Butterflies In The Stomach: Is It Anxiety Or Just Nerves?
Just before going on the stage for either a performance or public speaking, it’s common to feel butterflies in your stomach. Many of us jot this feeling as nerves, but we may not realize that this feeling can be more than just nervousness. It could be anxiety butterflies too.
You may have heard others using this phrase, or even you might have used the phrase, “Butterflies in the stomach” to describe situations where you feel this strange jittery feeling. You can feel these butterflies before an important presentation or even before you go on a date with your long-time crush.
Can there be a meaning behind the feeling of butterflies in your stomach anxiety? Let’s find out below!
What Does “Feeling Butterflies In Your Stomach” Mean?
Feeling butterflies in your stomach can signify nervousness caused by situations where discomfort is common. For example, a person with performance anxiety may feel this knot in their stomach right before an important performance on stage or during the performance itself. This can negatively affect the performance and the person’s feelings.
While it could be a good, euphoric-like feeling, it could also be an uncomfortable feeling. This feeling often contrasts with anxiety-related disorders.
Some of the common symptoms of feeling butterflies in the stomach can include:
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Feeling queasiness in the stomach
- Feeling fluttery feeling in the stomach
- Feeling mild tremors or shakiness
- Feelings of restlessness
- Feeling unsettled or nauseous
- Muscle tension
- Increase in heart rate
- Increase in breathing rate
These symptoms can occur either occasionally or frequently and can range from mild to severe. They can also follow or co-occur with anxiety symptoms and can manifest either for a specific reason or no reason at all.
Why Do We Get “Butterflies In The Stomach”?
Many factors may cause the feeling of butterflies in the stomach. Some of the most common ones can include:
1. The Stress Response
The Flight-or-Fight mode or the stress response can activate the stress hormones aka cortisol and adrenaline and cause psychological or emotional changes in the body to better deal with the threat. This survival mode can sometimes cause feelings that can feel a lot like butterflies in the stomach. It could also be a warning sign of the anxiety triggers that often follow the response.
When your stress causes hyperstimulation or hyper-arousal, then you can experience the feelings of butterflies in your stomach. This experience can bring the symptoms of the stress response even though the stress response isn’t active. Hyper-arousal can also cause panic attacks, nausea, and other digestive problems, making you feel butterflies in your stomach.
3. Other Factors
Some other contributors that can cause you to experience “butterflies in your stomach” can include;
- Certain medications
- Recreational drugs
- Sleep deprivation
- Extreme fatigue
- Low blood sugar
- Hormonal changes, etc.
Q: What Does “Butterflies In The Stomach” Tell Us?
A: This feeling in your stomach can be an indication of an approaching threat, stress, nerves, or even an uncomfortable situation. Recall the time when you met the love of your life for the first time, did you or did you not feel the fluttery feeling like butterflies dancing around in your stomach? Or think about a situation that was very important to you, and you were scared to mess it up, however, you felt butterflies in your stomach right before diving into the situation.
This feeling that we all experience is a tell-tale sign that something can either be amiss or unsure. Sometimes, this feeling can be a sign that tells you to keep your guard up, be hyper-aware, or remain on your feet, motivated.
How To Ease This Feeling?
While feeling butterflies in your stomach isn’t a negative experience, it can still cause significant discomfort. Here are some tips to help you ease this feeling of “butterflies in your stomach”;
1. Practice Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can work wonders in helping you ease nervousness and even anxiety. can These exercises also bring a sense of calm and help you distract your mind from negative thoughts and stressors. When you pause and practice breathing exercises, you give yourself the space to reflect on your triggers and calm the stress response.
All you need to do is sit in a comfortable, quiet place, take a deep breath through your nose (while counting to 5), and gently exhale through your mouth (while counting to 5). During this time, focus only on your breathing, and if an anxious thought pops up, acknowledge it and gently bring your focus back to your breathing.
2. Prioritize Your Health
When you’re sleep-deprived or exhausted, it can also cause feelings of restlessness to pop up, making you experience butterflies in your stomach. Make sure you take care of your health by eating right, getting restful sleep, and keeping your mental health in check. When you focus on your self-care, your anxious thoughts will slow down. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, and eat healthily.
3. Reduce Negative Thinking
When you experience butterflies in your stomach, it could be more than just nerves. Anxiety can also cause this knot in your stomach, making simple tasks harder.
Try to reduce negative thinking. Stop and ask yourself; “What caused this feeling?” If you find it comfortable, you can talk to a trusted person, or you can journal your thoughts to understand how to eliminate them or reframe them.
4. Accept The Uncertain Future
Sometimes, when we’re afraid to face the uncertainties of the future, it can also cause us to feel more than just nerves in our stomachs. If you’re prone to think about the worst-case scenarios first, then you could benefit from accepting the uncertain future, first and foremost.
When you embrace the thought that the future is uncertain, then you’ll find yourself more focused on the present than the future. This way you can control the nervous knot in your stomach from turning into more.
5. Remain Optimistic
Change is part of life and all you can do is be prepared for it. It might be easy to deal with the future when you’re aware and in control of your life. You can control your response by staying optimistic. Try to spend time with people who encourage you and motivate you, listen to music that calms you, and make time for positive activities. Make sure you keep your optimism alive even if you’re uncertain.
6. Seek Help And Support
Sometimes, anxiety and nervousness can be too overwhelming to control and can begin to affect your life. Here, when you begin to feel anxious more than relaxed, you can seek help and support from a professional. A therapist can help you learn to take control of the feelings of anxiousness and nervousness.
If you’re experiencing anxiety and stress or any symptoms of either, then the above-mentioned tips might help you ease your symptoms and the fluttery feeling that we usually name, “Butterflies in the stomach”.
If you need a professional consultation or help, then do not hesitate to seek it out. You can click the link below to connect with one!
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