How To Stop Being Annoying: Is It All In Your Head?

By: Sarah Cocchimiglio

Updated March 02, 2021

Medically Reviewed By: 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 during a sporting event, concert, or an important work function. However, when someone has clinical anxiety, their body’s anxiety response is activated more frequently and feels more intense. That level of anxiety can begin to interfere with everyday life.

A person can experience anxiety in many forms (physical, mental, emotional), and the disorder 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 illnesses. 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.

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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 at greater magnitudes. 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. Always consult with your doctor or primary care physician before considering any medication options.

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 can still occur in isolation.

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 ways anxiety can wreak havoc on the body.


How It May Manifest

It is hard to predict an external cause for anxiety (these causes are vastly different for different people) or 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 anxiety symptoms. A common manifestation of this is trouble talking to people on the phone or difficulty finding the right words in conversations with others. Many people experience a fear of public speaking in formal situations, like at work or giving a speech at a social event.

Anxiety about using the bathroom in others’ proximity affects some 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 too.

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 experience anxiety could be more at risk for long-term negative impacts of stress, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, 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 live with 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 you are live with are real and not a figment of your imagination. They need to know that they not easy to control or something to "just get over." Awareness about anxiety disorders is considered an important step in providing support to help those living with anxiety.

It is also important to consider that people do not actually think you are a pain in the neck in most cases. Many of those negative thoughts and fears are a product of your anxious brain.

Especially for someone living with social anxiety, it can feel as if 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 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 suggests that most other people are too concerned with what is going on inside themselves to care a whole lot about what you—or anyone else—is doing. Challenging these types of cognitive distortions is part of what a therapist can help you do to manage anxiety. We'll talk more about that below.

Want To Stop Being A "Negative Nancy"?
Let Us Help. Schedule An Appointment With A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapist Today.


On the part of the person living with anxiety, 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 help you face your fears, calm your body, and gain confidence.

Seeking Help

If you are currently experiencing this type of anxiety, you might consider talking to a professional to see what kind of therapy would be best for you. 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.

Studies show that online counseling can improve your mental health. One such study from Palo Alto University found that video-based cognitive behavior therapy effectively treats depression and anxiety. According to the research, approximately 73% of study participants saw an improvement of symptoms after six weeks, and the data suggests a “decelerated decrease in symptoms over time.”

BetterHelp can help. BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that connects 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.

“Madeline is a great counselor who helped walk me through many life transitions and especially through my anxiety. She helped me find the correct tools to handle life events and anxious moments. I learned how to process my emotions in healthier ways and how to employ better coping tools when my anxiety was high. With her help I was able to see a huge change in outlook when challenged by life.”

“Miss Tangela is a great counselor. This was my first time in therapy of any kind. I was very nervous and she helped me get through my anxiety and really helped me work through a low point in my life. She always made me feel heard and like she truly cares about my mental health. She has helped me develop great coping strategies and new techniques to help with my anxiety and depression. I would recommend Miss Tangela to anyone and everyone.”


The bottom line is that your family and friends probably don't find you annoying—it may just be your anxiety talking. A licensed counselor can help you develop the best possible coping methods to move forward in healthy ways. Take control of your symptoms so that you can begin to enjoy your life and your relationships again. Take the first step today.


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