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How Anxiety Triggers Nausea: Exploring The Somatic Connection

Understanding Somatic Anxiety

Somatic anxiety refers to physical symptoms arising from an emotion, such as anxiety. When your body responds to stress, it can lead to discomfort and nausea. Anxiety-induced nausea is a common phenomenon, and understanding the underlying mechanisms can helps us manage it effectively. Here’s why anxiety looks like nausea:

  • Fight-or-Flight Response: Anxiety triggers your body’s stress response, preparing you to face a crisis. Hormones flood your system, affecting various body systems.
  • Digestive Impact: Stress affects your cardiovascular, endocrine, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems. In the digestive system, it can cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, and more.

Let’s dive in more.

The Gut-Brain Connection

Our gut and brain are intricately linked through the enteric nervous system (ENS). This “second brain” resides in our gastrointestinal tract and communicates bidirectionally with the central nervous system. When we experience anxiety or stress, the ENS responds by releasing nuerotransmitters and hormones. These signals can disrupt the normal digestive processes, leading to symptoms like nausea, bloating and other stomach discomforts.

Anxiety can trigger the fight or flight response, which is known as an ancient survival mechanism. When faced with a perceived threat, our body redirects blood flow away from non-essential functions (like digestion) and toward vital organs (like the heart and muscles). As a result, the stomach may receive less blood supply which impacts the ability to digest food properly. Nausea can arise due to slowed gastric emptying and increased sensitivity of the stomach lining.

Anxiety can keep us in a state of hypervigilance and hyperarousal. Our senses can become heightened and we are more attuned to bodily sensations. Even minor discomforts can trigger a cascade of anxious thoughts. Then adding in the feeling of nausea or the fear of vomiting intensifies this feedback loop.

It is NOT fun to deal with nausea OR anxiety. Let’s discuss some of the ways you can help reduce the symptoms and feel better quickly.

Effective Tools for Managing Anxiety-Induced Nausea

  1. Deep Breathing:
    • Calm your nervous system by practicing deep breathing techniques.
    • Slow, deep and controlled breath activates the parasympathetic nervous system, calming down the body and reducing nausea.
  2. Mindfulness and Grounding:
    • Stay present and focus on your surrounding. Grounding techniques like touching a textured object or having your feet in the grass can help you focus on the present moment.
  3. Aromatherapy:
    • Essential oils can alleviate nausea. These are a few favorites to try:
      • Peppermint Oil: Relaxes stomach muscles and reduces inflammation.
      • Ginger Oil: Settles the stomach and aids nutrient absorption.
      • Lavender Oil: Calms the mind and body.
  4. Therapy and Coaching: Utilizing therapy can use Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps to reframe anxious thoughts while coaching can provide practical strategies for stress management. Both have value but are different- If you want more information about the differences between therapy and coaching, go HERE.
  5. Global Energy Method: Utilizing a practitioner who is trained in energy and emotional release can be very powerful in freeing the physical and/or emotional issues. Think of it like energy that is “stuck” or blocked, which creates a disruption. That energy needs to be “rerouted” back to the right places to create harmony in the body. (learn more about these services here).
  6. Lifestyle Changes:
    • Stay hydrated. Dehydration can create anxiety-like symptoms.
    • Eat bland foods (e.g., plain toast or saltine crackers).
    • Avoid caffeine and greasy foods.

Remember, managing anxiety-induced nausea involves a holistic approach. Consult a healthcare professional for personalized guidance. 🌿If you are struggling with anxiety, feel free to connect and let’s chat about what might best help you!

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Judith Labert

I have over 15 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Addictions counselor, as well as focusing on Art Therapy, PCIT/Parenting and Trauma as my specialties. I added an Integrative Mental Health Certification as well as other holistic tools to help my clients.
Now as a Certified Life AND Certified Mental Wellness Coach, specializing in the realm of overall life balance and Mental Wellness, I am able to bring all of my skill sets to the table.
Through my own journey, I have discovered my passion of helping others become their best selves through an integrative approach, using holistic tools such as various art and therapy modalities, lifestyle coaching, emotional release techniques, aromatherapy, goal setting, mindset and more!

hi! I'm Judith!

I am passionate about holistic healing, emotional health & wholeness and helping people achieve their best lives authentically!

I’m a Certified Life AND Certified Mental Wellness Coach, specializing in the realm of overall life balance and Mental Wellness.

Let's Connect!
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