Diet and Lifestyle tips

Anti-stress Tips for Stomach Pain with Cramps

Published on July 1, 2023

Did you know that stress can cause stomach pain with cramps?

When the body is under stress due to work pressures or other concerns, you may experience cramping in the stomach and bowel muscles as your digestive system cannot relax. The first thing we recommend for a stress-free life is organising your time sensibly and avoid setting unattainable goals. The philosophy you apply to solving problems is also important. Approaching problems with confidence, assessing the possibilities for practical implementation, and promising yourself not to complain will enhance your effectiveness at achieving a stress-free life while reducing anxiety.

Here are some relaxation techniques:

  • Breathing: Breathe in very slowly, concentrating on the air that is entering your lungs; breathe out again very slowly. Repeat 3 to 5 times. This is a very simple exercise which you can do at any time anywhere.
  • Squeeze a soft object repeatedly with one hand and then with the other; repeat this exercise up to 20 times with each hand. Relieve the tension in the neck muscles by stretching these muscles. For this exercise, bend the neck down slowly to the left and right as far as you can, flexing and stretching the muscles. Finally, rotate your head in a smooth, circular motion.
  • Carrying out physical exercise relieves the tension that has built up over the day, improving our physical condition.
  • Laughing increases the release of endorphins, substances that are responsible for increasing our sense of well-being.
  • In order to relieve abdominal tension, which usually worsens towards the end of the day, avoid heavy meals and fizzy drinks.
  • Reducing the pressure on the abdomen by wearing loose-fitting clothes also makes you feel better. We also recommend some light exercise after meals.

Anti-stress exercises

There are a number of types of exercise that have been shown to be very effective in reducing the impact of stress as one of the causes of stomach pain. Yoga may help calm the digestive system and offer relief from symptoms such as stomach pain, constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and flatulence. Gentle stretching exercises and careful breathing can help to release tension and reduce the effect of stress on the body.

Simple exercises

Below are several examples of exercises that stretch and tone the muscles and help relieve tension. It’s always advisable to learn exercises directly from a trained instructor. Yoga classes, for example, will provide you with professional, ongoing support.

Please note that you should take care when exercising if you’re in pain or feeling nauseous. Your instructor or healthcare professional can give you more information.

Anti-stress yoga


This easy traditional yoga exercise calms the senses and normalises the breathing frequency. Deep, regular breathing can reduce stress symptoms remarkably.

  • Sit comfortably upright and cross your legs (but you can also do the exercise sitting on a chair, e.g. in your office, taking a break)
  • Form a roof-like figure with your hands, only the fingertips touching
  • Look down at the tip of your nose and inhale gently for about five seconds
  • Hold your breath for about five seconds
  • Breathe out gently for five seconds
  • Continue for 3 to 10 minutes

Circling your shoulders

Everyday stress can leave your shoulder muscles tense and aching. Here’s an exercise you can perform while sitting at your desk. Stand or sit comfortably. Let both arms and shoulders hang loose. Now turn your shoulders forwards, then upwards, then backwards and back down – draw large, slow circles in the air with your shoulders.

Take about five seconds for a complete turn. Breathe out when pulling up your shoulders and in when letting them back down. Repeat ten times, take a short break, then go through the exercise once more.

Stretching the neck muscle

This gentle exercise can be practiced at work or at home, whenever you feel tension in your neck muscles.
Sit in an upright position and lift your arms above your head. Bend your elbows so that they are facing the ceiling and your hands positioned behind your neck. Now place your hands on top of one another, with the tips of your fingers pointing down along your spine so that your back is being stretched.

Hold this position for 15 seconds, then release the tension very slowly. Repeat three times with a short rest in between.

Abdominal training

It’s important to keep the muscles of your abdomen toned and supple. This simple exercise provides your abdomen with an effective training session. Sit on the floor with your knees slightly bent and your back straight. You can hold your arms straight out in front of you for balance or you can cross them over your chest. From this sitting position, slowly roll back so that your shoulders are just a few inches above the floor.

Pause and then slowly roll back up to a sitting position. As you do this exercise, always press the small of your back downward, rather than arching your back, in order to prevent strain. Repeat ten times.

Activities for when pain strikes

When you feel stomach cramps, any steady rhythmic exercise loosens muscles and decreases discomfort. Walking may be all you feel up to, but that’s exactly what you need. Swimming is also an excellent gentle way to relieve cramps. In addition to loosening cramping muscles, exercise releases tension that can aggravate pain. Other tension relieving activities you can do include deep breathing exercises and meditation.

Breathe deeply

Tension aggravates pain. Try this simple but powerful tension reducing technique. To begin, lie comfortably on your back and place one hand on your abdomen. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Let your breathing be slow and relaxed. Inhale through your nose, breathing deeply by expanding your abdomen, feel the rise of your hand on your abdomen first and then your chest. Next, purse your lips and exhale as slowly as possible through your mouth. Focus all your attention on your breathing.

Notice the movement of your chest and abdomen in and out. Block out all other thoughts, feelings, and sensations. If you feel your attention wandering, bring it back to your breathing. Repeat this ten to twenty times. Stand up slowly and you will be amazed how refreshed and relaxed you will feel.

The pelvic tilt

  1. Stand with your feet about 30cm (12 inches) apart and your knees bent. Place your hands on your hips near the hip bone.
  2. Rock your pelvis forward and back 10 to 15 times. This can also be done while lying on your back with your knees bent. Tilt the abdomen upward keeping the buttocks on the floor and then press the small of your back to the floor.

Yoga pose

Sit on the floor with your back straight, your knees bent and the soles of your feet together so your knees fall outward. Clasp your feet in your hands, and gently bounce your knees up and down. Gently lean forward, bending from the hips as far as you can comfortably go. Hold the position for several minutes and relax.

Please note that all exercises mentioned here are proposals and it is advised that one should seek help and consider taking an opinion of a healthcare professional to understand if this is the right exercise/yoga posture for you and won’t deter your condition any further.

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