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What Actually Happens When You Make a “Gut Decision”?


Mental Health

Community Psychiatry’s Leela Magavi, M.D. was featured in popular consumer lifestyle outlet, HelloGiggles, in an article discussing what it means to make a gut decision. 

Here’s everything you need to know to help you follow your instincts.

How to know when your gut instinct is talking to you

When my friend started pressing me about my gut instinct, I honestly first wondered if I even had one. It turns out that I do, says child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist Dr. Leela R. Magavi. Everyone does, though sometimes, our intuition can be hidden.

“The intuition is the interface between your consciousness and your subconscious,” says Magavi. “Things you’ve experienced as a child, all your memories and learning experiences assimilate over time and make you say, ‘Is this good for me or not?’ I really encourage people to be one with that feeling, even if parents dissuade them from doing it because that’s their way of becoming one with themselves.”

How the connection to our brain affects our instincts

Emotions and physical feelings are connected beyond our intuition, too. 90% of the serotonin—known as the “feel-good neurochemical” that helps regulate moods—produced in our bodies is made in our gastrointestinal lining, explains Magavi.

Magavi, who I cry to on the phone about my relationship in pursuit of reporting out this story, sees that a lot.

“I have people like you I see who just went through a breakup, the most painful time in their entire lives, and they come in telling me, ‘I’m having diarrhea, constipation, my stomach is hurting.’ You can feel emotional pain that manifests in your gut,” Magavi, who prioritizes gut health in her treatment of mental health issues because of the strong brain-gut link, explains.

That’s why people who struggle with anxiety and depression often also experience gastrointestinal issues and why people with chronic gastrointestinal problems tend to have more symptoms of anxiety and depression.

When it comes to the mind-body connection, says Magavi, anxiety, and sadness are usually felt in the gut, like with abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation, and anger is often experienced in the chest and extremities.

How to follow your gut instinct

1. Try diaphragmatic breathing

Breathe deep enough that your whole diaphragm, or the muscle located between your lungs and your abdomen, expands, says Magavi. (Your belly should expand and your chest should not rise.) This will help keep you calm and allow you to register your emotional responses to situations.

Click here to read the entire article on HelloGiggles.


Mental Health