Butterflies In Stomach: How to Control Anxiety, Nervous Energy, And Butterflies In Stomach In The Future

By: Michael Puskar

Updated March 23, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: Erika Schad, LCP, CWLC

What is the Feeling of Butterflies in Stomach?

If you've ever been nervously excited, you've likely experienced the fluttery feeling known as "butterflies in your stomach." This feeling can arise in a variety of situations, from meeting someone for a first date to giving an important speech to a large audience. But why is it known as butterflies in the stomach, and what is that feeling trying to tell you?

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What Causes Butterflies in Stomach and Anxiety? Is this Feeling in my Gut normal?

Having "butterflies in your stomach" usually refers to short-term anxiety caused by specific events. For example, people who experience this sensation will often get it when anticipating and during performances, like public speaking, taking a test, and music recitals.

This contrasts with chronic anxiety, which can stem from work stress, relationship issues, fitting in at school, at countless other situations that can cause excessive worrying. However, persistent or not, anxiety has general characteristics regardless of the scenario, which can vary in severity.

Everyone can Experience Anxiety or Butterflies, It's how the Human Mind & Health Works

Everyone experiences some form of anxiety. It's an ordinary part of life. While it may seem like others around you are calm and collected, rest assured, they all experience anxiety, and often without showing it.

Even for those who suffer from an anxiety disorder with persistent symptoms, it's one of the most common mental health conditions. Approximately 19 percent of all adults in the United States have an anxiety disorder, yet even those with severe symptoms find ways to overcome it through treatment.

Symptoms Related to Butterflies in the Stomach

  • Nausea
  • A fluttery feeling in the stomach
  • The feeling of having a 'knot' in your stomach
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating and clamminess

Where Does The Feeling of Butterflies in Stomach Come From: Stress, Anxiety, Nerves, the Future?

Obviously, there aren't butterflies fluttering around your stomach, but what causes this distinct feeling? You've likely heard of the "fight or flight" response-the nervous system's way of preparing the body for danger. When this kicks in, usually in a situation that's causing you anxiety, your body releases adrenaline. This increases your heart rate and redirects blood away from your stomach and toward your arms and legs (preparing you for fight or flight). The reduced blood flow to your stomach causes that 'fluttery' sensation. While fleeing a hungry predator may no longer be a common problem, your body produces the same chemicals when you feel as though you need to protect yourself. This can occur whether preparing for a big speech or a big date.

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What Is This Feeling Trying to Tell Us?

This fluttery feeling is your body signaling the approach of an uncomfortable or stressful situation. It's literally a "gut feeling." When this happens, you know you need to be on your guard and have a heightened awareness of your surroundings.

Butterflies in Relationships

At the beginning of a relationship, everything is new and exciting, and feelings of anxiety and excitement can easily blend. However, as the relationship progresses, feelings of butterflies in the stomach may be a sign that something is amiss. Are you overly preoccupied with your appearance when around your significant other? Do you feel as though you're walking on eggshells, worrying about what to say? Are you constantly worrying about whether he or she will leave you?

These kinds of worries should not be present in a truly loving, supportive relationship. If the fluttery feeling is due to how happy and secure you feel, that's a good thing. If the feeling seems closer to anxiety and causes you distress on a daily basis, you may need to reevaluate whether or not your needs are being met.

A certain degree of anxiety is normal in relationships, especially when you care deeply about your significant other. However, daily, debilitating anxiety is a symptom of a much deeper problem. If you're feeling this way in your current relationship, sit back and try to acknowledge where this anxiety stems from. Do you feel as though you aren't a priority? Do you feel ignored or misjudged? Has your partner given you reasons to distrust them? Are they overly controlling?

Some causes of anxiety in your relationship could be unhealthy. Once you've identified the problem, speak to your partner about it. If they can't respect your emotions and reevaluate their behavior, it may be time to rethink whether or not this partnership is good for you. While it may be hard to end a relationship into which you've invested so much of yourself, it's much better, in the long run, to rid yourself of all of that unnecessary anxiety

How to Alleviate Symptoms and Feelings of Anxiety or Butterflies in your Abdomen or Gut

While there aren't any quick fixes for chronic anxiety, certain everyday measures will help relieve some of the symptoms and bring more peace to your life.

