Topic: Mental

Habits that You Like and Others Don't

Sep 16, 2007

Almost everyone of us has a nervous habit just look around and you will see your co-worker repeatedly picking his nose or your sister twisting her hair. The innocuous action you are used to perform under stress or in order to deal with boredom is a nervous habit.

The most common nervous habits are:
  • nail biting
  • nose picking
  • hair pulling
  • skin picking
  • foot taping
  • knee bouncing
  • lips biting
  • fidgeting
  • thumb sucking
  • tooth grinding
However this list is endless and you may have your own unique habit to deal with stressful situation.

Interesting fact

Curiously enough, most nail-biters over 10 years old are males, but this is probably due to the fact that girls start using nail polish, preventing them from biting their nails.

Why does a nervous habit appear?

You are unlikely to remember when you started a habit. Some nervous habits appear as a reaction to psychological trauma and make take an unusual form. Other nervous habits were learned from your parents who were used to do a particular action when being nervous.

Some nervous habits can be a sign of such mental conditions as depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder. Psychologists noticed that most people tend to manipulate their hair and face when they feel anxiety and manipulate with objects, like pencil mouthing, when they feel boredom.

Nervous habits appear unconsciously, revealing our emotional state when we want to look calm and composed. You can smile looking in your boss's eyes, but finger taping will be more expressive than any words.

Nervous habits help us handle stress, relieve anxiety or tension or can simply mean that you are bored. Lack of other activity is also a common reason for nervous habit to appear.

Though a nervous habit is not dangerous for your health, some people with particular habit can hurt themselves. For example, a person with trichotillomania - a habit of pulling hair can lead to one's serious baldness. This is due to pulling hair in excessive amounts all over the body: scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes and other body areas.

How to handle a habit?

Most nervous habits do not bother the owner of the habit, but often are extremely annoying for family members, co-workers and significant others.

One of the methods to stop nervous habit is to replace it by different action. For example, if you bite your nails, you can try to occupy your hands by squeezing a ball.

Nervous habit is harder to break than alcohol and drug addiction because a person with a nervous habit in most situations is not aware of it. You may need a strong will power and, first of all, awareness to stop your nail biting or hair pulling, but it still won't be enough. Nervous habit can be compared to an urge to scratch when you have an itch.