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10 'Weird' Things I Do Because of Anxiety

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A lot of people in my life would have no idea I have anxiety. I’ve been told my presence can be very calming and grounding for others. However, inside, it is sometimes a very different story. The waves of anxiety may be crashing inside as I’m parading about acting calm. I’ve identified 10 things I do because of my anxiety. To some, these might simply come across as “weird habits.” But to someone who knows me well and is paying attention, they are signs I am anxious.

1. I will shake and twitch. 

Just a brief jerking motion, as a wave of anxiety passes through my body. Sometimes it passes through just my arm or shoulder. Sometimes, it goes through my body. People have seen me shake and thought I was shivering. But I’m not cold… just anxious.

2. I will pace. 

This is another way I use my body to express the anxious energy. If I can’t go outside to walk, I will pace around inside.

3. I will touch my hair.

I  braid and unbraid my hair. I comb my fingers through it. I move my hair from one shoulder to the other. I twirl a piece of it around my finger.

4. I will breathe out of my mouth. 

Months ago, when I was really anxious, I would find it hard to breathe any other way. Now, I think it’s mainly just a habit.

5. I will turn up the A/C and/or remove layers. 

Am I walking around in a tank top in February? I might be anxious! Anxiety can make your blood pressure rise, which in turn makes you feel warm. I find that feeling of heat to be stifling, and sometimes I become afraid I’ll overheat so much that I pass out. So I will do everything I can to cool off.

6. I will swallow a lot. 

Sometimes, when I am anxious, my ears feel blocked. This may be because I am gritting my teeth. As I swallow, I am attempting to un-pop them.

7. I will bring my own food. 

Whenever I go out for more than two hours, I bring snacks with me… perhaps more than I would ever need. Being hungry and not having anything to eat is something that makes me anxious. Furthermore, when I am anxious, I get picky about the ingredients that go into my food. I become unwilling to eat something if I can’t know every little thing that goes into it. Because I am a vegan, I can make this work for me. “Oh, I didn’t want to assume there would be vegan food here, so I brought some to share!”

8. I will show up late. 

Arriving early to an event or meeting makes me anxious. What do I do with the spare time I have while I’m sitting there waiting for something to start? That’s just more time surrounded by other people that maybe I don’t feel comfortable around. I will try to cut that time short by arriving exactly on time, or late.

9. I will quietly hum to myself — a lot.

For some reason, my mind thinks if I have control over my vocal cords, then I have control over the situation. If I’m able to hum or sing, then everything must be OK.

10. I won’t touch things around me. 

This flu season, because it has been so severe, I have tried to avoid touching doorknobs or anything else lots of people touch. I’ll either wait to take my gloves off until I am situated inside, or I will pull my sleeve over my hand. When I get anxious, I also get paranoid about germs around me.

We all know about the classic signs of anxiety: sweating, blushing and hyperventilating — among others. But these are some of my individualized signs of anxiety. Do you have any weird habits or mannerisms that you do out of anxiety? Share them in the comments below.

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Unsplash photo via Jurica Koletic

Originally published: February 15, 2018
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