Why falling in love gives you butterflies

Medically reviewed by Janet Brilớn, Ph.D., LCSW, CST — Written by Kristine Lockwood and Adam Felman — Updated on February 23, 2020

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Whether it’s before a big interview or you’re sitting next lớn your crush wondering what to say, people will be all too familiar with the fluttery, almost ticklish feeling that brews in their midriff when they’re excited or nervous. But why does it happen?

Most of us know this feeling by the un-scientific name “butterflies,” as it might feel lượt thích a few are fluttering around in your stomach. However, there’s a more scientific explanation for it.

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Anyone who watched B Rabbit (aka Eminem) introduce his mom’s spaghetti to a nhà vệ sinh bowl (and the front of his sweater) before his epic battle in 8 Mile will not be surprised khổng lồ learn that the digestive system has close links lớn thoughts & emotions.

That’s why those pre-presentation jitters can quickly turn inlớn stomach acrobatics. In this article, we explain how the toàn thân turns excitement into lớn a gut punch or belly rub.


Butterflies in my stomach: the gut-brain connection

Brain health và gut health are cthua kém cousins — & not just because you might have last night’s burger still pushing against the sides of your digestive sầu tract while you’re thinking about the next serving. Some researchers refer khổng lồ the GI tract as the “second brain.”

Retìm kiếm suggests that the gut và brain regularly slide into lớn each others’ DMs, likely exchanging nothing but poop emojis. Scientists Hotline this group chat “the brain-gut axis.”

Chronic bao tay can actually change which bacteria live in your gut. This little civilization of microbes is called the microbiota.Houseyêu thích AM, et al. (2017). The effects of ức chế & meditation on the immune system, human microbiota, and epigenetics. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29306937

Retìm kiếm has also linked changes in the gut microbiota khổng lồ both gastrointestinal (GI) disorders and mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.Zhou L, et al. (2015). Psychobiotics & the gut-brain axis: In the pursuit of happiness. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4370913/pdf/ndt-11-715.pdf

When you feel nervous before a stage debut or big meeting, your brain communicates that anxiety to your gut. This lets loose a swarm of butterflies.

To fully understand why butterflies feel how they vì, we may have sầu khổng lồ look baông chồng hundreds of thousands of years. (That’s a long time, lớn be honest. Our stomachs are doing somersaults just thinking about it.)


Butterflies in the stomach are BFFs with the body’s fight-or-flight response, which has origins in how humans evolved.

Before humans had lớn be ready for the finale of their favorite show or following their Uber to the final meter of its journey on the tiện ích, they had khổng lồ prepare to lớn run from attacking lions (or other prehistoric beasts).

Given the typically narrow window between a lion deciding to order a human fillet và you ending up on the plate, an increased heart rate và tense muscles could be the secret weapon you needed to lớn make a quichồng escape.

When your brain perceives a potential threat khổng lồ survival, it increases alertness by raising your heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

At the same time, the nervous system wakes up your adrenal glands, which release hormones lượt thích adrenaline and cortisol that prepare your body lớn get the hell away from that lion (or what have sầu you).

Blood leaves places where it’s not needed, lượt thích the stomach — it’s not lượt thích you’re about khổng lồ eat the lion. They are not especially easy khổng lồ negotiate with.

Instead, blood flows to body parts where it might be necessary, lượt thích the muscles. That’s why cavemen’s legs could spring into lớn action when they needed khổng lồ run for their lives, và also why you should never skip leg day at the gym. Every day is leg day when bears want your face on a stiông xã.

The smooth stomach muscles are extra sensitive during the fight-or-flight response, which may explain the sensation of a million flying insects in your belly.

Digestion also slows down. So, feeling lượt thích you want khổng lồ throw up before a big interview is perfectly natural.Mertz H. (n.d.). Stress và the gut. https://www.med.unc.edu/ibs/files/2017/10/Stress-and-the-Gut.pdf

A job interview isn’t necessarily a life-threatening situation. Yet our bodies still giảm giá khuyến mãi with căng thẳng in much the same way as they handled scenes stolen squarely from “The Lion King” in ages past.

And anyone at the fourth stage of a five-stage job interview can testify that you might as well be facing down a herd of wildebeest, as far as your body is concerned.

The kidneys bởi vì not automatically sit down & write out a boss-ass resume. Your toàn thân reacts to bít tất tay in the same way your ancestors’ did. Only the things that can căng thẳng us out or hurt us have largely changed.

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Butterflies are usually harmless & can sometimes feel pretty great. If you’re about to get cthua lớn a partner for the first time, your belly may well be full of them. It’s a sign of attraction surer than even takeout in bed together.

However, if these fight-or-flight feelings interfere with your daily life or happen with seemingly little warning or stimulus, it might be time to lớn see a doctor.

If your stomach regularly feels the way it does before a job interview, it could be a sign of an anxiety disorder or even a gastrointestinal issue.

Anxiety is a natural and healthy response to lớn the worrying things that life can throw at you, tied khổng lồ our time spent as hunter-gatherers, which might be something to bring up in your next butterfly-inducing job interview. (Mad skills at collecting berries could work in your favor.)

An anxiety disorder can develop when the mechanism that triggers these feelings is rusty or oversensitive.

You know when your phone screen is frozen và it types out whichever letter you push 10,000 times? Anxiety disorder does a similar thing to your internal fight-or-flight widgets.

One way lớn giảm giá khuyến mãi with butterflies is lớn breathe deeply and relax. Meditation can also help manage the bao tay that makes your stomach churn, if you get into a daily routine of it. Techniques like tapping (aka EFT) can also help.

To try a simple meditation: Cthảm bại your eyes, breathe from your diaphragm, & repeat a word or mantra over & over until your belly calms down. “This, too, shall pass” is an excellent choice, but it can help khổng lồ piông chồng a mantra that particularly reassures you or means something special.

Other ways to lớn calm your shrieking stomach could include:

Move around: doing jumping jacks, push-ups, or another quichồng exercise can release some tension. Squeeze a áp lực ball: This works great when paired with deep breathing.Do an inversion: Lay on your baông xã in front of a wall, with your legs up against the wall, which can help correct blood flow to lớn the stomach.

You might also try taking a probiotic supplement. These contain bacteria that boost gut health may help to lớn restore a healthy balance of bacteria in your gut. Not all microbes are lions waiting to chase you down.

A limited amount of studies are investigating whether these supplements might relieve anxiety. So far, there’s some evidence they may help in rodents, but scientists have sầu not yet confirmed this effect in humans.Kioutê mê DE, et al.

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(2019.) Probiotics in extraintestinal diseases: Current trends and new directions. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040788

While there are many things you can try when pushing those butterflies away, it’s most important to realize that what’s best is what works for you.

Unless butterflies become a repeated, unpleasant pattern that suggest something more complicated is afoot, just let them be. Experience them và learn khổng lồ appreciate them.

They are your body’s way of letting you know that what is about to lớn happen means as much lớn you as not getting eaten by lions.