Is There A Connection Between Stress And Constipation?

By Ashley Brown|Updated August 18, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC

Have you ever imagined that a counselor could help you get over chronic constipation? It may sound strange, but sometimes that's just what you need. If you experience stress and constipation at the same time, they could very well be related. Once you understand how stress can cause the discomfort you're feeling, you can take steps to reduce your stress and learn how to deal with it better. This article will explain the correlation and provide details on how to get relief for this issue.

Human life is nothing short of a miracle. Your body is made up of interconnected systems, each of which is incredibly delicate. Your entire digestive system is particularly sensitive, responding to substances and circumstances in your environment. Whenever you are stressed, it can slow down and cause you issues when trying to go to the bathroom.

Normally, your bowels move waste through your system smoothly as your nerves activate the smooth muscles of your colon. However, when the nerves aren't firing correctly because of stress, the muscles don't move the way they should. When the nerves don't fire often enough or regularly enough, constipation can result. This is common and happens to many people. In fact, there are multiple ways to treat it, and it doesn't have to be a long-term issue for you.

The fact is that everyone experiences stress from time to time. It can make your life harder, but in some instances, it doesn't harm you. In others, it does, and it can have long-lasting effects. Psychology Today says stress is a pressure put on a person, as well as how your body responds to that pressure. Since you know that there is a good chance that you will always have a bit of stress in your life, it is a good idea to pay attention to the triggers, and lessen them when you can.

What Can Cause Stress?

Wondering If There Is A Connection Between Stress And Constipation?

There are many things that can cause stress for you, especially when you feel like something came on suddenly or is putting extra pressure on you. Here is a list of some of the major culprits.

  • Upcoming weddings or social events
  • Big projects at work
  • Car accidents
  • Financial woes
  • Relationship issues
  • Health scares

There are so many things that can cause you stress, and there isn't a certain amount that harms your digestion. The amount and the cause are different for everyone, and can constantly change. For this reason, it is important to do your best not to panic, in circumstances that are hard for you.

Stress and IBS

If you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), stress can be a major trigger for diarrhea or constipation. This syndrome can be associated with either of these. The symptoms typically get worse whenever stress increases. If you do have IBS, an M.D. can prescribe medications to help relieve the symptoms. These prescriptions work best if you take care of the stress in your life.

Eliminating Stressors

Everyone has a certain amount of stress in their lives. Without it, it's hard to feel motivated or energetic enough to accomplish anything. Yet, if your stress level gets too high, your body can seem to betray you. One way to reduce stress is to eliminate stressors in your life. For example, if you've taken on too much volunteer work, you could reduce your stress level by choosing one charity to help with. If you're in a toxic relationship, ending it can make you feel calmer and allow your bowels to work as they should.

There's really no way to eliminate all the stressors in your life. The world is simply too complex to avoid everything that's upsetting, frustrating, and worrying. So, you'll still need to learn how to better deal with the stress that remains after you eliminate all possible sources of stress. The first part of dealing with stress is identifying the people and situations that make you feel tense. Then, you can learn techniques to minimize harmful reactions to stress. This may include adding helpful things to your daily routine or seeking out a professional's help.

What Else Can I Do?

Besides just working on the causes of your stress, you can concentrate on making sure you aren't experiencing constipation for a different reason. Many people go through it on a regular basis, but there are steps you can take to lessen the effects.

  • Exercise. A great way to de-stress is to start exercising. It not only can help you work through your problems in a way that is good for your health, but when you move around, your digestive system will keep functioning properly. Another bonus is that you will be able to sleep better after exercising, which is also good for your system. Do not worry if you don't like to work out, since you can start small. Walk around the neighborhood or go swimming a couple times a week.
  • Get an Outlet. If you already work out, you may want to get a new hobby, so you can limit your stress. Try something simple like playing video games or writing in a journal, and utilize these options when you have had a bad day. Sometimes a small release of emotions can make a big difference.
  • Don't Endure Alone. When you have a bad day that stressed you out, there's no reason to stay by yourself. Even if you don't feel like it, hang out with your mate or a good friend and do something fun. Go see a comedy in the theater or reminisce about old times. This is sure to make you laugh, which can help relax you.
  • Remember to Breathe. Even if you are having trouble, remember to breathe. When you ensure that you take the time to breathe and relax, it can do you a lot of good. Your body will not think you are hyperventilating. Some people also count on meditation or yoga to help with this. You might want to try these things as well, just so you can take a short break to decompress each day.
  • Watch What You Eat. You need to watch what you eat if you want to make sure that you are going to the bathroom regularly. One thing you must pay attention to is that you are eating a proper amount of fiber. Fiber helps move everything through your colon, so that it doesn't slow down and cause constipation. At the same time, you will also need to make sure that your fluid intake is proper. Drink water or green tea when you are thirsty and to stay hydrated. Some people even use coffee to help get their bowels moving.
  • Rule out Medical Problems. You should also rule out any medical problems that are causing your constipation, especially if it is chronic. The worst part about stress causing constipation is that constipation can also be stressful. This makes the whole process a vicious cycle that needs to be evaluated, so that you can get relief. Talk to a doctor if you think that there is something else going on with your body. Conditions that can cause constipation are pregnancy, diabetes, depression, and thyroid issues.

When you are experiencing so much stress that it is causing chronic constipation, you need relief as soon as possible. With the help of a professional therapist, you can practice stress-reducing methods and make them a part of your daily life. When you do, your constipation will likely diminish. The experts at BetterHelp can be of assistance in teaching you how to lower your stress levels, talking about your problems, and also provide you with the tools you need to manage your day-to-day stress better. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"I really enjoyed my time with Jorge! His mindful approach worked well for me and his advice he gave me through the messenger when I was in a time of deep stress was very helpful. I would certainly recommend him."

Wondering If There Is A Connection Between Stress And Constipation?

"I decided to start talking to Aya during a challenging time in my life, and have found her perspective and kindness to be very helpful in staying on top of my stress levels throughout this time. She is great at checking in and is a consistent source of support, insightful questions, and alternative ideas for managing stress."

Conclusion

There is a strong link between stress and constipation, but that is not the only issue that stress can cause for your body. It is imperative to get help managing stress and ensuring that you are going to the bathroom regularly. Surprisingly, a professional counselor can help you figure these things out, and you can feel better right away. Stress doesn't have to hold you back in life - all you need are the right tools to move forward. Take the first step today.

Other Commonly Asked Questions

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