Stress sucks. Not only can it eventually kill you, before it does that, it makes your life a living hell by weakening your immune system, causing ulcers, increasing memory loss, promoting abdominal obesity and accelerating the aging process. Worse yet, virtually none of us know how to properly deal with our stress—according to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey, 42 percent of adults in the U.S. say they’re not taking effective action to manage excessive stress. Which brings us to this edition of It’s Not a Stupid Question: Can you just poop your stress away?
“Not directly, but having a good bowel movement can certainly make you feel relaxed and carefree,” says Dr. Anish Sheth of the American Gastroenterology Association and the American College of Gastroenterology. He calls the bliss that accompanies a hefty release “poo-phoria,” and the sublime experience may contribute to a more positive outlook on life (and therefore, a less stressful lifestyle).
The key to achieving this “poo-phoria,” according to Dr. Sheth, is passing a log large enough to dilate the rectum, which stimulates the vagus nerve—the same nerve that studies show can lead to orgasms in women when stimulated. “To some [this] may feel like a religious experience, to others like an orgasm, and to a lucky few like both,” Dr Sheth writes in his book, What’s Your Poo Telling You? This joy may be a result of the lowered heart rate and blood pressure that accompany stimulation to the vagus nerve, promoting mild light-headedness which can contribute to a transcendent-like high under the right circumstances.
Put simply, bigger is better when it comes to reducing stress by means of the back door. Just be sure to have a plunger handy—an indefinitely clogged toilet will pile that stress right back on.