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Common Anxiety-Induced Habits and How to Deal With Them

August 10, 2020

Common Anxiety-Induced Habits and How to Deal With Them

Anxiety is more prevalent now with the current global status.  Actions perpetuated by anxiety often develop into self-destructive habits. What you consider as harmless little ‘quirks’ may mean you are suffering from a more concerning issue.

Here is a compilation of common anxiety-driven habits that you may toss off as merely personal peculiarities.


Nail Biting

Did you know that nail biting is a form of cannibalism? Apart from that lovely thought, biting your nails is a sign of anxiety. It is a nervous practice brought on by environmental triggers—a form of emotional regulation that some people find that it alleviates anxiety.

‘Nail biting’ varies per individual. It could be as straightforward as biting the overhanging end of your nails, chipping on nail polish, nibbling on the thick skin on the border where the finger and nail tips meet, or it could go as bad as consuming the entire fingernail. Yes, it could get to that.

An easy out is applying a non-toxic solution to nails that imparts a strong, unpleasant bitter taste. This, however, does not address the main cause.


Hair Twirling/Pulling

Both men and women are guilty of playing with their hair at some point. Some people do it much more frequently, usually when anxiety sets it.

You may think that it’s quite safe, normal, and typically for curbing boredom. Over time, and as anxiety worsens, the habit develops from just habitual twirling to actual hair pulling. Incessant hair pulling triggered by a psychological catalyst is called trichotillomania. The condition leads to premature hair thinning, which almost certainly leads to self-esteem issues that would aggravate an already alarming level of anxiety.


Excessive Talking

A common manifestation of anxiety is shutting down and becoming less verbal. This is because you may think that whatever you say is wrong, so you just keep mum, drastically lessening your chances of committing a verbal faux pas.

A spectrum has two ends, though. At the other side, anxious people would turn to talking too much. If your mind resorts to the opposite of avoiding social anxiety by putting yourself on mute, it means that silence gives you anxiety. So, you fill that threating empty spot with mindless chatter. More often than not, you would talk fast, stammer, and use verbal fillers like, ‘like’. Talking too much gives you the impression of taking control of situations that evoke helplessness.


Avoiding Eye Contact

This is another social symptom. Avoiding eye contact is a form of nervousness.

You may assume that it’s just plain awkward to stare directly into the eyes of another person. You might even think it’s straight up impolite. You may even justify yourself as not feeling the need to assert yourself in social situations by advancing a stare-off with every new person you meet. It’s just like how you are not concerned if you give strong and commanding or soft and non-committal handshakes. After all, we can’t all have an ‘A type’ personality. Our strengths lie elsewhere.

One major reason why a person foregoes looking into the eyes of another is it makes them feel vulnerable and open to attacks. The eyes can tell a lot about a person, so if you’re anxious and self-conscious, you’d not want people getting ideas of things about you that you consider as extremely private. You’d rather not make strong connections by eye contact if it means opening yourself up.


Apologising More than Necessary

Acknowledging one’s mistake and apologising for it is a preferable trait in any person. Apologising constantly, no matter how sincere the sentiment may be, is a red flag. If you do this, you find that it manages anxiety. It’s a firewall for outside scrutiny—a form of pleasing people that’s especially evident in perfectionists.  

A negative effect of over-apologising is the eventuality that people would no longer find you saying, “I’m sorry,” genuine. It loses weight. And, whether or not you mean to do so, it can also be a passive way of manipulation. You self-deprecate and apologise, thinking that people would find it honest. They may even feel sorry for you.


Taking responsibility for a fault that’s not yours would lessen the chances of a confrontation, therefore decreasing your chances of getting in a situation that would elevate your anxiety. This is more common when you apologise pre-emptively.


Many of these anxious habits, like nail biting and hair pulling, are avoidable by simply doing something else that’s not harmful. Yes, it’s easier said than done. They are called habits because they are ingrained not just in our psyche but also in our motor faculties. You can start eliminating bad habits by making some changes in your less or totally harmless ones. If you can do this, then you trigger a ripple effect, and soon enough you’d find yourself able to shake off these unsavoury, anxiety-curbing actions.

In the case of over-apologising, you can start by rolling things back and re-assessing what an apology really means. Saying, “I’m sorry,” bears a lot of weight. Accepting that most things are out of your control, and hence, do not merit an apology if they go south is a massive step toward getting over anxiety.

Other things, like tea, can help alleviate anxiety and diminish the tendency of resorting to destructive habits. ThinTea’s Complete Health Pack has tea blends that not only help strengthen the body but also the mind. Be more relaxed, bloat-free, and lose a few pounds while you’re at it!

Despite the exercises mentioned above, we here at ThinTea implore you, dear readers, to seek help if things are getting too overwhelming. It’s not shameful. We are all living in mad times and anxiety is building up in most people, if not everyone. There is always a sympathetic ear ready to hear you out.