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Nervous Habits

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Hi all.


I'd like to start a running thread here about nervous habits.  I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.  Please feel free to share yours also.


For me I have general nervous habits and things specific to extreme anxiety like with my dental phobia.


My general nervous habits are: fidgeting with my hands, not being able to sit still, playing with/running my fingers through my hair, rubbing my arms/legs, talking too much, picking at my skin (scratching) and always moving my legs/feet when I'm sitting (constantly changing positions).


So, like for my dental phobia.  When I'm at the dentist I always arrive early and have to use the restroom before I go back, just a habit I think.  In the waiting room I can't sit still.  I'll play with a stress ball in my hand.  I'll attempt to read a book, but usually can't focus on it.  I'll be very fidgety.


Once I get into the exam room/dental chair: I find it hard to sit in the chair, so I can rarely sit still for long.  If I'm in the room alone waiting for the staff, I can't sit in the chair.  I have to get up and walk around the room.  I can't keep my hands still while sitting in the chair, so I have a stress ball in my right hand and a teddy bear in my left hand.  I'll be constantly fussing/playing with the bear's fur.  I get very quiet at the dentist's office.  I only talk when I have to in response to a question.  I'll rub my arms a lot.  I have no idea why I do that.  I pick at the skin on my hands and arms, to the point where I scratch and bleed a bit.  I also have no idea why I do that.  Nothing bad, just surface scratches.  I cannot look the staff in the eyes while they're working on me.  Laying back in the chair is especially hard for me.


So, I got us started.  I have a ton of nervous habits.  I may have forgotten things.


Please feel free to share what you do when you're nervous or anxious.





Edited by SFChristianGirl
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1. Picking on my skin(scratching etc as I got bad acne).

2. Playing with my hair, curling them..

3. Biting my lower lip

4. Trembling my left leg when sitting(up-down movement)

5. Rubbing hands/arms

6. Not able to sit down for longer period of time. I feel like sitting on pins!

7. Looking around a lot.

8. Playing with my fingers, playing with my phone.




9. When at home and stressed/anxious I keep sitting in front of computer jumping between tabs. Listening to 10 songs. Doing 10 things. Not literally but kind of...

Edited by pinkgirl22
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I do a lot of things.


- Pick at any imperfections on my skin.

- Brush through my hair with my fingers.

- Tap my fingernails on tables/other surfaces.

- Clean.

- Put laundry away (I find folding and organizing clothes to be soothing)

- Since I quit smoking, "vape."


 I also show up early for appointments, meetings, classes, jobs, etc...no matter what. It makes me uncomfortable for me to be just on time, and "late" even by a few minutes sends me into a stress/tension spiral.


 Great topic, JJ! I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting about.



- Christina

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I chew the inside of my mouth......such as biting the inside of my cheek. Grind my teeth. I use about half a bottle of hand sanitiser.
Sometimes I'll chew the skin around my nails, or pick at it but I think I have that under control because they use to sting and bleed a lot. 

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I cut my nails a lot. Some are getting really small and weird looking, so I figure I should stop that. I cut them compulsively. I also chew the inside of my mouth and bite my lips.

I used to have these weird ocd rituals of making affirmations about my future... Going to sleep used to be a tough thing to do, since I had to do the affirmations in a specific order, and if I made the slightest mistake I had to do the ritual all again. Many times I just didn't sleep and the sun came up while I was still doing the rituals.

I also smoke MJ. I do it less now than I used to (I already smoked everyday), now I only smoke once a week or don't smoke at all.

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A lot of the stuff I do is involuntary, so I dunno if they're habits...

  • Crossing arms over chest
  • Shaking leg thing
  • Rubbing my neck
  • Gritting my teeth
  • Neck becomes paralyzed (like I physically have to move my whole upper body to look in a different direction...ugh)
  • Shivering and feeling very cold
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- shake my hand/leg/foot constantly

- bite my front lips

- scratch deeply into my back (I've tried to stop doing this as I have found scars were I have bled)

- biting nails

- rubbing my legs up and down

- looking around in every direction

Some of these have become habits...

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I play with my hands

look around the room a lot

I like to hold a sheet in my hand and play with it

my foot and leg I shake a lot

bite my nails

grind and clench my jaw

bite my lip and the inside of my mouth


I know there's more but I can't think right now.



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I do the usual stuff mentioned in the thread here by most. And nail digging.  I refuse to feel bad about it now. It's just how I am and that is it. Trying to contain and hide it takes too much out of me. I used to do that a lot. 


One of the funniest ones is I pace at busstops and train stations. Up and down up and down a small stretch and fast. Not inconspicuous. 


when I'm very distressed I rock. I've decided that the pros out-way the cons for me when I really need it. I wrap myself tightly in my scarf if I have one and rock. 

Edited by Fizzle
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I don't think I have any specific nervous habits like what's being described here, but I can relate.

One thing is like, when there are a bunch of people at the house, if I am feeling triggered for any reason, I go into the kitchen and clean the dishes or the counters... sometimes cleaning makes me feel better, and then I will go back to where the people are. It also provides a short separation from me and the people so I can collect myself. 

I can relate to your dental phobia. I am not sure if mine is dental phobia exactly but I do have some issues at the dentist as well. I am fine in the office, but I have to steel myself when they start working on me in the chair, because I start feeling a lot of anxiety while that is happening. 

Over time, I have learned some ways to deal with it. The first way I have learned to deal with it is to wear a sleeping mask (sort of like a blindfold) when I'm in the chair. This helps because it stops you from having to deal with super-bright white lights shining directly in your eyes. I figured this out by myself, and noticed that the anxiety level dropped significantly just by wearing one. (The type I use is the mindfold, you can find it online. It covers your whole eye region so no light is coming in.)


The next thing I do is to breathe slowly and deeply, and just focus on your breathing. Just keep doing it, the whole time. Answer a question if they ask you, or follow their instructions if they tell you to open your mouth wider etc., but maintain your breathing. 


The third thing I do, that I do when it is going on for a long time or if I am still feeling anxious, is to imagine other things, like that I am in a safe boat on a lake or ocean, or any other safe imagining that works for you. The important thing is to imagine that you are somewhere you feel safe, and everything is relaxing and good. And still maintain your breathing. Keep this going as long as it continues. And if it is still going on for a long time, you can do stuff like imagine beautiful places or interesting landscapes in your head, like looking at photos in your mind to keep your mind off it.

If I follow these things, pretty much I can survive at the dentist without panic. I hope it is helpful

Edited by stardreamer
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A lot of the things already mentioned:


Picking at my skin.

Clenching my jaw.

Tapping my finger.

I'm always fidgeting with something, if I'm reading a book, the bookmark usually ends up in tatters.

I fold up sweet/candy wrappers and tie them in knots.

And I find it hard to sit still.

Edited by PurpleStorm
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Mostly similar with you guys


1) Fidgets a lot with my hands

2) shakes leg

3) teeth will chatter

4) rambles on, or make noises

5) can't sit still


(I remembered once i had a presentation and since i was so nervous, i kept sitting on the floor and getting up, and i was rambling, and people thought i was going crazy)

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