It can be hard for me to stay still. If you are talking to me, it is more likely than not that I am bouncing my foot or tapping my fingers or something similar. When I am thinking through a problem, I’ll often take to pacing around the room, although I’ve learned not to do this when other people are around because it usually bothers them. The thing is that it isn’t me doing these behaviors, it is my anxiety.
I’ve noticed these behaviors plenty of times over the years. Usually because someone gets annoyed and asks me to stop doing whatever it is I am doing. But I noticed it yesterday evening while I was floating. Literally all I have to do is float there motionless and I couldn’t do that. Every few minutes I felt the need to move my legs or my arms or scratch and itch or whatever.
And focusing on it, being mindful of it, made it even harder to stay still. Even when there is nothing specifically worrying me, which is itself rare, I am still filled with anxious energy that tenses my muscles and causes me to twitch and tap my foot or my fingers or pace even after it has annoyed everyone around me. And even after it has annoyed me.
I suspect that my body’s response to anxiety is to feel like it has to do something, and so it feels the need to move. And if I am in a situation where that isn’t ideal it gets the urge out through these little quirks.
It is bothersome for sure, both to me and those close to me. Yet as my therapist is constantly telling me it isn’t my fault that I have anxiety, nor should I feel guilty about these things. Rather I can use it as an opportunity to be mindful of how and when anxiety is impacting me. And with a little positive reinforcement I might be able to learn to turn that anxious energy inward so that I can identify the anxiety for what it is and can calm myself down to the point where I don’t need to get my anxious energy out. And when anxiety’s restless acts are finally put to rest, maybe I can get some rest as well.