“Anxiety symptoms can ‘whisper’ at us, nudging us to notice and pay attention, but not always clearly identifying themselves as anxiety”
Anxiety doesn’t always present itself clearly, and there are many small habits you won’t believe are signs of anxiety. Bustle set out to collect some of the least asknowledged signs of anxiety, and I was pleased to help out.
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It can be easy to brush these habits off as small quirks. But if they’re ongoing or excessive — or start to hold you back in life — it may be a good idea to look for an underlying cause. “Anxiety symptoms can ‘whisper’ at us, nudging us to notice and pay attention, but not always clearly identifying themselves as anxiety,” Alicia H. Clark, PsyD, PLLC, a licensed clinical psychologist, tells Bustle. “Ticks and odd behaviors, like skin packing, nail biting, and hair twirling, are often things people do to calm and occupy themselves when they get uncomfortable.”
Not Being Able To Sleep Through The Night
“Anxiety can keep us up at night, literally, and also wake us up from sleep preventing us from being able to go back to sleep,” Dr. Clark says. If you aren’t getting a solid seven to nine hours of sleep a night, let your doctor know.
Having Weird Dreams
“Dreaming about weird, strange things that leave you uncomfortable can be a sign of anxiety you are experiencing, but may not be fully aware of,” Dr. Clark says. “Our dreams are believed to help us process information, and things we worry about are often top of mind for needing our attention, even if we don’t have time. Dreams allow us to process conflict and anxiety without using precious waking attention to do so.”
Using “Fear Language”
The next time you’re having a conversation, take note of the words and phrases you say the most. If you use what Dr. Clark refers to as “fear language,” it may be a sign of underlying anxiety.
“For example, ‘I’m worried that…’ [or] ‘I’m concerned that…’ [or] ‘I’m afraid that,'” Dr. Clark says. “All these phrases, as colloquial as they may feel, signal anxiety that we may not always be aware of.”
Not Being Able To Sit Still
If you’ve noticed that you can’t sit still to save your life — maybe you tap your foot, squirm in your chair, etc. — it may be a sign of anxiety. “Diffuse, whispering anxiety can cause a level of restlessness and tension that can be hard to identify,” Dr. Clark says. “Boredom and restlessness are states of tension and low-grade anxiety.”