You may think your Ex is the biggest issue to overcome in your divorce process, but you may end up battling with your digestive system as well. Your brain and your gut are deeply connected, and the level of stress you experience both emotionally and physically affects these important organs.
The body’s digestive system is sensitive. It’s not only working hard for you daily to minimize pathogens and maximize nutrition absorption, it also has to manage the hormones that get triggered when you’re upset, anxious, fearful or angry.
Your brain is the starting point of your digestion. It determines whether your body will be in what is called sympathetic or parasympathetic mode depending on your external environment and how you feel.
You can think of these two parts of your nervous system as being the gas and the breaks. The sympathetic system is the stress responder and kicks in when you feel overwhelmed by something in your life. The parasympathetic system is the natural and relaxed state most of us want to be in regularly.
Simply put, when you're functioning in a sympathetic mode your digestion is compromised because your body is ready to fight or run. Maybe you’ve noticed symptoms like loss of appetite, weight loss or knots in your stomach. This is your body’s way of telling you that your digestion is off.
When you’re calm, and practice calming techniques, your digestive system is fluid and ready to work well for you. It’s prepared and expecting to receive nutritious food and to store or use that food so you have energy and fuel for your day.
There are many things you can do to minimize the impact that your divorce stress puts on your digestive system and your body as a whole.
Below are 6 ways to keep a healthy mind-body connection during divorce.
1. Body connection.
Treat your body and the systems you can’t see with respect. Your body works so hard for you all of the time, and appreciating this miracle while remembering to treat it well will keep you more connected on a mind-body level. Adding a gratitude practice around your food, and a mind-body practice like yoga are good places to start.
2. Make a conscious shift.
Make an effort to trigger your parasympathetic system by sending the right messages. Using deep breathing and slowing down will signal your brain that things are calm (even if they’re not). You need to literally send the message to your brain that it doesn't need to message an S.O.S. to your digestive tract.
3. Make time for peaceful meals.
Make every meal you can a pleasant and slow experience. Chew your food well (this helps a lot with digestion), set a nice table, turn off your phone or TV, and use the time as a healthy self-care practice. There is nothing more important than your health, and your health starts with your digestion.
4. Trust your body.
Listen to your body above all else. If you’re not hungry or if you crave something specific be sure to honor that. Healthy fats and protein can be soothing during a stressful time, but try to make the healthiest choices within these food groups. Divorce isn't an excuse to sabotage your body's ability to do its job.
5. Eat smaller meals.
You may want to shift over to eating several smaller meals throughout your day. Even if you’re not hungry you still need nutrition to maintain your health and wellbeing. Packing food ahead of time will reduce the chances of making unhealthy choices on the run, and eating home more often will lead to a more balanced diet.
6. You are what you eat.
This isn’t just a saying. Your body only gets nutrition from what it absorbs so skipping meals or eating non-nutritious food, literally leaves you running on empty. Make good food choices by picking nutrient dense foods that are organic and seasonal, and avoid empty calories.