How I Overcame My Chronic Digestive Issues by Learning to Breathe Right

“If you know the art of deep breathing, you have the strength, wisdom and courage of ten tigers.” ~Chinese adage

Here’s a secret. I began healing after decades of chronic, debilitating digestive problems. LookingFind the perfect solution for you You can tryI want to heal. But I didn’t do anything. It was then that I took a deep breath.

Let’s start at the beginning. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease (an irritable bowel disease) at the age of eighteen, which would have marked the beginning of my oh-so-anticipated adult life, but instead, I thought my life was over.

I had every symptom you can imagine—constant bloating, diarrhea, non-stop pain that would keep me bed-ridden for days. Some nights I fell asleep hugging the toilet. Twenty-two pounds were lost when I couldn’t eat properly.

My dream of going out and having fun with friends, stuffing our bellies with fondue and wine (typical French dish—I was living in Paris at that time) and so many more experiences I was anticipating, were slipping away from me. A painful and horrible reality quickly became my reality.

After being given medication for life and the advice to “manage my stress” by doctors, suffering from side effects from the treatment with no signs of getting better, I became my own wellness warrior.

For a decade I went on a crusade for the “right” answer. I experimented with so many diets—the elimination diet, the low FODMAP diet; I quit carbs, then reintroduced them but took out gluten and dairy, while sitting in the lotus position as much as possible to reduce my stress and manage my anxiety. Are you feeling the same?

Yet I had no real, sustainable improvements. I kept getting flares. My identity was healing. My symptoms were unbearable and I desperately tried to find the best remedy.

Although it was tiring, I wanted to be better.

Fear that some food may trigger an array of symptoms, no matter how healthy it might be. Not to have to be there at the last minute to get the best seat. My bowel condition should not define me. I want to enjoy my life and live it to its fullest.

The day I had my first “pooping accident” in the middle of dinner with friends I realized something had to change.

The search for the perfect solution to my stomach problem was so intense, overwhelming, and life-threatening that I nearly stopped breathing. When I stopped to think, it became clear to me: my body had become so distant that I couldn’t remember how I breathe. 

I don’t know if my anxiety affected my breathing pattern, which exacerbated my gut disease, or whether my gut disease caused my stress and anxiety, which changed my breathing pattern.

No matter what form it takes, digestive issues of any kind have as their main cause our thoughts, stress triggers and self-talk.

Our gut is connected to our brain in a strong, unquestionable way. Each nerve system within our digestive system sends continuous information to the central nervous system, which in turn relays that information back to our brain.

We’ve all said to ourselves or to others “trust your gut,” “go with your gut,” “I have a bad / good gut feeling.” It is literally the nervous system in your digestive tract sending signals to your brain that something is wrong or right!

Similarly, we’ve all heard about foods that help balance our gut microbiome (the trillions of organisms that live in our gut)—fermented foods, probiotics, clean fiber-rich foods to feed our good bacteria. But how often do we hear about our true gut feelings—fear, anxiety, sadness, dread—that can actually kill all the bacteria in our gut we tried so hard to feed through nutrition? How can we reduce them?

Focusing on the nutrition that lowers the symptoms of the gut is not the whole picture. Our whole bodies and our individuality must be considered. By focusing on decreasing stress, anxiety, depression, we can reverse issues in the digestive system.

Starting to breathe correctly

Eventually, after seven years, I became tired from outsourcing my healing powers to “experts,” and I realized that the solution was not in another medication or diet but rather in my own hands. It took me some time to pay attention to my body, and my breathing. In order to reconnect to my body, and to my gut, I had to learn to breath again.

My gut is a reflection of what happens in my brain. It was my gut that felt the stress in my brain. Friends and family advised me to chill out or relax, but if you are dealing with a life situation that is super stressful, it’s hard to know where to start.

The first step was to place one hand on my stomach, with the other on my diaphragm. I then gave love. I told myself, “I am safe, and I trust my body will guide me toward the path to wellness.” I focused on my breath as my belly rose and my diaphragm followed, and as I exhaled, I let go of every thought that was holding me back from my true healing.

At first I felt overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, shame and guilt. It was hard to believe that I could become so detached from my body, and even my breath. As I focused on these feelings, and stayed there for a while, I felt a sense of connection with my body again. It was a feeling that made me feel strong, vital, and grounded. This is something I’d never felt before. It was then that I realized that my body is an amazing tool and that it can heal itself.

