Surprising Habits That Are Actually Signs Of Chronic Anxiety


1. Excessively Playing With Your Hair

While it’s perfectly normal to occasionally play with your hair and want to have every strand in a particular placement, an ongoing habit of twisting, brushing and/or pulling at your hair may actually be a sign of anxiety.

Pulling at your own hair in itself can be a soothing behaviour to calm anxiety and excessively playing with your hair can be a sign of anxiety, and at its extreme is called trichotillomania, which is a hair pulling compulsions.

Trichotillomania is a disorder that affects 1-2% of the population, a majority of them female. The main feature is the recurrent compulsion to pull out one’s hair. Hair is pulled from any area of the body, the most common being scalp, eyebrows, and eyelids. Episodes of hair pulling vary over time, but the key features of the diagnosis include hair loss, recurring attempts to stop, and the behaviour causes significant distress.

Hair pulling gives an emotional release and for some, could lead to gratification or pleasure. Not all who pull hair do so consciously. While some pull hair with full awareness, there are others who do it without noticing what is happening.

2. Creating Multiple To-Do Lists

So we all know that being generally organised sounds like a positive trait and is definitely something people aspire to be. But if you’re in the habit of creating those lengthy to-do lists, organising your desk continuously or tidying your surroundings, it may actually be your way anxious feelings making you do so.

Lists can create a sense of inner peace but you might feel guilty or as if you are wasting precious time if you take the time to make them. For some though, creating lists can clear an individual’s mind that would usually have so much information flooding it at any given time.


3. Not Being Able To Sleep Through The Night

Any symptom of anxiety is having difficulty sleeping, staying asleep, or that you may find yourself always waking up too early. While not sleeping the recommended time each night seems to be a pretty common occurrence in those with and without anxiety, it’s often the biggest and most noticeable sign of anxiety which could lead to much bigger health risks down the track if not treated properly.

In the past there have been many studies on how much anxiety or stress impacts anxiety, and vice versa. However, there have also been a number of “natural remedies” which those effected have sworn by, including meditation, relaxing, reading or doing a “brain dump” in the late afternoon that allows the individual to write down all their current fears and worries and think out potential solutions away from the time they’d be trying to sleep at night.


4. Triple Checking Everything

You might find yourself going to great lengths to regain a sense of peace by double – or in some cases, triple checking everything, which in the bigger picture is a form of control by being very structured and obsessive throughout the day. While its a sign of anxiety, it’s also a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder, although a very mild case at that.

Mildly anxious individuals with anxiety may get caught in unhappy loops without even realising it, often telling themselves, “I’ll look just one more time.”

While triple checking tasks will make you feel better temporarily, it actually puts you in a constant look of worry and fear that will then build each time you give in, in-turn creating more anxiety for yourself.

5. Biting Your Nails

Nail biting is such common habit that many of us can relate to participating in at one point in life or another. However, a small thing like biting your nails in which many people wouldn’t think twice about could very well be your go-to way of coping with anxiety and nervous feelings.

According to professionals, individuals tend to bite their nails from a young age when they feel nervous, overwhelmed, or anxious and the habit can follow you into adulthood, where you find yourself unknowingly biting your nails in stressful or anxious environments.

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