7 Habits You Have Because of Your Anxiety

Did you know that although anxiety has been reported to affect over 40 million people all over the world (National Institute of Mental Health, 2017), it can do so in a lot of different ways, making it harder to spot in some cases and more prevalent than we realize? And of course, anxiety affects even more people on a subclinical level; an alarming majority of people have actually experienced anxiety at least once in their lives. 

So, how do we get a better picture of what anxiety can look like for a lot of different people? And how it can affect our lives without us even realizing it? Well, here are 7 habits psychology says you most likely have because of your anxiety:

1. Over Planning and Micromanaging

Do you like to plan out your day down to the minute and make multiple to-do lists to keep track of and plan everything in your life? While being organized is normally a positive trait, doing it in excess can already be somewhat of a red flag. Because most of the time, people struggling with a lot of anxiety are guilty of over planning and micromanaging just about everything in their lives as a way to gain a sense of control. They want to stay on top of things all the time because if not, they will immediately start to worry about all of the things that could go wrong.

2. Being Restless and Fidgeting

Next is being restless and fidgeting. Do you have a nervous tic like biting your nails or playing with your hair? Or maybe you tap your leg, chew on your pens, or just can’t sit still most of the time? Little habits like these are called nervous tics for a reason; most of the time, we do them because we are unconsciously trying to regulate our emotions and alleviate our anxiety (Steams, 2012).

3. Asking Everyone’s Opinions

Another habit you might have because of your anxiety is being indecisive and asking everyone’s opinions all the time. You just can’t seem to make up your mind about anything because you always worry and fret over making the wrong choice. Your anxiety is making you doubt your own judgment and eating away at the idea that it will all work out for the best in the end. So you constantly turn to other people for help to tell you what you should do or choose, even if it’s something as simple and inconsequential as where you should eat or what you should say in a text.

photo of woman using mobile phone

4. Avoiding Certain Situations

The American Psychological Association (2013) defines anxiety as “a future-oriented fear that leads people to avoid certain situations that may trigger or worsen their distress.” So it’s not surprising then that, if you are dealing with a lot of anxiety, you likely have a habit of avoiding certain situations that might make it worse. Everybody’s triggers look different. For some, it might be a loud and busy party or a big networking event, while for others it might even be something as simple as going out and talking to your friends.

5. Avoiding Eye Contact

It’s pretty common knowledge that people who feel nervous or anxious have trouble making or maintaining eye contact. They will often dart their eyes around the room or look at the ground while someone is talking to them because something about making direct eye contact just feels too aggressive, confrontational, or vulnerable for them. So if you’re guilty of doing this a lot, even with your closest friends and family members, then it’s probably because of anxiety (Antony & Rowa,2005).

6. Having Trouble Sleeping

Similar to depression, one of the most common but overlooked manifestations of anxiety is difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. And while it may not be as serious as a full blown case of insomnia, many studies have shown that anxiety strongly and negatively impacts the quantity and quality of our sleep. Most people struggling with this tend to be up at night, stressing about the days to come or overthinking everything that happened that day (McLeod, Hoehn-Saric & Stefan, 1986). So if you often sleep only a few hours a day or find yourself waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep, this might be the reason why.

7. Having Weird Dreams

Speaking of sleep, another way your anxiety might already be having an effect on your life even without you realizing it is through your dreams. Do you often have confusing dreams or recurring nightmares? Have you ever tried looking into the meaning or interpretation of these dreams? Chances are, if you did, it would probably make you realize that you are dealing with a lot more stress or anxiety than you thought. And though you might be subconsciously repressing it, it’s still managed to find a way to resurface in your dreams.

So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Has reading this list made you realize how anxiety might actually have a bigger impact on your life than you realized? If you are struggling with your mental health, please do not hesitate to reach out to a mental healthcare professional today and seek help. 

And if you liked this article and want to read more about this topic, here’s what we recommend: 8 Things People With Anxiety Want You To Know, 8 Reasons Why Anxiety in Teens is Increasing, and 6 Common Causes of Anxiety.


  • National Institute of Mental Health (2017). What Are Anxiety Disorders? Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/anxiety-disorders.shtml
  • Stearns, P. N. (2012). American fear: The causes and consequences of high anxiety. Routledge.
  • American Psychological Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Ed. Washington, DC, USA; APA Publishing. 
  • McLeod, D. R., Hoehn-Saric, R., & Stefan, R. L. (1986). Somatic symptoms of anxiety: Comparison of self-report and physiological measures. Biological psychiatry, 21(3), 301-310.
  • Antony, M. M., & Rowa, K. (2005). Evidence-based assessment of anxiety disorders in adults. Psychological assessment, 17(3), 256.

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