I Have a Gut Feeling: Five messages your stomach may be sending you.

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“I have a gut feeling…”

How many times have you used that phrase or something like it?

Obviously, check with a doctor if you’re having persistent medical symptoms to rule out any physical cause. But barring a diagnosed medical issue (and many times even in the presence of actual gut illness), our digestive systems often reflect our emotional state in a very “real-time” way. Do any of these thoughts, symptoms, and translations feel familiar to you?

1. I feel like I could throw up.” Is there something you’re not saying? A message you need to share with someone important? Or a feeling that has been unexpressed for far too long? People often feel nauseous when they’re anxious. Anxiety is so often, at least in part, an accumulation of unexpressed feelings such as fear and lack of control. Try expressing your feelings to someone you trust. Therapy can be helpful, or if you’re not ready for that, try writing your feelings down in a journal or letter you may or may not send and see if that helps with the nausea.

2. “My stomach is tied in knots.” You’re likely facing a difficult decision, and don’t know which way to turn. Your stomach is painting a picture of a poorly planned highway system with overpasses and underpasses and cloverleaf patterns that lead to nowhere. Deep breaths and calm are what is called for here to reduce your internal stress. Close your eyes and picture a smooth, peaceful road or path leading to…where? Be open to hearing from your gut – when you imagine exiting the superhighway of confusion and anxiety, where does that road lead?

3. “It burns.” Examine your eating patterns over the past few days. Chances are you’ve been eating emotionally and are experiencing some discomfort related to that. But what your gut may also be telling you is that your heart is hurting (is that why we call it heartburn?). Place your hand over your heart and send yourself some love. Breathe deeply and send a message of love to your gut, and plan to eat carefully and mindfully over the next day or two, as a way of rebalancing your digestive system and loving yourself.

4. “Everything goes right through me.” If you’ve been cleared by a doctor and aren’t physically ill, your persistent diarrhea may be due to a sped-up nervous system. Drink plenty of water to help flush the nasty stuff out of your system, eat healthily, go for a short, gentle walk, and spend some time in reflection about what toxins exist in your life that need to be expelled. Talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about what changes you might need to make in your life.

5. “I have a good gut feeling about this.” Fortunately, our stomachs aren’t just there to give us the bad news. If your stomach is settled and your digestive system feels at peace, consider that may be a message from deep inside that you’re on the right track. Place your hand on your stomach and send your digestive system some gratitude.

Our digestive systems have so much to tell us about our physical and emotional health. Are you listening?

Originally published May 4, 2015

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