Everyone deals with anxiety to some extent. It is part of our nature to project the future and have concerns about our self-image. It is when these concerns and worry manifest in destructive ways or interfere with our daily lives that our anxiety is considered severe or becomes problematic.
We are all familiar with the classic signs of anxiety such as rapid breathing, sweaty palms, and gastrointestinal distress. But there are also some behaviors that are associated with anxiety. Many people exhibit these behaviors and are not even aware that they stem from a source of anxiety. These attributes may or may not indicate a severe condition of anxiety, because there are many other variables to consider when determining this.
But how could a person exhibit anxiety and not know it? It may be that the person is simply unaware that this behavior is rooted in anxiety and shedding light on this fact can easily balance out the behavior. On the other hand, this person may be in an active state of denial about the level of anxiety they are experiencing.
There are many reasons one might succumb to denial about their feelings. Denial is a powerful, protective mechanism that can be quite useful in a short-term scenario, while you are processing serious events or feelings. But the danger lies wherein a state of denial extends beyond short-term survival, creating an actual blind spot over issues that really need to be addressed.
Below are some common behaviors that might be actually rooted in anxiety:
For someone with anxiety, your sense of time can become quite skewed. That is because adrenaline and rapid thoughts, which are common with anxiety, literally speed up your perception of time. No one minds a discipline of punctuality. In fact, many people that prioritize punctuality feel that if they arrive on time, they are actually late. But if you find that you consistently end up arriving well in advance of your scheduled appointments, falling outside the parameters of a polite early arrival, your anxiety may actually be at work.
Anxiety induces a sense of urgency for preparedness. This need often comes from a fear of a lack of control.
It could work the same way for someone who is chronically late. In this case, it is possible your fashionably late entrance is actually related to coping with feelings about not really wanting to follow through with your commitment, so you unconsciously delay your arrival through various means. Or perhaps there exists a fear of the attention a timely welcome would bring and so your preference is to slip in only after the crowd has found a rhythm.
Very High Information
Each individual has a different need for information. You will find some people need a very high level of information, requiring all the details available, while others tend to “fly by the seat of their pants,” requiring very little detail for what is happening. Sometimes needing a very high level of information actually indicates anxiety. It can again be related to the fear of lack of control, which derives a need to determine all the possible parameters of a situation before feeling comfortable moving forward.
If you would describe yourself as a “busy body,” always seeking productive work, this could be a symptom of anxiety. While maintaining a sense of purpose may seem like a virtuous quality and certainly has some positives, it can also indicate an underlying fear or avoidance of being still and doing nothing. Sometimes our endless quest for activity really just means we are not comfortable when left alone with our thoughts or feelings. Instead, we try to constantly occupy ourselves. Sadly, in this case, it isn’t that whatever we are avoiding ever goes away; we will sometimes just end up exhausting ourselves trying to perpetually outrun it.
As with any behavior, it is natural for us all to do any one of these things at any given time, but what may be worth considering is when the behavior becomes excessive or problematic.
None of these behaviors inherently and alone indicate an anxiety condition, but it can be helpful to examine the sources and motivations of our behaviors at a deeper level in order to become more authentically attuned to our emotional states and address any issues that may actually create barriers to our success.