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Expert Advice

4 Ways to Stress Less

Understanding the stress-heartburn connection

Sponsored By: PRILOSEC OTC ®

4 Ways to Stress Less

First things first: Stress does not cause heartburn.

But stress can prompt you to lapse into what experts call trigger behaviors. Some all-too-common examples? Stress eating, for one, which might involve consuming too much at any one meal or indulging in high-fat comfort foods, either of which can result in heartburn. Others are reaching for coffee, cigarettes or alcohol when you’re feeling the pressure.

Plus, stress may increase your sensitivity to the pain caused by a heartburn episode. So if heartburn happens, it may feel worse.

If you suffer from stress-related heartburn, you’re far from alone. In a recent survey, stress was associated with more than 50% of all heartburn episodes.

Here are four strategies to help you stave off stress when it strikes.

1. Exercise regularly. Regular exercise can significantly reduce stress while keeping you fit and healthy. In addition, it increases your energy levels and improves your sleep quality—two important factors in controlling stress and reducing tension.

2. Breathe deeply. Breathing isn’t just something that keeps us alive—it can also clear our heads and calm us down. Stress causes muscles to tense up and our breathing to become shallow, depriving our body of oxygen.

When you’re angry, anxious or otherwise aggravated, adhere to the age-old advice to count to 10. But use those 10 counts to breathe deeply, fully inflating and emptying your lungs with each breath. You’ll feel better, and the time-out may prevent you from reacting in haste, making a bad situation worse.

3. Prioritize—and delegate! Make a list of the things you need to accomplish at home and work, in order of priority. Look for ways to delegate chores and responsibilities. And learn to say no to others to avoid the burden of other people’s workloads.

Check off each item as you go, giving yourself credit for every accomplishment.

4. Remember to laugh. A belly laugh does more than just improve your mood—it actually cools down your stress response. Sharing a laugh with others also helps you feel more connected and may aid in helping everyone put things in perspective.

The material in this site is intended to be of general informational use and is not intended to constitute medical advice, probable diagnosis or recommended treatments. OTC PPIs are only indicated for treatment of frequent heartburn. For severe heartburn or heartburn that persists after trying over-the-counter treatment or lifestyle modifications, visit your doctor to determine the right treatment for you. See the Terms and Conditions for more information.