1. Practice intentional breathing.

Find a quiet place free of distractions. Sit down and close your eyes. Take a deep breath in through your nose, counting to five as you breathe in. Now exhale through your mouth, counting to five as you breathe out. Focus on your breaths as you do this, and become aware of any distracting thoughts. If you find that any anxieties or worries are beginning to pop up as you are breathing, refocus your mind on the breathing itself. Even allowing yourself fifteen minutes of intentional breathing in the morning can greatly reduce your levels of anxiety throughout the day.

butterflies in stomach

Butterflies in Your Stomach is A Common Anxious Sensation - Learn More Here
Is It Happening Often? Get Connected With A Licensed Therapist Today

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2. Take care of yourself and declutter your surroundings.

The importance of a good night's sleep can't be overstated. Taking care of your body is the first step to taking care of your mind. This will help alleviate anxious thoughts and feelings in your stomach. Make sure you're drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Exercise releases endorphins which promote feelings of happiness. While it may be difficult to completely change your lifestyle overnight, taking small steps to be more mindful of the way you treat yourself every day will pay off in the long run.

Decluttering your surroundings can also help declutter your mind. Are you still hanging on to your old high school notebooks? Clothes you haven't worn for years? Old art supplies covered in dust? Now is the time to get rid of everything that isn't serving you. While it may not seem like it will make a difference, getting rid of unnecessary clutter can take a huge weight off of your shoulders and help you feel more in control.

3. Challenge your negative thoughts.

Anxiety often stems from worrying about something in the future, and negative thoughts can often spiral into even more negative thoughts. This can result in keeping you in a perpetual state of anxiety. When you begin to feel anxiety, stop and ask yourself what's making you feel that way. Are you worried about the exam you need to take next week? The date you're going on tomorrow night? An important conversation you need to have with someone?

Ask yourself if these thoughts are based in reality, or if you're just being too hard on yourself. You don't know if you're going to flunk the exam, you're just nervous that you will. Likewise, you don't know that your date is going to be awkward, you're just afraid that you won't be able to express yourself. By challenging your negative thoughts and trying to view positive outcomes instead, you can slowly begin to eradicate your anxiety.

4. Accept uncertainty.

Anxiety stems from the simple fact that we don't know what the future holds. Those prone to anxiety often immediately visualize the worst-case scenario and assume that every negative thought they have is based on reality. When you learn to accept that the future is uncertain, you'll be more focused on the present. Take steps every day to bring yourself closer to where you want to be in life, even if the actions you take are small. The more you feel in control of your present, the more you'll feel in control of what's ahead.

5. Visualize positive outcomes and plan for the day ahead.

You may feel anxiety over not having complete control over how your life plays out. While nothing is set in stone, there are certain things you can do to feel more in control. Keep a calendar and write down all appointments, deadlines, and important events. Every day, make a 'to do' list of what you want to get accomplished and check off the boxes as you complete the tasks. If there's something important coming up that you are anxious about, visualize that particular event having a positive outcome. Imagine how you can behave and communicate in a way that promotes this positive outcome instead of focusing on all of the ways it could go wrong.

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6. Surround yourself with positivity.

This could be people who bring out the best in you, certain music that calms you, or even a tea that promotes relaxation. Whatever it is that brings you joy, try to incorporate it into your everyday life. Surrounding yourself with things that make you happy makes it more difficult for the negative thoughts to creep in. Every time you feel as though you're getting anxious, try to take a second to relax and refocus. Call a good friend, take a long bath, sniff some calming essential oils, or watch an uplifting film.

7. Seek help.

Sometimes anxiety can be so overwhelming that it negatively affects your everyday life. If you find that you can't alleviate your anxiety with any of the tactics discussed in this article, there is no shame in seeking professional help. Licensed therapists can help you regain control over your emotions and heal from anxiety. Read below for reviews from people who used BetterHelp to manage their anxiety.

Counselor Reviews

"David has helped me manage my anxiety and self esteem in a very constructive way. He's extremely supportive. His personality is perfect for me."

"Kelli has given me effective ways to manage my anxiety that I utilize every day. She has also helped me gain a new perspective on self care and gave me the building blocks to heal myself. I have made so much progress from working with her and will continue doing so with the guidance she has provided me."


Although the feeling of butterflies in your stomach is a temporary sensation, it can still be hard to keep under control, and a little stressful at times. Hopefully, by utilizing the tips provided for you in this article, you will be able to stay calm in situations that comes your way in the future. It's perfectly natural to feel butterflies in your stomach, but when they get in the way of you making the most out of your day, you should take action. Take the first step today.

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