Students struggle with nervous habits


Rowan Mocur / Legacy Media

According to Healthwise Incorporated, nail-biting is a common habit in times of stress, excitement, boredom or inactivity.

With a stomach full of butterflies and a heart full of terror, she feels more anxious than ever before. Her whole body shakes, and her nails are nearly gone after all of the nervous biting she put them through. These habits strangely help her feel calm, and as the hectic moment ends, she finally finds herself at peace.

Junior Camryn Grindal deals with these subconscious habits in situations where she needs high focus and concentration.

“I bite my nails when I’m writing a paper or studying for a test,” she said. “There are also times I find myself doing it when I’m waiting to go on stage for theater and I’m focusing on my lines or dance moves. It helps my mind concentrate whether I realize it or not.”

According to a study done by psychologist Penny Donnenfeld, 44 percent of teenagers are affected by nail biting. However, nervous habits range from shaking to hair-pulling. For Junior Lena Nguyen, rambling is her way of coping with her nerves.

“I find myself rambling whenever I’m under immense pressure to do well on something,” she said. “When I’m stressed out I feel like there’s a heavy burden on my shoulders, hindering me from performing at my highest potential. Every thought running through my mind tries to escape, causing me to panic. When I ramble, I can say what I need to say and kick all of the anxieties and stress out of my system.”

Although Nguyen finds her habit to be a stress reliever, C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital conducted studies that show nervous habits are caused by the stress and pressures of growing up. Psychology teacher Mike Lum agrees and feels these nervous behaviors are rooted in negative emotions.

“I feel these habits have a lot to do with nerves and anxiety,” he said. “They are a release of tension in stressful situations and a reaction to something that may be bothering a person.”

 It helps my mind concentrate whether I realize it or not.

— Junior Camryn Grindal

To Nguyen, rambling adds to her personality. Since it helps relieve stress and causes no negative health affects, she is okay with her nervous habit.

“My rambling habit isn’t something that bothers me,” she said. “I’m not ashamed or embarrassed because I don’t think I have any reason to be. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I am a nervous rambler and I’m proud. It helps me become more confident in myself by kicking out all of the negative voices circling in my head.”

Lum agrees these habits are natural, and that at some point, most teens struggle with them.

“I think these habits are more common than people assume,” he said. “Everyone struggles with something, and having a nervous habit is pretty normal, regardless of what it may be.”