Emotion: The Gut-Brain Connection
Written by: Seada
What would our lives be like without the existence of emotions? Can the emotions of hate and love be separated? Can sadness and happiness occur simultaneously? What about the feelings of disgust and surprise?
If you have ever stepped on a Lego hard enough, your know it made your eyes water. You may also have noticed that your skin grew hot, your pulse became elevated, and you may have uttered some foul words. This behavioral response is your bodies attempt to scream, “Ouch! Danger!”
Our emotions start in the gut, not in the brain. The gut is your second brain. Think about the Lego situation and the physical response to the emotion of pain. In moments of heightened feeling, we don’t verbally process emotions. Instead, we respond to an unpleasant situation by use of one of the three stress responses: fight, flight, or freeze. It is only later, in a calmer state of being, that we can verbally explain our emotional reaction to an repulsive or pleasant situation. Pretty neat, right?
A significant percentage of the body’s serotonin (a feel-good hormone) is produced in the gut. One of the many ways to activate serotonin is to learn unique coping skills to de-stress the body’s response. Coping with stress also helps to prevent the production of cortisol and adrenaline (stress hormones). Let’s examine the feeling of being bloated. It feels awful. Your belly distends, and you may feel tense and uneasy. Those 7 brand jeans don’t fit well. Bloating is the result of excessive cortisol and adrenaline. You’re too stressed out!
Understanding the relationship between the mind, the gut, and our emotions can help us recognize our triggers as well as learn different coping patterns and implement strategies to overcome them.