We've all heard it time and time again: Listen to your gut. What the hell does that mean? And why are we supposed to listen to our gut of all things? I think of my gut as where my poop comes out; why am I supposed to follow that part of my body?
We associate listening to our gut with following our intuition. Some may ask why this is so. Surprisingly, there's actually solid scientific reasoning for this. According to Frontiers in NeuroScience, there is "...well known observation that most of the body's serotonin is synthesized and stored in the intestine, [and there is] the presence of many different serotonin receptors within the intestinal wall..." (Bornstein, 2012). Serotonin is our "happy hormone" as I like to call it. It's actually a neurotransmitter that helps regulate our mood, appetite, memory, and sleep, hence the reason I deem it responsible for a lot of our happiness. Did you know that your gut actually creates 95% of the serotonin in your body? What blew my mind was finding out that "...everyone has a separate, mostly independent nervous system in their gut called the enteric nervous system. [There are] one hundred million nerve cells distributed throughout your digestive system..." (Case-Lo, 2012). Dude, that's a lot of nerves and a lot of neurotransmission happening in our poop chutes.
I suppose this makes a lot of sense when I reflect on my own situation. My Irritable Bowel Syndrome became worse and worse as the stress, anxiety, and panic I was feeling from work increased. It's not a coincidence these two aspects of my health are tied together. My body was telling me what my mind kept pushing aside; my body was telling me what my brain kept refusing to listen to, which was that I didn't belong in the position I was in. My brain kept telling me to push forward, hold on, get through it, keep it together, while my body was taking in all of the stress and holding onto it until it couldn't any longer. My body, more specifically, my actual gut, was forcing me to listen. Because of my ass explosion, I could no longer avoid what my mind kept pushing aside. I had to start listening to my gut, my intuition, and begin peeling back the layers of what my mind had tried to cover up to allow me to survive.
The ironic thing is that "surviving" didn't happen in the end. I didn't survive that job, and I'm finally coming to the conclusion that that's okay. It wasn't for me, and I most definitely know that now. Surviving isn't living; it's merely a form of existence. When I had no other choice but to debunk survival mode and find a way to regain my health, did I truly start waking up. It was only after peeling off the sticky layers of anxiety on top of stress on top of anxiety that I was able to start really listening to myself. My heart, my soul, my mind, my gut: All of these things make up me, my essence. It's taken 32 years, but I'm finally discovering the person who lay underneath all the fear, nerves, unhealthiness, and external demands. I'm finally discovering my truth, and my gut is what led me to it.
Bornstein, Joel C. February 6, 2012. Frontiers in NeuroScience. "Serotonin in the Gut: What Does it Do?" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3272651/.
Case-Lo, Christine. December 5, 2012. Healthline.com. "IBS and Serotonin: The Brain and Stomach Link." http://www.healthline.com/health/irritable-bowel-syndrome/serotonin-effects.
"Gut Opinion" image found at www.in-mind.org, Google Images
"Gut Insticts" image found at mariskarichters.com, Google Images
**Also published at HeadAboveWater :: Life with Mood Disorders: Why Are We Told to Listen to Our Gut? http://lifewithmooddisorders.blogspot.com/2014/05/why-are-we-told-to-listen-to-our-gut.html?spref=tw
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