Anxiety is a very debilitating mental illness. Often, it can heavily impact your day to day life in a very serious way. But it also can impact you in different ways. Because anxiety causes worry, sufferers can change their lifestyle and start to adopt new behaviour patterns to try and lower that worry and in turn lower the feeling of anxiety. Doing this every day means that you can turn those behaviours into habits, which can stay around for a long time. Even after the reason for doing them no longer affects you.
For example, because of my anxiety, I always automatically check where the exits are in a room whenever I enter. That is left over from when I was having frequent panic attacks and always had to know where the nearest exit was, in case I needed to escape. Anxiety can leave a lasting impression on your everyday habits because if affects your life so heavily. So, Psych2Go shares with you 5 habits you may develop because of anxiety.
1) Avoiding eye contact
This is something that I do on a daily basis. In fact, not even an hour ago, I was taking my dog for a walk and bumped into my ex-boyfriend’s parents. For the whole conversation, I was staring at his dad’s forehead. I hadn’t seen them in a couple of years and was super nervous. It was very difficult for me to look in their eyes while we spoke. Eye contact is something that my therapist and I are working on, and I have made lots of progress. But when I’m stressed or in a situation that brings out my anxiety, eye contact is something I find I can’t do. Looking at someone straight in their eyes can be very daunting as there’s no place to hide and is a big trigger of anxiety in many people.
2) Grinding your teeth
Usually when you sleep, your muscles relax and your body loses tension. But when you’re anxious, your body retains that tension. This can also extend into sleep. Grinding your teeth can start off as anxiety or stress-related, but can quickly turn into a habit. I started grinding my teeth when I was suffering heavily with anxiety around my exams and actually had to have new retainers because I was grinding my teeth that hard in the night. If you keep grinding your teeth and are feeling pain in your jaw or ear, you should probably go to your dentist to get it checked out as teeth grinding can cause some serious problems with your teeth.
3) Waking up at intervals throughout the night
When you’ve got a lot on your mind, it can be difficult to sleep all the way through the night. Often when I was in the middle of exam season or going through a rough patch with my anxiety, I would wake up every couple of hours. My brain just wouldn’t turn off. Because I got into the pattern of waking up at certain times throughout the night, it would be difficult to break the habit. Even now after a rough couple of days with my anxiety, I will return back to my pattern of waking up at 2 am, then 4 am and then finally, 6 am, when I would give up with sleep and get up. Insomnia can be controlled with the right strategies. And if you reduce your anxiety and stress during the day, you can actually get some relief at night as well.
4) Apologising without needing to
Saying sorry when you don’t need to is often said to be a British custom. There are many compilation videos all over the internet of Tom Hiddleston repetitively saying sorry when it’s not needed. As well as being a British tradition, unnecessarily apologising can be a habit that has come from anxiety. Sufferers of anxiety can often subconsciously over-apologise as a way of managing their anxiety and is often used by people who lack confidence. ‘Sorry’ has now become my default. I find myself apologising to people for not hearing them the first time around, when someone is in my way and I need them to move, or even for coming first in an exam. It has now wormed its way into my everyday vernacular, and I can’t see it leaving anytime soon.
5) Chewing your lip
I‘m the world’s worst for this. I find myself pulling at skin on my lips, actually chewing on my bottom lip and sometimes making the inside of my cheek bleed. I do this when I feel intense anxiety and have too much energy with nowhere to expend it. Biting your lip is extremely common with anxiety sufferers. But if it becomes excessive it can have harmful effects. It can cause dry, chapped, and bleeding lips. Chewing on your lips is usually the body’s way of creating a coping strategy. Similar to people bouncing their legs or licking their lips.
What do you think?
Have you developed any habits due to anxiety? How do they impact you? Psych2Go would love to know! Be sure to leave a comment below!
If you enjoyed this article, then you may also like 5 Facts You Need to Know About High Functioning Anxiety or 5 Benefits of Meditation
Bakardzhieva, T. (21st November 2017) Common Habits caused by Anxiety. Thrive Global. Retrieved 30th May 2018.
Edited by Viveca Shearin