Anxiety can often be wrongly dismissed as simply overthinking and worrying about things too much. However, to anyone struggling with the mental ilness, the reality is far more complex and debilitating.
While many signs we hear about are often internal, there are also a number of behavioral habits that you may have failed to realise could indicate you have anxiety.
1. Obsessive Cleaning
A study published earlier this year in the journal Current Biology identified a link between temporary anxiety and obsessive cleaning.
Led by University of Connecticut anthropologist Martin Lang, the team split university students into two groups. Both groups were presented with a shiny statue and asked to come up with a speech about it. One group was required to actually give the speech to a panel while the other was not. After, they were both asked to clean the object.
The results showed that those who had to face the anxiety-inducing task of giving a speech were more repetitive in their cleaning method. Participants who reported feeling more anxious at the start, made more movements while cleaning and spent longer doing it before they were satisfied it was clean.
The researchers concluded that when stressed, people turn to repetitive behaviour like cleaning because it gives them a sense of control over an otherwise uncontrollable situation. (Watch: Mia Freedman discusses how she deals with her anxiety. Post continues after video.)
2. Nail biting
Like obsessive cleaning, nail biting and picking at ourselves can also be a telltale sign of a wider problem if it’s done frequently.
“People often use distraction as a way of managing stress or anxiety. When we are anxious we feel the need to run or fight and usually we can do neither,” says psychologist Sarah-Jane Whiston. (Post continues after gallery.)