDITATE MINDFULLY
Research suggests that curating a meditation practice, where you develop a mindful awareness of your daily life, may provide benefits in the long run.
Meditation consists of checking in with yourself and seeing how you are doing. Research over time has also shown that mindfulness works, and deep breathing techniques may lower inflammation, improve sleep and increase focus.
Before you go to bed, try sitting up, closing your eyes and moving away from all distractions around you. Take at least 10 minutes to focus your thoughts and practice deep breathing. Breathing in for a 4-6 count, holding for 4-6 count, and exhale for a 4-6 count. Then repeat. This will help your body relax and get ready for digestion.
3. STOCK UP ON PREBIOTICS AND PROBIOTICS
When it comes to your diet, gravitate toward foods that promote what is called "good gut bacteria," like prebiotics and probiotics. An effective probiotic, taken consistently, can replenish your body with populations of good bacteria, many experts say. Now the only question is, which kind?
We need to be looking for fruits and vegetables with inulin. Try veggies like asparagus, fruits like banana, as well as garlic and onions, which contain prebiotics. Fermented foods, such as kimchi, kombucha, natto, sauerkraut, tempeh and yogurt all contain probiotics, according to Readers Digest. When you consume this on a regular basis, it will help to create the perfect environment for more good bacteria to flourish and support digestion.
4. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
Not only does good, quality sleep help reduces stress and keeps you feeling your best physically and mentally, but research shows that it benefits your gut bacteria as well. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation, any disruption to your natural circadian rhythms (from lack of sleep or jet lag) can throw off the beats of your gut microbes, leading to a depleted microbiome.
That is why it's imperative to get a solid 7–9 hours of sleep every single night, sis — making rest a top priority will restore your body in more ways than you can imagine.
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