How your anxiety & stress are showing up in your toilet bowl
There is nothing as satisfying as a happy poo in the morning – nice and easy, firm but not hard, no straining, easy to wipe, toilet bowl nice and clean. You feel satisfied after the evacuation takes place. Boom, ready to rock the day.
But you haven’t experienced this in a long while.
You walk around in your day worrying about when the sign will come, when the next meeting is, where the nearest toilet at this conference building is, whether or not someone is in the next cubicle whilst straining for your dear life.
You do your due diligence: you avoid lots of food items (or you “try” to); you take your supplements; you check the location of the toilet in the venue where your friend’s birthday party is; you fuss over the menu; and only God knows how many blogs you have read on gut health!
Your anxiety and overly felt sense of stress is showing up in your toilet bowl. The important thing you have missed in your due diligence is your anxiety and stress response. You are anxious about the conference, your friend’s party, the presentation, and the work meetings. You are stressed with your life, your children’s anxiety, and your work. Everything is getting on your nerves. Your nervous system is constantly in overdrive. Guess what, your gut is not a happy place. Your gut is too busy knotting up and tightening even more as the day goes on. By the time your supplements and carefully selected items of food get to the intestines, they are in a mess. And it shows. In pebble-like hard stools, constipation, loose stools that are eager to come out at the wrong time, diarrhoea just before the meeting hour, bloats as soon as even a glass of water goes down (water, for Goodness sake!), and the stinky stool that begs you to look at it even after five wipes! Oh, and let’s not forget the food that wants to come back up as an acid ball through your burning oesophagus!
Life is a constant struggle with a bad gut. So you find your solace in some “bad” food you are not “supposed” to eat, or get on social media for mindless scrolling, or have some booze, or watch Netflix until 2am, or pick a fight with your partner. You deserve a break! The next morning, you wake up with an uncomfortable stomach again, waiting for the relief that doesn’t come.
Chinese medicine places your digestive system at the centre of your organ system: the Earth element of the five phases. Without going into the complication of the theory, what you need to understand is that Chinese medicine understood that without a healthy gut, nothing can grow or prosper. Probiotics and avoiding obviously irritating food items is a good start. Well, it’s an OK start but it can fall short for many of you who have struggled with your gut health for a long time. If one has gut issues for a prolonged period of time, it leads to disharmony in all other systems. Your body can not sustain itself without the proper conversion and integration of the food you eat. Without the ability to efficiently turn your food into the elements your body needs to function properly, it is only a matter of time before other systems start to suffer. When a female experiences premature menopause, it is only natural that her body will choose to shut down her period in order to conserve the energy to survive. She could take the supplements and nutrients that are good for female hormones but her body does not have the capacity to utilise them.
One school of thought in Chinese medicine traditions treated only the Earth element for all disharmonies of the body, and I have witnessed the power of this approach many times in my own consultation room. For example: a female in her early forties who had prematurely menopaused many years previously got a healthy period again; another female who has only seen dark blood that is accompanied by excruciating pain due to her endometriosis experiences healthy period with no pain; a patient who experienced profuse sweating following menopause experiences much less frequent bursts of sweating. All these changes occurred after the problems in gut health were addressed, and the list goes on.
So how did they do this? A happy poo that tells the tales of a transformation of these patients’ health and wellbeing?
- They are invited to view their “problem” from a new perspective. It’s not that their body is broken, it’s that their body is so clever that it is telling them to “come back home to their body”.
- They are working with a practitioner who shares this view.
- They cultivate this new perspective in their daily lives.
- They start healing the relationship they have with food.
- They eat nourishing foods.
- They get regular acupuncture to “warm” the gut again.
- They show up for their own healing.
This paradigm shift is one of the most important elements of healing the gut: you are not broken: you deserve the time and space to heal.
There are no hacks. There are no magic bullets. If you don’t shift the paradigm and you keep trying to fix what you consider broken, it will remain broken because you believe it to be broken. And if you do not show up for your own healing, no one else can heal your body for you.
My practice has transformed as I started doing the healing work for myself. I used to consider my job to be the fixer, the clever health practitioner who understands your body better than you do, who has more knowledge of ancient medicine as well as biomedicine, therefore is capable of fixing your problems. But that only went so far, as I bitterly came to realise. The above mentioned examples of transformations I have shared with you came about through working with the patients in a much more profound and compassionate way. Rooted deeply in the Daoist medicine tradition of honouring the wisdom of your body, I now consider my job to be the facilitator of any change you are seeking to make and this shift in my own consciousness has helped my patients to experience the meaningful changes they were seeking when they first came to see me.
Your body manifests your spirit. That’s all.
Healing is available to you too, if you will allow it.