The connection between your belly and your mind
Do certain life situations bring about knots or sharp pains in your belly? Life surprises you with a range of emotions. Sometimes intense or unexpected feelings can turn into belly pain.
How do emotions affect your belly?
From joy to anxiety, the emotions you feel impact your gut and your brain, as they're both connected. Your abdomen reacts to physical and psychological states and conditions which can trigger the painful abdominal cramps or knots you may sometimes feel.
Moving to another city
Changes in your life can be unsettling, nerve-racking and can create uncertainty. Your belly feels it too!
Closing a deal
New opportunities and challenges can make you feel like you're unprepared, and your belly can suffer from it.
The nerves and anxiety that arise from speaking in front of a large number of people can often feel like knots in your belly.
How does it affect me?
The emotions you feel have an effect on your belly
The brain and the gut are directly connected through the vagus nerve. This connection, which links the 500 million neurons in the belly to the 100 billion neurons in the brain, occurs in both directions. That means that if something happens in one of them, the other one reacts. Feeling intense emotions will have an effect on your body and mind.
Tips and suggestions
Strike a balance
Pay attention to the connection between your belly and your brain: by taking care of one, you're taking care of the other. Consider some relaxation techniques that help make it easier to cope with stressful situations, such as visualization, music and laughter. You can find more information about these relaxation techniques in the FAQ of this page.
Don't neglect your body
There are situations that can cause a knot in your belly. Learn to soothe your body and relieve stress through activities such as physical exercise and progressive muscle relaxation, a technique that involves tensing and releasing your muscles. Learn more about these activities in the FAQ of this page.
Avoid stressful situations
Identify intense moments or emotions that are triggers for your belly pain. Being more self-aware can be helpful.
Buscopan®, your ally against abdominal cramps, pain and discomfort
If you struggle with painful abdominal cramps and discomfort trust Buscopan® for targeted effective relief. Buscopan® is an antispasmodic that is gentle* and offers a dual benefit – it relaxes the tight muscles to relieve the pain. Buscopan® is available behind the pharmacist’s counter without a prescription. Ask your pharmacist.
Understanding the impact of emotions
- Visualization: close your eyes and imagine yourself in a quiet, pleasant environment, such as a beach, an open field, a cottage, or another place where you would normally feel relaxed.
- Music: in a quiet room, or using headphones to block outside noise, spend a few minutes listening to relaxing instrumental or meditation music
- Laughter: telling or listening to jokes, or encouraging laughter by watching funny television programs, movies or other videos may help to relieve stress. Laughter stimulates the release of endorphins, substances that are responsible for increasing our sense of well-being.
- Wind down and make time for you – read a good book or a magazine, have a relaxing bath, or find your own personal way to chill out, just make the time.
Physical exercise: regular physical exercise, even something as simple as going for a walk, can help relieve tension and improve your mood. You could also try a relaxation therapy like T’ai Chi, meditation or yoga. Yoga is thought to calm your digestive system as well as your mind.
Progressive muscle relaxation: this technique involves tensing and then relaxing muscles in your body. It is best to do this exercise in a quiet room, while comfortably seated or lying down. Starting at your head, squeeze your facial muscles as tight as you can, hold for a few seconds, and then relax. Notice the difference. Gradually work your way down to each body part until you reach your toes, tensing and relaxing as you go.
The brain and the belly are linked by the brain-gut axis. This connection drives the stress that affects one area to impact the other. For example, being stressed can cause the feeling of knots in your belly, while on the other hand a knot in your belly can make you stressed.
UNC [Internet]. Chapel Hill: The UNC Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders [quoted May 8, 2020]. Stress and the Gut.http://www.med.unc.edu/ibs/files/2017/10/Stress-and-the-Gut.pdf
Right as rain [Internet]. Seattle: University of Washington; 2017 [cited May 11, 2020]. The Gut-Brain Axis: How Bacteria in Your Belly Are Messing With Your Mind. https://rightasrain.uwmedicine.org/body/gut-brain-axis-gut-microbiome
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Harvard Health Publishing [Internet]. Cambridge: Harvard Medical School [cited May 12, 2020]. The gut-brain connection. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-gut-brain-connection
Health Cleveland Clinic [Internet]. Cleveland: Cleveland Clinic [updated Oct 06, 2016; cited May 13, 2020]. Gut-Brain Connection. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16358-gut-brain-connection
Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester: Mayo Clinic [updated May 21, 2019; cited May 13, 2020]. Prebiotics, probiotics and health. https://www.mayoclinic.org/en-us/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058
Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester: Mayo Clinic [updated February 9th, 2018]. Types of relaxation techniques. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/relaxation-technique/art-20045368?pg=2
Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester: Mayo Clinic [updated Nov 28, 2018; cited May 11, 2020]. Exercise and stress: get moving to manage stress. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469
Sanofi Consumer Healthcare Inc. (2021). Prescribing information and patient medication information
*Buscopan® is a substance that blocks the effect of acetylcholine (neurotransmitter). Side affects are generally mild and limited.