Stress Less to Ease Heartburn
BY: Kate Meyers
Traffic. Office politics. Deadlines. Without blinking, most of us can list 10 things that stress us out every day. And if you suffer from heartburn, just thinking about these things can start that burning feeling in your chest. “When people are under stress, their awareness of pain increases,” says Dr. David Puera, a gastroenterologist, professor at the University of Virginia and past president of the American Gastroenterological Association. In addition, stress can lead to behaviors that aggravate heartburn, like overeating, smoking, and drinking alcohol or caffeine. It’s no surprise then that a National Heartburn Alliance survey revealed that 58 percent of heartburn sufferers said their episodes were related to “hectic lifestyle” and 52 percent cited work-related stress.
While there’s no way to avoid many of life’s daily stressors, you can minimize your body’s reaction to them, and in doing so, reduce the amount of heartburn you experience. Here, three simple ways to ease out of an emotional spin.
1. Breathe deep.
As they say in yoga class, breathing is mandatory. It’s also an easy anytime-anywhere way to calm yourself down. Try sitting in a comfortable place with your feet on the floor, hands in your lap and eyes closed; then visualize a peaceful place while inhaling and exhaling slowly and deeply.
2. Move more.
We all know exercise is good for just about everything -- including alleviating stress. But sometimes we psych ourselves out by thinking we need to put in a full-on workout to feel better. Not true, says Joan Pagano, a New York-based fitness consultant and author of Strength Training for Women. Pagano suggests getting in two or three 10- to 15-minute blocks of exercise every day. Instead of a midmorning coffee break, afternoon trip to the vending machine or evening Internet surf, take a 10-minute stretching break, 12-minute stroll or 15-minute bike ride around the neighborhood.
3. Laugh well.
Whether it’s a round of Taboo or an episode of “The Simpsons,” allowing yourself a good daily guffaw not only helps your mood, it cools down your stress response. And if you’re lucky, it may even put whatever’s making your forehead wrinkly in its proper place.
Kate Meyers, a Live Right Live Well contributing writer, is
a Colorado-based writer whose work has appeared in O, InStyle and Women’s Health. She also pens the blog I
Am Mini Van.