Why does stress cause stomach pain?

Why does stress cause stomach pain?

Why does stress cause stomach pain?

Our thoughts and perception drive stress, but why does stress cause stomach pain to the point of needing essential vitamins to help? We must understand some of the science behind stress to answer this question. When you experience stress, your body immediately produces hormones and chemicals to help you be alert and primed should you need to go into survival mode. This reaction is what’s known as the fight-or-flight response.

How does this affect the body?

When we consider stress, most associate it with a stressful event in the recent past, present, or the near future. Other things cause our bodies to produce stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline include pain, fatigue, emotional upset, trauma, and illness.  

This innate and natural survival technique causes several chain reactions in the body. You often experience increased heart rate, raised blood pressure, and prioritisation of oxygen and nutrient-enriched blood to areas like your muscles, brain, eyes, and lungs. This action gives you increased strength, alertness, and capacity to react quickly in the face of danger. Not all, and hopefully very few, stressful situations are life-threatening. However, your body immediately switches on to produce the same chemicals to create this response regardless of the situation.  

On the other hand, some functions get switched off, such as blood flow to your gastrointestinal tract. Blood flow gets diverted away to support other critical areas needed for fight or flight. Stress is a short-term reaction for long-term survival, but long-term stress can cause unwanted digestive problems. Why does stress cause stomach pain? It's usually because stress interrupts digestion. 

Good digestion requires you to be in a state of ‘rest and digest’ rather than fight or flight. With a restricted blood supply, your digestive tract is at a disadvantage, and if you already have weakened digestion, you’re more likely to run into problems. These ‘problems’ vary from person to person. Not only can stress cause stomach pain, but stress also decreases your ability to digest and store all the nutrients from your food. It often only becomes obvious as you develop symptoms related to a nutrient deficiency. Ironically, when you’re stressed, this is when you want your nutrient stores to be at their best.

How do I know stress is affecting my digestion?

Initially, you might notice reduced or no appetite or even tummy discomfort or pain. Some people also notice tension or tightness in the abdominal area. Other signs can include:

• Diarrhoea or looser-than-normal bowel motions
• Constipation
• Gastrointestinal pain
• Nausea
• Reflux
• Heartburn
• Indigestion
• Wind
• Bloating
• Vomiting

Avoid stomach pain

Here are a few tips to prevent or manage stress-induced stomach pain:


• Eating on the run.
• Eating while standing.
• Eating while you work.
• Eating while you’re upset or angry.
• Eating in haste.

Aim to:

• Prepare and smell your foods to get your digestive juices flowing early.
• Eat in a relaxing, positive space.
• Detach from technology.
• Taste and eat mindfully.
• Chew well.
• Rest and relax, or have fun a little after your meal.


You can also manage your stomach discomfort with a supplement to support stress and digestion

Lifestream Aloe Calm is an innovative plant-based blend of Bluenesse Lemon Balm extract to help ease feelings of stress and support mental focus and clarity, and it also contains Aloe Vera and Turmeric to support smooth and natural digestion, and help to settle irritation.

Find Lifestream Aloe Calm here or at all leading pharmacies and health stores nationwide.