How To Stop Being Annoying: Is It All In Your Head?
Updated December 06, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
It is normal to experience some anxiety - no one is completely immune - and a low level of anxiety may even be beneficial in certain situations. Anxiety can heighten awareness, sharpen senses and reflexes, and improve performance in a sporting event, concert, or at an important work function, for example. However, when someone has clinical anxiety the anxiety response in their body gets activated more frequently and feels more intense. That level of anxiety can begin to interfere with everyday life.
Anxiety can be experienced in many forms (physical, mental, emotional), and it is capable of bringing with it a host of negative emotions. Social anxiety, an offshoot of this parent category, has many different subsets, making it one of the most widespread and under-recognized mental health ailments. For many, social anxiety can make them feel as if they bother those around them, or can otherwise take control of their thoughts and make them feel irritable. The anxious brain tends to generate thoughts about worst-case scenarios. Anxiety can leave one feeling generally on edge, asking themselves habitually how to stop being annoying.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Many people who are prone to anxiety are more likely than others to misattribute their normal physical symptoms as some extreme underlying disease. These people have been found to possess more sensitive nervous systems. In effect, they experience sensory stimuli in their environment with greater magnitude. Clinical anxiety doesn't discriminate, it affects up to 20 percent of the general population and it seems to impact men and women in equal numbers. On the bright side, anxiety is highly treatable with therapy and medication.
Avoidance behaviors are common for many people with tendencies toward anxiety, as they try to manipulate the external environment in ways to best avoid exacerbating their symptoms or triggering an attack. Many people stop going to certain places or taking part in certain events, finding their worlds shrinking smaller and smaller at attempts to avoid anxiety. Ironically and unfortunately, because anxiety is a biological condition that is not only due to environmental triggers, anxiety will still occur.
Feeling as if your mind has gone blank is a common symptom of anxiety, especially in the realm of public speaking of any kind. Sweating, trembling, tight muscles, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems like nausea or upset stomach, and dizziness or lightheadedness are all ways in which anxiety can wreak havoc on the body.
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How it May Manifest
It is hard to predict what might be an external trigger for anxiety (they are vastly different for different people), as well as what might be a symptom of underlying anxiety. Many minute behaviors are signifiers of excessive anxiety by people who are very familiar with how anxiety manifests but can go unnoticed or misidentified as well-adjusted or otherwise normal behaviors. Doing everyday tasks, especially in front of other people, can cause people with social anxiety great distress. Fear of feeling anxious can inhibit participation in regular activities, like going to work or school, or staying away from places that cause them unrealistic anxiety. A common manifestation of this is a problem talking to people on the phone or trouble finding the right words in most conversations with others. Many people experience a fear of public speaking in formal situations, like at work or having to give a speech at a social event. Anxiety about using the bathroom in the proximity of others affects many individuals as does anxiety about eating or drinking in front of others. For some, the threat of feeling anxious and its misattributions may incite anger or irritability, spark upset or inspire feelings of inferiority. Anxiety can contribute to difficulties with focus and concentration and can cause sleep disturbances.
The bodily sensations that often accompany anxiety are not inherently dangerous in themselves. For example, the feeling of shortness of breath or a racing heart are not actually an indication of a heart attack. However, people who suffer from anxiety could be more at risk for long-term negative impacts of stress such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or ulcers and other digestive issues.
It goes without being said that no one likes feeling this way. Having a body with overactive nerves without practicing methods for calming that response in the body can contribute to nerve pain such as those who suffer from fibromyalgia. Anxiety can contribute to or lead to depression and other mental health issues as well.
How to Stop Being Annoying
If you have anxiety, you may be concerned (or you may have even received criticism) that you are becoming a "pain in the neck." It could be that some of your anxious behaviors have made people around you feel uncomfortable or inconvenienced. However, much of this annoyance comes from misunderstanding or ignorance about anxiety. Your friends and family need to know that these fears and bodily sensations are real and not a figment of your imagination. They need to know that they are certainly not easy to control or " just get over." Your anxiety and its symptoms are not something you're doing on purpose. Awareness about anxiety disorders is considered an important step in providing support and help to those suffering.
It is also important to consider that in most cases, people do not actually think you are a pain in the neck. Those thoughts and fears (read paranoias) are a product of your anxious brain. Especially with social anxiety, it can feel like people are paying close attention to you, even judging you - as if you're under a magnifying glass - when you really have no way of knowing that or if they even care to pay attention. This is sometimes referred to as a "fishbowl" mentality, that you are somehow on display and everyone is watching. Evidence actually suggests that most other people are too concerned with what is going on inside themselves (the tendency to be self-centered, really) to care a whole lot about what you - or anyone else - is doing. Challenging these types of cognitive distortions is part of what you can do in therapy to manage anxiety. We'll talk more about that below.
On the part of the anxiety sufferer, there are many strategies to control or modify symptoms of clinical anxiety. Learning relaxation skills and trying meditation are helpful methods that can decrease the responses of the sympathetic nervous system. Talk therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help change how you think about the things that can make you anxious and can help change your responses to anxiety (like avoidance behaviors) so that you can feel less limited and isolated by your symptoms. There are also medications that can improve feeling overly anxious. Exposure therapy can also be helpful in allowing you to face your fears, calm your body, and gain confidence.
If you are currently experiencing this type of anxiety, you might consider talking to a professional to see what types of therapy would be best for you. Especially if your symptoms are severe enough that you rarely leave the house, being able to connect to a counselor online who can help you could be life-changing. BetterHelp can fill both of those needs. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform aimed at connecting those in need of professional direction or advice with affordable and remote care, making it a more accessible reality for people to get help on their own terms. Talking with a professional who specializes in social anxiety can be an effective way to begin to manage symptoms so that you can start interacting with the world without feeling like you are a hostage to anxious behaviors. Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Jamie was so great in helping me get back on my feet. She knew exactly what I was going through and suggested things to me that none of my previous therapists did, or any of the many books I have read over the years. Online counseling with Jamie definitely helped me come back to being my old self when I was feeling pretty bad and unable to do much of anything social. I definitely recommend her to anyone who's considering online therapy, it works!"
"A year ago I was experiencing difficulties in my relationship, which highly affected my psychological state and interfered with my work. At one point, I decided to try Betterhelp.com. My counselor Dr. Brewer helped me to see some things I couldn't on my own and encouraged me to prioritize myself. It was a huge help for me at that point, which led to the decisions I am happy about."
The bottom line is that your family and friends probably don't find you as annoying as you think they do. It may just be your anxiety talking. Alternatively, if you feel this way because someone close to you has said, "You're annoying," then you should know that this is not your fault and that this person is projecting their own issues onto you. Either way, a licensed counselor can help you develop the best possible coping methods to move forward in healthy ways. If you want to stop feeling this way - and why wouldn't you? - you now have some ideas to work on managing your anxiety and controlling your symptoms so that you can begin to enjoy your life and your relationships again. Take the first step today.