Everyone has some level of neuroses where we find ways to cope with emotional distress and anxious thoughts. However, using these types of coping mechanisms over time can become damaging to us, leaving us less emotionally unhealthy and likely damaging our relationships. The following list is not exhaustive, but it is a great place to start when examining what neurotic behaviors you might be displaying and using to combat emotional distress:
1.Drinking or using substances.
These substances are used as a bandage to help quickly numb emotional issues. However, over time, they can lead to more serious concerns including addiction.
2.Excessive spending or shopping.
Sometimes it can be used as a distraction but can even be a compulsion for people who feel highly anxious. These behaviors can lead to more stress long-term by causing financial issues.
3.Overly obsessing over a hobby or fun activity.
While having hobbies is positive, obsessing over them can be detrimental to relationships. It can be used as a distraction from other important responsibilities and create barriers in relationships.
4.Constantly thinking you are sick or overly fearful of germs.
It can come in the form of a “germophobe” or even reach the level of a hypochondriac. This person will worry and obsess over perceived symptoms whether they are really present or purely psychological. They also might be overly concerned with staying away from germs.
5.Obsessing over cleanliness.
It can come from fear of germs or getting sick. It can also be a way of controlling your environment. Trying to control your environment due to fear or the need to feel in control will cause more anxiety since achieving complete control of your environment is impossible.
6.Becoming hyper-controlling of your schedule.
These people want to be on a tight schedule and have everything planned. When plans are changed or the schedule is altered, particularly at the last minute, it can be overwhelming.
This can come in the form of biting your nails, picking at your skin, or cracking your knuckles. It can be a sign of discomfort and anxiety that can cause physical damage even if it is only minor.
8.Over-communicating or under-communicating with your partner.
It can look like constantly needing to speak to your partner due to excessive worry, or it can look like shutting them out and putting up walls. Either can cause a strain on the relationship.
9.Attempting to control your partner.
This can be through nagging, picking at their “flaws,” or trying to “fix” them. It is another way people try to calm anxiety through control but can cause major issues over time.
10.Becoming overly or excessively blunt.
Some people become blunt to the point of almost brutal honesty. They think it will help the relationship, but again, over time it can damage their relationships.
11.Becoming clingy or overly dependent on those close to you.
Being overly dependent can leave others feeling emotionally drained and eventually push them away from you if it persists.
12.Overreacting to seemingly small issues.
General emotional reactivity over little concerns can be a sign of emotional distress and an example of not managing stress well.
13.Becoming deeply sad overly seemingly small issues.
It is another example of a strong reaction to a small concern. It is appropriate to be upset or disappointed. However, it is the degree of the emotion that can become a problem.
14.Losing interest over typically enjoyable activities.
It can be a symptom of the one above. Losing interest over enjoyable activities can be an overreaction to emotional distress.
15.Getting stressed out easily.
If you have the inability to not “sweat the small stuff,” it can cause issues like chronic anxiety or simply leaving you unable to get things done.
It can be a way of illustrating the inability to let little stresses subside. Creating drama can be a negative way of taking something small and blowing into something bigger than it needs to be.
17.Extreme worry or even panic.
It can be obvious, but anxiety attacks or extreme worry can cause chronic physical and mental issues over time.
18.Obsessing over social media.
Spending over-extended amounts of time on social media can result in more anxiety and depressive symptoms. It can also be an example of escaping behaviors.
19.Excessive displays of anger.
It is another display of a person’s inability to regulate emotions well. If you find yourself exploding over small concerns, it can become a more serious problem.
20.Consistently trying to one-up others.
If you have a deeper insecurity like not feeling good enough or feeling like you do not matter, trying to convince others through one-upping their achievements can be a way you try to combat that anxiety.
Michelle Overman is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist working as a counselor for students, faculty, and staff at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas. She also has a special interest in working with athletes and has been bridging the gap between athletics and mental health at ACU. She is in the process of becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant to further her expertise in sports psychology. Prior to her move to Abilene, Michelle ran her own private practice in Austin, Texas where she worked with a diverse population, including couples and families. Michelle earned a Master’s in Marriage & Family Therapy and has been working in the field for 6 years.