Can Stress Cause Bloating – What Is Stress and Bloating?

Written by: Shreya Manerkar – MA (Psychology)

Last updated date : October 11, 2022

You have a report due in 12 hours. It looks perfect to you, but your boss always finds flaws. Every time you have a deadline, your stomach starts to feel uncomfortable again. You observe a repeated pattern that makes you wonder – can stress cause bloating? What is the link between stress and bloating?

In this article, you will understand what is stress and how it affects our body. You will also understand if stress causes bloating. Along with this, we will give you simple ways to deal with stress.

Here are some key terms that you will come across in the following sections of the article. We will break down these concepts in simple words so that the article is easy to understand.

  • Stress – In simple words, stress is a feeling of emotional or physical strain. People can feel stress because of an event or thought that makes them angry or anxious.
  • Bloating– It is a physical condition where the stomach feels full and tight. This feeling of bloating can cause discomfort. Stress can cause bloating.
  • Anxiety– Our body alerts us about potential danger when we face a stressful situation. Anxiety is a normal reaction.


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Chapter 1:

The Never-Ending Cycle of Stress

Let us revisit the report example to understand how stress can keep on increasing as the deadline approaches. Take a minute to think of what you tell yourself when you start preparing the report. When you start working on the report, you focus on completing it on time. However, as the deadline comes close and you are reaching the final stages of completion, you notice the change in self-talk. While you change the way you talk to yourself, you will also see body changes.

If we ask you to write down every thought and physical change you have when you go to hand over your report to your boss, you will say you have lived every negative scenario in your head. This can cause a lot of stress. And as the stress increases it causes bloating and stomach pain.

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Chapter 2:

How Can Stress and Anxiety Cause Bloating?

When you face a stressful situation, you may not eat food or overeat. Moreover, you may start eating junk food. As a result of this, your digestion gets affected and the body undergoes stress, which then can cause bloating.

Stress is the body’s signal that it will either fight the challenging situation or run away. Many times, we may avoid a stressful situation and feel better. However, what about situations that we cannot avoid? In such situations, the stress affects our body and can cause bloating.

Alternately, if you are always bloating, you may wonder what is wrong with you. Bloating can be very uncomfortable and embarrassing, which can add to stress and anxiety.

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Chapter 3:

Will the Bloating Go Away?

The good news is, yes, the bloating can reduce. Sometimes, it goes away on its own. At other times, when things go back to ‘normal’, the bloating also goes away. However, what about situations that cause stress all the time? Then will the bloating reduce? Should you focus on reducing stress or bloating? What do you think?

While it would be great if we could control when our body bloats or not, it is impossible. The good news however is that we can control the way we look at stress. This means that we can control the way we react to stressful situations and handle them in a better way.

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Chapter 4:

How Do I Cope with Stress and Bloating?

When your mind goes into the fight or flight response, your body goes into alert mode. This means that the body will try and deal with the situation by using all its resources. Feeling stomach bloating is one of the biggest outcomes caused by stress. Hence, we need to work on reducing our stress to reduce the feelings of bloating.

When bloated, it is important to let the gas pass. Holding it in will only cause more discomfort. Though we understand that bloating can be very embarrassing, there are some remedies you can use to deal with the issue.

Over-The-Counter Medicine

One effective way of reducing bloating is by taking over-the-counter medicine. Such medicines are beneficial if the bloating is caused by indigestion or even stress.

Lifestyle Changes

Along with medicine, it is important to change some food habits to reduce bloating. For example, avoid having carbonated drinks. While some food cause bloating, try avoiding them, especially when you are in a high-stress situation. To understand what diet changes to make, consult a doctor and understand what are the different food options that suit your body.

Exercise

Another important method of reducing bloating caused by stress is exercise. Whether it is a brisk walk, jog or run, or cardio session, exercise has two benefits. Firstly. when bloated, it helps expel gas that can cause pain. Secondly, exercise can also help us feel happy and reduce stress.

Therefore, it is important to engage in a 30-45-minute mild to moderate intensity of exercise.

Try Yoga

Trying specific yoga poses can be beneficial. You can try doing the cat-cow pose, torso twist, extended triangle pose, sphinx pose, and extended puppy pose. While this is a basic list, we recommend joining a yoga class to understand the different yoga poses that can be helpful.

Maintain a Journal

It is important to be aware of your feelings and thoughts at the time of stress. Along with this, it is important to understand if stress causes bloating. Here is a simple way to track how you feel and your body’s reaction.

Take a notebook and make four columns. In the first column, write the event that is causing stress. In the second column, write your thoughts, in the third, write your feeling and finally in the last column, add any bodily sensations.

When you keep a note of these aspects of stress, you will come to know how stress can cause bloating.

Meet an Expert

Sometimes, meeting an expert can help you deal with all these issues. You can visit a nutritionist and a psychologist. A nutritionist will help you change your diet and eat food that will not cause bloating. A psychologist on the other hand will help you understand what you are feeling and how to deal with them.

Stress and bloating can give rise to a lot of negative emotions. As we mentioned earlier, it can be uncomfortable going out in public when we are bloated. You may feel anxious, annoyed, and frustrated when the bloating continues. Therefore, we recommend enrolling in our self-help course on Managing IBS. Along with this, we also recommend checking out our course on Low self-esteem. Both these courses will help you work on your body and mind.


"Quick online learning, thanks!" Susan

92 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount