Ever wondered why it is we get this uncomfortable feeling in our tummies when we get nervous? This butterfly-like jittering in our stomachs has a surprising scientific explanation for it.
If you're preparing for a date or an important interview for an exciting new job opportunity, you might find yourself dealing with what is known as 'butterflies in your stomach'.
Where does it come from?
Similar to the flushing of your cheeks when something embarrassing happens to you, this all-too-familiar feeling can actually be traced back to our body's evolutionary fight or flight instincts. This automatic response from our bodies is triggered when we are faced with a problem we must confront head on or retreat to a safe space.
Pablo Vandenabeele, Clinical Director for Mental Health at Bupa UK Insurance explains that:
The nervous system helps prepare you for what it thinks is about to happen. When you get nervous, your body can release adrenaline which will speed up your heart rate and redirect blood away from your stomach, and towards your arms and legs.
How can we learn to manage this uncomfortable sensation?
Well, simply put, this sensation will never completely go away but there are anxiety-reducing techniques that can help.
Our stomachs are particularly sensitive to emotions–anxiety, worry, sadness–so all these feelings can trigger symptoms in the gut, adds Vandenabeele.
One of the best ways of achieving this is by practicing mindfulness or perhaps even one of the many forms of dynamic mediation whether through breathing techniques or movement and visualization exercises. In addition to this, it is important to take good care of our body through the foods we intake, the amount of physical exercise we subject our bodies to and the quality and quantity of our sleep we get.
Finally, we remember that although these sensations might make us feel uncomfortable it is also these very sensations that make the human experience so special. So next time you find yourself feeling consumed by this fluttering sensation, remember to breathe deeply and mindfully.