You can trust that the body will take care of itself, if it is given half a chance. All we have to do is let the body heal.

My obsession with healing has given way to an interest in a place of non-healing. You can tryTo heal is to do nothing. That’s where I started my healing. That state of “nothing” allows the little voice in your gut to come out—first quiet, injured, and confused and then a little clearer and more resilient each day.

You need to listen. Acquaint yourself with it. You can learn to trust this. It is here that your healing starts and your life will be the one you have always wanted.

How to Maximize the Power of Your Breath for Gut Health

1. Recognize stress.

You can experience stress in many different ways. You might experience it when you cook and your children are wrapped around your ankle, or when you have to spend time with someone you don’t want to see.

You can conquer stress regardless of what it is. Learn to identify the signs that stress causes in your body.

Spend some time each day to assess how you’re feeling.

Go to a quiet place even for two minutes. Feel the feeling of being grounded by putting your feet on the floor. As if you were at the root of a majestic tree. Is there a feeling of tingling, pressure on the chest or an aching in the head that you can’t describe?

Feel angry? Fear? Joy? Anxiety? Happiness?

These feelings are normal. Be safe. Allow yourself to feel these feelings and sensations.

Slowing down, taking a deep breath and being mindful of our breathing allows us to release the stress that may cause gut irritation.

2. Move out of your head into your body.

It used to make me anxious about living in constant pain. This made me feel terrible. While we want to be rid of any unpleasant feelings quickly, it can lead to more anxiety. You lose connection to your body through anxiety and stress, which can lead you to feel disconnected from emotion and intuition.

It’s natural to feel fearful or anxious when something stressful happens, or we’re thinking about what’s going to happen in the future. If we are focused on the negative, our inner monologues can cause us to become depressed and we begin to panic.

It’s important that you don’t criticize yourself for these feelings. Instead, love yourself through it by saying, “This is a normal response to my circumstances, which are stressful or difficult. It’s okay to feel this way.”

Next, do something that will get your mind and body moving. Move around, do some light stretching, or go for a stroll. You can stop obsessing about the details and get moving by doing anything that will move you.

3. Relax and accept your fears.

It is possible to let anxiety go its course and not fight it. Panic attacks can occur when you try to fight anxiety.

You may have heard of the phrase “what you resist persists,” and you may have experienced it.

Recognize and understand your anxiety: Tell yourself, “I feel anxious and nervous because I’m worried about …”

Take a deep, slow breath and inhale.

You will become more in touch with your body as you practice this exercise and begin to trust it.

4. Breathe correctly

Which way are you breathing? Is it through your nose or your mouth? Maybe you haven’t ever noticed how you breathe. This was how I felt for so many years until I finally started to pay attention.

Our nose should always be open. Upper chest breathing is shallower than that which can be stimulated by breathing through the mouth. This puts our bodies in stress mode, increasing inflammation. Our diaphragm allows us to take calming inhalations through the nose.

Study after study has revealed that inhaling through your diaphragm massages our internal organs including the intestine. This reduces inflammation.

By breathing through our nose, we can breathe easier and remain in a condition where our bodies can heal themselves.

What should we do to get started in correct breathing?

Be aware of your breathing patterns throughout the day. Switch to breathing through the nose if you notice that your mouth is being used. You may feel anxious or stressed if you find yourself breathing through your mouth.

Breathe through your nose every day. The more you practice it, the more you’ll train yourself to calm down quickly.

The next time you feel the effects of your symptoms, try to instead of LookingFind the perfect solution for you You can tryTake a deep breathe and think about what you can do to help your body heal from stress and anxiety.

Listen to what it says. It is your perfect medicine. You.

About Clio Stoidis

Clio Stoidis works as a holistic healthcare coach. Her goal is to help IBD women eat with confidence and no fear so that they can lead the life of their dreams. After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2005, she discovered how to break free and truly heal. She is passionate about helping others heal and believes that anyone can control their symptoms. For more information about how can work one-one with Clio, and to download your free Heal Crohn’s naturally guide, visit

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Tiny Buddha published the article How I Overcame Chronic Digestive Problems By Learning to Breathe Right.

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