How To Stop Being Annoying: Is It All In Your Head?
By Julia Thomas
Updated January 28, 2019
Reviewer Lauren Fawley
A Horse of Many Colors
It is normal to experience some anxiety, and an amount of anxiety can even be beneficial in certain situations. Anxiety can heighten awareness 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 the body gets activated too often and feels more intense.
Anxiety can be experienced in many forms (physical, mental, emotional), 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, it can make them feel as if they bother those around them, or can otherwise take control of your thoughts and lead to you feeling 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. Making up approximately 20% of the general population, clinical anxiety seemingly affects men and women equally. Avoidance behaviors are common for many people with tendencies towards anxiety, as they try to manipulate the external environment in ways to best avoid tweaking their symptoms. 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, 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, especially relevant in the realm of public speaking of any kind. Sweating or trembling, tight muscles, heart palpitations of the heart, shortness of breath, gastrointestinal problems like nausea or upset stomach, dizziness or lightheadedness, are all ways in which anxiety can wreak havoc on the body.
How it May Manifest
It is hard to predict what might be an external trigger for anxiety (they are different for different people), as well as what might be a symptom of underlying anxiety. Many minute behaviors are signifiers of excessive activity with 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 dangerous in themselves. For example, the feeling of shortness of breath or heart racing is 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, and other negative effects of stress on the body such as ulcers and other digestive issues. Having a body with over-active 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 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 in the fact that some of your behavior has impacted people around you negatively. However, much of this annoyance comes from misunderstandings or ignorance about anxiety. One has to be educated that these fears and bodily sensations are real and not a figment of the imagination. Awareness about anxiety disorders is considered an important step in providing support and help to those suffering.
It is also important to consider that people do not think you are a pain in the neck, but that the thoughts and fears that you are a pain 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, 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 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 someone else is doing. Challenging these types of cognitive-distortions is part of what you can do in therapy to manage anxiety (more on that below).
On the part of the sufferer, there are many strategies to control or modify symptoms of clinical anxiety. Learning relaxation skills and meditation are helpful methods that can decrease the responses of the sympathetic nervous system. Talk therapies such as CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) can help in changing how you think about the things that can make you anxious and change responses to anxiety (like avoidance behaviors) so that you can feel less limited by your symptoms. There are also medications that can improve feeling overly anxious. Exposure therapy can be helpful in allowing you to face your fears, calm your body, and gain confidence.
If you are currently experiencing anxiety severe enough to limit you from leaving the house, being able to connect to a counselor online who can help you could be a life-changer. 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 can be an effective way to begin to manage symptoms of anxiety so that you can start interacting with world without feeling like you are a hostage to anxious behaviors.