“25 ‘Weird’ Things People Do Because of Anxiety” was written by Juliette Virzi for The Mighty.
When you’ve lived with anxiety for a while, oftentimes you become aware of some of the unique things you do because of it — or even the “weird” ways you’ve learned to cope with it.
Maybe you’re like me and you check your pulse obsessively, willing your heart rate to just slow down. Maybe your anxiety makes you feel out of control, and it comes out as anger. Or maybe you’ve found a secret way of making yourself feel less anxious that you worry is “too weird” to share with others.
No matter what unique or “weird” way your anxiety manifests, we want you to know you aren’t alone. The only way we can break the shame and stigma surrounding “weird” things people do because of anxiety is to talk about it. To open up this discussion, we asked our Mighty community to share one “weird” thing they do because of anxiety.
Before we begin, we want to preface by saying that feelings of embarrassment are very real, and like all feelings, are completely valid. But even though it’s natural to feel like the things you do because of anxiety are “weird,” we want you to know it’s more than OK not to be OK and there is no shame in struggling with anxiety.
Here’s what our community shared with us.
- “I pick my cuticles all the time. That’s my go-to. However, if my anxiety is worse I’ll pinch the skin at the very top of my thighs. It’s discrete and is just enough pain to pull me out of my head without being damaging. I can usually get it under control with that.” — Jessica F.
- “I wrap each finger in masking tape until I can’t bend them. Then after wrapping one hand, I unwrap it in reverse. It is a slow process that allows my mind to calm down. Been doing this since I was a child. I’m 46.” — Catherine G.
- “Yawn. Constantly. It’s annoying as hell but I can’t help it. It gets worse the more anxious I get. It’s like I can’t get enough air so I have to make myself yawn. I’ve done this since I was a kid, but only recently found out it was a type of hyperventilating.” — Lea H.
- “I have to pee constantly when I’m anxious.” — Emily L.
- “Sometimes anxiety turns into anger. People don’t always understand why I’m angry and even I don’t understand in the moment that the anger stemmed from a surge of anxiety.” — Sarah C.
- “I shake a lot. It starts with me tapping my foot. Then vigorously shaking my leg and tapping my hands. It’s so hard to hide so everyone automatically looks at me making me feel like a ‘freak.’” — Dannielle W.
- “I pop zits on myself or my boyfriend of three years. He hates it but when I’m really bad, he’ll take his shirt off and lay on his stomach so I can pop the ones on his back. I also crochet to keep my hands busy if he’s too sore from work to let me go at it.” — Mary U.
- “I put press-on nails on, wait about 30 minutes, and then peel them off. Every time I’m trying to keep them on, convinced they’ll keep me from chewing my nails, but I can’t keep myself from peeling them off.” — Sarah W.
- “I dance like a robot backing up and walking away while making robot sounds when I am around a group of people and feel overstimulated and become paranoid.” — Amanda N.
- “I collect loads of keyrings and random stuff to put on my keys for two reasons. 1. The thought of losing my keys causes me anxiety so I try to make them as hard to lose as possible. 2. It gives me something to fiddle with when I become anxious in public.” — Chloe C.
- “When I start to have anxiety or panic attacks, I like to be in very cold temperatures. I don’t actually ‘feel’ it, but I know the cold is hitting me and it helps me focus on something.” — Courtnie N.
- “I always reach for my face to start clawing it out without realizing what I am doing. I do it because I feel it crawling at the surface of my skin.” — Karena M.
- “I love knotting my baby hair which never got the chance to grow because I love tugging at it when am anxious. Relaxes me and puts me in a calm trance.” — Martha D.
- “Sometimes I’ll just start rambling in German or sing along to certain songs (also in German) to help try to calm me. (Sometimes it’s nice to know a second language… but where I live there aren’t many German-speaking people! So I’m sure it seems odd!)” — Kat G.
- “I don’t eat like I normally would in front of people. I feel like I’m constantly being judged so I eat basically half of a normal portion in front of people, unless they’re people I’m super comfortable with.” — Amanda C.
- “I twist my hair, bite my nails and squeeze my ear lobes. The last one comes from me doing it as a child to my dad’s earlobes while sucking my thumb and although I don’t suck my thumb anymore, I still play with my earlobes and squeeze them. It comforts me.” — Lisa M.
- “I grind my teeth bad enough for other people to hear it. I also have a thing where I shake my leg up and down with my foot on the ground. I also pace around in a circle if I am alone. Yup that’s my weird stuff I do because of my anxiety.” — Mike E.
- “I carry nail polish with me everywhere. Anytime I get too anxious and overwhelmed by what’s going on around me, I start painting my nails. It’s like a fidget spinner… but with glitter.” — KJ B.
- “I check my heart rate constantly and put my hands on my throat in an effort to remove invisible hands that feel like they’re choking me.” — Mary S.
- “I used to have to go sit on the toilet. I’d be there for a bit (not going) just sitting completely still — I have no clue why. I just did it one day and it became the thing I did.” — Erica G.
- “My hands are never not in use. I’m either holding something, doing something with them or cleaning under my fingernails. It never stops. I even have a pattern I follow sometimes and if something interrupts it, I have to start over or squeeze the tips of my fingers until I feel in balance again.” — Lana J.
- “I constantly check my social media accounts to make sure I didn’t post anything offensive/inappropriate… even though I would never do that.” — Dakota K.
- “I rock back and forth in bed for about an hour each and every night. I try to stop, and then my legs have to be moving. That’s even after taking my anxiety medication.” — Barbara W.
- “I️ am constantly hot because of my anxiety. In the middle of the winter, I️ will be in shorts and a tank top because my body is so hot.” — Maggie B.
- “Sometimes when my anxiety is ‘crazy’ I will shower a few times a day… the warm water seems to calm me a bit!” — Brooke K.
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Can you relate?