Anxiety triggers the release of cortisol, which can cause your stomach to produce more acid and give you a stomachache. Studies have shown that there is a powerful connection between the brain and the gut, meaning that stress and other emotions can affect your digestive system.
Depending on severity of your anxiety, your body experience symptoms of gastrointestinal distress such as:
Chronic anxiety can increase your risk of conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes, and heart disease.
How to soothe a stomachache
- Stay hydrated: If anxiety or stress has given you a stomachache, it is important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. If you have vomited and find it difficult to keep anything down, take small sips of water throughout the day or suck on ice. Once you are able to drink water without feeling nauseous, you can drink other fluids such as clear soup, fruit juice, decaffeinated tea, or sport drinks.
- Use a heating pad: Heating pads can soothe a stomachache or cramps as well as improve bowel movements. Make sure that the temperature setting is not too high, or it can cause burns.
- Eat fiber and probiotics: If you are constipated, adding fiber and probiotics to your diet can help. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, or other probiotic foods.
- Drink herbal tea: Ginger tea, peppermint tea, and chamomile tea can help relieve a stomachache. Avoid herbal remedies if you are on any medications unless your doctor says it is OK.
8 tips for reducing your anxiety
You can manage symptoms of anxiety with lifestyle changes such as the following:
- Exercise daily: Exercise stimulates the release of endorphins (feel-good hormones). Get moving throughout the day, whether it’s taking brisk walks, jogging, or going to the gym.
- Eat a balanced diet: Anxiety can make you eat too much or too little, and you may be tempted to reach for junk food that gives you instant gratification. Because your diet can affect your mental health, try to eat a healthy, nutritious diet.
- Limit your caffeine intake: Caffeine can give you an adrenaline rush, which can make you more nervous. Limit your intake of caffeinated coffee and sodas.
- Learn to relax: Find time for yourself to relax and de-stress. You can listen to soft music, take a walk, or engage in a hobby such as gardening or playing guitar—whatever makes you feel happy or at peace.
- Try breathing exercises: Just taking deep breaths can calm your mind and help alleviate anxiety.
- Meditate: Meditation provides not only short-term stress relief but also long-term stress management. One of the easiest ways is to practice mindfulness, a type of meditation that involves being in the moment. Simply focus on what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell.
- Connect with family and friends: Seek social support from family and friends. Talking with people you trust is a great way to release pent-up emotions and relieve anxiety.
- Seek counseling: Professional help in the form of therapists or counselors can be key to allowing you to identify thought patterns that cause anxiety and find ways to cope or manage them.
If your anxiety is overwhelming and causing you stomachaches on a regular basis, talk to your doctor. Your doctor may be able to assess your symptoms and rule out other medical conditions that could be causing your anxiety. They may refer you to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist, who can provide you with counseling and prescribe medications such as antidepressants, sedatives, or antianxiety medications.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
How to Calm an Anxious Stomach: The Brain-Gut Connection. https://adaa.org/learn-from-us/from-the-experts/blog-posts/consumer/how-calm-anxious-stomach-brain-gut-connection
Mayer EA, Craske M, Naliboff BD. Depression, anxiety, and the gastrointestinal system. J Clin Psychiatry. 2001;62 Suppl 8:28-36; discussion 37.
Recognizing and easing the physical symptoms of anxiety. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/recognizing-and-easing-the-physical-symptoms-of-anxiety
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