Stress and UTIs
One of the most common triggers of bladder infections (besides sex) is a sustained elevated stress level. If you feel like your UTIs are triggered by stress, it's an urgent warning signal from your body that you shouldn't ignore. Listening to your body is essential to staying permanently healthy and living your best life. Here we'll explain what's going on in your body when you're stressed, how it affects your bladder, and what you can do to relax more.
Stress can be caused by both internal and external stimuli. It is a very natural reaction of our body to challenges and was evolutionarily necessary for survival in the past to prepare the body for fight or flight. Since this is usually not the case today (fortunately!), the excess energy remains in the body - a permanent state of alarm is the result. This is why it is so important to find an outlet to get rid of stress.
In general, our body has a harder time fighting off infections of all kinds when we are stressed. The stress hormones released, such as cortisol and adrenaline, do provide short-term energy (for the fight-or-flight response), but at the same time they reduce the activity of circulating immune cells so as not to waste "vital" energy on this. However, when the immune system is shut down like this for an extended period of time, infections have an easy time of it. A weakened immune system allows the intestinal bacteria that cause UTIs, such as E. coli bacteria, to multiply almost undisturbed and migrate to the bladder, where they then attach themselves to the bladder wall and cause inflammation. If this inflammation is not treated, it can even spread to other organs such as the kidneys.
Not all stress is bad
But don't worry, not all stress is equally bad and the beginning of a new infection. Under good stress (eustress), for example, we are much more productive and motivated in our tasks. Only when the stress becomes too frequent as well as intense and we do not find a physical balance, it can become dangerous. In the case of negative stress (disstress), motivation then turns into a feeling of being overwhelmed, and chronic stress can make the body seriously ill in many ways.
Find the balance
As always, it's about finding the right balance - between periods of tension and periods of recovery. This corresponds to our biorhythm. A life completely without stress will never be possible - and is not even desirable.
But you can help to minimise unnecessary bad stress in different ways and thus support your immune system. Bring more mindfulness into your life, create relaxation rituals (like a soothing bath), try to meditate every day (even if it's only 3 minutes!), practice gentle movements like yoga, and make sure you get good sleep to recover and become more calm and balanced. Endurance training is also a great way to get rid of excess energy and stress hormones. But don't overdo it. Marathon runners, for example, often have a suppressed immune system because the body is subjected to extremely high stress. For this reason, intensive training over several days also increases the risk of getting a UTI.
Throughout the day, take time to pause, breathe deeply and be fully present and come back into your body. This signals to your body that you are safe and it can relax.
Looking after your mental and emotional health, as well as your physical, is paramount. Your body and bladder will thank you.