Anxiety is the most common mental illness. It affects forty million Americans every year.
Many people suffering from anxiety will exhibit destructive nervous behavior at some point. These habits became an outward expression of inner turmoil.
Many anxious behaviors seem innocuous at first. But they can create serious physical health concerns and cause irreparable damage.
Anxiety habits can be hard to break without the aid of a professional. Educating yourself on the side effects of your nervous habits can help. Once you see the damage you can cause, you may be more inclined to stop.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common habits and their side effects.
1. Nail Biting
Up to 30% of the population bites their nails, making it one of the most common nervous behaviors.
But is this habit bad for your health?
It can be. Bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli, live underneath your nails. These bacteria can find a home in your gut when you’re gnawing at your nails. This leaves you open to gastrointestinal infections and symptoms like diarrhea.
2. Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding and clenching is another prevalent nervous habit. It’s so common that it has its own name – bruxism.
Bruxism can happen when you’re asleep or when you’re awake. Sleep bruxism usually only lasts around 30 seconds but can have longlasting consequences.
If you grind your teeth, you put yourself at risk for several serious side effects. Poor tooth structure, recessing gums, broken teeth, and headaches, to name a few.
3. Lip Biting
Biting your lip is often associated with flirting, but it can be a hard-to-drop nervous habit, too.
Lip biting too often can cause swollen lips and painful sores. You’re also more likely to have dry and chapped lip skin if you’re always biting at it.
Fidgeting is when you make repetitive movements with a part of your body. You could be tapping your toes, crossing and uncrossing your legs or shifting in your seat.
Fidgeting won’t cause adverse side effects like the other nervous habits. But it can send out social signals to others that you’re not paying attention.
5. Hair Pulling
Hair pulling, or trichotillomania, is when one feels compelled to pull out their hair. It’s considered to be more of an impulse control disorder than habit.
People with trichotillomania report feeling shame and embarrassment because of their habit. Scarring and infections can occur if the behavior continues to be out of control.
Trichotillomania can permanently damage hair follicles. This makes it impossible for the hair to grow back again.
6. Oral Biting
Biting or chewing on your cheeks, lips, or tongue is another common nervous behavior. These oral-fixated habits can damage the soft tissues in your mouth.
Sometimes people favor a particular section of their lip, cheek, or tongue to chew on. They will then concentrate their chewing in that one area, resulting in a raw patch of skin. This broken skin can make people want to “fix” the damaged area, starting a cycle of continued biting or chewing.
Stop Nervous Habits in Their Tracks
Being able to identify your nervous habits is half of the battle. Now that you know the dangers of your nervous behavior, you might be more inclined to stop.
Consult your doctor or psychologist if you ever feel out of control with your habits. They’ll be able to guide you in the next steps to take to regain control of your life.
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