The importance of gut health
More often than not, I have clients struggling with anxiety and depression that also have problems with digestion. Our "gut" says a lot about our overall health, especially our mental health. If our digestive system is not in balance and our parasympthaetic nervous system is not properly activated, we can thus experience a whole slew of extra problems such as immune deficiencies, anxiety, depression, chronic diarrhea, skin/allergy reactions, forgetfulness and fatigue. I meet tons of people who are not aware of our mind-body connection and how important it really is. If you find that you are struggling with issues that you have yet to find a remedy for, it may be time to assess the health of your gut.
How we can attain an unhealthy gut can be by the processed foods we eat, lack of sleep we may get and chronic stress we may experience. Rebalancing our gut ultimately comes from changing our diet and management of stress. Probiotics are helpful, but if our gut is unhealthy, the probiotics will not be absorbed properly.
The vagus nerve is a collection of nerves that leads from our gut to our heart and then to our brain. It plays a huge role in our "rest and digest" system, that many of us may not be aware of. By paying attention to and "activating" our vagus nerve, we can help tone and strengthen it so that it becomes more in connection with our mind and body. Some simple ways of doing so are through breath work, aromatherapy, yoga and gargling. Click on the link above for a great supplemental article that explains more about the vagus nerve and how to strengthen it.
Some breath work exercises to help with healing our digestive system and "waking up" the vagus nerve are:
1. Take a moment to take a breath in from your belly. Take a breath in through your chest. Recognize the difference between the two breaths. Concentrate on how each breath feels and allow yourself to become accustomed to the two different types of breaths.
2. Inhale through your belly, hold for 5 seconds. Exhale slowly through your mouth. Repeat three times.
3. Inhale sharply through your belly 30 times without exhaling. It will look, sound and feel like you are hyperventilating. After 30 belly breaths (or as many as you can get until you work up to to 30), breathe out and hold your exhale as long as you can. Take a breath in and feel the adrenaline sensation that overcomes you.
Here is a complete guide to gut health, the symptoms of an unhealthy gut, and thus how to fix it. These resources by The Holistic Psychologist are extremely helpful -- and I hope they help you personally!