4 natural ways to relieve an anxious stomach
If you’ve ever had a stomach ache before a big meeting or an important day at work, you’re not alone. The anxiety you feel can affect how your stomach behaves, because your whole body works together in ways you probably never thought you would. Below we will discuss the gut-brain connection and how you can take care of that nervous stomach when it starts to bother you.
What is the brain-gut connection?
Your brain and gut are connected in a way you may not have realized – it’s the gut-brain axis. This means that when your brain feels something like anxiety, it can travel to your stomach, intestines, and intestines and cause distress. Likewise, stomach pain can tell your brain about the upset, which can cause stress or anxiety, according to Harvard Health.
Your vagus nerve is one of the central connections between your gut and your brain. This set of nerves controls digestion, among other things. When you have damage to your vagus nerve, you may experience digestive issues, such as gastroparesis, according to the Cleveland Clinic. It is a condition where you do not digest food properly.
Your nervous and digestive systems are intrinsically linked, which means a problem with one can cause a problem with the other. When it comes to anxiety, it’s something that happens in your brain, which results in stomach issues.
Common symptoms of a nervous stomach:
- Stomach pain that results in vomiting or diarrhea.
- Stomach cramps.
- Loss of appetite.
- Painful gas.
- Butterflies in the stomach.
- Increased need for the bathroom.
Tips to ease your anxious stomach
Having an anxious stomach is common, and there are many things you can do to ease your symptoms. Try one of the following solutions the next time you have an upset stomach.
Pay attention to what you eat and drink
It makes sense that what you eat and drink can affect your stomach. But beyond thinking about the foods that usually give you a stomach ache, you also need to think about what may be affecting your brain. For example, although often helpful if you’re tired, caffeine can make your mind race and possibly cause anxiety. This anxiety can result in stomach upset. Certain foods can also help relieve any anxiety you may be feeling, such as dark chocolate or turmeric. Chamomile tea is also often a resource for relieving stress.
Learn more: The best (and worst) foods for your mental health
Using Herbal Remedies
As mentioned earlier, chamomile can relieve stress, but ginger is another popular natural remedy. There’s a reason so many people drink ginger ale on airplanes – it can help calm a nervous stomach! You can get your ginger from ginger ale, ginger tea, ginger candy, or just ginger. This root is great for your digestive system because it keeps it in good working order, according to Johns Hopkins. Peppermint oil and tea can also help calm an upset stomach.
Try deep breathing
Deep breathing can help you in two different ways. Practicing deep breathing can both relieve stomach upset and calm anxiety. According to the University of Michigan Health, deep breathing can help relieve stomach upset because it activates the diaphragm and gives your organs a light massage to comfort them. When it comes to your anxiety, deep breaths activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which triggers balance in your nervous and digestive systems, according to Dignity Health. If you suffer from a nervous stomach or anxiety, stop what you are doing and inhale and exhale deeply. Repeat until you begin to feel some relief.
Work to improve your gut health
Starting at the source can definitely help solve your stomach problems. Improving gut health can reduce the stress your nervous stomach causes you. One of the best ways to do this is to eat the right foods. Try to stick to a well-balanced diet, but sweets are good with moderation! – it’s full of fiber. According to Johns Hopkins Medical, a high-fiber diet will keep your digestive system moving as needed. You also want to make sure your stomach is full of good bacteria. You can get it from foods like yogurt and kefir. An exercise routine and good sleep hygiene can also help keep your gut in check.
Plain and simple, exercise is good for you. It’s good for your mental health as it allows you to channel stress and relax. Plus, sweating burns calories and works your muscles. But research has also shown that exercise can positively affect your gut microbiome. Studies show that regular exercise improves stomach microflora (meaning all the bacteria) and can help the brain-gut connection by keeping your nervous and digestive systems intact.
When is my nervous stomach a problem?
Having a nervous stomach from time to time is normal. You may feel a nervous stomach if you have a big meeting at work or are about to find yourself in an unfamiliar situation with people you don’t know. It’s normal! However, if you constantly have an upset stomach, it is better to consult a doctor. Chances are it’s not a nervous stomach. This could still be attributed to anxiety.
It’s also possible that your upset stomach is due to something else entirely, in which case it’s time to talk to your doctor about what’s going on. See your doctor to rule out common problems like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
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