Nervous Tics: What They Are and How to Stop Them

Nervous Habits: What They Are & How to Stop Them

Nervous habits can manifest as habits such as nail biting, head bobbing, throat clearing, or finger drumming. Though you might not realize you’re doing them, these behaviors aren’t exactly involuntary like the tics experienced by people with a condition like Tourette’s; a big difference between a pathological tic versus a nervous tic is that when asked to stop a nervous tic, you’re able to do so.

If your nervous habits don’t bother you or the people around you, they’re nothing to fret over — but things like hair pulling might leave you with an unwanted bald spot, and humming idly might drive your officemate crazy. In these cases, you may want to look into how to stop nervous habits to improve your quality of life and preserve the peace of mind of people around you.

What Causes Nervous Tics?

Physiologically speaking, experts don’t know exactly what causes nervous tics, but a popular theory attributes nervous habits to activity in a region of the brain called the basal ganglia that either triggers or cannot control nervous motor habits in response to stressful situations.

Nervous tics may have a genetic basis, as some “body-focused” habits like nail biting has been found to run in families. Also, nervous habits aren’t limited to humans. The tendency to over-groom is present in other species like mice, dogs, and monkeys.

In terms of environmental factors that are behind your nervous habits, keeping an informal journal to document the circumstances surrounding your them can help you gain a better understanding of what your triggers are. By limiting your exposure to these circumstances, you’ll be addressing the external factors influencing your nervous habits. Beyond avoiding or managing these external factors, you’ll have to consider therapies that address your nervous habits from a personal standpoint.

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