13 September 2020

5 Habits You Might Have Because of Anxiety

At some point during all of our lives we might feel a level of anxiety that makes us uncomfortable however, how do we distinguish this feeling from an actual long-term anxiety disorder?

Feeling anxious can often feel like there's a huge empty pit or void in your stomach, making you feel uneasy and sick. You might have a sensation of dread or pure adrenaline rushing through your body, leaving you exhausted by the time anxiety departs you. These symptoms alongside an increased heart rate, difficulty breathing, sweating or feeling weak are all common. But, what are some more ongoing habits or feelings we might encounter if anxiety decides to stick around and how can we minimise them? 

Living with anxiety for me personally feels like I'm ready to jump off a cliff. If you hate heights you'll understand the vomit worthy feeling of looking down from a cliff edge, rooftop or glass elevator and having to take a huge step back. That's me. That level of adrenaline plummets through my body at least once a month and wipes me out. Anxiety has me fearing that I'm in everyone's way including my own, that I'm not capable or worthy and, that I'm destined to fail at absolutely everything. However, I prove myself wrong every. single. time. I can and often do succeed at all of the situations anxiety throws my way. And, on the rare occasions that things don't go to plan, the whirlpool of emotions eventually ease away and I pick myself up again. It's not easy but, I have a lot of tricks up my sleeve to cope and a lot of anxious traits that you might also relate to which I'm about to share...

Checking your bag several times before leaving the house

This habit is common and can relate to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) but, this is also simply a common trait if you have anxiety. For example, if I'm feeling worried about leaving the house and going to an unknown location e.g. for my current job or for an interview, I often check my bag over and over before being able to pluck up the courage to leave. There's no specific number of times I need to do this but, it's something I have to do until I feel satisfied that I definitely have my purse, phone, water bottle, keys and mask.

If you find yourself doing this frustrating task numerous times as well, I advise making a list and laying out on your dining table everything you're going to need in advance. Through doing this you can simply see everything without worrying you've forgotten anything, ticking off each item as you pack them. On more organised days in my life I find this activity helps calm my mood and allows me to find clarity.

Frequently needing the toilet 

This is a common symptom because anxiety and stress tenses our muscles and the feeling of needing to urinate increases in frequency. This feeling can be all consuming and very unpleasant or emotional. From my own personal experiences I know that even when I don't need the bathroom I still find myself getting anxious and feeling as though I should go again and again before leaving the house. I fear walking out that door and needing to go but, being unable to once I've left. On occasion this urge has stopped me from being able to go out full stop and enjoy days out.

My one piece of advice to help you step on the other side of that front door? Take a lot of deep breaths. Go to the bathroom as the very very last thing you do and then just go. Lock that door, head out and focus on your journey. Don't think about your mood. Focus on your walk, drive, whatever and be gentle with yourself.

Speaking very quickly or mixing your words

I've often found that anxiety instead of leaving me speechless gives me a level of energy that won't quiet down. My internal monologue is going crazy and the words that come out of my mouth are often utter nonsense. Why? Because when you're feeling so overwhelmed or breathless it's often a challenge to compute your language. So mispronouncing words, talking far too quickly, loudly or simply not being able to form a coherent sentence of course isn't uncommon. 

The one trick I've found to help reduce verbal diarrhea? Stay hydrated and start drinking decaf. Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid a dry mouth, stop drinking anything that'll boost your adrenaline and switch up your diet a little to purchase products with no added sugar. Do whatever you can to decrease your blood pressure and feel calm communicating in everyday conversations. 

Also, don't be afraid to let people know that you have anxiety. There's no need to apologise but by explaining that communication is a barrier for you, people will understand to change their approach and allow you to take more time. More often than not people are always more sympathetic than you imagine.

Skin picking or biting your nails

Everyone scratches or picks their skin occasionally and biting your nails is a common habit but, when itching or picking your skin becomes a frequent and subconscious activity it's time to realise that this is more than a bad habit. If you often find yourself picking your skin until raw or bleeding you probably have a level of anxiety that needs addressing and, in more serious cases you might specifically have a skin picking disorder.

I've spent many years of my life picking the skin on my hands and scratching my face until sore and to be honest the only thing that ever stopped me was work. Once I had to take pride in my appearance and began to enjoy painting my nails or wearing makeup daily for my previous receptionist job, I found I wanted to skin pick less and less. These days even though I work a less glamorous job, I'm still able to inflict less pain and discomfort on myself. Occasionally I rub my face and scratch my hands but, I take greater pride in my appearance and feel much more capable to acknowledge when I need to stop. You can get there too and, there are plenty of online resources to help.

Making a lot of lists

Okay. Being organised and wanting to make lists for everyday planning is totally fine and an activity I need to maintain a level of calm in my life however, it's important to understand when this becomes an unhealthy habit. Feeling the need to be hyper-organised can actually be counterproductive, inducing much more stress and anxiety within ourselves.  

So, how can we avoid this? I have lists for everything from my bills, food shopping, meal planning and forecasting my spending but, these are all achievable, realistic and focused. It's vital to make sure all of your lists are those 3 things and not overly ambitious. Make sure you can get things done and don't set unrealistic deadlines for yourself. Just focus on one task at a time, take a lot of deep breaths and rest in between each task. Don't make life too difficult for yourself. The goal is to avoid anxious thoughts where we can at all costs and, to begin maintaining a level of peace at mind where we can flourish. I also advise making sure your workspace or home is tidy before even beginning to tackle your list, as you may find yourself procrastinating halfway through and feeling overwhelmed by clutter as your day passes by. 


  1. This is such a relatable post! When my anxiety was at its worst I was definitely guilty of these habits. It took a lot of practise (and therapy) to tackle them but gets easier over time. Lovely post!

    Anika | chaptersofmay.com

  2. Thanks for this post i found it very helpful as i also suffer from anxiety and can find certain situations overwhelming. I try to hide it but it's always there. It even came with me to Rome last November as much as I wanted it to stay at home! 😂
    Having anxiety doesn't make you any less of a wonderful person it just means some situations may take a bit more planning on your side. 🌟✨
    We are stronger because of it not despite it. ☀💫
    Sunshine Sarah

  3. This was such an interesting post. I don't suffer from anxiety, but my boyfriend does and reading this I realised he has a lot of the same tells xx

    mia // https://beautiful-inspiring-creative-life.com

  4. I have never thought that I suffer from bad anxiety but whenever I am nervous I always need to go to the toilet so it makes sense!


  5. I would never class myself as someone who suffers from bad anxiety but I do quite a few of the things on this list a lot - especially needing the loo all the time!

    Tash // A Girl with a View

  6. Super interesting to look at habits and trace them back to anxiety. I definitely make a ton of lists and I think that is from a place of anxiety and worry.

  7. I had honestly never considered how often I check my bag before heading out anywhere, but I am totally guilty of that! I always start worrying that I've forgotten something important, like my house keys or my cellphone and have to stop to make sure that everything is there (at least a couple times).

  8. Hi Kate. I don't tend to get anxious or stressed. I do, however, have a healthy dislike of heights! So, given your analogy, I have new-found sympathy for those that do get anxious - I hope that you manage to increase your win rate above 90%!

  9. Very relatable. I have a habit of double checking and needing to make sure I have everything I could possibly need. It's definitely related to anxiety and not being without something I might need in a situation!

  10. I can relate to ALL of these - especially the one about list-making! I loved your advice on keeping the lists achievable, realistic and focused. Sometimes I make lists that are several pages long and it's exhausting to even read them 🙃 Time to stop doing that, I think! Thank you for this helpful post.


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