Anxiety! Everyone feels anxious sometimes. Important meetings, first dates, big events, all can lead to people feeling anxious, excited, jittery, etc.
For a long time, I didn’t realize my anxious feelings were different than what anyone else was experiencing. I knew when it came to social situations, I had what I called “Social Anxiety”, and also separation anxiety, but other than that, I didn’t realize I was just out here living with untreated mental conditions.
I lived with the fact that I could function, go to work, have relationships with people, and I was totally fine. It wasn’t until I had my son, and had postpartum depression, that unearthed the realization of the years of living with anxiety and depression without personally even realizing that it was an issue.
Here are some habits that I have had, for as long as I can remember, that I didn’t realize were tell-tale signs that I had anxiety.
If anything I say in this post speaks to you in any way, I urge you to talk to your doctor or someone you trust about what you’re experiencing. The help is there and it is truly wonderful. Brain meds saved my life, I am still in therapy, and I am still a work in progress, but it all started with a doctors appointment and taking that first step. People often discourage me from speaking out about my mental health conditions, but I will not ever stop, because if I can help a single person feel like they are not alone, sharing my experience is worth it.
On that note, I am NOT a doctor of any sort. I am NOT a mental health professional. I am a mom with the internet, anxiety, a PPD survivor, and mental health advocate, sharing my personal experience and hoping to help others find the courage to seek help and/or treatment. Nothing I say is meant to treat or diagnose, it is me sharing my personal experience and research. Please always talk to a professional with any concerns you’re having.
Biting my lips and the inside of my cheeks
I’ve done this for as long as I can remember. I remember getting scolded for it as a child like I could help it. I am 29 years old and still cannot get myself to stop this habit, even with being aware of it and consciously wanting to stop it.
If you also find yourself frequently chewing on the inside of your mouth or biting your lips, here are some tips from www.healthline.com on Lip Biting.
- cognitave behavioral therapy
- relaxation techniques
- prescription sedatives
- mouth guard
- replacement behavior (chewing gum)
This is a hard habit to quit, at least for me. I have been actively aware of my anxiety for almost 4 years, consistently working with a therapist for 2 years, and I still struggle with lip biting. As the article from healthline states, the first step is awareness, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t stop it overnight.
There are a few types of Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors (BFRB) which you can read about HERE. As a nail-biter all my life, I didn’t realize that was a sign of anxiety since it was something I had always done. (Just like the lip biting)
Besides that, I would poke my thigh with my 4 fingers, excluding my thumb, where my arm hung down to my leg. I would, unknowingly, hit my leg over and over again, not even realizing I was doing it unless it would draw another person’s attention or it would become uncomfortable. This is something I would only do in a public setting, always when I would be overwhelmed and standing. When sitting, I would bounce my leg, repeatedly.
I noticed this a lot when I worked in a particularly stressful job that was very detrimental to my mental health. I have not had a consistent issue with hitting my leg since that job.
Another link to a Healthline article. SWEATING.
Did you know sweating and anxiety have a love affair? I mean, because what is better than being anxious than also sweaty freakin pits?
So, truly, I am a hot person. I wear flip flops all year long, even in the snow, rain, I don’t care. Flip flops are fine footware. I cannot wear sweatshirts indoors, especially at functions because hello anxiety, but you get the point. I am not solely blaming anxiety for sweating, but the healthline article is very enlightening if you are also someone who maybe experiences social anxiety and excessive sweating.
Again, I don’t remember not worrying about this, as far as preteen/teenage years and sweating go. The ongoing theme of these under-the-radar anxiety signs is that I don’t remember a time where these weren’t happening or weren’t a concern.
Yawning and feeling like the yawn was “stuck”
I saw this on a reel on Instagram! (Another way social media and the internet aren’t all bad. You can learn some good things from it, too) I yawn all the time. It drives my dad crazy, actually. He hates when I talk while yawning, which is probably very rude, but I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I’ve yawned 4 times just writing these last 3 sentences, I guess just from thinking about it (LOL)
Sometimes I feel like I have to keep yawning over and over again because it feels like I cannot get enough air or a deep enough breath. It’s actually always stressed me out pretty bad, as I am very anxious about health-related things, so I was always concerned it was a hint at an underlying illness or issues. Plot twist! It was! ANXIETY!
Here is an article on yawning and anxiety HERE
Brain fog! Knowing this about myself would have saved my self-esteem from taking many hits throughout my life. I’ve had people saying numbers right to my face and I would turn around to act on the task and everything I was just told would be gone from my brain. In turn, causing MORE anxiety and stress for me, and even caused conflict in some situations where I was blanking. (Example: my job, with my boss, where time was of the essence and me screwing up was a big issue)
This is a really great healthline article (theme of this post is citing healthline) with a lot of great tips for your anxious brain.
These signs of anxiety have been present factors in my life for so long, I didn’t realize they were symptoms of anxiety. I often wonder what life would have looked like for me if I would have sought treatment for my anxiety in my early 20’s, which is my driving force behind sharing my journey.
If you have any similar tendencies, please chat with your doctor or a trusted friend. It’s the first step to dealing with anxiety.