3 Things I Didn’t Realize Were Anxious Behaviors

May 29, 2023 Laura A. Barton

Because I grew up with the label "shy" instead of "anxious," there are a lot of things I didn’t realize I do because of anxiety, and no one ever recognized them as anxious behaviors. It took me reading about them somewhere else or hearing someone else say them for the lightbulb to go off about my anxious behaviors.

Things I Discovered Were Anxious Behaviors

Let me stress: this is a short list. Many, many more anxious behaviors are triggered or manifest in my day-to-day existence. I’ve simply chosen a few to look at more closely.

1. I position myself against walls.

This is one of the bigger I-didn’t-realize-this-was-an-anxious-behavior things for me. I’ve always been more comfortable standing or sitting along or near walls. I like being able to see exits, people coming and going, and in general, just having a scope of what’s going on around me. It also prevents people from being able to sneak up on me. 

While there may be some instinct-based explanation, like not wanting to be pounced upon and hunted, for me, this anxious behavior is more based on being taken by surprise and made a fool of.

2. I scope out bathrooms in new places.

This one hits the anxiety factor manifold. First of all, going to new places triggers anxiety. With that can come the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as an upset stomach, meaning a need to use the bathroom. There’s also just the general anxiety of needing to use a bathroom and not knowing where one is. And, finally (I think), the anxiety of needing to ask someone where a bathroom is.

It might seem odd that someone socialized to needing to ask to go to the bathroom in school would feel anxious about asking where the bathroom is. But, on some level, that school-based practice was also weaponized. You can’t ask to go to the bathroom too much, or teachers will think you’re ditching class, for instance. Or, worse, you’ll really need to go and get told "no" just because they said so.

3. I rehearse phone calls, even simple ones.

Put a finger down if ordering pizza over the phone makes you feel physically ill. Put a finger down if you’ve ever avoided a phone call because there were too many variables that couldn’t be rehearsed. Put a finger down if even calling family or friends sends you into a tailspin. Put a finger down if you avoid making phone calls like the plague.

I’ve got my fingers down.

I’m not sure exactly when my phone call anxiety developed since I used to be okay with talking on the phone. But, somewhere along the way, making a phone call meant agonizing and rehearsing what to say so I don’t make a fool of myself. That is if I make the call at all.

There Are Plenty More Anxiety Behaviors Where Those Came From

I could go on and on about the things I do because of anxiety, a good chunk of which I never actually realized were because of anxiety while growing up. My hope is sharing some of these helps you feel less alone in your anxious behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. No matter how obscure or random your anxious behavior might feel, I assure you, you’re not the only one experiencing it.

APA Reference
Barton, L. (2023, May 29). 3 Things I Didn’t Realize Were Anxious Behaviors, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 17 from

Author: Laura A. Barton

Laura A. Barton is a fiction and non-fiction writer from Ontario, Canada. Follow her writing journey and book love on Instagram, and Goodreads.

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