Anxiety may be the cause of frequent stomach upsets.

If you’ve ever experienced stomach pain before a big event or an important day at work, you’re not alone. Anxiety can affect your stomach’s behaviour since your whole body works together in ways you’ve probably never considered.

How does the brain-gut connection work? 

The gut-brain axis is a link between your brain and gut that you may not be aware of. Stress can cause discomfort in your stomach, intestines and gut when your brain experiences anxiety. Likewise, stomach pain can signal your brain about unrest, causing stress or anxiety [1].

Gut and brain are connected by the vagus nerve. Among other things, these nerves control digestion.

A damaged vagus nerve can cause digestive problems, such as gastroparesis, according to the Cleveland Clinic [2]. Digestion problems occur when food is not properly broken down.

Inherently, your nervous system and digestive system are connected, so problems with one can cause problems with the other. Anxiety is a brain condition, which translates to stomach issues.

Nervous stomach symptoms

The following are common symptoms of a nervous stomach [3].

  • Vomiting or diarrhea caused by an upset stomach. 
  • Stomach cramps.
  • Indigestion.
  • Constipation.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Painful gas.
  • Butterflies in your stomach.
  • Increased need for the bathroom.

There are many ways to ease an anxious stomach’s symptoms. Try any of these when your stomach is upset:

Consume healthy foods and beverages

Eating and drinking affect your stomach, so it makes sense that they would affect each other. Beyond what foods usually cause stomach aches, you should also consider what can impact your brain. 

Caffeine, for example, can be helpful if you’re tired, but it can also cause anxiety. As a result of that anxiety, your stomach may feel upset.

5 natural ways to calm an anxious stomach

The consumption of certain foods can also help ease anxiety, such as dark chocolate or turmeric. In addition to relieving stress, chamomile tea can also be beneficial.

Make use of herbal remedies 

Ginger is another popular natural remedy for stress, along with chamomile. One reason ginger ale is so popular on airplanes is that it can soothe a nervous stomach.

There are a variety of ginger products available, including ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger candies and straight-up ginger. According to Johns Hopkins University, this root is excellent for your digestive system because it keeps it working efficiently [4]. Tea and peppermint essence can also help settle an upset stomach. 

Breathe deeply

There are two ways in which deep breathing can help you. When you practice deep breathing, you can both relieve upset stomachs and calm anxiety. 

Breathing deeply can help ease an upset stomach because it activates your diaphragm and gives your organs a light massage. In terms of anxiety, deep breaths stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your nervous and digestive systems to find equilibrium. [5].

Take a few deep breaths if you’re experiencing anxiety or nervous stomach. You may need to repeat this until you feel some relief.

Improve your gut health

By addressing your stomach issues at their source, you can find a solution. Stress caused by nervous stomach can be reduced by improving gut health

One of the best ways to do this is to consume the right foods. Stick to a well-balanced diet, though treats are fine in moderation – that’s a good source of fiber. 

Fiber-rich diets will keep your digestive system moving as needed, according to Johns Hopkins Medical [6]. Make sure your stomach is filled with good bacteria as well. Foods like yogurt and kefir contain this. Keeping your gut healthy can also be achieved through exercise and good sleep hygiene.

Regular exercise is essential 

You should exercise for health reasons, plain and simple. As a result, it allows you to channel your stress and relax. You will also burn calories and exercise your muscles when you work up a sweat. 

In addition, research has also found that exercise can positively affect your gut microbiome [7]. Keeping your nervous and digestive systems functioning and intact is a benefit of regular exercise and can improve the microflora in your stomach (or all the bacteria).

When should I be concerned about my nervous stomach? 

An occasional nervous stomach is normal. In unusual situations with unfamiliar people or if you have a big meeting at work, you may feel a nervous stomach.

There is nothing wrong with this. An upset stomach, however, warrants a visit to your doctor. If this doesn’t feel like a nervous stomach, there’s a good chance it isn’t and could still be linked back to anxiety [8]. 

In the event that your upset stomach is due to something else, talk to your doctor about it. You should consult your medical provider to rule out common concerns such as irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease.


Photograph: voronaman111/Envato

The information included in this article is for informational purposes only. The purpose of this webpage is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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